Sticks and stones

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

This children’s rhyme has been around a long time. How true it is depends largely on the individual. It depends on how strong you are, how resilient in the face of taunts, ridicule and discouragement, how grounded you are in the truth of this:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

It takes a strong person to let crass, crude or careless comments roll off her back. Even when the speaker is “merely” careless – and perhaps would take back that unintentionally hurtful comment as soon as it hit the airwaves, if she could – words can and do hurt. We must take care with our own words and the words spoken to us by others. We can’t control what others say or think about us; we can only control our own words and our reactions to others’. And we can control what we say and think about ourselves.

The only way I can do it is to be grounded daily in the truth of Jesus.

I’m not always good at it. It’s easy to get sidetracked in the busyness of life, forget His words – which give life (John 6:68) – and let the meanness of the world sneak up behind me, spin me around and smack my fragile ego in the face.

What’s worse than letting others talk smack about me is when I do it to myself.

In controlling our words, it is not just about what we say to others. I would submit that we speak much more devastating words to ourselves, in the privacy of our own minds, than we ever would dare utter to another person.

I won’t give you my personal hit list – I’ll let you use your imagination, because you probably have a  list of your own. But there are words and phrases we women have in common, particularly when we’re focusing on our bodies and losing weight (and, let’s be honest, when are we not focusing on our bodies?). Some of them we say in the presence of others, and some we say to ourselves (either silently or aloud).

We were bad because we fell off the wagon. We cheated and don’t deserve good things. This evil food must be avoided. We have fat thighs, stomachs, hips. We will never succeed. We always mess up! We’re stupid for even thinking we could do this. (OK, so some of these are on my personal list.)

We even have special phrases for (supposedly) getting ourselves to abstain from a particularly delicious yet fattening food.

“A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” (Whoever came up with that one must hate dark chocolate, and garlic bread, and key lime pie …)

“No pain, no gain.” (Usually used in reference to exercise – and it’s literally true, to a point. But it has been used in dieting, too, although the hoped-for “gain” is actually a loss.)

At some point in a person’s journey to wholeness, the words and phrases made up by desperate dieters start sounding hollow. I realize that a pithy phrase can capture the spirit of the moment and create a new way of looking at things. Some of them have even helped me, and will help me in the future. (I’m partial to Garfield the cat’s line, “Diet is Die with a T.”) But relying on man’s wisdom (and my own off-kilter way of looking at things) is what got me to where I am: a lumpy, out-of-shape mess who has three sizes of clothing in her closet. By the grace of God, I haven’t resorted to some of the crazy things others have tried: diet pills, laxatives, colonics (if you don’t know, don’t ask), starvation, intentional vomiting. But I have said lots of crazy, unkind, untrue things to myself.

Bottom line: Grounding ourselves in the truth of Jesus and letting Him be our strength is the only way to wholeness.

Over the years I have come to cherish these words of the apostle Paul:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).

Paul had more than his share of hardships, persecutions and insults. In these verses, he isn’t telling us to go looking for insults, but if we know Whose we are, we can take anything the world hurls at us.

Just don’t let yourself be the one doing the hurling.

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Yes, you can

My weight-loss spreadsheet is looking good now. I finally got all the formulas fixed and have updated all the projected pounds lost, so I have a pretty concrete date for reaching my approximate goal weight of 160 pounds (Feb. 10, 2012 – just in time for Valentine’s chocolate!). This is assuming I work hard and stick to the program.

I’ve had a few days of overindulging (my Indulge Friday wasn’t confined to Friday last week), although I didn’t go too overboard. But I decided that 0.6 pounds a week was a wimpy, cheater goal, and I’m going to go for it and make the weekly goal a full pound.

I’m also rethinking my Indulge Fridays. Still pondering that. I may change it to one indulgent meal a week rather than an entire day. I don’t want to get too stringent, but I had fattening meals three days in a row last week and am feeling yucky about it, mentally. (Wednesday I ate a burger and fries because I forgot that the Business & Professionals lunch at First Baptist on Thursday was going to have the awesome homemade chicken pot pie, then there was Friday night’s mac-and-cheese extravaganza).

