Does that even matter?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough. We are all so busy today. Representing the thirty-something parent generation, I have fallen prey to the distractions of this life as much as the next guy. Sitting under the teaching of our wise pastor a few weeks ago, I was struck with a sobering truth. We live with a constant state of anxiety. We are always “on”. Always connected. We are flooded with little bits of information all day long. We rush from this to that, and are always doing our tasks in haste. We are constantly so concerned about the future that we miss so much of what is going on right now. We are literally spinning out of control…all in an effort to make things “better” for us and our kids. However, with everything that we do, it all begs the question, “Does that even really matter?”

Anyone who knows me realizes that I am likely the most guilty of this problem. I often struggle with just sitting and resting. My mind is in a constant state of productivity, and I very rarely slow down. I feel like there is always something that can be done, but I am learning that this is not necessarily a good thing. I use myself as an example because I want to encourage you on a real level. I get this issue. It is a real problem with our society today and I am a part of it. So what can we do about it? Here are some penny-valued thoughts…

This world needs hope. Our society is a mess. With the recent events in our country causing such division among us, it is gravely important to identify what we are spending our time doing. So what are you really doing? What is the motivation for your efforts? Friend, I’d like to take the opportunity of the time that you’re reading this to challenge you. The hope that this world needs can only be found in one person…Jesus Christ. If this bothers you, please feel free to stop reading. But if you can spare a moment, I’d like to twist your arm. Don’t worry, you’ll be ok. I’m not that strong.:)

I’ve spoken to a good number of people since our country’s recent election. Many people have expressed the same thing…fear. They are worried about where our country is headed. Worried about the economy. Worried about their retirement. Worried about their freedoms. Well folks, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t as well, but then I have to ask myself, “Why?” What if the “worst case scenario” were to happen and I were stripped of everything I have? What would I do? Its then I am reminded that there are people who live like that EVERYDAY. We’ve unfortunately become so occustomed to our comfort, that we couldn’t bare the thought of living with less. That’s a problem. Despite all of this, I am also reminded that there is something so much greater than ALL of these issues. Jesus!! I could spend all day sitting and worrying about what may or may not happen, or I can rest in the peace that He gives me! Better yet, I can make use of the time I have RIGHT NOW to encourage other people to do the same! He has this world completely under control. He said it clearly in His word in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have many troubles. But take heart. I have overcome this world.” What a wonderful promise!! Those words alone are enough to strengthen my day, and help me to realize that all this “stuff” really doesn’t matter. All these things I get myself busy doing are useless, unless they are done to edify others and amplify Christ. So let that be a challenge to you today. Take a look at what you are doing and evaluate the reason you are doing it. Remember Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I think in times like these, we need to stop and simply be thankful for what God has given us. He didn’t have to give us what we have. In fact, we forget that the world He created will go on without us. Its by His grace we are even given another day. What a gift! Now, there is nothing wrong with working hard and pursuing a better life for yourself. In fact, it is a wonderful part of of our human resolve. But if things changed and we suddenly had to live with much less than what we have, would it really change who we are? Not at all. We would still have the promise that God gives us through His son. Let that be enough to change your thinking. Stop fretting. Stop thinking so much about your life that you waste it. Get busy, but do so by loving others. Serve others. Go on a mission trip. Sponsor an orphan child. Support a local ministry. Buy someone else’s groceries. Volunteer. Step out of your comfort zone and see that there are people who live everyday like what you are so worried about happening to you. Friend, you woke up today. God has given you another chance to experience His love. Go! Show others what the love of God really means. Tell others about Jesus. That’s what we’re called to do! That’s what really matters!!

The paradox of philanthropy

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

I love to see how God works in people’s lives. I love to see people find their God-given talents and then use them to strengthen and grow God’s kingdom. If we are to be worthy stewards of what we’ve been given, we should do our very best to use it! There is a wonderful feeling of contentment that occurs when we think outside of our own little world, and focus on exonerating and helping others, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. That’s true philanthropy. There is a point however, that we need to be careful to not go past, and that’s celebrating our efforts.

The human condition has the desire for belonging. We all want to feel important and needed. The paradox in giving or serving is that it can easily become more about us than who we’re giving to. We want to have approval from other people that we’re doing the right thing, and that our efforts are “making a difference”. The Bible teaches clearly against this, however. Philippians 2:3 states to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Matthew 6:1 also says, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” When you serve others, it takes effort. It takes time and energy. It requires forgetting about yourself for a minute and focusing on someone else. In our ever-increasingly isolated society, that can be difficult. Even when we have the opportunity to serve or give, we can be quick to trumpet those efforts to the people around us, perhaps to feel good about what we’re doing. Interestingly though, it never gives us a true feeling of contentment, just the itching to seek more approval.

