Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Playing God

I'm working on a novel.  It is safe to say I've been working on this novel for years.  I enjoy the world building and the planning that goes behind the story I want to tell almost as much as I enjoy the story itself.  This doesn't surprise me as I've always loved that about other books.  Look at Lord of the Rings and say hello to backstory.  There is obviously so much going on around the story and before the story!  Obviously that's an extreme example; most authors don't go so far as to develop an entirely new language as part of their world building.  I still sense it in other books though and I love it.  I love there's more to the story.  I love the consistency that brings.  I love the internal logic.  So I have been trying (and enjoying) doing the same with my story. 

The problem with this is it is incredibly hard!  Why does this character exist?  Why is this character in this group?  Why does this group exist?  What prompted the group to be in the situation they are in at whatever point in the story?  What complex connections are there between this group and another group which has all the same complex questions about their history?  I have a fictional world - what is its history?  And of course I have to make sure they all align so that everything is primed and ready and all connected just perfectly at the time of the story I'm actually telling.  It is confusing and exhausting, and these characters don't even have free will to mess everything up for me.

Have you ever played Sim City?  In this game, the player builds a city.  They must manage the taxes and expenses, control crime and pollution, provide education, and ensure there are enough jobs.  This is also really hard.  There are so many variables and so many things that can go wrong.  Disasters happen and buildings are destroyed and the power goes out.  People marry and have kids and move from neighborhood to neighborhood.  Revenue goes up and revenue goes down.  And again, the citizens here have no free will.

If I can't control the characters in my novel or the outcome of my video game, why do I think I can control real life?  And if God can control creating the whole universe and managing everything in it, why don't I trust Him with what I cannot do?  The only logical and safe position is to actually trust God!  Only God can see it all, do it all, and take care of it all.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Surprised by Sin

I've noticed something about sin lately.  We seem surprised to discover it happens.  This is probably old news to those wiser than me, but I just picked up on it.  I told a friend a few weeks ago, "I know people are sinning.  I just don't assume they're the people I know."   What a dangerous outlook!  

I've noticed three types of this surprise:

  1. Surprised by sin in general.  This seems to be when we like to duck our head into the sand and pretend sin doesn't exist.  Oh sure, everybody needs Jesus because sin does exist.  We just live like it doesn't.  For instance, we like to think we live in a wonderful free society that is moral and true.  Then we ignore the millions of unborn we have killed.  We say porn is bad, and then ignore the adult entertainment store going up on the corner.
  2. Surprised by the type of sin.  This is when we're surprised by the type of sin.  Maybe we've accepted the fact that sin, in general, exists.  But surely nobody is actually looking at porn!  And it is ridiculous to think any of the people we know might be engaging in fornication.  Nobody would kill children; that's just crazy.  These sins are just worse than all the other ones and surely don't happen.  
  3. Surprised by the people.  This is the thought that the person you know would never sin.  Like the Catholic beliefs on Mary, this individual is free from sin.  Or perhaps we might acknowledge they do sin, but they're really minor sins. They'd never do that, whatever that is.  We can even do the same to corporations or people - know anyone who once thought our own government wouldn't spy on our phone calls?

Why is this so important?  This is not a case of "what you don't know can't hurt you."  Other people sins do hurt us.  It hurts our families.  Our families' sins hurt us and each other as well, and we have a responsibility to notice when things are going downhill and take action.  And this type of thinking can lead us to believe our own sin doesn't exist, hurting our families and our communities.  The consequences now are horrifying, but the eternal consequences are, well, eternal.  Ignoring it does not make it go away.

There's also the problem this line of thinking causes when we finally do wake up and notice sin is or has happened.  Are we too shocked to do anything about it?  Is our response to a (fellow) sinner in need affected by our blindness?  Think of a fire in a big building.  With warning, the fire might have been prevented.  With no warning, the fire spreads, and the people may be so overwhelmed and confused to do anything about the fire or even escape.  This is the very definition of being caught off guard.

