By Laura Lambert
I have a love-hate relationship with menu-planning. I love the fact that when I plan out our meals for a week I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner every night. I love that I have all the ingredients I need since our grocery shopping is structured around the chosen menus. I love that we save money when I plan ahead since we only buy what is needed for that week’s meals.
But, I hate the time it takes. Dragging out the cookbooks, thinking about what the kids will eat, thinking about what I want to eat, thinking about what my husband’s preferences are, wondering how many nights of Mexican food we can tolerate in a single week, etc. Not to mention, after narrowing it down to seven recipes, there is a shopping list to be made. That involves checking what we already have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer, noting what ingredients we still need and (I admit this is the good part) emailing the list to my husband who shops on his way home from work once a week. (I know, I’m really lucky about that one.)
Frankly, it just seems like a lot of effort. However, when I think about the outcome of this effort, I immediately realize that it’s all worthwhile. Planning ahead ensures that my children have home-cooked, nutritious meals. It makes me feel good to know that their little bodies are well-fed. Every mom wants her children to grow up strong and healthy. And good nutrition is an essential part of that growing process.
However, I realize that it is not just my children’s bodies that require daily nourishment. Their spirits must also be fed and nurtured on a daily basis in order for them to grow into the strong, compassionate, caring, and sensitive men I hope they will someday become. While I may not actually write out a weekly menu for “spiritual meals,” I am going to try to be more intentional about feeding their spirits each day.
Some ideas for a spiritual menu-plan include:
- Finding time each day to help children see the wonder of God’s creation. Whether it is the toad living in our garage, the autumn leaf streaked with a rainbow of colors or the shiny icicle hanging from the eaves, God’s beauty is everywhere. Helping children see and discover it strengthens their connection to God.
- Practicing the attitude of gratitude. A simple prayer at mealtime and/or bedtime thanking God for all the blessings he has given can strengthen the spiritual bond between children and God.
- Slowing down and spending time together. Spirits are nourished when people connect with one another in positive ways. Though moms are never without household tasks and to-do lists, taking five or ten minutes to join children in their play, read a story or just talk can have a big spiritual impact.
- Discovering the joy of giving to others. Focusing on the needs of those around you can be a wonderful way to create spiritual joy. Writing a postcard to a far-away relative, taking homemade cookies to a shut-in neighbor or picking up trash at the local park are all easy ways for children to experience the joy that comes from helping.
What’s on your spiritual menu-plan? Maybe we can swap recipes.
Laura Lambert is a founding member of her local MOPS group, blessed mom to two beautiful sons, wife to a great guy and a Montessori preschool teacher in Iowa.