I Can’t Take It Anymore!

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12  (NIV)

What is it that has us at the end of our rope? Is it the Corona virus… A difficult relationship… An impossible boss… A health challenge, addiction or disability? Life happens to all of us!

No… we can’t control it. And yes…It’s not fair! But when has life ever been fair? It seems someone always comes up with the short end of the stick. I am 5’2” tall. So I know that the short end of the stick is not always the worst position to be in. It’s how we perceive and respond to our dilemma that makes all the difference in how we move forward.

I think we could reverse the order of the opening scripture to start with be faithful in prayer. In an earlier blog, Where is God in our New Normal?, https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/where-is-god-in-our-new-normal/I said that prayer is the most powerful force in the universe!  If we pray for God’s will in our lives, everything else seems to fall into place.

Then we can be patient in affliction. This does NOT mean fixing our affliction. Believe me! I have tried everything humanly possible to ‘fix’ my balance issues. I think it’s through trying & failing; trying & failing that we finally learn to give it to the God we’ve been praying so faithfully to.

If we can pass this tough and sometimes lonely test, then we CAN be joyful in hope. That means we make a conscious decision to not be upset or frustrated by the problem anymore. That doesn’t mean we have to stop working on it though. We just stop taking our failed attempts personally. We gave control of things to God, remember?

God will take our failed attempts and turn them into an even better way to conquer our struggle. Some times that involves following a different dream …or reacting in a different way. Ultimately, we trust God as we look for His direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We should never give up on what God has started. He can turn any seeming failure into a blessing for us. Sadly, this usually doesn’t happen at the precise moment we want it to. We just need to remember to be patient in affliction. We can’t get frustrated or upset with God if life is not progressing at the speed we want it to. We’re not in control. God is! He will work all things out…for us and for His glory.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41 10  (NIV)

Ever met someone who has been through a terrible ordeal? Yet they seem happy! Perhaps they have learned that having peace with God is the first step to living a fulfilling life. If we don’t think God would be pleased with our decision or actions, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. Yes, we’re hurt & frustrated, but what alterations do we need to make to know that God has given our action His favor? God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Doing good for others is one ‘sure-fire’ way we can hope for God’s favor…and it lifts OUR spirits in the process.

What do we do when we just can’t take it anymore? Do we get mad? Blame someone else? Do we feel like a victim? (Poor me!)  It’s times like this we need to think of all the good things, the blessings in our life. Be grateful! That IS the best way for a needed change in perspective!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9    (NIV).

Never forget the command of our opening scripture. Be faithful in prayer. It is still the most powerful force in the universe! It WILL change our perspective!

Dear Lord,

Things are tough. They’re really tough!

Help us remember all that Jesus went through for our sake. The physical pain…the emotional abandonment…endured without a word. So that we could spend eternity with Him! Is our struggle as bad as His? It sure feels like it sometimes.

Please give us a new perspective on what we’re suffering. If there’s something we need to do, give us the strength to do it…correctly. Help us to reach out to help others in our struggles. Helping others can make us realize we’re not alone.

And if we can’t do anything about it, help us do it for You.

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Be Transformed

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2   (NIV)

 

As we begin 2021, what goals and dreams do we want to see come to fruition? Most surely we all want to see an end to the COVID pandemic and a return to normalcy in our lives. I’ve grown tired of all the political drama and division. Dare we hope our country will once more be more united?

Perhaps we’re longing for a personal goal to be achieved…a career change, new relationship, retirement, improved health? My primary goal has not changed since 1997. It’s actually more of a dream. I want a medical miracle to transform my imbalanced body.

Instead, my dream for this year is that God will transform my heart and mind to know what He wants me to accomplish with this precious life He saved. Because of my traumatic brain injury (TBI) and imbalanced body, I can no longer move as quickly and effortlessly as I once did. So my prayer is that He will enlighten me to how I can live for Him without those things in my life.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 

Psalm  51:12-13  (NIV)

This is not a simple thing. Just how are we supposed to know the mind of God? We can earnestly pray to know His will. Then expect Him to show us what He wants us to do for Him.

We can read what He says through scriptures…including not just the Bible, but any God-honoring spiritual book. He’ll speak through our television, our phone, our Internet. He speaks through our family and friends. Sometimes we see His hand in circumstances in our life…or in the world. Our job is to keep praying…and listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you..  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

 

Once we figure out what God wants from us, DOING IT is a little trickier. Do we need self-discipline? Determination? Good ole spunk? All these qualities are helpful, but on their own, none will do the trick. We must surrender our plans to God trusting that He will show us what He wants us to do.

