Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Barstool, Barbeque or Church Pew?

There’s a local bar in my neighborhood that is directly across the street from a church; I pass it every week when attending my own church which is a bit further down the same road. I recall one day several years ago when my young daughter and I waited in traffic and watched as the people left their church to walk across the street to get to their cars which were parked in the lot behind the bar. She didn’t realize the parking lot was there and asked: “Why does everyone leave church and go to that bar afterwards?” I laughed. Ohhh, so many responses to that one. Instead, I acted responsibly and explained that there was a parking lot there and the people were going to their cars, not the bar.

Some thoughts I read recently on the local bar from Chuck Swindoll’s book, “Encourage Me”:
“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give to His church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourished not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.”

I am reminded of the need for fellowship, bonding, being known and being loved as we near the first holiday event of this summer—Memorial Day weekend. It brings to mind the concept of remembering those who serve our country, but it is also about gatherings, whether they be at the barbeque, the bar or church. Why do we get together? We simply want and need each other—to know and be known, to love and be loved. The gatherings we have in our churches are breathtakingly beautiful when the connections made there are safe, accepting and inclusive. Aware of my bias, I attend my own church, Daybreak Community Church ( because I know these types of connections can be made there. Our church has always worked towards being this type of environment which means more to me than the building or the organ music—because true fellowship and connecting can heal and bring hope in our otherwise busy, crazy world.

Tip of the week:
It’s finally sunny---and taking our workouts outside can be a welcome change. When I enjoy my workouts outside, whether it is to play some tennis or go for a walk, I get a double-dose: sunshine and sweat—a perfect combination!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thoughts on Bread

Mmmm. Crusty bread from the oven, steaming hot, ready to be slathered with butter. There’s nothing like it. Baking homemade bread is a simple process with simple ingredients: flour, water, eggs, and the most critical ingredient of all—yeast.

Ironically, I find that the interesting thing about the yeast is that it’s rather boring in and of itself. Those little packets we get at the grocery store are unassuming. Open one, and not much seems to be going on in there. Mix it up in the right proportions with just a few other ingredients, though, and the result is not only a tasty bread, but a bread that has risen to more than double its original size because of the chemical reactions between the ingredients, including the yeast.

The requirement for this chemical reaction resulting in bread that has risen to its indulgent fluffiness is patience. Once the ingredients are mixed, they need to sit. And so we wait. And wait. And wait. This waiting period is like the various preparation periods in our lives where we don’t know what to do; where to go next, whether it be a job, a relationship or a decision. The waiting is critical though. It’s critical for the yeast to work with the other ingredients; it’s also critical for me to understand what my next move should be according to God’s plan, and that involves waiting.

Only in the waiting can I be prepared to move to the next stage: the stage when the heat is on. For the bread that has risen, it’s oven time. In the heat of the oven the bread finishes to perfection in all its crustiness; rises to its maximum doughiness, and becomes ready for the table in its best form yet. When I take the time to wait, I can take the ‘heat’ of life more easily. I will not only withstand the tough stuff, but thrive instead. Like the baked bread, I can become more than what I was when I started, and still be a perfect combination of the ingredients that make me who I truly am.

Tip of the week:
Salsa! Okay, whether it’s the salsa dance to add to your exercise repertoire, or the salsa condiment to top off your potatoes or scrambled eggs, it always works for some extra spice in the perfect format to enhance any weight loss effort. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mr. Martin's Marbles

There’s a Mr. Martin in every neighborhood. You know: the old man or old lady who’s alone and once they catch anyone’s ear, the stories begin. In this case, Mr. Martin is almost 90 years young, whose wife died a few years ago, and who can remember every last detail of his childhood, challenges and choices in life. He’s from the “what’s the world coming to?” era and can remember times when there were no coins to rub together; not just being poor, but destitute. The Depression did that. There were lessons to learn and along the way, basic needs to be met, destitute or not.

One recent story I heard from Mr. Martin revolved around one of his favorite childhood games: marbles.

He could still remember the one and only time he actually had to punch somebody. There was another kid—a bully—who was stealing the other kids’ marbles. And one day, it was Mr. Martin’s marbles he was after. As one who generally prefers to avoid conflict, the young Mr. Martin startled the bully and himself by punching him in the nose to get his marbles back. The kid dropped all the marbles, including his own. Mr. Martin picked up his marbles and left.

The clincher? Mr. Martin said he wondered if that kid ever went back to get his own marbles again. Mr. Martin picked up his own marbles after the fight and left the rest—the marbles that belonged to the bully—in that very same spot.

What started as a lesson in dealing with bullies ended as a lesson for me to see yet another side of Mr. Martin—the one with integrity. Honesty and integrity are not just skills, they are character traits.

I’m so glad Mr. Martin still has his marbles.
Tip of the week:
We all need each other to help us in our health and weight loss efforts. When the going gets tough, call a friend! The distraction and the delay may be helpful in avoiding a potential binge.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shattered Glass

Recently, I've been reminded that as I eat less, I want to scream more. Here's a fiction piece to remind myself that I need to watch my words, too, not just what I eat:


"You make me sick!"

She watched as her son instantly withered into a dried-out autumn leaf. The promise of his newfound interest in archery crumbled under the heavy footprint of her words. She looked at those shoulders which were just starting to display the broad frame of the man he would become and the slight fuzz of darkness across his upper lip. He sunk into his favorite spot on the sofa and said "I'm sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to lose the arrow."

She was so excited to finally have a hobby to share with her son, who desperately needed his father in his life right now--and spent all her extra cash from the coffee can to buy him his first quiver, bow and handmade arrows with feathers in his favorite color--green.

She had so many words to say, to scream, to yell, to whisper, and yet the fewest of them created the most damage--the shattered glass of her son's soul was about to crumble into a messy heap. She knew she needed another outlet for those words; it was the only way to pick up the broken pieces, even if not to put them together.

She opened the phone book and found the listings under 'P'. Psychiatrists.


Tip of the week: Do whatever it takes--scream, yell, run around the block--to walk away from the fridge when it's clear that the answer is not in there!