Jun 25, 2006

My Exercise Treasure

Everyone knows that we need aerobic exercise of some sort several times a week, but I recently learned that we need other forms of exercise equally as much. There are five main areas of exercise that we need to keep in mind when we are getting our bodies into shape and keeping them as strong and healthy as they should be. (I'm talking about a reasonable amount of strength here, not body-building.)

Cardio-respiratory exercise, otherwise known as aerobics, is what gets you breathing harder and your heart rate up.

Muscular strength exercises, preferably using your own body weight for resistance, is what makes us strong. Push-ups are a great form of this type of exercise.

Muscular endurance exercises helps us to be able to work for longer periods of time and is the real muscle builder. Sitting in the squat position for as long as you can hold it will definitely build endurance!

Flexibility, or stretching exercises, improve our overall tone and flexibility, but mostly prevent us from getting hurt. A good stretch before and after exercise will help prevent the sore muscles that are a result of lactic acid build-up.

Neurological training keeps us coordinated, improves our balance, sharpens our reflexes, increases our body's speed to run or work, and helps make us more aware of the kinesthetics of our own body. Juggling and jumping on the trampoline might be good examples of this.

As I was contemplating these five areas, I realized that my favorite exercise is the only one that I could think of that incorporates all 5 areas into one training session. It is NOT necessary to do all 5 of these every time you exercise, but we should have a balanced approach to exercise on a weekly basis, at least.

Tae-Bo, by Billy Blanks, is my favorite exercise because it is just plain so much fun! However, it does clearly incorporate all 5 areas into nearly every workout. I like Billy's enthusiasm a lot. He really knows how to motivate! He is careful to teach how to accurately do the moves, so you won't risk injury. He goes through the moves slowly first, which help you learn them easily, but also he emphasizes the slow moves as a time of building strength, and when he speeds them up, as a time of aerobics. There are some exercises that he does for quite a while, working on endurance, and he always has plenty of neurological training incorporated as well. The warm-ups and cool-downs do what they're supposed to do. I was just looking at his website and noticed some testimonies of many people who have lost a lot of weight using Tae-Bo. That's a great benefit for those of us who need it!

Just as a side note here: once I took my children to a Christian Tae-Kwan-Do class to see what it was like, and they already knew everything they taught them because we had already learned all those moves in Tae-Bo. So, if you want to learn a little self-defense, Tae-Bo might be a good way to learn!

He has a children's version, which I haven't used, and a couple military versions for those like that type of exercise. Tae-Bo is equally good for both men and women, and older children.

I will not pretend that I endorse everything about these videos. I will list a few cautions here, so you know up front, if any of these might be a concern for you. Billy Blanks is a Christian and he does have some explicitly Christian videos. I have only done his very first Christian video and it was on the very easy side. I know he has several more out, but I don't know what level they are. His regular videos are not Christian, but they are not un-Christian in any way whatsoever. The music has a good strong beat, which is good for exercising, but there are no lyrics (of the ones I've done anyway), and I find the music reasonable for the situation (I'm a little picky about my music!). He does not use the mirror effect in aerobics that you may be used to, so it is a little difficult to follow sometimes. He will call out "left hand," for instance, and you would use your right hand to mirror him. It's fine once you get the routine down. Every once in a while, he says something a little humanistic (believe in yourself-type) and has a stretching exercise like the rising sun, which I don't really like, but I'm not sure if he really means anything eastern by either one of those; he doesn't appear to have any eastern tendencies in that direction otherwise. Although I am not thrilled with the clothes they wear on these videos, they are much better than most exercise videos.

I love Tae-Bo, especially on rainy days, or days that are either too hot or too cold, or when I'm not able to do other kinds of exercise.

The Memory of an Elephant

I have not exercised for almost a year now. Last summer, I had severe adrenal exhaustion and could no longer exercise, let alone even function! Shortly afterward, I had a foot injury called plantar fasciitis, which got so bad that there were days I would have to crawl because my feet hurt too much. In my research, I found that this can often be permanent. Between those two, I have not been able to exercise for almost a year, and so have gained a few ounces (OK, maybe more than a few!). I thank God that my adrenals are greatly improved now, and I was able to find some exercises that greatly improved the pain in my feet, but they still hurt and I cannot even walk one mile at an exercise pace.

I have been quite reluctant to even try aerobic exercise of any kind because I was afraid it would make my feet worse (which is unthinkable) and, from experience, I know that over-exertion one day can cause an adrenal relapse for many days. But I knew I desperately needed to do something, especially after a one-hour tour I took last week that left me totally exhausted.

