Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just Another Tuesday

Life on a Tuesday for most consists of the usual routine... going to work, picking up the kids, attending class- or whatever might be on the agenda. This particular Tuesday in August reminded me of the simple joys in life, the times that come out of nowhere and become lasting memories.

On Tuesday afternoon, my good buddy Steven brought home what would become the best lunch these taste buds have ever experienced. With Steven's ability to cook- a meal that can only be found in the finest of restaurants became our middle of the afternoon lunch!

Steven was able to get his hands on almost a pound of fresh Ahi-Tuna steak. When I use the word "fresh" I am not talking about the labels on the outside of a package... I am describing to you the fact that literally hours before, the tuna was swimming off the island of Hawaii. The tuna was caught, packaged, and sent over night to Rex's Seafood- where we claimed our portion.

Shall we begin?

The first course consisted of raw tuna sliced carefully, dipped in home made wasabi sauce. The taste was exquisite. I felt as though I was dining in the best sushi restaurant you could find! But wait, it was just getting started...

While I was chopping and slicing a mix of carrots, onions, and zucchini- Steven was preparing the perfect pan seared tuna steak you could imagine. And so it was... lunch was ready.

The Menu

Fresh Hawaiian pan seared to perfection Ahi Tuna Steak with a homemade lemon cream sauce drizzled on top.

House veggies pan fried in extra virgin olive oil with sea salt, and cracked black pepper.

Homemade roasted red pepper dip with fresh cut celery.

And so we ate...

"Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
- I Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Food Inc. Review

Have you been contemplating going to see Food Inc.? Ever wondered what really is in the food you eat? Maybe this will help!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fat Days

Let the truth be told- all you who knew me back in the day could attest- I was F-A-T. I was not the cute little fat kid, as my mother always tried to convince me. I was the one sneaking treats late at night- savoring each bite of Tollhouse soft batch chocolate chip cookies that hid in the pantry (you know the ones in the red package). I can remember the smell of Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies as I ripped into each cellophane package. Although my mom refused to purchase soda (funny because she never fought against a trip to the donut store), I always found a way to drown myself in Dr. Pepper- enjoying each sip of the ice cold sugar drink. My youth was filled with trips to the department store searching for pants that fit. I was always directed to the "husky" department- seems to me now like a polite way of telling a kid he is fat. Fitness testing at school was the worst- its as if the coaches wanted to bring to light those with a weight issue... public reticule always waited for me at the end. The constant trips to Daylight Donuts, McDonald's (where super sized meals always filled my tummy), and 7 Eleven contributed to my 'growing' problem. The nicknames "fat boy," "fatty," and "tubby," still ring in my head to this day. At 5'3 160 pounds, I knew something had gone wrong.

I can remember a sunny spring day in 6th grade when I came home holding back tears, and decided it was time for a change. From that day forward I considered myself health conscious. I began running and "eating right." I switched from Blue Bell to Healthy Choice. From Debbie to Quaker. From Kellogg's to SlimFast. I even dabbled in weight watchers- that point system really did make things easier. For a whole summer I stood firm, stuck to the changes, continued running, and eventually lost all the weight that haunted me for the better part of my early days.

Though I never have been technically fat again, the thought about reverting back to my old ways will always be in the back of my head. Food is something that is consistently on my mind- what to cook, what to eat, where to shop… there is always something to ponder. Food brings a sense of comfort to your soul. Tinkering with the idea of starting a juice fast for months now, I finally decided now was a better time than ever to dive in. I journeyed to Whole Foods, stocked up on $60 of fresh organic produce, and started to juice. Side note... do not juice unknown radishes- they will ruin a perfectly sweet tasting glass of fresh juice. For what seemed like a week (but was only 2 days) I juiced for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

On the eve of day three I decided to chew once again. For me, it was not my lack of will power to get through the hunger pains, or the ability to conquer the weak feeling that comes from drinking just liquids- rather it was the root behind why I was juicing. I realized in those few short days that I was doing it for the approval of man. I realized that my ultimate satisfaction, my fulfillment, and my ultimate joy was not coming from Him. Instead, these aesthetic goals I longed for since I was a little boy, suffocated the joy found only in Him. I hoped that by accomplishing these goals I would find rest in my thoughts- rest in the fact that I had finally accomplished it.

