***Special Guest Blog from the Cuz***

So the summer has kicked into full swing this week and this blog has taken a back seat in my list of priorities. so in an effort to keep the audience captiviated i've invited the cuz to fill in for this blog. enjoy.

one love, one heart.

Okay, so this is my first official blog, and most likely one of few to come. I'm not quite as technologically inclined as D.J., but I hear this blog thing is up and coming. So please forgive me if I don't know all the proper abbreviations, or if I don't put the appropriate smiley faces after jokes or passive aggressive comments.

So that you have some idea who the heck I am, and why I am writing on D.J.'s blog I'll give you a brief curriculum vitae.

I'm the guy D.J. calls "the cuz"

Thank goodness that’s out of the way. Anyhow, D.J. and I have been talking for some time now about me making a guest spot. We just needed something that I was passionate about, and that had some relevance. Needless to say this took awhile.

At any rate we decided now was the time, and we had the perfect topic.

It has been well documented the effects western society has had on, well, westerners. In fact we are increasingly aware of this as baby boomers continue to age and require more of our healthcare systems. Politicians debate over how to provide care for the masses, and schools struggle to produce clinicians to support an increasing demand for healthcare professionals. All the while insurance companies are charging their clients more, and paying providers less.

On the other side of the coin you have the preventative maintenance crowd that preaches ergonomics and proper body mechanics. And many large companies are beginning to follow this trend by reimbursing employees for gym memberships, teaching proper body mechanics, putting in their own gyms, and having workspaces evaluated for proper ergonomics. My profession has me operating on both sides of this gun that is 21st century healthcare.

In America the number one reason for doctor visits is the common cold. A close second is low back pain, and oddly enough general practitioners on the whole know very little about differentially diagnosing back pain. They often end up handing out a pamphlet and an exercise sheet, and telling people to lift with their legs. To be sure, this is all that some folks need, but many others require much more skilled intervention than that. On the other hand many go straight to their chiropractor who generally can be more beneficial than the GP, but oddly enough most chiro patients say one of two things: 1) "My back gets out of alignment." or 2) "My pelvis is rotated." Finally some end up at the orthopedist or the physical therapist, but regardless, LBP creates the largest dent in disability dollars than any other diagnosis.

This obviously brings us to prevention. What can an aging and ailing American public due to lift the load that is breaking healthcare's back. I must admit if I had the solution I wouldn't be wasting my time writing this stinking blog. But I do have at least one extremely relevant suggestion. A suggestion that not only will have an impact immediately, but I am certain if we were to do a longitudinal outcomes study over the next twenty years we would find that it will have completely altered the landscape of healthcare.

It is relatively common knowledge that our physical activities over the course of our lives have a cumulative effect on the way our bodies age. All you have to do is look at common orthopedic diagnoses to discern this. For instance: tennis elbow, jumper's knee, and golfer's elbow are a few that would apply. And any person who uses lumbar support in their Tahoe could enter into their own personal experience diatribe on the positive postural effects their SUV provides.

Therefore that brings us to what we can do to lessen the strain on our weakening healthcare system. I mentioned earlier the prevalence of back pain in our society. And given time it will undoubtedly cripple it. So that places responsibility squarely on the shoulders of American men and women to do whatever they can to prevent movement disorders of the spine. Reminding ourselves to sit up straight, sleep on our side, and lift with our legs. Only scratches the surface my friends. In fact I would imagine all of you could have told me those three things with very little thought on your part. So if we all know some basic principles needed to protect our backs then we either have an implementation issue or we just aren't doing all we can. I propose that we must carefully evaluate all of our daily activities so that we might recommend more specific changes. To further this thought process we must look at gender specifics. "Are men's and women's activities similar, or do they have some variances that would predispose one over the other to a life filled with functional limitation as a result of back pain?"

This brings me to my current line of thought. We all know that bending forward is not advisable even to pick up a pencil. And we all have friends or family that can tell us this with certainty as they have had an episode of pain as a result of this poor movement pattern. Furthermore some have even ended up in the O.R. having a microdiscectomy due to forward bending. Realistically we can never totally avoid this movement either. So that means we must do all we can to reduce the volume with which we do it. Knowing all of these things lead me to wonder if there were then activities that men do more than women, or vice versa, that require forward bending. Naturally my bias was toward men, and very soon light bulbs went off.

There is an activity that we as men do several times daily at home and at work that demands forward bending. But unfortunately, changing it will require a paradigm shift in bathroom etiquette. So we as men must beg that our female counterparts enter into this voyage of change with us. For the good of the American people's health, we must ask that you put the toilet seat down and then pick it up when you are finished. Biomechanically it is more efficient for you all to do this, and it is time that we as men banded together to fight for our right to live a pain free life. But we as men also know that we usually have to meet you all half way. So we offer this bargaining tool. We will get better with our aim.

