Friday, June 10, 2016

Not by Flesh But by Spirit Will We Conquer!

All around us are advertisements for a better body, strength comparisons, and health companies. Even in the Christian circle we see people advertising their bodies as a product of strength as if it were God's ultimate gift to us to be in perfect physical condition always. Not surprisingly, these people usually gain the most online followers too; who doesn't want to be in better physical condition? 
My question today is what is the value of physical fitness and what role does it play in our faith after you encounter a physical roadblock? 

Physical Activity and the Brain: Move it or Lose it

Research shows that bodily movement directly impacts brain chemistry. Since your brain is your God given hard drive it makes sense to spend some energy during the day in focused movement. In the Christian walk this focus needs to be kept in check so that it does not become our idol (our ultimate reward). There is purpose behind our focused energies and it should be to train like one preparing ourselves to meet the hardships that life brings. This idea is clearly discussed in Scripture in 1 Corinthians 9: 25-27 

Now Every Athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. they do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore, I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. 

I can heartily agree with Scripture's truth and research's observations about movement. 
Portaging in Algonquin Canada with our Sr. High Students

Exploring Yosemite National Park 
Log Slide climb, Grand Marais MI

Prior to 2012 I was living a relatively active and adventurous lifestyle. Brain Surgery and a mini stroke came in 2014 and threw something in my lap I had not expected at all-stillness.  

28 Depth electrodes placed bilaterally to find the trigger area(s) of my Epilepsy. 
Reunited after 3 weeks of being apart! :D Nothing is better than those sweet hugs! 

Life (and twins) move on even when hardship knocks the life out of you. You gotta' keep movin', even if just a little bit at a time. 
Do what you can and let yourself get okay with asking for help when you can't.  This lesson was HARD learned in my case. 
 After the Surgeries and my stroke the breaks were put on my active life in a big way and my physical state was depleted to doing just the basics both for myself and for my kids and husband. My amazing husband and our families were the ones who picked up the slack in caring for our then almost 2 year old twins, groceries, laundry, lawn care, house care, etc. I can see now though that it was my kids, my husband's love for the outdoors, and our small farm that kept me moving towards both physical health and brain health.

Is Physical & Brain Health the Goal of Life?

The scripture we read earlier answers that question quite clearly that physical health is not the goal of life but rather a means to clearly accomplishing our calling; to proclaim the Gospel (The good news of Christ's death and resurrection from the dead as atonement for our sins making propitiation for us) to others and all things pertaining to it. 

When I don't FEEL like I can move on. 

Honestly, when life's hardships knock you down and box you around it is incredibly difficult to just get back up and fight so that you can say you are stronger in the end. Most of the time you would rather curl up and forget the world around you. Many facing life threatening illnesses, disabilities, or mental illness have to fight the physical battle of what their going through and also the emotional battle of grieving the life they expected to be having. Grief is real and it in itself can be debilitating. So what do we do when we're not feeling up to the fight? 

Let God fight with you

I like the story in 2 Chronicles 32:1-8 because it's a story about God's people being invaded by the king of Assyria. The people did their part, they were't lazy they got moving and did what they needed to do to protect their city and their walls but at the end of the day it was the emotional battle that was a greater fight. Doubt. The king of Israel, Hezekiah, gathers his people together and encourages them with these words: 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles." 2 chronicles 32:7 

The thing is we still serve that God today. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will still fight with his people and I love that in this verse we can clearly see that when we feel like our "flesh" is weak and doesn't add up to much we have a God that is much stronger than flesh because He is the creator of that and everything else. He can and will use even our weakest parts to teach and preach the fruits of His spirit when we are willing to offer up our best and give him room to do whatever He sees fit to do with it. We have to be willing to do our part and even trudge through the trenches of grief with Him. Be assured though that He will not leave you there. 

90 Stairs down to Lake MI in Manistee, MI :D 

My beautiful friend Anna and I half-way through a 4 mile walk along the Manistee River this past week! Praise God I was able to do the whole walk without trouble! woot woot ;D 

Keep going, keep moving, let your light shine! 


Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday baby!

It's almost Friday and over here we're all geared up and ready for a fun filled weekend. We cannot get enough of the outside in the short span of our Michigan summer so we typically try to pack as much life as we can into a four month time frame. 😎 Hang on tight! This weekend it's Lake Michigan's shores and dune slides at Pioneer Park in Muskegon, MI! Photos to come later. 

Here's one from nearby Grand Haven, MI Lighthouse with my friend Chaille. She is one of God's great treasures to me! 

How do you spend your summer? I'd love to hear your feedback and get some new ideas about what we could do with our 3 year old twins from some of you who have littles. 

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Brain Surgery: Two Year Anniversary

Here we are at the crossroads of my 2 year anniversary of having my Deep Brain Stimulator put in and not only that but I am now 9 Months seizure free ^^ Insert big woot woot here ^^ and I'm going to try to write again. 

Recently, I found a friend in the writing world who, not so coincidentally, (because I don't believe in coincidence) is also celebrating her 2 year anniversary from having brain surgery and chronic pain issues. She and I have been corresponding over the past week pretty in depth about our situations and recovery and how writing has been a constant in our lives before and after our surgeries. I so admire how she has used writing as a tool for healing both physically and emotionally from her circumstances. Writing was something that became difficult for me because I had a hard time stringing together coherent thoughts for a long time after the stroke that I became so discouraged with writing that I gave up for a long time. I did not give up reading however, that has stayed constant in my life and because of that my devotional time in God's word has stayed present, probably more so than ever before, and also I've read through so many books that I never thought I would pick up before. 

One day about 3 months ago I got really frustrated with something I was reading because I just couldn't fully understand it without creating some sort of info graph to go along with it so I did what I haven't done in a long time, I pulled out the old journal. This time I wasn't using my journaling as a vent for my feelings or emotions at the beginning, I simply was writing out thoughts about what I was reading and creating an info graph to go along with the concepts I was reading to help me along.  I soon realized that the longer I journaled through the book I inadvertently was also sharing my emotions and feelings about my struggles with information processing in my journal. Funny how that happens. I kept up the journaling with the next book I read because I realized that the more I read and put things to paper as I was reading the better I was able to string together coherent thoughts so this process has become like therapy for me.  

My new friend's encouragement has sparked in me a desire to try again. So this is hopefully the beginning of a new era for the blog. I can't make promises but I want to keep things fresh here, honest, open, and inviting. I will share what's going on in my world with JW & our twins, the silly stuff that happens here on our small farm and I would also like to share with you the things of God that are going on all around us; what He's doing and how we can choose to see Him and share Him in the midst of a lot of pain and crazy all around us.

Will you join me every Friday for a cup of coffee and a post update? I will update the blog sometime Thursday night so it will be fresh on Friday. 

For my friend's writings you can visit: The UNEDITED Movement Blog Look for Alyssa Landreth's posts