Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Famine and the Feast

This little un-named member of our family sure does know how to Feast!
But I"m not really talking about feasting or fasting on food.  Although that is part of it, but I'm talking about a mentality, or paradigm if you will.  Let me explain:

I just finished chapter six, on Spending, of Jen Hatmaker's book, 7.  And I realized I am a chronic comparer-er (a word?).  They say "the devil is in the details".  This is true.  I compare my details with other folk's details and then I'm so consumed with what I don't do (or have) that I feel just fine and dandy about myself.
  • I don't live in a very big house.
  • I don't have cable.
  • I don't go shopping in the mall.
  • I don't eat out very much.
  • I don't let my kids play with electronics.
  • I don't let my kids watch a lot of TV.
  • I don't like to watch very much TV.
  • I don't shop at conventional/ big chain conglomerate stores very much, opting for the local or small business.
  • and so on and so on...
Does anyone else feel that they spend a lot of time thinking of all the not so great stuff they don't do that their focus is shifted from the very large two by four in their own face?  Just me, then?!

So in an effort to recognize, and own up to my "plank", here is what I do do that I have been convicted of since reading 7:
  • I spend an exorbitant amount of money each month on food- i.e. I currently have at least 20 different types of hot tea varieties from herbal to yerba mate, and I have at least 15 different types of grains on hand just in case I care to whip up anything I desire on a whim.
  • I buy a lot of random stuff.  No, I don't go clothes shopping, but I will pick up that cheap platter while I'm at Hobby Lobby because it will make my life more colorful, or I pick up that new cosmetic from Walgreen's while I'm there for diapers because it will make me look better.
  • I spend a lot of time getting ready.  Before I had kids I would spend 1 hr getting ready after a shower.  Now, since I have kids, my shower days are usually once or twice a week, but I still take that hour (spread out over several other hours due to not wanting the house to come crumbling down since Mommy was in the bathroom for an hour!).
  • I'm a food snob.  I think about food constantly, and food is constantly around me, and the options are endless.  "Maybe tonight I can make a lemon jasmine tea cake with some coconut milk ice cream and then my evening will feel special!"  I think about creating food options for me and my family to the point that I will spend 2 1/2 hours preparing many a dinner!  That's great and all for a special occasion, but what a bunch of time ill spent on a family who would be just fine with hot dogs, chips, and broccoli salad!
  • Our kids have a TON of stuff.  I have bought zero toys for our kids out of my own pocket since they came to live with us 8 months ago, yet we are swimming in their toys, dress up clothes, and knick knacks.  Somehow it never occurred to me to let them give stuff away and experience the joy of giving because they have been given much since coming out of poverty themselves.  What a shame it would be to not acknowledge their former poverty; it would also be a shame if I let them forget it and not connect them with the fact that just like they used to live, there are others out there hurting right now still.
  • We have little restraint on where we spend our money.  This is something I was super humbled about by reading this chapter.  We don't really go into any debt; we somehow manage to come out on top, but we spend our money at so many different places without asking "do I really need this/ to do this/ to eat out, etc.".  I counted, and for the month of May (which we said we were not eating out during to save money- even though we fudged a couple of times) we spent money at 23 different merchants!  That's not counting groceries, gas, bill paying, rent, etc.  Just 23 random spending escapades that I did not think twice about- and that was during a month when we were cutting our spending!  I didn't even go back and look at April because if 23 is what I consider "fasting" from spending, then I did not want to be sad about how many more places we casually dropped money at when we were "feasting".
Which brings me to the most important lesson I learned, or my "take home" from month 6 of Hatmaker's 7 experiment:  I want to be a family that lives in the middle ground between the fasting and the feast!   Jen talks about how the early church fasted.  Christianity is "boring" without the fasting.  We (America) are a people of feasting.  I want this, "yes- get it! because you need it".  Unfortunately, we have united with our culture and are Christians who are only feasting!  Where is the balance?  Who goes without anymore if they don't have to?  Where is the connection to those who don't have a choice to go without and those who can meet their needs?  I'm not just talking to the Church here, I'm talking to Me!

