REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
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VOLUME 2 | NUMBER 1
PUBLISHERS Lamar & Theresa Keener COPY EDITOR Lis Trouten CONTRIBUTORS Joanne Brokaw, Jim Jackson, Wendie Pett, Jason Sharp, Colette and Jonathan Stuart, Doug Trouten, Yia Vang Copyright © 2015 Selah Media Group Refreshed is an independent, faith-based magazine published monthly by Selah Media Group. It is distributed in bulk, free of charge, to hundreds of locations throughout the Twin Cities metro region. For a 1-year mail subscription, send $24.95 to the address below or visit refreshedtwincities.com. Refreshed welcomes story ideas. All unsolicited material is subject to approval of the publishers and is not returned. Viewpoints expressed in Refreshed are those of their respective writers, and are not necessarily held by the publishers. Reasonable effort is made to screen advertisers, but no endorsement of the publishers is implied or should be inferred. The publishers can accept no responsibility for the products or services offered through advertisements. The publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising. ADDRESS ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO: P. O. Box 131030 St. Paul, MN 55113 E - MAIL email@example.com PHONE/FAX (763) 746-2468 ADVERTISING (763) 746-2468 x305
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REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
6 Undivided attention Crohn’s disease fails to deter Crown College coach
9 Cooking up joy Food Network chef rediscovers life’s value after deep sorrow
12 Planting hope Fighting extreme poverty by revitalizing the environment
14 Managing anxiety How to understand and overcome deep worry
16 Stumbling in the dark God’s forgiveness clears the path
Doug Trouten | plugged in
Yia Vang | at the table
Wendie Pett | here’s to good health
Colette & Jonathan Stuart | marriage matters
Jim Jackson | purposeful parenting
Jason Sharp | sharp focus
Joanne Brokaw | that’s life!
The dream of virtual immortality Low and slow
Have a New Year’s ReVolution
How to respond when your child is demanding What’s your story?
The problem with New Year’s resolutions
Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
Undivided attention Crohn’s disease fails to deter Crown College coach by SHEILA FLANDERS
little old white-haired woman walked into Mike Gmetro’s hospital room. He had barely finished a prayer, shot up to God fueled by anger and desperation, “God, I don’t get this. I didn’t ask for this. If you are real, I need for you to show up.” And there she was. A joyful woman, encouraging Mike with her words, “I want to tell you how good God is.” She spent several minutes with Mike, dissuading his remarks about what the doctors had been telling him and repeating, “I know, I know. But God is good.” Mike had recently been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. He was twenty-one years old with a full baseball scholarship to New Mexico State University and a very promising professional baseball future. Two major league teams were scouting him for his athletic skills as a catcher, and he felt he had it made. Just two years earlier Mike had given his life to Jesus Christ. But now his world was crumbling. Shortly before he was to appear in his first sophomore game as the starting catcher, he developed an extended stomach so severe he couldn’t get his spikes on his feet. He had never been sick before, not like this. Thirty minutes before the start of the game, he passed out. He was rushed to the hospital where they removed his ruptured appendix. No long after being released from the hospital to resume his studies and baseball schedule, he once again became desperately ill. Only this time they told him
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
Mike Gmetro’s promising baseball career was cut short while a student at New Mexico State University on a baseball scholarship. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease during his sophomore year. Today he is the baseball and golf coach for Crown College.
Mike Gmetro has been married to Liza for 13 years. They have two children, Lila and Dax. he had five hours to live. Being so close to death the surgeon removed thirty inches of his intestines. It was at the end of this second hospital stay that he found himself alone in his room—no nurses, no doctors, no visitors— when the little old white-haired woman came into his room to bring him cheer. Wanting to send her flowers of thanks upon his release, he asked all over the hospital, and no one knew who she was. No one had ever seen her. *** At first Mike hid the Crohn’s disease from people. “I wasn’t ready yet to let people know about the Crohn’s in my life,” Mike said. “I tried to push it out of my mind. I didn’t tell anyone, and I lied to people about how sick I really was. No medications for me! I was blaming God and getting sicker every day.” He pushed himself to do all that he needed to do for sports and school. He did so well that he was soon able to play baseball again. It was his first game back, in the first inning, when Mike was hit in the upper arm by a 90 mph pitch. His arm swelled so much that he was unable to throw the ball more than fifty feet. He was taken out of the game in the sixth inning and, once again, rushed to the hospital. After more tests, he was sent home with his upper arm still fully swollen. The next day the swelling had not gone down, and he went back to the hospital for other tests. This time they discovered five life-threatening blood clots. Doctors removed two ribs to lessen the pressure
from the massive swelling in his upper arm and to save his life. It was then Mike had the realization that his pro baseball career aspirations were over. “I remembered that sweet little old lady and her message for me, ‘God is good,’” Mike recalled. “I began to realize that my ball career was over. Instead of feeling bitter and resentful, a peace came over me. God finally got my attention.” *** In 2001, Mike graduated from New Mexico State with a degree in International Business and married his college sweetheart, Liza. Both attended Moody Theological Seminary in Michigan and graduated from there in 2005. While in class, in 2003, Mike was once again rushed to the hospital where they re-
ABOUT CROHN’S DISEASE • Crohn’s disease belongs to a group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. • May affect as many up to 1.6 million Americans • Men and women are equally at risk • Young adults between 15-35 are more apt to develop the syndrome • Tends to run in families • More common in developed countries, urban areas and northern climates • Learn more at www.ccfa.org
moved eight more inches of his intestines. This still did not deter Mike’s dream of becoming a pastor. Together, Mike and Liza worked for CMA (Christian Mission Alliance) in Detroit for six years with an inner city ministry called Acts 29 Fellowship. He still suffered bouts of terrible, intense pain from Crohn’s, but he continued to push through. Their dream was to have an overseas ministry, which was not about to happen as the CMA was extremely concerned about his health and the few health care options that could help him in a foreign country. The disease was relentless. In 2008, Mike endured another life and death surgery. He recovered for a while only to start bleeding excessively in 2010, which required two blood transfusions to save his life. “I was worn out and exhausted,” said Mike. “All my dreams for my life—the ones that I thought were God’s plans for me—I was beginning to realize maybe they weren’t. It seemed God wanted to show me what He wanted to do with my life. He now had my full, undivided attention.” Surgery was planned in 2011 to remove the majority of his intestines, but Mike postponed it to attend a CMA conference in Kansas City against doctors’ recommendations. On day two of the conference Mike started to slump down into his chair, weak from bleeding. At the same time, the prayer leader stopped the worship and called everyone to pray for the person sitting next to them. A man and a missionary couple seated on each side of Mike came over to pray for him. They noticed that he was in pain and brought him to the front of the auditorium. As people prayed for Mike, he felt a change happen in his body and felt the bleeding stop. A pastor prayed over him and said, “God is good, and He will provide manna from heaven for you every day.” Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
Coach Gmetro demonstrates proper stances during a youth sports clinic. After the conference, when Mike returned to his doctor for a check-up, there was no trace of the Crohn’s disease found in his body. It had been arrested. *** Baseball appeared to be a thing of the past, but Mike still had the desire to pastor a church, but he was getting no response to resumes he was sending out regarding pastoral opportunities. One day he made a telephone call to a small Christian college in St. Bonifacius,
ABOUT MIKE GMETRO • Born in 1978 in Ann Arbor, Mich., and raised in Plano, Texas • Starting catcher for New Mexico State University, 1998-2001 • Pursued by the Colorado Rockies and the Pittsburgh Pirates until Crohn’s diagnosis in 1999 • Named Men’s Baseball and Golf Coach at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., 2012 • Married 13 years to Liza with two children, Lila and Dax • Preaches locally in the Waconia and St. Bonifacius, Minn. • Mike and Liza teach a weekly urban ministry class in the fall
Minn., on behalf of a potential student who wanted to intern there. When the conversation turned to the college baseball program, which was in shambles, he learned of their need for a coach. It appeared God was opening a new, unexpected door. Mike arrived at Crown College in January of 2012 to take over as baseball coach and the golf program. Both programs were in dire need of attention. Recruitment and rebuilding of the programs started immediately. Not only was good athletic ability a must to be a part of this program, Coach Gmetro was determined to build good character, moral strength and inner integrity among his players. After two years with Crown College, Mike’s outlook is not only aspiring, it is very optimistic for the future of both programs. Both teams have seen significant growth, changes and improvement with the golf team winning their first conference trophy in 2014. In October, Coach Gmetro was named UMAC Coach of the Year for Division III golf. He still suffers bouts of Crohn’s, but his outlook on life is focused on ministry. “I have found that my goals for my life have changed,” Mike said. “I want to have a lasting impact on player’s lives, doing it the right way. When I get ahead of God, He has an interesting way of getting my attention. I am eager to see what
He has in store for me each day. God is good!” ■ Sheila Flanders graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in English Literature and Writing. She is the Director of Marketing for Love Lines, a wife and mother, sells on Ebay, teaches piano and is a freelance writer in whatever spare time she may dig up for herself.
COACHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS • Named UMAC Golf Coach of the Year, Oct. 2014 • UMAC Golf title and first Conference trophy in Crown’s history, Oct. 2014 • Golf Individualist UMAC Medalist Recipients Award, Oct. 2014 • Men’s Golf places 2nd at UMAC Preview, Sept. 2014 • Mid-Country Bank Collegiate Golf Tournament championship • Golf team has four All-Conference players, 2014 • Baseball roster reaches thirty, largest in Crown’s history, Sept. 2014 • Two Crown baseball players named UMAC All-Conference players, Sept. 2014 • Baptized four baseball players in 2013 and 2014
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REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
Cooking up Food Network chef rediscovers life’s value after deep sorrow by LORI ARNOLD
er mom’s home phone rang busy. Beep. Beep. Beep. Melissa d’Arabian had just returned to the University of Vermont after having spent the weekend in Washington D.C. with her single mother who worked as a doctor. The two had shopped for a formal dress that Melissa, then 20 and a junior studying political science, needed for a sorority event. They ended the shopping spree with dinner. “It was a very typical college daughter-mom thing to do,” Melissa said. “I remember when I found the dress that I loved, it was more expensive than what our budget was. I remember my mom said, ‘Oh, well, if you lend it to me whenever I want to wear it, then it’s sort of like getting two dresses for the price of one, so maybe we can double the budget.’” A few days later, Melissa needed money for a test-prepping course to get into graduate school. She picked up the phone to try her mother again. The phone kept ringing busy. Beep. Beep. Beep. On her way out the door to meet up with friends, Melissa tried her mom one last time. This time it rang. An unfamiliar male voice came over the phone. He identified himself as a member of the Montgomery County Police Department.
Melissa d’Arabian, host of the Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners” still uses frugal cooking tips to feed her family, even though she’s become a celebrity chef and best-selling cookbook author. Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
Melissa d’Arabian’s cookbook ,“Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week,” became a New York Times best-seller. One of those recipes is this Sole, Zucchini, and Tomato Napoleon with Tomato-Caper Crudo.
“We had a very short and simple conversation,” she said. “It’s one that I play in my head over and over again, less often now, but I can play it over and over in my head, word for word, note for note and yet I’ve never repeated it out loud in 25 years.” The gist of the conversation was this: her mother had died by suicide. “I couldn’t figure that out,” she said of her mother’s desperate act. “We had gone through so much. She had put herself through college. We were broke, on food stamps. She put herself through medical school and raised two young girls as a single parent. What was she thinking when she finally became a doctor and became successful—and became a success according to the world’s definition of success?” Melissa also couldn’t reconcile their final weekend together. “I remember thinking later, ‘Why would you plan on wearing my dress if you were going to die a few days later?’” •••
cile what that meant in terms of my faith,” she said. “My mom’s suicide catapulted me into a new reality. I would not characterize that as, ‘Oh, I immediately lost my faith.’ I think in some ways it was a sort of catalyst for a slippery slope of being farther and farther away from my faith.” As time passed she found herself chasing the same things that ultimately failed to bring her own mother happiness. “Of all that things that ultimately turned out to be meaningless to her—the career, the money, the success—in a weird twist of irony those were the very things that I clung to, not because God wasn’t there, but because I turned away. That is a winter. “I think I thought, maybe, I could squeeze something out of those things that my mom had been unable to do. I would do it, but I would do it better.” Although she was enjoying an active social life and good money after earning her MBA from Georgetown University, her soul was famished. She likened it to the frog in hot water. “It’s hard to ignore boiling water, right?” she said. “It’s hard to ignore the bubbles when they are all around you, but that’s what it took. I kept looking around and seeing bubbles and saying, ‘Wait a second. I’m not doing what I think I should be doing. I don’t think that what I’m doing is God’s best for me.’ It kind of took 10 years for the pot to boil. It was a pretty big pot.” Eventually the teachings of her youth came back into focus. “I felt like my life didn’t match my compass more and more,”
At 46, and having now lived longer than her mother, Melissa is a celebrity chef on the Food Network. She hosts her own show, “Ten Dollar Dinners, ” and uses her public platform to promote suicide prevention, minister to and encourage women, and share her insights on her Christian faith. It was a long journey to get to this place. “My mom’s death took its toll on me financially, logistically, but mostly it took a toll on me spiritually,” she said. “You want to talk about a winter. A winter is not feeling connected to God and not feeling His presence. “It’s not even about me ‘feeling’ because one thing I learned over the years: Me not feeling God doesn’t mean that He’s not there. I’m imperfect. Knowing that God is there does not depend upon me feeling Him. That’s what I’ve a learned.” Melissa said she was raised in the church and spent several of her teen years at a United Methodist Church in San Diego when her mother worked at at a local hospital. While in San Diego she also attended a private Christian school. But by the time she entered college, like most 18-year- olds trying to assert their independence, most of her spiritual influences had slipped away. The loss of her mother accentuated Melissa d’Arabian and her husband, Philippe, have four children: Valentine, Charlotte, and twins that void, ushering in a decade-long crisis of faith. Margaux and Océane. “I couldn’t reconcile ‘why,’ and I couldn’t recon-
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
Potato-Bacon Torte, left, and Classic Apple Tart, right, are two of the 140 recipes in d’Arabian’s cookbook. she said. “And when there is a delta between my compass and what my gut says, and my life choices, that’s a very uncomfortable place to be. The good news is that discomfort can be the very thing that brings us back down on our knees and at Jesus’ feet.” ••• After recalibrating her life, Melissa was able to move beyond the deep-seated grief and uncertainty that defined most of her 20s. “I learned that God is this dynamic God that works from the inside out. He didn’t just create us in Genesis,” she said demonstratively washing her hands “and then went on His merry way.” After working in corporate finance for Disney in Southern California, she accepted a post with Euro Disney where she met her future husband, Philippe. They have four children: Valentine, a third-grader, Charlotte, a second-grader, and first-grade twins Margaux and Océane. “I raise my four young daughters as an honor to be their mentor, their guide on this path called life,” she said. “My girls are a big part of my faith. They are a big part of how God has blessed me and how I give back to Him with gratitude and joy every day.” That gratitude and joy comes from a life anchored on something much greater than the material confines of self. “I live with purpose,” she said. “I find my value in places other than the outside. I trust that God sees something that I don’t see in me and I’m learning to trust God’s vision for me and vision of me and view of me, more and more. I stopped comparing my insides with other people’s outsides.” That vision, she said, is not Pollyanna in scope, but is grounded in the certainty that life can be hard, disappointments are real, and pain is a given. Melissa won the fifth season of Food Network Star and hosts Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network. Her Web series, The Picky Eaters Project, shows parents how they can start a plan to help their kids become more adventurous eaters. Melissa returns as a recurring judge on Food Network’s hit primetime competition show, “Guy’s Grocery Games,” which airs Sunday nights at 7 p.m.
Melissa’s new cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy,” debuted December 30.
“I’ve come to believe in the depths of my soul that joy is an inside job,” she said. “Today I have enough joy to house the sorrow. It doesn’t mean that life doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that live doesn’t have its winters, but I have enough joy to house the sorrow, and I can be full of joy and yet sorrowful at the same time.” As she reaches out to others, particularly to women, Melissa said her goal is to help people see beyond the earthly limitations of this world. “Wildly celebrated success fixes nothing important,” she said. “That took me 10 years to realize. Unfortunately, my mom never realized that. Yet I will tell you that my mom was an extraordinary woman and her death does not define her. And one thing I know, that in the world of redemption it’s Jesus plus nothing. It is Jesus plus nothing else. No other conditions.” ■
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www.olivetreeviews.org Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
J.K. Shea, middle, a board member for Plant with Purpose, visits one of the reforestation sites in Burundi adopted by the international ministry.
Planting hope Fighting extreme poverty by revitalizing the environment by LORI ARNOLD
.K. Shea stood just outside a crimson mud-brick hut with no roof. The structure, in a rural area of the East African nation of Burundi, was the gathering point for a two-year-old microsavings group that was helping local women to improve their financial standing. “From seemingly vacant hillsides, women, some with babies tightly bundled in traditional African shawls hanging on their (mothers’) backs, came from all directions to meet in the closest thing to pass for a building that I could see,” said an astonished Shea, who arrived at the spot from a dirt trail. The region, disfigured physically and emotionally by genocide, is one of many adopted by Plant With Purpose, a faithbased reforesting effort designed to empower residents of developing countries through entrepreneurship, training and discipleship. Shea, a member of the ministry’s board of directors, made the trip to assess the ministry’s outreach. As he watched the women arrive, Shea noted the bursting kaleidoscope as the sun streamed across the flowing dresses
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
of the women, who formed a semicircle as they sat down together on the floor, within the four electric-red walls. He was taken by how the program is designed to enhance the culture of these women, not thrust Western traditions upon them in the name of doing good. “I had a feeling it was going to be a special experience,” Shea said. He absorbed every word as the women shared how Plant With Purpose diligently trained them in the microsavings model that has become their trademark—and how they learned a valuable lesson after acknowledging that they weren’t fully invested in the process the first year. “A severe drought started halfway through the growing season, leaving them with almost no food at the end,” Shea said. “This year, they had realized that to prevent the same thing from happening, they needed to work hard together to make sure everyone had enough. “Everyone put in extra time to plant enough diverse crops so that even if some of them failed, they would still be fine.”
