“Fear Not the Engine!”

When one is being pushed outside of their comfort zone or is faced with situations they have not been in yet, they may want to retreat, to back off, to choose a different path and run as fast as they can in that direction. Out of fear many never know what their potential is, what they are capable of, and what the good Lord above has for them in the future. They fear the engine, the leader at the front with the strength and power to move things along. They choose to be the caboose, staying in the back, allowing others the lead position and not even attempting to fight for it, maybe staying stagnate. Heck, sometimes they choose not to follow altogether, throw in the towel, and go their own way.

Well, I was definitely one of those people this weekend. I not only feared the engine, but all 6 of them! As most were still sound asleep in their warm, comfy beds, I was headed down the road on two wheels for a chilly 6:30a.m. start at the usual meeting place, expecting the usual suspects. However, one by one a few more showed up, some of which were new faces to me. “Uh-oh” I thought. This could be bad, six strong, male cyclists and one female who is the self-described, “little engine that could.”  Suddenly a solo ride out to jacks, at my pace, with no pressure, sounded pretty good to me. After all, I figured I would never be able to hang on their wheels, and would just slow them down. I most definitely feared all the “engines” straddling their bikes around me. I could have bailed easily at that moment, but then thought, “Well, if I can hang with them for a little, I can always cut off and go my own route, so what the heck.” Off we went, across the river and up the road, and I was already hanging on for dear life!

Do you ever feel that way with something in your life? Maybe you are being asked to do more, to be more, or to get involved and step it up? Maybe God is calling you to follow His will and to quit being still, but rather, push forward for His Kingdom and glory?

15 miles into the ride I was absolutely considering throwing in the towel, and I knew at some point I would get past the point of no return, unless of course I wanted to get lost. A stagnate caboose is one thing, a lost one is another! For about 10 more miles this was circulating in my mind, but I just kept on doing the best I could and pressing on. After all, it was kind of cool to be out with a “pack,” to have a sense that we were all working towards the same goal. Thank God for stop signs, because that is about the only time I could catch up, and then off we went again.  I am pretty sure it was a beautiful day, but between trying to stay on the wheel in front of me and chasing them down hills (big, strong men go much faster downhill on a bike!), I was not noticing much of my surroundings.

There were a few kind souls that would make sure I was still back there and even slowed down until I could catch their wheel to pull me back to the group. As they said, “no one gets left behind.” Thanks guys! While they were recovering I was busting my butt to catch them, and once I did, turbo speed once again, so forget soft pedaling and forget water. There was no time for that!

Do you ever get weary from the journey that is life? Do you want to give up, throw in the towel, stop working so hard and not have to sacrifice for your job, your family, friends, or even God? The Bible says in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Even 35-40 miles into the ride I still heard this voice saying “stop trying, cut off, you are holding them back,” blah, blah, blah…. But at one point I finally realized I was in this for the long haul, and I was not only going to be the caboose but be the best caboose I could be! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13. The end was near.

 Somehow, at some point, I ended up in the lead. How did that happen, you ask? They decided to back off and rest a bit. J Wow, I was the engine! They were counting on me to pull them into the headwind and push my lungs and legs to their ultimate capability. I felt focused, strong, and excited, and it lasted maybe a half a mile if I am lucky! Ha! I suppose they wanted to give me an ego boost.

Towards the end, I fell back again, but one lone rider waited for me to pull me back yet once again. It was all I could do to hang onto his wheel, but hang I did. My guts are now out on route 45!  Rolling into town I just wanted to get home to my banana and peanut butter and drink about a gallon of water, so I had hoped for the direct route home, however I stuck with them and followed their way, not mine, and eventually made it to my front gate. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Maybe I was the caboose, but I still finished, with a valiant effort.

I have gone my own way too many times in the past several years, gotten off path, become stagnate in my walk with God, and the whole time He has been calling me back to Him, wanting me to chase His will for my life and to work with a steadfast focus, hope, and love for Him. Only then will I finish the race He has set before me. How about you? Where do you stand? Do not get complacent or ride off in the opposite direction trying to avoid any and all uncomfortable situations. Work hard with all the strength and stamina that the Lord has given you, for His glory. Fear God, not the engine(s) that scare you away from fighting the fight He has set before you. He is the only one worth fearing. This world would be a different place if more people feared God and His mighty, mighty power. Ecclesiastes 8:13 says, “Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.”

