Happy 2013! …and my boring resolutions list…

1 01 2013

Funny how A LOT can change in a year…

2012 had some of the lowest points I’ve personally ever experienced, much of which I will probably never share – but it was also the year everything sort of leveled out and our family began to see a resurrection of sorts. To quote Batman, “Its always darkest before the dawn.” …and in 2012 we saw both the darkness and the dawn. In 2012, Dana and I celebrated our 20th; the kids are really growing and doing well; I got a great new job that I continue to enjoy; and we have a new house that we love. There is much to be grateful for!

Happy 2013!

I sincerely hope you will have your best year ever. …and I pray for your family and mine to experience that end.

(This is the original  Scottish version)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

…but since its a new year – and since there are still things that need to change – here’s my “Extremely boring” New Year’s List of Resolutions:

1) Stop biting my nails

2) Lose weight (I’m actually doing The Master Cleanse to begin 2013 – ughh… and yes, I will still drink coffee)

3) Workout more consistently – I won’t bore you with the plan, but basically I’m committing to some form of exercise daily)

4) I am going to try to work on my temper …that is if I don’t get to upset 🙂

I warned you! BORING!!

…that’s my list though.

…and again, HAPPY NEW 2013!!

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Chic-fil-a and my personal Tipping Point

3 08 2012

It was this picture.

It was linked from a friend on my facebook wall.

It’s clever. It’s actually a little funny.

But it also upset me.

For the un-initiated: A few weeks ago, in an interview with a radio station, Dan Cathy, the President and CEO of Chic-fil-a started a firestorm with comments he made advocating the Biblical “traditional family.”

His comments weren’t really that suprising. Chic-fil-a has always been a company that identifies itself as Christian – even closing stores on Sundays.

The media however picked up on his comments and made it out that he was “bashing” gays and gay marriage.

Again, nothing new here. The media has a tendency to want to stir the pot.

From there, though, things got a little crazy as the LGBT community launched out publicly against Chic-fil-a and Cathy.

…and really that sort of thing is not that new either.

Chic-fil-a supporters also decided to voice their opinions. Aug. 1 was deemed “support CFA day” and people showed up in droves. Poor chickens were slaughtered in massive numbers!

Of course, the LGBT community got mad, and the CFA supporters got mad back – and its all got a little out of hand.

Was it wrong for Cathy to speak his mind? Nope.

Was it wrong for the LGBT community to get upset and threaten to boycott? Nope.

Was it wrong for the CFA supporters to form lines all the way around stores showing their support for the “constitution?” Nope.

…my issue is not with any of that – but with that picture – and with the hate that it represents.

It irks me that people spewed so much venom. It also smacks of hypocrisy – which is something I’m very familiar with from within the Christian community.

The same LGBT community that gets so mad when we don’t like “their stuff” and expect and demand for us to be tolerant and be okay with their speech – is the same community that got so mad and acted so atrociously toward Chic-fil-a. Again, I don’t mind their disagreement, just that they acted exactly like those that usually do the mis-treating.

How would the LGBT community feel if I posted pictures of gay people at a parade and basically called them “A-holes.” …they would be understandably offended.

But somehow  its okay to do to Chic-fil-a? …and if I dare point that out, I am suddenly labeled anti-LGBT and anti-gay marraige and a bigot.

I get that the LGBT community is usually the one that hate is directed towards. It truly saddens me when people who are supposed to represent Christ act terribly. I hurt right along side the LGBT community at hate crimes and offenses. I also get that this issue is one that they are very passionate about – and I get that they feel disenfranchised and feel ignored.

This IS an issue that merits disscussion and much grace.

We ALL though need to learn how to handle things better. Don’t bash. Don’t hate.

…and if you do, don’t get mad when others come to your opposite position’s aid.

By the way…

As Christians we are not really “helping” the situation very much. I love what Matthew Paul Turner had to say on the subject . Go read it – and you’ll see how many feathers there really are on this particular chicken!





Healing the Soul

29 06 2012

Imagine for a second that your car has been having some performance issues.

For some of us, that isn’t very hard to imagine at all!

You call up your local mechanic and schedule an appointment. “What’s wrong?” He asks. You reply, “I have no idea. It’s just not running right. Somethings wrong.” He says, “Bring it in and we’ll take a look.”

When you drop it off the next day, a good mechanic is going to ask you a million questions. “How’s it driving?” What makes you think its running bad?” “What kind of noises is it making?” …you’ll hear it all, because he knows that he doesn’t “know” your car like you do. He needs somewhere to start, so he’s trying to figure out in general terms what’s wrong.

