The Heart of Man, The Love of God

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Don't miss this one!

You have one more chance to see this great movie!

I love movies. I love movies that are made well. I love films where the director focused his lens on beauty. But I really love movies that make me think and potentially change my view on the world.

The Heart of Man is one of those movies. As a reader of my blog, I don't want you to miss your once chance to see this film on a big screen, surrounded by a full audience in a public theater environment. It really is worth your time and money to experience this film in a theater.

You know how much I love to talk about the gospel and the love of God. It is part of my everyday conversations around here. It is so rare that a film is made and communicates the concepts of God's love and redemption so clearly. 

FILMING TECHNIQUE
The Heart of Man is filmed in a unique way. It very clearly depicts individuals and couples who share their personal lives in a documentary interview format. They are quick to walk you down to the dark spaces in their journey with God. Addictions, hurt, damage, and pain are on display. (Note: this film speaks candidly about sexual sin and you should consider who you bring - more on that below). Had the director stopped there, I would simply not recommend this film. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can listen and watch folks open up honestly about dark sinful choices and how they were redeemed.

What if our brokenness is a bridge, not a barrier?

This director does not stop there.

Within the personal interviews, the director weaves a story of The Prodigal in a beautiful and vivid way. The story is simple and easy to follow, but is told without dialogue. This is why you must see this film. The images still burn in my mind. To see the depth of the love of God and what He does to pursue us before, during and after our descent into sin is life-changing.

THEMES
This film speaks clearly to themes of sexual addiction, infidelity and sexual abuse, but in no way should you pigeon hole this movie in that way. It's a movie about living in freedom and knowing that the Father loves you and pursues you and never gives up on you.

This is a film for those struggling in addictions. A film for those struggling with sin. It is a film for those struggling with loss. It's a film for those struggling with despair and a loss of hope.

In fact, I would say that this film is made for everyone. Sinner. Saint. Believer. Unbeliever. Christian. Non-Christian. Protestant. Catholic. Muslim. Jew. Hindu. Buddhist. Gay. Lesbian. Transgender. Man. Woman.

DISCUSSION
I believe this movie will begin discussions on your walk back to the car. You will leave a changed person with a desire to talk through certain scenes, how they were filmed and what they communicated and how you feel about it.

Kendra and I saw it on opening night during a limited release. We immediately made plans to purchase this film and turn it into a community event where we could invite our friends who are waking up from Gospel Amnesia and those who are discovering the love of God for the first time. We were stoked to hear it was out on re-release for one more night. 

What about kids? We have learned to have discussions sooner rather than later. That being said, we would not hesitate to take OUR 10 year old son. We've had hard conversations already. This film would only serve to clarify the love of God in his life. We are willing to step in and talk about themes of sexuality, lust, adultery, pornography and the brokenness in the world. If you aren't prepared for that, you might want to consider who you invite along.

Are you interested in joining us? Leave a comment or contact me here and we'll keep you in the loop.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Do Not Live In The Fear Of The Possible

This is the one quote from the Fletchifesto that most people ask me to explain. This is also one of my favorites and probably one of the first quotes I chose to include. Let me see if I can explain it here.

Do Not Live In The Fear Of The Possible!

How many times have you refused to act, because you were fearful of what "might" happen. You know what I mean? Maybe you have said to yourself something like this: "Well...if I do this, then it's possible this thing over here will happen." Without even knowing it, you refuse to act. You are living in the fear of the possible, regardless of the probability of the expected outcome.

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It reminds me of a funny, unexpected and eye-opening response that was given to a classmate of mine during my post-graduate studies in dental school. I was sitting in an oral surgery lecture and this poor unsuspecting student happened to raise her hand to ask a tough question about a certain dental procedure. I remember her asking: "Dr. Zimmerman, isn't there a chance that by doing this procedure, the patient might have a negative reaction?" 

Dr. Zimmerman was an old-school, type-A oral surgery instructor. He always had a bright red face that communicated he was angry and when he spoke he had two volumes: loud and very loud. I always pictured that his own dental training had taken place in the military during WWII. From his behavior, it was clear that Dr. Z was from an era when most dental schools did not include female students. (Picture the character of Colonel Jessep played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men - he was a dead ringer!). Furthermore, I always felt like I was bothering him with any question I ever asked, so I quickly learned to keep my head down and pretend like I knew what I was doing. My classmate did not learn this lesson.

