Baking for Spiritual Health

Spiritual health forms the heart of overall wellness, if you open yourself to it. It imbues a greater sense of meaning, purpose, and connection, and it holds a multitude of meanings. For the woman we honor today, it meant, among many other things, baking. As she said to me, just over a month ago:

You never know where the miracle is.

Today, for our Women Crush Wednesday, we honor, Kathy Van Bruinisse, my future mother-in-law, who passed away on March 1st after battling her second round of cancer. Full of life and heart, some of Kathy's greatest passions were family, faith, baking, and blogging.

An avid baker, Kathy spent years reading food blogs before stepping outside her comfort zone to start her own. As she wrote: “Very few things are as comforting to me as spending time in my kitchen!! It's my adult sandbox!”

Baking was a form of spiritual health for Kathy, as it allowed her time to play in one of her favorite places, and, more importantly, served as a vehicle for sharing stories.

As one of the family “historians”, Kathy sprinkled her blog, Bakeaway with Me, with family stories and anecdotes. Her writing was as much about family as it was about food, and this is what her readers cherished.

In honor of her life and her spirit, we share one of her posts from July 2016, just several months before she stopped writing.


Some people, even if we only know them a short while, have an almost magical grace about them. And when we lose them, we can’t help but wonder why. Why this person, so full of light and love and strength?  

But we carry their strength, and it is this carrying that lightens the sometimes unbearable load of loss--a loss that inspires us to take a step back, out of the constant daily hustle, out of our established routines, productive and beneficial though they may or may not be, to really think about how we want to live our lives.

Mary Oliver asked: "Tell me, what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I rather agree with Nora McInerny Purmont, who wrote--in her fantastic-and-very-helpful book, It's Okay to Laugh--that Oliver's line is "like YOLO for women with Pinterest".

In some ways, YES: I want to live that one wild and precious life!

In other ways: WOAH. That's a lot of pressure. Can't I just have a good time and do what needs doing and have that be enough? Yes, I would love to spend every morning writing poetry in the woods, but come on...

Yet, at the end of the day, I do want to make the most of this life. Like Kathy, I want to share life in the ways that matters most.

And that includes writing blog posts in first person, shifting into the hopefully-poignant realm of “I”, perhaps, ironically, because it steers me out of my day-to-day always-doing self and into something larger.

For a long time, I had a mixed relationship with prayer. On the rare instances that I prayed, I wasn’t really sure to whom I prayed, for what I prayed, or how to pray. Now I understand that, for me at least, it doesn’t matter.

Prayer is more a state of mind, an opening to some kind of connection, a comfort, a small letting go, a faith in meaning that you may or may not be able to understand, a sense of grace in holding whatever comes next.

As Ann Lamott articulates in Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers:

“Grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.”

So, Kathy, here’s to your grace, your strength, and your comfort in the kitchen. I look forward to using your Za’atar mix and baking bread in your honor. 

This month, we kick off our monthly Walnut Weekly Write-In! What would YOU like to learn more about? Write to us at with your questions, and we might dedicate a Walnut Weekly to you!

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