I to often forget of the simple things in life that become idols. I to often take things, not morally wrong, or evil, and make them ultimate. Whether it is money, status, TV, relationships, careers, books, running, or food- the world is constantly knocking on the door. It loudly pleads for our attention day after day, easily numbing our hearts and minds to the Spirit that lives within. My new hope is that my joy, my rest, my peace, and my satisfaction will be found in my Creator, and in Him alone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 5: Gym Thoughts

It begins after work one day. You finally decide to make the drive, walk in, take a tour, and see what everyone is talking about. You receive the VIP tour from the marketing representative that proceeds to explain all the luxuries their facility offers. Walking through the place your not sure if it’s the right fit for you. You think of a thousand reasons why this is a waste of money. You are a little intimidated by the questionable steroid user in the main room- asking yourself, “how do muscles get that big?” Then you mosey into the locker room- you are in awe. They have a whirlpool, sauna, steam room, fresh towels, lemon water, flat screen TV’s, and recliners. This place is looking pretty good. You walk upstairs, sit down and sign the dotted line. You are officially a part of a gym. It’s as if you became part of a new club. You make the decision that tomorrow will be the first day you start working out again. You immediately drive to the nearest store to purchase a new outfit to wear. You arrive home and pack your bag for the morning. The routine begins. For weeks, months, or years you attend regularly. At some point you even get a trainer to take you through a program- showing you how to workout and what to eat. You are trying everything to lose the unwanted fat. Perhaps you make some advance, only to gain it back around the holiday time. You take two steps forward, then one step back. You get in a rut. Your body stops changing no matter how many reps you put in, or how many hours you log on the treadmill. Frustration begins to creep up and you begin to dread going. You start to miss a day here and there, until finally you call it quits. The unfortunate thing is that every month they continue to take money out of your bank account, because you promise yourself you will go back.

My pastor always refers to church as a “bad hobby.” He is right. Showing up every Sunday singing, listening to some dude preach, and perhaps writing a fat check is lame. You are missing the whole point of belonging to a church. The same is true with a gym. Perhaps it is because I live in a concrete jungle (Dallas), but today it seems people are determined to spend more and more hours inside a gym. They are determined to lose those unwanted inches and get into shape. They want to make a change. The problem is most are continuing to live the lifestyle they did before- getting little sleep, eating poorly, laughing very little. Health is so much more than aesthetics (although if we are honest we all want to look “good”). Health encompasses mind, body and spirit.

Today, day five of the next forty days, I made my own gym. It took a little creativity, but the outdoors is limitless. There is nothing you can’t do- it’s just a matter of thinking creatively. I walked in the back yard and looked around for some type of exercise to do. Luckily a sledgehammer leaning against the fence caught my eye.
For five-minute intervals I continually hammered the wood while in-between heading to the street for some sprints. There was no sound of machines, no intimidation of those lifting more, or running faster, but instead beauty all around me (as much as a neighborhood in Dallas can offer). Trees, partly cloudy skies, and the smell of sawdust (from construction next door) accompanied me during my “workout.” Twenty-five minutes later I was spent. For that short time though I felt free of the worries that existed before starting. I felt alive. Fresh air and sunlight is like medicine to the soul. It gave me the opportunity to think, to ponder, and to stand in awe of creation.

Simplicity. I have not found a reason to not desire it yet. The more my life simplifies, the closer I feel to Jesus. The more I let go of, and trust in my Savior, the more joy I feel. More and more I realize how much I need Him. If you are reading (the two of you out there), take a walk today, slow down your life, even for a few minutes and breathe in the fresh air. Whether it is Jesus you follow or some other belief system- notice the beauty of what surrounds you. Take a minute to allow your soul to breathe.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 3: Humbled and Hungry

“I don’t have to worry about the world’s problems, ignorance is bliss.”

Day three was a reality check. I began to feel the discomfort of not always being able to have what I want- when I want. It became a reality having to “go without” for a day. I guess let me start by saying that every man is convicted in a particular way- some a heart for the poor, the oppressed, or the lowly- others compassion for the youth, or perhaps the elderly. Some enjoy packing up and going overseas; some decide staying where they are is best. That is how the body works; one body, all serving in different capacities, all bringing glory to the Creator.

The above statement resonated with me. I have always heard it said, “Ignorance is bliss,” but never stopped to think about it in context of the world’s problems. American culture makes it very easy for us to get lost in small things. By small things I mean spending thirty minutes deciding what restaurant to eat at, worrying about the guy in front of you who cut you off on the highway, not having the latest gadget Apple came out with, or frustration because your Christian friend is drinking an ice cold beer. The world is hurting and the truth is most of us are unaware of how severe it is, or just flat out choose to ignore it. Did you know that 25,000 children die a day as a result of poverty? What about the fact that around 3 billion people, or half of humanity, do not have access to clean WATER. For 80% of humanity men and women walk for miles, in some instances, for a source to retrieve clean water. For us in America it is not about clean water, but rather what brand or filter should we should be purchasing. It is about what bottle we should be using in order to eliminate the greatest amount of chemicals. It’s as if we are living in two separate worlds.

