This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me. We’re thrilled to be back after a summer off; we had a very restful yet kind of crazy, really busy summer. It was Emily and I‘s first summer being in the same town together, which was so much fun, and we both did kind of similar things, like traveling, and Emily did a bunch of home decorating. What else did you do Em? [laughter]
Emily: We went to the pool a lot; this was our first summer to really go to the pool as a family, which was fun. But Laura and I went on a lot of walks at a park nearby our house, went to the library some, and grabbed some good times with the kids.
Laura: I broke ground at my house, which was huge, and I am hopeful that we’ll move in before Christmas. That is my hope. I hope my builder is listening right now. [laughter]
Emily: But fun Risen Motherhood stuff: we actually got to meet our whole team in person for the first time ever back in June. We went to a conference together, so it was a complete joy to meet Autumn and Kaitlin, and be together with our kindred spirits.
Laura: It was like we’d known them all our lives, which was so fun. We of course also worked on our book manuscript; you guys have probably seen some sneak peeks, if you follow us on any of the social media platforms @risenmotherhood. That has been a big undertaking; we actually have a first draft of the entire book written, which blows my mind.
Emily: It’s great though. It feels so good to have that part behind us, and as Laura and I keep editing it—which has been a really fun part of the process for awhile now—we cannot wait for you guys to read this. Not because we have anything exceptional or super special to say, but just because we think this is going to resonate with you guys. And we’re so excited about the way God ended up drawing out stories and topics. We’re just really excited.
Laura: As you guys know, we have the theme this year, which is “unity in the gospel,” and we thought we’d kick it off with a topic that might seem a little bit silly. You guys probably saw the show title; we’re talking about snacks, but it can actually be pretty divisive among moms.
Emily: It sounds silly but it doesn’t feel silly in the middle of the afternoon when they’ve asked you about a hundred times, “Is it snack time? Can I have a snack? Mom, when do I have a snack?” [laughs]
Laura: Snacks aren’t funny at that time, that’s for sure. Emily tell everybody a little bit about what's different, and how we handle snacks.
Emily: Yes. I don’t think about snacks at a time like that [laughter]. I try to use common sense like, “If you just had a meal, you don’t get a snack. You need to wait like two hours after a meal.” They get two snacks a day —sometime mid-morning and sometime mid-afternoon. In my mind, snacks are about blood sugar and preventing meltdowns, and if you’ve had a snack and you're still hungry, you can have carrots. I don’t really think about it too much, but for me I think one of the bigger struggles is whenever our house gets really chaotic and loud, and it’s usually late afternoon, and my kids start really whining, it’s really easy for me to use snacks as a way to avoid dealing with the other issues that are going on. I could be training character for the kids, which would be more like, “No, this is going to be brutal, but we are going to wait with patience, and I am going to help you wait and have self control until dinner.” That’s more of my, “well, we’ll just get straight to the heart of the issues.” Where are you at Laura?
Laura: I tend to be a snack stickler. I make my kids eat fruits or vegetables before they're allowed to have what we call the treats in our family. I definitely admit that my natural tendency is to, I won’t say like I give a lot of thought process to snacks, but when you pin me to the ground, and I have to talk about them on the show, I am like, “Oh my goodness, it’s all I think about apparently.” [laughter] The kids know, “Hey, I've got to eat a piece of fruit or some veggies if I want to have something else.” I will feel guilt if I give them food “out of order,” if I give them too many sugary snacks, or if they have too many processed snacks. I don’t know why but I have this kind of high standard for what I have to feed the kids. I definitely struggle with feelings of guilt that probably don’t need to be there, and we’ll talk about that more as the show goes on, but that’s one of my most difficult areas.
Emily: Maybe you can relate to either one of those struggles or somewhere in-between, and there's obviously a huge spectrum of different heart issues we can have. But we definitely wanted to start by saying this is a good problem to be dealing with. The fact that we have such an abundance of food and resources that we can even give our children snacks, or that our children can come to us with a whine for hunger and we have the ability to meet that need because God has given us those provisions. That is a gift, and we want to acknowledge that before we go any further.
Laura: While you might have come to the show thinking, “Hey, we’re going to give some practical on what kind of snacks to serve your kids, or how to get them to stop saying, ‘I am hungry’ ever 20 minutes,” we have no clue. But of course we’re going to be talking about you, mom, and our hearts. We wanted to chart through some of the motivations, and the attitudes that our hearts take on when we’re giving snacks to our kids or when someone else is feeding snacks to your kids. We see this as two different areas—one is the frequency of snack time offering, and then also there's the content of what the snacks are. Sometimes those things can affect moms in different ways. As we’re delving deep into this topic, this is making snacks very complicated. [laughter] But there's different facets to it, so we want to talk through both those things today.
