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Fitness Friday: Pressing Through the Pain

This week has been tough.  I’ve shared a bit about my history of chronic pain and plan to continue to do so in my future blog posts.

It’s not always easy.  Some days are particularly harder than others.  Sometimes my pain is minimal, but I have other periods when the pain persists for weeks at a time.  I had to sleep sitting up following my sinus surgery this past December and I think that may have triggered some things, but I won’t complain because the pain is still not what it used to be.

Back in 2012, I remember praying and promising God that if he did what only he could do in the spirit realm, I would do what I could in the natural realm.  Prior to that, I’d worked out with a trainer and lost a decent amount of weight while in school in North Carolina. After moving to Mississippi, I slacked off of my workouts and the pain returned.  I quickly realized that a significant factor in managing my pain was building up my strength.

This leads me to the main point of this post: Pressing through the pain.

By pressing though the pain we gain our strength.  In Philippians 3:7-14, Paul writes to the Philippians in this frequently quoted passage of scripture about “Pressing Toward the Mark.”  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ve seen me use the hashtag #iPRESS often.  It’s my personal motto. I’ve even crafted my own definition of “The Art of the Press.” In my own words:

The art of the press is the process by which we continue to pray, praise and push even when it makes no sense at all.

The process of pressing may take us down a long road, but FAITH wins EVERY time. When we commit to the press, we make it to the promise or we come to a place where we understand the purpose of the process.

Take coal for example.  Coal under pressure can become a diamond.  If the coal does not become a diamond, it meets another destiny– Often a source as a source of fuel. Both are endings are significant.  The outcome is determined by 2 things– (1) the power working within it [us (Ephesians 3:20)] and (2) how it [we] withstand the art of the press.

Diamonds - Coal that Did Well Under Pressure

One of the greatest lifestyle changes I made for myself was creating my own “fitness corner” in our home. I have most of the elements I used at physical therapy. My intention here was to create an environment in my home that would allow me to continue those activities that helped to minimize my pain symptoms. A big thanks to#peakwinathletics for the stability ball and foam roller!  Both items are super sturdy and come in my favorite color– pink! I use the stability ball for core strengthening exercises and roll out my IT band to reduce any muscle fatigue after I finish my modified workout. I may not feel well enough to go back to the gym just yet, but I know I can remain active at home and maintaining my strength training makes a world of difference in managing my pain– #iPRESS!

In the same way, it is also important that we are intentional about carving out both time and physical space to focus on building our spiritual strength. I’m using apps on my phone like First 5, YouVersion, and BibleGateway. I like that each app has different features and that I can synchronize my activity between my android phone and tablet device as well as my online profiles (for YouVersion and BibleGateway).  First 5 is really awesome because you can read the morning devotional (which really does take about 5 minutes) and then schedule it to remind you to complete a complementary study called “More Moments” later  that same day.

I am in no way trying to tell you what do or how to do it, but I am hoping to encourage you to do and use something.  For both your physical and spiritual health.

Be intentional about your future and what you want to see for yourself in 2016.

I’ll be praying for you!

Brace Yourself

I’m in the middle of several transitions right now, but one thing I am reminded of in this season is just how much God CAN and WILL provide! {Luke 12:24}

I am also learning how just how necessary it is for me to brace myself– both physically and spiritually.

In the physical sense, I still have some days when my lower back is in a bit of pain. I spent the past couple of days cleaning and organizing our home office and combined that activity with an event at church where we made vision boards with our Girls’ and Women’s ministries so I’ve been giving my back and lower body a good workout. Thankfully, I’d received this #freebelt to review and its lower lumbar support and heat are EVERYTHING right now!

What I most like about this belt are the built in stones and magnets inside the belt that transmit heat to your muscles and offer immediate relief by reducing any swelling and helping your muscles return to their normal state.
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This lumbar belt is also designed to support and strengthen your lower back muscles, while aligning your posture and reducing muscle inflammation and pain. You can even wear it during your workout. I’ve yet to test out this option, but I may do so when I go back to the gym tomorrow.
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In the spiritual sense, as I continue to go through experiences of trying, testing, and pressing I have to brace myself.  Before worry, anxiety or stress set in it’s of the utmost importance that I pause and pray and recenter myself.

I’m in a season that requires great faith.  And a key part of that faith is to remember just how faithful God has always been.  If I don’t brace myself daily and moment by moment, the temporary challenges and unknown future can overwhelm me.  But God has been so faithful and he has not changed.  He is the stability I can hold on to each and every time I find it necessary to take a moment to pause and brace myself.

You may find yourself in a situation somewhat similar to mine today.  If so, I’m saying a special prayer for you right along with myself.

Here are a few passages of scripture that I am holding near and dear to my heart at the moment:

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Luke 12:22-32 Do Not Be Anxious  And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Hebrews 6:19-20 The Certainty of God’s Promise   We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

No Resolutions, Just New Goals

Resolutions are difficult. One of the most challenging things about resolutions is that a person ends up feeling like a failure if he or she does does not accomplish them.

Whenever we set goals, we have to accept our reality for what it is. In my example, being a certain weight and in a certain size by the end of 2015 was a goal that I set for myself. The reality is that I experienced several health challenges made that goal somewhat difficult. My workouts were put on hold once my doctor determined that I needed to have a surgery to correct a major issue affecting my breathing.

I can focus on the fact that I’m not a certain size or weight or I can understand the reality that, despite the setbacks I’ve experienced, I still feel better I can still walk longer distances, I can breathe SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better, and I’m in nowhere near as much pain as I was previously.

If I focus on the negative, I completely miss every good thing that I gained by setting the goal for myself and working towards it, even if I didn’t fully accomplish it.

A resolution is a THING. A SINGLE point. It’s almost dead and inactive but a goal is ALIVE.  A goal is PROGRESSING! Even if you don’t make it to the point that you are striving for, just the act of beginning the PROCESS puts you so much further off than where you were when you started.

So I encourage you today.  Instead of setting another resolution, set a GOAL and understand that if you don’t ACCOMPLISH that goal this year it’s a goal that you can carry into the next year.

The reality is, many of us have things that we need to ACCOMPLISH more so than things that totally need to CHANGE.

We have things we need to ACHIEVE. NEW LEVELS we need to reach.

Don’t focus on the negative! Instead, set your sights on those new heights you desire for yourself and try to accomplish those goals.

Commit yourself to the “Art of The PRESS!”

Scripture to meditate on:

Philippians 3:12-14

Pressing Toward the Goal
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

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