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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Lenten Discipline of Flossing Your Teeth

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

The forty day warm-up for Holy Week and the Easter season is known as Lent, an ancient word for ‘spring’.  Some people have not heard of Lent, but know about Mardi Gras, which in English is Fat Tuesday.  Certain places like New Orleans and Rio are famous for celebrating Mardi Gras.  The original purpose of Mardi Gras was to consume all the luxuries like eggs by making pancakes, so that Lent could be a time of balance and moderation.

Similar to how people go in training for an upcoming marathon, Lent is spiritual training for Easter.  For things in life to be really enjoyed, it usually takes preparation and anticipation.  So what does Lent have to do with flossing one’s teeth?  There are six Lenten disciplines that help people prepare for Easter: 1) Prayer 2) Fasting 3)Self-examination 4) Repentance 5) Bible-reading 6) Generosity to the poor.  These six Lenten disciplines are not meant to be done only during Lent, but rather especially through Lent.  If one only flosses one’s teeth for forty days of the year, their dentist will not be pleased. The purpose of doing something for forty days in a row is to develop new good habits, whether one is going to the gym or changing one’s diet.

Many people believe that prayer is a good thing.  Lots of Canadians pray when they are in crisis. But prayer is most effective when it is done daily, in season and out of season, just like with flossing one’s teeth.  For many years, I had a mental block about flossing my teeth.  I didn’t like how my gums would bleed afterwards.  To impress my dentist, I compromised by flossing just before my dental appointments.  As dentists can tell the difference, I am sure that my half-hearted flossing impressed no one.  Only when I adopted flossing as a daily discipline did my gums stop bleeding, and my dental care improve.  Years later, I now floss religiously, first thing in the morning.  My teeth don’t feel right until I have flossed.

If I had waited until I was in the mood for flossing, I would still be avoiding the discipline of flossing.  That is why I am calling flossing a Lenten discipline.  Flossing gets me in shape, just like prayer, fasting, self-examination, repentance, bible-reading and generosity to the poor.  I don’t always feel like doing any of them, but I become a healthier person when I discipline myself in these patterns.  How many people realize that fasting, while initially uncomfortable, can be a key to major spiritual breakthrough?  A while ago I wrote about BJ McHugh, an eighty-seven year old marathoner.  She tells me that she doesn’t always feel like getting up in the morning and going for a run.  Because she disciplines her body, she was able to recently run in the Hawaii Marathon with her son and granddaughter.  God wants to renew our youth like an eagle, but we need to co-operate by practicing healthy daily discipline.

Self-examination is another vital Lenten discipline.  It is so easy to deceive ourselves that everything is okay.  Self-examination shows us where we need to change, perhaps by cutting back on the carbs or by getting out walking on a daily basis. Repentance is about facing the facts about one’s self, the good, the bad and the ugly, and being willing to make systemic painful changes.  Perhaps there is someone that we need to forgive whom we have been holding a grudge against.  Lent is a good time to reconcile with that person and perhaps even make amends.  Everyone believes in forgiveness until it comes time to do it.  Forgiveness is a painful part of repentance.

Bible-reading is another vital Lenten discipline.  Most Canadians have a bible somewhere in their home, perhaps handed down from their parents or given to them by the Gideon’s.  Most Canadians have floss somewhere in their house.  Only when we start using the floss, only when we start reading our bibles does anything change.  I was raised in a generation that believed that if it feels good, you do it.  If I wait until I am in the mood for flossing or bible-reading, my gums will recede and my bible will stay dusty.  Discipline saves us from the folly of good intentions.

