Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Exercise Connection

I have a Wii fit system. It’s amazing how this board and all of its balancing mechanisms and electronic programming is able to monitor how well you are doing an exercise and whether or not you are really getting the burn you need. Just to make it more interesting and humiliating, I have the Biggest Loser game to go with it. There’s nothing like having Jillian Michaels screaming at  you to quit “phoning it in” and get real with your exercise. Better yet is having Bob Harper and his smug little smile torturing you with intense yoga workouts. Wow!

I also have a cruiser bicycle. It reminds me a lot of the old bicycle that my grandpa repaired and allowed me to use while I was at his house over the summers. My cousin and I would ride and ride and ride. We loved racing down hills and going places where the cars couldn’t go.

I have some exercise goals in mind. First of all, I’m trying to reclaim what Crohn’s Disease has tried to take from me in the last 8 months or so. I’ve had it for nearly 30 years, but the last 8 months have been brutal. I’ve signed up for a beginner’s triathlon for June 2013. My goal is to prove that anyone can do something. I want to show the world, and myself, that Crohn’s Disease doesn’t own me.

Now that the mornings in East Texas are resembling an average day instead of the humid ovens they have been most of the summer, I’m enjoying a bicycle ride in the morning for my exercise. Jillian and Bob aren’t yelling at me, pushing me harder, but I get to see my neighbors and greet them as I ride by. They are going to hold me accountable. Riding past the house that often wins the yard of the month award, I can see if my neighbors have had a successful run or not with the latest landscaping they are working on. As I ride along in my pleasant little tourist town, I’m showing visitors what a quaint and peaceful place this is to live. There is such a connection when I exercise/ride my bike, out in my community.

Besides all the wonderful opportunities for staying connected, I’m also getting a great workout in a way I’ve always loved. You doubt? My husband led out on our ride yesterday morning, being sure to include lots of uphill climbs. I could feel the labored breathing in my chest and at one point I was sure I would vomit if I didn’t get a break. Sorry Wii fit and sorry to Bob and Jillian, but you’ve never pushed me that far. So I think I’ll stick with pushing my limits with bicycling and staying connected to my community. It’s a win-win situation.

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Normal

I remember those junior high days where a few girls gathered secretively to share the cigarettes that had been obtained. They were my friends. They were all doing it. But just because they were all trying a puff didn’t mean it was right or normal. I said no. It would happen again and I would say no again. This time, however, another friend was strengthened to say no as well. She found her backbone.

I wish I could say that in every test that came my way, I always did the right thing and that I have no regrets, but that would be a lie. I’ve made mistakes just like everyone else. But there were also many times that I did stand up and say, this is not for me!

Today we have so many programs to discourage children from starting the addicting habit of smoking that the message is clearly out there: smoking is not normal. We have political ads on tv asking voters to extend the smoke free laws to bars, because employees there have a right to breathe clean air too!

When I was a kid, my mom laid down the law, we were not to watch a tv show about a witch. No questions asked. Today there are so many tv shows, movies, books on required reading lists at school and much more that promote witchcraft. Does it change anything? Nope. My mom still won’t watch a tv show about a witch. Apparently what has become normal all around her didn’t change her standards or beliefs.

What about us? Maybe your issue isn’t witchcraft. Maybe it is alcohol or try before you buy plans of living together before marriage. Has society’s sensually saturated offerings that seem so normal changed your mind? Is what our friends, family or neighbors perceive as “normal” now our guidelines for the choices we make on a day to day basis?

Where do you get your values from? Is it a cultural heritage? Perhaps it is a religion or faith based set of values. Maybe your values are based on a certain set of political ideals. Wherever you get your values from, be true to them.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, my values come from His life and teachings through His Word, the Bible. I pray that everyday the decisions I make are guided by the Bible and not what society sees as the new normal. Will I stand out? Will I be different? That’s a no-brainer. Yes, I’ll stand out, but that’s okay because that’s what Jesus asks me to do.

 

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Costly?

“Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly.” Kenneth W. Osbeck.

