Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Mug of Boiled Water

I can promise you, I'm not happy.  I have only two habits--one of which is extremely annoying--that have stuck throughout the years.  Playing with my hair (that's the annoying one which leaves both my husband and my brother-in-law cringing and renders my hair perpetually uneven in length due to the breakage caused by said habit) and drinking coffee first thing in the morning.  Rain, shine, spring, fall, 100 degrees or twenty,  Preferably two mugs. Supersized ones.  Period.  I have exchanged vanity for coffee stained teeth, and frankly (because I'm sure you'd like to know this) it prevents me from ever needing to buy Metamucil.  So, that's the redemptive thing behind the habit.

When spring climbs her way into the north Georgia mountains sprinkling her colors, her drops of green and blackberry-foam purple on violets, her salmon and sangria on the tulips, I like to be present.  I do not want to miss one millimeter of growth, of new life exploding as she passes by.  I have a routine.
Wake up.
Look out the window and thank God for another day.
Acknowledge Nathan. (who is already awake no matter how early I rise)
Make coffee. (I'm not telling you how many cups.  I already told you about the Metamucil)
Get the dog leash. (By now, Jango is shoving me out the door)
Pour coffee.
Walk Jango . . . while sipping coffee.
View Spring as she drips and drops about the hills . . . while sipping coffee.
Examine her work closely in my garden . . . while sipping coffee.
That's it.  The rest of the day may not commence until I've done this routine.

So I am sure you will understand my dilemma when I tell you that the first month of my personal SEVEN is food.  (If you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about, read my blog post from a couple days ago.)  And guess what God just insisted I give up first?  Yeah, redundant, I know.  Coffee.
Hence the first sentence of this little post.  I'm in an extremely agitated-would-bite-someones-head-off-if-I-wasn't-also-in-deep-brain-fog-due-to-caffeine-withdrawal state. Did I mention I have a headache?

For seven months I will commit to seven different themes.  The purpose will be in essence a fast with the chief aim being to empty myself that Christ might fill me with His thoughts, His desires, His plans, His goals.  Because I really feel strongly about being characterized by what I do and not what I don't do, I've phrased my list for this first month--The Food Month--in this slant.  These are things that, after some prayer and good old fashioned honesty with myself, (Yes, self, you are indeed a greedy glutton.) I want to commit a month to pursuing.

1. Do eat organic/unprocessed foods (With a budget that lacks wiggle room, the organic part is going to have to be a little flexible, but I will give it a hearty attempt.  Does anyone know if Ramen Noodles come unprocessed and organic?)

2. Do eat only whole grains. (Sadness.  I'm baking fresh  WHITE bread tomorrow for a friend's birthday, and I would normally double the batch and keep a loaf for us.)

3. Do eat fruit/veggie with every meal, and only fruits and veggies for snacks.  (Here I will try to use things from my garden every day.  We are in salad season, so this will help offset some of the organic cost since I keep my garden pretty much organic.)

4. Do walk away from caffeine. (I’m going to die, starting now.)

5. Do walk away from all sweeteners. (This month has nothing to do with dieting for me.  There have been times--like when Cort left a few of his infant pounds in my stomach after he was born--when I needed to kick sugar to the curb from a calorie standpoint.  This is different.  I'm leaving sweetness, period.  I think to live in hunger must be a very bitter thing, and I don't want to sweeten this month artificially, organically, or any other way.  I love sweets.  Have you ever seen my pictures?  My profile picture on facebook was a cake for 2 months for crying out loud! Ignoring that box of Krispy Kremes, the homemade sour cream coffee cake, and the two logs of double chocolate cookie dough in my freezer will be a very...VERY constant reminder of the blessings I have, and the hunger of over 85% of the world.)

