Recent Projects

While it has been quiet here, I have been actively putting out content in different venues. Some are very targeted and therefore don’t really fit here at My Thought Spot. However, I wanted to share some of the projects here as a way of informing and inviting you to join in any that seem appropriate.

Deaf Ministry
First we have been busy with the deaf ministry here in Argentina. You can read about our ministry and get updates at I will be posting a new prayer letter there in a couple of days. We have started our second round of sign language classes at the church. That is going well. I am also taking a sign language class at the local deaf club which gives me many contacts with the community.

Missionary Talks
Missionary Talks is going well. While I have not had a lot of interviews lately, I have been very encouraged by the feedback I get from some of the recordings. The most recent interview was with a family who is currently raising their support. God used a Missionary Talks interview to teach them of a ministry where they could be involved.

If you are on Facebook you can join the Missionary Talks page by clicking the “Like” button at the top. You will be informed of all future episode releases right in your Facebook news feed. I also post short clips from interviews that are interesting, but don’t seem to fit with the rest of the show. Consider the Facebook page to be like the bonus features on a DVD.

I use my @DavidPeach account on Twitter to share ministry related news. That would be our personal ministry, or information about Missionary Talks.

Missionary Geek
I started a new website a few weeks ago intended to share news and information from the technology world that would be of interest to missionaries. It is called Missionary Geek. Missionary Geek also has a Facebook page that you can join. I look forward to sharing things through the website itself as well as news and information links via @MissionaryGeek on Twitter.

Discover Spanish With Us
While our Spanish vocabulary site, Discover Spanish With Us, has been sporadic since we left Mexico, I have been trying to keep it updated recently. It is a website where my wife and I type up an occasional new word that we learn. We tell how it is used. These are usually not normal words. The purpose of the website is not to teach a person how to speak Spanish, but how to use certain words (as we understand them) that may not be as common. The secondary purpose is that people would leave comments and tell us how we might be wrong on the usage, which then helps us become better speakers of the language.

Info Barrel
I have been writing articles at Info Barrel that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. I mentioned this in a previous post. I was planning to give a weekly update with a list of all of my articles that I wrote. However I probably will just highlight certain ones on occasion. My articles range from beekeeping to podcasting. There are also articles on riding bikes and taking pictures.

On top of all this, I am getting my running back under control. I have had a pretty miserable year since September of last year. I was plagued with different injuries dating back to October, 2008. Everything seems to be back in order and I am bringing my mileage up again. I am almost back to running as much per week as I was when I was in my best running shape.

Thanks for checking out the projects I have going. Join me in the different communities if they are appropriate for you.

Specific steps to getting back on track (Part 2)

In these posts I will talk a lot about “losing weight,” but really for me it was, and is, about getting in shape. If I lost pounds on the way to getting a stronger, healthier body, then I was very pleased about that. But it was more about taking care of the body God gave me so that I could serve Him longer. I was (and even more so now) getting very disappointed at how many of “God’s servants” did not seem to care about their body and how restricted they were in being able to do ministry. I was a poster child for that.

Take Pictures
I have very few pictures of how big I was at over 270 pounds. However, I have a ton of pictures since. Most of them no one will ever see, but it is a huge encouragement to me to go back and look at the steps that got me to where I am now.

Measure Yourself
There are all kinds of methods for measuring your progress. Many of them may be just fine for some people. But here is what worked for me.

Weighing yourself only gives part of the picture of what is happening in your body. Once you start exercising you may actually gain a bit of weight while you build muscle to replace the fat. If you only depended on your scale to tell you something is happening then you could be easily discouraged.

I initially took body measurements from several points, but settled on just taking a measurements at my neck, upper arm, chest, waist, hips, thigh and calf. I took each of these measurements once a week and recorded them on a 3X5 card. I also put the date and my weight on the card. I was able to get 5 or 6 columns of measurements on a card so that I could see how I was doing over a long period of time. I also rubber banded these cards together so that when I filled up a card and put it with the rest I could see how far I had progressed. I noted on the card what my total number of inches and pounds I had lost since I started. After almost 6 years I still have those cards that I can look at for encouragement.

Some weeks my weight would go up even though my measurement went down. I was never discouraged by that. If I looked smaller I didn’t really care if I gained 2 lbs. Muscle is denser. A pound of muscle takes up less room in your clothes than a pound of fat.

Weigh Yourself
Scale with 184While measuring will give you a better understanding of what is truly happening, don’t we really want to talk about pounds? We like to say that we lost 5 lbs. No one really cares or understands when you say you lost a total of 3″ from 7 different points on your body.

This is where I deviated greatly from most suggestions. You can take my route, or stay with the conventional wisdom. My way worked for me, it may not for you. However, if you have never been successful at this before doing it the traditional way, then maybe it is time for you to look at alternative suggestions.

