Monday, July 28, 2008

How I lost 20 pounds (10 kilos?) in 90 days and you can too!

The observant American would notice 2 things upon their arrival to Croatia (and the same is certainly true in other eastern European countries if not the rest of the world). 1. People are generally thinner here and 2. There are far fewer McDonald’s and virtually no other fast-food joints in the country. The two are related.

A year ago I came back to Croatia after an extended stay in the States. I was aware of the fact that I wouldn’t get things like Dunkin Donuts coffee or my supersize chicken McNugget meal when I got here so I stocked up before I left. I’ve never been a huge weight watcher, so I didn’t really keep track of what I gained. But I did weigh myself before leaving America and remember being surprised.

Three months after being back in Croatia I weighed myself again. Due to having more free time I had been walking more, so I figured I would have lost some weight. Much to my surprise I found that I had lost 20 pounds without even trying! In fact I still ate things like chips, popcorn and ice-cream quite regularly. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until they showed Supersize Me here on Croatian TV.

After viewing the documentary I immediately realized what had happened. I had been weaned off of the fast food I had been eating around 2 or 3 times a week and it had taken the pounds right off. Obviously the walking had something to do with it too, but people here generally walk more than they do in America, so I really wasn’t doing anything different than the average Croatian citizen.

It just goes to show that when you move to another culture some things are bound to change. Often the changes can be healthy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Common Word

Barack Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe has been in the headlines, but there is something else going on that has perhaps even more significant global ramifications than Obama's foreign policy. The Yale Center for Faith and Culture is hosting a conference called 'Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed' - a continuation of an ongoing dialogue between Muslims and Christians. 'A Common Word' has as its basis the understanding that Christians and Muslims do indeed have a lot in common - including love for God and neighbor. Leaders from both groups are working to promote the commonalities in an effort to 'reorient Muslim-Christian relations away from a “clash of civilizations.”'.

You can find out more about the conference at:

Or "A Common Word" at:

Or John Piper's critical reaction at:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Culture Shock

Ever since I was named the TIME person of the year two years ago I've been debating whether or not to grab my piece of the weblog pie. Now's the time. And as I begin blogging, my wife kindly reminds me that no one out there cares to read what's on my mind. She makes a good point - especially considering I often vent in order to rid my own mind of my thoughts. On the other hand, I've found that others have managed to spurt out profound little nuggets of truth that are produced by their admittedly normal lives. Maybe I can do the same.

Since my wife and I moved to Croatia I have often been asked if I experienced culture shock. I usually tell them no and then go on to explain that my wife is Croatian and I visited Croatia a few times before we moved so it made the transition easier. But the fact is, I'm going through culture shock every day.

They don't put ice in the drinks here in Croatia. The draft will kill you and they love their beer and their soccer. They're worse than Boston during the Big Dig when you're on the road (although their tunnels stay together). But they're genuine. They'll give you a 5 course snack and wonder why you can't finish the dessert. They'll offer to let you stay in their house for a year if you need to, even if you're not family.

And you know what? I'm married. That's culture shock. I married a woman who had very few of the characteristics I envisioned of an ideal wife when I was 20. And I still look back and think it's amazing we hit it off. But I love her more now than I ever have. She's passionate about a lot of things but none more than her faith and our family. God has blessed us with a child who will soon change our life even more.

I am a follower of Christ. As Paul notes we often do what we shouldn't and don't do what we should. I've noticed this habit in my own life and in the life of the church. Sometimes observing myself and other believers in light of how Christ lived can be shocking.

So I'm going to write about the everyday culture shock I go through. It'll include politics, music, the Cubs, and the used car salesman I still need to vent about. It'll also include my deep desire to fall in love with Jesus and the ministry that has resulted from that longing. It's my life, but one that couldn't be growing, developing and maturing without the amazing influence of others. So here's my piece of the pie. Please enjoy it with me.