Word of their success quickly spread, resulting in the formation of 31 additional farmer groups. “People came from all around to find out how they had done it,” Shea said. “Often in charitable work, we measure the success of a charity by the amount that goes to the field versus what gets spent on administration. “When I found out that 31 other groups had started, based on the success of one Plant With Purpose-facilitated group, not only did I know that we had something special that really works, but I realized that the impact of our work was likely far beyond what we would ever be able to know or measure—which is how it should be.” Shea, whose family has been involved in assisted health care for several decades, said he became involved in Plant With Purpose about seven years ago at the urging of a business coach. “He thought my personal interest in the power of plants to transform the lives of the needy made Plant With Purpose a perfect match,” the ministry-minded businessman said.
Plant with Purpose’s Methodology of Transformation
Plant With Purpose reverses deforestation and poverty around the world by transforming the lives of the rural poor.
The concept of an agricultural microbusiness took root for Plant With Purpose 30 years ago when its founder, Tom Woodward, and his wife, Teresa, were making annual ministry trips to the Dominican Republic. Despite consistent efforts to provide food, Woodward was discouraged about a lack of long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. Recognizing that the land provided key solutions to elevating rural residents out of poverty, Woodward launched his ministry, then called Floresta USA, as a way to integrate environmental, economic and spiritual solutions. The threepronged approach is designed to reverse deforestation, which squelches the ability of smallholder farms to produce sustainable crops. “I see plants as one of God’s everyday miracles because a plant in the right en-
vironment, given the right care, can proorr a vide usefulness—food or medicine—for most lifetime to a person or family, at almost no cost other than the effort it takess to plant,” Shea said. k Although a cornerstone of their work involves tree planting, the ministry also combats hunger by providing agricultural training that enables farmers to feed their families, as well as sell any surplus to bolster their income. Additional programs include microfinance co-ops and church development and discipleship.
12 million trees and counting
Since 1984, Plant With Purpose has expanded its outreach beyond the Dominican Republic to include Burundi, Haiti, Mexico, Tanzania and Thailand. Since its inception, the ministry has planted more than 12 million trees and partnered with more than 18,500 fami-
lies in 370 communities. “In Tanzania and Haiti, Plant With Purpose has seen a 50 percent reduction in waterborne illness in the communities they work with,” Shea said. “This was never a goal, but it is a byproduct of the right approach to rural transformation.” Although the transformations can be dramatic within the community, Plant With Purpose is discovering it is not limited to neighborhoods. “I was blown away to learn that satellite imagery is beginning to show a statistically significant increase in green forest cover around the villages that Plant With Purpose works with versus a decrease in the surrounding villages where we don’t yet have a presence,” Shea said. “When you can start to see the effects of our work from space, I feel I’m a part of something I can really be proud of.” ■
IN SUMMARY Plant With Purpose works in more than 350 communities worldwide bringing hope out of poverty and creating lasting change. It is a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect. They equip impoverished farming families to change their circumstances, provide for their children, and live with God-given hope and dignity. They do this through sustainable agriculture training, land restoration, savings-led microfinance, church mobilization, and local leadership development A women’s microsavings group in Burundi dispurses funds to their neighbors. The program is one of several offered by Plant With Purpose in an effort to bring financial stability to impoverished communities.
Learn more at plantwithpurpose.org. Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
How to understand and overcome deep worry by SUSAN I. COURNEYA
t floods over us like waves consuming the shoreline. Sometimes it is more subtle than that. It trickles into our consciousness like the steady, distracting drip of a leaky faucet. Either way it comes, it is always the same result: heart pounding, face flushing, trembling, excessive worry that sometimes borders on panic, and an overwhelming urge to cry or to run and hide; we are never sure which is preferable—or safest. And the moments of reprieve from these feelings have grown few and far between. Anxiety. When crying or hiding don’t work, anxiety often compels us to order and control our external environment so our internal environment can feel calm and safe. Do you ever feel that way? At home it can feel like a compulsion to get the dishes washed, the kids’ toys put away, the carpets vacuumed…or for you guys, maybe the need to organize the garage— get those tools hung back in place and straighten the work bench. At work, it can be a compulsion to straighten and organize the paperwork on top of your desk, or look through your emails every few minutes to ensure nothing is unread or overlooked. When we have performed these tasks of ordering our external world, our internal world feels less anxious and out of control. The problem is that in a very short time, the pattern begins to repeat itself, and we end up exe-
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
cuting these anxiety-reducing functions multiple times in the course of a day. Worry is a mild form of anxiety. I may worry that I will be late to work because of heavy traffic. I experience anxiety when I am certain that my tardiness will lead to public reprimand or, worse yet, termination. And if I am terminated, how will I care for my family? How will I make my house payment? I’m going to end up on the street! Anxiety magnifies worry and imagines it in its worst possible outcome. Then, in order to manage my anxiety, I become hyper vigilant and begin the attempt to control my external environment again. I leave for work the next day two hours early, even though I was only 15 minutes late yesterday. I pack my lunch and computer bag the night before. I turn the volume up to the max on my iPhone alarm. Maybe I even lay my clothes out the night before. Admittedly, some of us pack our computer and lay out our clothes the night before— just because we are hardwired to be organized and detailed. But it becomes a problem when we feel driven to perform these tasks - even losing sleep because not performing them elevates our blood pressure. Anxiety has become prevalent in our society over the past several years. Clients come to my office almost daily and ask, “Why am I anxious? I can’t man-
age it any longer. Where did it come from and how do I get rid of it?” There isn’t a single or simple answer to these heartfelt questions. Even some of our children are finding themselves in the overwhelming clutches of anxiety. We are fast-paced people in a fast-paced, social media-driven culture. We live our lives in snippets, forgetting how to be fully aware of and in the moments of our lives. And we are teaching our children to live the same way. There is also a level of anxiety that overrides everyday worries like the ones we discussed above, and this anxiety is more common than we perhaps realize. This type of anxiety preys on the fear of what may happen—like child abuse, terrorist attacks, school shootings, etc. It used to be that these types of worries, when expressed, were scoffed at, or we were scolded to “stop borrowing trouble.” Ever since 9/11 and Columbine, however, these concerns for social and community safety have seemed significantly more viable and while the likelihood that you or I will experience these traumas firsthand is minimal, for an anxious person it can seem inevitable. While more intrusive and stress-producing, the premise of this type of anxiety is the same: we fear what we know we cannot control. But even with this type of anxiety, there is hope!
God really does care for you
In the rare moments when our bodies are stationary, our minds continue spinning; we dwell in an anxious state of mind, assigning space in our brains to the unresolved ghosts of the past and spending emotional energy on the worries of the future. We experience anxiety about the would haves and could haves of the past and future: “What would have happened if…?” or, “Well, I worry this could happen…” To loosely paraphrase Epictetus, we worry less about what actually happens and more about how we feel about what happens. In other words, if the worst materializes, it will probably not be as catastrophic as your current worries about it might make it seem. But, what would it be like to slow down? To take time to breathe deeply? To become truly aware of our surroundings, utilizing all our basic senses to experience the here and now moments? There is a psychological theory, which broadly defined is called mindfulness (for a more in-depth study of mindfulness from a Christian perspective, I recommend Dr. Curt Thompson’s excellent book: Anatomy of the Soul). While there is an entire therapeutic process around the concept of mindfulness – and if you feel like you can no longer manage your anxiety, a few appointments with a qualified therapist can prove helpful – the basic concept of mindfulness teaches an individual to be present in the moment. What does that look like? After you finish reading this article, I encourage you to try this: Get comfortable in a quiet and undistracted place. Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose and exhale very slowly through your mouth. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. Now, with eyes still closed, focus for about a minute only on your hearing.
The writer of Proverbs reminds us that an anxious heart weighs a person down (Proverbs 12:25, NIV). If Old Testament writers were aware of the burden of feeling anxious, then certainly Scripture must have more to say about it, right? Often, we read the words in the Bible, and we can tend to hear condemnation and rebuke, but maybe we are listening from a less than optimal perspective. Perhaps God’s word regarding anxiety is a promise, not a command or a rebuke. Consider these scriptures: Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:7, NIV, italics added). Further, the writer of Lamentations (3:21,22, NIV) gently reminds us: Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail (italics added). You see, God doesn’t desire to clobber us over the head with our weaknesses or challenges. He is a compassionate God, who cares deeply when we suffer and desires to take us by the hand and lift us out of despondency and anxiety. The writer of Lamentations goes on to remind us that God’s mercies are new every morning. How encouraging that we have daily access to the mercy of God!