When I read these words early this morning I knew it wasn’t talking about pennies, inflation or returns on an investment, at least not in the general sense that we would normally expect. Discipleship cost me this morning. It cost me a half hour of sleep that nearly caused parts of me to mutiny. I did manage to get my whole self to my quiet place to spend time with my Creator and I was glad.

Discipleship is costly. That’s a nice piece of typical Christian jargon to throw around, but let’s make it a little more practical. Spiritual Disciplines are costly. That hour of Fellowship with like believers, it will cost me that time I wanted all to myself to be a bit lazy. That discipline of Sacrifice will cost me that pedicure I was so sure I absolutely needed. The need to be in Service to others will cost me time I could have spent watching the latest lineup on my favorite television network or satellite channel.

Salvation is free. There is nothing we can do to earn it. Praise God! After we have received this amazing grace gift, God calls us to get to know Him better, closer. He calls us to discipleship and that is where it can get costly. But God is a perfect gentleman, so He never forces. You can choose to practice the disciplines of simplicity, meditation, humility, frugality, confession and fasting, among others; but you are never forced to do so. Love that is demanded ceases to be love.

Discipleship can be costly, if you choose not to draw closer to God. What? Isn’t that just opposite of what I already said? Nope, not a bit. You see God has promised many things to us, powerful and wonderful things that come about in our relationship – read discipleship – with Him. Failure to be in discipleship will cost you the peace that passes all understanding. Failure to turn your lack of control over to the One who promised to give you grace whenever needed, could cost you that promotion you were hoping to get. Tossing aside prayer and reflection as unnecessary will rob you of moments of awe and praise to God; for answered prayers and moments of deep revelation.

“Salvation is free, but discipleship is costly.” A question for each one of us today is, which side of the equation am I on at this point in my life? Am I worried about the costs of my time and money? Costs to my pride, career and advancement? Or am I in that stage in my life where I worry more about missing out on the peace that comes from practicing silence and the joy that comes from the discipline of celebration?

Discipleship is costly. Tossing aside the blessings of spiritual disciplines is costly.

The God that made salvation free and available to you wants to get to know you better. Take the time to practice some spiritual disciplines today, but remember, discipleship is costly. You may even lose your tastes and desires for fleeting things and long earnestly instead for worship, submission, intimacy, guidance and study of God’s Word. You may even choose to be a life long disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

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This Rocks!

Someone is trying to get you to join their club. Which appeal would get a positive reaction from you?

Again! We have to meet for the club again! Oh well, that’s life, so you coming with me or not?

Wow! I can’t wait until the club has another meeting. It is just what I need and everybody has a great time!

Most of us would choose to join club number two, unless of course you just like to be the odd man out for the sake of argument (weird thrill issues there). What if, however, you learned that the person who is a member of club number one really likes his/her club and would never consider not being a member? You might wonder what kind of person likes being in a club then goes around acting as if they hate it. The reality is, it happens, to millions of Americans on a daily basis. Somewhere along the line we learned from someone that the way to talk about your marriage is negatively. You’ve probably even heard (“gasp” or said) words like old man referring to your husband or maybe even ball and chain to refer to you wife and kids.

Marriages do have their ups and downs. Duh! I’m not here to reinvent the wheel or state the obvious. I’m asking folks to really pay attention to the way they advertise marriage. I see so many people shaking their heads and pointing their fingers at couples that decide to shack up together before tying the knot. “Why do they do this terrible thing?” Well, let me see, hmmm, could it be that you were always whining and complaining about your marriage? Who wants that?

Whoa! Hold on! Don’t think I’m advocating the try before you buy philosophy. I’m a definite believer in healthy marriages! That’s why I’m asking folks to stop and really think about what they say. Make sure you can always say positive things about your marriage, especially around younger people looking for examples. If you can’t say something positive because your marriage is having more serious problems than the usual ups and downs of learning to live unselfishly; get help! And by the way, that’s okay to talk about too. “Marriage is something I take seriously and right now it’s not what it could be so I’m willing to do something about it. I want the best for myself and my spouse.” Think of what an example that would be to someone contemplating the big commitment.

We want young people to get married first, not shack up together. We want people to make a lifelong commitment, not get divorced the moment something rocks the boat. We want… Really? That’s really what you want? Then start talking about it! Start advertising marriage as the best thing ever and you’re so glad you made that commitment! You may have no idea who is watching and listening. You just might be the example someone needs.

