Toward a Cruelty-Free Christian Kitchen

Beet salad with vinegar dressing over greens, finished pine nuts and raisins + vegan potato salad

Christian and Vegan aren’t two identifiers that tend to go hand-in-hand.

Most Christians I know are happy meat-eaters who will point to the passage in Acts 10 where God showed Peter all the unclean animals Jews used to avoid eating, and told him to “eat.” The point of this passage was to demonstrate Christian liberation from the legalism of the old Covenant. And it’s a frequently-cited passage by people who think that Christian veganism is just… well … weird.

Most Vegans I know aren’t Christian–especially if they’re vegan “for the animals,” as the phrase often goes. Because let’s be honest. St. Peter and PETA wouldn’t get along real well.

If it was good enough for St. Peter, then it should be good enough for me, right?

So how on earth did I become a Christian vegan?

Before we begin, it’s important for me to say that I affirm the Acts passage and recognize that it’s not inherently wrong to eat meat.

I believe we live in a fallen world that won’t be right or beautiful again until Christ returns. Death in all its forms–for both humans and animals–is a consequence of The Fall that can’t really be avoided.

I do my best not to judge people who choose to continue consuming animal products.

But… BUT…

I’ve had to stop and ask myself the question, “Just because death is unavoidable, does that mean I want to be responsible for more of it than necessary?”

“All things are permissible for me,” St. Paul wrote. “But not all things are beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

For me, consuming animal products is not expedient any longer.

Here’s why.

First, I received a command from God to go vegan at a certain point in my life.

I had already been on a long journey with the Holy Spirit to clean up my temple and treat it properly so that I could hear Him better. When a friend challenged me to a Daniel Fast it transformed my life, and I really felt the desire to continue that commitment by remaining vegan after the fast.

Not everyone can claim God told them to go vegan. And I wouldn’t expect them to. But I have to admit, it’s done a lot for my spiritual life.

Not only has it cleaned a lot of toxins out of my system that (I believe) were blocking spiritual receptivity, but it forces me to be more disciplined about my food choices. And that’s always a healthy thing for my spiritual life.

Around that same time, I was also told to shave my head, let go of makeup and stop wearing a bra–both of which (along with going vegan) really were outward signs of my commitment to following God, and to finding my worth and beauty only in Him.

All of this radically changed my life–and I recommend that any Christian woman make these four commitments for a defined period of time at least once in their lives.

Your relationship with your hair, your makeup, your female body parts and your eating are likely some of the most wounded parts of your feminine self.

God in His infinite wisdom raised all this for healing.

In the other areas, I was led to return to “normal” living. But for some reason, veganism stuck. Perhaps for Reason #2.

Second, veganism is a beautiful, tangible way of expressing your longing for the Kingdom of God on earth.

It says in Revelation that one day there will be no more sorrow, no more death, and that even the lion will one day lie down with the lamb in harmony.

I long for this day. And my eating habits are one way I can show my deep desire for that restoration of the harmony once found in the Garden of Eden. Every time I sit down to a plant-based meal–especially if I’m in the company of meat eaters–I’m reminded of what I’m hoping for.

Basically, you’re all going to be vegan one day, yo. May as well get a jumpstart.

It might sound strange at first. But this principle has actually promoted a lot of joy for me in this life choice.

Every time I enjoy a satisfying meal that didn’t involve cruelty toward any creature–including removing the mother’s young or depriving her of bodily fluids (ie: milk) intended to nurture her young–I tell God how excited I am to inhabit that future Kingdom where the world really will be the way He intended it.

Third, there are just a lot of health benefits.

Can a vegan diet be imbalanced? Yes. Do vegans have to be careful about certain nutrients and supplements to ensure they’re getting everything they need? Yes.

But if we’re committed to eating healthy while we’re eating vegan, we’re not over-consuming fats and proteins. (Yes, protein really is the most overrated thing people talk about when they object to veganism.)

I firmly believe that all flesh carries life energy, and when we’re eating dead flesh, we’re consuming all the terror, sorrow and pain that went into the final moments of the creature’s life before their flesh was taken.

How healthy can it really be to have that junk in my body?

Leonardo da Vinci expressed it well when he said, “My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.”

All things are permissible, yes. But not all things are beneficial.

Fourth, veganism has inspired me to have all kinds of adventures with food.

I buy vegetables now I never would have before. I’ve learned all about sprouted grains. I’m constantly expanding my smoothie repertoire.

