Getting Back in the Game

After some years of only sporadic posts, it’s time I return to writing in my blog on a regular basis.  And for the purpose originally intended, led by God to break down books of the Bible.  What was, or is, my primary goal in doing so, when there are other sites, full of devotionals, Bible knowledge, and encouragement for application to our daily lives?

I started Julie’s Life Joy because my friends and I were not reading the Bible enough, falling short on fully equipping ourselves with Scripture. We worked through our studies each week, answering questions and drawing on experiences so we can grow closer to God and mature in faith.  Still, we needed more.  I take notes as I read, using my Life Application Study Bible.  I got this idea to make it like a Cliffs Notes. We DO need to read the Bible, but as a supplement or if you don’t make the time, it is good to know what a specific chapter says and how it is relevant to us and to the current times. 

My life has been changed by Jesus, working in my heart and mind, and by His leading and timing to connect the women of our Small Group for Bible Study with each other.  Some of us have been sharing our lives and common goal to know and follow God as fully as possible for over 13 years.  We have been transformed.  God blesses us each with a gift or ability.  My gift is writing and ideas of how to share good information with others.   

I fell away from blogging because I was busy, I work at a computer all day, I have an hour’s commute each way to St. Louis, and I try to sit as little as possible when I am not working. 

I still don’t like sitting, but I am less busy.  My husband, Mitch, retired in March and has taken on more housework.  Our dogs both passed away in the last year.  I want to get back into the Bible more deeply.  Writing about the book of John a few years ago enabled me to study it and commit it to memory and application  more than I could have done just reading it.  Now is the time to tackle another of the books in the Bible.  I hope I can help you know the Bible as I share the notes from my study Bible, include actual Scriptures, summarize in places, and share personal experiences along the way. 

Look forward to the Gospel of Luke very soon. me moms day.JPG

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Quit the Sit and Groove the Move

Several weeks ago, I did my fifth speech for Toastmasters.  The project objective is about body language and facial expressions.  I am a fitness enthusiast; I thought it the perfect opportunity to encourage my audience to move more and sit less.  My entry today is a modification of my speech.  Enjoy!

Did you know that sitting is nearly equal to smoking as a risk factor for heart disease? The effects are the 4th cause of death worldwide. The results of how little we move and what we eat have surpassed the death rate for infectious disease for the first time in history. Sure, things like our commute, and to some extent, our jobs, make it unavoidable as related to work. Right now, we have a choice.

Stand! Stretch your upper back.. March in place. Kick your legs around a bit. Stay standing while you read my blog entry. This is what I mean by “quit the sit and groove the move”. Frequent, short breaks of standing and moving are found to make a positive impact on our health as much or more so that a single, longer exercise session.

I advocate for both. For the last 9 years, I’ve been committed to daily fitness both before and during work. The result is that, at 54 years old, I feel better than I did when I was much younger, even with arthritis and a challenge to my heart. I have less sinus and back pain, and smaller clothing sizes. A hard truth, though, is that if I would sit for 3 consecutive hours, the overall benefit of the longer routine is cancelled. Luckily, I get too uncomfortable, so I’ve devised ways to relieve the ache, particularly during work.

The most realistic time suggestion I found is to replace 2 hours of sitting with standing and moving, broken up into frequent small intervals. We must find what works for each of us. I offer what has worked for me and what could work for you, too.

Let’s start with work. With the right equipment, and the right shoes, it is possible to stand and work at our desks. If you have a workstation that adjusts for height, take advantage. My surface doesn’t raise high enough for me. Instead, I use a laptop lap desk on top of a milk crate. I have my monitors permanently raised on stacked packages of paper. Ideally you want to stand and move every 30-60 minutes, but I stand for 30 minutes to an hour 2-3 times each day.

For a 15-minute break, you already know about walking and stairclimbing. Have you considered the stairwell landing? I have kicked, danced, stretched, and boxed through my short break. (I actually did each of these moves in my speech.) Boxing, by the way, works your core as well as your arms. The important thing is to break from sitting as often as possible. We could change things up into 3 breaks of 5 minutes.

I work at the St. Louis headquarters of Wells Fargo Advisors, a large complex that includes a corporate gym.  I eat lunch at my desk and take a 30 minute fitness break later. I walk one day, and use the gym the next day.  The gym? I have time for that? Yes, because I always wear comfortable slacks, and I switch to a short-sleeved work-appropriate shirt., shortly before my break. Later, I change back. I have 15 minutes on the elliptical to burn 160 calories and break a small sweat. Consider joining our gym. You could have a fitness specialist design a workout of even less duration.

