She’s an affectionate red standard poodle, and even though many describe that breed as “high maintenance” and “self-absorbed,” our dog means the world to us. We have always enjoyed long walks with her, but she is now 11 years old and we see the signs of her aging, so accordingly we’ve had to slow down our pace and shorten the walks to accommodate her. Reflecting on this, I wonder about some of the people the Lord has put in my path. Am I being too hasty with them? Do I show sensitivity and reflect concern when it comes to their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs? Sometimes I just need to slow down for others and go at their pace. I don’t want to risk running past others, or even worse, running them over.
Brrrr, it’s either cold outside or rainy or snowing, and it’s difficult to get moving on days like this. It’s also easier to curl up with a novel or watch HGTV while consuming snack food. But lately, I’ve been pondering the implications of maintaining physical health in order to uphold our spiritual health. If we’re dragged out from lack of sleep, it’s difficult to focus on praying to our heavenly Father. If we’re neglecting a healthy diet, it’s difficult to read and study God’s Word with clarity. And finally, if we’re not physically active, it’s difficult to have the necessary stamina to walk with the Lord. I’m impressed with how we need to take care of ourselves if we desire spiritual fitness. Get to bed on time, make healthy food choices, and by all means, get moving. Go for a walk, ride your bike, swing a golf club or tennis racket, swim, or go to the gym. I’m not preaching a three-hour daily workout, but I know I need to be active every single day to reach my spiritual fitness goal. The apostle Paul doesn’t mince any words when he states, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) We’re admonished to take care of our bodies, and I encourage you, dear sisters, to take the necessary fitness steps in your life.
What can I say, I’m a romantic at heart and love being wined and dined by my dearly beloved husband. This year for Valentine’s Day, he made dinner reservations months ago at our favorite Spanish tapas restaurant we enjoy on our half way stop to or from Florida. All is going well, we’re making great time on the highway, and check into our hotel for the evening. Somewhere between receiving the room key (well, actually, they’re no longer keys these days, but rather a piece of plastic that looks like a credit card) and unloading the luggage, my dearly beloved became violently ill. Since the gift of mercy hovers at the bottom of my spiritual gifts inventory, I took a cursory glance at him, grabbed him some Pepto-Bismol, and finished reading my novel. As the clock is ticking, I realized he was still prone on the bed. It is now dawning on me that I was hungry and he wasn’t going anywhere. After canceling the dinner reservation, I ordered a nice “to go” dinner from the restaurant across the street and ate it alone at the desk/work station in our hotel room, thankful for all that constitutes the love between a husband and a wife. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud … It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, NIV)
We’re currently vacationing on the Florida gulf coast and experienced first hand the effects of red tide. Red tide is a rapid accumulation or bloom of toxic red algae. Karenia brevis (for my scientific readership) builds ups quickly and becomes dense. The effects of it are fish and plant starvation, not only from the toxins, but also from oxygen depletion. In humans, red tide is potentially harmful to our respiratory systems and produces eye irritation. As we walked the beach, the vast numbers of dead fish that had washed up on shore stunned us. How like sin. Sin permeates our very being, and is capable of choking the life out of us when allowed to continue unchecked. Thankfully, God rescues us and provides an answer to the dilemma of human sin through Jesus Christ. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, NIV)
Something we all experience from time to time are the little letdowns in life. Since I’m married to a man who does not like being cold, we enjoy escaping to Florida for a couple of weeks during this time of the year. We have learned the further south you go in this state during the winter, the more expensive it becomes. Calculating in this variable, we decided to try a new place this year at the southernmost latitude our budget would allow. Well, it’s charming and it’s funky, but the cottage room is not what I envisioned. These are the times when I need to hold my chin up, pull out the disinfectant wipes, and get to work. God is so good, though, and answers our prayers. Prayers for safe travel. Check. Prayers for warmer weather. Check. Prayers for some great seafood. Check. Prayers for a fun, safe place to stay. Check. It’s always important to remember to not let disappointments steal our joy. After all, I’m sitting on the patio in the sunshine typing these words ….