Doesn’t that just put us right back at square one trying to figure His will for our lives? In a way… we trusted Him to show us our dream. Surely we can rely on Him to make it happen through us.

We’re asking for a mind and heart transformation. Expect to look at life differently. We’re viewing things from His angle now. How does He want us to go forward in ways that will benefit not just us, but our family, our community, our world?

Alcoholics Anonymous or any 12 step program gives us the main ingredient for success. We must turn what we are struggling with over to our ‘higher power’. For most, our higher power is God Almighty and His son, Jesus Christ. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we move forward in the way we perceive that God wants us to go.

This mind and heart transformation will ultimately lead to a physical or material transformation. Wait expectantly!  It won’t happen overnight, but how long did it take us to get where we are now? We may have a lifetime of not being led by the Lord, but He can change our thinking instantly. Our job then becomes continuously tapping into that divine source.

Instead of ending with a personal prayer, I want to share a prayer I pray out loud every morning…even when I haven’t allowed time for any other prayers. It came from one of the final chapters of a book by Matthew Kelly that our pastor gave us several years ago at Christmas. I call it my transformation prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here I am Lord.
I know that you have an incredible plan for me.
Transform me.  Transform my life.
Everything is on the table.
Take what you want to take and give what you want to give.
I make myself 100% available to you today.
Transform me into the person you created me to be,
so I can live the life you envisioned for me at the beginning of time.
I hold nothing back.
I am 100% available.
Lead me, challenge me, encourage me, and open my eyes to
all of your possibilities.
Show me what it is you want me to do, and I will do it.

From The Greatest Lie in the History of Christianity

By Matthew Kelly

 

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Joy to the World!   Joy to us!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6   (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate the birth of our savior on Christmas day. The three kings followed that Christmas star to find the newborn king. Christmas is a season of jubilation and love. For all it is a season of merriment, gift giving and holiday traditions. We gather with family & friends to commemorate this special day.

Being a mother, I can’t help but think of the joy & wonder the Blessed Mother felt on that day. Mary had conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and carried Him inside her for nine months. Now here she was, holding the Emmanuel, born to take away the sins of the world.

I’m betting her friends didn’t give her any baby showers. Yet Jesus’ entry into the world was heralded by angels, shepherds and of course, the wise men from the East. Now fast-forward to 2020…

Maybe we don’t feel like we have a lot to celebrate this year. Christ’ birth gives us all the chance to realize that this holiday is not marked by what we’ve suffered or lost this year. We remember the love God has shown us all in sending His son in the midst of our pain. That’s a memory to hold onto.

I am always filled with Christmas memories of twinkling lights, family, laughter, Christmas songs and lots of delectable foods! Riding around to see all the sparkling Christmas decorations was always a highlight of my holiday season. I would be so sad when all the lights came down in January.

For me, Christmas really is the season of light! It still is…no matter what happens in life, Christ is still right in the center of our life. Let’s hold onto those memories during dark times. God will bring us to a new light. Wait for it!

Who can forget all the special Christmas T.V. shows? We would wait for them every year as children. Even though my favorite was Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, one of the scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas is so precious to me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Brown:  Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

 Linus:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please.

 “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

 

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 

That little speech that Linus gives caused Charlie Brown to walk away joyful and full of hope. Being reminded of what we really celebrate at Christmas gives us a sense of awe.

Let’s celebrate Christmas 2020 with that same feeling of awe. Then the name of this blog post can truly resonate in our hearts. Joy to the World…Joy to Us!

A blessed and happy Christmas to all!

See you in 2021!

Dear Lord,

You came into our world as a baby and spent the rest of Your human life showing us how to live so we could spend eternity with You.

Our life is different now trying to fight this virus. Celebrating Your birthday will be different this year too. Let us hold tight to You…the source of all life… and true reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Help us find joy during this dark time remembering that You have already overcome the world.

 

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ADVENT or CHRISTMAS?

This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

Matthew 3:3  (NIV)

I have a tendency to not read emails with too many words. I have tried to keep my blog posts short & sweet! Originally I promised only 2 blogs/month. During the Christmas season, in order to avoid too many words, I’ll be writing one extra blog. There’s just so much to say about this important time of year!