What sounds do you hear in this silence? Birds? Your own breathing? Wind? The furnace fan in your house? The buzz of the overhead lights in your office? Traffic from a nearby highway? What else? Your mind may want to intrude with thoughts of worry. Acknowledge the thought, but keep it external to yourself; let it float away as though it were a balloon. Stay in that moment and allow yourself to absorb the experience. Take another slow, deep breath and then slowly open your eyes. Pay attention to what you are feeling and try to put it into words in your mind. Now, don’t be discouraged if this exercise seems hard at first, or your thoughts seem intrusive. That is normal! Let’s discuss forging neural pathways another time—it will help you understand the process of practice. Keep repeating and practicing this exercise once or twice a day for a couple weeks. It helps you become more aware of being in the moments rather than living in the realm of anxiety, which isn’t true reality. It also becomes an effective tool you can use when you sense anxiety invading your mental and emotional space. You can do this exercise with any or all of your senses. Visual and olfactory sensing work particularly well on a nature hike. You can also try slow, deep breathing as a stand-alone exercise whenever you are experiencing
anxiety. God didn’t create us with physical senses just to keep us out of trouble (smelling fire, hearing a car horn) but He created our senses for our pleasure and enjoyment, so give yourself permission to enjoy God’s gift of the physical senses. They don’t just come alive on vacation; they are accessible 24/7. A final suggestion for helping manage feelings of anxiety is to memorize and pray the Serenity Prayer several times a day. Don’t just recite it; let your intellect and emotions really own the significance of the words: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference. We cannot change that life happens, and it isn’t always fair or predictable. We can be courageous to change things like decreasing or managing our anxiety through coping skills or therapy. And, we can use wisdom to help us sort out those areas that need focus and change, and those that don’t. ■ Susy Courneya, MA, is a clinical therapist at Counseling Care in Lake Elmo, MN. Learn more at: www. susycourneyacounseling. com. Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
Stumbling in the
by TIM WALKER
y mornings begin in darkness.
I play. My family would have to tell you
I’m up at 5:00 a.m. For some of
how good I am at it.
you, you roll over and see your clock at 5:00 a.m. and think, “I have two or
shampoo in the shower, or running into
three more hours of sleep.” I see it and
a door that is slightly closed. Both of
think, “It’s time to wake up.”
those have happened more than once.
I blame my father. Well, not really
obstacle left behind by someone in a
I’m a morning person because of him. I
hurry. It could be a nerf gun, a duffle
used to go to work with him during the
bag, or shoes. Those moments usually don’t mix well
a.m. I would drag myself out of bed,
with the “not pleasant, cheery or chatty”
into the shower, and then sit zombie
pre-coffee Tim. I just need a clear path,
like in the car until we pulled into
with as few obstacles as possible.
Bojangles for a biscuit before heading to my dad’s business. Now, I’m not pleasant, cheery or chatty in the morning.
I think God realizes that as well, particularly when it comes to sin, repentance and forgiveness. In Psalm 103:12, David writes of the
But I am productive.
forgiving nature of God. He says: “He
I get a little more pleasant after the
[God] has removed our sins as far from
second cup of coffee. One thing about getting up at 5:00 a.m. is that it’s dark. Like nighttime
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
And there’s always the wild card—some
blame—but I certainly take after him.
summer, and we would wake up at 5:00
I can lose this game by dropping the
us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NLT). Now, I’ve always read that verse as
dark. So to avoid waking up my family,
if God removed the sins from Himself.
I try to turn lights on after doors are
“Get it away from me,” I presumed Him
closed. Every morning is an effort to be
saying, as if someone just handed Him
as stealthy as possible. It’s a little game
a dirty diaper. Far away from Himself—
as far as the east is from the west,
constantly accuse us, nor remain angry
which east becomes west and west
forever. He does not punish us for all
becomes east and no one knows where
our sins; He does not deal harshly with
the line is of when east ends and west
us, as we deserve. For His unfailing love
begins, and it becomes one of the those
toward those who fear him is as great
things that goes on and on. I think my
as the height of the heavens above the
brain just melted a little bit.
earth” (Psalm 103:7-11 NLT).
But He doesn’t remove them from Himself—He removes them from us. Why? I think it’s because He knows
If He didn’t move it, our sin would just lie there on the ground. Rotting. A big pile for us to trip over. Because “He
that if it’s not moved out of the way
knows how weak we are; He remembers
it will become an obstacle to us. We’ll
we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14 NLT).
stumble over it. We’ll continue to fall. We’ll wound ourselves over and over. We’ll constantly have to deal with it. It would linger and become this mass of shame and guilt that we’ll have to step around, climb over. How incredibly kind and loving of Him to remove them from us. In the verses prior to verse 12, David
When I think about this, I am overwhelmed. I thought I realized how much God cared for me, loved me. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of all that. But then I realize just how limited my perspective is. He’s not only the God who forgives, but He also clears the path. ■
describes God like this: “He revealed His character to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not
Tim Walker is a husband/ father/writer who is navigating faith, marriage, parenthood and mid-life. Follow his blog at www. timswords.com.
Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
The film, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, has been criticized by Pastor Rick Warren and Movieguide founder Ted Baehr for ignoring Zamperini’s strong faith. Movieguide has also issued a warning because of the film’s violence and foul language.
‘Unbroken’ explores life of POW Louie Zamperini
World War II prisoner of war and 1932 Olympian Louie Zamperini, who died in July at the age of 97, is the subject of “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie. Released on Christmas Day, the film mostly avoids Zamperini’s post-war conversion to Christianity and the evangelistic life that follows. Still, “Unbroken” boasts timely values of hope, liberty and justice as it chronicles the crash of a U.S. warplane, which is survived by Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) and two other crewmen, Phil and Mac (Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock). The trio spends 47 days floating on a raft in the Pacific Ocean, only to be picked up by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp.
Juan Pablo di Pace, a dastardly villain in TNT’s “Dallas” series, goes from the darkness to the light after landing the part of Jesus in the original NBC series event “A.D.” Di Pace leads a cast representing 10 nations. Produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the 12-week series is a followup to their highly rated “The Bible,” which aired last year. It premieres on
Juan Pablo di Pace, a cast member of TNT’s “Dallas” series, will portray Jesus in the original NBC series event “A.D.” The 12-week series premieres on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday. Based on the first 10 chapters of the Book of Acts, the series explores the aftermath of Christ’s death and its profound impact on his disciples, his mother Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the era. “‘A.D.’ will take its audience from the intense sorrow of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to the awe-inspiring wonder of the Resurrection, and deep into his disciples’ struggle to survive against opposition from every side as they continued to share his message of love with everyone, everywhere,” a news release said.
Angelina Jolie explores the back end of the camera by directing “Unbroken,” which highlights the life of Louie Zamperini. The two share a moment before he passed away in July at age 97.
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“The Identical,” which follows the journey of twin boys raised in different depression-era homes as they discover and apply their musical gifts, releases Jan. 13 in the home market. Starring Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd, “The Identical” centers on a young Ryan Wade (Blake Rayne), a preacher’s son who rejects his father’s desire for him to join the ministry and instead embarks on a career as a rock singer. As Wade struggles to pursue his dream and rise to stardom, he finds love, pain, success and failure, and ultimately uncovers a hidden family secret that reveals who he really is. It’s a captivating story about a family restored, and a life discovered. Rayne also portrays the twin, Drexel Hemsley, in a dual role. The movie captured the Nashville Film Festival Audience Award for U.S. Narrative. “‘The Identical’ intertwines meaningful themes of faith, family, fatherhood, forgiveness and finding your true calling in life,” said a review on Focus on the Family’s influential PluggedIn.com website. Presented by City of Peace Films, Capitol Christian Distribution and Cinedigm, the film is available on Blu-ray/ DVD combo pack, DVD, VOD and Digital HD.
Natalie Grant uses film to highlight trafficking
Christian recording artist Natalie Grant has stepped out from behind the mic to produce and narrate “In Plain Sight: Stories of Hope and Freedom,” a recently released documentary that highlights the scourge of human trafficking and the modern-day abolitionists who are diligently working to combat the criminal practice. The 68-minute documentary features interviews with six modern-day abolitionists as they fight sex trafficking across America, plus trafficking survivors, law enforcement officials and court officials. Although “In Plain Sight” was released on Dec. 23, officials are hoping to further increase awareness of the issue through a series of screenings in January, which is Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Companion pieces for the documentary, a project of Awaken Media, include the “Hope for Justice” music album and a “31-Day Devotional & Group Study Guide” that is designed to help readers “understand God’s heart for the vulnerable and broken in our world.” Grant lends her voice to the album project as she sings “In Christ Alone.” Other featured artists include Jeremy Camp, Building 429, All Sons & Daughters, Bard Millard, Big Daddy Weave, Anthony Skinner, Digital Age, Fernando Ortega, Mark Schultz, Page CXVI and Elijah Young.
“I strongly believe there’s a whole group of listeners who won’t gravitate towards worship music because they have a taste for a different kind of creativity, and it was in my heart to reach those people.”
Gospel Music Hall of Famer and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy has been named the Greatest Christian Rock Guitarist of All Time by the Classic Christian Rock Zone website. The title came after a survey of 24,000 fans, plus votes by a “top peer group of Christian rock musicians,” Christian rock broadcasters and magazine publishers and site administrators. Together a list of the 100 Greatest Christian Rock Guitarists of All Time was created. Keaggy’s solo career has spanned 40plus years and has included more than 50 solo albums, both vocal and instrumental, as well as three releases with his
Phil Keaggy band, Glass Harp. Inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2007, Keaggy has earned seven Dove Awards and a Grammy nomination. Rolling Stone magazine has also named him one of the “25 Most Underrated Guitarists,” alongside Prince, The Beatles’ George Harrison, Kurt Cobain, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham.
