Friday, November 8, 2013

It is not you who shape God; it is God who shapes you. If then you are the work of God, await the hand of the Artist who does all things in due season.

Offer the Potter your heart, soft and tractable, and keep the form in which the Artist has fashioned you.

Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.

—St. Irenaeus, 2nd century

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Help others by helping yourself.

     "When you focus on doing more, your goal is to seek always to help other people-- not yourself. But one of our power influencers offers a practical suggestion for helping other by helping yourself.

     Larry Senn--chairman of Senn Delaney, an international firm focused on shaping organizational culture-- says you can do more for the people in your life by making a stronger commitment to keeping yourself healthy.
     This may sound self-serving at first, but it's not. When you're in good shape, you're better able to take care of your family and you're more likely to be around to positively influence their lives in the future. And when you're healthy, you have more energy and mental clarity so you make better decisions both at work and at home.
     Larry practices what he preaches. At age 70, he started doing Spring-triathlons. He's now 76 years old, and runs six triathlons per year.
     He says, 'It all ties back to purpose. My highest purpose is my family. I have a huge obligation to be able to keep healthy for them, and I need to do an exemplary job of taking care of myself. I need also to do an exemplary job for my clients, and to serve them well I need to be at the top of my game, which requires discipline in terms of fitness and diet and growth and evolution as a person.'
     By the way, Larry often wins in his age group when he runs triathlons. This year he won in Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and San Diego. 'I'm not fast, but there aren't many guys left in my bracket!' he jokes. 'In these triathlons they paint your age in giant letters on your calf, and I get lots of comments. It's fun to pass guys in their 20's and 30's on my bike and hear them say, 'Wow! Go for it!'"

                                                                     From Real Influence by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spicy Bean and Vegetable Chili

This is a variation of a recipe from Whole Foods. Delicious! 

2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can hominy or yellow corn, rinsed and drained
  • Avocado and cilantro, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppers, jalapeno, and garlic and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add chipotles, oregano, cumin, turmeric, chili powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes. (Make sure it gets to a nice boil before you cut the heat down to simmer). Add beans and corn and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Garnish individual bowls with cilantro and sliced avocado, if desired.

Pair with some homemade cornbread and call it a day.

Full of plant protein, fiber, and antioxidants! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free

Tips to achieve long-term health and to prevent and reverse disease. 
Who wouldn't want that?

According to Joel Fuhrman, MD, board-certified family physician and nutritional researcher:

Five Basic Rules to Adopt Daily:

  • Consume a large green salad every day, and put some raw onion and shredded cruciferous veggies on top.
  • Consume a large portion of cooked greens daily, and utilize mushrooms and onions in your dishes.
  • Eat at least 3 fruits a day, including berries.
  • Eat some beans each day.
  • Eat some seeds and nuts daily, utilizing some chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.                           

Avoid these Five Deadliest Foods:

  • Barbecued meat, processed meat, and commercial red meat
  • Fried foods
  • Full-fat dairy (cheese, ice-cream, butter, whole milk) and trans-fats
  • Soft drinks, sugar, artificial sweeteners
  • White-flour products

For more information, read Joel Fuhrman, MD's book, Super Immunity

Saturday, April 27, 2013

To understand and know.

What’s the greatest thing we can aim for in this life? – Is it not to know God personally as your Father and Redeemer? What is the best thing we can possess in this life, bringing more joy, contentment, life and happiness, than anything else? – Is it not true knowledge and understanding of who God is and what kind of relationship he wants to have with you? Scripture tells us the greatest thing we can know and posses is true knowledge of God: Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me” (Jeremiah 9:23-24). One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally. The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the personal knowledge of God as our Father.
     Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our heavenly Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the revelation of God – a God who loves us unconditionally, unselfishly and perfectly – without neglecting or forgetting us even for a brief moment. If we put our trust in Jesus and believe in him, Jesus promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in his name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven ..give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:9,11; Luke 11:2-3) Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his personal love and care for you?

"Lord Jesus, you fill us with the joy of your saving presence and you give us the hope of everlasting life with God our Father in Heaven. Show me the Father that I may know and glorify him always."

Courtesy of Don Schwager @

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Prayer

"May I be no man's enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides. May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly. May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good. May I wish for all men's happiness and envy none. May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me. When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends. May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent. May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another. May I never fail a friend who is in danger. When visiting those in grief may I be able by gentle and healing words to soften their pain. May I respect myself. May I always keep tame that which rages within me. May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances. May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps."
                                                     -The personal prayer of Eusebius, a 3rd century church father 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wild Flowers

These are pictures of some extraordinarily ordinary flowers that I took at my house on a Saturday morning. They can't help but speak to their Maker, the Author of all Life.

"Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."

