Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table

Part 1
Why God Loves Food

 

 

I love food.

 

Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.

 

My response is always the same, “I don’t really like to cook, but I really like to eat!”

This is why I cook.

 

After I moved to Germany, I realized, to my dismay, that there was a significant lack of fast food restaurants. It was also considerably more expensive to eat out. The stores also didn’t have my go to meals – Campbell’s Soup, pasta sauce, frozen perogies and pre-shredded cheddar cheese, salad dressing in a bottle. What was this poor, young Canadian girl to do?

 

Since I was hungry for yummy food, I was forced to roll up my sleeves and learn to cook – the hard way: Trial and error.

 

I cringe at one of my first attempts at “Lemon Cream Chicken”.
How was I supposed to know that adding the lemon into the cream would cause the sauce to instantly curdle!?
Gag.
I’m feeling a wee bit sorry for my husband right now.

 

The good news is is that out of my cooking efforts, I developed skills and abilities I never had before. Thus, I can proudly say now: I can cook!

 

Today, I am very happy to spoil people at my table with my delicious food. If you find yourself passing through our neck of the woods, be welcome to come by for a meal at our table!

As my cooking skills grew, so did my confidence to feed people (besides my husband and myself). With that, I dove down deeper into the meaning of hospitality and God’s intention with meals.

I have concluded that indeed, God loves food. Let’s see a few reasons why.

 

Food, Not a Means to an End

 

It was only when I started really truly cooking that I began to realize that God actually had specific intentions for food.
It’s tempting to understand the body as simply a complex machine that runs on a continual balance of calories, fat, and vitamins.
Oh! I myself have indeed been guilty of just cramming in a mouthful of bagel nutrients in order to be on my way to do more important things.
But this was not God’s intention, and we can see this confirmed even in scientific research.

 

Slow Eating Benefits

Did you know that according to a study in the British Medical Journal slow eating can help us digest and absorb nutrients better, lose weight, reduce risk of food poisoning, and improve oral health?

Me neither. But when I did start eating slower, a phenomenal thing happened: I could taste butter for the first time!

Food and Mental Health

Did you know that food plays an important role regarding mental health?

The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. As well as its impact on short and long-term mental health, the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

We can see here that food is not just the means to keep us going, but our partner for the physical and mental health we all desire. This is one reason why it is good to be mindful of what we consume.

 

The Power of a Meal

 

God, oddly enough, regards humans in a really trendy way – holistically.
It’s like he understood that each part of the human was somehow all intimately interconnected . That means that even food for him is no side subject. Just observing his creation firsthand we see that he designed it with colour, shape, texture, flavour, and smell. Why might that be?

 

What I find intriguing is how food can affect each one of us.

 

Smelling Memories

 

Last year, I watched a series on Netflix called Chef’s Table. What was so powerful was that the chefs shared how their journey with food began. Interestingly, it was almost always at home, in their grandmothers’ kitchen, or with another family member.
Have you ever smelled something and it instantly brought you back to a fond memory? This has happened to me many times. I wonder if it is the same with these chefs. Perhaps it was a time where they felt secure, or safe, or maybe it was a moment where they learned what love was like. I wonder if, in their artistry, they try to recreate those moments that so impacted them.

 

 

Remember History: The Passover Meal

 

 An example in the Bible of how God uses a meal to capture his peoples’ hearts and remind them of a memory is the Passover meal.

 

In that meal, the Jews remember that they were slaves, and that God freed them from the hardships of Egypt. Each part of the Passover meal has symbolic significance. For instance, there is salty water to taste and remember the tears of the slaves, the unleavened bread to remind them they had to leave so quick there was no time for bread to rise, and then lamb bone to remember the sacrificed lamb and the blood that protected them from the angel of death.

 

In fact, all through the Bible we catch glimpses of God’s heart for food and hospitality intertwined amidst his interaction with mankind and within his grand narrative.

 

God uses the tastes, smells and textures of food to remind us of him in ways that are deeper than words.

 

 

God loves Food – and Hospitality

 

Recently, our family was on the road traveling for a couple of weeks. Our first stop was at the OJC- The Reichenberg Fellowship, a community of Christians a couple hours away who work and live together. We have been intrigued with the idea of community, so we thought we would visit them with a few of our questions.
The first thing we encountered was a piece of paper laid out on our welcome table. It was a schedule of visits. Each day we would visit a different family from the community for meals, and cake throughout the week. I was astounded. We are by no means a small family! They each took time to cook for us, and spend time with us amidst their working week.

