Meal preparation once was and can still be a nemesis for me: selecting the right balance of nutrition, preparing the meal and expecting my two daughters now 4 and 5 years old will value my efforts and the nourishment to their bodies.
My first born rejected eating at three weeks old. Doctors diagnosed her with a failure to thrive with no significant reason why. The specialists inserted a feeding tube through her nose. I fed her formula on a regimented schedule until she was 17 months old.
In the hope that she would switch from formula to solid foods, I diligently applied a regiment of integrating solid foods just as one might do with any other child. I sought the help of feeding specialists. My daughter would have nothing to do with drinking liquids except water. Without liquids, she failed to intake enough calories from solid food to grow well.
There was always a struggle to entice her to swallow. The primary setback came from her lack of hunger. She also battled the influence of the annoying plastic tube running down the back of her throat. I was taught by experts, mealtime had to be fun and social.
Esther Daly is a great eater today. She happily consumes a balanced meal from a large variety of foods. Having a backyard garden has contributed to her success greatly.
As the mommy I supply and encourage the consumption of life sustaining balanced nutrition. I also become the primary giver of her spiritual food as well. The same passionate, fun-filled efforts I put toward her caloric intake I also channel in to her spiritual formation.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
What does a balanced meal of spiritual food look like? As I think on the meals I prepare I also think on implementing a regiment similar to this:
- Whole grains: I liken whole grains to walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). When we live humbly with God as the central focus of everyday life, He is our daily portion of peace, perspective, and provision (Psalm 73:26). He is our sustainer (Psalm 54:4). When we eat processed grains like pride or self-reliance, the empty calories allow us to function but fall short in feeding us the valuable vitamins and nutrients we need for deep peace and joy.
- Fruits: I liken fruits to loving mercy (Micah 6:8). The taste of love is juicy and sweet full of powerful nutrients to fight against intruding evil (Luke 6:27-36). Our love we give freely to others interrupts impending ugliness offering compassion and forgiveness. Love fortifies our hearts against bitterness toward injustice (Ephesians 6:12).
- Vegetables: I liken vegetables to acting justly (Micah 6:8). Vegetables feed us the vibrant truth of God’s goodness. Being obedient to His Word, the Bible, renders us blameless and pure without fault (Philippians 2:15).
- Beans, nuts, and meat: I liken proteins to acting with Godly wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:13). Feast on the protein imparted by the Spirit of God. In all circumstances seek the Lord in every way (Ephesians 6:18) for His spiritual truths. Do not rely on your human wisdom to speak of spiritual matters.
- Milk products: I liken milk products to courage to believe and trust God (Joshua 1:9). Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Our courage to trust God comes when we feed on HIS rich, creamy goodness. Our culture tells us that whole milk, cheese, and butter are bad for us. The world encourages us to feed on manmade imitations – IDOLS.
- Oils: Similar to hope (Hebrews 3:6). All we do should magnify Christ and Him crucified. We accomplish this by closely holding on to the hope of our salvation and the promise of everlasting life. Oils anoint us to carry out the work to build up the body of Christ to maturity attaining to the whole measure the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Jesus, our Shepherd, challenged the Apostle Peter three times.
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” – John 21:17
If we forgo feeding proper spiritual nutrition to our children and opt instead to feed them with artificial, processed food, we starve our babies of the nourishment they need to grow in character and love for our Creator.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:5-9