Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Beep, Beep!"

The last two weeks I have been working on a side project at work for an upcoming staff meeting in which all my co-workers were asked, among other things, “Who was your favorite cartoon character as a child?”  It has been fun to read the results, and has led me to ponder what it is about these characters that make children drawn to them. 

My favorite character as a child was The Road Runner.  I liked him predominantly for his speed (I ran track in elementary school), as well as his intelligence, his pretty purple feathers, and that classic “Beep, Beep!”  No matter how hard Wile E. Coyote tried every day to dupe the bird with wild contraptions and complex plans, with but a little common sense and speed (okay and inconsistent rules of the cartoon universe), Road Runner was always successful at escaping, leaving Wile E. to experience the pain of the trap himself.

In our evening Bible readings over the past few days, Clint and I have been contemplating the story of Esther, the beautiful Jewess who first wins the king’s hand in marriage and then saves her people from destruction.  Her greatest qualities perhaps were her beauty, her courage, and her humility.  She obediently followed the advice of her uncle, Mordecai, and was willing to lose her life in an effort to save her people.  Perhaps the most famously quoted verse in the book is: “For such a time as this,” referring to the Providential appointment of Esther as queen in order to rescue the Jewish nation. 

As the story unwinds, Haman, a high ranking official, parades through the city and is sorely offended when Mordecai refuses to bow to him, stating that he bows to God alone.  After complex schemes and shady dealings, Haman is invited to an exclusive feast with the king and queen.  Overjoyed with the VIP treatment, Haman decides to make his move.  In the end, however, Haman who had been planning revenge on Mordecai, ends up, similarly to Wile E., with a death sentence, hanging from the very gallows he meant for Mordecai.  And we discover in the following chapter that his 10 sons have the same fate, while the Jewish people are saved.

What an inspiration Esther is of a woman who bravely faces her calling and steps into the role that God has given her to play!  Being named the most beautiful and desirable woman in the land does not go to her head.  Rather, Esther humbly submits to Mordecai and continues to identify with and protect her people.  Oh to have the courage to step into the court of the king, facing certain death, and instead to find life and joy.  The God of Israel protects her and in turn protects her entire nation through her.

May we too be found faithful in the calling that God has placed on our lives and may we walk with courage into the unknown.

Reflection:  Based on their cartoon character choices, others in the office appear to admire a good sense of humor, bravery, the defense of the innocent, as well as general cuteness.  Who was your favorite cartoon character and what did you admire about him or her?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breakin' a Sweat

My sweaty hands grip the metal and all I can do is keep chanting, “Just a little further.  Just a little further...”

28:00.  The treadmill beeps and my first run at the gym in, oh probably 5 years, is finally over.

“Push the cool down button,” Clint instructs, reaching across the machine to show me where the little blue button is.

“Phew!  I’m gonna be sore tomorrow!  It’s not exactly a walk in the park!”

You see I like to think of myself as a lover of nature, an outdoor exerciser, not a gym rat.  I prefer going for an afternoon stroll in the park or playing ultimate Frisbee with friends, but I must admit that I have not been disciplined in exercise for at least the last 6 months.  I like to think that I can muster enough motivation and accountability on my own to maintain an exercise routine; however, when I am honest with myself, I realize that I’d much rather chill on a Monday evening than do aerobic activity.  The motivation will usually come in spurts, but without a buddy to keep me accountable and motivated, I’m much more likely to daintily sit and read at Starbucks for the evening, than to spend an hour sweating at the gym.

For the past few weeks, however, Clint has been talking to me about a gym membership.  We have discussed the need for good health and that regular exercise is a major component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Additionally, having been married for just over 2 weeks, we are seeking to establish good patterns and create habits that will keep us healthy and happy for years to come.  Together we will work to reach our goals and to maintain consistency.  So we’re still a little idealistic about the whole gym thing now, but the real test will come in October or November when the school year is underway and our calendar is filling up.  That’s why we need to start now and we need to be disciplined and make our health a priority.  By the grace of God and each other’s encouragement, we can do it!

Thus, with a 7-day guest pass on the clipboard, I found myself panting and sweating at our local Bally’s on Monday evening, and honestly I kind of liked it.  I mean I certainly did not want to go to the gym after a long day at the office, but once I was jogging and watching the calories burn, I actually starting feeling pretty good.  Maybe breaking a sweat at the gym isn’t so bad after all!  I think I might be able to get used to this.  Of course, lucky for me, I have a gym partner, my husband, and together we will find the motivation, and hopefully the joy, of exercising and being healthy. 

So say a prayer for us and the next time you see us, ask when we were last at the gym.  Of course, since we care about your health too, we just might return the favor…