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Archive for January, 2017

You Are What You Eat

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Chicken Zoodle “Lo Mein”

One of my personal goals this year is to do a better job of taking care of myself.  I am slowly starting to realize that I am no longer a 23 year old man who can stay up late, eat ice cream and Doritos for dinner, and sit like a couch potato watching 4 episodes of Blue Bloods instead of going for a bike ride.  For way too long I have followed the following principles when it comes to exercise:

  • “Whenever I feel like exercising, I lie down until the feeling passes.”
  • “I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats.  I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercise.”
  • “I really don’t think I need buns of steel.   I’d be happier with buns of cinnamon.”

One of the specific areas Brenda and I are focusing on is our diet.  As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, Garbage out.”  A couple months ago I had my annual physical and I felt like this man as he was responding to the doctor’s question, “How well are you taking care of yourself?”

eating-healthy

One of the things we are discovering is that eating healthy usually takes more time in preparation and in clean up.  I’m sure this is why most parents who are caring for a child with special needs or struggling with a potentially life threatening disease don’t eat that healthy.  There just isn’t enough time in the day.  After dressing, feeding, medicating, driving, holding, disciplining, fighting, diapering, crying, laughing, and putting to bed there is very little time to answer the questions, “What are we having for dinner tonight?”  All too often it is another order of  Gong Bao Chicken that should be ready for pick up in “a couple five minutes.”

We all know that the better we eat the better we feel.  One article I read listed the following five benefits:

  1. It helps control our weight by  improving our cardiovascular health, boosting our immune system, and increasing our energy level.
  2. It improves our mood.  How often have you felt horrible and moody and mean only to realize you haven’t eaten that day.
  3. It helps us fight illness and disease.  There is a clear connection between the food we eat and heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  4. It boosts our energy.  We all know the lethargic feeling we get when we eat certain foods.  Choosing more healthy foods empowers us to be the best we can be.
  5. It increases and improves our longevity.  Studies have shown that a diet that includes fruits and vegetables, in combination with exercise improves quality of life and longevity.

To help you in your personal quest to eat better I am going to include a couple links to some of the recipes we have been trying.  Hopefully this will encourage you to try a few new recipes and you will begin to experience some of the benefits listed above.  I may also try to include a recipe or two near the end of some of my future blogs.

Shrimp Stew with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes & Cilantro: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/quick-shrimp-stew-coconut-milk.aspx (I cut the shrimp down to 1 pound.  If you want to replace the rice we often use riced cauliflower.  It is delicious.   Here is a link if you want to learn how to do this:  http://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-cauliflower-rice/ (I only sauté the cauliflower for 2-3 minutes.  This leaves it a bit more crunchy.)

CHICKEN ZOODLE “LO MEIN” FOR TWO: http://www.skinnytaste.com/chicken-zoodle-lo-mein-for-two/ (This recipe will require you purchase a vegetable spiralizer.  instead of using pasta this recipe uses spirialized zucchini.  The hardest part of this recipe is the preparation.  Turn it into a family activity.  We prepared it last night as you can see in the picture above.)

Bon appetit! or as they say in Poland, Smacznego!

Chef Warren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

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How would you like to experience the following?

  • Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
  • Greater optimism and happiness
  • Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Heightened energy levels
  • Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure
  • Improved emotional and academic intelligence
  • Expanded capacity for forgiveness
  • Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches
  • Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
  • Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves

According to Randy Kamen, a psychologist, educator and author, these are the natural result of discovering the “Transformative Power of Gratitude.” She writes,

As you cultivate your “gratitude quotient” the focus can shift from what is lacking in life to the abundance that already exists. It is a matter of retraining the brain to see all the wonder and possibility that lays before us each day.

Brenda and I certainly found this to be true over the thirteen years we cared for David. There were days so long and so hard we didn’t think we could make it through.  But in those dark and lonely times we would stop and practice the art of looking for something to be grateful for.  “Thank you God that the aid was on time.”  Thank you for the warmth of David’s hand on my elbow.”  “Thank you for the three hours the Yankee game will keep David happy.”  Thank you for a friend spending the night with Dan.”  Almost without fail it would cause us to look up and over the events of the day and be reminded that there is still an abundance of love, goodness, and possibility available to be tapped into.  It reminded us that God had not abandoned us and still loved us.

To be honest I have become lazy in the area of expressing my gratitude for the many relationships and things I have been blessed with. A couple weeks ago Kate sent me a TED talk called Nature . Beauty . Gratitude that reminded me of the power and privilege of stopping every day to practice the art of being thankful.  The following is a brief quote from an elderly man who was featured in the talk.

You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

For the past two weeks I have been practicing and increasing my “Gratitude Quotient.” Here are a few things I am thankful for today:

  1. Brenda; she loves me even when sometimes I am a little unlovable
  2. Ezra’s and Levi’s laughter; it’s contagious and reminds me I need to laugh more
  3. That out of brokenness beauty is possible
  4. Madame Secretary on Netflix: Sometimes I just need to disconnect
  5. Grilled salmon basted in Szechuan sauce cooked by my brother-in-law
  6. Green Bay Packers! Look out Falcons!
  7. The beauty of a sunset and how it declares the beauty and power of God
  8. When someone loves me enough to forgive me
  9. Kate, Rory, Sarah and Morgan- four wonderful women who drive the mission of David’s Refuge
  10. My ceiling fan when my office gets too hot

Today is a new day.  I hope no matter what challenge or brokenness or joy has entered your life today that you would stop, open your eyes, and look for something you can give thanks for.  What are you thankful for today?

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Six years ago Brenda and I bought a pound of bacon, a dozen eggs, some fresh fruit and a gift certificate to a local restaurant to prepare for our first guests at David’s Refuge.  We were filled with a mixture of apprehension, excitement, fear, and wonder.  Would parents come?  Would we accomplish our mission of “Caring for the Caregiver?”  Would this one weekend really make a difference in the lives of these weary caregivers?  Six years later with 279 families served, 475 weekend getaways provided, and with a goal of serving 250 families in 2017 the answer to these questions and many more are answered with an astounding YES!  From our loss of David and the belief that God could bring good from this loss David’s Refuge was given birth.

The question, “Can one weekend really make a difference?” is still often asked.  I wished I had space and time to tell you story after story of lives that are being changed, marriages that are being strengthened, and parents who leave believing that what they do matters, that they are loved by God and others, and that they are not alone.  Here are three short snippets of the impact David’s Refuge is having:

“Words can’t even describe how thankful we are that you started such an amazing organization such as David’s Refuge. I think as parents of our kids, it is so easy to lose sight of us and pour all our energy and attention into them.  But, you have brought that sight back to us.  We have remembered this weekend why we fell in love and why we chose each other to share our lives together.  You have shown us how important it is to take time out for ourselves, you have re-energized us as a couple.  For that, we thank you!  You are truly amazing people and are doing a truly amazing thing for couples like us!  We needed this!”

“Thank you for another incredible weekend! It gave us a chance to take a breath and just be together…to hold hands, to laugh, to simply look at each other and remember why we fell in love nearly 10 years ago.  We leave today not knowing where our journey with Hugo will take us, but knowing that we will always travel that journey together.  Over the last four years David’s Refuge has become a beacon of hope, love, understanding and belonging.  We are truly blessed.”

“Sigh, another peaceful weekend has passed reminding us of how important it is to care for the caregivers. Thank you for all that you and your team do to invest in the success of our relationships and the lives of our children.  We pray for the growth and success of this ministry so that it can bless many more lives!  We love getting to meet other families who walk similar but very different paths all out of love for another.  Here we go back into the fray ready to move mountains and work miracles because that’s just what you do for fabulous kids like ours especially when we have fabulous people like you rooting for our success.”

As I read these stories and many more I am quickly filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the hundreds of people who have helped us accomplish our mission.  From our incredible staff, our prestigious Board of Directors, our generous donors, and our selfless volunteers we are moving mountains and breathing hope into the families we serve.  If you are one of these amazing people I want to simply say thank you!

Often people ask me, “What can I do to help David’s Refuge?”  If you live in the Syracuse area let me give you one practical idea.  On February 15th Brenda and I will be attending the Syracuse Auto Dealers Association (SADA) Charity Preview, one of the premier charity events of the year held at the Oncenter.  We would love to invite you to join us.  100% of your ticket cost will be donated to David’s Refuge.  You get to hang out with us and our team, get a peek at some of the new and beautiful cars, and enjoy some incredible food and drink.  If you are interested you can get more information at SADA: David’s Refuge.   Hope to see many of you there!

 

 

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Wednesday With Warren

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Every Tuesday I sit down at my computer and ask myself the question, “What should I write about this week?”  Often I have been chewing or ruminating on a thought all week like a cow chewing its cud and I know exactly what I want to share.  Unfortunately, there are also some weeks that I shut the door to my office, turn the computer on, and pray that some creative idea pops out of my head and onto the monitor.  Over the past five months I have written about: Fear, Christmas, My family, My boys, My Incredible wife, Being Still, You are not Alone, God’s Extravagant Love, David: “The Man Behind the Mission”, Thankfulness, Encouragement, Brokenness and Beauty, Being a Difference Maker, Siblings, David’s Refuge, You are a Masterpiece, Getting the Diagnosis, Finn Schafran (he still needs our prayers!!!!), Transitions, and Stress.  Many times as I wrote I found myself stepping back into the pain and anxiety of being a caregiver, tears flowing as I remembered our incredible journey with David.  It has been a very healing process for me.

Today I am writing asking for your input and help.  I have 52 “Wednesdays with Warren” in 2017 that I want to be informative, motivating, helpful, and fun.  I would love to hear what you would like me to write about.  Would you take just a minute to share with me your thoughts and ideas?  You can type your ideas in the “Leave a Reply” box near the bottom of the page or a comment on Facebook.    I look forward to hopefully hearing from many of you.  When I started this blog titled “You’re Not Alone!” in  October of 2011, I wrote, “You’re Not Alone! is simply a place to grab the hand of someone next to you to be encouraged or to be an encouragement to someone else.”  Your ideas and suggestions will help me be an encouragement to many.  Happy 2017!

 

 

 

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