Thanks for reading,
“the cuz”


Shouldn't that 'blasting zone' sign really be a 'road closed' sign instead? - Brian Regan

i love a great awkward moment.

so i've been on this gym kick for the past few months, and as of late i've become somewhat of a gym rat which is funny in and of itself. anyways, one of the reasons i like my gym is because it's not the meat market that i was expecting, most of the other people there at 9 am are guys in their seventies, and moms in their fifties. i like this because there are no 'distractions' and i can use my workout as a prayer time going for that whole exercise the body, exercise the soul mentality.
anyways, that all came crashing down the other morning when i went to the gym and walked into a supermodel convention. everywhere i turned there is one female more attractive than the next, making me somewhat suspicious that i might be on a hidden camera show or something. so about halfway through my workout i head over to the squat machine, and i'm on my last set of reps when this insanely attractive woman starts using the free squat press next to me. she puts on way too much weight and is shaking trying to do her squats, so i offer her a spot (proper gym etiquette of course). she racks the weight and i suggest that she put on less weight and try for more reps. so she asks me to spot her again which brings about several thoughts: 1. i can't believe a stranger this hot is talking to me. 2. when did i become a fitness expert? 3. i can't believe a stranger this hot is talking to me. and 4. how far back are you supposed to stand from someone when you give them a spot doing squats?
so i'm standing a few feet back with my arms stretched out and she starts into her reps. on her third squat she gets pretty low down and proceeds to rip one of the biggest farts i have ever heard. in my 27 years on this earth i have never heard a fart like this from a man or a woman. the best way to describe this fart is that it sounded like one of the speakers at the gym blew out. she starts to fall to her knees so i push the weight forward to get it into the rack and she curls up on the floor with her face buried in her hands not saying a word. i look around and every person in that corner of the gym has stopped and is looking over in our direction. i catch a glimpse of her face in the mirror and it is fire engine red, and i can't tell if she's laughing or crying. i'm speechless. it's not everyday that you are in the blast zone of a supermodel fart.
before i can figure out what to say, she picks up all of her stuff and literally runs out of the gym. after realizing that my shot at impressing a supermodel at the gym has completely passed i realize that i am standing in an area that is a little less than fresh, and everyone that is passing through this area now thinks that i am responsible for the rancid smell. so i head over to the other side of the gym tagged, frustrated, and cracking up.

she wasn't there yesterday morning and i had to go to a meeting this morning so i haven't hit the gym yet. but, i hope to see her again sometime cause that's just funny. i'm not sure what i'll say, but i can't wait to hang out and talk to the farting supermodel.

one love, one heart.

(ask me how tempted i was to end it one love, one fart)


Homer: It's like David and Goliath, only this time David won.

the other night i was up late and i didn't really feel like watching old kung fu movies, so i started reading through old blog posts. as i was reading i noticed that there was a lot of information about me out there, and just from reading my blog you could probably get a pretty good idea of who i am. with one exception, there really isn't a whole lot of my spiritual side which is kind of odd seeing as how i am a youth minister.
i was thinking about this and i came to a few conclusions: one, my blog is more about how i feel than 'shop talk'. i hope anyone that reads this understands that on any given day i'm discussing, teaching and/or reading a lot about the bible and christian life. one of the pitfalls of ministry is sometimes it's easy to want to leave work at the office, which is a task a minister can never truly achieve. that's why i appreciate my friends that are not youth ministers, and allow me to be 'just d.j.' around them without expecting me to wear my minister hat. this may sound a little confusing, but at most jobs you can leave work at the office, not so much here. i'm not complaining about this, because the people that are happiest at their jobs are the ones doing something they would do without being payed, and i def would be, and did, ministry without being officially titled.
anyways, my second conclusion when it comes to the lack of spiritual undertones in my blog was that this was something that was easily remedied.

i taught a class on david a few weeks ago called 'giant challenges', where we looked at the story of david and goliath as a model of how to face challenges in our lives. like any good minister i've got this broken into different bullet points.
1. character counts
when samuel was looking for the man that God wanted to be the next king of israel he was told not to look at physical appearance, because God looks at the heart. when it comes to us and the battles that we face, who we are on the inside is going to have a huge influence on how we are going to battle. if we are timid, we run from challenges. if we are angry, we are more likely to battle without thinking. david was pure in heart, and he was more than willing to face the giant that had tormented his people, and mocked hid God.

2. step up
david did what no one else was willing to do. a whole army of trained soldiers cowered and waited for someone else to take initiative when goliath came and challenged the army for weeks on end. when it comes to our battles, it is very easy to look around and wait for someone else to take care of the giant. it's not going to happen. our biggest battles, the things that are going to affect our lives the most are things that no one else can take care of but you. this doesn't mean that we don't ask for help or guidance, but when it comes to a head, we have to decide to fight ourselves. since i'm on a fitness kick lately, i'll use this analogy. no one can lose weight for you. if you want to shed some pounds, you are going to have to run the miles, climb the stairs, lift the weights etc. hopefully you have others encouraging you along, but no one can fight the battle of the bulge for you. as unlikely as a hero as he might have appeared to be, david gets huge points for stepping up to the challenge.