Bird sings a new tune
Dove-nominated singer/songwriter Misty Edwards was set to release her fourth studio album, Little Bird, on Dec. 29, during the International House of Prayer’s annual Onething Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The new release reflects a different direction from its predecessor Only a Shadow. “A lot of worship leaders feel limited and frustrated creatively, but we’re called to so much more as Christians, even when it comes to our typical definition of worship,” Edwards said, adding Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
events calendar THRU FEB 15 Triple Espresso, The Music Box Theatre, 1407 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis • (612) 874-1100, tripleespresso.com
JAN 9-10 • FRI-SAT Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “Forever Everly,” tribute to the Great Duets made famous by The Everly Brothers. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com
JAN 12 • MONDAY Supporting Russian-Speaking Women. Whether you are in need of support, encouragement for yourself or God is using you to reach into the life of another woman who is hurting. Come and learn what it means to be victorious in Jesus Christ. 6pm. 4741 Zealand Ave. N, New Hope. Free • (763) 971-5118
JAN 16 • FRIDAY Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “The Tenderness Sessions” Giants of the 60’s Memphis Soul with Mick Sterling. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com
JAN 17 • SATURDAY Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “Beautiful Vision” – The Songs of Van Morrison. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com Martin Luther King Commemorative Event. Union Gospel Mission, 435 University Ave. E, St. Paul • ugmtc.org
JAN 19 • SUNDAY Hope Sunday Evening Concert Series presents Randy Sabien & Friends in concert, 5:15pm. Hope Christian Church, 4911 Hodgson Rd., Shoreview. $5-7 • (651) 486-6202, hopmn.com/Concert.htm “It Does Matter: Dream with Us. Activate A New Canvas,” 6:40pm. Reflective service honoring the prophetic legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Calvary Baptist Church, 2608 Blaisdell Ave. S, Mpls. Free • (612) 872-7855, calvarychurchmpls.org
JAN 20 • MONDAY Twin Cities Creation Science Assoc. Seminar “Incredible Creatures” with Julie Von Vett speaking, University of Northwestern, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville, MN Totino Fine Arts Center, Room F2128 • tccsa.tc
JAN 23 • FRIDAY Laugh For Life Comedy Night with Bob Stromberg, Daren Streblow & Justin Flom. Autumn Ridge Church, Rochester. $10. By New Life Family Services • 1-800-965-9324, nlfs.org/laughfor-life/
JAN 23-24 • FRI-SAT Mission Possible, Friday 7-9pm, Worship Time/Preaching & Saturday 12noon-3pm, Teaching/Service/Community Outreach). Amazing Grace Assembly of God, 1237 Earl St., St. Paul • (651) 408-5124, (704) 493-4171
JAN 24 • SATURDAY Laugh For Life Comedy Night with Bob Stromberg, Daren Streblow & Justin Flom. Grace Church, Eden Prairie. $10. By New Life Family Services • 1-800-965-9324, nlfs.org/laugh-for-life
JAN 26 • MONDAY AM 980 KKMS Radio’s 3rd Annual Pins for Pastors, 9am-1pm. Pastors and Ministry Leaders from all around the Twin Cities will have the opportunity to bowl three games & eat lunch at no cost to them. Brunswick Zone XL, Brooklyn Park • Register (651) 405-8800, kkms.com Supporting Russian-Speaking Women. Whether you are in need of support, encouragement for yourself or God is using you to reach
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
into the life of another woman who is hurting. Come and learn what it means to be victorious in Jesus Christ. 6pm. 4741 Zealand Ave. N, New Hope. Free • (763) 971-5118
FEB 2-4 • MON-WED Desiring God 2015 Conference for Pastors in Partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary. Minneapolis Convention Center • (612) 455-3420 • bethlehemcollegeandseminary.org
FEB 5 • THURSDAY Triple Espresso, special 20 anniversary show, The Music Box Theatre, 1407 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis • (612) 874-1100, tripleespresso.com th
FEB 5-8 • THU-SUN Fiddler on the Roof, musical, Thu.-Sat. 7:30pm & Sun. 2:30pm. Bethel University, Benson Great Hall, 3900 Bethel Drive, Arden Hills. $10-14 • (651) 638-6333, bethel.edu/events/arts/ theatre/2015/fiddler-on-the-roof
FEB 6-7 • FRI-SAT Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “Singer/ Songwriters” with the Fabulous Armadillos. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com Dare to Share 2015 – Fearless with The Digital Age, Greg Stier, Zane Black, Esteban Shedd & Alert312. Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie • dare2share.org/fearless/tour-schedule/ twin-cities/
FEB 7 • SATURDAY Beyond the Veil, training seminar, 9am-5pm. Learn how to build new friendships & actively share the love of Christ with Muslim women. Bethany International, 6900 Auto Club Rd., Bloomington. $35+ • crescentproject.org/minneapolis
host Mike Gallagher, 7pm, Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, Burnsville. By AM1280 The Patriot • (651) 289-4444
FEB 19-MAR 8 “To Begin With,” The Music Box Theatre, 1407 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis • (612) 874-1100, musicboxmpls.com
FEB 20-21 • THU-FRI 9th Annual Midwest Conference on Missionary Care. “Upholding the Whole Family” reflects three realities as they relate to selecting, preparing, sending & caring for our missionaries. Calvary Church, 2120 Lexington Ave. N, Roseville. $60-75 • mctwo.org/index.html Women of Faith presents “Unwrap the Bible” Simulcast, two-day delivery of in-depth, expository Bible teaching from teachers you know and trust • 1-888-235-7948
FEB 23 • MONDAY Supporting Russian-Speaking Women. Whether you are in need of support, encouragement for yourself or God is using you to reach into the life of another woman who is hurting. Come and learn what it means to be victorious in Jesus Christ. 6pm. 4741 Zealand Ave. N, New Hope. Free • (763) 971-5118
FEB 27 • FRIDAY Church Basement Ladies “The Last (Potluck) Supper performance, 7pm. Hutchinson High School Auditorium, 1200 Roberts Rd SW, Hutchinson. By West Central MN Youth for Christ • yfcminnesota. com
FEB 27-28 • FRI-SAT
FEB 9 • SUNDAY
Mission Possible, Friday 7-9pm, Worship Time/Preaching & Saturday 12noon-3pm, Teaching/Service/Community Outreach). Amazing Grace Assembly of God, 1237 Earl St., St. Paul • (651) 408-5124, (704) 493-4171
Hope Sunday Evening Concert Series presents Prudence Johnson & Dan Chouinard in concert, 5:15pm. Hope Christian Church, 4911 Hodgson Rd., Shoreview. $5-7 • (651) 486-6202, hopmn. com/Concert.htm
Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “Rainy Days & Mondays” The Music of the Carpenters with Aimee Lee & The Superstars. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com
Supporting Russian-Speaking Women. Whether you are in need of support, encouragement for yourself or God is using you to reach into the life of another woman who is hurting. Come and learn what it means to be victorious in Jesus Christ. 6pm. 4741 Zealand Ave. N, New Hope. Free • (763) 971-5118
FEB 13-15 • FRI-SUN Lutheran Marriage Encounter Valentine’s Weekend. Mpls Boulevard Hotel, Brooklyn Center • (763) 561-1575, godlovesmarriage.org FamilyLife presents “Weekend to Remember” Marriage Getaway, 7pm. DoubleTree Hotel, Rochester • (952) 435-1949, firstname.lastname@example.org
FEB 13-15 • FRI-SUN Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “The Love Show.” $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com
FEB 16 • MONDAY Twin Cities Creation Science Assoc. Seminar “Teaching Kids to Think Biblically” with Shyla Allard speaking, University of Northwestern, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville, MN Totino Fine Arts Center, Room F2128 • tccsa.tc
FEB 19 • THURSDAY Church Basement Ladies “The Last (Potluck) Supper performance, 2 & 7pm. Ames Center, 12600 Nicollet Ave., Burnsville. $30-40 • (952) 895-4685 “A Meal with Mike,” special VIP event with radio talkshow
FEB 27-AUG 29 Chanhassen Dinner Theatres presents Mary Poppins, the Broadway Musical. Performances are Tues.-Sun. evenings, matinees on Wed. & Sat. $62-84 • (952) 934-1547, 1-800-3556273, chanhassendt.com
FEB 28 • SATURDAY Legacy Fishing Retreats Banquet & Worship Experience Fundraising event with silent auction, banquet dinner & worship concert featuring Cody James, Travid Vaad & Chris Atkins. St. Michael Civic Center, 11800 Town Center Drive NE, St. Michael. $50 (supper & worship), $15 (worship only) • (612) 860-2727, email@example.com
MAR 6-8 • FRI-SUN FamilyLife presents “Weekend to Remember” Marriage Getaway. Marriott CityCenter Hotel, Mpls • (952) 435-1949, familylifemn@ gmail.com
MAR 7 • SATURDAY Chanhassen 2015 Concert Series, Dinner Theatres, “100 Years of Sinatra” with Andrew Walesch Big Band. $40 + $15 dinner option • 1-800-362-3515, ChanhassenDT.com
EVENTS ONLINE For more events and community news, please visit www.refreshedtwincities.com.
community news Triple Espresso continues
MINNEAPOLIS — The side-splitting comedy of Triple Espresso continues its winter run through Feb. 15 at the Music Box Theatre. The show is celebrating its 20th year and will host a one-night special anniversary show on Feb. 5. The theater will also present “To Begin With,” a show based on Gerald Charles Dickens portrayal of his greatgreat grandfather’s attempt to write an adaptation of the Biblical Gospels. The witty, insightful and entertaining play will open Feb. 19 and continue through March 8. Comedian Bob Stromberg will perform “That Wonder Boy” from March 17 through April 5. The show, written by Stromberg who was also the co-author of Triple Espresso, is a charming tale that begins with a flying baby and soars on a creative flight of laughter, joy and wonder.
