The Strength of My Heart

It’s the anniversary of my heart surgery! It’s sort of a big one. I lived nineteen years with a bad heart, and now I’ve lived nineteen years with a good heart. From here on out, the good prevails. ūüôā

As a side note, there have been so many times that I’ve been amazed at how appropriate the verse on my perpetual calendar was for that day. (It’s also amazing how many years it sometimes takes me to notice, since I go through this calendar over and over every year.) I just noticed the August 31st verse in the context of my surgery, though I’ve read it every August 31st for years.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
~Psalm 73:25, 26

I like it.

I am so grateful that my heart is now healthy, but even when it wasn’t, God was still the strength of my heart. For all the other frailties that I may experience in my life, I can remember that I don’t rely on the strength of my body alone. God has my back. Always.

Slant

After taking three months off after an injury, I am taking tentative steps (literally) back into running.

I referred back to the Couch to 5K training program, which is how I got started in the first place.  I want to take things slowly Рeasy on the joints Рso I started toward the beginning of C25K to suit my current running ability.

My daughter wanted to run a 5K with me this summer.  Though technically not still summer, I have my sights set on a local 5K at the end of September.  I hope this will do.

When planning my training routes, I prefer running a loop over an out-and-back when possible.¬† It’s a psychological thing.¬† It feels more fulfilling, less boring.
A conversation with my cousin came back to mind yesterday.¬† He runs along the edge of a rural highway.¬† He told me that he switches sides periodically, so his body doesn’t continuously face the same slant.¬† Although proper pedestrian etiquette calls for sticking to the left side, his method of alternating sides has helped him clear up and avoid further aches and pains.

I need to be more aware of the slant issue on my own runs.¬† I run on a paved trail, and it is definitely a bit slanted.¬† If I’m doing loops, I should at least change my direction from one run to the next.

I once read about a marathon that was run on a track.¬† (Can you imagine?). Apparently, the runners change direction every thirty minutes so the same side isn’t always the outside.

On my loops, I don’t think outside/inside is an issue (we’re talking 4, 6, 12 mile loops – the curve is hardly noticeable), but the slope of the trail can’t be discounted.

I’m just out there to enjoy myself.¬† I don’t always think about the details that can ultimately help or harm my long-term ability to continue this hobby.¬† Thanks, cous’, for making me think about one of those details.

Night to Unite

We enjoyed a potluck with neighbors last night in celebration of Night to Unite.  Do you celebrate this where you live?

With our busy lives which often keep us out of our homes, it’s all too easy not to get to know our neighbors.¬† Back when I was working full time, I¬†remember actually wondering if there was anything¬†in my neighborhood for National Night Out (the previous name for what is now called Night to Unite).¬† I was gone so much of the time for my job, that I literally did not know if my neighbors gathered to celebrate.¬† Back then, I also wasn’t present in my own neighborhood for Halloween trick-or-treaters.¬† Because I have made the decision to stay home with my children, I have had more opportunities to get to know some of my neighbors.¬† Even now, most of our interactions are with other families that have children.¬† Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

Night to Unite brings the whole neighborhood together, everyone who can make it.¬† Through this event, we have met several more families.¬† I must say, it’s a good thing.

Night to Unite is considered a crime prevention initiative.  When people know their neighbors, they are more likely to notice if something is amiss.  They are more likely to look out for each other.  They are more likely to call upon each other when a need arises and to offer to pitch in when a need is observed.  In other words, what could simply be a row of houses with no connection becomes a true community.

If you haven’t participated in Night to Unite, I do recommend it.¬† If you already know your neighbors, wonderful!¬† If you don’t, I think it will be well worth your while to make the effort to meet them.¬† That sense of community can enrich your life, as well as make for a safer neighborhood.

 

A quality I admire

This morning, I dropped both my children off for the first morning of Vacation Bible School.¬† My daughter was very excited!¬† It occurred to me that she doesn’t have a friend in her VBS class – not that we knew of, anyway.¬† She’s just so open to new experiences and new people.¬† She went into her day expecting to have blast and not needing anything more than that.¬† (My son knew he would be seeing a friend in his class, so he wasn’t in that same wide-open position.)

