All posts by kahawkinson

About kahawkinson

Karah Hawkinson is a wife, mother, and professional historian from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her passion is advocating on behalf of the world's hungry. She uses blogging, publications, and social media to help average Christians make informed decisions that have a positive, lasting impact on the world's hungry. Follow her blog at www.foodshelffriday.com

(re)defining need

“But mom, I need new shoes!”

“I can’t afford to buy fair trade. Sometimes you just need some new earrings, and I can’t afford to drop that kind of money every time.”

“The miles are really adding up on my car; I need to get a new one soon.”

Need. Four little letters. A simple concept, but one that is so misunderstood.

The simple and straightforward dictionary definition of the verb “need” is “to require.” Synonyms include “necessitate,” and “emergency.” Neither the definition nor the synonyms include “latest fashion,” “entertainment,” or even “comfort.”

One of God’s great promises, shared all throughout the Bible, is that he will provide for all our needs. Consider Philippians 4:19, “for God will supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory.”

Another example is found in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel were wandering in the dessert for 40 years, they couldn’t grow crops (although the way they wandered you kind of wonder if they could have planted fields and harvested them on the next loop, because they undoubtedly crossed the same territory over and over in their wanderings. But, you know, dessert isn’t really self-sustaining anyway. I digress…). A whole nation of people on the move for 40 years go through a lot of food, and I don’t think they wandered past a Wal-Mart. Their only hope was God’s miraculous provision.

Exodus 16:16-29
This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer (one day’s supply) for each person you have in your tent.’ ” The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ” 

So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” 

Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.”

Sitting here in 21st Century America, with a kitchen full of food, clean water on tap, and even a bit of savings for retirement, it’s easy to shake our heads and even facepalm at the Israelites. What part of ONE OMER don’t you understand!?! You wake up every single morning to a miracle you can see with your own eyes. How can you have so little faith!?!

I know how. Every morning I wake up to the miracle of another sunrise, the blessing of a job, good health, and a loving family. Yet I, like most of you, try to control the future. I hoard and save, I withhold when I should give. I buy until I get used to so much stuff that I think I can’t make do with less. I pay so little for all my crap that I don’t bother maintaining or repairing things when I can more easily toss things out and buy new stuff.

In her book, Made to Crave, Lysa TerKeurst argues that we were created to rely on God, made to live in a constant state of reliance. But the easier life has gotten, the further we have pulled away from faith in the God who promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

As a Midwestern ENTJ of German and Scandinavian descent, I am so all about responsibility and control. The idea that I was made to live in a constant state of reliance on God stresses me out. I wanna drive, here! It’s not that I think I know better than God. It’s not that I think He can’t provide for me. I think my fear, my scarcity mentality, comes from the belief that I am capable of so much that I just want to save God the bother, let Him spend his time on things we humans can’t control while I handle my own credit card debt, heating bills, and retirement planning. I just don’t want to be a burden.

You see? I’m just like the Israelites. God says “live within your means” (Proverbs 22:7), and I say “put it on my Visa!” God says “don’t be a glutton” (Proverbs 23:21), I say “let’s get a pizza!” God says “give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), and I say, “I can’t because then I couldn’t do this other thing that makes me happy.”

Around and around the Israelites and I go, hearing the commands, observing the miracles, and then trying to do things our own way. It makes me wonder how much time we spend wandering in the wilderness instead of enjoying the Promised Land that God has for us!

 

Indecision Kills…

Happy Sunday! Why am I coming to you two days late this week? Did I not have anything to say? Oh no, I had too much to say. Then I stalled out trying to decide what to share with you.

It’s an important week. Lent started this last Wednesday, and #EndIt Day 2018 is coming up this Thursday. Both are topics I have covered before (the hyperlinks will take you to those past articles), and both are things I want to talk about again. But since I’ve already covered them, do I have new things to say? So back and forth I went all week, and I ended up writing nothing.

But I don’t want to miss my chance to share these important things with you, so I’m going to hit on both of them briefly and let you all get back to watching the Olympics…

OK, so Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the official first day of the 2018 Lenten season. As of Wednesday, I didn’t have a clear plan for how I would participate in Lent this year (More indecision! What is with me this week??). One of my friends shared on social media that one of the things she’s doing for Lent this year is giving up her snooze button. That one hit me hard! I’m a hardcore night owl. Given the freedom to set my own schedule, I would probably get my eight hours between 2:00 am and 10:00 am. For as long as I can remember, I have fought to fall asleep every night and fought to get out of bed every morning. I have two alarms set every morning (I occasionally sleep right through the first one), and it’s not unusual for me to hit snooze once or twice, and then to sit in bed and goof around on my phone when I should be getting up and starting my day. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes. I’m pitiful, I know. But it’s cold here, and it’s hard to leave my cozy nest! Clearly this is an area of my life where I can work on self-discipline!