I felt so honoured.

Our youngest also celebrated his second birthday during that time. One of the families got word of it, and threw him a little birthday breakfast! Complete with some balloons and a small gift.

I felt so loved.

 Just for this reason, God loves food and hospitality. When we sit down together, we catch a glimpse of his heart.
It is a powerful way to honour and love one another.

 It is a time where we can share with one another our thoughts, ideas, problems, dreams.

Meals break down barriers. They put you at ease, and construct a platform for communication.

 

A Gateway to Relationship

 

I’m thankful now that I moved to Germany – the land that lacks fast food.
Perhaps if I were still in Canada, I would still be stuck wolfing down a can of Campbell’s soup in less than a minute without any further thoughts.

Through my being forced to cook God has shown me how having an open home, preparing a meal or a feast, can speak to people louder than words.

Food is a gateway to relationship, and as some good friends of mine like to say, “It’s all about relationship with God.”

 

 

 

Do you Like Food and the Bible?

 

Me too!

Join me as we spend a few weeks looking through the Bible at the role of food and hospitality in proclaiming and experiencing the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

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How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn’t mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?

 

Our single income family has experienced years of living paycheck to paycheck, and large chunks of time without even that (lots of God miracles in those years!). After paying all the bills, we operated on a “spend as needed” basis.

 

The problem with this is: You can always spend money.
A “spend as needed” basis just invites need.
Sure you don’t have a donut maker, the money may be there, but do you really need it?

 

Needs end where the money ends.

 

If you have no plan, you’ll have no money.

 

When it came time to buy the kids new clothes, or when my husband and I just wanted to go out and have a coffee date together, it was always seasoned with guilt. I constantly felt the nagging lack of money.

 

In part, this feeling came from my childhood  where money was sparse. But there was another problem which we’ll look at next.

 

Who Does it Belong to?

 

At some point, I just got sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and was wondering if God had another way. I felt convicted that we were not stewarding his gifts wisely, but squandering them instead. After all, the money didn’t really belong to us, but God!

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Ps. 24

 

So we see the heart of it here, the problem is realizing our responsibility and lack of vision and overview.

This is incredibly important if we desire to take care of something we have received (which in this case, is money). This is one principle of biblical stewardship. The money doesn’t belong to us, it’s God’s, and we’re to use it in a way that honours him. And finances are important to Jesus!

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11

The money in our bank accounts is not the true riches, but what we do with it has eternal importance!

No Purpose = No Money

One major culprit of spending guilt: The absence conscious spending and saving.   Without a plan, our family just spent the money as it came.

After feeling convinced that we needed to change our financial habits I browsed Pinterest and looked for different money solutions. I came across a cash based system using envelopes. I believe that this method was made popular by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I watched a few of his teachings via Right Now Media. I would really suggest  anyone interested in a biblical perspective of finances to check this out.

This got me started on writing out every single thing we bought and setting up my envelope system.

Three Ways to Begin Controlling Your Money

Get an Overview

Write every single thing down that you spend for three months. To the penny. Though this takes effort and persistence, you will get an overview of just where your money is going. Eventually, by looking through this list you will get a good idea of where your money is going. Where can you cut back? Where should you save more?

Cast a Vision

Then, you can think about the things that are missing. Are there goals you’d like to reach? Perhaps things that you want, or want? Check out the free budgeting resources here.

Fill up Envelopes

The benefits to having all your budgeting categories separated into envelopes, is that it’s incredibly satisfying to fill them up with cash. And when it’s empty… it’s empty. There is something much more impacting when you’re faced with an empty envelope, compared to an empty online bank account. Oh, that novel feeling of physical money. We put more thought into whether we should actually hand over that 20, than when we flippantly swipe a card.

Planning for the Unexpected

Before our financial shift, when the unexpected happened, we scrambled!

Here’s a little secret though: the unexpected always happens!

This was a critical change in our spending habits. Once I realized that you can plan for the unexpected I started setting aside money for new appliances, car repairs, and house repairs.

I have to tell you, this has made life SO MUCH EASIER! We always have at least a bit of money set aside for those emergencies, so they are no longer emergencies.

