Category Archives: Friends

Who’s in Your Balcony? (Encouraging book: “Balcony People” by Joyce Landorf Heatherley)

Friends! This is a post I’m bringing back from three years ago, its’ concept of being a “balcony person” well worth repeating should you have missed it. I pray you’re blessed by it.

Enjoy!


Oh, the days of cheerleading.

Peer pressure at its’ peak.

Mine peaked in Middle School as we know it now.  In my school days, (when we had to walk a mile in the snow to school) we attended “Junior High”, which included sixth thru’ ninth grades.

Seemingly every girl in eighth or ninth grade tried out for cheerleading.

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Clueless, I signed up.

What, pray tell, had I gotten myself into?  We had to attend several practice clinics.  Quickly, try-outs were upon us.

Bad-n-sad memories of not making it in eighth grade surface.  Oh, but then came ninth grade and by some miracle, I made it.  You haven’t “made it” ‘til you make the cheerleading squad.  Or, at least that’s what appeared to be true.

Shallow, naïve, junior-higher that I was, our new cheerleading squad became my new friends.  Dumping my old friends for girls I didn’t even know was my “M.O.”   Horrors.

We quickly learned new cheers, cheering for football and basketball games.  Humorous given I had no knowledge of sports, much less which cheer to do, etc.  Follower…Very insecure follower.

So, had I known of the concept we’ll discuss today, that of “Balcony People”, I’d have told you my tally was a big, round, fat zero.  Oh, but wait ‘til you see how many we have!!! Hang with me…

One of my favorite gifts I received for Christmas this past year, a must-read, is Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley.   Joyce has the gift of opening your eyes to people in your life.  She talks about people with the gift of affirmation: Those who go around affirming others, not dragging them down.

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Those dragging you down are known as  “evaluators”, also known as “basement people”.  Know any of these?  Making a mental list?

“Basement people” spew snide remarks such as, “you’ll never make it…you can’t do that…”, inflicting judgment, damage, and unnecessary critiques.  Note the lower location of this moniker. (!!!)

One woman wrote to Joyce and asked, “Please keep reminding us how much God loves us.  We need that love, not the constant judgment we pour on ourselves.”

We got a large dose of judgment last week (check out “When Grace Rescues You From Judgment”), so this week we’ll discover “Balcony People”.

Joyce asks, “Who is the special affirmer who catches quick glimpses of the flames from the fires of your potential and tells you so?  Who, by his or her words, helps you to respect and believe in your own value as a person?”  We can dub these sweet souls our personal cheerleaders.

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Joyce douses any doubt you may have should you think you don’t have any affirmers.  She said, “I have known only a few genuine affirmers, but one affirmer is worth a thousand evaluators.”

She adds, “The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.  Affirming brings authenticity and credibility to our faith as it is lived day by day…Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the Holy Scriptures—to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.”

These affirmers, or “Balcony  People”, “practically hang over the rail, cheering us on.  As you begin to think of who in your life may be in your balcony, you’ll find it fun to discover these people do not have to be alive.” Do you love that?

One of Joyce’s friends shared his list of Balcony People: Number One:  The Lord (think about THAT!!!),  Paul the Apostle, and David the Psalmist, for starters.  Joyce added Peter the Apostle as well as her Mother who had also gone Heavenward to her list.

One aspect I love from Joyce is she includes her children on her list.  I’d like to think our boys and their wives are in my balcony.  That completely warms my heart.  You?

I have to say my biggest cheerleader/balcony person is my husband, John.  Love is blind comes to mind, God bless him.  (Kidding.  Sorta.)  Amazing grace.

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Jumping backwards to Middle School or Junior High, I can tell you I was not in my Mother’s balcony.  I gave her enough trouble to bond with her “basement people”  for years.  Awful.  By the same token if you have middle schoolers right now, never fear, for they will mature to cheer you on later.  Pray hard.

Joyce gives us one of my all-time favorite verses:  Hebrews 12:1 “telling us to run with patience (and perseverance) the race that’s set before us ‘since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands’”.

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With that in mind, here’s the kicker to this whole concept of “Balcony People”…

Joyce admits, “Listing the people who were in my balcony, I concluded, was only half of what should be written.  So I got out another sheet of paper and put down all the names of people to whom I’d be a “balcony person.”  She continues, “It was time to concentrate on my balcony people and on being a balcony person to others.”  Whoa.  That turns the tables a tad, huh?

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Taken from Liz Curtis Higgs Facebook page, “‘The Choir’ by Ofra Zimbalista, three life-size statues made of painted aluminum in 1995. You can almost hear them singing…”

Joyce teaches us to look for and cultivate the following three traits of a “Balcony Person”:

1 – “They Love.”

