Tuesday, December 14, 2010
With Christmas Eve only 10 days away I wanted to share a unique Christmas memory with my Spark friends. Thirty three years ago I worked with a Christian student ministry and church in Lawrence, Kansas and was privileged to be part of a group singing Christmas carols on the campus of the University of Kansas and all around the town of Lawrence. We were a diverse group with little to recommend us to the world, but we loved the Lord, and we loved each other, and oh, the glorious fellowship we had as we sang! The man who did our musical arrangements and directed the group was (and is) an exceptionally talented musician by the name of Dave Cook. He has re-mastered a recording we did in 1977 with a narration of the Christmas story interspersed with our singing...largely a cappella...and has posted it on Youtube. (I was quite skinny in those days, but with a powerful soprano voice...I had been a voice major in a previous life!) I am not singing any of the solos on these recordings, so this is not to tout my own talent, but I do think this program was amazingly well done for such a group of amateurs, and more importantly, it is a wonderful telling of the reason for the season.
The recording is posted in two parts and takes about 30 minutes over all to hear it completely. I've posted the two links below. If you listen, please leave a comment...both there and here to say what you think.
And Merry Christmas to each of you!
Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCo1-ekuOWU
Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AnAhXMl0fI
Friday, September 24, 2010
We made it to Aransas Pass, TX (about 25 minutes northeast, across the Bay from Corpus Christi) where we had rented, sight unseen, a 3 bedroom/2 bath town home. The crew to unload us had been arranged by a friend of the guy who did the beautiful job loading the original truck in K. C. (brother and cousin of the friend of the friend!...God bless them!) There were to have been 4 or 5 guys...only 2 could make it. So those two dear guys, Lisa and I all worked like dogs getting everything off the truck, trailer, and pick-up till about 1:30 a.m. I had a massive asthma attack and got sent to bed...literally crawling up the stairs.
I was awakened a short time later by Lisa's yelp...the main water supply line for the upstairs bath had exploded. Water was shooting everywhere...2" of it standing on the bath room floor! Lisa got the water valve turned off. We looked at each other and thought, "Where did all this water drain to?" Answer: The garage ceiling...sheet rock and fiberglass insulation...and half the Gulf of Mexico was now covering all the boxes we had just finished unloading off the truck. Water was flowing through the garage down the driveway, and out into streams in the street. I am not exagerating. We called maintenance. They stood and looked, shook their heads, and didn't have any answers other than repairing the pipe and waiting for the garage to dry out so that they could repair the wall and ceiling. I called my insurance company and went back to bed. I literally had no strength to do anything else other than leave it in God's hands and timing. So...my life now consists of moving, unloading, and inventorying damaged property for the insurance co. and for the Penske damage....(I've lost thousands of dollars worth of books from my professional library.)...getting new boxes to pack back up what can be saved but isn't immediately needed...trying to unpack and set up a new home, and refusing to completely lose my sanity over this. God is still good, and He is still in control...whether I like the way my life looks right now or not. And I've only lost a total of 4 lbs. in all this maelstrom! Now that is just not right!!!!! But then, I've had a couple of major neuro-muscular failures...MS like episodes, so I have to be very careful to pace all of this activity as slowly as possible. I refuse to lose all the health ground I've so carefully cultivated over the past 2 years by driving myself too hard or letting the stress win.
Meanwhile, Lisa loves her job and the people she is working with...she's in a 2nd year Chaplain residency program w/a major health network...specializing in crisis and trauma care and intervention. I won't be back at my writing and art work for who knows how long...We do like our new home, and we've been wading in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Corpus Christi Bay twice now. I'll post pictures as soon as I locate the box with the USB cable that fits my camera! The area is beautiful...shore and water birds of every variety abound on the beaches and marshes. Romeo loves it too...he's had to learn a hard and painful lesson about not sticking his nose into Fire Ant mounds, though...we had a scarry night sitting up with him last week, nursing him through the aftermath of hundreds of bites...poor baby! He's such a sweet spirit. He bore it all...glazed eyes, wobbly legs, mild respiratory distress, low grade fever...and has rebounded completely...and still trusts us and loves us. I think that is the lesson God is asking..."will you still love and trust me even if I 'allow' painful things in your lives?" We don't live in a perfect world. Stuff happens. God doesn't engineer it, and He doesn't always "magically" protect us. But He is with us to give us the strength we need to get through it...not maybe as much physical strength as I'd wish for...but I'm still "standing," so to speak. I haven't gone down for the count quite yet.