Spending without Guilt

Before my envelope system, I struggled every time I spent money on something that wasn’t absolutely “necessary”. After reviewing my budget, I saw that I wanted to be able to buy clothes for my kids and myself.  We wanted to go away on vacations as a family. We didn’t eat out that often, but when we do I want it to be a nice experience. Therefore, I budgeted for that.

I budget for all of those things.
That means, I have a monthly budget for clothes, entertainment, and savings for vacation. When I need to buy some clothes, I do it, the money is there, it’s for clothes.

NO MORE GUILT!

 

Because I have an eye on our spending, and saving, I feel a lot more freedom.
Freedom to be generous, freedom to plan for our future, and freedom to purchase what is needed and what we would like.

Ultimately, my desire is that God looks at that all and says, Yes! Well done, good and faithful servant!

How do you feel about your spending? Do you have other methods that have worked for you? Comment below and tell us about them!

 

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

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Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing me to Instagram and has been encouraging me ever since! (Next you’re going to have to show me how to figure out Instagram stories).

This month we are also celebrating with her because she finished her medical studies and became a doctor! Congratulations Isa!

On top of that, she is an incredibly talented hand letterer/ modern calligrapher. Check out her Instagram to be inspired. She really stands out to me because she turned her hobby into a business (despite her imperfections – though I don’t see any!), and she also uses it as a way to be creative for God, and reach out to people.

The Spotlight on: Isa Blanka Rüschel from Frl.Blanka

Tell us a little bit about yourself-

 

where are you from? What are you passionate about? What are you reading right now?

I live in Darmstadt together with my husband Johannes.

The thing I’m most passionate about are people. They are my happy place. I need them to get the energy that fuels me. Maybe that’s the reason why I studied medicine?

Creative-wise I am passionate about most things that I can do with my hands and that show results after a short period of time – actually I’m always looking for new creative ideas, materials and techniques I can try.

The book I am reading right now is called “How’s your Soul?” by Judah Smith. He’s a super humorous guy working with a church in Seattle and he is really passionate about healthy souls in our society and how different the world would be if we would ask more often how our souls are for real. I highly recommend it!

 

You are a hand lettering queen! Your Instagram is beautiful and full of these gorgeous creations.

 

Frl.Blank Instagram interview

 

 

 

How did you get started on your amazing hand lettering?

Thanks for that compliment!

I got started about a year ago. Back then I started to use Instagram and got to know many artists who do hand lettering or modern calligraphy. I wanted to try it immediately, so I bought my first pens and watercolors and just started copying what I saw.

Step by step my own style developed. Though, I’m always curious and try to add new twists and elements to it.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Elm

Would you share with us some of your favourite supplies that you use?

Sure! If you want to start hand lettering I would recommend you to begin with a brush pen which you can use on different papers. I really like the Tombow fudenosuke with the hard tip for example.
For my watercolor letterings I use the liquid Watercolors by ECOLINE. They come in many many colors, but you can also mix your own colors from the basics.
  At the minute I am testing different watercolor papers, but if you’re just starting, you can try mix media papers and see what you like best.
Some brush pens also need very smooth paper to stay healthy, here you can use color copy paper For more specific information about the material, it’s best to get in touch via Instagram or Email (hallo@frlblanka.de). I’m happy to help!  

How does your business reflect the calling God has on your life, as you understand it?

Since my creative journey has began, I’ve been undergoing a process, in which, I now see how God sees me. That is, I am not limited to one profession
 or business or only one skill or talent with which I can use to encourage people and build his kingdom. I rather believe that he created us so colourful and at some points in time we decide to paint our life more in this or that certain color. It doesn’t mean that we can’t come back to an old colour or try completely new ones, even if the painting then looks totally different than how we imagined it before that courageous step. For me it is a difficult process to “work” in a field that I never learned professionally and to accept, that people still like what I do even if I see so many artists who do a lot better than me or have simply more experience. But it is so motivating to see that I can encourage someone with my work and add a glimpse of hope to a hopeless situation or give them a way to express their joy in special moments of their lives.  
Isa and I met at a finance seminar a couple months ago, and she was the one who inspired me to be more active on Instagram.

Could you tell us a bit how you use Instagram to impact, connect, and minister to people?

