Emotional Cabbage… February 22, 2013

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cabbageI had to laugh. The slender young woman on the television set was explaining that the key to weight loss was portion control.

Of course, dear friends, if I could control my portions, I wouldn’t be a big fat boy, now, would I? If I was able to put less food on my plate and convince myself that I was satisfied, I would certainly be slim. Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

So the key to my weight loss is to trick my body into believing that I am eating just as much as I was before–but making sure that all that food going into my mouth is much healthier and has many fewer calories.

Casseroles help–just taking a baking dish and throwing in a whole bunch of stuff that looks delicious, cooking it up together and knowing that you will be able to fill your plate up just like you used to, but with about one-third the calories.

And one particular thing to add to that goulash is cabbage. It is a great filler, it is absent calories and aside from adding a little gas to your diet, it makes your plate of goodies look robust and full.

Yes–the key to weight loss is to change the amount of calories without changing your desire to enjoy good food.

Of course, the body is not that different from the human emotions. Everyday of our lives, we need confirmation of our status, reinforcement of our ego and encouragement of our pursuit of happiness. If we don’t have this we will start getting depressed, fussy and critical of other people who seem to be improving their lives while we are standing still.

So just as you need cabbage in your casserole to make your dinner seem like bounty, each and every one of us needs emotional cabbage added to our everyday, repetitive chores, to make us feel full of passion. Without this, we start feeling starved and cheated, stealing dignity from other people to make ourselves look better.

So what is emotional cabbage? Every day we need:

1. An opportunity to use our talent. That may sound silly, but most individuals work a job and perform duties that have very little to do with their actual talent. It is something they have learned to accomplish to make a living, but their heart’s desire lies in other areas. If your quest is not being pursued daily in some kind of opportunity you have created for yourself, be prepared to go to bed feeling a little emotionally empty. Each and every twenty-four hours, we need an opportunity to use our REAL talent.

2. To keep that emotional cabbage churning, you also need a challenge to that same talent. Repetition–even of good things–often makes us believe we are spinning our wheels, going nowhere. We require a challenge–because a challenge gives us two very important things. It puts our abilities to the test and secondly, it gives us the chance to celebrate our victories and correct our mistakes.

3. And finally, to have emotional cabbage in your life, you need a good, hearty, DAILY cleansing laugh. It may sound silly, but I will tell you this–if you are seeking an opportunity to use your talent and you are challenging your talent, many funny things will come your way. Laugh. Good cheer is when your whole being confesses that nothing is too serious to ever bring you down.

I call it emotional cabbage. Without it, we feel hungry for more, even when we’re too exhausted to do anything else.

  • An opportunity to use your talent
  • A challenge to your talent
  • And a good laugh

It will keep you pure in your heart. It will make you believe that good things are possible. It will create a loving spirit.

It will make you valuable to your fellow-man.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Fairfield’s White Unto Harvest… November 12, 2012

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Life is awkward.

Nothing of any significance will occur in the reading of this essay unless you understand this. Life is filled with moments of inconvenience which can either mount up in your mind and seem unconquerable, leaving you in despair, or can be taken on one at a time, with a tenacious sense of humor and be overcome.

It’s really that simple. Those who try to supersede the awkwardness of life by avoiding nervous encounters end up in a smaller and smaller world with fewer and fewer possibilities and more predictable friends and circumstances–which annoy them because of how bland they are.

Now, I had a fabulous Sunday morning in Fairfield, Ohio. It wasn’t fabulous because everything worked perfectly. It wasn’t astoundingly delightful because the cosmos came into synchronicity with my purpose. No–it was awkward.

Arriving at the gig, I discovered there were three big steps leading to the platform. Right now I don’t do steps. Sometimes I can successfully pull it off without looking like a worm ascending a plank–if there is a handrail available. You guessed it–no handrail.

Awkward.

On top of that, before we came on to share our bits and pieces, there was a march of children bringing in boxes of toys for the needy and a very well-produced salute to the military by the chancel choir, complete with veterans standing up in correlation to their particular armed services song.  Let’s review: marching children, a salute to supporting our troops.

Awkward.

Following the introduction by our dear sponsor, we received no greeting of welcoming applause, so I had to begin my show in total silence. It would be difficult to explain to you how awkward that feels without placing you in that position–which I mercifully do not desire to do.

Did I mention that life is awkward?

At the end of my program, during my final song, the ushers suddenly decided to start collecting the love offering used to defray our expenses. I have a particular hatred for this. It makes me feel like I’m either singing for my supper or I’m trying to drain the audience of finance by emotionally stimulating them with one of my musical selections. I gently requested that they stopped passing the plate, but they ignored me. It bothered me enough that I missed one of my lyrics, but then I shook it off and completed the song.

