Fitness and Social Media

Ethical crisis here.

I have a tendency to over-analyze things, and I’m certain this issue is no exception…However, for months, I’ve felt that it’s time to take my fitness career to the next level, expanding my training services to the online community and my former/long-distance clients. Friends and acquaintances ask me weekly for workouts and/or fitness advice. I love to help people on their fitness journeys and am grateful for their trust. I consider it my calling; my ministry. (I’ll be launching my online training site very soon, so stay tuned!) A sure-fire, convenient way to promote myself is through social media. Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, YouTube and Twitter offer free marketing and easy access to thousands of potential clients.

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Here’s my dilemma: I’m prideful.

In the fitness industry, my body is my advertisement. I wouldn’t train to become fit with someone who isn’t fit. Sorry; that’s common sense. The most obvious way to show your fitness progress via social media is through pictures. But these are snapshots of our outcomes, not our processes. An Instagram of the twist-iest, most beautifully silhouetted yoga pose, a Facebook before/after bikini pic, or a #fitmom ‘s blog post doesn’t give you the whole story. It’s a glimpse into the person’s proud moments, not their failures along the way. Not the hours, months or years it took to reach their goal. Cellulite is filtered out. The crow pose blunders are deleted. I show you my best angle.

Flexing and posing and flaunting are normal for my industry, and it’s what my flesh desires to do. I’ve craved attention and been a show off since the glory days of my neighborhood rollerblade girl band. I see this desire in Finn as he pops wheelies and zooms fast for strangers. Or says things so others will laugh, like, “Hi. I’m Finn Joseph Applesauce.”

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We like to do what we’re good at and we want others to notice. I took a picture of my flexed back in the gym locker room about a month ago. Embarrassed by my vanity, I deleted it the next day. No one cares about my back.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)

I want to be praised for my faith, not my flex.

Don’t get me wrong…visual exposure is not all bad. Maybe these pictures inspire someone–motivate them to get off the couch or eat a cleaner diet. It’s encouraging to follow others’ journeys and to know that a six-pack is possible after babies. Or that there are people out there rejecting processed foods and losing hundreds of pounds as a result. Many of my close friends follow (or post as) fitness fanatics via social media.

But for me, social media can be dangerous because it feeds my desire to self-promote. This is my own conviction. It shouldn’t necessarily be yours. I get addicted to your “likes,” enticed by your compliments and encouraged by your following. If I’m not careful, my workout becomes about you and not about my health. I run so I can take a picture of the impressive distance on my watch, not so I can keep my heart healthy, declutter my mind, or pray.

Last Tuesday, I fell victim myself. The weather was nice and several clients were on Spring Break so I got to go on a long road ride. All alone. It was heavenly. At the end of the ride, I took an exhausted picture of my helmeted self (actually I took three and looked like a 12 yr old boy in all of them), then checked Map My Ride so I could boast about my stats online, but the app was blank. I must not have “started the workout.” Distance: 0:00. Average MPH: 0. Bragging Rights: 0. I smirked. It would be just like God to teach me a lesson in this way.

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Is it possible to blend fitness and social media (particularly photos) in a manner that glorifies God and not me? Probably. I just haven’t figured it out yet. I guess a lot of it depends on my motives–and a purpose beyond my own love for affirmation.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

I’m passionate about my physical health–and yours. But as a Christian, I’m acutely aware that my spiritual health (and yours) is so much more important. More valuable. And I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of spiritual training two-a-days.

We Prayed for You

Teachers, we prayed for you tonight. We prayed that you would equip Finn with challenging thoughts and more questions than answers. Teach him that his mind is powerful. Help him find what he’s good at and excel at it. We prayed that you would make accommodations for him but not isolate him. Empower him, please.

LifeKids volunteers, we prayed for you tonight. We prayed you would engage Finn in meaningful play; that you would encourage him to join the kids in the bounce house or at the tiny tables, even though it is difficult and unnatural. We prayed that you would show him who Jesus is: that He’s good and kind.

Kids, we prayed for you tonight. We prayed that one or two of you would be kind, inclusive and accepting of Finn and the ways he’s different. We prayed you’d be brave enough to stick up for him, make a place for him at the lunch table, pass him the ball and hold the door. Be his friend.

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Girls, we prayed for you tonight. Take care of your body. Then cover it up. Let your inner beauty shine brighter than your outer beauty. We prayed that one of you might fall in love with the boy in the wheelchair. You’d love his humor, his hazel eyes, and his tenacity. He would be your hero and you’d be his.

Doctors and nurses, we prayed for you tonight. That you’d sleep well and be clear-minded to keep Finn and other kids like him healthy and strong. That you’d know what to do in emergencies and save his life if you have to. Be patient with us parents…we’re sensitive.