Sin actually does exist. All the sin exists.  It isn't new, it isn't rare, and it isn't minor.  We may live in a culture that tells us sin doesn't exist, but we know better.  We cannot forget this point.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

Despite my best efforts, I did indeed get the stomach bug last week.  I spent Saturday night and Sunday dealing with that.  Sadly, that means I've not only failed in my resolution to attend daily mass once a week, I've actually skipped the first two Sundays of 2014.  Even though they were both for good reason, I'm still really looking forward to this Sunday.

The stomach flu is also why I visited no blogs this week and left no comments.  I'm a bad blogger!  :)

--- 2 ---

Speaking of Sunday, we will be celebrating the Second Sunday of Ordinary time.  If you're like me, you're wondering where the First Sunday of Ordinary time went.  Last Sunday was the Baptism of our Lord AND the First Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Why?  I don't know.  Perhaps it is to confuse those of us who notice such things.

--- 3 ---

Prior to last week's illness, I was able to participate in the Saturday morning walk/jog for my Couch to 3.1 group. I assume they don't say Couch to 5k for trademark reasons, but it is the same idea.  It was an enjoyable time, if cold.  We ran for 30 seconds and walked for 1:30 for about 25 minutes.  My understanding is tomorrow I'll be able to get with a group that runs more at a chunk.  

I don't have any cardio issues with running.  Apparently I have some arch problems which cause some pain in my inner shin area.  Sometimes I'd call them shin splints and sometimes they're lower.  The podiatrist said I'd over-stretched my posterior tibial tendon, and you aren't alone if it sounds like that's in my butt.  It's actually down near my ankle.  Anyway, I now have better shoes, better arch supports, and a few months of CrossFit making that all stronger so I only have mild discomfort now.  I don't actually like running though.  I'm only doing it so I'll be able to change careers and become a police officer.  Give me a rower, bike, or elliptical any day!

--- 4 ---

On the off chance you're bored, are with a friend, and have a tape measure, would you like to do me a favor?  Sit on the ground with your feet straight out in front of you.  Sit up straight.  Have your friend measure from the ground to the edge of your armpit.  Comment with the measurement in inches.  Why?  It's for a super secret project...

--- 5 ---

I started Scripture II this week at JP Catholic.  It seems to be covering the big picture of the whole Bible, going through each covenant to show God's master plan.  The book is Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by John Bergsma.  I read it during the break and I like it.  It is similar to the seemingly more comprehensive A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Scott Hahn, one of my favorite books.  Both books do a great job explaining the whole story of salvation in context, which is important if one is trying to read the Bible.

--- 6 ---

What games do you have on your smart phone?  I don't play a lot of games on it because it hurts my neck, but I enjoy Words with Friends and Tower Madness.  Tower Madness is the best tower defense game available, in my opinion, if you're into that kind of thing.  What about apps on your phone?  I most often use Safari to connect to Facebook as I don't like the Facebook app, and I also use the WeatherBug app, Twitter, and Feedly.  I have LoseIt to track my nutrition information, Wodify to see that day's workout, Sunrise for my calendar, and Logos to read the Bible.

--- 7 ---

It should come as no surprise to anyone I'm in charge of the Biggest Loser competition at work.  Who else are you going to get to track your numbers?  We are running two tracks this time - one for people who want to compete for cash and one who just want their weight tracked for encouragement.  I'm only in it for the graphs!


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wow

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  ~ Genesis 1:1

I'm reading Genesis as part of my Scripture II class at JP Catholic, and earlier I hopped right into Chapter 1.  I was all lined up with the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and my notes and the syllabus and the other textbook, Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History by John Bergsma.  I read the introduction and breezed through the first chapter and then study the notes for each verse.  I nodded along as I read different theories on authorship and date and what the Creation account means and how it relates to the entire rest of human history.  I thought about friends who believe in the literal seven day creation and friends who think it took longer.   It was all very analytical.  And it totally missed one very key point about the beginning of the universe - God created it from nothing.