Eventually he’s probably going to hook it up to a computer and run some diagnostic tests. Again, he wants to know whats wrong …and he knows that every part relates to every other part. He’s looking for the root problem, so he can fix it all.

I think you fix your soul in much the same fashion.

When you think soul, what comes to mind? …probably something spiritual. We tend to compartmentalize the idea of the soul into a spiritual category. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but I prefer to think of the soul more holistically.

I think our soul is the combination of all of our parts. …it’s not just spiritual. It’s the make up of our whole being. It’s who we are. It’s what makes us, us.

Because I think of the soul holistically, I also believe that in order to heal your soul it will take more than just going to church, reading your Bible, or chanting. …if you fix just the spiritual part(s), you might only be fixing part of your soul.

I think that for your soul to heal, you have to figure out how all your parts interrelate and begin to start diagnosing every area. You need to look at your spiritual health/life, but you also need to look at your diet, your weight, your exercise level(s), what you are reading, what you do to relax, etc. …you get the idea, right? You have to look at a lot of different things that make you, you.

This past week, one of the things that I’ve been really noticing is that my soul feels like it’s finally healing. Here are some of the things that I think are combining to create a healthier soul.

  • I am eating healthier. I wrote earlier this week about starting the Paleo Diet. I’m eating very “clean” – a lot of natural things and not much processed or sugary stuff. Sure, I still splurge every now and again, but the good stuff far outweighs the bad stuff – and that used to not be the case.
  • I am reading more. I enjoy reading, but I also watch a lot of TV. For some reason lately, I’m reading more and watching less which seems to contribute in me being calmer and feeling more balanced emotionally.
  • I’m taking care of my crap. Rather than ignore my addictions/hang-ups, I have been consistently working on them… The first step to getting help is to realize you have a problem – but it never fails to amaze me how few people actually take that first step. Anyway, I have been trying to reflect a little, and face those ugly things that still need to change. By the way, part of “taking care of my crap” means that I have been working at creating healthier relationships. A big part of that is that Dana and I see a counselor from time to time. We’re almost at the 20 year mark!! …but I want the rest of our life together to be better than the first half!! …and for some reason, I listen to my wife when I’m on a counselors couch – and I ignore her when I’m on my own couch. 🙂 I have also been trying to be more social. I’m working at keeping up with friends, and staying active in their lives. …for an introvert and former minister, that takes work. I’ve been spending more time with my kids and family this summer too, and really working at being an active participant in their lives too.
  • I have a great new job. It really has surprised me how much of my stress was tied to financial pressures and my lack of work. Having a new job has alleviated all of that, and it. is. wonderful. I feel as if this huge weight has been lifted off our whole family. Not only that, but I am enjoying what I do, and my office is close enough to home that I can go home and eat lunch at the house every day. I also love the people I’m working with. …my new job is a huge gift from God, and I am very grateful!
  • I’m in a great workout routine. For the past few years, even though I’ve done triathlons, my training has been very sporadic. For the past few weeks though, I’ve been hitting the gym 2-3 times a week before daybreak to run and swim. Then a few evenings a week, I have also been riding. I’ve been doing a lot of that with my family too – which is HUGE! Anyway, I still have a long way to go, but I’m targeting the TriRock Austin race on labor day to set a new PR and to see if I’ve really improved.
  • I’m preaching again… My spiritual life/health is really tied to preaching. I know that it shouldn’t be, but it is. I have spent almost 20 years knowing that if I don’t open God’s Word, then Sunday’s message is going to be really short …and really bad. It’s very true that I hear God in a lot of voices and places. I can hear him when I run, or drive to work typically louder than when I am “studying.” I’ve always been that way, but I have also learned over the years that I benefit (the most) from the experience of communicating what God is teaching me. What I teach helps to crystallize the things I am learning. For the last few months, I’ve been substituting for vacationing pastors and/or serving as an interim preacher while a church looks for their new pastor. …and now that I am gainfully employed, I look forward to continuing to preach – just for the fun of it.

Your soul is the combination of all of your parts. It’s the make up of your whole being. It’s who you are. It’s what makes you, you.

So… Who can you trust to be a “good mechanic” in your life – to plug you up to a diagnostic machine so you can see those areas that might be a little out of tune?

**I wish you and your soul happy healing.**

 





Changes so easy a Caveman could do it!

27 06 2012

A little over three weeks ago I made the switch to the Paleo Diet – or the Paleoithic Diet – or the Caveman Diet 🙂

I was weighing in above 200 lbs – which for me – is when I begin to freak out.

