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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yoga and the Christian

I have started to write this post several times over the last several months and each time I have hesitated and deleted it. This has been a touchy subject for me lately, and I wanted to wait until I felt I could write about this without coming off too angry.

See, as a Christian I very often come up against harsh criticism from other"Christians" about my choice to practice yoga.

Those who feel Christians shouldn't practice yoga come up with some of the most far fetched and outlandish reasons I have ever heard. I have yet to hear a convincing argument against it, and until I do, I will continue my yoga practice in good conscience. Anyway, I don't need my fellow mans approval, I seek only approval from my Creator, and unless He convicts me otherwise.....

Many have told me how they have had to help cast out demonic spirits in people who once practiced yoga! I don't see how this can be, because my understanding is that yoga does have Hindu roots, and later Buddhist, but never in my research have I found satanists practicing yoga! So, these poor souls acquired these spirits(if that was even the case!) elsewhere from something else they were doing in their lives, but certainly not from practicing yoga!!

Many have made the comment "I don't understand how a Christian can in good conscience practice yoga." This is of course due to the roots in other religions. Well, fellow christian, I in good conscience practice yoga, the same way you celebrate pagan holidays such as Christmas or Halloween, but by telling Bible stories or passing out tracts feel you "Christianize" it, therefore making it ok. Why is it that as a Christian, you feel it is ok to celebrate holidays that have pagan roots, yet it's not ok to practice an exercise that has roots in other cultures or religions? That my friend I just don't understand!

If you do an Internet search on the topic of Christians and Yoga you will find hundreds of articles telling you how "dangerous" it is, and "evil" and all sorts of other critical articles. But, I warn others to take them with a grain of salt, as many are written by individuals trying to sell you their own "christian" yoga "alternative" DVDs.

I have been practicing yoga for 3-4 years now and have yet to come across and class, DVD or other instruction that deals with the "religious" or "spiritual" aspects of yoga. It's out there I am sure, but here in America, at your typical 24 Hour Fitness or Golds Gym your going to be hard pressed to find it! It is rare to even find an instructor who uses the traditional Sanskrit names for the poses, most have been modernized to the point they are hardly recognizable anymore.

I do know, for me, my best prayer times are following my yoga practice. I have a racing and wandering mind, I can rarely hold a thought for more than a few seconds without moving on to another, and this sadly effects my prayer life greatly. BUT after a good yoga practice, my mind for those following moments is able to stop fluctuating long enough for me to have some sincere, serious prayer time!

I know other Christians who practice yoga, that are literally praising God though out their workout, thanking Him for the ability to be able to move, thanking Him for their bodies. Hmmm...but somehow this is all going to evoke evil spirits huh??

There are lots of great Christian Yoga instructors out there, and lots of great Christian Yoga DVDs that one can use. I like these much better than the so-called "christian alternatives." Later I will share about a these on another post.

"Judge not lest ye be judged", "When you point your finger at someone, you got 3 pointing back at you!" I wish my fellow Christians would consider these things before they are so quick to judge me for what I choose to do. I am thankful ,that in the end it is my Creator judging me, and not my fellow man, or I'd already be condemned!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Homemade Fabric Softener

In my quest to live more frugally as well as healthily, I am constantly looking for ways to keep my house clean and tidy without having to buy all the expensive and chemical laden cleaners and products at the grocery store.

Today in my morning email came this link to an article about how to make your own healthier version of a fabric softener. I am getting ready to try this right now!

Who would have thought all you need is vinegar and maybe a little essential oil if you so desire!

I love to hang dry my clothes in the summer, but hate, hate, hate stiff towels and blue jeans! I am going to see if this works. If nothing else it seems according to this article even if you dry your clothes in the dryer, this will keep your clothes from being all staticy!

I was glad to read you can add the vinegar to your downy ball, as I for one don't have the time or desire to watch my wash cycle for the opportunity to drop fabric softener in during the rinse cycle.

I plan on adding some lavender essential oils to mine, hoping to cut down on the vinegar smell, plus I just love the scent of lavender!

If you notice in the article is an ad for the Swifter Wetjet. I love the idea behind it, but hate having to pay for the refills, plus I have to be careful of what chemicals I put on the floor due to my grandsons sensitive skin and eczema. So I talked my husband into getting the lid off the refill container(not easy, but it can be done, if you pop the seal around the lid with a screw driver) and now I refill as needed with vinegar, water, and an essential oil depending on my mood this could be orange, vanilla or lavender, and sometimes even sage. So now we have a healthy and frugal alternative, and I haven't had to buy refills in about two years!