Emily: Starting off with some common pitfalls, maybe you can find yourself somewhere in here, is one thing we struggle with occasionally is feeling superior to other people. It’s that pride element that other moms don’t manage as well as I do, and they don’t have as good of rules set up as I do. Or maybe they're not giving them as healthy of snacks or as homemade of snacks as I am. There's definitely that pride element that can show up.
Laura: And then on the other side, you can also feel guilty where maybe your snacks aren’t as healthy or homemade as “what the internet says” or what another mother deems that they should be. Or you maybe have a higher frequency of snack serving than another mom, and you start to feel comparison in that way, and guilt. Or maybe you feel frustrated when you’ve set boundaries on your snack schedule. Sometimes you feel frustrated because you're out of control when another person doesn’t respect your snack wishes.
Emily: Or you can feel fearful about what someone else is going to feed them when your kids are away from you. Some of these can be founded in really true things—maybe your child does have a food allergy and there is a significant health concern. You're probably going to deal with that in a different way. That’s outside the realm of what we’re talking about today. But there are those fears of like, “Oh there's something I don’t want my kid to be exposed to,” for whatever reason, and you’re concerned that that’s going to happen outside of your care.
Laura: Okay, so since it’s snack time, you came into the show thinking it was super innocent, but now you know [laughter] all the pitfalls that it can bring.
Emily: Snack time is scary.
Laura: Yes; let’s talk through the gospel. In the garden we know that God gave Adam and Eve all the food in the garden to eat. They could eat from every tree except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It wouldn’t have mattered which tree or which plant they selected to pick their food, except for the one off limits tree. Everything nourished and sustained their bodies perfectly, and at that time, Adam and Eve found their identity fully in God. They weren’t looking to the right or to the left to decide what they should eat, how often they should eat it, or how they really measured up. They were just looking to God who was perfect, and they were resting in his acceptance and affirmation for them, for exactly who he made them to be.
Emily: It’s so interesting when we look at the fall, and we think about any issue really to do with food, because the fall came because someone was tempted to eat something that God said was off limits. There's a lot of different ways to look at the fall, and therefore that’s just one facet of it. But we see that when Adam and Eve think that there is something that God has held off limits for them and maybe if they just get this one thing, they’ll finally be satisfied. Sin enters and that affects everything, including our hearts surrounding food, and including our hearts surrounding rules, personal standards, and comparison. All of that obviously flows into how our heart comes to the table for snack time. Oh, I am just full of puns!
Laura: Here we go! [laughter] And with that, we can be so thankful that Christ purchased our freedom through restoration, and in this, among many applications, we see two main things that we want to draw out today. Is that our choice for what we serve at snack time and when we serve it is very much a matter of personal conscience. But our heart motivations while serving snack time are a matter of godliness. When we’re serving snack time, when we’re thinking what we’re going to have in it and how often we’re going to allow our kids to engage in snack time, mom that is completely up to you. Christ sacrificed and purchased that freedom, and we’re not declared righteous by the number of snacks we have, or whether you served gold fish or cookies or fruit. It is by grace through faith. It is not by the health or eating habits. You can have five small meals a day, you have two big ones, you can do Whole30, or you can go all homemade, or organic, subsist on rice and beans. Whatever it may be, just recognize too that countries and cultures all over the world do things differently, and so you and the mom across the street, you guys do things differently too.
Emily: [laughs] Yes. One great place we see this is in a lot of the letters to the churches in the New Testament, where they're really having to bring together these different cultures. You’ve got people from a Jewish background that are now followers of Christ, people that are Gentiles, and people that have come from totally different pagan religions. They all had different ways that they were consuming food, they had different types of foods they were eating, and they probably had different patterns to their mealtime. Therefore you have all these moms coming together in Christ, and one of the encouragements is that they would eat and fellowship together and see unity over the essential doctrines and the mission of the gospel. They would see some of these rules and pass on cultural things; not as like, “Oh, we’re going to throw this to the wayside and act like they don’t exist. But we’re going to coexist in Christ and love one another in the midst of that.” That is challenging, but it’s a good example for us as we think about these issues.
Laura: Paul talks about that too in Romans 14. We won’t go into it here today, but we did talk about it pretty in-depth on our food episode—Episode 56—so we’ll link that in the show notes and you can hear even more on this specific topic. Moving into our heart motivations when we’re serving snack time, just to recap, remember that the frequency of when you give your kids snacks or what you give them, well, there is some value in those things. There are things to think about, things to consider, and you definitely don’t just want to be willy-nilly, like, “Snack time, 12 times a day for no reason.” Those things are of some importance. But what is so much more important to Christ are our heart motivations when we serve the actual snacks.
