28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Luke 14:28-30

Dear friends,

Time efficiency is a bit of a compulsion for me. I rarely drive into town until I am ready to run at least three errands. I shut out the world every morning so I can tend to my letters to you without distraction or interruption. And I am giddy with glee when I make a pot o’ stew that will nourish me for multiple meals.

Return on Investment is a fancy term for what my Mama used to refer to as getting her money’s worth. She wasn’t much of a shopper but you can bet when she bought us kids new clothes at the start of a new school year they came from the sale rack. We ate a lot of beans because Mama not only knew they were more nutritious than red meats, but they were also much cheaper. She always had a spectrum of colors on hand, each in its own glass jar. I’m sure that’s why I so enjoy shopping the bulk foods aisle even today. She started every culinary enterprise by soaking. It may sound like using dried beans is unduly time consuming, but Mama was one of the first in our neighborhood to buy herself a pressure cooker, because it saved on fuel costs. In those days that was risky business as they were prone to explode if you didn’t watch real close. I remember one time Mama instructed me to keep an eye on the pot, but I’d just had myself a big ol’ glass of cucumber water (Do you ever infuse your water with cukes? Oh mercy, another God-given delight!) so just about the time the toggle was startin’ to jiggle, so was my baby bladder. I ran outside to gain some relief (We didn’t get inside plumbing until after the Big War), and when I came back inside Mama was steamin’ as hot as the cooker. That pot had popped it’s top and her bean soup was dripping from the ceiling. You can guess how I spent the remainder of that afternoon.

After every Sunday sermon when I watch my church family devour cookies and pastries or those mini-cinnamon rolls from Costco, I think about R.O.I. When you ask folks why they eat them, many simply respond, “Because it tastes good.” Fair enough. But let’s look at the benefit compared to future repercussions. The pros and cons. Whether you really get your money’s worth in that five minutes of bliss.

Consider this familiar scenario: Church service goes long (again…) so your tumbly’s grumblin’. As usual, a plethora of sweet treats and coffee await you in the Fellowship Hall. You surely can’t fellowship without sweets, right? Without any forethought, before anyone can say Glory Halleluiah, you’ve inhaled one of Betty’s homemade chocolate chip oatmeal walnut cookies. The oatmeal and nuts make them healthy, right? How long does it normally take you to finish that fellowship feast? Let’s assume you’re purposely savoring every chew, (along with getting the update from Mildred on Mr. Canton’s new girlfriend, who just buried his wife three months prior... ) so you’re not wiping your hands with the empty napkin for nearly five minutes. That’s some uncommon savoring. How many can consume a cookie in less than sixty seconds?

Let’s consider R.O.I.

If you’re honestly attempting to lose a few pounds, what’s it going to take to get rid of those extra, unproductive, unconscious calories? CalorieKing.com estimates it hovers around 500 (510 for 4 oz cookie), 39 gm of sugar and 27 gm of fat. On average, folks burn about 100 calories per hour walking briskly. (Now don’t get fussy, but men burn more than women, because the more muscle you have the more calories you’ll burn during any activity. So start strength training, sisters.) You have to walk for over an hour (1:15-1:30 to be exact) to burn off your five minutes (or less) of pleasure. But it’s not just calories you consumed. You also ingested approximately 39 grams of sugar, the near equivalent of 10 teaspoons, making your blood sugar bounce like a basketball, and increasing your cravings for sweets the rest of the afternoon. Remember, your brain processes sugar as a reward, so the more you eat the more you want. Read this WebMD article for some luscious insight: https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-sugar-addiction

Is that really getting the most for your money? An astute investment in your own health, energy, soul satisfaction and well-being?

A sister recently shared with me her concern over inflammation and excess weight, while at the same time saying, “I’m a spontaneous, free-spirited soul and my food choices are often impulsive too.” What kind of return is she getting from her impromptu food plan?

As much as we all want to be spontaneous and do what feels comfortable and pleasurable, if we don’t live with restraint we’d lose our jobs, overspend ourselves into bankruptcy, and say things that would hurt feelings and stir up adversity. And so it is with food. Sure, that blueberry cobbler tastes good. But does it provide adequate return on your investment in you?

Live well,