Issues & Solution: Physical Health

Life Choices: Thermometer or Thermostat?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7

Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of “The Daily Show,” recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:

“My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature.”

Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.

And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.

So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.

First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn’t require much work. You just let your feelings rip.

Heaven Encountered in the Midst of Tragedy

Spinal Cord Injury denotes varying degrees of damage to the nerves in the spinal cord. The body’s amazing design incorporates a number of protective safeguards, and often this extremely serious injury isn’t immediately medically life threatening. Even when paralysis prevents most voluntary movements, life-sustaining automatic functions continue. Injuries high in the neck sometimes create breathing issues and cause dependence on a ventilator, and comprehensive treatment addresses a long list of other potentially critical concerns. But SCI is primarily chronic and forces adjustments to just about every aspect of life.

What is “Normal?”

Normal is a setting on the dryer.

We’re obsessed with labels. Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, Christian, atheist—it seems that we’re intent on placing ourselves in neat little boxes and pretending that everyone in a particular box is identical.

The big problem with labels is that they obscure ideas and individuals. Then we demonize, bash, and attack the label, and forget that behind the generalized, standardized label stands a real person.

I encounter labels a lot as a wheelchair user. Handicapped, disabled, physically challenged—what should people call me? Personally, I prefer “Rich.”

Urgent? Why??

I must admit, my favorite question is “why?”

I ask it a lot: of God, of others, of myself, of life.

And yes, I ask the why question concerning the tricky addiction/recovery issue.

Author, Jonathan Lockwood Huie really takes that matter to task, using two words.

“Urgent? Why?”

It’s not merely a question; it’s a statement… about the significance of urgency.

And this is right up addiction’s alley. The fix driving the addiction- why?

    Why is this my answer?

    Why will this solve things?

    Why will nothing else do?

    Why must I be instantly healed?

It is that last question which brought two scripture passages to my mind: Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

Are You Stuck in a Hole?

Imagine you’re running a marathon. You’re monitoring the situation, carefully maintaining a reasonable pace based on ability and training. You’ve prepared your body and mind for the race; you know the signs that tell you to run faster or slower, when to drink or eat.

You expect the unavoidable ebbs and flows of mental and physical energy. Hills and headwinds will increase difficulty in some places; sunshine and tailwinds will provide a few easy, enjoyable stretches. You’re eager to confront exhilaration and trial as fundamental elements of the competition.

You also know about “the wall,” that point where you’ll be tested nearly beyond your ability. You anticipate that burning muscles and aching lungs will challenge desire and discipline. You expect the urge to give up, to stop and allow the pain to subside. The lure of immediate relief will entice you to cast aside goals and dreams, surrendering the satisfaction of the finish line in return for an end to the struggle.

Then, without any warning, you fall into a hole.

The publicized course didn’t mention this complication. You didn’t train for it, couldn’t see it coming, didn’t prepare survival supplies or pack climbing equipment. There’s no cell phone reception in the hole.

You try everything you know to escape from the hole on your own, but

Why is this happening to me?

A friend of mine who is experiencing some painful family issues has repeatedly asked herself the “why” questions.

Why is this happening to me?

Why am I being treated like this?

Why is my loved one acting in such an ugly manner?

She has been blindsided by a situation and a relationship she never dreamed was possible, rife with betrayal, deception and slander. This was once a close, bonded relationship, one filled with unconditional love and trust.

So, the events over the last few years were a definite shock.

Who or What is Your Miracle Worker?

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
Jeremiah 32:27

I recently caught the 1960 Academy Award winning film, “The Miracle Worker.” It portrays the relationship of Helen Keller and that of her groundbreaking teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Most of us know the basics to the story. Helen Keller was blind, deaf and mute and, before Sullivan’s arrival, seemingly hopeless in her circumstances. If she could not see, hear or speak, how could she ever communicate, let alone, live in the world?

The situation looked bleak.

That was until Sullivan’s arrival…

“I don’t want to do this.”

Gethsemane: Code For… “I don’t want to do this.”

We’ve uttered that statement frequently in our lives.

This time of year, there’s a great deal of emphasis on Jesus. As we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, we read and remind ourselves just how this whole thing came to be: hope, salvation and reunion with God. It didn’t just happen.

And a large part of it depends on Gethsemane.

Yes, Jesus is amazing and loving. But He still had a night of decision. Hours away from being crucified, there was a real moment; He didn’t want to do it.

Keep Going (While Going Through Hell)

I love Winston Churchill’s sentiment:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Life is tough. Sooner or later, we’ll experience a trying situation which feels like hell. It isn’t actual hell, thank God. Nevertheless, the power of that notorious situation/trauma makes us feel tortured with pain, despair and hopeless evidence. Eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, loss and grief are just a few examples of things which can feel like hell, if, indeed, torture is its calling card.

It’s painful and almost impossible to see future, life, possibility or God. We can, instead, much more easily see ourselves as failures, weak, forgotten and ruined. It’s, therefore, inevitable we come to a screeching halt; we stop in the mire and can only feel ourselves sinking…down to where? Greater depths of hell and torture?

But that’s not God’s truth about us. Even in the middle of hopelessness, God is there… living… loving… working…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27

It can be tempting to believe that

Handling Adversity During Christmas

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

What’s the ultimate adversity?

One week before Christmas, adversity may boil down to long lines at the mall or difficult weather conditions for holiday travel. My wife’s scrambling to prepare for a party and receiving little help from a spouse who’s glued to the keyboard—that’s adversity. But I’m thinking along the lines of something a bit more elemental.

One of my best friends is dying.

It’s not the Christmas gift we hoped for, but there it is. The conclusion of a courageous battle with a terrible enemy finally approaches, and we’ll soon have to accept the loss of his physical presence in our circle.

Death doesn’t fit nicely into the Christmas story. Birth and lights and gifts proclaim a priceless promise of hope and beginning. Tinsel and glitter prompt smiles and celebration. Christmas isn’t the time for sad farewells.

Except…