Help End Human Trafficking and Poverty

Want to help end human trafficking and poverty? None of us can do it alone, but together we can make it happen! On October 1, 2016 Natalia Mahaffy & I will be riding with Cycling4Change to raise awareness and money to bring justice and healing to people around the world, and we want to invite you to join us! You can register to ride 5, 20 or 60 miles, or, even if you can’t ride, you can donate to this great cause started by our good friends Santhosh and Rajdeep Paulus! Small things done with great love make a BIG difference! Let’s give hope, because hope changes everything!14310482_10209340115912695_5459634129921892659_o

Guest Post by Dr. Santhosh Paulus: Healthy Worship

14051738_10153758098639149_3030001009916390940_nI never had trouble sleeping! Maybe it’s because of all the years of sleep deprivation in Medical School and Residency or because of the training involved in getting ready for Half Marathons, Tough Mudders, the Tour de Cure, and 5 Boro bike tours. I would usually be out in seconds when my head hit the pillow, but now I was heading into unchartered territory for me. I thought God grants sleep to those he loves! God was starting a chapter in the book of my life that I was not ready for.

After training for about a year-and-a-half and logging in 2,800 miles on my bike by December of 2014, I was feeling great. I was about to start a cross-country bike ride to fight the Social Justice cause of our generation – human trafficking. God had put it on my heart to be a voice for the voiceless and those marginalized and neglected by society, for “the least of these.” I was angry and frustrated. I usually exercise at times when I am stressed out and God helps me to get rid of my anxiety in this way. That’s what helped me to get through tough childhood trials, big exams, and life’s usual stresses.

The day I received my diagnosis of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, I was extremely stressed out and I went into a panic when I realized I could not exercise to deal with the news of uneven thickening of the walls of my heart. I had been through some difficult times in my life before. We lost our house and belongings in Hurricane Andrew, I grew up in an alcoholic home, but this one hit really close to home for me. What we do says more about what we believe than what we say. It’s easy to say we believe in God and that He is our peace, but to live it out is different. This really made me depend on God and who He is and allow Him to be my peace in the midst of this storm I was about to go through.

The human body is God’s most amazing creation. The heart starts to beat by 19 days of gestation (that’s day 19 in your Mama’s belly). Your body is God’s temple — the place where He dwells. God actually lives in us and just like we clean up and take care of our house, we should clean up and take care of our bodies, God’s house, as an act of worship.
Taking care of our bodies includes eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking care of our minds. The mind and the body are connected, and one affects the other.

Our diet is the foundation of who we are. You are what you eat! Why are we surprised when we eat a bunch of junk food and then we don’t feel well? It is not only important what we eat, but also how much we eat. When we go out to restaurants, the portion sizes of our meals are nothing short of ridiculous.

Exercise is crucial to maintaining our health as well. A good goal is to get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 5 times a week. What you eat is the source of your calories and being active is how you burn those calories. You have to burn 3,500 calories to loose just one pound. If you are frustrated that you are overweight, don’t get discouraged if you can’t get the weight off in one week. If the weight came on over a few years, it may take just as long to get it off. That requires consistency and discipline. You didn’t gain it overnight and you won’t lose it overnight. It’s important to make lifestyle changes and not do a “diet.”

I can’t say enough about sleep. If diet and exercise are the peanut butter and jelly of the sandwich of health, then sleep is the bread. Remember wheat bread is the way to go. Try to avoid those simple carbohydrates!Your day starts the night before when you decide what time you will go to sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for you to have the energy you will need to have a productive day. If you want to thrive and not just survive you need your sleep. In order for your muscles to repair and heal up from the exercise you have done you need to eat right and get your sleep.

When you go back to school, you have to turn your summer brain off and wake up your academic brain cells, right? More importantly, if you think of your mind as a muscle, there are ways to keep your mind in shape. The best thing to fill your mind with daily is God’s Word, and with so much great Christian music out there, you can do this through music and reading your Bible, or even using a Verse-a-Day App on your smart phone. Secondly, surround yourself with friends who tell you the truth in love and lift you up. Finally, keep junk out — things like online porn, images in R-rated movies, song lyrics with repetitive expletives and curse words, and negativity in general. Remember who God made you to be and how much He loves you. Defeat the lies in your head with God’s truth!

Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) Let’s take care of the place where our Creator wants to hang out by watching what we eat, exercising and getting enough sleep. When your world goes upside down and you can’t figure out which way is up, remember Who holds your world in his hands. He doesn’t promise that we will have a life without problems, but that He will be there with us in the midst of them. Let’s not make what we eat, exercise, or getting sleep more important than our Maker, but let’s honor and worship Him in these ways to take care of His house! I’m trying to stay in shape again and am back to a little exercise. How about you?

