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.

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/

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/

TA-DAA!

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.

Matthew 6:22

 

One of the pupils in my exercise class gave me a birthday card with a picture of a little girl with outstretched arms on the front. The sentiment inside says, “TA-DAA! That’s what God said the day you were born.” That was five years ago and it still hangs in my kitchen today.

That’s because it makes me feel wonderful whenever I see it. It reminds be that someone is counting on me to bring them light. Like the opening scripture says, it fills my whole body with light. Knowing that another person feels that way about me makes me want to live in a way that continues to evoke the same positive response. I want them to continue to be inspired by me.

Isn’t that the way we all feel when we know someone is expecting excellence from us? We certainly don’t want to let them down. Their belief in us motivates us to do the best job we can. Who knows! Maybe they’ve discovered some genius we didn’t even know we have. We go out of our way to ensure we’re living in a way that reflects their good impression of us!

Who inspires you to give it your best? Perhaps it’s a family member, a friend or even an employer. My dad called me to tell me how wonderful my last blog was. Dad doesn’t give unwarranted compliments, but he DID give me a TA-DAA moment. It makes me more resolved to continue to write blogs that can touch others’ hearts because I was able to touch Dad’s.

Ideally, this good experience inspires us to provide others with their own TA-DAA moments. We want others to feel as positive as we do. Right? OK. Maybe we’re a little selfish and this was not the first thought that entered our mind. Look at it this way though. If we can make someone feel like they are making a difference in others’ lives, they will be more apt to live up to the impression we have of them. Isn’t that what we call being an encourager?

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34

Yes, God asks us to encourage one another. That’s one of the ways we can spread His love to others. Encouragement gives us the determination to keep moving forward when we otherwise would have thrown in the towel. It allows us to know that we ARE making a difference.

We can even encourage and celebrate our own accomplishments…our TA-DAA moments.  I celebrate the creation of my fitness business and the smiles I get to see every day on the ladies & men in my classes. I am privileged to provide a service that helps them realize physical abilities they didn’t know they have.

The desire God put in my heart to serve seniors came from another moment of victory I had almost 30 years ago. When I completed my first New York City Marathon, I too realized physical abilities I didn’t know I had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more importantly, I’ve had the satisfaction of giving life to the amazing young man my son Andrew is becoming. He does things his own way. We question his reasoning sometimes, but ultimately end up saying, “TA-DAA!” Don’t your children make you feel the same way?

What are the TA-DAA moments in your life? We do well to remember our victories when things go awry and life happens. Remembering our prized moments and what we are passionate about can keep us going forward when life is not turning out as we expected.

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

We are all made in the image of God Almighty. He’s expecting good works from us because that’s how He created us. We are His own reflection. So the birthday card I received is true.

God does say TA-DAA! whenever we behave in ways to help others and our world. As His children, He’s expecting nothing less. He wants us to remember these precious moments in our lives and use their sense of accomplishment as an anchor to propel us to even grander things to bring meaning/purpose to our lives and the lives of others.

 

Dear Lord,

Thank You for bringing us TA –DAA moments. Show us how and when to lift someone else with encouraging words.

You’ve made us in Your image. You also created us to love and encourage each other. Please help us to act in ways that lets others know that we belong to You.

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/

Where Is God in our New Normal?

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33  NIV

This opening scripture may seem like ‘pie in the sky’ to some. To people of faith it is a great comfort and a call to action to pray for our country and our world.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first shut our world down, it seemed America, including our government, was pulling together to help each other as best they could. My prayers were one of thanksgiving that people in power were putting their differences aside for the good of all Americans.

Then concern for the health and wellbeing of our citizens seemed to be replaced with concerns for racial equality. Our government once again became polarized in the midst of a presidential election. What happened to pulling together?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is God in all this chaos? I see him every day in the faces of our essential workers. I have a much greater respect for our trash collectors, our postal workers and our grocery store employees. I deeply appreciate our small-business owners…especially the ones who keep my hair and finger nails groomed and provide transportation for me.

Where is God in the shootings, the riots, the violence and the political attacks? What about our failing economy and the businesses that have had to close their doors?

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.    1Peter 4:12 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it is human nature to think that through our own will and human effort we can control our outcomes. Perhaps that is why we see people turning to God always in times of crisis. That’s when we realize we can’t do it on our own.

I’ve seen this personally these last twenty-plus years as I’ve struggled to live a positive life with the effects of a traumatic brain injury. Boy has God become real for me now! Perhaps COVID-19 is our wake-up call to remind us of who, in His great love, is controlling our universe.

God is still right here with us. This is a perfect example of the name of my blog: Life Happens. It has certainly happened to all of us with COVID-19!  How are we handling this crisis? Do we believe that with God, all things are possible? Do we believe He loves us…ALL OF US? Do we truly have trust in Him when we pray?

He commands us to pray for our country and our leaders. He commands us to love one another as He has loved us. We’re supposed to pray for His will in all things.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.        Philippians 4:6 NIV

So we are not powerless in our desire to make our world a better place. We are not powerless to stand against this virus, injustice, and inequality. As I said in Welcome to My Blog, I believe with all my heart that ‘GOD’S GOT THIS’. I’ve made a conscientious effort to remove from my vocabulary the saying, “All I can do is pray.” Prayer is the most powerful force in the universe!  It should be our first line of defense when life happens.

Please pray for peace and healing for our broken world!

 

Dear Lord,

Bring a sense of peace to all of us, so we know that You have this troubling and chaotic time under Your control. Take our worry and replace it with resolve to continue loving and taking care of each other. Help us to bite our tongue when tempted to criticize what others are doing…or NOT doing.

All of our lives have changed from what we thought of as normal. Keep reminding us that You are right there, guiding us through our ‘new normal’.

 

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/

Welcome to my blog – Life Happens

Welcome to my blog – Life Happens

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

Welcome to my first-ever blog. I hope you will find it inspiring, yet practical. I’ve entitled my blog Life Happens because that is what happens to all of us! Sometimes life happens with positive things…other times they are downright difficult and heart-breaking.

Our choice is how we are going to respond to what’s going on. Get upset? Blame someone or something? Throw a party? Praise God? It’s our personal choice as to how we are going to view what’s happening. It’s all about our mind’s perspective.

Those of you who know me know that I look for God in the midst of everything that is happening.  I have a large sticky note on the fridge in my kitchen that says, “GOD’S GOT THIS”. When good things are happening, it’s easy to see God’s hand in things. That’s when it’s easy to praise and exalt our heavenly father. When hard times hit, it’s difficult to see what God is up to.

Yet I always believe He is there. It’s during the tough stuff that our faith is really tested. Often times, just like an inquisitive student, I find myself thinking,  “What is He trying to show me now?” Sometimes it takes trial and error to discern God’s plan for us.

We will look at various ‘life happenings’ in this blog, as well as ideas I’ve found to help keep you moving forward with faith. I am a group fitness instructor by profession. So every other week, I will give you fitness tips to keep you strong and flexible, and ready for whatever life throws at you.

I will end each blog with a prayer that speaks to what we have been discussing.

Dear Lord,

Please give me Your anointing to speak to those reading my blog. Life happens to all of us. Give me the courage and wisdom to speak Your truth. We all want to experience a happy life of purpose. Help me to show others that IS possible…even when it’s not the life they dreamed of.

I know! I know! We’re not supposed to live by our feelings. Please show me how to put YOU first in all I do. Then I can share that wisdom with others.

 

So welcome to Life Happens! I pray that you will receive inspirations here that will transform your mind!

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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