I weighed myself every day. I weighed myself every night. I weighed myself sometimes 3 or 4 times a day. Conventional programs tell you to only weigh once a week. But for me I wanted to know where I stood today compared to yesterday. I was challenged by that number and rarely discouraged. If I was up a pound (or three) in a 24-hour period I would chalk it up to “water weight.” If I was down it was because “I worked hard for it.” Now that I have a scale with tenths of a pound on it, I get even more obsessive in seeing what I can make those numbers do from day to day.

Although I weighed myself daily, I only wrote down my weight once a week on measuring days. This gave me a better chance of being down between one permanent accounting and the next. The daily weights were temporary and just helped me see if I was generally on track. Also, by doing this, I knew that Thursday my weight was always the highest for the week. I would avoid measuring or recording my weight on Thursday. More on why in a later post.

Accept Encouragement
My wife was a saint during all of this. When someone said that they noticed I had lost a little weight, I would gloat to my wife about it. While I am writing about it now, I did not want to make a big deal about losing weight at the time. It was a personal issue to me. I was not losing weight for other people, I was getting in shape so that I could serve the Lord better. But if anyone happened to notice and say something about it, I was thrilled! Outside I would answer questions and thank them for their kindness, but inside I was beaming with the knowledge that I had worked hard and it was paying off.

My wife had to listen to me drivel on and on about how someone noticed. Or that I could do a certain stretch that I had never done before. She had to listen to a play-by-play accounting of everything that was happening to me. It was helpful to have someone I could talk to about it.

Ignore the Naysayers
Along with the encouragement, there were also plenty of people who were standing around to throw cold water on me and my progress. My poor wife got to hear all about that too.

I carved out a time to make exercise part of my life. I realize my schedule is more flexible than most people’s, but I think they could make time if they really wanted to. You don’t need 3 hours a day to exercise. If you will look for opportunities to walk 15 minutes more than you do currently, then you are headed the right direction.

By the time I got 6 months into my change of lifestyle I was exercising 4 to 7 days a week. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I was seeing results in a changed body. I had less heartburn. I could stay awake during church. I didn’t seem to have as many aches and pains. I wasn’t getting sick. I wanted more of those types of results.

But then the comments started. “Men are able to lose weight easier than women.” “You just have a faster metabolism than I do.” “Are you sick?” “You are making the rest of us look bad.” And they kept coming. Sometimes they were intended in jest, but they were not helpful. I never tried to refute the discouraging remarks. If someone really wanted to get their life turned around, I was there to help, but I really started to retreat from even talking about anything I was doing food or exercise-wise. There were too many people who were either jealous or didn’t want things to change.

When I was asked what I was doing to get the results I was getting, I told them that I was just exercising. (Early on, I changed very few eating habits). Often they would tell me how they were too old or that they preferred to diet instead of exercise. I wanted to turn it back around on them and ask them who was getting better results, but I refrained.

It may be true that men lose weight easier than women, but I did not see any of them working as hard as I did. I did not see them walking in the neighborhood drenched in sweat. When I later joined an exercise group at a local park I noticed that many of the people in the group were showing up every day, but not physically engaged. They were going through the motion, but were not putting forth the effort to make the exercise work for them. I only remember 1 lady who ever lost weight in that group. It wasn’t because the teacher was doing a poor job (I lost over 50 lbs. under her), but it was because the students were not putting out the effort that it took to get the results they said they wanted.

You cannot get in shape without effort. However, let me encourage you that you don’t have to spend 20 hours a week in exercise. If you are at a constant weight now and you change nothing in your eating habits, but add walking 30 minutes a day to your routine, you will lose weight. It is a matter of using more energy (calories) than you consume. If that 30 minutes a day has to be scaled back to 10 minutes, you will still lose weight, just at a slower pace.

What Exercises? What Food?
I will talk about that in my next post. Thanks for the comments here and at Facebook. Also thank you for the personal messages that this has been helpful and encouraging. While I have talked about many of my activities in the past on the blog, I have never shared everything. It seemed too personal at the time. However it is helping to encourage me to ramp up my effort and stop hiding behind a couple of recent injuries. I will find a way to work around these issues and get back in the shape that will help me effectively do the ministry the Lord has called me to.

Have you read part 1?

Getting back on track (Part 1)

I have often been asked what I did to lose weight and get in shape. Much to the disappointment of many who ask, I have to tell them what they don’t want to hear. It takes work!

Because I have struggled in the last 2 years to keep my weight in check and to stay physically active, I thought it would be good encouragement to myself to go through my initial motivations to lose weight and what I did then to get me to where I needed to be. (And where I need to get back to).

270+ lbs. of meWhen we first arrived in Mexico in August of 2004 I realized that I was very unhealthy. My weight had gotten over 270 lbs. that year (photo). I was spiritually convicted by the fact that, as a missionary, I was doing an important job that would be a poor reflection of my Lord with the body I currently had. While I know there are Bible verses I could have used to say why someone should take care of their body physically, for me it was a matter of knowing that I would die an early death and not be able to serve God long term with the way I was living.

