I Stole This Idea – The Next Best Step

I subscribe to a weblog called the IF Life.  IF stands for “Intermittent Fasting.”  A cool concept, but not the focus of this post.  I am also into two other ideas of his, Two Meals a Day and BodyBurst Training.  But again, not the focus of this post.

The author, Mike O’Donnell, has an article he wrote and sent in his e-mail newsletter and also put on Facebook this morning.  I read through it rather quickly, as I often do, and then had a “WOW” moment; and went back to re-read it slowly and let the material sink in to my conscious.

I’ve nicknamed the idea “TYNBS” which stands for “Take Your Next Best Step.”  This is the main point of Mike’s simple motto; when you’ve done something that screws up your plans (in health, fitness, diet, training, or even your job, relationships or your lifestyle – don’t sit and whine about it.  Don’t be consumed with guilt.  Don’t even worry about it (okay, take three minutes to worry, then put it in your ‘worry box’ and forget about it).

Decide to TYNBS – Take Your Next Best Step.  As Mike explains, “It doesn’t really matter how you got there, only what you are going to do next.”  His point is this:  Okay, now what?  What are you going to do today?  What is the next best step for you to take now?  Don’t tell me that after Christmas (I really dislike calling this time of year the holidays) you plan to start a new exercise program.  I do not want to hear about the great diet you’re going to be engaged in as a new year’s resolution.  I want you (and especially me) to tell me what you’re going to do now – what’s your “Next Best Step?”

You know I recently posted an article following a small weight gain that I was going to “Quit Bread.”  I know I’m not perfect and may (probably will) slip up and fool myself into thinking, “well, it’s just this one time… I’m having a burger with some friends and I’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow.”  The goal now is to recognize the event if and when it happens and to not beat myself up over it.  I need to Take My Next Best Step.

This simple motto from Mike becomes a mantra.  Didn’t make the time to get the kettlebell swings in – take the next best step.  Disappointed my wife when I forgot to do something she had asked – take the next best step.  Let a day slide without studying my future means of self-employment as a freelance copywriter – take the next best step.  As with any of the areas discussed, including health, fitness, diet, finances, relationships, job or lifestyle, accept the mistake, quickly evaluate the situation, re-focus and determine what it is and “Take Your Next Best Step.”

This is what I’m going to do.  Mike tells us to “reflect and focus on what you want to do in life.  It won’t happen by chance.”  And like he suggests in his post, repeat this process … hourly … daily …monthly … for a lifetime.

You can, and I recommend you do, read his article here.  Then apply the motto to your own life.

~ Chuck

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The Bionic Energizer Bunny Woman

The “Bionic Energizer Bunny” Woman

What else would you call someone who tirelessly works to help others – family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers?  Someone who’s home is always ‘show-ready’ and comfortably lived-in?  Who never seems to slow down – even after two complete knee replacements (one about six years ago and one seven weeks ago), major repair surgery for a torn rotor cuff injury that same year, and other surgeries and medical procedures for various personal and health problems over her lifetime?

This lady has been a widow for a bit over two years but has put her memories in a treasured mental love box (63 years married to the same wonderful man) and continues to live and enjoy life.

It has been said of her that “she has never met a stranger – just people she hasn’t gotten to know yet”.  If you meet her for the first time, within minutes, she’ll engage you in conversation and know more about you in ten minutes than you’ve shared with your best friend in ten years (okay, but it’s only a slight exaggeration).  She simply has a knack for making you feel comfortable and at home, and that she genuinely is interested in YOU – and she is!

Friends and strangers alike are often amazed, at nearly 84 years old, how she keeps going, and going, and – got the picture?  The ‘Energizer Bunny’ come to life in a senior lady that does not know the meaning of the words stop, can’t or rest.  Her philosophy seems to be she’ll rest when she’s dead and you can try, but you won’t stop her – and she really does not know the meaning of ‘can’t’ – her attitude is maybe not now, but eventually.

