Meet Challenges Together, Celebrate With Bacon

bacon

I looked across the kitchen and thought, “I’m not sure we’re going to pull this off.”

While on our annual staff retreat, the worship ministry team had the responsibility for cooking breakfast for the rest of staff. We had grandiose plans of preparing 72 eggs, 120 pancakes, 72 biscuits, a variety of fresh fruit, assorted yogurts, prepackaged granola bars, milk, juice, coffee, and (cue the music) 10 lbs of bacon.

We were prepared to knock it out quickly with the retreat center’s oven, stove top, microwaves, and electric griddles. Sounds reasonable, right?

However, when we arrived, there was no oven, there was no stove top, and the microwaves were broken. Our alternative equipment was a Crock Pot, two older electric griddles, and two coffee pots.

So, an hour before breakfast, we started cooking, using every outlet we could find, which worked well for about five minutes, when we threw a breaker.

Quickly, we rearranged the kitchen, borrowed a few cooking items, started cooking bacon in the dining hall, moved the coffee to the meeting room, found the breaker room, reset the breaker, and continued cooking.

We spent the next hour working as a team, taking care of issues as we found them and resetting the breaker from time to time. Right on time, our delicious meal was presented to the rest of the staff. As they enjoyed their meal, I felt a surge of satisfaction and munched a piece of bacon to celebrate.

At the end of the retreat, when we were asked to share our best memory from the retreat, I said that mine was making breakfast with our team. We’re used to overcoming the odds (and the clock) in worship services, but this was a real team building exercise for us, with better results than a professional ropes course.

Working as a team through difficult situations will either tear you apart or bring you closer together. Why not use them (or even create them) to bring you closer together.

Solomon, the wise son of King David, once wrote, Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

My advice to all of us is this:

  • Do hard things together.
  • Create challenges.
  • Work together.
  • Be victorious.
  • Celebrate with bacon

8 Simple Tips For Better Writing

write

No matter what your vocation, use these simple tips to improve your writing.

  1. Lead with your main idea – Let people know your subject upfront. If you don’t, they’ll stop reading.
  2. Good writing is concise. It can certainly be creative, but it should be free of superfluous adjectives and unnecessary details. More is not always better. Sometimes it’s just more and often it’s less.
  3. Avoid using “that” as often as possible. Even though it is sometimes useful when adding some type of description, the sentence can most often become more powerful by moving the description to before the noun.
  4. Condense what you’ve written, then do it again. This will help your writing be tighter and more interesting.
  5. Use a thesaurus to help you find the perfect word. Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
  6. Overused clichés are as common as dirt. Good writers avoid them like the plague.
  7. Read more and your writing will naturally improve.
  8. Use Spell Check and Grammar Check. It’s free and instantly available. Duh.

Tired Of My Own Excuses

ExcusesI belong to a fitness club. It’s right next to my office. When I say “right next” I don’t mean “right next door,” I mean it’s in the same building as my office. When I enter the offices, I have to walk right past their front door. And yet, for most of this past year, I still couldn’t get there. I was always too busy, my schedule wouldn’t allow it, or some other excuse always came to mind.

Here are some of my favorite excuses I’ve made:

  1. Surely walking to the convenience store (past the door to the gym) for a Coke is exercise enough.
  2. It takes too long to get there. (Did I mention it’s right next to my office?)
  3. Exercise is boring. (Yes, I’d rather not spend 30 minutes on an elliptical machine or treadmill with a television or a book right in front of me)
  4. I just don’t want to move today.
  5. I only have an hour lunch. There’s no way I could bring my lunch and still have time to work out (I don’t even have to go outside.)

More than likely, my excuses are (and I quote Jim Gaffigan), “Today I can’t exercise because I don’t wanna and tomorrow I’m not going to be interested.”

I’ve had enough of my own sorry excuses. I’m tired of waiting for motivation. I’m tired of carrying around more weight than necessary.

I’m pretty imaginative and I’m sure I could continue creating excuses, but I’m not going to do that anymore.