Thankful for a great neurology appointment this week.

Thankful for a great neurology appointment this week.

Jesus, I prayed to you tonight. My boy isn’t like other boys. Most of the time I love that; I’m thankful for that. But for a minute tonight, I hated it. Sometimes I’m strong, but today the kids pointing at Finn and the stares and the exclusion made me weak. Please help me be the best mom to him (and Paisley) that I can. Thank you for my angel and the miracles you’ve displayed in his life. Thank you for all you will do with his future.

A Story of a Three Year Old

“Tell me a story, Momma.”

There once was a boy named Finn. He was the fastest little boy on wheels. He had the happiest smile and the sweetest voice. He loved his sister, Paisley, even though she took his trains. Chicken nuggets and chocolate milk and puzzles were his favorites.

When he was born, his spine was hurt and it made his legs weak and his brain swell.

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So he stayed in the hospital for 14 days.

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His family and friends prayed a lot.

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Finn was a brave little boy. He had 8 surgeries before his first birthday.

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He learned to use a wheelchair to zoom around the house.

So proud.

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He was not like other kids, but that’s okay; he was unique. God made him so smart. So important. So special.

On Finn’s third birthday, he went with his family in their jammies to get coffee and donuts.

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He ate a chocolate silly face donut.

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Then he went on a scavenger hunt for his birthday gifts.

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He was very lucky: he got a mini iPad from both his Nana’s and Papa’s a couple weekends ago at the Rosells’ house in Arkansas.

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Gigi made him a birthday coffee cake and Poppy made a fishing game for Finn to play.

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On his birthday, Finn found a dinosaur puzzle, a sticker book, some cool jeans and sunglasses, and Batman walkie talkies hidden around the house.

After breakfast, he went with his family to the Oklahoma Aquarium.

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He loved the otter. It was cute and did flips in the water.

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He saw fish and alligators and turtles.

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His sister, Paisley, was amazed by all the sights and sounds.

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Finn’s favorite was the shark tank. He was hesitant at first, but he decided to be brave and zoom through the tunnel with sharks swimming all around him in the blue water.

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He went back and forth through the shark tank, up and down the ramp. His arms were so strong.

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Other kids at the aquarium thought Finn was cool whooshing around in his wheelchair. He cried when it was time to leave.

After a nap, Finn and his family went to Nana and Papa Armstrong’s house for a birthday dinner. Nana helped Finn and Paisley decorate a box to play in.

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We sang “Happy Birthday” and ate Ludger’s cake.

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It was delicious, but Finn’s tummy got upset. He didn’t normally eat that much sugar.

After reading a bedtime story, Finn fell asleep on his Thomas the Tank Engine pillow and dreamed about his happiest third birthday. The End.

Life at Church

Okay; I can’t hold it in any longer. I’m bursting inside…

I LOVE OUR CHURCH!

And I don’t care who knows it. ;)

I feel a little like a teenager, gushing over my newest crush (LifeChurch.tv), but trying to play it cool so as not to run off all my friends. I don’t want to seem obsessed or anything.

But seriously. EVERY Saturday night/Sunday morning/Sunday night I attend or serve at church, I love it more. I find some other nuance, a core belief or one of Pastor Craig’s messages that I can rally behind.

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People from all walks of life are greeted warmly by nearly a dozen people in Host Team t-shirts; they grab a cup of Starbucks coffee, and enter the service. An hour later, they (we) walk out the doors changed.

As a body of believers, we are challenged weekly to live life more like Christ...not to necessarily know more or read more or serve more, but to obey more.

“If you love me, obey my commands.” John 14:15

Pastor Craig’s bold message this weekend really spoke to Joey and I. He spoke about how our learning should not exceed our obeying.

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We can scrutinize Scripture, lead or attend Bible studies, graduate from seminary even, but if this learning does not translate to obeying, it’s for nothing. Am I changed by my faith? Have I grown spiritually since this time last year? Am I allowing God to refine me, stretch me and mold me into His child, no matter how uncomfortable?

The people at LifeChurch.tv are real. The staff are fun and earnestly seeking Christ. The messages challenge me EVERY week. The music is loud and powerful. The ministries at LifeChurch.tv are legit…as volunteers, we “huddle” before each service, praying over it and the people who will attend. Finn asks almost daily if we get to go to church.

Have you downloaded the Bible for Kids for your kiddos yet? Finn loves playing David and Joseph.

Have you downloaded the Bible for Kids app yet? Finn loves playing David and Joseph.

Two weekends ago, 124 people were baptized at just our Broken Arrow location, celebrating new life before their friends and church family.