Since I started using Instagram I always saw a great potential in this medium. Through other creatives, whom I got to know there virtually and also in real life later, I learned to get inspired (and by that I mean the whole process of inspiration). I experienced the feeling of being overjoyed by a single photo or a simple writing.

It unleashed creative energy inside of me that I never knew I had.

If you compare Instagram to the city you live in, you have this great advantage that you can easily find people that love the things you love. They see the world like you do and inspire you exactly at the point where you are right now. On the other hand of course there are also the downsides of this virtual playground. The more you get, the more you want. They want you to compare yourself to others and make you dependent. I still find it challenging to find the perfect balance for me regarding social media. But without it, maybe I wouldn’t have found this new, creative part of my personality.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Elm

If you could say something to yourself five years ago, what would it be?

You’re doing great! Don’t doubt yourself so much and trust God in all the uncertainty that you will face in the next five years. He knows what he’s doing 🙂

 

Thank you Isa for your time and sharing your creativity with us!

#

Follow ISA

Why God Loves Food

Why God Loves Food

Kingdom around the Table Part 1Why God Loves Food    I love food.   Everyone who comes to my house and sits at my table often gets a pretty darn good meal (not my own words). After their satisfaction, they tend to ask me if I like cooking.   My response is always the...

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn't mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?   Our...

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Frl.Blanka | Being Creative for God | Hand Lettering

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Frl.Blanka (or Isa) and I met a couple months ago in beautiful Heidelberg. She is credited to introducing...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn't work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and...

The Work at Home Super Bundle

The Work at Home Super Bundle

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.     Are you like me and want to stay home and be with your family as much as you can, but you want to...

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.   I'm really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She's a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker...

Reusable Eco-Friendly Swim Diapers

Reusable Eco-Friendly Swim Diapers

I have a secret that I want to share with you. This was an absolute diaper game changer for me. And I feel a little stupid for not realizing it before. There is something that shocked me last year. It's actually silly how shocking it was to me, because if you really...

The Quick Relax List

The Quick Relax List

Isn't it funny how at the end of the day, when we actually have TIME to do the things we want to do, we can't? I know that I am sometimes on the verge of mental mush. After a long day of making a million choices, cleaning up the umpteenth mess, and piling the dishes...

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

An Awkward Photoshoot and Revealing God’s Heart

Have you ever stood in front of the camera and tried to smile naturally? Yeah, it doesn’t work. At least not for me. The pictures my hubby takes of me always seem like I have plastered a smile to my face. He always tells me to stop it, and smile properly. My body and joints become rigid as I make myself look photogenic. Yeah… no, that is not how a great picture is made. But that’s what I default to.

 

Chrissy from Christian Cloete Photography is not only an amazing wife and mom of three children plus a foster baby, she’s a passionate Jesus lover, and also runs her own wedding photography business. The pictures speak for themselves. She has a fantastic way with people. Chrissy is so natural and easy to be around.

 

The Awkward Photoshoot | Revealing God’s Heart

Though I’ve known her for years, it was still awkward for me to be in front of her camera. This is nothing against Chrissy’s skills, this is all the awkwardness of Dani. I kept trying to fight myself from sticking out my tongue and making funny faces to cover up the hidden thought that I didn’t think I could look beautiful. But Chrissy’s relaxed, and light manner reassured me. One sunny and warm afternoon, she helped bring out my confidence and natural beauty. To me this shows that she really has a gift. Despite the weird thoughts going through my head, and the way I perceived myself, she was able to capture the me that was really there.

In that way, she reminded me of God who, despite our own thoughts and the swirling lies in our head, speaks out and reassures us with his truth. What a beautiful way of revealing His heart.  

Christiane Cloete Interview Dani at lake

After the awesome awkward photoshoot, we sat down next to a glistening lake and had a little chat. I wanted to know more about what got her started in photography, and her favourite things about it, about having a business and a bunch of kids, and about seeing the beauty God sees in people, and about feeling overwhelmed.

 

The Spotlight on: Chrissy from Christiane Cloete Photography

Dani: Tell me:

How did you begin with your photography? How did you know you enjoyed taking pictures?

Chrissy: It actually began as my husband’s hobby. We were visiting South Africa when my oldest was about one year old. I ran out of stuff to read and I thought to myself, “what am I going to do for the next five weeks if I don’t just want to sit by a pool?” My husband  started explaining everything to me about ISO and shutter speed. I forgot everything by the next day. It was too much.

