Thursday, October 15, 2015

Analogy - Going to the gym once a month

I went to the YMCA the other day with my two oldest children to have the wellness coach teach us to use all of the weight lifting equipment. One of the statements the coach kept saying was, “It doesn't matter how much weight you start with, just make sure you have good form and keep at it.” He impressed upon us the importance of 1) just getting started, and 2) sticking with it.
The wellness coach told us about one lady who goes to the Y very irregularly. She will walk on a treadmill for an hour and a half until she is completely burnt out on it, then she stays away from the Y for 6 weeks or so.

I think we Christians, in this same way, have the tendency to think we need to be lifting the whole spiritual pile of weights (whether real or imaginary) all at once. So many times we fall under conviction to do more of some discipline, but rather than try to build up to a reasonable daily amount, we burn out. Take for example Bible reading. The ideal would be to read some amount of Scripture daily. But, all too often, we make the mistake of saying, “oops, I haven't read my Bible for days, I better read two hours today to make up for it.” Then, like the lady at the YMCA, we get burnt out and leave the Bible untouched on the nightstand for a week.

What if we try to look at spiritual disciplines like we do our physical disciplines? We cannot lift a whole stack of weights on our first day at the gym. We have to build up to that, right?

Here are some of the disciplines that are important to some believers (this is a variety to cover a broad range of denominations): Bible reading, prayer, keeping a spiritual/prayer journal, fasting, telling others about the Lord, reading Christian books, Scripture memorization, learning a catechism, etc.

Not all of those weights will be lifted in one day. But, I think it would be wise over time to build up our strength level. A mature Christian should be more disciplined in their daily devotions that a new believer. But, it is never too late to start now. The important thing is to start small, what you can reasonably carry right now, and stick with it! Reading one Bible verse a day and pondering on it throughout the day is better than reading nothing at all! (And, I submit to you that sometimes reading one verse a day and meditating on it can be the best thing a sleep-deprived mama can do!)

Too often I have felt like a “bad Christian” because I didn't read a long enough portion in my Bible daily. We do not need to be adding guilt to our weary souls by setting someone else's standards as our own. Just because some blog author reads two hours a day, prays an hour a day, and journals daily doesn't mean that God expects this of you. Give yourself grace in these disciplines! You know what you can handle.

If I go to the gym to lift weights and get healthy, but I max out on every machine and come home grumpy – how does this help my family? Likewise, if you try to participate in every spiritual discipline to the point of exhaustion and yelling at your husband or children – you are not helping yourself or your family.

Just get started with something and stay with it. Keep building on slowly.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nature walk

 Arrow Rock State Park, Missouri
Click any photo to bring up the enlargements page

I had the boys all to myself while the girls were in their quilting lesson.
The boys and I had a blast!

Lydia (left), Rebecca (right)

The whole group.
Tallest to shortest (which, for now, is still oldest to youngest):
Rebecca, Nelson, Lydia, Joshua, Josiah, Jeremiah

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Analogy - Take care of Sin

I know that I have a "bad back." I worked at Hardees' fast food chain in my teen years. One day I was running outside to take a bag of food to a waiting customer and I fell on my tailbone. I have never been the same since. But, I have discovered that going to the chiropractor helps to manage my condition... if I go regularly.

At the end of July, I noticed that we had some mice coming into the house. And, since we found a few mice in my room, I wanted to check thoroughly for a nest. I emptied the closets. I removed all the furniture except the bed. Then Paul said that I better check the bed just to be safe. Rebecca was busy and Paul was at work, so Nelson and I attempted to move the king bed . . . alone. Starting the next day my back "went out." Meaning, I could not sit on my tail bone, I could not walk, I could not bend, I could hardly move. The only position that was remotely comfortable was lying flat on my back.

I had re-injured my sacroiliac.

I knew what to do about it. Rest (of, yeah, I did plenty of that!). Ice. And, go to the chiropractor. But, I thought I would be brave and stick it out. My intention was to save Paul money. We pay $40 out of pocket each time I visit my chiropractor. I know that money is well spent, but I thought if I could just wait that I would get better on my own.

I waited three weeks!

I never improved on my own. I started crying more from the pain and from exasperation. Finally, we made an appointment. The doctor adjusted my spine, hips, and tailbone and I walked out of the office on air. I felt like I could have walked home.

But, in the van, the pain came back. In the next week my pain became more severe, yet not as bad as it originally was. I made another appointment. The doctor adjusted those same areas again. I felt amazing. Then, in the van the pain returned. (I have since ordered tailbone and lumbar support pillows for my van, by the way.)

I ended up going back four days later. This time I asked him, "Is this an issue of muscle memory, or something like that?" His reply was, "Exactly, if you had come in as soon as you were injured, it may have taken only one visit to correct the problem. But, since you waited nearly a month, your muscles had time to get comfortable in the wrong position. Now your other muscles are spasming as they all try to remember how to work together."

It has been about 3 months now. And, I am still not completely healed to where I was before the incident in July. I have been to the chiropractor more times that I can remember, each time is spaced out a little farther than the one before. I am still stubborn about going as often as I need to because I am trying to save money. And, perhaps that is why after 3 months I am still not healed...

Here is where the analogy comes in - When we sin, our spirits get out of alignment. We, as Christians, are to walk by the spirit and not walk according to the flesh. When we sin, our flesh "muscles" and our spirit "muscles" are spasming against each other as both try to regain control. The longer we go without confessing that sin to the Lord and repenting of it, the more those same sin habits take hold. It would be best to repent and confess right away, so that The Great Physician can realign our hearts, minds, and spirits. A sin problem will not go away if we wait and try to get better on our own. The longer we wait the more the flesh begins to corrupt the health of our spirit.

If we confess our sins, 
He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins 
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I hope this story and analogy resonates in your heart today as it does in mine.

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Girls

My "little" girls are both storytellers and writers. I am quite happy with their desire to sit and write for amusement. In fact, with Rebecca, writing seems to be a compulsion (like it is with me).

Right now, Rebecca (age 13) is writing an imaginative short story about walking the dog in Arrow Rock. And it is fun-ny! I opened her composition notebook last night to read her story (which she has been willingly sharing with us), and I found a great surprise! There were a handful of other short stories in her notebook! And, they are all good! She said she started writing down stories when she was 11. I was surprised by this and a little alarmed. Why didn't she tell me?! She said that she "just never thought to tell me." And, that she didn't think the stories were any good. (That sounds like me too.)

Lydia (age 10) wrote a cute little story Saturday about a black widow spider who was a spy. Such a creative little girl! I had to spell a lot of words for her, but it was worth the effort. I would spell words all afternoon (and I did) just to help kindle my little girl's desire to write!