Friday, July 29, 2005

First Light Update

Tonight, First Light will be performing a two-hour concert in north Austin, Texas. First Light is the Christian band that my wife and I are in. An IR tie-in to that is that there are two IR married couples in the band (including my wife and I, of course). We will also be performing for people of several nationalities tonight, including
refugees from South America, Mexico and even Africa as well as a U.S. crowd. We'll be playing at a small but friendly and very accomodating church whose pastor we met at an April "Jesus Day" event that we played at in April. That pastor was moved by the spiritual nature of the "Jesus Day" performance and invited us to perform at his church, which we're more than happy to do.

It's been a while since First Light did 2 one-hour sets but we do have enough songs, enthusiasm and faith to just go for it. I've been excited all day. I invited just about everyone I could think of from the Austin Metro area and quite a few will be coming.

First Light had three rehearsals this week, in preparation for the performance. Last night's rehearsal doubled as sound check at the church itself. We were there till about 11:30 p.m. (we arrived just before 8:00 p.m.) but the sound was top-notch and we got a good rehearsal in.

The concert is going to be recorded, too, so that's really cool!

I'll give you an update on Monday on how things went...

Best Wishes,

Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Are ISAA Pods?

I've started new podcasting for the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). My last stint at podcasting was a fully recorded talk radio show called The ISAA Rapport (archives are still online).

This new podcasting will just be me audioblogging regularly on up-to-the-moment size, weight, and health-related topics.

Check it out and bookmark it!


I'll get back to IR topics as soon as possible.

Best Wishes,

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Cooking With Allen: Grilled Chicken with Sausage and Vegetables

This may sound oversimplified but it is SO good, especially when you don't have a lot of time or ideas for a meal that can feed the whole family!


- 1/2 onion (more if preferred) chopped semi-fine into thin chunks
- 1 lg. garlic clove, chopped fine
- black pepper (2 to 3 teaspoons)
- Seasoning salt (1 to 2 teaspoons)
- Olive Oil (2 tablespoons)
- 4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 links of sausage, sliced to bite-size
- 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (I chose one with carrots, squash, zuccini, green beans and red and green peppers)

NOTE: I own a small electric "George Foreman" grill ($20), which is great for the kitchen on the fly, but any grill will do.


1. Say a little prayer (if you're so inclined -- it helps!)
2. Rinse chicken breasts.
3. Grill chicken breasts 1 - 2 minutes on each side, then remove from heat
4. Lightly season chicken breasts with seasoning salt on both sides
5. Slice chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks on a cutting board
6. In a large skillet, sautee onions and garlic in olive oil until somewhat carmelized
7. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper to sautee mixture and blend together
8. Add chicken breast chunks to sautee mixture and blend together, let chicken cook a minute or two
9. Add sausage to chicken and sautee mixture, blend thoroughly and let cook a few minutes, add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
10. Add frozen vegetables straight from package, blend them underneath the already cooked meat
11. Let vegetables cook a minute or two then re-blend with meat
12. Cook vegetables until they look slightly softened from the heat then remove skillet from heat.
13. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Preparation time: Approximately 10 - 20 minutes (slightly more if using outside grill)
Cook time: Approximately 10 minutes

What I like about this recipe is that it gives the chicken that "grilled" taste, which goes well with the sausage, but adds a stir-fry element with the frozen vegetables. It's quick, cheap (I got all the ingredients for less than $15 at the grocery store), easy, healthy and it TASTES GREAT!!!

Suggested side-dishes: mashed potatoes, white rice or wild rice blend

Should I do a cook book? lol!

Best Wishes,

Monday, July 11, 2005

And On A Lighter Note...

My wife asked me to go uproot some very small (young) trees from our backyard yesterday. No big deal, I just got the shovel and dug down to the roots and cleared the way. On the way to returning the shovel, I saw how neglected our poor little back patio was: dirty and half-covered with at least a year's worth of dead leaves. I don't know why but I felt the strong urge to go get a broom and sweep away all the leaves, dirt and dust. Even though it's fairly narrow, I had forgotten how long and nice our patio was! I probably spent half an hour clearing it and then bagging the old musty leaves.

Even though it was 98 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside and I was sweating like crazy, I was determined to clean that patio off and make it look near-brand new -- and I did! It was extremely satisfying, even though I can't even tell you how much water I gulped down later to replentish my fluids.

I dunno, I guess I saw the advantages of being able to sit outside under a covered patio or get a real grill and have friends over for barbecue or grilled chicken kabobs or such.

It passed the "kid test." My oldest son, Adam, said it looked like we had a new patio. And it passed the "wife test." She thanked me for doing it.

I get the same way about cleaning our bathroom and doing dishes (except, ahem, I don't wait years to tackle those -- lol!).

Do you ever get passionately driven about cleaning things or rooms or areas? Leave me a comment and let me know. Thanks!

