Sunday, November 18, 2018

I Went to Church Today, But Didn't Have To.


I could I have done something different this morning.  But I didn't.  Know why?

I love church and want to go.

I enjoy being there.  I love the atmosphere.  I love the happiness in the voices of all the people, the laughter and joy, the greetings of friends old and new, and the hugs.

You don’t have to beg me to be show up.  Nothing competes for my dedication to the worship hour on Sunday.  I will be there, rain or shine, feeling it or not.  Even when on vacation, I usually look for a house of worship when Sunday comes rolling around.

I met my wife in church.  I was married in church.  I was baptized in church.  I dedicated my babies in church.  And I’ve made life-long friends in church.

Most importantly, I have come to know Jesus Christ in church.

 So what did we do in church today?

1.  We worshiped collectively as the Body of Christ.  Had I stayed home I would have missed my God-given opportunity to worship with fellow believers.    The Christian life was never meant to be solitary. All of the biblical metaphors for a church indicate a plurality, never a singularity: we are a body, a flock, a building, and a holy nation. There are no “lone wolves” in biblical Christianity.

2.  We had a full 80 minutes of uninterrupted time focusing on nothing else than God.  From the call to worship, prayers, songs, scripture reading, message, and benediction, it was 80 minutes of focusing on God.  Had I stayed home to worship on my own, after 10 minutes or so I would have thought of a dozen other things to do.

3.  We were prompted and reminded to prioritize spiritual things that we may not have thought of on our own.  A public assembly on the Lord’s Day has a certain anointing that does not exist elsewhere.  It’s how we “provoke one another unto good works.”

4.  We “remembered” Jesus’ death.  We received communion today and were reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice that made our salvation possible.  Our tendency is to allow the pace of life, the challenges of life, even the routine of our religion to fog up the importance of what Christ did for us on the cross.  And when our memory fades, so does our wonder of Christ.

5.  I witnessed many others who were there for the same reason as myself -  they wanted to be there - and it was very encouraging to me.  There were a lot of people in church today who had every reason to stay home.  A few people were there after working the night shift all night long.  Their attendance was a personal sacrifice and great inconvenience.  But as members in the Body, they knew their part was vital to the whole.  Seeing their dedication and selfless service for the sake of others was inspiring.  

Yea, I was glad I went to church today.

And I plan on being there next Sunday and the Sunday after that.

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go to the house of the LORD (Psalms 122:1)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What I Have Learned from One Year of Lifting Weights


This week marks one year that I have been on a serious workout program.  I began last year - the week before Thanksgiving - and have stayed with it ever since.

Here’s a few things I have learned along the way. 

#1.  Finding my “inner reason” was the key to get going.

Starting when I did was strategic.  I didn't want to gain weight during the holidays... only to start an exercise routine in January, so I figured I would get a jump start on things.  

i.e., There's something called "weight gain creep" which means every year during the holidays many of us add about 5 pounds of body fat and never work it back off.  Decade-after-decade goes by and it really begins  to add up.  One day we look in the mirror and realize we've packed on fifty-to-eighty pounds since high school.

More importantly, I turned 60 last year which got me thinking more and more about the quality of life I wanted to live for my remaining years.  I decided I wanted be as healthy and active as possible in my 60s and beyond.   I don’t want to shrivel up in my senior years, become obese, or die from heart disease.

If I am to continue in the ministry - or whatever the future holds for me - I must be healthy to be productive.  

Besides, I’m an active outdoors-man (I like to fish, go boating, camping, work in my garden, hike trails, ride bikes, go canoeing, etc, etc, ) and I’m not ready to give that up.  Living my remaining years in Miami playing shuffleboard with the old people is not part of the plan.

That was my inner reason – to be healthy and fit in my 60s. 

I realize I will never have my 30-year-old body again, but it doesn’t mean I have to shrivel up either.  I can still be active, have more energy, and keep up with the grand-kids. 

If you’ve been thinking about beginning an exercise program but just can’t get started, find an inner reason.  It makes all the difference.  Do you want to look good?  Be healthy?  Have more energy and confidence?  Regain youthful strength?  Slow down the aging process? Find your own inner reason - whatever it is - and it will motivate you to get started and stay with it for a lifestyle change.

#2.  No one else really cares what I'm doing.  I get it.

It’s exciting to talk about what’s going on in my life, but the truth is most people don’t really care that much. 

I’m good with that. 

Know why?  I’m doing it for me... and that's why I haven't said anything for one year.  

Besides, the more time I spend talking to others about what I’m doing the less time I devote to actually making it happen!  Instead, I free myself up to achieve a lot more when I stop trying to tell everyone.  I simply put my head down and do the work quietly while no one is watching.