Oh sure the text mentions that and I usually register that as an academic fact.  But let's think about that for just one moment.  Nothing existed prior to the universe.  This wasn't like taking existing sand and building a sand castle or chopping down some trees to build a log cabin.   Those activities certainly involve skill, but they do not involve the creation of matter from nothingness.  Even if you believe that the whole show was created by a Big Bang between two particles, my mother would ask you where those particles came from.  They came from nothing.  God created it all from absolutely nothing.  You can't even say He created it out of thin air, because air didn't even exist.  

The God we follow, the God who loves us, the God who sent His Son for us, the God who created the universe, is more powerful than we can even imagine.  When we say "all-powerful," we can't even envision what that power looks like.  We have no concept of what it would be like to create something from nothing.  I've heard people say Genesis is over-simplistic - is there some more complicated version that would make sense of this miraculous wonder?  Are there enough words available or pieces of paper ever produced that could explain or contain this truth?  We are so unintelligent we can't even begin to understand what is involved in even the very first line of Scripture.

That's just awesome.  There's really no other word to describe it.  One doesn't exist.  We can take all sorts of lessons and thoughts from this one idea, but really, let's just bask in the awesomeness of it.  God created it all from nothing.  That's how big He is.  That's how powerful He is.  Everything else must pale in comparison.

Bless the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, thou art very great;
Thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment:
Who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters:
Who maketh the clouds his chariot:
Who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
Who maketh his angels spirits;
His ministers a flaming fire:
Who laid the foundations of the earth,
That it should not be removed for ever.
Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment:
The waters stood above the mountains.
At thy rebuke they fled;
At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys
Unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;
That they turn not again to cover the earth
He sendeth the springs into the valleys,
Which run among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field:
The wild asses quench their thirst.
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation,
Which sing among the branches.
He watereth the hills from his chambers:
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the service of man:
That he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
And oil to make his face to shine,
And bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
The trees of the LORD are full of sap;
The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
Where the birds make their nests:
As for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats;
And the rocks for the conies.
He appointed the moon for seasons:
The sun knoweth his going down.
Thou makest darkness, and it is night:
Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth
The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their meat from God.
The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together,
And lay them down in their dens.
Man goeth forth unto his work
And to his labour until the evening.
O LORD, how manifold are thy works!
In wisdom hast thou made them all:
The earth is full of thy riches.
So is this great and wide sea,
Wherein are things creeping innumerable,
Both small and great beasts.
There go the ships:
There is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
These wait all upon thee;
That thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
That thou givest them they gather:
Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled:
Thou takest away their breath, they die,
And return to their dust.
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created:
And thou renewest the face of the earth.
The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever:
The LORD shall rejoice in his works.
He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth:
He toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live:
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
My meditation of him shall be sweet:
I will be glad in the LORD.
Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth,
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless thou the LORD, O my soul.
Praise ye the LORD.

(Psalm 104)

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Pope Francis!

Here's another quote from Pope Francis before he was Pope Francis (Open Mind, Faithful Heart):

Holiness is not just a collection of virtues. Indeed, such a conception of holiness causes great harm; it stifles our hearts, and after a while it fashions us into Pharisees. Holiness means “walking in the presence of God and being perfect”; holiness means living in constant encounter with Jesus Christ.  

We can't just go through a check list and call ourselves holy.  Lists of virtues and rules and ideas can be useful, but only with the right heart and with faith.  God wants us to seek Him and seek His will.

Friday, January 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes

--- 1 ---

Okay people - big news.  I got my first unassisted pull up at CrossFit!  No bands or jumping or anything.  My goal is a strict pull up (no swinging the legs or using momentum) but I'd also never done a kipping pull up.  

Last Saturday during the warm up, I heard my coach talking to someone else about kipping.  I just decided to try it since I'd been working on strict and hadn't tried kipping in months, if ever.  So I did one.  It was so weird because I got done and looked at the bar in shock - did that really just work?  I wandered over to my coach and said, "I think I just did a kipping pull up."  She said, "And I missed it?!  Do it again!"  

If you go to 1:50 on the below video, you can see what one of these looks like.

I did several more on Saturday.  On Wednesday we had a workout which included 45 pull ups in total.  I used the smallest band available (apparently good for about 15lbs) and knocked them out pretty quickly compared to my old method.  I actually feel athletic!  And sore!

