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Hello My Name is Chelsey Groves… And I’m a Five-A-Day Drinker

I’m Chelsey and I’m a five-a-day drinker. Or at least I was. I’ve not tasted that bubbly deliciousness in eleven days. The official start of my journey was the 20th, but I had tried giving it up two weeks earlier. Apparently it is unadvisable to quit cold turkey. The school nurse, whom I had to visit out of necessity, actually suggested I have a coke. She even wrote me a pass to for my next class. But as it turned out, after I had one I felt well enough to go to class. Moral: coke makes you feel better. Just kidding. But seriously.

The reason I chose to give up coke, and pretty much every other beverage, save for milk and orange juice (and tea on Sunday of course), is because I feel we, as Americans, have become far too dependent on our luxuries. We’re a terribly wasteful and ungrateful culture. I’m just as guilty. I don’t want to be a part of that anymore. I want to remember and help our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering from a lack of what we have in abundance. Giving up coke may be a small step, but hopefully this will help lead me into a life of simplicity. If in giving up some of our own comfort we can provide for those in need, why don’t we? The things we have don’t last. But what we give does.

I’m sick of doing everything I hate. I hate materialism. Yet I’m materialistic. I hate wasting money. But I do it. I hate procrastinating. Yet I’m a slave to it. I hate addictions. But I’m an addict. I need to change. So this is where I’m starting.

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SolidariTEA

Here’s an idea that I wanted to toss out into the blogosphere. But before I do, let me just take a moment to celebrate 5.5 weeks of Soda-free living. In that short time, I’ve survived two Soda-free road trips, watched my son, Eli, grow up at lightening speed, started a new job where Sodas are free right around the corner from my office, and I even drank some rotten coconut milk with Aubrey (I’ll save the details for a later blog. In literary circles this is called foreshadowing. I threw that in for all my former English teachers!). Even though my mouth still waters every time I pour someone a Coke, I’m pretty proud that neither Zach nor I have capitulated to those talking Coke bottles in our brains. Kudos for us!
on another encouraging note, the amount of friends who have joined us on this journey is growing. Some of you have given the ol’ soda fountain the boot altogether, while others have simply taken the consumption down a notch! That excites us. Kudos to you!
So, here’s the idea. Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine. Zach and I figured that another miracle would be changing wine, or iced tea, into water. Since Sunday is a celebration day, we figured we might as well celebrate something really great with our Water Year friends, namely, the saving of human lives by reversing Jesus’ miracle and changing iced tea into water. So, beginning this Sunday, we will be sun-brewing iced tea and selling it for donations at The Oaks college community on Sunday evenings (2250 S. 14th, Abilene, TX). All the money we raise will go toward clean water projects through charity:water.org. We drink yummy, home-brewed tea together. Friends around the world drink yummy, clean water together. Now that’s what I call real home-brewed solidariTEA!

Solidarity

Hello friends! It has been almost a month since the last time I drank a soda – but don’t get me wrong, I’ve really wanted to. The other day I was playing music with some friends outside, and I got super thirsty. I’m not talking the “Man I could really go for a cold beverage” kind of thirsty. I’m talking the throat’s dry, tongue is crusty, lips are chapped, mouth is frothing like a rabid dog kind of thirsty. My good friend Jack had a Pepsi – and I almost caved. I had it in my hand ready to take a drink, but I didn’t.

Mine and Tim’s dear good friend, Chelsea told us an interesting story the other day. She, like us, decided to quit drinking sodas. She however got so sick from withdrawals that she had to go to the school’s nurse to get checked out. She’s decided to join us on our journey, just not all at once. She’s going to take baby steps. Which leads me to the message of this particular blog.

Solidarity doesn’t have to be dramatic. I think we make the mistake of thinking that our acts of kindness or philanthropy have to be dramatic – but they don’t. Simply deciding like Chelsea, to drink less soda and more water can make a huge difference. If all of us decided to drink one less coke a day, and to donate our “pop-money” to charity we could make a huge difference. Small acts of kindness can change the world.