By the way, if you find your own inner reason to get started, you'll feel the same way.  An audience will not be needed. 

#3.  My gains have been slower.  A lot slower.

When I was younger I could start working out and within six weeks I would be pumping weight like a boss, and in six months I would pack on several pounds of muscle.

Not now.

Took me a while to figure that out.

At my age, making progress comes a lot slower than in my 30s & 40s.  I mean a lot slower.  My body just doesn’t respond as quickly.  Getting stronger and adding muscle doesn’t come so easy.  And losing body fat seems to take forever.  Fooooor - evvvvver.

Dang!

Understanding this – (no, figuring it out after injuring myself a few times) has helped me tailor a good workout routine and pace myself appropriately.   

I went to the doctor for a checkup to make sure all my vitals on the inside were good.  Then I began an exercise routine, starting out very slow and easy – walking, then progressing to interval jogging, then bike riding, and finally to serious strength training.

Twelve months of lifting weights has improved my strength dramatically.  I'm lifting like a boss again - (that is, like a 61 year old boss 😎).   I have added a few pounds of muscle and lost body fat (especially the visceral belly fat that collects inside the abdominal cavity around the organs and causes all sorts of diseases).  I’m sleeping better at night (most of time). My appetite is under control and my blood pressure is down too.  Plus, many of the aches and pains in my joints that have plagued me for years are now alleviated (I live almost pain free). 

4.  Lifting weights feels good and I really enjoy it.

Physical activity reduces stress by releasing endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Although (both) cardio and strength training stimulate your body to release endorphins, your body produces more endorphins in a faster period of time when you're weight lifting.

Now that I have plowed through the painful stage of beginner (sore muscles, struggling with self-motivation, etc) and reached the intermediate stage, I really look forward to my workouts.  Instead of being a struggle, they are enjoyable and empowering.  

Finally....

I have chosen something that gives me a little bit of self-improvement each day.  It's a much better option than dissipating myself through over-indulgence, the party life, toxic relationships, over-consumerism, and expensive toys as a vehicle to self-identity.

I just want to be healthy and live a long active life.  I still have places to go, people to meet, and things to do.

PS ...... and fish to catch.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Want to Retire But Can't Afford To!


You want to retire?  Can't afford to?

You're not alone.

It's no secret that millions of baby boomers are approaching their retirement years with meager savings and no pension at all.

This means retirement in the traditional sense of "not working" while maintaining your standard of living just isn't a possibility for many baby boomers.

Here are a few ideas that might help....

First, downsize everything.

The most important thing to do is downsize your debt. If you are not part of the millionaire’s club, you will struggle without your career paycheck.  Attack your debt with intensity. Start by paying off your credit cards. Ditch the car payment by driving a beater. You must downsize your debt.

Consider downsizing your home and possessions. Sell your house and use the equity to buy a small place with cash and pay off your debts. Find a way to pay off your mortgage.  Get rid of the clutter with an auction sale and use the proceeds to attack debt. You really don’t need three cars, two boats, a fleet of ATVs, and a time-share-condo. Downsize your home and possessions. 

Downsize your retirement expectations too. Sure, a few people made smart investments and can retire to Tuscany and live in a Villa. But many cannot. If you picture retirement as one big party on the Love Boat you need to downsize your expectations. The post-career years can be some of the best years of your life but you need to be realistic.


Second, explore an encore career.

An encore career is a job which gives you greater personal satisfaction while earning an income. It combines enjoyment with a paycheck.

Before you walk away from your established career ask yourself some of these questions. What would I like to do even if it paid nothing? Which of my hobbies could be turned into a revenue stream? What need exists which could be met by combining my strengths and passions?

Encore careers, depending on individual interests and financial needs, range from starting a travel agency to buying garage sale items and selling them online. Give it some careful thought. Go with your gut. Start exploring these possibilities now while you still the security of a regular paycheck.


Third, get in the best physical shape possible.

Stop smoking.  Eat better.  Exercise.  Get plenty of rest.  Take care of yourself.

Extra weight is a killer. And if it doesn’t kill you it will cost you. Those added pounds cause diabetes, heart disease, and other health related concerns. If you face retirement age with little cash reserves you cannot roll the dice on your health. You must do everything possible to lose weight.

If you are overweight and have failed to lose the pounds in previous attempts remind yourself now is the time to get serious. You may not have another chance to attack the weight. It is now or never.

Even if weight is not issue start a walking program. If you can only walk one lap through the local mall start doing it. Progress until you are walking at least two miles a day six days a week. You will be surprised how walking helps you physically and makes you feel sharper mentally.

