Words (and actions) Do Indeed Hurt

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.” -1 Corinthians 13:1

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I love this photo because it shows me with a confidence in my body and my person that I didn’t always have. 

Many people are familiar with chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians because it is so often used at weddings. It is thought of as the “love” chapter. I personally don’t see anything wrong with using the passage in the context – unless that is the only time the text is used. It is a helpful text in reminding us of a better way of treating one another. I especially like verses 4-6:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

These words come to mind this morning after an exchange that I had on Facebook with one of my sisters, who wrote, “who cares about insults.” Her comment was part of her justification for supporting a presidential candidate who regularly hurls insults at all kinds of people, especially women.

Before this exchange, though, I had read an article in the LA Times that brought back some very unpleasant memories. http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-na-pol-trump-women/#nt=oft12aH-1la1

This story is of real people. It is of women who were not treated as real people, but rather as objects. And if they weren’t pretty objects they had no value, no worth. Why would anyone think that this is ok?

Mr. Trump has attacked Rosie O’Donnell repeatedly and on Monday night said that she deserved those attacks and that “everyone” would agree. When I was much younger people used to say, “you look like Rosie O’Donnell.” So then I guess I know what this presidential candidate would say (or do) if I had worked at one of his businesses.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered one night when I went out dancing with some friends. We used to go to the Red Onion in Newport Beach. For me it was sometimes uncomfortable because at heart I am an introvert and going out and putting myself (and body) on display for “fun” wasn’t always fun. But it was what we did. One night I was walking across the restaurant with one of my friends when someone stopped me… well, a man stopped me but I really hate saying “man.” Ok, a guy stopped me.

The first thought that went through my head was, “oh, maybe he wants to dance.” So I stopped and looked at him. He then handed me a dog biscuit and laughed. This is a memory that I wish would have stayed buried because right now I feel the hurt, the humiliation, and the shame of that action. And so I have to remind myself that I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG!

We now have a candidate that exemplifies that kind of hurtful, insulting, boorish behavior. I wonder how many “guys” will now think that it’s acceptable to do the same.

So yes I care deeply about insults, as should all of us.

 

 

Be Careful What You Ask

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I’m half squatting in the front, along with some of our church members at VC Pride last August

Yesterday we received a very long telephone message from a gentleman at another Lutheran church. He was looking at worship attendance at various churches and had a question about information that we reported to our denominational headquarters. Not knowing if his pastor had recommended that he call, I decided to return his phone call.

It turns out that he and some friends in his church are trying to figure out why their average attendance has been declining since 2011. I guess he thought that our worship attendance numbers seemed steady and so the phone call. I quickly told him that due to the sad fact that we’ve had quite a few families move away from the area in the last 18 months, our attendance numbers won’t look so stable on the next report. I thought that would be the end of the conversation.

But then he got to his real agenda, asking, “do you think the decline is because of the churchwide decision in 2009 and because we now have a gay bishop?” For those of you who don’t know, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) voted, in 2009, to allow ordination to those who are openly gay and lesbian, and meet all the other criteria for ordination.

Apparently this man doesn’t know me, or the congregation that I serve and so, he didn’t receive the answer that he expected. Very nicely I told him,

  • No, I don’t believe that being welcoming and affirming to everyone that God has created, including our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in Christ is the reason for decline that is happening. You could speak to your pastor who I’m sure has some opinions, but I say take that 2009 decision and own it!
  • For example our congregation voted two years ago to be a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation, which means that we explicitly welcome and value the presence and contribution of all.
  • And if you’d like to learn how your congregation can be an RIC congregation I would love to come out and talk to you about it.

Well, he was stuttering a bit in his response because he apparently was expecting me to affirm his feelings. He then asked, “aren’t you serving at the church that fired a previous interim pastor because of a gay marriage?”

I responded, that the pastor he is thinking of was not an interim pastor and his leaving was for many reasons, said gay marriage being one of them (this happened in the brief window when gay marriage was legal in CA in 2008). But that was not the end of the story because God has redeemed what was a sad and tragic situation. So, yes our congregation experienced division and the loss of a pastor in the past.

rainbow-heart210But God redeems and God restores and now our congregation is actively and happily providing a home for people who don’t always believe the words, “all are welcome” apply to them too. I told this inquirer that I tell this story to all our new members (and sometimes they cry). Oh, and we might be small but most of the growth that we’ve experienced in the last two years is because of our choosing to be open and affirming.

Is there decline in church attendance? Certainly! And almost everywhere! But don’t blame our LGBTQ brothers and sisters… instead maybe start exploring how we don’t seem to relevant in a changing culture.

After a few more stutters… the gentleman asked if he could call me again if he has anymore questions. I said, “sure!” I’m not sure if he will, but I’ll be praying for him and for his congregation.

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Failed Lately? Maybe it’s not what you think…another recap

My last two posts title “Failed Lately…” can be found here Failed Lately? Maybe you just needed the right stuff and here Failed Lately? Maybe something is wrong.

For the past two weeks I’ve been thinking about the diagnoses of pneumonia that I received after having a breathing-while-swimming problem on August 25th. The diagnoses didn’t make sense to me because it would mean that I’ve been sick all summer and my successful marathon training contradicts this.