--- 2 ---

I posted my 2014 goals last weekend as well.  My church-going goals this week have been thwarted by snow and cold weather.  On Sunday there was 8 inches of snow and the wind chill was -25!  I suppose that's not too terrible compared to what other people had, but that's very cold and a lot of snow for around here.  The city doesn't even own enough plows or have enough people do do anything but the main roads and some of the school routes.  

--- 3 ---

In news to no one, it is cold here.  It is cold everywhere.  I don't know if I've ever been as cold as I was outside this week.

--- 4 ---

My roomie got the stomach flu this week and it has been my quest to avoid joining her in the puke-fest.  I've learned a great deal about the stomach bug (it isn't really the flu), but mostly really crazy statistics from Wikipedia.  

Noroviruses are transmitted directly from person to person and indirectly via contaminated water and food. They are extremely contagious, and fewer than twenty virus particles can cause an infection[4](some research suggests as few as five).[8] Transmission occurs through ingesting contaminated food and water and by person-to-person spread. Transmission can be aerosolized when those stricken with the illness vomit, and can be aerosolized by a toilet flush when vomit or diarrhea is present; infection can follow eating food or breathing air near an episode of vomiting, even if cleaned up.[17] The viruses continue to be shed after symptoms have subsided and shedding can still be detected many weeks after infection.[18]

Vomiting, in particular, transmits infection effectively. In one incident, a person who vomited spread infection right across a restaurant, suggesting that many unexplained cases of food poisoning may have their source in vomit. 126 people were dining at six tables in December 1998; one woman vomited. Staff quickly cleaned up, and people continued eating. Three days later others started falling ill; 52 people reported a range of symptoms, from fever and nausea to vomiting and diarrhea. The cause was not immediately identified. Researchers plotted the seating arrangement: more than 90% of the people at the same table as the sick woman later reported becoming ill. There was a direct correlation between the risk of infection of people at other tables and how close they were to the sick woman. More than 70% of the diners at an adjacent table fell ill; at a table on the other side of the restaurant, the rate was still 25%. The outbreak was attributed to a Norwalk-like virus (norovirus). Other cases of transmission by vomit were later identified.

In one outbreak at an international scout jamboree in the Netherlands, each person with gastroenteritis infected an average of 14 people before increased hygiene measures were put in place. Even after these new measures were enacted, an ill person still infected an average of 2.1 other people.[19]

 

--- 5 ---

In other words, I'm really, really, really lucky I'm not in the bathroom hurling while I type this.  Though of course I would not be typing this!  What have I done so far to keep it at bay?

  • Turkey broth.  I make this from the carcass when I make a turkey and cook it a long time to get the good stuff out of the bones.  It is supposed to be good for digestive health.
  • Probiotics.  I have several different types, and I've taken enough for them to mildly upset my stomach on my own.  Better the good bugs than the bad!
  • Essential oils. To take internally, you've got to get a really high quality brand.  Many essential oils can also be applied to the skin.
  • Reduced food intake.  I have excluded all sugar and haven't eaten as much as I normally do.
  • Hand washing. Duh.

--- 6 ---

This week I signed up for a Couch to 3.1 (5k) group.  This will include 9 weeks of training and entrance into a race in March.  I start tomorrow - wish me luck!

--- 7 ---

And I've run out of random takes.  All the work associated with not getting the pukies has made me a lot less random!

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Open Mind, Faithful Heart

I've been reading a free Kindle download from last week, Open Mind, Faithful Heart. It is a collection of meditations from Pope Francis before he was Pope Francis, and is very interesting!

I found this quote to be really relevant recently.

Without abandoning a realistic viewpoint, Christian communities should become centers of optimism where all the members resolutely endeavor to perceive the positive aspect of people and events.

He's talking to religious communities, but I find it applicable to the random laity like myself. I've recently been blessed with a new gift to better be able to see the positive in certain bad situations. Oh sure I always knew God could make the best out of a bad situation, but I've rarely considered what role we had to play in that.