God designed us to serve…to serve Him and to serve others. Let’s put our best effort forth and do it, but let God get the glory. We need to be letting His light shine as our best attribute. God will fill our hearts with contentment if we seek His purpose in serving others. There is a great song from the mid 80s by Petra that says, “I don’t want to be a man pleaser, I want to be a God pleaser.” So true. The reward that God has for us in our efforts will far outshine anything other people can give us. So go. Serve. Give. Do what He’s called you to do. Do it humbly. Do it to better the other person. Be happy with the effort and not the applause. Imagine how many happier people there could be if we all truly focused on each other!

The (mis)information age

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Picture this: you’re sitting at a restaurant waiting on your table. You get into a discussion about any given subject and someone asks a question you can’t answer off the top of your head. You Google, you check your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest, your email, your favorite blogs, and on and on. You are flooded with all kinds of information, and all at once. If you are ever wondering about something, you are a click away from an answer. Or are you?

The internet has changed the way we learn and communicate. The beauty of our society is we are all free to live however we want, but a big problem with that is we tend to develop a million different ideals and answers to our problems. Everyone has a different idea of how to do something…and often use the internet to disperse that information. So what is legit? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. However, there are ways to validate the information you are reading. Check the source. See where the information is coming from. See what organization is behind the information. See if the information is “conveniently” packaged with a product for sale. Also realize that there is no hard fast rule for everything. Even scientific studies are flawed and weighted in some way, shape, or form. Its easy to come across a study and implies a result, but often its more suggestive than absolute. Here is a good cartoon on the subject:

Many times a study will have a conclusion, but that conclusion is subject to many other things. So instead of stating an absolute truth, it merely correlates a suggestion to consider and apply. We need to be careful about trusting it blindly though. The trouble starts when someone reads something and adopts it as fact without challenging it first. True understanding comes from digging deeper. I tend to trust sources with proven track records and not ones trying to sell something.

I love to learn and I love the fact that I will always have something to learn. Knowledge is fluid and is always changing. It is an amazing blessing to have such quick access to information at any moment, but we need to be careful and sift through it to find the truth. Be a skeptic. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t believe everything you hear, especially on TV or the internet. Weigh what you learn against multiple sources. Use your head and see if what you read makes sense. Always be a learner and realize you will never learn it all. Embrace that and you will love the process!

Why all the ranting?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I realize I rant a lot about nutrition. I know I’ve probably offended a few people through it, but I have come to learn that it is the most controllable and critical aspect of our vitality and quality of life. Eat bad, and you feel bad. Eat well, and you feel well. Moreover, I feel that taking taking care of your body is a responsibility that the Creator demands of us. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The foundation of our bodily temple is our nutrition. It may sound harsh, but I feel that it is very irresponsible behavior to not learn all we can about what we do to our bodies, especially when it comes to food. Interestingly, I think the area of nutrition today is the most misunderstood subject, mainly due to two things. Pharmaceutical bottom lines and personal convenience. Let me expound.

Turn on any TV or open any newspaper, and you are destined to find a pharmaceutical ad. Overweight? Don’t put any effort forth, just take this pill (or have this surgery then take this pill). Depressed? Take this pill. Diabetic? Take this pill. High cholesterol? Yep. Another pill. Give me a break! Why do you think we are all so sick that we need pills to fix our problems? We’ve done it to ourselves. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and eating poorly doesn’t necessarily cause a bunch of problems right away. We are able to adapt to many changes, whether they are good or bad. But over the last 30-40 years, there has been a steady decline in health, an increase in processed foods, and an exploding pharmaceutical market. Coincidence? Not at all. The same reason that companies are creating drugs to fix our problems, and make a killer profit, is the reason we are all so unhealthy and in need of a fix. We don’t respect our bodies enough to care. We just want to do what feels good to us, and if anything bad ever happens, we want the quick fix. That’s never the answer to anything, especially when it comes to health.

We have more diabetes, obesity, and metabolic disorders today than at any other point in history. Even though we have done it to ourselves, we can change it! But it takes effort. Effort in learning about your body, effort in making changes to your diet, and effort in getting up and moving! I hear so many people using the excuse that “I don’t know what to eat because the advice is always changing”. While that is true, you have to understand the source of the advice. There is a money trail behind almost everything. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not vilifying pharmaceutical companies. Being in my profession, I fully understand the importance of medications when there is a distinct problem with our bodies. Even while being wonderfully made, some of us have bodies that can fail us. Some of us are born with problems. Some of us develop sicknesses that are unavoidable. However, when it comes to our health, so many problems can be changed with our diet, because they are caused by our diet! Take charge and make the changes! While there is no universal diet plan for everyone, some things are very universal. Stop eating sugar. Stop eating processed foods. Start eating real food and not fast food. Stop sitting around and start exercising. Use common sense…and respect yourself! You are a beautiful creation!

