Diana Anderson-Tyler

From Fitness to Fiction: Turning Over a New Leaf

From Fitness to Fiction: Turning Over a New Leaf

 

Note: Grab your hot beverage of choice and get cozy. It’s gonna be a long one!

One of the hardest things to do in life is, in a word, change. Especially when change is a voluntary verb instead of the inevitable, unchangeable noun that forces us to accept a new status quo. While the latter type of change is no walk in the park, it often propels us to the next chapter in life – one full of rewards, blessings, and opportunities – that we never would have turned to otherwise. When change is a choice, however, we merely ponder what a “next chapter” might contain. We speculate about what its characters are like, what the setting, the tone, and the themes are, and what conflicts and obstacles might await us. And all that thinking, all those hours of contemplation and “preparation,”[1] does nothing but convince us that we’re quite happy with not venturing into unread pages.

And so we stay in the first act of our stories, the place in a film or stage play when the world is explained and the protagonist introduced. The place right before an event screenwriters call the “first plot point” occurs and thrusts the main character into a new direction and they must decide whether to take on the problem or flee from it. How dreadfully dull movies would be if the protagonists just backed down…

I do not mean to compare myself in the ensuing paragraphs to a heroic movie character, but I think it’s an apt metaphor we all can relate to. I’m sure you can think of occasions in your life when you battled two sides of yourself: one side urging you to chase a dream, the other scaring you with paralyzing what-if questions. I’ve been enmeshed in one such battle myself, and with this blog it’s my hope that I am definitively determining a winner.

I’ve been writing fitness-related books for 10 years (wow, I’m getting old!). I won’t bore you with the details of how that began, but long story short, my mom suggested that I write a fitness book for teens the summer before my freshman year of college. This idea was birthed because I had fallen in love with weightlifting and eating right during high school and received quite a few requests for help and advice from my peers. I had also struggled with an eating disorder for some time (I thought it was over – it wasn’t!) and wanted to help others in their fights against binge eating, undereating, low self-esteem and deadly comparison making, and the pride that drives so many of us to embrace and enable those harmful behaviors.

I wrote that first book at 19 when I still had much to learn in the way of leading a healthy lifestyle that wasn’t obsessed with a number on the scale or how many calories I burned and consumed.[2] A few years later, I wrote Fit for Faith, yet another faith-based fitness book that chronicled my personal journey of depression and joy, obsession and balance, and shared lessons of spiritual and physical health that I’d learned over the past five years. A year or so later, I wrote a women’s devotional/workout book called Perfect Fitsoon followed by my first nonfiction departure from explicitly fitness-related books.

To use the analogy from earlier, I believe that that season in my writing career was my Act I. It introduced me to the world of writing. It helped me find my voice and gave me invaluable time to get accustomed (somewhat) to the frustrating, competitive, perplexing, nerve-racking world of publishing. It also gave The Hunger inside of me time to grow into its paws.

I realize that last line sounds creepy, like I’m describing some monster from a Stephen King novel. What I mean by “The Hunger” is simply this: passion. I believe every one of us has a Hunger, something we daydream about when we’re sitting on the plane, staring out the window waiting for takeoff. Something we lie in bed thinking about on nights we just can’t fall asleep. Something we wish we could answer with when someone asks, “What do you do?”

The Hunger for me has always been writing.[3] I’ve been penning poems, jotting down stories, narrating my own audiobooks, and trying my hand at playwriting for as long as I can remember. All of my writing was of the creative sort. (Not to say nonfiction writing isn’t creative; I suppose the more precise word would be fiction.) I mean, what sort of child voluntarily writes about artificial sweeteners (they’re bad – don’t use them!), squats, and deadlifts as I would in my early twenties?

Obviously, nonfiction writing was my first foray into the professional writing world. After I wrote Fit for Faith, I also started the formerly fitness-focused blog you’re now visiting, and began contributing regularly to the Health section of Charisma’s online magazine. But The Hunger was increasing.