Learn more at www.tripleespresso. com and www.musicboxmpls.com.
leave your name, phone number and a message.
Crisis phone ministry seeks volunteers
Christian arts festival seeks entries
ST. ANTHONY — Love Lines Crisis Counseling Center is seeking Christian telephone counselors to fill four-hour slots, seven days a week. Love Lines is a telephone ministry reaching the lost and hurting in the Twin Cities since the 1970s. Now in twenty-six countries with Minnesota as the home office, they are newly located in St. Anthony and in the process of upgrading the ministry to address the needs of this and future generations. Training will be provided to those with a heart for volunteer ministry. Other volunteer needs include office help, webmasters, financial and prayer supporters. Call (612) 379-1199, ext. 707 and
EAGAN — The River Ridge Christian Arts Festival is seeking entries for its April 16-18 event, which is being presented by Trinity School at River Ridge. Deadline for entries is March 13. With more than $2,500 in prizes to be awarded, the three-day festival, themed “In the Beginning: Reflections on Creation,” will include a juried Fine Art Exhibition, a series of public events, lectures and workshops for all ages at no charge. The keynote address will be given by Gregory Wolfe, publisher of Image Journal and author of “Beauty Will Save the World.” Professional, advanced and collegelevel artists should apply at www. tsrrARTS.org.
Challenging. Supportive. Biblical. Since 1961 Christian parents have partnered with outstanding teachers to provide excellent, God-honoring education at Calvin Christian. Explore the Calvin Christian difference for your children.
Serving the Twin Cities ■ Edina K-8 campus 4015 Inglewood Ave. S OPEN HOUSE: JAN 15, 5:30pm
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■ Calvin Christian High School 755 73rd Ave. NE, Fridley
Call today for more information and to schedule a visit.
952-927-5304 | www.calvinchristian.org Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
2014 was the year that America learned more about its athletes than it cared to know. Much of the off-the-field news made it clear that sports is not necessarily the place we should look for role models. There are exceptions of course, and in December we saw two athletes who could serve as role models honored for their accomplishments. Sports Illustrated named San Francisco Giants southpaw Madison Bumgarner its “Sportsman of the Year.” It is not hyperbole to say that the North Carolina native had an October for the ages. In the postseason, he “pitched 52-2/3 innings, threw two shutouts, and saved a game while posting a 1.03 ERA.” Only two pitchers in history had done that in a month during the regular season. Believe me, folks, this a huge deal. The save alone catapulted Bumgarner into “legend” status. After winning games one and five of the World Series as the starter, he came out of the bullpen in game seven to lead the Giants to their third World Series title in five years. As his teammates put it, Bumgarner put the team on his back and carried them to the championship. Note, his teammates say that—you’ll never hear it from Bumgarner. SI’s Tom Verducci marveled at Bumgarner’s humility. As Verducci put it, “He wants success without spoils, achievement without attention and the ball without excuses,” traits that are “rare in an era when selfpromotion defines too many athletes.” That’s because Bumgarner is interested in promoting something else. He told Verducci that “My short-term goal as a person is to witness an activity of Jesus in my life, and my long-term goal is for people when they look at me to see something in me about Jesus.” The second athlete honored, Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, shares a
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
PHOTO BY SD DIRK ON FLICKR VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Athletic feats and faith
Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year” and AP’s “Male Athlete of the Year” Madison Bumgarner. similar goal. As he told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes magazine, “With [Christ’s] power, we are able to pursue and play for His glory. We want to go out and show the world that Christ lives.” While the Heisman is awarded for Mariota’s on-the-field accomplishments which are considerable, his off-the-field record is what makes him most worthy of admiration. His Oregon teammates have nicknamed him “St. Mark.” Whatever else that means, it’s says something about how they view his character. In an age of numerous academic scandals involving football and basketball players, Mariota graduated in 3½ years with a degree in science. There are, as USA Today puts it, Marcus’s “weekly unannounced visits to the Boys and Girls Club” and daily stops to pass out food and water to the homeless. As one of his coaches put it, “The best thing I can say about him . . . is he’s done absolutely everything right since he’s
been here.” Ironically, his character is sometimes held against him. According to Sports Illustrated, some NFL teams worry about whether he is “too nice.” That’s a rap that’s often applied to Christian athletes. It’s untrue, and, in an age when saying that an athlete is in a “lineup” can carry several meanings, more than a little shortsighted. So, congratulations to Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Mariota, and thank you both for your witness to Jesus. Editor’s note: On Dec. 30 Bumgarner was named AP Male Athlete of the Year. Eric Metaxas is the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary broadcast on 400 stations. © 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Learn more at www.breakpoint.org.
plugged in DOUG TROUTEN
The dream of virtual immortality The digital revolution has changed the way we live—but it has also changed the way we die. When George Washington died it took a week for the news to travel from Virginia to New York. Boston didn’t learn our founding president had died until 11 days after it happened. Compare that to my father’s recent passing. I was at his side, so I knew right away. And within the hour, his far-flung but digitally connected family knew he had moved from this life to the next. Many of his long-time friends knew just a day or two later, thanks to email addresses on his hard drive. In addition to making communication quicker, the digital age has made saving memories easier. My dad’s computer contained sermons he preached and Bible studies he led—a spiritual legacy he left behind. His Facebook account will live on, and it now carries news of
his passing, along with greetings and memories from loved ones. Speaking of saving memories, some companies have begun engraving QR codes on tombstones. Scanning the code with a smartphone can open a website about the deceased that includes pictures, video, favorite music, and a guestbook for mourners. While technology is changing the speed with which we learn of death and the ways we remember those we have lost, some of those building our hightech future dream of something much more radical: banishing death completely. While people in the life sciences work on ways to extend our biological lives, technologists hope to replace our temporary flesh and blood with something more durable—a sort of silicon immortality. The dream is to find a way to download a person’s consciousness into a computer, where it could live forever. Supporters of “transhumanism” hope to find a way to scan the synapses of the human brain’s structure, then recreate the conscious mind digitally, allowing us—or simulations of us—to “live” forever in a virtual world. Don’t expect this any time soon. For starters, we don’t really understand consciousness. We’re pretty sure it has something to do with the brain, but we don’t really understand that either. Advances in technologies such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) are helping us learn about the brain by monitoring cerebral blood flow in real time, but that’s a little like trying to figure out what people are buying at a mall by counting cars entering and leaving the parking lot. The dream of virtual immortality is also inextricably bound to materialist philosophy—the idea that the material
world is all there is. Are we more than our biology? Does the meat of our brain create our consciousness, or merely host it in some way we can’t begin to understand? It’s an important question for those hoping to replicate themselves in computer code. If it turns out that our mind, will and emotions are somehow more than mere physical phenomenon, then the longedfor download process might turn out to be like photocopying the cover of a book: It might look the same, but the real content won’t be there. Why do we even dream of living forever? British novelist Susan Ertz wrote, “Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” Yet the dream of endless life runs deep. Could “forever” be part of our design? Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God “set eternity in the human heart.” It’s how we were made. I’m not really interested in spending centuries as a computer simulation. But I do like the idea of God recreating me when this life is done, and giving me forever to explore His creation. The universe is huge, and it doesn’t seem to be exactly overrun with intelligent life. An infinitely large universe seems ridiculous and wasteful, until you factor in having an infinitely long time to enjoy it. Then the universe seems to be just the right size. My dad began that joyous journey late last year. And thanks to the promise of the Christian faith, I didn’t really have to say goodbye to him—just “See you later.” Doug Trouten, Ph.D., is professor of journalism at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.
Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
at the table YIA VANG
Low and slow If you travel into the heart of Texas and ask folks living there about what is BBQ, the main response will be beef brisket. This cut of meat is one of the most popular cuts when it comes to true Texan BBQ. The brisket is the front chest muscle of the steer. Brisket slabs come in two parts weighing a combined 12-15 pounds. The front part usually has a fat layer on it and then the back part that is meatier. The job of this large portion of the meat is to hold 60% of the animal’s weight on the front part of its body. For this muscle to do its job, it is mainly made up of large connective tissue that makes the meat tough. This poses a challenge for chefs who enjoy cooking with and consuming brisket - it requires low and slow preparation. The main question is why is brisket cooked this way? Why the low and slow method? If you cook it with high heat (grilling) you can over cook it and it’s tough and chewy. If you cook it too long, it breaks down too much and the meat becomes dry and stringy. To break down the large connective tissue, the meat must be cooked low and slow, letting the heat from the wood smoker work through the brisket. Due to its composition, the dense meat can handle the intense smoke flavor and, if you wish, can be enhanced by the BBQ sauce of your choice. The waiting room I would remember waiting for hours and hours for this delicious smoked meat. The anticipation would drive me nuts waiting and waiting. I would open the door to the smoker and peek my head in. I would add more firewood to make the smoking process go faster. I would sit and think about the large piece of meat cooking nearby, not knowing that every time I opened the door, I was reducing the internal temperature
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
of the smoker or the firewood I added to the smoker would cause it to become so hot that the outside of the meat would burn. With brisket timing is everything - allowing the smoke and nice, even, 250-degree heat to do its work takes time and the 10 hours of cooking time will slowly break down the tissue of the brisket producing the flavor I craved. The man who had everything Much like cooking brisket, God has perfect timing for our lives, and we have to allow Him to take His time in creating a wonderful masterpiece. The more we try to “add more firewood” or “open the door of the smoker” all we do is prolong the process. Solomon says it the best when he states, “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). He goes on to write down his famous “a time to…” dissertation. He uses contrasts of birth and death, plant and pluck, kill and heal, break down and build up. Solomon was a man who had everything; at any point in time he could get anything he wanted. After indulging in all of what he could take during his life, he sits as an old man to write these words. We must take heed to his warning about timing. When you have all your heart desires, the value of every-
thing is lost. One of God’s greatest assets to teaching us life lessons is time. Depth of flavor The depth of flavor that awakened my taste buds during that experience in St. Louis was a result of the brisket being smoked at a low heat with quality hickory wood for a period of a long time. Similarly, the life lessons that God has taken me through have given me a deeper understanding of life. These lessons have come because of the long waiting process that was designed for my life. There is a richer deeper flavor in life when we allow God to take us through a hard and sanctifying process. If you ever get to sink your teeth into a truly smoky good brisket sandwich think of the long cooking process that has made that sandwich and reflect on the personal process that the Lord is taking you through to bring depth into your life. Yia Vang graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a BS in Communication Studies. Shortly after, he went on staff with Cru. He is currently the Lead Kitchen Ministry Coordinator for Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
here’s to good health WENDIE PETT
Have a New Year’s ReVolution! Are you one that starts every January 1st making “new” New Year’s resolutions? Are you saying to yourself or those around you, “I’m going to start working out and eating healthy.” How about, “I’m going to stop spending so much money.” Or, “I’m going to quit smoking.” Maybe it’s the most common general statement used, “I’m going to lose weight!” While these are nice thoughts, they are not intentional resolutions. An intentional resolution is more like a revolution! It becomes a war…a war in which proper measureable action steps are taken to win the battle. You can gain victory over any battle, including the “battle of the bulge.” How??? Just like any revolution, in order to win the battle one must have a plan of attack in order to defeat “the enemy.” If you’ve ever read the book of Joshua in the Bible then you would see that the plan doesn’t always “make sense.” God instructed Joshua and his men to march around the high city walls of Jericho for six days and on the seventh day to march around the city walls seven times. At that point they were to then shout with gusto and blast sounds from their trumpets. This would cause the city walls to crumble and tumble to the ground. The people of Jericho would tremble in fear of what they witnessed and everyone and every living thing would be destroyed by the Israelites. Why am I telling you about Joshua and what does this have to do with your own personal battle? Well, God gave Joshua a plan of attack along with a promise if he followed through with the exact plans and instructions. The promise of victory! You, too, can defeat your “enemy” whether it’s weight, negative thoughts and emotions, addictions, or false beliefs. All you
have to do is take action and continue to do so…even when it doesn’t make sense at the time. Here are 3 things that you can do today to begin to win your personal revolution!
that you may overcome your personal war. As you change the way in which you think, feel, and act and make intentional goals and action steps...then you will succeed.
1. Be specific in your goal and plan of attack. For example…if you want to win victory over the “battle of the bulge,” then don’t just say the generic statement, “I want to lose weight.” Be specific… write down something like, “I will release 20 pounds by March 1st, 2015. I will do my Visibly Fit™ exercises daily and will no longer eat fast food or drink sodas.” 2. Journal and take note of each step you take. Journaling does not have to be intimidating. A plain notebook of any size or color will suffice. If your goal is to release weight…then you should journal what exercises you did for the day, what you ate, the water you drank and your emotions. Nothing fancy…just take note. This will allow you to stay accountable to yourself and to see a trend in your habits or lack there of. 3. Find an accountability partner or hire a coach! Accountability is the number one way to win victory over any battle that you may be facing! Joshua had the best accountability partner and so do you— God is our best coach! But, in addition to His instructions and guidance, hiring a coach or finding an accountability friend will take you to the next level so
The revolution to change starts with YOU! Make 2015 your best year yet! Go to www.visiblyfitin84days.com to begin your 84-day challenge. Get your year started in the right direction to become Visibly Fit…mind, body, and spirit! Wendie Pett is a nationally-renowned fitness expert and coach, mother, TV host, speaker, author and creator of the Visibly Fit™ exercise program. Learn more at www.wendiepett.com. Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
marriage matters COLETTE & JONATHAN STUART
Game changer Marriage, like life generally, is not for the faint of heart. It confounds and confronts us at all stages of the journey. Being in close proximity and confidence with another person has a way of bringing up all kinds of unpleasantness both within and between us. But these very same attributes are what can make a marriage so beautiful and exhilarating. It gives us the opportunity to stretch, grow, and feel support. Hopefully, marriage transforms us into becoming better people because of the unique intimacy this type of relationship provides. We teach a class on conflict resolution skills (and yes the old adage is true, you teach what you need) and often begin the semester by asking stu-
“why” involved in conflict. A position is what we want, and an interest is why we want it. This time of year, many couples are starting to scrutinize bank accounts and figure out ways to recover from Christmas and the holidays. Money is the number one reason many couples argue. We approach money with different lenses, and our “what” causes our tension. Our “why” however is what we can usually agree on. You see, our values fundamentally are the same. We have similar goals on the quality of life we desire that is more about how we want to feel, and this ultimately informs how we choose to be with our finances. Another area in our relationship where we see things differently is how we love one another. Gary Smalley refers to this as our love language. My love language is “gifts,” and my husband’s love language is spending time together. Completing graduate school was not only a highlight for me, but for our immediate family. Jonathan was excited to give me my graduation present. The evening arrived and I enthusiastically got all dressed up with somewhere fancy to go. I even wore my red patent heels, which I only wear on super special occasions because they aren’t my most comfortable shoes. Finally, at our destination in downtown Minneapolis, Jonathan opened the car door. Confused I thought, “Is this is a baseball stadium?” I followed him up several (but what felt like a million) flights of stairs in my red, now burning, heels as my enthusiasm
I had just hiked flights of stairs in high heels expecting the night of my life which, in my opinion, didn’t include watching a baseball game. dents who do not have conflict in their lives to raise their hand. Without fail, no hands are raised. Conflict is part of the human experience, and the way we choose to interact can either contribute or detract from the issues at hand. For the most part, people see conflict as something to be avoided. Since we’ve been working in the arena of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), I’ve been challenged and invite others to see the opportunity for growth and change conflict can provide. One thing we have discovered while working with people in conflict is that there is typically a “what” and
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
slowly began to deflate. “Aren’t these seats great?” he said! “I got us tickets in the ‘nice’ section.” He then told me the story of a friend, who had a friend, who got us these amazing tickets. Now if I liked baseball, or could tell the difference between “regular” and “nice” tickets, this gift might have been a woozier, but it was quite the opposite and I had just hiked flights of stairs in high heels expecting the night of my life which, in my opinion, didn’t include watching a baseball game. We laugh about this story now, but the baseball “gift” pushed us into a new and different conversation that wasn’t easy, but impactful. This past November, after months of saving, Jonathan surprised me with another graduation gift. This time he knocked it out of the park! An unbelievable romantic getaway where he coordinated everything including the childcare. This spoke my love language and brought us both joy. What is it going to look like for you in your marriage? Where is there tension, conflict or opportunity for your marriage to change and grow? Resources for you to consider: • www.prepare-enrich.com • www.couplecheckup.com • “Love Languages” by Gary Smalley • www.sweetencouragement.org Jonathan Stuart, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. He specializes in training and mediation services. Colette Campbell, M.A., is an adjunct faculty member, speaker/consultant and coach. She offers workshops on connecting to your calling, working with differences, and workingbetter2gether.
