Newz We Can Yooz

This just in …

The Dow is at least two times higher today than it was just 15 years ago.

The employment rate in America for January, 2009, was 92.4% — thus, there are nearly 153 million employed people in this country.

Median home values adjusted for inflation have nearly quadrupled over the 60-year period since the first housing census in 1940. Median home value increased in each decade of this 60-year period, rising fastest (43 percent) in the 1970s and slowest (8.2 percent) in the 1980s.

President Obama is bright, charismatic, and a consensus builder.

Gasoline is only $1.70 per gallon these days. Nonetheless, our migration to alternative energy sources will increase rapidly over the next several years, which will not only will be better for the planet … but it will make us less beholden to oil countries who don’t like us and who don’t share the same values.

Many days are sunny, but precipitation is a wonderful thing too because it provides water to drink and enables plants to grow.

We live in a democratic country, and if you disagree with how the country or your community is being governed, you have a myriad of options as a free citizen for fostering positive change. Also, each vote counts.

If you want to go to school and learn something new, you can do that at any age.

Even in the most densely populated cities, there are parks and open space nearby.

Our pets love us no matter what.

Hard Work and Goals

If you want to succeed, you have to roll up your sleeves.

If you want to see your dreams become reality, you have to put your hand to the plow.

God worked 6 days to create the world, and He did not rest until the 7th day. For in Genesis 2:1-3 it is written:

“Thus the heavens and the hearth were completed, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

There really are no shortcuts to success. And you must believe that our awesome God can do awesome things through you … if you are willing to put forth the effort.

In addition to hard work, you must have a clear vision of where you want to go. Sit down and write down your goals. Describe them in detail, and then follow a plan for realizing them.

Here are 4 words to remember during this process of defining your vision:
(1) Goal, (2) Action, (3) Review, and (4) Adjust.

Goal – First define your goal in detail, write down what it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like, etc. Be very specific about what you want to accomplish. Again, write it down – there is something very powerful about documenting your vision.

Action – Then take action and move toward your goal, even if you must start taking small steps. For example, if one of your goals is to get a college degree, it might seem like a daunting task if you have not yet started college. Thus, a small step which would start moving you toward your goal would be to simply start calling local colleges to inquire about admission, cost of courses, etc. Just start calling. Take action, take a step toward your goal no matter how small that step might seem.

Review – After you have started moving toward your goal, step back and determine if you are still on target. Are the actions you have been taking still moving you in the direction of your goal? Get very clear about the status of your progress toward your goal.

Adjust – If you decide that you have veered off course, simply make the necessary adjustments to get back on course. You know what your goal is, you have stated it very specifically on paper, and so if you notice that you are beginning to miss your target then you will be able to adjust and get back on target.

And the cycle keeps repeating itself. Get clear on your goal, take more action toward your goal, step back now and then to review your progress, and adjust if necessary to stay on target. Then keep dreaming … take more action, and keep moving forward … and keep reviewing … and keep adjusting … and take more action …

But again, reaching goals means putting forth the effort, it means striving to bring your dreams into reality … through God’s strength and blessing.

Say to yourself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Also say, “If God is for me, who can be against me?”

By God’s strength and grace, you can do it!

Weight Watchers

My lovely wife has been a member of Weight Watchers (WW) for many years. She joined to get help losing 30 lbs. that she had gained in the years immediately after college. (In case you are wondering, my wife reviewed and approved this entire post before it was published).

WW was founded over 40 years ago by a woman who began inviting friends into her home once a week to discuss how best to lose weight. Today, it is the “world’s leading provider of weight management services,” and is dedicated to helping people “lose weight safely and effectively and keep it off.” According to their web site, the focus is not on teaching people how to diet, but on inspiring and helping people adopt a healthier way to live. I love that philosophy … it is good for each one of us, and good for all of us.

Body. Mind. Spirit. Community.

I had the good fortune of being involved in 4-H when I was kid, and now many years later I can still recite the 4-H pledge:

I pledge …
My head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service, and
My health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country, and my world.

