The Sacrifices We Make (Diet for Dreamers)

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“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.” (J M Barrie, Peter Pan)

When we devised the title of this series, our thoughts ran along these lines: to accomplish anything in life, we need proper nutrition, and to achieve certain goals we need certain foods. A bodybuilder needs extra protein, a runner needs more carbs, and someone wanting to lose weight needs … uh, less of everything that’s truly delicious! This last example seems unfair, doesn’t it? But until someone invents a pill that consumes excess fat, a dieter will have to stick to his or her diet — which means sacrificing desserts.

Who’s dieting? I’m not dieting. I even ate a clock once. Talk about time consuming!

Anyone who’s trying to achieve great things also needs a special diet: Inspiration to feed the dreams, encouragement to foster the creativity; organization and strategy to make the most of time, talent and resources; and steadfast faith and a deep passion for the goal or dream, both of which can fuel a person all the way to the finish line — all the things we’ve discussed since we began this series.

And some dietary sacrifices will have to be made, and that’s never easy; which is why many people quit — or cheat too often and too much. Diets only work if we’re willing to stick with them. Although occasionally we do need to give in to a craving in order to keep our sanity, most of the time we have to resign ourselves to sacrificing the foods we love (in the case of a nutritional diet) or the activities we love (in the case of a dreamer’s diet).

Writers, artists, actors and musicians who achieve a level of virtuosity, entrepreneurs who exceed their goals, researchers and inventors who make great breakthroughs, visionaries who change the world, and even people who build solid marriages and raise well-adjusted kids, all do so because they stick to their diets … and that usually means sacrificing certain things.


We have friends who — during their spare time — watch tons of television, or play video games almost non-stop, or participate in any number of other leisure activities. These people are relaxing and doing what they enjoy most, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We, on the other hand, want to achieve our goals, so we need to make the most of our time. (Personally, we’re always working on our books, articles and stories.) We can’t walk away from our day jobs, family responsibilities, and social obligations; and we have to take time to eat, sleep and shower, so what’s left usually goes to pursuing our dreams.

In other words, we sacrifice our leisure time — and that’s tough. Well, we all know dieting isn’t easy, but if we want to fit into our pants or achieve our dreams, we resign ourselves to making sacrifices.

We used to teach adult Bible classes for both singles and married couples. We wanted to do this, and we wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students. We wanted to give our best efforts to this pursuit, and that meant hours of personal study and course outlining. We had other responsibilities on week nights after work, and all day on Sundays, so we had to devote our Saturdays (our only “day off”) to preparing for our weekly class. Hence, we had to sacrifice our only opportunity to read and relax, or go for a walk and have a picnic.

We won’t lie, sacrificing our down time continues to be a challenge; and sometimes, seeing others at play while we toil away at extra (and optional) tasks can be a little irritating. But we keep reminding ourselves that, if we are to accomplish something — any thing — worthwhile, we need to stay on our diets and continue to sacrifice activities that could ruin our progress.

Can you relate? Do you find yourself getting a little envious of people relaxing while you’re working, training, studying, tinkering, analyzing, researching, practicing, or honing? Remind yourself, if you’re pursuing a goal then you’re simply paying the price. You need a certain diet with built-in sacrifices. Stick to it, and stop begrudging the guy next door who’s playing Candy Crush all day long. Your diet and sacrifices will make you a lean mean dreaming machine, and someday you will achieve great things! And the guy next door? He’s happy with his diet of computer games, and perhaps someday he’ll be the best Candy Crush player in the neighborhood!

Pay the price today, so you can celebrate tomorrow. It’s the diet we choose for ourselves, and the sacrifices we make to succeed. “…I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8 Berean Study Bible) “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

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Toast! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Feeling a bit on the crummy side today? Perhaps you’ve even begun to feel that life itself is rather crummy. You know, crummy weather, crummy traffic, crummy coworkers?

angel cover v5As we celebrate the third year of our web-series Angel in the Kitchen, we’re reminded of a valuable lesson we learned … from our toaster! Yes, just about everything we encounter in the kitchen (foods, cooking, and appliances) seems to help illustrate truths about life, love, and relationships. And our faithful little toaster is no different. We use the word faithful, because if we were to call him our “Brave Little Toaster,” Walt Disney Studios could sue us. And we’d be miserable begging on a street corner. No, really!

