LIFE HAPPENS

LIFE HAPPENS

I’m betting that many of you don’t know the name of my blog is Life Happens. You would have to go to the Welcome page of my website mvarga.com to discover that.

You will notice I’ve added a beautiful sunrise to identify Life Happens. You will see it on all future blogs.

It’s my desire to use my blog to share strategies for living a fuller life with you. I’ve also made my books available on mvarga.com to inspire you on your journey.

I am the survivor of a traumatic brain injury in 1997. It has defined my physical life for over 20 years. I am a Christian and a student of the Bible for many years. As I make suggestions for a better life, I will turn to Scriptures frequently to see what God has to say. You could say that I’ve been through the fiery furnace. Perhaps you have, too. Let me show you the ways I’ve found to be happy right in the midst of the flames.

In addition, as a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I believe a fuller life includes a strong and flexible body so that we are able and equipped to lead the life that the Lord has in store for us. So, I will also give tips that will lead to developing a stronger, fitter physique.

So please enjoy my twice monthly blog. I hope it gives you practical ideas for living your best life! Please share your own suggestions with me. That’s the best way for all of us to learn! 

SITTING TOO MUCH?

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:35  (NIV)

 

When Jesus sat down, He was trying to make a point. How many of us spend a majority of our day sitting in meetings, sitting in traffic, at the computer, or on zoom calls? Our bodies were not designed to sit for an extended period of time.

So here’s another fitness tip!

It’s challenging to stay in good posture when we sit. Here’s a trick I use when sitting at my laptop zooming or writing. It takes only 2 minutes!

Push your bottom down into the chair you’re sitting on. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this move for 30 seconds.

Next, push your lower back into the back of the chair while squeezing your abdominal muscles. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this 2nd move for 30 seconds.

Next, imagine you’re squeezing a lemon between your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds…then relax. Do this 3rd move for 30 seconds.

Finally…put all three moves together for the last 30 seconds. Bottom pushing into the chair, lower back pushing back into chair, with shoulder blades squeezed together. If you do this frequently, you’ll find your body naturally going into this correct form of posture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much time spent in a sitting position will make our hip flexors (where our trunk meets our thigh muscle) very tight. Below are 3 images of a lying, kneeling and standing hip flexor stretch.

 

 

 

 

In the lying hip flexor stretch, feel the stretch in the hip of your EXTENDED leg. In the kneeling & standing stretch, feel the stretch in the hip of the back leg. Stretch until you can feel it…then hold for 30 seconds.

 

If you have access to a TRX Suspension system at your gym, below is a valuable stretch for your hip flexors AND a great way to tighten your booty!

The below video shows Jennifer DeGrella, a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and TRX instructor at /Baptist /Milestone. Jennifer is also a guest author in my book, the Afflicted Healer. She wrote a chapter, Suspended Motion, about TRX ‘tricks of the trade’.

In this video, Jennifer demonstrates the figure 4, a useful TRX move for those with tight hips, specifically, those with piriformis and tight IT issues. So it will stretch the hips while working your bottom on the other side.

Figure 4 – How to:

. Grab the straps of the TRX. Dig both heals into the floor as you lean your whole body back, letting the straps stabilize you. Arms are fully extended!

. Bend the knee of your left leg, sitting your left ankle on top of your right knee.

. Load your weight into the right hip & leg as you bend the right knee. Then extend the right leg back up, keeping your knee soft.

. This is what works your right booty while opening your left hip.

. Repeat 3-4 times SLOWLY, working up to 8 reps.

. Then switch legs, doing the same with left knee on top of right knee.

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving us fitness instructors and physical therapists to show us how to keep our bodies strong & moving the way You intended them to move.

Give  us the wisdom to seek the proper instruction, then practice moving the right way until it eventually feels natural.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

MAKE A CAREER OF IT

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14   (NIV)

 

A parent’s praise or criticism will have a lasting impact on a child’s self image. Even as we get older, with our own children raised, our parents’ words continue to leave an impression.

