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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #8" 

03 August 2001

Hey to the Fam, Hey to the Friends, and Hey to Those Who Care!

Lots of enthusiastic love coming at ya from Chicagoland!

No worries, this will be a shorter update as we are thankfully back on track with a glitch-free website that hopefully you have found interesting and informative.  I'm so thankful for all the time and effort Toni Hock has put into the site with some help from my homie and bro, Mark Searle.

It's humbling how quickly time is flying by!  As I type this update I must admit that I have some very mixed feelings, realizing and pondering that it has already been four months (1/3 of a year) since I have been blessed to be on this journey.  While part of me is eager to get this over with and have something besides a shake to eat again, I also am regretting the fact that this carefree adventure on the road cannot last indefinitely.  I highly encourage each of you to consider and actively pray to be granted at least one opportunity in life (before you get too old) to step off life's treadmill and wander off your usual path in a different direction for a while.  The experience for me has been so very rich in terms of rest, peace, health and gaining a fresh view of life and what I hope to accomplish with the time God has granted me on earth.  I have been heavily burdened with the concept of stewardship lately, and I am very eager to give God the best I have to offer to accomplish His will and intent for my life.  This investment in my own physical health I hope will enhance my ability to accomplish His purpose while being an encouragement and inspiration to others.

Here are the updated stats thus far:  I have now lost 129 pounds but still tipping the scales at 338.  Can't wait to break that 300 pound barrier and am so excited to be well past the half-way point of my weight-loss goal.  I have been to 40 of our country's 50 states with Hawaii, Nevada, Utah and 7 northeastern treasures left to explore.  I have been to 20 of 30 major league ballparks while attending 67 games and seeing 652 runs scored.   My top five favorites so far include Wrigley in Chicago,  Kauffman in Kansas City, Fenway in Boston, Coors in Denver and Miller Park in Milwaukee.  It is amazing the distinct flavor of each park, its fans and the metropolitan context in which it is found.  I had so much enjoyment sharing almost every game with a cherished friend either old or new.  That is one of the many things I appreciate about the game.  Its pace allows for some good fellowship and interaction.

Gosh, was it good to be home, though just for two days a couple weeks back. Thanks to my cousin Michelle and her groovy new hubby Fred for the timing of their wedding!  It was a great reunion with many of the loved ones from my mom's side of the family from Virginia and New Jersey.  We had a joyful celebration of LOVE and even got to burn off some calories while celebrating enthusiastically on the dance floor.  Being home allowed me to restock the RV with dietary powder and do a massive wardrobe conversion into smaller sizes.  My daily style is sweats and a T-shirt as I try to keep it simple and comfy.  I'm actually looking forward with much enthusiasm to shopping for some stylish diggs when I return late November in any store other than a BIG and TALL. 

After the brief retreat into familiarity and the comforts of home, it was time to hit the road again.  I was blessed and excited to be joined on the road with my good friend and pastor of Calvary Chapel Escondido, Pat Kenney.  We had lots of miles to cover on our way to Chicago and, of course, planned some baseball as part of the trip.  We got to see the Padres play in Phoenix the first night, then drove all the way to Denver the next day.  My good friends Yang and Alice Chen were out of town but generously entrusted us with their home, which was very relaxing and enjoyable.  The Denver visit was enhanced by the largest hail I have been pelted with in my life!  Fortunately, it did not reach the critical size of causing any damage to the vehicle but was like ice cubes!  Pat and I got to enjoy a wonderful and warm afternoon game at Coors between the struggling Rockies and surging Giants.  From there we had quite the drive through endless fields of corn as we drove through Nebraska and Iowa on our way to Chicago.  Pat grew up in Chicago and his mom and two of three siblings live in the area, so we had lots of his family to enjoy and visit.  His mom was a splendid host despite being in the midst of a very hectic move, and we had a great time with his brother Mike and sister Mary and their respective families.  We did a side trip up to Milwaukee for two games with our hometown heroes, the Padres, as they took on the Brewers in their brand new retractable roofed Miller Park.  What a beautiful place! 