Say it loud and say it proud. Marriage Rocks!

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Year of Dedication

I’ve been reading some stories lately from the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS) and they are awesome. It’s not just about the miracles that took place or what obstacles they faced (one country was set to refuse any medical aid from outside of its borders), but it is the name.

Year of Dedication

Each year NAPS has a fresh group of college student faces along with some that are familiar. Each of them dedicating one year of their life to the mission of NAPS. I can’t get past the name: The Year of Dedication.

What is so important to you, that you would dedicate one year of your life to see that it happens?

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Stolen

It’s been several weeks since the last theft, but yesterday’s caught me a bit by surprise. I expressed my frustration to my husband. “This Crohn’s Disease has stolen a day from me.” He replied with words that conveyed their concern as well as his own frustrations. “No, it stole a day from us.”

It is easy to feel selfish when pain and hindrances hit you hard. For some strange reason we begin to think we are the only ones suffering. My husband’s words, not a rebuke as much as a reminder that we are in this together, opened my eyes to see more of those that suffer indirectly. You see evidences around the house of previous thefts: a few projects I haven’t been able to complete and an emergency supper kit for the kids to prepare in case I’m down for the count and Karl is at a meeting somewhere.

At this point in time I’m still learning a lot about the disease that has had more than 25 years to learn about me. I know one type of medication that doesn’t work. I know of several others that are still to be tried, but they bring higher risks with them. With every passing stolen day and the muddled days of recovery that follow, I’m also learning more about the amazing gift of a husband who’s with me every step of the way, many times picking up the load that I’ve dropped when Crohn’s demands an immediate appearance.

The day may have been stolen from us, but somehow, together, we’ll find a way to get the most out of the days that are ours.

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Filed under Crohn's Disease, Family, Marriage

She’s Having Fun!

Watching the Olympics and seeing the athletes struggle and fight for the victory after years of training is not unlike parenting. For years my husband and I have struggled with, trained and even argued with our boys about understanding their little sister’s personality. She is who she is. She happens to register off the charts from “Fun Country.” Her main motivations in life are to be enjoying it with wild abandon and making sure that everyone else is also having fun, because who wants to have fun alone? We are grateful for the Kids’ Flag Page system for giving us a clearer picture of our daughter’s personality contrasted with her brothers’ more methodical and logical personalities. Last night, we won the gold medal!

The problem with people from fun country is they can leave a mess. Of course you have to get messy if you are really and truly having fun, right? Of course Greta never sees the messes she leaves behind. Anything left is nothing more than the evidence of great amounts of fun. The boys, however, love being her judges. “Quick! Look! Greta is about to make a mess. She should be disqualified from this heat because she left toys in the living room (we are still working on that with Greta). But last night, something amazing happened. Greta requested cups to do some color experiments with. Yes, all the red flags stood up and did the stadium wave to get my attention, but the former home schooling mom in me wanted to encourage her own style of learning. Matthew, only a year older but obviously so much wiser, was quick to grab the bottles of food coloring away from her and scream out a last desperate warning to his parents in the other room. “Greta is going to make a mess!”

“She’s having fun!” My husband and I couldn’t speak. We just stared at each other, wondering who could pick up their jaw and regain their composure first. Had Michael, our oldest, really said that? Was all this trying to help Greta understand her brothers and the boys to understand their sister finally getting through? Had all of those discussions about The Flag Page finally paid off?  No podiums to stand on or flags coming down with music playing as we received medals and honors, but we knew in our hearts we had won! Perhaps there is hope that these three will someday be friends when they are adults.

I wonder what would happen if we all tried to understand each others’ personalities? Even if Peace Country seems to never be in the limelight, where would we be without their faithful and steady contributions? If Perfect Country never got involved, we would never get it right. We would get absolutely nowhere if it weren’t for Control Country keeping the pace and urging us on. And Fun Country? It would all be work and meaningless without this special group of people that remind us to have fun and make sure everyone gets involved, no one left out. Who knows? Maybe when you try to be a little more understanding of your boss and coworkers, you’ll also win the gold medal!

 

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