Monthly Archives: October 2013
My husband and I are nearing 19 years of marriage. I have been reflecting on our history recently.
That is partly because my own parents divorced after they had “celebrated” their own 19th anniversary, and I have had to
say, “SHUT UP!!” to the enemy keep my thoughts captive regarding this particular milestone, and have been purposefully dwelling on the successes of our time together as a family.
3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.
Psalm 137:3-5 (NLT)*
It’s a pretty common understanding in the Christian culture that children are a blessing.
Confession: For a long, long time, I did not feel that blessing. I felt overwhelmed, not up to the massive task appointed to me. I saw my every flaw replicated and magnified in my children. I felt like I was endlessly disciplining, when I really didn’t WANT to discipline; I wanted to snuggle on the couch and have everyone love each other, and everyone respect each other, everyone defend each other, everyone exuding kindness and loyalty…
I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore, and though I do see my flaws in my children, I am less horrified these days. Instead, I see that as the provision of God to accent my need for His holiness and his character, in both myself and my children; it shows me what I need to work on. However, I still feel, oftentimes, like that last sentence in the paragraph above. There is not enough kindness and love in our home. There is not enough of the presence of the Holy Spirit. There is not enough of His peace. His patience is frequently far from manifest in the lives and hearts of every member of our family.
I am still starting to get a picture, a revelation, of how much BLESSING I live in.
It is dawning on me from a number of different horizons.
- A mother came up to me after worship on Sunday and told me how she had seen my 14 year old son, Grant, enter right into exuberant worship and praise — nothing rote — and he urged a friend to do the same.
- I am meeting more women — it’s my age, I guess — who do not have the family they envisioned for themselves, earlier in their lives. They don’t have as many children, or none at all, or they don’t have a healthy marriage, or none at all… It’s not that my marriage is flawless, but I do have a good marriage. And I have six children, which feels… complete for the first time in my motherhood. It doesn’t feel as if anyone is missing. I am realizing how easily what I presently have could have never been.
- I do long for more loyalty and kindness in particular between my children; every time a child throws a sibling under the bus, so to speak, by tattling, my stomach hurts and my heart aches. But, there IS a lot of love present in our home. I am trying to treasure all these things in my heart — to remember the loving, tender moments.
- People whose perspectives and opinions I trust are increasingly encouraging me, pointing out the good fruit in our home. A maternal uncle visited this past weekend. He left a note for my husband and I to read. Part of it said, “You have accepted the challenge of raising a Christian family at a time in history when our culture, society, and even our government fights you. Good job. Keep going. You are being watched by people you don’t even know, and they do so with a yen for what you have.”**
- At my step dad’s memorial service last Saturday, many people came up to me to congratulate me on the good behavior of my children, and extended their blessings to our family.
- Baby Jean seems to have brought a new level of tenderness in our family — especially in my two other girls. My pastor’s wife keeps noting it to me. It has opened my eyes to the reality of the Father God blessing our family, specifically through this chubby, sweet-smiling three-month-old infant.
- Just in general… People keep encouraging me, especially about my motherhood and my children. I should keep notes and read on a day when I’m discouraged. 🙂
I’ve always kept with the notion that those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise. Therefore, I often take lightly the compliments of others, regarding my children. I see the best in my children, but I also see the worst, and I can’t help but often think, “If you only knew...” when someone says something flattering about one of my children.
But, I’ve decided this: It would be more repugnant to live in the blessing and not realize it. I think my perfectionist self rather disqualifies my motherhood, disqualifies my children, even, from receiving compliments and blessings. This makes me sad. I want to believe it! I should believe it! I want to embrace a life of blessing. I want to ENJOY being blessed! I think it would score one for the enemy if I really did live a blessed life, but didn’t have the revelation of it. What a waste that would be!
I’m feeling an increased longing for more of God’s presence in our home. In short, I’m longing for His blessing, His hand on our lives and in our hearts. I’ve always wanted this… but it seems like God is bringing me to a place of urgency in prayer and in seeking Him for this, and I have, a number of times in the last month or so, been brought to tears with HOW MUCH I LONG FOR this, long for Him.
So, that’s my new goal: To enjoy the Father’s blessing, which, indeed, includes my precious children, and to look for and acknowledge His blessing. I am a blessed woman, indeed, to have six children and a loving husband. Perfection is a long, long, long, long ways off. But I am still very blessed, and I want to have an increasing revelation of that, and live in its peace.
