If you want to find out what's going on and perhaps join in on the fun and accountability, click here for details.
We have two additional brave souls participating this week, although neither sent me a photo. Here are the stats:
Name: Jim Starting Weight: 211 Goal Weight: 180 Current Weight: 204
Recap: I hit a weight plateau of 207 and was a bit worried that I wouldn't have a loss report this week. But I finally broke through on Tuesday and as of this morning was down three more pounds. I have added a multivitamin to my diet since the calorie counter was showing me several areas where I was nutritionally deficient. I am running two to three times per week and cycling on Saturday mornings as an exercise routine. Last night's run was by far, my best effort. I made it the entire loop without stopping once.
Name: Mike C. Starting Weight: 238 Goal Weight: 230 Current Weight: 230
Recap: Well on my way. Two a days for me, weights in the morning and cardio at night! Obviously calories are key as well.
Name: Vickie P. Starting Weight: 138.8 Goal Weight: 122.0 Current Weight: 119.8
Recap: Ok, my case is a little different because I've already lost my weight and I'm in maintenance mode right now. On April 2nd, my starting weight (clothed, shoes, after eating, weighing in at the Weight Watchers meeting) was 138.8. I hit my goal weight on June 7th. My weight this morning under the same circumstances was 119.8...19 pounds lost! This completed my 11th week of maintaining. I declared 124 as my goal weight and am supposed to maintain 122-126...goal weight +/- 2 pounds. I would REALLY like to weigh less but I REALLLLLLY want to maintain a healthy weight through the winter months even more! This has been my struggle through the years...gaining through the winter/holiday months and then having to work to lose it in the Spring. I want to stop that cycle...find a weight that I can maintain year-round and then DO IT! Even if it's a few pounds heavier than I'd really like to be.
How about you? Can you stand to drop a few pounds and get into better shape? Want to be brave enough to post your stats publicly on this blog? If so, read the requirements in this kick-off post and submit your information by Wednesday of next week.
Sound ridiculous? Unnatural perhaps? Well if you believe atheist argumentation so does much of the Bible's extraordinary claims. And the prospect of there being a loving and benevolent Creator God that desires to have a personal relationship with you is no exception. Or that He sent His one and only Son to save us from sin and death.
But why should something extraordinary immediately be dismissed? We live in an amazing time and have evidence everywhere to support the miraculous. Perhaps a cat jumping seven feet in the air to turn off the lights or a dog that can spin records fails to qualify for the supernatural but it still illustrates my point because it is amazing.
So please enjoy the third installment of my ongoing series of Atheist Commercials:
The idea of this series is to share five links to various sites that show evidence that we are living in the End Times. You will quickly see that for every link that may lead you to a serious article or news coverage that looks to be straight out of Revelation, there will be several more that are just tongue-in-cheek and meant to be funny.
I am not a date setter. Scripture says we will know the "season" of the end but not the time or day. And since a day is to God as a 1000 years is to us...there is really no telling how long a season might be. Here are just a few reasons I think we are in the season of The End...
Machines on the Rise - In the vein of movies like Terminator, one of the categories that is growing quite common in this series is how advanced our technology is becoming. This week, we have two such examples:
Big Brother- In the age of information, privacy is becoming less and less of an expectation. Whether its Google or the Government, everyone is gathering our most personal details. In this week's examples we have two advances that allow for faster retrieval of medical and financial data. What do you think?
It's time for another YouTube series. I have been out of the consistent video making habit for over a month now and its high time to remedy that. To kick things off we have today's video at the bottom of this post explaining the motivation for this production as well as the general direction I want to take things. I may or may not post all parts on the blog, so be sure to subscribe to my actual YouTube Channel if you want to follow the entire discussion.
I believe it is a completely natural idea for human kind to want a sign from God. I think we as individuals have all at one point asked for His individual attention and corporately as societies and governments asked for His involvement. The question is...does He respond? If so, how has He responded? What does Scripture say about signs and asking for signs?
All of this and additional, personal testimonies of my own will be covered in the episodes to come. But regardless of who you are, where you live, and whether or not you have asked for God to intervene in your life, I can assure you that he has given everyone various and very obvious signs. Each part following this introduction will tackle one such claim and leave it to you, the observer to digest and make conclusions about.
