Monday, March 26, 2012

Tackling the Weight

Well, I’ve finally decided to tackle my weight issue. (URGH!!)  I’ve had ongoing knee problems for five years so this is nothing new. But the day of my parent’s birthday party last month I basically spent 6+ hours on my feet which is an extreme amount for me to be on my feet. Since then my left knee has been especially PAINFUL!!! The right knee recovered in two weeks, but it's six weeks later and the left one still hurts whenever I walk or stand on it. I need to lose weight!!!

I’ve managed a successful diet twice in my life and both times I used Weight Watchers coupled with an exercise that I can enjoy. The first time (when I was 40) my friend and I spent our lunch hour doing a step class together five days a week in conjunction with Weight Watchers.  That time I lost my 70 smoking cessation pounds and kept them off for over a year, but as soon as the exercise stopped, the weight came back on. Then 10 years later I discovered Curves and used that successfully with Weight Watchers to lose 50 pounds. However, before I reached my weight goal, my son died and I lost focus. So here I am ten years later with those fifty pounds back on and then some.

Taken today in Door County... Forsythia blooming (and it's 30 degrees!)

Since I’m up in Door County right now, I’ve got the condo pool handy, so last week I started going to the pool and doing water aerobics and water walking. So far I've managed two days with at least 30 minutes and then a day off and then two days more. Yes! The walking and stretching and aerobics in the water has already started to help with my knee pain.

But I know that I need to cut back on the food as well. So I weighed in (ouch!)  and started a food diary. I hate the whole process, but I really need to lose some weight (big sigh).

OK... so I also decided to try to increase the dietary fiber portion of my diet. I did a web search for lentil recipes and found this one at the Huffington Post, but I didn’t have all the ingredients so I kind of took this as a starting point and used what I had on hand. I really enjoyed it... never really thought about sautéing lentils before. I’ve always used them in soups and stews.

Lentil Onion Mushroom Spinach Carrot Sauté with Beer

First I cooked one pound of lentils in 2 cups low sodium chicken stock and four cups water with garlic, dried onion, a bay leaf, some Old Bay Seasoning, and a tiny pinch of salt.

While the lentils cooked, I chopped the vegetables:

Then I sauteed them in a 12" skillet with the following:

1 tbs olive oli
1/2 of a large red onion chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup shredded carrots

I cooked the above for about six to seven minutes until the onions and mushrooms were brown and the carrots were soft. Then I added:

2 cups cooked lentils
dash tumeric
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
tiny dash of salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Chicken Grilling spices
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup beer

Of course all these measurements are approximate. I really just shook a bit of each of the spices in. I cooked this mixture for a few minutes and then added:

2 large handfuls of salad greens (I used Organic Girl Super Greens) and cooked until the greens wilted. I ate it with a piece of whole grain toast. Yumm. First time I’ve ever really enjoyed lentils as a main entree. Plus is it also good cold.

I hope you try this. It's actually quite yummy (this from a carnivore). K

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Threatening the Family? Really?

Previously I have felt that although my church was not LGBT affirming, it was at least making some small steps towards building a few bridges of sensitivity to the LGBT community.

For example, a few months ago we had Christopher Yuan preach. Christopher is a Christian gay male who, for himself, has embraced holy sexuality (in practice for him I believe this means celibacy). In his message Christopher pointed out how to better speak/relate to LGBT people without causing offense. However, several weeks ago my pastor included the following illustration in his sermon:

"The family which has always been the basic structure and strength of any nation, since the beginning of time, is being threatened by same sex marriages. Two weeks ago, the new mayor of Chicago put his own stamp of approval for the legalization of same sex marriage in the state of Illinois. It is coming."

Unfortunately, if I had been a visiting LGBT person that day, I would have taken offense. How can we successfully touch the LGBT people in our community with the message of Jesus’s love when we preach insensitivity from the pulpit? Since my paster made those remarks in his sermon, I’ve been trying to formulate a response. l’m not very good at confrontation but I feel that his remarks in that context were not appropriate and I want to gently challenge him. These are my notes for that conversation.

