Thankful for Being Well

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year” (Franklin Pierce Adams).

I’m slowly but surely on the mend. The fever’s gone, the energy’s returning, and the cough . . . well, as the great philosopher Meat Loaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad.

I never fully appreciate my good health until after I’ve been sick. It’s a lesson I have to re-learn over and over. The pattern goes like: 1) me taking my health for granted, 2) me coming down with a nasty fever, 3) me feeling like death warmed over and wanting to hibernate until spring, 4) me finally mending and getting well, 5) me being grateful for my heath– for a little while.

Then I read about someone who’s way more sick than I ever was. Or someone who’s been fighting chronic illness for years. Or someone who’s life expectancy went from years to months or weeks or even days.

In a culture where we have some of the most advanced medical technology and knowledge, it’s the norm to not give a second thought to your health. It almost feels like a given for most of us that we will live out our 80 years in relative comfort.

But lately, it seems like death has touched so many of my friends’ families. Even some of my friends and family. Sure, some lived to a ripe old age, but too many departed this life much too soon.

So, thank you God for my health. I’m grateful for each day, knowing that tomorrow is neither guaranteed nor promised. I will do my best to appreciate and enjoy and savor this one life as much as I possibly can and never take anyone in my life for granted.

 

The Crud III: Near the End (Hopefully)

Last night, I did something I probably haven’t done since I was like 5 or so. I went to bed at 8:30. And I did so voluntarily without anyone else telling me I should. I was that tired.

This latest incarnation of The Crud doesn’t make me feel sick or icky. I just feel extremely sleepy most of the time. Hence, the early bed time.

I woke up this morning feeling 500% better. Not all the way cured, but much closer.

I attended the Sunday gathering of my church (because after this weekend, I refuse to say that I go to church since the church isn’t a place but a body of believers).

Afterwards, I browsed all sorts of retro stuff at Pre to Post Modern. I had some fantastic vegetarian pho at Peace, Love and, Pho. I did some quality music hunting at Grimey’s.

I capped the day off with community group, followed by fellowship and dinner at Hwy 55. It was a good day.

All that said, I’m still not completely cured. I still have a lingering cough, and I’m not exactly ready to go out and run that 5K race just yet.

Oh, and Peanut the cat says hi. Or she probably would if she weren’t curled up next to me, asleep and completely oblivious to everything. At the moment, she looks more like the tiny kitten that I rescued way back in June.

My health may not be picture perfect, but I did manage to wake up this morning and the part of my brain that tells me when I need to pee still works, so I call that a win.

Good night, sports fans.

 

Gravy

Waking up, breathing in, and breathing out. That’s the gift. Everything else is gravy.

I had quite the interesting evening.

It started off as a normal Thursday. I stopped by Best Buy and browsed a bit. I stopped by Barnes & Noble and browsed a bit more.

I ended up at Maniacs for dinner, which seemed easier and more convenient than trying to turn left onto Mallory at 6 pm.

The trouble started when I got in my car to drive home. I put my key in the ignition and turned. Nothing.

I tried it again. Nothing.

I waited a bit and tried once more. Nothing.

One of the guys who worked there tried to jump-start my car. Nothing.

I ended up calling AAA. The guy who showed up tried the same thing. Nothing.

Then he did something I’ve never seen before. He took a long wooden pole and jabbed it at something in my engine while the jumper cables did their thing.

I almost felt like burning incense and chanting to help out. It felt that mystical.

Whatever he did, worked. I was able to start my car and drive to Advance Auto Parts, where further testing revealed that my battery, starter, and alternator were all fine and dandy, thank you very much.

I still don’t know what happened. Maybe I’ll never know.

I do know that sometimes God is trying to get me to trust in the dark. It’s not enough to trust Him when all my prayers are answered and when all my dreams come true.

Perhaps the best place is trusting no matter what. Even if my car doesn’t start, even if my life doesn’t make complete sense, even if I never see another tangible sign of God, I still have more than enough reason to praise Him. I still have more than enough reason to trust Him.