This is both for the curious seeker that may not claim the Christian label as well as those that have been walking in the faith for a long time. I find that both parties very often ask for personal intervention of this sort. And since so many use those experiences to make conclusions about whether or not to continue in belief or to abandon belief, I think this is a very important topic.
Despite having a few people tell me that they wanted to participate in the weekly weigh-in, none of them have sent me their stats for this week. So...you get the privilege of an update from just yours truly. If you want to find out what's going on and perhaps join in on the fun and accountability, click here for details.
But without further ado...here are my stats:
Starting Weight: 211 (Yikes!) Goal Weight: 180 Current Weight: 207
Recap: As indicated above my starting weight was a shocker. For the past decade I've stood 6'1" tall and have hovered between 195 and 200 lbs. Having not weighed myself in quite some time, I just assumed I was at the top end of that range. So my original plan of just cutting out after dinner snacking combined with three, thirty minute cardio workouts per week became a little bit more complex than that. Instead I am using an online calorie counter, limiting my daily intake to 1675 per day and working out at least three times per week, preferably more. My long-range goal is to lose a total of 30 lbs but on a weekly basis to shed around 2 lbs.
The hardest part so far hasn't been the running or cycling (surprisingly)! Instead cutting out the after dinner snacking has caused a great deal of hunger as I retrain my body to not expect food at the 8PM hour. I suppose if the hunger became unbearable and I still had some calories to spend, I could eat some celery or fruit. But so far, I haven't given in and I've pushed through the uncomfortable aches.
How about you? Can you stand to drop a few pounds and get into better shape? Want to be brave enough to post your stats publicly on this blog? If so, read the requirements in this kick-off post and submit your information by Wednesday of next week.
We live in trifling and uncertain times. I tend to highlight the more concerning topics fairly often. So in effort to be fair and balanced, it seems appropriate for me to present another series that highlights people, events, accomplishments, and the rays of light God gives us for encouragement sake.
I have been collecting several stories that qualify for this series so some are less recent than others. And perhaps each hero in these articles deserves their own separate post but for efficiency sake, I will present them all as links you can follow for the full details. You will see these people come from all walks of life, are all different ages, and all found a way to be an inspiration in completely different ways. Let this be an encouragement to you. Not just to lift your spirit and give you some good news in the wake of mostly depressing headlines. Let it inspire you to be a hero in your own corner of this world.
I will not pretend that all of my prayers are answered in the way I would like. God's will and our own do not always match up, nor does any parent's and child's here on Earth. I am certain that I have told my children "No" more often than I have told them "Yes". But this certainly has nothing to do with my love for them or some crazy desire to frustrate them. I am just in a better position to know what is right for them than they are.
But I will be the first to admit that its hard to be the one submitting to the parent...even the Heavenly variety. Denying your will so that anyone elses will can prevail is a huge and difficult lesson in humility. So we get mad when we don't get the answers we want. We get mad when we think God failed to act on our behalf. Many...go so far as to reject God in their anger.
So when a flood of prayer requests came in last week and inspired THIS post, I began lifting the various people up knowing that ultimately His will be done and our job was to patiently wait. As you might have figured out by the title of this post, some of that waiting is over and I must pause to give God praise! Out of six people that all had significant problems mostly of the health variety, three have completely been restored, two are well on their way to recovery, and only one still has a bit of a longer road ahead of them. So not only has God responded to these issues...He has done so quickly and positively. All praise and glory belong to Him.
There will be more floods of requests that come. There will be times that tragedy and loss occur despite my pleading. But I would be remiss if I didn't take pause when the answers I desire DO come. Unfortunately I don't always give credit when its due and I suspect I'm not the only one.
Idolatry in the Old Testament was the worshipping of other gods. Scripture seems to classify two categories of "other gods" as (a) just fake, non-existent beings represented by carved sculptures or (b) actual demons posing as gods. Most people don't need to be told why worshipping evil demons is bad but what about bowing to sculptures that are just empty vessels that give the person some kind of security and placebo-type benefit?
I think this category is more prevalent today than pagan themed satan worship but in a very different way. You see Scripture plainly shows a hierarchy of importance that we should be placing on life's priorities. God first, family, job obligations, friends, and so on down the line. But God first is the entire crux of avoiding idolatry. And though most of us do not bow to wood carvings, we do place tons of things and even people before God. I believe this behavior qualifies as idol worship.
