Making Changes: Resolved To Be Unresolved

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It is New Years Eve. I suppose I should have a list of resolutions. I don’t and I don’t plan on having any. The truth is I don’t feel like lying to myself or anyone else. Unless something happens in the next few hours I’ll probably be the same guy tomorrow that I am now. What I mean is that I’m bringing the same guy into this year that I had with me all of last year – and he hasn’t changed all that much. Sure, I’ve gotten older and I did learn some things in 2012. In fact in resolving to be unresolved I’m actually putting into practice something I learned last year about change.
Change happens because our hearts change – and with the heart our attitudes – and with our attitudes our lives. So – why lie and say I’m resolved to lose weight by going and doing things I hate and making myself miserable. Sure, I’ll do that for a while but it isn’t going to be long before I find a way to opt out of that program. I’ll endure it but my heart and attitude will not change and thus my life will not change either. Resolutions always end up that way for me.
Which means the weight I intended to lose last year will still be hanging around – even if I change my diet for while and start a rigorous exercise plan. If I’m eating food I hate and enduring exercising at the gym you can bet before long I’ll be making excuses (lying to me) to get out of going. So – why start the year off with a lie?
Nope – I’m into telling the truth – especially to me. So I’m resolved to be unresolved especially as it relates to change. I’ve done a bunch of research over the last few years on the subject of change. Real change happens when people wake up to something big – something pushes them (conflict, tension, pain, truth) to do the hard work that is necessary to really, really change. Frankly, looking good in a bathing suit is not a real motivator for me to do the hard work to lose a lot of weight.
But my family is. While I am resolved to be unresolved about making New Years Resolutions I am resolved to loving my family. In fact I’ve very willing to do the hard work for them that is necessary to be around for a while – and healthy while I’m here.
Resolutions don’t do much for me – except make me lie to myself and others about how I’m planning to change. But start talking to me about what I love and I’ll probably be willing to do whatever it takes to get “the job done.”
That’s what happened to me earlier this month. Since moving to St. Louis back in July I’ve gotten to know a hand-full of folks. I’m learning that people here are pretty good folks. Well – one man is becoming what I call a good friend. Friendship is not a word I throw around lightly. A friend to me is a person who lives out of the law of love – which means they are willing to risk offending you to tell you the truth about YOU.
This man – who is older than I am by nearly 35 years – took me out for coffee. As we sat together he asked me to consider where I would be in 35 years regarding my health. He talked to me about my family – my wife and sons – and then suggested that I start taking better care of myself now. He asked about my dad (who died at 51 from a heart attack) and encouraged me to think about how that affected me and how I thought it would impact my kids. He also talked about the fact that if I started doing what it takes now – by the time I hit his age – well – I’d be a lot healthier, able to do more with my family.
My friend hit me in the right spot – the heart. He didn’t talk about death and dying, he talked to me out of the law of love – and what I love.
So – since that conversation I’ve been exercising every day. I’m eating way healthier.

I’m trying harder to do a little self-care. Not for me – but for those I love. I don’t need a resolution for that. My attitude has changed and I’m willing to do things I hate because of those I love.

Change or Die - Fast Company
The author goes on to point out that giving people the facts or even talking to them about crisis (heart disease is a serious crisis) isn’t enough to get most folks to change. Yes it will for the short-term perhaps but not the long-term – where it is real change. Human beings resist change – even when we know it will help us. But when we are not only hit with facts but with “feelings” as well – then real change can occur. Alan Deutschman, the article’s author, quotes John Kotter insight, “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings…In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help others see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thoughts.”
Well – there you have it. I am resolved to be unresolved about making any sort of New Years resolutions. I don’t feel guilty about that at all because I am resolved to make real change because I love my family and – while I’m around I don’t want to be round.
Happy New Year!
Oh – one more little treat – here is a great poem by Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry PIc
The Future

For God’s sake, be done
with this jabber of “a better world.”
What blasphemy! No “futuristic”
twit or child thereof ever
in embodied light will see
a better world than this.
Do something! Go cut the weeds
beside the oblivious road. Pick up
the cans and bottles, old tires,
and dead predictions. No future
can be stuffed into this presence
except by being dead. The day is
clear and bright, and overhead
the sun not yet half finished
with his daily praise.
~ Wendell Berry ~
(Given)

 

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A Son of the South Goes South of the Border: Fajitas

 You may think this is strange but I’ve discovered that my love language is cooking. What I mean is that one of the ways that I show my family I love them is through cooking. I love it – and I especially love it when my wife and sons really, really enjoy what I’ve cooked. That is not to say that I’m a great cook – but I want to be and I am trying to learn. What makes this all the more enjoyable is that cooking isn’t so much about me (although I benefit) but about my family.

