The Perilous P-Word! (Diet for Dreamers)

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We seldom consider all of its potential consequences, and yet, it’s a bad habit that frequently results in loss and regret. In certain areas of life it’s considered socially unacceptable behavior. The Bible admonishes us to avoid it, because it has the ability to ruin relationships, destroy career opportunities, and rob us of success. In fact, it’s the silent killer of dreams. Were the Surgeon General to issue a statement regarding this habit, it would read “Warning: _________ may be hazardous to your goals.”

What are we hinting at? Something we intended to discuss before, but which, for various reasons (excuses?), we put on a back burner. Shall we explore this bad habit now … or perhaps wait for a better time? Later? Or now? Or should we just think about it for awhile? Maybe even sleep on it.

We won’t make you wait. The horrible habit we’re alluding to, the thief of dreams, is … and we can hardly bring ourselves to type it … the ugly P-word … PRocRAsTiNAtIOn!!

In his novel David Copperfield, Charles Dickens wrote, “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” But the habit of procrastinating can rob us of far more than our time. True, when we put things off, we’re gambling with life’s greatest commodity, time — the “currency of dreams” — but the worst aspect of procrastination is often the unforeseen consequences of our actions … er, inactions.

When we have lots to accomplish or deadlines to meet, putting things off till tomorrow can result in last minute mad dashes to finish projects, needless stress, poor quality in our work, and sometimes the complete failure to get the job done. In Strategies for Success in Career Development (2007), Karen Lamb writes, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

People procrastinate for a variety of reasons: to indulge in laziness; to avoid a difficult task; or simply because they’re counting on having more time. Regarding the last reason, time has an uncanny way of running out on us, and “life” often interferes with our best laid plans. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson in high school. Remember those late Sunday nights spent cramming for an exam? Nevertheless, people have a natural tendency to postpone — even the inevitable. Some even joke, “Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow.”

Scooby Doo: “Mystery? Ret’s rolve it rater.”

Tomorrow, by its very definition, never comes. To quote song lyrics from the Musical Annie, it’s “always a day away.” At some point, though, we do reach the end of the line. We look back on the goals we failed to achieve, the unfulfilled dreams, the still broken relationships we intended to mend. We say things like: “I was planning to visit…”; or “I was going to make more time for….”; or “I intended to take care of that….” But planning and intending to do something only count as excuses. We’ve all heard the expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Like any bad habit, putting things off only leads to further procrastination. And, like any bad habit, procrastination can destroy relationships. That’s why God admonishes us NOT to put off resolving disagreements or making restitution. Ephesians 4:26 states, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry….” (NLT)  In other words, don’t put off addressing an issue or repairing a relationship until tomorrow, because tomorrow might never come.

Abraham Lincoln wrote, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Do you have a goal to achieve, a task to perform, a relationship to mend, or a problem to address? Start now. Do you want to pursue a dream? Start today. Don’t let the bad habit of procrastination steal your time and opportunities. Your future — and all your tomorrows — begin today. So don’t  delay.

“Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT)

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Angel in the Kitchen: A Panini for the People!

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I can’t talk at the moment. My mouth is full of food!

Ever since we launched our book and internet series Angel in the Kitchen by announcing that our toaster can talk, another member of our eccentric ensemble of kitchen “angels” has been asking for equal time. He states quite humbly that while Lil’ Toastee can brown a bagel, warm a Pop-Tart, and make … well, toast, he can perfectly prepare a gourmet sandwich! All his boasting aside, however, Signior Panini wants a chance to share his message with the world — and it’s a bit of wisdom well worth relating. So, here now with his very own story, is that master of the glamorous grill set, Signior Panini! [We, the editors of this site, promise to return tomorrow.]

Buongiorno! I am a panini-maker! That’s a fancy title for a two-sided warming grill that heats — what else? — scrumptious panini sandwiches! Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the panini is well known in most English-speaking countries, and anyone who’s ever had one knows they are simply the best! Far better than some peanut butter spread across a piece of dry toast that’s gonna stick to the roof of your mouth — no matter what that antiquated chrome-faced toaster— [Okay, stop right there, Signior Panini! Basta! Enough! No mud-slinging or name-calling allowed! Please stick to the issues. Or we’ll be forced to place you back in the cabinet.]

Sigh, I should have listened to my mother! She wanted me to be a pasta-roller! Anyway, a panini is a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. Yeah, you can use plain bread like that high-and-mighty Lil’— [Ahem!] Well, a great panini begins with specialty breads such as baguette, ciabatta, or michetta. The bread is split horizontally and filled with succulent meats, cheeses, and veggies such as olives and sautéed mushrooms. My editors prefer my London Broil panini: mouthwatering beef layered on thick-sliced olive bread, topped with onions and red peppers.

¿Qué pasa, amigo?

They also like my Cubano. That’s a Cuban sandwich made with ham, sliced or pulled pork, Swiss cheese, garlic pickles, and a blend of mayo and Dijon mustard — on French bread! (Hey, diversity, right?) A Cubano is basically a panini with a Spanish accent.

But without me, none of these wonderful ingredients would ever reach their full potential. A sandwich is a sandwich, but a sandwich prepared by me is a gourmet treat! The secret to my ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary lies in my design: I have two — count ’em — two grilling surfaces! These square heating surfaces, called platens, are hinged at one side. I have a platen below — upon which the sandwich is placed — and a platen above. When my upper platen is lowered, the sandwich is completely surrounded — like a gangster in an FBI movie!

Then I go to work. I apply heat and pressure from every side! My heated platens, above and below, ensure the sandwich ingredients evenly and properly cook. And the press of the weighted platens helps the bread to turn crispy and golden-brown without burning. Of course, I’m only as good as the people using me. Fortunately, my editors are usually hovering nearby, and know when to open me
and remove their delicious panini sandwich. I’m pretty
foolproof that way, which is important when dealing with my editors.
[Sigh, allowing Signior Panini to “have his say” may have been a bad idea.]

Heat and pressure from every side is the secret to my success! And guess what, life is a lot like a panini maker! People encounter obstacles every single day and in every single pursuit. They face trials in their health, finances, jobs, relationships…. You name it. Things can get pretty hot, and it often seems as though every which way you turn, you encounter the pressures of life.

Ever feel like you’re being being squeezed a little? Like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place? Like a panini in a New York delicatessen? It happens in life, but you can take comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul. He faced opposition from both Jews and Gentiles; and challenges in both the secular world and the earliest gatherings of believers. Like a spiritual panini, Paul was pressured on both sides! He confessed, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT)

Hey, do I look worried?

In spite of feeling like a human panini, Paul didn’t get bitter — he got better! Regarding his innumerable trials, he states, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) Paul overcame every challenge while keeping a victorious attitude because he realized his loving Heavenly Father always had His hand on life’s panini maker. No matter how hot things seemed to get, no matter how much pressure was being applied, Paul understood he was “never abandoned by God.” (2 Corinthians 4:9) Paul’s Creator was in the process of transforming the ordinary ingredients of the apostle’s life into something extraordinary. Furthermore, God is the Master Chef — and He knows just when to lift the top platen and remove His “gourmet” masterpieces!

Paul writes, “No test or temptation [or trial] that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG) In other words, God never let’s a “panini” get burnt.

If you’re going through a season of being “pressed on every side by troubles”; and you can feel the heat of your problems surrounding you, take heart: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 HCSB)

Grazie for this encouraging truth, Signior Panini.

Dear reader, all trials eventually pass, and God is always with you in the midst of adversity. Furthermore, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him….” (Romans 8:28 NIV) So cling to God’s Word and His promises. And keep the faith!

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