Before you leave your career make an appointment with your doctor and get a complete physical. Now is the time to address any health issues. If you wait to check on your health you might discover a need after your income drops and your insurance isn’t as good. Take the time now to deal with any health issues.


Fourth, get on your knees and thank God that you will continue working in your retirement years.

When your friends talk about 401ks, IRAs, pension plans, and a couple million in the bank, you feel the need to fight back tears.  Right?

You didn’t intended to end up this way, but things just didn’t work out… for whatever reason.

Get over the tears… get on your knees and thank God that you will (might) have to continue working in your senior years.  Here’s why:


(1)  When you keep working instead of taking conventional retirement, you stay more connected instead of less connected.

Many people who retire tend to unplug from the world. Their world grows smaller. The circle of work friends disappears. Any social engagement from the job is gone. Golf courses of America are full of lonely retirees fantasizing about the good old days when they were involved in something meaningful. But if you continue to work you maintain friendships. You meet new people. You stay connected.

(2) When you keep working instead of taking conventional retirement, you remain active and healthy instead of becoming lazy and unhealthy.

How many people have you known who retired and “enjoyed” a life of watching old TV shows while they got bigger and lazier? It’s easy to do.  But if you keep on working you stay active and keep the extra pounds off.

Finally, The traditional understanding of retirement is no longer relevant to a growing number of men and women today.  They continue working for the purpose of fulfillment, often choose second or third careers, or find non-profit organizations or religious causes to dedicate themselves to, and stay fully engaged in the process of living an active, productive life.

Myself, I am unwilling to winter with the old folks in South Florida.  Playing another round of shuffle board is not my thing.  Neither do I want to live at the same maddening pace of my first half.  Knowing that I have another twenty years or so to live (God willing) I want to live them as productively as possible, vigorously pursuing the things that mean the most to me.  I want to run my race well and cross the finish line strongly.

I think that's what you're supposed to do in the 2nd half.

If you start doing these things ( and many others like them) you will not enter into panic mode when retirement comes knocking on your door. Begin now.  You will be glad you did.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Buy Less but Buy Better Quality


The purpose of having money – you would think – would be to buy more things and enjoy the finer things in life.  The more money you have, the more choices you have.  Right? Buy anything you want!

But you don’t have to be rich to enjoy nice things in life.

You just have to buy better quality.

Take steak for instance.  You can buy a New York Strip at Bonefish Grill in Pensacola and you are eating the best steak money can buy for around $30.  Eat the same piece of meat at New World Landing and you’ll pay $100.

What’s the difference?

Prestige.  That’s all.

Better yet, go to the grocery store and buy the same steak for $18 and cook it at home, and you're eating as good as a millionaire.

Take sleeping.  What does a millionaire want when they go to bed at night?  The same thing you want: a good night of sleep and waking up feeling rested.  And what will give you that?

Answer:  A great mattress.

Get rid of that lumpy thing you’re sleeping on and get the absolute best mattress you can afford.  Buy it and go to sleep, content that Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg have it no better.

You can pay almost any price for anything, but after a certain price point you are no longer paying for quality.  You are paying for prestige.

Your Wardrobe.  What does it cost to wear the nice clothes?  Much less than you think.

If you can forget about brand names and fashion trends, and learn to look for quality instead, you will save hundreds (thousands) and look better.  Look for natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, etc) and strong stitching.

Go for classic looks and stay away from trends.  That way you won’t have to discard perfectly good clothing simply because it has gone out of style this year.

The other big secret:  less is more.

Ralph Lauren, a guy who is rich and has access to clothing like none of us, wears the same things (almost) every day – classic cut jeans and a quality tee shirt.

Simple, yet elegant.

A few, really nice items are much better and more enjoyable (and more impressive to others) than a huge wardrobe of trendy stuff.

Want specifics?  Get yourself two or three pairs of slacks (or skirts).  One or two suits.  A few pair of quality jeans.  Two or three pair of shoes.   Buy only what you love.

The rule is to have less, but love everything you have.

Buy classic styles.  Stay away from fashion trends.  Insist on quality.  A few things are better than many things.  Simple is better than flashy.  Do this and you will have what the rich have – a very pleasant feeling every time you pull on your shirt or buckle your belt.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Turnips from the Garden


Just pulled this turnip from the garden.  The bulb is about 3-4" across.  I have a row 50' long of them that are ready to harvest.... just in time for Thanksgiving!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Couple of Photos from the Homestead


This Bell Pepper plant still producing... (we use these to cook with. Straight from the garden to the stove). I'm especially happy with my Mandarin Satsuma (Tangerine). It's putting on a good show this year - not quite ripe yet. The grand-kids love coming over to pick straight off the tree.