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Monday, September 27, 2021

All Mixed Up

Tomorrow I have the “opportunity” to have my third colonoscopy. I have never met the doctor who will perform this delicate and important procedure. Although we will have somewhat of an intimate relationship in the short term, I can only trust he’s truly qualified.

In between my previous colonoscopy and this one, I was permitted to use the Cologuard test. This is for “at-home colon cancer screening.” It turned out negative. Providing that company what they needed for testing was not really a positive either. But I managed.

Prior to my doctor visit on Tuesday, a Covid-19 test was required. This was my first. And in this age in which we live, it may not be my last. Fortunately, it’s become a much easier sampling to retrieve. But again, some technician was now invading my nostrils with a swab. It took a mere 30 seconds. And then the waiting game.

Today I start the process that is generally considered the most annoying. To put it lightly. It’s “prep” time. This, too, seems to have gotten a bit simpler than for my earlier tests. We start today with only liquids. All day. I guess I can pretend I’m fasting. For this procedure, I know I will be praying.

Tonight, it will my first round of cocktails—a mix of Miralax and some form of a Gatorade product. If I didn’t know better, I’d think gastroenterologists have a side deal going with both companies. Four glasses of eight ounces in a couple of hours pretty well gets things moving. Stay close to the bathroom. Consider diapers.

Then I’m told I can sleep. Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

Tuesday morning, it’s time to have the second cocktail party. Oh boy. I’m sure my colon will be celebrating.

We head to the doctor in the afternoon for my 3:30 p.m. appointment. Now the reality of Covid living begins to set in. Once at the office, I have to make a mobile call from my car to see when I can actually enter. Only me, though. No spouse or caregiver. I don’t like that. Rhonda is my support person and when the test is over, she’s there to make sure I get the instructions right about what’s next. I really feel for those who have serious complications and are being hospitalized.

The way most of us relieve tension or the discomfort of these kinds of doctor visits is to incorporate humor. For colonoscopy patients, it’s usually “bathroom humor.” Appropriate in this case.

The master of turning this procedure into something funny is humorist Dave Barry. In describing his initial appointment Barry wrote, “A few days later, [in my gastroenterologist’s office] Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.”

And about his prep? “You mix two packets of powder together in a one-litre plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a litre is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes—and here I am being kind —like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.”

We now have the picture. Thanks, Dave.

On the much more serious side, colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest. If it can be caught early and treated, you have a chance. Thats’s why we go through all this.

I doubt King David ever had a colonoscopy. He was, however, insightful enough to write, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalm 139:13-14 (NLT)

Indeed it is. For which we should all be thankful. Even while drinking that famed Miralax mix!

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Audience of One

Very soon, we will be needing to board our family pooch. I don’t like doing it. Turning over this lovable pet to unknown parties for a week or so leaves me feeling a bit depressed. Any owner wants to believe their pet is getting the best care.

Our society has come to use Yelp reviews as a way to check out everything from restaurants to repairmen. Private schools to private investigators. Uber drivers to dating services.

Out of curiosity, I began looking over the reviews on Yelp for the veterinarian we use. Slightly shocking. About every other comment made was negative. Some said the people were only in it for the money. Others complained that tests were unnecessary. A couple said that the service they received was rude.

I admit we did have ONE somewhat concerning experience a few years ago. While traveling out of state, a wicked snowstorm came into the Chicago area. Our daughter was to pick up our dog on a Saturday and navigated the nasty weather to get to the vet office before it closed. Trouble is, it WAS closed. No one home! We had received no phone call alerting us of the problem, thus, no way to tell her.

But wait! What about those critters who were in cages and needed to get “relief?” What about feeding them or checking on their well being? Who's minding the store — so to speak?

Upon our return the following Monday, we learned that someone had been at the location earlier to take care of the pets. Thankfully. And they apologized profusely for not notifying us. And they gave us a price break on their services. Well……okay. Sort of.

So, does one “forgive and forget?” OR…does one go on Yelp and do a bit of yelping about the situation? I guess it depends on the person.

I definitely can see the advantage of having ratings on services such as Lyft and Uber. If your driver is rude or doesn’t show up on time or the vehicle is messy, let it be known! The company obviously values repeat business!

Restaurant food is a bit more subjective as is the service aspect. Appliance installation and repair people regularly miss the appointed time to show up. Rate them poorly? My car dealer always asks for “10s” even if they deserve “5s.” Some of this Yelp business sure feels like payback.

To my surprise, someone actually developed a ratings app for people! It debuted a few years ago. The brave soul behind the app was Julia Cordray. She called it Peeple and it was first launched in March 2016. Social critics derided it as the “Yelp for People.” It was taken down a year later.

When released, it was described this way, “Peeple is a social-networking app that lets people rate each other in three categories: Professional, Personal, and Dating.” One reviewer said, “Though its website claims that it's meant to be a positive space, it's also meant as a recruitment tool and for ‘asset protection,’ which implies that you can use the app to steer clear of people with low ratings.

It was also made known that the app was appropriate for users 21 and up. Definitely NOT recommended for kids. But the reviewer added, “Grown-ups might well steer clear, too.” Especially sensitive ones.

While I found the idea of this app entertaining, I certainly would not agree to be “rated” in this fashion. It could be way too demeaning. And I don’t want to rate other human beings in this way either.

But here’s the surprise. Jesus said in His famed Sermon on the Mount, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matthew 12:35-37 (NLT)

God has no need for Yelp reviews. The only perspective that matters is His. And it’s not just our words, it’s our actions being judged.

My recommendation is simple: Be eternity minded and learn to live for the Audience of One.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, September 13, 2021

Killing the “Crazy"

I read a most disturbing news item a couple of weeks ago. It involved a professor at Duquesne University, a school in the Pittsburgh area. The instructor is named Derek Hook and involves a video of comments shared by him in a summer session that he hosted.

In that video, at the top of his presentation, it says “White people should commit suicide as an ethical act.” Purportedly, Hook was quoting a South African philosophy professor named Terblanche Delport. In 2016, Deport wrote about white people killing themselves amid racial division in the former apartheid state.

Quoting from the news story, (link below) “‘The reality [in South Africa] is that most white people spend their whole lives only engaging Black people in subservient positions … My question is then how can a person not be racist if that’s the way they live their lives? The only way then for white people to become part of Africa is to not exist as white people anymore,’ Hook says, quoting Delport on a slide in the lecture.”

The added portion of this quote takes the dramatic turn, “If the goal is to dismantle white supremacy, and white supremacy is white culture … then the goal has to be to dismantle white culture and ultimately white people themselves. The total integration into Africa by white people will also automatically then mean the death of white people as white as a concept would not exist anymore.”

Duquesne University is a Catholic school. When contacted by Fox News about this incident, they aggressively denied there was any such intent of real “killing.” Their report claims, “He (Hook) did not make a statement advocating anything like what was suggested. In fact, he said that the statement in question was ‘crazy.’ He also said that the provocateur who used this example was wrong in suggesting any such radical action.”

Maybe. I have not been able to find anything that would convey what the takeaway from the students in this class was. And what was the objective of Professor Hook?

It is this kind of “crazy” approach in dealing with racism that keeps the issue a hot button in our culture. Moreover, there actually is ample evidence of calls being made for white people to apologize for who they are or what was done in the past. An entire industry has developed to help “correct this.”

What I do know is that for all the efforts that have been made to reduce prejudicial behaviors in America, “white privilege” still remains. I benefit from it. But I didn’t ask for it. And furthermore, I do not feel the need to apologize for my skin color. I had nothing to do with creating it—only advancing the potential for it by marrying a Caucasian woman and having children. But the last time I checked, which can be often, I’ve not witnessed discriminatory attitudes toward another race in any of my children.

In many people of color and from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, I have witnessed remarkable attitudes that enable forgiveness, overcoming, and pressing forward in spite of the inappropriate actions of others. A pastor I know personally who champions this mentality is Pastor James E. Ward. His website shows he is an advocate for “empowering people to be their best.” His book, Zero Victim, sets the right tone for discussion. It is subtitled, Overcoming injustice with a new attitude. It’s exactly what he has done. And countless others.

Is there a legitimate call for those of us who have benefitted by a certain skin color to respond to others with true brotherly love? All we need to do is to review Jesus’ powerful story of the Good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37) Here we find the challenge not to apologize for our ethnicity, but to love others with the same authentic passion as we would those of our own family.

I am blessed and grateful for the diversity of friends God has given me in life. I know God sees us of equal value. My job is to make sure I’m always seeking to do the same.

I don’t plan to “kill” myself to get there.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest:

Monday, September 6, 2021

Don’t Quit

Today is Labor Day. Supposedly, we are to celebrate the advances made in our work world because of organized labor. But we seem to be having a shortage of labor.

Our local Patch “newspaper” recently reported this story:

JOLIET, IL — The Panera Bread restaurant inside the Louis Joliet Mall is no longer open for business. The Louis Joliet Mall website lists the Panera Bread as being "temporarily closed.”

They added that if you actually called that Panera Bread location, a voicemail message said, "Thank you for calling Panera Bread. This bakery-cafe is temporarily closed due to shortage of staff. We look forward to serving you in person as soon as possible.”

Our church also received a phone call about the Panera location near us. Same message. “Temporary closure.” They did not explain why, but personnel shortages are everywhere.

But why? Getting a handle on this is not so easy. It depends on whom you ask.

If it’s the heavily liberal leaning Washington Post, that rarely finds any fault in government handouts, they’re convinced those overly generous unemployment benefits aren’t the problem. They’ve made several efforts to convince you of this.

A May 13th story this year was headlined, “No, unemployment benefits don’t stop people from returning to work.” They even acknowledged, “Too many American workers, the argument goes, would rather stay home, play video games and collect unemployment than go back to work. And the rest of us are suffering as a result.” Well, yeah. But WAPO tells us study after study has “debunked this myth.”

In June, the paper ran this story, “Worker-shortage worries are real. But are they really so urgent?” Well, no, unless you’re one of the thousands of companies trying to stay in business. And then, like Panera, you either close until the problem is fixed, you close early because you have no workers, or you bribe those who will work by offering same day pay like a nearby Taco Bell.

To further their case, WAPO published another item on July 27th. Here’s the headline: “These businesses found a way around the worker shortage: Raising wages to $15 an hour or more.” Fine, if that was really the issue. But we’ve seen several stores offering that wage—or even more—that still weep for more workers.

On August 27th, INC magazine gave us this admission: “The Great Resignation is Here, and It's Real.” Now we’re getting somewhere. Or not.

Consider these numbers: “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during the months of April, May, and June, (2021) a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs. Recent studies indicate that it's likely not over. A survey of over 30,000 workers conducted by Microsoft found that 41% are considering quitting; that number jumps to 54% when Gen Z is considered alone.”

People not being downsized. Not getting terminated for one reason or another. Just quitting.

LinkedIn reports 74% of those surveyed indicated that the time spent at home—either during shut-downs or working remotely—during the pandemic, had caused them to rethink their current work situation. Over half in several surveys cite stress and burnout in their current position. Others point to dissatisfaction in “jerk cost-cutting actions by their current employer in response to COVID-19.”

There were other reasons. Lack of fairness in promotions or merit increases and indiscriminate layoffs were mentioned. Some discovered that the benefits of a two income household no longer outweighed the costs. And the truly adventurous decided to try and start a business venture.

But the number no one can really give us with clarity are those who simply have decided they can make more money by not working. Or through the so-called “black market.”

One thing we know. When the party of free money collapses or the dreams fade, the jobs may have already been lost. A restart may take much time. Unless…unless…we feed the frenzy of free government handouts. But from whose pockets?

Proverbs 13:4 reads, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” (ESV)

I’m cheering for the diligent worker. That person has a future.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at

For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit

Articles of interest: › business › 2021/06/10 › business › 2021/07/27