11 November 2009

Attack of the Killer Treadmill

This post is dedicated to those who (like me) have tried their hand at treadmill exercising... and been found (sorely) wanting.

For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things…  I Timothy 4:8

Donned in our fashionable exercise outfits (old sweats and worn out T shirts), my husband, myself, and our two (then) teens headed for the local YMCA to work out. Although it was 6:40 am, we were bright eyed and bushy tailed. This would be a family thing; we would do this as a team

Piling out of the car, we headed toward the fitness room. I chose the treadmill for a 20-minute warm-up--at least that was the intent. A quick hop on the machine and a simple push of the red button began the torture. I noticed the body clip dangling from the bar -- intended to halt the beast in case of a fall. “Who would fall walking?” I thought to myself incredulously. Halfway through my warm-up, I got the distinct notion I was alone. A quick glance about for my family only increased my suspicions. “Hey! Where were they?” I wondered indignantly.

 I craned my neck to search the room behind. Bad move. Looking backwards while feet are engaged on a forward moving conveyor belt is not a smart idea and a reason the safety clip was invented. While looking to my rear-left, I planted my right foot firmly on the only part of the platform not moving. My left foot was on the part that was. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem if (a) I were paying attention (b) I was holding on, and (c) the I-don’t-need-this-because-I’m-only-walking safety clip was attached to my body. 

My body slapped down on that human sander, and I was too stunned to let go of the bar I desperately grabbed while falling. Like it or not, I was treated to a complimentary exfoliation. The carnage didn’t end until I relinquished my death-grip and enjoyed a free ride to the end of the belt where I was dumped onto the floor in a heap. “Are you OK?” a gentleman exercising next to me asked. I grunted a “yes,” hoping others didn’t see my misfortune. “How embarrassing” an elderly woman remarked. She had her safety belt on. Apparently I was a good object lesson for others that day.

Nursing my wounds and my pride, I left the room walking as if I had undergone two knee replacements. So where was my "lets-get-up-early-so-we-can-go-to-the-fitness-center-and-work-out-together" family? I found them in the gym--happily kicking around a soccer ball. I rolled up my pant legs (to impress them with my skinless knees) and stood in the shadow of the gym door. It proved effective. "Where were you?!” I demanded. My husband took one look at my legs and his eyebrows furrowed with concern. I felt vindicated and quite the exercise martyr--until his eyebrows rose after discerning I had somehow fallen victim to the treadmill. He laughed. So much for sympathy. 

Returning to the fitness room with my supportive chuckling family, I pondered my harrowing experience on the killer treadmill and vowed revenge -- in another lifetime.

Knowing that bodily discipline is only of little profit compared to godliness, I resolved to concentrate on the godliness part.

It’s much safer.

31 August 2009

LIVING DANGEROUSLY


Zippity doo dah, zippity day, my oh my, what a wonderful day! Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way, zippity doo dah, zippity day.”

Depending on your age, you may or may not remember this song. For me, it pulsed vividly through my mind—with an emphasis on zippity, and minus the sunshine. Let me explain.

My husband and I had the privilege of accompanying a group of teens on a missions trip to Costa Rica (originally Honduras, but that’s a whole other post!). One of our days was a planned “half-day off” from our hard work. We were going to go zip-lining in the rain forest. Note the word rain in front of the word forest.

Strapped up, helmeted, gloved, and jingling as we hiked up the mountain trail, I wondered what I was getting myself into. My fear of heights gave me no room for comfort. Crawling up the steps to the first platform (yes, they were steps normal people would walk up, and yes, I crawled), I finally reached the top, hugged the tree (no, I’m not normally a tree hugger), and forced a brave smile. What? I was next? Already?!

With a metal clink I was hooked up, given a few directions, and pushed off the platform. I screamed like a banshee until I reached the next platform. Once my feet were on solid wood (hundreds of feet off the ground), I began to console myself that it really wasn’t that bad. After a few more runs, I actually opened my eyes to see the beauty of the rain forest below, and began to enjoy it. Then it happened.