Since becoming vegan, I’ve actually enjoyed all kinds of amazing foods I would never have found had I remained in the animal-eating camp.

As an adventurer at heart, I will always choose the route of curiosity and discovery!

There’s much more I could say about veganism, but I hope this whets your appetite (pun intended). Over time, I’ll be sharing recipes, tips and insights on running a cruelty-free kitchen.

Come along with me on this exciting journey.

7 Ways to Cultivate Your God-Given Feminine Sexual Energy for Your Marriage

Happy Couple, Eastern Art Collection, Museumsinsel, Berlin

If you got married straight out of the purity culture in the modern church, you probably discovered the exact same thing I did:

Your feminine sensuality didn’t switch on like a lightbulb just because you said, “I do.”

Sad to say, it took me eight struggling years of marriage and a difficult divorce to figure out that I wasn’t actually “broken” when it came to sex. Diagnosed at age 25 with a clinical sexual dysfunction, I struggled my way through round after round of dilator therapy that failed … completely … until I discovered the secret emotional root of my physical issue:

I just had no idea how to access the natural pleasure center God had given me in my body—which is as useful for enjoying a picnic by the lake as it is for having a triple orgasm in bed. 

When you’re taught in church to cultivate your mind, your emotions and your physical strength–but not your sensuality–your natural pleasure sensors essentially act like an atrophied muscle. You can’t expect to run a marathon if you haven’t run a day in your life. And you can’t expect the rockin’ hot sex they promised you would be the reward for your purity if you haven’t prepared for sensuality.

But for years, I did not understand this. I thought I was broken. I thought that unforgettable intercourse and true joy in my body was only for thinner, fitter, less emotionally timid women than I was.

In my heart of hearts, I even wondered if sexual satisfaction was only for the women who’d had their first orgasm at an age when I didn’t even know what sex was.

But the path to freedom can’t really unfold as long we are stuck in the lies. Thank God, He began to transform my heart, my mind and my experience with this critical topic.

Not only did I beat the “incurable” sexual dysfunction to find total freedom in pleasure, but I reclaimed my feminine essence along the way and healed a lifetime of wounding around traditional femininity and the feminine “receptive” role.

Now, I know my sensuality doesn’t have to be shut down. And it isn’t meant to be, either. Timidity, frigidity, body image issues, sexual frustration and/or low libido are not your birthright.

You also don’t have to wait until you finally say “I do” to try to figure out what turns you on.

Yes, I’m here to say it because I truly believe it:

You can be both totally pure in your pre-marriage lifestyle and also totally tuned in to your sensual essence as a woman … which is gonna make it a whole lot easier for you to let go, relax and have some bonafide fun in bed when God finally sends your Boaz.

Maybe you’re reading this, and you don’t resonate with a conservative church upbringing and its (often) unintended result of frigidity. Perhaps you have a different reason to struggle with your sexuality and sensuality. Maybe you experience a sexual trauma or were the victim of a sexual crime. Maybe one or both parents shamed your body from the day you were born. Maybe you just keep ending up with guys who make you feel like you’re not good enough.

Whatever your story, I’m here to say: it’s not too late.

You can fall in love with the body God gave you and totally enjoy the experience of having your body touched, loved and, yes … even penetrated … in a relaxed, struggle-free way.

The biggest key here is that the heart of great sex really has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse. It has everything to do with your ability to be present in the moment, feel pleasure deeply, and open yourself up to another human being. 

Let me say that again:

Your enjoyment of sex has nothing to do with virtuosic intercourse.

It has everything to do with your ability to:

  • Be present in the moment,
  • Feel pleasure deeply, and
  • Open yourself up to another human being.

When I first began to understand this … and consequently to unpack what had actually happened in my life that had caused my deep struggles with sexuality … it was mind boggling.

I began to take the journey step by step. Looking for little ways to start experiencing pleasure in my everyday life, be present and stay open to what was happening around me.

And … my relationship with my sensuality changed, too.

It’s that simple.

But let’s face it: it’s also that difficult … because as modern Western women we are hardwired to check off lists and chase success. We know more about over-achieving than we do about having an amazing orgasm.

We tend to believe anxiety and depression are the status quo. So when we get into the bedroom and are asked to just have fun? Well, we have no actual skills for this strange, new request. Sex becomes a goal to be achieved, not an experience to be savored.

It’s time to change that, baby. Are you ready?

