Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Pepsi Truck Pit Maneuver

This morning, I donned long johns, a flannel shirt, jeans, a hoody, wool socks, a beanie and gloves in preparation for the drive from Abilene to Arlington, and it wasn't just because I wanted to look cool. This was the result of an exciting week for the Stinson brothers' cars...

We started off the week right with Jonathan coming out of his office to find his car smashed up. Someone decided it'd be fun to bust in a window, hit the taillights and randomly hit other spots on his car. It was so random. They didn't even steal anything.

The next bit of excitement came yesterday morning. I was driving down Ambler, headed towards ACU, when I suddenly felt a nudge and the back end of my car started to slide to the right. My car did a 180 around the front of the Pepsi delivery truck to the left of me into the center lane where I smashed into a huge F-250 in the middle turning lane rear first. Don't worry. Everyone was okay. The Pepsi semi ended up with a scratch on the bumper, the F-250 just had the huge grill on the front of it bent a bit, and my car was totaled. The back bumper ended up touching the back seat, about 3 feet further forward than it should have been. Apparently, the Pepsi driver didn't see me when he decided to occupy my lane.

So now you know why Jonathan and I bundled up this morning to drive 175 miles with the temperature in the 30's without a driver's side window. Good times, great oldies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Because All the Cool Kids Are Doing It...

My 7 Things:

1. Pearl Snap Shirts- I just can't get enough of them. I love to go to thrift stores, and though I try and pretend to keep an open mind about what kind of clothes I am looking for, most of the time I only take the pearl snap shirt selection seriously. Only because of an amazing amount of self-control do I only own 8 of them. Let's face it. The epitome of what I aim for, as far as clothes are concerned (and somewhat in lifestyle, too), is to dress like an old-man-hippie-punk, in that order of significance. Similarly, I'm a little irritated with Texas for being so warm most of the time, because I can no longer justify buying flannel shirts: a close runner-up to pearl snap shirts (even better when they're combined).

2. Places- On any given day, I can easily be talked into going to a coffee shop, library, airport, bar, late-night diner, college, hotel or park. I think what I love about these places is the intermingling of people there. These are the kinds of places where such a variety of people can be found. I cannot help finding people endlessly intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable to watch and talk to. I often find myself pondering what someone who I'm not even talking to or don't even know is thinking about or experiencing.

3. Tedium- Though I am thoroughly opposed to living a mundane, task-oriented life, every once in a while, I find great enjoyment in mindlessly doing simple things like running paper through a shredder, organizing and labeling music in a media player, filing papers into folders, cutting and dicing veggies, or sanding down wood.

4. Domination- Related to #2, I love it when people dominate. It so cool when someone does what they do best. There's nothing like seeing an amazing musician play or sing, an athlete make an amazing play, a great cook make a meal (and then me eat it), a carpenter turn wood into a masterpiece, a teacher effortlessly and simply convey wisdom and truth, a father wrestle with his children, a mathematician figure out a staggering problem, a janitor sing and smile as he mops the floor, a doctor diagnose and explain the intricacies of your ailment, a little kid build a Lego castle, or a friend lovingly console a broken-hearted companion. I think it all goes back to God's first command of taking dominion over the earth and us being his image-bearers. In my own life, I am continually on a search to find those things I dominate in and hone those skills.

5. Haircuts and Dentist Appointments- This is highly ironic, since I rarely go to do either, but I love to get my hair cut or my teeth cleaned. I think it's because I can just sit there and get worked on. I'm sure part of it is the sensory input.

6. Music- I'm sure it's no surprise to you that most of my day is influenced by music, whether it be playing it, listening to it, looking for it or finding out about it. This is related to #4. I can easily play guitar and sing for hours without realizing it. When I get a new CD, I will normally just sit and listen to it, sometimes reading the lyrics, and do nothing else so that I can take in everything that's happening in each song. Chances are, if I'm awake and not listening to music, there's a song playing in my head. Most albums and songs that I own quickly become tied to an experience or period in my life, and I usually harken back to that time when I listen to it.

