Baby Steps to Whole Health

…steady is as steady goes.

On Empathizing Loss

Friends, today my grandmother passed away. And while I am sorrowful for my own loss, my deepest, saddest sorrow comes from knowing that today, my mom lost her mom.
A few days ago, I called my mom. I called her because I was entering new parenting territory, and I needed to know how she did things when I was younger, so I could determine how I would do things for my kids now.
“I’m texting because Easter is almost here and now we have a teenager who knows the Easter Bunny isn’t real. What should I do? When did you stop hiding our baskets? What did you put in them when we were too old for bubbles and chalk? Just candy? ” I asked.
Her response? “I stopped hiding baskets when you moved out. You can get him a sketch pad or some sunglasses, anything really. Just something.”
Now, while I do have a great immune system, I do not have an amazing memory. Can you believe I had to ask my mom what to put in my teenager’s Easter basket?! Can you believe she hid baskets until I moved out?!
Anyway, all that aside, even knowing my mom doesn’t need her mom for teenaged parenting advice anymore, I’m still just SO SAD that my mom doesn’t have a mom living on earth anymore. No mom to call and say, “Hey, I’m frustrated and having a bad day,” and receiving unconditional support and encouragement through the phone lines.  No mom to call and share accomplishments with – my own or my children’s. No mom to just call up to make feel special, to say, “Hey, I was just thinking of you…” The mom who listens to your sorrows and your joys, who gives you good advice and loves you even when you fail to take it; who sees your need and does her best to fill it; the mom who sacrificed in her own way to provide for you, who continues to sacrifice in the hopes of leaving you a legacy…
I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to, the day that the thought
of a phone call crosses my mind, yet it’s no longer an option. I am so very, very sad for the loss of my grandma, but mostly, I’m heartbroken for my mom and her sisters.
May you hold on to the good memories and the good advice of your mothers – biological, adoptive, surrogate or otherwise, friends; and if you haven’t yet suffered the loss of your own mom, may you grow in empathy for those who have.

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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?

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Where I’m (already) At

 

As I was preparing notes for this post (yes, NOTES people!), I realized that it may be long winded, so I thought perhaps I’ll split it up into a couple posts instead of just one. (Baby steps, right?) I want you to know that I in no way have ‘arrived’ at where I’d like to be. I had children young, and my life up until this point has been consumed with being a wife and a mom. I’m a realist (most of the time) and to be frank, I’ve convinced myself I don’t have the time or the resources to dream. It has always been just making it through. There isn’t enough money to go on vacation AND pay the bills. There isn’t enough time to have friends AND have kids. I can’t be an awesome wife AND a great mother. I can’t be a good mom AND have a career. There isn’t time to read great books AND have a clean home. In my unbalanced world, everything seems to be mutually exclusive.  As the kids are getting older I feel disappointed (in myself) that I never allowed myself to dream, because perhaps if I had, I’d feel more successful (or something). I’m ready now for some balance. I’m ready to convince myself that I can do more than one thing at a time and do them all well.

I guess I’ll start with Spirit. I am a Christian. I love Jesus, believe that He is Lord, and that He came and died for our sins. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. All that said, I haven’t regularly attended church since we moved in 2012. I have been to a few churches since then, but I haven’t found one that seemed to be a good fit. As I grow in my relationship with Christ, I have come to understand that the corporate church of today is nothing like the Church that Christ spoke of, and I’m not sure it’s (the church as a corporation) something I want to be a part of anymore. I’d love, love, love to find a house church, a set up more along the lines of the original church. I have at times wanted to just up and start one, but haven’t made that happen yet – plenty of excuses there, but that’s what they are – excuses. Other than all of the worldly reasons, I honestly don’t feel qualified. I don’t read my Bible as much as I’d like or often enough. I like to listen to  Brant Hansen. I think he is honest and real and I’ve learned a lot and grown from his peculiar viewpoints. I definitely lack balance in my spiritual life, some days I could sit and listen to teachings or read Bible studies all day, but most days, I don’t make time for it. I suppose if I desire to do anything well spiritually, it would be to follow the command Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:37-39, when the Pharisees are ‘testing’ Jesus, and they ask: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Love God well, and love my neighbor well. Seems simple enough, yet I still haven’t gotten a hold on it.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m an all or none person. I don’t balance things well, and that’s why I want to start being intentional about things in BABY STEPS. If I just do ONE thing each day in each area until that one thing becomes a habit, and then add another thing, eventually I will become well balanced. My one small thing for my spirit is already started. Last week a friend asked a few people to go through a devotional that her husband wrote. The reading for each day is short and takes less than ten minutes. Of course, in my unbalanced world, I did two days, then missed three, read all three plus one on the 7th day, then missed the next 3 days. I should be on day 11 now, but I’m not. So my goal for this area (until the end of the 30 day devotional) will be to carve out the measly 10 minutes (that’s a baby step, right??)  it takes to read the devotional. I will NOT read the 3 days I missed to catch up, I’ll simply start where I left off.

WHEW! That DID feel long-winded to me! I do want to get two areas covered today though, so I’m going to move on to mind health. It’s a shorter section, as I have ZERO balance in this area. At this point in my life, I do absolutely nothing to expand my gray matter. My home and kids keep me utterly unable to focus on anything alone (this post has taken me an hour and a half already because I’ve been distracted and unfocused). I need to consider what time of day I might be able to take some time for my brain, how long I can get each day, and what I’ll do with that time. Since it’s supposed to be baby steps, I suppose I’ll start with 10 minutes. Maybe I’ll get up earlier so there’s no chance of distraction (although it should also become a priority to me to make my children understand that they cannot be the center of the universe and it’s okay for me to disappear for 10 minutes of alone time…) I’m taking the kids to the library today – maybe I’ll find a book to read. Or Sudoku puzzles? More on that as I come up with things!

Where are you at in the spirit and mind categories? What baby steps can you take today for whole health and balance in those areas? (Every time I type ‘baby steps’ it reminds me of that movie What About Bob?)

 

 

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