I believe that it is perfectly acceptable within Christianity to hold a position that LGBT Christians must remain celibate. Within the Christian LGBT community, such a position is held by some. But I question whether or not it is appropriate for the church to argue against same-sex marriage as a legal contract approved of by the government for society as a whole.

Besides, inquiring minds, like mine, want to know just how the family is being threatened by same sex marriages?

➤ Which is worse for the family: same sex marriage or divorce between heterosexual parents?

The same Sunday that he preached this sermon, the worship leader was a woman who several years ago had an affair with a married man also on the worship team. The marriage broke up over the affair and the couple left the church. The worship leader participated in a restoration program with a female staff member at out church and was back participating on the worship team six months after the affair ended. Meanwhile, the wife and their two children were irreparably damaged.

(Note:  I also don’t intend to negate the power of repentance and restoration. Of course God forgives our sins, but the point is that the consequences of this sin live on in the life of the spouse and child who were damaged by the sin and have contributed. What threatens marriage? Divorce / Same-sex Marriage?)

I want to know... who has threatened marriage more... a gay couple (married in Iowa) who have been together for twenty years and are raising their two adopted special needs children or the two people on the worship team who’s affair destroyed a marriage or the Christian man who has been divorced twice, leaving children with two different wives and is now married to a third woman?

Just how does LGBT marriage threaten the family? Specifically. I want to know.

➤ Doesn’t encouraging stability in any relationship strengthen society as a whole? Isn’t it better for society as a whole for LGBT people to be in stable, committed relationships rather than be cast adrift as a single purson pursuing multiple partners?

The following quote was taken from a Huffington Post column written by Marten Weber.

"Marriage is about creating a state of government-sanctioned, stable cohabitation that, among other things, allows people to feel safe, settled, and complete. Having a mate makes us better people. It teaches us responsibility and the art of compromise, such as sharing the last of the ice cream in the fridge, taking out the trash, and upholding proper hygiene. It is a cultural tool that, ideally, makes men and women less volatile and more productive, one that makes us more civilized."

How does letting LGBT people experience this stable cohabitation destroy the family? I want to know?

➤ Legal Rights Conferred on Married Couple

I think that when Christians discuss marriage equality, it is important to remember that marriage in our society is more than a covenantal relationship between God and man. In our country, marriage is a legal arrangement sanctioned and overseen by the state that grants over a thousand rights to the individuals within a marriage. If I as a heterosexual have access to those rights, why should those same rights be denied to LGBT individuals? If they are citizens of our country why don’t they have the same rights and privileges as the rest of us?

Here are just a few of the 1000+ rights granted to married couples that aren’t given to un-married (whether gay or straight) couples:

The following quote from

"There are over 1,100 protections and responsibilities conferred on married couples by the federal government including access to health care, parenting and immigration rights, social security, veterans and survivor benefits, and transfer of property—and that doesn't include several hundred state and local laws, protections conferred by employers, or the intangible security, dignity, respect, and meaning that comes with marriage.  Excluding committed same-sex couples from marriage means shutting out families from the safety and security created by these protections and responsibilities.

Taken as a whole, marriage law reveals a social consensus about how to treat two people who voluntarily pledge to care for each other and their children. Marriage laws enable (or require) couples to fulfill the most common wedding vows:

In sickness and in health: Marriage automatically enables spouses to visit each other in the hospital; to make each others' emergency medical decisions; to share a family health plan; and to take medical leave to care for a sick spouse or child.

For richer and for poorer: Marriage means that governments, banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions will consider both spouse's incomes, assets, or debts in such matters as taxes, credit, loans, inheritance, divorce settlements, and eligibility for public housing, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits.

When a child joins the family: Marriage automatically enables the spouses to be joint parents, covering such situations as making school or medical decisions, applying for passports, passing on inheritances, or being eligible for visitation rights and child support obligations if the parents separate.