But then I practiced and I photographed his sister at her engagement photo shoot with his other younger sister who was a wedding photographer. That’s where I experienced how cool it was to get people to feel comfortable, to be creative and to make them look good in images, and to portray their connection. For me, it’s always about showing how people are connected.

Then I thought, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right.” So I started a business. My husband actually always wanted to start a business, but he didn’t have the time because of work so I thought, “Why don’t I do it?”. Funny enough, it was never a dream.

How long ago did you begin your business?

Chrissy: I started a Facebook page just a few weeks after we came home, so that was six years ago.

Dani: So it was never actually a dream to have a business, but it just kind of happened?

Chrissy: Yeah, I just found joy in creating. I think I find more joy in editing the images than in taking them. Which is odd, because I love to be with people and interact with them, and the editing is just on the computer. But I love to see what you can make out of a raw image. How you can make colours pop, or how you can enhance things.

Dani: I understand that you like the beauty that you can create out of the experience.

Could you share your favourite aspects of taking photos?

Chrissy: Beauty. And the connection with people. To see them love each other and be completely unaware of the camera. Just being happy with themselves.

Dani: Who encouraged you to really pursue this? We spoke before about this being your husband’s passion.

Chrissy: Yeah, I’d say he encouraged me. He was the driving force, with his teaching and everything, he got the ball rolling.

When you started the business did it rob you of any joy or pleasure you got when you took photos, or did you appreciate the challenge?

Chrissy: I’m not sure if you can compare that because I didn’t photograph before. So I couldn’t say.

Dani:  Do you notice a difference between taking photos just for personal pleasure, for instance taking pictures of your family versus ones that are for business?

Chrissy: Well, I do not photograph my family as often as I would love to. But I’m trying to! I made a conscious decision to photograph them more often, like while they’re playing. They are very aware of the camera and don’t like to be photographed. I have to kind of catch them in the moment when they’re not aware, which are my favorite shots anyway.

Since you are at home primarily with the kids, how has having a business on the side been?

Chrissy: It’s perfect basically. Being a wedding photographer means that the weddings are usually on Saturday and that means my husband is home. During the week I can decide when I will edit the images, or when I will answer client emails and stuff. I can keep the afternoons completely free for the kids, and do the business stuff in the morning.

Dani: Sounds perfect!

Chrissy: Yes!

Dani: Earlier in our conversation we were talking about faith. Could you tell me how your faith reflects in your business? Can you see connections between your faith and your business?

Chrissy: I can definitely, because I believe that every person is created beautiful and in the image of God. I often have clients say to me, “Oh, I’m not so beautiful” or “I’m not so photogenic” or “I feel awkward in front of the camera” – maybe you know that feeling? -Both of us laugh- I know I do! So for me, it’s not about the beauty that is portrayed on the outside but how can I make the beauty from their character and personality come out. Because everybody is made in the image of God. I’m not sure if someone who wasn’t a Christian, from the outside would see the difference in the pictures. But for me it’s different because I always aim to get their inner beauty to shine through… which is basically portrayed in their character.

Interview with the photographer Christiane Cloete

Could you share how you see yourself in 5 years?

Chrissy: I want to see myself having grown as a woman of God. I want to be in the place where God wants me to be.

How do you hear or experience God speaking to you?

Chrissy: I can give you an example, over the last few months now I always start crying during a certain song, when a certain line is sung. I’m pretty sure God is speaking to me through that line, and that something is going to happen about what it says in that song. Funny enough, completely more or less unrelated, my husband also brought up that same issue the other day. So this is definitely something we believe God is speaking to us about.

Dani: So because we are humans, made in the image of God, we also have this ability to create, just like he creates. I’ve been calling this our “co-creating calling” lately. I understand it, in part, as the ability to bring forth, to develop, and to innovate.

 Where do you see your role in creation as a creator?

Chrissy: I think this falls into that category, Recently I’ve had it on my heart to start something for women. Maybe starting a new house group. I feel like, for me, I’m in my house doing all sorts of stuff, and challenges come across and I have to deal with them more or less by myself. Sometimes I deal with it well, and other times not so well. Young mothers and mothers in general deal with these things all the time. I find that these challenges are not spoken of so openly – for instance, issues in school. I’d love to see a community of women grow together and be able to rely on each other when challenges happen. They could be there for one another with advice, or prayer.

