Monday, November 22, 2010

For The Love of Cooking

"She is like the merchant ships,
      She brings her food from afar.
       15 She also rises while it is yet night,
      And provides food for her household,
      And a portion for her maidservants."  Proverbs 31:14-15

I've been wanting to do this post for a long time now.  It's been in my head many times over the years, and I've always mulled on it and wondered if it really would be a good thing to give voice to and put out there for others to see and read.  The reason I hadn't done it before was because I was worried that it was going to come across as prideful, which it most certainly is not.  But this, in fact, is a message for all the moms out there.  Or the would be moms.  Or the young ladies who have dreams of their future husband and future children. 

Lately, as I've been watching my daughter do various things, I've become very aware of the fact that she truly is now growing out of being a child, and beginning the stages of growing into a young lady.  And while I don't want to rob her of the remaining years of childhood that are left for her, I also realize that the time is now for some gentle training for her.  It's time for her to begin working on some of the skills that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.  And one of those things, one of the most important for her to learn is how to prepare food.

It just doesn't get much more basic than food, really.  If we don't eat every day and nourish our bodies, they will crumble.  They will get sick from lack of nutrients, they will fall apart, and will eventually wither away without proper nutrition.   Many, many illnesses and ailments people deal with today are simply because they are missing the right combination of nutrients for their bodies.  The task of preparing food doesn't have to be elaborate or fancy.  We don't need to be eating six-course meals every day of our lives, but we do need to eat, and we need to eat correctly.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and did you know that when we eat right, we glorify God?

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  "  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

And so, by extension, if I eat right, I glorify God, but how much more important, for me as a mom, is it for me to make sure my family is glorifying God with what they eat?  We see in Proverbs 31 that our Wife of Noble Character finds food very important and will go to great lengths to make sure that her household is properly fed.  She brings her food from afar, and she rises while it is still dark to prepare food for her family.  It is that important to her.  And it should be. 

This isn't meant to be a criticism of others, but it is meant to give pause.  It is meant to cause anyone who reads it to reflect on their attitude towards feeding their family, because if we have a sour attitude about food preparation, we are in the wrong, and we need to ask God to help us change our attitude.  Over the years, I've known many, many people who actually say they cannot be bothered to prepare food for their family.  They cannot be bothered... Just think about that.  If we think about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit, let's think also about our church building. 

Lets say that we're sitting at church, in church, and a person across the aisle from us pulls a lunch out of their bag.  During service.  They proceed to sit there and eat a lunch during service, and while eating, they are spilling food all over the place.  Bits of sandwich are on the ground, soda spills on the furniture.  Wrappers are lying around.  And when they are done, and service is over, that person crumples up their lunch bag, drops it where they sit and walks away.  When someone asks if they're going to clean up their mess, they turn around and say "I can't be bothered." They have totally disrespected the house of God.

Or more simply, all moms need to deal with newborn infants who need to eat and have regular diaper changes all the time. What if one day, a new mom, exhausted from lack of sleep, heard her child crying and said "you know, today I can't be bothered to change diapers or nurse my infant."  In today's day and age, that mom could actually go to jail for neglect.

So why is it okay for a mom, the steward of her family's well-being, to look at the clock, see it's dinner time, and say she can't be bothered, and pick up the phone and order a pizza?

Oh, I'm guilty enough of the occasional pizza or drive-thru dinner nights.  But the fact of the matter comes down to this:  God has entrusted me with these two precious children to care for.  It is my job to see that they are properly fed, that they get the nutrition their bodies need each and every day.  And since I am my husband's help-meet it is also my job to see that he is cared for nutritionally.  It is just not that difficult to see that three times a day, a balanced meal is on the table.  Like I said, it doesn't need to be fancy.  Breakfast can be a bowl of porridge with fresh fruit and a glass of milk.  Lunch can be simple sandwiches with veggies, a cup of yogurt, and a glass of juice.  Dinner or supper should be balanced, with a protein, vegetables and a whole grain, along with another cup of milk.  

Dare I say that it's simply not enough to just grab random foodstuffs and feed it to my family?  I also need to purpose to learn about proper nutrition, and I need to make sure that my children are consuming a healthy diet each and every day.  Not just some days, and not only when I can be bothered to care. 

The other day I gave my precious daughter the task of preparing a meal for the family.  She gobbled up the opportunity with relish.  She went through cookbooks and found everything that she thought would make a balanced meal, and she did a wonderful job making sure there was meat and vegetables, and then thought to add some rice as well.  She made a fabulous dinner and the whole time she took her job very seriously.   I think she had fun with it too, although I think she was surprised at just how much work it was for her.  But to be completely frank, whether or not she has fun with it doesn't matter a lick to me.  Oh sure, I'd love it if she would learn to enjoy cooking as much as I do.  But honestly, I don't care if she decides she really dislikes cooking, she is going to learn to do it, and to do it well.

This last summer there was a short TV program on about a whole town trying to change the way they eat to combat childhood obesity.   They profiled one of the families, and one of the things I will forever take away from the show is how horrible the mom felt when she realized that the way she was cooking and feeding her family was literally killing her children.  She was shaving dozens of years off her children's lives by the way that she prepared their daily meals.  I am so grateful that I am not in that position, that God has given me the knowledge on how to cook and feed my family, and I've sensed for a time that He's wanted me to do more than just feed MY family, but I haven't figured quite out what that is yet. 

Good, sound nutrition, and healthy children begin at home.  And it begins in the Bible actually, with the charge that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, and we need to take care of that temple.  Those of us who are moms also have the responsibility of caring for the temples that God has put in our care.  As my daughter grows older, it is also my responsibility to pass on those things to her that are important to know.  And proper food preparation is one of those things.   What I can't imagine is that day when I'm no longer on this earth, and it's just me and God talking about my time on earth... I don't want Him to look at me and tell me that I dishonored Him by putting garbage into my mouth, and into the mouths of my babes.  I don't want Him to look at me and tell me that I could have done better if I had only chosen to make feeding my family a priority and not some mundane task that needs to be done- like scrubbing a toilet.  My children, and the health of my children is so important to me, but it's also important to God. God wants them to live a healthy and fruitful life, and they cannot do that if poor nutrition has them sick all the time.

Cooking and feeding my family is not just something I do because I enjoy.  I do it because the Bible tells me to do it, and because without it, my family will suffer because of my negligence. And that, I simply cannot abide by.  When I get to heaven, and it's just me and God, I want Him to look at me and say "Well done Mom."  That right there is more than enough reason.

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