2 – “They Listen.”

3 – “They Care from the Heart.”

Joyce directs us to the entire sixteenth chapter of Romans where Paul is cheering numerous people onward.  Joyce calls it the “Biblical ‘balcony person’ passage.”  She says her “favorite balcony motto from Paul is ‘whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.’” (I Corinthians 16:14)

When Jesus was juggling the disciples’ arguments over who was the greatest among them in Luke 9, He gave them the formula, as Joyce calls it, “for being the best manYour care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

 

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In closing, Joyce shares a memory of her grandson being very fearful of an unknown noise:  A big garbage truck screeched to a halt in front of their house.  Joyce said, “James looked up to her yelling, ‘Hug! Hug!’ And the look on his face screamed, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”  She added, “I remember reaching down for him and wallpapering his little body to my chest.”  Precious…

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From that experience, she paralleled the noisy “pandemonium of this evil world making us desperate to be:

Hugged,

Rescued

Home safe…

We are shouting through our panic, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”

Then she poses, “What is the frightening noise in your life?…

Is it the noise of:

Cancer

Divorce

Rejection

Discouragement

Depression

Loneliness…?

Whatever is pounding loudly in your mind, your body, or your soul,

LET ME BE YOUR BALCONY PERSON.

LET ME HUG YOU WITH MY WORDS.

LET ME WALLPAPER YOUR SOUL TO MINE.”

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Joyce reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s words:  “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own.” (Check out the whole passage:  Ephesians 1:4-14)

Joyce further encourages: “You and I are His children.   I believe in you.  I’m leaning way, way over your balcony railing; I’m waving my coat above my head, and I’m yelling above the frightening noises of your world, You can do it!  Keep at it!  Keep on!  God’s here beside me; yes that’s right, He’s here, and He’s not sitting down.  YOU  are His child, He is YOUR Father.  and we are BOTH in your balcony cheering YOU on together!”

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I pray this concept of Balcony People has encouraged you…

Who’s in your balcony?

Whose balcony are you in?

May God guide us all to be more attentive to those whose paths we cross.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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More on Gathering Around a Table with Help from Shauna Niequist’s book: BREAD AND WINE

Friends!  The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.

This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.

Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).

Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner.  Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.

All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient:  dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”.  I know…  She dubs it “cheater mousse”.  LOL.

Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas.  It’s the best!  Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.

You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.

Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek.  (www.willowcreek.org )

Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family.  Getting a peek into their family is so sweet.  Their devotion to one another is beautiful.

I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.

Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table.  She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.

This is how she puts her foot down:  “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!

Here, Shauna’s readying to prepare a meal…

My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist.  When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.”  We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.

One petite example:  Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready.  To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve.  (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes!  You can do this!”)

Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread.  I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)

Shauna explains her title beautifully:  “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.

Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.

Something extraordinary happens when we…

Slow down,

Open our homes,

Look into one another’s faces, and

Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”

We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp.  I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.

One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves.  I see it in three parts:

What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to

(1) Rest and

(2) Connect and

(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)

Dash  to your local bookstore.  Find this book and flip thru’ it.  My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better!  Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.

‘Til next time!

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Don’t Make Me Come In There… “The Power of a Whisper” by Bill Hybels Makes You Think

Friends! I pray today finds you well and that perhaps you’re getting to experience a beautiful spring day.  It’s been a wild-n-crazy week in the Hoagland Household. (Translation: Not enough hours in the day.)

I found a post on a most helpful and interesting book by Bill Hybels which I wrote about a while ago, worthy of a reprise. Please enjoy.

Next week,  I’ve got a fun, new devotional to share with you. It will lift your spirits every day.

May you have a blessed week and hear from the Holy Spirit thanks to Bill’s great thoughts…


 

Ahhhh…Motherhood…. A time when you finally admit, “Never say never!”

How ‘bout a for instance?

“I’ll never be one of those Mothers who chucks a pop tart in the back seat to my child on the way to school.”  Busted.

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“I’ll never plunk my child down in front of a TV and let him/her sit for hours.”  Busted.

 “I”ll never scream and yell like a  possessed person at my child.”  Yeah, right.

To this day, our boys’ favorite seemingly-possessed-style-of-parenting was me shouting “May Day!  May Day!” at the top of my lungs when something really went awry.  As if “the troops” knew I was waving a major white flag?

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After years of experimentation (!!!), probably the biggest attention grabber in my mothering was lowering my voice, in a do-or-die whisper.  Whispering won out way over yelling.  Greatest fear factor:  Whispering “Don’t Make Me Come In There!”

