The Return of Kale

So, after reading my gripe about kale a couple of days ago, my wife made a kale salad for us for dinner. Maybe I’ve been too hard on kale. I did learn from a friend that if you pour just a little bit of olive oil into a skillet filled with kale, then heat it on low for five minutes, it makes it easier to scrape the kale into the trash.

And yet, I didn’t dare do that with my wife’s kale salad. She set it before me and I cried just a little. Somewhere in my head I heard Prince singing, “This is what it sounds like when doves cry…” However, I must admit, it wasn’t that bad. I especially enjoyed the pieces of grilled chicken that had nothing to do with the salad. 

So why do people make such a big deal about kale? I did some research and learned that it contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and K, bitterness, animosity, and wrath. The antioxidants help the body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes and environmental pressures (like eating kale in the first place).

I enjoyed the kale so much that two hours later, I drove my wife and I to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae. But, as usual, they were out of ice cream, as was the second and third McDonald’s we visited. 

It was then that my wife suggested we just go home. But I’m not a quitter, especially when it comes to ice cream. So, I drove us to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Would you believe they were out of ice cream as well. I did get the hook up at the second Wendy’s. I was halfway through it when I realized I had spent the last hour driving to five different fast food restaurants looking for a small cup of frozen refreshment.

I have so very far to go (and I can’t afford the gas).

By the way, thanks for the advice and the encouragement. Keep it coming.

*image courtesy of Laura Johnston and Unsplash

Have You Fallen Recently?

The older I get, the more medical professionals ask me if I’ve had any recent falls.

Recent.

It’s like they’re thinking, “This guy is so out of shape that he’s bound to have fallen in the past few days. He couldn’t possibly balance all of that bulge.” 

I understand it’s all routine procedure and they aren’t personally attacking me (maybe) but the whole experience does show me that I need to be more serious about my own health and fitness. 

I’m thrilled about this and I plan to have a good attitude about it…

Yeah, right, that’s it.

Fact is, I don’t like watching my weight, I’m not a fan of exercise, I despise consistent healthy eating practices. And might I just add that kale is a tool of Satan used to destroy the happiness of men (and reasonable women) everywhere. 

What do I like to eat? I’m glad you asked. I like eating unhealthy foods, better known as “anything that tastes good.” I especially like carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. I’m a big fan of red meat and I’m a consistent consumer of trans fat. I’m voting for gluten in the next presidential election.*

Well, you get the picture. I need help. I need accountability.

A lot of men my age do. 

Now, I have lost about 20 lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ll tell you the secret. If you want to lose weight, live with my wife during a world wide pandemic where she sees everything you eat for months… and walk a lot.

Seriously, now that things are opening back up, I don’t want to find all the weight that I’ve lost. So I’m starting on a new journey to be healthy. A few years ago, I posted a daily blog where I listed out everything I ate for the whole world to see. As time went by, I also listed my water consumption and exercise log. The accountability was amazing and the feedback was helpful. I lost 48 lbs during the process.

I’m not planning on doing that again, but I am interested in writing about my fitness journey. It seems to keep me committed. 

So I welcome your suggestions, especially if you’re starting to receive AARP applications in the mail or if you grew up listening to 80’s music on cassettes. Post your comments below, message me privately, text or email me. Let me know what helps you stay healthy. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I’m not really voting for Gluten. It’s not even registered as a candidate.

*Photo courtesy of Online Marketing and Unsplash

What If This Is It?

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Everywhere you look, people are searching for what’s next.

What’s the next career for them where people will pay and respect them like they deserve? Where’s the next place for them to live that will suit them perfectly? Who might they meet next who will become their perfect mate for life? What next step might they take personally that will equal God’s will for them in the future?  What person, place, or career might be next for them and be the ultimate thing that will finally give them the fulfillment they are looking for?

People everywhere want to know what’s next. But what if it doesn’t work that way.

What if what’s next is right in front of you? What if the next step for you is not found in searching the world to see what it might hold for you? What if the secret for your success and contentment is found in what you can bring to the world right where you are?

What if this is it?

What if the perfect job for you right now is the one you currently have? What if the home you’re living in is the one that can be perfect for you? What if you’re already serving the organization that will propel you to greater heights of success? What if you’re currently married to the person who is right for you now and will still be right for you in 50 years? What if God’s will for you is to be right where you are?