Sorry if this hits a nerve, but it is very important. I feel very passionate about encouraging people to change their lives. I did. I was an overweight and lazy teenager, and paid a price for it. Because of it, I have become dedicated to learning all I can about how to take care of myself, and you can too! Respecting your temple is as important as any other effort in this life. Get on it!!

The silent killer

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

There is an epidemic in our society. It is everywhere, and it is taking us all prisoner. So many of us think we can’t do without it. Some think they truly need it. It seems harmless, but in truth, it is a monster. What is it? Sugar. Its making us fat. Its causing our diabetes, growing our cancers, and generally messing up our bodies. Yeah, its that bad.

I’ve rambled on here about sugar before, but the more information I read and learn about the biology of our bodies, the more I realize just how bad this stuff is. But why? Well, if you have some time, please watch the attached video here below. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Since it is so bad, then why do we keep eating it? Why do we like it so much? Because it is nothing less than a drug. It triggers the pleasure centers of your brain and causes a spike in energy. But then you crash. And then you do it all over again. You become addicted. Its in tons of our food, especially processed foods. What’s worse is we are told by conventional wisdom and nutrition “experts” to eat low fat foods, but the fat is replaced with sugar. We’ve got it all wrong. We give it to our kids in our convenient foods, even baby formula. So no wonder we have a hard time moving away from it. We are programmed to want it from almost day one! Now, being someone who ate plenty of the sweet stuff for years, I can tell you that dropping it is not simple. You will have to detox from it and like any drug, you will have withdrawal. But once you drop it, I promise you will feel so much better…better than you imagined you could feel. Two great resources and plans can be found Here and Here. I highly recommend you pick up one or both of these books. You owe it to yourself. Give it a try…I promise you won’t be sorry!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM&w=640&h=360]

Know what you eat!

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) or genetically altered foods are everywhere today because of the push for more abundamt crops and bottom lines for big agricultural companies. Not good. Not good at all. They are also rarely known about, often being hidden in many of the foods we eat. Folks, what you eat DIRECTLY affects your life. The interesting part is that our bodies are beautifully made and can often compensate for a lot of the junk we put in them. However, at some point, the effect will be known. Seems harmless to say “just a little of this” or “just a bite of that” or “everything in moderation”. Not true. We need to know what we are eating. Is it food? What’s in it? What would it do to me? Please don’t be lured by advertisements, convenience, and savings. Your body and your well-being truly depend on it!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnntmIWl5Xw&w=640&h=360]

New Voiceover Demos!

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Hey everyone! I’m really excited to have some voiceover demos up on the site now! Just go to the “Audio Demos” page and have a listen. Hopefully the samples will give you an idea of what I can offer, and perhaps it will be what you are looking for! I hope to be adding some more denos in the future, as ideas come along. Thanks so much for listening, and be sure to contact me if you are interested! I can be reached right here on the “About Brandon” page or via Facebook or Twitter on the links to the right. Have a great day!

Fluoride: friend or foe?

Written by admin. Posted in Uncategorized

Ok, now for one from the dental world. A very hot topic that has come to the forefront of dental discussions is the debate about fluoride, and the potential dangers associated with it. I get asked about it every single day in my office. For many decades now, there has been the advice of using fluoride to help strengthen enamel against the sugars, acids, etc. in our diet. Fluoride has a strong affinity for calcium, so as in the case of tooth enamel, which is predominantly calcium, it helps to “harden” the surface, making it less penetrable to acids and decay. It has also been heavily researched, defended and proven to be a solution for repairing and defending against the effects of a diet heavy in processed sugars, which is unfortunately what our society has today. Therein lies the major issue. Let me explain.