When death parts the pair: Marriage law enables a survivor to continue to care for (or be cared for by) the dead partner in such situations as making funeral arrangements, inscribing an epitaph, inheriting a lease, filing wrongful death claims, taking bereavement leave, and passing on property."

All of the above, if granted to same-sex couples, would seem to strengthen society, the family and not destroy it. In our country, marriage is not just a religious institution. It is a legal contract entered into with the permission of the government and dissolved with the permission of the government.

As Christians, whether or not we are gay affirming, it seems to me that we can still support same sex marriage because the issue is a matter of civic respect and fairness within a democratic society. A simple act of being a good neighbor.... treating others we would wish to be treated... loving our neighbors as ourselves.

And even if same-sex marriage is legal, churches can still decided on a church by church basis whether or not they want to perform a marriage between a couple (straight or gay) in their individual church. Church communities cannot be forced by the government to bless or perform any marriage.

➤ Can Homosexuals Change Their Orientation?

The evidence is growing that change in orientation is almost impossible. As reported on Canyon Walker connections, after 20+ years of trying to bring change and promising Christian LGBT people that change is possible, this past January Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, at a GCN conference, admitted publicly, in front of a packed audience of over 400 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, their friends, families and allies, that change in orientation is NOT possible. He said:

"The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation or have gotten to a place where they could say that they could  never be tempted or are not tempted in some way or experience some level of same-sex attraction. I think there is a gender issue there, there are some women who have challenged me and said that my orientation or my attractions have changed completely. Those have been few and far between. The vast majority of people that I know will experience some level of same-sex attraction."

Other leaders of other LGBT change organizations have also left their organizations and in one instance, John Smit formerly with Live in Action, offered a complex apology for the damaged LGBT lives he contributed to through his years with Love in Action.

The rest of society has held this position for years, but the Christian community is finally recognizing that change in orientation is not probable  and infact the organizations that promote change have harmed many of the people who they were supposed to help.

Back to same-sex marriage. If change is not possible, isn’t it cruel to deny the people who are not able to change their orientations the protections and legal rights of a marriage? Leaving the debate within the church aside, most LGBT people live a life outside the church (since we don’t welcome them in). Wouldn’t our society and their lives be better and more stable if marriage were available for them and their families? It certainly would be better if we would welcome LGBT people into our church communities.

It seems to me that is hard to demonstrate that allowing same-sex couples to marry threatens the family and destroys marriage. The arguments seem to be more fear based and comes from that place of protecting that which is comfortable and familiar. Instead of trying to walk in the shoes of LGBT people and see the world from their perspective, instead of trying to build bridges with people from the LGBT community, we Christians stridently scream about biblical definitions of marriage. However, we live in a country that, since it's inception, has promoted equality for all. Denying LGBT people the right to marry seems to fly in the face of that equality.

It seems to me that allowing people with same-sex orientation to marry strengthens our communities by providing stability to those that currently lack that stability. Since marriage is a secular/legal/societal contract authorized by the state, I believe that we should provide the LGBT community with the same protections and covenants available to everyone else.

Same-sex marriage is not a religious issue. It is not a ‘fear’ issue. It is a matter of treating all citizens in our country the same with the same rights and privileges. I believe that we can support same sex marriage because the issue is a matter of civic respect and fairness within a democratic society. A simple act of being a good neighbor.... treating others we would wish to be treated... loving our neighbors as ourselves. At least that’s how I see it.

I’m still researching my Christian theological view on same-sex relations. I can’t say for certain if the sexual behaviors of LGBT people are or are not sin. People who believe that God's Word is inerrant can and have come to different positions on this. What I do know is that God loves every LGBT person he has ever created and I do know that Jesus said that it is not my responsibility to point out the spec in anyone else’s eye. Jesus told me to work on the logs in my eye and let other believers worry about their sawdust. I know that holds true in this discourse.