I am working on an idea for the pads, if you have one, please share here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Weighty Issue....

I really don't know how to begin this post or quite where I will go with it, but this topic has been so much on my mind lately, I have to get it off my chest.
I will be the first to admit that here in America we have a huge(no pun intended) problem with obesity and weight. The causes and cure aren't always as easy to solve as one might think. Yes, the good old "Eat Less, Move More" theory is a good starting point, but not as easy as it may seem as our food choices aren't as simple as meets the eye. I have seen several friends go on weight loss programs and really stick to them, eating only the prescribed foods and still not lose. Of course we must consider what is in the pre-packaged foods, but that is a post for another time.
My thoughts today are on the subject of weight but not the causes or what to do about it. See, like most women I am somewhat obsessed with my weight. I will go as far as admitting something here I have only up until now admitted to my husband. I now realize at nearly 40 years old, that I have a body image problem. I saw myself "fat" at 150 lbs(which is big for my 5'3" small frame, that put me at a size 14) and I saw myself as "fat" at 102 lbs(which looking at photos, I was too thin!) and now at 115 I feel "fat."
But, it isn't just myself that puts these negative thoughts in my head. See, for some reason my weight seems to be the concern of others. Why, I don't know. I rarely talk to others about my weight other than my husband(who gets an ear full!) but when I was 102 lbs, every one accused me of being anorexic. Never mind that I was intentionally eating tons more extra calories, trying to prevent myself from losing more. I just have a fast metabolism and when I am very active(like I was doing Kendo) I have a hard time keeping weight on. Then, these same people now like to remind me that I have gained weight at 115lbs. They seriously will come up and pat my little belly and tell me I have gained weight. First, why are they paying that much attention to my weight gains and losses? Why is it they feel comfortable enough to make these comments but alone touch my body?
Trust me, I can put alot of negativity on myself, and daily battle with trying to keep my size and weight in proper prospective, these sorts of comments only hurt not help me.
I literally had one lady who is rather large insinuate I was fat at 115lbs!! Do these hurtful remarks make them feel better?
This sort of stuff reminds me of my miserable Jr. High years, being picked on or teased by the other prettier girls. Why as women do we still do this to each other in our 30s and 40s?
I have seen both sides of this. I have seen thinner ladies tell larger ladies they need to lose weight or that they have "such a pretty face" if they would only lose the weight. And I have seen larger girls circle around smaller girls making just as hurtful comments, only insinuating they are anorexic. This is just sad!
No wonder we have such problems in our society with anorexia or bulimia!! Some people, myself included, wonder how someone can do that to themselves, but I am starting to see why. The pressure we put on ourselves is bad enough, but to have the outside pressure of others being so quick to point out our flaws, only intensifies our own insecurities.
There is so much more to worry about in this life, without adding this to our plates! I mean, we should watch what we eat, and should increase our activity, just because that is the healthy thing to do for our minds and bodies, but we need to throw out the scales and find other things to talk about besides our weight or dress size!
I think the old adage "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" fits here. And that includes the things we tell ourselves! You can't go wrong with that advice!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Finally Conquered!!

Finally, we made it to our destination point! Four hikes in a week, and this is our first to actually reach our destination place! Yesterday we headed back out to the Ernie Maxwell trail in Idyllwild to finish what we started last week. It is so incredibly beautiful here, I can't believe it is only 13 miles from my home! The scenery is completely different that it is at my house.

I think this is the most beautiful of the hikes we've done. Also the easiest. The trails were very well maintained and it basically was a beautiful nature walk rather than a strenuous hike, but the beauty of it made it my favorite so far!

The trail was just full of trees which kept it pretty well shaded the whole way.

Just a few minutes into the walk, the kids saw this squirrel curry up a tree, so cute, but what was hilarious was that once he was in the tree and started "yelling" at us. He gave us an ear full! On the way back down, in the same tree, what I am pretty sure was the same squirrel started yelling at us again, and even threw a pine cone at us!

Of course any good hike for us includes the panda pack!

There were lots of big, beautiful boulders along the way. keep scrolling down, and they'll be some even bigger than this one!

The scenery was once again just breathtaking!

It was all so pretty and green, but yet such a variety of scenery along the way. I could have spent all day taking photos! This hike has really made me want a good "real" camera. Right now, I 've been using my teens little digital, but at least I've been able to capture some beauty and good memories...

I really wish this one didn't come out so blurry, this was such a beautiful spot, with the hallowed out trees.