So what exactly do you do when someone’s whispering to you?  You sit still, ears at attention, and you listen

This week I’d like to share some highlights from an intense book by Bill Hybels:  The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond.  It had me from its’ title…

Not such a gutsy gal, I prayed this book would give me some gargantuan guts. (I s’pose “Guts for God” sounds better…)

Allow me to share the wealth:

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Bill begins with informing us he’s been on a fifty-year odyssey of hearing whispers from God.  Bill expounds: “Inaudible whispers at that!…My entire journey comes down to a series of unplanned promptings from heaven that have charted a course for my life even I never could have foreseen.”

Sound crazy?  Perhaps.  But…to encounter Bills’ experiences all over the world  immediately hooks and leads us, the readers, to want to learn to listen expectantly and prayerfully.

After citing Samuel’s story, how he became a prophet of God from listening to God  in I Samuel 3, Bill shares a poem one of his teachers gave him which he memorized in the second grade:

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of Thy Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

And to obey Thee first of all.” (A hymn by James Drummond Burns)

Titus 3:5 returned to Bills’ memory when he surrendered his life to Christ:  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Soon after that, a Christian man offered to buy Bill dinner.  Over burgers, the man asked him a show-stopping question:  “What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?…I’m just curious what you’ll do that will outlive you and all of those earthly accomplishments.”

Oh boy…that’ll make you think, huh?  My husband, John, is always saying upon his death, he just hopes he’s missed.  Not remembered so much for what he did, but because if you are missed, you have touched others’  lives.

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We are forever and a day laughing at obituaries that rattle on and on and on filled with clubs and organizations people belonged to as if a resume is needed…for heaven?  I don’t think so.

Bill also reminds us of Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)

Billy Graham, in his book Day by Day, tells us what the Holy Spirit does for us:  “The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.”

Billy’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, in a recent  Decision Magazine said “Learning to recognize the voice of God is critical, not only for our own peace of mind but also for developing a personal relationship with Him and for living a life pleasing to Him.”  There’s the peace found from Romans 8:6.

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Well how exactly do we hear from the Spirit?  Bill gives us five filters to help us test every whisper we receive.  He says, “No matter how confusing, challenging, or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following filters, I obey it every time:

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

Filter #4:  Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?

Filter #5:  What do the People You Most Trust Think About it?”

The best way to learn more about these, in addition to the book, is to watch the below YouTube clip where Bill talks about this whole concept and explains the filters.  It’s only eighteen minutes long.  The testimony included will bring you to tears.

Stormie Omartian, in her book Lead Me Holy Spirit affirms the concept of being rooted in our faith:  “The Holy Spirit is the power of God flowing through you, and that puts you on solid ground, like a house built on rock.”

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Last week we talked about how we want to become rooted like redwoods. All of these  authors we’ve heard from today are textbook examples of Colossians 2:6-7:  “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:  Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.  You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him.  You’re well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you’ve been taught.  School’s out;  quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” (The Message)  Don’t miss those last two crucial sentences!

Look at how The Voice puts it in verse seven:  “Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundationBe strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

 

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New Gig in Town: CYCLE BAR, Will Transform You in 5+ Ways…(Part 2 of 4 on Fitness)

Friends! Happy Valentine’s Week!

Hope you’re parked by a chunk of chocolate…

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Wait ‘til you hear about a new exercise option we Louisvillians have. Before you say, “Not interested”, please allow me to present my case…  Because trust me, if I can do this anybody can do this.

As if last December could be any busier with all the Christmas shoppers wreaking havoc on the road, our kids excitedly discovered a new cycling/spinning class that just opened.  It’s name? CycleBar. (It’s near Trader Joe’s in the Shelbyville Road Plaza.)

The plot thickened when these same kiddos told us for the first two weeks CycleBar was open, classes were free. They jumped at the opportunity.  One by one, they began telling us how much they liked the classes…

Didn’t take long for Hubster (my better half) to try a class. He’s an avid cyclist while I practically still need training wheels. Honestly, the more he told me about it, how you get  to have your name up on the board and see how you compare with the rest of the class (gulp), I quickly blurted out, “This is not for me.”

Half a second later, he said, “Well, you may want to retract that statement as I believe some certain Santa may have purchased a package of classes for you for Christmas.” Alrighty then.

Off we went. (By the way, you do not have to have your name up on the board if you don’t want to.  Hallelujah. You’ll receive an email immediately after class with your stats.)

Upon arrival, CycleBar’s gracious staff greeted us. One gal made sure I could find my shoes (They provide them for you if you don’t have any as everyone must clip in), helped us sign in, etc.  There are lockers for your belongings, huge water bottles you can fill, and lovely, clean, fluffy towels awaiting you on your bike.

Riders of all ages, shapes, and sizes attend. Check your pride and insecurity at the door: Judgment is non-existent. A huge plus!