I was starving, desperate to write words that vibrated inside my soul and trickled out of my fingertips, yearning to escape into the farfetched and fantastic, the abstract and surreal, and eager to explore with my subconscious the ways my human experience might be woven into fiction. I remember editing the last pages of Perfect Fit and saying to my husband, “I can’t wait to write my novel!”

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” -Ella Fitzgerald

 

This post is already nearing 1,000 words, so I’ll save the bit about why I chose Film as my major and how my first screenplay morphed into my first novel. But the fact is, writing the words “Chapter One” onto a bright white, terribly daunting Word Press document titled “MOONBOW – Rough Draft” was one of the most frightening and thrilling experiences of my life. I could feel myself drifting out into deep, uncharted waters as safe, sunny Nonfiction Island became a speck in the distance.

After months of waiting for a traditional publisher to buy my book (I’ll save the details of that experience as well!), I decided to self-publish Moonbow last fall. Afterwards, I set to work on my second novel, and then yet another fitness book/devotional for couples,[4] after which it struck me that I don’t have to be either Team Fiction or Team Nonfiction. Fitness will always be an integral part of my life and a passion that I will enjoy sharing with others as long as I’m able. But now, I feel it’s time to feed The Hunger I have for storytelling, to let it reach its potential within a season all its own.

I may fall on my face a thousand times as I traverse this unknown territory of gaining an audience, getting a publisher’s attention, writing and rewriting, and generating new ideas after I’ve typed “The End” on my latest manuscript. But one thing’s for sure: it will be an adventure worth writing about.

This phase of my reinvented blog is still so new that I’m not exactly sure what shape it will take. All I know is that I want to share my writing journey with my fellow creatives and learn from them, as well. I want to continue to hone my craft and write stories that will entertain as well as inspire. I want to experience the uncertainties, the storms, and the trials of my Act II so that I can look back with no regrets at the end of Act III.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

 

What new chapter is tempting you to open it? Leave a comment or tweet me @dandersontyler.

Keep Shining, (1)

 

[1] Michael Hyatt has said perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. Well, I think preparation is its brother. There’s only so much preparing you can do before you just have to take that leap into the unknown and uncomfortable.

[2] I talk about my eating disorder at length in my memoir published last year, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God’s Love.

[3] I will go to my mom’s house soon and take and post photos of the bins full of short stories and wannabe novels I wrote as a baby writer.

[4] The next novel will be released sometime next year, while the fitness book, Perfect Fit: Couples Edition, will be published this spring!

The Crucial Missing Ingredient in Your Workout

The Crucial Missing Ingredient in Your Warmup

Hello, everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week full of delicious, healthy food and fun, fantastic workouts! In this week’s post, I thought I’d discuss something that will enhance your workouts while simultaneously decreasing your risk of injury.

For most of us, exercise can only compose a small part of our day, say an hour before work or 30 minutes during our lunch break. As such, we get into the gym and, understandably, devote all our precious time and attention to the weights (or to your preferred form of cardio if you’re giving the dumbbells a break!). While weightlifting is undeniably important, it needs to be supplemented with the following activity to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training. The missing ingredient is…

A Specific Warmup

When I visit different gyms, I often see people warm up for a few minutes by jogging on the treadmill, cycling on the recumbent bike, or rowing on the ergometer. When they get off their machine of choice, it is easy to see by their red faces and sweaty clothes that, technically, they’re “warmed up.” A general warmup such as what I’ve just mentioned is an excellent way to begin your warmup, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do before jumping into your main routine.

My friend Michael Prince, owner and trainer at 360 Fitness in my hometown of Tyler, Texas, taught me years ago that our muscles and our joints need to be specifically prepared for whatever exercises await them. Our muscles and joints are like rubber bands. If they’re cold, they’ll snap, but if they’re nice and warm, they’ll be resilient, responsive, and flexible. Movements like arm circles and arm swings are a great way to warm up the shoulders, whereas front-to-back leg swings and cross-the-body leg swings while holding onto something stable is recommended for warming up the hips.

