Monday, May 25, 2015

Spiritual exercise?

I love to exercise. I was always very active in high school and tried to stay active in college, but I think what really got me hooked on exercise is when a friend of mine in my sorority introduced me to aerobics. I loved it and she then in turn, taught me enough that I could teach others. My major in college was Exercise and Sports Science and I ended up teaching aerobics for 12 years...and plan to go back to it once I have more free time.

Research has proven that exercise is good for us.  It burns fat, it releases endorphins, and it strengthens our muscles and bones.  But even with all the known benefits, exercise is still not on the top of the list for most people.  I think it's because it takes time and effort. Most days it does come easy for me, but sometimes it is a struggle to come home from work and immediately choose to exercise... but after I have I am so thankful I did.  

So, what if we put this in a spiritual context. I wonder what the "church", meaning the body of Christ, would look like if we did more spiritual exercising.  We actually took the time and effort it requires to strengthen our faith.

As I am learning and experiencing more from Holy Spirit I am seeing that there is something required of me daily. In general, we go to church on Sundays and sit and get.  We may do a small group or Sunday school or Bible study or life group sometime throughout the week and then return on Sunday for another message.  But how many of us are truly exercising what we learned in those six days between Sundays?  I think it's safe to say that we are spiritually obese.  Matthew 9:37 says "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."  Somewhere in the history of the church it became okay to sit and listen without action. 

I was wondering today on my run what if the church had a "restaurant" side and "gym" side?  I'm thinking the restaurant side would be for those visitors, nonbelievers, and those Christians who are experiencing trials. This would be a place they could come and learn and be loved on and just sit, without much being required of them.  But then there would be the gym side. This side would be for believers wanting to exercise what they have been taught. I completely believe that we should be exercising what we have been taught weekly, but the truth is that it is scary and to be lead in a group of others would definitely take the fear away. I could see the elders or even those believers (personal trainers if you want to stick with gym analogy) who are further along in their exercise regiment being the one to lead this. This would be no longer a place where you would sit and listen, but a time where you would leave the church walls and go out into the community to heal, to pray for others, to wait on God to reveal a word, etc. I think the same principles of exercise would apply. Everything that you have learned (or your caloric intake) would be burned off leaving you needing more calories or spiritual bread. How much more would a sermon stick with us if we actually came to listen empty?  I know after a workout I crave food and that food is much more enjoyable because I am needing it.  But just like our bodies, if we don't burn off what we have already heard and learned we are just storing it and getting more and more obese.

I would love to hear your thoughts, or see if I am all alone on this subject matter or if there are churches out there that already go out on a weekly basis and "exercise".  I try very hard to listen and act on what God gives me daily, but to be honest I feel like I'm floundering around 75% of the time.  I think it would be so helpful to know that on a weekly basis I could join with other believers to practice and increase my faith. In the teaching world they call this the gradual release method.😉 Okay, I think I've overused analogies on this one post, but I hope somewhere in there something made sense!  I know that physical endorphins feel amazing, but nothing compares to the spiritual endorphins that come with partnering with God and exercising your faith. I pray for more!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Puerto Rico

Last week Richard, Amber, Erin and myself were able to go to Puerto Rico to visit Blake.  We booked the trip back in January when it was so cold and this spring we have had so much rain, so we were really looking forward to some hot sunshiny weather! We left bright and early Saturday morning. Richard has never been on a plane so it was neat to experience his first plane ride with him.

Once we landed in San Juan we took a cab to the hotel. The cab rides are always exciting due to the craziness of the drivers! But we made it and got all checked in.

We headed down the beach to a restaurant we were familiar with to grab some appetizers. Unfortunately, I guess we brought the rain with us because it did sprinkle on us a little and that whole day was overcast.

That evening, we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then headed over to Blake's hotel where he is the bartender.  The hotel was gorgeous! We took advantage of the great scenery and had a little photo shoot.

Blake was busy with customers, so we just waited a bit until they left so we could sit up at the bar with him.

Blakes girlfriend, Heydi, joined us and we really enjoyed meeting her and getting to know her.

Day two started with a run down the main strip. I had forgotten that most people in Puerto Rico exercise regularly, so on my run I was constantly dodging people or going around people because there were so many runners on the road. I told Richard this would be a great place to live for that fact alone! By 10 AM I was on the beach soaking in the sun.  But by noon everyone had gotten up and had joined me on the beach.

While we were sitting there we saw an older man trip over the uneven bottom of the ocean and fall. We laughed initially, but then realized that he was unable to get up. His wife went out to try to help him but she too almost fell in. Richard and Blake ended up having to go out and help him up to get his bearings.

We also started Blake's birthday celebration on the beach. Heydi brought cupcakes that we enjoyed to celebrate Blake's big day!

That evening Blake chose sushi for his birthday dinner. We went to a very nice restaurant where the food was so delicious!
There were only four seats in Heydi's car so Amber and Erin decided to take a pedi cab. They had the best time doing this!

We had brought everyone's presents from back home for Blake so he had quite a few to open at the restaurant. Mom even wrapped something little for Heydi since her birthday will be in June. They were so cute opening their presents and showing them off.

The food in Puerto Rico is always pretty good. They have plenty of things that we considered "normal" to eat as well as local food if we wanted to try that as well. One morning I had gourmet waffles and they were delicious!

We also both tried the mofungo which is fried mashed plantains paired with a meet of our choice.

And we shared a gelato treat, which is always delicious.

After two nights in our hotel down near San Juan, we moved to the east side of the island to some condos.  Heydi's boss owned the condos but was not there at that time so he rented them to us for dirt cheap. Everything was so nice and upscale. We did not want to leave!

We had a two-story apartment for all of us with both stories having full bathrooms and kitchens.

We were pretty high up on the mountain so the views down over the ocean were spectacular.

They had several infinity pools around the villas so those were really neat to take pictures in.  The island in the background is Palomino Island.

The first night that we were there we just stayed in after the sun went down and Heydi cooked us fajitas with homemade pico de gallo.

The next morning we were on the first ferry to Palomino Island. Since the condos were on the side of the mountain they did not have a beach associated with them so they would ferry their guests over to Palomino Island. 

These were our condos from the ferry boat. And you can also see the hotel down by the marina.
The whole day was so relaxing just getting to sit and swim in the ocean and search for seashells. That truly is my favorite part about vacationing at the beach.

The iguanas on this island were very large and somewhat friendly. They were fun to watch and take pictures of.

Once we came back over to our condos we decided to check out the waterpark that was there. It was so much fun with no waiting in line so I think we rode the slides 10 times each by the time they closed.

Our last day there we spent shopping and eating in little kiosks. Amber and Erin tried the cold coconut water.

Our whole trip was so enjoyable and I am so glad we were able to take time to just relax and hang out together. It was nice seeing Blake and meeting his girlfriend and hanging out with Amber and Erin as well.  This was a great way to start our summer!