Strengthening Our Bodies, Minds, and Spirits

I've recently started running. It seriously has been years since I've been running. I think I ran a few times after my first son, Luke, was born, but I think that's it aside from some vigorous walks here and there during my other pregnancies.

Exercise Improves Our Moods and Mental Health
I was starting to feel a bit moody postpartum and decided I'd like to make regular physical movement a part of my life (movement other than just chasing a toddler around!). I had the realization or rather the hypothesis that my moods are largely connected to my physical activity. Growing up as a dancer I was exercising and moving probably close to twenty hours a week for a lot of my adolescent and young adult life. And I remember being "happy" most of the time then. Or at least I don't remember struggling with my moods as much then. (I haven't typed up my depression story yet, but hopefully we'll get there!) Anyway, the few times in the past year that I have done some sort of aerobic exercise, whether it's a small run or a dance class, I have noticed that I feel SO MUCH better and a lot more energized.

So in effort to make it a regular thing I started simple. 11 minutes. That's all. I set my timer for 5 1/2 minutes and jogged away from my house toward the beach as far as I could go and when the timer went off, I turned around and jogged back. There was no expectation of distance or pace, but just a commitment to DO to MOVE to get my body GOING.

And you know what? It felt so good! I was energized, I felt more alert that day, and I felt more on top of my game. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! And with each day I noticed my endurance increasing and I was running just a bit further than the day before.

An Invitation to Join Me
I was pretty excited to keep going and excited to share my story about getting fit in just 11 minutes a day . . . but then my husband proposed I run a half marathon with him while he runs a full marathon. And somehow I agreed! Eeek!!! But if 11 minutes a day sounds like something you can handle, will you try it for me? Will you walk vigorously or take a slow jog every day or even every other day and report back to me?

Photo Project While I Run: a Positive Focus
I live in a pretty unique city which initiated my decision to start of photo project called #housesoflongbeach to help me focus on the beauty instead of the not so good parts of our city. Each day during my run or my walk with the kids I take a picture (or two) of a lovely home that stands out to me for one reason or another.

Lessons Learned While Running
In the calmness of the morning I realized the one thing that often makes an ordinary house stunning is the early morning light that makes it simply glow. And then my thoughts turned to things more elevated than just my surroundings on my run.

"I am the light of the world..." Christ says in John 8:12. Am I allowing the light of Christ to shine on me? To illuminate me and allow me to be more beautiful than I am without it? What can I do to allow His light to shine on me?

"...he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." Follow Him! That is what I need to do. What does following Christ look like in my own life? Christ was baptized under proper authority and so was I. That was following Him. But day-to-day what does it look like? How do I shine with Christ's light? Patience. As I am patient with my toddler, that is following Christ. As I study the Word of God, that is following Christ. As I show love to others my friends, my family, my neighbors, and even my enemies --the ones who have offended me, the ones who harm the unborn child, the ones who do terrible things. I must learn how to have love in my heart for them as well, that is following Christ. Forgiveness. Forgiving myself for my mistakes and forgiving others for theirs even if, no, especially if they are not sorry for what they have done. 

Following Christ is not always easy. He asks us to do hard things, but when we do them I know we can shine with a more pure beauty that is His light and His love and I know it can shine forth and others will see the difference.

So join me. Join me in finding some way to be physically active to enliven your mind and your body. And join me in finding ways to emulate the light of Christ. Together we can find ways to feel our best, become our best, and see the best in the world around us.

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