Did someone move Abilene to the Southern Hemisphere while we were gone to Missouri? Yesterday, January 3, it was 87 degrees! I don't like hot in the summer--much less in the winter. I live for winter--when it's supposed to be cold, snowy, and depressive. When I came home from work, three middle school boys were playing hoops in our driveway. Guess what? I got invited to join! They were that desperate for a game of two-on-two. We had a blast, I didn't embarrass my son too badly, and today I only have one sprained wrist as a result. - - - - Tonight, Texas gets to claim their first national title since 1970. There is that small problem of USC, but hope springs eternal. Hook-em-horns! - - - - For a better 2006 . . . STOP SPENDING MONEY YOU DON'T HAVE The gap between what you really need and what our consumer society shouts out that you really need is growing rapidly. But that gap wouldn't matter if people couldn't pay to stretch themselves too far. And that's where credit cards come in. Enjoy now. Pay later. Slide the card. Take out the loan. Borrow just a bit more. And we ministers see the broken results all around us. People are in debt up to their eyeballs. They aren't free to do the things they want to do like respond generously when they see others in need because they have no financial margin. So here's the difficult truth: your children don't need cell phones; you probably don't need a cell phone; you don't need a health club membership; you don't need an expensive vacation; you don't need an SUV; your kids don't need the latest fashions; your family can survive without high-speed internet and cable. I'm not saying these are wrong. If you can afford them while living with generous hearts, then great. But they are not worth living without financial margin. STOP DIETING Whacky diets continue to come and go. Stop the starve-and-balloon diet process. Eat right. Don't overeat. Cut back -- WAY back -- on fast food. (If this is hard for you, check out "Supersize Me" and watch it every couple months. That should help.) Vegies. No secret there. Vegies, fruit, beans, nuts, lean meat (most of the time). But enjoy a steak. Slap on the butter when you want it. Just eat reasonably most of the time. Party on Friday. STOP OBSESSING ON THE LAST TEN POUNDS When anorexic models are plastered all over the covers of magazines, it's easy to obsess on getting rid of those last ten pounds. To be honest, that isn't very reasonable for people who are over 30 and can't hire a personal chef and don't have four hours a day to work out with a personal trainer. For health reasons, keeping weight down is usually good. But it's a huge leap from that to our obsession with being perfectly fit and trim. Part of what happens in a health club is, well, healthy; but much of it isn't. Find a work-out routine that works for you. Something to get the heart rate up a bit: jogging, climbing stairs, biking, walking, etc. Get into a regular routine. The goal here isn't to ditch those last few pounds (though if it happens, you won't be offended!) but to get your heart pumping a little harder. That releases energy that tends to spill over into other areas of your life.