Beginning My Lenten Journey

Today is Ash Wednesday.  I’ve begun my Journey to draw closer to God.  I am no expert, but I humbly offer my feelings and interpretations of the current study.  The Lectionary readings for today are: Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 51:1-17, 2nd Corinthians 5:20-6:10, and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.  

Isaiah speaks to looking for the spirit of religious practice instead of simply following the “traditional” forms.  For me, this hit a political note.  It’s how I feel whenever someone says, “Make America Great Again,” while striking at the foundations of the things that have made us great, like freedom of the press, free speech, support for the poor, and equal rights.   

In my opinion, America is still great.  Those “good old days” weren’t really all that good.  We just hid all the problems behind closed minds.  The results of this election may be a blessing in disguise.  Perhaps we were becoming too complacent.  We thought all those bad old prejudices had been overcome.  Now we see they were just being hidden behind “political correctness.”  Apparently, a large percentage of our citizenry still held to those hateful ways of thought and feeling, they were just afraid to speak out because it was unpopular.  The festering boils of their bigotry, anger, and hatred needed to be lanced and drained.  Hopefully, this will lead to a healthier America.   

The Psalm passage is about the need for God’s forgiveness, the necessity of cleansing ourselves of sinful ways so that we can be forgiven.  This also touched home since we, as a nation, obviously need to cleanse ourselves of prejudice and selfishness.  

2nd Corinthians tells us that we, as Christians, are to be Ambassadors for God.  That it is our job to set examples wherever we go as to the way Jesus taught us we should live.  America has always set an example of equality and opportunity for the world.  We were a symbol of hope.  Lately, we seem to be the opposite.  We need to once again exemplify the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Matthew tells us not to perform acts of charity or worship in the hope of public acclamation.  Christ said, if we go about seeking praise from mankind for how religious we are, then we’ve gotten our reward in this life and have none in the life to come.  He urges us to pray in private and to keep our charitable contributions to ourselves so that we “lay up treasures in heaven.”  We are to be humble and serve the Lord, not bragging about what we do for others.

I’m sure there are deeper philosophical meanings buried in the text.  I know that I am not adequately prepared to understand the full meanings.  I still feel the sting of Literature classes that dug symbolism and allegory out of what seemed to me to be simple stories.  This is one of the reasons I am embarking on this journey.  I need to make an effort to more fully understand the scripture.   I still intend to go back to school and finish my religious studies degree but, that will have to wait until all my grandchildren are all old enough for school.  In the meantime, I will struggle along on my own.  I have many resource books.  I’ve been collecting them for the past four years.  It’s time to stop collecting and start studying.

 

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Lent Is Upon Us

The Easter season has slipped up on me this year, in spite of the fact that it’s later than usual.  It’s hard to believe that Lent starts on Wednesday.  The year is flying by.   My time is usually freer now, but I’ve gotten so used to not having time to write that I’m still letting things slide.  I have, however, been reading again lately.  I usually have two books going at once.  One in the living room for when I’m sitting there with the kids as they play and one beside my bed for winding down at night.  I also have something open in my Kindle app on my phone for when I’m stuck somewhere away from home with nothing much to do.

I’ve got more than a dozen books I’ve downloaded from Amazon or Overdrive this past year that I haven’t read.  As part of my effort to get myself more organized and back to writing, I’ve started working on them.  Some of them are fiction or self-improvement things, others are religious research materials, or cookbooks.  One I’ve just finished is “Confessions of a Prayer Slacker”  by Diane Moody.

The title of this book hit home for me.  I frequently feel guilty because I don’t spend enough time with God.  He gets pushed aside with my busy schedule.  It’s not that I don’t think about Him or try to follow His rules and live by His precepts.  It’s just that I tend to do it all while multitasking.  I know I need to focus and listen sometimes, but it’s usually second, or third, or fourth….and somehow it doesn’t really happen.  To emphasize how bad it has gotten, I downloaded this book on March 16, 2016.  Yes, nearly a year ago.  

