Archive for the ‘Ride for Diapers’ Category

The Mind Body Connection

Two days before I began my ride across America to raise awareness and money for diapers, I talked with my coach, Chris POSTERBagg. He had only been coaching me for 3 weeks, but his training schedule had made it possible for me to at least begin the ride with a reasonable certainty that I could complete it. In this last conversation before the onset of the ride, he talked about the mind body connection. He warned me there would be times my body would hurt. When the pain becomes intense, the mind has the option of telling the body to continue or to quit. So Chris had me think about images I would visualize at such times that would divert my attention away from the pain and allow me to complete the ride. He also told me to focus on the process – the next 10 pedal strokes. This would give my mind something else to focus on while improving my form at the same time.

So this is what I did. When the pain in my legs or my back or my neck became the focus of my thoughts, I chose to visualize Mount Rainier or the beaches of Hawaii. I focused on the mechanics of my pedal strokes. I focused on the most vulnerable in our society and the increased abuse of the infants who are not appropriately diapered. It was an amazing experience. As I focused on the needs of others, the beauty of God’s creation, and the calling I had to take this message across the country, I always had the strength to complete any ride on any day. I completed 108 miles in oppressive heat in Washington state, stiff head winds going to Yellowstone, the monotony of Kansas, the 18% grades in the Appalachian mountains, and the horrific traffic in northern Virginia. Without the mind body connection, I would not have been able to complete this ride.

We read in Luke 2:52 that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” What a picture of health! We were created to function holistically as a single unit with a perfect blend of the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of life. And so when Jesus described His death to the Greeks who saw life as divided between an immortal soul that transmigrates from one being to another at death and a mortal body that simply houses that soul, He said the following in John 12:24… “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus, who is described in Luke 2:52 as a living Being who is an integrated whole of body, mind, soul, was to lay down His integrated life so that we could do the same and experience His transforming resurrection power to become a “new creation” as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17.  We need every aspect of our being to overcome sin and bear the fruit of the Spirit that naturally develops in our new life with Him. This is the mind body connection at its best. When we understand the power of this connection as the integrated beings we are, we experience God’s power in our lives. And we can then “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Have you discovered the mind body connection? If not, I highly recommend you do!

 

Can I Really Do This?

Can I really do this? This is the question I asked myself one month before I was to begin my ride across America on July 8, 2012. It was early June POSTERand I could not ride 50 miles on two consecutive days. My schedule for the ride across America had me riding over 100 miles each of the first two days and over 70 miles per day the rest of that first week. I was becoming acutely aware that I was not ready for the ride to Washington, D.C. This is when I hired a coach, Chris Bagg. Chris is a professional Ironman athlete. He knows endurance sports. He has experienced every obstacle imaginable in competing in the ultimate endurance challenge.

Chris invited me to his testing facility in Portland to identify my heart rate zones and test my level of fitness. He then gave me a training schedule specific to my abilities and goals. By this time I had only three weeks prior to the start of my ride. Not much time to get ready, but what a difference Chris’ training schedule made. But perhaps more important than the schedule he gave me was his statement to me at the end of the testing: “You can do this. There’s no doubt in my mind.” Over the course of the next three months, Chris gave me advice, encouragement, and inspiration that made my ride a reality. I knew I would complete the ride because I trusted the confidence Chris had in me.

We all have, are, or will face life situations that seem impossible. Perhaps you’re looking for a job, a healthy relationship, or meaning in life. Maybe you have a cherished sin you don’t think you can conquer. Or you might be struggling with greed, anger, guilt, or jealousy. Whatever your issue, there are times we all ask ourselves, Can I really do this? Can I overcome my issue? Can I gain victory? Can I be whole again?