The holiday season begins earlier & earlier every year. We’ve begun to see reindeers, Santa Claus & snowmen  by Halloween. These images give retailers the opportunity to remind us we’ll be buying many, many gifts in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

It’s also a testimony of what we give significance to in life. Celebration is still important, as is fellowship. It gives us hope that a good life continues to happen at a time when our lives have become a little surreal for us during this pandemic. So many things have changed; many times not in a good way… but God is still on the throne!

2020 will be one for the record books. We serve a record-breaking God. He shattered all the records when Jesus was born over 2000 years ago. He was born to save us from evil so that we could spend eternity in His Father’s home, who created us in His great love. Shouldn’t we think He will create something good from the Corona virus?

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let’s remember that the church refers to the 4 weeks before Christmas as Advent. This is the time that we prepare our hearts to receive the baby Jesus and welcome all that He can and will do in our lives.

Advent also begins the New Year for the church. Our pastor gives us a resolution that we should follow in our heart for the coming church year. The first year he was our pastor, Father Shayne asked us to make Christ the center of our life for the coming year. How different our lives could be if we focused on Christ as first in everything! When He is the most important thing in our life, all the other dramas pale in comparison…both the victories & the tragedies.

So let’s keep Christ in the middle of our 2020 & 2021. Remember that there is nothing that can’t be remedied with God’s grace. Look for it! Life doesn’t always respond to our personal wishes, but God always has a way of making the crooked paths straight.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26   (NIV)

As we approach this Christmas day, my parish’s Advent resolution for 2021 is Christ, our source of hope. What an appropriate resolution given all that we’ve been asked to deal with in 2020!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is mightier than any pandemic, political party, health or economic challenge. Our challenge is to honor and obey Him as we move forward trusting that God’s got this! https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/where-is-god-in-our-new-normal/ 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8    (NIV)

Be ready for whatever He’s going to place in our path…who knows! It may be better than we ever imagined! Just expect whatever happens to not happen overnight. I’m always asking others to be patient with my physical challenges. I’m not just taking my time! Can’t we show the Lord the same patience we always ask of each other?

He’s also the Lord of surprises! Sometimes they’re really nice surprises. So let’s spend the next 2 weeks of Advent preparing to welcome the Christ child…our source of hope.

Dear Lord,

 During this Advent season, help us as we prepare our hearts for Your coming into the world. Even in dark or unexpected times, we can still celebrate all that You have done or WILL do in our world.

Keep our minds focused on You as we get ready for a maybe smaller, but still grand celebration of Your entrance into the human race.

 

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The Gift of Inspiration

The Gift of Inspiration

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:3

 

As we begin the holiday shopping season, this will be a short and promotional blog!

I have written my Blog, Life Happens, following the same devotional style that I used for each chapter of my book, The Light Through My Tunnel. I begin each with a relevant Bible verse. Then I end each chapter or blog with a prayer asking the Lord for guidance & help for whatever seems to be happening in life.

The Light Through My Tunnel, written as a memoir in devotional style, describes my faith journey as I struggle with the day-to-day of living in my new disabled body. At times, it becomes a humorous “how to” memoir. Mostly it is a story of hope & reinvention.

                                                                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My life is a perfect example of the name of my blog Life Happens. Is it possible to be happy after a life-changing tragedy? ABSOLUTELY!

The tragedy I encountered came out of nowhere. I instinctively turned to God to help me through it. God has consoled, comforted and challenged me. After years of trying to do it my way, I’ve been given a true sense of tranquility and contentment.

Like most everything else in life, that peace and contentment did not happen overnight. Throughout the 23 years since my accident/brain injury, my faith in God has grown stronger & stronger.

Here is the book trailer describing The Light Through My Tunnel: https://youtu.be/VTGw494AL9o

It’s a perfect Christmas gift to inspire friends & loved ones…available worldwide wherever books are sold, including Amazon. It can also be ordered on my website, mvarga.com.

So give the gift of inspiration this Christmas!

Dear Lord,

Thank You for providing the life experiences to inspire authors to write reflective and motivating stories to inspire us all. May we use their examples as a learning tool to carry out a more peaceful and happy life.

 

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Be Thankful Anyway!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Psalm 100:4   (NIV)

In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Thanksgiving proclamation and asked for Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving. This special day has always been a harvest festival celebrating the gifts of the land and the gifts of God.

