Preventing holiday weight gain

Halloween is behind us, yes, but it’s still with us, too, and in a bad way: The treats of trick-or-treating can easily be the start of holiday seasons full of unhealthy eating.

That’s because those overflowing trick-or-treat bags are soon followed by turkey and stuffing and pies and Christmas cookies—well, you get the picture.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, significant weight gains occur right after major holidays and can take up to five months or more to reverse.

At many of Diakon’s senior living communities, we have wellness coordinators and committees to encourage both residents and staff members to make healthy choices.

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Why just count when you can measure true impact?

When I arrived at Diakon in 2015, I was impressed with a number of things: the scope and breadth of programs, the difference those programs made in lives, the unbroken heritage of service since 1868 and the dedication and commitment of staff throughout the organization.

The time was also one of challenge and change.

We were essentially giving birth to a new organization as Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries—offering such services as adoption and foster care, at-risk youth services and counseling and behavioral health care for people of all ages—was created as a “sister” to Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries.

In line with that creation, we needed to make more-efficient use of our limited benevolent-care dollars. We needed to grow our programs, both in scope and geography. And we needed to demonstrate our impact.

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What about Amelia?

At times, that question—continually and casually posed by family and friends—threatened to overwhelm me. If I had been pregnant with another child, it would have been celebrated. Instead, the prospect of adding to our family through adoption from foster care was met with raised eyebrows and concern.

Our biological daughter, Amelia, was 4 years old when we began the foster-to-adopt process. There were so many fears surrounding the uncertain world of foster care. In the hopes of offering love and safety to another child, would we destroy our own child’s sense of security?

For some families, the fear that their own biological children might be hurt physically or emotionally is enough to make them steer clear of foster care altogether.

As a parent, you want to protect your own children from the harm and hurts of this world. But what if we are called to something greater?

How to recruit volunteers (and then keep them)

We still need help Saturday in the concession stand …

The play is only two weeks away and we need parents to sew costumes …

Our May Day committee needs a chairperson and you did such a great job the last two years …

The list can go on and on. On a weekly basis, our email inboxes, kids’ backpacks and Facebook newsfeeds are filled with multiple opportunities to volunteer.

These are great opportunities to make a difference … yet we receive so many that we typically can respond only to a few.

That can make the task for finding and organizing volunteers overwhelming.

In fact, most people seem to fall into one of two types of categories—those who avoid any type of all volunteer activity and those who volunteer for everything.

Unfortunately, members of that second group can eventually burn out and become part of the first group.

So why doesn’t everyone just do their part so the same people don’t burn out?

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When a generation gap is no gap at all

For many people, the idea of having a 7-year-old child and a grandchild at the same time, even if the grandchild is quite young, may seem out of the ordinary.

But that is where God’s will has taken us.

My wife, Shirley, and I have two adult children, Leigh Anne and Ken—and two younger children, Savannah, 9 and Autumn, 7, both of whom joined our family through adoption. Our family grew in size when Leigh Anne and TJ were married last year and blessed us with our first grandchild, Maeve, this year.

Shirley and I were empty-nesters. We never thought our path in life would change in the direction it did. But, in the fall of 2007, God presented us with the blessing of becoming parents again.

Savannah, at the time less than 3 months old, needed someone to provide love and protection. God placed this challenge and blessing upon our hearts, and we began a journey that encompassed every emotion you can imagine.

The Rev. Dr. Harold Haas, left, joined with two other former Tressler presidents, the late James Raun, center, and the Rev. Dr. Thomas Hurlocker, right, for a dedication of their portraits in the early 2000s following the creation of Diakon.

Remembering Dr. Haas … rather, Harold

In a long-ago article in T-LSA Now, I wrote, upon the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Harold Haas, that I could never bring myself to call him Harold.

That may have been because of my age (I was half the age I am today when I wrote that article), but it also stemmed from my respect for Dr. Haas (see, even now, I write Dr. Haas). He was simply a man, I told him and wrote about him, who engendered respect.

At the conclusion of that article, in light of his wishes, however, I wished “Harold” a happy retirement.

Unfortunately, another transition has occurred and I learned this week that Dr. Haas passed away in August at the age of 98. He had moved to New England some years ago to be near children and grandchildren; his wife, Evelyn, passed away two decades ago.

If Dr. Haas’ name is unfamiliar to you, that’s understandable, given the passage of time. Yet I believe it’s important you know who he was.

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Running to invest in future generations

My running partner quickly surveyed me.

I knew she was probably wondering how she had ended up with this “old guy” as her Girls on the Run “running buddy.” Sensing her skepticism, I attempted to break the ice with a variety of questions about her interests. Eventually, we connected a bit on the topic of music as she shared the names of favorite musicians such as Selena Gomez.

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Jump in and have fun…at every age

When I arrived at Luther Crest in 2011, at the age of 76, I had no idea I’d end up writing a book. But it was, after all, a period of starting over.

I had lived in New York State all of my life before my move and had experienced numerous new beginnings: leaving my parents’ home to marry; moving from Brooklyn to Long Island as a young mother; getting divorced; meeting my life partner and moving to his home; retiring from my job as a social worker in the domestic violence field; seeing my partner through his final illness and then moving into a kind of transitional housing situation until Dan the Moving Man carried me off to my new, and probably final, destination, Luther Crest.

I was happy and excited about starting over again.

I loved my small apartment, crammed too full of precious items from my past lives, and I was excited by the novelty of no longer having to eat solitary dinners in front of the TV.

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Worth the wait

I always wanted to be a mom; in fact, when I was younger, I knew I would adopt someday. I just always knew.

When I was 25, I decided I would go to an information night for foster-to-adopt; this was with another organization than Diakon Adoption & Foster Care. I was a teacher at this point and ready to be a mother.

The training was quick and painless and I was approved. But, if you foster or adopt, you will quickly learn that waiting is part of the experience.

Following approval, I said yes to foster-parenting a girl, but was not selected. Before long, however, I was asked to provide a home for a 15-month-old girl on a foster-to-adopt basis. A few weeks later, the exciting part began and I still recall that day 18 years later: A little girl walking in with her social worker. That was followed, however, 20 minutes later by the toddler’s mother coming by with a different social worker.