Before I continue, I should give you a little background. Beginning in high school (many, many years ago!), I was in extremely good condition, lifting weights, walking 8-10 miles daily, jumping on the rebounder 30-60 minutes daily, and being on a volleyball or track team. After school, I joined the Army and continued working very hard physically and working out daily. After leaving the Army, I continued some sort of aerobics at least one hour daily, and was never afraid of good, hard, physical labor. I could work 18-20 hours a day, if need be, doing hard labor, and not take a break (sometimes I would get so caught up in what I was doing, I would forget to take a break!). In other words, for many years, I have been physically strong and healthy.

Until I got sick several years ago. I was able to recover after almost a year, but I have never been quite as strong. I did continue to exercise every day and work hard, however, until last summer, when it felt like my body just quit. My batteries ran dry and I just couldn't recharge them.

Fast forward to this week. I thought to myself, "I wonder what would happen if I tried some Tae-Bo?" I didn't have anything pressing for the next week, so I was willing to take a risk.

Did you know our bodies have a fantastic memory system? This can either be good news or bad news, depending on your past health, but your body remembers everything that has ever happened to it. For instance, if you are a mother who has been pregnant more than once, you may understand this well. For the first baby, it may take several months before you show, before you need maternity clothes. You may get back into your regular clothes, after the birth, quite quickly. However, when you get pregnant the 2nd time, and thereafter, your body says, "Aha! I remember doing this before!" And it quickly goes into pregnancy mode, you find yourself wearing maternity clothes much earlier on, and it takes a while longer to get your figure back after the birth.

Our bodies also remember lots of other things, too: the most we ever weighed, and the least we ever weighed (as adults); the healthiest we've ever been, and the sickest we've ever been; the strongest we've ever been, and the weakest we've ever been; etc. If you haven't been on a bicycle for a few years, you don't forget how to ride it, do you? You may wobble a bit at first, but you soon find your sense of balance again. You don't have to learn how to balance all over again, because your body remembers.

So, I decided to experiment with Tae-Bo this week. I hadn't done anything but sit on the couch for a year, so I thought I would just try 10 minutes the first day. I actually was able to do 15 minutes, after stretching my feet real well so there would be less risk of injury. From my research regarding plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tendons and ligaments in the back of the calf and bottom of the feet), I read that it can take up to several hours after doing something to irritate the tendons and ligaments before you may feel the pain, so I gingerly waited all day for the pain to come. No pain.

I held my breath.

And the next day, I had enough energy to try again - the full 30 minute workout this time, and I could have gone even longer! I was pumped now! I had energy all day long!

Next day: no pain in my feet, no sore muscles, lots of energy! My body remembered doing this Tae-Bo workout time after time after time, and it very quickly went right back into the groove!

One more day of a full work-out and for the first time in almost a year, my feet are totally pain-free! I have lots of energy already, I am psyched up to work at getting in shape again (which will be easier for me than for someone who has never been in good shape to begin with), and I lost 1.2 pounds in 3 days! I don't know if my feet are ever going to hurt again, or if I will ever have adrenal problems again - I very well may - but I do know that I am on the right track again, and my body is anxious to get back to where it should be! I will keep in mind, though, that if I ever get lax, my body will be just as quick to revert to couch-potato status, since it remembers that extreme as well.

I don't know about the memory of an elephant, but I praise God for making our bodies with an incredible memory system.

Jun 21, 2006

Living Soberly

"I'll talk to him later when he sobers up." No one enjoys being around a drunk for long.

The biblical definition of "sober" is not a term we hear preached much any more. When I asked my children recently what they thought "sober" meant, one answered "not drunk," which is a pretty typical response, I'm sure. I started to say that that's what most people think of, when I realized that it actually is a good definition for the biblical use as well.

Consider a couple verses: we are told to think soberly, to watch and be sober, be sober-minded, and to live soberly, among several others.

But what does this really mean? If we consider the common definition as not having consumed alcoholic beverages, we can picture the behavior of someone who is not drunk, especially in comparison with the drunkard. We picture someone who is serious, who has self-control, who walks uprightly, who speaks clearly and distinctly, who thinks logically, and who is in his right mind. Would this also accurately describe how a Christian ought to live?

Webster's 1928 dictionary describes sober as "not under the influence of passion; serious; solemn; calm; temperate." Not under the influence of passion. So much of today's life seems to be controlled by one passion or another, one lust or another. We are an entertainment-driven society. We want to see exciting movies; hear loud, pounding music; experience body-tingling thrills, have our taste buds continually excited; arouse all kinds of passions and sensations within us.

Now God certainly does not want us to be passion-less, but we should not let our passions, our emotions, our sensual selves, be in control either. We should have a deep, abiding passion for the things above, not the things that are temporary and of no eternal value.