7. 'Staches- I am secretly (okay, maybe not secretly) waiting for the mustache to make a comeback. Truth be told, I'm okay waiting for a few years more, because my 'stache-growing aptitude is lower than I currently desire and will hopefully be far greater by the time the 'stache is socially acceptable, nay encouraged and once again heralded as the epitome of manliness. STEV, grow a 'stache!!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My American Gladiators Name Is ARSENAL

On my quest to recover from a month's stay in the hospital, run a marathon in May, bike from Canada to Mexico this summer and compete on the new American Gladiators in '09, I've been doing a lot of research on diet and fitness to maximize my eating and exercising so that I can be ripped like the guys from the movie, 300. To sum it all up, pretty much everyone tells you to expend more than you consume, eat your veggies, and do stuff that makes you sore (Duh). During my internet meanderings in search of said healthful wisdom, I've run across many plans including Getting Ripped Like Jason Statham In 6 Weeks, Workout Like Genghis Khan, and Lifting Heavy Stuff. The one that Mark and I have most closely (maybe loosely) adhered to is the TNT Diet and Exercise Plan. TNT stands for Targeted Nutrition Tactics. The paradigm TNT pushes is that calories, fat and carbs aren't bad like everyone makes them out to be, but rather employing them at the proper time is essential. The key is to get your body to draw from your fat stores and use up carbs before they can turn into new fat while building lots of muscle. This is done by eating a lot of protein and only eating carbs around weight lifting time and on refuel days, or as Mark and I like to call them, "shock days." Admittedly, the shock days are what drew us to this particular program, because you can do nothing and eat whatever you want 1 or 2 days a week. We've adapted the TNT a bit by adding workouts, racquetball, running, Ultimate, and being a little less (okay, sometimes a lot less) strict on our diet and are calling it the TMNT plan. We're not sure exactly what TMNT stands for yet, but we figure it's gotta be a gooder if it shares an acronym with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's been pretty sweet so far. I've gained about 6 lbs. of muscle and Mark's gone down a few percentages in body fat in our month of doing the TMNT.

At 4 this morning, when I was suddenly wide awake, I was hit with a little godly wisdom on the TNT for the heart/spirit. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can confidently say that I am spiritually obese and it's been getting worse. Before I lose you trying to visualize what that looks like, let me explain what I mean. From the time I was a wee lad, I’ve been fed in church and at home with tons of Bible knowledge and theology. I can rattle off lots of Bible verses, I know the popular theology on mission, discipleship and worship, and have read all the “cool” modern spiritual books. Oh yeah, I’ve been fillin up on the “spiritual carbs” for years. The problem is my consumption of spiritual calories has grossly outweighed my expenditure. What I end up with is a weak spirit with a nice, round and pudgy pride-gut, scarcely ready to move with God’s cadence. I am found breathing heavily with my hands on my hips when it’s time to be running the race as to win.

I think the carbs of the spirit are the words, commands and wisdom of God. Just as the TNT points out, carbs must be used up in a timely manner, or they will turn into fat. If we aren’t acting on God’s voice, His words get stored away as fatty knowledge instead of being fuel for the muscles of faith, hope and love. As 1 Corinthians 8:1 says, “Knowledge puffs up.” Bit by bit, we’re more insulated from the presence of God and embarrassed to show our spiritual body when summer rolls around. For example, you might ask me what the most important commands of God are, and I would nonchalantly reply with “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I’ve had plenty of caloric intake in these areas. I’ve brainstormed ways to be an agent of change in my community. I’ve gone through plenty of hypothetical situations in my mind on what I would do if someone asked me for help in some way. I’ve even prayed many times to be used in people’s lives around me. So what’s the problem? I honestly do not know any of my neighbors. Not a single one. I’m embarrassed to admit that. Sure, I can avoid having loud parties, keep my lawn trimmed (ehem), wave from across the street and even be tolerant of the loud mariachi music from down the street at 2 a.m. That kind of “love” for my neighbors is hardly life-changing, if even noticed. Must I have more depth of interaction with them before I can practically love and serve them?

I too often find myself jumping at the chance to fill up at a spiritual buffet multiple times a week, but usually get sweaty palms and a dry throat at the thought of walking 25 feet to my neighbors’ door to introduce myself and invite them over for dinner. Sick and wrong. SICK and WRONG. My priorities are grotesquely unhealthy. I’m the fat guy at McDonalds with the tray full of double cheeseburgers who has trouble fitting through doors. Why does my supposed “abundant life” result in a double chin, love handles and chicken legs instead of huge biceps, chiseled abs and runner’s calves? Truth be told, I dream of being a mighty warrior in God’s kingdom. I want to do amazing things. But just as running a marathon, biking across the U.S., or competing on American Gladiators (I’m kind of joking about that one… kind of) takes months of repeating motions and cross training, I have to practice one act of obedience after another until I am powerfully joining God in his redemption of the world and battling the forces of darkness.

So, right now, I am committing to go on the spiritual TNT diet and exercise plan. It’s time to let the Spirit burn away all the excess that keeps me from living and enjoying the rhythm of God. Part of that is walking to my neighbors’ house today, not tomorrow, and inviting them over for dinner. Goodbye love handles.