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If you need help adjusting your bike or clipping in, the staff and/or the class’ teacher is happy to help. Being pampered is just another benefit.

I’m generally not a fan of group exercise, but, our kids, and now John, reassured me the classroom, a/k/a CycleTheater containing fifty bikes, is nice and cool and dark. Only YOU can see your bike’s screen with your time, your speed, your gear, and “IT IS YOUR OWN RIDE” as the teachers reiterate.

What’s so awesome about this little fact is I can happily tool along next to John while his bike is practically smokin’. He usually doubles my miles, but who cares? We’re both getting a workout and it’s something we can do together. Had we been out on the street on bikes, he’d have long left me in the dust.

Before I share a few more benefits of this experience with you, I want to introduce you to my new friend, Katie Kanapell Ryser. Katie’s the Owner of CycleBar St. Matthews.

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We grabbed a Starbucks last week as I was interested in learning how someone so young (she’s only 37 years old!) could pull off bringing such a huge endeavor to town. You’ll see it was no simple journey getting here either…

Clip in, ‘cuz we’re going for a ride….

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Katie and her husband, Fred, lived in New York City for several years. They had their two children while living there who are now almost five (Freddie) and three (Carolina). Katie’s parents live here and are beyond thrilled they’ve moved to Louisville!

Before we got into how CycleBar came about, Katie candidly shared her past with me because she believes if it can help anyone else out there who’s struggling, all the better. She’s a beautiful vision of making her former misery her ministry.

Early into their marriage, Katie realized she was drinking too much. She needed help, and good news is, she got it.  Greater news is she’ll celebrate her seventh anniversary of sobriety in May. We praise you, Lord.

While in New York, Katie tried several spinning classes via Soul Cycle and Fly Wheel. Something led her to research spinning classes in Louisville should they move here. Nothing turned up like what she was looking for… She firmly believed we needed a high-end fitness class offering a strong cardio’ workout.

Further research helped her discover CycleBar, headquartered in Cincinnati. How Katie was able to get the rights to open one here, is nothing short of a miracle.  Katie is one determined young lady.

Happy to report she’ll be opening two more CycleBars in Louisville: Springhurst, opening after Labor Day this year, and one in the Highlands, opening next year. Here’s her St. Matthews’ boutique:

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If you don’t live in Louisville and want to see if CycleBar is in your town or closeby, go to the main website, www.cyclebar.com and click on “studios”.  Last I checked there are over one hundred and eleven locations.

Prior to opening in St. Matthews, thanks to friends and a boatload of networking, Katie interviewed over one hundred peopleShe was able to staff her store as well as hire eleven teachers.

She brought in a professional spin trainer for the teachers. These eleven brave souls were baptized by fire in a one-week boot camp for….nine hours a day. Gutsy!

John and I’ve met several of the teachers. They are all wonderful. One fun connection we have is with Jady Koch.  He not only teaches classes at CycleBar, he just so happens to be the lead pastor/rector at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church, preaching powerful sermons.   (Sweet Sidebar:  Jady performed the marriage of our youngest son, Woody to his wife, LT.)

I’m convinced Jady must’ve loved the game King of the Hill growing up, because he takes us on forty-seven hills during our fifty-minute class. (Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration.)

Jady says he has a newfound appreciation for all the coaches and fitness teachers he’s had in the past, never realizing how much advance work goes into coordinating a class.  He said “Teaching has been a great way to meet a cross section of the community and a wonderful way to encourage people in their (our) daily quest for a healthy and fun lifestyle.”

 

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Here’s a pic of my Valentine with Jady before class…as in no sweat yet!

Another teacher we’ve enjoyed getting to know is Paige. We’ve taken her early class a couple of times.  Last time her husband was in there with us, as her student.  He’s from Germany and they met at Southern Seminary where they’re students.  They’ve been married for a year.  Don’t you love a love story?  Hey, it’s Valentine’s Week!

One addition to the cycling part of class is each bike has a weighted bar across the top. A little over halfway thru’ the class, the teacher will show you how to lift it, working all the muscles in your arms as well as your core.  While the bars are only four or six pounds (I hear there are eight pounders coming soon), with enough reps, they feel more like four hundred pounds!

Finally, here are just a few more benefits to encourage you to give this a try:

5+ Benefits of Spinning/Cycling:

1 – The Bible tells us we’re to take care of our bodies. Exercise is an excellent way to do that.

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2- Believe it or not, sweating is a benefit, because it’s so cleansing for your body to get rid of all those impurities, detoxifying you during your workout.

When you try a class (and I know you will!), you may wish to tote along an extra shirt because the one you ride in becomes a bit damp. We take the euphemism, “Horses Sweat, Men Perspire, But Women Merely Glow” to a whole new level. (Showers are also available if you’re going to work or to another function from there.)