I don't really expect my church or my pastor to come out in support of marriage equality. That is a place too far, but I do hope that he will be more cautious in his public words.  I've been thinking about giving him a copy of Andrew Marin's book Love is an Orientation to help him learn about building bridges with the LGBT community.

Anyone have anything else I can include? K

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Remembering Oscar

Recently I had to say goodbye to my oldest dog, Oscar. He was my valentine's baby, born February 14, 2000, so we had just celebrated his 12th birthday. He had been in great health... although he was starting to get a little deaf and his vision wasn’t as good as it had been. But he didn’t seem to have any aches and pains and was his usual affectionate and loving self.

When I went to bed that night, he was restless... couldn’t seem to settle. That had been happening to him more and more anyway, so it didn’t seem unusual. Something awakened me about 12:30. He was still restless and so I opened the door from the bedroom to the rest of house hoping he’d get comfortable on the couch... his favorite perch.

Just after I opened the door, he started to act like he needed to vomit... except nothing came up. Suddenly I was on full alert. BLOAT! I felt his stomach and it was tight like a drum. I lost another Standard Poodle, Clifford, about seven years ago to bloat, so I was familiar with the symptoms. But I was in my condo in Door County ... miles from the closest vet and particularly in the winter, no one would be open at night. I called all the vets in the yellow pages and finally found one that gave me a number for an emergency vet in Green Bay, eighty miles to the south.

I called them, described his symptoms and got directions to their storefront Emergency Vet Clinic about 90 minutes away. Fortunately I had a fairly full tank of gas for my 160 mile round trip because I saw absolutely no open gas stations. I have now learned that I must always keep half a tank of gas in my car in case of emergencies.

(This was the second time I’d had to drive a dog to an emergency vet... although the previous time it was an emergency hospital because Winston, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had consumed an entire package of Trident gum which is toxic to dogs. I had to drive to  Appleton, which was a two+ hour drive and leave him for 24 hours for observations. Fortunately he seemed to have no ill effects.)

With Oscar, the vet confirmed my diagnosis and after a consultation, I elected to have him put to sleep. They had a nice area where I could be with him while he died.

He was such a great dog. Very even tempered and affectionate and we are all missing him. I remember driving to Pennsylvania with my Dad in his RV to pick up Oscar. I'd had my previous puppy flown out from Arizona and the dog had been traumatized by the flight, so I felt it was worth while to make the trip to pick this puppy up. He was always a sweet and kind dog and the trip with my Dad is a special memory.

Now it's just two dogs no cat.

With a sad heart, goodbye, Oscar. I loved you, K

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Best Friends or not

One of the things missing in my life is a BFF. This is not unusual for me. Looking back over my life, it has been an elusive goal to have a best friend.
See... here is my best friend!!

In elementary school, I never clicked with the other girls... being smart and athletic wasn’t fully appreciated by children in the fifties. I did find one girl that I clicked with one summer. Her newly married older sister was renting an apartment in a garage across the alley from our house. Lorraine and I really got along. But she was only around for one month and by the next summer her sister has married. Still, it was an important event for me... I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I remember that summer friendship.

This was a neighborhood friend, Pam who was a couple of years older than I. Our friendship never went beyond the neighborhood to school.

In Junior High I had a best friend for one year. We loved Mad Comics, which was the new thing, and tried to create our own version, Cracked. It was my one year of rebellion and Susie was my partner in crime. That friendship lasted only a year.

Growing up, two of my best friends were male identical twins. Their mother was good friends with my mother and we had been together on many family occasions plus we went to the same school from Kindergarten through High School and had lots of shared experiences. I remember that in fourth or fifth grade when the split the boys and girls into separate groups for 'the video' we shared our separate experiences on the walk home from school. They lived half a mile closer to school than I and by the time I got home, their mother had shared with my mother the extent of our conversation. Both moms were furious!

The twins with their family and mine up in Door County in 1962.

In High School the pattern continues and I never really connected with any girls (or guys for that matter. I didn't date in High School). I was third (or fourth) wheel friends with a trio that had been together since Kindergarten, but wasn’t exceptionally close to any of them.