As a follower of a primal/paleo diet and lifestyle, I personally am against the processed junk all around that our society calls “food”, especially high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I also am a proponent of overall chemical free healthy living, and along with that, I know that fluoride is debated to be among those chemicals. Many people have come to the conclusion that fluoride is potentially dangerous for our bodies, and I agree in part. Ingesting regular amounts of fluoride has been found to have a potential tie-in with multiple metabolic and physical issues due to its affinity for calcium, and that can be cited by a quick search of the internet. While I always caution people to not form opinions based on Google searches, one can see that there many potential dangers of over-ingestion of fluoride. In fact, I am actually NOT a fan of fluoridating our city water supplies for this very reason. I am, however, a fan of applying fluoride to the surface of the teeth, whether personally in toothpaste or professionally with fluoride treatments. Why? Simple. Many of us, especially our kids, have a diet very heavy in carbohydrates and sugars. Big business bottom lines and personal convenience have led us into a trap of eating virtually everything from a bag or box, and HFCS is everywhere. Many studies have been conducted to compare the difference in tooth decay and gum disease between cultures with processed food diets and ones with no processed foods. Big difference. When there is the presence of processed sugar, there will be the high risk of decay. With no processed sugars, little to no decay. Pretty easy concept.

So to counteract this processed diet, we need a solution to help repair and defend the enamel of our teeth, and that is fluoride. That doesn’t mean to drink it though. While there have been defenses stating it can help make teeth stronger as they are developing, once they form, ingesting fluoride no longer has a positive effect. It only has a positive effect on the enamel when it is applied topically. That’s mainly due to the fact of the known damages of sugar and acid on enamel, and the remineralizing effects of fluoride. Along those lines, many patients have been concerned because they have reverse osmosis filters in their homes, which remove fluoride. No big deal there. In fact, I think its ok to take it out of the water, but please don’t be afraid of your toothpaste. If you are a purist and want to use toothpaste products with no fluoride, that is fine, but also make sure you have NO sugars or processed foods in your diet! Otherwise, you may want to keep using the fluoride toothpaste. Granted, there are those who are genetically blessed with strong teeth, and even though they barely take care of themselves and they eat nothing but junk, somehow their teeth stay healthy. At least so far. My advice is to not push your luck though. That’s a rare blessing. Everyone else is subject to damage, that is unless you can have a sugarless diet, which by the way, is entirely possible. (You may want to read my earlier post “Put down the candy”)

So let’s not condemn fluoride. Let’s control the delivery of it, and not overdo it. Ultimately, you are in control of your own body and you make your own decisions. Inform yourself and make the call. As for me, I will always use fluoride even though I rarely have any sugar in my diet. I’ll drink my filtered water, but I’ll stick to the fluoride toothpaste. Its too risky in our society to remove it totally. I have seen too much in the dental chair to convince me otherwise. Just my two cents.

Driven

Written by admin. Posted in Uncategorized

I was reading an article in Men’s Health (not a huge fan of the magazine, it just came free with my Runner’s World subscription :)), and the author was writing about his battle with gratitude. Sounds interesting in itself. He stated that he was a very driven person, and driven people are programmed to not likely be grateful because they are always pushing for something greater. “Gratefulness implies complacency, and complacency is the sworn enemy of ambition.” Oh my. Fortunately, the article didn’t end with that definitive thought, yet it caused me to pause and think for a moment. Have I been guilty of that? Has my drive and pursuit to be the best I can be caused me to be ungrateful in any way? Do I push myself so hard that I completely miss what God is trying to give me? In a word, probably.

Our western society is formed on ambition. We strive every day to not only provide for oursleves and our families, but to learn and grow and become better at whatever we do. This is wonderful in itself, and it has allowed us to have the opportunities we have as a nation. However, it is a potential trap that can lead to destruction if not kept in check. By humility. If we aren’t careful, our ambition takes control of us, and we lose sight of the fact that we are ultimately not in control. That is, until something happens that changes your mind.

I’ve often fallen prisoner to ambition in my life. I’ve always felt an overarching feeling of self-reliance when it comes to getting something accomplished. I never liked group work in school. I didn’t play well with others. I liked to complete tasks alone and would relentlessly push myself to make them perfect. Looking back, I think there was some good in all of that because it helped me to develop a work ethic that would help me achieve things in life. However, it also often caused times of stress and needless tension when things didn’t go just right, or at least the way I had planned. I know there were also many times of too much self-reliance, causing me to forget about the One who created me to be begin with. The One who allowed me to even have the opportunity to do what I was doing. I can see that I did not have the grateful heart that I shoud have had. I was so clouded by ambition and focus, that I forgot to look for the direction being offered to me.

Is that you? Are you a prisoner to ambition? Do you focus so hard on your goals that you forget to let God lead, even in the small details of everyday life? Do you find yourslef pushing and shoving to get your way to the top? How does it feel when you get there?

Let’s all take a breather. Let’s take a moment to look back just a bit and see what has gone well in our lives, and what hasn’t. Let’s re-evaluate our goal setting to where we don’t become so focused that we forget how to be thankful for what we have. Today is a gift, and it would be a shame to waste it because we’re so focused on tomorrow. Let’s not let ourselves be so driven, that we neglect the One that wants to help us steer the car. Let’s take a moment to be grateful…before we burn out.