Would you believe me if I told you I actually had fun on that chilly, Saturday morning ride?? Well, I did. It was great. I was a happy, pink caboose, who could not wait for the next challenge ahead!

“10 Years of Pruning”

Where are you at? No, I am not asking for your location, but rather, where are you at in the growing process? Are you experiencing growing pains, are you blooming like the spring flowers, or are you like a dead branch that is not growing or blooming, but instead is withering away with a scary future?  Maybe you are struggling with an addiction, family issues, or failed relationships, or maybe you just have your priorities all screwed up and no part of your life seems to be flourishing? I can tell you that for the past 10 years plus, I have been there in some shape or form. After listening to a few sermons recently that spoke directly to me, I thought I would share some of what I have learned, in hopes that it may help you.

God says in John 15:2, “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.” Further along in verse 6, He says, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” I am the first to admit I did not remain in Him for many moments of my life, and was not producing fruit, which explains a lot of the pain and suffering I felt. Now that I am walking closer to Jesus, He is richly blessing me in so many ways. I figure God’s pruners are worn out by the amount He has had to cut away from my life, including relationships, hobbies, etc. Where there are small glimpses of fruit, He is pruning continuously so that they can be more fruitful and glorify Him.

You may be wondering what this has to do with you and your situation, but it has everything to do with it! Once you allow Him to come into your life and start pruning away, you will be richly blessed, and have a peace and hope unlike any other. It will all come together for you, I promise. But first, you must take the first step, giving your life to Jesus.

No matter what you go through in life, healing must take place first. Whether you have an addiction to alcohol, are going through a difficult divorce, or are physically ailing, you must take the time to heal. Where do you receive that from you ask? Well, as much as we hate when people say it, time DOES heal all wounds, and Jesus will deliver it even faster! As Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” He has healed me time after time after time! Heartaches, illnesses, and injuries have been regular occurrences in my life, and many of you could say the same. The moments I have “let go, and let God” are the times He has healed me as promised. Trying to heal on your own will not work.

 Believe me when I say I am a stubborn human being. Stop laughing family members! J Independent, strong willed, determined, focused, driven…… Yep, these are all words that describe me. That is great you say? Well, it can be, but it can also be bad if those qualities steer you down your own path of destruction time after time. God blessed me, and you, with traits and abilities, but He wants us to use them for His purposes and to seek His guidance and His help. Trying to do things my way, as Frank put it so well, did not work for me. One failed relationship after another, one injury after another, until I realized He was trying to get my attention and show me my way was not working any longer. “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me,” (Psalm 118:13). When I finally, truly let go of my issues, guess what? I healed, in all capacities. I found out it does feel good when you stop beating your head against the wall! Those around me say “the old Lis is back.” I needed God’s help first, and the help of those surrounding me to make needed changes. Where does your help come from?

In tears over a recent failed relationship, I cried out to God for help and hope, to know I was following His lead, and as He promises in Psalm 30:2, “Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me,” He not only healed me, He in an instant gave me hope! Without giving details, let’s just say, God may as well have called me Himself! Something happened to me that made it clear I was on the right path and that I had hope in Him, not a run, not a man, not a job, not an addiction, but Him! Ever since that moment, I am in awe of God, so blissful, and I have a long lasting hope that will not go away no matter my circumstances or what life throws at me. I am clinging to one of my favorite passages, Psalm 37:3-5, which states, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”  See, He knows the desires of my heart, he always has, so why for goodness sake have I been trying so hard on my own to get them? The closer I walk with Hi , the more He will bless me!

As a born again Christian believe, I was saved when I was young, and because of that I am certain of where I will go after this life, however, my walk with Jesus has been pathetic for lack of a better word, and He obviously is aware of that. The pruning that has taken place I am sure is not over. I am a work in progress, as all of us are, but now I am excited, exhilarated, and eagerly awaiting His shears! Words cannot express the peace and hope I have, and you can have that as well. First, allow the healing to take place, and in the process find the help you need through not only Jesus, but through those around you that love you. Finally, have hope, not in your circumstances, because let’s face it, the world is going downhill fast, and we are never guaranteed a rosy future, but rather, put your hope in a solid foundation and let the pruning begin! He will throw the dead branches in the fire and prune what you have left, so that you will once again grow, flourish, and produce so much more than you ever thought possible!

