Friday, January 28, 2011

The Bod Pod & My Body Fat Analysis

Ok, so it probably looks like something from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory, but in the photo above, I'm in a Bod Pod.  It's a body fat analyzer.  I'm joining the WVU Human Performance Lab for the next month in an effort to move toward my new years goal of losing weight.  The Bod Pod, is a small egg-shaped capsule (kind of like from Mork & Mindy) that measures airflow to determine a person's % body fat.  It's one of the most accurate tools for measuring % body fat.  BTW did you know you could get a membership at the HPL for $30/month?

It was kind of cool when I went into the lab because I helped a number of interns learn the process of performing a twelve lead EKG as well as a Bod Pod Analysis.  My EKG came out great, and I received the latest update on my journey away from 211 pounds.  I now weigh 192.4 pounds, and according to the analysis, 52.4 lbs are fat.  I've gotta admit, I get a little grossed out when I think about 52.4 pounds of fat hanging on my body.

RIght now I am composed of 27.2% fat, so technically I qualify as overweight.  AND, more than likely, when I stopped consuming sugar at the beginning of the year, I was over 30% fat which would have made me obese.

I'm not in the minority though.  According to recent CDC statistics 34% of Americans are obese, and an additional 34% are overweight.  Being overweight leads to all kinds of health problems.  In some ways we are eating our way to a multitude of health problems later in life.

That's why I'm trying to stem the tide now.  I don't look overweight, and I didn't look obese when I weighed 211.  Being overweight is one of the top preventable risk factors for a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer's, and a number of cancers.  I recently discovered this group research study and plan taking place with the congregation of Saddleback Church in California called the Daniel Plan.  Their pastor, Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, has a goal of losing 90 lbs during 2011.  Their church launched this plan with the help of some of the top medical doctors in the world.

But I digress, I just wanted to keep folks posted as I attempt to track on my goal (a little accountability), and I wanted to suggest the Daniel Plan as a resource for anyone to check out. I might do another post about it next week too.  Plus, I just thought the bod pod looked pretty cool. :)

Conversation? With An Old Friend

Well, I guess you could call it a conversation.  In this day and age conversations consist of phone calls, emails, skypes, AIM chats, facebooking, tweets, and more.  And this was a chat on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) with a very dear old friend named Mark Darling.

Mark is the pastor of a church in the greater Minneapolis area called The Rock.  I can remember hearing Mark speak while I was in college, and I remember finding Mark's passion and zeal utterly contagious.  Mark loves people and loves God pretty deeply, and wants to give every bit of his life to helping people grow in their relationship with Him.

In January of 2007, as an encouragement to my mom as she fought cancer, he  sent her an album filled with original folk spiritual songs he had recorded called Medicinal Spirit.

While we were catching up over AI, I told Mark about my recent engagement, and he told me about a resource he was putting together online to make messages he had given on a variety of aspects of faith over the last 24 years available online.  The two sites are called Strong Disciple and Getting Your Family To Mars.

I know there are more resources, itunes podcasts, online messages and talks available to people now than at any point in history, but I couldn't help but write a short note to let friends--particularly friends from the world of Great Commission Ministries know about these resources Mark has made available online.

If you give these sites a try, I know Mark would love to hear your feedback.  Hope you are able to enjoy the messages.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New View For 2011

Ok, so I made many of the changes in 2010, but I wanted to introduce you to a few of em.  One of my goals this year is to post entries 3-5 times per week.  This can get challenging when traveling and I can almost guarantee that this will happen less often when I’m on my honeymoon later this Spring.

So first, you might notice the fact that my blog looks different.  I may make additional tweaks as the year goes on, but a few friends encouraged me to lose the lighthouse theme, and go with something a little more contemporary.

In an effort to make the posts more “share friendly, each post has buttons at the top that allow you to share posts that you like with friends on facebook, twitter, google buzz, your own blog, or even through email.  And, for those of you who don’t like to leave comments,  you can check a box for “funny” “Interesting” or “cool” and give me feedback with a click.  You can also “follow” posts from my blog if you have a gmail account, and tell others (and me) that you like reading my posts.  It is always encouraging to get feedback from folks and following my blog is a simple way to do it.  

I’ve attempted to “clean up” my links to other blogs and websites a bit.  Many of my blogging friends who were listed there have either stopped blogging or moved their blogs to more private settings, so I have thinned out the links.  If yours was one of the links removed, I’ll put you back if you let me know you started blogging again.