I read a great quote yesterday: "Life is short. Make the most of it. It has an expiration date."
Friday, September 24, 2010
Did anyone ever read the tales of "Bomba the Jungle Boy" in your childhood? I remember reading them and snorting to myself that the battles he fought were a bit overdone and packed together, one on top of another, in an unrealistic fashion. For example: he would no sooner have battled the voracious crocodile in the river and fallen exhausted onto the river bank than a monstrous python would drop from an overhanging tree and attempt to crush the remaining life from him. Of course, he killed the python. Rest at last...but no! Here comes the hungry black panther, springing from the tangled jungle undergrowth! Another blood-curdling, heart-pounding fight for survival! No sooner does the vanquished panther lie still than a hunting party from the tribe of Bomba's enemies "just happens" to show up...armed and itching for battle! You get the picture.
I've been feeling like Bomba lately...dazed and exhausted...but unable to quit. My sister and I discovered on August 13th that we would likely be moving to the Corpus Christ, TX area for a job she badly needed. We had turned down, 4 days previous, a job in New Orleans, partly because we couldn't find an affordable place to live and couldn't see how we could possibly pack up our home, put it on the precarious K. C. market, and move in 3 weeks time. (I didn't really want to go back to Louisiana right now anyway, having so recently escaped!) Then came the offer in TX. We looked at each other in disbelief, went to the Lord in prayer, and started packing. One piece of the puzzle after another fell into place. We threw stuff away, gave stuff away, had a monstrous garage sale...Friends helped pack and sell and clean. We have a pending contract on the house. A friend who used to own a moving company supervised loading our Penske moving truck...his loading was a work of art! Where we thought we'd need 2 22' trucks, James got it all on one 22' truck and a 6' x 12' trailer that I pulled behind my F150 pick-up truck! We slept on air mattresses on the floor overnight and left the house about 5:30 a.m the morning after the day of loading the truck and trailer. 6 blocks from the house, the 1st set of warning lights came on on the dash of the Penske. We sat at the intersection for 15 minutes while the Penske trouble shooting line put Lisa through all sorts of "try this/try that" drills w/the truck and pronounced her good to "drive on." We made it 80 miles before the next set of lights came on...same drill...same instructions. This time, we got as far as a turnpike "rest stop" outside Wichita, KS. The truck wouldn't start back up again. Penske sent a tow truck. The driver got the truck started and limped us across town to the Penske warehouse and shop where our truck was officially pronounced "dead." No replacement truck was available nearer than Oklahoma City....soooooooo...the tow truck towed us to Oklahoma City to a huge Penske warehouse in an isolated industrial park on the outskirts of town. A crew was waiting to offload all our beautifully loaded stuff onto a 26' truck. They couldn't make it all fit, didn't want to take responsibility for the shoddy work they were doing in trying, and walked off the job, leaving us and all our earthly belongings in the middle of an abandoned warehouse parking lot under the stars. By this time, it was approximately 9:00p.m. Fortuneately, it wasn't raining. We placed our now dirty and damaged mattresses and box springs into the back of the truck and laid down to wait...for what, we weren't sure. The Penske customer service line, assured us they were searching for another loading crew. This crew showed up and proceeded to cram our stuff willy nilly into the truck..".just get it in," never mind whether crates of books are sitting on top of boxes of china and crystal, or there are rips in the sofa or gouges in the antique bed frame...we had to throw away another box...