Dani: Ok, we will end with one last question:

What would you say to someone who is totally overwhelmed?

For instance to these mothers. They don’t even recognize themselves anymore because they are just so full of everything in life – of school, of all of the urgent things – they don’t realize what they are capable of anymore.

Chrissy: I would say, “It’s ok!” There is no one rule for everyone. One woman may desire to be with her children 100%  of the time, and for the other, she wants to start working a few months after having a baby.  I think that the underlying message is, “It’s ok, the rules are made in your life by you and God, but not by the exceptions of other people.”

And:

You are enough! –                 

Beautiful enough

strong enough

patient enough

loving enough.

#

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Decluttering our Minds | Tips from Mary Gallagher

Decluttering our Minds | Tips from Mary Gallagher

Welcome to the second post of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.

Today I’m excited to introduce you to Mary from Gallagher Farm and Faith.

She is going to share with us some really awesome tips including how to declutter our minds!

 

 The Spotlight on:
Mary from Gallagher farm and faith.

Hi, I’m Mary I’m living my lifelong dream on my farm in central Texas. I love to simplify so I have time in my life for what’s important to me. Creating a simple, full life didn’t just happen. It took courage, vision, and some strategic planning. I’ve always had a knack for finding my way through the clutter and distractions. As an experienced coach and educator I know how to help others do the same. I help women love the simple life so they can live an authentic life of faith.

What are you reading right now? How did it get into your hands?

Right now I am reading two books. I typically have one I read in the morning during my reading and prayer time and one I read that has been highly recommended by peers. The Sacred Slow by Alicia Britt Chole found its way onto my Kindle as a recommendation from Kindle. I was introduced to Chole’s work through a member of my Facebook group. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had already downloaded her book! The Sacred Slow is a slow and intentional journey for women to discover beautiful things about themselves and God. Chole believes that our fast-food faith leaves us spiritually malnourished and we need to take time to allow our faith to develop deeply and gracefully.

 

The other book I am reading is Tribes – We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin. Tribes is about leadership in the modern age. Godin makes you think about what it means to be a leader and how the internet has broken down barriers for people to connect around the world. The one thing that remains constant is the need for leaders who are willing to be brave, take risks, and put others first. It’s challenging and enlightening for anyone who believes they have a message to convey.

 

What inspired you to start Gallagher Farm and Faith?

I’ve know for almost 20 years that God had made me to be a writer but I let life get in the way. As I began to simplify my life, I heard Him wooing me back to the life of the writer. As soon as my heart and mind said “yes” I unexpectedly was laid off from my stressful job. I saw that as the writing on the wall (no pun intended!) to jump into the writing life full time. Losing my job was one of the best days of my life!

 

I needed a framework for my blog and found that many of my friends were intrigued with my sudden departure from the fast-paced suburban lifestyle to the simple farm life. Moving across country and starting over seemed to capture their attention and they were eager to know more about how I started following my dreams and my adjustment to the simple life. I decided that Gallagher Farm and Faith would capture the essence of simplifying and the charm of farm life that connected to my readers. The Simple Life Simple Faith tagline sums up the journey I’ve been on and the journey I hope to take my readers on as they pursue an authentic life of faith.  

On your homepage you have the verse, ” A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life. ” Proverbs 13:7 (The Message)

Why did you choose it?

I chose this verse from the Message translation because it exemplified all that I was walking away from (a showy life) and all that I wanted to find (a full life). As with much of God’s ways, this truth is the opposite of the world’s ways. I had tried to fill my life with more – a better job, a bigger house, fancier vacations, status and position – only to find myself slowly dying on the inside. I had lost all joy, my sense of purpose, peace, and inspiration. My life looked full on the outside but on the inside it felt empty. I was gripped with an overwhelming desire to simplify, to strip back all the stuff and the pretense, and get back to basics. That’s the journey I’ve been on and as I take things away, I find room for the things that truly matter and fulfill. As I settle my intentions on those things my life becomes fuller and more meaningful.

How do you understand the stewardship of your time and talents? How does this look practically in your life now?

One of the parables that has become real to me is the parable of the talents. Traditionally used to talk about money and investment, I see this parable as a way to understand how God has gifted each one of us and that His investment in us is the talents and gifts he’s given us.