If she likes you (and there is an extremely small list of those she doesn’t), there is nothing she won’t try to do for you.  Need a few bucks?  Done.  Need a meal; or two?  Done.  Need a place to stay for a night, a few days, a week?  She’ll put you up and feed you, give you your own clean towels, bar of soap and a new toothbrush.  She is true Southern Hospitality come to life.  A truer friend one could not ask for.

Gracious, caring, loving, street-smart and savvy; you might take advantage of her once – but she’ll forgive you and just put you on her watch list (burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me).

She has always kept a clean home (not just house, a home), so much so that you can eat off the proverbial floor and not have to worry about dirt or germs.  A wife to her husband that others envied, mother to two boys (okay, men now – one is 59 and one is 56 – but they’ll always be her boys), grandmother to four (three boys and one girl), step-grandma to two more girls, and great-grandmother to one (so far).

While her formal education officially ended with high school (although in her time, a H.S. education was equal to a 2-year liberal arts education today), she has continue to be involved in training her mind and personality.  She reads, not just skims, two newspapers a day (minus the sports section – except when her boys were playing sports and sometimes were mentioned), watches the news, had conversations with her husband about events around the world (usually professing to not care about the rest of the country or world – but then try to hide a tear at the plight of the poor, the disadvantaged, and generally unfortunate ones, both here in the U.S. and around the planet).

She can be opinionated about what she feels and believes, but is always willing to have an honest discussion and to be open to the ideas of others.

One of the things that changed for her has been her unwillingness to just accept things that should or could have been done better – or right.  In her younger days, she would never complain in a restaurant if her order was wrong – over-cooked steak, limp salad greens, whatever – she’d simply eat it and then tell her husband that she didn’t think they’d be coming back to that place again.

Now, having ‘earned the privilege in her old age’ as she tells it, she will send an order back, change an order completely, insist on having it her way (no matter how many times we tell her she’s not at Burger King – old advertising slogan), and kid with both server, the cook, and always over-tip (she once worked as a waitress and has great sympathy for the breed).

In spite of the artificial knee joints (now she has to show two photos to the airport screeners when the metal detectors go off), repaired shoulder, and other medical procedures, in spite of advancing years, and especially in the face of those who keep telling her she can’t or shouldn’t or she better slow down, she just keeps on truckin!

So while others might call her the “Energizer Bunny” or the “Bionic Woman”, or that “tough old bird with no quit in her”, I am lucky enough to call her “Mom.”

~  Chuck

This Song In My Head

For several weeks now, I’ve had this chorus, this song running around in my head.  I have been getting the distinct impression from God that I will have to sing it before my family church congregation before He is going to release it from my skull.

So I asked my wife, Bonnie, if she would like to sing this song with me.  She said, “Yes, you know I love to sing with you.”

Then I asked her if she would sing this song with me at church… in front of the congregation?  (slight pause; change in pitch) “Yes, you know I love to sing with you.”

I then got hold of Pastor Dan (Burr) and explained my desire to embarrass myself at Crossroads Community Church.  Not only would he give us the opportunity, he would personally play the piano accompaniment for us.  Wow.

We made a date to meet to briefly rehearse the song and agreed to sing on Sunday, November 27th.

One of the things that led to this, other than the nagging chorus almost continually running through my mind, is Bonnie and I both “grew up” in church.  She as Grace Brethren and Baptist; me as a Southern Baptist – which is why in any extended conversation with me you will detect a small southern drawl, you’all.

Among the things that helped define us as we grew up in the church was the worship.  We were both raised on the great hymns and developed a huge love for southern gospel quartet music as well.  We are truly blessed at our church with both terrific singers and outstanding musicians.  It really is difficult to remain humble when our small but mighty choir performs, or our worship leaders solo, or when our musicians cut loose and play – sometimes I think the angels might even be a little jealous.

