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The Hour-Long Journey

 

My Mama loved singing, “In the Garden” because she loved the intimate moments with the Lord. I love them too. From the morning sunrises, the fluttering butterflies, the birds who visit… and being in His word, praying in the prayer room – a special place.

As I delight in the Love gifts of the sunrises and nature scenes that move me so, I am thankful and grateful. But just acknowledging someone’s Love gestures, isn’t what makes the relationship – we also must get to know more and more about them. We need to be interested in THEM, not just what they do for us. And so, being with God is more than just the sunrises and sunsets for me.

As He continues to teach me throughout my life, I would love to think I know Him pretty well by now, but there is still always more. I love Him for that. That He created me with a thirst for knowledge, for wisdom, and to use it for the good. His good.

I love when I remember to ask Him what His plans are for the day, instead of telling Him mine. I love being quiet and being still, and …listening.

Sometimes, listening happens when we aren’t being still. When we are moving, and going about our day, yet still acknowledging His presence and asking Him about His day… in the beginning of the day. “What are Your plans for the day, Lord? How do they involve me?” And, “Lord, will You please nudge me a little harder if there is something You want me to be aware of, because my schedule is full today and I don’t want to miss any opportunity You give me to do for Your Kingdom.”

When we take just a few moments to show interest in HIS plans for the day, it won’t matter if we have a busy day lined up or not. Start it with Him, ask Him, He will be in it. He IS in it.

This morning, I walked in the garden… actually, along a county road. It wasn’t the stroll through the garden my Mama would take as she watered and nurtured the plants and flowers she loved so. No, my walk was a brisk power-walk so that I could get my heart rate up and be active. But instead of counting eight times around my driveway loop, I felt like walking off course.

Right now, I am recovering from shoulder/neck pain, from when I stopped going to the chiropractor last year. My bones want to move out of alignment because of the way I sit, and the way I hold my neck when writing (or just viewing online on my phone). If I maintain, by getting regular adjustments, I don’t have problems, but last year when I gained up to the 200s, I really did my body an injustice. I not only gained way too much weight but being that heavy made me, of course, be less active. And even though I kept up housework, I was not active to walk or exercise.

Dropping 35 pounds has helped tremendously, and without a diet – I just changed the way I eat forever. So, Hubby and I have become active again, though he has been much more consistent than me. I admire his uniformity. He gets up every morning before 5 am to run. After work, he either works out at the gym or he swims. He only takes off when his body tells him to.

I am more active in my daily grind, and I am now walking the greyhounds often. And I did my best to walk or run outside around our driveway loop – eight times is a mile. But if I had pain – I would lay around and not do anything extra. Or if I were busy running errands, I couldn’t seem to fit being dressed to run errands and ‘being sweaty’ together. So, I didn’t have a set routine when I worked out. Excuses.

After dropping the 35 pounds and feeling better, with no joint pain, no bloating etc. it surprised me when I recently started feeling pain in my shoulders and neck. It almost felt like a catch from the bottom of my shoulders to the curve of my neck. Like trying to zip an old rusty zipper and not having the ability to close the zipper.

So, I went back to my chiropractor, confessing that when I gained weight over the winter, I just didn’t want to leave the house, and even though I felt better now, I had done something to my upper back.

After having maintained my alignment with adjustments last year, when I stopped, my bones wanted to move back to ‘ill health’. So, as I am recovering from misalignment, and working with Dr. Heskette to get rid of that pain a few times a week (and then keep up regular adjustments so I don’t have this happen again) then, he suggested that I not run for now.

When I run around my driveway, I usually try to run a mile without stopping. I count each time I loop, and if I forget which number of loop I was on, I do an extra one. It can be monotonous if you are only having to walk though, and not run.

So today, as I asked the Lord about His plans, we started our walk and I turned the corner of my driveway to the road. Right then and there, I felt His nudging to pass the other part of my driveway and just keep walking forward. Knowing it is one and a half miles to our ranch, I could do that…but I wasn’t sure about coming back (and going up a hill) so I panicked a little  when I passed where I would turn on my driveway to loop around.

My thoughts were spinning. “If I get down there, hopefully one of the twins haven’t left for work yet and they can drop me back off back home.” “What if they aren’t there?” “I can just give the horses a treat and sit down inside for a while…” “I don’t have their key with me… rats.” “Okay Lord, it’s You and me. This was Your idea, so I trust You know that I can do this.”

No more panic. Suddenly, He became present. I came around the old barn on the next property over. The sun was up, shining over the mist that was blanketing the harvested fields. “Oh Lord! You’re Beautiful!” It wasn’t the same view I see each morning, even though each morning’s view is always special. I marveled at the early morning scene and I thought of my friend Sue.

What Sue Bazzell must be feeling when she takes her daily walks up and down these roads. I was walking fast, but it was slow enough to see each nook and clearing along the way. A different perspective than when I drive this road. And listening… listening to the birds chirping inside a line of trees. Listening to the engine of an approaching vehicle a mile away. I did what Sue does, and I moved to the side where the car was not traveling.

Yes, my heart rate was increasing, and my breathing was getting heavier – the exhilarating feeling of exercise, knowing you are warming up your body and doing good for yourself. But it was more than that. More than looking at my Garmin when I walked a mile at 15:37. That was pretty good for walking, at least for me. But as my heart rate steadied, and I felt little beads of sweat on my upper lip, it was more than just getting in my steps, and burning calories.

I was passing Max’s house, my closest neighbor, and I smelled the hemp he was growing. It didn’t smell like what you think it would. It was a nice fragrance – sort of piney. The sun still shining over the mist across the fields and now the piney smell – ahh…

I get it now, Sue. This isn’t just exercise for you – this is sanity. This is intimacy with God’s earth – just like when I hike. Only, instead of taking pictures to share, the intimate moment was just for me and God. Fast moving, sweating, and the sun on my back (which felt really good, warming up my shoulder area).

As my arms swung back and forth, I was mindful not to tense up my shoulders and I let the heat of the movement and the heat of the sun bathe my shoulders like a salve. For those days I chose ‘not to workout’ because of my pain, I had no idea I was making it worse. Reclining on my back with the fat cushion of my couch pushing my neck forward, was not helping.

Walking was helping. Not running as my doc advised, but walking, moving – not giving in to the pain. Maybe God’s plan today wasn’t about me seeing a neighbor or going into town or ‘doing’ something. Maybe it was about feeling. Feeling the difference of giving into pain or working it out. Feeling alive or feeling bound.

My husband prayed for me this morning during our devotion time. Not his normal thank-You-for-my-wife prayer, but he prayed that I would heal, and that I would be active today. God answered that prayer and I didn’t even think about that when I began my walk this morning.

My quick stride broke as I entered the ranch – with no cars in the driveway. I would have to walk back home. That’s okay, I felt great. I let my Garmin watch still calculate my time even though I wasn’t in a hurry or trying to beat a record. I wanted to know how long it took me to do a power-walk, be with my horses, hydrate and walk back home – so I can plan to do it again.

I grabbed a water from the tack room cooler and reached for a scoop to fill with horse treats. As my body cooled down and I drank half a bottle of water, I fed Smokey, Legend and Suede treats of apple crunchies and then peppermints. I got horsie lovin from Smokey, but he wouldn’t let the babies come near me. I had to throw their treats – they liked that better than trying to sneak around Smokey.

I finished my water and decided to head back a little slower, but my legs were still taking me the speed of my power-walk. “Fine by me,” I said, as God patted me on the back. My back was warm and loose, my shoulders were relaxed, and I headed back home. I waved to the horses and I started singing to Smokey his favorite song, “You go to my head, with a smile that makes my temperature rise…like a summer with a thousand Julys …you intoxicate my soul with your eyes…” and faded off as I neared the forest of trees.

I heard the beautiful songbirds awake and praising the Lord. I heard ‘scuffling’ in the woods but could not see what made the sounds. As I neared the incline by the bank of personal cemetery plots, I still kept my fast pace – and it was no problem for me. My calves weren’t cramping, and it was a sign to me, that this wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. It took an hour to walk 3.51 miles (and feed horsies treats) but I wasn’t concerned about a time since I couldn’t run.  As my husband and I reach our physical goals, we see that our bodies are stronger than we think they are. We can do more than we think we can. This goes for our spiritual goals too.

 

When we start each day, asking God what HIS plans are for the day…. there isn’t always an agenda, a time to finish, or a challenge to meet. But there will always be something new we didn’t see before.

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