Besides, “faithful” truly fits our toaster. He’s waiting for us, there in the kitchen, each morning. Always ready to serve us our daily bread at the flip of a lever — golden brown, never burnt. Always cheerful with a positive attitude — at least, that’s how we choose to imagine him.

Most of the time. Some mornings, however, it’s as though our toaster woke up on the wrong side of the counter. He has this stinking attitude, as though something’s smoldering inside. Oh yeah, and on such mornings he apparently takes his bad day out on us, by burning our toast! We dare not say anything, though, because he might start flinging sliced bread in our faces.

What’s his problem? Clearly our toaster is feeling a bit crummy. Let’s define “crummy”: miserable or wretched; shabby, inferior, or … even worthless!

Hey, li’l guy, you’re not inferior — you’re wonderful! So what’s got you down?

He’s not talking! So we need to use some toaster psychology. That’s when we remember that another, older definition of “crummy” is “full of crumbs”! Yes, that’s it! Whenever our toaster starts to smoke and emit the smell of burnt bread, we remove the tray from his base and, sure enough, it’s filled with crumbs!

An appliance garage similar to ours, inhabited by mild-mannered appliances.

In order to keep our faithful toaster happy and performing at the top of his game, we have to periodically shake off the crumbs that accumulate around his metallic feet — er, base! We follow this step with a gentle wipe-down of his tray, and then return him to the appliance garage located atop the kitchen counter. Wait a sec. Please excuse us. “The Masked Toaster” insists we call it the Avengers Tower — headquarters of that famed team of culinary crime fighters, Captain Can-Opener, The Mighty Thor (our blender), and Iron Griddle! (No, we are NOT looney! But our appliances ARE a bit eccentric!)

Getting back to what we asked you at the beginning of this article, “Feeling a bit on the crummy side today?” If so, understand that it’s not just toasters that can accumulate crumbs. In life, we too need to periodically shake off the crumbs of hurts, disappointments, and offenses; which can pile up and keep us from performing at the top of our game. We won’t “function” properly, or accomplish anything, all because we’re too busy fuming over the things in life that didn’t work out, or just don’t seem fair, or right!

When you allow the sometimes crummy comedowns, consequences, and circumstances of life to pile up in your heart, these things begin to smolder inside. Soon you’ll be “burning up” emotionally; “smoking” over past mistakes, hurts, and disappointments. And, like our toaster, you’ll start stinking in your thinking. Follow that darkened path and you’ll end up as toast!

Things don’t always work out as we planned. And we don’t always get what we want. But, to quote a pseudo-Chinese proverb, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Furthermore, at one time or another, we encounter “crumbs” in the form people who are uncaring, insensitive, and downright rude. In fact, crumb can be defined as an untrustworthy or contemptible person! And — even when interacting with dear friends and family — we can slowly accumulate the crumbs of offenses, which can lead to unforgiveness and eventually bitterness; which can burn us up emotionally! When this happens, we’re toast!

The disciples of Christ faced this problem, as they travelled from place to place spreading the Gospel. Some towns accepted them and extended hospitality. Others rudely rejected the disciples and their message. We can imagine this rejection was both bewildering and upsetting. Perhaps it even angered these men. Who could blame them? Have you ever tried to bless someone with an act of kindness, and received nothing in return but ingratitude and scorn? Well, sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Jesus understood how quickly and easily the crumbs of offenses can pile up; and He didn’t want His disciples “smoking” over these social slights. So He admonished His followers, “If people do not welcome you, leave … and shake the dust off your feet….” (Luke 9:5 NIV) Jesus used the analogy of “dust” to represent rejection, mistreatment, and disappointments. But He could have just as well said, “Shake off the crumbs!” Of course, at the time, no one would have understood what in the world He meant — because no one owned a toaster 2,000 years ago!

Regardless, God doesn’t want you burning up inside, fuming over people who’ve wronged you, and stinking in your thinking! That means you can’t allow the “crumbs” to get inside your spirit. So, when hurts come, or things just don’t go as you planned or hoped for, shake the crumbs off your feet and keep moving forward! “Pursue peace with all, …lest any root of bitterness springing up should trouble you….” (Hebrews 12:14-15 BLB)

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