In two days, we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day 2020. What does that day mean for you? Lots of cooking… lots of eating…a time to gather with family!

It also begins the official start of our holiday gift buying season. Christmas decorations are up in all the stores! I’m thankful for the twinkling lights that sparkle this time of year. We wouldn’t appreciate them as much during Daylight Savings time. They are our light that shines in the darkness!

So be thankful anyway in the darkness. The darkness illuminates the light, making its brilliance shine that much brighter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6   (NIV)

 

As Americans, we have just come through a most polarizing national election. Half of us are pleased with the outcome and half of us are sorely disappointed. Be thankful anyway in our election process. It gives us the opportunity to have our vote count. If you’re not pleased with the outcome, take comfort in the fact that we are a nation of checks and balances. Our personal lives will not be changing dramatically. We’ll have the chance to make our vote count again in four more years.

Please remember to pray for America’s leaders…whether we voted for them or not.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

1 Timothy 2:1-3   (NIV)

 

Haven’t we all gotten tired of this COVID pandemic? We want our lives & schedules back. We’re done with masks & standing 6 feet apart. We long to shake hands or hug somebody! Yet we’ve adjusted…..cell phones, FaceTime, Zoom meetings…spending time with family.

 Our closets are cleaned out. We’ve had time for yard work and hobbies. Doing WITHOUT makes us realize what is truly important in our lives. Communicating through our laptops…iPads…or phones only demonstrates our need for human contact. Won’t it be wonderful to reach out in person again?  Be thankful anyway. We’ve learned to adjust!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s accept the challenge to find at least one thing that this pandemic has done to give us a clearer, more positive outlook on life. Do we appreciate our work or our family more? Has our prayer time increased? Do we think of or reach out more to those who are alone during this time?

This COVID pandemic has actually had a normalizing effect on my life. Since my brain injury, I’ve become very comfortable with not being able to do or go whenever I want to. So my ‘new normal’ began 23 years ago. Doing life remotely now has given me more of an opportunity to participate. I certainly don’t feel left out of things!

I’ll ask again…Where is God in our New Normal? (https://mvarga.com/spiritual-insights/where-is-god-in-our-new-normal/) We see Him in the faces all around us. Never doubt that God is in control of this strange situation in our lives. He tells us that weeping may endure for the night, but joy will come in the morning.

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.
You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
 The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands

 Psalm 138:7-8   (NIV)

If we invite Him, Jesus will come and be the bright light in our lives. 2020 has been a dark and learning year for all of us. Yet if we look to Him to give it all meaning, we will survive and be wiser for the wear!

2020 will become the year of human survival. So let’s take this year and use God’s direction to make it a year where we can all thrive! Then someday we will be thankful eternally.

 

Dear Lord,

How can we ever thank You for bringing us through this dark and sometimes lonely time. We have learned so much about ourselves & our world. Both are imperfect, but You’ve known that all along.

Help us to realize that You are with us every step of the way. We may not understand where You’re leading us, but let your light lead us in the right direction.

We thank You for loving & watching out for us as we struggle to make our world a better place in the little corner that we occupy.

 

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Our Atomic God

Our Atomic God

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 

1 John 4:12-13   (NIV) 

We know that God lives inside each of our hearts. That is God, the Holy Spirit. We don’t actually see the Holy Spirit, but He’s usually described as like a wind, a flame or a still small voice.

I have found a quirky little reminder to keep God in my thoughts throughout the day. The Holy Spirit is often seen as a fire flaming inside of us. In most public buildings we find fire alarm symbols denoting that a fire alarm is in place. Sometimes we see a symbol of lightening on them. They are usually always red and can be seen outside most elevators or in stairwells. Whenever I see one of those little red fire boxes, I am immediately reminded that God, The Holy Spirit is guiding my steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How else can we see the image of God? If we believe God is everywhere, then the image of my parish scripture group leader will intrigue. While we were discussing various ways to see God, she said she likes to use her scientific mind.

God created the world and everything in it. He created our seasons, our weather patterns, even night and day. Sharon concluded that we can see God in every atom in the universe. So that makes him our Atomic God.

Just think about it. We see God in our beautiful trees, flowers & landscapes. We see Him in powerful oceans and tranquil lakes. More importantly, we see Him in the faces of cherished family & friends.

The lyrics in the epilogue of the Broadway musical Les Miserable’s always give me goose bumps. It’s the only part of the musical I still remember after all these years.