Now that I think about it, this is how she typically approaches things.  She is ready and willing to live life to the full.

I really admire that about her.

At times when I feel a little unsure about a new experience, I will have to remember my enthusiastic little girl, open to all the good things life has to offer.

I’ve found that I learn so much from my children.¬† What a wonderful journey we’re¬†on together.

The Gift of Obedience

I just finished reading Ella Enchanted with my children. It is a twist on the Cinderella story, and I found it more thought provoking than the classic version.

 

In this version, a fairy has given baby Ella the gift of obedience, believing this truly to be a blessing.¬† If she had thought a bit more about the possible implications, she would have realized the curse it actually was.¬† Ella grew up having no free will.¬† If anyone issued a command, she had no choice but to obey.¬† If someone made a request of her, she could decline.¬† However, a direct order left her no option.¬† As you can imagine, this would be a dangerous situation.¬† Anyone could order her to act against her own best interests, and she would have to comply, up to and including ending her own life.¬† As such, she guarded her secret as best she could.¬† It was inevitable that someone would notice that she always did as she was told.¬† Her step-sister noticed and took full advantage of Ella’s compliance.

As we read this book, I couldn’t help but remember a sign I had seen posted in a school building several years ago.¬† My daughter was taking a dance class that met in an elementary school building.¬† There were these signs posted around the hallways describing the behavior that was expected of students.¬† They depicted an open hand, with one rule on each finger.¬† I wish I could remember all the rules, but there was one in particular that stayed with me.¬† Probably because I found it horrifying.¬† It said, “You must obey all adults.”

Do you think that is a harmless thing to teach a child?

I don’t.¬† Far from it.

I do think most people are mostly nice.¬† (No one is nice all the time or without flaws.)¬† I don’t think most people are looking for ways to harm others.¬† But predators do exist.¬† A child who has been trained to “obey all adults” would be an easy target.¬† No thank you.¬† I don’t want my children to think that all adults have the right to give them orders.

I want my children to respect others and the property of others.¬† I want them to obey proper authority – reasonable requests from parents, coaches, teachers, their friends’ parents.¬† I don’t want them to blindly obey any command issued by an adult, no matter what.

We’ve talked about the fact that we should obey the law.¬† As part of our personal beliefs, we’ve also discussed the idea that if¬†a law that asks us to contradict God’s word, we wouldn’t obey man over God.¬† For example, if a new law was passed forbidding us to pray, we would continue to pray.¬† Or in the workplace, if our employer asked us to act in a way that would cheat someone else, we wouldn’t do it.¬† You get the point.¬† I want all of us to do our best to do what’s right, but there may be times when what is legal will not equal what is right.¬† Do I encourage all of us to be law-abiding citizens?¬† Yes.¬† But…¬† I still want all of us to think for ourselves and try to do what’s right.¬† I’ve even said that if I asked them to do something that they felt was wrong, that they should stand up for what they believe.¬† (I don’t know¬†how such a situation would play out.¬† We would have¬†to discuss our disagreement and come up¬†with a way to move forward.)¬† I want them to understand that they shouldn’t blindly obey anyone, even me.¬† This hasn’t been an issue, but it’s just so important to me that they know they have the right (and obligation) to think for themselves.

Ella worried that her curse could be the downfall of her country.  The Prince proposed marriage, and she could see the potential danger in being so close to the royal family.  Someone could order her to reveal state secrets or to kill her husband or members of his family.  Because of this danger, she refused to marry him.  Apparently, when the stakes were this high, when disobedience mattered this much, she was able to break the curse.  All the abuse she had suffered because of her inability to disobey was not enough to break the curse, but faced with endangering the person she loved most, she found her own will and said no.  Her reaction to her new-found freedom:

“Decisions were a delight after the curse.¬† I loved having the power to say yes or no, and refusing anything was a special pleasure.”

What do you think?  Is obedience a gift?  A curse?  Do you think it is reasonable to ask 100% obedience from anyone?