Just like in my ride, the key to our success is found in the assurance of our ultimate destiny – salvation. Salvation is the good news that God forgives us and reconciles us to Himself. Salvation means that you and I can be changed today, have victory today, have peace today, and live in confidence of His love and acceptance. Just like Chris told me that he had no doubt about my ability to complete the ride across America, Jesus tell us there is no doubt you and I have salvation. And He should know, He’s the only One who can give this gift. We read in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

There is no doubt about your salvation in I John 5:13. You can do this because it’s not about your ability, but about Jesus Christ who has already done everything for you on the cross. The assurance Jesus gives us can be trusted. That’s because it is the assurance from your Coach in life who has been there before you, experienced every temptation, and overcome every obstacle. (See Hebrews 4:15) The assurance of salvation that comes from Jesus means that you CAN do this. Whatever you’re going through, you can make it because He has made it. Whatever the temptation you have, you will overcome because He has overcome. Jesus is with you. Lean into Him, trust Him, listen to Him, and He will lead you to the Promised Land.

The Headwinds of Life

I am in the midst of a 16 week training schedule to increase the amount of power I can attain on the bike. So yesterday I was instructed to maintain a 92 rpm cadence for 1.5 hours at a heart rate between 125-133. This seemed like an easy enough task to complete. I decided to ride around the Columbia River as it’s easier to keep a consistent cadence on flat terrain. This was a good plan except for the wind. Depending on the direction I was going the wind would push me forward, blow me sideways, or push against me. However, with such specific parameters given to my by my coach to ride within I found it relatively easy to ride in the wind. For the first time I actually enjoyed riding into a headwind.

I discovered that riding for time instead of distance makes all the difference in the world. Because I was riding for a specific period of time I didn’t worry about my speed. In fact, I simply concentrated on maintaining the cadence at 92 rpm. When my heart rate would drop I would increase my effort and shift the gears as necessary to the amount of effort needed to maintain my cadence and heart rate. Wind became a tool for me to train hard. I found it easier to pedal at the necessary cadence against the wind than in many other conditions.

In John 3:8 we read, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” When I was riding against the wind the sound was deafening. This was always a distraction to me until yesterday when I appreciated the wind for what it provided me – a great training ride. My ability to ride was increased because of the headwind. If I’m only focused on my destination rather than the journey along the way, I can get frustrated with the wind.

Perhaps we need to embrace the challenges in life as a gift from God to maintain our fitness level and even experience more power as a result of the journey. It’s so easy to always want a tailwind, but that doesn’t increase our strength and power like a headwind. Are you experiencing a headwind? If so, lean into it and enjoy the ride. You never know how strong it will make you. 

A Trip to the Tailor…

Early on the morning of September 6, the day after the completion of my ride, I was getting ready for our trip into Washington, D.C. for our appointments on Capitol Hill. I was excited for the opportunity and thought it best to wear a suit for the occasion. However, as I took the suit coat from the hanger I noticed the suit pants were gone! I frantically looked in every nook and cranny of our hotel room to no avail. I even went out to the car to search… But no pants! Fortunately I had brought an extra pair of dress slacks that would work with my suit coat.

I never found the pants. So when we arrived home, I went shopping for a new suit. This resulted in a trip to the tailor to provide me with the “perfect” fit. It had been years since I had such an extensive fitting. The tailor had his tape measure out along with his straight pins to make sure the inseam and the waist were just right on the pants. And then he shortened the sleeves and tightened the fit from my chest to my waist of the coat so it was just right. I stood facing the mirror for what seemed like hours as he fussed over every aspect of this suit. In reality it only took a few minutes, but I was impressed with his desire to give me the perfect fit.

This experience reminded me of a passage in Scripture that says, And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.”    Zechariah 2:1-2

Here we see a description of God measuring Jerusalem like my tailor measured me. Israel had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years and now it was time for them to return to Jerusalem and get measured for God’s Temple. God wanted to dwell with them in, to be with them, to bring salvation to them. He does this in His Temple. What’s humbling to me is that today God wants to build His Temple in me and you! Paul says it like this, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” God measures me to make sure His Temple will fit in my heart and my life.