Take my hand
I’ll lead you to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God
.

 

So it really is true that we can see God in every atom in the universe. He IS our atomic God!

 

 

 

 

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29  (NIV)

 

Dear Lord,

You are everywhere we look! Give us peace in knowing that you’re always with us. Let us see Your love in the faces of those we meet on our journey. They don’t have to be friends or family. You show up in acquaintances and total strangers.

It gives us peace to know You can be found anytime, day or night. Thank You for always having our back.

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Be a Humble Bumble

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29 (NIV)

 In the Burl Ives classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Abominable Snow Monster is feared by everyone in Christmas town! Then he falls over a cliff of ice while terrorizing Rudolph’s friend, Yukon Cornelius. Everyone thinks Yukon and the Abominable have fallen to their death until they make a surprise appearance at Santa’s house on Christmas Eve.

His near-death experience apparently humbled the Abominable enough to cause a change of heart. He no longer wanted to scare & frighten the citizens of Christmas Town. He wanted to cause happiness by putting stars on their Christmas trees. He was even tall enough to do it without a ladder. In the process, he felt the sheer joy of seeing his actions make other people happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

We could all learn a lesson from the Abominable Snow Monster. Happiness doesn’t come from getting what we want or getting our own way. True joy comes from seeing the expression on someone else’s face when we do for or give them something they truly want. We develop a kindred spirit with the gift recipient. We may forever view each other in a more positive light.

Webster’s Dictionary defines humble as ‘having or showing consciousness of one’s shortcomings.’ It is true that humility (being humble) begins with a loss of pride over something that we once took for granted. Did we sometimes allow it to define us? How do we view ourselves now that we no longer have it? Being humbled causes us to see what or who is truly important in our lives.

We can’t experience true humility without the loss of something or someone we hold dear. In a word, we need to be broken. Without everything in its proper place, what does our life mean? How can we make life meaningful without what formerly defined us?

I was humbled by my brain injury. I could no longer do many things that used to define me. I could no longer run. I could no longer do the work I was trained to do. It’s not fair! I want my old life back!

 Yes, it took many years to realize that the number of miles per hour I could run, or the success of the medications I sold did not give my life purpose. Keeping pace with family or friends also became less important. Was I having my own Humble Bumble experience?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:10  (NIV)

Thankfully, my upbringing taught me that God was not only the source of everything in our life, but that His will was to be embraced in ALL circumstances. I instinctively knew that God had my back…even if I didn’t know where He was leading me.  He became my new purpose in life, which is where it should have been all along. The saying, You find God most in the hardest times, is clearly evident in my life.

When we look at things from God’s perspective, OUR perspective on what is valuable & what is worth going after changes. Is this what God would want? Is what I’m doing beneficial to anyone but me?

These questions don’t normally come to us when our life is sailing along smoothly. God realizes that too. Perhaps that’s why He allows us to hit some rough spots. As we try to climb out of trouble spots, we gain a deeper compassion for others who may also be facing similar trials.

How can we be the biggest help to others? Simply by listening, asking only for clarification. Remember, this is THEIR story. We shouldn’t be too quick to offer what worked for us. Others need to feel heard. So listen and certainly give suggestions if asked.

Just like the Abominable Snow Monster, we can all be Humble Bumbles. We can feel the satisfaction of guiding others; even if in places we have failed. Perhaps this is a way for us all to make lemonade out of our lemons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lord,

Help me to make something useful and beautiful out of this mess. I know sometimes I create my own messes. Thank You for not giving up on me!

You tell me to humble myself before You. Consider me humbled. Now please point me to others I can help in my brokenness.

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

The Bird Dog

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20   (NIV)

As a fitness instructor I promised an occasional blog that would focus on a specific fitness tip. In this blog we’ll see a simple floor exercise that will improve your static balance. It also strengthens & tones all our core muscles. It’s called the Bird Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us don’t even think about our balance until we find ourselves about to fall. As we get older though, that seems to happen more frequently. Sometime around age 50, our bodies begin to lose their strength and muscle mass. This is just one of many elements that can affect balance. It is, however, one that we can work on improving.

I’m always encouraged to see so many older adults at my health club. They seem to know that the only way to beat this aging loss of strength is to get your muscles stronger. We need to become friends with our dumbbells!

Of course we don’t need weights to make our muscles stronger. We can use our own muscles to work against gravity. Just think of the strength gains we get from doing a simple push-up! The BirdDog works on the same principal and also challenges our balance in the process.

