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Of the many inspirational and practical phrases I was raised on “waste not want not” is not only the first lesson I recall learning, it has been the most heavily ingrained lesson from my mother.

For those not familiar with mom lessons, here is a little back story: As a child my mother referenced key phrases during learning moments.  I can’t recall all of them at the drop of a hat, but in seemingly random scenarios in my daily life I find myself basically freezing and repeating these life lessons verbatim, either reminding myself or trying to enlighten someone around me. Friends familiar with these phrases have often joked that I should write them in a book or stitch them on pillows because of how often they heard me make references to them.

As I said above, waste not want not is basically the mother of all mom lessons.  I distinctly remember the first time I heard this lesson, I was in the kitchen of our house on Cody St. and I wanted my mom to make as many microwave mini corn dogs as she possibly could.  While trying to convince her that she should make the whole box my mom said something along the lines of “first eat these, and if you still want more, than I will make some.”  As a young child, that just didn’t make sense, why put those dogs away and pull them out later when you could just make them all right now.   After trying to enlighten my mom with such logic she repeated very kindly waste not want not.

And my world was forever changed.

Sadly, I didn’t actually get the phrase at the time… I won’t say how long it took me, because that would just make you sad, BUT I did take away that my mom didn’t think I could eat the whole box of mini dogs, and she didn’t want me to waste them.

So wasting is a bad thing? ah ha… good to know!

Fast forward a decade and some years and what does this look like now:

  1. I hate to waste things.  If I do waste something I get mad and then sad. Every time.
  2. I reuse things past the point of salvation and then some
  3. If I can no longer use something that is in fine shape, I’ll find someone else who will
  4. I don’t really like to buy things new all the time… mainly because to me that is a waste of money, so instead I’ll buy something that has been used by someone else and make it my own. Therefore the majority of my apartment has been purchased from garage sales (no shame!)

However waste not want not has gone far beyond a lesson against throwing things away.  To me, by not wasting something today, not only will I not be wanting tomorrow, but someone else may not be either.

It’s already pretty well known if you read my blog that I’m a Christian, and part of that means I really care for God’s creation, which includes both the earth and the people in it.  Therefore I feel responsible for my how my actions affect people around me and tomorrow’s world.  Thankfully Tim is on the same page as me when it comes to this, so not only is he willing to at least try some of my crazy ideas, but he comes up with his own and it can be fun, and un-fun, and like today, a mixture of the two.

One of the big things we like to do to prevent waste in our apartment is make sure we know exactly what food is in our kitchen, and exactly when we are going to eat it. We have found that the most effective way to do this is by making weekly trips to the grocery store.  I’m sure some would give a big old ugh gross to this idea, which is why I’m not saying anyone else should do it.  We enjoy going to the grocery store, its kind of like a game to us, and we are a lot better at planning meals out a week at a time than a month at a time.

Today we made our weekly trip to the grocery store and, for the first time, were able to walk! We felt so eco-friendly and pumped up, very city chic making our way around on foot.  We got to Kroger (we are very loyal customers) and made our first stop at the Manager Specials Meat Section.  One of the pros of shopping once a week means we buy our meat at super low prices knowing we’ll use it soon.  We then figured out what meals we could make using the meat and made our way through the rest of the store.  We both found a few extra items to get excited about (yay special cheeses!) and went to self check-out.

Here we totally have our method down.  I scan and Tim packs.  Our favorite part is when we scan our Kroger card and we get to watch the prices go down.  Our second favorite part is getting the receipt and seeing all of our gas points (how nerdy do we sound? Tim says very… perhaps).

Here we became a little nervous because now we had to walk back to the apartment with our groceries.  No big deal.  Tim took the heaviest bag, I took the cutest bag and the bread, Tim took rest and we were off.  Perfect!  On the way out I started pushing the unlock button for my car out of habit, hilarious! I giggled, and we were on cloud nine! Living the dream, in the city, walking to the grocery store, does it get any better than this? (it should be noted, that I am very easily amused)

A cool evening, on a purposful walk, saving the environment and burning calories simultaneously.  We were half way home when we realized we had left our cash back cash (say that five times fast) back in the store.

Oh crap.

We paused momentarily and looked at our options:

  1. We both go back (well that’s a waste of time…)
  2. I go back and Tim takes the bags (then I’ll get sweaty…)
  3. Tim goes back and I take the bags (how heavy can the bags be?)

We both decided on option three and thinking this was no big deal Tim handed me the final bag.

I didn’t expect it to be so heavy and I accidentally just fell along with it to the ground. Tim was already running back to the store when I yelled “babe! I don’t think I can do this!”

I considered just staying there until Tim got back but then I felt bad for making him do all the work while I just sat around, and I felt like people were staring at me and felt awkward, not saying they were, but off I went shuffling along the road.  I made it about a block when I began wondering if I could do this.  Thoughts about my air conditioned car and questions like “is this worth it?” began crossing my mind.  But determined to be eco-friendly I began chanting do it for the earth Hailey! do it for the earth! I had to pause a couple of times because, and I can’t emphasize enough, I am SO weak.  As I slid my way up the final flight of stairs (we live on the third floor), basically hanging on the rail, I decided that it was time to tell the world about  waste not want not (hence this post).

We don’t want to waste gas driving to the store when we can walk

We don’t want to waste plastic grocery bags so we try to use our own bags, even if that means weight distribution is off

We don’t want to waste, because that means we’re using something that someone may have needed

I know I’m just one person, with my husband we’re just two.  But in my heart of hearts I hope and believe that by not using excess or by avoiding waste, someone else may get not what they want, but what they need.  So, even though Tim and I get totally nerdy about our simple attempts at saving, reusing, and recycling, and even though we make many mistakes while we figure things out, we’re having a blast, we’re laughing, and I’m smiling, because I’m honoring not only this lesson, but the one who taught me it, my mom: I hope she knows how much I value all she has taught me.

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We live in very confusing times.  As a Christian this really isn’t surprising.  God never said the world would get fixed after he left, he said it would continue to spiral until he came back.  The problem though, isn’t the confusion in the world; it’s how the church and non-church respond to our circumstances.  From my perspective, the two most controversial non-essential spiritual issues I have faced have been drinking and views on gay marriage.

 My experience with alcohol has presented itself to be the epitome of how poorly we handle confusion and of the tension Christians feel in and outside of the church.  As a kid, I knew that beer and wine were for the adults, and I never had a problem with that.  My dad usually had a few of what he called, cold “brewskies” in the fridge and it was never a shock to find a box of mom’s weird grape juice in the lower cabinets.  I knew the rule that the wine was for my momma, and the brewsky for dad, leaving all other liquids in the fridge up for grabs for my sister and I.  This never concerned me, and alcohol never stood out to me, it was just there.  This isn’t to say I didn’t see the problems alcohol could cause.  My parents and adults around me weren’t perfect, but they were great at teaching me from a young age that when I would drink when I was older, moderation would be the key word (though to say I didn’t learn this lesson fully the hard way would be a lie).

It wasn’t until college that I first began to see that alcohol was the great divide between the prudes and the popular.  As a freshman before becoming a Christian I drank underage a few times thinking that it was just “what you did.” However, after becoming a Christian and getting involved in a youth ministry I chose to stop drinking until I was of age.  No big deal right? It’s not like I actually enjoyed the Natty Light frats served or that disgusting mix o’ crap they called punch. 

WRONG!                          

Oh my gosh, you would have thought I was a leper from the way some people reacted to me and my friends for not drinking.  Not all people, I met some really awesome people who drank underage and were really cool with me not joining in.  But oh my gosh, this was like THE thing that distinguished a “Christian” from a true Christian in college, or it was the thing to defend if you were a Christian.  I felt so on edge and left out all because I wouldn’t drink! In the defense of the insiders, I probably acted as awkward as I felt, which was probably more of the cause for being (or should I say feeling) on the “outside” than drinking.

