Archive for June, 2005

The Lucky Loser

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

I love losing weight.

When I was young I was always too thin. I always felt small.

Now when I see my physique, it angers and saddens me. Oh I finally got bigger. Significantly bigger.

My wife (echotig) and I have started and abandoned several diets. Atkins and Southbeach just left me starving all the time. Now I have some new arrows in the quiver: my wife’s friends. They all joined weight watchers. So they go to their meetings and my lovely bride stays a bit more motivated. This works for me because she will not sabotage my diet anymore. If she cooks it, I can’t resist it.

So now, armed with my new artificial discipline, I am losing weight.

I am trying to put on the muscles at the same time. This is tough because I’m making due. I want a punching bag and some kettlebells. But, we are currently broke so I am making due with my shadow and a 30lb dumbbell. As fat as I am, my shadow resembles a punching bag.

My love handles have been shrinking. Old pants fit again. My chest, arms and abs are tightening up. I’m loving life.

Next target: get rid of the gut. My goals are a 32 inch waist, enormous shoulders, and the ability to do the splits again. There is also a large navy seal that has been kicking my but at grappling. I would really like to give him a good whipping at least once.

Finally, I want my wife to look at me the way she looks at Matthew McConaughey. I know she loves me but it’s been a while since she was impressed with my belly. That is impressed in a good way.

So, wish me luck. Lucky loser. I think I like that.

the phoenix

Monday, June 13th, 2005

I just had a mixed emotional experience at church.

I have been away from my church for a couple of months now. The church is in real trouble. When I started attending this church, it was ten times its current size. I was so impressed by the youth and friendliness of members. Now the mean age is probably 50ish compared to 25 when I started. I did not like the preacher but that did not matter because the members were great. Many families are gone, including many of my friends, and there is not much left.

I returned today to see that many of my friends are somewhere else this morning. I pondered being where they are. But, that feeling was quickly replaced by a feeling of excitement and purpose. All of the voids suddenly looked like opportunities to me. It is like having a chance to start over from scratch only with more resources. The opportunity to actually do what we are commissioned to do excites me.

We made some evangelistic efforts in the past. We have had one big event and many small ones in my five years with this church. But, the effort to go into the world and meet people’s needs where they live has been relegated to one small group who teach English using the bible as text. That type of ministry is great for reaching recent immigrants but doesn’t fit all needs in my town. So now this church must get back to basics or die.

I see the troubles that we have experienced as purification by fire. Not so much purification of the members but a purification of purpose. See, we were good at using the platitudes but, we need some fire in our attitudes. I can’t think of a better motivator to do what is right than a threat to our very survival.

I was sure to be like my friends going somewhere else but now I see that there is a place for me and my family right where we started. Folks used to refer to my church as a sinking ship. I think a better metaphor is the phoenix. Rising from the ashes to become more than you once were, is sort of a biblical concept. I will enjoy our new beginning.

other peoples pain

Monday, June 6th, 2005

I have been told that the most intense pain one can endure comes from passing a kidney stone. But nobody writes about it. There are no psalms crying out to God about kidney stones. There are no Carly Simon or Hank Williams songs about stubbed toes.

The thing that folks write about is emotional pain. At most there are comparisons to physical pain. When a singer claims something cuts like a knife, he is typically whining about the end of a relationship. There are all kinds of somebody done somebody wrong songs.

So, I guess that physical healing does not require the spiritual attention that expressing pain provides. And conversely, that emotional healing is definitely aided by talking about it.

The reason this all comes to mind: June 3 post on

My beautiful bride goes through this pain each year. Some times it hurts more than others. What amazes me is: this takes precedence over other things that I believed to be a bigger deal. I am relegated to bystander status. I want to help but, I really can’t do much. The onus is hers and I can’t carry it for her. We can’t take away somebody else’s pain. Not when it is your wife, not when it is your children.

This is why we sing pain songs. This is why the psalms are all about pain. This is the reason there are so many blogs. We need to communicate pain. We are relieved by letting it out. We are comforted by those who empathize.

I have mentioned the psalms a few times here. The psalms are much more than a reminder that we are not alone in suffering. The psalms are a reminder to express ourselves to our creator. 150 terrific reminders that God wants to hear from us under any and all circumstances. If you are not religious, and you spend any of your suffering time reading the psalms, you will become a religious person. It works every time it’s tried.

The other thing about this sharing of pain: it works. I’m going to spend a little time with my wife now. And she isn’t even sad. In fact, she is happy. I guess joy does come in the morning.

The felt hat goes in the box.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

Today I put away my felt hat. The weather is quite warm so I have been wearing my straw hat for some time. But I have kept both on the hat rack until now. The practical reason that a hat man does this is the unpredictable weather we have in the spring. The other reason is all tied up in the symbolism.

Putting the hat back in the box is a sign of the passing time. So when you do it, you can’t help but think of the recent past. Today I will ponder all I have and haven’t achieved. Time is fleeting. The children grow quickly. I grow older. The seasons pass and the felt hat returns to the box.

So, the straw hat is on its own. No more doubling up and procrastinating. I don’t have time for fence sitting. Let’s get busy. I want to get things done. Thoreau said, “…men lead lives of quiet desperation….” He also said he wanted to live life deliberately and suck the marrow out of life and know that he had indeed lived. So I must once again step out and live life on purpose.

If you’re putting away a hat, God bless you and God bless your purpose.

Difficulty and Jalapenos

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005

Difficulty is today’s subject. Why difficulty? Because, difficulty is easy talk about.

Fate is notorious for spicing up life with difficulty. Have you led a life of ease? Even if you answered yes, I’d bet you could still name a few moments where you had to overcome or fail.

I know difficulty doesn’t seem like normal subject matter for a blog. You may even think that I am didactic and preachy. The fact of the matter is: I am not some self important nitwit with an invisible chip on my shoulder. Another fact is: I am actually happy despite the many difficulties I face. I am amazed how the happiest people I know have to deal with the most difficulty. That is why this is perfect subject matter for a blog.

I have a theory. I suppose that the reason the happiest people deal with the biggest problems is these people have learned to be happy by force. These folks make a choice to make the best out of any situation. Their difficulties actually contribute to their joy.

My name is not Pollyanna. I think that real optimism and joy have to be based on the truth. This truth is forged in overcoming the difficulties of your past and knowing that you can handle whatever the future brings.

Wait. There is more. Did you get through the difficulties of your past alone? Did you have help? Was it your spouse, your parents, a sibling, a friend, your children or God? Most of us can’t do everything ourselves. We need help. Some times I merely need to recognize that help.

One of my sons is autistic. His nickname is Tiger. It suits him well. Because of his condition, Tiger is often difficult. But, the reassurance that I need to carry on is right there in his face. Tiger is frequently frustrated by the fact that his thoughts are bound up by his inability to communicate. But as we figure out things, he lights up with joy. If he can be happy, so can I.

My grandfather has survived two wars the great depression and a plethora of health problems. He is one of the happiest people I know. I want to be like him. I am amazed when he asks me how I cope with my own problems. My troubles pale in comparison.

My own life is peppered with personal failure and ill will from others. Yet, I have to say it has been a wonderful ride this far.

Troubles are like hot peppers. They can make you cry and sweat but without them, life is just sort of bland.

I hope that your day is good. Enjoy that pepper.