One goal in 2014 is to try to follow this guidance, to try to find the positive in people and events, no matter how hard that may seem.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CS Lewis

I've been going through My Clippings on my Kindle.  It appears I read CS Lewis' The Problem of Pain in 2011, and found quite a few good quotes.

"Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger."

"For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John."

"If tribulation is a necessary element in redemption, we must anticipate that it will never cease till God sees the world to be either redeemed or no further redeemable. A Christian cannot, therefore, believe any of those who promise that if only some reform in our economic, political, or hygienic system were made, a heaven on earth would follow."

"You will remember that in the parable, the saved go to a place prepared for them, while the damned go to a place never made for men at all. To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity."

I remember enjoying the book, though it was more difficult to read than Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters.  I should really re-read it, and also read his other books.  What a great writer!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Goals

Becomingabetterme

 

I was working on my 2014 goals post anyway when I saw this link-up from My Drop in the Ocean.  That worked out well!  If you're coming from there, welcome.  If you're coming from somewhere else, welcome, and check out that link-up!

Now for the goals!

1.  Spiritual Goals.  My first and primary goal is to grow closer to God.  Let's face it - any problems with that relationship are definitely on my end.  I think this year I need to spend more time replacing "ME" on my flowchart with "GOD."

NewImage

NewImage

Looks pretty easy from this angle, doesn't it?  All it took was some text editing!  Seriously though, I do have some specific goals in mind to this end.  Many of these things I'm doing already, but I wanted to include all of them so I wouldn't get lazy.

  • Read the Bible daily.  I've used the Logos software to develop a reading plan.  I'll get through the remainder of the Old Testament (I've already done about half in the last six months) and all of the New Testament by the end of May.
  • Pray daily.  I usually pray at night, but I need to spend more time in devoted prayer.
  • Attend daily mass at least once during the week.
  • Visit adoration at least once a month and confession at least every three months.
  • Read the daily readings.  I'm already doing this one and it is easy with Logos Verbum.  I check out the readings for the day and a saint every morning over breakfast.
  • Remember that this goal set is my primary goal set and not something I do when I have time.

2.  Family / Social Goals.  Perhaps it seems odd to put these together, but as a single woman living three hours from my nearest immediate family member, my close friends become my family.  I'm very blessed to have a few families who include me as part of their own nearby in addition to being blessed with a wonderful natural family.

  • Call and visit those immediate family members more often.  I call my dad around three times a week and usually get up to see him every month or so, but I can do a better job reaching out to my siblings.
  • Track down my nieces and nephews on social media.  They're not as into talking to Aunt Julie on the phone, so cyber-stalking them seems the answer!  (Kidding.  Mostly.)
  • Spend time with my current friends.  My closest friends are busy people (mostly moms) and I'm an introvert, so sometimes it can be easy to go weeks or months only talking if there's something specific to talk about or if there's a problem.  I need to make time to spend it with them.  They will always let me help out around the house while we talk!
  • As an introvert, it can be easy to hang out at home.  This isn't the ideal way to make new friends though!  At least once a month, I need to go out with someone or a group that isn't in my normal circle.

3.  Health and Nutrition Goals.  I have spent a few years studying the fact that when I eat fewer processed foods and exercise more, I feel better.  I think it is time to be consistent in putting that knowledge into practice.

  • I'm redefining my relationship with processed sugar (soda, ice cream, donuts).  I'm still quite in love, but it is becoming apparent it isn't a healthy relationship.  We can only see each other once a week now.
  • Spend more time on flexibility.  This includes stretching daily and especially after CrossFit and doing yoga once a week.
  • Run at least twice a week, weather permitting.
  • I'm still pursuing my goal of passing the PD agility test, so I need to keep doing CrossFit.  Fortunately, I love it!