I'll never forget his response to this poor soul who was basically asking a "What If" type of question. Dr. Zimmerman didn't stop to think, he simply responded, "Is there a chance there might be a negative reaction? Listen to me, little lady. There's a chance you are gonna be hit by a fucking bus every time you step off the fucking curb, but that doesn't keep you from crossing traffic to walk into a fucking donut shop for a fucking cup of coffee every day." Yes. this was professional school. I was shocked too. Everyone who had been sleeping in that lecture suddenly sat up and started taking the best notes they could. Dr. Zimmerman was a piece of work.

Sure it was shocking. Sure it was inappropriate, but here is my basic point: Dr. Zimmerman didn't live in the fear of the possible. He embraced the possible. He embraced risk. I think that's part of the reason why he was such a successful surgeon. That might explain his peppery language too. He was not afraid of what might happen.

I don't want to throw caution to the wind. I believe there is wisdom with multiple counselors, but I also do not want to live crippled by the "what ifs."  I need to face the possibilities, understand the risks, and live a little more fearlessly. What about you?

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Make Your Own Kind of Music

I took a short break from the Fletchifesto to chronicle my journey into my health adventure. As I work down the different quotes and statements I chose to include on my list, I've arrived at "Make Your Own Kind of Music."

If you are a fan of classic rock, you will recognize this as a song recorded by Mama Cass Elliott. Check out this cool clip with Sammy Davis, Jr. :

I didn't include this quote on the list, because I'm a fan of Mama Cass or even this song per se. I just love the sentiment. It's very similar to the quote that says, "March to the beat of a different drummer." However, when that quote is used, it tends to have an air of negativity or it embodies the idea that someone is contrary to normalcy in an odd way. That's not at all what I'm trying to communicate.

I included this quote because I appreciate the aspect of creativity. In other words, just because everyone else follows a certain path to get from A to Z, you need to make a path that works for you.

Here's a practical example: When I graduated from high school, my path was pretty well chosen for me. Call it parental encouragement or societal norms for the upper middle class or great educational/career advice. Go to college, graduate, go to graduate/professional/law/medical school, start a career, get married, and then start a family. It worked. I made a few changes in the order, but I'm here. No major complaints.

With 8 children, we wanted to raise independent thinkers. We wanted kids that could navigate a path that worked for them, for their learning style and for their personality. I recognize now that I really wanted my kids to "make their own kind of music." 

It's not easy. I'm not a risk taker by nature. It's hard to watch my kids make different choices, but I've learned that it makes for a way more exciting life if you take risks. It's like watching an experiment with all the different variables swirling around in a chemical flask. Sometimes there is no reaction and sometimes there is an explosion.  Sure you may fail, but that's okay too.

Listen folks. I haven't figured this out. That's why it's on my Fletchifesto. I want to learn how to make my own kind of music everyday. I want to learn how to make it my own. It's a journey. Want to join me?

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

Part 9: Kicking Sugar to the Curb

At the beginning of this series, I said that the two biggest components to reversing my diabetes was changing my diet and increasing my exercise. The last post covered exercise and this blog post is my simple attempt at describing how my diet changed everything!

GLUTEN
Back in the early 2000's it seemed like every other patient had a problem with something in the environment. One of the ailments that kept creeping up on the health history forms of my dental patients was something called: "gluten allergy/sensitivity."

If I'm being truthful, at the time I thought it was a bunch of hooey. Seriously people. Who has an allergy to grains? It's a staple food all over the world. Why is this not a pandemic issue? 

Enter my favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know. I popped in the episode about gluten as I drove the family to Santa Cruz for our annual vacation. By the time I got to the coast, I was convinced and telling Kendra: "I think I have a gluten sensitivity." So I spent the entire week on vacation avoiding gluten and much to my surprise I discovered a few noticeable changes:

  • My joints stopped aching.
  • I was no longer bloated after a small meal.
  • I literally stopped burping and farting.
  • I slept better.
  • I was not foggy headed.

I did not need to get a blood test. The anecdotal evidence was in: Stay away from gluten and you will feel better!

REMEMBER IRON MAN
The liver issues I had caused me to reduce the amount of iron rich foods (Remember though, I was still treating the symptom, not the cause). I also discovered that a modified Atkin's diet helped to lower my liver enzymes and ferritin levels. I was not putting all the pieces together yet, but I was still learning.

It's important to note here: I had a wife who was on board with every dietary change that I brought home. I think it's because Kendra wanted me to stick around for a little while, so every health change brought dietary changes and she was helpful to do what it took to take care of me. Seriously, I cannot overstate how important this was. She was and continues to be my biggest cheerleader and top chef! The number one reason this series was written was because of her encouragement. We all need support and I could not do this without her.