This was the case with my father when I began my fitness business, SilverStrength® in 2010. Dad told me he was speaking with a friend about my endeavor, saying, “Usually when someone undergoes a personal tragedy, they ultimately make peace with it, and live the best life they can. But not our Mary! She’s going to make a career out of it!”

His remarks gave me such a confident feeling about what I was attempting to do with my business. I believe this is a calling! God wants me to transform what I struggle with everyday to help others. I want to show seniors ways they can maintain their mobility, and ultimately their independence by regularly challenging their bodies with strength and flexibility exercises.

I want them to hear my voice in their head as they bend, twist and stretch reminding them of the correct way to do it. It still gives me ‘goose bumps’ when a classmate remarks on how they can move easier because of the suggestions I give them.

So I guess Dad was right! I have made this a career of sorts. A career is different from a job. A job pays our bills. A career becomes a way of life. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. A career is how we give back for the gifts/talents we’ve been given. It’s the way we pass on the lessons we have learned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28  (NIV)

Our ultimate purpose in life is to honor God. Do we devote as much time to that as we do to our earthly career? We don’t have to be a healthcare worker, a teacher or a minister to honor the Lord with our work. We just work to the best of our ability… always concerning ourselves with those we work with and those we serve.

If there’s something we don’t really want to do…, offer it up to God. Offer the whole work day to the Lord! The change in our attitude will make others want to work beside us. If your business is making sales, building products, or serving people…, work in a way that’s pleasing to God. Then feel the peace of knowing God is pleased with our actions.

Wherever we are on our life journey, we can make a career of following Christ. We do that by following His example in how we treat others. Do we encourage? Are we interested? Do we give of our time?

 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 15:12  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most importantly, stay in communication with Him! The realization of God’s presence in life circumstances will remind us He is guiding us. God is always with us. Look for Him in every situation…and every person. Ask Him what you want Him to do…and don’t forget to thank Him when He makes the way clear for us.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21  (NIV)

 

Well done! That’s what we all desire to hear…from our parents…our children…our spouse…our friends…our boss… What a sublime compliment it is though, when it comes from our Father in heaven!

 

Dear Lord,

We are Your family. You love us completely, just as we are. You ask that we love and honor You by serving others. Show us how we can do that with others in our life.

Whatever our occupation, help us to make a career of following You by seeing Your face in those we serve.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

The Chosen

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to give a heartfelt ‘thumbs up’ to the new series on the ministry and followers of Jesus called, The Chosen. Based entirely on the Bible, it is a real life depiction of being the students of a rabbi they come to believe is the promised Messiah. Get a firsthand look at living as an enemy in your own country occupied by Roman military.

There have been many televised specials over the years on the life & ministry of  Jesus Christ. We’ve seen the healings, the sermons, the betrayal, the crucifixion and resurrection. What makes The Chosen any different? The characters are so real! After seeing an episode, it feels like we just had lunch with the apostle Peter, or Matthew, or Thomas. They are so human & realistic, including their special personality quirks.

Meet Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and many others chosen by Jesus to help him spread his message of love and compassion. As history documents, this will not be an easy road for any of His followers. We tend to take for granted the faith we enjoy today without acknowledging what the early Christians suffered to make it real.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Revelation 17:14

 

The Chosen has its’ own app. Get it at the App Store or Google play…”THE CHOSEN” APP. It is also available on YouTube. It’s completely free. All that’s needed is a smart phone AND a smart T.V. Here’s my special tip though! We’re not ALL tech savvy. I called my nephew to get the app from my phone to my T.V. It took us a little while to figure it out, but now I can watch it whenever I want.

The producers plan to keep it a free series! So before or after viewing the episode, we are prompted to “Pay It Forward”. It’s completely voluntary! Two seasons have already been paid for simply by viewers paying it forward.  People all over the world have chosen to spread the word and share “The Chosen”. With a $14.99 contribution, “The Chosen” is shared with 10 people. It’s a simple way we can ALL spread the word of God!