Identity Theft

“IDENTITY THEFT?”

“Who am I?” Hmmm…A personal trainer, a triathlete, a marathon runner, a daughter, sister, aunt, etc. This is partly how I view myself, but lately with my failed attempts at signing up for marathons, etc. and then not being able to follow through due to injuries, it has been my thought that I am “nobody” if not that. If I do not have an answer for the next person who asks what I am training for, or if I do not maintain a certain appearance, then what will people think? Who will I be? It is what I do, so what else is there? Wow! Working through this over the past few months, God has shaken me to the core, and I realized, as I continue to do so, that I let others, including myself, take over my identity!!! Have you?

I am a child of God – He handpicked me for a reason. He loves me not for my athletic accomplishments, work success, or anything else I have done well. He loves me because I am precious in His sight, and He wants the best for me. Yes, He provided me with talents that helped me to succeed in races, etc, and maybe I still will in the future, but that is NOT why I am here on this earth, and He does not give one hoot that I did an Ironman! Ugh. How selfish can I be? Do not get me wrong, God is happy when we are happy, and celebrates our successes with us, but He also wants us to be just as happy regardless of whether or not we can run, finish a marathon, or anything else for that matter. Despite our circumstances, God wishes us to be happy in Him!

Let me try to explain….. John 3:6 says, “Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s spirit can change you into a child of God.” John 1:13 says, “To be a child of God has nothing to do with human parents. Children of God are not born because of human choice or because a husband wants them to be born. They are born because of what God does.” Nothing I have done or will ever do could ever be enough to earn God’s approval, because it is about what God has already done for me, (and you)! His grace has provided me an invitation for salvation, to give myself and my life to Him willingly, in which all He requires is a simple act of faith, belief, and acceptance. You either believe this or not, and that is the choice He provides you with; what you do with it is up to you! When I was young, I realized this, and accepted Him as my personal savior, so I have been “born again,” and His spirit changed me into a child of God. Just because I am a Christian does NOT mean that it has been all sunshine and unicorns! God does not promise any of us that. At times I have grown further away from Him, but looking back, I am realizing that those were my darkest days.

So, back to not running….. Think about who Y0U are. If you could not do your job, perform your hobbies, or be a mother, what would you think? Would you decide you are nobody if you do not have kids, run the company or run the race? If not, that is great! I am glad you have your priorities in order, but unfortunately as a human being, I really kinda suck, and my priorities got screwed up. I had my moments, which included tears, “what is my reason for being here” talks with my mother, and feeling hopeless. Again, selfish, selfish, selfish! After prayer and a few pertinent sermons from my friend’s Pastor in S.C., I have realized I need to change the way I am, the way I think, and I need God’s help to do so. He loves me unconditionally and wants me to succeed in Him!

What did all those events do for me? They provided some satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and exhilaration, but years later, who cares? It does not give me a lasting gift or a heavenly reward. Instead, I need to realize I am here because of God and because HE has a purpose for me that I may not even have realized yet, and He surely has one for you too! Being happy in Him and because He lives is all the reason I need, whether I can run or not. That is just a perk.

Interestingly enough those closest to me have noticed that lately I am happier than I have been in a long time, and I have not been on a run in close to 6 weeks. You fellow runners out there know what that can do to your psyche! I am not going to lie – I do not miss running in the cold, icy, windy, downright miserable weather we have been having. However, God is the one changing me, and partly because I am finally allowing Him to do so! I have been “barking up the wrong tree!” Because I am seeking and searching God to do what He wants me to do with my life and to be happy in Him no matter what, He is blessing me ten times over! Matthew 5:6 sums it up well. It states, “Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!” Maybe this is not for you nor do you believe a word I am saying, and that is o.k., but let me tell you, I have been more richly blessed, more fortunate, and happier these last few weeks than I have been in years! I am continually working on being “spiritually prosperous,” but I know now, more than ever, who I am, and that is all that matters.  