*For the curious, our family is not “quiverfull“.
** I was telling my pastor about how I was basking in this blessing from my uncle, and then, I looked over and saw my seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, CHEWING on the note. CHEWING IT. She explained, “I’m pretending to be a puppy!” My pastor said with a laugh, “And then reality set in!”
***There is an old worship song by John Barnett called “In the Blessing.” Its words are: “Here I stand/In the blessing of the Father’s love/Washed in blood/Sweet forgiveness for a life undone… Knowing that Your love is all I need/To get by/Knowing that Your hand is over me/All my life/My Father, I love you…” I couldn’t find a recording of this song — which has often brought me to tears — to add to this post.
I used to eat broccoli a lot. It was THE go-to veggie for my family. I’d purchase, at a minimum, enough for two dinners’ worth, and prepared it in innumerable ways, but most often, just steamed. We hardly ever eat broccoli any more. I like broccoli. I just usually can’t bring myself to buy it.
“…the United States is a net importer of broccoli overall. In 2010, the United States imported 524.5 million pounds of frozen broccoli valued at $243 million. The majority of the frozen broccoli came from Mexico (72%), followed by Guatemala (15%) and Ecuador (8%) (Vegetable and Melon Data, ERS 2011).”
To be clear, if you are eating FROZEN broccoli, it is almost certainly from another country; producing broccoli florets is labor-intensive, and since labor costs are higher here than in other countries. If you eat fresh broccoli, there is a better chance that it came from the United States, most likely California. If you eat organic, fresh broccoli, chances are even GREATER that the broccoli came from the U.S. But, still…
I live in the desert, here in the Phoenix area. I know that broccoli is harvested here for a very limited time of the year, usually in March.
And how do I know that? Because a majority of my family’s veggies are from a local farm, Crooked Sky Farms, in a year ’round CSA. Before 2013, our veggies came — for 20 weeks out of the year — from a different CSA. The window for local, fresh, organic broccoli is very small.
So, when I’m shopping in the heat of summer, and that broccoli is looking mighty fine for a stir-fry, I ponder and think, “It’s August. It’s stinkin’ 120° out there. I know, Grocery Store Broccoli, that you did not come from any place even remotely close to here.” And I usually pass on by… I might cave if it’s from an organic producer in California; that’s not too very far. But usually, I just pass, and choose a summer veggie. Or, I just live off of what the CSA provides.
I purchase very few veggies any more. Year ’round, I do purchase mushrooms, lettuces (when not from the CSA), celery, and red bell peppers (when the CSA doesn’t provide other bell peppers).
And… I think that’s about it. Oh! Potatoes I purchase year ’round, though they are available from the CSA for a good portion of the year. I also purchase frozen organic sweet corn and frozen organic green beans, both from Costco. Again, both green beans and corn are available for a time from the CSA. And, I froze as much corn as I could this year, but we’ve already eaten it all. 🙂
That sounds like a lot of purchased veggies. But, really, it’s not, compared to how many veggies our family eats.
And when I finally have my garden up and going, it will be even fewer, but that’s another story.
I sent this to my CSA members this morning:
I just wanted to send out a note of encouragement to each of you. I’ve heard from several who are growing really weary of eating the same things from week to week. Well, it hasn’t been exactly the same thing, but there have been several items — especially okra and cucumbers — that folks seem to be tiring of. I do understand! I intended to turn a batch of lemon cukes into pickles this past week, and with two different sets of houseguests, I didn’t get that done. I also decided to give away a bunch of okra, rather than freeze it. So, I do understand the weariness.
I do, however, want to remind each of you that eating seasonally is much healthier for YOU and for the planet. Studies have shown that produce that is grown seasonally (instead of imported, or grown locally in forced, non-natural environments) to be much higher in nutrient content.
Eating seasonally is a true return to ancestral ways of eating. Our ancestors ate what they could grow in their own environment, according to the season. They would eat a glut of what was fresh, and preserve what wouldn’t keep. We’re simply not accustomed to that. We live in America, which is, in many ways, a tremendously blessed country. Each of us very likely lives less than a mile or two from a supermarket. In that supermarket, we can buy broccoli year ’round. However, broccoli bought in the deserts of Phoenix in October likely grew in Mexico or South America, and traveled thousands of miles to get here. (The U.S. does grow broccoli in California, but we import more than we export. Most of the broccoli eaten in the U.S. comes from Mexico, Guatemala, or Ecuador.)