purposeful parenting JIM JACKSON
How to respond when your child is demanding When we hear this sort of thing from our kids, knowing that what they want is not really something they need, we’re inclined to quickly pronounce, “No!” Some kids will quietly comply and others will fight. Whether kids comply or whether they fight, parents usually give very little thought to what the kids are actually learning. We suggest giving it thought. To quickly routinely pronounce “No!” to a demanding child is to miss a great opportunity to help that child internalize responsibility and grow in wisdom. Instead of a quick “No!” we suggest parents learn to respond with observation, validation, and questions. This helps both child AND parent become more rational. If you’re shopping and your child wants something, it might go something like this: Child: “Mom, I want that. I REALLY want it! I want it NOW!” Mom: (Takes a quick breath, maybe even says a quick prayer to settle herself. Then kindly responds) “Wow, this seems really important to you. (observation and validation) How much does it cost? (a question intended to engage the child’s thinking) g)
Child: “I don’t know. I just WANT it. I NEED it to go with my other things!” At this point, mom starts feeling frustrated. The new “trick” she learned about reflection, validation, and questions isn’t working. But she remembers that the parent coach said, “It will be hard at first. Just keep working at staying calm, and take your own time out if needed.” Just remembering this helps Mom calm down. When she’s calm she thinks more clearly. She takes a deep breath and continues. Mom (tender and confident): “I understand. I can see that you’re upset. (observation) I feel that way too when I don’t get things I want. (validation) But this is one of those things that needs a plan before we talk about getting it. What would be the first thing we need to know before deciding to buy something like that?” (question) Now the ball is in the child’s court, and most importantly, Mom is calm. The focus is no longer about who will win, but about thinking about it together. It could go any of a thousand different ways, but now that mom is purposefully working purposef toward the goals tow of o observation, validation, and questions, the child is far less likely to feel trapped into tantrumming t or fighting to get his way. Child: I don’t know! I just ju want it.
The child still feels overwhelmed. He needs more concrete questions to help him discover why getting the toy now isn’t reasonable. Mom: “So what’s the first thing you have to do when you REALLY want something?” (question) Child: “Find out how much it costs?” Mom: “That’s right! (validation) And you also have to know how much money you have to spend. How much do you have to spend?” Child: “I don’t have any money. So you buy it!” Mom: (with a smile) “You are very persistent. You could make a great salesman someday. (validation) But from now on, if you want things, we need to make plans together about how the money will work. When would you like to start making those plans?” (question) This is just a snapshot of what is likely to be a full album of scenarios parents go through on the way to teaching kids to delay gratification and learn the function and value of money. As in this scene, kids won’t necessarily “get it” right away. It will take time. But when parents learn to stay focused on observation, validation, and questions, they find their kids growing in wisdom and an internal sense of responsibility. Jim Jackson is the cofounder of Connected Families, author, speaker and parent mentor. Learn more at www. connectedfamilies.org. Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
sharp focus JASON SHARP
What’s your story? I continue my journey of learning to discover how I can use my story to bring glory to God—the one who gave it to me. All of us tell stories about ourselves. Stories define us. If you want to know someone well, know their story—those experiences that have shaped them, the trials and turning points that have made them who they are today. When we want someone to know us, we share stories of our childhoods, our families, our first loves, and so on. I was born in 1970 in the small town of Sterling, Ill. Sterling is a city in Whiteside County with a population around 15,000. Formerly nicknamed “The Hardware Capital of the World”, Sterling has long been associated with manufacturing and the steel industry. Dad worked at Northwestern Steel & Wire and spent 30 years pushing brooms and driving trucks full of hot steel in order to provide for our family. I am grateful for my father’s sacrifice and understand why he retired on the very first day it was an option to do so. Mom spent her time as a loan officer at a local bank. We were middle class and had a great life. Along with my older siblings, I was
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
raised in a Christian home and we were all very active in the local Nazarene church. Dad was an usher, mom sang in the choir, and we kids were all leaders in various capacities. The Sharp family was at church whenever the doors were open—even on Super Bowl Sunday. Seems crazy, right? So, you might not be surprised to learn that I gave my life to Christ at an early age and felt called to the ministry when I was 13. I am thankful for my parent’s commitment to raising us with a strong biblical foundation as it’s made me who I am today. But nothing is perfect. In the years that have followed, our family has struggled with alcohol abuse and drug abuse and has experienced failed relationships, divorce, debt, unemployment, bankruptcy, heath issues, and cancer scares. It’s quite a story. Dr. Wess Stafford is the former President and CEO of Compassion International and is an internationally recognized advocate for children in poverty. Wess has degrees from Moody Bible Institute, Biola University and Wheaton College, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State, but he often says, “Everything I really needed to know to lead a multinational organization I learned from the poor, growing up in an African village.” I’m thankful Dr. Stafford did something with his story. Bono has become one of the world’s best-known philanthropic perform-
ers and was named the most politically effective celebrity of all time by the National Journal. In a 1986 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bono explained that he was motivated to become involved in social and political causes by seeing one of the Secret Policeman’s Ball benefit shows, staged by John Cleese for the human-rights organization Amnesty International in 1979. Bono was shocked and he did something with it. What has rocked you to the core? Bethany Hamilton was born to surf. A natural talent who took to the waves at a young age, she was leading what we Minnesotans would consider the “perfect sun-drenched life” on the Kauai coast. Bethany was competing in national surf competitions when everything changed in a heartbeat. You might know the story. On Halloween morning, she was on a typical surf outing when a 14-foot tiger shark came out of nowhere and seemed to shatter all her dreams. In the wake of this life-changing event that took her arm and nearly her life, Bethany’s steadfast faith helped her stage a feisty comeback from shark attack victim to inspirational role model. It doesn’t have to be catastrophic, but what has shaped your story and how can you use it to bring glory to God, the one who gave it to you? “I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:12 Jason Sharp is station manager of 98.5 KTIS in the Twin Cities. Follow him on Twitter @ KTISjason.
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that’s life! JOANNE BROKAW
The problem with New Year’s resolutions If you’re like many Americans, at some point in December (probably under the influence of some eggnog or fruitcake) you made a New Year’s resolution. It could be to save money or lose weight or get organized, but whatever it is, chances are that by this point in January you’ve given up. Or at least started asking yourself why you bothered to make any resolutions that involved getting off the couch. You’re not alone. According to the website Statisticbrain. com, 45 percent of Americans make some sort of New Year’s resolution, but only 8 percent of those people actually achieve their goals. The rest either never reach their goals, reach them “infrequently,” or don’t make a resolution at all. There are a lot of reasons we set out with the best intentions and then let them fall by the wayside. For many of us, a resolution is just something we’re expected to do every Dec. 31, a decision prompted by holiday peer pressure. But researchers have found that how committed a person really is to changing a behavior is the best predictor of how successful he or she will be in keeping that resolution. If you’re not serious about the change, you’ll fail. But if you really want to lose weight or save money or get organized, you will. I don’t think we really needed a major scientific study to make the point that lack of motivation is why we don’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions.
REFRESHED | Jan-Feb 2015
Most of us have no idea why we’re even making a resolution, and half of us are so unmotivated that we don’t even pretend there’s something about ourselves we want to change. As you know, I’m not a scientist and I failed statistics twice in college, but after years of research with findings based solely on my own excellent procrastination skills, I think I’ve solved the New Year’s resolution problem. First, we have to stop resolving to do things we don’t want to do and start resolving to do more things we do want to do. Lose weight? Exercise more? Save money? Organize the attic? Who really wants to do that? No wonder we give up. Research has shown— well, my research anyway—that when we are doing stuff we like to do, we are happier when we do more of it. And when we are happier doing stuff that makes us happy, we feel more successful, and success breeds success. So take more naps! Exercise less! Watch more television! Eat more cake! In fact, eat cake for breakfast! I’m pretty sure that putting $5 in a savings account each week won’t change your life the way eating cake for breakfast will. Here’s the other problem with New Year’s resolutions. They come at the wrong time of the year. Where I live, Jan. 1 heralds a long, dark season of snow, ice and frigid temperatures. The joys of the holidays are behind us and all we have to look forward to are bills and bad weather.
Clean the house? Fat chance I’m getting off the couch during a midwinter Netflix binge. Save money? What money? I spent it all in December. Get in shape? Going to the gym requires that I first go outside, which I avoid whenever possible between January and April. I don’t want to change my pajamas in January, let alone my behavior. So I say we move the new year to spring. Seriously, I can’t believe no one has thought of this before. In May the snow is gone, and buds are forming on the trees and the crocus and tulip bulbs are bursting through the soil. It’s the perfect time to make a resolution and keep it, because May ushers in a season of rebirth. Everywhere you look, hope is in bloom. Plus, in May the local ice cream parlor opens for the season. And if my resolution is to, say, exercise more, there’s a good chance I will regularly take a walk if it means I can enjoy a hot fudge sundae halfway through the workout. So this January, I encourage you to not make a New Year’s resolution. Instead, curl up on the couch with a bag of chips, do some Netflix binging, and stop worrying yourself silly about whether or not you’ve gained a couple of pounds over the holidays. It’s winter; no one can tell how big you are under all of those clothes anyway. And with my plan, you have five more months before you have to worry about it. Award-winning freelance writer Joanne Brokaw spends her days dreaming of things she’d like to do but probably never will— like swimming with dolphins, cleaning the attic and someday overcoming the trauma of elementary school picture day. She lives with two dogs, a cat, six chickens and one very patient husband. Learn more at www.joannebrokaw.com.
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Jan-Feb 2015 | REFRESHED
Published on Jan 4, 2015
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