In college it was much the same story. I was the third/fourth wheel friend of other groups of girls. None of them were really best friends.
Here are Smitch and Julie at my wedding (my homemade by me 'monk's wedding dress). Smitch and Julie were two of my roommates and best friends through the last two years of college... although they were closer to each other than to me.
As a young married adult, I did have a best friend for a while.  My friendship with Kathy lasted for the three years I was in California and for a decade after I moved back to the midwest, despite the fact that she had an affair with my husband while we were still married. Of course, I didn’t learn about the affair until several years after my divorce so the impact was a little muted and didn’t destroy the friendship.
That's Kathy on the left in about 1990 almost 20 years into our friendship.
 However, our friendship didn’t survive my becoming a Christian. After I became a Christian we sort of drifted apart. We both had grown up in very religious Christian families and one of our bonds was that we had both rejected the faith of our youth. When I went back to the faith of our youth... well  the friendship, which by that time was only an occasional phone call or letter drifted apart. Still we had maintained contact for over 30+ years. The last time I saw her was in 1997.

Another adult friend I had I met through a business organization. We were both daughters in family businesses started by our fathers and we were both divorced. We traveled together to conventions for about five years. But we both passed through the Young Executive barrier to Senior Executive and stopped attending the conventions and then we lost touch.
Toni with her children and Kay at our family farm in about 1987.

I was friends with a couple that I met at my church for several years although we gradually drifted apart even before they moved to New Orleans.

Since then... I haven’t had any remotely close friendships with women. I have a young women who ‘rents’ a room in my home (well young to me, she’s in her mid forties), and we are fairly close but by no definition of the term would I call her a best friend. I am more of a parent figure to her.
2011 Christmas with my Mom and Dad and Marie and I.
I’m just starting to figure out that I have become too isolated. Five years ago I retired and that left me without the day to day contact with people in the office. At about the same time I left the small church that I had attended for twenty years. I had some friends (no best friends but people that I was connected to through years of small group and service together) and most of us left the church at the same time although we have all ended up a different churches... and in my new church I haven’t really connected with anyone or any group in the same way.

I just spent two weeks in my cottage in Door County and the only live interaction with people was with the cashiers in the grocery store. I had a few phone calls with family, and one long phone call from Marie, my housemate, (but that’s almost her talking the whole time... I’m just a handy listener).

So I’m wondering about what it is about me that precludes a best friend? What is missing in me that doesn’t enable me to have close confidant? I was watching Oprah’s next chapter when she visited Paula Deane and took her BFF Gayle King with her. Even a big star like Oprah has a BFF... why oh why don’t I.

I’ve never felt really comfortable around other women. When I was a teen I just didn’t understand the whole girly thing. I’m not into make-up and dresses and high heels. I don’t really connect to jewelry and accessories. I’ve always been a pants and shirt kind of girl. Growing up in the fifties was torment because we HAD to wear a dress or skirt to school. Even the college I attended required that women wear a dress to class and to the dining hall. In college I was once stopped by the dorm mother because at 7 at night I was leaving the dorm dressed in pants. I explained that I was on the drama set construction crew and we were going to be hammering, sawing and painting and  a dress just didn’t work for this kind of activity. She wouldn’t let me leave in my pants. That’s the way it was back then...

Anyway, when I’m in a group, like my small group from church, seven times out of ten I prefer to discuss things with the men in the group... (except I’m not into sports so much). Still, I don’t really fit in with the men either. Most of the people with whom I have managed to form a best friend type relationship have been thinking women who are extroverts. It’s too stressful for me to try and be a best friend with another introvert.

But the problem I have with extroverts is that while most of the time I’m happy to let them rattle on about whatever it is that they rattle on about... it’s hard to get an extrovert to stop and really listen to me... when I need that ear.

I think that is why I have decided to write a blog.

Sometimes I just need to talk.

Anyway... who’s your BFF and can you relate? K