Yes, God gives us talents, hobbies, jobs, interests, but we need to keep them in perspective. I failed to do so, and am the first to admit it. Search your own thoughts. Please do not be a victim of “identity theft,” as I was. Though others have known me for my athletic achievements, my job, my family, etc., it is more important to me that they know me as a child of God, someone who is not just the daughter of “so and so,” but the daughter of the creator of this world! Awesome, right?

HAVING AN ‘IN’

“Having an ‘In’”

You have heard it before. “The reason Susie got the job is because she has an ‘in’ with the director,” or “Yeah, John got court side seats because he has an ‘in’ with the coach.” Everyone typically has an ‘in’ somewhere, at some point in their life. Maybe you just happen to know the lady at the local café pretty well, and she gives you an extra shot of espresso for free, or you happen to be Hines Ward and are offered a free entry into the Kona Ironman?  In any of these cases, it is kind of nice to have an ‘in,’ is it not? Recently I read this same phrase in a comment by someone on an opinion page, having to do with Phil Robertson and his recent statement that got him into trouble with certain individuals. The opinion stated that Phil seems to act like he has an ‘in’ with God based on his wording, making it sound as though he knows something they do not know and that he is above them. Well, guess what? Phil does have an ‘in’ and so do I.

I have pondered writing about this for a month. This is partly due to being way too busy, but more so because I hesitate to share how I feel on this topic. Why? Because look at what happens when Christians do share their beliefs. They are banned from T.V., ridiculed, and made to sound like mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant people. However, on the flip side, there can be a same sex wedding at the Grammy’s, with barely any repercussions the next day. Hmmm…diversity? Or just when it works for you and allows you to do what YOU want to do? You do not need to watch Phi’s show or read his books if you disagree with him, and I guess I will not be watching as much mainstream T.V., including shows like the Grammy’s, since it is insulting to me and my beliefs. After wrestling with whether or not to write this and express my thoughts, I decided to go for it. You are free to agree or dis-agree, but here it goes…

If Phil reads the Bible, believes what it says, and has faith based on a personal relationship with Jesus through salvation, (which I believe he does), then he most certainly has an ‘in’ with God. The coolest part about it is that YOU can have that ‘in’ too. Phil is not saying he is above all others at all, but rather that he hates the sin, as God calls it in the Bible, but NOT the sinner. There is a BIG difference. He, as well as other Christians who may agree with him, can tolerate other’s sins, but do not need to accept them or have them be shoved down their throats. We as Christians have love for Christ and others, but we also know what is right and what is wrong, based on the teachings that Jesus gave us. That does not mean we hate the sinner.

Maybe it seems as though his words imply he has an inside scoop or a direct path to Jesus Christ, but that is because he does! If you know anything about Phil’s history, or when he came to Christ in his late 20s, you would know that he, like all of us, is a sinner too, and at that point in his life he realized he needed Jesus and that there was only one way. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.’” (John 14:6) This applies to all people, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will have that direct path to Jesus, the ‘in’ I am referring too. The Bible will come to life for those filled with the Holy Spirit, and yes, as Phil stated, he does believe it and follow it in his daily life. This may be different than others’ views, but if diversity is the goal, then he is entitled and should be respected for that, right?

If you disagree with Phil or what he believes, so be it. You are absolutely entitled to that opinion and your own way of life. However, if you are curious as to what Phil has that you do not have, I would encourage you to take the dust off of the Bible and open it up. Read the book of Romans, or John, or just start from the beginning, but I promise you that you will not be disappointed. There is one way, no other, and according to the Bible, no amount of good works, going to church or living a “good” life will get you there, will give you that ‘in.’ Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” They mean nothing to Jesus who already paid the price for us, all He asks is that we believe and accept His invitation.  Phil Robertson did just that, and he has been given an ‘in’ with God, allowing the scriptures to be clear to him and to see what is right and what is wrong .

Again, whether you believe it or not, that is up to you, and I am just stating my opinion and beliefs. I am not going to force them upon you. That is impossible. However, remember that Phil was asked about his faith and opinions, and he offered them. If you disagree with him, fine, but in the future, if asked for my opinion, you can bet on the fact that I will give it based on my faith and my belief in the Bible and what it says, not on what is popular or the politically correct thing to say. If you would like to have diversity in this country, then you will respect my beliefs even if you disagree, and you should not ridicule me, or call me a hater. Instead we should be able to move on, with different opinions, and still remain civil.

