Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Raising a Daughter in a Photoshop World

In Life and Culture on February 4, 2014 at 10:12 am


daddydaughterHave you noticed how thin models are these days?  They are paper-thin it seems.  Or are they?  I accept that there are many women who are too thin to be healthy in the modelling world today.  However, I also believe that many women on the covers of magazines today are being altered digitally.  One outspoken victim is Kate Winslet who is one of many overly-photoshopped cover girls.

What’s a dad to do?

We are not exceptionally tall people my wife and I, but there are tall genetics in the family.   Our daughter, whom we call Brownie in social media since she is under 13, is at that pre-teen difficult time.  We stand in line at grocery stores and superstores often enough that the magazine covers are noticed.  At school the girls are already splintering off into the “right-size, right look” and “wrong-size, wrong look” groups.

What’s a dad to do?

I love my daughter because she is God’s gift to us.  I don’t care what she looks like and whether our culture deems it right or wrong.  Out of the love my wife and I have, God created her.  God made her.

13 For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. 15 My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.   Psalm 139

Here are a few things I wish to embed in my daughter’s mind.  I can only hope she will accept them.  I can only pray our culture would do the same.

  1.  God loves you.  God formed you just the way you are using the genetics hidden away inside your Mom and me.  Please do not regret how God made you.  He has a complete plan for you and very little, if any, of that has to do with your body type or shape.  God loves you just the way you are.  Jesus died for your heart and relationship not your measurements.
  2. I love you.  My love for you is not based on appearances.  I love your spunk and your sass, though I do not want you to know that yet.  I love your desire to help others.  I love that you take time to make new people feel welcomed.  I love that you are kind, though not enough to your brother.  I love that you are creative.  I love your smile.  I love you.
  3. We eat right and are active people.  You are at a time when everything is changing.  Everyone does this at different rates and ages.  You are healthy.  The reason we do not let you have too many sweets and Cokes is because they are not healthy for you.  We want you to be bright and healthy so that you are prepared for whatever God has in mind for you.  You will notice that we are not obsessed with either, but make it a part of normal routines of life.
  4. Be your own woman.  Fashion does not define you.  Some things just don’t fit and that’s OK.  Wearing what everyone else is wearing is a part of childhood, trust me I get it.  However, setting the trends is leadership.  In the end, wearing what makes you feel pretty is more important than wearing what makes others happy.  You can’t be happy trying to be someone else.  Be you.  I love you and wish to see who you become not you as the imitation of others.

I am sure there are many other things that will need to be said.  But I want to reinforce God’s love, my love, smart habits, and independence.  What would you add?

Making All Things New

In Chrisian Life on December 31, 2013 at 8:18 am


As the New Year approaches, I am certain we are all deciding on what our New Year’s Resolutions will be.  Here are the top ten resolutions from 2013.

10.  Finish the to-do list around the house.
9.  Read more.
8.  Get organized.
7.  Save money.
6.  Volunteer.
5.  Better life/work balance.
4.  Quit smoking.
3.  Learn something new.
2.  Drink less.
1.  Eat healthy and exercise regularly.

The interesting part comes when you read the statistics on how long people follow these resolutions.  In short, 35% break them by January’s end and 77% are broken somewhere in the year.  After 18 years of ministry, I have broken my share of them too.  I wonder if it is because, according to the list above, only 1 of 10 have to do with someone else.  It seems that resolutions are a lot of self-talk and we apparently are not convinced enough!

What if there was something you could resolve to do that you would actually do?  We must look within ourselves and resolve to do that which we have been designed to do: Love God and Love Others. The following is a list for you to review.

  • Dialogue more with God.
  • Serve more in the church.
  • Tithe more.
  • Invite people to your home.
  • Invest in a new relationship the centers more on them than yourself.
  • Rob yourself to help others, instead of robbing others to help yourself.
  • Accept Responsibility more and blame others less.
  • Be more appreciative and thankful.
  • Give more thoughtful gifts rather than more expensive ones.

As the ball drops and you kiss the closest one to you, God is making things new again.  He is making a new day, a new month, and a new year.  Why not consider letting Him make a new you as well?


