Reflecting on Health ….

The Fire Within by Mili MiIt’s a glorious fall day, cool and calm and clear. I would love to sit out on the deck and enjoy the fine weather, but instead I am stuck inside with bronchitis. It’s been many years since I have succumbed to this mysterious malady, a serious concern each and every time I catch a cold. Such is life with asthma. So I was drawn to this dramatic photo by my friend Mili Mi, a far cry from what you would see with the naked eye. Folks are always surprised to hear I suffer from asthma. I am not sure what they think asthma looks like, or how people with asthma act. Perhaps they think I should be sickly and pale, forever out of breath and on the verge of collapsing. Instead I am the one at the gym most mornings, or walking the dog in the neighborhood for an hour. I appear healthy and hardy, yet just below the surface, there lurks a fire that seeks to snatch away my breath. As a child, my father argued to keep me in gym class, while other children were often excused. He felt I needed to develop my lung capacity to compensate for my breathing issues. When I went for my military physical, I passed the breath capacity test because I was active, a test given to all recruits. That was years before I was properly diagnosed with asthma. It took running on the beach in Los Angeles before the doctors recognized what was wrong. Once I was on proper medications and learned how to manage my symptoms, life was so much better. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that few of us are without the ‘thorn in the flesh’ that Paul speaks of in his letters of the New Testament. This mortal frame is fragile, and not without its petty foibles. Some of us are blessed with hearty constitutions in our younger years, only to succumb to ailments as we age. Others suffer early on, then learn to live with their concerns, sometimes developing healthier habits that ease the effects of aging. Then a difficult transition takes its toll, or we end up encountering someone who thinks they just have allergies instead of something contagious. We fall ill and our coping mechanisms fall short. Make time today to give thanks for the gift of health. Praise the Creator for the miracle of life, given to us breath by breath. Resist the temptation to take that breath for granted, for many of us struggle with breathing. And always remember, your health may be as wide as a highway, or as thin as a ribbon. Pray for those that walk the tightrope of health, that their balance and yours may be protected and restored. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo by Mili Mi ©2012, to see more of her work, go to


Reflecting on Air….

Out of Air by Steve UlleniusIt’s another cold, grey morning here in Virginia. Even the old adage ‘March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb’ doesn’t seem to apply. With a week to go, the lamb is nowhere in sight. The air outside is cold and raw, and the wind is stirring up all sorts of dust and pollen. So I was drawn to this photo by my friend Steve, of a disused gas station. I’m not sure if some of the windows are boarded up, or covered with a soapy film. The air pump is long gone and even the exhaust ports are tightly sealed. The only way for air to escape is through the tiny hole beneath the word ‘AIR’. I have lived with asthma for most of my life, and it’s been an ongoing concern for my daughter. Asthma prevents the sufferer from breathing out. Air becomes trapped inside and it feels as if your lungs could burst. An inhaler opens the throat so you can breathe out once again. Asthma is something I would not wish on my worst enemy, let alone someone I love. We all want the best for our children, hoping they inherit our strengths but not our weaknesses. Yet all too often we end up with both, seemingly amplified beyond what we can bear. Perhaps we empathize because we know all too well what they are going through. We recall our own triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows. We wish to spare our children what we endured, but know we cannot. Growth requires vulnerability and exposure. We cannot learn without stretching ourselves, without moving out of our comfort zone. We cannot take without giving, gain new life without dying, start again without ending. When we turtle in, our world becomes filled with stale air. Make time today to take a chance, to lean into the wind, to breathe in deeply and breathe out freely. Open your heart and mind to another’s viewpoint, listening without reservation, seeking to understand, reserving judgment. Let go of what you expected and give thanks for what you have received. Forgive yourself and others for the shortcomings of this life, and allow The Almighty to complete what overwhelms you alone. And always remember to give thanks here and now, no matter what life may bring, for this gift of life is given to us one breath at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Out of Air’ by Steve Ullenius, All Rights Reserved

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