Can you trust God if the job offers don’t come? Can you trust God if the spouse you’re praying for doesn’t get well? Can you trust God if the money doesn’t come through to pay those bills? Can you trust God even if you can’t see any hope that God will ever bring that significant other into your life?

Ultimately, God is enough. When you finally get that, you can trust Him no matter what. I think I got one step closer to that tonight.

 

In Whatever You Do

“Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father” (Colossians 3:17 VOICE).

So, this is my 1,955th blog. Tonight, I revisited an old classic, To Catch a Thief, from the year 1955. Coincidence? I think not.

It’s always nice when a Wednesday turns into a Friday. For the lucky ones (like me), that means that we get both Thanksgiving Day and The Day After Thanksgiving (also known in some circles as Black Friday) off from work.

I’m thinking about these words. Whatever you do, do it all in the name of Jesus, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.

Do it all for the glory of God out of a spirit of thanksgiving. How appropriate is this verse? Maybe that’s why the good folks at Bible Gateway chose this to be their verse of the day on this November 25, 2015.

Today, I am thankful for my job. I’m thankful for my car that got me to my job. I’m thankful for good health and legs that were able to get me to my car, which got me to my job.

I’m thankful for friends who refuse to accept bumper sticker answers to hard questions. I’m thankful that I have friends who have stuck around when maybe they shouldn’t have.

I’m thankful for the abundance of turkeys who made the ultimate sacrifice for our feasts tomorrow. Your sacrifice will not be in vain. Trust me.

I’m thankful for 15-year old furry babies who still like to curl up in my lap and lower my blood pressure in the process.

I’m thankful for every single day that I get to live and remember those who didn’t get that chance.

I’m just plain thankful.

The end.

 

 

Righteous Anger?

“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life” (James 1:21).

I have a question for you (and for myself, too). Why is it that we as believers get upset when nonbelievers act like . . . well, nonbelievers? Why are we so surprised?

Salvation is more than a new morality code. It’s more than a different kind of behavior.

It’s a total transformation. The Bible uses the word regeneration when speaking of someone getting saved. Paul talks about becoming a new creation. Not a better version of the old creation, but a completely new one.

The question isn’t why nonbelievers act like nonbelievers, but why believers don’t act more like the faith they profess so loudly.

I love what my pastor Mike Glenn says: the world doesn’t hate Christians because they’re too different but because they’re not different enough.

If I really believe what I profess about how Jesus can take anyone at any point and rescue him or her from who they used to be and make them into something completely new, then my life should show it. I should be different.

I should talk differently for sure, but I should act in a way that lines up with all my verbiage.

That verse in 2 Chronicles 7 about God healing our land? That’s not directed at nonbelievers getting their act right. It’s about those who are called by God’s name, i.e. Christians, who turn and repent and seek God like never before. That’s when the healing happens.

. . .[If] my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health” (2 Chronicles 7:14, The Message).

Maybe it’s time to stop the finger-pointing and blame-assessing and maybe start praying.

 

Old Movies and Theology

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I just watched an old movie. Surprise.

I saw Boys Town, a 1938 movie starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. It was definitely a feel-good movie, though it didn’t start out that way. I believe it was based on the true story of the founding of Boys Town.

The point of the movie is that Father Flanagan was trying to help boys who didn’t have mothers or fathers to look after them, who would otherwise end up on the streets and involved in crime. He wanted them to learn how to live as decent citizens and decent human beings.

I think we sometimes are quick to judge those who act differently than we do. Or maybe whose sins are different than ours. It’s very easy to condemn someone who struggles with an addiction or issue that we don’t struggle with.

But maybe what people need isn’t to hear how they’ve messed up and are headed down the wrong path. They probably figured that one out already. Maybe what people need is to know that someone out there knows and cares about them. That maybe, just maybe, they can change.

That’s what the Gospel really is. We like to harp on the sin part sometimes and maybe get a little too much satisfaction from telling people how bad they are, how they’re sinners headed straight to hell. Maybe we need to emphasize that it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe we need to point out that God loved the world so much that He gave Jesus so that it wouldn’t have to be  that way.

