Thursday, December 31, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Monday, December 28, 2015
Early in my blog, I did a post called "Naked Male Camaraderie," which has been the most popular post on this blog. A friend recently shared a New York Times titled "Men’s Locker Room Designers Take Pity on Naked Millennials." One of the things I talked about in my previously mentioned blog post was that guys these days don't like being naked in front of each other, which was part of this NYT article. In the article, it states:
But gyms are still unable to provide the one thing younger men in particular seem to really want: a way for them to shower and change without actually being nude.
Each day, thousands upon thousands of men in locker rooms nationwide struggle to put on their underwear while still covered chastely in shower towels, like horrible breathless arthropods molting into something tender-skinned. They writhe, still moist, into fresh clothes.
If you've been in a locker room recently, you know how sad and true this is. When I was in grad school, I used to frequent the gym there. In the locker room they had the gang showers (which was supposedly a major gay hook up area), three private showers, and a sauna. I never saw anyone use the group showers unless they kept a swimsuit on and most guys kept a towel on in the sauna, the only exception being Asian guys. Except for the swimmers who'd shower in their swim trunks the guys who wore speedos tended not to have a problem with being fully nude. So with the exception of swimmers wearing speedos and Asian guys in the sauna, most other guys did the towel dance.
According to the NYT article, this is because:
Showering after gym class in high school became virtually extinct in the ’90s. And if Manhattan’s high-end gyms weren’t riddled with ab-laden models or Europeans (or both), there would be few heterosexuals under 40 who have spent any naked time with other men.
A generation ago, when most schools mandated showers, a teacher would typically monitor students and hand out towels, making sure that proper hygiene was observed. In schools with pools, students were sometimes required to swim naked, and teachers would conduct inspections for cleanliness that schools today would not dare allow, whether because of greater respect for children or greater fear of lawsuits.
In a striking measure of changed sensibilities in school and society, showering after physical education class, once an almost military ritual, has become virtually extinct. This is beginning to change, especially with athletes in schools, as health officials are increasingly warning that not showering after gym class leads to MRSA infections, the potentially deadly staphylococcus infection that is resistant to most antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has practical advice on preventing staph infections. Showering right after exercise is at the top of the list.
If showering can help prevent a deadly disease from spreading to school children, why aren't more schools making showers mandatory? There are several reasons, which seem as varied as insecurities about body image, heightened sexual awareness, and a lack of time in a busy school schedule. The lack of showers in schools leads to a shyness about bodies that is virtually nonexistent in older generations. Old men seem to have no problem walking around locker rooms naked but young men do.
In March 2015, Men's Health had an article about locker room etiquette called "Are You the Gym Locker Room A**hole?" in which they outline their do's and don't's of locker room etiquette. Here's the problem with this article, they asked a woman about male locker room etiquette. What does a woman know about men's locker rooms? (No offense to the women who read this blog.) Two of the things she warns against are nudity and conversations in the locker rooms. Really? According to her, men should not be nude in the locker room nor should men talk to one another. I find that utterly ridiculous.
Nudity in America is so puritanical that it's nearly nonexistent. The NYT article makes some interesting observations about what gyms are doing to attract more members. The main thing is providing more privacy. Men are afraid to see each other naked. They are afraid they won't measure up, whether that is with whether they are a shower or a grower or whether they are just insecure about the way their body looks as a whole. Men need not fear being naked in front of one another.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
12 What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost. Matthew 18:12-14 (NRSV)
You may have noticed that there was a different post here earlier. For several different reason, I chose to delete it. I started these Sunday posts to better understand my relationship with God, and I have lost my way. I feel as if I am the lost sheep mentioned above, but that my Shepherd has left me to the wolves. That feeling was all to apparent as I sat in church this morning. I felt so disconnected and sad, and it horrified me. With very rare exceptions, the church I grew up in has always been a source of comfort. No matter how far away I may have roamed, I could be in that church and feel closer to God. Today, I didn't. Today, I only felt sorrow and abandonment. The music did not ease my heart as it has in the past. The sermon offered no comfort. I even got choked when I took communion. I so wanted to feel God within me after I took communion, and I almost did for a few short moments, but it quickly faded. I couldn't bring myself to sing along. When we sang the song "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be," I cried and tears flowed down my face.
The friend who I lost was not perfect, none of us are. He had his problems like we all had, but he'd always believed me when I told him that God would always be there to love him and care for him. I believe that he is with God right now. It's the only comfort I can take from all of this. I feel as if God did not protect my friend as He should have. Few people in this world are truly selfless and giving but my friend was. I know that he is blessed in the hereafter, and that I will see him again but I needed him here longer. He needed to be here longer so that he could fulfill all the wonderful things he was going to accomplish. My friend still had a lot of love to give, and I am sorry that he won't be able to do so. I am making it a point to carry on his legacy. I want to be as giving and as loving as he always was. I don't expect to ever be able to fill his shoes, but I will do my best.