I’ve tried to make the blog my one stop place to read my micro-blog on twitter as well as keep up with other things going on in my life.  I also added a badge for Nuru International’s fan page (If you are on facebook, you should join it!).  You can also see which blogs have most recently been commented on as well.

One idea I’ve been playing around with is creating themes around different days of the week. I was thinking that at least one day per week would be dedicated to a review of a book, music, movie, or some other media.  Another day would be dedicated to social justice, advocacy, and sharing opportunities.  I thought one day might be good for stories and reflections, and yet another might be snippets from travels. Are there any particular subjects you would like to see me write about?  Please let me know.

If you have any suggestions on how to further improve this blog, I’m all ears.  I hope you enjoy the changes, and I look forward to continuing to share thoughts, reflections, news, reviews, dreams, and more in 2011.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Help International Justice Mission and Write President Obama

Hey there!  As you probably know, I'm a big fan of International Justice Mission.  They are a great organization who are dedicated to fighting slavery, trafficking, and other forms of injustice.  Will you consider visiting this link and signing their online petition?  Or, taking the content of the letter below and drafting your own letter to the president or to your congressional representatives.  Thanks so much!  By the way, as a reminder, January is anti-trafficking month--this could be your one significant gesture to reduce human trafficking this month. :)

We Urge You To Help End Modern-Day Slavery
Dear President Obama:
We applaud the words of your proclamation of January 2011 as anti-trafficking month, when you stated: "From every corner of our nation to every part of the globe, we must stand firm in defense of freedom and bear witness for those exploited by modern slavery." As you know, millions of men, women and children remain in slavery around the world, and we appeal to you to make the eradication of modern-day slavery a priority of your Administration at home and abroad.

We urge you to strengthen our government's anti-slavery policies, institutions and diplomatic tools, including the following specific steps:

- Provide funding and full-time staff to the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) to allow it to scale up and replicate projects that have successfully reduced the prevalence of labor or sex trafficking abroad.

- Increase funding for victim relief and perpetrator accountability, and provide tangible support for police, prosecutors, and courts to deter this crime and secure relief for victims.

- Urge Congress to include additional resources for the TIP Office when the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is considered in 2011.

- Insist that TIP Office diplomacy is amplified throughout the State Department and U.S. Embassies, and the concerns reflected in the annual TIP Report are raised at the highest levels.

- Provide adequate funding in your budget not only for fighting slavery abroad but also for confronting the crime at home. Increased resources to support survivors of labor or sex trafficking as well as for police, prosecutors and investigators, should be included in your forthcoming budget.

- Enforce current law that prohibits the importation of slave or child-made goods into the U.S.

- Strengthen the TIP Office by making its coordinator, Ambassador Lou CdeBaca, the equivalent of an Assistant Secretary of State.

We appreciate your stated commitment to protecting freedom and look to you for leadership in eradicating slavery at home and around the world.
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
Thanks again for visiting my blog, and for pursuing justice. May you see lasting change in the world as a result of your efforts to be the best version of yourself you can be today!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Networked Nonprofit

Sometimes I’m an early adopter, and sometimes I move a bit more slowly.  When Beth Kanter and Alice Fine’s book came out last summer, I moved a bit more slowly than most to purchase a copy and begin reading.  I’ve moved even more slowly when it has come to writing a review. 

I bought my copy last October in an effort to better articulate my own experience with social media, while at the same time leaning on the learnings of others in the sector.  What I like best about the book is that it starts with a very basic approach that helps to build credibility for social media as a tool for driving change, and then continues to give a variety of tools, approaches, and information, to help users of social media to make the most of their online efforts.

Of particular interest to me was the chapter devoted to a describing how social media enables to engage with others on an unprecedented scale.  From blogs to twitter, to facebook, we are able to connect with people in a way that has not been as readily available to past generations.

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine lay out a number of too.s and means for engagement from the highly technical (like social media mapping) to the highly relational and empowering (like crowdsourcing).
The authors, although highly capabale in the academic arena, write this book as practitioners to fellow practitioners.  In terms of being ‘peer-reviewed’ work, the authors have attracted the eyes and attention of many in the non-profit and social media sectors.

I had the privilege of meeting Beth Kanter last spring while attending a conference called the !deation as a representative of Nuru.  She was every bit as congenial, friendly, and encouraging in person as she is online, or in her books.