It’s funny. I have a hard time getting below 185 lbs, but have no problem gaining well into the 200’s! And at 200 lbs  (or above) its hard to run, my clothes don’t fit like I want them to, and I really need to start thinking about buying larger pants. On the plus side, however, I could start racing triathlons as a “clydesdale” athlete! …but I’m not sure I could finish consistantly that heavy…

I’ve tried a bunch of things to lose weight over the years. I’ve tried shakes, tried going vegan, tried Atkins and South Beach, tried drinking everything, and tried various stupid pills.

…fyi – South Beach worked for me. In fact, many years ago I used SB to lose about 30 lbs.

This time I wanted to try something that was working for a couple of friends of mine: Barrett and Shawn.

  • Barrett is a freakin’ incredibly triathlete friend. He consistently wins or places in Sprint distance races for his age group (50-54). To prepare for this tri-season, he switched to Paleo and lost 12 lbs – and got super lean in the process.
  • Shawn has lost over 70 lbs doing the basic paleo diet. He comes at it for different reasons though – mainly that his body is allergic to wheat.

This morning I stepped on the scales at 190!

Ten pounds gone feels good! …but even better is that I actually feel good about the stuff I am eating.

  • It’s awesome to buy/cook/eat a buch of fresh vegetables.
  • It’s cool that I have 6 or 7 kinds of fruits in my fridge right now!
  • And who doesn’t like to use the grill? …lean meats and fish are just plain yummy.

The diet is based on the idea that most of our health/weight problems come as a result from us going from hunter-gatherers (cavemen) to farmers. When we started growing crops and making grains central to our diet, things started to change… If you want the science behind the diet you can read the book! …what you really want to know is what can you eat, anyway – right?

It’s really pretty simple. If a caveman would have eaten it – so can you!

Lean meats (the leaner the better – grass fed if possible) and fish

Vegetables …all the veggies you want. Just avoid starchy tubers (potatoes) and legumes – remember Green Beans are legumes.

Fruits – All fruit is permissable, but fruits also have a lot of sugar, so if you want to lose weight, just keep that in mind.

Nuts – Within reason, assuming they aren’t crazy salted or candied.

Three no’s – No Salt, No Milk, and No Grains. (Salt is pretty hard to avoid completely, so I just try to limit my salt intake.) I haven’t missed milk at all. I also haven’t missed grain …or breads, pastas, rice, etc.

I cheat some too. I will occasionally add some cream to my coffee, and every week or so I have to have some pizza.

The key for me really isn’t about what I am “not” getting to consume – but rather, its about all the great stuff I am eating now that I never used to consider a regular part of my diet.

This morning I had a hard boiled egg and a bowl of melon, pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries. For lunch I had leftovers from yesterday’s lunch – Terriaki chicken and veggies made in my wok. I also added some steamed veggies I had leftover from the day before that! For dinner, I’m going out tonight – but I’m pretty sure I’ll have some kind of grilled meat or fish and a side of veggies or two.

It’s pretty wild, but until this diet I had never actually eaten fresh broccoli. Now I steam it or wok it almost daily. I’d never cut up a pineapple. …and what I’m finding is that the stuff I make and buy fresh, tastes way better than any of the processed and frozen stuff we used to eat before.

So is it for you? …I don’t know. All I know is that so far it seems to be working for me – I’m eating good stuff – I feel great – and I’m losing weight 🙂





Spirituality for Dummies

31 03 2012

I know a lot of people who think you’re either Spiritual or you’re not.

Either you have an in with God or you don’t.

You’re either a saint (with a halo and wings) or your a sinner (with horns and red boots).

I have a bunch of friends that put me in the category of having a direct line to the big guy. They see me as a pastor, or a religious do-good kind of guy – so surely – spirituality for me is easy. They can’t envision that I struggle …with sin, or life, or anything probably.

For them being a Spiritual Person = No Problems. No Heartache. No Sin.

Nothing is further from the truth…

In fact, if you look at almost any biblical hero, you’ll find their flaws and insecurities really quickly.

Look at David. King David. The same guy that God chose and anointed as a boy. The kid who killed Goliath. The musician and poet and psalmist. The king. The one who God said “He’s a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22) …he also cheated on his spouse and had the husband of his affair partner killed. Real winner, huh?

The truth is that we all struggle at times spiritually. All of us do. I do. You do. Voo-doo.

Lately for me, I’ve been struggling.

I find myself in a season of calm. The kind of calm that feels like a deadness in my soul. To complicate matters, I can’t really tell if its the calm after the storm, or the calm before the one that’s coming. Is God preparing me for even greater tragedy ahead, or is he just trying to get my full attention in this moment on my journey?