 

For the last several years at my job I had this nagging sense of wasting my time and talents. I was good at what I did and passionate about the work, but I realized someone else could do my job just as well and probably better. What nobody else could do was write like me. I began to understand that while I was using some of my skills and talents, I wasn’t stewarding them the best that I could. And I wasn’t using my time to invest in people (God’s most precious commodity) or in things of eternal value. I knew I needed to care about what God cared about and that He had placed desires, passions, and gifts in me that were waiting to be used in a more productive way.

 

My life is now focused around quality time with God. I spend vast amounts of time in prayer, reading His word, and seeking Him. For me this is the center of all I do. I take care of my health, I rest when I need to, and I say no to things that I know will cause me unhealthy stress. Our lifestyle has altered a bit so I can stay home and write but it’s a tradeoff neither my husband nor I mind because I am a better person when I write. I am now able to volunteer and invest in friendships. I’ve committed to not looking back at what was and to not compare my life with anyone else’s.

 

Living the simple life gives me time to reflect in order to make adjustments when I see myself getting off track. I guard my time carefully and I keep my a vision board visible that reminds me of what is important to me.

 

This quote keeps me in check and reminds of where I never want my life to go again: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau.

 

I want to be like Erma Bombeck and be able to say when I stand before God, “I used everything you gave me.  I left it all on the table.”

You mention “mental clutter” on Gallagher Farm and Faith, I can’t tell you how many times my head feels like a jumble or to-dos, decisions, information. I love that you call it clutter!

Could you share a couple of practical things we can do to unclutter our brains?

 

Gosh – yes – for me it was the mental clutter more than anything that left me exhausted at the end of the day. I was never able to rest – my mind was running constantly and all the undone items on my To-Do List haunted me day and night.  Depending on our personality type, this type of clutter can be harder to manage and more damaging than it is for others. I am The Perfectionist on the Enneagram so for me to leave things undone is stressful and demoralizing.

 

It’s clear we live in an age of overload. We are bombarded with images and sounds and things that vie for our attention.

I recommend several things to tame the mental clutter:

First

Step back and examine all you are doing. Keeping the overwhelm and stress at bay is going to be virtually impossible if you are overcommitted and doing too much. I talk about this in my post called The Secret to a Balanced Life.

 

Secondly


Clear out commitments that are optional. Free up calendar space to create margin. When you have margin, you have breathing room, and space for overflow. Knowing you have some time during the day to catch up or spend quality time on a project relaxes your mind from having to worry about it.

 

Keep everything in one place.

If you have all your appointments in one calendar, you will worry less that you are forgetting something. I also like to put each week’s appointments on a whiteboard as a visual reminder. This gives me a level of comfort that allows me to stop stressing that I will forget something.

 

Allow for silence whenever possible.

Turn off the radio when you are in the car. Keep the television off during the day. If you have children, set parameters around when noisy things can be turned on. Hearing the news or grating voices on the TV first thing in the morning can set you on edge all day and fill up your mind with words and images that crowd out the whisper of God’s voice. Take walks in silence. Just listen to the sounds around you. Our minds are like a bucket, we can only fill them with so much and they will be stuffed.

 

Choose carefully what you read.

Take some time to weed out your newsletters and email updates. Only subscribe to those things that add value to your life, that make you feel refreshed after reading them, pitch those things that make you feel stressed. Social Media and screen time – this is a biggie and so much to say. I’ll direct you to this post for that.  Silence and solitude are scarce commodities in our society so you will need to be intentional about working them into your life – especially if you have a busy family!  

 

I also make lists for everything.

Not as a pressure to do but as a way of getting things out of my head. Once I write something down, it loses its grip over me. I can relax and let that thought leave my mental space. Journaling is much the same. If you have trouble sleeping at night because your mind won’t stop, keep a notebook next to your bed and write everything down. I promise you will sleep better!

 

Ultimately it comes down to trust. Trust God that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing in each season of life. Don’t get ahead of Him. Life flows smoothly when we are in tune with the rhythms of His grace, but we must make room to hear His voice and study His ways or the wisdom He longs to impart to us will remain out of our reach.


Thank You

 

Thank you so much Mary for your time, your wisdom. Speaking on behalf of all the young, frazzled moms out there, we need a voice like yours, with your experience, to encourage us and impart wisdom.

Check out her blog below, if you haven’t already.

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