3 –A cardio’ workout of this caliber will kick your metabolism into gear. (Translation:  potential weight loss!) It also strengthens your heart, your lungs, and increases your bone density, hugely beneficial for all ages.

Katie tells me there’s a guy who’s been coming to CycleBar who’s lost forty pounds and is determined to lose sixty more for a total of 100 pounds! He keeps her updated weekly. Amazing!

4 – Fellow cyclists report having more energy, and less stress, improving their mental disposition. 

Recently two co-workers whose department was undergoing an inordinate amount of stress randomly showed up in the same noon-time CycleBar class.   When they saw each other, they burst out laughing, knowing they were both there for the exact same reason…to de-stress.

Another gal who’s been attending CycleBar classes has a condition that leaves her exhausted and often depressed. After taking several classes, she’s lost fifteen pounds, feels amazingly better, and her depression is gone.  Wonderful!

5 – Spinning inside is SAFE.  It keeps you off the road.

John and I have several friends who’ve had terrible bicycle accidents. Some, more than once.  We live near River Road and my worry-meter rises significantly when John takes off from our house on his bike. Like I said earlier, the fact that we can ride together, inside at Cycle Bar is yet another benefit.

The music the teachers select is another fun facet to CycleBar, offering a wide variety of songs and styles.  Occasionally the teacher will ask you to bend down or press down on the handlebars to the beat of the music, while riding.  (Here’s where I could be Steve Martin’s understudy in The Jerk.)  Oh, but it’s FUN!

Beyond enduring technical issues, and an occasional maintenance issue with the bikes, Katie said they’re coming up for air on the learning curve. Her attention to detail and passion for the product is what makes it function so well.

CycleBar further spoils its’ customers by always having fresh bananas and oranges for you after class, gum to grab on the go before or after class, and lip balm…come on now!

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CycleBar is always offering specials.  They now allow couples to share packages which John and I are doing as are our oldest son, John Jr. with his wife, Diana. (They were the two elves who gave us the packages for Christmas.)

Here’s what’s available right now:

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Why don’t you and your Valentine or friend or co-worker try a class? CycleBar offers several classes per day with Intro’ classes for beginners.  Checkout their website: https://stmatthews.cyclebar.com

Y’all keep Katie, and her sweet family, and this new business-for-fitness in your prayers.

You’ll be thrilled to know next week we have a break from fitness to talk about Book Club, followed by part 3 of our 4 fitness landing us on the back of… a Harley. Huh?

‘Til next time!

FYI: Don’t miss Ken Davis’ must-read, Fully Alive. It’s for anyone considering a fitness/lifestyle change.  He takes you along his highly intense journey and amazing transformation.  You will laugh and cry ‘til you’ve bruised a rib. Here’s the link for more information.

Fully Alive

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Filed under Friends, Holidays, Life Lessons

Joy From January For February (With help from Margaret Feinberg)

Friends!  How could it be February?  Where did January go?

No worries…I’ve got GREAT NEWS for you.  Better yet, I’ve got some gargantuan JOY for you.

My Tuesday Bible study group, now known as “Blessings on Burlington”, is currently devouring Fight Back With Joy—Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. by Margaret Feinberg.  I cannot begin to tell you (altho’ I’m going to try!) what an invaluable resource this workbook is. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Christian bookstore and grab one.

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We finished Week One’s homework last week.  One of our gals said, “Wow, I can’t believe Margaret’s got more to give!  This is  amazing!”

What I love and appreciate about the workbook is how equipping and empowering it is.  Margaret’s input, after having battled cancer (can you imagine?), has boatloads of  blessings  and loads of lessons, page, after page, after page.

In addition to the body of the workbook’s text, little “quotables” and “notables” are stashed in many of the margins. One favorite from Week One comes from Henry Nouwen who said, “Joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.”

Speaking of gifts, each day’s homework is gifted with a “Closing Prayer”.  Day Three’s prayer was a blessing last week:

Continue to ask God to reveal any areas where you’re missing out on the fullness of joy that He wants to give you. Ask Him to supernaturally allow you to experience more of His joy than you’ve ever experienced before.”

We joked about suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in our social lives.  One of our gals learned in a recent email about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).  Oh, we had fun with that!

Beautiful Scriptures are sprinkled throughout each week’s lessons making you want to add them to your journal or copy it onto a post-it note for your home or car.  Memory verses on cards are in the back of the workbook which you can tear out and place in a prominent spot.  What hasn’t Margaret thought of?