Being sober also must not mean being so serious we cannot have fun or be happy. Paul tells us over and over again to rejoice in the Lord always; while at the same time telling us to be sober. Our joy in life should come from the Lord. Our passion in life should be for the Lord. We should be dead serious about what the Lord has called each of us to do in this life, and at the same time, we should be full of joy in every minute of serving Him.

We only have one life to live. We can live it for the passions of this passing world, or we can live it for the passions of eternity.

Be sober and love life!

Weekly Recipe: Basil Pizza

We make homemade pizza every Friday night. This is our favorite, hands down! (The dough recipe is really for those who already know how to make bread.)

Basil Pizza

1 scant T. yeast
3 c. flour (I use ½ spelt, ½ hard red)
1 t. sea salt
3 T. olive oil
1 scant T. honey
1 c. warm water (use slightly less if using spelt)

After initial rising, roll dough onto oiled stone (or oil with cornmeal).
Preheat oven to 500 deg.

Mix together:
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
¼ c. Parmesan
4 tomatoes, diced
1 pkg. fresh basil, sliced
1 can sliced black olives

Salad Dressing:
2 T. olive oil
1 T. red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper

Mix all together and spread evenly over pizza dough. Bake at 500 for 10 minutes.

Jun 20, 2006

Field Trip Review: Cascade Caverns

Today we went to the Cascade Caverns up in Boerne. Although it was nearly 100 degrees out when we arrived, as we started down into the cave, there was a sudden downshift to 68 degrees, but still very humid.

Here is the original opening of the cave, where people were lowered in buckets with a pulley. A fugitive hermit lived here for many years!

The giant molar!

Stalactites dripping into a mineral-rich, 98% pure water lake. There was water and/or mud everywhere.

The end of the cave was lower and about 48 degrees. This room was used as a church sanctuary during World War II. I could just imagine "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" echoing and booming throughout the cave as they sang their hearts out.

This visit to the underground world was well worth the trip. We saw a woolly mammoth tusk that had neither petrified nor disintegrated over the years, but was fully preserved. We saw other evidence of woolly mammoths, clams and other sea creatures (complete with evolutionary commentary, of course!). We saw all kinds of cave rocks, minerals, and formations. We ducked and slid and got a little muddy, but it was a great time!

Although this cave has the potential to be a great tourist attraction, the business end of it was a bit lacking. The facilities were old and run-down and, quite simply, very trashy. It might be good to be aware of that before you arrive. The signs weren't always easy to follow to get there.

So, above ground, they need a lot of work, but underground, it is a wonderful tour, especially on a hot summer day! Posted by Picasa

Jun 19, 2006

Find of a Lifetime!

It appears that Noah's ark has finally been discovered! I suppose there is no way of knowing for sure, but if what this article says is true, and this is an extremely trustworthy source, then I am cautiously optimistic that this is the real thing! Dr. Bob Cornuke, the discoverer, began looking for Noah's ark many years ago with astronaut Jim Irwin. On at least one of those expeditions, my uncle, Dick Ewing, and my step-dad, Dave Smith, went with them to search on Mount Ararat in Turkey. Too bad they were looking in the wrong place!

Chalk up a big one for the truth of the Word of God!

Jun 15, 2006

My Shopping Treasure

"Love where you shop!" is the motto of my favorite store, Whole Foods Market. I often hear from friends that they think it is too expensive, and so they don't go there. I grant that it used to be very expensive, but Whole Foods has introduced their own store brands in the last couple years, which has added a whole new reason to shop there - competitive prices! 365 and Whole Foods/Whole Kids are not only mostly organic and incredibly delicious, but very reasonably priced. For instance, a half gallon of delicious ice cream is $3.99 (at the San Antonio store, at least)! Hey, that's a better price than Blue Bell, and we like it even better than Blue Bell, as well. If you need something in a package, consider Whole Foods own brand. You won't be disappointed!

I also greatly enjoy the atmosphere of Whole Foods, especially in comparison to other food stores. The employees work hard at making you feel welcome. I have had no problems with exchanges. They will stop and help you at any moment. They will special order something with a smile. And they know my children by name. When I went today, they even asked where my children were. What a pleasant experience each week!

I love where I shop!

Jun 14, 2006


God's Word does not give us the "office" of deaconess; however, I have always thought this was an interesting verse.

Romans 16:1-2 says, "I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also."