Balancing the fasting and the feast.  The Divine tension.  That says what my hearts desire is for our family!

So....David and I had a "date night" in the playroom.  (Since our kids are still on "foster care status", we cannot let anyone who has not gone through an extensive background check through our agency [read: 30+ pages of paperwork, weeks of getting results back, and their left kidney] keep the kids, so we get creative with our in-home dates.)  As we were sitting at our card table with a purple queen sheet table cloth (fancy :), we talked about how our family can "fast" more.  Or eliminate excess in areas.  Give away.  Spend less time or money.  And we came up with some cool things!  And seeing as how this post is quite lengthy, I will post my "Jones family semi-permanent fasting from list" in my next post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thoughts on Food

So have you heard of 7.
Just the number, not spelled out.
The lady at Barnes and Noble said I could have found it faster if I hadn't told her to look for "Seven"- spelled out.
It's a book.  And it's by Jen Hatmaker.
And (like others that have in the past, such as Shaine Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution) it is rocking my world.
I identify with the author in that I need God to sometimes push me into action in a radical way.  As much as I value being middle-of-the-road, I need to act in extreme ways for change.  To change myself.

So, as most of you know (or don't ;), we recently "took in" three foster children (see an example of acting extreme:).  They did not eat well before they lived with us.  Maybe sometimes not at all.  For how long I don't know, but we do know their medical condition when they came into care.  So when they came to live with us, I introduced them to my foodie-loving-baking-craziness-high-maintenance-three-course-meal-lovin' style of eating!

Fast forward a few months, and the typical daily conversations in our home are about food:
  • "Mom, what are we having for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack/elevensies?"
  • "I don't know, I will think of something.  Don't worry about it too much.  Maybe some tuna salad and some chips"
  • "And what else?"
  • "I don't know maybe and apple and some vegetable."
  • "And what else?"
  • "Well, we might have some dessert, too"
  • "Ok, so tuna, chips, apples, maybe broccoli salad, and some cookies...........And what else?"
Noticing a pattern?!!  I have turned her into a miniature food-lovin' version of me!

So the other day, after a conversation about lunch that went something like the typical one above, I decided to "educate" my daughter on how food doesn't need to be taken for granted, shouldn't be the most exciting part of the day, there are starving kids in China.....blah, blah, blah.  Then I threw in a very relevant plug for Uncle Chris and Aunt Sarah who work with kids (in Kenya) who only eat the same thing every day and are super grateful because that is their only meal.  And as I thought I was teaching an important life lesson, my daughter (5) replied,
  • "When we lived with ____ ____ (her birth mom), we ate the same thing every day."
  • Me (thinking she was mistaken, but humoring her nonetheless): "Oh, yeah?  What was that?"
  • "The spaghetti with the curly noodles and the meatballs that comes from a can."
  • Me (now thinking, aw man, Chef Boyardee every day, and that's all???  Now not knowing what to say.)  "Well... were you happy to eat it?"
  • "Yeah.  But that's all we had for a while."
  • Insert my extreme humility here!!!  
She totally does not take food for granted.  She is just so excited to have it around and have lots of it!  Still- after several months of eating with us.

But eventually if we let things continue and allow food to have such an elevated place- even good, healthy food- she might become just like me.  Someone who has 500+ different kinds of food items in her pantry/ spice rack/ freezer/ and refrigerator.  (I even have an entire blog devoted to food and recipes!)  And yet, I am someone who does not think about her poorer neighbor often enough.

So David and I are going on a ten-day "7 fast".  Here is the menu:

There are many reasons why we decided to do this.  But mainly we want the Lord to move in us (mainly me, Eryn :) to not place such a high priority on things like Thai Coconut Ginger Soup with toasted homemade rice flatbread and made-from-scratch croissants for dessert!  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with all of those wonderful food items.  But they consume my day, my thoughts.  Without them, I'm hoping to make more room for more important things!

