Baby Steps to Whole Health

…steady is as steady goes.

New Thinking

As we strive for whole health in all areas, it’s easy to get swept up in focusing all of our energy on one area. This past week, while I’ve tried to maintain balance, a lot of my mental energy has been put into thoughts of food. More specifically, ethically farmed and organically grown food. It’s a lot, I know. You know it’s because I’m reading the book “The Way We Eat – Why Our Food Choices Matter”, by Peter Singer. It’s very much affecting me as I finally get a clear picture of the actual cost of cheap meat and dairy. Not just the financial cost to myself, but the economical and lifestyle impact of towns and people and the environment. And animals, as well. Did you know they breed turkeys to have breasts SO LARGE that they are physically incapable of mating? Yeah, the male turkeys have to have their semen sucked out of them, and the lady turkeys get their legs pulled apart and their vents opened up, then the semen is shot up inside of them with a pressurized syringe. You know when you get your eyes checked and they blow that little poof of air at your eyes, and they have to try it like seventeen times because it’s so irritating? The pressure they use to inject the semen is so much more than that, and we’re doing it so we can have large breasted turkey for dinner. It’s not just an animal ethics issue though. The environmental impact of factory farming is greater than I had ever even thought about. To be honest, I didn’t think about it. I went to the grocery store, bought the most meat I could afford for the least damage to my bank account. That’s what most of us do, right? It didn’t matter before, because I didn’t know. But now I know, and I can’t continue to eat that way. I cannot even purchase a single meat or dairy product without thinking of the inhumane treatment of those animals, and how it was done to line someone’s pockets and save me a little money. Well, no more, because I am convicted and angry I’ve bought into the lie for so long.

As I’ve read this book, Proverbs 12:10 continued to come to mind, “The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” The accounts of this man and his team visiting various farms, the excuses of the operators of the farms (if you could even call them that), can only be called cruel.
Consider also 1 Timothy 6:7-11. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” Again, I consider the accounts of this man, and there’s absolutely no sign of godliness or gentleness. And it goes back to corporations, wanting more money, so they squeeze animals into spaces so small they can’t even turn around, they kill animals before they’re completely stunned (yes, gruesome accounts of the deaths of these animals), they carry chickens FIVE to a hand by their feet, and farm employees drop-kick them for fun – let’s not even get into what feeling free to abuse animals does to the human psyche! Cows spend their lives eating genetically modified corn, standing in fields covered in manure, with no grass to eat; they are injected with growth hormones and antibiotics so the almighty corporation can get more meat from one cow (more meat, more money). Looking back to my Bible, the love of money truly is the root of all sorts of evil. And I can’t support it.

Next on going back to my Bible, I consider the story of Daniel. The king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem and took some of the men, Daniel and his friends among them. The men were to be trained up in the language and literature of the Babylonians, and after three years were to enter into the king’s service. Each man was to receive a ration of food and wine from the king’s table. Daniel knew that the meat at the table would be meat that had been sacrificed to Babylonian gods, and he would be defiling himself and his relationship with God if he ate it. He asked the official if he and his friends could eat only vegetables and water, and avoid the meat. The official was wary, but Daniel convinced him to give it a ten day trial, and if at the end of that time, Daniel and his friends looked any worse off, they would willingly eat the royal food. Come to the end of the trial, Daniel and his 3 friends looked better, were stronger and healthier than the other young men. The officials took the royal food away from everyone and they all had to eat just vegetables and water. The take away from this for me at this time, is not that we should only eat vegetables and drink water. It’s not that we should stop eating meat altogether, either, as God provided us with animals and plants for nourishment.
The take away for me is that I cannot, in good conscience, eat meat that has been sacrificed to other gods, more specifically, the god of money.
So where do I go from here? I have some kids that are pretty set in their eating ways, and 13 year old boys aren’t too into eating vegetables, even though they’re already on the menu every night. I can’t just go out and spend massive amounts of money on grass-fed, humanely raised meat and dairy products (I’ll get into organics another day…), as it’s been said – our food budget is already high (almost a quarter of our income!), and there simply isn’t room to make it larger.
I spoke to my husband about my convictions, and though he had never considered our purchasing of cheap meat as a sacrifice to idols, upon hearing all of it, he surprisingly (yes, a very big surprise to me!) agrees. He has been planning on getting a hunting license for quite some time now, and this has helped to push him through. If we hunt, the meat we eat has been provided by and cared for by God. Our plan, for now, as we baby step into eating for whole health (this isn’t just a body thing, it’s become a spirit thing now), is for us to only eat humanely raised, pasture fed and finished meat, be it purchased or hunted. This means we will be eating a lot less meat for the foreseeable future, until we figure out a new budget and more plant based main dish menu. Meat will likely be a small side, or enjoyed only a couple of times a week.
Is your diet based around meat as a main dish? What are your favorite vegetable main recipes?

Leave a comment »

Where I’m (already) at, Part 3

Today is the final part of letting you all know where I’m at in each area, so as we know we likely have a similar starting point in which to work toward whole health.