You Can’t Spell QUIT without U and I

In Commitment on November 11, 2013 at 8:51 am


I confess.  I have become a fan of Duck Dynasty.  I don’t know how much of that show is scripted, staged, re-enacted, or live but I enjoy it anyway!  One of the favorite sayings of Uncle Si is that you cant spell something without Si.

  • You can’t spell squirrel with Si….
  • You can’t spell strike with Si…
  • You can’t spell stupid with Si…

Here is one for you today:  You can’t spell quit without U and I.  Whenever someone wants to quit they make it about themselves.

  • I can’t
  • I won’t
  • I am too old
  • I am not qualified
  • I am not ready

All of these statements are centered around U and I.  Funny how those two letters are right in the middle of QUIT.  When we focus on our problems, our needs, our issues, and our desires then we will choose to quit.

We quit school.
We quit our family.
We quit our jobs.
We quit our marriages.
We quit tithing.
We quit serving.
We quit attending.
We quit praying.
We quit. reading.

We quit.

The gifts, talents, and abilities you have been given by God are for one task: make disciples of all the nations.  When that is our goal then the focus shifts off of U and I and to God and others.  In the practice of using your gifts and talents we give glory to God and encouragement to others.  There is no quitting for any reason.  There is adjustments that will be made as we mature.  There are adjustments that are made as circumstances and life change us.  Yet, we don’t quit.

4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Which Dog Are You Going To Feed?

In Decisions, Direction on June 1, 2013 at 7:40 am

dogfoodBo lived out in the country and loved it. He would get up early every Summer morning grab his fishing pole and head to the creek. His mother wouldn’t see him until he got hungry which didn’t usually take to long. When he wasn’t jumping hay bales, he was burning ants, climbing trees, or going on some adventure with his dog Max

One morning he was putting out food for his dog when strange one stepped out from the shadows. Startled, Bo dropped the food and stepped back. He had not seen this dog before. By the look of him, he had not been fed for a while. Snarling and growling the two dogs lowered their heads, pinned their ears back and two stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Bo left the food and walked away that day.

After a few days, the black dog warmed up to the new environment and did not growl as often. Bo was able to feed without problem. However the two dogs never did seem to get along no matter what Bo did. The black dog had a look in his eye that would scare Bo now and then. He named him Malus. The name just came to him.

Returning from an adventure with Max, he found Malus. Honestly, Bo wondered if Malus found him. He was not in the usual spot and was angry. His lips raised to show teeth. He bark was mean and loud and that terrified Bo. Max stiffened and prepared to attack. Bo brought some food out and the two quieted down. Unsure of what to make of it, Bo went in to eat.

Days turned to weeks and the heat of Summer kept rising. Bo discovered that Malus wasn’t that bad as long as Max wasn’t around. It seemed the two dogs would never become friends. Bo’s Dad came out one day and asked Bo a question.

“Which dog are you going to keep?”

Bo wanted them both. He like the adventures with both Max and Malus. He had started going out one day with Max and the next with Malus. The stories he would tell at school were going to be epic! He could never take them both. Now his Dad was asking him to choose. Choose? Why did he have to choose? Why couldn’t he continue with this plan? Why couldn’t he keep both? As he struggled with this question, he fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke as the sun filled his room. He threw on some clothes and went outside. Coming to the backside of the barn he heard something strange. The dogs were fighting again. Bo just did not understand why they couldn’t get along. He had to admit that he noticed both wanted his attention. Everyday he would come and pick one to go out for the day. How was he going to choose? Would he choose Max, the one who had loved him his whole life? Would he choose Malus, the strange new dog who had a mean streak? Would he choose Max, who had been his faithful friend? Would he choose Malus, who would try to pick a fight?

In each one us lies two dogs. You will either love the one and hate the other or serve the one and not the other. You cannot live with both. Like Bo, you must choose which dog you will feed. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia.

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Which dog will you feed today?

Psalm 46

In Chrisian Life, Family, Grief, Parenting on May 23, 2013 at 11:01 am


I felt like I had lost my son.

I sat in the home of a good friend when I received the text message telling me I was needed at home immediately.  My son had gone off the deep end.  For several weeks, he has dealt with severe abdominal pain for which we have no cure to this point.  We have been in and out of ER’s and doctor’s offices with plans and prognostications, but no pain relief.  Most days he sits on the floor in his room building with Lego’s to distract from the pain.  If  he lies down he hurts.  If he eats or doesn’t he hurts.  If does nothing or everything he hurts.  I have argued with doctors.  I have sat up overnight in the ER.  I have held his hand and hugged his neck.

