Saturday, May 9, 2015

Does It Fit?

Before every person lies a road that seems to be right,
but the end of that road is death and destruction.
—Proverbs 14:12 VOICE

I spied the little table and sized it up as soon as I walked onto the porch of the local marketplace, which features handmade, homegrown, and found items.  Looks to be about the right size.  I moved closer to investigate the price. Twenty dollars. Perfect! But is it sturdy enough to hold a stack of books? I gave it a shake, and it barely budged. I think it will work.

“I’d like to buy the little red table on the porch,” I told the store owner, as I approached the counter.

“Great! Let me wipe it off for you.”

We chatted while she swiped at the dust. “A project table,” she commented.

I must have looked confused because she added, “You’re going to refinish it, right?”

I glanced at the painted table, chipped and scarred with scratches and nicks. “Nope. I like it the way it is.”

“Oh, you like its character,” she concluded.

“Yes, it’s perfect.” I said, excited to take it home to position it in the spot I had planned.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Making Connections

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
—Hebrews 12:1-2

Getting started is the hardest part. Even beginning this post is difficult. But I know I have to write it.

How did I get there? How had I unraveled years of hard work—years of living a healthy lifestyle, eating right and exercising?

Ever since high school I carried a few extra pounds, but it wasn’t till I turned 40 that I decided to do something to shed the extra weight. I signed up for Weight Watchers and within eight months dropped close to 50 pounds. I felt like a new person—or more like the real me had finally emerged, finally been set free. Free to wear shorts, free to be comfortable in a bathing suit—free to be comfortable in my own skin. I vowed never to go back to that old place.

But—and there’s always a “but” in every story, right? Within ten years 20 pounds found their way back to me. As I conversed with friends, I discovered I was not alone. They too struggled with their weight. They too needed to do something. We all needed help—and we needed the support of each other. Collectively, we started a First Place 4 Health group at church in April of 2010, and I took the helm. First Place 4 Health is a nationwide Christ-centered healthy living program that addresses the four-sided person—physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental.

Soon my friends and I were connecting our stories and strengthening our friendships. But the connections didn’t end there. In our meetings, we studied the Bible and made connections between our challenges and what Scripture had to say about overcoming them. We memorized verses that reminded us of God’s promises. And we grew, just as Jesus grew (see Luke 2:52)—in wisdom (mental) and in stature (physical) and in favor with God (spiritual) and man (emotional). We learned that when we keep God in “first place,” everything else in our lives falls into its proper place (see Matthew 6:33). Somewhere along the way, the weight began to fall off. And I realized I had found the formula for living a balanced life. And I thanked God for First Place 4 Health for helping me make the connection.