28 April 2010

Fear and Rambling

The following is a rant that I emailed to my sister the other day. I wrote it on Monday and I've had it sitting in my Google Documents folder ever since, internally struggling with what to do with it. Delete it? Post it? I told Erin I didn't think I was going to post it because it's pretty private, but I got to thinking: what if someone else is struggling the way I am? Maybe these words will help them know they're not alone.
How has this never come across my path?
Maybe it has and I just don't remember.
But it has flat-out jumped up and slapped me in the face today and I'm still stinging from the backhand.
Have you ever read Hebrews 10:26-27?
I highly recommend that you do.  

I will be the first person to admit that I'm not a biblical scholar like my sister or her husband Cole. So not wanting to misuse this passage or take it out of context, I dug up some biblical commentary regarding the verses. The overwhelming agreement is that these verses are talking about people who hear about God's gift - his Son dying on the cross for our sins - yet knowingly turning their backs and reject salvation. They are people who profess to be believers, yet live how they want and do what they want with no concern for the consequences.
This particular verse refers to the act of apostatizing - basically abandoning your faith and all you once believed. Turning your back on the God you know is real and true. You KNOW it, yet you reject it.


I will tell you right now. I don't apostatize.
I fully embrace my Savior. I love Him. I worship Him. I fall on my face in front of Him.
I do, however, stupidly continue to do things I know are wrong. Not in light and grace and truth.
How this particular passage of scripture spoke to me (in a non-apostasy and non-biblical scholarly way) is that I do things in my personal life that I know are a slap in the face to God. I KNOW they are a slap in the face, and yet I KNOWINGLY keep doing that junk over and over.
I KNOW I shouldn't watch half of the movies or TV shows I watch. Who needs that raunchy “humor” in their head?? Does it glorify God? Heck no!!
I KNOW I shouldn't hold grudges and wish bad things on people who I think have wronged me. One of my friends posted an awesome quote on Facebook by Mother Theresa that really convicted me on that particular level:
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; it was never between you and them anyway.
-Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem
Wow. It's between me and God. That's all.
I could say, "Well, so-and-so does this, so that's why I did it, too."
No excuses. It's between me and God.
So, simply put, I KNOW that as a Christian, I shouldn't invite certain things into my life. YET I KEEP STINKING DOING IT!! I’M KNOWINGLY SINNING AND STILL DO IT!!!
My own personal version of apostasy.
Not, by all definitions abandoning my faith and turning my back on God - but isn't that sort of what I'm doing on some level every time I chose wrong over right?
I want to change. Lord, I am willing.
Those were Monday's thoughts.
Today, Kay Arthur's post on Crosswalk.com helped answer my frustrations. How did she know exactly what I am going through?? Her post is titled "Do You Long for the Goodness of Life?"
Some excerpts that grabbed me:
Why have people in general become so narrow-mindedly "me" centered? Why are we so broadly tolerant that whatever others think, we accept it as right? Why is our society made up of so many frustrated, unrestrained individualists who put self before others? (Sidebar from Addie: ME!! I DO THIS!! I'M SO VERY GUILTY OF THIS!!)

Why, Beloved?

Have you considered it might be because we have lost our sense of the fear of God?
Romans 3:11-18 describes what happens when people lose their reverential trust and awesome respect for God. It describes what happens when a generation is raised apart from a biblical knowledge of God. That passage is the self-portrait of a person who does not acknowledge the God of the Bible. It is the epitome of someone who walks according to his or her own understanding - dictated by his or her own desires, making decisions according to personal criteria that ignores God and His Word.

You and I desperately need to know what the Lord abhors and what the Lord approves of - and the consequences of not living accordingly.


We need to do everything we can, dear one, to instill - first in our own lives, in the lives of our children, our families, our churches, and then in our society - a biblical knowledge of God.


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7).


There is no better time than now to discipline ourselves anew for the purpose of godliness; to set schedules, to order our days, to stop and think about our future and where we want to be.
Wow. Amazing truth in those words.
So pretty much, I need to stop and think before I act.
Why does this all of a sudden feel like a kindergarten lesson? Maybe because I've been acting like a child and God needed to get my attention.
Truth. Grace. Faith.
Renewing yourself daily in Christ. 
Actually acting like His Beloved. 
And believing it.  
Today I love: Do-overs due to grace and forgiveness.

20 April 2010

Texas Sistertrip

I had a little emergency on my way to my gate at the airport on Thursday.

The security line took so long to get through that I almost didn't have time to stop at Starbucks.


Never come between a girl and her skinny iced vanilla latte.

Legal stimulants in hand, I boarded my flight to Houston in a caffeine-induced haze. It was wonderful.

Especially since the flight was packed full and I was elbow-to-elbow with a guy who was watching Last Comic Standing DVD's on his laptop. I was just praying my iPhone battery would last long enough for me to get through my latest Kindle download.

Sidebar: Want to feel incredibly fortunate to be a woman who happened to be born in America? Read the true story "I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced." It's about a little girl in Yemen who was forced into marriage at the age of 9 and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband - who was three times older than she was. And it only happened a couple years ago - this isn't some historical novel about the middle ages. This is present-day nightmares that kids over in the middle east face all the time. It really puts things into perspective.