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The weekend before that, more people attended church at a LifeChurch.tv location than attended the Super Bowl. At the end of each service, people are given an opportunity to respond to the Holy Spirit. In the past 3 months we’ve attended a LifeChurch.tv service, someone has always responded. Usually several.

The Lord is doing big things with LifeChurch.tv. He’s pouring into local communities, reaching people all over the world through church online, healing hurting families, providing community for broken people, and spreading practical truth through Craig’s messages weekly. I am so honored to be a part of this Body. So thankful Joey gets the opportunity to call this “work.”

If you attend a church you love and are challenged to obey Him, I’m so happy for you. If you aren’t, consider attending one of the 20+ locations all over the country or attend church online.

I’ll warn you though…you just might fall in love.

Just a Phase

So here’s the thing:

We’re all struggling in some way. We’re all hurting, healing, hoping, failing.

I’ve had several conversations with clients this week–and it’s only Tuesday–about personal demons they’re wrestling, addictions they’re battling, marriages they’re fighting for; working mothers who are experiencing complete exhaustion, and way too much physical illness. They’re trying but it’s not working. They’re running but their feet are tripping.

Finn’s in this weird clingy, fearful phase. It took us a literal hour to get him to sleep Sunday night. We eventually had to tell him if he didn’t stop crying, we’d take away his trains. It worked. Drop-off at school has been terrible. He bawls as soon as he wheels through the door.

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He covers his ears every time Paisley (or any other kid) cries–and it’s not an ear issue. He won’t let me go through the garage door before him; worried I’ll leave him behind. I have to take deeper breaths and pray for more energy, more creativity and more patience to be his mom lately. It’s just a phase. He’s a kid.

Maybe you’re in a “phase” yourself. Maybe you need an extra dose of grace and love from your Father lately.

We are such broken people, so hourly in need of our Savior, Redeemer, Friend.

Sunrise at the lake this weekend

Sunrise at the lake this weekend

I cling to this passage:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Write this on your mirror. Tattoo it with ballpoint to your palm. Post-it-note-it to your dashboard. Text it to yourself. My natural tendency is to try and try and try until I stop failing. This is futile. I’m so thankful for His invitation to come to Him, to breathe deeply, inhaling His peace and exhaling our stress and pain. Heal us, Lord.

Chicken Nugget Theology

It looks like mustard yellow scribbles to you and I, but when Finn’s teacher asked what he was drawing, he swiftly responded, “Chicken nuggets.” Duh.

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My imperfect life may look like a mess to you and I, but to my Father, there’s beauty in progress. A tapestry unfinished. Despite many mistakes, my faith is increasing; my character is building. He is strong where I am weak. The Holy Spirit has made me soft to Him over time; open to constructive criticism and self-reflection. But I still fight the tendency to throw a pity party. Instead, I can recognize my failure as discipline…because He loves me.

I opened my Bible a couple nights ago, slid out the silk bookmark that was holding my place in Hebrews 12–the chapter on “God Disciplin[ing] His Sons.” God does these things, you know–leads you to the exact verse you were thinking about just moments ago. It’s not coincidence. It’s divine. It’s Him.

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:5-7; 11).

Finn’s yellow scrawl is actually his most favorite food.

My mess is actually Jesus’ refinement, making me more like Him and less like me.

One Last Ride

I held back tears a few times this Thursday morning sitting on the saddle of a Schwinn indoor cycling bike. Tom was teaching his last, “retirement ride” on his 79th birthday. SEVENTY-NINTH!

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Lesli, one of my bosses, had decorated the room with such detailed festivity, the way only a seasoned mom of three boys can. There was coffee, homemade protein bars, fruit and fun donuts.

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Halfway through the ride, Tom told stories of all the jobs he’d held in the last few decades, and said this one–teaching indoor cycling–was his favorite because he got to hang out with pretty ladies. ;) I suspect it’s for reasons far deeper than the ladies.

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His wife is a marathon runner (also in her seventies). She and their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were there to cheer him on for his last ride. It was beautiful to watch them all interact. So proud of him; as they should be. His granddaughter took a picture beside him on stage and I thought about how she’ll have that photo framed somewhere special the rest of her life. Her papa taught cycling until he was almost 80 years old and inspired others to get off their bottoms and move.

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Tom’s last song was “How Great Thou Art” and I thought I was going to lose it…yes; how great He is. He gives us breath and health and inspiring people like Tom to push us along in life. To nudge us toward the right decisions.

Lesli presented him with a t-shirt that read, “Most Inspirational Instructor  Just Keep Spinning.”

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I’ll be taking over Tom’s cycling class next Thursday at 7:45am if you want to join me. I won’t do him justice, but I’ll try.

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