Categories
Ink Slingers Lynette

How Fit Are You?

Believe it or not, there are many ways to improve your fitness - Lynette walks you through the ways to make that happen!

This past year, our family was considering joining the YMCA.  Faced with pre-diabetes and auto-immune issues, I knew what was best for me – a healthy diet with a good dose of exercise, a word I have cringed at almost my entire life.  Sure, I’ll walk the neighborhood with a friend for an hour (in perfect weather, mind you), or walk the beach, but the decision to work out at the Y required commitment and sacrifice and what I likened to perhaps straight out torture.  It was easy to postpone joining until I broke a bone in my foot over the summer and the co-pay cost for physical therapy to regain my mobility afterwards was over three times the cost of joining the Y. So, there we were. A family membership to the YMCA – now it was up to me to use our investment wisely.

My PT specialist said the best equipment for me to start off with at the Y at first would be the stationary bike.  The first day I jumped on and made it about five minutes before I thought I couldn’t go a minute longer, until I remembered what he told me – slow and steady – and I made it to twenty.  The next day was about the same. I mentally nicknamed it the “torture device” and I was convinced I wouldn’t keep it up for long. It seemed that getting past the point of pain and agony to even remotely find it enjoyable was questionable at best and it was easier to look for ways to avoid it.  But, motivated by the fact that I didn’t want to waste money or my wanting to walk the beach at some point again (forget focusing on the health benefits – that didn’t seem to be enough of a motivator!), I persisted. I looked for ways to pass the time – listening to my favorite music, praying the Rosary and offering up the “torture”, reading a book on my phone – and found that focusing on something else that was more of a motivation to me greatly affected my ability to persist.  As the weeks went by, it slowly became something I began to look forward to and became convinced it was worth doing. I had passed the “hump” as they say.

I was listening to some of my favorite songs while pushing myself to keep exercising the other day when I was hit with the realization that this same scenario happens in our spiritual life as well.  We know what is best for us spiritually – prayer, the sacraments, Mass, etc., but we struggle with even starting towards our goal, afraid we will give up. So, we surround ourselves with all sorts of the latest and best spiritual workout equipment – a beautiful Rosary, the newest prayer book, DVD retreat programs, a statue of our favorite saint.  Their alluring appearance beckons to us, promising to transform us into something better, something more beautiful. We decide to face the giant and begin strong, but find we quickly lose steam. We start the Rosary and are immediately distracted, the new prayer book isn’t inspiring us like we had hoped, the narrator on the DVD series has a monotone voice, the statue becomes just another item on the shelf to dust.  Struggling with giving up altogether, we say it’s “torture” to stay committed and look for ways to avoid it. With perhaps flawed motivations and our own guilt, however, we find a way to push forward, but are often driven to the point of becoming resentful. What are we then to do?

Unless we look for ways “to pass the time” and persevere until we find those hidden gems that allow us to become more motivated and begin to relish what we are doing, we will not be successful in our ability to persist.  Our human tendencies to demand immediate reward for our actions makes it difficult to sometimes see the long-term graces of our efforts. And, unfortunately, many times we too often feel our spiritual life must conform to some preconceived ideals and expectations that we impose upon ourselves, without the prayer and reflection necessary to determine where God might direct us.  We fall prey to the “I should do this or I should do that”, regardless of where we are in our own personal spiritual journey.  And there, I believe, lies our spiritual demise. Lifeless and without meaning, we simply just give up.  

Every day, Jesus offers us His greatest gift – His infinite mercy.  He knows our struggles to persist, our flawed motivations, and our guilt.  He knows how many times we give up and look for ways to avoid Him. But most of all, He knows that we love Him, and that we are seeking to draw closer to Him.  Be merciful to yourself. Tomorrow you can try some of those new “workouts” again. Today, seek Him in a way you perhaps haven’t thought of before. Watch a
sunrise and be intentionally present to Him in all its beauty.  Call a friend, laugh, and rejoice in who He created in them. Slip into a church and just sit with Him quietly without a preconceived agenda. Meet Him where you are today and let Him transform you, heart and soul, into the beautifully fit creation He has destined you to become.