Below is a link to a very powerful and personal testimony about the virtues of humility and mercy given by Jonathan Roumie. Jonathan is the actor who portrays Jesus in the series, The Chosen. Please wait until you have 30 minutes to devote to watching it,…because once you start, you won’t want to stop!

Dear Lord,

Let us find examples of how you want us to live as we watch the followers of Jesus behaving as normal folks just like us! Thank You for giving us all an opportunity to spread Your word and Your love through such a compelling series as The Chosen.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

FROM TRIAL TO TRIUMPH

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

 

‘From TriaI to Triumph’… isn’t that what Jesus did when He rose from the dead? This is still the Easter season. What a perfect time to reflect on how wondrous things can come from the most horrific of circumstances. At our Easter celebration, the pastor spoke of how we can’t experience the joyful resurrection without Jesus first enduring the pain, suffering and humiliation of the cross. He had to die before we could experience eternal life with Him.

We’ve all lived through a year where everything in life was different due to COVID. This has become our new normal. Won’t it be wonderful when we can once again go to a sporting event, graduation or concert without social distancing or wearing a mask? I’m looking forward to the day I need to buy another tube of lipstick…because others will be able to see my mouth.

In order to appreciate the normal things, don’t we first have to experience the abnormal? An expectant mother understands why her stomach must expand as the child inside of her grows. The intense pain she must endure while giving birth is soon forgotten when she holds that precious, new life in her arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

! Peter 1:6  (NIV)

I remember the feelings of joy and excitement when I crossed the finish line of my first New York City marathon. I did it! I actually did it!

When we went out to dinner that night, others would come up and hug or high-five me when they saw my marathon medal. It was easy to forget the countless hours spent training in rain, in heat, in cold. I was on such a high, the post-marathon soreness and fatigue seemed a small price to pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those are just two real-life examples of how we often times suffer on our way to achieving the prize. Suffering is not fun, but it is real. Why does it seem to be a prerequisite for many of the things we want in life?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:57  (NIV)

 

Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross for the ultimate goal of bringing all who believed in Him into His kingdom. A mother endures the pain and suffering of childbirth to bring new life into the world. Both are in the business of expanding God’s family!

We can also refer to suffering as gut-wrenching work. It’s not pleasant… but we do put our whole heart, soul and body into it. We endure suffering because we know it will lead to an even greater victory that couldn’t be achieved without it.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14  (NIV)

We keep pressing because we see a light at the end of the tunnel. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I give God the glory for standing beside me as I travel the long, sometimes lonely tunnel of physical disability caused by brain injury. He will do the same for any of us! We need to pray for an open, trusting heart…regardless of our circumstances.

 Sometimes we don’t see results with one attempt. We have to reevaluate and try again. Wouldn’t life be grand if we got everything right with our first effort? Waiting, suffering and trying again are a part of life….but so are hard-won victories.

So let’s look at the trials, the adversities and the struggles of our lives as simply stepping-stones to a more triumphant way of managing our lives. We’ll fall sometimes. (So did Jesus!) Sometimes, we’ll have to look at things from a different perspective. But we will develop the perseverance to keep plugging until we reach our goal!

 

Dear Lord,

We know You don’t want any of us to suffer unnecessarily. Going through the trial often seems the only way to enlarge our outlook on our adversity. Make clear to us what You’re trying to show us. Help us to get our mind off of ourselves long enough to perceive how others could be helped through our struggle.

We stand before You broken in some way. We ask You for the wisdom to look at our suffering through Your eyes…the eyes of love.

When You deem the right time to move on our behalf, may we rejoice with You and all the angels that the trial we entrusted to You has now become a TRIUMPH for You and us!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

The Lord is Risen!

The Lord is Risen!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16  (NIV)

 

I know I promised only one blog every other week, but Easter fell on an off week this year. So consider this date as the beginning of a new blog year. I certainly couldn’t skip over the most important holiday on our church calendar!

