Our Best Purchase

About two months ago, a friend offered to sell my husband and me her stationary bike. We weren't in the market for exercise equipment, but we're into fitness (er, well, my husband is into fitness, and I like to think that I am, but all I really do is let breastfeeding, carrying the baby, and refereeing my two older boys serve as my weight-loss and fitness program), so despite the fact that we had to get rid of some furniture to fit the bike in our apartment, we said yes. It's probably the best purchase we've made all year.

My husband loves the efficiency of being able to do a cardiovascular workout without leaving home. (Up until now, his favorite workouts were swimming and playing basketball, neither of which our apartment is equipped to handle.) I love something completely different about the exercise bike. It's revolutionizing my prayer life.

Before the exercise bike, I would try to get up early to have some quality prayer time. But since fatigue is the normal state of existence for a mother of small children, I had trouble staying awake while I prayed. Sometimes, I would try walking around the living room to stay alert, but that usually just made me dizzy. The exercise bike changed all that. Pedaling keeps my mind alert, while being stationary keeps my body balanced, which frees my soul to soar on the wings of prayer. And as my workout increases in intensity, so do my prayers. (All this has made me wonder what the exact relationship is within the body-mind-spirit trinity that defines us, but figuring that one out is probably beyond the scope of this post.)

Besides keeping me focused while I pray, the exercise bike helps get me out of bed in the first place. Some mornings I'm more motivated to pursue physical fitness than spiritual fitness. I know–that's sad. And backwards. But that's the way I am sometimes. So on those mornings when the temptation to doze for a few more minutes is nearly overpowering, the mental image of another me with beautifully toned legs and a resting pulse rate around 60 beats per minute can help lure me out of bed and into my unconventional prayer closet. I climb on the bike, and I'm off. Twenty-five minutes later, I've had at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity, I've burned over 250 calories*, and I've prayed my way around the world, interceding for people and situations both nearby and far away. It's a superb way to start the day.

I recently caught my husband taking a long, appreciative look at me. I arched my eyebrows playfully, and he grinned and said, "You've always had a great figure, but now . . ." Just one more reason to get out of bed at daybreak to ride and pray! What about you? What is your favorite place to pray?

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* I don't think this number is accurate, but it's what the bike's screen tells me. The bike has 8 different levels of resistance, but I've noticed that it takes exactly the same number of revolutions to burn 1 calorie no matter which resistance setting I choose. Will someone please explain to me how pedaling hard uphill for one minute burns fewer calories than pedaling leisurely on a flat surface for the same amount of time??


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Whining

Is it just me, or does anyone else find whining intensely irritating? I mean irritating enough to take a normally calm individual and make her start to hiss through clenched teeth while fighting the urge to slap someone?

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

My 4-year-old whines. I don't mean that he whines just to get attention or when he doesn't get his way. No. Whining is his default means of communication. I don't know why. Maybe it's a stage. Maybe it's one of his personality quirks. All I know is it's driving me insane, and I've been trying to break him of the habit for about two years, ever since he started to speak.

Maybe it has happened, but I cannot remember a single time when I gave him something because he whined for it. As far as I know, I always point out that he is whining and instruct him to ask nicely. This usually means first rephrasing his request to make it polite ("Can you please give me Curious George?" instead of, "MooOOOooommyyyyyy, eeeuuh, eeeeuuuuh, gimme the mooOOOooonkey book!"). Then he has to repeat it in a pleasant tone of voice. The latter sometimes takes several tries, with me modeling how I want him to sound.

You would think that after two years of this he would begin to get the idea. Whining is useless; I might as well be pleasant and ask politely the first time. But as far as I can tell, this lesson is still lost on him. On second thought, maybe he is starting to get it, because there are rare moments when he will thoroughly bless me with his speech. One day he came into the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and said cheerfully, "Mmmmm! You're good at making food, Mommy! I'm hungry!" I was stunned, and it made me want to clasp him to my chest and give him anything he wanted to eat. But usually he just whines and demands things.

One day in desperation I found myself praying in the middle of dealing with him. My conversation with God went something like this: "Lord, I can't take it any more!! This child is driving me nuts!! Why does he have to be so whiny??" And then it hit me. I was guilty of the same behavior as my 4-year-old. I was whining to God. It was a revelation that caused me to reevaluate my prayers. God is an infinitely better parent than I will ever be, but how often do I approach Him with a whiny attitude as if He does not have my best in mind, does not understand my struggles, and is not going to provide for my needs? He deserves better than that. He deserves the kind of praise and trust of provision implicit in my son's charming comment to me in the kitchen. "Mmmmm! You're good at making food, Mommy! I'm hungry!"


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