Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not Enough to Know

Crown me the Queen of Awkward. But, overall, it was profitable. On the wall of the men’s restroom this sign was posted. “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise.” spoken by Charles Spurgeon. It got me thinking as I snuck out unseen. I hope.




It reminded me of another day when my brother and I were running errands or eating or something…



“Joie, I know why people are always calling you and telling you their deeds of misconduct.” My brother elbowed me with a nod of wisdom.



“Why? I thought it was because they know I’m trustworthy and won’t tell you all about it.” I teasingly shot back.



“Ha ha. Actually, its cause you make them feel bad when they’ve been bad without being mean. So people feel like they’ve gotten a spanking and can move on ‘til the next time they need some candy reproof. And that’s why you’re a regular old confessional booth.”



I sighed. I wanted it to be because people know I love them and am always there for them no matter who they are or what they’ve done. Then I started thinking about everyone, including myself. Little children feel better emotionally after a correction, and even from childhood we want justice. People turn themselves in to face sentencing because of the pressure of guilt.



Once you know you’re naughty its never enough to say aloud, “I’m naughty.” You have to do something about it. So often it is just enough satisfying relief to admit wrong or wrong-doing, without making it right as the next step. Its like we’re crying out inside, “Somebody please tell me I’ve been bad so I can feel better!” Then the “stuffing of the reminders” and the “trying to move on” follow up in quick order.



Wait. “So I can feel better?” How empty and selfish. That’s not making anything right. That is just the act of saying, “I just want to get past my hurt feelings and forget about what I did.” Where’s the justice for you in that? No wonder you still feel bad: that’s trying two wrongs to make a right. Call me and I may make you feel a little punishment, but that’s not what you need, either.



You, my friend, need some action. It is called “restitution” or “compensation.” When you’ve been wronged, you feel that something’s been taken away and you want it back or at least replaced, right? Well, the people you’ve wronged are in that boat waiting for you to make it right. You know that…And they are the ones who need to hear from you. Your guilt won’t go away until that’s done.





So, yes, call me. But please don’t just say “I’m naughty.” Become not naughty. Quit stuffing and move past wrong-doing and conviction into the world of freedom. Yes, it is miserably hard when you do it, and right before you do it you may think it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. And trust me, it is. But in exchange you get the best thing you’ve ever had: peace.



He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13



But ultimately, we’ve all wronged God in rejecting His offer of loving emancipation from our own wrong-doing. Oddly enough, He’s offered to take that achy guilt that you can’t place a finger on, in exchange for a freedom forever from the ultimate punishment of Hell. The guilt we live in and can’t trace is what we bear today for breaking the basic laws like don’t steal, don’t lie, and don’t lust. Our sense of justice wants us to get in trouble for it and God stands the judge in the courtroom ready to mete out the proper sentence prescribed: Hell. Yet for His own selfless reasons, He’s also offering to cover the penalty for you: and most people skip that and say, “Death, please.” Yes, you’re right. That sounds like a pretty dumb choice. So make it right. Take the gift, be grateful forever, and move on to your better future in real freedom.



That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:15-21





For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9





And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; Colossians 1:13-14



If we could grasp what He’s giving, we would never do wrong again. To begin with, don’t spit in God’s face with rejecting such a generous offer.



P.S. Even if you’ve taken this free gift and have been rescued, your sense of justice inside will be violated again if you aren’t admitting when you’re naughty and making it right—with your actions every day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cleaning House

Did you know you can live in a clean house, if you clean it? I know, right? It is quite amazing. All you have to do is get up and clean it, and then it is suddenly fresh, inviting, friendly, and enjoyable. That just hit me a couple days ago. (Don’t be too concerned about me. I’m an epiphany junkie.)


I’m not even kidding. When we are dragged down by something we usually just need to go take care of it. Believe it or not!

• I’m overweight. So, go exercise and eat less.

• I’m tired. So rearrange the schedule and sacrifice for some more sleep.

• My bedroom is filthy. So go put your laundry away, blow on the dust, and throw stuff away.

• I’m hungry. So go eat $1 cheeseburgers or ready-whip on carrots.

• I’m grouchy. So stop it.