I’m working out today.

IMG_0436

Results of My Physical

snapping glove

I had a physical last week. That evening I bought a new scale.

However, I realized that:

  • It’s time for me to regularly evaluate issues with my body.
  • It’s time for me to get back in the groove of exercising regularly and consistently.
  • It’s time for me to make those important doctor’s appointments to help me live a more healthy lifestyle.

What’s my biggest issue?

In the words of comedian Jim Gaffigan, “These aren’t skinny jeans, I’m just fat.”

In other words, I’m overweight, obese, stout, full-figured, corpulent, pudgy, flabby, rotund, paunchy, fleshy, and well upholstered. In layman’s terms, I’m fat. I may not be grossly overweight, but I’m still fat, like 8 and 10 other adults in the Greater New Orleans area.

Overweight

But, it’s time to put a stop to it.

This past week, I kept reading and kept being convicted by

1 Corinthians 6:19-20. In it, Paul writes,

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?

Therefore honor God with your body.”

That means I’m going to honor God with how I take care of this body that He gave me. It means I’m going to honor Him with what I eat, what I drink, how I exercise, how I rest, and how I visit health care professionals.
Who’s with me?

Keep Moving Forward

climbing

The things people say often punch you in gut when they’re said and come back to haunt your mind when you least expect it, most often in the middle of the night.

When this happens, keep moving forward.

People will never understand your total perspective or never fully share your motivation. Who cares? Keep moving forward.

Don’t let stupid comments by annoying people keep you from doing what you know you’re supposed to be doing. They may come from an enemy, a friend, boss, spouse, neighbor, social media acquaintance, best friend, or your mama. It doesn’t matter. Keep moving forward.

When you are criticized, it means you are doing something. You are the one on stage, behind the pulpit, on the treadmill, on the field, or in the studio. You are the one with the ball, the microphone, the canvas, the instrument, or the computer.

frustrated

Steven Pressfield once wrote, It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.

Keep moving forward.

When you don’t want to get up in the morning, get up and keep moving forward.

When you want to give up, don’t quit. Keep moving forward.

When you’re tired and sore and beaten and bruised. Keep moving forward.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,

If you can’t fly, then run.

If you can’t run, then walk,

If you can’t walk, then crawl,

But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.

Keep Moving Forward
You control what you do. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep moving forward.

The more I drink, the more I drink…

blake-shelton-300

There’s a Blake Shelton country song with the line: The more I drink, the more I drink. I know Blake is singing about alcoholic beverages and that’s never really been a problem for me. But my problem comes in a much tamer form of poison, soda, or more specifically Coca-Cola.

I’ve officially been “off” of soda for 3 days.

I wish I could say that it’s been easy to walk away from them, because that would be a terrible, bald-faced lie.

The truth is, I think about drinking a Coke at least 3 or 4 times an hour, especially if I’m out and about, stopping to get gas or at a fast food joint.

No-Coffee

Someone told me the other day that I should just start drinking coffee and I would have no problem at all. The problem with me doing that is that switching to coffee would mean that I would have to drink it. Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell of coffee in the morning, but once I put it to my mouth, I want to gag. Diet soda, even Coke Zero repulses me as well. I like tea, but only Texas/Arkansas sweet tea, which is way too much sugar for me.

The only alternative I could see was to drop caffeine altogether, so that’s what I did.

The headaches and shaking are gone, but it still feels like something’s missing. I suppose the next few days will tell.

We shall see.

IMG_0436

I Blew It!

IMG_0436

A week ago, I shared my plan with the world to wean myself off of Coca-Cola. Some of you agreed to help keep me accountable. Others of you encouraged me online or in person. Here’s my Coke consumption status update:

I BLEW IT!!!!!

My plan looked something like this:

Wednesday: 32 oz

Thursday: 28 oz

Friday: 24 oz

Saturday: 20 oz

Sunday: 16 oz

Monday: 12 oz

Tuesday: 10 oz

Wednesday: 8 oz

Thursday: 0 oz.

