I’m back from my uncle’s funeral in Virginia. I’ve been mostly silent this past week while away with family. Life is too short!! Sadly, we often put work, life, social obligations, community and just plain busy silliness in front of the most important things in life – like family, our own health and precious friends.
Listening to all the stories about my uncle’s generosity, and of how he gave of himself, his money, his resources and his time really inspired me to be more giving and try to make the most out of this life of mine. It inspired me to want to live a life worth remembering – a life that makes a difference even more than ever. It also reminded me how healthy it is to take time off, even when we think we can’t afford it or feel guilty for doing it. God blesses our sacrifices and wants us to build quality relationships. He wants us to take care of our body, and our loved ones.
Oftentimes people leave this world too early because of their unhealthy choices earlier in life. While uncle Mac was a great steward over his money, he wasn’t as good at taking care of his health when he was younger. Even though he quit smoking, his tobacco abuse early on ultimately took his life – and we weren’t done with him yet!! My uncle had bi-pass surgery years ago, surely due to the tremendous amount of stress he endured while he built his businesses. It was only recently (just weeks ago) we discovered he had lung cancer, and just a few days later he was gone. I was just celebrating his birthday, and now we are mourning his life.
We never know how much time left we have, but one thing we can do is make better decisions today – healthier decisions today. I urge you not to wait until your later years to lose weight, get healthy, mend relationships, spend more time with family or live a life more pleasing to the Lord. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and even if you have many more tomorrows, what you do today greatly impacts how healthy and happy your tomorrow is.
What are areas in your life that need improvement or prioritizing?
Here are a few things I feel I need work on.
- Live less selfishly, being more eager to give my time, money and resources.
- Quit putting work before God, spouse and family.
- Invest in family and quality friends.
- Do more kind acts for loved ones – from writing letters, sending pictures, to cooking and serving them in any capacity I can.
- Take care of my body so I can be healthy enough, for long enough, to take care of others.
- Rest more. I’m no good tired. I can’t bless anyone if I’m constantly exhausted.
- Live like I’m dying – because I am, eventually. This means I decide to spend my time, conversation and effort on things that are important and lasting.
- Constantly strive to maintain balance. In this hectic world, it is easy to get out of balance. Maintaining balance takes a constant effort.
- Learn to say no. I don’t need to please everyone. I need to please God, my spouse, my family and then my friends (in that order). BUT 9 times out of 10, if I strive to please the Lord, I’ll be pleasing to so many more people just by default. And for the ones I can’t please, I wouldn’t be able to please both them and the Lord anyway. :)
- Simplify. I will find more time if I can simplify my life and not try to squeeze in every bit of entertainment, material item or extra work in every second. We have so much added stress that’s unnecessary and not worth the extra stress. By letting go, and doing less, we can do more of what matters.
Since it’s Halloween, I’ve been reflecting on masks. Although I don’t really celebrate Halloween and rarely dress up, I’ve had various occasions where I had to wear a costume. Steve and I have dressed up as Jethro and Ellie May, Barbie and Ken, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, and one year I went with a group of girls as Charlie’s Angels (Yes, I played Farrah! complete with HUGE fly backs and a plastic gun! lol).
I never played a real action hero though. I have to admit, I’d like to be Wonder Woman in real life. Then I got to thinking how many people put on their super hero mask every day. I think we all do it to some degree. But, if everyone really knew what everyone looked like without their mask, they’d be encouraged and discover we are all human.
Sadly, people often don’t expose their flaws in fear of people tearing them down even more. Although I do share some of my own personal struggles and my distaste for exercise sometimes, I still have plenty of junk still underneath my own “mask”. We all do. I just want to encourage you today to know that everyone around you, everyone you think has their crap together, still has issues. And if they don’t have them now, they’ve had them before. You aren’t alone.
You may feel you are the only one struggling with whatever you are struggling with. It could be weight loss, sugar addiction, alcoholism, abuse, family matters, friendship issues, illness, financial problems, marital strife, business stress, depression or loneliness. Don’t think for a minute you are alone. Don’t think for a moment that the person working out next to you SO wants to quit just like you do – they just have a better disguise.
A lot of people hide their unhealthy life with a healthy looking physique.
In the fitness business, I believe a lot of people hide their unhealthy life with a healthy looking physique. They can’t control their feelings, or their circumstance, so they work hard to at least control their body. I don’t even really think this is necessarily wrong, I think it’s normal to some degree. We find peace in knowing we can control some parts of our life. But, honestly, much of life is out of our hands. We can get let go, left, hurt, let down, cussed out, rejected, lied to and hated on – and never even really deserve it. My warning is, don’t HIDE in the gym and HIDE behind fitness. It’s great to workout and be healthy, but not to the point where you are neglecting your mental health or family’s health. It might make you feel better temporarily, but like a mask, it’s not real and it’s not permanent.
