7 read-a-long (chapter 1: food)

This is going to sound a little nutso, but my part of our conversation about chapter 1 today is going to have very little, if anything, to do with FOOD.

Um, hello, FOOD IS THE NAME OF THE CHAPTER, you say. Yes, I know, and I’m going to talk a lot about it tomorrow when we discuss all the practical application, but Jen deals with so many HEART issues in this chapter that the food part kind of took a backseat for me.

You, however, are more than welcome to blog about food, comment about food, whine about the food you’re not eating…

Speaking of, I find it quite ironic that my week started off with our sweet little neighbor girl delivering the TEN BOXES of Girl Scout cookies that someone apparently ordered in a fit of madness (and pre-hoarding, as Jen would call it) a month ago.

Two per day. That’s all each family member is allowed. And I don’t even like them. So they’ll be fun to fast from.

And I said this post wouldn’t be about food. For crying.

Here are some quotes I’d love for us to use as conversation starters:

“It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not because I’m a narcissist but because the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can no longer default to normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless.” (16) (I know I told some of you I’d include the Kindle “page,” but I realized I can’t do Nook & iPad too–I’m so sorry.)

This is huge for me. At the first sign of discomfort, I run (RUN) to usual-mindless-thoughtless. Like whatever’s in the cupboard. Or the fridge. Or on the internet. Or a well-loved book. Or euchre on Livi’s iPod. Fasting makes me pause and reach for my prayer journal and Bible instead.

“In my privileged world where ‘need’ and ‘want’ have become indistinguishable, my only true requirement is the sweet presence of Jesus.” (19)

I want this to be true with all of my heart. Or maybe I should say, I want to want this to be true with all of my heart.

“The chances my African children are going to bed hungry are so high I almost don’t need to waste a line space speculating.” (22)

I have friends in Cambodia who are going to bed hungry too. Some of them are children. Some are young adults. Some of them are parents of multiple children. I barely know what it’s like to feel a pang of hunger and not immediately assuage it with food. And my girls really don’t know. These days I’m trying to let myself feel the hunger a little longer before I eat as a reminder of the millions of people around the globe who feel those pangs (but much stronger) nearly every single moment of their lives.

“How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol?” (22)

I know you can’t all whisk your kiddos away to Cambodia, but you can show them pictures. And watch (age-appropriate) documentaries. You can sponsor a Compassion child and discuss what his/her life is like in a third world country. I can’t stress enough the importance of opening their eyes, minds, and hearts to a world in need. Our girls can fight and bicker and whine with the best of them (and do), but they also have a very good grasp on the suffering of so many around the globe (and how greed and ungratefulness is just ridiculous in light of it).

This next quote is a long one, but I underlined, asterisked, and “holy cow”ed it so much that I can’t not include it.

“Teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspires me. I’m at that place where ‘well done’ trumps ‘well said.’ When I see kingdom work in the middle of brokenness, when mission transitions from the academic soil of the mind into the sacrificial work of someone’s hands, I am utterly affected. Obedience inspires me. Servant leaders inspire me. Humility inspires me. Talking heads dissecting apologetics stopped inspiring me a few years ago.” (23)

God’s Word is a big deal to me, and I want to love and crave it more than I do. But I don’t want to spend all my time reading it, pondering it, figuring it out in my head and not going out and doing what it says. I feel like we are often so quick to claim God’s promises and blessings (which is awesome–that’s why he gave them to us) and sooooo slow to follow his go-and-do commands.

“Intentional reduction is so uncommon people just don’t know what to do with it. Folks are adding not subtracting.” (27)

I am all about intentional, purposeful reduction. If you’ve got some time on your hands, you could skim through my 31 Days of Purging posts from October. The 31 days that were actually 29, because my 34-year-old husband went and had himself a heart attack on October 30th.

“When accumulation is not our bottom line, we are liberated to disperse our time and resources differently.” (28)

Oh, I want this so badly for myself and everyone I know and love. I want us to stop the more, more, more and have just enough, so that our extra can go toward those who have so very little.

And if you only pick one quote, may I encourage you to pick this one? I feel like it’s so, so important.

“I can’t have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings He begged me to avoid.” (29)

Jesus had so much to say about trappings that weigh us down and get in the way of intimacy with him. I think we’re so quick to label many of those trappings as “blessings that Jesus just wants me to have.” The truest joy and blessing is found in giving. I believe that a billion percent.