I am remembering Easter 2020. We were in full lock down from the corona virus. I sat at my kitchen counter in my sweats watching Easter services from my church virtually on my laptop. Maybe it would’ve felt more celebratory if I’d worn an Easter bonnet. My mother was a big hat fanatic, so Easter bonnets were a necessary part of any Easter services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though I felt sorry that we could not all gather to celebrate this Easter, I woke up that morning feeling happy that we’re able to live the lives we have (locked down or not) knowing that because of this special day, the best is still yet to come!

Christ was mocked, ridiculed and beaten. He died on that cross to ensure we had eternal life waiting for us. That means more to me the older I get. If my family history runs true…I’ll be waiting a few more decades. I can’t help but smile when I think what I have to look forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter is celebrated as everything is starting to bloom after a cold, dark winter. So in many ways, it begins a new season of growth. This year churches will once again be holding in-person services. Smaller? …Yes.  Masks?… Yes.

 Yet we will be together to observe this celebration of new life.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:4  (NIV)

 

My grandmother’s name was Mary Alice. We called her ‘MawMaw’. She would call every Easter morning proclaiming, “Christ is risen!” Our response was always, “Good morning MawMaw! Happy Easter!”

May we all observe this Easter Sunday as a well-established, yet profoundly joyful celebration of our new life in Christ!

THE LORD IS RISEN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

On this holiest of days, may we experience the joy of immense gratitude for what You have done for us.  You have made possible the opportunity to live with You eternally, with no more struggle or suffering.

We praise Your holy name!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

Let there Be Light!

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16   (NIV)

What does it mean when someone asks us to be the light? Are we to illumine a dark path by bringing understanding into something confusing? Do we offer hope for a better outcome? Maybe we’re just supposed to be present to offer companionship and encouragement.

I think the ultimate compliment is when others see us as a light just because we are who we are and can be expected to respond to life in a certain way. People with light are the ones we want to be around. They’re joyful! They seem content. We want what they have!

Who brings light into your life? Is it a spouse…a child…a co-worker? My son, Andrew lives in Arkansas. Yet he brings light into my life every time we talk on the phone. No matter what life is throwing at you, there is a real sense of peace and comfort that comes from someone that knows you completely and loves you the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew and I frequently engage in very deep, philosophical discussions. It warmed my heart when he gave me the above plaque for Christmas this year. I keep it on my TV stand, so I can see it at night when I relax to watch television. So I’m constantly reminded to ‘Be the Good’ for others. Am I being a light in Andrew’s life? I sure hope so! Sometimes he seems bewildered that I have such a cheerful outlook on life and what’s happening in the world. And yes, he rolls his eyes when I tell him “God’s got this!”

It’s hard to explain how centered my life feels in Jesus Christ. He’s guiding my thoughts as I write this blog right now. Or is that his Holy Spirit?  Both are a constant source of light for me.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5   (NIV)

I see Christ love for me on a daily basis as others go out of their way to make my life easier. In my book, The Light Through My Tunnel, I speak of a priest telling me I had been given a great gift. I was giving others a chance to honor God by helping me. Can’t we all do the same thing?

I believe that the best way we can display our love for God is to be a light for others. It doesn’t require a lot of talent and effort to brighten someone’s day. Others just like to be noticed. I know I do! A text, email or phone call is all it takes to let someone know we’re thinking of them. We may not think we are doing anything significant, but God notices.

We never know how our simple actions can brighten someone’s day. It can take our mind off of our concerns for awhile. God smiles when we bring light into others’ lives.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5  (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

It’s comforting to know we can always turn to You to bring light into any darkness we’re feeling in life. Show us how You want us to be the light for others. Please let Your spirit give us the words to encourage, motivate and help those who need Your light.

Thank You for placing others in our path who bring that light to us!

 

 

 

WAIT FOR IT!

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3  (NIV)

 

Most of us are not good at waiting. When we determine what we think is the best thing for us, WE WANT IT NOW! Ever notice how that rarely happens in our prayer lives? Occasionally prayers are answered immediately, but God usually seems to be on a different time schedule than us.

It’s very hard to look at our waiting time as a training pause, but that’s exactly what it is in most cases. What is God trying to show us? What are we supposed to be doing now….right now? In the last blog (https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/now-what/) I suggested it was the Holy Spirit prompting us to do the next best thing we could do at the time…. Pray? Reach out to someone? Complete something on our ‘to do’ list? Exercise?

Life is rarely what we call mountain top moments. We’ve all had those wonderful times when everything seems to just click and we look at things from a different perspective. Now we know what God wants us to do! Sometimes we call those ‘Ah-ha! moments’.

Between those ‘Ah-ha! moments’ we need to live our day-to-day life in a way that is pleasing to God, doing the things He would want us to do. It seems He wants us to stay in this stage for a L.O.O.O.O.N.G time. How long Oh Lord? That was King David’s question.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

Psalm 13:1  (NIV)

It’s so easy to get frustrated and impatient during this waiting time. Are we even sure we’re doing the right thing? My ever-rationalizing son, Andrew wants to see proof whenever confronted with suggestions to improve whatever is ailing him in life. After weighing all the evidence, there comes a point when we have to take a leap of faith. If it’s wrong…we’ve simply learned another way NOT to do it!

Maybe we’re just afraid to try something new. It will make us feel uncomfortable. We’re such creatures of habit AND comfort! Most times we know in our hearts when something doesn’t feel right. Red flag though! Feelings can be very, very fickle! God’s will and OUR feelings can be polar opposite things.

Are we distressed or challenged with something? Have we run out of remedies? Is the issue becoming more than we can handle? That’s the time to lean into the Lord, expecting Him to lead us to the answer. Maybe this is the time to pull out our Bible concordance to see how the Lord would want us to respond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the last decade, I have begun my exercise classes with the instruction, “Inhale and pull yourself up to the ceiling!” It’s my way to get the whole class sitting and standing taller. Perhaps we could start our day better, if while still in bed, we inhaled and looked up…to the Lord. What an excellent way to start the day!

We have the blessed assurance that the Lord is with us wherever we go and will not leave us in distress. He will provide us the strength necessary to either endure or turn around whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18  (NIV)

 

Remember to always look and expect others to be the hands & feet of God. We are not an island to be kept to ourselves. Most times, those ‘ah-ha moments’ happen when we’re experiencing life with other people. Through others, we arrive at what we are to do.

Our father is the God Almighty. Just like our earthly dad, He wants the best for us. We may not always understand or agree with the path He assigns to us…but know that He is always working on our behalf. God knows and sees things that we don’t even perceive at the time. How many times have we looked back only to realize He saved our neck by withholding something (someone?) we thought we couldn’t live without? That’s what a good father does.

We just need to keep doing the next best thing! God sees all our efforts and will answer our prayers in His own way and time!

A dear friend of mine from Louisville Christian Writers (also a Mary) wrote the lyrics and melody to a beautiful Christian song called, OCCUPY.

 

 

 

 

I’ll share part of the chorus with you…

            You’ve got to watch and wait, eagerly anticipating …DON”T RUN AWAY AND HIDE

            You’ve got to watch and wait, eagerly anticipating…PRAY AND OCCUPY

            You’ve got to OCCUPY, until He comes…

I have to admit when Mary gave me the CD, I had to ask her what OCCUPY meant. That word was not in my Christian vocabulary.

When we OCCUPY, we go about our normal lives remaining in the presence of the Lord. Our thoughts and actions are made always in consideration of what He would want us to do…always thinking of His will for our life and for the world.