6. Do eat before 7PM (I chose 7 PM for obvious reasons—seven. Also, because it gives us time to get late dinners in.  We aren't much of a schedule family so I’m not going to be legalistic about supper. The real reason I'm choosing to do this is because I want to cull the savory snacks I treat myself to when the boys have finally settled under their IKEA comforters for the night.  I hesitated on this particular one because I didn't want it to be about not eating after seven.  You always hear you shouldn't do that if you are dieting.  But this is NOT a diet.  The bottom line is this is a snack I don't need--a luxury--and there are children in the world who don't get snacks period. I want to feel that.  I want to go to bed a little bit hungry.  I want, somehow, in some small, microscopic, way to understand what it means to go without something I want.)

7. Do read either In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto or Animal Vegetable Miracle: A year of Food Life (I did the Omnivore's Dilemma thing and it was great for about the first three chapters.  Then I started falling asleep.  He made his point . . . more than once.  I'm hoping these books will give me a little more understanding of the reality of what we eat and its impact on the world as a whole and on my family's bodies too.)

I also hope to visit or view online a processing plant for meat. And I intend to take one day each week and attempt to eat like the poor of Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and Ecuador. These are four countries that pinch at my heart.  This part I will do with the boys; we'll go online to learn more about the conditions of these particular nations.  And speaking of the boys, so far, they've been very kind.  I had anticipated them giving me the mom, you are going to slowly torture us for an entire month? look, but they haven't.  Already, they're willing to quit the processed/fast food stuff for the month, though one of them is begging for the remaining Dr. Bob (I know, I'm cheap) that's been sitting on the counter over a week.
Basically, I've chosen to do food for a few reasons.  One--I'm a glutton, and I know it.  Two--every five seconds a child dies from hunger or preventable disease.  I need to get my head wrapped around that from a compassion standpoint.  I also need to process that fact in light of the fact that I just might be able to sponsor a child from Compassion if I am willing to eliminate/drastically reduce consumption of things like coffee.  Three--Jen Hatmaker says in her book Seven that we get to vote every day with our fork.  And we do.  I do.  I'm guilty of supporting some not so great, definitely not ethical (But who cares about animals and the environment...right? Apparently God.) practices when it comes to growing and butchering meat.  When I eat foods laden with high fructose corn syrup, again, I'm voting.  And I need to explore that from a stewardship of my body and the earth standpoint.

I have no idea where I will land, and I'm not making any granola'ish promises that I will become a wild mushroom, poke salad eating vegan.  That's pretty unlikely.  Some of you may think I'm a little off my rocker and others of you may be thinking my SEVEN are pretty lame.  No matter--you don't have to read :-)  I really debated even posting any of this.  Do they even care about this sort of thing?  Do they want to read about my addiction to coffee and sweets?  Does anyone read the blog at all?Probably not.  But, maybe, just maybe there are a few of you out there who understand where I'm coming from.  See for me, food can be my life, and my only concern is that I don't get too fat. (What? I'm being honest.)  So, if I eat what I want, have a jog, and can still fit in my Ann Taylor jeans, then it's all good.  But is it?  Really?  Because for some people in our world, food really is their life.  And they haven't any.  And Jesus said He came that they might have life.  Dare I withhold the very thing Christ came to give?  I stole this Thomas More quote from a friend's facebook page because he says it better than me.  “It's wrong to deprive someone else of a pleasure so that you can enjoy one yourself, but to deprive yourself of a pleasure so that you can add to someone else's enjoyment is an act of humanity by which you always gain more than you lose.”

A theme for me this month will be this verse.
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,"  (II Cor. 6:19-20)
You are not your own.
Really?  Because I'm afraid I've been eating like I am entirely my own and that I'm entitled to have what I want.  I'm afraid I've eaten from a vain perspective instead of a tending of the frame that God crafted approach.
Therefore honor God with your body.
The choices I make either honor my God or mar His image.  Just because I can get away with eating whatever I want from a physical standpoint doesn't mean I have honored God.  And if what I eat causes another person to have less, than I have in fact, dishonored Him.
So, here I am beginning.  Already today while sipping my boiled water from a Tim Horton's (the best coffee place in the world for my American friends who don't know) mug, I doubted this entire thing.  Why would anyone want to torture themselves?  God allowed me to be born in North America; He must have wanted me to have these things.  At church tonight I had to bring my own supper because I wasn't very confident that their meal would be SEVEN approved.  Someone immediately noticed my organic Greek yogurt and said . . . and I kid you not, "Yogurt? Really?  You live in North America with all these choices and you pick yogurt?"  (She had no idea I was doing this . . . otherwise she'd have been a thousand percent supportive.)  But, it proves my point exactly.