Bird Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how it’s done….

.  Get down on hands/knees (like a dog) with arms directly under head/shoulders; knees under hips

.  Engage the core muscles. Imagine pulling your belly button back toward your spine.

.  Extend your opposite arm/leg. This will challenge the balance in the hip you are kneeling on.

 . Pull your chest UP. Pull your chin UP. Most importantly, pull that hip you’re kneeling on UP toward       the ceiling.  Don’t let your hip fall to the side. Activate your hip strength to pull it straight up.

.  Hold for a count of 10 or longer. The longer you can hold it, the more you work your static balance.

.  Do the same action on the other side of your body with the opposite arm/leg.

.  Start with 10 reps total: that’s 5 reps on each side.

 

I have a balance deficit because of my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Yet I was able to show my class how to do a Bird Dog properly. Because I have practiced the exercise over & over again, my balance IS slightly better. I know with certainty that my hips and core muscles are stronger!

With enough practice, we can teach our bodies to do anything!

And remember….

You can do all this things through Him who gives you strength.  (Philippians 4:13)

 Try praying while doing the Bird Dog, or any exercise!

With God, all things are possible!

 

Dear Lord,

Thank you for giving us healthy bodies. I know You want us strong to be able to do the work You have planned for us. I also know You built our bodies to balance. Please let us to build our hip & core strength AND our  balance through repeated practice of the BirdDog.

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/

Are We Praying the Right Way?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Do we ever wonder if our prayers reach the ears of God? Are we praying the right way?  I know God is not Santa Claus or the tooth fairy, there to meet our every desire. Even though the opening scripture sort of sounds that way, doesn’t it?

The asking, seeking and knocking is how we seek God’s will for our lives, not a new car or home.  We can certainly pray for Him to bring us those material things though. Seeking God’s will for our lives is trickier than asking for a new Porsche. Sometimes, we request something God knows is not the best for us. He knows, so we keep asking, seeking and knocking.

We should always pray for His will in our lives. We are His sons and daughters. Don’t you always pray the best for your own children? Imagine how much more our heavenly father wants for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can we know we’re praying the right way? Being a bookworm, I have numerous books meant to answer that very question. Prayer is not a Christian duty. We’re relating to someone who knows us better than we know ourselves. Just BE in that relationship! Even though He already knows our fears and desires, tell Him anyway. Sometimes we just need to hear it coming out of our own minds.

My friend and Bible study leader taught me a way to pray that you may already know. It’s the ACTS way. A-Acknowlege, C-Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S-Supplication.

I can see why the A-Acknowledge is first. How often when we pray do we forget to praise our Father, our Creator, our Savior, our Friend? I used to, but that familiar saying about prayer kept tormenting my mind. Complain and remain. Praise and be raised. God is still God, even in the bad stuff. Surprising things can happen when we give God first place in our lives.

Next we take a moment to Confess anything we’ve done to offend….God, or others. What opportunities to be kind have we let slip through our fingers?

Step 3 is Thanksgiving for all that we’ve been given, remembering that it all came from God. Don’t you like it when your children acknowledge or give thanks for the things you do for them? Surely God likes that too!

Step 4 is Supplication. That’s how most of us know to pray. We pray for our family and friends. We pray for mercy and forgiveness. We pray for the impossible. We pray to know God’s will!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26  (NIV)

There are a thousand different ways we can pray. Perhaps we don’t have the time or inclination to pray half-hour or more every morning/evening. We can pray all day. Like everything, it has to become a habit. Praise God for His creation when watering the landscape. Pray for family/friends while waiting in line or stuck in traffic. Pray for America and our leaders BEFORE you turn on the news. Proclaim thanks all day long…for big blessings and little blessings. I say “Thank you Jesus. Good save!” every time I keep myself from falling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God just wants to know we’re thinking about Him. In faith I believe He hears me. I expect Him to answer me and in real life I see God’s answers because I’m looking for them. And no, God doesn’t always answer the way we want. How many times have we looked back though and thanked Him for not answering our prayer?

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Psalm 145:18-19  NIV

So yes, I do believe our prayers reach the ears of God.

 

Dear Lord,

Thank You for being a Father to all of us. All we have to do is call out for you…and then expect You to answer.

Help us to relax our minds about whether we’re praying the right way or not. You know our hearts and we know how much you want the best for all of us!

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/

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