This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today we are super excited. It’s been a while but we have a free printable up on our website for you guys at risenmotherhood.com. You’ll find it in our show notes and it is beautiful and flowery and springy. We all need spring right now. It is done by Anna from Copper Paper Company. You can find her at Copperpaperco.com and this printable features a verse, which stems onto our theme for the year, biblical literacy, Psalm 119: 10A, “With my whole heart I seek you.” It’s really beautiful. You might want to stick it in your Bible or stick it somewhere where you want that reminder that we long to spend our whole lives in worship of God. It’s beautiful.
Laura: It’s gorgeous. Head over, get it, download it, put it in a frame, and pop it above your sink. Definitely do that and check out Anna. Today we are talking about how we feed our families. This is a complex scary topic because there are so many opinions on it. I feel like if you hop on Facebook, Emily, it’s petrifying if you see one of those articles and then you read the comments. That is like a war zone in there. There’s so many fads, and diets, and ways of eating, and lifestyles of food or something.
Emily: It’s a status symbol too. I feel like in our culture, the more you can eat certain ways, it says certain things about you and what you value and all of that. I feel like there is so much at stake with it sometimes. Whether we like it or not, food takes up a huge portion of everyone’s day. If you are a mom, when you are around your kids, they are always needing to eat. About the time you’re cleaning up the food and you’re like, “Hey guys, go play now,” they’re like, “It’s snack time. It’s meal time again, it’s meal time again.” [laughter]
Laura: I know, “I’m hungy. I’m hungy. I’m hungy.” I think when you become a mom, generally, if you are the person who decides what your family lifestyle and culture is around food, if you have a husband who does that, we are super jealous of you. [laughter] But most moms usually seem to set the tone for food preferences. Then I know there’s a lot of stress as a new mom. “What do I feed my baby? What’s the first food they should have?” Should it be egg whites or avocado or all of these things?" There’s stress around that and so much different research about what it should be and allergies. Then you move on and progress in life and you’re wondering, “What do I even eat?” and, “Is gluten bad?” or, “Should I be eating more kale?” or, “Bacon is a new thing right now.” It’s so confusing out there and I think we all want to make wise food choices for our families but at the same time, it can be a real trap and I think something that Satan uses to very quickly get our focus on something else.
Emily: We’re going to attempt to apply the gospel to- [laughter]
Laura: To food.
Emily: And asking questions like, how do we decide how much time to spend on these types of things? How do we know? Is it okay to make more convenience food choices for our children? Can that be loving in some way, or is it okay to be passionate about this and to want to love my family well through certain types of food, or nutrition, or having a garden in the back, or whatever that looks like? We’re going to try to dive into that a little bit today. But first of all, we wanted to start by remembering, what is that hash tag Laura? First world problems?
Laura: Oh, it is a first world problem, that’s right. [laughter]
Emily: I think it’s good for us to stop and remember the fact that we have food is a huge mercy. God is very gracious to put food on our table. If you have food on your table, God has been very gracious to you. This is so unique that we are mincing out, “Which vegetable is okay?” and, “Are you having the non-GMO vegetable or the regular one?” because there are lot of people in the world who don’t even have access to basic nutritional food. It’s just good for us to remember that.
Laura: Keep it in mind as we talk through this real privilege that we all have. This is what I love Emily. I love thinking a little bit about how Adam and Eve were vegetarians and [laughter] they got to pet lions. I have been dying to pet a lion.
Emily: I hadn’t thought about that. I need to bring that up with the kids.
Laura: Oh, to stick my hand in a lion’s mane sounds pretty awesome. Back then, pre-fall, pre-Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were vegetarians. They ate all the food in the garden and all the food was pleasant to the sight and good for food. They were allowed to eat from every tree except as we all know, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But the great thing was all food tasted good. It didn’t harm their bodies in any ways. They didn’t need to diet. They could eat of anything and they enjoyed it. It probably tasted … I can’t even imagine. How good would chocolate taste? [laughter] I mean, cocoa from one of the trees, how good would that be?
Emily: I wonder if they had coffee back then? If they discovered coffee beans. We’re getting a little off topic here, but we know. Obviously, we’ve talked about this a million times, that they decided that what God has given them isn’t good enough or maybe there’s something that they want to taste that’s better than what he’s provided. So they eat from the tree that they’re not supposed to eat from and all of a sudden sin enters the world and we know that sin breaks everything. There’s a lot of different ways that people interpret the fall but it’s good to remember it touches every facet of our lives. As time goes on, we see that food becomes an issue. It’s hard to get food. Bacteria grows on food and it makes people sick. We can idolize food or we can overeat food and that can cause health problems. If we don’t get the right kinds of foods, it can impact our body and so definitely the fall breaks the way we eat food and consume it.