One of the reasons Bonnie and I left our previous church home was the worship was no longer inspiring.  There were several other reasons, but this post is focused on music and song, so I’ll just keep it there.  The ‘leaders’ had unceremoniously relieved a couple of previous ‘Ministers of Music’ over the course of several months and we were reduced to a small group of young men with a couple of guitars who seem to think the way to worship God was to sing simple praise choruses over and over (and over and over – okay, you get the picture).   While it was ‘praise’ and meant to be uplifting to celebrate God, it left the two us wanting in our souls.

Because we were raised more ‘old school’ in our worship music, we began to miss the hymns, especially the ones with great message and often taken from scripture itself.  In the chorus of church music, we seemed to be leaving behind too many of the old songs that meant so much to us.  And again, this song just kept running through my head and would not leave.  I started to understand what Paul was feeling when he asked that this affliction be taken from him.

So as I write this at six o’clock in the morning, I look forward to the chance to finally sing, with my wonderful wife, this song in my head and hopefully lay it to rest.  I know, there’s no guarantee of that; or for that matter, that after we sing He won’t slip another tune into my mind.

But today, at least, I’ll get the opportunity to try and expunge it from my head.  (If you’re really interested in what the song is, either be at church this afternoon, or make a comment to this post – I’ll let you know.)

~ Faith, Chuck

What I’m Grateful For

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

What I’m grateful for (in no particular order):

1. A family that has offered nothing but support and taught me that the words friend and family should be synonymous.  And for encouraging experiments and showing me the meaning of the words ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’

2. A wife who supports everything I do.  I mean everything.  Who entertains the crazy ideas and is subjected to talking about this site and helping people do work they love, way more often than is fair.

3. A mind that believes it’s possible.

4.  My church and the many friends in Christ I have, both there and around the world.

5. An amazing mother.  As my wife calls her, ‘the energizer bunny.’  About 84 years old and just had her 2nd complete knee replacement – now she needs two xray photos to show at the airport when she flies to visit family back east.  Thanks for everything, mom.

6. The Internet.  Because it helps to stay in touch with people in a way never before possible.

7. The ability to meet and interact with inspiring people every day.

8. My perfect wife. Oh wait, maybe I already said that. She deserves another mention anyway. 

9. To know that in the end, no matter what, God is truly on my side.

10. WordPress.

11. Writing.

12. Being able to write.

13. Books.

14. Being able to read.

15. All the people who show me that ‘impossible’ is usually not much more than a state of mind. Those who’ve done it all before me, have shown me the path and help and inspire me to walk it every day.

16. Friends.  Not just acquaintances, but friends – you know, the ones you can call for help at three in the morning, and they will be there, no questions asked.

17. My children.  Young adults now, both have grown to be terrific people, and although I don’t get to see them very much, I love them so very much.

18. And my step-daughter too.  Another amazing young woman, I envy the relationship she has with my wife – not just mother and daughter, but best of friends too.

19. Did I mention Jesus?  I’m grateful and thankful He came into my life and changed me and saved me “with His redeeming blood.”

20. A voice to sing.  In case you didn’t know it, I tend to sing all the time. Showering, driving, just walking around, with the radio, the CD player, even sometimes with the TV.  Mostly it’s like Psalms 100 (I make a joyful noise), but I do love to sing.

21. YOU.

Yeah, I’m really thankful and grateful for you.

Iron Sharpens Iron

This is from an e-mail I sent to several Christian friends this morning (11/04/11):
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) tells us “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” 
It takes iron to sharpen iron.  Sharpening a knife requires iron at least as hard as the knife.  Once sharpened, a knife is bright, sharp, and ready for much more productive service.  

If you use Twitter (and if you don’t, here’s a reason to), I’ve started a new twitter account (www.twitter.com/IronSharpensOne) solely for the purpose of helping each other in the area of accountability and continuing to help one another grow and flourish in the Lord.  

I’ve already this morning started to ‘follow’ some of you and I invite you to join with me that we might support and ‘sharpen’ one another.  I know many of you already have several other social media accounts, and even utilize multiple twitter accounts, but I believe this is an addition that can begin to make a difference in our lives. 