Some people have alluded to it as a desert experience …others think its what David is talking about in Psalm 23 when he talks about the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

I think Jesus lived with this tension: “But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 NLT) …ask yourself this, “Why would Jesus need to pray??”

I believe Paul knew this all too well:

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:21-24 NLT)

The imagery I’ve latched on is more nautical.

I have this scene that is running around in my brain. It’s of a sailing vessel – a vessel dependent on wind – but there is no wind. The ship and her crew grow restless …waiting for the wind.

That’s how I feel.

It’s not that I doubt God or deny his presence. Its not that I don’t know what he can do.

Its just that right now, at this moment, my sails are slack.

Last night, I was having a conversation with a friend and it left me in angst. I realized that the situation we were discussing was hopeless. There is no answer. There is no easy, concise solution. I also saw pretty clearly that much of the pain and despair is my doing. The finger always points back to me. …and there’s really nothing I can do to fix it.

At one point, my friend went to the restroom, and I was left to my thoughts.

…and as I silently cried out to God for an answer, as I begged God for mercy and pleaded to be rescued, it was as if all the wind in my sails just vanished.

Everything went slack.

And so – I wait. …while the crew and her Captain get restless.

The irony is this: I NEED times like these.

I sometimes forget that without his power – his wind – I would go nowhere. Sometimes I get so far ahead of him, that I sail in all kinds of crazy directions. Sometimes I slip into this idea that its my effort that gets me somewhere in life, and I withdraw from living by faith and dependence. If I’m honest, I live too much by the power of Charles than the power of God’s Spirit.

So maybe there is beauty in these calm waters – I wait …for Him.

Now if I can just figure out how to be less grumpy about it.





Tracking it

19 03 2012

I posted this Friday… It basically sums up that I’ve decided to focus on losing some weight. It’s time – maybe even beyond time!

I realize that some of the more “regular” readers of my blog could really care less about my weight. So to you, I apologize!

I’m going to spend some time over the next month chronicling my journey. …mainly for me. My writing is always mainly for me (it certainly isn’t for profit!) – but I’m also hoping putting my journey out there will give me some accountability, help to keep me on track, and maybe even provide some inspiration and information to others on the same journey.

One of the things I have always been taught about effective weight loss is that to be successful you really need to find a way to track your weight loss journey.

    Tracking it:

Allows you to Visualize Progress
Build Momentum
Adds Accountability to your efforts

Tracking it is really pretty simple – all you need is a scale.

But, like most boys, I love my toys…

I am using an app on my Ipad called MyNetDiary

20120319-105653.jpg

It has a couple features that I like:

1) It allows me to track what I eat and the interface for that is pretty simple. (Screen Shot Above)

2) I can create a “plan” and enter how much I want to lose, how long I want it to take, and enter a projected daily caloric intake, etc.

3) Once my plan is created it charts my progress based not only on weight loss, but on daily caloric goals. …it gives me tangible feedback daily, which is really pretty fascinating.

4) The visual graph for weight loss is pretty cool. It compares it to the projection for your specific plan and shows you whether you are ahead, or behind, schedule.

…anyway…

That’s what I am using to track my progress.

And if you really care – I officially started my 30 day plan today.

…never try to start anything related to weight loss over a weekend – especially when its the last weekend of Spring Break. 🙂





Weighty Issues

16 03 2012

I hit rock bottom this week weight-wise.

Several times I went for rides with my son, only to discover that all my cycling clothes have shrunk!

So before my tri-friends and cycling buddies have an intervention…

Hi, my name is Charles, and I have gained way too much weight. I know I hide it well. In fact, if you see me all dressed up, I really don’t look that bad. The truth is though that I hate the way I look, and I am extremely self-conscious. …and I am pretty sure that the tri-top I bought last season doesn’t fit me right now. I stepped on the scales this morning at 201. It’s time for a change. I’m ready to do something about it.

I feel a lot like the Apostle Paul

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (Romans 7:19 NLT)

I know what to do… And I know what not to do…

I’m towing the line for a triathlon in Kemah at the end of April. I want to be able to wear my tri top.

So, I am going to try to add the two things I’ve been lacking into the mix: Consistency and Will-power.

I am going to try for 30 days to: (March 17-April 17)

1) Exercise daily. …I need to be training anyway. No excuses. Do something every day.

2) Eat less and healthier. …it’s really pretty simple. I need to be very specific and intentional about what goes in my mouth.

And in 30 days, along with a 30 day chip 🙂 maybe I will have lost some pounds and feel better about my weight.