I appreciated the doctor saying, “sometimes shit happens” and we don’t always know what it is. This particular pile of crap has helped to up my own personal fear level for this Sunday’s marathon. That was, until this morning, when I ran across an article that mentioned a sometimes deadly condition for triathletes that is described as fluid in the lungs. Technically it is Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema. http://www.livescience.com/55962-triathlete-deaths-linked-to-fluid-in-lungs.html

Of course I then did a search of this term and found someone’s personal account that described my symptoms exactly. http://www.endurancetriathletes.com/sipe.html

I know that diagnosing oneself off the internet isn’t the wisest thing, but this makes so much more sense than pneumonia. I will send the articles to my doctor to get her opinion.

Meanwhile the good news is that I can approach Sunday’s Ventura Marathon without fear that the lingering effects of pneumonia will harm me.

The not so good news is that the thought of swimming again is a bit scary. But I now know the symptoms in my own body and can be better prepared.

I would love to hear from others who’ve experienced this.

 

 

 

 

 

Is it the sugar? Or even the artificial sugar? One anecdotal story

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We all know there is much conflicting advice on what, or even how, to eat. High carbs or low carbs, high fat or low fat, high protein or low protein, and don’t forget whether or not to eat gluten. Eating has been so complicated!

 

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A few years ago at Huntington Beach. Bandit is riding in the basket.

I am not a nutritionist, or medical professional of any kind. I am – or was – a professional dieter. That’s right, I’ve probably tried too many to count diets over the years. I’ve lost weight and gained it back again as soon as I returned to my regular eating. In retrospect I see three challenges that I faced:

 

  1. I was addicted to Diet Coke. Seriously. For years I drank the stuff in lieu of water. Ironically, I drank caffeine free Diet Coke at home thinking it was healthier.
  2. I’ve always tried to be active, but my activity rarely helped me to lose or maintain a healthy weight. And when I was consumed by my new career and let exercise fall by the wayside my weight ballooned.
  3. Adult onset diabetes runs in my family (both sides) and I’ve always had the fear  of giving myself this disease.
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My daughter, Megan, and I at our first 5k (time of 36:16), July 4, 2012. She’s lots lot of weight too!

When I hit my late 40s my weight had risen to a very unhealthy 243 pounds for my 5’7″ frame. I wasn’t happy but was sure slow at doing anything about it. Then one day my son and I were hiking…I was huffing and puffing when two women passed us while running and chatting their way up the trail. I decided then that I was going to try  again to get fit and running seemed easier than hiking up a mountain.

 

I started running in 30 second spurts. And I started another diet, this time trying lo-carbs only to quickly discover that lo carb eating and running don’t go well together. I realized that healthy carbs were important! I even began eating oatmeal which I’ve never liked, but didn’t really change much else (except to count calories). The weight started to come off and I continued to run. I probably lost almost 40 pounds int eh two years leading up to my first marathon.

That marathon was two years ago, and to my unpleasant surprise I gained wait as the running distances increased. I probably weighed around 210 for that first marathon and ran it in just under six hours. For the next 7 months I struggled with my weight (up and down within a 10 pound range). There was nothing that I seemed to be able to do to get those pounds to go away and yet I had no problem getting them to come back on. Ha! Maybe you or someone you know has had a similar experience. It was incredibly frustrating.

The one good thing that happened in my diet during this time is that I cut way back on the Diet Coke, only drinking it when we were eating out. Eventually it no longer tasted good and I had my last Diet Coke (or anything artificially sweetened in April of 2015).

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My husband, Scott, and I halfway into a 20 mile training run in August 2015 (he was kind enough to accompany me on his bike)

In May of 2015 I joined a running group and started training for my second marathon. I didn’t want to gain weight like I did the previous year. I also knew from experience that I would have days (or weeks) when I would be incredibly hungry. So I decided to embark on an experiment: to eat whatever I want as long as it didn’t have added sugar or was processed in such a way that the ingredients list included a bunch of words I couldn’t pronounce. (exceptions to this are below!)

 

This new way of eating was both easy and hard. The easy part was in not stressing over how much or when I could eat. I just ate when I was hungry. The hard part was in discovering that just about everything has added sugar so finding a quick snack was a challenge…until I settled upon fresh fruit and nuts as my go-tos. I read somewhere that we should “eat the rainbow,” as in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and its been fun doing this. I was also flexible in my eating, so that if a special occasion called for birthday cake or some other treat I ate it and enjoyed it. This is not a diet in the sense of calorie restriction, but rather diet as in eating healthy, eating abundantly, and eating food that really tastes good.

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Now my husband and my two adult children run. This is the four of us at Boogie Nights in Ventura a couple months ago

Has it worked? This morning I weighed 163 for a total weight loss of 80 pounds. For a runner I still have more to lose, but as an every day 53 year old woman, I’m pretty happy with my weight. I figure that my body will stop losing weight when its done losing weight! In all it’s taken me about four years to get here…so some really slow weight loss and I’m good with that!

 

So what are those exceptions to the no added sugar and processed food diet? Food for running…gels and fluids for long runs basically. And I have a favorite breakfast biscuit/cookie and it has sugar so I only indulge in this treat on the mornings I will be running. It works great!

If you too struggle with weight, it’s certainly worth the experiment.