I have been dealing with the fact that I do live in the top percent of the world. Questions race through my mind- wondering what it is I am called to do. Reality is that I, nor the people around me, are going to save the world of its water problem. The world will always be hurting, always be oppressed. There will always be genocide, hunger, poverty, and crime. The question is what am I to do until the day Christ comes to redeem.

Tonight a small group of friends gathered together to “simulate” a poverty dinner. I sat on the floor, in a room lit with candles, surrounded by men and women I have come to love, slowly spooning a cup of beans and rice, (what meals look like to the majority of the world) I couldn’t help but think of the fact that I was still comfortable- still in air conditioning, still showered and clean, still wearing clothes, still able to use the restroom, still in America. What a simple dinner did do was humble me. The Spirit was present in that room tonight. My prayer tonight is that my heart would change- that it would not be about a poverty dinner, but instead a realization that we are called to serve. My hope is that I would wake up tomorrow and remember these gifts which we have been given. That this awareness would humble me to serve and seek out the oppressed, the marginalized, and the lowly... God continue to strip away the things in my life, in our lives, that hold us back from intimacy with You.

Tonight I go to bed hungry... Hoping that when I wake up- I will remember this evening- that it would be lasting.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 1&2: Feeling Good

The last few days have been a jumpstart cleanse if you will. I have decided to eat according to the anti-fungal diet- which is simply meat, above ground veggies, and granny smith apples (with no skin). I feel refreshed. I feel clean. I feel alert. Last night I slept like a rock and woke up refreshed. If you are in a rut with what you are consuming, and not feeling great- I would highly reccomend a couple of days or more on this regiment.
The last few days have been full- The Movement Dallas Co-Op , and other work commitments have kept me from sitting and pondering what the next forty days will look like. Tomorrow I have cleared up all activities for a little R&R.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring a time to sit and really think about what the next 38 days will look like. Until then, I am going to read my new book- Serve God, Save the Planet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Next 40 Days

At least once a year you look around and see the clutter that begins to accumulate around you. Your garage begins to mirror a thrift store, you are unable to make sense of your closet, papers pile high on your desk, and dust storm overtakes your house. You know what needs to happen… spring cleaning. This common practice takes place once a year (sometimes twice for those OCD people out there, or if you’re my sister everyday). You take inventory and begin to deep clean your garage, closet, bedroom, car, whatever you see that needs it. You clear out enough space, sell enough “old clothes,” clean enough counter tops, so that the next eleven months you are able to accumulate more junk to do it again the next year.

Life kind of works the same way. There are numerous ways cleaning can take place. For those that are discipline it could be a daily engagement, or perhaps weekly. Others ignore their bodies cry for change for months, even years- until it’s required- or it’s too late. We live everyday at such high speeds that we forget we are emotional creatures, created to think, write, wonder, ask questions, laugh, and rest. We live in a society that’s foundation is built on consumerism. We eat, drink, and work more than any other society in the world. There is no siesta. There is no break in the day. There is rarely anything that we go without. We begin to lose sight of the things that matter. We get going so fast we forget to change lanes, find a rest stop, and gear up again for the next leg of the journey. Individually we need a break- communally we need something that will bring us closer together. So here we go…

For the next forty days life will look a little different. My hope is that through these small sacrifices, I will consume less and feel more. My prayer is that after these 40 days, my life will look radically different. My longing is for more simplicity, and ultimately- more of Jesus. The common luxuries that tend to keep me content, or just numb my mind to the hurt within, will be eliminated. Nutritionally I will try and allow my body to rest- clearing the garbage that exists within, providing mental clarity and dependence upon something else other than food. My purpose is to clear a portion of my colored soul.

What might something like this look like?

Glad you asked...

Socially: No TV. No movies- in home or at theater. No out-to-eat. No “free” spending.

Nutritionally: No packaged or processed food. No sugar of ANY kind. No grains. No dairy. No alcohol. No processed meats. No olives. No coffee. No peanuts or pistachios. No potatoes. Only using coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil to cook with. Only water, and Enfusia to drink.

Spiritually: Food fast once a week. Emphasis on slowing down- reading, writing, thinking, asking questions, meditating, and praying. Finding a unique way to serve. That this next forty days will not be about me- but about understanding more about the King I serve.

Physically: Real movement. Finding time to walk, run, sprint, lift weights, parkour, ride a bike, jump rope, or skip. Real sleep. Becoming more sensitive to your bodies needs/wants.

This is not the save all formula. This is not THE answer. For me and for those living this with me, this is what we have come up with. These are simple things that will hopefully bring us more of reality. Hopefully in 40 days I will be consuming less and feeling more.