Canadians are some of the most generous people on earth.  Our Judeo-Christian heritage encourages people to be cheerful givers, knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Only the generous are really satisfied with their lives.  The more greedy we are, the more grumpy we become.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to be generous to the poor.  Don’t wait until you are in the mood to floss your teeth.  My prayer for those reading this Lenten article is that we might grow in generosity, in prayerfulness, in bible-reading in ways that will make us all more healthy.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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BJ McHugh: Mother’s Day Marathoner

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Betty Jean McHugh

While working out at a local weight room, I had the privilege of getting to know Betty Jean McHugh, the world’s fastest 83-year old long-distance runner.  Interviewed on TV and newspaper, she has been called the flying granny.  Jack Taunton, Chief Medical Officer for the Vancouver Winter Olympics, called her one of the most remarkable senior runners we have seen.  Betty Jean is so positive and energetic that she inspires the rest of us to not give up on our health goals.  Recently I met her at the Parkgate Village right next to the Bean Around the World coffee shop.  She told me of her tri-generational plans to run in the December 2012 Hawaiian Marathon, along with her son Brent and her grandchild.

After reading her book My Road to Rome, I knew that I needed to celebrate BJ’s achievements as a Mother’s Day marathoner.  One of her great lifetime highlights which she talked about extensively throughout her book was an all-expense-paid trip to run in the Rome 2009 Marathon.  There are now five million North American women running, compared to less than one million in the 1980s.  Women, many of whom are mothers, now outnumber men at running events.  BJ has run in 14 marathons and over 300 road races.  Running four times a week at 5:45am, BJ has broken a dozen Canadian and world records.  She started running at age 55, a time when many others were hanging up their running shoes.  While BJ has been injured many times over the years, she never gave up, saying that she ‘was not going to accept the ravages of time without a fight.’  Running has become for her as much part of her life as ‘brushing her teeth’.

BJ’s determination is an inspiration to watch. She not only runs and works out at the gym, but also has been an avid North Shore skier since the early 1950s.  BJ even climbs the Grouse Grind with her grandchild.  Such athletic involvement helped condition her to become a leading octogenarian runner.  She acknowledges that there are thousands of times when she felt like not bothering. “Excuses are easy; commitment is hard”, says BJ.  But she just keeps putting one foot in front of the other and goes for it regardless.  Every marathon, says BJ, is a journey into the unknown.  You train and train and train again, and think that you are ready. But you never really know how your body is going to fare over 42 kilometres of running.

One thing that keeps her going are her running partners to whom she is committed. “How can I sleep through an early-morning downpour”, says BJ, “when I know that my friends will be waiting for me at our meeting place in ten minutes?”  Running, says BJ, has given her friendships that are powerful and lasting.  Through her running with her partners, they experience ‘the elation of reaching the top of a hill, the pain when (they) increase the distance on a training run, the slogging through rain and dancing through a sunlit forest.’

In BJ’s book, she talks about being raised in the poverty of the Great Depression in Stanwood Ontario.  The local church was the centre of the community.  BJ comments that ‘as a child she liked everything about church but the Sunday service…The minister droned on about subjects I never understood, and I had to sit in the pew with my hands folded politely.’

Once while running in a Vancouver marathon, she became more and more concerned about finishing well: ‘I feared hitting the dreaded ‘wall’, that point at which the body has used up all its reserves.’  Finishing well is a challenge for all of us, whether in a marathon, in our business, or in our family.  It  is about ultimately facing the question: will my life have made a difference?  BJ is an example of someone who is finishing well, whose life is making a difference.  She has chosen to give her best into what she believes in and is passionate about.  BJ is leaving a legacy that other younger people will be able to tap into.

One of my mentors, Paul, said that he fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Even though Paul was tragically killed, he finished well.  Paul also recognized that physical exercise was of real value, but he pointed us to the even greater significance of spiritual exercise (1 Timothy 4:8).  Part of finishing well is a commitment to being healthy in body, mind and spirit.  If we neglect any of those three, we are the poorer for it.  Life is a marathon. Life is about discipline.  Life is about finishing well.  My Mother’s Day prayer for those reading this article is that BJ McHugh’s example will inspire all of us to discipline ourselves in body, mind and spirit so that we may truly finish well.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca