What Am I Feeding?

This is the month I always think of as being spent at table. Easter is a sunrise empty tomb, a blanket of lilies. Christmas finds altars everywhere, trembling on frosty starlit hillsides, woven in the notes of soaring anthems, whispered in prayers by the fire. But this Thanksgiving month’s first images for me always center around preparing and sharing food, a ring of faces around plenty.

But if I am satisfied with belovedness, filled with the enough-ness of that daily portion, and if I’m going to live thankful as the last leaves skitter away and the earth settles, I have to consider what else I’m feeding this month, besides this family. What am I feeding? How can all I consume nourish gratitude? Perhaps even more important, what empty calories am I taking in that leave me empty of what would give life?

This is a season of gathering for me, gathering the recipes and craft ideas and handmade gift plans to carry my family through the celebrations to come over the next couple of months. I pride myself on resisting the messages blaring from every advertisement that my worth, my contentment, and the happiness of my children swings from the string of a price tag. I know in my bones that new and shiny are not the answer when I feel that gnawing emptiness.

And yet. . . I can shatter peace and quiet celebration with a whirlwind of too much flour and floss and paper and glue as surely as with shopping bags and spending money we don’t have. Both approaches resist the idea of enough. Both paths tell me the lie that more is better, that it is my job to fill and fill and over fill.

Because perhaps then I’ll measure up. To the friends, to the parents of my kids’ friends, to all the faceless, anonymous Others we’re so often performing for. And I’ll top this false confection with a dollop of self-righteousness, that all this excess is homemade and not purchased at the mall.

If I’m going to choose another way, if I’m going to carefully consider what I’ll feed and fatten during these weeks of preparation, I have to take a deep breath. I have to come back to that simple question: what is enough? It is not about good or bad, for special, celebratory menus and presents made with love in the fingers are not bad. But how much of them are enough? What number of moments of joy will let them be illuminated, each like crystal beads on a string, singular and precious, rather than the cheap glint of crammed and crumpled tinsel? What line, carefully drawn, will prepare nourishment and prevent gluttony? Will I feed my insecurities and misgivings, or will I feed my soul?

As with many spiritual issues, the questions to ask are refreshingly practical.

  • How much consumption of new ideas in enough? How much pinning? How many tear sheets? Can we keep a finger on our creative pulse to check when we are crossing from inspiration to overwhelm?
  • How many new recipes are enough? Or can dishes from past years, familiar and homey, bless with their very same-ness?
  • How many gifts are enough? Would some time of service or a donation to charity extend blessing more than another thing, handmade or purchased?
  • How many parties and events are enough? Are enough quiet evenings and simple food in place to give a pause that refreshes?
  • Can we curb the celebrations we plan to make room for spontaneous moments of worship and grace? Can we leave space to receive these gifts?

I’ll be baking and making here, certainly. But I’m asking these questions, knowing my weakness, but knowing too the deeper longing I have for what will satisfy, for me, and for the loved ones for whom I make this home.

Two dear women I admire are using this month’s focus on gratitude to consider in very practical ways what their families eat, to challenge themselves to carefully regulate their spending to have more to give away to those less fortunate at the end of the month. This is another compelling way to consider “enough.” I’d also like to thank my blogger friend Aimee, whose “less is more” post on Facebook yesterday got my wheels turning.          

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16 thoughts on “What Am I Feeding?

  1. Trish

    Oh, Missy! What a great post! This may be one of my favorite yet!

    I can’t tell you how often I have realized lately that I put a “dollop of self-righteousness” on what I make or do. My pride can really be a nasty thing, especially when I compare myself to others. It’s pride whether I think I’m better or whether I think I’m worse; the focus is still on me. The measuring up – it’s a snare we all face, Missy. All the more reason to focus on Him.

    And the whole concept of “what is enough?” – that is a deep water to swim in during the holidays. As wives and mothers, don’t we feel like it’s all up to us to make everything turn out right, to ensure everyone’s happiness? I have often struggled with depression during November and December, partly because of the lack of sunshine, but also because of that constant refrain in my head, “It’s up to me.” Listening to that refrain leads me to either go all out and do too much or it keeps me in the pits, convinced I can’t do enough, be enough. This is NOT of God!!!!

    As the Psalmist said, may God establish the work of our hands each day. And may we be so tuned in to Him that we can see what that work is and be satisfied with what He wants us to do and be and give. And then just rest in gratitude that His way is enough.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Oh, Trish– yes– I think this comparison and inadequacy game hits moms particularly hard because we see it as our role to “make” a magical holiday for everyone.