I want you to understand that this is not an indictment of Fairfield or an attempt to get you to feel sorry for me. This is life at its best–awkward as hell, waiting for me to bring a little heaven.

If you’re going to live on a planet that decides to rain whenever it wants to, using machines that have parts that break down, surrounded by fellow travelers who are convinced they have the right of way and subsisting in a body that is racing towards death, you might want to adjust your thinking and be prepared for a bit of evolution.

I loved those people yesterday–but what I want them to understand is that our country will never be what it was or become what it needs to be without them first learning to take awkward and change it into possibility. As long as you run away from awkward, you will run right into the arms of defeat.

Life is about overcoming awkward moments.

Take this morning: we are packing up our headquarters, loading it into a van, and driving down to Louisville, Kentucky, to unpack it and start another week. There are folks who would be convinced that is virtually impossible, and if not impossible, certainly a hassle– and henceforth unwarranted. As long as you maintain that mentality, you will be at the mercy of tribulation and under the control of those who have figured out a way to survive a moment’s fussiness.

Nothing is easy. I have been on a food regimen now for a month. So yesterday, I decided to go to the pot luck dinner provided by the church. It was lovely, generous and delicious, but NOT low-calorie. So the amount of food I was able to put on my plate and still maintain my regimen would have caused a hummingbird to complain to the restaurant management. It made me a little grumpy in the afternoon when I didn’t have any calories left to consume.

Awkward.

We as human beings have no way of gauging our success unless we can look back on how well we handle ourselves in awkward moments. I was hesitant to write about this today because I don’t want the folks I fell in love with yesterday in Fairfield to think I am complaining. Quite the contrary–I relish them. How will I ever get a chance to prove the value of my philosophy of life if what I believe and think isn’t challenged?

I feel good this morning–not because every aspect of my plan came off with utter precision. It’s because I devised a scheme through a series of well-placed chairs to mount the stage and get to my keyboard and off the stage and into the wheelchair, cruising on to my book table, without falling flat on my face. Glory be to God and praise the Lord and pass the ammunition (in honor of Veteran’s Day).

I am grateful that when the offering plates were passed, completely against my wishes, that my wilfulness did not win out, but instead, I went with the flow and the sun still shone and the earth revolved. Not everything has to be done my way in order to end up working out for my good.

I am overjoyed that I survived a church potluck and somehow or another made it to 5:15 that evening, where I was once again permitted to be a consumer and enjoy additional nutrition.

Life is awkward.

As Jesus said, the fields are white unto harvest but the laborers are few. Why are the laborers few?

Is it because people are lazy? Absolutely not.

Perhaps people are looking for a handout and don’t want to work? I don’t believe so.

I believe it’s because people are scared hopeless over the prospect of the shifting sands moving beneath their feet, changing their circumstances and creating an environment they were not prepared for. So they try to play it safe.

You have to decide–is life a shooting range where you stand at a distance and aim for paper targets, hoping to achieve a bull’s-eye? Or is it a forest where deer hunting season is in full progress and you’ve just discovered you’re a buck? Yes, the buck starts here.

Thank you, Fairfield. I am so grateful for you proving once again that love is not a confirmation of what we believe, but rather, an extremely awkward process wherein we continue to believe, often without ANY confirmation.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Peanut Better … July 19, 2012

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I like peanut butter.

I do. If you’ll forgive me a bit of presumption, I think it’s safe to say that most folks enjoy the stuff. There are those who have allergies to it, and always some who will insist that it’s “just too something or other,” but peanut butter certainly has not survived merely because of its partnership with jelly. Especially since I’ve been cutting back on eating too much meat, peanut butter is a great source of protein. Unfortunately, like meat, it is an overwhelming storehouse of calories.

Español: Mantequilla de maní

Español: Mantequilla de maní (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do not understand why we live in a nation that can work on several I-phones at the same time and have numerous reality shows funded, leading to no seemingly sensible conclusion while raising funds for all sorts of causes, many of which are nearly impossible to explain, yet we can’t come up with a way to make peanut butter that’s low-calorie.We have also failed at the search for really good-for-you pasta. Sugars, carbohydrates and fat seem to escape the purview and perfection of our scientists. We have come up with products that are fat-free, but normally that just means they add more sugar. We have come up with products that are sugar-free, but their textures, taste and timeliness are debatable.

Is it too much to ask to have someone seek out a government grant to make peanut butter plausible to our diet? Maybe it’s because we talk about healthiness in this society as we come up with a double-decker sausage McMuffin (since the first one certainly was not large and greasy enough). Is it really necessary to have three hamburger patties with bacon and cheese?

