The unique gift of a Body & Soul class

It is only by God’s grace and strength that I can do anything, including teaching Body & Soul cardio strength and flexibility classes. God reminds me of this lesson, time and time again in my life. And we revisited this truth throughout the last few weeks. My aunt, Darlene Fauble, one of my Dad’s older sisters, has been struggling, fighting for her life. She has lived with a lung condition, sarcoidosis, for most of her life. As we watched Aunt Darlene struggle with health and breathing, she modeled a Christian life for us. She also modeled a healthy lifestyle, on her feet, exercising regularly.  She laughed at the days to come.

Aunt Darlene is in the yellow shirt on the left!

She has never been married and she has no children. We, her nieces and nephews, and our children, are like children and grandchildren to her. She is like another grandmother in our lives. What a blessing to be in strong fellowship with one another!

Unfortunately, this fall, at 70 years old, Aunt Darlene was hospitalized for complications due to her lung condition. While she remained hospitalized for months, she continued to fight for her life. She finally asked for comfort care, and Aunt Darlene rested. The first night, after Aunt Darlene asked for comfort care, my Aunt Penny and I spent the night at her side in the hospital room. I held Aunt Darlene’s hand, combed her hair, and Aunt Penny and I talked and laughed the night away as Aunt Darlene rested. It was a memorable sleepless slumber party with two blessed women, who are filled with faith and love for the Lord our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a prize to have people like this is my life! Thank you, Jesus!

That afternoon, I left the hospital, blessed, but exhausted. After a sleepless night, I taught my Body and Soul cardio strength class, that very night at 7 p.m.  I wore my pink “I Walked the Mighty Mackinac Bridge” t-shirt, because this shirt represents a tradition that my Aunt Darlene and family shared every Labor Day, when we participated in the annual Mackinac Bridgewalk together. This past fall, however, Aunt Darlene was unable to walk over the bridge, but she was able to ride over the bridge with my mom, and they met us for breakfast at Audie’s…near the finish line.

I have no idea how I made it through teaching class that class. And then I realized it was the same thing that sustained  Aunt Darlene through all of her health struggles.  It is God’s grace at work in our lives. It was also the presence and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, so palpable among the amazing students, surrounding me in class. (Praise God for their encouragement! Do they even know how much their spirits encourage one another?)

So, now you can maybe understand why Body and Soul class is not laborious for me. God strengthens me to teach it and through it. It is a time set aside, for me to share expressed joy, frustration, sorrow, to God alone. I don’t know a better time to go to class than when I am exhausted. Praise God! He renews, He strengthens, He lives.

Monday night was class night. Wednesday morning, Aunt Darlene passed away with her little brother, my Dad, at her side. Jesus carried her home to Heaven that early morning. Victory and true rest for Aunt Darlene: it is hers.

Tonight our local Holland and Zeeland instructors gather to go over our Winter Routines. I am grateful for these women of faith, who help hold me accountable for learning new tasks set before us.

Never underestimate with whom you surround yourself. Choose prized people of faith. We need one another as we run the race set before us.Yes, we need to reach out appropriately to those around us who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But don’t forget to invest in people and to surround yourself with those who run the race beside us, in front of us, and behind us.

Keep in mind the words found in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….”

I hope you will find the strength and grace I have found in this, far-beyond-a-fitness class. When you do, invite others who could use this in their lives as well.And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Teresa VanderZwaag teaches Body & Soul Fitness in Zeeland, MI.  For more information on classes check out “Students – find a class.”


Pictures provided by Teresa VanderZwaag and Body & Soul Fitness.

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