The really cool thing about being measured for His Temple to dwell in me is that this measurement is describing God’s judgment. When the tailor measures me, the tape measure is giving an accurate assessment of my lifestyle that has resulted in the circumference of my waist. More Twinkies, more waistline! What a beautiful thing to have God as my tailor to make sure Christ’s robe of righteousness fits me perfectly so that His Temple can be built in my heart for His Spirit to dwell within. I want to be measured. I’m ready to stand in front of God’s mirror to be exposed in the light of His glory, teachings, and commands. What about you?

The Ride, Technology, and the Transition

I’m a big fan of technology. I bought my first personal computer (PC) in 1984 and taught myself how to use the data base and word processor. My PC did not survive the move to the Philippines and this is when I bought my first Apple computer. I produced hospital policies and reports on that small amazing piece of technology. Since that time I have implemented the latest technological devices into my everyday life. When the smart phones were introduced, I began reading my emails throughout the day. It was amazing. I was always up to date. I was always generating emails that demanded responses from others and receiving emails that demanded responses from me. The result is that I slowly became a slave to technology.

Part of my transition after the ride across America has been adjusting to such a life of instant communication and the demands it exerts on all of us. During my ride I never looked at my calendar and only checked my email twice a day. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but the limited use of technology was a liberating experience. I still used technology to communicate with people across America. I uploaded photos from a GoPro camera, uploaded movies I had made, blogged on the computer, facebooked, and checked emails twice a day. But this was part of a routine in which I primarily communed with God and used technology for His glory.

Since returning from the ride I have realized that I too often allow technology to rule my life. And anything or anyone that rules my life other than God is a life threatening intrusion into my life. How can it be that I can allow technology to manage my life, rule my life? Because I have enabled email notifications on my phone and my computer I am responding and demanding responses every hour (sometimes every minute) of every day as long as I’m awake. I have become lured into the “fast food” mentality of communication consumption. I need to respond and receive a response immediately as if I were at Taco Bell wanting a veggie burrito. That’s not a great way to eat and it’s certainly not a great way to communicate. What I learned on my ride is that all great communication begins with communion with God.

My constant communion with God during the ride has revealed to me the need for such a vibrant connection every moment of every day, not just on a sabbatical. As a result, I find it necessary to break the chains of bondage to technology and manage it rather than letting it manage me. I found it necessary to talk with God constantly during the ride for diapers just to complete each ride. Why would I think it’s more important to talk with God constantly on a bike ride than during the “life ride” working each day in Richland, WA? The brutal fact of the matter is that I need God more today in this ride than I needed Him on the bike ride. There are more temptations, more distractions, more issues, more needs, and more wisdom needed than I ever faced on the bike.

So I will be changing how I use technology. Here is my first attempt at managing technology for God’s glory in my life:

  1. Commune with God each morning before ever turning on my phone or my computer, reading a book, or reading the newspaper .
  2. Disable email notifications on my phone and computer. I will check my emails twice a day.
  3. Use my calendar to schedule time with God, Pam (my wife), my children (especially now that they are adults), and my exercise. Then I can use my calendar for other appointments as God directs.
  4. Go to bed one hour earlier each day.

I love technology. In fact, I’m waiting to receive my iPhone 5 next week. But in my desire to be in closer communion with God throughout each day, and thus a better pastor in His church and human in His creation I strive to manage the technology that has been placed at my fingertips. I know it’s here for a reason, and that reason is not to control my life but to be used as a blessings in the lives of others. And so the transition continues!

The End… Time for Transition

The fundraising to meet the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) matching donation of $62,500 ended on September 22. And we did it! We more than matched the NDBN’s generous donation. That means this ride has brought in more than 500,000 diapers to help families in the TriCities and across the country. I am more than gratified with the results of this ride. It has been a journey I will never forget. But now comes the time to transition back into my calling to serve in the Richland Adventist Church.

Transitions are always challenging. I’ve had plenty of them over the years as we all have. There are the transitions students make from the daily grind of school work to summer vacation and then back to school again for another year. There are the transitions workers make from the daily grind of work to vacation and then back again. There is the transition of a new job or a new career. There is the transition of having a newborn and then the transition of sending that son or daughter to college. On and on goes the transitions we all make throughout life.

The transition from this ride to the routine of pastoral ministry finally set in yesterday for me. It made me think of the meaning and purpose of transitions. There are two major transitions Jesus experienced on this earth recorded in Scripture that I find helpful to understand in my own life’s transitions. The first was the transition from everyday life on earth to ministry on earth. We see Jesus preparing Himself for this transition by going to the wilderness to fast and pray. He was tempted by satan as He made the transition into His ministry, which served to solidify His commitment to His calling. The second transition was from ministry on this earth to His ministry in heaven. This transition included the cross and resurrection. Jesus prepared Himself for this transition through prayer and submission to His Father’s will. I can only imagine the pain and the power of this transition.

From the transitions of Jesus I see that what we do today prepares us for tomorrow. My work today prepares me to transition into God’s calling and will for my life tomorrow. Seen in this light, transitions are always an exciting adventure with God. There is something even bigger and better that God wants you to experience. But in order to experience it, there has to be a transition.

What is your mission today? What transition is God calling you to make tomorrow? I am ready to transition from my ride across America to a new phase in my pastoral ministry that will never be the same because of the ride. What an adventure life has become because of the transitions He has called me to make over the years.

Day 1 Post-Ride in Washington, DC – The Journey Begins

The ride may be over, but the journey has just begun. Alison Weir, Program Director for the National Diaper Bank Network, took Pam and me on a fascinating and educational trip into the heart of government today. Because of my ride, Alison was able to make 6 appointments in Washington, DC to talk about the need for diapers in this country. Alison was excited about two of the visits because the only reason she could even make the appointments was because of my ride. And what an education for me. I simply shared the reason I embarked on this journey and some observations about the acute need for diapers that is present throughout this country. The need is much more than the private sector can handle though the diaper banks are crucial in helping many families who need assistance.

We began the day by going to the National Women’s Law Center whose mission is to protect the progress of women and girls in every aspect of their lives. We spent the most time at this appointment as they became more interested in helping solve the problem of getting diapers to families the more they learned about the issue. They gave Alison names of contacts who might help with one aspect or the other in solving the issue. Alison was grateful for the information as we headed to the next appointment at First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. They gave additional insights into possibilities of creating changes in policy to benefit the families I’ve been riding to help. We then traveled to Capitol Hill where we met with the staff of Senator Gillibrand of New York, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, and Congressman Rehberg of Montana. In some instances we were able to educate about this issue while others who already knew about it gave us updates on what was in the works for the future. We finished the day at Zero To Three, the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. They were very interested in the ride and wanted more data about the need for diapers across the country.

As I reflect on the day, I am humbled by the people who have made it their life’s work to advocate for those who have no voice. In many ways I saw Matthew 25 in action today with more passion and persistence than I have ever previously seen. Alison is an amazing advocate for these infants and toddlers. She is an engineer with a PhD in early American literature who then received her law degree at Gerogetown University while working at the Pentagon as the speech writer for the Chief of Staff. After she retired from the US Air Force she worked for a law firm where she discovered the needs of those in poverty. She left the law firm to work for the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) to pursue her passion to help those in need. She asked me why I left medicine to become a pastor. I told her for similar reasons she had just given for leaving her law firm to work for the NDBN. God brought us together on this day to work on His mission in the world.

I am so glad I responded to His call into ministry and then His call to take this ride. And what a ride it has been. Now He’s calling me to chronicle this journey in a book with the proceeds to go for this diaper ministry. And so the journey begins!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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