The close up views of Tahquitz Rock are just so unbelievably awe inspiring, just more evidence of the handy work of a magnificent Creator!

Parts of the trail were almost dark because of the thick trees. I just can't get over how beautiful the whole trail was! I would love to live there, even in a tent! To be surrounded by that much beauty every day, just imagine!

We stopped and ate our dinner at Humber Park and the boys had a little fun exchanging back packs! The youngest insisted he wanted to carry the 30lb pack his big brother totes along each trip. And older brother, had to have a little fun with the whole thing!

You've all probably suspected it, so here's the confession along with photographic evidence that I am a bonafide tree hugger! I was actually caught hugging more than one tree this day!

My oldest son spotted this moss on a rock that actually looks like a facial profile, pretty cool! He is much more observant than myself!

This tree stump is totally cool! I didn't get the angle right for you to see that from the front is is a good 12 or more feet from the ground!

I so wanted to get a picture of myself doing "tree pose" on a tree, only problem, I am terribly, and I mean terribly afraid of heights! I did manage to get up there, even stood for a second or two, but to balance on one foot was more than I could bare. I seem to be getting better though, a year or so ago I wouldn't have even tried! I am determined to get over this fear!

Anyway, I did manage to sit for a moment and hubby captured the look of terror in my face as I climbed up!

My son clearly does not suffer from the same fear of heights that I do! I can't believe he went all the way up there!

That just about wrapped up our day. It sure felt good to complete the trail this time. Tuesday we head back out to the Ramona Trail to try and finish it at least to Tool Box Springs, although time is not on our side, so we'll have to see. Then over the next week or so, we hope to explore some new areas.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Looking For A Good Hike In Your Area?

If the photo's and or stories of our family's hikes have inspired you at all to get out there and give it a try, I wanted to share a GREAT website with you all. Local Hikes.Com

This is a great, FREE resource! Just type in your zip code or area you are interested in and it will bring up a listing full of great hikes in your area. The information includes directions to the trail head, how many miles the hike is, what level it is and how well the trails are(or aren't) maintained.

I found other sites, but they either charged alot of money for the same info you get here for free, or were repeats of the same exact information.

Check it out and see what you find in your area!

It's Like Jurassic Park, Man....

A day later than originally planned, but we did make it to the Cedar Springs Trail. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was. It was so lush in parts that one of my kids made the Jurassic Park comment above, which was funny in itself, but when we were eating dinner, another child made the exact same comment!!

The area was great, there were all sorts of different scenery to admire. Parts were like high desert, others were like a lush forest.

This time we tried carrying the baby in a pack instead of the stroller. It made the trip much easier for most of us, although I don't know if my husband would agree it was easier for him.

Truth be told, the stroller would not have made it on this hike, no way!

There were lots and lots of big, beautiful trees. They almost reminded me of the old banyan trees in Maui.

For some reason it didn't take the kids as long to poop out this time. Every time I turned around, one or more of them were trying to stop and sit. It was a bit more strenuous a trail than the last, but I didn't think it was THAT strenuous.

Apparently the trail makers thought it was at least confusing if not strenuous, as they made plenty of signs to remind us of where we were, and which way to continue on.... Sitting again...
A warning...
Parts of this trail were just so unbelievably lush and green, just beautiful!

Caught sitting...AGAIN!!

I just loved this rock pretty and tranquil in this spot! You could hear a variety of birds singing, and it reminded me of being in the larger bird exhibits at the Zoo, but this was real life, just too neat!! I LOVE the sounds of birds singing their songs...unless it's my sons parakeet squawking at 5:00 am!!

Just beautiful...and to think all of this is practically in our own backyards!

Definitely no way the stroller would have made it through these parts! The pointy plants really stick you if you brush by them walking past...OUCH!!

My very own He-Man!

A pretty cool look-out point. We all had fun here!Caught sitting yet this point I think we were all a little tired and hungry, so we decided to hike back down the two or so miles to the picnic tables where we can eat in the shade and let the baby loose for a bit.

Going down is always so much easier than going up!!

So after re-fueling with food and drink, we pretty much ended our day other than the mile or so hike back to the cars.

But I can't end this post without showing some of the breath-taking views we had on the way up, and down.

For me, being out in nature like this leaves little room in my own mind about the existence of an ultimate Creator. I think that is why famous writers, men and women throughout history have said that they feel closest to God when in nature. His designs are so much more intricate, beautiful and glorious than any home or building even the worlds best architects can design!