(I hope it wasn't crucial to our existence)...and tie several more items in the back of my pick-up bed. By this time, it was 2:00a.m., and we were too exhausted to argue. We found a motel. Lisa slept. I wasn't able to. We hit the road again around 8:00 a.m., headed for my niece's home in Austin, TX. She had been with us, driving my sister's car, but since she had to be back at work the following day, we rearranged luggage, put Romeo, the German Shepherd, in with her, and sent them on ahead, since we didn't figure there was a need for all of us to go through whatever we were going to have to go through! Just about Waco, TX, I started experiencing "black out" spells...called Lisa on the Blue Tooth..."not safe to keep driving," I said..."pull over." We phoned my niece. She and her boy friend drove over, Eddie drove my pick-up, and I snuggled down in the front seat of Jenn's car while she drove. We got to Austin where I immediately crashed and slept until around 6:00 the next morning. We had to be in Corpus Christi, by 2:00 for my sister's orientation at the hospital where she was to be working....couldn't find the keys for the Penske Truck! An hour and a half later, we found them where they had fallen out of Lisa's purse into the grass along side the driveway at Jenn's place...had to reschedule Lisa's orientation for the next day...I'll continue this in part 2 of this blog...stay tuned!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
This is a photo I shot at the Angola Prison Rodeo about a year ago which illustrates the idea of "being in the fight" even if you aren't necesssarily winning! I've been thinking of some of the readings I've done in training the mind for success...books like Psycho-Cybernetics, by the late Dr. Maxwell Maltz and Keys to Success, by Napoleon Hill...both pioneers in the field and whose writings have shaped many of today's motivational experts like Tony Robbins, Tony Buzan, Earl Nightingale, and Zig Ziglar, among many others. I haven't finished my swim in this vast sea, but I am finding some common ideas that seem to "program" changes to the mind and, thereby indeed, predict "success."
I have long maintained...and I believe that Biblical Scripture supports...that change begins in the mind. Proverbs 23:7 says that a person is "as he thinks in his heart." In other words, our thoughts shape and give birth to our actions. Romans 12:2 indicates that "transformation" is possible by changing or "renewing" the way we think. Indeed, the Biblical concept of "repentance" means to have a "change of heart"...to literally "turn around" and go another way than one has been going. All of these writers likewise indicate that this "change" is more than mere "positive thinking." Some of the elements necessary to restructuring this "expectation" of a positive outcome" in place of previous patterns of disappointment and failure include:
1. a sense of value and purpose to undergird our efforts toward change, i.e., we must believe that we, individually and personally, "deserve" to, and are "intended to...succeed."
2. absolute conviction that change is necessary for survival
3. a clear "vision" and step-by-step plan for what you want to achieve, i.e., of what "success" looks like to you personally
4. the acquisition of any pertinent knowledge/education and skills which might be lacking and which will move us toward our goal
5. self-discipline in eschewing detrimental habits and patterns of thought and in building new more positive forms of behavior
6. ability to reach and implement firm decisions quickly once sufficient data has been gathered
7. belief that the desired outcomes or goals are worth any cost or struggle necessary to achieve those goals
8. belief in the good and benevolent character of a "higher power" who is committed to your well-being...this enables gratitude and the ability to keep going in the face of obstacles...Jeremiah 29:11 says of the Lord God: "'For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,' says the Lord, 'thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give your a future and a hope.'"
9. a company of positive, supportive, like-minded individuals who will encourage and believe along with you when the going is rougher than you feel equipped for alone
Such positive attitudes seem in themselves, to generate energy that move us closer to our goals. Today, for example, I blew my diet by eating a hot fudge brownie a la mode. Because I have been eating such a "clean" diet for weeks, this "treat" tasted so sickly sweet that I didn't even enjoy it! So instead of beating myself up for falling off the wagon, I am turning mental cartwheels of gratitude that my tastebuds are apparently being reshaped to the point that I am learning to not even want things that will carry me closer to the tipping point in the diabetes/heart disease progression. I see my "thinking" being reshaped, and my actions must inevitably follow. My body chemistry is actually being restructured!!
The point is that with the right attitudes and tools, we can literally rewrite the underlying logarithms of our physical bodies. As one who has endured long years of illness, I can't tell you how excited this makes me. And so, I leave you with a poem by Walter Malone that is quoted on pages163-164 of Napoleon Hill's Keys to Success, edited by Matthew Sartwell, published by Dutton, a division of Penguin Books.
