In Praise of the Praiseworthy

Oh, what a night!

There we were, two and half seasons into our Downton Abbey binge watching marathon. Paige and I were seated in the living room after Midnight on a snow day, anticipating another snow day, when the phone rang. As a pastor, and the son of a widowed mother, a phone call at 12:45 a.m. is never going to be a good thing. It was mom. Her trembling voice barely able to squeak out the words, “Someone just tried to break into the house!” The next voice I heard was that of an officer with the Kingsport Police Department. Mom was so shaken she just handed over the phone to the officer. He explained two juvenile delinquents had been apprehended in the back yard of my old home place and that the situation was under control.KPD-logo-patch

In my truck on the way to my mother’s house, a wave of emotion came over me. I was angered that someone, anyone would frighten my mother so badly that she could not form words to speak. I was distraught at the thought my mother was, indeed, vulnerable to the whims of some punks with nothing better to do than to destroy private property and steal things. It was not a great state of mind to be in as I tried to navigate the frozen, snow-covered streets of Kingsport.

Upon arrival, I saw that three of the five police cruisers that initially responded to the distress call, had already left. An old friend and member of the force greeted me and apprised me of the situation. I could not see the two 14-year-old boys in the back of the car, but I could not help but wonder if they were kids that my church had reached out to through our ministry to the community where they resided. I’m not sure I need or truly want to know either.

Sometime around 12:30 a.m., my mother was awakened by voices and the sounds of footsteps on the other side of her bedroom wall. She got out of bed, grabbed her phone and went to the window and turned on the outside lights. Keep in mind, there’s five inches of snow on the ground and the light of the moon and stars reflecting off the pristine powder was more than enough to allow one to see everything in the backyard… especially footprints in the fresh, untouched snow. Seeing the outside lights come on, our two Einstein’s froze and looked at each other. Decision time: 1) Turn and run for it OR 2) Dismiss it as some sort of motion light and continue on with the nefarious plan. They chose the latter.

When mom saw them turning back for the house, she reported this to the 9-1-1 dispatcher already on the phone. Units were already on the way. The dispatcher advised mom to go to the opposite end of the house from where the boys were headed. As she moved out of her bedroom and down the hallway –  CRASH! –  the 4 foot X 6 foot picture window next to my mother’s bath tub exploded sending plate glass in every direction. The noise was so loud the dispatcher heard it over the phone. My mother ran to a half-bath off the kitchen and attempted to lock herself inside. Can you see it… my 80+… er um… seasoned senior mother cowering in a dark bathroom with who knows what getting ready to come in her house, clinging to the hope in the voice on the other end of a phone call? I see it too and it infuriates me, but I digress.

About that time, before the boys could make entry, the police arrived on the scene. Utilizing the aforementioned weather conditions to their advantage, the officers apprehended the suspects in the backyard. They found the softball size river rock they chucked through the window which, we discovered this morning, was thrown with such force as to break through a plate glass window AND create a gaping hole in the drywall on the opposite wall six feet away. The officers told us there had been three other home invasion-style break ins in my mother’s neighborhood over the previous few days. Perhaps these kids were responsible, perhaps not. All I know is in the final analysis, there needed to be praise offered forth.

First, I praise my Lord Jesus for keeping my mother safe and unharmed through it all. Secondly, I praise the calm, professionalism of the 9-1-1 dispatcher who talked my mother through the turmoil. Finally, I praise the the officers of the KPD who were willing and able to do what was necessary to serve and protect my mother and our community. In the current climate in which we live, too many voices are taking too many political stances and pointing their accusatory fingers at too broad a swath of police officers. Are there some attitudes that need changing? Of course. But we need not besmirch the good names of the 99% who do it right just because of a few bad ones.

Fifteen hours, one tarp and a sheet of plywood later, I am happy that I can still call Kingsport home. However, much like everywhere else in this world, our hometown is not the place it used to be. We must remain vigilant. We must stick together. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If you see something, say something.

I saw some things that were praiseworthy and I had to say something.

Tiger Tried and True: The Ketogenic Diet

ScaleFrom time to time, I will use this platform to post about things that I’ve sampled or experienced that are of great value. Most of the time I’ve dealt with good food or great restaurants or some must-have product. This post is going to be a little different from that.

One month ago, I learned that my cousin, who is more a like a brother to me, began a new diet called a ketogenic diet. I wanted to encourage and support him in this effort so I reached out to him, in solidarity, and said I would like to do it as well. In short, it has been one of the best decisions of my life. Let me explain.

