“What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.“You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”
2013...the year of surprises.
Some not so much.
I have always been one who believes there is a reason for everything. The blessings and curses of this imperfect world on my life have purpose. I have good reason to believe such...The KJV says it most poetically..."To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1
The timing of God is a fascinating mystery to me. I refer to it as a mystery because my finite brain will never grasp the awesomeness of it this side of Heaven. Just like "the red thread" idea of Jesus being seen woven throughout the Bible, binding God's Word together, I see the evidence of God's timing strategically threading people and events throughout my life to bring me to a place and time of learning, finding encouragement, and/or hearing from Him in ways not fashionable by me or anyone else.
As I come to the end of this year of surprises, this is for certain: God has been at work, He is at work, and He continues to be at work.
How do I know?
When two people from my past, whom I both know, but they do not know each other, with similar (yet very different) life paths walk back into my life about the same time this summer, carrying the same message with them, I know.
Without a doubt, I know.
Earlier this spring, I whispered a prayer to God, again..."Help, me. Please..." I was tired of being tired and out of breath just taking a walk. I wanted to feel healthy inside and out. I did not want to want the sugary, sweet things that I love to make to have a hold of me any longer. I wanted to enjoy a bite and yet be able to walk away after that one bite satisfied. (This topic on my lifetime struggle with weight is another whole post still in the draft stage...stay tuned.) By July, I had begun to see some amazing things happening as a result of hard work and determination, but I did not know how to continue them and make them a lifestyle. I had reached a plateau...a nice, improved plateau, but I wanted more. Only, this time, it was a desire for more good.
Here's where God really shows up and off.
Kristine, my locker neighbor all four years of high school and now a wife, mom, fitness guru, Shakeology drinker, and BeachBody coach, began passionately posting on fb this year. Having been fb friends for a little while already, I saw the transition from the normal life events and photos to the passionate, encouraging, uplifting, believable, real posts of a woman with a mission. They leapt off the screen at me each time. Her words followed me around all day, lingering in my head.
**A little history here...Kristine and I were locker neighbors...not best friends. She was the nicest popular, "in" crowd person you could ever meet in a small town high school. I was far from the "in" crowd status. I was lucky she was so nice to me all those years. She could have made life tough on me, but she did not. I am grateful.**
Those posts led me to choose to take on a challenge of hers in August: 100 push ups and 100 squats every day for 30 days. That challenge transformed my thinking, and, therefore, my life. Two things I have always hated in life, make that three...running, sit ups, and push ups. Anyone who was overweight as a child/teenager, knows why. I had not attempted a push up in years. YEARS, people. Now all of a sudden I am going to be doing 100 a day for an entire month.
Let me tell you, I was on the floor, in prayer, that first day. I just hoped I could make it through the first day without failure. I made all 100 by the end of the day. I realized that my work in the gym, both aeorbic exercise and weight training, had made me stronger than I knew. (The squats hurt like nobody's business, though, but I got those in, too.)
My brain finally caught up with what my body already knew after a year+ of going to the Y on a regular basis. I was no longer the same person. I was stronger. I do have what it takes to change. I can do this and feel good, content, and satisfied.
Kristine's story has many facets. It is hers to tell. All I will divulge here is that, like anyone, she has struggles she faces everyday. She chooses to face them, work through them, and be real about them. Her walk and talk match. Her story inspires. Her encouragement and passion are shared generously and extravagantly.
I am grateful.
Oh, but God was not finished showing up and off yet.
Probably because He knows me so well, he surprised me in September with another blast from the past carrying the same message.
After a weekend reuniting with friends from college, I get a fb friend request from Shawn. "He must have seen a photo in which I was with other fb friends of his," I told myself, not knowing anything about Shawn's life since I knew him (gasp!) 20 years ago as the nice, quiet, guy with a shaved head lots of muscles that I passed on campus and watched play intramural football. Like with Kristine: same campus, different worlds. Actually, he even remotely remembering me was more surprising than getting the friend request.
Come to find out, Shawn is now the same nice guy with a shaved head and lots of muscles...but with National and World records in powerlifting to go along with them. His story, too, is his to tell, but it is definitely one I have come to appreciate and be encouraged by as I am on my own journey this year. His methods of encouragement and real-ness (for today that is an actual word, in case you were wondering) are as inspiring as those of Kristine's, and just as believable, although he may have an intimidation factor going for him as well. If you saw the size of those aforementioned muscles you would understand. While Kristine's words follow me around and talk me through a tough day when I want to do nothing, just knowing that Shawn could knock me down with a finger pushes me through the tough days (and that's most every day). Even more than intimidated, though, I am grateful. :)
God has used people from my past to bless me. I am no longer just inspired by their lives to become healthier, make wise choices, to live intentionally...I am inspired to tell my story, too, in hopes that the real-ness of it may, in turn, inspire someone else who hears/reads it.
***Although, I have let both Kristine and Shawn approve this post, this is my own post, in my own words. I am not receiving any compensation for anything I have written.***