Last night I stumbled across a new dish that was amazing. One of the best parts is that it combined a marinade that Sherry created a few weeks back with something I did. Perhaps even more importantly it helped to get my youngest son to eat veggies (something he does not care for). So – I thought I’d share – first because I was thrilled with the results and because of that I want to offer it.

Sherry’s Simple Marinade:

A few weeks back Sherry experimented a bit and came up with a very simple marinade – which is amazing on beef and chicken. We’ve tried it on both – grilled the meat – and it has been awesome.

In a large zip lock back “dump,” as Sherry put it, Italian Seasoning, Olive Oil, and Soy Sauce. Then put in either beef or chicken. Zip that bad boy up – shake it around and then place it in the fridge for a few hours. That’s it. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Fajitas

Ingredients:

  1. Strip Steak – (or Chicken): it is important to get good quality meat, well marbled.
  2. Sherry’s Simple Marinade
  3. Red Pepper
  4. Yellow Pepper
  5. Orange Pepper
  6. Garlic (one clove)
  7. Onion (1/2)
  8. Fresh Basil
  9. Salted Butter
  10. Worchester Sauce (thick and thin if you’ve got them)
  11. Sea Salt
  12. Crushed Black Pepper

Grill your Steak:

I love to grill – so I recommend grilling the marinated strip steak (or chicken). Since this is a thin cut of meat be sure to keep an eye on it. Don’t overcook – you do not want this meat to be dry (but you do want to make sure you cook it thoroughly – 165 degrees). I actually cooked my steak the day before and took it from the grill and immediately put it in an airtight container and placed it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Prep the Steak (chicken) Veggies & Stuff

  • Cut up the peppers into smallish – thin strips.
  • I cut ½ an onion – I like mine sort of small so they will cook up better
  • Chop up the garlic clove
  • Cut up the fresh basil very fine
  • Cut the steak into long strips – not too thin

Cook it up:

In a large skillet – over medium heat – melt salted butter (I like the flavor butter adds. Yes I know Olive Oil is healthier but we are going for love here). After the butter has melted toss in the veggies, garlic, basil, salt & pepper. Toss that around for a while – let those flavors mingle. Add a little of the Worchester sauce (thick if you’ve got it). When those things have cooked up add the steak (or chicken). Add a little more Worchester sauce if you want. Make sure that you mix the meat into the other ingredients. Cover it for a while and let it sit on low heat.

Serve it up:

Warm up some tortillas. Place rice and beans in the middle of the tortilla and add a little cheese – then add the fajita mix on top. Top it with sour cream if you have a mind to – or a bit of hot sauce or salsa. Serve it up to your family for an awesome meal!

Resources:

The Jacked Up Grill – http://jackedupgrill.blogspot.com/

The Flavor Bible – http://www.becomingachef.com/flavor_bible.php

An Obsession with Pancakes

 

Great Pancakes - Great Coffee - Great Saturday

The whole “love language” thing has always been a mystery to me. Not because I think it is weird or untrue but because for years I didn’t think I had a love language. In fact someone once asked me if I knew my wife’s love language and I was able to fire it off quick. But then they asked me mine and I stood there looking dumber than I usually do. Never again. Now I know my love language. It’s pancakes.

Pancakes are the way that I tell my family I love them. Almost every Saturday morning – unless soccer, lacrosse or something else dictates otherwise – I find myself in my kitchen, mixing and flipping. As you can imagine – as an act of love – these are no ordinary, just add water pancakes. Nope. These are made from scratch and they are tasty.

I started making pancakes years ago – first as just something different and fun. What I noticed is that my kids thought it was cool that Dad was making them something special. It took on a life of its own after that. I started researching how to make them better and better (partly out of love and part because I get a little crazy and super focused). One of the best places that I’ve found for learning how to do anything in the kitchen is America’s Test Kitchen (if you want to really learn the science of cooking check them out). 

