Would you look at this? My first post of 2021 is about our beloved Free Range Chicken. I bet you’re wondering how I feel about this subject now…
What I’m about to share may surprise you. It might even disappoint you. But well, life has taken a huge shift for us and while I wouldn’t have believed it myself had you told me I’d feel this way in 2021, here we are, and here is how I feel.
I don’t actually care about free-range chicken anymore. This is the truth.
What am I even talking about?
This free-range chicken chatter all started back in 2014 with my God is Bigger than a Free Range Chicken post. Remember that? In my early healthy-eating days, was allllll into organic and free-range and fermented and all the best of the best. Then God reminded me that He is bigger and biggest and real food is still real food, even when it wasn’t raised at Harvard and sung to from the womb. So I wrote this to encourage us to focus on eating healthy food without stress.
Oh look. It’s a couple of free-range chickens.
Then God taught me even more, so the next post on this subject in 2018 turned out: Beyond the Free Range Chicken. God had shown me in hundreds of ways how loving people is much more important than loving food. That focusing on Him is a better choice and much healthier and more balanced than focusing on organic salad and grass-fed beef. That while eating well is important – the only reason for it is so that we are healthy enough to serve in all the ways He asks us to serve. You can read the full post here.
So now here we are in 2021. As we’ve sought God in new ways and opened our hearts to His plans for us, He surprised us by starting our family over again. Just when we thought our grocery budget would finally go down as our big boys launched the nest, the grocery budget stayed the same and maybe even went up a little as God moved more kids into our home.
We’ve currently adopted two and have three others in foster care with many unknowns as we walk forward each day. (Those pesky unknowns? These are all completely known to God. We just don’t know the full plans yet. We wait and we pray and sometimes we cry because unknowns on earth are hard if we focus on the flesh instead of looking down from our seat in the Heavenly Realms.)
So here we are, with nine kids at the time of this writing. (Three are launched from the nest. Three are under the age of 2. Some are healing from intense trauma. One has some minor medical issues. You don’t want to know how many diapers we go through in one day.)
Our foster care/adoption journey has taken us on a beautiful, wild, challenging, ever learning-to-trust-God ride since April of 2018. Every day of that ride, God shows us more about what is truly important and what we need to let go of so that we can focus on what actually matters for the Kingdom.
What does actually matter?
Love. Trusting the One who loves us beyond what we can possibly understand.
But the truth is also this: It’s easy to think about how beautiful that is – the loving and the trusting – but it is hard to actually live fully in that truth.
While love overflows from our hearts because of the Spirit living in us, what currently overflows from my house is a big pile of dirty laundry or on a good day, a big pile of clean laundry unfolded on top of and falling off of my dresser. Our toddlers can destroy the house from top to bottom in five short minutes. The dishes don’t ever get washed efficiently, and even if the kitchen floor gets swept, it’s dirty again after the next meal or snack.
Keeping up with so many little ones is a big job in and of itself, but then we’ll throw in all of the many meetings and court dates and appointments brought on by foster care life. It takes me from my regular homemaking duties and sometimes leaves me emotionally drained.
I am complaining about none of this. I will live in a filthy house with zero domestic accomplishments for the rest of my life if it means that I get to love on and live with all these children. But it is all worth mentioning to explain why I have come to the conclusion that, when talking about the beloved free-range chicken:
I don’t really care much anymore about what we eat. I’m just so happy to actually put any variety of food on the table every day (for my toddlers to smear on their head and drop onto the floor under their chairs).
Happy 2nd birthday to Keith!
So I bet you’re wondering:
Have I lost my actual mind? Do you even know who I am anymore? Do I still love butter? Have I started buying the high fructose corn syrup and the MSG and the hydrogenated oils?
Well, yes obviously about the butter. I still love it and always will. And no way about the HFCS and MSG. I’ve been at this real food, simple meals thing for long enough that much of this is an automatic no-brainer for me as I grocery shop. We still have a great source for grass-fed beef and raw milk, so I stick with this because I don’t have to do anything different or difficult.
But, well? If you open my freezers now, along with our lovely beef from the organic farm, you will also find bags of prepared french fries and several frozen pizzas. I haven’t made a homemade tortilla in years and I almost cried when I thought about trying to can any of the tomatoes from our weed-filled garden last summer.
The best I can truly is the best.
Did you know that? The best we can do really is best. :)
I’m doing the best I can to be sure we’re getting fruits and vegetables each day with whatever else we’re eating because I know we need the nourishment that fruits and veggies provide. What I also know is that food overall has taken a big back seat in my brain and heart, simply because it has to.
And it makes me wonder: Should it have been this way all along?
What if focusing on good health and perfect foods and ingredient labels keep us from freely fixing our eyes on Jesus? What if good health and good food is important, but only so that we are fueled with what we need so that we can serve as God asks us to each day?
I love all that I’ve learned about nutrition and good health. I love that I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned here and to learn from all of you too! This knowledge is carrying me through this season, and for that I am thankful. Real butter and vegetables are pretty great. But the more time I spend in the Word and with people, the more I recognize that Jesus is the bread of life and He is the one who brings real nourishment.
God’s call to love.
God calls all of us to love people. All people. Whatever that looks like in your life, whoever He has put in your path, on your porch, in your church, in your living room – He calls us to love, and He tells us that this is the most important. While there is glorious beauty in loving Him and His people in all the ways He calls us to love, there is also challenge and hardship. It takes time and energy – and I am becoming more and more convicted that this is time and energy that should be taken out of our kitchens and into the hurting world.
God doesn’t care if we make frozen pizza but He does care if we are resting in Him. He’s not concerned about what items in my fridge are organic. He cares about our hearts and He calls us to Him constantly to teach us to trust His ways as we walk this path with Him. He knows our weariness and our joys. He’s well aware of what each day holds and if my free-range chicken has turned into bags of dino nuggets? Well. When I serve them to my kids I sometimes actually cry tears of thanks for them because it means my family is fed and I still have the energy to smile at all these precious people at the end of the day.
So where do we land on the topic of eating healthy food?
I absolutely do still care about our health. I cook the most wholesome of food if and when I can, you can bet on it. Malachi (our only teen left at home) knows how to cook and is a huge help when he’s not working or at sports practice or play practice or youth group or…
I make smoothies daily and pack them with mixed greens so that we can “drink our salad” on the fly. I serve fruit with every meal and veggies with most. We aren’t giving up on good health; we’re simply focused on overall health now – emotional, spiritual, and yes, physical – but it begins and ends with a focus on love.
God is bigger than ALLLLLL THE CHICKEN.
Struggling to find balance when it comes to healthy eating and healthy living in general? Ask God to show you what matters. He will show you. You may be at a point in your life where you have failing health and you NEED to focus on all things nourishing and good. You may be at a point where you need to get your emotional and spiritual life healthy and you need to find a Christian therapist to walk you through (best decision I’ve ever made and continue to make is to let my Christian therapist help me through challenges and spiritual cleansing and healing!). You may need both.
But we all need Jesus. And we all need to know that He is biggest. Bigger than any question we have about life and caring for our families.
Let Him direct you. This is not a cop-out (I’ll just eat whatever I want and let God take care of it please hand me another Snicker bar). This is a matter of choosing to surrender our hearts (God is bigger than anything I’m worried about or focused on this earth; I trust Him and will listen to Him).
Share with me.
What has God been teaching you about love? Who has He put on your path? How has He shown you ways to focus on what truly matters?