One aspect of social media that receives a lot of buzz, but I didn’t see a ton of information addressing in the book was the realm of analytics and metrics.  Perhaps it is because if one is engaged in a relationship with folks who are friends, fans, or followers of a non-profit, then there is less need to track how the relationships form.  I know that in my personal life, I don’t apply analytics to determine how I make friends, I just meet people from a wide array of backgrounds, and I find myself wanting to become friends with them as I get to know them.

If you are in the non-profit world, and you use social media, I would highly recommend The Networked Nonprofit. It isn’t a long book, and it is chock full of information regardless of your level of involvement in the realm of social media.  (And you can read it in one sitting~but you will probably want to re-read!)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Looking toward 2011

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to share a few goals I have for 2011. 

1)   Lose weight—I’m getting married on May 27th, and I’d like to shed a few pounds before that day.  In an effort incentivize this, two of my friends have agreed to attempt to lose weight as well.  The biggest loser (by percentage lost) will receive $ and a meal from the other two.  When we started I weighed 211 pounds, this morning I weighed in at 193.  I would like to reach 170 by May 25th.  So if you see me reaching for seconds feel free to ask me how my “fatness” workouts are going.
2)   Spend Less—I try not to be superfluous with spending and I also try to give very generously to a few causes about which I care, but after employing the use of for the last several months, I’ve noticed some spending habits that I would like to change before entering the throes of matrimony with my bride-to-be.
3)   Blog more consistently—This year, I’d like to make a practice of blogging 3-5 times per week.  I’ve made some changes to my blog in an effort to make it a little more readable and facilitate more feedback from friends.
4)   Get outdoors—As much as I traveled over the last year, I spent more time indoors in 2010 than I think I have any year of my life.  I need to get out and ride my bike, hike in the woods, rock climb, or just walk—I miss that stuff.
5)   Exercise—This will be facilitated by getting outside, and will also help me in my goal of losing weight.  Plus, it’s just a good idea to make fitness and not fatness a part of one’s daily routine.
6)   Parkersburg half-marathon—Health and fitness  and schedule permitting, I’d love to say I have run this race in my home town August 20thWanna join me?  I also was recently asked by a friend to complete a 55 mile one day hike/jog on a stretch of the Appalachian trail at the end of July--we will see on that one. 
7)   Reflect—Maybe I’m the only person on the planet who feels this way, but I feel like my life over the last few years has gotten faster and faster paced.  I want to make a regular practice of slowing down, and reflecting over my day, week, month, life.  My goal is to carve part of a day and dedicate it to solitude, silence, fasting, and prayer.
8)   Say "No"—I have a really hard time saying no to requests to do activities with friends and family, and as much as I enjoy the activities, I think my body, my mind, and my soul need some down time.  I’m sure it will disappoint folks to hear me say “no”, but hopefully they will understand.
9)   Home improvement—For the last few years, my house has been a temporary home to many, and over the next several months, I will be working to convert my bachelor pad into a home for Jamie and I.  Wanna help? Give me a call, drop me a line, or facebook me.
10 Connect—I’d like to make it a point to connect more with friends face-to-face in 2011.  A visit with a friend is refreshment to my soul.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reflecting On 2010

I’ve tried to make it a habit to take a little bit of time at the end of each year to look back on the past and prepare for the coming year.  Interestingly, over the last several days, I’ve filled my time with connecting with friends and family, and although it has been incredibly enjoyable, it has left little room for reflection.  In an effort to change that, I have committed myself to take time to steal away a regular time of solitude in 2011.  (More on that in a future post!)  Also, I just realized that this is the first time in three years that I have blogged this annual reflection.

The year started with a frantic rush to facilitate Nuru’s first nation wide tour making a drive around the country to tell Nuru’s Story, and to host a nationwide mobilization event called Be Hope To Her that encouraged college students and young professionals around the country to grow in empathy for the daily challenges for women living in extreme poverty.

As the year progressed, I found myself meeting more and more wonderful people in cities all over the country who were passionate about advocacy and service.  Folks like Charles Lee, Jeff Shinabarger, Daniel Li, Mark Brinkmoeller, and Nicky Yates are among the many who inspire and encourage me with their lives on a regular basis.  These folks are amazing! I discovered and shared some really incredible causes, organizations and events through this blog, and that is a trend I hope to continue.  I believe that our hearts become more fully awakened to what we were made for when we begin serving others, and I hope that as you read this today, you will consider some small way that you might be able to serve another person (and will you DO it?)?