My wife takes the bus to the WW program office, and so I am the lucky one who gets to pick her up after the weigh-in. When she gets in my truck, she is generally either perturbed to be .43 pound over her goal weight, or delighted to be .67 pound under her goal weight.

If she is a fraction of a pound over her goal weight and perturbed, I try to comfort her by saying something like, “Well you know, Sweetie, that I will always love you just the way you are.” I’m sure that she appreciates my devotion, but she still spends the first few miles travelling down the road processing her memory of every meal she ate over the past month … trying to figure out where that .43 pound may have come from.

As for myself, I can get down to 204 lbs. if I cut my hair, trim my toenails, blow my nose, clean out my ear wax, not drink or eat anything for several hours, empty my bladder, have a bowel movement, and get completely naked before getting on the scale.

At 204 lbs., I am exactly 40 lbs. heavier than I was when I got married 10 years ago. So, if I continue to add 4 lbs. every year, I should hit 300 lbs. by the year 2033 – just in time to be looking in vain for the monthly Social Security check that I would normally be receiving at age 73.

Now I was either emaciated when I got married at 164 lbs., or I have packed on a few pounds over the years. The increased weight is not all muscle mass, I can assure you. And if I packed them on, by golly I can pack some of them off. (I refuse to believe that the extra weight has made me more jolly and huggable).

One thing I do to create a healthier lifestyle is to build exercise into my daily routine. I am so glad that my cubicle is on the 5th floor of the office building, I made up my mind when we moved into this building that I would take the stairs at all times … the only exceptions are when I am in a hurry, or when I am engaged in a business discussion with someone who is taking the elevator.

On the rare occasion when I am in a hurry and get in the elevator at the 1st floor, I must admit to being a wee bit irritated when some perfectly healthy and fit twenty-something gets in on the 2nd floor and gets off at the 3rd floor. I’m tempted to say, “Get that freakin’ fone implant out of your ear, Buddy, and get yo’ ass in the stairwell,” but I never say that because I try to be a compassionate soul.

I am also blessed by the fact that my wife is a registered Dietician, and we eat quite well around here. We eat whole-grain low-sugar cereals, low-fat or no-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, free-range organic eggs and meats (turkey, chicken, and fish), lots of fruits and vegetables, and when we bake we use whole-grain flours (not that processed white crap) and substitute applesauce or something similar for the some of the oil called for in the recipe. And scones, I ain’t giving up my scones … I eat 1 or 2 just about every week (but you didn’t hear that).

I was just kidding earlier when I talked about gaining weight every year leading up to retirement. I don’t envision myself being overweight, poor, and depressed as I enter into retirement … on the contrary, I envision myself being fit, richly blessed, and happy. I hope that you will also create within your mind a positive image of yourself and of what you want to be, and may that image in your mind empower you to manifest it in reality.
Laughter is also good for the whole being, and my prayer is that you are inspired by my blog today … and also enjoyed a few chuckles along the way (not the candy).

What Religion are You?

I suppose that life is much simpler if you are born one religion, live one religion, and die one religion.

There have been millions of Catholics who were born Catholic, lived Catholic, and died Catholic … millions of Jews who were born Jewish, lived Jewish, and died Jewish … millions of Pentecostals who were born Pentecostal, lived Pentecostal, and died Pentecostal … millions of, well you get the picture.

The same applies to your religion, however instead of millions it might be thousands, or hundreds, or even fewer.

Of course, it is something of a misnomer to say that someone is born a religion, for infants don’t really practice a religion. But the socialization into religion for many starts at such a young age, you may as well say you were born a religion.

I did a quick Google search to see if I could find any research that indicates the likelihood of staying in a particular religion, but I could not find any data. For example, what percentage of people born into a Unitarian Universalist home will live and die UU?

The likelihood that you will stay in a particular religion varies from country to country, and from religion to religion. Some religions are so laissez-faire that they don’t know (or don’t care) whether you float in and out, but other religions will deprive you of your existence before they let you leave.

I’d also like to know, by religion, the degree of total adherence to the complete creed. For example, what percentage of Methodist doctrine does the average Methodist believe? Is the average Methodist … 90% Methodist, 5% Baptist, 3% Catholic, and 2% Other? And, what all goes into that Other category?