A beautiful heart

Written by admin. Posted in Uncategorized

One thing in life you learn to expect is the unexpected. We can be living our days as planned and then something out of blue comes and takes us by surprise. Often, these are exciting moments…the news of a child coming, a promotion at work, a friend coming to visit…many things that put a smile on our faces. Then there are those other moments…the not so exciting ones. In fact, some moments happen that make no earthly sense at all. But perhaps they do if we look deeper.

Six years ago, we had the blessing of welcoming a little spit-fire Guatemalan baby boy into our home. To say that he has changed our lives is a huge understatement. One aspect of our journey with him is that we have become friends with some of the greatest people we’ve ever known, and who have been on the same adoption journey as we have. My wife quickly bonded with the other mothers and lovingly refers to them as “doers”. If something needs done, they will do it. I can say the same about the dads. These people just have a heart to serve and put others above themselves…a true example of Christian love. One particular family quickly became close to us, and we found our morals, personalities, and opinions about life to be so very similar. This family has made a distinct impression on us however, because they deal with a lot of adversity, yet always have a spirit of joy and servitude. I struck a chord (literally) with the father, Jeremy, and truly would enjoy times we would have together, always learning from him. We would just sit, drink coffee, and talk about life. We both loved music and Jesus. We both loved our families. What impacted me the most was his peaceful countenace. You see, Jeremy had struggles. While he was a gifted leader in his career, being a nurse and director of a local heart hospital and helping others in their medical issues, he had physical struggles of his own. But you would never hear about it. He had battled multiple sclerosis for years, even though he was just in his early thirties. However, he was always more concerned with those around him. That’s just the way it was. A few years ago, things started to change medically and symptomatically for him, and it caused him to live life a little differently. Earlier this year, Jeremy decided to start living more courageously. He had always loved motorcycles, and one day, he just up and bought one. We all thought he had gone crazy, but he knew that at some point in his life, he wouldn’t be able to ride one, so while he had the chance, he was going to do it. Made perfect sense. He loved that bike and would ride it whenever he had the opportunity. One night, however, a simple bike ride to get dinner for his family turned out to be his last. He was taken to Heaven in an instant when he struck another vehicle. Time seemed to stop.

To know Jeremy was to know a man extremely dedicated to God and to his family. He grew up in a very conservative Christian home and that established an uncompromising attitude toward life. He loved his wife Sandy. He loved his four children. He loved his career. He loved caring for people. His greatest fear however was that his MS would take such a toll on him that he would be a burden to his family. You see, he was a provider and protector. He wanted to make sure his family was going to be cared for. But he realized that his illness was a reality and that it would eventually take its toll, so they started planning for it. They also started doing more things together as a family. They started gripping life by the tail and running with it. In fact, just one week before he passed, they spent a week at Disney World enjoying each other and celebrating life. He lived bravely, not safely.

Its interesting that an individual who had dedicated his career to helping the hearts of others, had the biggest, most beautiful heart of all. He stood strong in his faith, yet humbled himself to others as a servant. Often times as a society, we get so obsessed with mindless details that we miss the beauty of life. Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to kick us upside the head and refocus us. With the passing of this dear friend, I can tell you this. I will never again obsess about the trivial. I will recognize each day as a true blessing that God has given me. He has blessed each of us beyond what we deserve and we need to ALWAYS have a grateful attitude for it. We also need to jump into life and be brave. While that doesn’t justify silly behavior, it does call us to be confident in what we do and trust that our steps are ordered. It also calls us to help those around us. Its so easy in this me-oriented society to be isolated and independent. But that’s not how God has called us to live. He wants us to invest in each other, lifting each other up. Carry someone else’s burden for a little while, and you’ll suddenly feel your burdens don’t weigh that much. That’s how Jeremy lived his life, and while we mourn his loss to all of us, especially his dear family, we rejoice in knowing that his Christ- centered life and attitude has allowed him to literally be at the feet of Jesus now. No doubt about it. His house was in order. He is rejoicing in eternity and is without any more struggles. And for us, he has shown us how to live, and to walk along with each other until we see him again.

So go. Live your life to the fullest. Be brave. Invest in your family. Invest in your friends. Be a light to the world and let God make your heart beautiful. I’m so thankful that I had the chance to see what a beautiful heart looks like. Jeremy, thank you for the life you lived. You can know that your family will be alright because we’ll make sure of it. We’ll see you soon, friend. Do us a favor though, and save a seat for us at the table.