Best Wishes,

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Follow-Up

I found out that my friend in London only lives a couple of blocks from one of the subways that was bombed. She was not injured but like many there, she was emotionally shaken by the experience. She and many of her neighbors are concerned about retribution attacks against Muslims in the area (my friend is Muslim and biracial: French and Algerian). My hope is that the strong condemnation of the attacks by London's Muslim leaders will diffuse some of that tension, especially if those same leaders help round up the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists that carried out these travesties.

My wife and I continue to pray for the London survivors and for the situation in general.

Best Wishes,

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My Sympathies To London

I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies to the people of London, England today, following the brutal terrorist attacks in their subways and on at least one double-decker bus. I know people in the UK, some even in London. To my knowledge, noone I know personally was injured or killed in the attacks but that does not lessen my empathy for those who were. It could just as easily have been my easily as it could have been the United States or anywhere else in the world.

Targeting innocent civilians at morning rush hour, to inflict the most casualties, is as calculating and evil as the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is just as true in London as it was in New York as it is in Baghdad or Afganistan. There is no justifying it, regardless of how one views the political or even military decisions and viewpoints of the governments of the countries attacked.

This is the world we live in. This is the evil we must face every day.

Understanding that there are people to whom life means nothing while death and suffering is a means to an end and a great victory.

Some people say there's no Devil, but sometimes he makes himself plain and undeniable in the hearts of evil men.

But God is greater. God offers lasting hope and lasting salvation and true comfort while the Devil offers pain and suffering and temporary lust and temporary power.

My prayers and sympathies go out to the people of London. I may be one man but I stand with you today, and many others do also.
I John 4: 17 - 21 (King James Version)

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: bcause as he is, so are we in this world.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We love him, because he first loved us.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Best Wishes,

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

I woke up this morning thinking about an old friend of mine. He and I met in the 4th grade here in Austin in 1979. He was the first person I ever befriended who was from another country. In fact, he and his family were refugees from Laos who lived up the street from me and my family. I became protective of my friend because other kids picked on him for his "rough" English and being Asian.

Even after he and his family moved to Wisconsin, my friend and I stayed in touch via letters. When he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, we still stayed in touch via letters. He even visited me and my family a few times.

Around this time (jump ahead to the early 1990s), I moved to San Marcos, Texas, to attend Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). I was already engaged to Angel and we were starting to plan our wedding.

In one of my letters to my friend, I told him the good news of who I was in love with and planning to marry. Now, considering that my friend was planning to become a Methodist minister in Wisconsin, I figured he would be happy for me. He always had an interest in the ministry because it was Christian missionaries who rescued him and his family and made it possible for them to come to America.

Anyway, I assumed he might be upset because Angel and I were "living in sin" but happy because we wouldn't be doing that anymore if we were married. I got that one completely wrong! He was upset that I was engaged to someone of a different race. In retrospect, I believe he was sensitive to the subject because he'd told me that one of his sisters had had a child with someone of another race; in his view, this action had disgraced his sister and, in a way, their whole family.

I never heard from my friend again. Honestly, that hurt me to the core. It's been 10 years and it still lingers, when I think about it.

My friend who was going into the ministry might have reconsidered his position if he'd known that God would use this woman of another race to reach me for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My wife got saved first. Her example of living for Christ and expressing His love was what broke through my barriers of pride and ignorance of the Bible. The Bible speaks of love for all nations and loving everyone, not just people like yourself. Despite what some say, the Bible never discouraged interracial marriage, only marrying those who worshipped other gods. Even in the Old Testament, many who were of other nations were permitted to enter the Jewish faith and become part of the Jewish nation. And in the New Testament, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ made it possible for the free gift of salvation to become available to all nations.

I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gotten true salvation and been taught the Bible in truth and in love.

The only thing which mattered to me back then was that I loved this woman who happened to be of a different "race" and I wanted to marry her and start a family with her. For that, I risked (and sometimes lost) a lot. I lost friends, I nearly lost family relationships, I lost finishing college (at that time) but I gained the love of a lifetime. I gained someone who was willing to face the same risks. And once Christ came into our lives, we found the strength to continue on despite the adversities.

If only my friend had known this, I doubt he would have discarded our friendship so easily. And if he was truly Christian, then he had the charge from Christ Himself to love everyone.
I John 2: 7 - 11 (King James Version)

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

So what does all this have to do with July 4th, with Independence Day? My friend came to America to escape tyranny and death in Laos. He became a naturalized citizen, even serving his (new) country in the U.S. Military. He lived the American dream. He even went on to further give of himself by trying to give back to this great God for sending missionaries to rescue him and his family. But when this same God allowed challenges to come into his life, to see if my friend would still love and accept his sister and his friend, my friend's actions said "That's too much! I can't do that."

I wish my friend well. I don't even know if he's still alive. But if he is and if by some odd twist of circumstances, he gets to read this and recognizes himself in it, I want him to know, I forgive him, I still love him and I welcome his friendship.

Independence Day is about having the faith to stand for what's right, even when all odds are against you...hoping and praying that a just and loving God can make a way. And in the case of early America and my own marriage, He did and still does.

Have a Happy July 4th!

Best Wishes,