His face was wrinkled up in a mixture of pain, emotion, and tears.  He yelled and screamed uncontrollably as the pain washed over him.  The ability to filter was gone.  Like a liver that is shutting down the toxicity rises.  His emotions are raw, laid open because of the pain.  His face withdrawn and the light in his eyes gone, he balled himself up as tight as possible.  His body seemed so small, wracked by the pain.

Have I lost the boy who laughed and played?  Have I lost the boy whom I could never fill with enough food?  Have I lost the one who was sweet, tender, kind, and strong? Have I lost the blue-eyed, blonde, light-up-a-room kid?

As I write this, I am reminded of Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,a helper who is always found in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil.

God is our refuge.  In Him we can place our trust.  In Him we can find safety and security.  I remember being chased as a child by some older boys.  I raced back on my bike as fast as I could.  Skidding into the front yard I was ecstatic to see Dad standing out there.  I dropped the bike and ran over behind him.  I sat down in his shadow and peeked around.  The other boys had stopped short of the yard.  Seeing my Dad, they decided it was not worth it.  I had found my refuge.  I can find refuge today in my Heavenly Father and so can you.  Whatever you are dealing with today, God can be your refuge.

God is our strength.  God bears our burdens.  He is strong when I am weak.  He is bold when I am fearful.  He is positive when I am hopeless.  As I  prepared to build a small deck behind the house, I researched what to do.  I found out that the ground work and foundation blocks were as critical as the deck planks themselves.  The blocks and beams were what held up the deck that everyone saw.  God is like those blocks and beams.  He bears the weight often in ways no one sees.  He is our blocks and beams so that our lives can shine with beauty and stability.

In true Psalmist fashion, I began with a pitiful position and will end in a praise posture.  Though our lives seem dark now I look to God’s creation and see that it is always darkest before the dawn.  God is able to do that which I cannot understand.  I run to Him as my refuge and strength.  Hope comes from those who trust in God!

My hope is in you Lord.  My strength is in you Lord.  Praise God!

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Would Jesus Have Been In 4-H?

In Chrisian Life, Community, Missional on April 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

Oklahoma 4H

I pledge
my head to clearer thinking,
my heart to greater loyalty,

my hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

My kids are in 4-H.  Right now they both hold offices in their Jr 4-H chapter.  Every month at the meeting they begin with this pledge.  At the first National 4-H Camp in Washington, DC in 1927, the present 4-H pledge, worded first by Otis Hall, state leader in Kansas, was officially adopted.  The Executive Committee of the Land-Grant College Association had requested Dr. R. A. Pearson, president of Iowa State College, and Dr. A. C. True of the Federal Extension Service to write a pledge, and they had turned in the pledge substantially as written by Hall.  In 1973, the words “and my world” were added.

As I stood there and said the pledge I wondered, “Would Jesus have been in 4-H?”  He probably would have shown sheep or goats and showmanship would have been perfect!  Coming from a carpenter family, his skills in construction would have won something at the fair.  As I recited that pledge I thought of how well each of those parts create an individual that would be honorable.  As Moses was wrapping up his time as leader he spoke to Israel and his words are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.  One famous line is now known as the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, “4Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

When asked what was most important about the religious law given to Israel, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”

While the words might be rearranged a little, the same sentiment is seen in the 4H pledge.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking.  The Israelites were told to bind these words to their forehead.  God meant that figuratively to mean that Scripture should be on your mind.  Paul would later write to the Philippians, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)”  Keeping your mind set on Christ generally clears things up!

I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.  Loving God with all your heart means that the passions and desires of your life should be filtered through Scripture more than your friends and followers.  Loyalty does not happen automatically.  it takes time and attention.  Loyalty is a decision.  The wisest of all kings, Solomon, wrote, ‘Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.  Tie them around your neck;write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)”

I pledge my hands to larger service.  Helping other people can be seen throughout the life of Jesus.  Because of Him, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the mute spoke, the sick were healed, and the hungry fed.