It comes down to the issue of healthy, wealthy and wise. That is the order that we have placed these three pursuits in while advertising our vision for a successful existence. But I don’t think it would hurt for us to begin with wisdom. If the most nutritious and healthy foods are also often those products that are least in calories, why can’t we take a hint from Mother Nature and learn how she makes delicious treats without stuffing them to the rim with calories? Isn’t there a scientist somewhere who might actually want to help humanity instead of padding the bottom line of drug companies? I guess if we worked on food that was healthy and low in calories, using wisdom in doing that, there are other companies that might suffer temporarily–until they made the transition over to better choices.

For instance, we were making plows in this country until World War II started, and then those who were making farm implements just changed over to constructing bombs and airplanes. I realize we have become dependent on oil, but there’s no reason to believe that within a decade the oil companies couldn’t turn their profit margins over to better, more practical choices. If you start talking about a healthy diet, the farmers and ranchers get very nervous because they wonder if they will be able to get rid of all their crops and cattle.

So if you decide not to lead with wisdom, it’s going to be very difficult to be healthy. And if you’re not healthy, you’re probably not going to have the initiative or the lifespan to achieve wealthy. So I would suggest that we change the old saying from “healthy, wealthy and wise” to “wise, healthy and wealthy.”

And let the first piece of wisdom be an attempt to put nutritious food in our mouths that is low in calories so that we can eat a lot of it and feel very satisfied without putting on excess pounds and loading ourselves down with obesity and health problems.

Why don’t we start with peanut butter? Yes. Let’s make it peanut better. Let’s find out if we can make a product that is absolutely filled with good taste but is lower and lower in calories. Why don’t we make pasta that is not packed with carbohydrates, which shoot up our weight and our blood sugar?

It is a worthy project for some aspiring young researcher, who would like to really help this society instead of debating health care for our populace, which is suffering under the load of food that is inevitably destined to make them too plump.

Peanut better. Yes–I will believe that our country is going forward when the citizens are the primary concern of both the government and the corporations, instead of maintaining a traditional approach to sales and commerce, leaving us unhealthy, pretty stupid and without enough time to get wealthy.

Let me know when peanut butter has much less to butter me up and is better for me. Until then, I will continue to eat it–cautiously–convincing myself that it’s better than Sloppy Joe.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Six Pounds, Seven Ounces … July 11, 2012

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Johann Luther Cring is now part of the human family.

He arrived at 5:25 A.M. this morning–nineteen inches long. His daddy was so overcome that tears flowed down his face, making him feel simultaneously engulfed in joy and embarrassed by his outpouring.

We had dinner with them just hours earlier at Ruby Tuesday’s and they both were much more prepared than I was when it was my turn to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth. All during the meal I thought about how this scene was so much like what God envisioned for His earth–the grandparents, sitting at a table, gazing at their children who were about to give birth, knowing that their offspring were much more prepared than they had been.

The best way to describe me as a new father was muddled and befuddled–and still, I was able to squeak out a passing grade when final exams came around. So I am confident that my son and daughter-in-law are going to be able to plug into this experience much easier than I did.

So on this auspicious occasion, I would like to give four pieces of grandfatherly advice to my freshly birthed Johann:

1. Drink the water. Don’t listen to those paranoid losers out there who line up like innocent cattle for slaughter to buy bottled water at a dollar a throw. The water that’s in those bottles was taken from a tap somewhere in the US and shipped to you as “Artesian something or other” and is really just what you are drinking from your faucet. If you’re going to spend your whole life afraid to drink the water, you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities to kick butt and take names.

2. Stay hungry. Johann, I pray that you do not spend your life worried about cholesterol and calories. Develop a lifestyle where you work hard, enjoy it and come home hungry. Human beings were meant to have appetites and if you spend your entire journey trying to suppress these blessings, you not only will be grumpy, but you might end up being homicidal.

3. Love everybody. I’ve never seen anybody killed in the street for flashing a smile. You will be tempted to be prejudiced against certain individuals because it happens to be the mindset of the moment, but just go ahead and love everybody and let God figure out who the bad guys are.

4. And finally, don’t lie. Oh, you will probably run across occasions when a good lie seems necessary, but every time you lie a little piece of your soul crawls into the corner and dies. If people can’t handle your truth, they probably won’t be around to listen to your Christmas wishes either and provide adequate gifts. Don’t lie. It’s a waste of time and makes you begin to believe that no one can be trusted, which is the first step towards living in hell.

Religion, politics and business will try to get you to break these four rules, but they are wrong.

  • Drink the water.
  • Stay hungry.
  • Love everybody.
  • And don’t lie.