Now if Paul thinks it necessary that all the Roman Christians assist a woman who is a servant of the church, in whatever business she needs you, I suppose this would be similar to what we may call a deaconess today. The Bible does not use as many "labels" as we modern-day Christians do, but we can certainly see distinct principles as we study His Word. There is a lot of controversy on the role of women in the church; God does speak to this directly in many different passages, but we need to be careful not to just pick and choose those that we favor, without comparing the rest of Scripture with Scripture.

Whether you call her a deaconess or not, Phebe was definitely a role model for women in the church.

Jun 6, 2006

True Character

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Jun 4, 2006

Happy Birthday, Called Out Ones!

Today is the day of Pentecost, according to God's Word. Most Christians know that God sent His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but there really is much more to it than that.

Leviticus 23 outlines all of God's holy days for us. The timing for Pentecost is tricky, and it took me several years to get it figured out (at least, I think I have it figured out now!). We need to start at verse 5, where God first explains Passover, which is on Nisan 14 (around March/April timeframe), which is Christ's death. God then explains that Nisan 15, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which lasts for 7 days, is a day of holy convocation, or a Sabbath day. The Sabbath can mean the last day of the week (Saturday) or it can mean a holy day, certain holidays God sets aside to be holy. Then in verse 11, He explains about the Feast of Early First Fruits, which is Christ's resurrection. This takes place on the day after the Sabbath. Which Sabbath? The first regular sabbath after the holy Sabbath of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so generally it is the first Saturday after Passover. So the Feast of Early First Fruits (Christ's resurrection) is to take place on the first Sunday after Passover.

Now we come to verse 15, which tells us how to count the days until Pentecost. "And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath." So to figure out the right date, we start with Passover, go to the first Sunday after the first Sabbath after Passover, and count 50 days to the day after the 7th Sabbath. Normal Sabbaths are always on Saturday, so the day after would have to always be on a Sunday.

(I digress here: I have heard both sides of the "worship on the Sabbath/worship on Sunday" argument. With both Early First Fruits (Christ's resurrection) and Latter First Fruits (Pentecost) ALWAYS falling on a Sunday, this is the strongest argument FOR Sunday that I see in Scripture. I, personally, have not come to a firm conclusion either way at this point.)

I put so much into figuring out the date because if you look on a calendar, you will find Pentecost on any day of the week, and the beginning of the counting time doesn't always seem to mean anything either. Even Jewish calendars do not use God's reckoning of time for Pentecost. My Jewish calendar says it falls on June 2 this year, while God's time would put it on Sunday, June 4. We'll see more later about why that is important.

The very first Pentecost (Greek for 50 days) , or Feast of Weeks (counting the 7 weeks), or Feast of Latter First Fruits (wheat harvest), or Shavuot (hebrew name), took place 50 days into the wilderness trek, when Moses brought the Law down to the Israelites. God writing the Law in stone was a very significant day for all Israel, but they were impatient in waiting for it and easily turned to idolatry and wicked, vile behavior before Moses returned. So God told the sons of Levi to put every man to the sword for this wickedness and about 3000 were killed that first day of Pentecost.

Fast forward about 1476 years to the second major Pentecost festival, which is one of the 3 main Feasts that God requires all Jewish men to attend in Jerusalem each year. Acts 2 is the famous "birthday of the church" event, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all who believed. What an incredible fulfilling of the prophecies of Pentecost! Until this time, God's chosen people were Israel. There were a few Gentiles here and there who chose to believe in God, such as Ruth, but those who mostly belonged to God were Jews. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Not only did God send His Holy Spirit on Pentecost, but He chose this day to include Gentiles in His family, as many as He will call. The word church, as used in Acts 2, literally means the "called out ones," which is different from the other New Testament uses of the English word church, which usually means "belonging to the Lord." Although Pentecost is recognized as the birthday of the church, there were really already many people, mostly Jews and a few gentiles, who belonged to the Lord before Pentecost, but now God was calling out both Jews and Gentiles.

Although God wrote His Law on stone on the first Pentecost, He wrote His Law on our hearts of flesh on the second great Pentecost. And while the Levites killed 3000 souls that first Pentectost, after Peter preached his great sermon, Acts 2 tells us that about 3000 souls were added to them that day. What a restoration!

Leviticus 23:17 tells us to celebrate Pentecost with "two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD." In other words, bake 2 loaves of leavened bread, 16 cups of flour each, and wave them before the Lord as an offering. We use unleavened bread at Passover as a symbol of the sacrifice Lamb being without sin; we use leavened bread at Pentecost as a symbol of believers still being sinful. The 2 loaves represent the Jews and the Gentiles, coming together for the first time. So we now have sinful Jews and sinful Gentiles, together, with the Holy Spirit, as the called out ones, believers together in Christ Jesus, believers with God's Law written on our hearts of flesh, celebrating Christ's resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit to the called out ones both on the first day of the week, Sunday.

