Thoughts on Reading

There is no doubt that I love to read. Books have been my good friends all my life. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve going to the local library in Monte Vista Colorado, my hometown, and heading home with all the books I could carry. Some of my husband’s grumpiest memories probably include loading and moving my boxes and boxes of books over the years as we’ve gone from Colorado to Alaska to Washington and on from there.

I have spent the last month reading instead of blogging. Whenever I feel stressed, I find that turning to a good book (or 10) helps. Of course, there is one Book that absolutely changes my life and renews my mind and that is the Bible. Every day, the Bible is the one trustworthy place to find truth and wisdom.

As I read other books, I find it necessary to always be comparing the truth of the Bible with what the author is communicating in whatever I’m reading, whether it’s a relaxing work of fiction, or a book about history, life, science and ideas. It is so important to learn to read well, with discernment, fully engaged in the book but also completely seeking to compare the truth of God’s Word with what the author is saying.

So here are some thoughts on a few of the books I’ve read this month.

The More of Less by Joshua Becker: I really did enjoy this book about “Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own”. The author has great ideas about minimalism and getting from clutter to clear. He offers assignments to help you begin the process and directions to keep moving forward.  It seems that, as a Christian, Becker is trying to take seriously Jesus statement in Luke 12:15 NASB: “Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not [even] when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” His main premise is that, in fact, too much stuff gets in the way of a life well lived.

But here is where the discernment comes in- Becker comments that he believes that Jesus was trying to tell the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 that all his possessions were keeping him from becoming all that he was intended to become.  This smacks of the current fad that says we must all find our passion and potential in life in order to live life to the fullest. What I believe Jesus was teaching here is that when we put anything ahead of Him, be it possessions, jobs, passions, books, or really anything,  that is idolatry and there is no place in the life of a follower of Christ for idolatry. Yes, we are drawn to worship many things instead of the one true God, and we must repent of that idolatry. Discernment, according to Spurgeon, is the ability to distinguish between truth and almost truth. This is a good example of “almost truth”. And it is hard to see.

There are other examples in his book I could point out, but I am not going to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Becker has many good and practical ideas for moving toward a life where possessions are not my idols, and stuff doesn’t dominate my time and energy. Being careful that minimalism doesn’t become an idol in and of itself!

Quiet by Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Just the subtitle of this one grabbed my attention. It perfectly describes my world at work! There are times I really want to shout “just stop talking for a minute!”

There is a lot of psychobabble in this book which I ended up skimming over, but really enjoyed the section titled “Does God Love Introverts? An Evangelical’s Dilemma” and the section titled “On Cobblers and Generals: How to cultivate quiet kids in a world that can’t hear them”.

I love that she discusses the ways introverts work and relate in a positive way and highlights the value of being quiet.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers:

This one is a most enjoyable mystery novel set in England in the 1930’s. The language is more formal than novels of today, so it takes a bit of getting used to, but the story quickly grabbed my interest and held it.

I found this book appealing because it develops the themes that surrounded women of that era. Can a woman get and use an education? Can a woman live a fulfilled life outside the norms of marriage and children? Can a woman actually be an intelligent and independent human being? And all this set in the midst of a mysterious threat at the protagonist, Harriet Vane’s alma mater. Sayers actually did graduate from Oxford, so much of the action in this story flows out of her experiences there.

Again – discernment. I am not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, yet I am grateful for my education, my career and even more for my husband and my family. Give this one a chance – its part of a mystery series that Sayers wrote featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.

So I’m still reading but back to blogging too!   


Exercise Made Simple


Exercise Made Simple

My motivation to exercise tends to go through highs and lows. Some seasons, I exercise to excess and others, not nearly enough. I read the latest article telling me what the new “best” way to exercise is. And that seems to change from year to year. Its cardio – no its weights – no its cross fit –no its… The truth is – any activity is better than no activity. So don’t worry about the latest fad exercise program.

If you struggle to be consistent in your activity plan, like me, here are a few ideas that may help.

  1. Use exercise as a way to feel better, healthier and have more energy. Many studies have shown that weight loss is much more tied to what you eat than how many hours you are putting in exercising. In fact, when I was training 12-15 hours a week for a half-ironman, I actually gained weight. No – it wasn’t muscle either. Since I was training so much, I unconsciously gave myself permission to eat everything in sight. You can’t make up for a bad diet with exercise!

 If your only motivation to exercise is to lose weight, it will be hard to stick with it especially if the scale isn’t moving. So, workout for your health and wellbeing. The rewards will be longer lasting than just working out for weight loss.

  1. Pick an activity that you enjoy. I have a son who really enjoys weight lifting, another who loves long distance running, and another whose favorite is hiking. They do those activities because they like them. And all three of them get the benefits of regular exercise, even though they do very different things.

I love walking, biking and swimming – hence triathlon. Except that triathlon includes running, and running quite honestly, is generally miserable for me. Once I realized that, and switched to race walking, I found that I am much more excited about my workout every day.  Also, if you hate the gym, don’t think that paying a bunch of money for a membership is going to motivate you. You might force yourself to go for a few weeks, but soon your money will just be going to waste.

  1. Pick an activity that is convenient and simple to do. Swimming is another sport that I enjoy, but the closest lap pool is 40 miles away, so it is not something I can do very often. I’m just not going to drive into town 3 times a week to hit the pool. So be a realist when you plan your fitness program. For years, I have used exercise DVDs because – wait for it – they are convenient and simple to use. Right there in my basement, with no worries about who is going to see me, or cleaning up to go workout, I can exercise in peace.

That being said, you may be a person who is energized by working out with others. If so, find a walking partner, or an exercise class. Join a challenge on Fitbit or Garmin. There are a lot of ways to use technology to help you get motivated. One place I used to work had a yearly step challenge where we all wore a pedometer and got prizes for improvement as well as most steps.

  1. Any activity is better than none. It’s better to start small and build up, than it is to go too hard and too fast and end up quitting a couple of weeks later. There are lots of great beginner exercise plans on the internet. Just be sure to choose something simple that you know you will enjoy.

The benefits of regular exercise make it worth the effort to get it done. Your improving health and your higher energy level will be the best reward!