Any human soul who actually follows this philosophy will not only prosper, but will have enough left over to bless everyone around him.

Welcome, grandson. Don’t be afraid of the world. Walk in love and understand that the world will be intimidated by you–because you are the only force that God has created … that can truly change it.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Three Comin’ and Three Goin’ — October 22, 2011

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Yesterday on our drive from Salisbury, North Carolina, down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, I told Janet and Dollie that I would treat them to lunch at a restaurant. (Actually, as we travel we spend very little time eating in restaurants because they’re quite expensive and also you never know what you’re getting in terms of nutrition. We do a lot of our own cooking and therefore can procure our own personal better choices. That said, every once in a while, we enter the mainstream of the dining world and allow other folks to do the cooking and serving.)

The ladies opted to eat at The Golden Corral. When they mentioned the name, I thought about how important it is to select a title for your particular organization or business. In other words, The Golden Corral sounds much better than The Yellow Horsepen. You see, I don’t see anything wrong with utilizing good promotional skills to put your best foot forward in the world of business–or even in personal presentation.

But I do think it’s important to be honest–and to use the wisdom of the Spirit to lead with your weaknesses and follow with your strengths. I know this is contrary to American capitalism, where we’re taught to lead with our strengths and play down our weaknesses, but there is a natural sensibility in human beings to do exactly what their Creator taught them to do, which is resist the proud and give grace to the humble. So when we lead with our strengths and trail with tiny increments of weaknesses, we encourage those around us to become investigative reporters and further probe into our history to find additional chinks in our armor.

It’s not good.

Honestly, the last thing in the world I want is for anyone to discover my hidden sins and stupidities because I have been unwilling to unmask them for myself. Yet we persist in this “social boomerang” in America–to push ourselves forward in a positive light instead of presenting ourselves truthfully in a more subtle beam of attention.

Let’s take The Golden Corral, for example. Using the concept of “Three Comin’ and Three Goin,” I think they could lead with the weaknesses of the restaurant and close with the strengths. So let’s look at the three comin’. The weaknesses of The Golden Corral are:  the food is high in calories, it has too much salt (so you’ll drink more and eat less) and has unknown content in the gravies, which lift both the fat and calorie count. The positives — or the three goin’–are that it’s reasonably priced, it offers a tremendous collection of fruits, vegetables and salads, and if you’re careful you can get some delicious casseroles and meats that would be very expensive to procure on your own.

The difficulty with leading with your strengths is in trailing with your weaknesses.  It comes across a bit insipid.  Back to The Golden Corral, for example. If I said to you that The Golden Corral has a great collection of fruits, vegetables and salads, casseroles and meats and is reasonably priced, but is high in calories, fat content and too salty, you would assume that the LAST thing I shared was my actual opinion. You would be left with a negative flavor. So it actually defeats the purpose.

If I tell you that I am man with an ever-growing love of humanity and a little dab of talent which I have multiplied into a lifestyle that reaches tens of thousands of people, but that I am fat, bald and have a high school education, I would be leading with my positives, but ending with my negatives, which would make you believe that I am insecure.  What I’m saying is that the American contention of leading with your positives actually doesn’t work UNLESS you leave out your weaknesses altogether, which also doesn’t work because people will find them out anyway.

That’s why I practice three comin’ and three goin’.  I always lead with my weaknesses and close with my strengths.  In so doing, I let you know of my human inadequacy, but finish off with how, by the grace of God, I have been able to overcome my lack.  So here’s how I would actually say it:

“I am fat, bald and have a high school education BUT have an ever-growing love of humanity and a little dab of talent, which I have been able to multiply into a life’s work which is reaching tens of thousands of people.”

You see what I mean? It’s better. If you decide to lead with your strengths, you’re going to have to leave out your weaknesses, or end up appearing to be a total short-comer. Unfortunately, this is what people decide to do–and it renders them prideful and fair game for scrutiny and criticism. If you lead with your weaknesses and close with your strengths, it shows how you have used your life to grow and overcome obstacles to gain a better footing.

I do not know why this escapes people. I do not know why we feel an honest assessment of our vacancies makes us look like we’re not worthy of occupancy. But because we do this, it puts us in a position to be vulnerable to the critique of others instead of being uplifted because we have led with humility.

I can recommend it. I’m not suggesting you change your name from The Golden Corral to The Yellow Horsepen. It’s always good to allow yourself a more colorful portrait. But I do caution you that leading with your strengths will tempt you to ignore your weaknesses. 

On the other hand, leading with your weaknesses will make your strengths ingenious and inventive, granting you the appearance of the persevering warrior instead of the hapless trainee.

***************

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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