Last Sunday night we experienced what so far has been the richest baseball moment of the trip.  As I have previously mentioned, the San Diego Padres through ticket Guru Kurt Varricchio, have arranged tickets for me all season for all of the hard-to-get games and ballparks, which is a majority of the games I have been to.   Arguably the biggest and longest rivalry in baseball is between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.  Both tremendous baseball towns with very loyal fan support. Well, this was a nationally televised Sunday night Classic between them, and it was the one game Kurt was unable to arrange tickets for.  Pat and I decided to resort to drastic measures.  Sure you can buy tickets from scalpers at ridiculously inflated prices, which as a back up I was prepared to do if needed.  Instead we decided to try a more basic human skill ... begging.   In hot, humid weather I put on my mask and held up signs we had just made out of cardboard and stood outside the exit to the subway stop at Wrigley Field.  The sweat was pouring and the stares from onlookers were glaring.  But after over an hour of near fainting under the mask conditions, a kind season ticket holder approached me and offered me two amazing tickets right above the third-base dugout.  I had to fight off scalpers who were eager to make big bucks from the resale of such prized seats.  With brains already boiling from the heat I had to restrain myself from resorting to hostile street tactics but came away with the tickets fight free!  Wrigley Field is quite the place.  With no ads, no jumbo TV screens or flashy scoreboards, and some very passionate and victory hungry fans, it's a true baseball oasis.  The atmosphere was electric, and we were surrounded by very friendly folk.  The couple from whom I got their two extra tickets were so kind and even bought me a Cub hat, which I wore with pride.  Next to us on the other side were four friends who had worked with WGN and invited us up to the WGN sky box during the game.  What "kids in the candy store" feelings that elicited.  Everyone was so nice and it was such a great game, Pat and I were in baseball nirvana!!!

Well after 10 rich days together, Pat flew back home yesterday.  I was honored to share such transparent and joy-filled days with a good friend and a servant of the Lord.   I have a feeling he may join me again for a playoff series somewhere.  In the next few weeks I will be fortunate to have my buddy Mike Grant who will get to see some great games with me in Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.  Then my friend and colleague Dr. Don Miller will be joining me for a few days.  He is a knowledgeable and true fan of the game.  Finally, Jeff Frank, columnist with the North County Times, will be joining me for a couple games in Cincinnati.  Then it will be family time again as I pick up my grandpa from Virginia and head north into Canada to see Toronto and Montreal. 

Chicago is a rich cultural place.  As a medical student in the bone-chilling winter of 1991, I worked for six weeks at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, a true national model of a clinic that is a church-based, faith ministry.  Under the direction of Dr. Art Jones, they are a splendid example of integrating faith and practice and doing so under some very difficult economic and social challenges in a multi-cultural neighborhood on the south side of the city.  Yesterday, I took a break from baseball and I had the privilege of going back for a visit and to say thank you to Dr. Jones for having been such a strategic role model to me during my impressionable medical student days.  His lifestyle and commitment had a profound influence on my life and choice of style of practice.   My theme quote of life, "Preach the gospel at all times and when it is necessary use words," he certainly lives out with all the rest of his hard-working staff.

Presently I am enjoying a visit with an old pal Harris Macris, who is a medical student in Bologna, Italy, but finishing up some independent study while living in Chicago with his wife Maria and their two precious children.  She is one week overdue with their third child, and I have offered to deliver the baby right here in the comfort of their own home.  They declined.

I miss home and especially my nieces Nicole (coli coli) and Sophia (sofula) and Josia (doughey).  Sofula turns 1 this Saturday, and I am sad not to be part of the celebrations.  Her mommy Heather, John's wife, has a brother under construction due to arrive as an air-breathing little guy in mid-November.  He will be the best welcome home incentive! 

Again I humbly thank those of you who pray and express your support through e-mail messages.  May you be blessed as you have blessed me.

THE BEST WAY TO KNOW GOD'S WILL IS TO SAY "I WILL" TO GOD.

Striving to be half the man I once was,

dr. Nick

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