(As you can see, I am using the term religion to refer to each distinct religious group).

I suspect that most Americans are a mixture of various creeds, even if unwilling to admit it. And again, how mixed you are depends on what religion you were socialized into.

So admit it, my Buddhist friend, you got a little Rastafarian in you … don’t you?

Now if you are a mix, and admit it, don’t believe that your mix is the ONE TRUE religion … and don’t try to proselytize the world into your mix. It is good to have firmly held beliefs, and even to share them with others … but when you seek to superimpose your entire belief system on another, you do not love that other like God does.

So then, what religion is God?

SARCASM ALERT – HERE IT COMES! Surely God is my religion, the one true religion, and everyone in my religion will be in Heaven, and everyone else will go straight to Hell. THERE IT GOES – THAT WAS SARCASM!

We all know that is absurd, right? Go ahead and shout it out loud, it is absurd to believe that:

God is your religion
Your religion is the one true religion
Everyone in your religion will be in Heaven
Everyone else will go straight to Hell

Go ahead and feel the love. Shout it out loud. Be free.

Your religion is not THE religion. My religion is not THE religion. Your mix is not THE mix. My mix is not THE mix.

Come on, let it out. It’s in there, just waiting to spring forth. Don’t be afraid, for if you let it out, it will never really leave you … for if you let it out, it will be out there AND in you.

Embrace, truly embrace, your fellow human being. Accept them as they are, listen to them, and learn from them. There is strength in diversity. Thank God for each person in your life, and endeavor to love them as God loves them.

Go into your innermost being, into your heart of hearts … and feel the love that is God in you.

A Prayer of Forgiveness

Lord, you have said that I cannot expect to be forgiven if I have not forgiven others.

Whoa! Do you really mean that? Yikes, you must mean that, I’ve found it in your Word several times. Hmmm.

But I cannot forgive like you, Lord, you are infinitely more powerful than me. You got a HUGE forgiver, but my forgiver is tiny. I cannot possible keep up with you in spreading forgiveness. In fact, I need you to forgive the people that I cannot forgive. Hmmm. I guess I still don’t understand.

Forgive. I am to forgive. You forgive me, and I am to forgive. If I want to be forgiven, if I expect to be forgiven, if I want my prayers to be heard, then I am to forgive. There’s no way around that, God? Hmmm.

Well, in that case, I guess there is no offense that is more important to me than your blessing. I want to know you, Lord. I want you to hear my prayers, Lord. I want to feel your forgiveness, and I want to be FREE!

I want to be free of the hurt, I want to be free of the offense, I want to be free of any grudge, there is nothing that anyone has ever done to me that is more important to me than … the fullness of my salvation in you, Lord.

I know … that I know … that I know that grace is a free gift. It does not depend on me, and it is not taken from me if I cannot bring myself to forgive. But I want to forgive.

You have forgiven me, and I want others to feel forgiven by me. I want to be free, Lord, I want to be free of holding grudges, and I want to be free of harboring anger and hatred toward others for everything they may have ever done to me.

Holding on … not forgiving, it is just not worth it. Bitterness only entraps me, it stops me, it holds me, and I feel no joy in being bitter, in holding grudges, in withholding forgiveness.

The carnal part of me likes to think that it feels good to hold a grudge against another, but I know in my heart that I want to move on … I want to be free … I want to forgive. I want to be a HUGE forgiver like you, Lord.

I am a forgiving, machine. I am free, and I forgive everyone who has ever wronged me. I forgive everyone who has ever spoken against me, who has ever tried to destroy me with their tongue. I forgive those who have cheated me, stolen from me, I forgive every last one of them.

I forgive those who know me but don’t love me, I forgive them.

I want the blessing of you God on my life, so I forgive.

I want you God, the Almighty One, to hear my prayers, to move mountains for me, so I forgive.

I want to be wise and powerful and humble and rich and generous and loving, so I forgive.

I forgive. I forgive. I forgive.

That’s what I do, I forgive. I love to forgive.

Thank you, Lord.