I know I need the help and support of other Christians to be sure I’m held accountable for my thoughts, my choices, the decisions I make in life, the support of other prayer warriors keeping me in their thoughts and prayers and lifting me up to the Lord as I endeavor to lift others in prayer and supplication for their needs. 

So I’m asking you to use your twitter account and ‘follow’ me as I will follow you on this account.  If you haven’t used the twitter account you set up lately, or wish to start another just for this purpose (as I’m doing – I’ll still be using my other twitter sites, but not for this mini-mission), please do so and join me.

I need you, my fellow Christians, to be there for me; and I certainly want to be there for you.  

Thank you and God bless! 

There Are Mission Statements and Then There Are Mission Statements

Mission Statement.  Vision Statement.  Every organization is supposed to have one – or both.

All week long, a meeting that was held with and for the volunteers at my church a week ago tomorrow has been rattling around in my head and in my heart.

I work nights and after only a couple of hours of sleep this morning, my mind would not stop rerunning the meeting and its significance to me.  Since “it” would not let me relax and clear my mind, I decided I had better get up and write this post.

Pastor Jeff (Burr) led this meeting of volunteers with a focus on sharing his, and the senior staff at church, “vision” for the near and not-so-near future of Crossroads Community Church.  One of the things introduced was a new logo for all the things that will be generated from CCC.  It will also include our Mission Statement.

Pastor Jeff expounded on how many organizations, both Christian and secular, private and public, big and small – all have a Mission Statement.  A paragraph or even a page or two of what the vision, or goals, or “mission” of the company and its employees is all about.

You know, “To serve the best customers in the world,” or “to make more money that God while making the customer feel good about giving us all his disposable income” (okay, it might not read exactly like that one).  But the point is there is usually a lot of flowery phrases that at the end of orientation are all but forgotten and “let’s move on to the next item on your training list.”

Oh, it will be posted on the bulletin board for all to see, right next to the notice regarding minimum wage, who your union rep might be, this year’s holiday schedule, and the next planned sexual harassment training course – no problem; I know how to do that without any special training.

If you were to go around and ask the employee, or even in most cases the management, what their mission state is, most would give you a blank stare, or at best a Reader’s Digest version of said statement.  Ask them what it means to them, and you would probably be back to the blank stare.

Pastor Jeff further explained that when coming up with the condensed, brief Mission Statement for Crossroads Community Church, he felt at first that it cheated us somehow by not being longer and more involved – oh, did I mention that the mission statement for Crossroads is only four words?  That’s right, four words:  Celebrate.  Connect.  Serve.  Share.  Now that’s a mouthful of vocabulary, ain’t it?

It’s like Pastor Jeff had read “Orwell’s Rules for Writers.”

(1)  If it’s possible to cut out a word, cut it out;  (2) Never use a long word where a short one will do;  (3) Never use a passive when you can use an active (word);  (4) Avoid foreign and technical words;  (5) Never use a metaphor that you’ve seen it print; and (6) Break any of these rules to avoid something outlandish.

You’ll notice it this post that I’m not doing a real good job of following Orwell’s rules.  But that’s a post for another time.

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson

I like that.  Haven’t learned to apply it as well as I could, but as you can see from our Mission Statement, Pastor Jeff nailed it.

There are volumes of words and meaning summed up in each of those four words.

Celebrate.  This is mostly the Sunday worship experience.  It includes the usual standard church-formatted procedures:  greetings, prayer, “celebrating” in song and worship, a message by the pastor sharing what God has laid on his heart to bring to the congregation (in this we at Crossroads are truly blessed – from our current senior pastor (Jeff Burr), to the pastor ‘emeritus’ (Jeff’s father and previous senior pastor, Dan Burr), to guest pastors like Bob Orr and Steve Hays.)  Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses [ ( ) ] !!

Celebrate is not only a Sunday morning and/or Wednesday evening thing; it is an all week long frame of mind, hopefully dominating your thoughts and processes throughout the week as you further seek to be in celebration with God, your family and friends, your co-workers, and people you don’t even know but who see something “different” in you.