My actual consumption looked more like this:

Wednesday: 32 oz

Thursday: 28 oz

Friday: 978 oz

Saturday: 24 oz

Sunday: 20 oz

Monday: 20 oz

Tuesday: 20 oz

Wednesday: 16 oz

Ok, so I went a bit overboard on Friday. (I actually just lost count. I didn’t actually drink 978 oz. This disclaimer is for the extremely literal readers)

I actually meant to cut down on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, except I spent those days in a hospital waiting room because of the surgery of a family member. Unfortunately, the hospital administration had made a deal with Satan to only sell Pepsi products. If I’m weaning myself off of Coke, a Pepsi is just not going to do. A Dr. Pepper might suffice if I’m in extreme pain, but Pepsi, ugh. So, I drove down the street to a convenience store that only sold 20 oz. Coke products.

But, now, as you can see, I’m back on track. I have managed to cut my Coca-Cola consumption in half.

cold

Here’s my revised plan for the remainder of the week:

Wednesday: 16 oz

Thursday: 12 oz

Friday: 10 oz

Saturday: 8 oz

Sunday: 0 oz

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.  Please keep the communication flowing.  It’s helping me so much.

 

My Worst Weakness

IMG_0436

Since I restarted my blog a couple of weeks ago, people, especially those who know me well, have asked me one gut wrenching question:

“If you’re trying to lose weight again, why are you still drinking Coke?”

I understand (and somewhat appreciate) the concern. If I’m going to go to all the trouble to work out on the elliptical machine everyday (or almost everyday) for 45 to 55 minutes, why would I possibly kill much of the results by consuming so many empty calories, not to mention the impact of the carbonation on my body?

Here are my excuses, er, responses for my continued Coke consumption:

  1. I look so much better in photos with a Coke bottle in my hand.
  2. Drinking soda gives the fat around my midsection a sporting chance.
  3. I can’t afford water.
  4. None of your business.

Honestly, I know my next step in losing 45 at 45 is to stop drinking soft drinks altogether. So, over the next several days, I’ll be slowly weaning myself from my favorite beverage using the following amounts:

 

Today: 36 oz.

Wednesday: 32 oz.

Thursday: 28 oz.

Friday: 24 oz.

Saturday: 20 oz.

Sunday: 16 oz.

Monday: 12 oz.

Tuesday: 10 oz.

Wednesday: 8 oz.

Thursday: 0 oz!!!!!!

I invite you all to keep me accountable.

How I’m Learning Spanish For Free

timthumb

Hola, mis amigos!

My third goal for my 45th year is to learn Spanish. After speaking to some of you, I believe it is time to clarify this goal.

I’ve discovered a free app called Duolingo, which assists individuals in learning other languages through a steady, systematic process. Several months ago, I spent about a month working through the Duolingo App and made it up to level four.

What I plan to do this year is start over at level one and work all the way through level 25. I started over yesterday and just this evening progressed to level two. I may do another level over the next couple of days since I’ve already been at this level once before, however, my plan is to simply learn at a slow and steady pace.

If you would like to join me in learning Spanish, check out Duolingo in your smart phone App store or online at www.duolingo.com.

Related Posts:

Hello 45!

Lose 45 at 45

Sit Still! No Talking

Sit Still! No Talking!

 

 

 

 

 

school-bus

It was 1980. My family moved to the country. I thought I was going to love it, but I didn’t. In fact, it was an incredibly hard transition for me. I was in 6th grade, and for the first time in my life, I began to get in trouble on the school bus. Before long, I was assigned a seat and ordered not to speak to anyone.

For months, I rode the bus in silence, avoiding those around me by reading novels from the school and public library. Somehow, during those long bus rides, those stories became my companions. Often, I would continue reading during lunch, study hall and even at home. Before long, I forgot about my punishment and looked forward to my bus rides because it afforded me the opportunity to read.

I want to write a middle grade novel. Hopefully, the stories I include will help some young person out there develop a life long love of reading.