So, I finally got around to reading it at a time when I was thinking I’d do a devotional series as part of my Lenten commitment.  I tried something similar last Easter with “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst.  Some time ago (I really don’t remember how long) I bought “Lord Teach Me to Pray in 28 days” by Kay Arthur.  Yes, this has been a long term struggle.  

The Terkeurst book was a daily devotional covering 60 days.  I did manage to finish it in a timely manner, although, there were times when I had to combine several days together to catch up.  The Arthur book has been on my nightstand for, at least, three years.  I have started it over twice.  I still haven’t finished it.  So finishing Moody’s book in less than a week seems like a big step forward.  Now am working on putting it into practice. 

I own a medium sized Dayrunner that I used for notes and keeping track of meetings when my brother, Jim, and I were actively working our web design business.  It’s a really nice binder in brown leather with a zipper.  I loved using it, but it’s been laying on my desk for a while now.  I have ordered new calendar pages and dividers and I intend to use it for my Lenten devotionals.  I spent nearly $60 on the daily calendar pages, monthly dividers, notes pages, and pockets for storing odds and ends.  I am hoping the expense will give me the added incentive to stay the course.  

I’ve printed out the Lectionary  for March on note pages so I can keep it in the binder.  One thing that Moody recommends is to read a portion of the Bible each day with a goal of finishing the whole thing.  I thought I had read it all, but recent Bible study groups have brought passages to my attention that I don’t remember reading or even hearing before, so I’ve been thinking I need to go there again.

Although this is starting as a Lenten commitment, I hope to develop it into a year long, then a lifetime habit.  As part of that, I plan to do a weekly summary here of what I have discovered along the way, about the Bible, God, and myself.   My plan is to post here on Wednesdays.  Join me, if you are so inclined.  Let’s see if we can build a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

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Working It

I have backed off my plans once again.  Considering my stiffness, aches, and lack of stamina or strength, I have decided I need a couple of weeks of my Pain Free therapy before starting anything more strenuous.  All the experts say to start slow on any new exercise routine.  I have taken a realistic look at my capabilities and considering the fact that, without a strain, I can only do 5 minutes on the bike it doesn’t seem likely I’d be able to handle the Pilates much less the Crunchless Abs or Metabolic Aftershock workouts.  So, two weeks of concentrating on the Pain Free routines while adding in the stationary bike and some Yoga as time and energy permit.  

I feel as though I’ve been procrastinating for the past week, but making a realistic plan is the foundation of success.  The Forward Head Posture Fix doesn’t require much in the way of strength and stamina so I’ll see if I can work that in before bed every night.  Lying on my back on the floor has fully demonstrated the necessity of that.  Hopefully, it will be enough to get me ready for the Pennyrile Spring Photography weekend on the 15th.

I have planned a series of “workouts” based on realigning and strengthening the hips, back, and shoulders.  Since the “core” is accepted as being the most important area for strength,  I’ve included the back positions in both routines.  Like regular athletes, I’ll alternate lower and upper body.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday for lower body and Tuesday, Thursday, Friday for upper.  I intended to start yesterday, but circumstances didn’t align.  I’ve set a new alarm for 6:30 am so that I’ll have time to go through the routine before the kids are up.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  

After yesterday’s short calorie count, I woke up hungry this morning so I ate breakfast, then went to lunch with the photography club.  Knowing it will be a heavy calorie day, I found time after lunch today to do a generalized quick run through with concentration on the back and shoulders.  I plan to work the bike this evening as well.  Hopefully, it will help to offset the pizza Davie wants to fix for supper.  Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll be setting that alarm again.

An inch at a time.  Keep starting over as needed.  My mantra used to be “You haven’t failed until you stop trying.”  I’m reinstating that.  Our fall trip will involve hiking around such places as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.  At the moment, I do well to make it through our monthly grocery shopping trips.  I am determined to regain my ability to walk all day as needed.

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Planning the Workouts

Adjusting the Menu: 
 
According to My Plate, for my age, height, and weight, my base recommendation to lose 1 pound a week is 1330 calories. Of course, the more active I am, the more calories I can add. I’ve always found that I lose more by increasing activity than by reducing calories anyway.  In any case, my goal is 1/2 pound a week, so I can go over the recommendation.
 

