Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lifting Weights: How is being weak a good thing?

Lifting Weights: How is being weak a good thing?

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Side lateral raises. Even hearing those three words brings pain, let alone actually doing them. Last February I started a regular exercise program that involves toning with hand weights three times a week. I started with 2-pound weights, then moved up to 3-pound weights, and was certainly ready for 4-pound weights months ago. But I had added the hand weights to my Christmas list, so rather than buy them myself I waited to see if I would get them. Sure enough, my daughter and family left them beneath the tree. But instead of 4-pound weights, I got 5-pounders. I tried them out the other day and noticed a big difference from the ones I was used to. I struggled to raise them, especially for the side lateral exercises, which have given me trouble from the get-go. Although not confirmed by a physician, I think I have a slight tear in my left deltoid, the triangular shaped muscle that covers the outer shoulder and uppermost part of the arm. Even though the muscle complains, I press through to lift the weights, knowing “no pain equals no gain.” In order to get stronger and build muscle mass, I must push myself, although sometimes I’d rather call for someone to help me lift the weight. But of course, I know that would defeat the purpose.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Busy as a Beaver: What trail of evidence are you leaving?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“See that?” my father gestured toward a tree trunk sharpened like the tip of a pencil, then toward another limb gnawed on both sides.

It sure looked like evidence of beaver building to me. Then Dad led the group of us family members to the water’s edge, its level higher than I had seen in a while. He pointed to the dam.

I took in the scene, my eyes scanning the glassy surface, punctuated with a mound of limbs and leaves, my ears tuned to the relaxing fall of the water. Peace washed over me. A nice reprieve from the busyness of life.

Drawn closer, I stepped to the edge and followed the flow of the stream, my feet crunching dry leaves and crackly twigs. Keeping watch for obstacles that could cause a stumble, I caught glance of a trail of wood chips leading to the chewed remains of a branch. I lowered my eyes to inspect the pile, marveling at the work of the creatures. The evidence was all around; the beavers had built a home. And I was standing in their domicile.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Keeping it Little: How do you have a merry little Christmas?

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

I’ve been creating themed Christmas cards with my family for 18 years now. It’s one of my holiday traditions. For my most recent cards, I’ve included my grandchildren. But now that they are spread across the country, with some in Pennsylvania and others in Texas, getting a photo with all of them in it at the same time is challenging. Creating a photo collage seems to be the best option. But now that the number of my grandchildren is growing, with one added to the total in March with the birth of Sebastian, finding a collage template with photo spots to match that number is also challenging. I was delighted when I eventually found one suitable for my card and quickly went to work placing my photos on the palette. As I surveyed my work, I noticed a little word in the middle of the pre-printed Merry Christmas greeting. Little. Yes, that’s it. “Merry Little Christmas.” I smiled as it seemed to perfectly match my card with all my littles. But it also gave me pause. How do we have a merry little Christmas?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cut It Out: How can we walk out God’s good plans when our foot is caught in a web of destruction?

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
—John 15:1-2

“Oh, no!” I gasped when I caught sight of my beloved lilac bush covered with webs. “The webworms are taking over,” I groaned. Already they had consumed my black walnut tree and another at the edge of the pasture. Why did they have to choose my lilac to chew on next?

Lilacs are special to me, a sweet reminder of my loving grandmother, who shared my childhood home. Her lilac bush graced the corner of our screened back porch and bloomed just once a year, in April, her birth month. I can still see the lavender-colored cuttings arranged in a Mason jar in the center of the kitchen table. The fragrant aroma filled the room like the presence of Grandmama's gentle spirit.

Now the insects had draped their deadly cloaks over my lilac bush, covering it from top to bottom, killing every green leaf and causing sadness to drape over me at the mere thought of my lilac never returning.

Was there anything I could do? The niggling thought plagued me each time I rounded the corner of my house. Nah, it’s hopeless, I returned.