Back at home, we can continue the mini-workout concept. Dance to any music on TV. Move or stand while watching. Let the commercial run or hit pause, then move. If you have an Amazon Echo, ask Alexa for a 7 minute workout after enabling the skill. She can set a timer to remind you to get up. The internet has plenty of youtube workouts. I highly recommend JessicaSmithTV.com. Jessica has many different routines, even as short as 8 minutes. I often do the 9 minute low impact high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in my morning exercise.

A few years ago, after doing therapy exercises on the floor to strengthen my hip and knees, I found it easy to do sit-ups and other moves, while I was already on the floor. There are multiple options to keep moving.

In closing, let’s make 2017 the year that standing and moving become part of our lives. Let’s quit the sit and groove the move! See you in the stairwell. You may be seated

I drew on these:  Facts on Sitting and Physical Inactivity

  1. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and is responsible for nearly one in 10 deaths in the U.S. alone.
  2. For the first time in history, our own lifestyle choices turn out to be more deadly than infectious diseases. What we eat and how much we move are the crucial factors that will determine both the quality and length of our lives.
  3. For employers, the cost associated with physically inactive employees is 15.3% more than those who are physically active.
  4. High-intensity physical activity doesn’t keep these effects from occurring. As one study concluded, “an hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting.”
  5. Sitting 6+ hours at work increases risks of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
  6. Low intensity, “non-exercise” activities like standing and walking are much more important than we realized. In fact, low-level activities play a crucial metabolic role and account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate- to high-intensity activity like running.

Another resource: http://www.juststand.org

Losing Kiera, and God’s Mercies

Written around 1 pm today:

It is a beautiful, unusually warm, late October day.  I sit in a chair outside, feeling both sorrowful that tomorrow we say goodbye to a beloved family member, and grateful to God that He has provided blessings within this time.   Kiera, our black Labrador retriever, age 13, lays in the grass beside me.   Her sister, Jasmine, is near.  Kiera’s health noticeably declined over the past 10 days.  We had discovered in January that she has a tumor in her liver.  We had not known whether it was cancerous; it seems now that it was, and it spread to her lungs. In the last few days, the cancer got very aggressive.  Tomorrow we will have our final hours with her before we take her back to the vet so she can cross over the Rainbow Bridge to a place without suffering.

Why am I grateful?  I see God’s goodness in a heartbreaking situation.  These are the blessings from God within this heartbreaking situation, from the current time backward:

*Blessing #1:  The weather, the outdoors, and a lift in her spirit. After spending time indoors, laying on her side, looking so sick and miserable, Kiera wanted to come outside.  She is laying upright, looking around.  She has sniffed the grass.  She begged food.  Her ears are perked for the first time since Wednesday.  She is interested in the activity of a neighbor.  She has always loved the outdoors.  She lacks the strength to take our stairs or to move around much, but she is able to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the feel of a gentle breeze.

**Blessing #2:   General timing and the short duration of suffering.

Kiera’s symptoms began only the middle of the week before last.  A little cough, or catch, when she was panting.  Weight loss that recently became apparent even after months ago we had increased her food.  She became uninterested in her regular food but would eventually eat it. She still seemed herself but did not want to walk beyond our yard.  We  attributed this to the arthritis in her knees.  A week ago when we took her to the vet, a good vet but not her regular one in the practice, her lungs and heart sounded fine.  Her gums had paled slightly.  She’s had allergies before, so the cough was attributed to allergy.  Home we went with an antihistamine and cough suppressant. We were to go back in 2 weeks.

We gave her higher calorie dog food but had to put broth on it or she refused it.  We thought the dry food might be irritating her throat.  This past Wednesday she began having diarrhea, so chicken and rice were on her menu.

On Wednesday I made an appointment for Friday evening for a “Golden Paws” checkup that includes bloodwork and an X-ray.  Thursday she became so lethargic and weak we had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom.  I slept downstairs with her and decided to take off work Friday, call the vet and see if we could move her appointment to earlier in the day.  We were able to get in at 2:40 with her longtime vet, Dr. Hall.  It was the only appointment available.  Thank you, God!