On Thursday, I had Wheaties with a small banana, a spoonful of sugar, and just enough milk to cover for breakfast. Leftover ham and deviled eggs with tea for lunch. Then ate the last piece of cherry pie to remove temptation for later in the week when I’m really working on the plan.  For dinner, I tried to compensate for the earlier indulgence with a salad, but I was still over my daily goal by about 200 calories.  So, that will have to be my cheat day for this week.  On Friday, I managed to stay 148 calories under the goal.  This is my normal methodology.  My hope is to come out under the goal by the end of the week.

 
I spent the afternoon watching workout videos to choose which ones I can successfully do now and which will need to wait for a gain in strength. I’m thinking I may switch up the crunchless abs for pilates for a week or so. It looks more doable at my present level.
 
I also discovered a David Carradine’s Tai Chi DVD that I don’t remember having. It looks like it’s very old, the girls doing the routine have “big hair” and a couple of the guys have Tom Selleck mustaches. They’re all wearing white “gogo” type boots and Star Trek looking outfits. I’m thinking watching it will be amusing. It starts out with about 30 minutes of Yoga/Pilates type exercises. Some of them look challenging, but they all give me the urge to move, so I may need to revamp my workout schedule to include it.
 
So, I am presently thinking I’ll do the Pilates on Tuesday/Thursday instead of the Critical Bench workouts until I build some strength, then work on the Tai Chi routines on Saturday.  Somewhere, I still have a DVD from Doc’s Tai Chi class too. Once I’ve gotten bored with the Carradine period piece, I’ll dig it out and try to remember the forms he uses.  I will, then, add the other routines back into the schedule as I get stronger.
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Workout Plans

After reviewing the first Aftershock video, I’ve come to the conclusion I’m not quite ready for their routine.  I like the concept: Do sets of 4, 4 times.  Go as hard as you can until you can’t, then rest until you can.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the strength needed to get through the whole routine no matter how much I rest.  Those will have to wait a few weeks.  I’ll start off with their concept and use other workout routines until I am able to do the harder stuff.  

So, the present plan for the month of April is as follows:


Daily  

The Aftershock warmup – 4 squats, 4 waist twists, 4 pushups.  Do a total of 4 sets, resting as needed.

Forward Head Posture Fix routine – This consists mainly of sitting or standing with correct posture while doing belly breaths, massaging neck muscles, and stretching shoulders in various configurations.  It’s something I feel a real need for though.


Monday-Wednesday-Friday

30 day Yoga Camp Videos with Adrienne – Check them out on You Tube.

Stationary Bike – Go until you can’t, rest until you can…..starting at 5 minutes, aiming for 30 by the end of April


Tuesday 

Pain Free Routine by Pete Egoscue 

Body Transformation Mini Circuit from Critical Bench with Chris Wilson


Thursday

Pain Free Routine 

Crunchless Abs from Critical Bench with Chris Wilson


Saturday

Pain Free Routine

Pilates – I have several DVDs….I’m not sure yet which one I’ll wind up using. They’re all stacked on a shelf in my bedroom.  I plan on dusting them off and looking through them while Damion and Elaina are napping today and making a decision.


I know it doesn’t seem like much, I’m aiming for about 20 minutes a day of structured workouts, but it’s a start.  Along the way, I’ll also be doing a lot of bend, stretch, up and down stairs, and lift in my regular routine of taking care of toddlers and cleaning up after them.  My big problem is that I can’t set a certain time of day to do anything on a regular basis because my toddler schedule changes all the time.  It is a real challenge to find myself with a few free minutes and use it to workout instead of resting.  But resting doesn’t increase my strength and stamina or reduce flab. 

To help build my will power, I am still working on my Made to Crave Devotional book and I’ve ordered a new one called Have A New You by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman.  Both of these are actual paper books that I can highlight and make notes in easily.  

Making a commitment to post my progress here regularly should also help maintain my determination.

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Categories: Diet, Exercise, Health | 1 Comment