Think about it. If you knew for sure that where you are right now is exactly where you should be and is the catalyst that will launch you to greater things in your relationships, career, happiness, satisfaction, heck, your whole life… If you knew this for sure, what would you do differently? How would you treat people? How would you invest in yourself and others around you? How would your habits and attitudes change?

What if this it – your shot, your chance, your destiny, your opportunity to do and be something in this world? Whether you believe it or not, acting as if this IS it will move you forward in all of these areas because it will change your actions, your behaviors, and your results.

It’s your move. It’s your turn. You’re up to bat. It’s your big break.

What are you going to do about it?

*photo courtesy of Eric Parks and Unsplash

Feel Like Giving Up?

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Do you ever feel like giving up?

If so, I have three messages for you.

First, you’re not alone.

People all over the world are working their way through this crisis. They play different roles and perform different services. Nevertheless, they are still a part of this battle, just like you.

Second, you can’t quit.

Things are strange right now, it’s true. But you must keep going. We need you. We need your strength. We need the difference you make. If you can’t keep going for you, do it for us.

Third, ask the Lord for help.

It may have been years since you prayed. That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that He is right there, waiting for you to initiate the conversation. He’s a great listener. Why not give it a try?

God bless you.

 

*photo courtesy of Steve Johnson and Unsplash

 

With the Lord’s Help, She Did It

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Carol was in the top ten of her high school graduating class, but some life setbacks prevented her from enrolling in college. Four years later, she took a job cleaning restrooms at the local hospital. She never thought of herself in that line of work, but she needed the money. She prayed, then looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.” 

Carol learned her job quickly and worked hard. Her supervisor noticed Carol’s strong work ethic and the care she showed patients as she entered their rooms. She encouraged Carol to complete the training to become a Nurse’s Assistant. Carol had never thought of herself in that line of work, but helping patients sounded good to her. She prayed, looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.”

Within a year, Carol had completed the training, and began working directly with nurses and patients. She learned her job quickly and worked hard. After two years on the job, Carol’s supervisor called her into her office. 

“Am I in trouble?” asked Carol.

“Not at all,” replied her supervisor. “In fact, I’ve noticed your strong work ethic. I’ve seen your interaction with the patients and staff as you clean. You treat everyone with respect. I think you would make an excellent LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). You can keep your job here while in school and when you’re finished, I would love to hire you.”

Once again, Carol gave her supervisor’s suggestion consideration and prayer. She looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.”

It wasn’t easy to balance work, family, and school, but Carol finished her LPN training in two and a half years. She learned her job quickly, and worked hard. She took advantage of every training and continuing education opportunity. It paid off. In a couple of years, Carol’s supervisor once again called Carol into her office.

You can probably guess what happened. Carol was encouraged once again by her supervisor to learn and grow. Once again she prayed, looked in the mirror, and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows, maybe I can make a difference.” Four years later, Carol graduated once again as an RN (Registered Nurse). 

A few years later, with more encouragement from her superiors, more prayer, and more time in front of the mirror, Carol realized she wasn’t finished growing. She went on to earn a PhD in Nursing. She is now the Chair of Nursing Department in her alma mater. She is often asked to speak to nursing students at pinning and graduation ceremonies. She tells the students to learn their job quickly and work hard. She encourages them to take advantage of every training and continuing education opportunity that comes their way. She tells them to pray about every decision, then look themselves in the mirror and say, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows, maybe I can make a difference.”

*Photo Courtesy of Taylor Smith of Unsplash

Something I Hate

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I hate being sick. 

I hate doctor’s visits, uncontrollable coughing, sickness fatigue, the inability to concentrate, and forced rest. But more than any of those, I hate the feeling that everything is not right with my body. It makes me feel incomplete, somehow lacking, and worthless.

I hate it when I cough and someone asks me if I have the Coronavirus. It’s not funny.

I really hate it when the sickness lingers. That’s when I get anxious and wonder to myself, “Maybe I’m never going to get better.”

This happened to me years ago when I was serving as a missionary in Central Asia. I’d lost my voice and felt like I would never get better. I began to envision my life without the ability to speak. I felt alone, lost, and scared. 

Then the Lord thrust the following scripture right in my face. I read it in the Bible, I heard it as a song, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes I find that scripture comforting. However, both then and now, I find it convicting. How is it that I can dedicate my life to God’s will, serve Him with all that I am, but then forget Him when sickness strikes and worry beds down in my house? How can I work to share the love of Jesus with people and help people grow in Him and then forget Him when I am in need? Do you ever have that problem? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

So, join me as I remember Him:

He is Almighty.