Looking for ways to improve fitness? Look no further, friends!

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Martina Parenting Vocations

Pushing Them through The Tears

Once in a while as parents, we have to do things we don’t like with our children in order to bring out a greater good. In my family it involves a lot of kicking and screaming and whining.

And then there’s the kids’ reaction. 

Shock of all shocks, my kids are a lot like I was as a kid. Crazy how genetics work, huh? And what an amazing built-in parenting tool this can be! I have identified that 75% of my children respond to new situations almost identical to the way I would have. Find the nearest rock and situate yourself comfortably underneath it. Wait for situation to pass and shyly come out. Breathe sigh of relief. Rinse and repeat.

While I understand how they work and know how to work with them to bring out their best attributes, I can’t help but bemoan that EACH. AND EVERY. NEW. SITUATION. comes with crying, whining, and outright refusal. I have to choose to endure the pain {metaphorical Brill-O pad  for purgatory, perhaps?} of their not wanting to do x, y, or z because I know deep down, they not only really do want to do it, they would come to love the new experience and would be good at it.

That’s one fast fish!

So I want to share two quick stories with you – one involves tossing the kids in the swimming pool and listening to {and often paying for} swim lessons that came with blood curdling screams and raised eyebrows that make onlookers question whether CPS should be called – AT – the swim place, mind you…only to quit, give up lessons until years later where said children learned how to swim – one of whom shocked the owner of a well renowned swim place with her pace of learning, going through two rigorous and thorough courses, Nitro 1 and Nitro 2 in a record less than six months, mastering all four swim techniques.

She made the local swim place e-newsletter

The other story involves screams and wails and cries {and asking Father Jonathan to please assure our own son Jonathan that everything would be ok} having to do with altar server training. Sometimes…just sometimes? You know your child is meant to live out that service oriented heart…but shyness attacks their ability to do something they would otherwise love doing. Recognizing this, I became his training wheels and encouraged him through negotiations.

Ok, Jonathan, I’m deciding that you will do the training, but you can decide if and when you serve. The training is only offered once this year. Let’s make a deal – if you do the training, I will not force you to serve. You can choose that, but I will decide that you do the training today. 

Peer led training by a fellow altar boy – here he is learning how to properly receive the gifts.

He, reluctantly through the tears, walks off to try on the different sized cassocks and attend the training. I have a five week old bebe with me and me and my husband and our littlest hang in the pews off to the side to avoid his laser beam death glare. He got that from me, too, by the way. The training ends. I hold my breath. I wonder if it took. I hesitate to ask how he liked it, so I talk about everything else. Later that evening, he comes up to us and casually says {roughly paraphrased} I don’t know if I want to be a priest, but I think I’d like to be a deacon. Not much later, he asked how soon we could take him to Mass to start his training {he had to attend and observe five Masses before being allowed to wear the surplice}.

One of his favorite jobs – candle bearer.

THEN he said he wanted to attend as many Masses as possible so he could get his surplice – that meant two weekends of attending Mass twice. That’s when we knew he was excited. Not once has he ever said Mom, I’m so glad you made me cry and I fussed and threw a fit. That part was AWESOME! but through his actions, he has made it clear that because we insisted on the training, the rest was left up to him and he acted in accord with God’s will. He has since become responsible for getting himself ready and at church a half hour early. He knows what Mrs. George expects of his behavior and he enjoys the quiet time to reflect, pray, and opportunities to talk with our priests about vocations.

Jonathan holds the prayer book for Father Jonathan as he prays for all the dads on Father’s Day.

I have found through experience that while I ultimately place their vocation in God’s hands, my husband’s and my responsibility is to provide our children with the opportunities to see all vocations in action. If they have questions, our job is to answer them and to pray for them and to encourage them to continually seek out God’s calling. And they will rise to the occasion if we provide them those opportunities.  How do you know? With my kids, it’s the kinds of questions they ask. And they ask doozies. One day he casually asked Mom, what’s the difference between making a decision and discerning? And God immediately put in my mouth to answer back with something he could digest at his level – you discern your vocation, you decide on a loaf of bread at the store.