As I finish this post, it's day 2 of our 10 day fast and things are going well.  I'm not too hungry.  Although, that could be blamed on my intense allergies (seasonal variety) at the moment.

And my daughter says she wants to eat just seven foods too so she can think about those kids in Africa- sweet angel baby girl!!

I recently came across a group of bloggers doing a summer series that you can check out below:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Real Life

I admire those bloggers who chose to take a stand against the picture-perfect images they wish to (and perhaps usually do) convey to the world and expose themselves for the real people they are.  Insert "imperfect", "organizationally challenged", "doesn't have it all together", or even "doesn't sew Pinterest-worthy homemade toilette seat covers while their kids sing hymns together while cleaning up the house" for the word "real" in the previous sentence :)

So here is my attempt at letting you in on our After the Airport moments in our home.  (Btw, please read the linked post if you ever have had anyone in your life who has gone through an adoption of sorts- their journey seems harder in many ways than ours, but the author of that posts speaks the truth about what happens after the honeymoon period.)

This is a normal weeks worth of laundry.  Yes, I do laundry weekly (if that!).

  1. The above photo was taken on Valentines Day.  On the most romantic day of the year, we put the kids to bed 1/2 hour early (they were tired anyways) and covered up the clothes with a blanket and had a "date" on the other side of the room.  Just don't look to your right at the GIANT pile of unfinished folding- then you can still pretend we are at one of those romantic places people go to eat sometimes...what were they called?  Restau-somethings?
  2. Speaking of- having a date is a thing of the past.  We do get creative, but we have not spent a night out together in 9 months!  (before you feel too sorry for me, David's schedule is flexible so we do get to spend sporadic time alone together)
  3. Going from zero to three has been... interesting.  I find it ironic that people with three or four kids seem to feel sorry for me.  At first I didn't understand because they would look at me with such empathy, like "Oh, man.  I'm REALLY praying for you!"  But you have the same number (or more) of kids!  What the what?  Now, though, I kind of get it.  They are feeling the same way I feel every day.  Totally worn out sometimes to the point that they try to remember what having no kids felt like and they can't remember the sweet bliss of being DINKs or SINKs so they just feel sorry for those who go straight into their situation without easing into it like they did.  I think they are happy to have someone else join the club, but that club also includes all of us who have such a radically different life than those with no kids.  I guess that is what I'm getting at.  I feel like I hardly ever (or don't) see my single or just couple friends any more.  This is a sad reality of my new family, my new ministry.
  4. God has blessed us with an amazing home to raise these blessed babies in, but there are some crazy things that come with it.  Like, the pic below. David trying to go and kill a burrow of yellow jackets and not get attacked!  We had a near attack on our middle one, Mimi, when she was playing right on the hole!  David saw some crawling out and quickly rescued her before he doused them with gasoline.
    David suited up to fight the yellow jackets
  5. taming the jungle
  6. Or this:  Here is the big pile of brush that gets cut away from the jungle in the back yard every couple of weeks only to stay there for several weeks until we (meaning David) can finally cut them down to pull them to the street for pick-up.  Meanwhile the kids play amidst the branches and every now and then bring in "house plants" into their play house :)
  7. Horton Hatches the Egg makes me cry.  Yes, I said it.  It totally gets me in the end.  "And it should be, it should be, it should be like that!  Because he (they) sat, and he sat, and he sat, and he sat...."  I totally identify with Horton.  I feel like the kids are becoming more and more like us every day, coming out with our honky white elephent trunks and ears even though they are half Vietnamese (figuratively, that is :).  But I also feel like this job is a job where we get very little thanks.  I know all moms will say that.  But I confess I struggle that my kids have another mother who loves them and they love her.  I'm so glad they love her, don't get me wrong.  But did the little elephant bird that came out of the egg love both Horton and Mayzie...and sometimes want to live with them both?  
I realize this may somewhat sound like a venting blog.
Not my intention.
But, I just wanted to do my part to encourage anyone else out there who may feel like the interwebs are over loaded with people who have it all together :)