In the following tips, I’m not asking you to do anything kinky, weird or borderline sinful.

All I’m asking you to start taking time to enjoy who you are as a woman and what God has already put in your life … which, simple as it seems, will transform your current sex life (if you’re married) or the one you hope to have (if you’re not).

Because if you cannot stop to “just be” … allow yourself to relax into the moment and experience simple sensory pleasures right now, in your daily life … you won’t be able to access it in the bedroom, either.

You can cultivate a beautiful, feminine sensuality that will allow you to drop everything you’re doing and just “be” with your husband in a relaxed, loving way. When you cultivate this skill, you will totally open up to the deepest feelings of blessed married sex. The little things you do now to cultivate “being” will pay dividends later.

Here are 7 easy ways to cultivate your God-given feminine sensuality:

1) Start eating slowly so you actually savor your food.

Pleasure 101: You cannot fully experience and enjoy what is rushed through for the sake of getting done. If you’re currently married and sex feels like a chore—yes, I know you just want him to finish. But if you’re going to get serious about YOUR pleasure … you’re going to have to slow down.

Food, like sex, is a sensory experience, so it’s a great place to practice this slowness. But heck, it’s not just food. Start slowing down in general. Pause to really touch and enjoy fabrics that feel good. Pause to smell the scent of lilacs in your neighbor’s yard. Plant your two feet on the ground and sense all the yummy and wonderful things around you.

2) Meditate daily, even if only for five minutes.

I said that sexuality is a practice of presence. Meditation is the best way I know to practice being present in your daily life. No, you’re not going to stop all the racing thoughts on day one. But over time, even a very short daily meditation practice will help you build the skill of getting outside your own head long enough to be quiet.

Very often a problem with sexuality for women is that we can’t set aside all the “stuff” that’s happening in our lives in order to be present with the other person we’re there to enjoy. Meditation will help you build that skill so you can be present with your spouse in a joyous and loving way.

As many ancient texts have also noted, sexuality is also a form of meditation. But that’s another topic for another day … For now, if you’re interested, I recommend The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity by Dan Reid, a noted expert on Asian medicinal practices.

3) Keep a “pleasure journal.”

By now you might be saying, “Lisa, I’m not even sure what I love, or what makes me feel good. I’m so out of tune with my God-given pleasure sensors that I feel stuck even starting.” Okay, great; this is an awesome realization. Yes, I was there too. But the best way I know how to get past this big hump is to simply start trying stuff and noticing what works for you.

Try new kinds of coffee. Try on new styles of dresses. Go to a new restaurant. A new exercise class. Try a new dance. Each time you try something new, record how it made you feel and what you liked and didn’t like about it. Over time, you will begin to find the things that make you feel good, that you really like. Bonus: some of them, you might be able to bring into the bedroom.

4) Pamper your body with baths, self-massages & oil.

This is big, especially if you don’t like your body very much. You have to start acting as if you loved your body so that you eventually will actually feel that love. I promise, it works this way … and only this way. If you wait for the feelings of self-love to come first, in order to pamper yourself, it’s never gonna happen.

So why is this so critical for your sex life?

Your man will feel about your body exactly the way you train him to feel. (I’ve tried this principle out multiple times; it’s completely predictable.) If you want your man to love love love your body … exactly as it looks right now … don’t make the poor man constantly build up your self esteem. Loving yourself as God loves is your responsibility first. Commit to love love love your body first, and watch what a difference it makes in your relationship. When you remove that pressure from Mr. Right, you’ll be surprised what happens!

Whatever self-care or body nourishment routine works for you, do that. For myself personally, I find that loving, gentle body self-massage was an amazing tool. I have to put my hands on my own skin and touch it in a way that felt good. This was revolutionary at first for a girl raised like I was.

5) Shut door, crank up the music and MOVE.

Nothing puts in your feminine, sensual energy like dance. Yes, I was born with two left feet. Yes, for years I was desperately afraid for anybody to see me do anything like dance. But then I discovered I could shut my door at home, draw the blinds, get naked and put on music I loved. And WOW, did I ever discover I loved to dance!

Dancing got me moving my body in a way that felt good (Hello, that’s necessary for hot sex …) And coming from a background where dance was basically forbidden, dancing at home alone got me past the mental hurdle of being afraid to move my body. Now I’ll happily do it in public … and I still dance every day at home to help me stay in my best, most aligned emotional groove.

