What is ice cream good for?

He flew half-way around the world to be our guest. Several times, we have been his – slept in his daughters’ room and eaten rice at his plastic table, fanned our sweaty faces on his front porch, and loved on the people he loves.

the ferry flags

 

church

It’s strange when the tables are turned though. Now he is our guest. Now, we are comfortable and he is out of his element. Now he is asking us the why and how and when of life in a foreign culture, and some of our answers don’t translate well. Not just because of language, but because there’s just no context for some things.

What is this ice cream good for?

Why do people have horses?

What is this diabetes?

They are not condemning questions when they leave his mouth, but they can sure sink into your heart that way.

I fumbled for an explanation about ice cream – calcium, you know? The horses left us with more questions, and diabetes led us loosely back to the ice cream.

Defensively, I wanted to ask what plates piled high with white rice were good for. I guess the ice cream question hit me in the heart a little. The snobbish inner-me had to acknowledge that there really was no value in ice cream, and white rice filled bellies that were actually, truly, hungry.

I held back justification for a lifestyle filled with blessings, wealth, senseless pleasures, and the consequences of it all.  We are a blessed nation, no matter how you view politics or religion or freedom.

We ought to enjoy our ice cream (in moderation) and give thanks to God for it – because it’s really only good for that one thing.

All our frills and thrills are only good for embellishing these temples – all of us a living house of God – with praise. We have this spilling over of great and unnecessary blessings. If we enjoy our treats and wipe our mouths hastily, only so we can move to the next delicacy before our bellies fill, we are profaning the temple with unthankfulness.

At home our friend will pile his plate with his rice and give thanks. He will eat his morsels that would turn (or burn) our stomachs and his heart will fill with praise because he missed those comfort foods. He missed the comforts of his place of blessing.

Some days, he won’t fill his plate. He’ll take less because there is less to take but there is enough to be thankful for, for him and his family and the young people he is training up to change his country for Christ.

He acknowledges that he, too, is blessed.

the beautiful thing about living a slower, richer life is that you can impact others in the most surprising ways.

Tsh from the Art of Simple has written a memoir of her family’s  journey through similar questions – the weight of blessings and the responsibility of living privileged, without living spoiled. It’s her story of life oversees, life in the states, and how to slow down the frenetic pace that comes with citizenship in the U.S.

…the beautiful thing about living a slower, richer life is that you can impact others in the most surprising ways. You may have more wiggle room in your bank account to support a nonprofit doing amazing things, or when you hear of a friend in need, you can quietly slip some folded cash under her door. But a slower life could also mean picking up a figurative (or literal) plow and tilling the fields where your help is desperately needed, taking time out each year to serve in a part of the world that could change both your family and a slice of humanity for the better. It may mean supporting local farmers whose businesses would otherwise fold. It could mean choosing not to turn a naive eye away from the starving and the bought-and-sold around the world because you’re spending your time reading a book that reveals what’s really going on outside your door, instead of who’s being cut from the latest reality show. Or it could even mean simply cultivating a home life so that one of your children grows up to do something utterly remarkable and selfless because she is keenly aware of how blessed she really is. ”  - Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh shares the beauty of finding balance and living with world-eyes beautifully, by exploring what a slower life looks like in regards to food, work, education, travel, and entertainment. It’s about living a simpler life so that we have margin left for giving and serving a bigger world.

Because eating less ice cream doesn’t make a difference in this world. Taking a smaller portion so that we can give a greater one – that’s what changes things.

How do you feel about the ice cream question? And how do you live responsibly with the blessings God gives? 

_________

This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of. To learn more and join us, head here.

 Also linking up with Jennifer , Holley, Angie, and Emily

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I have to get Tsh’s book. It’s on my list.

    As far as the ice cream, I’ve been on a declutter quest for the last few years. The more weight I drop, the lighter I feel–and the more I have to give not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.

  2. says

    I can really relate to this Tresta. I helped raise funds for eighty orphans in Rwanda for five years and made a dear friend in the process. When we brought her to our house in the US, it was the first time she left the country, took a bubble bath, experienced using a dishwasher and oven. It made me realize how much we take for granted of course. I’m seeing this book all over the place, I’ll have to check it out.

    • says

      Yes – read Tsh’s book! It’s good to be reminded of our blessings and our responsibility, not in a guilt-inducing way, but as a matter of being His hands and feet. Praise God for His love on all those children, and all of us.

  3. says

    “If we enjoy our treats and wipe our mouths hastily, only so we can move to the next delicacy before our bellies fill, we are profaning the temple with unthankfulness.”

    You speak truth. I often wonder why I’ve been blessed with much when I see others with little. I know one reason is to be a blessing to them with my abundance. But also, yes, to give God praise for his bounty, to not profane my temple with unthankfulness. Thank you for these holy words.

  4. says

    Love this story, reading about your experience of seeing our culture through another’s eyes. Three years ago I took a Mom trip, leaving for the weekend, all by myself. I read the book Radical by David Platt; and that is when it started for me- being uncomfortable with being an American. Since then I have read Jen Hatmaker, Voskamp of course, and others. But the most striking thing that changed us all {our family} is sponsoring our little Luis from Columbia. Two months later I saw the profile face of a little 4 year old boy with sad eye and an angry lined mouth and without hesitating I sponsored him too. The effect on my girls was almost immediate. They are so aware of our amazing blessings without our parental preaching of “you should be grateful” {most of the time}. Tim and I were recently blessed financially and with “the wiggle room” instead of finally getting new furniture or such, we are sponsoring another child. This whole thankful for what you have, living purposely to limit your own stuff, to then enable you to be compassionate for others looks so much more, feels so much more, like Jesus; then the American “feed me” church experience that three years ago was bothering me so much I almost quit church altogether. Since then The Lord keeps bringing people {via blogland and in the flesh} who feel the same. I truly believe there is a very real shift in the Western Church. God is moving. I am excited to be a part of it. Hopeful my daughter’s generation will be a catalyst for a great outpouring of God’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bless and bring together The Western and Eastern Body like never before.
    Sorry for the book-length post!
    This post just summed up my past 3 years so perfectly.
    Cheers,
    Leah

    • says

      I’m glad for your comments, Leah, and your experience. Many times we feel guilty about our blessings and we just stay there. So beautiful to hear your story for blessing others out of your blessings – thank you!

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