I pledge my health to better living.  The antithesis of this is found when we are breaking the other three pledges.  Even the Psalmist knew there was a certain way of living that brought health and choices that did not.  The Psalmist wrote, “There is no health in my body because of Your indignation;there is no strength in my bones because of my sin. (Psalm 38:3)”  If sin is simply seen as missing the mark, then it is right to think that when our head, heart, and hands are not right then our health will not either.

Would Jesus have been in 4H?  I don’t know.  However, I do think 4H provides opportunities that make better kids.

Is Hope Dead?

In Decisions, Family, Grief, Trust on April 17, 2013 at 8:50 am


Is hope a simple-minded myth?

In just a 24 hour period I experienced an earthquake, read the news about the Boston bombings, talked with someone whose parent is dying and discovered another marriage crumbling.  How do we cope?  How do we handle the stress?  To whom do we turn?  Too often we turn to the couch of a physician, the doctor’s office for pills, the bed of another, or the bottle to ease the pain.  Why wouldn’t we?  Someone planted bombs in a marathon to maim and destroy the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.  The one who has nurtured you your whole life lies in a bed waiting, and possibly planning, on dying.  The marriage that outwardly seems to be so wonderful is rotting from within.  It is no wonder that we pop pills and drink ourselves to that uncaring oblivion.  We must find a way to ease this pain we feel.  We are determined to replace pain with pleasure, hurt with happiness.

Why hope?  It seems to do no good.

I would expect many to feel this way who have never tasted the goodness of God or have been hurt by those who represent God.  Trust and hope are tied together in a neat little package that some wish were separated.  How can I hope for something where there is no trust?  How can I hope the bombings and killings will stop without trust in the government’s ability to handle or control this situation?  How can I hope for healing when I cannot trust that God will do what I want?  How can there be hope in a marriage where trust left years ago?  Hope is fleeting.  Hope is failing.  Hope is futile and for the simple-minded.  We realists live above this unnecessary emotion right?  Logic wins in that world, but love loses.

We hope because it raises our vision from today to tomorrow.  We hope because the pain of the past is replaced with a promise of a preferred future.  We hope because down deep we still know that God is bigger than us.  God has our best interests in mind even though our feelings claim fault.  We hope because that is all we have.  Hope brings warmth.  Hope brings vision.  Hope raises the spirit.  Though all else seems to fail, believe there is hope.

Believe.  Hope.  Pray.  Live.

1 Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: 2 I called to the Lord in my distress,and He answered me. (Jonah 2)


4th Quarter Living

In Chrisian Life, Faithfulness on April 12, 2013 at 9:36 am


A few years ago I started noticing a trend in football and other sports that have 4 quarters.  At the end of the third the teams and spectators would all start holding up their hands with the number 4 showing.  Coming from a certain sports team I thought it was a bear claw or tiger paw or something.  I asked around, with my hand up of course showing the “4”, what it meant.  Some of the parents of the players told me it was a reminder that the game does not end after the third quarter.  If you want to win you have to play all 4 quarters.


You have to play the whole game.  The team cannot just sit down and wait for the clock to tick off the final time.  The opposition would run wild and win the game no matter what kind of lead you had.  After 3 quarters your lungs ache, your body hurts and your muscles cramp.  There is no quit, though.  We cannot stop after 3.  We play until the end of 4.  As Mike Golic put it one morning, “There is a difference between injury and pain.  You play through the pain.”  Wouldn’t it look silly for the 4th quarter to start and your team not be on the field?  Coaches would be fired.  Players would get berated and possibly booed.  Cheerleaders would have nothing to do.  What cheer do you pull out for that?  Maybe the fans would start holding up fabricated benches instead of fences to promote D-bench instead of D-fence.  How odd would that be?  How different is it for people to quit parenting, quit serving God, quit trying to be better?

You have to train for the 4th Quarter.  The off-season is critical for the regular season.  If at the first sign of pain or breathlessness we quit we will get nowhere.  If I am going to train, I must train through the pain.  The reality of strength training and conditioning is that during the training you will actually tear the muscle apart.  Through food and recovery the body adds muscles in gap.  You train, tear, feed, recover, repeat.  Over and over you do this so your body is prepared for the 4th quarter in the regular season.  Champions never take time off.  They have changed the term off-season to training season.  Parenting doesn’t stop after they turn 18.  Marriage doesn’t stop because it gets hard.  Serving God doesn’t end because someone hurt your feelings.  Train and play through the pain.