1 Day … 2 Dates

Yesterday I took the day off so Adriana and I spend some time together. We went on two dates. First we went for lunch in Port Jefferson at The Steam Room where we enjoyed a delicious clam bake over a scenic view of the Long Island Sound. Then this evening we went to Huntington and participated in our second Paint Nite. It was a wonderful day with my best friend!

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Canadian Wilderness Trip Lesson #4: Endurance

“The plan is to put in the water on Sunday and get out on Friday.” With those words I realized we were not just going on a camping trip. This trip was going to be work. I thought we were just going be going to be sitting around the camp fire and doing some hiking. It wasn’t until I had my airline ticket that I received trip details from Heath. It was then that I found out that in fact we were going to be canoeing 50 miles. My arms got sore and my back went into spasms just thinking about it. He also added a word that I don’t think I had ever heard before: Portaging.

“We’ll also be portaging 5 miles,” he said. Pretending I knew what he was talking about, I quickly Googled it while still on the phone with him. Definition? “The act of carrying.”

“Each day we have challenges,” he said. “Different length portages varying from 100 meters to 2,300 meters (almost 2 miles). We ask for volunteers to portage, carrying the [50 lb.] canoe (along with their 50 lb. pack), while their canoe partners carry the paddles and encourage them.”

I volunteered for my share of the portages during the trip, and all I can say is this:

Carrying 100 lbs. on your back is tough!

Carrying 100 lbs. on your back on uneven ground with wet, slippery shoes is tougher.

Carrying 100 lbs. on uneven ground with wet, slippery shoes, virtually all uphill for 1/2 a mile is really, really tough.

Carrying 100 lbs. on uneven ground with wet, slippery shoes, virtually all uphill for 1/2 a mile with a bad back is downright grueling. (No, seriously, I do have back issues. I even had surgery a few years ago.)

Of course, I didn’t know it was almost all uphill when I volunteered for that particular portage, which turned out to be the toughest of the trip – even tougher than the almost-2-mile one because of the incline (according to Jonathan who did both of them).

O, and one more thing. The deal with the portage challenges was this: You pick the canoe up out of the water, and you don’t set it down again until it’s in the water at the other end. In other words, no stopping to rest or stretch or get a drink or cry or ….

It took everything in me and more to not stop, to not dump the canoe, to not quit. I was sweating. I was breathing heavily. I was in pain. I thought I was going to die. But I was not going to quit. I was absolutely determined to finish the challenge. And I did. There was no greater sight than coming around the final bend and seeing the water, and there was no greater feeling than getting that canoe off of my shoulders and into the water.

Endurance, more than anything else, has kept me in youth ministry so long. It is fundamental to a successful marriage, parenting kids, working with people, physical exercise, … life! Knowing that there is water at the end of the trail – having a vision – is what gives us the strength and determination and hope we need to keep going when everything in us wants to quit.

I spent some time meditating on the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 2, and also his assessment of his own life as it was nearing its conclusion: “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:6-7). That has become my prayer. Paul didn’t say he won all of the battles. He said he fought the good fight. He didn’t say he won the race. He said he finished the race.

God, keep your vision ever fresh in my mind and give me the endurance to keep on keepin’ on for you. Amen.

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Canadian Wilderness Trip Lesson #3: Rest

My terrible sleeping habits started in college. and only got worse from there. I worked second shift in a factory and didn’t get off until 11pm. I worked close at McDonald’s and would get home at 4am. Of course, when one gets off of work, it’s not simply go home and go to bed. It’s go home and unwind for a while before going to bed. I went back to work second sift at the factory again. Then we had our first child, so when I would get home and take my turns up in the night (my wife might argue me on this one). Then I went to graduate school … while working full time … so … more late nights. Of course, being a youth pastor, many of our events and activities are in the evenings, so … I have been a night owl for a good 20 years now. But, honestly, I feel the drain. I know I don’t get enough sleep. The third lesson I was reminded of on this trip was the importance of rest.

While going on a canoe and camping trip isn’t necessarily a recipe for comfort and sleep (paddling all day definitely makes one tired, but sleeping in a tiny tent on nothing more than a 1/4″ pad while trying not to bump one’s big ole 6′ 4″ tent mate doesn’t lead to the best night’s sleep), it did prove to be restful in a much deeper sense of the word. Indeed, I did find myself going to bed earlier and waking earlier, but the rest I received was more holistic. I experienced the shalom – the peace – of God. The trip provided me with a week of stress relief, quiet from the noises of daily life and responsibilities, and most of all, a time to rest emotionally and re-center myself in God.

Psalm 62:1, 5 – “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him … Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”

As I found rest in the Lord, He assured me of His intense love for me as His child, and in light of that love He helped me reflect on areas of my life that were out of alignment with His best and need of my attention, including my sleep patterns.

I know that my physical condition affects my mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual conditions (See post: The Life of the Body).  So, ever since I have returned home, I have been more intentional about getting to bed earlier, and I have definitely felt the affects in my body. I have felt less tired, less stressed and  that has allowed me to be more alive and present during the day. S1160035