While we certainly don’t want to worry about the convenience of a health crisis or death, decisions related to our work schedule can increase the stress of the situation.  Having most of the weekend with Kiera without concern of having to take off the days in between to be home with her, prevents further concern (although my husband Mitch did have to work today).

***This leads to Blessing #3:    Our son, Ross, had been informed a week or so ago about the potential for Kiera’s health.  He said he would come home from Los Angeles to see her one last time when it became necessary.   In his busy schedule, with meetings and presentations for his startup company, the weekend allowed him an opportunity to come home.   The timing of the appointment allowed us to find a flight for him to be home at midnight on Friday, and then with the weekend, to not have meetings to cancel.

****Blessing #4:  A wonderful vacation, a memory, just six weeks ago.  God’s timing again allowed us to celebrate the 13th birthdays of Kiera and sister Jasmine while we were in Minnesota.   The girls both have arthritis and some backside movement issues.  I had been praying they would make it to our Minnesota trip.

The week starting with Labor Day, we took them tent-camping near Ely, MN.  We stayed at Bearhead Lake State Park.  We took short hikes. They got their paws a bit wet around the shore of a serene lake.  They survived a thunderstorm, hunkered down in the tent. We took some great pictures.  On our way there and back, we stayed at my parents’ house, so Mom and Dad were able to see Kiera a short time ago.

Blessing #5:  13 years of Kiera’s funny personality and ability to make us laugh and smile.   Here is some classic Kiera, who we often call Kiki or K:

 – Drama.  We often say she is a drama queen.  If she was not engaged in activity, she would look sad or extremely bored, sitting on the couch looking back over the top with her head arched over it, like, “oh, woe is me”.

– Playfulness.  Kiera would ask Jasmine to play by waving a paw at her and barking, as she did just two weeks ago.  With us, she would sit in front of us and bark until we played with her.  Before her knees got bad, she would jump and put her paws on our chest as we sat on the couch.

She liked swimming in our pool.  When we had a floating chair, she would crawl up in it and just float.  To fetch, she never liked balls and preferred instead to chase a squeaky toy that she liked to toss in the air.

– Sassiness and the cutest expressions.  When she perks her ears, they are floppy but fold in the cutest way.  Add to this the expression in her bright, eager eyes, I would call this her “cute look”.

– Schedule-conscious.  She always reminded us when it was dinnertime and MilkBone time.  And time to walk.  She would stare at us until we responded.  Jasmine always relied on her for these reminders.

We know that our furry family members will not live forever, but we are never truly prepared.   When the inevitable is happening, God is blessing my family with His mercy and grace. And for this I am grateful.

We will miss you, dear Kiera.  Until we meet again in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on the Blog

I’m wondering about some things I might do to improve my blogging.

I think my posts might be too long than what readers are looking for when they’re online.  Although I enjoy writing, I feel like I’m working on an essay sometimes.  It keeps me from making more frequent posts.  Perhaps I can split my entries into two; especially the summaries of the Bible chapters.

The font appears kind of small when I view my posts.  I write things in Word on a font of 12, then I copy and paste into the blog.  Maybe I should write in font 14.  I’ll try that.  I also try to find images but have trouble finding time to look for them.  Does it matter to you?

I used to have some downtime at work when I was able to write.  Really, there was nothing to do.  Lately I have been much busier.  This is part of the reason for posting only once or twice a week, instead of 3-4 times.  It depends on whether my husband is on the laptop, too.

Also, I have said that I would be including fitness and health information.  The video links should be useful, but I have not done much else with this area.  I apologize for this.   I can post some healthy recipes.  What do you think?  Would you use the information?

I have some things I can post later tonight or in the next few days.  Meanwhile, please, provide feedback.   Are you okay with doing part of John 7 one day, for example, then the other part another day?  Would it be confusing to see the most recent post as the last half of a chapter or an article, while the first part is on a previous day?   Is the font size a problem?  I need to contact WordPress on that one, I suppose.  (I think there’s a way to zoom on anything online through your computer settings, by the way.)

This blog is for you, so please comment and help me make it the best blog possible!

Working on the next post

I don’t want to leave my (few) readers hanging, so here’s a little update:

I’ve been busy, my parents were visiting over the weekend, my posts are not quickly written, so my posts have been less frequent in the last week.  I’m working on a summary of the church message and small group study from this week, “Monitoring my Negativity”.  It will be posted no later than Wednesday.

God Bless!

Julie