OK, I’m not actually that harsh. I know it looks so simple on paper. What holds us back?

• Are we doing more than we should be, running out of time for “the basics”?

• Are we caught up in a mind game with ourselves, debilitated by past failure, depression, lack of will, when we really aren’t stuck there at all?

• Are we lazy or spending too much time “recharging” or “catching up with friends”?

• Do we care about others enough to help them out, or are we selfish, off to ourselves?

Here’s the thing. Nobody can make you do anything. This is where we help ourselves. You get to think and then you get to do. I know I do so much better is someone will just tell me what to do and then I can do it. But we aren’t always that fortunate, and unless we give ourselves a kick in the seat, we don’t budge. What’s piling up around you? The truth is, you actually can clean it up.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweeping the Porch...of Men?



I saw that. I laughed. It is true. But why?

I forgot I told her about my porch until she mentioned it to me again. When she asked me at coffee that morning about my porch, I had to think for a second. But it’s true. I have been sweeping my porch lately, quite well, whether I want to or not. I just have to do it.




Inside my house is me. No man comes in and sits on the sofa enveloped in the soft pillows with me, sipping from steamy mugs, unless I open the door first. Once someone did come into the foyer, before I asked myself to have him leave. Another time my dad asked me to allow a short visit with someone inside. But, the front yard is full of friends and acquaintances, while strangers pass by in the street. Those who break in at the back window get carted off. But those friends who ask graciously to come in, are gathered on the front porch.



That house is me. And you get to choose for your house what you do. Why did I “sweep my porch” of those nice gentlemen that I like that like me, instead of asking them all in and encouraging close friendships? A cousin asked me last week, “So, what are you going to do when you’re thirty? Are you going to change and finally try different guys out? You know, let them into your life even if they don’t seem quite like you or your faith or don’t care about your folks?” The answer is simple. I’m too nice. I do like people. I like the idea of love. I like to sit on the couch and drink good things. I might let anyone in if I didn’t keep house fastidiously, sweeping my porch.



I was so glad she asked. The values you hold for yourself in the area of potential life partners, should be standards you would keep even if ten years from now you were terribly desperate to get things going in the marriage department. Standards should never just be a thing you have, or things that sound nice or godly. They’re there because of something defined; and if you don’t know why you believe something then please consider not believing it. Despite a soul’s desire, I’d rather be single forever then married to the wrong person because I was “feeling hopeless” or didn’t know what I thought.



The sweet lady at the doctor’s office had a captive audience in my sister’s patient time-biding in the waiting room all alone. She whispered over the desk to my little pal, “Why doesn’t your big sister have a boyfriend? I mean, she’s so hot!” We laugh about this, and maybe even partially accept the compliment, yet know the reason “why.”



I sweep. I say “goodbye.” Yes, I am all alone in my house and it gets quiet without a close guy friend by my side. Sure, I confess it bodes gloomy sometimes, even despite my faith, my desires, and my lovely friends. But I can’t let the wrong person in: I have no choice if I’m truly kind and selfless to all the wonderful people in my yard, while meanwhile adhering to what I have learned to be “right.” The people in the yard have future partners, too, who deserve the best without my messing around with them first.




Then my mom-friend interjected, “It’s the right thing to do, you know. Don’t feel badly about doing it. Do you think your future spouse would want or appreciate all those people on your porch? Do you think a good man would trust you if you let nice people in regularly, just because it felt good to you?” She is right. I could just as easily fall in love with someone else after I was already married causing disasters of irretrievable size, if I’m not living sensible boundaries now.



You also get to choose for yourself. You get to choose who answers the doorbell. My dad gets mine these days and a lot of people think that’s weird. Trust me, there’s more respect in the neighborhood when a man answers your door for you. But, ultimately, I am the one who decides who comes in. You run your house, though. Do what you know is right for you.



Who is on your porch that needs to go? Maybe he’s just there chilling on your mind’s veranda; even he’s never been serious towards you. Married or not, what good does it do to entertain houseguests you actually can’t have over? Maybe just think about it. I trust that the “right one” would respect a clean porch. I certainly do. Besides, this way he will be able to see that the door is there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Can I Have?