GLUTEN-FREE, SUGAR-FREE, DAIRY-FREE
About this same time, my friend and functional medicine doctor got involved. He was encouraging me to start a gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diet. It seemed aggressive, but he had seen great results with his patients curing many issues by starting with controlling gut bacteria that was driven by sugar and dairy. He also knew (like my anecdotal results indicated) that gluten was a major player in inflammatory disease.

Let me pause one more time: our farming processes have changed. Our grains are different than they were when we grew up. The gluten we have in our food today is an inflammatory ingredient. If you are gassy, bloated, tired, groggy and have sore/stiff joints - just try super hard to give up gluten for 1 week. I promise you will just feel better.

The only problem was that his plan involved an entire system or a program to get things dialed in. I just wasn't there yet and wasn't willing to commit the time and effort to "following a plan." There was also the investment in all of the necessary blood test and supplements to get me on board. In retrospect it sounds good, but at the time it was going to take a lot more than just his advice to get me on board.

BOOZE FREE
I know, most of my loyal readers like to believe in the "Myth of Fletch." To some extent I probably help to propagate the myth. Folks, It's not all blenders, Fuzz Buzzes and Margarita Machine drinks around our house. At one point after my diabetes diagnosis I had chosen to go alcohol-free. The gluten in the beer bugged me and most wines would turn my ears bright red. The math was simple. Alcohol + Fletch = uncomfortable. So, I dropped the booze and chose to feel better. No judgment. No higher cause. I just like water and iced tea more than waking up in pain.

SHOCKED INTO REALITY
Let me remind you what was going on with my life at this point. I had descended into poor health: weight gain, hypertension, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. At the same time, I was stressed out and dealing with depression. I had started walking and exercising and began to see small changes in my life, but all the pieces were not coming together yet.

It took that final piece that I've already mentioned in a previous post.

After selling our home, I was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and catch my breath. That's when I was shocked (literally) by my college neon Corona Beer sign. The electricity and subsequent muscle contractions led to a torn shoulder muscle. This led to a visit with an orthopedic surgeon which eventually led to a cortisone injection in my shoulder.

Cortisone and blood sugars don't play well together, so my testing numbers took off. It took a long time for me to bring them back under control. Funny enough, it was this little incident that pissed me off and made me realize it was time for me to understand my body chemistry.

Crazy changes for Fletch's body!

Crazy changes for Fletch's body!

GOING KETO
I had begun to research how to reverse Type 2 Diabetes and the answer I kept returning to was the Ketogenic Diet. Funny enough, this was essentially the same diet my friend/doctor had recommended. So, I studied, researched and jumped in to this new way of eating with both feet. 

It was all me with my own handpicked vitamin/mineral supplements. I began to feel good immediately, but it took about 6 weeks before my blood sugars dropped to normal and my HbA1C gave me the results I mentioned in the Introduction to this blog series.

As the weight came off, people kept asking what this diet looks like on a day to day basis. That is partially why I am writing this blog series.

My best advice comes from the world of podcasts. If you really want to know more about keto eating, I want you to go over and listen to the 2 Keto Dudes podcast. Start at episode 01 and listen through the first twenty shows. They are short shows and these guys do a fantastic job of explaining the ketogenic lifestyle. They use just enough science to explain it to a doctor, but not too much to bore the audience.

Yes, it's a lot of listening, but if you are serious about wanting to change, this is a great start. Remember it is going to take commitment. It's also going to take others to support your choices. The Keto Dudes have created a great community and they are the best thing to help you get started and stay motivated.

This was the tipping point in changing my health. This eating plan was the number one reason I dropped weight and changed my blood numbers.

For those wanting the absolute basics, this is what it looks like for me:

Daily Carbs = 0-25g - Just what I get in green leafy vegetables (otherwise the number is ZERO).
Daily Protein = 1-1.5g protein/kg of lean body mass. For me, that is approximately 90g protein.
Daily Fat=  As much as I can eat to satiate me.

Yes, it's a high fat, low carb and low protein diet.

As I type this right now, I'm down nearly 50lbs from where I started. I'm rarely hungry and my energy level is sky high. My exercise level is never inhibited by my eating or lack of eating. I fast intermittently and really only eat when I'm hungry. Which causes many to ask where all my energy comes from?

FAT BURNER
When you switch to a ketogenic diet, you no longer rely upon glucose to burn for energy, so you no longer convert your unused glucose to fat storage. Since you don't have excess glucose, you don't need as much insulin to deal with the extra glucose in your blood. (If you have paid attention, this means your liver is also not stressed out and throwing high enzymes).

Here's what changes: Your body stops looking to glucose for energy and learns to burn your stored fat for energy. Remember all those years you were eating Krispy Kremes, pizza and slurping down beer? All the extra glucose in those foods was stored as fat for future energy. When you convert to ketogenic eating, all of that stored fat becomes your primary source for energy. 

