It was a Saturday night in the city. A chill in the air because it was February but not enough to keep people from being out and about. Maybe the city never really sleeps. I don’t know. We hustled against the chill, the sun already setting. Warmth waited behind the heavy wooden doors. My husband…
Last Friday night, I found myself both appalled and inspired as I watched two hours of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” If you’re not familiar with the show, check out this link: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution.
One of the most shocking parts of the show was when Jamie visited a local family and collected all the food they ate for a week. Their diet consisted of fried donuts for breakfast, pizza for snacks, hot dogs and a whole bunch of other processed junk-type food. As I watched, I swelled with pride. At least I don’t feed my family that, I thought. We don’t always eat the best stuff, but we at least cook from scratch as much as we can and eat fruits and vegetables.
Fast forward to today. I was reading about childhood obesity in my most recent Parenting magazine. The article provided a Web address for a BMI (body mass index) calculator on the CDC site (http://www.cdc.gov/). Our 2-year-old daughter had just been to the doctor, so I thought I’d check it out.
According to the CDC, she’s obese. Obese??? And so are the rest of us. Now, I know that none of us are at our ideal weight points, but “obese” isn’t the word I’d use to describe us. “Obese” is reserved for “The Biggest Loser” types, right?
One of the aspects of “Food Revolution” that surprised me was the unwillingness of the people to listen to what Oliver had to say. Watching from the outside, it was easy to see that what he said had merit. But less than a week after judging their attitudes, I found myself in the same state: denial. As if I don’t have enough parenting worries, now I have the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I might be killing my children.
The validity of BMI as a diagnostic tool seems to be in question. Perhaps it’s better as a guideline than a rule. For me, at least, it was a wake-up call. Spring is here, and even though it’s a chore to get three people — me, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old — ready to go outside, we need to make the effort because we need the exercise.
And, it was another opportunity for God to show me an area where I could be more humble. As I thought about my reaction to the family on the TV show, this story from Scripture came to mind:
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV)
Obese or not, I need to remember that I’m no better than anyone else, and all of us need God’s mercy.
Grocery shopping with a talkative 2-year-old is never dull, to say the least. Yesterday, we did our usual rounds to three stores, and in every one, she talked to anyone within listening distance. In the deli line at one store, she told the woman ahead of us, “We getting turkey.” At the second store, it was “I need this” to anything she could see. Usually it’s “I need ogurt” as we approach the yogurt aisle.
Wal-Mart, though, is where she shines. I’ll confess that I’m not always excited to go to Wal-Mart. Long lines. Unhappy people in front of and behind the register. Screaming kids. And more often than not, I can’t find what I need because it’s out of stock temporarily. That said, my daughter has a way of making the experience better. As we cruised the aisles, she would zero in on a person and say, loudly, “Hi.” Some were people who might have noticed her in the first place, but most were people I normally would have passed in my quest to get in and get out as quickly as possible. She brought smiles to the faces of elderly women who were trying to navigate Wal-Mart’s wide open spaces and to a gentleman who seemed as if he was hoping to go unnoticed. She even out-greeted the greeter as we left the store.
“Hi! We going to the car,” she said before he even saw we were leaving.
Her introverted mother doesn’t always know what to do or say, so I find myself displaying that awkward, “Isn’t she cute?” smile and pressing on to the next aisle.
I struggle to find the right words to say to people in conversation, so I often say nothing when I feel I should say something. Isabelle doesn’t have a filter yet to make her question whether she should say something. She says it, and it makes people smile.
At church on Sunday, she looked at a woman sitting behind — a woman we didn’t know and hadn’t seen in our church before — and said, “You pretty.” Everyone who heard her had a shared “oh how cute” moment. I was sort of embarrassed, but more challenged than anything.
The book of Proverbs says this:
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (25:11)
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (12:25)
I’ve swallowed more kind words than I’ve spoken, and I’ve let the moment for an apt word pass far too many times.
May I take a cue from a little child and speak from the heart whenever I can.