Throughout the years God has convicted me of various idols. I have put family first at times which doesn't seem so bad except that I am never a great family man when I've lost my focus on God. I have put activities, possessions, and habits first. In each circumstance of realizing that I've rearranged priorities, it becomes necessary to shift gears and get everything back into alignment. I am now attempting to defeat the idol of food. My worship of it has showed itself on my waistline and in my chubby face. It became to much of a priority and gluttonous habits have formed.
With God's help I am breaking free. But I might caution those that may join me in doing so to not let the pursuit of weight loss and calorie counting become the new god. The enemy is happy to have us overly focused on either extreme so long as the focus is NOT our Heavenly Father. For more about what I am doing and an opportunity to join me, click here.
There is no actual secret to weight loss. Its a simple formula of calories in versus calories out. Burn more than you consume...voila...weight loss. Consume more than you burn, welcome to Gains-ville. The only real difference in weight loss fads is the method by which a person decides to cause the pendulum to swing in their direction. But ALL of them must cause you to always burn more calories in a day than you consume even if exercise isn't part of the regimen.
With all that in mind I would like to discuss what I think the TWO keys to weight loss actually are and provide one of the two items for you, here on the blog.
Key ONE - Motivation
An individual such as myself who is carrying excess weight of any kind must first decide they no longer like doing so. But that is only the beginning of motivation. I have not liked carrying this extra 20 pounds for several years now and yet never did anything about it. The dislike must slowly turn to into being fed up and sick of being out of shape. It also helps of course when your 20 year high school reunion is next year and when you have health reasons to add to the motivation bucket as I do. However, this is the category I cannot help you with. I, like anyone else, can tell you all the good reasons for a life change of this sort but you already know that stuff. You have to finally decide on your own why its worth the effort.
Key TWO - Accountability
Many of us start these kinds of efforts well intended. We may even lose two pounds per week for an entire month. But somewhere along the line we get out of the habit, we make excuses for missing a run, or justify eating those extra calories and before long...we're done. I am convinced that people will always have a much better possibility of success when there are others that are not only doing the weight loss with you but also holding you accountable each week. That is where I hope to help and where I hope you will consider helping me. Every Thursday for the next three months (possibly longer) those that wish to participate, will send me a brief update that I will post on the blog along with my stats. In essence this will create a public record of our progress or lack thereof for the purpose of accountability.
So...diet and exercise with any method of your choosing. But each week send me an email with the following:
A photo of yourself
Your starting weight
Your goal weight
Your current weight
A paragraph about your week's experiences be they good, bad, or ugly.
Those that prefer not to share actual weight numbers can just say how many pounds you want to lose and give us an update each week regarding how many have been lost or gained. Send all information to email@example.com by Wednesday each week and check back here on Thursday for the post. I don't care if just one other person does this with me or if 100 participate. Either way, let's help one another out and make this fun.
Like a stranded passenger at an airport waiting on bad weather to pass, I feel very much like I'm caught in a holding pattern. I typically don't mind so much when life's problems come along but like most guys, I am a problem solver. And if a problem does not have a fairly immediate solution, I experience a ripe mixture of passionate irritation and impatience. Delayed gratification is fine when it comes to saving money, going on a trip, improving skills, or furthering education. But when a problem, which by definition is something very undesirable, occurs I am NOT good at waiting. Not good at all.
Here are just a few unresolved issues:
My business is making some serious changes that will most likely not be completed until year end but should have happened six months ago.
As shared in yesterdays post, I have many friends and family that are in poor health or circumstances that have asked for prayer. I am praying and have already seen some results but it will be a while before the "all clear" can be sounded.
I have decided to eat healthier and exercise but know that properly executing a plan will require waiting a while for a full twenty pounds to be lost.
Two different friends have big issues that I see plain as day. I've elected to remain silent about them not only to spare their feelings but also because I don't believe I would be able to contain my passionate emotions surrounding the topic(s) in question. And no, these are not sins or else I would follow Scriptures commands to correct them gently.
There are more on the list but you get the point. In each situation I would love nothing more than to snap my fingers to cause resolution. I reckon that option will never be available to us though because it doesn't allow for growth. God is interested in maturing us and making us into His image. There is no shortage of Bible verses about God's patience and willingness to be long-suffering. And if it weren't for that trait, many of us would be in deep trouble (myself included).