So I borrowed my friend’s genius plan, and I’m giving up my snooze button for Lent. When the alarm goes off, I have to leave my bed. I’m using this “extra” time to spend more time reading the Bible. When my alarm goes off and I feel like growling about it, I stop instead and thank Jesus for his incredible sacrifice, and I offer him my small sacrifice. I’m hoping that this will help me have better sleep habits, sure, but I think the real reward will be the extra time in the word and the increased awareness of what Jesus has done for me.

As usual, I’m participating in the practice of not eating meat on Fridays as well. This isn’t terribly difficult to do, but I enjoy the feeling of being part of this global exercise. I take time on Fridays to pray for the Church around the world – for Christians who are persecuted, for ministers and missionaries, and for aid workers who have given their lives to helping others in the name of Jesus.

Are you participating in Lent? Pop over to the Food Shelf Friday Facebook page and share your Lenten plan. My friend’s idea sparked my plan for this year; your plan could do the same for someone!

 

The second thing I want to mention this week is the approach of #EndIt Day 2018. The idea behind this day is to raise awareness of the crisis of modern day slavery. As an historian I know all about pre-1860s slavery, and I know we tend to talk about slavery in the past tense. But there are more people living in slavery around the world today than at any time in history. And there are people living in slavery right here in the United States.

The “how” of #EndIt day is to put a big, red X on your hand on Thursday, February 22. When someone asks you about your X, you have the opportunity to let them know about modern slavery, and about the non-profit organizations working to fight this travesty. There are also social media images and banners that you can share to start the conversation with your online friends. Visit the End It Movement website for all the information, links to participating organizations, and social media images to help you spread awareness in your circle. The first step in ending this crisis is to stop the denial with awareness, education, and resources. I’ll be sporting my red X on Thursday, and I hope you do, too!

There you go! I got over the indecision hurdle and gave you information on two important things going on right now! I hope you learned something that will empower you this season!

One Ham, Four Meals

Good Friday morning, everyone!

One of the best ways to save on your food budget is to buy seasonally. Berries are cheapest in the summer, apples in the fall, and citrus fruits in the winter. But what about meat? Thanks to traditional holiday meals, grocery stores love to compete for your business by running terrific promotions on turkey near Thanksgiving, and ham near Easter. Sometimes you can even get them free by accumulating points as the holiday approaches. Check out what your local grocery is offering!

Well, Easter is coming (It’s on April Fools Day this year, which feels weird), and the ham promotions will be starting up soon. I love these deals. Even if I’m not hosting the holiday meal, I take advantage of the opportunity to get a great deal on a big ham, because I know it will feed my little family four times! Of course, if your family is larger than mine, you may only get two or three meals from a ham. But even if you have a big brood, or you’re hosting the holiday and probably won’t get any leftovers, you can still get two meals from a bone-in ham. Here’s how…

Meal One: Ham Dinner

This is an easy one. Most ham in America is sold smoked, so pre-cooked. Look for a bone-in ham, and prepare it according to package directions. Slice off what you need for the first meal.

I like a spiral-sliced ham, because they’re easy to deal with, and you get nice, even slices. For Christmas this year, I served a cheesy mashed cauliflower side with our ham, but you can always go with the more traditional mashed potatoes or cheesy potatoes. Green beans are a nice, fresh, and easy veggie with dinner. Whatever you like to serve with your dinner, keep in mind that ham is salty, and chose side dishes that won’t add to the sodium overload! Likewise, because you’re probably coming from Easter service at church, chose side dishes that can be made ahead of time or thrown together quickly at the last minute.

After your meal is done and the rest of the ham has cooled, begin taking it apart. Store cubed leftover meat in 2-cup quantities in zipper storage bags or reusable storage containers. Get out as much air as possible to keep the meat fresher tasting.

Meal Two: Bean and Ham Soup

In the interest of full-disclosure, this is a recipe I originally found on Money Saving Mom, but have tweaked over the years.