The truth for me: I HAD A TON OF STORED ENERGY (which is the new politically correct way to say that I was FAT!)  I have an untapped source for energy and it's all the fat I've stored around my belly, my liver, my other abdominal organs. As the weight has come off, my fat stores are being depleted.

The before and after photo above says it all. The proof is in the picture. My story is done!

I cured my Type2 Diabetes by taking control of my life, diving into the dark corners, allowing others to help and support me, taking on an exercise routine that worked for me, changing my diet, and remembering that each day was a new day and I had to make changes. 

Thanks to everyone I've previously mentioned for helping me make so many positive changes in my health, but especially my wife Kendra (go read her stuff - she's brilliant), my friends/doctors (Blankenship, Beech), my cancer doctor at Stanford (Dr. Peter Whang), all of my friends at Mid-Aged Maniacs (especially Laura), and my dogs Betty and Rasta!

Thanks for reading along...but don't leave just yet!


Now is the time for you to make a decision.

Do you want or need to make a change? It took me a long time to get there. Maybe this blog series has pushed you over the edge? Maybe it's the other mid-aged maniacs you read about? Maybe it's your own blood tests? I don't know.

Do you want to join me?
Do you want my help?

I'm not running classes. Just helping friends who were stuck like me. I've seen the changes and I think you will see them as well. If you want help, click this button below. Let's do this!

Dear Abby

On the pier at Newport Beach

On the pier at Newport Beach

Dear Abby,

Well that was painful.

That makes kid #4 and it has not gotten any easier to have someone move out. For those people reading this who have not dropped a kid off at school, I'm warning you. It goes faster than you think.

Abbydabs, as we dropped you off at the curb of your new 7 story dorm in Southern California and each hugged you goodbye through tears and promises that we'd miss you like crazy, I was reminded that active parenting is over. There will be no more daily conversations, face to face encouragements or nightly kisses as I pass through your bedroom. I have spoken into your life on a daily basis for 18 years and the "in the moment" parenting has come to an end. Sure we still have phone calls, text messages and all of your visits home, but the "teach them diligently along the way" lessons that we know about from Deuteronomy are wrapped up. I can only hope you remember all those things as you take off on this new adventure.

So, I decided to repurpose some advice I had given to your brother and I hope it's the one thing you stole from being in our home:  It’s all about Jesus. 

What? You expected something else?

Experience? Four years of university life will certainly be filled with both positive and negative experiences, but to chase after the college experience will leave you empty when school comes to an end. No, it is all about Jesus.

Relationships? Since you were born, you were raised in our home and surrounded by our friends and stories of our friends that we had made during our 4 years at college. Certainly, we hope you cultivate lifelong friendships and build great memories during your college years.

These relationships you make will be valuable and provide opportunities for networking during the rest of your life. However, relationships can fail. Friendships will be strained by distance after college. I want you to surround yourself with people who believe that life is all about Jesus and to not be afraid to reach out to others who don’t know Him yet. It is all about Jesus.

Education? Your grandparents love to inflate the idea that college is all about getting a good education. You know that education is a means to an end, but a lousy substitute for Jesus. It may open a few more doors and provide a few more opportunities, but shifting your hope from God onto education is a deceptive trap. We have encouraged all of you to pursue an education, but that always comes with the warning to not put your hope in education. Nope. It is not about an education, it is all about Jesus.

Religion? You are attending a Christian college. You are surrounded by teachers and administrators that want to mentor and guide you! That’s great and it is certainly a blessing, but I want you to remember more than labels and descriptions and much more than outward religious behavior it really is all about Jesus.

I remember being corrected once by a religious pastor for suggesting that it was all about Jesus. He warned me that it stopped short of what scripture teaches. For nearly an hour he expounded on scripture and theology to explain to me how that statement could lead people living a life void of the sanctifying works God requires. His argument and his theological slices reminded me even more: It’s all about Jesus.

We shift our hope so quickly. We have talked about that for years in our church and in our home as we’ve seen relationships implode and college educations lead to endless/hopeless job searches and layoffs. Abby, you know this. Shifting your hope onto the college experience, onto relationships, onto education or even onto religious behavior might satisfy you in the short term, but in the long run it is all about putting your hope in God. It is all about the Gospel. It’s all about Jesus.

Paul, in his letter to the church of Corinth, says this:

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

Abby you are loved! By God and by me. Study hard! Love others well! Call, text and come home often! :)

But more than anything, remember that it's all about Jesus!

Quietly making noise,
Dad