You know how when you’re going through something and you find out it is “not just you,” its like you suddenly feel a new freedom to actually—well, mention it out loud. Not just that, but you realize it is “for real.” When something is happening inside of myself, my mind, or my heart, its like I can’t diagnose it…But when someone else is going through the same thing I can finally see myself.




The human brain is special. Mine does crazy things, but apparently it happens to other people. You begin to ponder something and suddenly its as if the contemplated event or occurrence has already happened and you are on the other end, mentally. Now, if the event you contemplated never actually comes to fruition, its like there’s a processing error and this ominous window pops up inside and blocks out your other operating programs—keeping you from what you want to do and suddenly just can’t. “Error. Error. Error.” blinks in your mind and something like…emptiness… trickles into your heart. The symptoms are basically simple: depression. And all of a sudden, you can’t click back into real life like it was before Situation X’s mental birth and realistic death.



Why do we do this? Why do we grow these lovely expectations, watch them die unmet, and then live on in a state of heavy sadness, hidden from all others? This is what I was talking about. It does not just happen to me and I know it.



Life is cyclical and that may include affluence. Once as a little girl I kneeled on the floor and looked at my mother, holding my breath. My brothers were there and their faces were solemn, too. My child mind whirred dramatically listening to the dilemma at hand, “Kids, there is no money left. We need to pay the taxes soon, and only God can afford them. So, we’ll ask Him.” Together, we cried out loud to God for the money, and it came just in time: miraculously, in the saddest of ways. A loved one died and unexpectedly left a small sum to my family. And through all of that time was when I learned, “Hold all things loosely.”



I remember my momma would look at me kindly, extend her hands out in front of her as if holding something, as I cried through the loss of one more love: my dog, acceptance from someone who “should” provide unconditional love, a fire that consumed earthly possessions, the death of a brother. “Hold all things loosely, Johanna, always.” Then I got older and it was more loved ones dieing, more pets, more possessions, good health leaving me hanging for a time…and then relationships that I thought were a part of my future. You think I would know “Hold all things loosely, always.” by now…And I do.



But, why do we forget and cause our own heart sorrow? So I remind us all. No thing is forever. No person is a permanent installation of love. No object can be kept. We can’t live subconsciously like we get what we create in our minds. I’m not trying to rain on the life party or be a wet blanket. I just want us to be so very grateful for each individual and thing that is there right now. I just want us to be prepared to let things go. Not living in a state of perpetual distrust, but of gratefulness, love, and tranquility.



I don’t know about you, but I confess this, “I’m clingy.” What or who I like, I like. Which means, I hang onto it: with my eyes, my hands, my heart, my words, and my thoughts. But I realize that the more prepared we are to release, the more we can keep forever. The more we give it up ahead of time, the more we can bounce back again later after it leaves...



Letting go of the treasures of your heart mentally, leaves you very little to call your own. And that is just how it is supposed to be. God never changes, and He promises to stay and be there for those that seek Him. How beautiful is that? That’s what I’m holding onto—and thinking about today.



Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8





P.S. God also says this and I love it.



But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33



For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. Isaiah 55:8



For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11



Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Matthew 7:7



And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee. Psalm 9:10


Monday, January 16, 2012

Accused

“Johanna, I must speak with you.” Her pursed lips stretched grimly while her blue eyes glimmered ominously.




“Yes ma’am?” I inquired of my superior, setting down my work and stepping across the room to her call.



“You are disgusting and ought to be ashamed of yourself. I don’t know why you’re here and I don’t know what you are. Why are you …” She moved in closer and closer with each biting phrase and finished off with the biggest whopper of a false accusation I couldn’t even have imagined myself. Until that moment, I didn’t know people actually talked to people like that. And my spinning mind couldn’t even trace a single situation to base her fury upon.



For the first time in my life, my mouth fell open in shock. I actually blinked. “Excuse me, ma’am, but I am sorry you see me this way. I am so sorry to have such a misunderstanding between us! Honestly, I don’t know what to say because there’s nothing even to defend on this topic.”



“You don’t know what to say, because what I say is true.” She seethed back, her breathe warming my face. “I will be discussing this with the board and we will determine when you are to be dismissed. Know that when I have my way, you will wish you had already left this ministry.”



