Monday, January 31, 2011

A John Deere Letter

I was thinking about writing an open letter to John Deere asking questions I had about some of their snow removal equipment. Yet, it all seemed to boil down to one question--does using your snow removal equipment replace exercise? You know.. pushing that huge things, scrambling after it when the accelerator is hit too hard, slipping in snow and holding on to it as you try to do a hair pin turn with something bigger than a hair pin. Does it count as exercise if you go chasing after the blasted thing when the accelerator gets stuck? Or does it count if you keep trying to dodge the snow that gets blown back in your face?

Though, after thinking about writing this letter, asking the important questions about one of the greatest makers of farm equipment ever (sorry International fans, I'm just saying)I'm not sure I would send something like that. Don't think it'd work.

One thing I do think though--Using that blasted snow blower makes me work on being more Chirstlike. I'm the pastor in a great small town here in right across the street form the church. I am to be an example of Christ to others. The thought keeps coming across my mind--What Would Jesus Do when blowing Snow. (I was going to do it as an acronym but thought better of it).. My mouth only says things that are pleasing to God.. so I kept my mouth shut while blowing snow.

Please be patient with me, God...I'm trying hard.. but please quit testing me with the snow blower.. maybe that's where I'm getting gray hairs from?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Joy of...Coffee

There's just something about coffee. I love it. I wonder if all the problems of the world could be settled if we just sat down around a table and drank coffee and relaxed. I've had coffee from Greece where it's so thick and rich that the grounds stick to the sides and they tell your fortune from them. I've had coffee in the Ukraine and Hungary where it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up straight. They sip it from little cups savoring each drop wherein I took them like shots of whiskey one right after the other (not that I've ever had whiskey before...). I've had coffee with dignitaries and coffee with homeless people. Coffee is the great equalizer and coffee creates memories.

I have just as many memories in my coffee as I do non-dairy creamer. My first mug of klah came from my grandmother. I had a paper route when I was 13 and we were living with my grandparents. Each morning, I'd start my day with a mug of the warm delicious caffeine and she'd smoke her cigarette having the satisfaction of being the first person on the street to do the crossword puzzles.

There's something about coffee and spiritual health as well. As I dive into God's word each week, coffee is my constant companion. Always there as I struggle and wrestle with the word of God. It's with me as I pray. And it's with me after church when we're socializing and having the Adult Bible Study. And it's here with me now, cradled in a large green mug bearing the name of Michigan and decorated with evergreen trees and a full moon.

More and more coffee has been seen for its medicinal benefits as well. When drunk black, it helps with weight loss, athletic performance and even production of calcium(or so says Yahoo! Health). When diagnosed with ADD, my doc asked if I'd ever tried upping my caffeine intake. Generally when people are first diagnosed with ADD, they try caffeine because it in fact has a calming effect on people with ADD. After I explained my two pot a day habit, medication was instead prescribed. Apparently, I'd been self medicating all these years.

What about you? How has coffee been there for you?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stuff Dreams are Made of

I do it all the time. I get great ideas. I get all the stuff that needs to get the ideas done. And I then get overwhelmed. I want to learn how to play guitar. I have an old handed down guitar. I have the aptly named Guitar for Dummies, and still the guitar sits unplayed by the dummy. Years ago I wanted to learn how to play the clarinet. I even took lessons. And now it sits. I wanted to do better by keeping a food log (which I encourage everyone to do) but after writing down that 4th bacon cheeseburger that week, I stopped. I dream big then putter out.

So, how come I still hit lifting with such vigor? I have no idea. I'm weird like that.

Last night, I was coming home from a visitation. I looked up and saw the stars in the sky. Being a city boy, I never saw them that close before, that huge before, that amazing before. There was a joke back in the mid 90's that after the 94 Northridge earthquake which knocked out power for a chunk of LA, people started calling up the police saying that the sky was filled with these weird shiny lights they had never seen before. If I had seen the stars I saw last night back then, I would have said the same thing.

I think the stars are a bit closer here in South Dakota.

Okay, so now I'm going to get spiritual here. I was realizing that God dreamed big. I mean REALLY big. And he didn't putter out. He got the job done with creation. And the poor bugger has a lot of work still to do with me. And I know he'll never give up and putter out. He'll stay with me until the end.

So I know I must endure. How can I pair down yet still dream big? How can I get excited about the things I want to do but also not get discouraged and quit?

For it is the stuff from whence dreams are made.

Monday, January 24, 2011

being served humble pie

I remember the first time I tasted the bitter sweet (or was it just bitter?) taste of humble pie. My first roommate in college. It was one room. 3 beds. A bunk bed and one in the corner. The one in the corner was taken. That just left the bottom bunk (the one I wanted) and the top bunk. I've never actually met anyone that was bigger than me. I figured I could maybe use that to my advantage when asking for the bottom bunk. And then in walked my new roommate. 6ft 20, shovels for hands, wider, thicker, stronger. I think his muscles had muscles. I took the top bunk.

I think I need to eat humble pie form time to time. It helps. Here I am, lifting, thinking I'm doing good. I'm not the best, but you know what, I was thinking I was doing alright. When someone else is lifting in the gym, I secretly count the weight plates and see how much they're lifting (I'm bad at math and it takes time sometimes) and then compare it to what I'm doing. Usually it makes me secretly feel I'm doing better.

Then, recently, someone who was thinner than I, a bit shorter than I, was lifting more than I. Here I was thinking I was doing pretty good. Then I saw what he was doing. Knocked me down and fed me humble pie.

So, what is the recipe for humble pie? A dash of deflated arrogance, the crust is made up of reality, chop up a nice serving of self reflection, a smidgen of cinnamon, and season to taste. Serve it up nice and fresh when you're on top of a high horse, it will bring you right down.. but in a good way I think.