He is our Creator.

He is Beautiful.

He is our Savior.

He is Eternal.

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He is our Peace.

He is Good.

He is our Healer.

He is Holy.

He is Love. 

He Knows all things.

He is Faithful. 

He is Kind. 

He is Lord. 

I’ve been reminded, once again, that me being sick doesn’t change His identity or His characteristics. He is God no matter what happens to me. I don’t have to worry. I can go to Him and ask for His help. But first, I must repent.

Father, forgive me. I’ve forgotten Your goodness in the midst of serving You. I’ve misplaced Your love and mercy while focusing on my own need. I’ve forgotten Your grace. Forgive me for worrying and not coming straight to You. You are my God, my Healer, My Rock, and I will ever praise You. Amen.

*photo courtesy of Ben White of Unsplash.com

A Question We All Must Answer

Charles Plumb, young

Charles Plumb grew up on a farm outside a small town in Kansas. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a pilot. His dream became a reality in the United States Navy. Charles graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland in 1964. In November 1965, Plumb earned his Navy Wings, becoming a Naval Aviator. In a move that would make Tom Cruise jealous, Plumb then reported to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, where he made his mark helping to develop the Navy Fighter Weapons School, more commonly referred to as “TOP GUN.”

Charles Plumb and others

Captain Charles Plumb was then sent to serve in Vietnam on the Aircraft Carrier Kitty Hawk. He had completed 74 successful combat missions and was shot down on mission #75. Charles ejected from his plane and parachuted into enemy hands, where he was captured and tortured before spending six years in a Vietnamese prison.

Years later, while dining with his wife in a Kansas City restaurant, a man approached his table and said, “You’re Captain Plumb!”

“Yes, Sir,” Charles replied.

The man energetically continued. “You flew 74 successful missions over Vietnam from the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier.”

“That’s correct. I did.”

“You were shot down over North Vietnam and spent six years as a Prisoner of War. 

Charles Plumb scratched his head and asked, “How in the world did you know all of that?” 

The man looked smiled and said, “Because I packed your parachute.” 

Captain Plumb, then a professional speaker, found himself speechless.

His parachute packer reached out, grabbed his hand, and shook it vigorously before saying, “I guess it worked!” 

Plumb laughed and replied, “Indeed it did, my friend, and I’ve given thanks in my prayers a million times for your nimble fingers. If the chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Captain Plumb looked at this man who had served him so well and wondered how many times he might have seen and completely ignored him because he was a fighter pilot and the stranger was just a sailor. He smiled at his parachute packer and asked, “What about you? Do you keep track of all of the parachutes you’ve packed? Do you know how many lives you’ve saved because of the excellence of your work?” 

The man smiled and replied, “No, I don’t keep track. It’s enough for me to know that I’ve served.”

Now, several years later, Captain Plumb inspires thousands of military and non-military personnel alike by asking one simple question: Who’s packing your parachute?

In our lives, be it personal or work related, we must realize that we are not alone in our endeavors. Others are always there, and have always been there, working faithfully to ensure our success.

It’s time we give them the thanks and the credit they deserve.

Charles-Plumb

To hear Captain Plumb’s story in his own words, click here.

What If This Is It?

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Everywhere you look, people are searching for what’s next. 

What’s the next career for them where people will pay and respect them like they deserve? Where’s the next place for them to live that will suit them perfectly? Who might they meet next who will become their perfect mate for life? What next step might they take personally that will equal God’s will for them in the future?  What person, place, or career might be next for them and be the ultimate thing that will finally give them the fulfillment they are looking for?

People everywhere want to know what’s next. But what if it doesn’t work that way. 

What if what’s next is right in front of you? What if the next step for you is not found in searching the world to see what it might hold for you? What if the secret for your success and contentment is found in what you can bring to the world right where you are? 

What if this is it? 

What if the perfect job for you right now is the one you currently have? What if the home you’re living in is the one that can be perfect for you? What if you’re already serving the organization that will propel you to greater heights of success? What if you’re currently married to the person who is right for you now and will still be right for you in 50 years? What if God’s will for you is to be right where you are?

Think about it. If you knew for sure that where you are right now is exactly where you should be and is the catalyst that will launch you to greater things in your relationships, career, happiness, satisfaction, heck, your whole life… If you knew this for sure, what would you do differently? How would you treat people? How would you invest in yourself and others around you? How would your habits and attitudes change?