Play for the Prize. When your boss yells at you, mentally raise your hand and show 4 fingers rather than the one some of you do!  When your friends talk bad about you, raise your hand.  When someone hurts your feelings, focus on the 4th quarter.  When God allows something that is different from what you wanted/demanded from Him, keep going.  When your body hurts and you have lost a few steps, the game isn’t done.  The prize isn’t handed out to those who start and quit.  The prize isn’t handed out to those who try hard but fail to complete, or intended to finish.  The prize is given to those who finish.  The game may look bad at halftime (mid-life crisis), but every good coach will tell you to focus on the game plan and go win the game in the 4th.

Live on.  Serve strong.  It’s not over yet.  Champions play all 4 quarters.

1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

Hebrews 12

A New Beginning

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Courage sometimes skips a generation, thank you for bringing it back to the family.
–Charlotte Phelan, The Help

What Charlotte could not do, her daughter did.  She stood up for what is right.  Though it would cost her socially, Skeeter acted.  Because of her actions, there would be a new beginning for many.  What have you done lately that brings a new beginning for others?  How have your actions brought positive change to someone?

How can I help someone?  How do I bring about positive change?

  • Love them.  Love them without hypocrisy.  Love them to their face and love them behind their back when you speak about them to others.
  • Raise their value in the eyes of others.  Talk them up because it raises their self-esteem and shows your support.
  • Be patient.  Anyone who has ever sought change knows it takes a while and a few trips along the way.  Helping others experience a breakthrough from the past to a preferred future can be messy.  Yet, it is worth it every time.
  • Share your story too.  One of the best ways for someone to gain strength and courage is to share your story with them.  Transparency brings a unique bond of friendship.

Have the courage to invest in someone.  In the end, two lives will probably be changed for better.



In Missional, Suffering on February 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

Shade Tree

He was unaccustomed to the terrain and unaware of the toll the heat was taking on his body.  Running out of water in his bottle, the man wiped his brow only to discover that there was no more sweat.  Heat and dehydration were robbing him of hope for the future.  As he walked on he came upon a beautiful sight: a shade tree.  With the last bit of energy, he ran to the shade.  As he sat down under the tree he noticed a small pool of water on the backside.  He filled up the bottle with the tepid , but cool enough, water and drank deeply.  Exhaustion has taken over and he rested for a while in the shade of this lonely tree.  Soon the heat of the day had passed and the man was able to travel on in the coolness of the evening.  He will ever forget the moment he found the shade.  In the most desperate of times, shade made the difference.

1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1

Wherever you find yourself there are those whose lives are on the brink of exhaustion.  The Kiefer marriage and family have spiraled out of control.  The fiscal cliff and the years leading to it have robbed Jim and Edna of everything they once had.  Jill lost her job last week and faces panic attacks every morning as she feeds the kids.  Brock is closing in on graduation with no hope of a job.  Emma goes from one man to the next hoping to maintain her habit.  Bob blows his money at the track and can’t seem to stop.  Rita has become hopeless and spends her kids lunch money on lottery tickets hoping to win more than she spent.  Caring for his aging mother, Jason has assumed a larger responsibility.  He works more and sees the family less.  So many are within touching distance.  Lives falling apart.  The heat of life’s fire and the dehydration mentally and spiritually robs them of any hope for tomorrow.

Be someone’s shade today.

1.  Let them relax in your presence.  Create an atmosphere where they can rest.  Maybe your friends, small group, or study group could help bear the load for an evening.  Love them and give them shade.

2.  Let them find relief.  Sometimes another conference or retreat is not the answer.  A book does not always fix the issue.  Give them shade.  Watch the kids, clean the house, make dinner, fill their car with gas, take a meal, or something that brings shade to their soul.

3.  Let them rest.  There are those moments when a person needs to take breath.  I have found that going to lunch, or supper, or coffee, or hanging out can be an opportunity for someone to rest.  In those moments of shade, the stress of their life might pour out.  It might emotional.  It might be messy.  Yet, the rest that follows is critical for the continuance and continuity of life.  Without this type of shade we become parched, dry, and brittle and bitter towards life and ourselves.  We begin to close ourselves off to the world around us.  We die a little more each day.

Be someone’s shade today.

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