Phil is not above others nor is he a hater. He reads the Bible, believes what it says, and has followed it, and if the Bible is the true word written by God, which I do believe, then I am sorry folks, but he has an ‘in.’ In today’s world, not knowing what tomorrow will bring, I am so thankful that I have the same ‘in’ as well. It gives me hope and joy to know where I am going after this life, and a love for Jesus and for others, even those whom I may disagree with either in words or actions. We are all fish in the fish bowl, and the striped fish may disagree with the spotted fish, but they can still swim by one another without harm and without feeding the other to the sharks.

Baby It’s Cold Inside!

“Baby It’s Cold Inside!”

Winter has arrived. Frigid temps, biting winds, and ice storms grace us with their presence. It is the time of year where a down vest, hat, and hand warmers are a necessity for me at all times, and I can literally see my dog’s breath inside my home! Even though I struggle to stay warm all the time, I somehow enjoy the snow kissed countryside, the refreshing air, and the beautiful morning skies. So, when asking my oldest nephew what he thought I should write about, he responded, “that it’s cold.” “OK.” I said. “So what specifically should I tell them about it, what advice could I try to give out?” He thought about it for a second and said, “Maybe about how to stay warm while running in the cold?” Great idea I thought! Smart kid he is. I do believe I have written about this before, as I feel I am an expert on this topic. With my extreme issues with the cold, somehow I still manage to make it out the door, get started, and heck, even break a sweat by the end of the run. However, after thinking about this and recent events in my life and those around me, I realized there is a different kind of cold this time of year, and that is what I want to talk to you about.

You have seen A Christmas Carol, I am sure, and I am sure you know a few real life Ebenezer Scrooge’s who are pessimistic, mean, and grouchy most times of the year, but especially now. Then there are those of us who turn into one as Christmas approaches, living on a short fuse, due to the stress of getting all the gifts wrapped, cookies baked, houses decorated, and oh wait… we have to work full time too. Ugh! It just starts to be too much, and it wears on us, brings us down, and makes us scream, “Bah, Humbug!” As Mike Tischio put it so well, it pulls us away from the reason we are even celebrating this joyous day. After all, it is not just another holiday, it is a birthday celebration!

Have you ever noticed how there is so much sadness, and so many tragedies this time of year, including the loss of loved ones? I have firsthand experience, as my aunt passed away on Christmas day last year. I hear the grief and stress in my mom’s words, trying to figure out how to “keep it normal” this year when the loss of her sister is felt with each holiday gathering, cookie made, and fallen snowflake. Last year, we were singing “sisters” with her, from White Christmas, and this year, she is singing it with the angels.

This is the cold I am talking about, the cold heart. There are many who feel empty, weary, and bogged down, who just want it to be over. The single digit temperatures just contribute to it, solidifying that it is a dark, difficult time. So, what can we do to come out from under this cold, empty place, and to not only find joy in the moments and people that we DO have surrounding us, but to also find joy, warmth, and love in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ?

I have to be honest, if you do not know Jesus, I honestly do not know many other options, as knowing Him is the only hope there is in this world. When you are lonely, He loves you. When you are poor and unsure of how to pay bills and “get it all done,” He will help you and guide you. When you are freezing in your house, due to trying to cut heating bill costs, He will provide you with warmth. However, you must know Him and ask. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Adversity is not a stranger to me, even in my young age, and each time He has seen me through. My heart has broken several times, and I have bills I have no idea how I will pay, but He always provides. Hmmm… so, maybe I, and you, should be thanking Him more, giving to Him more, and following Him no matter what. Maybe instead of thinking of ourselves and wondering how we will get it all done, we should stop, and think about how we can give to Him?

I am a strong believer that doing for others will bring you much happiness. “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” (Psalm 119:143) If you are cold hearted, sad, empty, stressed about all that the seasons brings, think of others and what you can do for them. Focus not on yourself, but what you can sacrifice. We all can sacrifice something, whether time, money, or even just our prayers. Look at your surroundings, what you DO have, and you may be surprised to realize you are quite blessed. Volunteering is an awesome thing to do, and I admire those who do, but even if you cannot do that, there are other ways in which small gestures mean so much to others, and may help warm your heart.