Don’t run from life’s problems. They will always find you no matter where you go. You are only human, and having problems is expected. Making mistakes is part of life. Forgive yourself and forgive others, and then begin to strip away the mask you made to hide your junk. I bet you will be amazed to find your life not only encourages others, but you find more people out there just like you or have been where you are. :)
Besides! There’s no reason to wear a mask, we all have a little super hero inside us somewhere.
I once heard a story about a man who decided to ride out a storm. “A man is on top of a roof during a great flood. A man comes by in a boat and says “get in, get in!” The man replies, ” No, I have faith in God, he will grant me a miracle.”
Later the water is up to his waist and another boat comes by and the guy tells him to get in again. He responds that he has faith in God and He will give him a miracle. With the water at about chest high, another boat comes to rescue him, but he turns down the offer again cause “God will grant him a miracle.” With the water at chin high, a helicopter throws down a ladder and they tell him to get in, mumbling with the water in his mouth, he again turns down the request for help for the faith of God.
He arrives at the gates of heaven with broken faith and says to Peter, I thought God would grand me a miracle and I have been let down.” St. Peter chuckles and responds, “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you three boats and a helicopter.”
My pastor told this story years ago, when I was a teenager, and it has stuck with me. Although this story is a joke pastors may tell to wake up the congregation, it has many valuable applications. For me, it reminds me that opportunities are out there if I just pay closer attention. This man could easily have appeared to have more faith than anyone, but he displayed no wisdom or obedience. This is why people with the best intensions struggle because their intensions never turn into actions. It also reminds me that my idea of an answer, or miracle, can often make me blind to the actual answers God provides. It reminds me that most of us have help all around us – but we have to receive it, apply it and cultivate it. Whether it’s allowing yourself to receive love, guidance, support or knowledge, I believe our biggest flaw is waiting on help to look like what we think it should look like.
I can give someone guidance, and if it’s not what they want to hear, they’ll walk away empty handed – not because I didn’t give them something, but because I didn’t give them what they wanted.
Like J.G. Holland says in this quote, God may give us what we need, but He rarely plops it in our lap. It is probably within reach, even if it’s a stretch, but we have to decide to make an effort ourself if we truly want to continue to grow, mature, improve and learn – and stop wasting time waiting on a better time, a better situation or a better answer.
Beware of putting God, friends, family, goals, hopes and dreams in a box. Because oftentimes your narrow-minded vision of how you define them could keep you from seeing truth. I can’t tell you how often someone comes to me saying “help”, when I literally put everything I know out here online for anyone to use free of charge. Help is there. I can give someone guidance, and if it’s not what they wanted to hear, they will walk away empty handed – not because I didn’t give them something, but I didn’t give them what they wanted. So they will follow someone else’s blog, or join someone else’s gym, seeking the answers that better fit within what they are willing to receive.
What do you have in a box? What are you being blind to? Are you blind to a truth, or knowledge? Are you blind to someone’s love? Are you blind to the right process to get healthy because it doesn’t look like what you imagined? Are you waiting for God’s hand to reach down and pick you up out of today’s circumstance, or are you willing to climb down off your perch, climb in the boat and get to paddling?
Just when you think you have it tough and you have trouble finding a smile, Nick Vujicic reminds us that there is so much to be thankful for and so many reasons to smile – and he reminds us life is so much more than what we may see in the mirror.
In the fitness business, we often focus on our physique and all of our imperfections. As we sculpt muscle, burn fat and try to look our best, this man was just trying to figure out a reason to live. His body, clearly imperfect. His mind, unsure he could even be of any use at all. Then he realized God had a plan for his life and planned on using him just the way he was. The more broken his body, the more powerful his testimony.
While having a fit strong body is fantastic, just remember there is so much more to life than the way we look. Nick may have life without limbs, but he’s learned life without limits.
Listen to what he has to say to these kids. So incredibly cool.
“An ignored life is like an ignored yard – it can quickly grow out of control.”
Many people spend more time maintaining their yard than they do maintaining their lives. When I first moved to Vero Beach, I was amazed by the manicured yards filled with a blanket of 4-inch thick grass, lush shrubbery, and vibrant flowers. This was very different than the yards I ever had in Tallahassee, but they still had to be maintained too.
An ignored life is like an ignored yard – it can quickly grow out of control if you let it. Keeping life under control requires constant work.
Here is a maintenance list for a well-manicured life:
1. Maintain life’s lawn. Think of the lawn as our foundation, or our home. Just as our lawn provides a safe place to play, our life requires a safe, healthy place too. The same way we look for ant hills and harmful objects, we too should constantly be looking for harmful things that enter our life’s lawn and remove them.
2. Trim life’s hedges. Sometimes we need a little shaping up. When we are healthy, our muscles are more pronounced and shapely, but as we let ourselves go we lose our original shape. This applies to our spiritual lives as well. The things that once defined us can quickly become lost or overgrown if it’s not maintained. Read the rest of this entry