4.  Other Personal Goals

  • Get A's in my classes. I'm taking courses toward a Certificate in Catholic Theology at John Paul the Great Catholic University.   I completed the first course, Introduction to Scripture I, a few weeks ago and am starting Introduction to Scripture II this week.
  • Read one fiction book each month.  This is a pathetic goal considering how fast I read and how much I like to read, but I often forget to do any reading due to my other tasks.  I am a book nerd though so it is important.
  • Write daily!  This can be my novel, this blog, or my journal.  Writing is good for the soul!
    • I'm not concerned about finishing my novel, but I can't continue this on-again-off-again relationship.  Just thinking about it makes me less stressed and happier so I just need to accept the fact it is part of my life and make some time for it.
    • I need to blog at least twice a week.
    • Writing in my journal is a great way to get my prayer on and think about what is going on in my life.  I always feel better after, and yet I always forget to do it.
5.  The Big One.  This goal has no inherent moral value.  It surely isn't the most important on the list.  But it is by far the hardest. For the past ten years, I've woken up at 7:00 most days of the week.  Unless I've stayed up extraordinarily late, I'm still awake by 7:30 on most weekends.  7:00 is my default wake-up time.  In 2014, I want to make it 6:00.  I've tried this before and failed completely, but there are so many advantages I want to make it happen.
  • Getting up at 6:00 will make it a LOT more likely I'll make it to 7:30 daily mass at some point during the week.  Normally, I have to decide to set my alarm early and then remember not to hit the snooze button.  It is really hard to avoid the snooze button!  This will make my default time 6:00 and make it much easier to be up and ready to go by 7:30.
  • I'm supposed to be attending early morning operations at work a lot more frequently than I am currently.  Waking up at 6:00 will allow me to catch the tail end of those operations a day or two each week, and make it easier on those days I need to get up even earlier to catch the whole thing.
  • If I'm not going to church or work, I can use that extra time to read, write, and get some stretching in.  I can be productive in the morning instead of rushing to get things done.  I always find I feel better in the morning if I've had some time to prepare and do some things prior to work.
What are your goals for 2014? 
 

 

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes - CrossFit Edition

 

Last week, I received multiple alerts from Google Analytics.  Apparently the traffic to this blog was much higher than it normally is and they wanted to let me know.  What brought so many people to this blog I've set up to share my amateurish thoughts on spirituality?  A Christmas Story.  Videos from A Christmas Story brought the record setting numbers.

I'm all about reaching my audience!  So today I bring you something else totally unrelated to my blog's main theme: CrossFIt.  

--- 1 ---

I started CrossFit in August with an Intro to CrossFit class and absolutely loved it.  My box offers a special class I've been doing since then, which is less bar work and more cardio.  Our workouts are usually more reps with less weights, but it is mostly all the same stuff as the Intro to CrossFit class.  This means a lot of push ups, pull ups, squats, wall balls, kettle bells, jump rope, sit ups, box jumps, running, and rowing among other things.  I still love it and have a hard time skipping it, even for holidays and family events.  The people are all amazing and friendly and the coaches care about my progress.

Favorite

--- 2 ---

Every injury or ache or pain I've sustained in my short life thus far has been eliminated or greatly reduced since August.  This includes random wrist pain that interfered with pushups, shoulder pain from a Karate injury, knee pain, and ankle pain.  The only thing on that list that even bothers me at all now is some ankle, but that's significantly improved.  In July, all it took to trigger some aggravation was running a bit or jumping rope for any length of time.  It bothered me again a bit last weekend, but here's what I did to cause it:

  • Warm up with 100-200 jump rope, 20-30 lunges, 20-30 air squats
  • Workout of
    • 100 single jump rope
    • 100 m run
    • 40 overhead walking lunges with a 10 lb plate
    • 200 m run
    • 30 sumo dead lift high pulls with a 25 lb kettle bell
    • 300 m run
    • 20 wall balls with a 10 lb med ball
    • 400 m run
    • 20 wall balls
    • 300 m run
    • 30 SDHP
    • 200 m run
    • 40 overhead walking lunges
    • 100 m run
    • 100 single jump rope
  • 6-7 mile hilly hike the next day
So I've gone from aggravating my ankle just by using it to needing to do all of the above to bother it at all.  And honestly, after all of that, it wasn't the only thing that was sore!  
 