Laura: Back then too, there were a lot of laws around how they could eat food. You take one little glance at Leviticus and you are going to see a lot of the laws. But when Christ came, he brought freedom from food. He fulfilled the law and from that, we see so much grace in the food that we can enjoy today. We have a lot of options about things to eat. We no longer have to live under the Levitical law of different food preparation and things like that. It’s an area of Christian freedom essentially because, and only because of Christ’s work on the cross. Of course, it’s still important to eat responsibly. 1 Timothy 4 says we need to be wise stewards of our bodies, to care for and nourish our bodies well because they are a temple of the Holy Spirit. As 1 Corinthians 6 says, we want to remember that we are made in the image of God, but the food choices that we make are an area of Christian freedom.
Emily: There’s some really good verses about this. They talk about food preferences and some of these very things we struggle with in our modern culture in the New Testament. Romans 14 is an area where Paul starts to talk a little bit about, "Hey, some people are vegetarians, some people are not. There’s different food choices among believers but we don’t need to quarrel about that."There’s a verse, Romans 14:1-4, “As for the one who is weak in the faith, welcome him but do not quarrel over opinions. One person believes he can eat anything, the weak person believes they can only eat vegetables, let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains.” It goes on to talk about how we are not to be the judge of that. That every person in their own conscience, for their own family is going to have convictions about what they feel is the best type of food and that we are not to have pride in that.
Laura: I love it because the Bible is very clear on this. I think a lot of stuff that Emily and I tackle, while it might be a grey area, the Bible is always sufficient on a topic but it’s not always exhausted. I feel like in this topic though, Paul legit addresses it. Even with Peter, in the early Church, you can see an example of him where he struggles with food, in particular, of the Jewish food restrictions and wanting to abide by them. But then, sometimes he’d eat with the Gentiles who didn’t have those food restrictions, but when the Jews would come over and catch him, he would run away because he didn’t want to be seen eating all of the options that the Gentiles had to eat and Paul totally called him out on it. You can check that out as well. [laughter] That’s in Galatians 2. Basically, we find that food choices are an area of freedom. We are talking especially to this show. We’re not talking about legit allergies or dietary restrictions that you need for your health. Obviously, you have freedom in how you tackle those but there are severe consequences with those right now. We are really talking about the types of choices that we make that are optional, so we want to also be clear. We should have said that at the beginning probably.
Emily: [laughs] The main thing is this is something you need to work out in the context of your own family. We are going to talk a little bit about some practical questions you can ask. Going to the heart, which is really what matters, we can all do similar things on the surface and do them for similar reasons, so questions like, why are you choosing to feed your family these things, etc.? The first on is how much time do you spend thinking about what your family is going to eat and planning?
Laura: We need to think about how much do you think about it? How much time each day do you give towards meal planning, and preparation, and thinking about what you are going to eat, and if you ate something wrong? Are you really watching what you husband eats and your children eat? Maybe if you’re not the one who prepared the food, are you analyzing and critiquing that? Sometimes we get so caught up in a certain diet or a fad that we are really researching it like crazy because we want to defend it. We want to know all the ins and outs and how we’re going to eat like that. But a big question to ask yourself too is, how much are you researching it, and studying, and giving thought towards a certain way of eating vs. how much time are you really spending in growing your relationship with God, and spending time reading God’s word, and investing in your spiritual life? I think that is a real barometer of if you’re maybe spending too much time on something, just like anything. If something is above your time with the Lord, it doesn’t matter what it is, it shouldn’t be there.
Emily: It’s just terms of priority in your heart, even more than the minutes you spend. We know everyone spends way more time prepping food. Again, another thing we are trying to hammer out is, how does this fit in the context of your family, in the context of what’s important to your husband? Because you may be really passionate about this and you may be more passionate about Jesus than you are about food, and you may still spend a significant amount of time doing food stuff. I know for our family, my husband really values breakfast but he is okay that in this season if dinner is not something that I spend hardly anytime on. We are working through that. So I try to follow that lead where I can, and say, “In the context of our family, of the things are important to us, of the way we are trying to live out the gospel, right now, certain types of foods or a certain type of time spent on food isn’t the highest priority for us,” but it could be for different people in different seasons. Family context matters.