By the way, if you think that I am exaggerating on the goodness of my friend, then you'd be wrong. If he thought someone needed it, he'd literally give them the shirt off his back. If you were upset, no matter what his problems were, he made sure that you were okay first. If there was something you needed, he'd either get it to you, often without taking credit, or he would help you get it. I've honestly never known a more selfless and loving person. While some may think it was just the way he was with me, I don't know of a single soul who truly knew him that didn't love him and feel the same way. That is one of the reasons that this has been so difficult to deal with.
Maybe one day I will be back to being more idealistic and optimistic about God, but I have a lot of issues to work through right now. I have not given up, nor will I, but there are a lot of things to work out and reality can be a bit too harsh at times. One of the hardest things has been my feeling of separation from God. I miss my friend, and I miss my relationship with God. While my therapist may help me deal with the loss of my friend, I need someone to help guide me spiritually. I am begging someone to help me.
I know that there are ministers and former ministers who read this blog, and I want to ask a favor of you. For now, until I work out my own issues with God, I cannot wrote my usual Sunday posts. I do not feel the guidance of God that I had felt before. Therefore, I beg of one of you to please help me. I would love it if one of you would write my weekly devotionals for me. I need help to be guided back to God and I cannot do it alone, so if you are willing to help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that I cannot do this alone, which is why I am asking for help. Many of you have written such encouraging comments and emails, and I know some of you are up to taking over this task for a short while. I cannot write about overcoming grief and dealing with issues of sadness and feelings of abandonment by God any longer. After a while, it is just the same thing over and over, and for my sake and others who read this blog, I want this to be a positive place. I am unable to being that positivity and optimism at the moment. I hope someone will agree to help.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Friday, December 25, 2015
Chapter 21 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
If you look over to the top left corner, you will see something new (actually it's been there about a week). It is a post that I will be featuring. Currently, it's of a cookie recipe that is one of my favorites, but not one that I'm making this year (Occasionally. I will be changing my featured post, so keep a watch for changes in that space). This year, I'm making another of my favorite recipes, this one is for Cranberry Cake. It's an old fashioned butter cake, very rich, but the cranberries offset the richness with just the perfect tartness. As you know, I've been feeling pretty low, but baking, and cooking in general, tend to make me feel better. If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think. This recipe is originally from The Kitchn, but I made a few modifications. Enjoy.
Makes one 10-inch springform cake. Alternately: Four 4-cup loaves or 24 to 30 cupcakes.
All ingredients should be at room temperature before you begin.
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cranberries (12-ounce bag)
Optional pecan topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, unroasted
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan (or a collection of smaller pans. This make 10 to 12 cups of batter.) I used two 6-inch springform pans.
Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.
Beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.
Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.
To prepare the optional pecan topping, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated with the butter and sugar. Spread over the cake batter.
Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. I have found that it usually always takes at least 60 minutes. Tent the cake with foil in the last 30 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning (this is especially important for the pecan topping).
Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Monday, December 14, 2015
Sunday, December 13, 2015
M'Lynn: [crying] I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine.[screaming]M'Lynn: I'm fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can't! She never could! Oh God! I am so mad I don't know what to do! I wanna know why! I wanna know *why* Shelby's life is over! I wanna know how that baby will *ever* know how wonderful his mother was! Will he *ever* know what she went through for him! Oh *God* I wanna know *why*? *Why*? Lord, I wish I could understand![in a firm tone]M'Lynn: No! No! No! It's not supposed to happen this way! I'm supposed to go first. I've always been ready to go first! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I don't think I can take this! I-I just wanna *hit* somebody 'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna hit something! I wanna hit it hard!
This response indicates two flaws in our thinking — first, even as believers, we all have the tendency to operate under the impression that life should be easy and pleasant (especially if GOD is our God), and that God should prevent tragedy, difficulty and pain from happening to us (Jn 11:37); so when He does not, we get angry or disappointed with Him (Jn 11:32). Second, when we do not seem to be able to reconcile the extent of God’s sovereignty, we lose confidence in His ability to control all of the circumstances we go through in life. When we lose faith in God’s sovereignty, it is actually because our frail human flesh is grappling with our own frustration and our own lack of control over events. All of us tend to live life in such a way that we can positively affect the outcome of situations… that everything will work out as we have planned; as such, we believe that we are the ones who ultimately determine our fate — when good things happen, we generally attribute it to our own efforts; so when things go bad we are quick to blame God, and get angry with Him for not preventing it. Deep down we believe we should be immune to unpleasant circumstances (flaw number one as noted above), especially if God loves us.
Tragedies and suffering bring home the sobering truth that we are not in charge… that God is the One who ultimately determines what happens in our lives… that everything is either caused or allowed by God. Remember, He is God. We can complain, get angry, and blame God for what is happening, yet if we will trust Him and yield our bitterness and pain to Him, acknowledging the prideful sin of trying to force our own will over His, He can and will grant us His peace and strength to get us through any difficult situation (1 Cor 10:13). We can be angry with God for many reasons, so we all have to accept at some point that there are things we cannot control or even understand with our finite minds.