Sunday, August 22, 2010


A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
--- Proverbs 16:28

Gossip: idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others

Now, we're not ones to go 'round spreadin' rumors,
Why, really we're just not the gossipy kind,
No, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip,
So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!

--- The Gossip Girls, Hee Haw

Gossip. We all like to do it. It's titillating and gives us a heady sense of power to talk about people. It's so easy to fall into gossip with justifications like "you should know this so you know how to pray for this person." Especially in the South, where you can say anything about anyone if you follow it with "bless his (or her) heart."

But gossip is damaging. Someone told me something recently that was about fourth or fifth hand, about me. Something hurtful. I'm trying to ignore it, because (1) it's been through so many people that I don't know if it's even accurate that the supposed source said it, (2) it was said so long ago that the supposed source may have had a change of heart, and (3) the person who told me what was said seems to have a personal agenda that appears to involve driving a wedge between me and the supposed source, under the guise of watching out for my interests.

The Bible is not the only source for condemnation of gossip. A simple Google search turned up several articles on the negative effects of gossip. Here are just a few: The effects of gossip at work, The effects of gossip at school, and how gossip can destroy friendships.

This experience has taught me first-hand about the dangers of gossip, even well-meaning gossip. Now that that little piece of unreliable information is lodged in my brain, it is trying to fester and cause all kinds of problems. I'm praying for the ability to ignore it, quarantine it, and not let it infect my relationship with the supposed source or any of the intermediaries.

This experience has given me the determination to keep a better guard on my own tongue, so that I don't spread gossip or hurtful rumors. You never know what damage it's going to cause.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My #1 Tip for Weight Loss

If you're like me, you struggle with your weight. These days, that word is weighty (pun most definitely intended) with connotations and implications that women didn't have to deal with in prior ages. There's "body image," "eating disorders," and even "political correctness" involved with the size of our bodies. I don't really want to get into all that now (it's a rant for another day). What I want to do is share the number one tip that has helped me shed unwanted pounds:

Find out what foods you're allergic to, and stop eating them.

Yes, it really is that simple on the surface. One of my doctors told me years ago that if I did this one thing, the weight would melt away. And you know what? He was right.

He tested me for all kinds of allergies, which in retrospect was probably not the Best Idea Ever. The one food to which I had the greatest reaction was wheat.

Last fall, I got serious about not eating wheat. No bread, pizza, pasta, desserts, even canned soups. You have to be careful, because wheat's in everything. Guess what? In 8 months, I'd lost 29 pounds. That's a little less than a pound a week, which is generally considered to be safe and healthy weight loss.

So if you are unhappy about the size of your body, go find a reputable allergist near you and get yourself tested for food allergies. Eliminate the one food that you have the worst reaction to, and let me know the result. It may not be easy, especially if you have an allergy addiction, but I promise you that you won't be sorry.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Beauty (Eat, Pray, Love Reaction Post #2)

“Beauty is simply Reality seen with the eyes of love.” – Evelyn Underhill

“Love beauty; it is the shadow of God on the universe.” -- Gabriela Mistral

Over the last couple of years, I have found myself drawn to idea of Beauty. I want to find simple beauty in the world around us. After all, we live in a wondrous world, so complex and finely detailed that despite our best efforts to pollute it, it remains beautiful.

The fact that I ended up as a lawyer has always been a bit bewildering to me. By nature I am an intuitive, artistic sort of person. The one thing I was always best at was music, much more so than science or logic, yet God led me to and through law school, retraining my brain in the process.

In the last 15 years of practicing law, all my illusions about concepts such as “fair play” and “justice” have been eroded away. I never meet my clients at a good point in their lives, especially now that I’ve begun to focus on bankruptcy. My job brings me face to face with pain, guilt, anger, heartache, betrayal, confusion, despair, indignation, and injustice. Every day. Every day I must reach into myself and pull out compassion, sympathy, and wisdom, and by the end of the day I am drained.

So I guess it’s no wonder that the long-suppressed artist in me craves beauty. Beauty is restorative. Nothing fills me with peace and contentment any more than sitting quietly in a beautiful place, preferably outside. Beauty combats unrest, and at least for me, always wins.

In the first section of Eat, Pray, Love, Liz Gilbert ponders why Italy has “produced the greatest artistic, political and scientific minds of the ages, but have still never become a major world power.”* Her conclusion is that Italy’s history is riddled with corruption of power, so that the people trust only what they can perceive with their senses. She says, “[i]n a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted.”

From a strictly human perspective (i.e., without any theological concerns), this makes a certain amount of sense. I would probably rephrase and expand that conclusion as follows: In a world full of the worst parts of human nature, sometimes only beauty reflects goodness.

The quote that I highlighted in my copy of Eat, Pray, Love, though is this one:

To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then can be a serious business – not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away into . . . rhetoric and plot.

Therefore, my desire to find or create beauty is a reaction to the ugliness of human nature. Not to escape from reality, because the reality is that we live on a cursed world, polluted by sin and evil, but to remind myself that what God created, He meant to be good.**

How do you cope with the erosion of confidence and hope caused by the stress of your daily life? How do you deal with the fact that people, as they say, are just no damn good? And where do you find beauty? How do you seek the hidden beauty in your own part of the world? I’d love to know.

* p. 114.

** The underlying assumption of that previous statement, that beauty equals goodness, must be the subject of a different dissertation. We all know that beauty does not equal goodness, that in fact beauty can mask great evil, but for purposes of this discussion, finding beauty reminds me of God’s goodness.