I stumbled backwards and nodded respectfully as I could muster. She stalked away. The next day, we had the same conversation for some reason…except it was on a stairwell landing with the addition that “God had awoken her from sleep the night before to impress my misdoing upon her again.” Frankly, it was bonified awkward on steroids.



Tears chased my heart. I was torn. Being falsely accused is terrifying, and false accusation when you are doing what’s right and contributing sacrificially is completely heart-rending. My dad fumed thousands of miles away and my mom cried over the phone. My department director rose from his desk equally stupefied at the report, did a few turns around his silent office, and sat back down to stare at me. Yup. I was doomed.



What do you do in those situations?

• James 4:6-12 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

• Evaluate yourself and look for the root that is prompting the misunderstanding

• Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

• Defend yourself honestly and appropriately without excess and realize God is in control.

• Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

• Maintain perspective: do not be convinced of wrongdoing, but you must take joy in learning and personal growth through the trial.

• Remember that nothings lasts forever. This too shall pass.

• Rely on that good reputation and rapport you’ve been building on the entire planet to date. A clean record is a safeguard. Keep it clean.



I lived. I became a better person, despite the scars, and extremely difficult personal questioning examination from aged men that followed. References were phoned. My position and reputation were eventually restored. Months later, I even got a previously unheard of personal apology for “harshness.”



And I recovered from a devastating immune deficiency disorder.



“Wut?” you say. Well, yes. Previously, I lived as if it didn’t matter what people thought of me, as long as I and God knew I was just fine. The truth is, while abiding under that criteria, you still have to alter your behavior based on how others might perceive you. The truth is also that you have to be able to hear what people are telling you about your weaknesses, no matter how blown out of proportion…and you must grow from it. (Here's where I interject upon myself and say, sometimes people are inspired by evil to extreme false accusation, and that's for another post...)



As a “member of the body of Christ,” a “Christian,” I am part of something bigger. I’m just a “body part,” if you will. If I choose to ignore the warnings of my own body, that is like a body ignoring its immune system. That is never a good idea for those who want to live. You see, I had been warned that people who look a certain way get thought of a certain way, and I refused to believe that was true of innocent me. I didn’t heed the warning, and tread life carefully. That woman’s stereotype and jealousy mingled with my carelessness of other’s perception almost sent me to no man’s land.



When Adam walked with God in the garden, life was truly perfect: just him and God. I like that. But God Himself knew, said, and showed that we need the human beings around us, so He created another human to complete Adam’s life. I learned that we need people—and their warning and correction. This is a good thing that God created.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mashed Kisses

“You can give me all your mashed kisses if you don’t want them!” The child voice crashed into my thought process reorganizing Christmas d├ęcor into a minimalistic space. “Mashed kisses?” I thought to myself. “Mash-ed Kiss-es?”


Her little fingers were already eagerly peeling back the shiny foil from a chocolate kiss I’d been given by a stranger. Since I’d already done one wrong there, I couldn’t take candy from a baby. My mother taught me well. “Babes, I mashed it on purpose, to mark it.” I called back across the room. You see, I couldn’t just throw away a piece of chocolate. Every atom screams “value.”

Perhaps you think it strange that I would speak of chocolate this way. But, mind my words. It rates with walks in steamy rain, warm drinks on cold days, seeing friends you miss, and finishing an epic project. So if you don’t agree, that’s OK. I’d just recommend some psychoanalysis to help clear up some obvious issues.

The best chocolate will never harm your diet as long as a quantity less than five pounds is consumed per Diem. The best chocolate is dark, dreamy, nutty, slightly bitter, with floral notes singing to grassy knolls with sheep graz—actually, scratch the sheep. But you get the idea. Its sublime and you know it when you experience it.

I hear naysayers. I hear eyeballs rolling. OK, well, when I was fourteen I didn’t like chocolate either. I looked around and asked, “What’s with the weird chocolate obsession, ladies?” Then it happened. “It” is “life.” Stress tears. Tears stress. Weight gained. Gained loss. Lost people. People died. Dyed my hair. My hair died and things. Things went to Goodwill. Goodwill went to pot. Pot ruins lives: lives of friends. Friends leave school. School leaves you. You get a job. Job hates you. You get the idea.