Perhaps God has a bigger plan in mind for our life. Maybe our life is the catalyst for something that could be a greater value to others. Remember to lean into God, looking and waiting for His direction.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31  (NIV)

 

None of us has a crystal ball to tell us the future. We do the best we can holding tight to the hope that God will work everything out for our good and HIS glory. Just keep doing the next best thing!  Like the song says… We are to watch and wait, eagerly anticipate, not run away and hide.

Then we OCCUPY until He comes…

 

Dear Lord,

We’re trying. We really are! Please show us where we need to make adjustments in our plans and dreams. We are all selfish, sinful people.

We are also Your children! Please help us to recognize the Holy Spirit’s promptings as we go about our day. Inspire us to look to You for guidance and comfort.

Thank You for placing others in our life to be Your hands and feet!

 

Once you are on mvarga.com, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

NOW WHAT?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Jeremiah 29:11  (NIV)

 

A friend from my Bible study once told me that God always has us exactly where He wants us. That friend, Tracy, ended up becoming one of the many therapists I called on to help me with balance training over the years.

Friends who bring God’s promises to me are the most precious kind of companion! We all need friends that we can see God working through. Because of the daily challenges I live with, I see God working through others all the time.

How are we bringing Christ into others’ lives? Can we offer our assistance with a challenge they are facing…or introduce them to someone who can? Sometimes just offering encouragement and hope is the most immediate and profound assistance we can offer. It’s not necessary to be in church or Bible study. We can bring Christ into someone’s life just by letting them know we were thinking of them.

So if God has us exactly where He wants us right now, what does He want us to do?

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143:10-11  (NIV)

The Holy Spirit can place us in situations or with others we can help. Sometimes He will even prompt us with the right words to enlighten or encourage them. Or maybe we’ll find ourselves in a place where we’ll finally decide to help ourselves. That’s what He did for me!

Since my natural balance was taken away by my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I’ve had to retrain my body to balance all over again, just like a child. Like most children, it’s easy to lose my focus and go on to something I deem more pressing. So here I am, 23 years later, still trying to improve my balance.

I believe the Lord used all my downtime during this pandemic to push me toward doing something to finally address the balance problem I’ve been dealing with for years. Why have I not done this sooner? Like all of us, I like to see immediate results for my efforts. Balance training takes time and won’t burn as many calories as a gym workout.  Yes, I’ve been obsessed with burning calories ever since I ran my first mile.  And there are ONLY so many hours in the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since all the fitness classes I teach have stopped operating during COVID, I found myself with ample time on my hands. My friend, Joyce suggested I begin writing a blog.  That’s how this blog Life Happens was created.

With no morning OR afternoon classes to teach, I had no excuse for not getting involved with a physical therapy program again. Haven’t I always pledged my allegiance to becoming more mobile? All I needed was a doctor’s order. My brother, John (aka my primary care physician) faxed an order over the same day.  So I am once again placing my hope in physical therapy to improve my mobility.

I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me this time…disguised as COVID and unemployment. I believe God leads us to do the next best thing we can do. This seemed like the best thing I could do not only to improve my own balance, but to give pointers to my students when classes resume again. I’m relying on my physical therapist, Denny to provide my continuing education.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10  (NIV)

 

I know I’ve used this Bible verse before. It is on a post-it note in my bathroom to see every morning as I walk out the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If God prepares our good works in advance, our job is simply to figure out what those good works are. Most times it’s pretty obvious what God wants us to do. When it’s not, a simple question we can ask ourselves is, “How will my actions be a benefit to others?” When our decisions and actions help other people, we can feel confident that the Lord is using us to bless others.

One afternoon when I was in the middle of a rare, but real ‘pit-party’ about my lack of human contact during this pandemic, my phone rang. It was a business-owner named Liz who was organizing exercise classes for stroke survivors. After seeing my SilverStrength® website, she inquired if I would be interested in teaching zoom classes. I didn’t think I could perform a zoom class without special cameras. I discovered I could as Liz walked me through it on zoom.