I won't say that I haven't learned some patience over the years. I can look back and see stretching and softening in this area especially with all that Fatherhood requires. But I will be the first to admit that I have not yet fully arrived! What are you impatient about right now? How is God using your circumstances to teach you?
I am not sure what is going on right now. There seems to be in an inordinate amount of prayer requests hitting my email account of a very serious nature. So I am somewhat flabbergasted not only by the number of issues that have been brought to my attention but also to the severity of each case being off the charts of what I consider "the norm".
Praying is easy to do. It takes a few moments. And ideally it won't just be a one time thing. It will be something I continue to do until the person(s) involved experience resolution. But I find myself wishing I could do more. I wish that by holding a sick persons hand, I could transfer my health into their bodies. I wish by hugging someone that was victimized I could erase the trauma. I wish I could heal the hurts and fulfill the needs of each and every person that is on my list!
These are things that only God can accomplish however. So praying is still my best course of action. And though I have the utmost confidence and faith that He knows what is best and will bring about the results that are best...its still that "letting go process" that is difficult. Full trust is hard when we realize that His will is not always going to match up with our will. But I am not in this Christ Following business so that I can have my wish-lists attended to. I am not in it so that I can get "my way" like a spoiled brat. Instead I am the wet clay, spinning ever so fast on the potters wheel, letting the artist mold and shape me into His desired shape.
Faith is a journey of growth and a process of renewal. Are we willing...each of us...to let Him finish the work?
No, I haven't adopted the Joel Osteen mantra nor will I begin prosperity preaching in case the title has you curious. In fact this topic is more inspired by the finality of the Olympic Games than anything else. As I watched our American athletes win the majority of events while playing armchair quarterback and fan, I was inspired. Here are men and women at the very top of their mental & physical abilities. They are not only the world's best but they are doing their personal best.
It strikes me that most of us are not even doing our best in any one category. Forgetting for a second that most of us would not, even at our peak, be able to compete against world class athletes...we still leave something left to be desired. In my case, there was a time that I excelled in athletics. There was a time when three miles could be run in less than seventeen minutes, when sprinting down the soccer field ended triumphantly with a header into the net. Again, never necessarily an athlete being scouted for the big leagues but at least an in-shape, able bodied, contributor to the team.
And that got me thinking about other categories of life that I may have allowed status quo to be enough. Am I doing my best at being a Father, Son, Husband, Staffing Professional and most importantly Follower of Christ? Would I be winning Gold Medals in any of these areas if the only competition was my "best self"? I hate to admit this folks but I think I can do better. How about you? Where do you find yourself on the scale, not against others, but against your own peak potential? Can you do better? Will you do better?
My childhood home was a crucible of constant learning, especially about manners. We used to marvel each time Mom would introduce us to a new rule that we'd never heard of before. It usually was yet another thing we weren't supposed to be doing at the table. It seems the table is solely for eating and discussion...but NO TALKING with your mouth full!
We used to joke with her that she needed to write a book so that we can keep up with all these rules and no longer have an excuse when she enforced one that we didn't know about. Alas, no such book was written. But my brother and I certainly don't put elbows on the table, nor do we scoop anything onto our forks with our fingers, we know the proper table setting of each item of utensil, dish, and glass. Plus we know not to sing, belch, fart, scream, make ANY sound effects, pinch each other, or get out of our seat without being excused.
I can't say that I still adhere to ALL of these lessons but at least I know them, right? And of course the table was not the only classroom or reason for learning manners. My parents did what all adults that are charged with caring for young children are supposed to do. They brought me up to know right from wrong and how to properly interact with society. At times I wonder how much instruction is still being administered. At times I wonder how much the new generations even care when they are taught the correct behaviors. Though there might be justifiable reason to worry, the following YouTube clip brought a ray of light into the mix. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Props both to the coach of this young man but also to Southwest Airlines for helping teach this guy a lesson!
