Out of the Meat Locker, Part Deux

Well, I’ve been working through something for a little over a week and thought it was time to tell you guys.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to put it in words accurately for about a week now, so I’m just going to lay it out there.

As of last Saturday evening, I am no longer a vegetarian.  I always said that I would only do it as long as I felt led to, and suddenly, I no longer felt led to.  It started a couple of weeks ago…and I don’t know why particularly, but I was starting to feel pretty conflicted about it.  I tried to take a nap last Saturday and couldn’t…I was thinking about it too much.

I’ve taken worse care of my body in the last year than I have in my whole life.  I’ve gained twenty pounds, I’m lethargic, achy, and can’t get motivated to take any action or do anything.  While I don’t believe that God’s original intent was for us to eat meat, I also don’t think that I’m being a good steward of my body if I’m not taking care of myself for the sake of something that God expressly told us that we could now have.

We got Chinese food on Saturday night last week and I got some egg drop soup…my stomach had been bothering me all day, and it was almost like magic how it calmed down once the chicken broth hit it. 

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on different diets this week:  Weston A. Price, Primal Eating, South Beach, Mediterranean, Clean eating, etc.  I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that different bodies are suited for different eating styles.  Some people thrive on a vegetarian/vegan diet with lots of soy; others don’t do so well.  I’ve been reading a lot on soy and its effects on the body.  From what I’m reading, it’s definitely not good for me.  And, for the past year, I’ve been eating copious amounts of tofu, soymilk, veggie burgers, etc.  I’ve been shooting myself in the foot, making me feel terrible about myself but feeling to listless to do anything about it.

So, I took a critical look at myself, at whether or not I was making vegetarianism into an idol of sorts, making myself feel like I was a better Christian because of it while letting my body, my “temple,” fall apart.  I felt guilty about it at first, and I guess to some degree, I’m still working through that.  I’ve been thanking God for the animal who died to provide my food when I eat, and that seems to be helping some right now.  When we’re able to accurately examine our finances again, I want to start looking to buy pastured eggs and grass-fed chicken and beef.  At least that way, I know that they were allowed to live as they should have been allowed to live.

So, there you have it.  I’m looking forward to increased energy and motivation.  I’ve missed it.

What part of Shelli is this?

Ash Wednesday…

So, this Baptist was found today at Saint Gabriel’s church at lunch, together with a friend from work, attending an Ash Wednesday service and receiving ashes.  It’s the first time I’ve ever done it; I’d talked about it last year, how I wished I had gotten ashes, and this year, when Anne came in the office and hadn’t gotten them yet, I told her that I’d like to go along if she went at lunch.

It was really an incredible experience; the much-abbreviated service was beautiful, very Scriptural, and very reverent.  There were four people, two clergy members and two laypeople, giving the ashes.  There was prayer, responses, and we left during the singing. 

Quite honestly, knowing that the ashes were there really kept my mind focused on Christ today…I found myself pausing before getting too aggravated or having a bad attitude.  We could all benefit from a tangible reminder of Christ’s suffering on our behalf every now and then, I think.

I’m giving up TRU TV for Lent.  For the three of you who are regular readers;)…you know how often we watch that channel; in fact, it’s just about always on when we’re in the house.  So, my reasons for choosing it as my “sacrifice” are twofold:  First, because we love it so much, it really will be a sacrifice for me, so I know that it will often be a reminder to me of  the price that was paid for our salvation…Second, because I know that I’ve been a very poor steward of my time in general, and TV plays a huge part in that.  I’m hoping, not to just give it up for this forty days, but to lose my attachment and to be able to let go of television so that I can focus on better pursuit (schoolwork, cooking from scratch, clearing the clutter in the house, etc). 

I’ve been feeling convicted lately about my own laziness…how I’ll come home, skip the gym, collapse in the recliner and watch TV for the rest of the night.  I’ve been given the opportunity to finish my Master’s while going to work, and rather than take the time that I have to get ahead with reading, I’ll wait until the last minute for no good reason.  I want us to eat a better diet (and we’ve improved here in the last two months), but I don’t take the time that I should take to prepare good foods.

In addition to my Lenten sacrifice, I want to focus on simpler foods to remind us of the poor and suffering people in the world.  Part of the Lenten Diet is abstaining from meat and dairy.  Since I already abstain from meat, I don’t have any changes to make there.  I don’t intend for us to abstain from dairy, but I do intend to abstain from our routine takeout and to eat more simple, bare-bones meals.

Anyway, I think I’ve probably droned on for a little too long.  I’ve just got so much running through my head right now;)

Here’s a Kins for you…distracted by the “Dirty Bug”…

On a tangential note, I had Joey take a pic of me with my ashes, but I have some zits on my chin that scabbed over and are unflattering, and the picture seemed to make THEM the focus rather than the rest of my face, so they are not included;).

Thoughts on my Vegeversary…

It was actually yesterday, but I was caught up in the Opening Ceremony, so I didn’t think to blog.  Two days ago was the year anniversary of Lady’s death.  She’d had such a hard life with multiple allergies and near-constant UTIs, and the steroids that she took to keep those items under control eventually took her life.  I was sad, but also deeply convicted at the realization at what our sin really caused.  We didn’t just separate ourselves from God; we separated all of Creation.  Because of our sin, we live in conention with nature; because of our sin, animals must prey on each other.  Because of our sin, Lady was afflicted with such crippling diseases.  And it wasn’t their fault.  I have an easy time accepting humanity’s unworthiness in the face of God’s grace.  We definitely don’t deserve it; we removed ourselves from God’s presence.  But Creation was an unwilling bystander that was punished for our sins.

That conviction led me to realize that I could no longer eat animals.  In the Garden of Eden, animals and humans were vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30).  In fact, the first death in the Bible is the animal God must use to make clothes for Adam and Eve after they have sinned.  Our contentious relationship with animals was not how God intended it to be, and as such, I just didn’t feel right perpetuating it further.  So, February 12th, 2009 was my first day without meat, and I’ve remained vegetarian since.

I don’t think that it’s a requirement to be a good Christian to be a vegetarian; I also recognize that I’m still imperfect and that I am hypocritical in a hundred other ways.  This is just one of the ways that I’ve found that I can be a light, that I can seek to be consistent in my faith as I continue to try to strive to be more like Christ.

I am also not a vegan.  I do not believe that bees would begrudge us honey or cows would begrudge us milk or chickens, eggs…although I do believe that locking them in cages so that they can’t move to exhaust their physical capabilities until they are useless and then slaughtered is completely and totally wrong.  My decision is partly about animal rights, yes, but in the way in which they relate to God’s will for our lives and how precious they are to God, just as we are.

I’ve been outright laughed at by people at church.  I’ve had the people who make fun of what I cook and tell me to “slap a steak on top of it” for it to be good.  I’ve been called a tree-hugger and a hippie.  I’ve dealt with the eye-roll.  It’s funny to me, because I’ve never been preachy, and I’ve never made anyone feel like I’m better than them because of my decision.  I’ve had people tell me that “God put them here for us to eat.”  No, He didn’t, and I’m firmly grounded in Scripture there.  He allowed us to eat them after we screwed everything up.

Likewise, though, I’ve gotten support, from my parents, from Joey’s parents, from some coworkers.  It’s actually been an amazing witnessing tool, and it’s really allowed me to live more freely in Christ.

On a hands-to-the-plough level, I’ve cooked more, tried foods I would never have tried before, and I’ve learned how wonderfully other foods were designed to meet our nutritional needs.  Tempeh?  Seitan?  Falafel? Hummus?  All incredible foods that I hadn’t bothered with much before my change to a vegetarian lifestyle.

Sorry, I intended a light-hearted “list” post about this, but I felt pretty overwhelmed to give my reasons for doing it and my experiences in the last year.  Thanks for listening.

Merry (Rainy and Blustery) Christmas

I joked all week at the weather report that God must be really pissed about Christmas this year….they called for a NASTYNASTY rainy and blustery day on Christmas day, bookended by beautiful days.  So weird.  But, looking out the window right now, they were totally right…it’s pouring and windy and gross and it sounds very tornadic.  They are even calling for thunderstorms this afternoon.  So, maybe God’s finally had enough of our consumerism and desire for huge, showy productions and displays that we seem to think will absolve us of the fact that we spend the rest of the year pretending like He doesn’t exist.  I know, that’s a downer, but I got to thinking…every time I hear someone say “remember the reason for the season” I get a little irritated.  If “He” was the real reason for the season, there wouldn’t be all of this crap.  There would be contemplation, reflection, prayer, thanksgiving, and outreach…not crowded stores full of people muscling each other out of the way to get the last “Zhu Zhu” Hamster thing or whatever the hell it’s called.  There wouldn’t be having to make sure that the Christmas cards are better than everyone else’s were last year.  There wouldn’t be the five million commitments and the “you have to bring a fifteen dollar gift to the party…and it better be something that people will actually want.” 

There would be feet to the pavement.  There would be feeding the poor.  There would be donating to animal shelters.  There would be homeless animal adoptions.  There would be giving gifts, real gifts, to people in need.  There would be loving your neighbor.  There would be time spent together, not in “sanctioned, structured events,” but in simple gatherings to eat together and share the year’s joys…and maybe even sorrows.

This year, we cut back on commitments, and we are giving handmade gifts (with two exceptions which I can’t blog about yet).  I have to be honest, it’s liberating to let go of the “trappings” of the season…I don’t know that our focus has been perfect, in fact, probably far from it, but it’s easier to focus on the “reason” when there are fewer distractions vying for attention.

Before next Chrismas, make a list of what you normally do each year.  Then, take a long, hard look at it and think about whether or not it is consistent with your faith, with why you celebrate.  If it’s not, change it until it is, or try to cut it out entirely.  It doesn’t have to mean a boring and uneventful holiday.  And, it may just give you new focus and meaning when you tell someone, “Merry Christmas.”

God bless us, everyone.