Ham bone
7 cups of water
1 (1 lb.) bag of navy beans
3 bay leaves
4-5 pieces of bacon
1 small onion
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream

The night before you plan on making this, sort the beans and soak them over night. If you forget, you can use the quick soak method by boiling 6 cups of water with the dry beans. Boil for two minutes, remove from heat, and let stand, covered, fro an hour. Rinse and drain.

On the day you make the soup, place the ham bone in a heavy pot with the water. Add the bay leaves and some black pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain the ham broth, and add it, along with the softened beans, to the slow cooker. There will probably be some chunks of ham that were clinging to the bone. Feel free to throw them into the slow cooker as well.

Chop up the bacon and onion into small pieces. Pan fry until onions are soft and bacon is done, but not crisp. Remove from pan and add to the slow cooker

Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Add milk or heavy cream, and continue to cook about 15 minutes more.

I’m hungry just typing that out!

Meal Three: Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

This one is an old family favorite, just a classic creamy comfort food that’s perfect for a cold evening.

4-5 Med-large potatoes
1/2 Cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk (slightly warmed)
Leftover ham (cubed)
Cheddar cheese (optional but highly recommended)

Peel the potatoes, and slice them evenly using a knife or a mandolin. Combine the potatoes and chopped onion, and place them in a greased baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add flour and stir, cooking for about one minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until you have a slightly thickened roux.

Mix the roux with the potatoes and onions. Add the ham cubes. Stir to combine, then sprinkle the top with cheddar (optional). Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Uncover and bake a few extra minutes to brown the cheese.

Meal Four: Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Sandwiches

This recipe is a really simple idea, but fun and kid-friendly.

Leftover ham, sliced thin
Cheddar cheese
1 Roll of crescent roll dough

Unroll the dough and pinch the seams shut to form one sheet of dough. Flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the dough with cheddar cheese, and lay out the ham. Roll up the dough, pinching the seam at the end. Slice the roll into 8 pieces and place in a baking dish (like cinnamon rolls). Bake according the the directions on the crescents package until golden brown.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and a way to stretch your Easter ham into four tasty meals! If you have a favorite way to use leftover ham, share it in the comments!

Second-hand Shops and Sites

Good Friday morning! As promised, I’m back with another post for you!

In 2016, a survey showed that Americans throw away about 26 BILLION pounds of textiles per year. Think about that. Somewhere in the world, a poor farmer was paid a slim amount for his water- and pesticide-drenched cotton crop. Then children and other workers (making far too little to live on) put in long hours weaving, dying, cutting and sewing that cotton into shirts. We popped in to a fast fashion retailer and bought one of those shirts because “it’s just a couple bucks and I really like that color.” We wore it a handful of times, and because the shirt was cheap, when it started to show wear we didn’t feel bad about just tossing it out. Now multiply that by 26 billion pounds, and repeat year after year.

Retailers compete with each other, so keeping prices low is a priority for them. To do that, they have sacrificed both the quality of goods offered and the wages paid to everyone on the supply chain. The obvious answer is to buy from retailers who use fair trade labor practices, which insure that everyone along the supply chain was paid a fair, livable wage, and that no child labor or unsafe workplace practices were used. I’ve written several times about the importance of buying fair trade to provide safe, meaningful employment for people (I’ve linked to one of those posts, but to read more about it, use the little search window to find all of my articles on fair trade, or check out the FSF Pinterest boards), but let’s be honest, fair trade isn’t cheap. I mean, that’s the idea, of course, but in a world where we’re used to $10 tee shirts from Old Navy, there can be some sticker shock!

So lets say we decide to stop being part of the problem and get off this crazy cycle. What can we do without going broke?

  1. The first step, if fair trade is out of your budget, is to evaluate if you really NEED another shirt, pair of earrings, etc., or if it’s just a want. If we can really be honest with ourselves, that hard truth alone will stop us from about half of the purchases we make (or is that just me…).
  2. Cotton is recyclable: If you have a clothing item that has reached the end of its life, read the label. Synthetics and blends can be reused as dust rags, but 100% cotton can be recycled. Most cities have single-sort recycling bins, and cotton can be tossed out with your milk jugs and soda cans.
  3. When you really do need to buy something, or when the itch for some retail therapy gets particularly bad, the next best thing to fair trade is second-hand. Purchasing second-hand keeps textiles out of landfills, and satisfies our needs without contributing any more of our hard-earned money to the un-fair trade cycle.

Here are some of my favorite second-hand shops and sites. If you want to find second-hand clothing and accessories near you, a quick internet search for “consignment shops near me” or “used clothing near me” should reveal what’s available in your area.