Besides the physical aspect of my condition, there was also a spiritual problem I was facing. There was a need in my life to become more spiritually focused. You are probably thinking to yourself that I could not be too far off the mark if I had spent all my adult life in ministry and had just moved to the foreign field as a missionary. But anyone who travels constantly (which I had done for 10 years up to that point) knows the struggle one faces when they have no daily routine. When do you read your Bible? When do you pray? It becomes so easy to say that you will do it later in the day. But sometimes many days, or even weeks, go by and you realize that you have been drifting spiritually. That is where I was.

I needed to get some focus back in my spiritual, as well as my physical, life.

Not having done much exercise in the recent years, I figured a good place to start was walking around the block and searching for help on the Internet. I read that you should combine aerobic exercise with some weight training for a healthy routine. I bought a barbell, a few pounds of weights and a jump-rope. I don’t remember where I got all my information, but I started with jumping rope and lifting light weights. I got started with a jump-rope, a few weights and a neighborhood I could walk in. It was October 2004 when I got serious about all of this.

When I got started I was down to 264. I had lost 10 lbs. during the move and was eating better since we were eating at home and no longer traveling constantly. I had a goal to get down to the weight I was when we got married 10 years before. I don’t know why I remember that I weighed 227 at our wedding, but that became my target. Secretly however, I would have loved to get down to 200. I hadn’t weighed that little since high school.

I had had goals before, but they were always a weight associated with a date. It had never worked. Maybe it works for some people, but for me I would see that I was not going to reach my goal in the time I wanted, so I would just give up. I needed a different plan.

Instead of focusing on the 37 lbs. that I needed to lose to reach the goal,  I focused on smaller numbers with absolutely no time restrictions. At first I thought that if I could lose 2 lbs. I would only need to lose 35 more. But that still seemed like a big number after I got rid of those 2 lbs. I then switched my focus again to an even smaller number. If I lost just 2 more pounds then I would be at 160. If I can lose 2 lbs. then I could easily lose 3 for my next step.

By that time I had totally ignored any long term goal and started focusing only on the mini-steps that would push me the right direction. My focus was losing 2 lbs. then 3 lbs. for a total of 5 pound chunks. Then I would go back to the 2 lbs. again. I alternated between 2 pound and 3 pound goals for several months.

When I finally did reach 227 I knew there was no way I was going to stop there.

Things were coming back into focus for me spiritually too. I was able to settle into a routine that allowed me to carve out time every day to read my Bible and pray. At that point it was not a matter of whether I could spend time with the Lord, it became a matter of whether I would spend time with Him. I had the time and the place set aside; I simply needed to be obedient.

Discipline in one area of my life reflected discipline in other areas. If I was motivated to exercise then I would use that encouragement to help me discipline myself spiritually. Most of the time they went hand in hand with no extra motivation needed. But sometimes I had to tell myself that it was not fair to my spirit if I was willing to exercise my body but not read my Bible. Then there were times I felt lazy and wanted to just read my Bible and ignore my body (that happened less often). I would encourage myself that they were both important.

I had hoped to get this all out in one post, but I can see that it would be so long as to discourage you from reading it. I don’t know how many parts it will take to tell the whole story, but doing it this way allows me to cover more ground and gives me a reason to sit at the keyboard and add some words to the space I am paying for every month anyway.

Part 2 is now available.
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Bicycle Headlight

Bike Headlight/flashlight

I was talking with some friends at church the other night about staying safe on the bike. This is a couple who have bent over backwards to help us since we arrived. If the weather is bad, or we aren’t feeling up to taking the bikes to church at night, this couple always offers to drive us home to save us the cost of a taxi even though we live the opposite direction from their house.

In our conversation it was mentioned that we need more lights on our bike to be visible. I have wanted to get a headlight for the bikes, but have not wanted to spend the amount of money necessary to do so. While talking about the lights I was reminded of a recent blog article I read where the guy had strapped a flashlight on his bike by using part of an old inner tube. So I had to give it a try.

At first I was thinking that I needed to find a flashlight that was appropriate for this. Then I remembered that I had a couple of $2 lights from Autozone that would be perfect. I also have an old tube that I was keeping for just such occasions.

Light and Tube separate

Tonight was my first chance to use the set-up. It worked very well. It is completely secure. There is no chance that this is falling off. But I can remove it in less than 2 seconds. There is no fiddling with some complicated mount, or fearing that it is going to end up busted on the side of the road.

Light and Tube together

It is not that great as a light to show me where I am going. That could be due to the fact that the light hardly shines at all. The batteries are terribly weak. But, my purpose is just so people can see that there is an object out in front of them. I don’t plan to blind any drivers with this light, just let them know I exist.

There are a couple of things I plan to do in the future. I will try mounting it under the handlebar instead of on top. I did not have any problem with it wanting to slide around, but mounting it underneath will be just as easy and will eliminate any possibility of gravity pulling it where I don’t want it to go. The second thing I will look at doing is wrapping a bit of tire rubber around that section of the handlebars to cushion the 2 metal objects from one another. It will have the added benefit of holding it even more securely.

If you need a bike light in a pinch, or just don’t want to spend the ridiculous amounts of money the bike shops are asking for a light, give this a try.