They do me wrong who say I come no more,
When once I knock and fail to find you in;
For every day I stand outside your door,
And bid you wake and rise, to fight and win.
Wail not for precious chances passed away;
Weep not for golden ages on the wane;
Each night I burn the records of the day;
At sunrise every soul is born again.
Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped,
To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb'
My judgments seal the dead past with its dead,
But never bind a moment yet to come.
Have you slipped and fallen on your path to success today? Get up, give thanks for lessons learned, and keep going. Here's to those who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, are "actually in the arena." (http://artofmanliness.com/2009/02/28/manv
re-roosevelt/ for the full quote...) At least you have begun! Bravo!!
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Well, the news from the doctor was good and bad last week. The good news is that the things that are wrong with me are still in the range where they can be addressed by diet and exercise. The bad news is:
1. I am borderline diabetic. I've been expecting this. It is non-affectionately referred to as the Price Family Scourge in my family of origin, because all of my Father's 5 siblings had it, and at least one of their children had it. My Mother's Mother developed it later in life as well; so it has been the Damoclean sword hanging over my head for years while my Thyroid has failed and my weight has crept ever upward, and I've begun to notice signs of developing neuropathy in my feet.
2. The left atrial chamber of my heart is slightly enlarged...probably due to the mitral valve prolapse I've lived with since having Rheumatic Fever as a teenager.
3. My cholesterol level is waaaaay too high. On the good side, though...my HDL/LDL/Triglyceride balance is good.
4. My blood pressure is creeping upward at a depressing rate.
So I came home from the doctor's office, fixed myself a humongous gluten free hamburger and French Fries and a Hot Fudge Brownie A la Mode, watched a movie, and slept soundly! Lest you think me suicidally depressed, let me explain that this cleared out the last of the potentially offending foods from the Fridge/Freezer, and I went shopping yesterday for a cart load of fruits and veggies. I'm looking forward to clean cooking from here on out. The forthcoming eating plan will include items like Lemon Parsley Soup; Penne Pasta with Spinach Walnut Pesto and Fresh Tomatoes; Sprouted Seed Veggie Paninis; Homemade Granola with Homemade Yogurt and Fruit; Raw Veggie Salad; Pumpkin Bisque; Squash Soup with Pecans and Greens; Tuscan Garbanzo Bean Salad; Roasted Greek Chicken and Brown Rice Bake; Salmon with Lime Dill Sauce; Fontina Prosciutto Pizza with Artichokes and Portabello Mushrooms; Almond Strawberry Smoothies; Melon Berry Salad with Honey Lime Dressing; Quinoa Primavera; Tomato Salad with Red Onions, Capers, and Garlic Aioli; Lentil Spinach Salad with Pears, Pecans, and Goat Cheese;...anyway...I think you get the picture. None of these meals will exceed 400 calories at a pop unless I truly pig out...portion control is still my nemesis, and the sodium and sugar content of them is generally within allowable limits for me. Sodium will be the hardest thing for me to control, for while I have long ago thrown out the salt shaker, I still love things like lots of cheese. (I could live on cheese and onion enchiladas!!) I figure that allowing myself an occasional relatively sodium loaded meal like the Pizza in the foregoing list will not be too bad...by occasional, I mean about once a month. I am hosting a Bible Study/Prayer group along with my sister this weekend, and I'm making a pot of Vegetarian chili with Pinto beans and Soy veggie crumbles instead of meat. It is going to be a Pot Luck Meal, (This may be the "splurge" meal of the month!!) so I will have to exercise self control. I have difficulty doing this when I am occupied in a social setting, and it is easy to find myself mindlessly munching due to the "nerves" of trying to keep my energy levels up enough to interact with other people and not just melt into the carpet.
Well, anyway...planning and preparation and discipline seem to be the prerequisites for this kind of eating plan. I'm going to have to make sitting down and drawing up weekly menus and cooking schedules a regular part of the lifestyle. I can't leave the meal preparation to chance, because then, I'll find myself falling back into old cooking habits. I've cooked "from scratch" for many many years, and I've been continually refining the type of food I purchase and prepare. This is just more "fine tuning." Wish me the Lord's grace as I seek to become more disciplined in the pursuit of health.
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