What I have now is a simple recipe that I’ve pulled from different places and made my own – and one I’m glad to share. But remember – it is an act of love. I’d recommend to every dad – tell your family you love them by making really good pancakes – or really good grilled cheese sandwiches or burgers or BBQ.  Go the extra mile and make it extraordinary.

Pancakes:

  • 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups of Milk
  • Butter
  • A bit of Lemon juice (I go for fresh but you can use the bottled kind too)
  • Pinch or so of Salt
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Drop of Vanilla
  • Some baking powder
  • Some baking soda
  • A little sugar (sometimes I use brown sugar) not too much of either
  • Griddle (I don’t use a skillet go for a griddle – heat to about 350-400).
  • Spatula – a really good – large, floppy kind so you can flip ’em over
Directions:
Add this to the other ingredients – mix well but do not over mix. You want the lumps in the batter.
Throw some batter on the griddle in pancake size shapes. Wait till the edges have started to firm up a bit – then carefully flip ’em and let ’em cook for a minute or so.
Then serve them up nice and hot with some great syrup.

Cooking 'em up

Fun with Syrup:

  • Jack Daniels Syrup: put a good amount of syrup (two cups or more) in a small pot and put on medium heat. Add a few table spoons of Jack (I don’t want to “waste” my JD) to it and let it come to a boil. It adds a little kick to the syrup for Mom & Dad. (BTW I saw a guy use this syrup and pancakes with his BBQ on Diners-Drive Ins and Dives not sure about that but I guess if your BBQ is bad JD makes it eatable).
  • Organic Molasses add a nice touch as well.

 

Meals

Believe me this sandwich at Carl's in St. Louis is amazing!

There are times when I can’t help but say, as a good friend of mine is very apt to say, “Thanks be to God!” I have to confess, however, I usually say that when I come across really great food. Today I was sitting at a table with pastors from different parts of the US. We sat down in a little place in St. Louis – devouring Hot Pastrami sandwiches. Believe me, if you like Hot Pastrami sandwiches you’ll love the ones at Carl’s in St. Louis. To borrow from my southern heritage – “they’d make a puppy pull a freight train.” They are that good.

What stood out in my mind, even as I enjoyed bite after bite, is how right it was for us, as pastors to enjoy this meal together. The Christian life is marked by meals (Biblically Jesus broke bread with all sorts of folk and Christian folk are known for potlucks). What makes our sharing all the more appropriate is that we had spent the morning discussing the Lord’s Supper – the meal that Jesus gave to His people the night that He was betrayed – and the meal that Christians ought to be most known. There is something about a meal and The Meal in the Christian life and imagination which is ever so important.

What makes the Lord’s Supper so amazing is that it holds within itself what Mark Dalbey calls the full picture  – at the same time it plays a part of the gospel centered or focused worship. The Lord’s Supper itself possess something else – a trifecta so to speak. It not only points back (not just to when Christ instituted it but further to Passover), it deals with the present (because those who partake of the meal are in the present – aware of their present need and grateful for what Christ has done for them), and it also deals with the future (the hope in Christ’s second coming). In that way the meal points to another meal – the feast – the banquet – the grand celebration when God’s Kingdom is fully restored.

I sat among these men this morning listening as many of them shared their questions as well as their struggles with the meal. Each of them, I am sure, wants nothing more than the meal to do all that Jesus intended for that meal to do for His people. What stood out to me is how long between meals so many of Christians go between meals. Some out of concern for the meal becoming “rote” or “to ordinary.” Some men shared concerns over the elements – wine or juice. All along the words of institution kept rolling through my mind. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim Christ’s death until He comes.”

That I think is what makes the meal significant, whole. It really isn’t the mode. It really isn’t in the elements themselves (wine or juice). It isn’t in who distributes. The meal is significant, for lots of reasons I suppose, but mostly, I believe, because through it we remember Christ’s death until He comes. What is it that we are to remember about His death? What He has done for us by His death and resurrection. How could we ever grow tired of remember that? How could that ever become rote or ordinary?

There is something significant about meals in the life and imagination of the Christian – especially the Lord’s Supper and one day the Supper of the Lamb and the Banquet. Thanks be to God!