I’ll start with relationships. I’m talking about relationships outside of the family circle, those things called friends. I’m not a terribly social human being, I’m not usually the first to strike up a conversation and I kind of like having my kids as an excuse to leave a conversation – or a distraction to keep me from looking lonely. I have a couple of good friends, but I can honestly say I don’t place as much priority on maintaining them well as I’d like. I have 3 or 4 good friends in Arizona, but phone calls are few and far between, if at all, and really, they’re more ‘Facebook Friendships’ now that I’ve moved. I also have a friend in Canada, and we do a girls weekend once a year – she will be visiting me this winter sometime! Otherwise, our relationship is relegated to BlackBerry Messenger. When I do find a good friend, I do think that I AM a good friend, offering help in times of need and investing in the things that are important to them (going to the candles and bags and cooking supplies parties type of investment). Since I’ve been in Georgia, we had a car break down, and since my husband needs my car to get to and from work, I really don’t get out much, so we haven’t had the chance to try to meet people and go to library story hours and such. That’s not to say I haven’t tried otherwise – my daughter made a friend and started hanging out with her, so I invited her mom to breakfast and we’ve begun to spend time together on occasion. I don’t foresee any options of getting out in the near future to make more friends, so going to library story hour and chatting up another mom isn’t an option as a baby step at this time. I don’t even know what to do as a baby step in this area, but I do know that maintaining relationships outside of the family unit is important to whole health, so I’ve got to come up with something! Suggestions will be considered until I come up with something!

I could title the finances section “My Kids Have More Money Saved Than Me”, because it’s true, they do. They do because when we started paid chores, I made them create a goal, and 50% of their earnings each week have to go into their savings jar until they reach the goal. If they decide to put more than 50% in, they aren’t allowed to take it out. The reason I made this rule is because we’ve tried paid chores in the past and they would spend all of their money on junk toys and candy, and then be disappointed that they didn’t have enough to buy something that they would have rather had. I’m hoping to instill the value of saving, as well as some consumer consciousness in their spongy little brains. Back to my own financial health – we are FAR from rich (no rich-white-girl privilege talk on this blog!) My husband works full time and is the sole provider for our family of 6, which includes a 13 year old boy. I know there’s only one direction our food budget is heading!! My present way of budgeting is to pay all the bills when we get paid, and whatever is left over is what’s available for food, gasoline, and any extras we may need. We still live paycheck to paycheck. We rent our home but would like to buy eventually, and preferably a place with some land (so I can have a big vegetable garden, of course!) We do have some credit card debt that we built up over the move, which we’re now working on paying off. We do generally live by the ‘don’t buy what you can’t pay for’ rule, as we’ve struggled through creditor phone calls before in the past and learned our lesson. Up until this summer, we had been debt free since 2009. It bothers me very much to owe anyone anything, so I work quickly to get things paid off. What isn’t paid off on these cards before tax season, will be paid off with our tax returns. About 10 days ago I started logging and tracking all of our expenses on an Xcel spreadsheet in the hopes that I’ll get a good idea of where we’re spending our money and ways that we can save instead. My baby step in this area will be to continue logging our expenses and to go over them each week to see where we could be saving. I will also open a savings account and start contributing something to it each paycheck.

That concludes my synopsis of where I’m starting in each area. A quick review of the baby steps in each area: Spirit – continue with the short Bible study I’m reading (10 minutes a day). Mind – continue reading the books I got at the library for at least 10 minutes a day. Family – spend at least the first immediate 10 minutes with my husband when he gets home. Body – continue with logging food, yoga for 10 minutes, and choose water over coffee after the first cup or two. Relationships – still need to spend some time brain storming on this one! Finances – Open a savings account and put SOMETHING in it each paycheck.

How about all of you? Have you done a mental inventory of where you’re at and decided on a baby step in each area to work on?

Leave a comment »

Balancing the Whole Self

I’ve tried blogging a few times. I never completed one and invited friends and had readers who followed me. My heart wasn’t in it. I had too many unrelated ideas and couldn’t bring them together under one roof to make a sensible focused blog. So again, I will try.

As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve realized the necessity for balance in my life. I’m an all or none girl, which I suppose can be a good thing, but it’s not ALWAYS a good thing. Every time I attempt a goal or activity, every other part of my life suffers at my absence. If I determine I’m going to lose weight, my mind and my day are consumed with planning and tracking and logging and exercising. If I determine I’m going to get the house in order, my mind and days are consumed with noting (and then doing) all of the little things that no one notices (baseboards, tile grout). I spend money buying things created for a specific job (ceiling fan duster!) rather than buying something that can get more than one job done. And then in two weeks, I’m burnt out, bored of cleaning, and I find something new, and then the clean house once again falls into a horrible state of disaster. In each goal obsession, the rest of my life suffers. For me, balance is necessary, and it isn’t easy to come by. But balance is part of whole health, because if I’m focused only on cleaning things, I’m not eating well, and if I’m focused only on eating well, I’m not feeding my mind, and so on.

My goal (let’s not get obsessed here!) with this blog is to share the small steps I’m taking in each part of my life to achieve balance, and with that, whole health. I read so many articles written by people who seem to have already ‘arrived’. They’re at their peak physicality and are sharing with us HOW THEY GOT THERE. And it seems hard. They saved $1000 in a year and they want to show us HOW THEY DID IT. We don’t get to see the walk, just the after effects and how it has created a perpetual fling forward into great successes. For me, today, I’m not there yet. I’m barely beginning (it’s been a long time coming – lots of thought over the past year!) this portion of my journey. I don’t have the eating habits I’d like to have, I don’t feed my spirit the way I would like, I don’t have the amount of money I’d like to have saved, and I don’t pour into relationships they way I would like. My recipes are STILL little bits of paper thrown in a drawer, my meal planning is another of those obsessions that gets tossed to the wayside when other things get in the way.  I would like to achieve a healthy balance of care taking in my mind, family, spirit, body, relationships, and finances. I’m sure there are more areas, but for now, it’s a place to start.

Tomorrow, I have planned to share where I’m at already, so you all may know where I’m starting from.

Maybe we could walk through this together. Take baby steps together. And while we’re in the journey, we can encourage each other and watch the baby steps outward become a balanced life. Will you join me???

Leave a comment »