And chocolate was there, ever coming twixt me and trouble. The natural, life-supporting constant swept me off my feet time and again. (Well, it was more of a “pick-me-up,” but that still means the same thing, technically. Right?) It is like time-travel, world-travel, and clarity all rolled into one bean: the glorious cacao. Its mounds of things: hugs and kisses, food and drink, joy with almonds, a big hunk, a magnificent symphony, your own planet or the whole Milky Way, golden coins of lost treasure, 1000 times grand, laughter, a soft touch, a payday, a her and a she, white and dark, personal manly defenders with a muskets, it is a Reece’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cup.

I ask you, who else could be all that and still fit in your pocket, be always available in a thousand forms, never say a word, build you up, affirm your body type, melt like putty in your hands, mold to your whims, and then taste delicious in cheesecake and shaved on top? You’ve got to be seeing this by now. There is nothing in this world like the principle behind the atoms of a mashed kiss.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Being Right...Like Everyone Else

I snuggled into the sofa with an arm around my little sis and a pencil in my right hand. She’d been begging to do a personality study together, dragging around this shredded booklet from my high school years, practically traipsing behind me for days with a pencil and a calculator in hand. When I finally stopped going and doing, called her over, and settled down, the results were very enlightening…




“OK, so, Johanna, between these four words, you rate which is highest in your traits with ‘four’ as the highest. ‘Argumentative,’ ‘Fun-loving,’ ‘Logical,’ ‘Patient.’ Ha! That’s so easy! Definitely in that order! ”

“Why? All of our arguments are based on logic first and if we’re not having fun we always stop. You aren’t making sense. So its definitely ‘Logical,’ ‘Fun-Loving,’ ‘Argumentative,’ and then ‘Patient.’ You know it. Agree with me.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes—Well…Apparently, you better put ‘Argumentative’ first.” I teased her.



In the end, we graphed our stats on the chart and laughed at ourselves, and the people we are most likely to not “get-along-with.” My poor sister is an extreme version of my strong traits. I wonder why?



This is me. Apparently, as a personality I deeply value

• Achieving goals and results

• Activity and challenge

• Approval

• Free-spirit

• Emotion

• Control over my given dominions

• Loyalty and Listening

• Variety

• Relating to people through verbal persuasion

• Social contact

• The bottom line

• Spontaneity

• Verbal encouragement and recognition

• Goals



Enough about me and my intensity, there are two complete personalities with which I have next to no similarities. When we read the description of these people, I saw listed before my eyes all the people with whom I have to purpose to maintain healthy relationships.



“Hey Dad! Did you know that you and I are completely opposite in every way possible in how we want to be treated and how we respond?” I called out across the house.

“Yes, I guess I know.” He quietly agreed, as he turned another page in his historical text on North Korea.



These are my non-traits that make me squirm sometimes—and perfectly describe my dad.

• Allow time to process everything

• Non-structured

• Lengthy, recurring explanation

• Routines

• Wants things to stay the way they are

• Cooperative

• Non-verbal

• Desires assurance

• Enjoys solitude





When we look at others, do we see where they are weak in our strengths—or where they are strong in our weaknesses? If I find myself seeing some personalities as “lacking character,” is it that—or the fact that they are just different from how I operate, utilizing their own gifts? What I may see as “indecision” regarding making dinner, is really thoughtfully taking time to do a careful analysis of every detail so everyone’s at peace, mingled with a desire for loving assurance and a personal preference to avoid drastic change as much as possible. I’m likely to just do it and get it done now, considering a different set of life factors, and if someone doesn’t like the decision, they most likely need to grow in that area for their own long-term benefit. The opposites are both “right;” both are kind in their own way.



We already know this about personalities, right? …But it is easy to forget. Maybe I’m the only one who sinks into that place of seeing others in light of ourselves, but what about you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Disaster Date

My parents are on a disaster preparedness kick. Its comforting in a way to hear them comparing folding shovels, debating about generators, discussing ropes, flashlights, hatchets, water, respirators, and all. Because I’m not part of the conversation, I get to feel like a safe little child in a bubble again. But I know The Meeting will come. The hard hat and clipboard meeting where I am walked through generator specs, combat crawling under the house to water shut-offs, and the mapped and scattered locations of the packed necessities.