I hung up the phone and said, “Thank you God!” out loud. Was He preparing me to do His handiwork? I did not want to let Him (or Liz) down. It had been months since I led a class. Did I remember how to teach?

In ten years of leading fitness classes, I never wrote my exercise routines down on paper. I created them in my mind, practiced them in front of a mirror, and performed them in two, sometimes three classes a day. Then COVID hit. I found myself with nothing to refer back to for guidance once I started teaching again. I had to create them all again. THIS time I wrote them down!

The Lord was giving me a chance to feel useful again. He was also challenging me to design a class for a different audience than I usually worked with. I love a challenge! Of course, He knew that.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16  (NIV)

 

I believe God knows the challenges we are going to face BEFORE we encounter them. He puts people in our lives to get or keep us moving in the right direction. In a previous blog, Be Transformed (https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/be-transformed/), I wrote the Transformation prayer I pray every morning. It ends with, “Show me what you want me to do…and I will do it.

If God has us exactly where He wants us…we need to trust Him to show us what to do where He has us.

 

Dear Lord,

You know our comings and goings. You see how they interface with the world around us. Teach us to trust that You have us where You want us at any point in time.

How many times do we think, “WHAT NOW?” You know where we’re supposed to be. Guide us to perceive what You want us to do for… and through others.

 

Once you are on mvarga.com,  please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEAD BUG = STRONG ABS

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10   (NIV)

 It’s time for another fitness tip.  We all want strong abs! We use our core muscles in every movement we do…except lying down to sleep. So keeping those muscles strong helps us to move better all day long.

Back in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have to worry about specific core-strengthening exercises. They were moving from dawn to dusk. Now we work eight-hour days at a desk and sit in traffic to and from. It’s no wonder we have difficulty keeping a tight midsection!

Let’s learn the dead bug exercise that works our abdominal muscles, both the tranverse abdominals (think 6-pack abs!) AND the internal & external obliques (think waistline!).

Consistently doing the dead bug can help our balance & stability. (That’s my favorite bennie!) It will also help control our postural movements both while sitting, standing AND moving. Proper posture is so, so important to help us move correctly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s so important to push your lower back into the floor. Don’t let it arch at all! This will ignite your abdominal muscles & tell them that THEY will be doing the work!

Here’s a step-by-step:

  1. Allow your shoulders and lower back to fall heavy to the floor.
  2. Draw your shoulders down away from your ears. To get into the starting position, lift your arms so your elbows are above your shoulders with your fists facing in toward each other.
  3. Lift your legs so your knees are directly over your hips.
  4. On an exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they’re just above the floor.
  5. On an inhale, bring them back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.
  7. This is 1 rep.
  8. Repeat 12 times. Every day I best!

 

Proper breathing is also important. Inhale as you get into starting position. (See #2 & #3 above)

Exhale forcefully as you lower opposite arm & leg. Also as you exhale, focus on expanding sideways and into the floor. Remember, lower back down! Engage all of your stomach muscles

This exercise allows us to strengthen abdominal muscles and all the front side of our core while minimizing the pressure on the low back. The dead bug exercise can teach us how to move our hips and shoulders/arms and legs without moving the spine. We do this by pushing our lower back into the floor to protect our spine.

Here is one of the guest authors from my book, The Afflicted Healer, to give us a real-life example of how to perform a dead bug properly. Mary Hayes is an ACSM  certified personal trainer and ACE Orthopedic Exercise Specialist working at Baptist Milestone. Mary contributed the chapter, Making the Day-to Day Better with Functional Training. That’s something we could all use!

 

Dear Lord,

When we ask You to make us stronger and more fit for our journey, help us to remember You put exercises and exercise specialist in our path to answer our prayer.

Please give us the determination and perseverance to stick with it until we see/feel the desired results.

Thank you for giving us all bodies that can be molded.

 

READ MORE:

After clicking, please read through past blogs and find more about my books & fitness tips!

You can also follow me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/mlvarga/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Total Number of Subscribers

105