Have you ever wondered why this great Acts 2 sermon included references to King David's death and burial and tomb? It is well known among the Jews that King David died on Pentecost, so his death is commemorated that day as well; hence, Peter would naturally have mentioned it in his sermon.

Another aspect of Pentecost is found in Leviticus 23:22 - "‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’” This is a time of year to focus on helping the poor and the strangers, especially the widows.

Most Jews celebrate Pentecost by reading the book of Ruth. Not only was Ruth probably the most well-known Gentile convert before Pentecost, this story takes place at the time of the harvest, which is a main part of the celebration of Pentecost, and it explicitly tells about Ruth gleaning from the corners of the field, but also of helping the poor and the stranger. We read the book of Ruth aloud today, with a new perspective!

Leviticus 23:21 tells us that Pentecost "shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. " The Law, the Holy Spirit, the harvest, the union of the Jews and Gentiles together in Christ. There are many great reasons to celebrate God's holy day of Pentecost!

The Jews and the Gentiles in Union

Posted by Picasa

My Creation Science Treasure

We've been studying creation science for almost ten years now and have used many different sources. We thought we had a pretty good handle on the whole issue, until a friend recently lent me a video series by Kent Hovind.

Talk about a steep learning curve! I watched the first video 3 times and still didn't get it all! This guy has SO much to teach about creation science that I didn't realize was even related. Here a few things he covers in his 17-hour seminar:

6 day literal creation
age of the earth
gap theory
the flood
Grand Canyon
the Ice Age
900 year old people
lies in the textbooks
New World Order
marriage licenses
vehicle license plates
Pangea theory
magnetic fields
plate tectonics
continental drift
petrified wood
geological columns
fossil dating
layer dating
... and much more!

I am learning so much, I am really getting interested in science for the first time in my life!

He also brings everyday life according to God's Word into every aspect of what he teaches. I really think that God's Word applies to everything that I do, so it was quite refreshing to see him live it out.

A word of caution: you must have a well-developed sense of humor to appreciate this guy's corny jokes! He does tend to be a little sarcastic now and then, and he doesn't quite have my theology, but since I am not one to throw the baby out with the bath, I still heartily recommend his video series.

I haven't tried any of his other products yet, but they look like they will be life-challenging material. I'm up for a good challenge about now! He also has a dinosaur creation-science theme park in Pensacola, where we are headed in July. I will post a field trip report afterward.

Jun 1, 2006

The Old Paths

I liked the old paths, when Moms were at home.
Dads were at work. Brothers went into the army.
And sisters got married BEFORE having children!

Crime did not pay;
Hard work did;
And people knew the difference.

Moms could cook; Dads would work;
Children would behave.

Husbands were loving; Wives were supportive;
And children were polite.

Women wore the jewelry; And Men wore the pants.
Women looked like ladies; Men looked like gentlemen;
And children looked decent.

People loved the truth, And hated a lie;
They came to church to get IN, Not to get OUT!

Hymns sounded Godly; Sermons sounded helpful;
Rejoicing sounded normal; And crying sounded sincere.

Cursing was wicked; Drinking was evil;
and divorce was unthinkable.

The flag was honored; America was beautiful;
And God was welcome!

We read the Bible in public; Prayed in school;
And preached from house to house.

To be called an American was worth dying for;
To be called a Christian was worth living for;
To be called a traitor was a shame!

Sex was a personal word.
Homosexual was an unheard of word,
And abortion was an illegal word.

Preachers preached because they had a message;
and were not afraid to preach the truth, even if it got on people's toes...
And Christians rejoiced because they had the VICTORY!

Preachers preached from the Bible; Singers sang from the heart;
And sinners turned to the Lord to be SAVED!

A new birth meant a new life; Salvation meant a changed life;
Following Christ led to eternal life.

Being a preacher meant you proclaimed the word of God;
Being a deacon meant you would serve the Lord;
Being a Christian meant you would live for Jesus;
And being a sinner meant someone was praying for you!

Laws were based on the Bible; Homes read the Bible;
And churches taught the Bible.

Preachers were more interested in new converts,
Than new clothes and new cars.

God was worshiped; Christ was exalted;
and the Holy Spirit was respected.

Church was where you found Christians on the Lord's Day,
Rather than in the garden, on the creek bank, on the golf course,
Or being entertained somewhere else.

I still like the old paths the best.

~author unknown~

A Win, Win Situation

1. Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border
2. Take the dirt and raise the levies in New Orleans
3. Put the Florida alligators in the border moat!

(This is just a joke, so take it in stride!)