For extra credit, dance naked in front of a mirror. (Yes, I hear you Baptist girls out there cringing!) If I can do this, you can do this. And trust me, your husband will thank you later.

6) Take up yoga once or twice a week.

Yoga is hands-down one of the best ways I know to get in tune with your sensual energy. No, the goal here is not to get yourself twisted up like a pretzel or perform the most contorted sex position you possibly can. It’s to learn how to feel what’s actually going on in your body. And to put those feelings into words.

When I started yoga, I had NO idea how to answer the instructor’s question, “Does this pose feel good in your body?” Literally, it was a foreign language to me. In the churches I grew up in, the body was deliberately divorced from public conversation (other than for topics regarding sports and “acceptable” medical procedures). I had to learn a form of sensation and conversation I had not innately learned as a child.

Over time, taking yoga not only helped me build strength and confidence. It helped me actually feel more of what was going on in my body and have words to describe it. Which you are going to need, eventually, when a certain gentleman asks you what feels good … in bed.

7) Burn your to-do list and do something you love.

Really, if we’re being honest, our Superwoman culture in America (which is as prevalent in the church as outside) is very often at the heart of our struggles in the bedroom. Because, as I said earlier, you can’t treat sex like a to-do list. It’s a living, shifting, expanding experience with another human being. Yes, it is an experience. 

Most of the women I’ve counselled and coached for sexual challenges share one trait in common: they’re laser-focused on goals and achievement. Breaking yourself of your addiction to box-checking–and letting yourself drop into blissful flow–is one of the best ways I know to open yourself up to a less goal-driven interaction. Burn your to-do lists and try letting your intuition guide you to which tasks really need accomplishing, and eliminate which ones are just Superwoman Busywork.

Do things you love. Let yourself have pleasurable experiences more often, whether that’s a picnic at the park, a Friday night manicure or a day out with girlfriends. Eventually you’ll find that this newfound enjoyment of experience—surprisingly enough—follows you straight into the bedroom.

You’ll be able to go from stressed out to blissed out … you know, like the 0 to 60 in 6 seconds flat “WOW, BABY, CAN YOU DO THAT AGAIN????” kind of blissed out … and neither you nor your husband will be quite sure how it happened.

Okay, just kidding.

You’ll know exactly how it happened. And you’ll feel …. AMAZING. 😉

9 Ways to Love Your Body When You Don’t Really Like It

IMG-4263

“Don’t you you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that His spirit dwells in your midst?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

You know deep inside if you don’t love your body. It’s hard to admit aloud, perhaps, but not hard to know in your soul. You hate mirrors. You don’t want to have your picture taken. And nothing you put on your body, clothes-wise, actually feels good.

There was a time in my life where I didn’t just dislike my body. I loathed it. I dreaded taking showers or baths because I’d have to undress in front of the bathroom mirror—and stare at all the lumps and bumps I had that I didn’t think were in the “places they were supposed to be.”

Many of my friends might have been surprised to learn how I felt about myself, because some of them considered me “slender” and “fit.” It took a lot of effort and ingenuity to make my body look different than it was, not to mention a lot of time and money. I bought the best bras I could afford. Shapewear, makeup and expensive haircuts were my best friend.

Yet, despite all this, I didn’t feel good in my own skin. And I certainly didn’t love it or what was inside of it.

It took me years to realize that my feelings weren’t magically going to change overnight. Yes, I did want to feel differently about my body, but spiritually (and neurologically) speaking, there are only two ways to change your feelings about yourself.

You have to change your THINKING and your ACTIONS.

No, your feelings won’t change overnight. But as you start prayerfully 1) doing things that genuinely nourish your body (rather than simply covering it up) and 2) redirecting every self-negative thought into one that honors God’s perspective … you will see change.

One day you will wake up, like I did, realizing that your body is pretty amazing exactly as it is. And that, in fact, you aren’t quite sure why you hated it so much or wanted to change it so badly. I know this might sound like an alternate universe, but it is possible.

Here are 9 ways to start nudging your inner “Negative Nancy” voice in the direction of genuine self-appreciation and praise to God for how you were made:

1. Ask God to change your heart toward yourself by showing you HIS radical love for you.

God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14). He loves you to the core of your being. Every time you cut yourself down, you are essentially blaspheming Him by speaking against something that He has called good. God knows where you are at; He is ready and willing to extend mercy to you and even help you have a “new heart” in regards to yourself. All you have to do is ask. Sure, the way you FEEL about yourself might not change overnight. But you will receive the transformation if you persist in prayer and in choosing to THINK thoughts that reflect what HE says about you, not what your inner “Negative Nancy” is telling you.