I’m a bit frustrated that my foot hasn’t healed enough to get on the road again (did I really think it would heal in two weeks? No. Yes!) I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I’m anxious to get out there and run again. I guess the running bug bit me hard, once my body got over the initial shock of exercising again after such a long period of lethargy.

I’m doing stretching exercises with both feet, and today I stuck a fluffy pink house-shoe on my left foot inside the boot so that I could have a bit of arch support and some cushioning. The bottom inside of the boot is totally flat (and hard), and I definitely need arch support. I’m thinking of taking my workout gear to the office and trying out the recumbent bike in the basement. I’ve been on it a couple of times recently and really prefer the treadmill, but my foot just can’t handle the pounding right now.

Part of the reason I’m so antsy is that it’s so difficult for me to build lung capacity (I have issues), and I don’t want to lose the progress I made in the 10 weeks of the Women Can Run clinic. My lungs are a bigger deal than my legs when it comes to building endurance. If I’m off too long, I’ll get lazy and get out of the habit of running. So I just want this foot to heal!

Tonight we had our first Run for God Bible study. It’s a 12-week program for all levels of runner, beginning to advanced. It is designed not only to train participants for a 5k race but to help them get better at sharing their faith.

Tonight our class began with a video, the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt. So now that you’ve listened to me whine about my food and my foot, click on either (or both) of the videos below and you’ll see what a big baby I am in comparison to this father-and-son team. Their message: Yes, you can.

The first one is the video we saw in class, followed by another version of their story (there are many) that I found on YouTube. The first one is visually moving because of the images, and the wonderful song adds to the drama; this video will make you grab for the box of tissues. I like the second one because there is more than just music; Dick Hoyt tells the story of his son’s life and why they “run” together.

If their story doesn’t move you, your gears are stuck.

I Can Only Imagine

(Note: Richard Holcomb, the guy at the beginning of the next video, has nothing to do with the Hoyts’ story. The two stories are apparently part of a TV news feature or maybe a documentary.)

Yes, You Can

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Patience: I want it NOW!

In Wednesday’s post, I wrote about how we’ve become afraid to celebrate with rich foods. (You’ll notice that more than once I included the phrase “in moderation.”)

Today I tip the scale in the other direction, to the topic of overindulgence.

I don’t have to tell you that overindulgence is what has got us into this obesity mess we’re in. Most of the time our problem isn’t that we’re afraid to eat but that we eat way too much, especially of the wrong things.

No one’s saying you need to eat celery sticks and rice cakes every day, perform death-defying feats of aerobic activity, weigh 98 pounds (unless you’re under 5 feet tall) or gag every time you look at your thighs in a mirror.

Some women try those things and end up anorexic, bulimic, institutionalized – or dead.

The key to healthy living – as with most things in life – is moderation. Balance. Patience.

(I write this as I finish scarfing down a huge bowl of macaroni and cheese, but please remember that today is Indulge Friday for me – the to heck with sensible eating day I allow myself every week.)

This morning at work I wrote a couple of things on a little scrap of paper:

•       “Don’t eat stuff you don’t fully enjoy just because it’s there. And certainly don’t eat a big serving of it!” I wrote this after eating a little heart-shaped cake with lemon icing that I found in the break room. (I think the two big boxes of mini-cakes were left over from last night’s wedding shower.) Not until I was finished eating did I realize that A) those “little” cakes were really about 1 1/2 to 2 serving sizes, and B) I was satisfied about halfway through but didn’t notice until I was finished because I was busy thumbing through a stack of magazines someone had left on the table. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about food, it’s that you should pay attention to it while you’re consuming it; otherwise you’ll eat way more than you intended and you won’t receive pleasure from it. (Studies bear this out.) It’s what my friend Sheila and I call “mindful eating.”

•       “Don’t fool yourself into thinking a little bit of exercise (or self-restraint with food) won’t help.” We tend to think it’s all or nothing. But, just as I believe that one person can make a difference in whatever world-changing pursuit you’re passionate about, one step at a time is what it takes to make meaningful, long-lasting changes to your body, your mind and your life. Baby steps. And patience. It will happen.

Patience is the P in Bruce’s acronym for being a good runner: BEEP (balance, efficiency, effort, patience).

Today I was tweaking my Biggest Loser spreadsheet and projecting my future weight loss (I update it after every weigh-in). For some reason I’ve been using 0.6 pounds as my projection standard, although some weeks I lose a whole pound, some weeks it’s 0.8 and some weeks more than a pound. (Someday I’ll post my actual numbers for you to see. And I will be happy to e-mail you the spreadsheet so you can customize it for yourself – I’ve set it up to do the math for you.)

So, if I stay on track with the arbitrarily chosen 0.6 pounds a week, it’s going to be mid-July before I reach the 20-pound mark (and buy my cute little reward shoes)!

That is annoying as heck, but it is sensible. And patient. (I could get on my soapbox and rant about the rapid-weight-loss products advertised on TV and in magazines, but I hope you know how dangerous, unrealistic and temporary they are without my having to tell you. I will spare you the rant. Unless you believe the advertising, in which case you need a good rant.)

Losing a pound a week wouldn’t be unrealistic, but I also know this about myself: If I set a weight-loss goal too high and miss the mark too often, I’ll get discouraged and be more likely to veer off course. I’d rather set it at 0.6, take it slowly and ease into the habits I’ve been practicing. Slow is better than fast when it comes to changing your body composition (Suzy’s Scientific Opinion No. 969, not necessarily endorsed by the medical community).

This journey is a marathon, not a sprint.

Be kind to yourself. Take it slowly. Realize that, if you’re overweight and out of shape, you didn’t get into this condition overnight and you won’t get out of it overnight. If you do, you’re doing it wrong. Call me, and I’ll rant at you.

In a future post: using positive words – about food and about ourselves.

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Gut reaction

“And Nehemiah continued, ‘Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!’ ” (Nehemiah 8:10, New Living Translation).

I was preparing to write today’s post on Nehemiah 5-9 for my church’s Connect+Scripture blog when that verse hit me between the eyes – or should I say punched me in the gut. (My gut is the part of my anatomy that comes to mind when I read it.)

The occasion in Nehemiah was a celebration of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, which had been torn down when the Temple of God was destroyed and the Israelites were taken captive to Babylon decades earlier.

Now the Temple had been restored, the wall had been rebuilt and generations of exiles had returned home.

It was a time of celebration!

Why did Nehemiah 8:10 speak to me with such force? After reading of all that the great leader Nehemiah had done to help the Israelites restore the city wall (he organized, planned, inspired, admonished and defended, demonstrating not only his leadership skills but his great love of the God for whom the Temple was built), I noticed in particular the phrase, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks.”

We have become ashamed of eating.

In our overweight, self-indulgent, image-obsessed, dying-to-be-thin, dying-because-we’re-fat, out-of-control society, we have lost the pure pleasure of eating in celebration of what’s good. Oh, sure, some of us can enjoy ourselves temporarily, while we’re feasting, but how many of us can say we are left with not one ounce of guilt afterward?

I’m not talking about gluttony, but of the pure, true enjoyment (in moderation) of well-prepared food and the fellowship that almost always makes it taste better.

I am not immune to the contradictions. I have found myself smack dab in the middle of the tug of war: One minute I’m an epicure, a glutton; the next, an ascetic who worships at the altar of self-denial. The accompanying emotions might battle it out for space in my brain at any given time.

No wonder the world is crazy; most of us can’t decide whether the piece of cake we’re contemplating should be angel’s food (fat free, and therefore “virtuous”) or devil’s food (chocolate, and therefore “sinful”). We’ve even created a moral vocabulary for our food insanity: “sinfully delicious,” “those evil brownies,” “She’s thin; we hate her.”

We have gotten so off track we can’t enjoy a piece of chocolate without feeling guilty. And I’m here to tell you, I believe chocolate is one of God’s greatest gifts (I secretly believe and fervently hope there will be chocolate in heaven).

I believe it’s time we got healthy – in our minds, our hearts and our vocabularies (our bodies will follow). In Bible times, God ordained times of celebration (and rich foods) for his children.

I am one of those children, and I’m on a journey to wholeness. It’s a lifelong journey, but it includes appreciating good food, eating it in moderation, being thankful for where it came from, sharing it with those less fortunate and letting it nourish my body (and soul) – one delicious bite at a time.

“So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them” (Nehemiah 8:12, NLT).

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A good week

So many things to tell:

  • Saturday morning, I get to have coffee! It’s the first Saturday morning coffee I’ll have been able to drink since the running clinic began in February. Why can’t I drink coffee before running? It’s the pee factor. I mentioned it in an earlier post, and I’m not gonna tell you again. (You’re welcome.)
  • My employer is open to the idea of a healthy-workplace initiative! We met Monday morning, and he started telling me some of the things we’ll implement (such as putting fresh fruit in the main break room in addition to the Friday morning doughnuts, all courtesy of the bank). I’ve done lots of reading on the initiatives in other workplaces, and it has got me excited all over again! I had no idea there was so much information out there, much of it from folks who are doing it right.
  • The reason I get to drink coffee tomorrow morning is the same reason I can’t run the local 5K that all my women-running (running-women?) friends – and some male friends – will be participating in: It’s these darned crutches and “the boot.” I should be rid of them soon, but I’m trying not to overdo. And running another race this soon would certainly fall into the category of overdoing. And I never overdo – just ask Bruce. (On second thought, don’t.)
  • We have the Crohn’s fundraising walk in Little Rock on Saturday evening (yes, evening. Why evening? I have no idea). Click here to donate to our team (Team Taylor Trotters) if you have a spare dollar or two. Any amount will be appreciated.
  • I plan to watch a lot of Food Network tomorrow morning, too – until I have to go gas up the car and run a few errands before we leave for LR.
  • Today was the second week of our second round of Biggest Loser at work. I lost a pound. I wonder how the other ladies did. Great, I hope. I made myself a spreadsheet and projected out several weeks – even beyond the BL challenges – to see how long it should take me to reach my goal. I’ll share more about that later. BUT I’m only 7.6 pounds from my next reward: summer sandals. And I will have the ER doctor’s endorsement of the kind I want – a cute pair of wedges, perhaps espadrilles, which have come back around in style (I know, it’s shocking that I would mention wanting to buy something that’s in style in the same decade that it’s actually in style). Anyway, Doc told me to wear high heels to help my plantar fasciitis. Go figure.

It’s bedtime, so that’s all the happiness I can talk about for now. More later. Gotta get up early and drink that big cup of coffee!

 

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Welcome, race fans

What an eventful day.

It started with a 3:45 a.m. wakeup before even the sun was up (I was actually awake long before the alarm came on – not because I was excited about the race but because I wake up every morning between 3 and 4 – darn hormones!).

Today was the Women Run Arkansas clinic’s graduation event in Conway – our 5K race. It was the culmination of 10 weeks of training – in the rain, the cold, the heat, the sunshine, all kinds of weather, all kinds of fitness levels, all kinds of women. Women from a wide range of ages, professions, personalities and philosophies. Women who made me smile, laugh, work harder and push myself farther than I thought I could go in 10 weeks.

Out of the 1,925 women registered for today’s race, the Batesville contingent showed up in force – all 65 of us – our bright orange race shirts blazing a trail to the finish line. That 65 didn’t include the half-dozen men who came to support us – our coaches and spouses, all sporting bright orange shirts of their own.

When you get that many women together, the excitement is palpable (if you’ve done Race for the Cure you know what I’m talking about). It starts for the individual before she even arrives at the race site and doesn’t fade until, oh, maybe the next day. I’m exhausted but still pumped up about this day in my personal history.

I had done this clinic 10 years ago in Sherwood, but I don’t remember making friends with the other women as I’ve done this time. Nothing against Sherwood – we had awesome leaders and participants there, too – but there has just been something about this group of Batesville women that will leave a lifelong impression on me.

We have each other’s backs.

I need to check the official results once they’re posted, but Amber from our group was able to holler out my finish time when the results were printed and taped to the white van: 35:32. I think I had told Bruce I wanted to finish in “under 40” (I always have to ask him what I said – I can never remember, plus he’s my stats guy). I finished 402nd overall.

I have to give a shout-out to Maggie, who helped me finish the last 10th of a mile or so, UPHILL (if you don’t think .1 miles is a big deal, even on a flat surface, get out of your car and jog it sometime – when you’re already out of breath). And, by the way, I have a long list of Things that Should be Illegal, and making the last part of a race – of any distance – UPHILL has moved to No. 1 on the list.

Thursday night at our Batesville pasta party we saw a video featuring a young woman who ran a marathon, smiling all the way (she must have been insane). Her mantra was “I love hills …  I love hills.” And that crazy chick was still smiling when she got to the finish line! Do you know how long a marathon is? It’s 26.2 miles, honey. And this woman smiled the whole way!

But back to me.

When Maggie jogged back to take me in to the finish line, I breathlessly told her, “Tell me I love hills.”

“You love hills,” she said.

Now, I don’t remember this next part, but Jessica told me about it later, because she apparently was nearby when it happened, and it amused her.

After Maggie said to me, “You love hills,” I screamed, with my second-to-last ounce of strength: “KEEP SAYING IT!”

Jessica said it cracked her up. I don’t remember it, but it sounds like me.

As I’ve said to many people in the past couple of weeks, most of the trick with running is above the shoulders. Attitude is 99 percent of it (and a good bra helps, too). I have to tell my brain things it doesn’t really believe, such as “I love hills.” And when I don’t have enough oxygen to speak it myself (because it has to be said out loud), I have the Maggies and Janies and Jessicas and Jennifers and Ambers and Suzannes and Phyllises and Lisas and Theresas and Catinas to say it to me. What cheerleaders we have in this group!

I am happy to say that a bunch of us are going to continue our routine – to keep the fitness mojo going. Bruce is going to coach us, and we start Tuesday night at the cemetery (!), just as though the clinic had not ended.

I say “we,” but that leads me to the next part of the story. Here’s me tonight, a few hours after hobbling off the racecourse (note the concern in Salsa’s wagging tail):

This evening my mom talked me into going to the ER (after I called to ask if she still had my Papa’s crutches).

Apparently it’s not a stress fracture but merely a severe case of plantar fasciitis. I had been feeling the pain in both feet all week, but especially the left one and especially right before the race. I managed to run the race, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I started limping (kinda makes ya wonder how I could even finish the race, doesn’t it?).

By the time we got out of the car in Searcy to have lunch, I was hobbling to the sandwich shop. Which kinda hints at plantar fasciitis, because that condition is worse after you’ve been off the foot for a while (many people have their worst pain first thing in the morning).

This is a recurrence of a problem I had 10 years ago (last time I did the clinic), but never did it get this severe.

When the ER nurse asked me my pain level on a scale of 1-10 and I had to stop and think, Bruce said, “Remember you crawled down the hallway on your hands and knees this afternoon.” Good point. Pain level: 10.5.

So the ER doc put me in a walking boot and sent me home with crutches and a prescription for ibuprofen. I’ll be in the boot for 7-10 days, and I hope to be back on the running circuit in a couple of weeks. (I’m going to play it by ear.)

So, ladies of the Batesville clinic, if you’re reading this, know that you may see me Tuesday night, but instead of having my running shoes and my sports watch, I’ll be sporting an ugly boot and carrying a book. I may sit by the duck pond and read while you guys sweat along with Coach Bruce. And know this: Because I, too, am insane, I will wish I were taking every step with you.

I love you guys!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, LADIES!

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I’m such a loser!

After our final Biggest Loser weigh-in this morning at work, we losers received this e-mail:

“We have a winner! Congrats to Suzy for a wonderful 5.52% weight loss! Request for another 12 weeks has been made. If you are interested, please let me know.”

After spending a few seconds basking in the glow of my loss-win, I e-mailed back and said I was “in” for the next go-round (and apparently so did all the other participants). Our leader said this morning’s results would be our baseline for the next 12 weeks, and instead of a $2 entry fee, it would be $5. Sweet! So I went to collect my $18 in winnings for the first victory and handed her a $5 bill out of the envelope.

If you’ve been reading Suzy & Spice for the past few weeks, you know I didn’t enter the contest to win a few bucks; I entered because I needed the accountability and motivation that had been so lacking in my efforts to that point.

About a month ago (two-thirds of the way into our BL contest), I finally got the mojo. At that point, I began thinking like a winner. I knew I was going to be victorious, even if someone else won the contest (success doesn’t always mean coming in first). And I’d like to point out something I had forgotten until I started looking at my stats this morning: I didn’t hear about the contest until Day 5, so the other participants had nearly a week’s head start on me. No matter; I was destined to be on this journey to fitness, so here I am, 11.4 pounds lighter (today’s weight: 195) and determined to keep going.

And if you read my April 13 post, you know I had a big idea that sort of sprang from that: to propose a healthy-workplace initiative to the CEO of my company. I e-mailed him this morning, asked him to read the 4/13 post and give me the opportunity to pitch him the idea. He graciously agreed and told me to get with his assistant and make an appointment for next week. I’m meeting with him Monday morning!

Also giving me the impetus to pitch the idea to my CEO was last night’s appearance by Mayor Rick Elumbaugh at the local Women Run Arkansas pre-race pasta party (our “graduation” is tomorrow morning – a 5k race in Conway – and 65 women from the Batesville clinic are registered!).

Mayor Elumbaugh spoke about many things, including the Growing Healthy Communities initiative that Batesville became a part of in 2010, and his 2009 heart attack.

He was and is a runner, very fit in general. His health scare wasn’t because of obesity but because of high cholesterol. He urged every attendee last night to find out his or her total cholesterol (both HDL and LDL, or what Drs. Roizen and Oz call “Healthy” and “Lousy” cholesterol in their excellent and motivating book YOU: On a Diet).

I wish I had taken notes last night, because the mayor had so many good things to say, but I definitely will be seeking an audience with him or his staff next week, even if my meeting with Mr. CEO doesn’t go as I expect it to. If I am not able to spark a fire at work, I at least want to be involved in the healthy-community initiative and, more to the point, a healthy-family initiative.

(Don’t worry, Mom, I’m not going to try to round up all the relatives and make them start exercising and eating better. I’m just talking about my immediate household: my sweetie and me.)

Here’s where you, my dear friends, come in. At the end of the April 13 post, I solicited healthy-workplace ideas but received no suggestions. This time it is closer to becoming an actual thing – still just an idea in my tiny little brain, but a step in the right direction. So I will need everyone’s help in figuring out how to make this go. It will be a big project. I would welcome your thoughts and, as always, your prayers.

This is a big idea, and I may get shot down before it goes anywhere, but I have always believed this:

ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Please post comments with your ideas and information (send Web addresses if you have them).

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Book review: ‘On This Day in Christian History’ by Robert J. Morgan

As some of you know, Bruce and I have been trying to sell our house in North Little Rock for nearly a year (May 8 is the anniversary of our “coming home” to Batesville). It has been a long wait, and we’re still waiting, hoping and praying.

If you knew me several years ago, you know I used to be pretty impatient. I like to think I have improved, with God’s help and a recognition of my problem. Still, when things like two mortgages, medical bills and a spouse living on disability income are a daily reality, I sometimes forget my “gift of the spirit” and get mighty impatient with God’s timing.

That’s why I’m thankful for the book On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes by Robert J. Morgan.

Today I was reading this book at lunchtime in my car (my “quiet place”), and the entry about Paul – probably the greatest evangelist of all time – hit me hard. Paul talked a lot about patience and accepting and learning from the obstacles of life – and he certainly had his share of hardship. This particular story talks about his shipwreck on Malta on his way to Rome after a two-year imprisonment in Caesarea.

If anyone had cause to be impatient, it was Paul. His utmost goal was to proclaim “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). God blessed him for that, but man did everything in his power to stop him, delay him, discourage him, obstruct him and in all other ways try to keep him from proclaiming the Good News. Yet he persevered.

Paul has taught me a lot about patience. One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:11: “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” This line has stuck with me since I was in my 20s (or maybe even my teens), although I have not always acted accordingly.

Paul is an inspiration to me, and, as the book points out:

“It was not in due time – but in divine time – that Paul reached Rome. His nerves held steady in the storm. His spirit remained patient in delay.

“He knew how to wait on his God.”

On This Day in Christian History is full of such stories, although you may not have heard of many of the people featured, or at least know much about them. Most of them are not “Bible characters” but mere historical figures whose names were in many ways obscure. Some were martyrs, some not, but all were heroes of the faith.

If you need the courage to persevere amid trials, pick up this book and be inspired (or check the church library, where I plan to donate my copy).

This review is part of my agreement with BookSneeze. The publisher sends me a free book, and I agree to post a review of it on my blog and one other online publication. No pressure is put on me to write a positive review – just an honest one. (Click here to learn how you can get in on this sweet deal.)

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