Matthew 6:26-33

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Five Easy Things for a Happier Year

      Okay, we all like making lists of New Year’s Resolutions.  And most of the time--well, much of the time--we have a really hard time keeping them because they’re so difficult.  Lose 20 pounds.   Read a new book a month.  Never get drunk again.  Avoid all sodas.  Don’t eat any chocolate again.  Stand up to my boss.  Go to the gym every day.  Sometimes you feel defeated by January 2.
But how about five simple things you can do to be happier--which you really can do?  Here are five easy things you can do for a happier life next year.  And they’re a lot easier than losing 20 pounds.
1. Be a Little Kinder.  
I think that 90% of the spiritual life is being a kind person.   No need to have any advanced degrees in theology or moral reasoning, and no need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s religious traditions, to get this: Be gentler and more compassionate towards other people.  In other words, say “Thank you” and “Please.”  Ask people how they are.   Listen more carefully when they speak to you.  Don’t say snotty things about them behind their backs.  Basically, give them the benefit of the doubt.  I know that sometimes you feel like acting like a jerk—you feel justified because of the way you’re being treated—but you don’t have to.  Most of the time you have a choice: I can be a jerk or I can be kind.  Be kind.   You’ll find that you’ll be happier with yourself at the end of the day.  And, as an added benefit, everyone around you will be happier
2. Relax a Bit More Let’s not belabor the point: a lot of us are rushing around like lunatics these days. Overbooked.  Overscheduled.  Overworked.  Crazybusy. Exhausted. Checking our phones and iPads and blah blah blahs every five seconds.  Do you really, really, need to be checking in every few minutes? Can you set those things aside for a just a little bit?  And aren’t there just a few tasks you can let go of?   A few months ago I realized that I had completely booked myself for the next few months and started to get a little overwhelmed.  The more I thought about these supposedly fun things, the more depressed I got.  I had to ask myself: How many of these things did I really have to do?  For me the answer was about three-quarters of them.  The other quarter I could let go of.  Maybe the proportion is different for you, but looking at cutting back a bit is a good exercise.  Relaxing a little bit more can lead to more creativity, more time to think, and more time to pray.  Paradoxically, it may make you more productive.  It’ll certainly make you happier—and again, everyone around you happier because you’re not stressing everyone else out with your stress.  I’m not saying check out completely, or quit your job, or tell everyone that you’re stopping every activity you presently do.  Just relax a little more.  You’re a human being not a human doing.
3. Enjoy Nature More.  Look up at the sky.  It’s pretty amazing.  Every moment of the day. Yesterday where I was staying it was a brilliant blue.  Clear. Cloudless. Ahhhh.  Enjoy it.  How about noticing something as beautiful as the trees in your neighborhood?  Are you watching them cycle from spring green to green to red to barren?  Give yourself a few seconds to be aware of that.  If you live in a city, can you notice the wind on your face or the occasional burst of sunshine peeping through the gray buildings?  If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean or a lake, well, I envy you!  Notice nature a little more.  It’s always changing and so it’s always a surprise.  And can you thank God for the natural things that you notice every day?  Natural beauty is, I think, happy-making for most of us; and being more grateful to God will add even more to your happiness.
4. Be a Little More Grateful.  Try this: Notice the small daily things that you tend to overlook. The stuff you take for granted or like, but don’t really consider “special.” The taste of your favorite cereal or coffee or juice in the morning.  An unexpected phone call from a friend.  Your child’s laugh or a nephew’s or niece’s giggle.  Your cat’s crazy antics.  A funny TV show.  A small house job finally finished.  Stop and savor those little things. And say thanks to God. I’m not saying that you can’t be sad or bummed out.  Life’s really tough some times.  Most times.  But I’ll bet that there are a few things in your life that make you feel lucky.  Just a few seconds a day is all it takes.  Gratitude is the gateway to the spiritual life.  Open that door today.  You’ll be a happier person once you step through.

5. Pray Just a Tiny Bit More.
 I’m not saying that you need to enter a monastery or take out a mortgage out on a hermitage.  But just a few more minutes a day is enough to jumpstart your spiritual life.  Think of it as a relationship.  If God is important to you, wouldn’t you want to spend some one-on-one time with God?  That’s what prayer is.   And there’s no best, or only way to pray.  Whatever works best for you—imagining yourself with God, quietly meditating on a favorite Scripture passage, or reciting an old prayer that comforts you—is what’s best for you.  Just a little bit of prayer will help you feel in closer touch with God.  And that relationship, because it connects you to the transcendent and makes you feel less alone in those tough times I mentioned, will make you happier.
There.  Those aren’t so hard are they?  Be kind.  Relax a little bit. Enjoy nature more.  Be a little more grateful. Pray just a tiny bit more.  You can do all those.  And in doing those you’ll be happier.  And have a Happy New Year.

[Courtesy of James Martin, SJ  @ The National Catholic Review]