Each week also has an “Experiential Activity” for your group.  My friend, Susan, our hostess with the mostest, and I have tweaked these to work for our group.  Those of you who are craft lovers, knock yourselves out.  But those of us who are craft-impaired (!!!) prefer to choose an “adjusted” route. Hey, we’re still celebrating and reaping joy…

Margaret reminds us:  “You and I are called to a life marked by:

Gladness,

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Rejoicing,

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Blessedness,

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Happiness,

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and much, much more!  As children of God, we are meant to radiate God’s joy and leave a well-littered trail of divine affection and delight wherever we go.”

This is exactly what Margaret equips us to do.  She gives us tactic after tactic to “litter” joy around and  innumerable ways to fight back with joy.  (Incredibly Margaret also gives us a Joy Bomb Journal in the back to list daily pieces of joy we see or experience. Yes, chocolate can be one of them.)

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I’ll go so far as to say if you have a friend who’s going thru’ a rough time right now, even without the videos (altho’ they could download them thru’ Lifeway), this workbook would bless them immensely. Obviously if you’re in a grande season, it’ll still bring you joy!

N.D. Wilson wrote an article for Christianity Today entitled Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good TimeMay we all heed his quote (which Margaret includes in her workbook) as I’d never considered such before….Enjoy:

“We Christians are the
          speakers of light.
We are the
          proclaimers of joy.
Wherever we go, we are the
Mascots of the gospel,
          The imagers of the infinitely creative Father,
And the
Younger  brothers and sisters of the humbled and triumphant Word.
We speak in this world on behalf of the One who made up lightning and snowflakes and eggs.”

I believe Margaret wrote the book, of the same title, before the workbook. The book is also excellent, however I personally prefer the layout of the workbook.  That friend you have in mind may prefer the book.  Consider their personality to help you decide which format would be best. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.

And don’t forget, Margaret began her study of joy in the Bible a full year before she was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe God filled her up, equipping her for that very difficult battle. Another perfect example of His perfect timing.

Here’s what the book looks like:

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May our joy from January flow to overflowing for February.

You’ll be thrilled to know some words on FITNESS for February are coming your way.  Oh yeah, I’m groaning right there with you.  But, we’ll have fun, I promise.

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Friends, Scripture

When You’re Bold Enough to Ask…

Friends!  Ever have something happen to you which completely unravels you?  This happened to me this past week in my favorite nail salon…

Do you think a nail salon could possibly become a sanctuary?  Oh, stick around and find out…

My friend Jane and I go to the same fabulous manicurist.  Her name is Savang and she and her family’s nail salon give the best pedicures in town.  (Think hot stones, oil, ahhhh-so-spa-like.)

The place?  If you’re in Louisville, it’s at the corner of Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane, near Fresh Market and Panera.  CND Nails—Tom and Savang are the owners and not only are they incredible manicurists, their entire crew is.  Even better, the majority of them love Jesus.

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1901 Rudy Lane, Louisville, KY  40207 (502) 894-4445

 

And if you want to hear an incredible testimony, be sure and ask Savang how she arrived in the United States.  It is nothing short of a miracle.  Seriously.

Nearly monthly, I’m blessed to visit Savang and be pampered by her.  Our conversation is always filled with what the Lord is doing in her life, how we can pray for each other and our families, etc.

It’s also not lost on me she washes my feet when I visit her.  Selfless and dedicated, she perseveres day after day, literally being the hands and feet of Jesus.

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Appointments with Savang are one of my favorite activities. I come away more blessed than when I arrived every single time. If I’m really lucky, sometimes I get to take one or more of our daughters-in-love.  Savang always stops what she’s doing and prays for them.  Warms this Mom’s heart, let me tell you.  Savang is definitely one of my sisters in Christ.

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Funny tho’, Savang’s faith has grown by leaps and bounds.  As in she sorta left me in the dust.  I’m not trapped by comparison, however, I simply delight in her ever-growing faith. She shines for the Lord.

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Perfect example occurred this past week. My friend Michelle was sitting opposite me.  We chatted while our feet received major pampering.  Nearly every pedicure chair was occupied, however one still remained.

Two gals came into the salon.  One escorted the other to the remaining pedicure chair.  This young woman was beautiful.  Another gal recognized her and said, “Hello.”  She smiled.  (I’ll call her Grace from now on…she exudes grace without realizing it.)

A few minutes later, Grace’s nail tech asked her what color she’d like on her toes. Grace didn’t understand.  The nail tech asked her again.  Nothing.  Just a blank look.

Savang and I could tell Grace wasn’t processing the conversation.  I wondered if she’d had a stroke and perhaps wasn’t able to carry on a conversation.  She seemed so young.  This troubled both Savang and me.

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We left the pedi station and headed to Savang’s table to begin a manicure.  Grace’s friend helped her from the pedi chair to also have a manicure.  Several people in passing spoke to her.  She smiled and nodded. Her friend revealed Grace is a wife and mother and her family was going on a trip the next day.