What?  Monday through Saturday others don’t know or can’t tell you’re a ‘Christian’?  They don’t see you in celebration?  You’re not singing songs about Jesus along with the CD player in your car?  We need to talk.

Which brings us to the second word in our Mission Statement:

Connect. Connecting is about much more than just being with others at church and asking, “How are you?” or “How was your week?”, and then not really paying attention to the answer, especially if the response is just a quick, “Oh, I’m doing good,” or “Hey, great, how about you?”

Connecting at church should help you know more about each other, more than a surface patina of shared intent (here to worship, to celebrate), or just catching up on what each other has been doing since last Sunday’s get together.  Connecting is that act (remember, active, not passive) of really being in rapport with and wanting to be available to help, to serve (but that’s another Mission Statement word we’ll get to shortly), to know what’s happening in someone else’s life and not only being concerned with your own.

Connect also means to be reaching out to others beyond your church’s walls.  When was the last time you asked a friend to come attend church and worship with you?  Do you have friends at work that might be offended if you asked them to stop by a check out this awesome church you get to attend?  Take a risk – ask anyway.  You might be surprised to find out they’ve been wondering about where you celebrate.

Pretty amazing, huh?  All that, and we’re only half way through the four word Mission Statement.  And what we’ve discussed so far does not even come close to covering all that Pastor Jeff shared about these two words.  And if you think about it, with an open mind and a prayerful heart, you would probably come up with dozens more reasons and explanations of what Celebrate and Connect mean to you.

Serve is the third word in our Mission Statement.  It also has many obvious and nuanced meanings.  It is, of course, serving our master and savior Jesus Christ.  At the heart of the matter, this is my ultimate purpose, to be here to serve my God, to be an ‘Ambassador for Christ’ as Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason says, to be available as told in 1 Peter 3:15 (look it up if you don’t remember), although that is also part of the 4th word in the Mission Statement.

But we not only serve God, we serve one another.  We serve fellow Christians, make ourselves available to our friends and co-workers, seek to be of service to anyone who needs our help, our support, our friendship – and we strive to do all this without thought of reward or enumeration.  Humbly.  Sometimes even sacrificially.  But to serve has no greater calling in the kingdom of God.

And finally, we discussed the fourth and last word of our Mission Statement.  Share.  This is again part of 1 Peter 3:15 (But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…) Sharing is not only a command, a recommendation, it is the underlying premise of being a Christian, of seeking to fulfill the Great Commission, of wanting to tell everybody about the hope that is within you.

It’s not only about sharing with your friends and neighbors, but with the people at work, the stranger on the street (okay, I know that one’s hard), about mission work, both locally and world-wide.  “If you ain’t sharin’ then you ain’t carin’” is how my grandma would have expressed it.

So there you have it.  I just had to get up and put this to pen (or, if truth be told, to word processor).  Maybe now I lay back down and go to sleep.  I’ll only get about three hours if I’m lucky, then I have to (want to) get up and shave and shower and get ready for the 6PM southern gospel quartet concert Bonnie and I are going to (“Don’t you just love that gospel music?)

CELEBRATE.  CONNECT.  SERVE.  SHARE.

I hope (and pray) I’ve done justice to what Pastor Jeff had to say at the volunteer meeting; but this is what I got out of it and what it meant to me.

Sorry I Haven’t Posted Much Lately

Sorry, but I’ve been really busy with my new site and have sort of neglected my personal blog and my barefoot blog.

In my quest to complete the AWAI online Accelerated Copywriter’s Program by the end of the year, as well as some additional training models, I’ve let my posting on this site and my barefootin’ slide for a few weeks.

For those of you that read this blog, you may remember that I have a goal to change my career path for next year.  I have always wanted to be able to respond when asked, “What do you do?” with the answer, “I’m a freelance copywriter.”

So that’s what I’ve been focusing my work on the last month or so, to the detriment of my other sites, including this one.  But this morning brought me back to it – I finished my shift (I work nights, generally from 9PM to 5AM), and during the night, had an opportunity to speak to some of the tenants and their guests about barefoot living.