I’ve always been a large person. From the time I was in kindergarten to this day, I was always among the largest people in my classes and amongst my peers. While I’m not considered morbidly obese, let’s just say I’ve always lingered on the fluffy side. When I was younger and an athlete, this was obviously advantageous and not a problem. As I’ve gotten older, however, and the exercise was fewer and farther between, the weight is harder to keep off. As a senior in high school, I was 6 feet 4 inches tall and 240 pounds. Now, at the age of 44 (almost 45), I am 6 feet 5 inches tall and (as of this morning) 292 pounds. For the past six years I have taken statin medication for high cholesterol.

One month ago today, I began the ketogenic diet. Basically, it’s an Atkins-like diet in which you eat very low carbohydrates, moderate protein, but, and this is the kicker,  you make an effort to eat a HIGH FAT diet. Yes, a HIGH FAT diet. The goal of the diet is to place your body in a state of ketosis. This is where you transition from being fueled by carbohydrates to being fueled by the ketones your body naturally produces as it metabolizes your own stored fat deposits. The book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore can give you more insight. For the last month, I have eaten a diet consisting of 70-78% fat, 18-20% protein and less than 10% carbs. I’ve lost 17 pounds. This morning, my regular physician TOOK ME OFF OF MY CHOLESTEROL MEDICINE!!! All this while eating more eggs, cheese, bacon, beef, butter and coconut oil than you would think would be humanly possible. The diet is antithetical to everything you hear in the conventional health and wellness circles. I keep track of everything I eat on MyFitnessPal so that I can help control what I eat.

Historically, I have a couple of real trouble points in my lifestyle that work against me. First, I’m extremely busy. Between being a full-time husband, father and pastor, I also play radio personality and I’m a doctoral student trying to write and complete that work. It becomes easier to just “grab some fast food” when it is time to eat.

Secondly, I’m a night owl. Always have been. The night is my chance to kick back and try to unwind. This leads to, you guessed it, kitchen grazing! From about 9PM to Midnight, I can burn the floor up between my easy chair and the fridge.

Over the last month, though, I have not been hungry. Not once. In fact, there have been mornings that I have had to make myself finish off my cheesy eggs and bacon. I survive quite well at 1700 to 1900 calories, which, for my size, is conducive to about a 2 pound per week reduction.

At the doctor’s office this morning, my blood pressure was 130/80 and all my numbers were below any level since he began tracking them. He was beyond pleased and I had to spend about 15 minutes explaining the diet to him and he is considering it himself. As of today, I’m no longer on prescription meds of any kind. I have combined the ketogenic diet with the Advocare MNS system (multi-vitamins) and the Advocare OmegaPlex supplements. You can find them through the Health and Wellness tab here on my blog.

To say that I am thrilled with the results and the direction I am heading would be an understatement. Results may vary for different people, but I just had to share that this ketogenic stuff is Tiger Tried and True!!!

That Awkward Moment at the Dermatologist’s Office

In February of last year, my dermatologist discovered a spot on my face that turned out to be melanoma. In March they successfully and skillfully surgically removed it and I have a barely noticeable scar on my left cheek. Since that time, I have had two full body “scans” and have had no more problems. The second of those body scans occurred just yesterday.

I am of the opinion that the circle of people of the opposite sex who have seen you naked ought to be a small one. You know, like, your momma and your wife. Okay, I probably have to put my big sister in there, though that troubles me a tad. So when I am sitting on the examination table in my boxer briefs and a sheet and my female dermatologist walks back in with, not one, but two female companions,  the following internal commentary is how this modest man’s mind copes with it:

“Well, ladies, FEAST YOUR EYES!”

“If the underwear goes, there WILL be a surcharge.”

“Maybe the tanning bed should have been a consideration. Tan fat looks better than white fat… oh wait… this is the dermatologist.”

“One friend for accountability’s sake, but two friends??? Now its an exhibition.”

“The expanse of my body is such that it takes six eyes to do this scan job in a timely fashion.”

“Ladies, now I know how it feels to walk past the construction site.”

“You are smiling now, just don’t laugh when I leave.”

“Don’t make eye contact! Don’t make eye contact!”

Honestly, it was not that bad at all. I share this humorous anecdote mainly because I want to, at least, begin the dialogue for you in your home with those you love. If you have any strange spots/places show up on your body, PLEASE let a loved one check it out and if you have any question at all, talk with your doctor. Believe me, it is totally worth any momentary discomfort. It can save your life.