Savang’s husband came over and told us Grace has advanced Alzheimer’s.  We were stunned.  While I was trying to absorb that, Savang immediately said, “I want to pray for her.”

Before I could take another breath, she asked Grace’s friend if it would be alright if she prayed for her.  The friend, somewhat surprised, said, “Sure.”

Savang went over to Grace, placing her hand on her shoulder, praying  with boldness and beauty.  I fought back tears.

At that very moment, the nail salon became a sanctuary, with prayers ascending Heavenward. Godly thunder surrounding us.

Did I believe God could heal this woman on the spot?  Most definitely.  Will He?  We don’t know.  Perhaps it’s His plan, within His timing. Here’s where we have to trust in His Sovereignty.

Savang was bold. 

She thought to pray. 

She thought to boldly ask.

Matthew 7:7 says,

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.
Keep on seeking, and you will find.
Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (NLT)

Open Door

Matthew Henry said,
“Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it.
Ask, as a beggar asks alms.
Ask, as a traveler asks the way.
Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls.
Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door…”

May we all have eyes to see someone’s need for prayer and may we boldly ask, followed by boldly praying.

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Scriptures….Watch what we’ll receive and find when we’re bold:

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Let’s pray:

Lord, please forgive us when we don’t notice a need.  Open our eyes to see others as you see them.  Guide us to shine your light among our surroundings and to be bold for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

‘Til next time! 

 

 

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Filed under Friends, Life Lessons, Scripture

To Exercise, or Make Fudge? (Two Fun Ideas with Favorite Things for You and Your Friends)

Friends!  Happy New Year!  Are we really in the year 2017?

Happy to report we will not be discussing New Year’s Resolutions this week because research shows those of us who make ‘em, break ‘em.  Just sayin’….

New Year's Resolutions

This week I’m sharing a new recipe which turned out to be a stellar experiment.  I also have an idea I received from a fabulous party I attended.  You may wish to try these with your friends next Christmas, or sooner!

First, the recipe discovery is for Million Dollar Fudge.  It’s easy, it’s delicious, and while you may be irked at my timing, once you taste it, you’ll thank me, trust me. (Recipe’s at the end of this post.)

Secondly, watch how the other idea transpired:  My Spiritual Mom, Lynn Reece, invited all of our Wednesday Bible study gals to her home for a Christmas Brunch. (100% of us refer to her as our Spiritual Mom.) While Lynn was making most of the meal, she did let some of us bring a few goodies.

This group is a beautiful picture of Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

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The week before Lynn’s Brunch, she and our other fearless leader, Jane Chilton, attended a cookie exchange where one of the gals brought Million Dollar Fudge.  We all met for lunch the next day while Lynn and Jane rattled on and on and on about this fudge until I could stand it no longer.

“Okay,” I said.  “I think we need some of that fudge to complete our Brunch next week.  I’ll hunt for a recipe, make it, and bring it.”  That was that.

Visions of huge storefront windows revealing expert chefs making fudge, rolling it out onto tables,  floated thru’ my head.  Think  small-town charm, accompanied by delectable aromas wafting thru’ the streets.  I never pass those stores up without marching inside and buying a slice to sometimes share with Hubster.

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Once googling Million Dollar Fudge began, I landed on a recipe  from www.allrecipes.com  Per usual, the day evaporated and Hubster would soon be home to pick me up to go to a Christmas party.  I either had to run upstairs for a quick workout, or dash into the kitchen and make the fudge so as not to be up too late the night before Lynn’s Brunch.

Plus, I didn’t want to disappoint my sisters who all really wanted to re-live the fudge experience.  You can guess the exercise flew right out the window and ooey gooey fudge began to appear in our kitchen.  (Scarlett told me there’s always tomorrow.)

Being a complete chocolate snob, I was elated and relieved to learn two kinds of super tasty chocolate are in this recipe:  bittersweet chocolate (I keep a huge container of Nestle’s Tollhouse chocolate chips in our pantry. Know you’re shocked.) and sweet German chocolate.

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Arriving at Lynn’s our usual fifteen minutes late, our Bible study gals rushed in, covered dishes in hand. Gathering around the table, holding hands, Lynn led us in a chorus of O Come Let Us Adore Him to open our morning.

Our worship and fellowship looks like this:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Lynn’s  beautiful table, complete with linen tablecloth, china and silver, made our time together even sweeter.  Doris had fun with the cardinal napkin rings since we lovingly dole out UK and U of L jabs from time to time.  (They were playing each other that evening and well, we won’t discuss the outcome.)