So on that happy note, I finished the book just as we landed. I desperately needed a pick-me-up.

I got one. A big one.

Never, ever underestimate the power of a sister reunion at baggage claim. It's super fun to have everyone stop and look at you like you're insane. Maybe we shouldn't have jumped up and down - giggling and shrieking and laughing and crying - so much. Oops.

So first things first in Texas? Going to Chinatown, of course. Forget all of the cowboys and BBQ and cattle - we wanted noodles and steamed vegetables and tea.

Ohmygosh. The tea. I cannot begin to explain how fantastic this tea is. We asked the waitress what it was called, but she didn't know the English words to explain it. So what did she do? She was kind enough to take pity on us silly white people and write the name down for us - in Chinese.

After lunch, we found the closest Chinese supermarket to search for the tea.
We asked the first guy we could find about the writing. He was all excited and pointed to the napkin and asked, "You do?" No. I no do. I have no idea how to write in the Chinese language. He wasn't so excited after that, but still was very, very helpful in searching the gazillion types of tea in the market. Tea to the Chinese is like Starbucks for me and my sister. I couldn't believe all the different choices.
We finally settled on one: Jasmine Green Tea. The last two characters of the vertical writing matched the two characters on the napkin, and that was close enough for us.
Oh my gosh. If anything can break my coffee addiction, this stuff is it.
One problem.
The instructions of tea-to-water ratios are in Chinese! I'm seeing a quick Rosetta Stone lesson in my near future.  
We also went to this awesome place for dessert called the Juice Box.
It made me want to officially live in Chinatown.
All the desserts are made with fresh - FRESH - fruits. Case upon case of fruit greeted us when we walked in. All we had to do was point to the fruits we wanted (I have no clue how to say "lots and lots of watermelon, please" in Chinese) and they loaded us up. It's pretty much just shaved ice topped with fruit, a scoop of strawberry ice cream and drizzled in sweetened condensed milk. Sounds weird, I know. But it's just flat-out DELICIOUS! And for only $5! We chose cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, and of course, watermelon.
See how happy we are?
And that was Thursday.
Friday consisted of a wonderful place called the Chocolate Bar (click on the link then click on "desserts" and check out the cakes!!) in the Rice Village and Mexican food with Cole's parents that evening. Can you see a theme? I think all we did was eat. The Mexican restaurant did have a wonderful offering of veggie fajitas that included grilled zucchini and squash, so I didn't do toooo bad. And it was SO GOOD.
Saturday was awesome. We got up around 7am to go down the street to watch the cyclists participating in the MS 150. Obviously, since my sister has MS, we wanted to be out there in our MS shirts showing our support for these incredible people. They were riding from downtown Houston all the way to Austin - that's some hilly country. It was a little rainy, so they were really happy that people came out to cheer them on. WE were the ones that were happy that they were doing this for MS!!
It really made me want to attempt to get back in shape and do the ride sometime.
Goal #1: work off all the Mexican food and Chinese food and desserts. Dang Texas.
After watching the cyclists, we spent the day as any good sisters would do: at Katy Mills Mall. I felt my superpowers returning immediately.
Oh, and Erin and Cole took me to this fabulous place called Central Market. It seriously kicks Whole Food's butt. I have never seen so many organic, vegetarian, vegan products in one place in my life. And counter after counter of fresh everything. Want sushi for dinner? They have a counter for that. Want fresh, organic soups and a salad bar? They have a counter for that. Want fresh artisan breads and pastas? There's a counter for that. In the massive produce department you can get fresh-squeezed juice - no sugar, no additives...just pure juice. It was INSANE. Their weekly specials this week include Hawaiian Mahi Mahi - flown direct to Texas from the islands. INSANE!!
As we walked out (me with - what else? - fresh watermelon) I immediately texted Matt and told him we are moving to Texas. Particularly to Westheimer Road where Central Market resides. He has no choice.
"Why?" he asked. "Because Texas is awesome," I said. I don't think he's buying it. But still. A girl can dream about living by such awesomeness, right?
The rest of the weekend went by so fast. I absolutely love spending time with my sister (and Cole!) - she is so fun and amazing and crazy. We always try to pack so much into our visits - shopping, movies, worship at their amazing church (Bear Creek Baptist, if anyone is in the Katy, TX area), more Chinese food, naps, more shopping. I can't even remember everything we did.
What I can remember is the dang security at the airport last night. Ugh. I've never had this happen before, so I guess it was just my time.
I honestly thought that my box of loose Chinese tea in my carry-on would set off the security alarms. The tea, in it's natural goodness, looks a little organic, if you know what I mean. But no. The tea made it through just perfectly. Me, on the other hand - not so much. My cargo pants kept setting off the alarms - it was the little buckles at the bottom that were the problem. So what happened? I had to go to the pat-down area - which of course is in the middle of the whole security checkpoint surrounded by clear walls - and wait for a female officer to come over and search me.
Not my idea of a good time.
And those people have absolutely no sense of humor. I told the woman that I was going to burn the pants and never wear them again for all the trouble they cause me, and she didn't even blink.
So I just stood there while everyone in the whole airport watched as she patted me down and used that little alarm wand thing. Then, without even a word of "you're good to go, sweetie! Sorry for the trouble!" she just turned and walked away. Um, hello? What do I do now? Did I pass inspection? Was she going to get the FBI? I didn't know what to do, so I just kept standing there until another security guy who was there at the time saw me and said I was good to go. I at least got a smile from him.
Oh well. They're just doing their job - and I would much rather go through a pat-down than have someone shady slip through unaware. It made me feel safe.
Violated, but safe.
So now I'm home, feeling the deep need for a vacation from my vacation. Anyone want to unpack my bags and do my laundry?
Today I love: Getting to see my husband after being gone for five days!! And the puppies. I missed my puppies. :)