But one things for sure, humble pie taste a lot better than a foot in the mouth any day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

7 Gray Hairs

I've found gray hairs. I've found 7 gray hairs on my head. So not cool. Way not cool. I'm 33, I shouldn't have gray hairs. Who can I blame? I'm leaning towards my kids. I asked my mom about her hair some time back..besides first claiming they were natural highlights confirmed what I feared--I caused them.

Maybe I should call them gray hares for my fear is that they will multiply like rabbits. Some say it looks distinguished. And it would--if I was 20 years older. Do I have to truly admit that I'm getting older? That when I turned 30 my body started to decompose and it's starting to show in my hair. Or is it that my metabolism has slowed more and thus affecting my hair color?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

So I'll hold on to this. This is my promise for now. I know I'm getting older. I know I'm not as cool as I used to be, I know I will stumble and fall. But God won't. I'll have to hold to that promise...and remind myself of it when I'm lifting and get tired before I think I should.

But if my gray hair is from having kids, me and God are gonna have some not fair that just because I gave them to my mom that I should get them too... though.. I can pass along the curse of having kids just like me to mine.. (insert evil laugh here)..or would that be too mean??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Using the DVR to keep the main thing the main thing

I was reading up on the blog Stuff Christians Like about going to church instead of staying home and watching the football game. Being an ardent Chicago Bears fan, I do struggle with that. Can I finish up the worship service in time for us to rush home and see the game. I've actually checked the schedule to see if the game will be played during the afternoon worship, later in the evening or will I have to stream it off of while prepping for the next service. This actually happened back in December and I was late for the second service.

I've also realized that nothing separates nor polarizes people like sports does. Don't know why. In the Chicagoland area, it matters if you're a Sox fan or a Cubs fan. I've seen huge arguments over this and splitting families apart. And a mix marriage of a Sox and Cubs fan.. how will you raise the kids, you can't let them make a "choice." Now, there's some good nature ribbing between Vikes and Bears fans...not so much between Packers and Bears though.

But also nothing more solidifies people together, brings them to being one as it does sharing a team. Just mentioning the name Ditka to some Bears fan and you see the respect they have for him.

Now this is where you might be expecting an exhortation on something such as false gods, what you place as important in life, or taking that same time to study God's word and pray. But honestly, if you're DVRing the game to go to church, I think you're doing okay. If you already walked through your mind what I might have said (especially from previous posts)then you're on the right track.. keep it up.

Of course, Jesus did say that you cannot serve two masters. He did say that where our heart is there our treasure is also. Or as Yogi Bera once said "The main thing needs to be the main thing." Like DVRing a game to focus on worshiping God.

What are you putting aside to make the main thing the main thing?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The wrong day (but I have an apple fritter)

Each Friday, somewhere between 7:30-8:30 they come and pick up our garbage. Usually I make sure I place it on the curb at night before I go to bed. For some reason, last night I thought it was Friday night and today was Saturday. I didn't think about putting the trash out on the curb until say 6ish this morning. I was woken up at 6am for...uhm.. certain reasons.. and then realized, "hey, it's Friday." Then I realized "Crud, I forgot to put out the trash." I thought maybe, just maybe my wonderful thoughtful self sacrificing wife would have realized I forgot to last night after I went to bed and did it for me.

I peeked in the garage. Nope. Dang.

So, it being South Dakota in January, I quickly bundled up and took the trash to the curb.

Now, what to do, what to do. Reading this and knowing that it is called Spiritual Musclehead, you'd think that I'd would have figured "Hey, I'm up, let's go to the gym." Or "Hey, I'm up, I should dive into God's word." What'd I do? I went back to bed.

Now, I'm sitting on my duff, eating an apple fritter and drinking coffee. I'm contemplating going to the gym.

The hardest thing I'm doing is trying hard not to beat myself up for not doing what's right, for not eating healthier and for not being as motivated to work out like I should.. on the flip side.. this is a really good fritter.. and the Starbucks coffee just hits the spot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Working hard or hardly working

An old mentor of mine told me that you can never step into the same river twice. That's true. The river constantly flows, it's never the same. When weight lifting, you can never lift the same weights twice. And for some reason, I keep forgetting that. Two weeks off, sickness, bossiness, vacationness (is that a word?)and then finally back into weight lifting. I thought I started it off smart this time. I went down about 15 pounds for most of my routines. Did well that Monday. That Wednesday, I goosed them a bit higher. Friday, not only did I go at the weight and rate as Wednesday, but for some, I took it up to 11. Bad idea. I had forgotten about my rhythm, my groove, the zone I had been in before Christmas. Gone. The river moved, sediment followed, and now it was different. I had taken the precautions and started the weights light, but forgot about the groove. Luckily I was smart this time.. I made sure I didn't puke. I walked away before that. I knew my limitations.

I didn't want to write a blog post about New Year's resolutions. I've made a resolution not to make any and then I broke it right away...I made one--not to make any. But I know that many of us are making our New Years resolutions. Many New Year Resolutions are to get back into a prayer life, to start reading the Bible more. You can't step into the same river twice. You can't lift the same weights twice.

Spiritual lifting is just as hard. It's not as easy as we sometimes think. You have to pace yourself. Right now, I'm curling 120 lbs 2 sets of 8. I started at 50 lbs. I do my best in praying through the Bible, writing a journal, praying for friends. I didn't start there. I started with someone showing me how to read a Bible, how to pray.

You don't just jump into it. If you do. You'll spiritually puke.. and that's not good either. When we push too hard spiritually we get burnt. He we get hurt. And it leaves a bad taste in our mouths and are more reluctant to pick it back up later. Take it easy at first. Build up to it. If you're desire is to get back into the swing of it again, you can't start off where you were at. Start off slow, work your way back up. But START!