I’m not trying to guilt-trip you out of buying broccoli on your next trip to the grocery store, I promise! And in some ways, I do realize that I’m preaching to the choir; most of us don’t have to be convinced of the benefits of eating locally, seasonally, and organically.
For another perspective:
“Better nutritional content and overall health – Most grocery stores and food chains jazz up their fruits and vegetables to keep them looking attractive and inviting when they’re out of season. This naturally compromises the nutrition level of the food. Non-seasonal foods require bending of nature’s rules in order for them to survive the improper season in which they are brought into the world. Therefore, these foods are often full of pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals that are used in order to make them look fresher than they are.
By eating freshly harvested produce, you will be rotating your foods, thereby keeping your body from developing intolerances to certain foods and reaping the health benefits of a diet that is diverse and naturally detoxifying. Seasonal foods also have a much higher antioxidant content than non-seasonal foods.
Sustainable and environmental benefits – By eating seasonally, you will also be supporting the local farmers and local markets, which, in turn, works well for the sustainability of the entire economy. Seasonal eating helps the environment by reducing the number of food miles your food has to make before it reaches your table. The more local you eat, the less chances exist that you are consuming food that has been flown in from half way across the world, in effect consuming that much more fuel.”
And here’s another article: http://life.gaiam.com/article/benefits-eating-what-s-season
And another: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=28
ALSO, when farmers (and gardeners) plant the things that grow best in our rather extreme environment, and they don’t try to FORCE things to grow here that shouldn’t be growing in the desert, that helps to eliminate the need for pesticides and fungicides, etc.
So… if you can find the time, DO pickle those cucumbers — refrigerator pickles are easy and don’t require pressure canning. Okra is easily freezable: Cut off the stem end and pop them whole into a freezer bag. Similarly, you can freeze summer squash without doing anything special: wash, trim the ends, and dice them. Then, just put them into freezer bags. Store your onions and potatoes in the fridge, and they will last for MONTHS.
I’m still enjoying greens that I froze this past spring, and summer squash from my freezer as well.
Preserving helps you maximize the value of the CSA, as well. I know I feel GREAT when I pull out some dried basil from the cabinet or diced rutabaga from my freezer, long after the season has ended. I feel like I’m being an excellent steward of what has been provided to me!
That said… cooler weather crops will very soon be available! I don’t have an exact timeline, but I did receive this message from the farm:
“Good day Glendale CSA. Thank you so much for participating in supporting your local farmer. Eating seasonal takes that ancestor heart that brings us back to eating the way nature intended. This is the best way to ensure your family is putting chemical free produce in their bodies. Farmer Frank always says “we fight GMO’s with our actions, not just our words.” While your taste buds are craving autumn, sweeten your palate with winter squash like butternut squash, spaghetti squash, baking pumpkins and more. Also look forward to soooo many greens, such as swiss chard, spinach, kale. Lets not forget our root crops. This year we plan to wow you with colored carrots, watermelon radishes and more! Jazz up your plates with Romanesco, graffiti cauliflower (purple), lettuces and rare onions. We are just beginning to scratch the surface. Thank you for your patience and commitment. We delight in serving you with many treasures.”
“Naturally Grown, Naturally Yours”, the Crooked Sky family
Again, NONE of this is said to guilt anyone into doing anything. I also understand about being on a budget, and the continual pull between eating more healthily, and being wise with my family’s resources. That’s actually the main reason I started hosting!! I primarily get paid in veggies. 😉 It’s a huge benefit to my large family to be “given” about $40 worth of organic veggies every week. But, before I hosted, I participated in CSAs for several years, in addition to growing my own garden…
I do understand that you have to do what works for your family… I truly do.
And I THANK YOU, all of you, for participating, whether you’ve been with me from the beginning and are absolutely committed, *OR* if this whole CSA thing is new to you — or eating healthy is new to you — and you’re just trying it out. Everyone is on a different point in their journey to health and wellness, and I’m so very, very pleased to assist any of you at any point in your journey.
The short version of this very long post is that it is an EFFORT to eat well. It requires something of you. Time, money, effort, convenience… All of those, or a combination.But the result is worth it, I do believe.