Jesus didn’t come to tell good people how good they were. He didn’t come to make healthy people feel good about their health. He came for the bad, the messed up, the sick, the broken. Which by the way means all of us.

Before you write off someone else, remember who you used to be. Who you might still have been but for the grace of God. That just might make all the difference in the world. In that person’s world.

 

Why I Love the Psalms

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Here’s my update on my Bible reading. I’m up to Psalm 127, which is probably ahead of the pace I need to get through the Bible in a year, but I’m okay with that.

I’m reminded of why I love the Psalms so much. Yes, there’s a lot of “praise the Lord” and “hallelujah” verses, but there’s also plenty of “Where are you, God” verses. There are stories of both victory and defeat, joy and sorrow, health and illness, strength and weaknesses. In other words, it runs the gamut of human experience.

I love the honesty. I used to feel like David, or whoever else happened to write the particular Psalm I was reading, was boasting about how perfect and obedient he was. Now I think I see it as a man who feels like he’s giving everything he’s got to do the right thing.

I see that life is hard, bad things happen, and sometimes the bad guys get the upperhand. Still, the last word is always how the loyal, steadfast love and faithful God (or the Eternal One, as my translation puts it) never ceases.

That’s a good reminder for anyone going through struggles and pain and loss. God’s faithfulness never runs out. His love never lets up. It always finds us and brings us back to His heart and one day will lead us home.

To paraphrase an old saying, victory is never final and failure is never fatal. It is trust in the strong arms of God that wins out in the end.

Fitness Progress Report #1

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I’m starting the second week of my new fitness plan. And I get that I need to come up with a better name than “my new fitness plan.”

So far, my goals are to exercise at least six times a week, eat healthier, i.e. way less sweets, carbs, red meats, etc., and to take those extra small steps that add up to overall better fitness.

By that, I mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Intentionally parking farther away from the store to get those extra few steps in. Drinking water instead of tea for meals. Only eating out once a week.

So far, so good. I don’t say perfect. I could have done better. But this is not about beating myself up if I don’t get it exactly right every time. It’s about doing it better than the last time. After all, every little bit helps and every step counts.

It’s good to have friends who will encourage you and hold you accountable. I have one of those. It’s helped me during those times when I was feeling unmotivated or just plain lazy.

I’m not expecting to drop 50 pounds in one week. For one, that’s unrealistic. Also, if I lost 50 pounds, I’d look funny.

This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change.

There will be more of these progress reports to come.

Just remember that God loves you no matter what body type you are or whether you love or hate your own body. God loves you regardless of whether you fit the traditional mold of what’s considered beautiful or not. He made you just like you are and think’s you’re to die for.

I just wanted to throw that out there.

Happy Happy 2014!

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Well, it is officially 2014 and, thankfully, the media is calling it “twenty fourteen” instead of “two thousand and fourteen.” It just serms simpler.

I’ve made a list of things I want to do, some of which I have already implemented. It’s all about a healthier me for 2014. Hey, that almost rhymed.

1) I plan on getting back into running/trail hiking/bike riding at least 5 times a week.

2) I’m looking to cut back majorly processed sugars, breads, red meats, and fast foods.

3) i would love to see the term “bestie” (referring to best friend) eliminated from common usage. What was so wrong about BFF? And is it really so very hard to type “best friend”? I think not). There’s no theological or grammatical reason. It just annoys the crap out of me.

4) I would love to implement a “Greg’s Mac Fund” for me to buy a Mac Book at some point in the near future.

5) i plan on celebrating my 42nd birthday in style on February 28 (and not forgetting that ol’ Elvis was this age when he had his unfortunate bathroom episode).

6) i plan on working on my #1 New York Times bestseller novel that will allow me to quit my day job and spend more time on social media (I jest about everything but writing my novel).

7) i want to spend MORE time with the people who mean the most to me. That’s YOU. And currently, my calendar is looking rather open.

I’m not expecting 2014 to be a banner year. I am expecting God to show up and be just as faithful to me as He was in 2013 and 2012 and all those other years.

And you will be hearing a lot more about the progress on my new fitness regime. Probably starting tomorrow.

Good night and God bless you all.