If I knew how to make all these words of Jesus red, I’d do it. Italics will have to do.

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor… store up treasure in heaven… life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions… give us each day our daily bread… they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature… whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise… for the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom… (The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things and ridiculed him)… how difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God… this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on… “

Your turn:

1. Pick one or more quotes and elaborate on them.

2. Write your own blog post about the chapter.

3. Tell us what you’re doing to mutiny against excess in the area of food.

54 thoughts on “7 read-a-long (chapter 1: food)

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  3. Danielle

    “How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol?” (22)

    We had a family over for dinner this week and as I was cleaning up after they left this quote kept running through my head. I was scrapping plates into the trash and saw a growing pile of food that reminded me a lot of Jen’s story about the fish sticks. I LOVE this family more than I can stand sometimes. Their two teen girls are so amazing. They are constantly teaching their kids wonderful, gospel-centered, real things. This family loves Jesus in some pretty radical ways. But these teenagers, like so many others I know, have no concept of how much food they waste.

    The challenge to my heart is that they listen when I teach, even when i think they’re zoning out. How do I talk about the wastefulness of a consumer culture that screams in their ears all day every day, while still honoring their parents? As in every topic I talk to the kids about, I have to be very careful to speak the truth in love, with gentleness enough to produce good conversations and hopefully not rebellious hearts.

  4. Carla Gain

    “Need and want have become indistinguishable”….so very true and being a “seasoned” citizen, not meaning in a food way, I feel I “need” less stuff to be satisfied but still like and enjoy my creature comforts….must remind myself often that these very things are blessings and not necessities. Not to miss the point but struggled a bit reading the chapter last night, put it down, and today was ready to hear the message. I really appreciated the time devoted to eating a simpler, more natural diet and have been concerned for many years about the corn syrup, additives, and other such things masquerading in words I can not decipher. I have been and will continue to look for locally grown, organic, natural, free range products, etc. and want to shift our focus to more home prepared meals. Being empty nesters we thoroughly enjoy eating out often but also am seeking restaurants that prepare meals with the same philosophy of using local and less processed ingredients. Thank you Marla for hosting this and welcoming all of us from various stages of life.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Your wisdom and experience is sooooo welcome here, Carla!! This is tough stuff, trying to figure out how to eat well and do the most good. Sigh. But I know it will all be worth it.

  5. Sarah Farish

    This week’s topic of conversation in my online read-a-long is food. With just a cursory glance through my previous blog posts, you can easily discover that one of my biggest issues is FOOD. I am slowly but surely allowing God to work on this issue in my life. Thanks to Lysa TerKeurst’s book and Bible study Made to Crave, I am finally beginning to see my food issues for what they are: sin. So, as I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I assume it’s not coincidence when the first area of excess I need to face is…food.

    Ok, Lord, you have my attention – again.

    Except, what God taught me through this chapter had little to do with food.

    WHAT?!??!? But, that’s my issue. Surely, Lord, you have something new to say to get me past this funk I’ve been in lately. This is how you work (usually). Thing 1 isn’t getting my attention, so you kick me in the pants with Thing 2.

    But, no. What He needed me to hear was much bigger than my small-minded presumptions.

    This sums it up: “When I see kingdom work in the middle of brokenness, when mission transitions from the academic soil of the mind into the sacrificial work of someone’s hands, I am utterly affected. Obedience inspires me. Servant leaders inspire me. Humility inspires me. Talking heads dissecting apologetics stopped inspiring me a few years ago.”

    Lately, I’ve felt stuck. I read and study and listen to podcast after podcast, and I have moments of “wow, that’s good.” But, I don’t feel I am really growing closer to God. I don’t think I am becoming more like Jesus. I see bits of heart change and perspective change, but there’s also a feeling of “stuck in a rut.”

    I’ve been praying to break out of the rut. Praying to start pursuing the dream that’s always been hidden in my heart.

    When God revealed to me what moves me…further from me and closer to Him…I knew He, too, wants me out of the rut.

    I explained this at length on my blog (I am an external processor, so blogging helps me understand myself better:), but I concluded that God was telling me: Be like Jesus. Focus on creating more room for HIm. And take careful note of all the ways He moves you closer to Him while the world moves you further from Him.