09 April 2010

Veggie Anniversary

Today marks the two month anniversary of my switch to vegetarianism. And guess what? I’m still alive! I still have all my brain functions!


And people still think I’m completely, irreversibly nuts.


The other night at a baseball game, I was talking to M and some parents after the Varsity game. They asked if I was staying for the JV game, but I said no, that I was hungry and needed to go home and have dinner. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:


Parent: If you’re hungry, go help yourself to anything from the concession stand!

Me: (Parent’s name here), what in the world would I eat from there??

Parent: Oh yeah. Starts laughing. We need veggie hot dogs. (She knows I don’t eat meat, and we like to tease each other. But still, it’s a great idea in my opinion!)

Other Parents Standing by Us: What? Huh? Seriously?

My Dearest Husband: Oh yeah. She’s vegetarian. (Said in a loving tone, of course.)


Ahhh, life in a farming town. Obviously, I like to stir things up a bit. That conversation opened up a “you really don’t eat meat?” and “why don’t you eat meat?” Q&A session.  


My real reason? I’m in love with all things animal and do not want to contribute to their slaughter, no matter how weird people think that is. I love love love animals. Plus, you all know me – I take things way too personal. So how did you really think I would turn out after reading books like Charlotte’s Web as a kid? Personify an animal and I’m a goner.


Wilbur burst into tears. "I don’t want to die," he moaned. "I want to stay alive, right here in my comfortable manure pile with all my friends. I want to breathe the beautiful air and lie in the beautiful sun. ~ E. B. White


My I’m-not-insane-please-still-like-me reason? My genetically crappy disposition towards high cholesterol. People tend to not think vegetarianism is so weird when I give them that line.


And you know what? If you eat meat, that's fine. I'm married to a guy who would rather eat a hunk of beef or pork than anything that grows from the ground (unless it's covered in cheese) so I understand. That’s your absolute right and choice. I don’t want to be one of those fanatics that think I have to go out and convert the entire world to vegetarianism. (I have my hands full enough doing that in a more Christian realm, thanks to the Great Commission.)


Let’s be honest. Biblically, I don’t think eating meat is a sin – after the flood, God told Noah that it was finally ok to eat meat. Before that though, meat was a huge no-no. I don’t really want to start a “God gave us dominion over the animals” debate, because my idea of the definition of “dominion” does not involve asserting our ability to go out and kill any animal we want just because we can.


However, I believe we are called to be stewards of the earth, and as we all know, it is getting more and more vital to create a more sustainable environment for future generations. This might be idealistic, but think about it: all the crops grown to feed cows, pig and chickens could go to people who actually need the sustenance. Animals by nature are grazers - they don't need corn to survive. And if animals are meant for humans to eat, why did God give them the ability to feel pain and bleed like we do? He could have created them without nerve receptors or the ability to know fear. Compassion is as part of human nature as anything else. "I think there's something odd about eating another living anything." ~ Shania Twain


Personally, I just see the results of vegetarianism in my own life and know I am doing the right thing for me. I fully know that might not be the right thing for anyone else. But I do know that I don’t feel so weary and tired all the time, my skin is clearer, my hair is shiny and my nails are growing long and strong. I don’t feel so puffy around my middle – I just feel clean and healthy. I didn’t start out by thinking this would be a weight-loss thing, but I’m dropping pounds at a rate of 1-2 lbs per week. And best of all, I feel like I’m making a small difference in the world.


I’ve stuck with it long enough that the people who really know me have finally stopped asking me “do you still not eat meat?” (Even the guy who runs the cafeteria at the hospital knows. The other day when I walked in he was really excited to tell me they were serving veggie burgers in Line 2. And they were delicious!)


Being a vegetarian works for me. I like it.


Questions? Comments? This is your chance to tell me that 1) you understand completely or 2) I’m completely nuts and think I need to go eat a cheeseburger.


Free will. Free world. Isn’t it great we can all have our own thoughts and opinions?


Speaking of thoughts and opinions, I finally ditched my dark hair. It’s springtime!! Here’s the new ‘do:

This time next week I'll be in Texas visiting my sister!! Woot woot! She's already found some veggie-friendly places we're going to try. I'm uber-excited.

Today I love: Vegetable stir-fry and my Pure Cider Neutrogena lip gloss.