But, I’ve kept my eyes open. Because I think I would hate myself if my parents were in the middle of all this prep, and there was a catastrophe and they were gone, leaving me knowing I had what I needed but completely lost to knowledge about it. I would die of irony overdose. So, naturally, I wish to avoid that.



So I attempt joining into their conversations with things like, “So you know when to get out of your vehicle if its flying over the edge into the ocean, right?” Or I start in on “If you’re in Puyallup and Mt. Rainier erupts do you know how much time you have and which direction you need to head towards?” I give them the valuable, life-saving info like a classified informant, and suddenly they’re talking about plastic water barrels again: without me. I didn’t get it at first.



But then it clicked. Talking, gathering, and planning about all that stuff is an excuse. It’s a perfect excuse to spend time together, stare into each other’s eyes, and forget about the world going down the drain. (That’s ironic.) Dad gets to impress mom with is manly, disaster skills and she gets to shop for cool stuff with him. No wonder I have to wait for the meeting: for now, its one big disaster date for two.





So, I’m still spying on their date over the past weeks, but you know, it is for the greater good and all that. I sit back and crank the radio flashlight that just appeared on the table, to play love songs from the 40’s until they look at me. I flip the breaker to see the loving panic. I talk loudly about oil shortages caused by Iran possibly forcing fuel prices to leap into the sky, while they sit chatting together on that chair made for one. Of course there are now-perks for me like all the knives I got in my stocking this year. But, honestly, they’re still on a date somewhere safe and warm, testing gloves and hypo-allergenic, indestructible canned goods.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cardio Much?

So I know I’m supposed to do cardio exercise to burn fat and strength workouts to build muscle, more or less. And since my fitness is getting to where I look like I want to be a body-builder when I grow up while I definitely don’t want to, I decided I need more cardio. But I never knew how much cardio to do or what is even “cardio,” for me. Hiring a trainer again as been my dream for a while, just so I could pick his brain. So, first he’s training me for something practical like a marathon. Well, because that’s what I wanted.






But I really just want to know what I need to do to get my body to its healthy best in the exercise department. Apparently, I should start by knowing my maximum heart rate. It feels like 140…But I know better. The real formula is good to know.



206.9 – (0.67 x 22 (your age)) = 192.16



So we know that if you take your maximum heart rate, a low intensity workout of 60% to 70% of your number would be a good warm-up. 70% to 80% is considered moderate, burns more calories and gets your body moving inside. 80% to 90% kicks you out of the “comfort zone” into raising your anaerobic threshold, frying calories. If you were to work at 90% to 100%, you’re working as hard as you physically can like an Olympic sprinter, to your very limits, and you don’t go there until you’re ready.




But what I discovered recently is awesome. I know its been around for a while without me and probably everyone else thinks I missed the school bus or something. But, I love the Karvonen Formula! It determines your most effective cardio workout.



206.9 – (0.67 x 22 (age)) = 192.16

192.16 – 70 (resting heart rate) = 122.16

122.16 * 65% (low end of heart rate zone) OR 85% (high end) = 79.4 OR 103.84

79.4 + 70 (resting heart rate) = 149.4

103.84 + 70 (rhr) = 173.84



The target heart rate zone for this person (me) would therefore be 149 to 174. (This doesn’t factor in high blood pressure or other conditions, just so you know.)



If that was remotely confusing, just put your personal info into the equation step-by-step and it will make sense. What to do next with that exciting info? Get cruising. They say building up to 45 to 60 minutes a day at your target heart rate; 3-5 days per week will get you consistently sizzling that fat back to where it belongs, as long as you remember to implement a clean, and ample food plan… (I said “ample” because starving yourself is a cheap, damaging way to get shredded.)



Or you can implement my little sister’s simple calorie burning formula. She based it off of her observation of whales and other blubbery things. But I looked it up a while back, and she’s for real. But, we still recommend monitoring maximum low temperatures, just to be safe.