  1. Donation sites like the Goodwill, Savers, or Salvation Army stores. These are also great places to donate gently-used goods. You can find anything from nice designer brands to crazy, off-the-wall fashions. My son and I have a tradition of going to the local Goodwill every summer when he finds out what color team he will be on at camp. For a couple dollars each, we can get him a week’s worth of tee shirts in his team color, the stranger the better! After camp he uses the shirts for work projects and things, and some of them even make it into his regular rotation. This year he did some of his back-to-school shopping at Savers and Goodwill, too. He was able to stretch his back-to-school budget a lot further!
  2. Ragstock: Ragstock is a Minnesota-based company with stores around the upper-Midwest area where they buy and sell vintage and recycled clothing. They cater to a younger crowd, and are a great place to get unique, funky fashions.
  3. Once Upon a Child: Once Upon a Child is another upper-Midwest chain. They buy and sell gently-used clothing, equipment, toys, and shoes for babies and children. When my son was young, I loved shopping there for the things kids outgrow before they wear them out, especially dressy clothing. They’re part of the same company as Play it Again Sports (used sporting equipment), Plato’s Closet (clothing for teens/young adults), and Style Encore (clothing and accessories for women).
  4. Thred Up: If shopping online is more your thing, Thred Up is the best! They buy and sell better brands of clothing, like Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Calvin Klein. They even have a luxury tab where you can find designer brands, gently used and deeply discounted. I have both bought and sold from Thred Up many times and have been happy. They even offer returns if you get something and it doesn’t look or fit like you expected. (The hyperlink for Thred Up will take you to a referral page. If you sign up on their site, you and I each get a $10 credit. Just so you know.)
  5. The Real Real: If designer brands are more your speed, then The Real Real is for you! They sell vintage men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories (hello designer handbags!), as well as artwork and home accents that are all designer brands, certified authentic, and deeply discounted because they’re used. I have bought and sold with them once, and was very happy with my experience. (The link on this one is also a referral link)

That should give you a good start shopping for gently used goods! If you know of other shops and sites, leave them in the comments! Thanks!

 

Catching Up

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned. Though I haven’t had technical difficulties, haven’t been sick or injured, and haven’t been busy (well, no more than usual), I just stopped blogging. For a few weeks I felt bad about it, but the longer I went between posts, the easier it got to let it slide. But if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to start up again. Since it’s been four months since my last post, I thought I’d start with a quickie to get us caught up with each other. So grab a cup of coffee and pretend we’re old friends catching up after months of saying “we should get together sometime” (or am I the only one who has to have that conversation six times before I actually get together with people?)

First of all, I am completely and totally healed up from last year’s knee surgery. And even better, my recovery and physical therapy were the catalysts I needed to start a regular exercise routine and to make some positive changes to my eating habits. I’m down 30 pounds, and for the first time I can remember, I actually accomplished my weight-related New Year’s resolution.

Speaking of resolutions, the other things I focused on in 2017 were committing to buying only Fair Trade clothing, shoes, and accessories for myself, and living out my word of the year, honor, by finding ways to serve, encourage, and love on others. If we’re grading this pass/fail, I’d say I passed on the honor goal, but failed on the Fair Trade resolution. I believe I made it 5-6 months before the need for things I couldn’t find Fair Trade tripped me up. And, typical Karah, when I slipped, I jumped right off the plan and gave up. But I think it’s a worthy goal, so I re-upped for 2018. Expect to see posts in the near future about Fair Trade and second-hand retailers. Mixing weight loss with ethical shopping is going to be an interesting challenge!

My word for 2018 is “warrior.” When I first started to feel attracted to this word, I was afraid. I still am, actually. I figure that God calls up warriors when there is a battle to fight, and I don’t really want to get into any battles, thank you very much. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we all face battles all the time. Each of us has to chose if we are going to be a warrior or a victim.

So here are the things I jotted down:
2018 – My word is “warrior”
I’m done wishing, done hoping
I’m ready to fight.
– Learn what the Bible says about being a “warrior.”
– Learn to take orders: to go when called, to act when called upon, to shut up and obey.
– Do no harm, but take no *crap*
– Put on the armor of God
– Stand up and Fight!

If that doesn’t fill you with a mixture of passion and terror, then you need more coffee!

So I hope you’re up for another year of inspiration and information sprinkled liberally with faith and humor. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and ideas of things I can research for us. Leave comments here in the blog, or on the Food Shelf Friday Facebook page. Thank you and welcome back!