What if this it – your shot, your chance, your destiny, your opportunity to do and be something in this world? Whether you believe it or not, acting as if this IS it will move you forward in all of these areas because it will change your actions, your behaviors, and your results.

It’s your move. It’s your turn. You’re up to bat. It’s your big break. 

What are you going to do about it?

Miscast in a Bad Play

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Ever feel like you’re playing a part you weren’t meant to play. I know I have. I must admit I’ve been confused at times when I’ve read Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

I know the Lord’s plans are good. I believe they are for my good. I have sung that His promises are “yes and amen,” but I think, like many others, I confuse them with other plans. The plans others have for us.

Think about it.

Our parents have plans for us.

Our teachers and professors have plans for us.

Our bosses have plans for us, often to give them a hope and a future.

Credit card companies and car dealerships have plans for us as well.

McDonald’s wants us to supersize. Burger King wants us to King Size.

But have you seen the Burger King in the last several years? He’s creepy.

Do you think he really wants us to have it our way?

But the Lord does know the plans He has for us. They are good. They are for our good and for the good of His kingdom. But I often confuse it with what I do. Solomon felt the same way in Ecclesiastes 2.

I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all of my hard work in this world… Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This too, is meaningless, a great tragedy. So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.

In the world of Shakespeare, MacBeth felt this same way as he spoke to Danforth in Act 5 Scene 5. Upon hearing that his wife had died, MacBeth expounds on his own surprise at his indifference to her departing. He refers to death as if it might be the dreadful ending of a very bad play in which he is forced to act out a part of which he was never meant to be cast. 

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,          To the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools, the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow. A poor player, who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Sometimes I’ve felt like MacBeth. Sometimes I’ve felt like Solomon. I learn and work and try and work some more and then do it again over and over before I stop and belt out “Who am I and what am I doing? Why am I playing a part I was never meant to play?”

I’ve met some people who even wish their play was over so they could rid themselves of their role.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Lord really does have the perfect role for you.

It may be hard. In fact, it will be. Everything worth doing is hard in one way or another.

But in Him, there is fulfillment.

Seek the Lord. Learn His will for your life. Don’t play a role you were never meant to play. Don’t end up playing the lead role in a very bad and terribly long play designed to end tragically.

Henry David Thoreau is credited with saying, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, and die with their song still inside them.”

Don’t let that happen to you.

Sing your song.

Let your music out.

Live out the plans God has for you.

And never, never, never quit.

 

*Special thanks to Alberto Bigoni and Unsplash for the picture above.

 

You’re Never Too Old To Try Something New

Guadelupe Palacios
Guadelupe Palacios was born in a small Mexican village in the state of Chiapas. She grew up without the opportunity to go to school, so she worked at home in the kitchen and garden and then later in the fields. As a young woman, she married and raised six children. For money, she sold chickens, learning math along the way. Years later, after her children were grown and her husband had passed away, she decided it was finally time for her to learn to read and write, so Guadelupe enrolled in a locally sponsored literacy program.
She was 92.
When asked why, after all these years, she wanted to learn to read and write, she replied, “Now I can write notes to my boyfriends.”
Guadelupe did learn to read and write, but she didn’t stop there. Within 4 years, she successfully completed the course work through Middle School. She still wasn’t satisfied.
She searched for a high school equivalency program but found none in Chiapas that were convenient and inexpensive, so in 2018, at the age of 96, she enrolled in the local high school in Tuxtla Gutierrez. She has a goal of graduating by the time she turns 100. She dreams of continuing her education and becoming a Kindergarten teacher.
You’re never too old to learn something new.
Guadelupe isn’t alone in her late bloomer efforts:
  • Susan Boyle was 47 when she entered Britain’s Got Talent.
  • Julia Child didn’t publish her first cookbook until she was 50.
  • Vera Wang didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40.
  • Colonel Sanders didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 62.
  • Stan Lee didn’t publish her first comic book until he was 39.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until she was 65.
  • Grandma Moses didn’t begin painting until she was past 75.
What about you? Do you have a desire (or need) to take a course, learn a new skill, travel to a new place, or study a new language? Have you ever thought, as I have, “That’s crazy. I’m too old to try that. Why would I even let a foolish notion like that enter my mind?”
I can almost guarantee that 99% of us reading this blog are not as old as Guadelupe Palacios.
You’re never too old to try something new.