Low body temperature caused by external conditions * time = easy burn while struggling to stay warm







Sources:
American College of Sport Medicine. (2006) ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise and Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Sparkpeople Education Community

ABC NEWS Researchers say cold temperatures help with weight loss





P.S. A few sweet, free smart phone apps I adore are RunKeeper and Instant Heart Rate. Check them out!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Staying Little Making Big

“I love racing people!” she panted to me.


“No you don’t. Race me.” I teased.

“I can’t! You always win!” standing on tip-toes, she slugged at my stomach with her tiny fist.



I love little kids. They say the best things that make me think. And they make the best quotes to add to my repertoire.

• Do spiders get people-veins sometimes?

• You look like a pirate booty.

• I don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re really creeping me out.

• I’m the queen.

• You can’t throw that away! God’s in everything!

• Who is Snow White when it snows?

• You’re fat.

• What color is a hole?



Truth is, their fears are the opposite of most adults. You may not fear what’s under your bed, but do you fear what people think of you? Like a child clutching the quilt with two tiny hands to its chin and wildly huge eyes, fear grips people when they think of speaking out. “What if I lose my job? What if people talk about me behind my back? What if?”




We forget what it is like to be a child. My dad says, “Frogs don’t remember when they were tadpoles.” We also forget that every great history-changer lost their jobs, got talked down, shaken up, and sometimes, killed. And we forget how Jesus put it.



At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)





If being bold in doing what we should, if humbling ourselves, if making a difference means entering the Kingdom of Heaven, shouldn’t that be worth it? Nothing anyone will ever say can change your fears. You have to put them down yourself, before they get you. There’s really no choice if you’re going anywhere good.



Common underlying fears that influence people who stay common

• What will others think of me?

• I’m going to lose something.

• I won’t be able to finish well.

• I might fail.

• My past is chasing me down.

• I won’t know what to do.

• I’m not as good as other people.



Who is forcing themselves to ask, “So what?” to those fears in each common daily decision?

• I need to start a more structured lifestyle.

• I need to finally get fit.

• I need to overcome that addiction once and for all.

• I need to actually pursue a better education or job.

• I need to talk to that person, even though it scares me to death.

• I need to make better habits.

• I need to become the person I am called to be.



Because you know that the small decisions to counter your fears will lead you to the great places. And we all know that making the right choices in your new past, is perfect practice for knowing what to do in the big leagues that come therewith.

Source: etsy.com via Johanna on Pinterest

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Not Knowing Is

The first time he ever voted, it was for Jimmy Carter. How could he go wrong? After all, who wouldn’t want an all-American farm-boy with a brother named Billy, a big smile, and a fuzzy sweater in the White House? Apparently, that did include the boy who voted for him. To this day, he talks down Jimmy Carter every chance he gets, gleans info on his terrible policies years ago, and ever-bemoans his personal decision to vote for him. “I should have known.” is the mantra.




We all make decisions we can’t know all the factors too, and we regret like that: at the polls, dinner plans, light-bulb brands, sausage vs. bacon in the morning one day. But what difference does it make to anything at all? Except it does. It changes the individual who makes the decision. It changes subtly how they think of themselves and therefore how they view the world.



Here’s the thing. You’re not supposed to know all the answers. You’re supposed to learn and grow from those situations. You’re supposed to know that you really aren’t in control, and that’s a good place to start. You just do your best with what you know and leave the results to heaven’s wind.



Tea is magnificent. There are thousands of kinds. (Not technically, I know. But bear with me, fellow aficionados.) You stand in the tea aisle at the grocery, or in front of the glass cases at the Shoppe. I don’t know about you, but my eyes dilate contemplating all the possibilities, intricate smells, and delicious samples. But how do you choose? If you love every minute like me, it doesn’t ultimately matter. You will either select an old favorite or pick an unknown. You choose the unknown not knowing all the factors and take joy in that very idea.



If you knew all the right answers, if you did the right thing the first time you put on skates, if you were born as a plastic surgeon with three degrees—you would pity yourself even more than I pity you. If you are experiencing life as a peaceful connoisseur, you will take joy and pleasure from your unknowns and learning through them. Nobody gets the right answers every time—and you’re not supposed to, technically. Besides, it helps your blood pressure—and your heart…and your liver…and your kidneys—not to mention your brain….



Keep calm. Enjoy some things just the way they are.