Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Accountability -- Thoughts & Purpose

What shapes my "food philosophy" The WHY that goes into the planning, preparation, and consumption of our family's meals?

There were quite a few "lean years" when Mom and Dad were trying to feed 2 adults and 6 children (and most of us had good appetites) on an income of less than $20,000 a year. That's $20,000 for groceries -- AND housing -- AND transportation -- AND medical bills -- AND student loans ... AND ... AND ...

God is good. We always had enough. But i think that even as a child i picked up on the stress associated with acquiring just the basic needs of life. Whenever Dennis or i get stressed (even if the stress has nothing to do with money) i immediately start worrying about finances. I start plotting how i could work without putting Geneva in childcare.

I buy groceries.

Even if we don't really need them. Even if i'm stressed BECAUSE i've spent too much money (on groceries, since i rarely spend money on anything else).

Buying food calms me down.
We may not have money to pay rent, but at least we can eat this week.

This is not only irrational, it is sinful -- a disconnect between what i think i "know" and what i actually feel and believe. I need to bring this response to stress to God. I need to REMIND MYSELF that i can trust His care of us -- that imminent doom is NOT over the horizon -- and that i CANNOT stave it off by spending extra money on extra groceries. I CAN be grateful for what we have, TRUST God to provide what we need, and choose to act accordingly.

I will address this by:
Memorizing "fighter verses" that remind me to trust God's provision
Resolving to shop only once a week -- if i think i need an extra trip -- resolve to wait until TOMORROW!

I am SO grateful to be restored to what is (i believe and hope) a healthy attitude about my body, food, and eating. But my past definitely affects the choices i make about food today.
I eat -- and choose for my family -- healthy foods. We don't eat prepared, packaged, or processed foods. But i am VERY hesitant to give myself or others limits about food -- especially limits of quantity -- portion size, numbers, frequency.

This is a bit tricky. I do think we (especially me and Geneva) eat a lot MORE than many people do, especially considering our size. I do think i sometimes eat when i am not hungry, but i am very reluctant to address that yet. After years of denying myself what my body needed, i still feel that eating is ALWAYS good -- right?

Do i really need two servings of the casserole at dinner? Do i really need a big bowl of popcorn right before bed? Isn't almond milk kind of a luxury purchase? 

This is something that still feels too new to really challenge myself with. I don't want to use my past as an excuse for laziness or self-indulgence, but i think i need more time to mature/get more solid (hah!) before i really look at this. I want to be a good steward of our groceries, but i DO NOT want, at this point in time, to impose any kind of portion control, or to outlaw any food items.

I will address this by:
Praying that God will establish me in healthy ways of thinking
Trying to be MINDFUL before, during, and after eating
Trusting that any maturing that needs to happen here will be in God's timing -- i don't have to make it happen.

Sensuality as an aspect of my character -- a neutral term, not necessarily good or bad in itself, but lending itself to specific virtues and sins.
I am a person who loves physical pleasure -- including the pleasure that comes from generous amounts of delicious food and drink, for myself, for my family, and for anyone else i can bring into the family circle.

I like eating well, and I am OK with that. I would rather spend money eating well each week than subsist on mac-n-cheese and have a vacation every year.

Under the governance of the Holy Spirit, i think this is a VERY GOOD quality. Food IS good. Hospitality IS good. Having PLENTY is good. Rejoicing in and enjoying those things is good. I am glad that i am a person who enjoys food. I am glad that i live in a culture that allows me to enjoy those things, and i don't thing it is wrong to do so.

Where this quality, corrupted, opens me to temptation -- self-indulgence and ingratitude!
How many items on my grocery receipt are there only because they will increase Emily's pleasure -- personal or vicarious?
This week --
Frozen blueberries $2.91
Almond milk $2.89
Extra pkg sandwich cheese (Dennis) $1.69
Popcorn $1.88
Kale $1.99
Coconut shreds $0.70
Can of soda $0.40
Pineapple $1.99
Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz (for Dennis) $3.00

This is a tricky one -- especially considering my past. I DO tend to make choices that show that i value immediate, physical pleasure more than i value long-term goals. All of the items on that list, except for the soda (and maybe the popcorn) seem like GOOD items ... but maybe they aren't the BEST items for our situation right now.

I will address this by:
Praying a prayer of gratitude RIGHT BEFORE I GO SHOPPING, asking God to help me make wise choices
Marking any "want" items on my list. As an exercise in self-control, for the next month choose JUST ONE of these items from each list and DO NOT purchase it. I think this will be enough to exercise my flaccid self-control without dooming myself to failure, or making it into a monster.

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