I do live in North America ,and I have so many choices that I no longer understand what it means to live without any choices.  Here we are in what some call Holy Week . . . those sacred days that we've placed on the calendar to remind us of the brokenness of Christ.  Surely Jesus ached with thoughts of what He would face, what He would endure that we might have life. 

 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."  (II Cor. 8:9) 

He became poor.  Gave up.  Sacrificed.  Relinquished.
That I might gain the riches of eternity.
May I become poor that someone else may gain those same blessings.


Anne Arnold Pierce said...

reading a long and praying.

Steve Cockerham said...

I am going to gently disagree, but I must temper my thoughts. If God laid it on your heart to give up coffee and the rest, who am I to question? He tells each of us different things. Be careful, though, not to slip into legalism. Jesus came that we might have Life and to have it abundantly. I don't mean the American Consumerism Life that some are obsessed with, but he did free us from a set of rules that can only at best separate us from God. Jesus himself said, "It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of him." Paul's teachings are clear and numerous that we have been freed from dietary restrictions.

Of course, eating sensibly and eating healthy just makes sense. But having a cup of coffee and a piece of pie from time to time is just fine.

My thoughts are this: Don't fret the little stuff. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Peace and Grace.

Laura said...

I support your venture with food. And yes people do read your blog, and care. In fact, I look forward to each one. I would love permission to repost this as a guest blogger on my blog. My opinion is that you are not denying yourself in a legalistic way, buy to empathize with those less fortunate. As for your 7 rules for food, I have done them, and like you, not as a "diet" but to improve my health. As you quoted, my body is the temple for my soul, and we are to honor God with our body.

Melanie Z. said...

I read your blog. I care. I love hearing your thoughts. :)

Didge said...

I, for one, was a little jealous of your meal, as awesome as mine was. The white chicken chili, out of this world. I also knew how much goodness your body was going to soak in from what you were eating though.

I love this post and the poster. I wish I had already read this book because I would love to do this with you.

Oh, and while ramen aren't good for you necessarily, I have been making an effort to eat healthy while not having much more money than the bills in the past month or so and so I make ramen, leave out the packet of favoring and just use seaweed and garlic or some other seasoning.

I love you.

Sarah said...

Ant--Love you always. Steve--Yes, I agree with you completely. In his book "Radical" David Platt says, "Scripture does not condemn riches or possessions in and of themselves. In fact, Scripture teaches that God gives us material resources (including food) for our good. In the words of Paul, God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment..."" It is something I have thought much about--as you say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a richly brewed cup of coffee (said while drinking boiled water again :-) and having some pie. Nothing at all. In no way would I plan to follow this fast for a lifetime . . . if I make it one month, it may be a miracle! However, Laura--you hit the nail on the head when you said I want to "empathize with those less fortunate." I'm so easily distracted (and honestly, food is a MONSTROUS distraction for me) by wanting more, making more, building more, doing more, but yet religion that's pure and faultless cares for the widows, the orphans. I want to be more focused. Giving up things for a month that I genuinely enjoy and are habitually a part of my life is like having an alarm clock set to remind me constantly of other needs. Hmmmm...maybe I should eat whatever I want and just set the alarm clock!?! :-) Thank you all for your comments. Steve--your thoughts are well taken and a good reminder to me that post-SEVEN, I am truly free to live abundantly, not legalistically, and out of that abundance, I pray that my heart will have greater focus in sharing with a very needy world. Laura--I'm honored that you'd want to repost on your blog. Of course you can.
Love to all

Sarah said...

CJ--do frozen mix veggies, can of chicken and a pack of ramen! (sans the flavor packet as you said!) And I love you!