by Larry Hehn on August 3, 2015

timeA few nights ago my wife and I, looking for a break from a busy week, decided to crash on the sofa and watch a movie. After flipping through the Netflix directory for several minutes and failing to find anything that excited the two of us, we settled for the 1996 John Travolta/Christian Slater flick Broken Arrow.

As reviewer Don Kaye describes it, Broken Arrow “delivers a number of exciting action sequences but is let down by a credibility-straining plot.”

While it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (that distinction belongs to 1984’s Night Patrol), it was far from the best. As the credits started to roll I turned to my wife and said, “Well, that’s 109 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”

When it comes to time and what we do with it, I’ve determined we have three options:

  1. Waste it. When my time is “wasted”, it’s used up in pursuits that don’t generate anything of value for me or anyone else. Things like worrying. Mindless entertainment. Looking for ways to be offended. Plotting revenge. Posting angry rants. Reading angry rants. People magazine. Night Patrol.
  2. Spend it. When my time is “spent”, it’s used up in pursuits that may be worthwhile, may be necessary, but offer little long term impact on me or those around me. Things like sleeping. Eating. Making the bed. Mowing the lawn. Shaving. Ok, the necessity of shaving is debatable…
  3. Invest it. When my time is invested, it generates a return not just for myself, but for others. Things like praying. Visiting the sick and lonely. Making meals for those who don’t have the time or means. Learning a new skill with practical applications. Teaching someone a new skill. Offering sincere hope and encouragement. Seeking and pointing out the good. Mending fences. Seeking reconciliation. Choosing not to be offended.

The next 24 hours are going to go by anyway. With those three options before me, the hope for a positive legacy lies in how much I focus on category 3. What I do with my time is entirely up to me.

Who or what will you invest your time in today?

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

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Part of This Balanced Breakfast

by Larry Hehn on January 30, 2013

breakfastAs a youngster I remember seeing dozens of cereal commercials on TV. Some had to get pretty creative to make their product sound nutritious.

“They’re a source of food energy!” (So are sticks of deep-fried butter.)

“One ounce of ________ with four ounces of milk is a good source of protein.” (So is four ounces of milk.)

“A drug-free way to promote regularity.” (In other words, it helps you poop.)

But my all-time favorite was when the camera panned across a breakfast table laden with fruit, eggs, milk, grains, yogurt, and a tiny bowl of cereal. And we heard those five magic words, “Part of this balanced breakfast.”

Which was a clever way of saying, “Your breakfast will actually be nutritious if you eat all this other stuff along with our cereal.”

I think it was the same PR firm that came up with the idea of Al Gore having a “neutral carbon footprint”.

It’s like the old joke about two actuaries who go duck hunting. Both shoot at a duck that flies overhead. One’s shot misses 20 feet to the left. The other’s shot misses 20 feet to the right. They give each other high fives, because on average they shot it. (My brother-in-law works with actuaries. He loves that joke.)

There’s something not quite right about this whole “balanced” thing.

But we do it all the time, don’t we?

Not just with breakfast. With our overall behavior. Making up for – even justifying – our unhealthy habits by trying to do enough “good” stuff to balance things out. Always keeping score. Spinning plates.

It can be downright exhausting.

I don’t want a “balanced” breakfast. I want a healthy breakfast.

Maybe it’s time to lose the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs…

Dear Mister Language Person: I am curious about the expression, “Part of this complete breakfast.” The way it comes up is, my 5-year-old will be watching TV cartoon shows in the morning, and they’ll show a commercial for a children’s compressed  breakfast compound such as “Froot Loops” or “Lucky Charms”, and they always show it sitting on a table next to a some actual food such as eggs, and the announcer always says: “Part of this complete breakfast.” Don’t they really mean, “Adjacent to this  complete breakfast,” or “On the same table as this complete breakfast”? And couldn’t they make essentially the same claim if, instead of Froot Loops, they put a can of shaving cream there, or a dead bat?

A. Yes.

– Dave Barry
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
Where do you find yourself doing the “balancing” act?


Anusitis: A Real Pain in the…

by Larry Hehn on November 19, 2012

assThis is not something that usually comes up in conversation, but years ago I suffered from a very uncomfortable condition called anusitis.

Not sure what anusitis is?

In the words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me ‘splain.”

“No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

Anusitis is primarily diet-related. Eating certain foods can lead to irritation of the skin around your anal opening. That can cause pain, burning, itching and bleeding. It then results in a discharge that is extremely irritating to your anal skin.

It is – literally – a real pain in the…well, y’know.

Thankfully, I did find out that there are ways to get rid of anusitis:

  1. Remove things from your diet that tend to cause the irritation: coffee, garlic, pizza, Italian sauces, curry, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, cranberry juice, iced tea, apple juice, chocolate, nuts, popcorn, red meat, pork, strawberries, hot peppers, chilli, vinegar, black pepper and tomatoes. Ok, pretty much my entire diet. Not fun.
  2. Use a cold (yep, you keep it in the freezer) reusable suppository called Anurex. (My wife aptly referred to it as a “butt popsicle”.) Not fun.
  3. Eat lots of fiber and drink lots of water so your movements stay soft and regular. Not fun. But the toughest – and most important – one of all, was…
  4. Never scratch! Again, not fun.

Let me tell you, the itching was unbearable. Every ounce of my being screamed out to scratch. And believe me, nothing felt better than to scratch.

At first.

But long term, scratching only made things worse. As much as it felt right to scratch, it was the last thing I should have been doing. Scratching increased the irritation, which increased the discharge, which increased the irritation, which made me want to scratch even more…

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. – Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. – 1 John 2:16-17

So many things in life seem right. Feel right. At first. But they lead to death.

So many things in life don’t seem like much fun at the time. But they lead to life.

When you look at them with an eternal perspective, which path is the real pain in the…well, y’know?