Peace, Zach

My Backwards Walk: A Blog about Almost Giving Up…

I know what it’s like to give up, to give in to that nagging voice telling me that this will not work. Today marks 3 weeks since Zach and I began The Water Year journey. Three weeks since I last drank a soda, orange juice, or lemonade. 21 days of water. What begin as a sprint has fizzled (sounds good!) into a sputter. Today, we both agreed that we’ve never wanted to drink soda more than now. If this were the garden of Eden, and God had placed Zach and Tim there instead of Adam and Eve, the subversive serpent would simply have to pour a glass of Dr. Pepper and we’d be wearing fig leaves in no time. At least that is how it feels today.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the nature of my addiction to soda. It’s odd and slightly embarrassing to say it, but I relied on that stuff to help me stay awake, to keep me in a good mood, and to stave off having to deal with some things that have long lurked in the corridors of my heart. Things that, in time, I may gain the courage to write about.
For instance, my family and I drove to the Metroplex to visit my wife’s brother and sister-in-law. In the past, I would have found the biggest cup I could and filled it with Dr. Pepper. I used to justify such behavior by telling myself it would help me stay awake for the trip. Now, Dallas is not too far away- 3 hours if the traffic is low. Our trip there took 5 hours. Part of the reason it took so long was because we were traveling with a hungry new-born. But the other reason our three-hour tour was lengthened was because my body employes a different filtration process with water than it does with soda. Apparently, water seeps through the system a little quicker than soda, making me have to take more frequent potty breaks. Here is the funny thing, I didn’t get tired like I thought I would without my trusty-dusty soda to help me make it through. In fact, I only got tired when we had to stop 30 minutes from our destination to feed Eli again.
But still, today, if I had to go on a road trip tonight. I might reach for the soda because, in some ways, I still think I need it to stay awake. To me, that is the nature of addiction. It’s this backwards walk toward that one thing, or that set of behaviors, that is not helpful to your growth as a person. It’s one step forward and two steps back in this stuttered two-step of trying to gain ground. It’s like running up the down escalator. No matter how hard you try, it seems like you just aren’t going anywhere. So you give up and return to the very thing you are walking away from. To me, this is the nature of my addiction.
My friends who are in recovery often tell me that they recite prayers as a way to center their thoughts on something other than their haunting hunger for alcohol, sex or drugs. Perhaps I should compose some sort of Soda Serenity Prayer that I can recite the next time I am driving or the next time I see someone else drinking a large Dr. Pepper. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Maybe then, I could recall that I don’t really need anything outside of God.
As silly as it seems, I was ready to give this whole journey up last night. “After all,” I thought, “it’s not like many folks are reading the blog- I’m not really even consistently posting.”
“And besides,” I told myself, “What harm is there in a occasional soda. That wouldn’t be too bad.”
But, if I’m honest with myself, this is not about breaking away from soda for me. It’s about learning the art of discipline. It’s about putting one foot in front of the next. And, it’s about learning how to hold on to a God who isn’t afraid to join me on the dance floor. Even if today’s dance feels an awful lot like a backwards walk.

Water… the official drink of humanity.

Hey everybody, it’s Zach again. And it’s story time.

There is a rich man who lives in a gated community on the nice side of the tracks, and he has it all. Nice things, a house, a dog, a big tv. All of it. All of it and a $5,000 Armani suit. It’s brand new. In fact he just bought it yesterday. If you asked him he’d probably say that this suit is his prized possession, and can you blame him? The only thing that would look cooler than a $5,000 Armani suit is a suit of armor. And you just can’t find reliable suits of armor these days. You’d think this guy has it all going for him, and you’d be right. But this morning, our rich man is in a little bit of trouble.

The rich man wakes up in a panic at 9:20am. He was supposed to be at work twenty minutes ago! He jolts out of bed and runs to the bathroom to shower but decides against it- there’s no time! He’s late! He throws on some aftershave and quickly puts on his $5,000 suit. He leaps down the stairs swearing at himself under his breath, “You idiot… You’re going to get fired… this is the second time this week.” He reaches the door and locks it behind him, but just as he does he throws his hands up in frustration and screams aloud, “I forgot to brush my teeth.” But there’s no time! He’s late! He unlocks his car and throws it into reverse, popping two curiously strong mints into his mouth.

There are seven stop lights between the rich man’s gated community and the highway, and wouldn’t you know it – he hit every one of them. At every stoplight he would grow increasingly more frustrated. Stop light #1 9:35am. Stop light #2 9:43am. Stop light #6 10:00am. The rich man hits his steering wheel and pulls at his hair in frustration.

By the time he reaches stoplight #7, he’s at the end of his rope. He sits in his car, his road rage steadily building, when he sees out of the corner of his eye a small child playing in her back yard. The child is alone, balancing herself on the edge of a well. She’s walking around the edge with her little arms raised to balance herself – then, suddenly, she looses balance and falls into the well.

What does the rich man do?