After you’ve warmed up your shoulders and/or hips – depending on what you’re training – it’s time to move on to movements that more closely resemble what you’ll be doing in your workout. For example, if you’re planning to work out your chest with exercises such as the dumbbell bench press or cable flies, doing a set of 20 push-ups, whether regular, incline, or knee push-ups, is a terrific way to activate your pectoral muscles, as well as your stabilizing core muscles around your lower back and abdomen. If you’re working out your back, doing a set of light dumbbell rows followed by a set of assisted pull-ups will wake up the pulling muscles you want properly engaged during heavier sets.

You get the idea! Just jumping into your workout after hopping off the treadmill not only prohibits your muscles from gradually acclimating, if you will, to the loads that will yield strength gains and muscle hypertrophy, but it also increases your risk of injury. Below you will find a specific warmup from my most recent chest workout. As a general warmup, I did five minutes of steady-state rowing on the ergometer, which got my blood pumping and body warm! This will give you an idea of the amount of time and number of exercises that should precede your main workout. If you’d like more warmup ideas, please tweet me @dandersontyler!

 

A few of our CrossFitters at my and my husband's gym, CrossFit 925, doing around-the-worlds!
A few of our CrossFitters at my and my husband’s gym, CrossFit 925, doing around-the-worlds!

NOTE: Each of the following movements can be easily modified to suit your personal fitness level. Use a weight at which you can safely perform the given number of repetitions.

Specific Warmup:

30 small arm circles, forward and reverse

30 medium arm circles, forward and reverse

30 arm swings

20 PVC pass-throughs

10 PVC around-the-worlds each direction

20 incline push-ups (do regular push-ups if incline push-ups are too easy)

15 side dumbbell raises with 7-pound dumbbells

15 front dumbbell raises with 7-pound dumbbells

15 overhead dumbbell presses with 7-pound dumbbells

50 flat bench dumbbell presses with 7-pound dumbbells

After that, I did two warmup sets of my first exercise, which happened to be flat bench dumbbell presses. I did one set of 15 repetitions with 20 pounds, one set of 12 with 25 pounds, and then began my first working set of 12 reps with 35 pounds.

 

Exercise Instructions, in the order listed above

Arm Circles:

  1. Stand in a neutral position with feet hip-width apart. Your arms should be straight out to the sides so your body forms a “T.”
  2. Begin making slow circles in a forward motion with your arms, then gradually make larger ones and complete the given number of repetitions. Do 30 small-to-medium-sized circles, then 30 medium-to-large-sized circles.

Arm Swings:

  1. Stand with feet comfortably apart, knees slightly bent, arms at shoulder level.
  2. Stretch arms straight out to the side and back behind you, contracting shoulder blades together. Then, bring them all the way across the torso, gradually speeding up and increasing the range of motion.

PVC Pass-Throughs:

  1. Hold a PVC pipe or broomstick, and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the PVC with a wide grip at your waist, palms facing to the rear.
  3. Keeping your arms locked out, bring the PVC overhead and down to your lower back.
  4. Return the PVC to the starting position by passing it back over your head.
  5. Try to bring your hands closer together after few repetitions as your chest and shoulders open up. If you have to bend your elbows, your hands are too close together.

PVC Around-the-Worlds:

  1. Hold a PVC pipe or broomstick, and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the PVC with a wide grip. The movement is like the pass-through exercise, except you’re moving one shoulder through at a time. Think of punching your right hand down to the floor as your left hand comes up over your ear, moving all the way to the back. Follow with the right hand punching the left hand down to the floor.
  3. Switch directions, leading with the left hand, and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

Incline Push-Ups:

  1. Place hands on a bench or plyometric box. Spread your hands so that they are slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. Feet are slightly apart, legs straight with weight in your toes.
  2. Bend your arms as your body slowly lowers to the bench or box. Make sure your entire body is straight by keeping your navel pulled in towards your spine.
  3. Concentrate on your chest muscles as you push your body back up to the starting position.

Side Lateral Raises:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells resting at your sides. Your knees and elbows should be slightly bent, bellybutton pulled in.
  2. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, raise upper arms to your sides until elbows are at shoulder height. Maintain elbows’ height at above or equal to your wrists.
  3. Lower and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

Front Dumbbell Raises:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, dumbbells resting on the tops of your thighs. Your knees and elbows should be slightly bent, bellybutton pulled in.
  2. Keeping a slight bend in the elbows, raise your arms to the front of your body until the dumbbells are level with your eyes.
  3. Lower and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

Overhead Dumbbell Presses:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and lift dumbbells the sides of your shoulders, palms facing out. Your knees should be slightly bent, bellybutton pulled in.
  2. On an exhale, press the dumbbells over your head until elbows are locked out.
  3. Lower and repeat for the given number of repetitions.

Flat Bench Dumbbell Presses:

  1. Lying on your back on a bench, hold a light pair of dumbbells directly above your chest with your arms fully extended.
  2. Pull your shoulder blades together, slightly stick out your chest, and point your palms forward.
  3. Slowly lower both dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Pause, then press the dumbbells back to the starting position. Repeat for the given number of repetitions.

For over 100 at-home workouts, check out my book Perfect Fit!

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How to FAIL at Your Goals

HOW TO FAIL AT YOUR GOALS

HOW TO FAIL AT YOUR GOALS

 

Over the holidays, many of us spent some time making New Year’s resolutions and likely reflected on the 2015 resolutions that were unmet, or altogether forgotten. As you read this post, I ask that you keep track of whether you’ve done the following things that almost guarantee goal failure. When you come across a tip that describes your goal-setting habits, jot down a note. It’s my hope that by recognizing the mistakes we’ve made in the past, we will be better prepared to conquer the future. By proactively preventing setbacks and carefully bypassing pitfalls, we will look back on 2016 with satisfaction…and with a brand new set of goals to chase!

Without further ado, here’s the surefire recipe for…failure!

Set Lackluster Goals

The first step to failing at a goal is to make sure it isn’t compelling in the slightest. When you talk about a goal, you should yawn. When you think about it, your mind should wander to a thousand other things. And if it were tangible and could be held in your hands…wait…you wouldn’t want to hold it because it would be the complete antithesis of all cute cats and micro pigs that have gone viral on YouTube.

A successful goal is just the opposite. It would make your eyes light up when you talked about it. Your heart would start beating just a little faster when you thought about it. If you could hold it in your hand, it would glitter and glow and stimulate all five senses (an iPhone on steroids comes to mind).

You get the picture! To ensure goal failure, make it boring, burdensome, and to really seal the deal, make it because someone else is pressuring you to.

Have Too Many Goals

Not only should your goals be underwhelming, they should also be numerous. While “numerous” varies from person to person, it’s safe to say that more than seven goals in the course of a year is generally unattainable. Having just three to seven goals is manageable for most people, while anything more than that often feels like trying to navigate a unicycle through four lanes of traffic…blindfolded.

Make Your Goals Abstract

Now that you have a lot of lackluster goals, make sure they’re really, really vague. Instead of deciding you want to lose 15 pounds, just say you want to lose weight. And rather than saying you want to complete the first draft of a children’s novel, “write a book” will suffice. Want to organize your closet and donate old clothes to a charity by May 1st? Don’t say that. Just say “declutter closet,” and you’ll be sure to fail. Specific goals will only lead to success.

Make Sure Your Goals Don’t Scare You

To fail at a goal, make sure it isn’t frightening. It shouldn’t make you doubt whether you have what it takes to reach it. It shouldn’t make you feel a smidgen of uncertainty as you weigh the potential risks involved – there should be no risks! Risk implies you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone, and that is a no-no for failure.

Remaining comfortable and complacent will never enable growth, which leads to goal attainment. Think back to your greatest moments of growth: What was the process like? Was it easy? My guess is it wasn’t. Growth rarely is. So to stick with the same ol’, same ol’ and kick your goals to the curb, just stay put.

Compelling goals take you outside your comfort zone

Don’t Have Measurable Goals

Don’t record anything. If you’ve set an abstract “write-a-book” goal, don’t pay any attention to how many pages you write each week. Don’t have daily word-count goals to shoot for. If you want to be able to do a pull-up without the assistance of a machine or a partner, don’t record your workouts or keep up with how many days you’re training per week. Doing so would give you the advantage of tracking your progress. That’s no way to fail!

Don’t Write Your Goals Down

This goes hand in hand with the above tip. You’d be 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down, so do yourself a favor and don’t do it![1]

An idea is just a dream until you write it down

Don’t Set Deadlines

If your current job doesn’t require you to meet any deadlines, then think back to your school days when there was a deadline for everything. This created a sense of urgency and motivated you to be diligent, disciplined, and to stay on track lest you, well, fail. To fail at a goal, words like “discipline” and “motivation” need to be absent from your vocabulary.

Deadlines also help the successful balance their workload. They allow people to reach their goals by taking small steps toward them rather than brash, ill-advised leaps. And every time they achieve a miniature goal, they feel absolutely incredible and all the more motivated to soldier on.

Don’t Have a Plan of Action

Failed goals only have one step: make the goal. There is no plan after that, which, needless to say, produces dismal results.

Successful goal setting involves not only setting the primary goal, but forming a concrete plan of attack. For instance, a successful goal setter might decide she wants to “run three times a week for twenty minutes.” After the goal has been set, she will go to her calendar and decide a couple of things: which days she’s going to run, what time she’s going to run,where she’s going to run, and even where her alternative running location will be should it be rainy or freezing outside. Her specific goal became even more specific after her schedule was in place and she could visualize just how her road to success would unravel.

Procrastinate

Zig Ziglar said, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” To fail at a goal, wait until you’re great to start pursuing it. If you’re your own worst critic like the rest of us, you’ll be waiting a very, very, very long time.

Keep Your Goals Out of Sight

If, for some strange reason, you did write down your goals, have no fear – there’s still hope for failure! The idiom “out of sight, out of mind” perfectly applies here because as long as you cannot see your goals posted around you, say on your mirror or the fridge or taped to your computer, you won’t make the mistake of remembering to pursue them. There’s a good reason for the overabundance of billboards, commercials, and pop-up ads all around us: they get our attention! Successful goal-setters keep their written goals in plain view so they’re always reminded and inspired to make daily progress.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek “how-to” blog post! Please leave a comment or tweet me @dandersontyler – I’d love to hear about your goals and your journey to reaching them!

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[1] https://michaelhyatt.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-commit-your-goals-to-writing.html (accessed January 22, 2016)

Something to Smile About: Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

Something to Smile About: Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

Something to Smile About: Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

 

When I think of my father, which I do every day, I picture him always with a soft, warm, close-lipped smile. Those who were closest to him do the same. In fact, I truly cannot recall a time when he was red-faced with anger. Of course there were times when he was sad or frustrated, but they didn’t last long; his smile was always near the surface, ready to rise in his eyes like the breaking day.

My dad was a very strong man. He was a former college football player (a lineman), from a family of football players, and lifted weights all of his life. In fact, he’s the one who first introduced me to fitness and athletics by teaching me how to swing a racquet, dribble a basketball, bench press, and even barbell curl. (I still remember how proud I was – and how proud he was! – when I curled the 10-pound dumbbells for the first time!)

But far surpassing my father’s physical strength was his mental and spiritual fortitude. He didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve but instead faced every challenge and difficulty, no matter their size, with equanimity, integrity, and admirable aplomb. And he never let any situation suppress his infectious smile.

Hours before he died, my dad had printed out and brought home the lyrics to the famous Charlie Chaplin song, “Smile.” You’ll probably recognize the lyrics:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just
Smile

The first stanza was pointed to with an arrow drawn by my dad.

We won’t know until we meet him in Heaven again why he left those lyrics. One could question whether he might’ve known his time was short, perhaps even on a subconscious level. Others, like myself, might consider the possibility that the piece of spirit-lifting paper was inserted into the stack after his departure. God has, after all, allowed crazier things. But no matter the details, the fact remains that smiling was very much a part of who my dad was, and, might I add, who he is as one of the “just men made perfect” in Heaven with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[1] He loved to laugh and to make others laugh with his “punny” jokes of the day.

Blog on Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

 

As the world grows darker, my dad’s legacy of joy is one I thank God for daily. Knowing his time is short, Satan is on a rampage to steal our joy, destroy our peace, and rob us of hope. But we mustn’t let him. Even if it’s just with a simple smile when we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, or when we shudder at the evening news, maintaining our joy in the face of evil is paramount. It tells our enemies, those seen and unseen, that we are unbreakable and immovable. Not because we are stalwart beings composed of steel – we’re certainly not – but because we stand on the Rock of Ages, the King of Kings, the Lord or Lords, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Prince of Peace who came once as a Suffering Servant but will come again as a Conquering King!

Every single prophecy about Jesus’ life as the lowly Nazarene came to fruition with one-hundred percent accuracy. The prophecies regarding His imminent return are unfolding just as precisely. I don’t know about you, but the more I study His Word and see headlines lining up with ancient predictions, the more excited and less fearful I become.

Jesus said that when we begin to see end-time events taking place, we’re to “stand up and lift up [our] heads, because [our] redemption is drawing near.”[2]

How can we help but smile at the thought of that?

Blog on Smiling and Exuding Joy in the Midst of Darkness

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[1] Hebrews 12:23

[2] Luke 21:28, NIV

When God Says “Speak”: Stepping Out and Sharing Our Faith

WHEN GOD SAYS "SPEAK"

WHEN GOD SAYS "SPEAK"

 

“We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:4

 

When was the last time you talked to a total stranger about your faith in Christ? Or invited an unbelieving friend to church? Or asked a non-Christian if you could pray with them or for them? Or simply ended a greeting card with a scripture?

I don’t ask that to shame or condemn you, but to encourage you to think about a very real problem in the Church today, a problem that stems, I believe, from either a lack of faith, or a fear of man. And in some cases, both.

I was going to include statistics gathered from LifeWay research on the topic of “Sharing Christ,” but the fact is, anything less than 100 percent when it comes to the amount of Christians sharing the Gospel is unacceptable. (Click the footnote reference for the exact numbers.[1])

The Great Commission is one of the most well-known passages in the New Testament, spoken by Jesus Himself:

I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” –Matthew 28:18-20, NLT (emphasis mine)

Did Jesus say that only His 12 disciples should go and baptize and preach? No. Did He say that we must go to seminary and earn our Masters of Divinity and then make disciples? No. Did He say we must first memorize every Pauline epistle? No. Did He say we must be an elder in the church or a Sunday School teacher? No. The only prerequisite to sharing your faith in Christ is simply to have it.

Other commands, like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the poor, are easier for most of us to follow (Matthew 25:35-37). Doing those activities doesn’t require us to necessarily speak about our faith, much less ask people if they’ve accepted Christ as Lord. And nowadays, thanks to online donations, we don’t even have to make eye contact with the people we’re giving to. And because we have missionaries in our churches, they can do all the visiting for us.

I’ve been convicted for some time about my fear of sharing Jesus with not just strangers, but friends and family as well. I can’t tell you how nervous I was, just after losing my dad and grandmother, to call another family member and ask him if he knew where he’d be spending eternity. I knew God was prompting me to do it, but a voice in my head kept shouting, “You’ll make him uncomfortable! He’s not ready to talk about it!” Fortunately, my spirit answered back: “No one is ever ready because Satan loves to keep us ‘un-ready!’ To be uncomfortable is fleeting. Eternity in hell is forever.”

Talking to him lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. He assured me he had a relationship with Jesus Christ, and I felt emboldened to speak to others about the most important decision we can ever make. The Holy Spirit reminded me that it isn’t up to me to try and convince or convert, but to simply plant seeds for Him alone to water, and to testify about a love He alone can offer.

Witnessing to strangers still does not come easy. While getting a pedicure recently, the nail tech asked about my ankle tattoo (a Messianic seal[2]), and I had the pleasure to explain to her its meaning about Jews and Gentiles becoming one through the Messiah (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:14). But that was the extent of it; I still did not ask her about her beliefs. Next time I go, I plan to.

 

Blog on Sharing Your Faith with Others

 

Earlier this week, my mom shared with me a story that greatly inspired me. A friend of hers had just been by the house to visit and mentioned her ex brother-in-law who was dying in a nursing home not far away. My mom asked her friend if the man, David, knew the Lord, and she confessed she didn’t know.

After her friend left, my mom felt compelled to call the man who heads up her church’s Senior Adults Ministry, of which she is a part, to see if he’d like to go with her to visit the dying man. He said sure, that they could go the next day. My mom tried to take a nap after her phone call, but the Lord wouldn’t let her rest. Not until she visited David.

My mom got up and went to the nursing home. She was met in David’s room by his good friend Bobby who informed my mom that David’s organs were shutting down due to, according to his doctors, his excessive consumption of Monster energy drinks after having given up alcohol years ago.[3] My mom chatted with Bobby for the better part of an hour while David seemed to be glaring at her; it didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce she wasn’t welcome.

A nurse overheard Bobby and my mom talking. She said quietly to my mom, “I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but if there’s something you feel like you need to share with David, I would do so today.” As she walked away, my mom knew the time had come.

My mom told me it was all the Lord (she wanted me to emphasize that fact in this blog!). She didn’t have any lofty speech prepared, no fire and brimstone rhetoric. She only had the Holy Spirit and the fruit of His love and gentleness working through her.

She talked with David a bit about his falling out with the Catholic Church and assured him she wasn’t there to discuss Catholicism or any other denomination…only Jesus. She told him that he could have peace while facing death as well as the promise of everlasting life in heaven if he believed and declared that he’d made Jesus his Lord.[4]

My mom could feel David begin to soften. She looked him in the eye and asked him if he believed that Jesus had died for his sins and whether he believed He was God’s Son, and David said yes. She asked if she could pray with him, a sinner’s prayer, and he said yes. After she’d said amen, his whole countenance had changed. He was, what Paul called, “a new creation”.[5]

My mom called to check on David the following day and was told he was comatose. A month ago, the doctors had only given him three of four days to live, but God knew he had one more appointment to make, one He’d scheduled with my mom.

I hope you, like me, have been encouraged and inspired by my mom’s obedience. It isn’t easy to step outside our comfort zones and run the risk of being mocked or ridiculed. But maybe, just maybe, if we obey the Lord and take that risk, one day we’ll be met in heaven with individuals who will hug our necks and say, “Because of you, I’m here.”

 

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[1] http://www.lifeway.com/Article/research-survey-sharing-christ-2012 (accessed January 8, 2016)

[2] http://www.biblesearchers.com/hebrewchurch/synagogue/seal.shtml (accessed January 8, 2016)

[3] http://www.naturalhealthadvisory.com/daily/natural-health-101/is-monster-bad-for-you-3-things-you-need-to-know/ (accessed January 8, 2016)

[4] Romans 10:9

[5] 2 Corinthians 5:17

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