While waiting on a platform, pit-pats of rain began hitting my helmet. The pit-pats turned to pelts, and the pelts turned into bullet-sized bombs. There was no place to run, no place to hide. Standing under large plant leaves didn’t help. They only drooped when rain heavy and funneled water down my backbone. Now I was cold. Could things get any worse? I had no idea they could.

I was next to go. My husband just disappeared into the blinding rain for the far-away platform nobody could see. It was the longest run yet, and held the beauty of a waterfall below. With a clink I was hooked to the zipline. Then it happened. A giant boom echoed and a bolt of lightning ripped through the sky and into the small clearing of the canopy just where I was to go. I hesitated and read the look of concern on the guide’s face. The only way out was zipping down that line. Of course, all the teens behind me wanted to get out of the rainforest. “GO!” they shouted. Easy for them to say.

Being under a tree, moving quickly, and touching wet metal: all the things my mom warned me not to do in an electrical storm. That moment of hesitation was a defining one in my faith. The situation was out of my control. Could I trust God to protect me? The storm would only get worse with waiting. Another boom of thunder and another crack of lightning ripped through the sky. I pushed off, committing my life into His hands. I’ve never been so scared in my life, nor so relieved. God didn’t disappoint me. I may not like my circumstances; I may feel out of control; I may be frozen in fear, but He’s always there in the midst of it all. Zippity doo dah, zippity day… there may not be “plenty of sunshine headed my way”, but when I abandon myself into His hands, it truly is “a wonderful day.” What’s going on in your zipline of life?

10 April 2009

INTRUDERS


Discernment. Timing. Patience. Wisdom.

Ever have one of those days (weeks, years, or perhaps life?) when you helplessly watch an intruder gobble up your sustenance--not kibbles, but your sustenance of time, emotional energy, physical stamina, spiritual refreshment, or mental health?

Intruders can come slowly over a course of time, or they can arrive abruptly, loaded with consequences for those who dare to deny them their demands.

One intruder that arrived abruptly in my life was the diagnosis of Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes. At the age of 43, I went from enjoying a carefree, independent, healthy lifestyle to becoming an insulin-dependent-finger-pricking-carb-counting-mind-numbing human food calculator. Another uninvited intruder came more gradually in my life and has recently taken up residence--its name is midlife; pre-menopause (or more aptly put, "mental-pause").

While I can't rid myself of those unwanted guests, I can learn to live victoriously with them, understanding the dynamics of what it is like to adjust my lifestyle to their intrusion. 

But some uninvited guests that devour my sustenance come by my own hand and unknowing invitation--often feeding on things I neglect to guard. These intruders can be a life with no margins, over-eating, people pleasing, or perfectionism.... No matter what name they go by, the effects are the same: total enslavement.

So, what are the intruders eating away at your sustenance?
Remember: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1-3)

27 January 2009

Hoping...


“Hope it all works out!” “Hope you get well soon!” “Hope you find a new job!” “Hope your baby sleeps through the night!”…

These are wishes based on the pursuit of comfort, the want of better circumstances, easier lifestyle, and escape from current challenges. But they’re not hope. When I find myself looking for hope on those terms, I miss it every time. And I have missed it.

I now find myself no longer looking for hope. Instead, I recognize the fact that I have hope, therefore I can look more confidently at my world. This hope isn't based on my comfort level or things going my way, although that would be nice. It's not based on circumstances, political policies, economic status, or my health—and that’s a good thing.

My hope is based on something that won't change; Someone who is outside all of my circumstances, yet intimately acquainted with all aspects of my life. This Someone is never late, neglectful, rude, impatient, or limited in what He does. He is always present, patient, and wise. He gives me what I need as I need it. That Someone is Jesus.

Are you merely hoping, or do you have real hope?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…”
– Romans 15:13a (New International Version)