Laura: As a contrast to that, in our family, we eat very little breakfast, like fanciness. We eat breakfast but it’s low key. But I love to garden and I love doing that with my children, and I love to cook with my kids and it takes forever. We make homemade bread. Generally, I’ve fallen off that a little bit. I went through a season where I made homemade broth and I had that time; that was pre-kids. It’s not about, this is too much time and here’s the rule and here’s the line, but it is about, what is your family culture? What do you value? What’s your husband in agreement on? Does he think you are spending too much money at the grocery store on certain types of ingredients or maybe too much convenience food? Maybe he really wants some home-cooked meals and he’s asked you for that and you’ve plain out refused? Or maybe you are stressed because you want to make all these homemade foods and you are not giving yourself any leeway or grace. It’s okay to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven for once. You’ve got to look at that balance and scale and say, “What does our family value? Am I still fulfilling my role as a mother and a wife?” and, “Am I able to really glorify God while I maintain these efforts that you’ve decided on?”
Emily: To see if you are idolizing food or making a certain type of eating more important, is to see your reaction when that can’t happen. When either your husband deviates from it, or you go over to your grandparents’ house and they give your child something that you don’t really want them to have, or maybe it’s a friend’s house, or maybe your child does get something, what do you do? Do you freak out or do you have a measured response and know that this is temporary? Again, we are not talking about allergies here. We are not talking about, “My child has a serious health problem,” we’re talking about, “Hey, I don’t want my kid to have chocolate milk and somebody gave it to them.” How do you react when that happens is a good indicator.
Laura: Look at how your kids talk about food choices. Especially as your kids get older, how are they talking about their food choices? Do they have a holier than thou attitude or do they snub their nose at anyone who does choose to eat differently than them? Are they feeling like, “I can eat anything I want,” and, “That is so weird that you are eating that quinoa muffin or something.” Checking both directions. Your kids are a good barometer because they are reflecting you.
Emily: Food is a great area of training and so I think if we’re teaching our kids food is for nutrition. Again, it’s not something we should feel pride in, which was the last point we wanted to bring out. That our choice in food, like Laura said, whether it’s okay for you to have Cheetos and Gatorade or you cannot have any sugar, wheat; we only eat clean, whatever end of the spectrum you’re on, nobody gets to feel pride in that because it’s an area of Christian freedom. Like we said at the beginning, it’s a mercy that we have food. We need to be talking to our children about things and modeling a gratitude for food, whatever those choices are, whatever you are passionate about, and not seeking to convert others to whatever our style is.
Laura: You can look at some questions to ask yourself. Do you feel a need to talk with other people all the time about the way that you eat and what your family has decided to do for their food? Are you spending a lot of time wanting to talk or even talking about how you don’t like a certain fad? Maybe you are doing this online and maybe you are doing this in person. What’s your tone of voice when you are talking to someone or when you’re typing on social media? Social media might be maybe a little better of a look at what your heart says. Are you trying to convince people to convert? That’s a big one. Really, it’s not even what you say out loud but just checking your heart. The issue isn’t the fact that you have chosen to be gluten free, vegetarian, or we eat every type of food under the sun. That isn’t the issue. The issue is what is your heart valuing? Is it idolizing a certain way of eating? If so, that’s where we want to check yourself before you wreck yourself basically.
Emily: Yes. [laughs] The main takeaways we wanted to talk about today wasn’t to try to prescribe for you what the right kind of way to feed your family is. Laura and I don’t have the answer to that question for your family or for you, but to encourage all of us to remember the big picture. The big picture of what God has called us to, to live a life that worships him, and brings him glory, and is humble before his throne, and remembers that the grace he’s given us is a gift including all of the other good things that he gives us. To remember we’re not supposed to be divided with fellow believers or others over these types of issues. We’re not supposed to judge other people on these things, as we said earlier. That we all have a responsibility, in the context of our family, to look at our time, when we’ve sat down with our husbands and said, “We are passionate about,” or, “We want to spend our time here for the sake of glorifying Christ. What does that look like for our family right now?” Be thoughtful about it, whatever that might be. It might be your thought’s to do more convenience things or another way.
Laura: That’s a good spot to end. As you go forth in your day, I hope that you will stop over to risenmotherhood.com and download that printable from Copper Paper Co. It is super beautiful and I think you are going to love it. Of course, also find us on social media, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, @RisenMotherhood. You can easily find us. We’ll be talking about food probably all week, so you’ll get more there. Then of course, if you have time, we would love it if you would give us a rating or a review on iTunes, best way to spread the word about the show, help other moms find us. We would really appreciate if you would take five minutes and go head over there and rate and review the show. Have a great day.