We also belatedly celebrated Olivia’s birthday.  Translation:  Big birthday cake!  Another sure-fire reason we needed fudge to go with it.

Clearly 1 Corinthians 6:19 escaped our brains:  “Do you now know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own…”  (We claim the 80/20 rule which probably regresses to 50/50 at best during the holidays.)

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Lynn started the ball rollin’ last year for a Favorite Things Party.  She gave all of us Scrub Daddies. This snowballed into all of us bringing our newest favorite things this year. All eight of us chose one of our favorite things, wrapped them, and presented them, one by one to each other.

The variety and the discoveries are priceless.  (Lynn suggested we limit the expense to $5-$10 dollars/item which some adhered to and some sorta/kinda did if one were grading on the curve.)

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From left to right on the top row is: Doris Bridgeman, Gwen Paten, Lynn Reece, Olivia Kirtley, and Reggie Willinger.  Seated left to right is: Jane Chilton, Yours Truly, and Betsy Heady.

For your enjoyment and education, here’s what we received from each other this year:

For you straw lovers, we learned thanks to Doris’ gift, there’s a package of straight and bent stainless steel straws, complete with brushes to clean them.   Saves the environment and your pocketbook. (Amazon has several varieties.)

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Lynn introduced us to a nifty gadget called The Eurosealer for anyone needing to seal their bag of chips, or crackers, or anything else you wish to keep fresh.  Once activated, a rolling ball heats up, meshing the two sides together.  Between the Scrub Daddy and this contraption, Hubster is in Gadget Heaven. (Both are available at www.bedbathandbeyond.com )

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Reggie gave each of us a Jude’s Miracle Cloth (available at Two Chicks, www.twochicksandcompany.com ) which is amazing on stainless steel appliances, car windows, mirrors, etc., plus it goes in the washing machine! Gwennie suggested cutting it in half, one for inside your house and one for inside your car.

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Reggie topped her gifts with Modjeskas, a local treat no one can pass up. The history of this candy is fascinating.  Check it out via www.bauerscandy.com

Also from Two Chicks, Gwennie gave us Captain Rodney’s Private Reserve Scotch Bonnet Pepper Boucan Glaze:  “A Grilling and dipping sauce from the heart of the Caribbean”.  (Our boys go gaga over this because bacon is involved.)

Jane gave us a wonderful, ultra flexible, Mrs. Anderson’s Mini Serving Spatula, only one and a half inches in width that’s perfect for flipping brownies out of the pan or anything similar.  Much better than a regular-sized spatula and easy to find in your drawer, being red.

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Betsy had a theme of a good night’s sleep going with her favorite things:  Lavender Bath Bombs to make us sleepy followed by a Rest and Renew satin pillow protector to keep our coifs at bay. (Available at Bed, Bath and Beyond.) Clever, Betsy!

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We all agreed Betsy’s packages won the most creative and beautiful award plus she’d written an attribute for each of us along with a Scripture to expound on it on our gift tags.  She was spot on with each of us and we had trouble fitting our heads thru’ the door on the way out.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)

Finally, Olivia and I chose books. (Surprised???) I gave my current favorite du jour:  31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs.  My Tuesday Bible study group is reading this as a devotional, attempting to memorize a verse a week.  It’s wonderful regardless of how you use it.  You’ll learn fascinating things about each verse, thanks to Liz, which helps the reader understand it better, making it easier to remember.

31 Verses to Write on your Heart

Olivia’s choice is sitting here on my desk staring at me because I’m dying to dive in….soon.  She gave us French Women Don’t Get Fat—The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. (Is that some kind of title, or what?)

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It appears to have loads of great info’ in non-diet fashion, as well as recipes, many of which contain chocolate.  (Hallelujah.) There’s even a chapter entitled, Bread and Chocolate. (My two very favorite things.)  My guess is you’ll hear more about this soon. Smile.

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for:

Recipe for Million Dollar Fudge: (This makes two 9 x 9 pans, so you may want to cut it in half like I did.)

4 ½ cups white sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1-12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle’s Toll House chips)
12-1 oz. squares of German sweet chocolate (I used Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar.)
2 cups marshmallow crème

1 – Butter two 9 x 9 baking pans and set aside.
2  – Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow crème, and nuts into a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3 – In a large saucepan, thrown in sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk, stirring over low heat ‘til sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
4 – Pour boiling syrup mixture over ingredients in the bowl, stirring ‘til all the chocolate is melted.  Pour into the prepared square pans.  Let stand a few hours before cutting (if you can stand it).  It literally melts in your mouth.

Furthermore, your friends and family will love you.

I pray you all have a Wonderful, Happy, Healthy 2017 and am excited to talk with you about a variety of books-n-topics in the New Year.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Friends, Holidays