The heART Series // Loaves and Dishes
We're in our fifth month of The heART Series, and I am so excited to see what is in store for the future!
In case you're just tuning in, The heART Series is a monthly series in which we'll get to discover and explore some of the lesser-known, maybe even lesser-appreciated creative arts, and will examine how the arts and faith are intertwined. Each artist interviewed in this series is a Christian woman, whether or not her work is centered around her faith. We'll hear from painters, writers, photographers, graphic artists, dancers, stitchers, calligraphers, fashion designers, leather workers, and more.
So, once you're all caught up and ready to go, let's hear from our next artist!
Wendi Spraker of Loaves and Dishes
Hi! I'm Wendi Spraker from Loaves and Dishes. I like to say that I am the one who does everything around the blog: writer, publisher, photographer, cook, webmaster, and dishwasher. In my day-to-day life I am a mom, grandmother (MiMi), daughter, Town Councilman and a Registered Nurse. My blog is more of a hobby, although sometimes I work just as hard on my blog as I do at my professional day job.
I love dogs -- well, any animal really (except snakes -- not fond of those -- but I believe in the "live and let live" philosophy). I raise chickens (who are supposed to earn their keep by laying eggs, but I'm not sure it is really working out like it is supposed to). I have a garden -- but I wouldn't necessarily say that I enjoy gardening. I like to eat the food that comes from the garden. The gardening itself -- eh. I love canning and preserving foods. And my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla -- I know. Right?
the life in between: When did you first learn to (or realize that you could!) dance, paint, sew, write, style, photograph, etc. What is your heART story?
Wendi: I first learned to cook as a small child -- following my grandmother around and watching and mimicking her, and talking to my dad while he cooked. My mother, who always says that she can't cook, is a fabulously good cook too. She is the one who prepared meals every single day at our house. My family would let me stir things or do small tasks in the kitchen -- as much as I wanted and never forced. I loved my parents and grandmother SO much and wanted to be JUST like them. I am still doing the best I can to carry on with our family's loves for cooking, family, and togetherness.
tlib: While you're immersed in a project or a piece, what are some things going through your mind? Do you pray? Do you praise?
Wendi: That is a great question. I have never really thought about it. I get TOTALLY involved in what I am doing. Lots of the time I listen to music. Sometimes I listen to podcasts that I enjoy. Many times, my kitchen is totally quiet and I am absolutely concentrating on what I am doing. It is a type of prayer, I suppose -- maybe more like meditation. My photography for my blog is different though. When I am photographing, I have rules for myself. I find the photography part of blogging to be a huge challenge. I turn on some relaxing music. I turn the cell phone off. I lock the door. I put the dog up. I set aside a strict block of time and then I don't worry about anything except getting good photos. Then, I create little back stories for the food I have cooked. For example, there is a pumpkin pie on my blog -- the "back story" is "I have sat down at the table after a long day, the last daylight is streaming through the window and mom has put this piece of pumpkin pie in front of me". That helps me capture the photo I am after. Most of the time on my blog, I am trying to capture a food photo that says, "this dish is being enjoyed by loved ones". I feel that if I can encourage others to spend more time together, God's purpose in my blogging will have been met.
tlib: Tell us about your creative process. What inspires you to get started? Can you turn your creativity on and off?
Wendi: Sadly, because of my busy life, I have had to learn to turn the creativity on and off. Most of the time, I have recipes brewing in my mind for a week or more before I actually prepare them. I get terribly excited about what kind of food will appear next on my blog. I think I fall in love with each recipe.
tlib: Do you prefer to share your work or do you like to keep it just between yourself and God? Why?
Wendi: Well, since I am a blogger, I share most of my work. The exception being when it goes all wrong. I believe that God has called me to do this food blogging thing with a bigger purpose in mind. I honestly believe that people can come together over the table. Good food makes that a lot easier. So, I share. I don't know what God has in store for me and my blog, but I'll just keep going until He gives me a signal to do otherwise.
tlib: If you share your work, how do you promote your art in a way that glorifies God?
Wendi: Good question. I pray A LOT that my work will be an example to someone else, and that someone's heart will be turned or opened by what I have written or because of my attitude. I think I promote what I do the way that most bloggers do -- via social media, Pinterest, etc. I am not sure that the promotion glorifies God, but I hope that the actual work does. If a tired mom clicks on my recipe and reads my post, and she gets a chuckle, and then sees that she is not alone in how she feels about raising a family, and then knows that she can make a comment or even email me with the promise of a return comment, and finds the strength to keep going, or perhaps reads a Bible verse in my post that resonates with her today, then I think that has glorified God.
tlib: How do you take compliments? How do you stay humble without denying your unique skill?
Wendi: I learned a LONG time ago to simply say, "Thank you" and mean it. Anything else -- "oh, it was just a simple ____" or " wow, you really think so?" is insulting to the person who gave the compliment AND is insulting to God who gave you the talent and the gift. I simply say something along the lines of "Thank you so much, that means a lot to me to hear that you liked so and so." I don't have to worry about staying humble, I AM humbled when someone compliments my work. I am usually surprised. It means an incredible something when someone gives me a compliment.
tlib: Do you believe that God can be glorified through secular art? How can secular work still point to Jesus?
Wendi: I suppose that my cooking is a secular art, isn't it? I try very hard to glorify God through my work, and any time I have the opportunity to tell someone about how God works in my life, I do.
tlib: What is a dream or vision you have in regards to how your work may impact hearts and souls for Christ?
Wendi: I have a dream that my work might encourage those who follow Christ to open their hearts to each other and to others in the world. I believe there is always room at the table for everyone. We can't influence those who we won't interact with, right? I'm not afraid to sit down with someone who isn't a believer, who follows another religion or who follows no religion at all. That gives me the best opportunity to lead by example, demonstrate a life that is flawed but forgiven and to demonstrate that being Christian is and can be a peaceful and wonderful way to live. If we all only interact with each other we probably aren't bringing anyone into the fold. Food gives all of us a chance to say,"Hey, come have dinner with me" which can open the door.
tlib: Lastly, for fun, who (living or dead, and besides God) are you most inspired by when it comes to your art?
Wendi: Oh wow -- terrific question. I have to say I really love Julia Childs. I loved watching her on PBS when I was younger -- not only was she a terrific chef who so easily taught her trade but nothing ever phased her. Smoke could roll out of the oven and she would just go with it. To have that much poise would be wonderful.
Wendi, thank you so much for opening your heart to us today! I loved reading this, and you've inspired me, really!
And for any of you who don't consider creating recipes, and then cooking/baking them, and then feeding them to other people without those people dying from food poisoning, but rather having those people enjoy your heart-labor... for you who don't consider all of that as a form of art, please reconsider. This is most definitely a creative gift God's given Wendi -- one that He forgot to bestow upon me, unfortunately for my family. (Although in my defense, no one's died yet.)
READERS: Let's give Wendi some love! Comment below and let her know which of the amazing pictures above makes your mouth water the most: Apple Pecan Waffles, Cheesy Rosemary Meatball Bake, Cranberry Orange Pie, Mac & Cheese Soup, Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Drizzle, or Pumpkin Soup? (For me, it's gotta be the Cranberry Orange Pie. Or the Mac & Cheese Soup. Or maybe the waffles! I don't know. Just come over and cook them all for me, Wendi, and I'll be a better judge, then!) ⤵︎