The answer is obvious. He jumps from his car. Runs across the yard. Jumps in the well. And saves the young girls life – ruining his suit and making himself even more late for work. But why? Why did the man forsake his prized possession and risk losing his job? It’s because in that moment the life of that one little girl was worth more to him than his things.

The next day the rich man’s heroic act made the cover of the newspaper. The whole world embraced him as a selfless hero. A savior. A humble saint. He went to work the next day and received a promotion. The mayor sent him a box of cigars. He went to bed feeling content and made extra sure that he set his alarm for 7:30am. But as he drifted off to sleep, 5,400 children on the other side of the world died because they didn’t have clean water to drink.

These children don’t make the cover of the newspapers, so it’s easy to ignore their presence. We don’t see them as we rush to work. We don’t see them when we turn on the news. We don’t discuss them as we sit around the dinner table. But they are there. And they are counting on us. They are counting on us to deny the apathy which plagues our culture. They are counting on us to deny our selfish desire for more more more, and are compelling us to live on less. They are counting on us to jump in and save them.

Jump in here: http://www.charitywater.org/donate/

A Sunday Haiku

Today- sun brewed tea.
It was delicious. Drank Joy
with a slice of orange…

Less is More?

My mother has been in town for the last few weeks to help out around the house as my wife, daughter and I welcome our newest edition, Elijah, into the family. Yesterday, as we were preparing for dinner, my mom was showing me a cookbook that she and my dad used as missionaries back we I was a little kid. It’s a cookbook by the Mennonites called “More with Less.” The idea is simple. Food is a limited resource in the world we live in. What does it mean to be good stewards of the food resources we’ve been given? This seems to be the question that the cookbook addresses. Recently my mom found another copy of the cookbook at a local bookstore. Excited, she bought a copy for my sister, and it’s her copy that we were looking at while my mom prepared our dinner.
As we thumbed through the pages, my mom mentioned that she, dad, and some other friends went on a “soy bean” kick when they were in language school in the mid-70s. I was shocked at this news. My mom, who will go out of her way to find a Wienersnitchel, experienced a soy bean phase?
“Isn’t that what hippies do?”, I thought. Then I remembered that the first song my mom taught me on the guitar was the old Pete Seeger anti-war anthem, “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” I guess there’s more than one layer to any onion.
So, while I’m still figuring out how mom and dad made corn dogs out of soy beans, mom continues to show me all the recipes our family enjoyed while we were living with limited resources on the mission field. Then she exclaimed, “They even have a section on how to make 6 meals with one chicken!!”
As she shared with me her journey into simplicity as a young missionary in the West Bank, I began to think about this journey called The Water Year. It seems to me that, for my mom and those Mennonites at least, experiencing simplicity in life somehow leads toward more enjoyment of life. Joy, in other words, is a fruit of simplicity.
When I consider my own journey toward a more simple way of rehydrating my body, I’ve experienced about as much joy as I would while getting mauled by a bear. And, like getting mauled by a bear, what inevitably will become a “cool story” down the road doesn’t seem very cool when you’re trying to figure out which arm goes on which shoulder. In fact, my drinking habits have been anything but enjoyable over the past 11 days (only 354 more to go! Yipee!!). Every time I hear the fizzle that accompanies soda being poured over ice, I almost say, “Forget it! I’ll just drink LESS soda than I used to. Which means, I’ll shut down the blog, admit my human frailty, and run to the nearest Stripes convenience store for 64 ounces of heavenly nectar with 23 distinct flavors! Then, when I’m done with that, I’ll drink another 64 ounces… or I’ll just stick my face beneath the nozzle and let the corn syrup seep into my pores until I go into a soda induced state of Nirvana…”
To make matters worse, every time I begin to grumble about not being able to drink a Dr. Pepper, the whole family has no sympathy. “You chose this road, dude. Don’t take it out on us.” And to top it all off, I’ve had to go to the bathroom more in the last 11 days than I did in the month leading up to The Water Year! Which means I’m probably wasting MORE water by flushing the commode so many times. Many it’s time to enact that old adage my buddy once wrote on a bathroom wall; “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…” I’ll let you finish the rest.
Joy simply seems to be illusive to me right now. Maybe it’s because I can still taste Dr. Pepper in my mouth when I eat cheese pizza. Or maybe it’s because my eyes aren’t as open as my mom’s are when she remembers feeding a family of five with little more than lentils and rice.
If The Water Year is a journey into gratitude, I’m afraid I’m on the wrong path. Maybe illusive joy will find me the next time I turn on the faucet and fresh, drinkable water comes gushing out. Because, after all, isn’t that what this journey is all about?