Emily: Let’s give some examples; we’re not going to be able to cover the gamut. But some examples when you may be struggling with a wrong heart attitude is when you want to keep checking out on your phone instead of engaging your child who may need a snack or is needing you for something. Maybe you are tired of hearing the whining and you just want them to stop and be quiet. Therefore, instead of parenting and engaging them, you're giving them a snack. Maybe you feel a lot of anxiety about your kids and their health, and in order to control that, you feel like, “Okay, I am just going to serve them only certain foods and keep it really tight and clean because then maybe I’ll have more control over what happens to them.” There could be any number of heart issues where we’re worshipping the wrong things. But there are a lot of ways that we can also worship and glorify God and our heart attitude as well. Maybe we care deeply about wanting our kids to have good physical nourishment so that they can enjoy the bodies that God gave them. And that they can play and grow. That’s a great thing if we want to talk to our kids about what God has provided and to be worshipful about how generous he's been with us, and we want to enjoy the good food that he's created. That’s a great thing and it’s okay to enjoy an apple with your kids. That’s what people do.
Laura: We want to be clear; it is one hundred percent okay to be like, “My kid is hungry; I am giving him a snack.” It is not always going this deep, but we've just noticed a pattern in ourselves that we want to speak to because we’re willing to bet some of you are like us, where sometimes snack time can cause angst.
Emily: That is a good distinction, as we’re saying, this is not examining it every time if I make it two snacks a day and they have 14 snacks a week. But over the course of all the time I've given my kids snacks for six years, yes, I've noticed patterns in my heart, and I've said, “Oh, I need to check myself and make sure I am aware of that as they're asking.” I am not using this as a chance to draw into myself and be so focused and just get out of heart stuff, but I am becoming more dependent on Christ, which is ultimately what God wants to do in and through all heart things—small heart things and big heart things.
Laura: One quick note, I want to move right into restoration. At that time we won’t be struggling with when or how to give snacks and what our hearts look like when we do it. Today we can image that and we’re going to take you through a quick list of a few things that we can do during snack time. As we said, don’t over think snack time every time you serve it. But we also want to give you some thoughts as you consider what your heart attitude is. The first thing that’s important to share is just make the best decisions you can with what's available to you. Trust God that he's going to provide for your needs and for your kids’ needs. He's going to sustain them, so no matter how snack time goes, or how often we serve it or what you serve. Ultimately God is the sustainer of life, not the snack, and not you. Just trust him.
Emily: [laughs] Another thing we can do is recognizing others’ preferences. Again, this is a gray area; these are not essential, doctrinal issues. We can love others as God in Christ has loved us. If you have a friend, a family member, or neighbor who prefers that their children eat a certain type of diet, or they like to keep their kids on a certain snack schedule, or whatever, we can try to accommodate that and be gracious. It’s not a big deal to bend to that.
Laura: On the flipside is when someone doesn’t necessarily bend to what you have as a preference. Being gracious in that too and not holding that as greater than God. With that, we just want to trust God in those situations where other people are making decisions about what or how often your children eat. Say, for example, if they're staying with family, or they're in daycare during the day, or at school, you cannot be in all places at one time. There are probably a lot of chances for your child to be eating things that you're not able to monitor. Therefore trust God with your child’s health needs and what diet that you are hoping for them to have.
Emily: Sure. Some of you guys may have different situations from this and you feel like, “No, actually there is a conversation that needs to happen around who's feeding my kids what.” Again, maybe there's a food allergy involved, or there's some other more complex issues, it is okay to have conversations in love. But start with prayer. A couple of other episodes that may be helpful in this is Episode 69 about loving the difficult mom in your life, and then also Episodes 74 and 75 talking about grandparents and the gospel. Which we know often comes into this conversation a little bit.
Laura: With that, just remember, the way you do snack time is up to you, and there are things to definitely consider when you determine what snack time’s going to look like in your family. Wanting to serve healthy snacks, or having sweet things in the pantry at all times; whatever it is that you really care about with that, those things aren’t necessarily a sin. Sin comes into the picture when your method becomes ultimate—when it becomes your pride and your joy and your value. Just a friendly reminder from two moms who struggle with this as well, that we don’t want to start considering other things as inadequate for our children. Or to judge others who are not doing the same. We just want to guard our hearts as we’re going through something as simple as snack time, and just remember that God is God and this food is not. We can be thankful and worshipful that we even have something like this to consider and to think about. Even for me it’s been a good reminder of like, “Hey, how can I have gratitude during snack time? How can I have gratitude for the chance?” Therefore, I talk with my kids and have a moment in-between all of the meals in the day to talk with them and enjoy who they are and enjoy the food that God’s given us.
Emily: Thanks for joining us today, guys. This show is a really good example of what Risen Motherhood does or tries to do, is say, “Look, the gospel matters in every moment of your day, even in something as seemingly as simple as giving your child a snack.” Therefore if this is something that you’ve benefited from—you probably heard a plug at the beginning about giving—we want to invite you to join our community of donors. We’re really thankful for all of you who have already joined us and given to us over the summer and last spring. But if you want to support the work that we’re doing— getting the gospel to moms all over the world in their most everyday moments—you can find more information @risenmotherhood.com/give. Thanks for joining us.
This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them @risenmotherhood.com/give.