Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Less is More: Food

My last post was about God working in me...changing me, despite my stubbornness and quite frankly, my disinterest. Thankfully, God is faithful ALWAYS, even when I am not.

I thought I would take a few posts to write more specifically about some of these changes, really for my own personal documentation...so that in 3 or 5 or 10 years I can look back and REMEMBER what God has taught me. But, also, I hope that we can share some dialogue about these things. Challenge each other. Encourage each other.

While, there are a number of different issues on my heart right now, one very prominent one, and one I feel comfortable(-ish) sharing on the world wide web is the issue of consumerism. And so we begin a series: Less is More.

I will start by saying that consumerism and materialism and excess is a struggle for me. It is an empty cistern that I return to time and again. I have prayed countless prayers regarding this sin, with Casey, with friends, and alone, but I suppose I've always had the attitude that I just wanted God to fix it, rather than endure change. Changing is hard. It hurts. I don't like it. And usually, I retreat when it gets too difficult or too lonely. But endure we must! Thankfully, I am certain that the God of Peace is the Initiator and Sustainer of this transformation. And what gives Him away is this... that I BELIEVE that my "loss" is my gain. I am not just taking off sin, but I am putting on...freedom and simplicity and gratitude, and those are worthy garments.

In NO way am I saying that I have arrived in this area. I am merely sharing with you a few little changes we are making and how God is beginning to transform my mind regarding how I spend His money and how I think about what He has given me.

We'll start tonight with food.

I love me a good drive through. Not for food so much, but for a mid-day pick-me-up, such as a Large Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic or a Grande 2-Pump White Mocha from Starbucks. As I drive through, I feel entitled to my delicious beverage. I feel that I deserve it, or if I feel that I don't deserve it, then I convince myself that it will help me perform more satisfactorily my duties as a wife, mother and homemaker. Nice, huh? For a while, I was doing this almost every day.

But, a few months ago, I started thinking about how we, as a family consume, consume, consume, and I would talk and wish for a simpler life, but I was making NO changes towards that goal, like it was just going to happen miraculously all by itself. So...my drive-through habit seemed to be one of the more obvious steps in that direction. When I feel tempted to get myself a little something, I consider the calories that I don't want. I consider the money that I do want to save. I consider how I want to create less trash. (One large styrofoam cup every other day or so...that's a lot of BAD trash!) But of course, the biggest motivator for me has just been to consider the simpler, less consumeristic life that I want for me and my family. Learning to find joy and comfort and pleasure in Jesus and in each other and in what we have already been blessed with.

Now...let it be known. I have not cut the habit out completely. I grabbed a Sonic yesterday for a picnic and when I meet with students or a friend, I will gladly enjoy a Starbucks. But...generally, I am not driving through for no reason at all, like I was before.

I am trying to think this way about eating out as well. When we moved to Brenham we stopped eating out as much, just because there aren't as many options here. But, despite our sad restaurant selection, the option to eat out often seems better, or at least easier than eating at home. But God has been at work here too.

I desire to create a God-glorifying, family-centered, community-rich culture in my home, and cooking and sitting around the dinner table seems to be one of the sweetest ways to make that happen. 30 years from now, I want Braelyn to remember the conversations and camaraderie that happened in the kitchen. I want her to learn how to cook and how to be a good hostess. Arby's just can't make those things happen. Plus, eating at home helps to save money...God's money that He has given us to steward wisely. It helps us eat more nutritious, balanced food. It helps us actually eat the food that I buy at the store and waste less. And eating in helps us to produce less trash (especially by avoiding fast food).

Again...we still go out to eat. But I want it to be an occasional treat rather than the norm.

One more thing on this subject. As I have been cooking and preparing more of our meals at home, I have found meal planning to be a very helpful tool. For me, it works best to shop for a weeks worth of meals. I plan about 3 meals which leaves room for leftovers and going out and whatnot. I have also started keeping one or two easy, go-to meals on hand, such as spaghetti or rice and beans, in case the original plan falls through. Life happens. This has helped curb the temptation to say, "Ugh...I don't know what to fix. Let's just go out to eat." If I don't want to waste the food that I bought...and I don't, then mama's gotta get cookin'. For more on this subject you should check out the Family Supper Club blog. There are lots of really smart, frugal, healthy moms on there sharing their wisdom, plus tons of great recipes.

Sorry I got kinda long-winded here. It has just been such a blessing to me to find that while I was preparing myself to "give up" this and that, the Lord was preparing to bless my socks off by giving me MORE. More quality time with my family. More priceless memories. More peace of mind. More organization and order in my home. More to learn and more to teach my daughter. I am very excited about these things. And that's just food! Still to come...changing my thoughts on clothes and creating a beautiful home.


Mommy, M.D. said...

beautiful, steph! great thoughts. i've been forced through some of that transition since moving here as well. being out in the sticks, far from restaurants, and having more kids were the things that make it harder for us to eat out as much as we did in houston. i love how you see that as God's hand at work, guiding through change that i would not have sought out for myself.

but it has been a great transition for us as well, and i've really grown in the last couple of years. by "grown" i just mean gotten better and more efficient at cooking, and less annoyed by the associated cleanup. i will say that having a kitchen i love was helpful... tools for the task.

that sense of entitlement for the conveniences though....ouch. i definitely get that.

i love where you're going with the thoughts on "family culture." it's a great thing to be intentional about.

i'm excited to see where you're going with clothes and home. i have a lot to learn there.

Amy said...

I really like this, Steph. Thanks so much for posting and being so open and vulnerable. I think we all have so much to learn in this area, because of living in a culture that not only preaches entitlement! independence!, but also, for the most part, supplies excess, making it so easy to indulge at others' expense.

Have you thought much about clothing made in sweatshops, and the repercussions for us once we have knowledge of that practice? That is one of my huge struggles. I don't buy clothing often, at all, however, when I do, it's ALWAYS sweatshop made, and that little mother culture voice in my head goes off, telling me, "It's no big deal...what am I supposed to do, spend twice as much so to ensure the workers actually get paid well, and aren't little children? EVERYONE does it...I don't have much money ANYWAY..."

Know what I mean? Gosh, it's such a struggle.

I look forward to future installments. Praying for you and your family. Miss you guys. Braelyn is adorable! I love the bottom picture.

mandi said...

oh- this is so wonderful! i love the idea of putting on garments of family and fellowship! yes, that is so true! these ideas of consumerism and frugality are so close to my heart as well. i have been praying that god will reveal new areas in my life that need to be refined as far as consumerism goes. i mean, sure, i rarely buy new, but is a weekly trip to the thrift store really necessary? i keep telling myself that i just might find what i really want...but is that healthy? and i know that may seem silly, but when we get over one hurdle, we always need to be checking ourselves. not get too complacent in the changes already made.

i'm looking forward to hearing more from you on this.

Abba's Girl said...

Beautiful post sweet, Sister in Christ. I am so thankful God put you in my life those many years ago and brought us back together again.

Love, Annette