Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Feast of Gratitude {a Guest Post}

Today's Nourishing November post is by my dear friend, Lori, from a Happy Busy Mama.

In thinking about what it means to nourish, I consulted an online dictionary to gain the precise meaning of the word:
  •      to feed and cause to grow
  •          to support, to maintain
  •          to supply, to encourage, to foster
  •          to cherish, to comfort
  •          to educate, instruct

I admit that my first thought when it comes to nourishing my family is to plan a tasty, nutritious menu that takes into account various allergies and food intolerances and promotes good health.

That sounds good on the surface, but now it's time to confess.  Nourishing my family can become way too important to me, way too quickly. I can become so consumed by nutrition that I swap the art of cooking for the science of cold-calculated caloric experiments.   I am prone to pour over books, making master menus of maximum nutrition at minimal cost only to have trouble actually getting a meal on the table.  On top of that, if I manage to get the experiment on the table, I can easily feel defeated when my family is resistant to my efforts.

I don’t blame them; I have put them through some culinary adventures.  I am still apologizing for the Tofu Pups (imitation hot dogs) and the high nutrition “brownies” that tasted like shredded cardboard sweetened with dirt; they did not even have the benefit of the cocoa to cover over the recipe-gone-wrong, because I used carob instead of cocoa.  Now I have a healthy respect for carob, but chocolate it is not!

Armed with many wonderful goals for nutrition, education, hospitality, home-keeping, decorating, you name it, I can easily be overwhelmed if I set out to “nourish” my family to perfection, 100% of the time.  What starts out as a noble task will plummet into a spiraling cycle of perfectionism, stress, burn-out, and if I'm not careful, despair. Balance is key.

On most days, I admit that I am Pollyanna-like, always looking on the bright side, but I also fight a daily battle of perfectionism. It comes so naturally; I hardly even see it in myself. When I do see it, I realize I have lost sight of what is most important. 

The answer ? Gratitude.  Joy in action.

Gratitude is the due consideration that everything that happens will strengthen and bless us, even trials of many kinds.  We do not want to be inconvenienced, much less suffer, but we are likely to experience seasons of tremendous refining in the fires of difficulties. We might doubt that we are able to bear it, but once the storm has passed, we find ourselves changed people with fresh outlooks of gratitude. We have become stronger with broader perspectives.  (James 1: 2-4)
 “2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
 3Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
 4But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting                                                           nothing”.

An attitude of gratitude is the most nourishing thing I do for my family.  I love to feed, educate, encourage and comfort them, but I believe that the most important habit is to nourish them in thankfulness.  Even in the worst of circumstances, in plenty or in want, sickness or health, joy or in sorrow, gratitude guards the heart. Grateful, thankful hearts are not just good for you soul, but medical science verifies that it is also good for the body and nourishing to the body.

Recommended Daily Act of Gratitude:

Everyday, take one minute with each person in your family.  Only affirm them, or just say nothing at all.  Do NOT instruct or advise, correct or challenge. We already do plenty of that. ;-)

Simply look into their eyes, the window of the soul, and savor those seconds of uninterrupted joyful communion. Your hearts will be tied together in gratitude.

Good food is essential to good health, but it is perishable.  A feast of gratitude refreshes the heart, soul, mind and strength continually. Come what may, gratitude will nourish our hearts for the day at hand.

Lori, enjoys blogging at a Happy Busy Mama, when her life slows down enough to allow her that privilege!  She has been married to her best friend, John, for over 25 years, and is the happy busy mama to a houseful of children.  She has homeschooled for twenty years and draws from that experience to encourage and aid other homeschooling parents, especially those who have children with special needs.  She loves sitting on her front porch and drawing strength from the mountains, and she enjoys learning, living, laughing, loving, reading, music, drama, a nice cup of tea, and of course . . . . chocolate!!!

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