June 2011


During the last weekend of May and the first weekend of June, I had the privilege of attending two women’s conferences, one in Germany and the other in England. Both conferences were a lot of fun, partly because of my wonderful traveling companion – my daughter.

In Germany, we stayed at a cute little place called the Biebertal Hotel, which means beaver tail. On the middle day we toured the incredibly beautiful countryside. Rolling hills, lush green forests and quaint villages met us at every turn. The day ended with a barefoot walk. The trail is filled with different surfaces and textures to stimulate and challenge the feet. I made it through the whole walk, but must admit to not finishing some of the more painful surfaces. It ended with a cold water bath. I was so happy to put on my warm, dry socks and shoes!

We also toured a couple of castles. They are everywhere. Some are abandoned, some still used as private residences and some are open for tours. We saw weapons, armor, very old furniture and kitchen implements. One castle had quite a few indoor toilets, which was surprising to me. I knew about chamber pots, but had no idea the nobility, at least in Germany, had indoor facilities.

Here are a few photos from the Germany trip:

At the end of the workout, we do stretches. One very enjoyable stretch puts me on the floor, on my knees with my arms stretched out in front. Tony says: “You can pray now – thank God it’s over!” I always come back with: Thank God I can still do this! I think of my ability to exercise and move freely as a big blessing.

Many dread exercise and either avoid it or just get through it, believing it to be a necessary evil. It can be the same with life – it’s normal to wish for the hard parts to be over quickly, especially when we or our loved ones suffer. But life is short and I remember my mom telling me not to wish my life away. One of my favorite movie lines is from Steel Magnolias: that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Being thankful, even in and through the hard parts of life, makes life richer and stronger. Let’s wait to say thank God it’s over for the very end, when we cross the finish line and win the race.

Tony is always saying “You can do it!” During one of the ab exercises, he says: “You can do it and if you can’t, we all can tell!” Too true – this is a difficult exercise and I feel stronger as I do more reps.

Sometimes when we don’t spend enough time alone with God, everyone can tell. We have less patience, love and kindness, among other things. After Moses had spent time with God, his face glowed. I’m sure my face has never glowed after time with him, but I know my patience level is often higher, and there’s evidence of other fruit of the Spirit too. Communion with God aligns our will with his and helps us focus on what’s important. It helps us be more responsive to the Holy Spirit and gives us a different perspective.

Jesus said we are to let our light shine. Spending time with him is the best way to keep it bright. If you don’t, we all can tell!

When I do the exercise designed to take care of that little extra around the middle, Tony says he will get rid of it for me. If that’s true, why am I the one sweating so much? But he’s only showing the way. I have to do the work.

Many Christians make the mistake of believing that even though we are saved by grace through faith, we are still obligated to work for salvation. Why can’t we let grace be what it is – unconditional, unmerited pardon, with no strings attached? If we still have to do our part then it’s not grace. Grace means complete forgiveness, with no more for us to do. For some reason, maybe pride, we have trouble accepting such an incredible gift. Perhaps it makes us feel better to believe we might be smart, good or strong enough to do this for ourselves.

Unlike Tony, who can’t get rid of love handles for anyone, Jesus really has done everything for us. He did it all – we do nothing, except accept the gift of grace.