3. breakdown the challenge
here's where i learned the most from david when i was studying last week. when david tells king saul that he wants to fight goliath, he explains that as a shepherd he had protected his flock from bears, and rescued sheep from the mouths of lions. not just a bear, or a lion, but the language suggests that david might very well have a pretty big collection of bear and lion teeth back in his tent. so this picture i've always had of david as a weak little kid is pretty much shattered when i re-read this and see him as a confident bear-killer. the lesson here is to break down the challenge to something more manageable. david sees goliath as just another bear, something he knows he can defeat. when facing what seems like a monumental challenge it helps to reflect and draw on past battles to put the battle into perspective. going back to the weight loss scenario, if you just say you want to lose weight, you have a tough road ahead. but, if you break down the challenge into eating better, cardio, accountability, schedule etc, all of the sudden this monumental task becomes a much less intimidating giant.

4. fight smarter, not harder
david ditches the heavy armor that he is provided with and goes for a few stones and a sling. why? because that's what he knows how to use. i can imagine in between fighting bears and lions there is quite a bit of down time as a shepherd, and david had plenty of training with a sling. so he uses what he knows. so if your battle is trying to quit smoking, would it be easier or harder to quit if you stop hanging out with people who smoke? if you don't want to get drunk, don't drink. if you're tired of drama in your life, then don't put yourself in situations that bring drama. call this the stop and think formula. so many bad decisions come from not thinking about how to fight beforehand.

5. fight for what's right
the reason david is successful is because he is fighting for a worthy cause. goliath had insulted God, and david was there to put an end to that. when we are trying to fight a giant, it's important that we have pure motives for our purpose. this goes back to my first point about who we are on the inside.

i started praying for every kid in my youth group by name every week. there are a few reasons why i started this. 1: my kids know that someone cares enough to pray over them. 2: if i don't know what to pray for, then it gives me a reason to call up that kid and see what's going on in their life. 3: i'm always looking for something to push my prayer life, and this def keeps me on my toes.

favorite scripture
my favorite passage of scripture is romans 12. let me do a little walk through on why i love it. it starts off asking us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, which i take to mean several different things. first off, we are meant to live. there have been times in my life where that desire was not abundant and this scripture has really spoken to me. secondly, if we are not here serving others then we are parasites. our purpose is to effect the world around us, not to be self centered. if you truly want to make an impact, then do something for someone else. and lastly, we are called to be living sacrifices only after we are reminded of God's sacrifice for us. love because we have been shown love. what a great concept.
the next paragraph talks about the purpose that we all play in the grand scheme of things. but it starts off with a gut check of exactly how you should view yourself. we are not called to brag about accomplishments, or pride ourselves on meaningless trophies. we are called to judge ourselves by where our faith is at. i love telling the kiddos about this because it is so contrary to what the world believes, and it is so liberating. i could spin my wheels for years achieving all kinds of crazy stuff, but it will never make me a better person. if i want to be a complete person i need to look at myself the way God looks at me. how does God look at me? he looks at the gifts that i have been given, and how i have used these gifts. have i fulfilled my potential, or have i been too selfish to care.
then there's a whole section devoted on what it means to love. putting others before yourself, devoting yourself to one another, serving, patience, sharing, caring, peacefulness... man what a way to live. i wish i could exemplify this verse more often.

i've adopted a new theme for the youth ministry here: 'you will know that you are loved'. it comes from john 13 where Jesus tells his disciples, " by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." whata great message for the postmodern world. instead of trying to explain God's love, try demonstrating it. this is the approach my dad took. i don't recall him giving many bible studies to his friends, but i do have plenty of recollection of him actually demonstrating what the bible was all about, wether it was an encouraging word, a hug, or simply caring about someone else. so here's how that theme directly applies to our ministry here. first, there is plenty of hatred and apathy out in the world. when you're here, your safe. i want this place to feel different from the rest of the world. second, if the ministry is going to accomplish our main goal of bringing the message of Christ to the lost, then we are going to remind the kids of God's love, and equip them to love the same way. and lastly, every person has worth. everyone. growing up is hard enough, and it's even harder when you feel alone. we were not meant to live by ourselves, and we are not meant to survive on self reliance. we need others around us that bring us up. we need people to serve us, and we need others to serve.

well, i know this has been a long post, but stuff like this really helps me get centered before our summer season starts. i'm petitioning for your prayers for our ministry this summer that we grow how we need to, and that we are able to fulfill our role in God's plan for us. thanks.

one love, one heart.