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.

1 comment:

Buddy and Maurine said...

I love your transparency and I can't wait to read the next post!!