If your house is like mine, then its rather divided when it comes to the Olympics. I was raised watching them. Perhaps its the nostalgia of family tradition. Perhaps it was the athletic dreams of a Jim that once wanted to be on the Olympic Soccer Team. Perhaps its just National pride as I root on my countrymen and women, very proud and somewhat surprised that our obese and out-of-shape society still produces quite a few champions. Perhaps its just the world involvement as many cultures come together to participate in a peaceful competition.
Whatever the secret formula is, I am a BIG fan. I don't care if its an exciting swimming finish or ping pong, I can literally watch any event and stayed glued to my set all day long. But that is not the case for my lovely wife. She can take or leave the games and without me around it would be the latter more often than the former. I don't blame her of course. It's not like we are a huge sports watching family. I am one of those guys that doesn't HAVE to follow my favorite baseball, football, and basketball teams. If I happen to catch a game while its on, I gladly participate. If I don't find out until the 10PM news that the Cowboys won...that is fine too.
So I haven't exactly fostered a climate in our home where avid and intentional sports viewing is a high priority. I suppose even the Olympics is something I can take a break from now and then without much sorrow. And I am sure by the time the games are wrapping up, I will indeed be tired of the non-stop coverage. But for now...we compromise. I usually find something that suits her interest and change the channel back to the Olympics on commercials. Interestingly enough though...there are times where she wants me to keep it on the games (having gotten wrapped up in the drama of a particular moment) rather than change it back to her original program.
What are your house dynamics on this topic? Are you a big fan?
Brain: Same thing we always do Pinky. Try to take over the world!
Pinky: How are we going to do that?
Brain: This time we shall amass great wealth and influence. We will ban together with other elite and have secret meetings where we will orchestrate plans to oppress and control the masses that I prefer to call, Sheeple.
Pinky: But how will you do this without them catching on or fighting against you Brain?
Brain: Simple Pinky. We will distract them. We will distract them with television, internet entertainment, cell phones, iPads, Apps, and things that are shiny.
Pinky: But what about those that are too smart for that to work?
Brain: We will constantly polarize the people against one another using both religious and political hot buttons. There will be so much infighting that they will have no clue that we are really pulling the strings.
Pinky: Is that why you have Mitt and Obama from our boys club both running in this election pretending to be enemies?
Brian: Precisely Pinky. Now call Chick-Fil-A and have the CEO stir the pot with a Religious Right marriage opinion!
If we never put aside differences and unite....we will never have the power to fix the real problems in this nation.
I might have never known except I have a baby monitor that began broadcasting static and an alarm system that began beeping its warnings while on battery backup. Both noises rouse me from a deep sleep, rushing to turn the devices off before the rest of the family wakes. Very quickly I realize the light switches are not producing the expected illumination that one might desire, so I grab my flash ligh...er um...cell phone and head to the breaker box. None of the circuits were tripped, so I then take a peek outside and sure enough my neighbors are all without power as well.
Probably adding to the hundreds of other calls, I make sure to use the automated system to report my outage to the utility company and then attempt to go back to sleep knowing that I cannot do anything else to help solve the problem.
Easier said than done.
As I lay there I become acutely aware of the extreme silence of an unplugged home. I begin feeling extremely warm although the temperature of the house probably had not climbed by much at this point. Just the idea of no air conditioning and no fans circulating the air in my room became a mind game of borderline panic.
How can I sleep in these conditions?
What if the grid is down and stays down for days or weeks? It went down in India last week and left 620,000,000 without power for at least two days.
How long can the food in the fridge and freezer stay good if we don't open the doors and break the seal?
How much does a gas powered generator cost?
How soon could I convert the house to solar panel components and stop relying on the grid?
Should I get the kids and put them in the minivan with the AC running to keep them comfortable?
As much as I love Texas, I can't live here if AC becomes a luxury of times past.
These thoughts and others like it plagued me for every painful second of every painful minute of the entire hour of my torturous wait. I even got on Facebook to check the status updates of friends to see how far and wide a problem this might be. The only response I got was from a friend that lives a stones throw away and he assured me that utility crews had been dispatched after he'd read some updates on Twitter.
1:00AM - Power comes back on. HUGE sigh of relief followed by immediate slumber.
I am both horrified and entertained by this experience. I must laugh at how pathetic I've become in NEEDING my creature comforts that just ONE hour was a challenge for me. But at the same time I am concerned over how dependant on them we actually are and how ill prepared my family is for potential long term grid failures. Your thoughts?