Of course, time with friends and family never seems adequate, but I was fortunate enough to see my brother in California on three separate occasions this year.  We were able to commiserate WVU’s final four loss to Duke, and celebrate an early season hoops win over Oakland this fall.  I was also able to visit my dad and sister on at least a dozen occasions this past year.  In my travels over the year, I was able to see many friends too, and I’m hopeful to visit and catch up with even more folks in 2011.

This summer also was a major step for me.  On the 147th anniversary of West Virginia’s Statehood, Father’s Day, and Mission Sunday at South Ridge, Church, I asked Jamie Reaser to marry me, and she said yes.  Here’s her telling of the story. (In some future blog posts I’ll share a little more detail about some decisions we made with the ring, etc., so stay tuned.)  I am humbled and amazed that God would be so gracious as to allow such an amazing woman to say yes to marrying me.  She is absolutely incredible!

The year also had its share of challenges.  I lost another relative to cancer late this summer, my uncle Bob, and I took time to reflect on losing my mom in 2007.  My Uncle Bill and Aunt Rosemary both had surgeries that while painful in the moment have led to a better quality of life for each of them.  And, I’ve been in PT for the last few weeks myself because of injuries sustained by not taking care of my own physical fitness.  (A goal for 2011 for sure!)

As the year wrapped up, I was traveling again and spent time enjoying friends and family, and participating in service.  Jamie and her family welcomed me into their family and into a Christmas tradition of service, that you may have read about last week.  Jamie got on TV too!

So what are some of the highlights of your 2010?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day 2011

Today, we remember Dr. King for his acts of service and justice in this world.  For the last few years, I have attempted to make a concerted effort toward remembering him and his words in blog posts.  He has much to say about issues of justice, and his life was marked by the pursuit of justice in this world.

This year, I have chosen to share a couple of short and yet pointed snippets from his speeches.  I hope they will challenge and inspire you, and that together we can work toward being “maladjusted” and working toward justice in a world where there is much injustice and suffering.

Have a great MLK, and let’s keep pursuing the dream!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

German Artists Fighting Injustice

One of my friends shared this video with me and I felt like it was only fitting that I pass it along to you.  The focus of the video is the issue of human trafficking and slavery, and since this month is national human trafficking and slavery awareness month, I pass this video along to you.  The video was created by a collaboration of artists in Germany who are dedicated poverty fighters and justice seekers.

About a year ago I found out about this collaboration of artists in Herrnhut, Germany through a woman named Rebecca Meinhard, who is a great supporter of Nuru International's work. Rebecca and her team use the arts to spread awareness about issues of injustice such as poverty, slavery, and human trafficking, and although we haven't formally met, I am personally just blown away by the passion and talent she and her friends possess. Just a little bit before last Christmas, she shared this video that members of her team created as they set-off to travel to Peru with the Not-For-Sale Campaign to care for rescued victims of human trafficking.

Will you consider ways you might work toward stopping human trafficking and slavery in your community, and in the world at large?  I know I shared this link to tips for ending slavery earlier this week, but I thought I'd make it accessible again.

Will you join me, Rebecca, and others in pursuit of justice, relief, and opportunity for the oppressed?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Last year January 11th was recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and the month of January was recognized as National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention month.  Last year, I started off my blog with some great information about trafficking which you can read here.  Will you click over and read, and then come back to this post?  There are some great links with some practical steps you can take to help end human trafficking.

It’s 2011, and a new year, and still trafficking and slavery are huge concerns.  People are being bough and sold for less than $100 and there have been documented cases below $30—for a HUMAN BEING!!!  I get angry and sad when I think about it.  This isn’t the way this world was meant to be,  and there are an estimated 27 million people in our world today who are suffering in slavery.  Many of them are trafficked to another country where they don’t even speak the language.

The majority of the individuals who are trafficked are women and small children.  They are sold, enslaved, and forced to work for next to nothing. 

I’m writing this post for much the same reason as I did last year.  I believe that the first step to combating a problem like this is greater awareness that the problem exists.  I feel like most of us live life believing that slavery died with the American Civil War, but today the problem is worse than any point in history.

There may be people trafficked in your own town.  As I mentioned in a blog post last year, my friend Charles Lee gives 11 tips for ways you can take an active role in combating slavery and trafficking.