    1. Carla Gain

      I, too, have felt “stuck”, sensing that God is nudging or trying to get me to open my eyes and see a different direction or focus on something new. I take comfort in knowing He controls each day and I may not get an instant answer but His timing is perfect. I retired 4 years ago and have expanded my horizons by learning and doing new things but for a while have been wondering what is next. Sometimes for me it is just the time to “Be still and know that He is God.” Prayers for you and all here.

  6. Jessica

    “It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not because I’m a narcissist but because the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can no longer default to normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless.”

    EXACTLY!!!! I am on day 14 of month one, and I am holding on to Jesus so tightly. I pray I never lose the squeezing of Him I am experiencing through this journey.

    Why did it take the stripping away of food to create such a space for more of Him?

    If “7”, Marla blog, and the two groups we have just started at church going through 7 together is the tool God is using to finally give me a long overdue wake up call, then so be in.

    More of you Lord and Less of excess that takes away from my worship and communion with you.

    Have a great week everyone. YOU CAN DO IT.

  7. Melissa

    How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol?

    This is a big one for me! I worry that I’m too intense on my kids, making them share everything and getting rid of toys whenever I see fit. And I’ve been known to lecture my children on how much we have and how little other have (not the best method, lol). In working on getting to pre-baby weight I have dieted by counting calories and eliminating foods. It works, but only with the grace of God. It is amazing how much better you feel when you cut out a lot of processed foods. We’re also taking it to the next level by not only raising our own veggies but also our own meat animals, so many of her foodie quotes resonated with me. I am going to get back on the no sweets bandwagon starting today.

  8. Shannon

    “It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not because I’m a narcissist but because the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can no longer default to normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless.”

    I know too much and do too little. I am utterly disgusted the the lack of action that follows all that I know. I feel weighed down by so much distraction and stuff right now. God is faithful. My experience tells me in 1,001 ways that any time I decrease, He increases. So here I am, ready for a little discomfort and inconvenience. And in return I get the abiding presence of Christ, peace, wisdom, and blessings beyond my imagination. Can someone tell me why I have to be forced into this?!

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  9. Tonia

    After trying many times to find a fix to overcome my obsession with food, I finally realized (through the help of a book and my sister) that food is an idol for me. I know that Jen’s food challenge is different, but for me food takes the place of God in my life where comfort and joy are concerned. It is in fact and idol for me, and probably one of my top, if not my top idol. With the recent visit of my mom to our house I realized for the first time that her eating habits were much like mine. Around the same time I found this book at B&N called Made to Crave and asked my sister if she wanted to study it with me (come to find out my mom bought it for herself without even knowing that we were doing this). So I’m hopeful that the three of us will embark on this journey together of learning how to replace food with God as the source of joy and comfort in our lives.

    On another note, if I had to pick one of those quotes to comment on “How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol?” (22) I love this, but I too am just disgusted with all of this. This is a quote I need to write down and search scripture to pray on, AND make some tangible decisions/goals as far as our spending goes and in dealing with what we already have.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Made to Crave is a really good book. I read it a few months ago and passed it on to a friend.

      And I would LOVE to hear more about the scripture you find and decisions you make regarding kiddos and too much!

  10. Becca

    I had so many of those same quotes underlines (in my kindle and written down in my journal). My heart was moved by this chapter, although I haven’t even fasted from any food at all. In fact, I just read this chapter last night — but I feel like I want so badly to do SOMETHING to wake me up and make me more aware of my “defaults,” the things I turn to instead of Jesus (and one of those is DEFINITELY food) . . .

    I’m not sure what that means or what that looks like for me . . . but I’m praying and thinking about it!

  11. Loraine Erickson

    Marla! Thanks for hosting this. This is fun, even though this book is kicking my butt. I don’t even know where to begin to comment on all the good quotes you listed above. Can we just meet for coffee and chat? My treat. 🙂

    I want well done to trump well said!

  12. Lori

    Well, this totally didn’t go the way I expected it to. Lots of zig-zaggy turns in my thoughts here (and the long-winded post reflects that!)
    I’m reminded of a verse that came up for me frequently this week…..thy word is a lamp unto thy feet. Need to follow Jesus a little more closely before I blurt out another prideful blog post on this subject!!!
    Blaming it on jet lag, turbulence and car sick cab rides.

    I am eager to take those awesome quotes up there and process them on the really out of control areas of my life where I don’t feel so compelled to be a prideful preacher. Areas like money and stress and sacred time. Reading on now 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’m pretty sure each and every one of us has an area where we’re smug. Mine? Clothing.

      Pride is a big, big problem for most of us. You’re not alone, friend.

      May God continue to give each of us humble, teachable spirits. Please, Lord!!

  13. Rachelle

    I agree Marla, I think this is way more about the heart than about food itself. I see it as a form of trying to control which easily can be taken, by sinful man, to extreme. As we do so well with so many of the blessings we are given, rather than sharing/giving them away.

      1. Rachelle

        doing better. praying for grace as I focus on the heart hurt of others and get over myself! (: praying for you guys. Anything I can do or pray for specifically? On my agenda for you today: anxiety relief, grace for family as you release your grandma to the arms of Jesus.

  14. Kelly S

    I had a somewhat failed experiment a few weeks ago concerning food and excess, prior to starting 7. For Lent, my husband and I decided we would do a “solidarity with the poor” thing, inspired by a post MoneySavingMom.com. We were going to eat only the staple foods of one country for two weeks at a time – three countries (Honduras, Kenya, Thailand) for six weeks total. I was very excited to do it, and even more excited when they posted my idea on the MSM web site to inspire others! We cooked some whole chickens to freeze, stocked up on rice, beans, tortillas, and plantains…

    … and then we made it about 48 hours before calling it quits. Honestly, it was just too hard (for us weaklings). I had a headache, I think from not eating sugar, and I couldn’t get past it. I thought we were prepared for the monotony of this diet, but it was too hard to have the same meal over and over again. Then, I started worrying that I was harming our child (I’m six months pregnant) by not having adequate meals (see more on this below)… and so we gave up and were out for hamburgers by that evening.

    Although I feel kind of like a failure for not making it through our commitment, I found it to be a memorable/thought-provoking experience for me. I’ve never fasted before, and I’ve never quite understood people saying that your hunger pains turn you to God. However, I found myself lifting up little prayers for strength and thinking of Him and the poor as I passed our stash of candy at the office – I get it now!

    I also found it humbling to realize how much of the food I eat is purely “luxury” food ~ sweets and other junk food. I’m not eating it because I’m truly hungry or need sustenance… I’m eating it out of pure indulgence. (I’m going to try to give up junk food for a week sometime soon instead – was going to do it this week in honor of our read-along but it didn’t happen.)

    Finally, it’s been very humbling for me to think about pregnancy in relation to hunger and food. Midway through pregnancy, I find myself struggling to not gain too much weight, and I am sure that after delivery, my struggle will be to lose weight as soon as possible to get back to “normal.” However, I know (especially from reading about ministries like Heartline in Haiti) that for most pregnant women, it’s the opposite… they struggle to receive the nourishment they need to go through a healthy pregnancy and produce breast milk afterwards. It’s humbling to realize that my fears about our child not getting enough nourishment because I’m only eating three different kinds of fruits and vegetables today, and not the recommended five (or whatever), are something that many moms worldwide would never even dream of.

    All in all, this whole “food” issue is a convicting one, and also a harder area to tackle than I think I would have expected a couple months ago! But, good stuff to think about and hopefully take some action on!

    1. Lori

      I admire your ambitious goal and what you did complete Kelly! For never having fasted before, that is an awesome start.
      I agree with Brooke….not a failure. Just not your season. I would also chose to not harm my unborn child when living in a land with so many healthy, accessible choices.

    2. Marla Taviano

      Thanks so much for sharing this, Kelly. God doesn’t waste anything, and I bet he’ll keep using this experience over and over to bless you and so many others. Hugs!!

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  15. Jennifer Ekstrand

    I have noticed that people seem surprised by intentional reduction. Since we have gotten more serious and united about reducing our “stuff” as a couple, we’ve had inquiries about whether we’re doing ok financially and people reminding us that we might not always live in a two-bedroom apartment (and when we have our potential 4 bedroom house we will want some of the things we’re reducing).

    Interestingly, I think 31 Days of Purging is how I found this blog 🙂

    It seems like a never-ending task though. As soon as our “to the thrift store” pile gets taken to the thrift store, it seems like the space fills up with more stuff to go.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I think empty space scares us. The bigger our house, the more pressing our “need” to fill it up. I’m behind you all the way, girl. We’ve seriously considered downsizing from our 1400 sq ft home to an apartment.

