"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #6"
29 June 2001
Well Git on Down! Lots of love to all the family, the friends and those who care!
Having experienced the oversized bugs, humidity and warm hospitality of the southern regions of our great nation, I am coming at ya'll from the land of Vikings, late sunsets and 10,000 lakes, Minnesota! Covering so many regions in such a short time frame really highlights the contrast of cultures and accent that exists within our country. For example, when filling up with gas in Wisconsin the station attendant asked, "Want to taste some cheese, ehh"? I could have said, "I respectfully decline ma'am" or "fogeee abouu it" or just the usual polite "no thank you." It's been fascinating, and I have tried throwing people off by faking different accents, but can usually only make it part way through a sentence before bursting into laughter.
Gosh ... my poor rump is all bruised up from all the self- inflicted pinches. I can't believe God has granted this real-life dream for me to live through. Three months have now passed since embarking on "Taking a Swing at Weight Loss", and I am already realizing that though I could do this forever, some day reality will become an active part of my existence again. I have lost 101 pounds and am therefore 43% of the way towards my goal weight of 230 with just 136 pounds left to go until I am half the man I once was. I celebrated breaking the century mark with a squeeze of lemon in my spring water! In the process I have driven nearly 20,000 miles through 30 states while attending 52 baseball games in 16 of the 30 major- league ballparks. I have seen 546 runs scored and witnessed some real nail biters. Even got to see the infamous John Rocker choke up his last game as a Brave, giving up a homer to former Padre (now Marlin) Dereck Lee in the ninth inning. The Braves lost that game, and Rocker got traded the next day to the Indians.
So fascinating to observe how for some folks a baseball game is merely something to read a book through or to just eat everything in sight at ridiculously inflated prices. For others it seems to be their lives, and I watch them on the edge of their seats, waiting for them to stroke out or have a coronary on the spot when the game gets down to the wire. I will never forget a moment in St. Louis when Barry Bonds hit his 39th homer of the year, smashing all previous baseball records for home run pace at this point in the season. A man in his 50's who was obviously a Mark Macguire devotee was almost in tears and then raged on huffing and puffing for the next two hours about why they had not walked him. While I was thoroughly annoyed with his childish behavior, I was also sobered sitting there thinking how sad if this is all there is to life! I tried to share a bit about eternal home runs, but he was in too tight of a knot.
And so the adventure continues. Chuy and I soaked up our share of sunshine in Florida, even driving all the way to Key West and lusting at the bounty of fish being landed by eager anglers. From there we went to Georgia and got to spend time with high-school buddy Steve Dendrinos and med school comrade Dr. James Watt. Both are now blessed with lovely wives (and Steve with a son); they were such an encouragement to see. There is nothing like the evidence of Godly character translating into lives that reflect spiritual fruit and stability. In Atlanta Chuy and I were very convicted and challenged by the Memorial to the late Martin Luther King, Jr. It provoked much discussion on race relations and the inequalities that so clearly persist today. We took in some Braves baseball, and I got tired of their "chop" 15 seconds into the first time we heard it. From there we headed to the gateway to the west St. Louis where we were blessed by generous, family-like hospitality with Steve and Lauren Mizel. Steve is the son of Vicki Mizel, whom I have enjoyed working with for years at the County and now with the Council of Community Clinics. Also got to see a game with Dr. Peter Tuteur the father of Jen Tuteur a medical colleague and friend back in San Diego. So fun to meet family of friends and experience the instant intimacy and trust that comes with knowing their loved ones. St. Louis is The Baseball Town. They love their Cardinals. Two hours before the game starts there are more fans lined up at the gates waiting to get into the park and see batting practice than there have been fans at most of the other parks during the game. They all wear red during the game, gaining the nickname of the "red sea". It was breathtaking to see Big Mac's towering practice homers flying all over.
For Chuy three weeks flew by and yesterday after the obligatory shopping session at the Mall of America here in Minneapolis and a Twins game, he boarded the plane for home. He was an awesome companion, and we had a great time together as buddies and brothers in Christ. My dad is now back with me and we are staying with former fellow board member Karen Kirchoff. Having lost her husband to cancer this last year, it's encouraging to see how well she is doing and what an enthusiastic and gracious host she is. She has been nicknamed "Martha" of biblical fame.
Today before the Twins game my dad and I will be joining the celebration of Wally and Gloria Danielson's 50th Anniversary. Want a quick testimony on the thread of God's love through the generations? Young Gloria as part of an act of mercy sent a boy's coat to Greece during WWII and the Nazi Occupation. Inside that coat Gloria had a patch with her address on it. My dad, a child suffering through the famine and the hardships of war, was the "random" recipient of that coat. He wrote her to thank her, and she in turn went on to generously shower the Yphantides family with other packages of food and even a bible. That was the spiritual seed in my father's relationship with God, and they have stayed in touch all these years. And now today, 50 plus years later, we can collectively celebrate, united in our acknowledgement on the true source of all good things we have in life. Praise GOD!!! What a precious opportunity for me today to show appreciation to them and their family. And so I strive to let my little light shine. You never know what fire God may ignite from each of our little lights. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it Shine!!
And so with tear-filled eyes and a joy-soaked heart I greet each of you with the love of Christ. "Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ... think about such things." Philippians 4:8.
Burning with passion for God and in appreciation for His love I press on!