No big deal, push through and it will all be over after college.  We’ll all move on from the drinking issue and no awkwardness will exist when the drinking age has come and gone along with the rebelliousness or newness that had come with it in school.

WRONG!

Now I’m not worrying about people on the outside of the steepled buildings thinking I’m a prude, I’m more worried about the people inside thinking I’m living in sin (gasp!).   This feels ridiculous to write about, but I know I’m not alone.  Once when I offered wine to a couple friends, a girl came up to me and whispered “I really needed some Christian friends who drank, thanks.” I totally knew where she was coming from, and I totally understood her need to whisper.  For whatever reason, alcohol has become this very uncomfortable topic.

What? Why?

Why is this such an unspoken hot button issue for the church?

I’m going to go ahead and get it out there right now: I drink! I love a good margarita, white wine, Dos Equis, or hard cider! Yum!

To some people that may not seem like a big deal, and back in the day I wouldn’t have thought so either.  However, having experienced people whose view is that drinking means I can no longer be a part of the church, and having felt the pressure of not letting others see me participate in what is really such a simple thing compared to, oh, I don’t know, war, hunger, poverty… just to name a few, I love being able to just put in writing that I drink.  Moderation, like my parents so wisely taught me, is key.

This isn’t to downplay that drinking can be a problem. I have seen what alcoholism can do to a person and their family, and I always want to respect that person and their sobriety over having a freaking drink.  In other situations a person may not be able to drink because of medication they are taking (I have been this person at times).  In instances such as these, a beer just wouldn’t cross my mind. It just isn’t a big deal to not consider alcohol in that case.

I write all this to show how something so unimportant in the big picture (again, war, poverty…), can be blown out of proportion.  And amid all of what I wrote about, amid my whole experience, how often did Jesus come up?

It should have been simple when I was in college: I met a man named Jesus, and his love has changed me, so now choices I make look different than before, but that doesn’t mean I love you any less or look at you as any less.  If anything it is the exact opposite. I love and value you more than ever. 

The same awkwardness and tension arises in our nation over things such as the marriage debate.  In our hearts there are so many devoted followers of Jesus that know that our job is well defined: love others.

Not love others unless they drink or unless they are homosexual or unless they use bad words.

And yet we’re scared because you see all of these controversies where the church is trying to protect the “sanctity” of marriage (let’s just ignore the 50% divorce rate in and out of the church), and we’re scared into silence.  Are we not being truthful enough? Defending what God defined as marriage? Are we not honoring God if we vote the “wrong” way? God, am I going to have to be the prude once again?

And amid all of this, how often am I, are we, mentioning Jesus?  How often do we ask about him, talk about him, consider him? After all, he is the cornerstone of our beliefs and our church, and yet we aren’t talking about him at all.  No one is discussing the man who lived over 2,000 years ago, let that soak in.  People will argue till they are blue in the face about the morality in marriage without considering who they are following, a man who died, over 2,000 years ago.

Everything about this situation is strange. 

First, that we aren’t talking about the foundation of what we believe; the one who started our movement, the reason we (Christians) exist, while we exhaust ourselves trying to figure out how to defend which politics we side with.

Second, that who we are forgetting is strange in and of itself considering he died over 2,000 years ago.

We are distracted, as individuals, as groups, as a nation.  We are so caught up in defending what we believe is morally “right”, that we have forgotten to discuss the one we believe in.  This is really our loss, because it is quite fascinating that 2,000 years later, a lower-class individual from an afterthought of a country still has people so devoted to his story and to him.

My sincerest desire is to step outside of our cloud of confusion, step outside of alcohol, outside of the marriage debate, outside of the politics and the mundane distractions, and focus on the question that matters, the question that started over 2,000 years ago, the question that changes everything.

I want the masses to stop bickering, so the individual can ask: Who was Jesus?

 

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