2. Choose to feel good, rather than look good.

This is a simple but profound shift. If you’ve been buying tight clothes, Spanx or other shapewear that drives your skin insane but molds your silhouette into something you think is “acceptable,” now is the time to change that. By contrast, perhaps you wear “tent dresses” to hide your shape but secretly feel unkempt or slobby in them, what does that say? Either way, it’s time for change. Go to a favorite thrift shop or department store–your choice–and give yourself a whole afternoon to try on all kinds of outfits. Notice which fabrics feel good, which waistbands feel good, which clothes make you relax versus tense up. Once you find what makes you FEEL good, stick with that. And only that. By prioritizing your own good feels, you are de-prioritizing how others perceive you.

3. Nourish your skin inside and out.

At a certain point in my healing journey, I had a choice to make. I could continue spending tons of money on face/body products that promised miracle results, plus cosmetics that over my lifetime, would cost as much as a sports car. Or I could focus on having really great skin, and making sure I took care of its health so that I glowed from the inside out. I chose the latter. And I can say that that choice actually changed everything about loving myself and my body. My secrets for glow-glam skin that doesn’t even need makeup include:

  • Drink half your body weight in water each day.
  • Dry-brush before you shower, every time.
  • Use a natural charcoal exfoliating sponge on your face twice per week.
  • Make your own face scrub (it’s easy and fast!).
  • Swap commercial “moisturizers” for a gentle natural oil. (I use argan or jojoba.)
  • Shave your face with an eyebrow razor (yes, all those fine hairs everywhere!); it’s a powerful exfoliant and makes skin glow.
  • Try a vegan, vegetarian or meat- and dairy-lite diet. You’ll be shocked at how your skin responds.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying them all at once. Pick one technique and see what it does for you! Then try adding another.

4. Find a self-care practice that works for you.

For some women, baths make them feel great. For others it’s lounging in pretty lingerie while they read a book by candlelight. Maybe your jam is a monthly massage or two yoga classes a week. Whatever it is … and you might have to experiment to find it … prioritize that. For many years, because I hated my body so much, I didn’t want to spend time or money nourishing it. Once I began allocating resources to feeling good, guess what? The feelings followed. So find your jam and stick with it. And if you “fall off the bandwagon,” simply get on again. That’s why self-care is a journey and not an destination.

5. Do mirror work daily.

If you’re not familiar, mirror work is a practice in which you choose several affirming statements about your body, tape them up to the mirror where you get ready each day, and say them to yourself directly in the mirror as you dress. It might sound or feel “cheesy” at first, but WOW is this practice powerful! You see, our brains respond to verbal input. If your verbal input toward yourself is always negative, nothing is going to change. The combination of looking into your own eyes in the mirror, plus speaking “words of life” over yourself, can change so much. Some of my favorite mirror work affirmations include:

  • I love you exactly how God made you.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made because God said so.
  • You are becoming more beautiful each day, [insert name].
  • Who’s that gorgeous woman in the mirror? Oh, it’s me!

6. Move your body, just for fun.

When I began my healing journey, I was incredibly self-conscious about dancing and had been all my life. But something happened as I began to DO and THINK love toward my body. I would shut my door, turn up the music, and dance just for me. This was new. It felt strange and even silly at first. But then it began to feel REALLY GOOD. There’s a power in great music, and a power in dance. It will life your spirits like nothing else. Even if all you can do is move back and forth, wave your arms and turn in circles … baby girl, crank up those TUNES. The key too is to choose positive music—praise and worship, or at least songs that share a positive, uplifting message about the world and about you. You’ll be amazed at how your posture and your self-confidence begin to change in public as you do this work in private.

7. Practice standing tall.

Posture is a funny thing. It actually does make a difference in how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Coming from a conservative church background in the ‘80s, I had those hilarious posture lessons with a hymn book balanced on my head … and it did nothing for me. This is partly because those lessons were focused on me looking “lady-like,” which is ALL about how other people perceive us. That is a lie from the pit of hell. Later, during my healing journey, I learned how to stand tall in yoga because it felt good and it made me feel powerful. Because when you show up and stand tall, people react differently to you, innately. And you also react differently to yourself. If you want to learn more, here is: