Guest Post FAITH: The Greatest Artist

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David and his lovely wife.

David and his lovely wife.

The following post is by my dear friend David Cox. Enjoy! – Cheryl

 “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”—Psalm 8:1, 3-4

Being an outdoorsy kind of guy, I’ve long appreciated the beauty of this earth—sunrises over the ocean, dappled light through the trees, the hush of a gentle winter snowfall, the amazing reds & browns of the U.S. Southwest. Having taken up stargazing several  years ago, I’ve also come to admire God’s handiwork there—the splash of stars in the Pleiades, the mystery of the Orion Nebula, the overwhelming magnitude of our own Milky Way galaxy on a clear summer’s night. I’m sure it’s occurred to you also—our Lord is the most amazing artist imaginable! His palette runs the gamut from the simple elements of the earth to the far-flung galaxies of the heavens. And yet there are no two snowflakes that are the same, no two sunsets exactly alike, no stellar constellation a carbon copy of another.

As amazingly impressive as all of that is, our Lord yet makes time for an active interest in the lives of the people He has created. Has it ever occurred to you that every circumstance in your life, every person who crosses your path, every situation you encounter—are all engineered and tailor-made for you? Sometimes for your benefit—“He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23:3)—and sometimes for the blessings of another. Either way, the ultimate goal is the same: the active hand of the Master artfully arranges our circumstances “for His name’s sake.” 

It’s like when you hear from a friend about the sermon you both heard last Sunday, and she tells you that “I think God has been reading my correspondence, because that sermon seemed to be just for me!”  And you’re thinking, “No, that’s not possible, it was MY email He was reading, because I heard from God just the word I needed that day.” That’s not humanly possible, but with God, of course, all things are possible!  Only the Almighty Lord of all could weave all those circumstances together and bring out of it just the blessing that both of you needed. And He does it again and again, in your life, in mine, and in the lives of all the saints who have been here, are here now, and will be here in the future. And, as we are matured in our faith and gratefully serve in His name, we get to share in the joy of His creation.  All this and heaven too…now THAT’S what I call artistic!

David Cox successfully survived the turbulent ’60s, and then the searching (if somewhat self-centered) ’70s. Having been shipwrecked in Northeast Florida, he made a habitation out of the wreckage and is now happy to take each decade, and each day, as  it comes. He is a happily married family man, a recovering loner who has learned to enjoy the company of others. He helps people toward wellness, both physically as an RN and spiritually as an elder and mentor. He enjoys the outdoors, especially activities involving balance and movement. In his spare time he occasionally writes devotional essays.

 

 

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Guest Post: Family, Faith, Fun and FINISH LINES!

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“You must feel so much better!”

That’s what most people say when they find out I have lost 112 pounds.

My answer?

“Well, actually I never really felt bad.”

You see I never felt sick. You could say I was a healthy obese person. Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s the truth. I have a strong faith in Jesus Christ and an amazingly loving and supportive family. However, I could never tackle my weight problem – probably because I was healthy and never felt a need to do anything about it.

In December, 2008, I finally decided to “do it.”  One thing I learned through this process is that you cannot convince and overweight person to lose weight. They absolutely must come to the decision to “do it” themselves.

I began by getting a personal trainer and I think it was a key to my success.  She taught me about exercise, eating right, and how to make this a lifelong change.

Has it been hard? Sure, but worth it every step of the way.

As I said before, I have an amazing support system, my God, my family, and my friends. Without them there is no way I could have achieved this.

A year ago during my usual summer trip to the Adirondacks, I watched people participate in an annual triathlon in Piseco Lake, NY. At that moment, I vowed that the following year I would do it.

I trained for a whole year, working at my swimming, biking, and running. My goal was to simply finish the race – ideally in under three hours.

July 17 I did that triathlon, and not only did I finish, but I did it in 2 hours and 4 minutes!  I was thrilled.

As I crossed the finish line, my Mom, my biggest supporter, was waiting with arms wide open as I listened to “Blessed Be Your Name” on my Ipod one of my favorite songs by Matt Redman.

Yes, it took hard work and dedication, yes, there were days I did not want to get out on that bike, or put on those running shoes, but God gave me strength, and my family and friends kept me going. This weight loss journey, which let me add is not complete, will be something I will work on for the rest of my life. Not only did it teach me about my own strength, but it showed me just how very much I am loved by so many.  Blessings come in so many packages, and for me, this blessing has been lich a much-anticipated gift on CHRISTmas morning.

So when someone says to me, “You must feel so much better,” I tell them I do, but not just physically. Losing weight is not just about shedding pounds. It’s about feeling lighter physically AND emotionally, it’s about becoming stronger mentally AND spiritually.

My new motto is “Dream the Impossible, then go make it happen!”

God bless!

Jill Herkel is the drama teacher at Pine Forest School of the Arts, a public elementary magnet school in Jacksonville, FL. She also loves being a Jacksonville Jaguars season ticket holder along with her parents and attending high school football games at her alma matter, St. Augustine High School. She sings, and plays guitar and keyboard in her church’s praise band.