If you’ve got a few minutes, read up on the issue a little more, and then, start a conversation with someone about the issue.  Talk to a classmate, a coworker, a family member or a friend.  Resolve to do something beyond reading.  Invest some of your time and resources into supporting organizations that fight human trafficking.  Report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. 

May we never tire of fighting injustice.  As Martin Luther King once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

International Day of Peace For Kenya

When you hear the word peace, what comes to your mind?  Is it an abiding sense of safety?  I tranquil day in a hammock in the middle of the woods?  Today marks a date that has been established by Kenya as the International Day For Peace In Kenya.   Kenya has had many challenges to peace, including tribal warfare during elections in December 2007. 

There are many in Kenya who are suffering with hunger and thirst, who lack a sense of safety and security.  Today, remember them.  Today, I ask you to join in making a difference in Kenya.  Make a commitment to volunteer your time, serve with a development agency, support the efforts of others.  Write a letter to your congressional representative, just do something!

Thanks for being active in the pursuit of peace for the people of Kenya!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Minneapolis Weekend

Well, about a month ago, Jamie and I decided to take a trip to visit a couple of my long time friends, Steve and Liz Powell.  It was the first time I had seen them since July 2006, and it was a weekend that will not soon be forgotten.

For one, I was able to meet their son, William.  Cool name, huh?  Will is a very intelligent and articulate three year old, and my friends Steve and Liz are doing a brilliant job raising will to become a man of character.

When I booked the flight, the weather in Minnesota was similar to that of West Virginia.  When we arrived, it was boasting high temperatures of that were far below freezing.

And, the city received a TON of snow.  So much snow, that it led to the collapse of the Metrodome on December 12th.  

We made our way north from Minneapolis Friday night, and departed just in time to avoid the snow.  The next day, we awoke to colder weather, and in spite of the cold, we made our way out for a new experience—snowshoeing.  Of course, none of us have been ones who dabble in what we do, so we went for a four hour snoeshoeing hike!!!   According to my calorie counting app, that burnt about. 

And then…Jamie had a brand new experience.  She shot her first rounds from a firearm.  Steve and Liz were both all-americans on the WVU Rifle team when they were students here, and steve sells parts for individuals who are loking to build their own firearms.  If you want to check out his business, click here.  Btw, Jamie was a natural.  I’ve never seen anyone pick up marksmanship so quickly and neither had the Powells.  Extra incentive to stay on her good side. ;)

After our fun foray in a winter wonderland about 20 miles from the nearest store, we eventually made our way back to the city, and to a driveway buried in over two feet of snow.  Steve and I cleared the driveway,  and then Steve introduced me to raking snow off the roof to prevent water damage.  Good information to know if Morgantown receives the same level of snow fall as it did last winter.

As we ended our time, we made one last trip into downtown Minneapolis to a new restaurant called Chino Latino.  It featured equatorial foods from around the globe.  If you are in Minneapolis, give it a try. 

It was a great weekend filled with relaxation after a very busy season of travel, and it was truly refreshing to see my friends after a long period apart.  

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

My Cousin The Bowler: Brandon Williams

My Uncle’s family have always been pretty good bowlers.  My uncle and dad used to bowl regularly when they were younger, and then my cousin Doug bowled for a stint on pretty competitive level.  But, all of this pales in comparison to my second cousin, Brandon Williams.

Brandon has been bowling for many years, and he has always been good.  He practices regularly and works hard to refine his skill.  And late last year, he achieved a landmark in bowling.  He bowled his first perfect game.  300.  Twelve straight strikes.  Two weeks later, he did it again, with a different ball.

Many bowlers spend their whole life pursuing a 300 game.  Brandon did it twice at age 17.  He is captain of his high school bowling team at Parkersburg High School, and as of right now, he plans to attend WVU in the fall.  He bowled his two three hundred games at Emerson Lanes in Parkersburg, West Virginia. 

I can attest to the mentorship and support his grandfather has given him over the years.  My uncle regularly makes time to go to games and I can remember many times Uncle Bill would take Brandon to Emerson Lanes to practice. 

I’m excited for my cousin, and I hope he can continue to have fun and pursue excellence while bowling wherever life takes him.  Want to read more about his recent accolades?  Click here. 

I’m really proud of my nephew, and although I haven’t been able to congratulate him yet face to face, I thought I’d give him a shout out through the blog. (Special thanks to my Uncle Bill for giving me a copy of the newspaper article about him, and to my dad for mailing it to me).  Way to go Brandon!