I keep hearing CrossFit causes injuries, but so far the only thing it has done for me is fix injuries!  I feel more alert and awake as well.

--- 3 ---

When I was 17, I desperately wanted to attend the United States Air Force Academy.  One of the physical standards for women was that they must be able to do a pull up.  I know, it doesn't sound like a lot.  But women have a hard time with pull ups.   The Marines have recently delayed increasing their standards for women to include pull ups, finding "many potential Marines were unable to meet the new standards."  I didn't know any of that at the time though, so I set out to do a pull up.  My dad installed a bar in the basement, and every day after school I would practice.  I passed the test when it came time, doing not just one but TWO pull ups.

That was 16 years and about 30 pounds ago, and I am yet again trying to do a pull up.  The coaches have given me homework.  There are bands (like big rubber bands) one can attach to the bar and then use to reduce the weight.  I can also start at the top and then lower myself down (which is how I managed to get them in high school).  I'm hopeful perhaps this is the month I will do a pull up again!

--- 4 ---

Boxjumps

On the other hand, I feel I have done a much better job conquering the box jump.  A week or so ago I did FORTY!  When I first started, I would stare at the box and wonder how much it would hurt when my feet inevitably did not clear the edge and my shins came crashing into it.  I hear it is awful.  I have yet to experience it though and managed to do two sets of twenty without falling, tripping, or otherwise making a mess of things.

--- 5 ---

Although I am improving, my worst area is anything overhead.  Overhead walking lunges, overhead squats, overhead whatever.  Not a fan!

--- 6 ---

I've found all this working out has affected my diet.  Aside from Christmas (when I ate everything set before me, just to be polite of course), I am pretty careful about what I eat now.  There's no grand plan on most days, but I do think about food relative to how it will help or hurt my workout.  And by "hurt," I mean give me cramps or make my stomach upset.  Additional sugar is entirely out on CrossFit days because ain't nobody got time for those ill effects.  I make sure I get plenty of protein too.  In short, it is an excellent motivator to eat pretty clean without having a complex plan to follow.

--- 7 ---

By this point many of you will have determined this whole thing sounds too extreme or too hard.  CrossFit may not be for you, but don't decide that because it looks too "hard."  Hard is trying to get fit using any method that doesn't motivate you.  I thought it sounded "hard" before I started.  After almost 10 years at a desk, I didn't think my body was capable of doing any of this.  The great thing about great coaches is they make it work for each individual.  You don't need to be able to do 100 push ups to even begin.  You don't need to be able to do a single push up, actually.  You don't need to be fit to start getting fit.  

 

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  Mass readings are here.  If you're a Catholic, today is a holy day of obligation.  Get thee to church!

Why is it so important that Mary is the Mother of God?  I think we often take this title for granted - of course one would call her the Mother of God!  It has apparently not always been so obvious though.   From the ever reliable Wikipedia:

The Council of Ephesus was a council of Christian bishops convened in Ephesus (near present-day Sel├žuk in Turkey) in AD 431 by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II. This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, and condemned the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople that Virgin Mary may be called the Christotokos, "Birth Giver of Christ" but not the Theotokos, "Birth Giver of God". It met in June and July 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus in Anatolia.

Nestorius did not hold that Jesus Christ was one in His divinity and humanity.  If this was true, Mary would have only brought forth Jesus the man and not Jesus as God, and Mary would not
be known as the Mother of God but as the Mother of Christ.  The argument about Mary's title was actually more about the nature of Jesus then it was about Mary herself.  In calling Mary "the Mother of God," we are affirming Christ's true nature as both entirely human and entirely divine.

The more I study the faith, the more and more I find this to be the case.  Whatever we say about Mary is more about Jesus than it is about Mary herself.  The Rosary is probably the most popular prayer / meditation among Catholics, and we are often accused of worshipping Mary as a result.  If we look at the parts of the Rosary though, we find it is all about Jesus.  All of the mysteries we meditate on are about Jesus, even the two that are more explicitly about Mary (Assumption and Coronation) as they only come about because of God's saving power, plan, and grace.  Proper devotion to Mary always points to Jesus.