      Thank you for sharing of yourself– I’m just beginning to unpack this– you are right– it is deep water!

      Thanks for adding your thoughts to the conversation.

      Reply
  2. Kris

    Missy, this was a truly amazing post.

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines lately…how not only can the world toss so many things at me with the headline “must have” and “must do”, but even what I cherish most can be so overdone that it in itself becomes unfulfilling, and even emptying.

    I love to cook…but if I collect ten thousand recipes, it’s just too much and makes me feel defeated before I even turn on my oven.

    I love to collect several things…but owning many items becomes a burden rather than a blessing.

    Even the things we enjoy most don’t fill us to the brim – but they definitely can (and do) slosh over the top of our cups with greed (because the more we have, the more we want in the vain pursuit that just that one more thing will be the topper that makes us content – but it never will) and dissatisfaction (because we thought surely this – this – was the thing that would complete us).

    This month, you are inspiring me to make more with less. And cherish the process and result more.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Kris–

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your observation that even the things we love, when taken beyond “enough,” cease to be a blessing. The recipe example is spot on.

      This is a good, needed conversation!

      Reply
  3. Ruthi

    Oh Missy! I must agree with Trish and Kris. This is one of your best posts yet, or should I say the one that speaks to the very core of me.

    Why is it we feel we need to do it all… feeling we are either too much or not enough to the beloved in our lives. This goes along so well with what our little book circle is studying… Grace for the Good Girl… how we hid behind our mask of performance or fear or indifference.

    The Holy Spirit is gently showing me I have so much to learn in this area. How I long to just enjoy this precious season and yet I find myself spinning too many plates in the air. Thinking I need to keep up with others, tempted to feel less than by what I see others doing. But how we spend our days is indeed how we spend our lives.

    Thanks you Missy for writing these days. God is using you to encourage this woman.

    Oh yes, I agree with you thank Aimee is a source of daily encouragement to embrace less as more.

    blessings dear friend and hugs from sunny Florida.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Oh, Ruthi, you bless me! Thank you for sharing both your struggle in this area and the peace God is trying to breathe into your life.

      I want so much to rest in “enough,” but no sooner do I think it than I am spinning off in another direction. I want to use these weeks before Thanksgiving not only in planning and purchasing, but in centering myself in the heart of what this season really means. For that surely needs no addition from me but my worship.

      Reply
  4. Kimberly

    Wonderful, wonderful!
    It is easy to slip into the same mentality with handmade vs purchased and that constant drive for more. I found last year that I was so excited about the special things I made for each person.
    Until I placed my gifts under the tree.
    Then suddenly they simply disappeared into the glut of all the gifts under there already. What had been simple and made with love seemed somehow…not enough. Surrounded by all that was new and shiny & wrapped to perfection, my things looked so poor.
    I felt like I should go get more somehow, have done more, made more. And it wasn’t like anyone needed more anyway.
    Ugh. I forgot about that all until I read this. Now, I am just pondering how to change my attitude for this year and not be caught up in all of that.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Oh, Kimberly, I have experienced this same thing. It is hard to resist that impulse to add so as to conform to the new and the shiny.

      Be encouraged friend- my favorite gifts are always the handmade ones!

      Thanks for adding your thoughts!

      Reply
  5. Kristin Blankenship

    This is such a timely post, Missy. Just last night, I started wondering when I would feel I had gathered enough ideas and supplies to begin the making for friends and family so that I can slow-down and enjoy the process. It is my prayer that I, too, may be satisfied with “enough” and allow time to enjoy the quiet, simple moments of the months ahead.

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Kristin, I am knee deep in that too– and those moments, especially with children at home are finite. The truth is, that is the “more” we can’t ever get.

      I wish for you, (and me too) discernment to know good from best, to know what enough looks like.

      Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Susan,
      Thanks so much for passing this along. I hope this conversation– some great comments here– can encourage us all to have a more sane and worshipful holiday season.

      Blessings friend!
      MK

      Reply
  6. vegforlife2011

    I’m reading this a little late, but I wanted you to know that it really spoke to me. This month I am going to be thankful for many things, including my great friend who is making me think about life and who I am. 🙂

    Reply
    1. adailyportion Post author

      Jill– love to you! Thanks so much for reading and commenting– and you’re one of the blessings I’m counting as well. I’ll be in touch by e-mail over the weekend to check in with how you’re doing!
      MK

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Asking and Listening, or, The Places We’ll Say Yes « adailyportion

  8. Pingback: The Spaces in December « adailyportion

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