Bike MS: After the rain

Rain. Just what I didn’t want for the Bike MS: Mason-Dixon Challenge!

But it’s all good. The rain stopped. 35 miles done. $170 raised for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Random thoughts from the day:

  • Bring a small stapler the next time. Attaching the number to the bike is a colossal pain in the neck when you use the twist ties they provide. The darn thing flapped around all day!
  • I tend to start out kind of slow and improve as they day goes on … at least until a point. Doing the longer routes would have been way too much of a stretch.
  • I had to bail out on four hills. The first two were all me. I just didn’t have the engine to get up the hill. The third one was a result of a gear that didn’t quite change correctly. The fourth came after a wrong turn. As a result, I had to make a left turn and go straight up a hill. That meant I lost any momentum I had coming down the previous hill.
  • And about hills. If you know anything about Central Pennsylvania, you should expect hills, especially in the Gettysburg area. After all, any discussion of the battle includes talk about who held the high ground.
  • I passed a house that had nine cats in the front yard. Most of them looked very similar to each other. If I had a couple of cats and one of those cats had kittens to give me a total of nine cats, I know what I would have named cat number 7. If you can guess, you’re a bigger Trekkie than I’ll ever be.
  • I’m an idiot descender. I only know one speed – fast. So, of course, I was probably going too fast on some descents.
  • Somehow, I went much faster in the second two-thirds of the course. Maybe it was the idiot descending skills.
  • I also love riding in cloudy weather. I didn’t even mind that it was a bit chilly and rainy. Would that make me a classics rider if I were a professional.

One last thought that is anything but random.

Prior to riding, as I mentioned in a previous post, I thought I wasn’t doing much by riding 35 miles.

That was before I crossed the finish line. There were folks sitting in lawn chairs, cheering as every rider passed by. Volunteers handed out the little medals you see in the photo at the top of the page.

Suddenly, I was a rock star. A rock star who had just completed her longest ride in more than five years … more likely closer to eight years.

So I signed up for next year …

The 35-mile route

Bike MS: Riding for Allegra

I should call this “Riding for Lig.” After all, that’s what we called her.

Lig was my aunt. A few decades ago, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her mobility decreased with each passing year, but her spirit never failed. She passed away this past January. She is the main motivation behind my decision to participate in Bike MS.

I read these words at her funeral and I’m thinking of them again tonight as I prepare for the ride tomorrow.

Rest well, Aunt Lig.

***

Though Aunt Lig’s physical body was confined to a bed for the past five or so years, but her mind and spirit still traveled far and wide.

Each week she made a trip back to Pennsylvania through her phone calls to her brother, my Dad. Sometimes she would ask him about an incident in town or the death of someone they knew – even before Dad knew. She must have had better sources than the reporters at the newspapers she loved to read.

Those newspapers are probably how she knew more about restaurants and stores opening and closing anywhere within the Greater Columbus area than my cousins, Lisa and Tom – despite the reality that she could see no further than the window of the home she shared with them.

And, I guarantee that every Saturday afternoon in the fall her mind and spirit were on the sidelines at the Horseshoe or at whatever stadium her Buckeyes were playing in that day.

She had an uncanny knack for remembering even the smallest conversation about something someone wanted and, long before online shopping was popular – she mastered the art of finding it in a catalog. Sometime – who knows when – my Dad mentioned that my Grandmother was looking for a pair of binoculars. When we visited her at Thanksgiving, she had a pile of Christmas presents ready to send back to Carlisle. Among them? A set of binoculars for my Grammy.

Increasingly over the past year, her spirit traveled back 6,106 miles (as the crow flies) and 2,000 years to the dusty roads of first-century Israel as she read her Bible. In its pages, she saw the compassion of a Savior who loved and healed the sick. I imagine, more than any of us, she understood the magnitude of that compassion.

She wrote this in the cover of her tiny New Testament:

God’s love can not be measured by the degree of our health.

I’m sure there were times that she desperately wanted to feel that healing touch from the hand of Jesus, but her faith gave her the strength to go on though the healing never came. Well, no. The healing did come. It came in the way it comes for all of us who call on the name of Christ.

When the code blue rang through the halls of Licking Memorial Hospital, the angels of heaven sang a welcome home for a child of the King and those who went before her – her parents, my Mom, cousins, aunts, uncles – greeted her as she WALKED through the gates of heaven. Completely healed. Completely whole. Realizing at last the truth of one of my favorite songs:

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Today we don’t say good bye. We say, “until I see you again” because, as the apostle Paul said, we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.