Remember the Grinch, whose heart grew several sizes larger, when he realized that Christmas came without all of the food, the decorations, the gifts, etc.?? He realized that even if they had nothing, it did not matter, because that was not why they were celebrating. We are celebrating a birthday, and yes, we give gifts to others to show our love, kindness, and appreciation. However, as pointed out to me in my nephews’ church Christmas program, typically during a birthday celebration, one gives gifts to the birthday boy or girl, not to each other. Hmmmm….what do I, or you, give to Jesus? Maybe you cannot provide much, but showing God’s love, goodness and kindness to those around you, is a gift in itself and something He asks us to do. If He provides for me, then I feel an obligation to give to others, to share His gift with words and actions. Pay for the person behind you at the coffee shop, help an elderly person take their grocery bags to the car, send a card to someone going through a hard time, or make a visit to the nursing homes providing your time and attention. It is not hard to do.

 Instead of feeling the stress and pressure to cross off items on your to do list, and allowing the coldness to settle into your heart with misery and grief, think of Jesus, what He has done for you, get to know Him and the hope He provides, if you have not already, and give a gift back to Him, through sharing His love and story with others. Melt the ice from your heart, whatever reason it may be there, and wake up to the joy of the season with a strong and cheerful, “Merry Christmas!” I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, filled with much joy in your heart!

“Two Roads Diverged…”

“Two Roads Diverged…”

This is by far my favorite time of year, and it often brings back fond memories. These include raking leaves in my parent’s yard only to jump right into them with Cricket, my German shepherd, warm apple pie fresh out of the oven, and throwing the football in the yard with my brother during half time. Lately, as I have been running through life, figuratively and literally, another one has popped into my mind.  Sitting on my dad’s lawn mower for one of the last times of the season, and memorizing a specific poem for Mrs. Weaver’s 9th grade English class, to help pass the time as I drove in circles. The poem that circulates through my head, whether I am deciding which running route to take, or thinking back to past events of my life, is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Thanks to Mrs. Weaver, I know it well and reflect on it often.

 My life has not gone as I thought it would originally…you know… the white picket fence, kids running around inside a warm, comfortable home, a nice, new car that runs perfectly, and enough money to afford a weekend getaway, or heck, just the medicine I need. However, I can tell you that I am extremely blessed in so many ways and very thankful that the Lord has directed me down the correct road at each diversion, much to my dismay at the time. Have you ever felt that way at any point in your life? Maybe things have not, or are not, going the way you had hoped that they would, or maybe you have always just taken the easy way out, but you do not have too. I am here to tell you that you can take the other road and face the obstacles other’s dare too, and come out on the other side stronger, smarter and more blessed than you ever thought you would be.

Challenges build character that others will never achieve. I have been through more trials in my young life than many will face in their lifetime; however, looking back, I realize those experiences helped build character and make me who I am today. Through them I have been given perspective that helps me relate and understand others better. Try to view your obstacles in the same way, using them to learn for the future and give advice to others in need. Look at those who lose a large amount of weight and improve their health. Many go on to be personal trainers or group fitness instructors, because they want to help others realize that once you make the decision to take the hard road, the one less traveled, all things are possible. Are you ready to take that road? Or do you want to stay on the easy one where a lot of people are headed, because it is just too dang easy to sit on the recliner after work with your cheese curls?

Funny how I thought I had everything figured out when I was younger. I assumed so much, but God had other plans for me, and I suppose He wanted to teach me a few lessons. Believe me, I got them, and I am still being taught daily! It is also ironic how every obstacle seemed like the end of the world, but looking back, I get it… I get why He took me through them. Another favorite verse of mine is Isaiah 43:2, which says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” He brought me through and out to a beautiful place that was even better than I thought it could be, with more faith, patience and strength to move forward. In all sincerity, without my faith and personal relationship with God, I would be lost and feel much differently I am sure.

So, if you are at a crossroads in your life not sure whether to go for that job, ditch the crappy boyfriend, make a decision to lose weight and get healthy, or give up your smoking habit, can I encourage you to take the road less traveled? I know there are ginormous obstacles ahead, and it is scary. Sure, you will hit bumps, walls, potholes, maybe a few rivers to cross, but you will figure out a way, possibly with help from above, to jump, climb and run through them, coming out the other side with experiences that others will never know. The path ahead will be even brighter than you ever expected, until of course you hit the next giant hole; however, keep in mind, if you try, if you take that chance, win or lose, you will get past it with something awesome waiting on the other side! “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference!”

“The Running Man”

You may have seen it before? The hip hop dance move called the “running man.” It is a fun move one may do at a dance party or in their living room after their team scores a touchdown. Most do not even think twice about it, nor the fact that they are moving all four limbs at the same time, and jumping up and down, breaking a sweat. Most take for granted the fact that they can move their bodies in any way, shape, or form that they want too, at any moment. If you missed Evan’s Health and Wellness Expo, you missed a great event, filled with useful information, screenings, class demos, and thought provoking lectures, but you also missed an opportunity to see a woman do her version of the “running man,” with a huge grin on her face, like there was no tomorrow. Do I have your attention??

At the Expo, the LiteGait was demonstrated. Seeing as how I had no clue what this piece of equipment was myself, I figured I better find out. One of my best friends just happens to be one of the finest physical therapists in the area, maybe state, and o.k., I may be slightly prejudiced?! She utilizes the LiteGait with a few of her MS patients, and the lady I referred to earlier is one of them. Over the past year she has made significant strides in her fight against MS, improving the quality of her life tremendously, and to top it all off, she is one of the nicest, strongest, and most positive women you will ever meet. Instead of being down and out, she focuses each and every moment of her days on what she CAN do and not what she CANNOT do, with the conviction that she will make it happen.

I watched in awe as she proceeded to do all kinds of movements in the LiteGait, a partial-weight-bearing gait therapy device, which basically allows her to leave her wheelchair and elevate her body so that she can move freely with all limbs without any fear of falling. It secures her and enables her to do things she could not do without it. That includes the “running man.” Being able to move her legs and arms just as if she was running, brings her heart rate up, helps fire up the muscles, and golly, it must feel good. The look on her face said it all. Not only was I just amazed, but at the same time, my being down about not being able to run for two weeks, due to an injury, deserved a “boo-hoo,” from up above. We take for granted so much what our bodies can do, such as walk to get the mail, climb a flight of stairs, grip a fork to eat, ride your bike to the market, or walk the trail with friends. Being able to move and feel that sensation is lost to some, or maybe they once had it and no longer do. However, in this case, I saw someone take the high road and give her body every fighting chance it has not just by using a LiteGait and an amazing P.T., but by using her mind, her attitude, and her drive.

The next day I participated in a 100 mile century, benefit ride in Shunk, Pa. Well, it was 107.5 miles really, but who’s counting? It was a chilly, foggy start to the ride, but warmed up quickly on the first big climb and ended up being just a beautiful day, with gorgeous countryside, mountains, and great company and food. In the back of my mind throughout this ride, I just kept thinking about what I saw the day before, and I decided that no matter how tired I got, I would ride every mile for her. Even though I do not know her all that well, I can probably safely say that she would give anything to be able to ride a bike and feel the breeze in her beautiful hair, so I vowed to not take it for granted that God had enabled me at this point in my life with a body that could do this. Somehow that made the day fly by and feel easy. Of course, I do think the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and candy bars helped with that just a bit.

I guess I am sharing this, because first of all, I feel it is a shame more people did not come to witness this first hand, and also just to get you thinking about how lucky you are to be able to do the things you can do. Maybe some of you can relate to this woman and are in similar situations, but that does not mean that all hope is lost. Change your attitude, change your life. Maybe some of you are completely healthy, but choose to sit on the couch and eat bags of chips and cartons of ice cream. Shame on you! Get moving, and be grateful, and know that God designed your body to be a temple as it is truly His creation, (1 Corinthians 6:19), so do not waste it and treat it poorly, but be happy with what you can do with it, and give it love through exercise and a healthy diet. While you are at it, put on some tunes, put a smile on your face, and break out into the “running man!”