      I’m so glad you got here during the Purging Fun. 🙂

      1. brooke

        i’m physically tired from my training right now and how i would love to return to the days when deep cleaning my 1 bedroom apartment took 15 minutes! remind me of this moment when Jay suggests adding on again, mkay?

    2. Kelly S

      We’ve had the same kind of comments – won’t you need that someday? Wait, you’re getting rid of THAT?

      We’ve downsized a lot, and honestly, there are a few things that I regret getting rid of – even one or two that we’ve had to spend money on to replace. However, that’s probably only about 1% of the total we’ve gotten rid of, so I think it’s worth it!

      I hear you on the never-ending task… as I throw things away/donate them, I promise myself we’re never going to buy anything again! And then a month later, my shopping list is full!

    3. brooke

      reading your comment, my thoughts are 2-fold
      1) my husband and i were able to furnish our house with no debt, partly due to our family having stuff on hand to give us and i’m thankful for it
      2) i see family paying for a storage facility because they can’t bare to get rid of a table they were *given*

      God provided for me in the first circumstance, but had the family not been hoarding those things, He would have still been able to provide. Only maybe in a different, more miraculous way that caused us to step back and praise him.

  16. Amanda Rae

    “It is supposed to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not because I’m a narcissist but because the discomfort creates space for the Holy Spirit to move. This shake-up of my routine commands my attention. I can no longer default to normal, usual, mindless, thoughtless.”

    Shoot. This one really tugged at my heart. Actually, it tore me up. I’m in the middle of uncertain times(as usual) and I’m making choices that could most likely take me even further out of my comfort zone. This quote was highlighted in my book, for sure.

  17. Jennifer

    This was a really hard chapter. And it had everything to do with food and how I see food. We have never been as full as we are here in Houston, eating out so much, enjoying it way too much, and literally finding a lot of our joy in food. It’s bad enough that we’re gluttons (and by we, I mean me, and I am a glutton!) when the rest of the world suffers without, but what’s worse is that it’s a spiritual problem. Seriously. Her quote about not having authentic communion with Christ because of trappings like a food obsession is RIGHT ON. And it’s not just over-eating and being excessive that’s the problem — it’s being obsessed the OTHER way too, with counting calories obsessively and spending all of my time thinking about food, weight, and all that is involved with that. It’s so hard to find a balance either way. I’m struggling through this, and this chapter came at just the right time.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I hear ya, girl. And I think Christians are the worst. We’re great about pointing out all the other sins people commit that we don’t, but don’t you dare tell me that my over-eating is a sin.

      Thanks for sharing so honestly!

      1. Carla

        Overeating is a sin? Just kidding.

        Jen~I completely feel your pain about too much time spent thinking about weight, food, etc. I get so disgusted with myself at my gluttony and feeling trapped all at the same time.

        I am hoping that taking steps through 7 will be a road to recovery.

        1. Jessica

          me three Carla!!! I am hoping this is only the beginning. And you are right Marla, the issue of my over-eating as a sin . Hard but true stuff. Jennifer, you made an interesting point of obsession on both ends of the spectrum.

    2. brooke

      My struggle is similar. For a while I worshiped at the alter of my scale and my calorie counting website. Through illness that was taken away from me, so I then began to worship the drive-thru god. When I hear the call of one I retreat to the other – back and forth like a pinball machine.

  18. Leslie

    You’re SO right, Marla. I was bracing for a food lesson and got way more than I bargained for! That first quote…oh man…every single quote – those were “highlighted” in my chapter too. I want to want Jesus more than anything, for Him to be by portion, my satisfaction, but the reality is so far from that on many, many days. I read the chapter yesterday and I’m going to have to re-read it today to really soak in and allow God to move me off of center. I could stand to be a little off-balance and unsure and dependent on Him for my next step…

    1. Marla Taviano

      My life is definitely unbalanced and unsure right now. I’m realizing though that, tough as it is, I’m right where God wants me. Now I just need to lean into him.

      Thanks for sharing, friend!

  19. Andrea

    Yes, exactly. I see that what touched me most and I wrote about is on your list (whew! haha)–your first quote, from page 16. That was a doozy for me this week.

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