Lig knew that and I think she would want us to know that. There’s another sentence written on the title page of that little Bible of hers:

“When a Christian dies, he has just begun to live!”

***

It’s not too late to donate to my ride. If you can’t afford a donation, send me your prayers instead!

On the bookshelf: Enough by Will Davis, Jr.

Keeping up with the Joneses can be exhausting … and even the Joneses may not be as happy and content with their possessions and lifestyle as it seems. So, what does it mean to live on enough in a culture that’s conditioned to constantly strive for more?

That’s the question Will Davis Jr. strives to answer in “Enough: Finding More By Living With Less.”

He begins by defining enough before moving into sections discussing “more than enough” and “less than enough” with a fair portion of the latter section being a call to action to those who find themselves in the former category. The final two sections describe the path to living with enough and cultivating a “less” mindset.

Throughout each section, Davis weaves Biblical insight with personal stories to illustrate his points. His experience as a church plants has, in many ways, given him plenty of access to stories of God’s provision that may go unnoticed or unknown by others.

Parts of each section were challenging in a good way and brought out points of Scripture that I had never considered. Other parts were more of the same interpretations that I have heard before from other teachers.

The bottom line is that we may disagree on some points, but can agree on the basic premise that our culture of constant craving consistently draws us away a core mission of the church (and individuals); that is, to love God and love people. To that end, Davis offers a path to living a life of less.

And that is enough.

Available July 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thanks to Revell for giving me a copy of this book for my review.

Biking, multiple sclerosis and a progression of understanding

I was in middle school when I first heard about multiple sclerosis. It was at an assembly. The presenter was trying to convince a bunch of kids to find sponsors who would pay them to read books – money that they wouldn’t be allowed to keep! The money went to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help people with a terrible disease that affected their central nervous system.

That was, well, a number of years ago. I remember signing up every year. Honestly, I was probably inspired more by the prize list than by any sense of compassion for people with the disease. I was also such an avid reader that people eventually stopped sponsoring me for each book read and gave me generous donations instead.

Then my aunt was diagnosed with MS.

I really don’t remember how it was diagnosed or too much about the earliest stages of the disease. As I grew up and the disease progressed, I became more and more aware of how it affected her life until, at the end, she was confined to her bed.

Then I met first one person my age, then another … and another … who were dealing with the disease. They’re mommas and wives. Single women and grandmas. One sings like an angel, but sometimes has to sit through choir practice because of the fatigue brought on by MS.

So in just 12 days, I will be riding in the Bike MS: Mason-Dixon Challenge. I haven’t decided if I will do the 30 mile ride or the 62 mile ride. I’ve been off the bike for a few years so I don’t know about my endurance.

As I raise money this time, I know multiple sclerosis better, but not as well as my cousin who took care of my aunt as the disease progressed or the women I’ve met online whose tweets reflect their frustration with flare-ups. It is for them that I ride.

Would you consider helping me reach my goal? I’m trying to raise $150. You can donate online by visiting my personal page.

If you can’t help, would you say a prayer for those with MS?

Thanks.

On the bookshelf: Miraculous Movements by Jerry Trousdale

I wanted to love this book. After all, the book description promised stories of changes taking place in Muslim communities where imams, sheikhs and entire mosques are turning to Christ.

In that, Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims are Falling in Love with Jesus, met with moderate success. Of course, there weren’t hundreds of thousands of stories, but there were several that showed God to be at work in the Muslim community to draw people to him.

It’s when author Jerry Trousdale strayed from storytelling that the book became less fascinating than I had anticipated.

To be sure, there were passages with which I absolutely agreed. For example, Trousdale writes early on, “… it is tragic when Christians look at Muslims, not with compassion, but with a default to fear, anger and rejection.”

And, there was this passage that called into question our hearts for engaging Muslims:

“Do we, as Christians, typically respond to Muslims with compassion and an desire to engage them with the gospel, or are we more inclined to respond to them with fear, anger, and resignation regarding their fate?”

Difficult questions for difficult times.

It was actually a question of style that frustrated me with this book. I firmly believe bullet points should be used sparingly and only when it’s the absolute best way to organize ideas. Sadly, many of the chapters seemed to adhere to a pattern of relating a story that was followed by pages and pages of bullet point listings on the application of the story.

That may not be enough to turn others away from what could be an otherwise interesting look at evangelism in the Muslim community, but it was enough of a frustration to me that I nearly gave up reading.

And that’s sad, because this is a topic that Christians would be wise to explore.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program for providing me with a free copy of this book for review.