Monthly Archives: May 2012

Book Giveaway: We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Elizabeth, who won our book giveaway for David LaMotte’s book White Flour.

Elizabeth, e-mail your address to maryannmcdana (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll get it out to you this weekend.

My friend Andrew likes to close worship services with this benediction:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the conspiracy of the Holy Spirit be with you now and always.

May we all creatively conspire with the Spirit of love and truth in all our comings and goings.


Screen shot of participants:

Eight Weight Loss Tips

People often ask me how I went about losing weight over these last several months. I feel very sheepish because I don’t have a good answer, and the stuff I do is in no way original. It’s a very unromantic combination of diet and exercise. No meal replacement. No expensive powders or weird smoothies. Just eating good food in the right proportions and running or walking 4-5 times a week.

That said, here are some tips that have been most useful for me.

  1. Log everything you eat. I use MyFitnessPal, which tracks food and exercise. I’ve also heard good things about LoseIt. The bar code scanner makes it fun. Over time I’ve gotten less anal about logging absolutely everything, but that’s because I’ve got an intuitive sense of where I am. Is that a pain? Yes. Are there days I get sick of logging everything? Absolutely. Would I rather deal with the hassle of logging than backsliding? Yes.
  2. Weigh yourself every day. Studies show that regular feedback is key to achieving goals. I think the conventional wisdom used to be a weekly weigh-in, but that’s not enough input to keep me going. That said, expect ups and downs. Look at the forest, not the trees. But look everyday.
  3. Invest in a kitchen scale and measuring cups. Portion size is everything. It’s amazing how much I can fudge my portions if I try to eyeball it.
  4. Be around people who will support, not sabotage.
  5. This is a lifestyle, not a short-term goal. Which means I eat delicious things that are “bad” for me, and I do it with some regularity. My friend Jay, who’s done a great job with weight loss, put it well: “Be sensible more often than not and you’ll go in the right direction.”
  6. Then again, I’m a moderator, not an abstainer. Figure out which one you are and be that.
  7. Another tip from Jay: when you’re at a restaurant and are starting to pick at your meal after you’re full, sprinkle water from your water glass all over the food. Weird but it works. I’ve done similar things, including (gasp!) throwing away the rest of something that just needed to be out of my house and my life. (See: leftover tubs of frosting after a kid’s birthday.) Sorry, starving children of the world.
  8. Dessert, alcoholic beverage, or a day off from exercise: pick two on any given day. You’ll likely stay in range, but you can still enjoy life and be flexible to the needs and desires of the moment.

Do you have any tips you use? Share in the comments.

Image comes from this post, which I featured recently on Link Love

Friday Link Love

Once again, for all your procrastination needs…


What’s Josh Holloway doing these days?

It’s been two years since the end of LOST, one of my favorite shows. My brother sent this along:

LOST Producer Damon Lindelof Has ‘No Regrets’ — Entertainment Weekly (Video)

It annoys me that the interviewer fundamentally misunderstood what happened at the end of LOST. But this is an interesting interview nonetheless.

And for the record, the ending did not disappoint me. I thought it was wonderful. And I still miss that show. Frequently.


6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe about the Founding of America —

Columbus didn’t discover America (the Vikings got here first), white settlers did not carve America out of the untamed wilderness, and more:

The puzzlingly obedient wilderness didn’t stop in New England. Frontiersmen who settled what is today Ohio were psyched to find that the forest there naturally grew in a way that “resembled English parks.” You could drive carriages through the untamed frontier without burning a single calorie clearing rocks, trees and shrubbery.

Whether they honestly believed they’d lucked into the 17th century equivalent of Candyland or were being willfully ignorant about how the land got so tamed, the truth about the presettled wilderness didn’t make it into the official account. It’s the same reason every extraordinarily lucky CEO of the past 100 years has written a book about leadership. It’s always a better idea to credit hard work and intelligence than to acknowledge that you just got luckier than any group of people has ever gotten in the history of the world.


Ken Burns on Storytelling — The Atlantic (Video and Interview)

There’s a new documentary about Ken Burns and his approach to Story.

[Sorry, can’t get the video to embed. But you can see it at the link.]

I would love to chat this up with some preachers. Specifically, I’m interested in his comments on manipulation. Isn’t manipulation an inevitable aspect of writing and delivering a sermon? Of course you want to do it faithfully and with integrity, but yeah, you are hoping for a response. How refreshing that he comes out and admits this. Once you’ve done that, then you can evaluate whether you’ve done it responsibly.


Ten Things I Want to Tell Parents — Bread Not Stones

This has been making the rounds among my friends but it bears repeating:

YOU, not the church, are the primary religious educator for your children.Yes, the church serves as a resource for teaching your child about the Bible, worship, theology, and even religious history. But even if a child never misses a week of Sunday school, there is never enough time in that once a week class to reinforce and build upon the lessons of scripture and faith that children have the potential to learn.

You are responsible for building an adult religious life outside of your children. Many parents choose to return to the church and to religious practices once they have children of their own. Most often, then, their faith life and practice revolves around the religious upbringing of their children. As an adult, though, there is a level of nurture and spiritual development that you yourself can benefit from. Without taking that next step in building their own faith, adults can very easily find their lives void of a mature faith life once their children are grown.

More at the link.


140 Characters Isn’t Enough — Katie Boone

The stories we tell on twitter and other social media:

Story is at the heart of the human experience. Our flight or fight response is the evidence of a collective story about survival. We lull our children to sleep with stories. We collect them, call it history and try to learn from it so we are not doomed to repeat it.

The danger occurs when our stories are rootless. All we need to do is look at the plethora of new social rituals to see the evidence: gender reveal parties, food journaling, push presents, work out diaries and birthday parties for grown-ups. We talk about “personal brand” as if that is a real thing of consequence. These new rituals tell a story, but that story is all about you and your life. All of it is an attempt to ritualize daily life and give it a depth that is not there.

We tell rootless stories when we forget our stories do not begin with us…


Why Great Ideas Come When You Aren’t Trying — Nature

History is rich with ‘eureka’ moments: scientists from Archimedes to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are said to have had flashes of inspiration while thinking about other things. But the mechanisms behind this psychological phenomenon have remained unclear. A study now suggests that simply taking a break does not bring on inspiration — rather, creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the mind to wander.

May you find time to wander this weekend.

Speaking of which, it’s Memorial Day here in the U.S., so here’s one more link: my traditional posting of “Let Them In Peter,” a John Gorka song for fallen soldiers:

Book Giveaway: Share Your “White Flour” Moment

Several weeks ago I shared an idea for Palm Sunday worship in which I read the poem “White Flour” while a group of folks from Tiny Church acted out the story. It was a smashing success, a lot of fun, and an unusual way to highlight the themes of Palm Sunday. We had good participation. Which means that not all of the players were related to me.

Though these two were:

A couple of clowns getting ready to go on

The picture book version of White Flour was released this week. I was proud to be a backer of this project on Kickstarter, and we received our five copies in the mail today. Kudos to David LaMotte and Jenn Hales for a lovely work of art and activism.

I am giving one copy of this book away to a Blue Room reader. The book centers around a creative response in the face of hatred, so for the purposes of this giveaway, I want to her about other moments of creativity.

To enter, simply leave a comment describing a creative ministry (or life) moment you have witnessed or taken part in recently. Did you present “White Flour” in worship? Sing a new song? Take part in a flash mob? Or maybe you participated in this response to that odious statement about LGBT people made by the pastor in North Carolina.

Maybe your action wasn’t in response to a dramatic situation, as in the book. That’s not the point. The point is, whether it’s racism or homophobia or just the deadly dull plodding of days that can suck the life out of a community…we need to fight back with beauty.

You have until Tuesday night to enter. May this post be a place to share ideas and be inspired.

Social Media for Pastors and Other Adults


A friend of mine likes to say, “Sometimes the pastor’s main job is to be the grownup in the room.”

Sometimes the “room” you’re in is the Internet.

And sometimes we need to model healthy communication, despite the fact that we’re subject to the same fears, insecurities and foibles as anyone else. It’s easy to hide behind a screen.

Do you have rules and norms for social media and e-mail? Here’s one of mine. It’s not hard and fast but I’ve found it to be useful:

When you’re dealing with sensitive subjects, or the potential for hurt or angry feelings, “bump it up.”

In other words, however the person contacts you about an issue, you respond with a more direct mode of communication.

One level up should do it. If they send you a text message, you respond with a phone call. If they send an e-mail, pay them a visit.

What do you think? Share your rule or experience in the comments.