To refresh your memory (and mine), I work as a “Courtesy Patrol” person – not a security guard, because as management as emphasized, we don’t ‘secure’ anything.  Basically, I Observe & Report for management of the property, a 200-unit apartment complex located in Claremont, CA near the Claremont colleges.  I walk through the complex, mostly on the street (an oval that runs around and through the apartments) and enforce the 24/7 parking by permit only rules.

If you park on our property, either as a resident or as a guest of one of the tenants, you must have a temporary parking permit or an authorized parking decal.  One gets the temp permit by calling the courtesy patrol person on the cell phone provided for that purpose.  All residents sign a form in their lease package that says they understand this rule… but it’s amazing how many people don’t read the things they sign or think the rule won’t apply to them.

Of course, after two warnings, one of 72 hours and a second and last one of 24 hours, when they have to pay the towing company $325.00 to get their vehicle back, they do become true believers.  I’ve officially been here in this job a year now, and no one has had to be reminded again once their car (or their friends’ car) has been towed.  But I digress.

After clocking in at 9:00 PM, I spoke briefly with the residents and their guests at the fireplace patio.  We have two large patio areas near the leasing office; one at the gated pool area and one by the outdoor fireplace, also near two BBQ set-ups.  After my second patrol round, I stopped and asked the tenants if they were planning to attend the October 15th “Fall Festival” meet and greet the apartment management was putting on; Taco Man catering the food, gifts and prizes for people who dress up (I know, it’s two weeks before Halloween), and candy for everyone.

When asked what costume I’d be wearing, I responded that my loincloth wouldn’t be back from the cleaners and my knife was still being sharpened at the cutlery shop, so coming as Tarzan this year was probably out.  But whatever I wore, I’d be barefoot.

This generated a couple of comments, among them, “Cool.”  and “Can I come barefoot too?”

I said of course, there’s no law against it.  And this then developed into conversations about wanting to go barefoot more often, where I’ve been barefoot, who let’s me shop barefoot and where I have to wear some kind of footwear, etc.

I explained that for the most part I tried to avoid places that would not let me shop or eat there barefoot, but for the few places I either had to go to or my wife insisted I attend with her, I kept a pair of flip-flops in the car.  I shared that Coco’s Bakery and Restaurant in Upland asked me to either get shod or leave (even though I’d eaten there barefoot a few times before).  I asked the shift manager who said this, “why?” and re responded with it’s a health code requirement.  My wife and I both – almost simultaneously – said, “No, it’s not.”  We explained there is no such provision in the health code for the entire state of California and while, it might be a company requirement, it was not a health department issue.

He back-pedaled and hemmed & hawed, but stood by his comment that I either put something on my feet or he would ask to leave the premises.  Not wanting to cause a scene, and because my wife really had her heart set on Eggs Benedict, I went out to the car and slipped on my flip-flops.  Needless to say, we will not be returning to that Coco’s for meals any time soon.

Just a couple of miles away, the Carrows Restaurant has never had a problem with my being barefoot.  The waitress one evening even called over the shift manager to check out my big toes – my wife got me a pedicure for our anniversary and I had the young lady who did my feet draw a palm tree on each big toe – they thought it was terrific and never once said or implied any disapproval of my being barefoot in their place.

I spoke with the tenants and their guests (turned out to be her sister and brother-in-law) some about barefooting, and they asked for more info.  No problem.  I provided them with three basic sites to start with:  PrimalFootAlliance dot org, Barefooters dot org, and of course, my own site, barefootchuck at wordpress dot com.  I also gave them my email address (barefootpilgrim13@gmail.com) and said if they had any other questions I might be able to answer or help with, if they did not catch me as I was making rounds throughout the night at work, to go ahead and email me.

So we’ll see each other again, and especially at the Fall Festival; although I will be barefoot, I still don’t know what I’ll be costumed as – but rest assured, with my physique, it ain’t gonna be Tarzan.