Do we love our bodies?

The Bible is a living document in part because our understanding of the text changes as we change. One can read a passage multiple times and read it a certain way and then read it from a different perspective and have a significant epiphany. This happened to me with a passage I have probably read 20+ times. Ephesians is one of my favorite epistles and I’ve read it many, many times in part because of the passages on marriage. It also contains the longest passage that I have memorized. I’ve been reading it for the last few weeks and read this passage again with a completely different insight then I have ever had:

Ephesians 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

It’s a beautiful call to husbands to love wives as much as they love themselves. Coming from a Reformed and relatively Calvanistic background it’s been assumed that husbands love themselves. In-fact here’s part of what Calvin says about this passage:

“An argument is now drawn from nature itself, to prove that men ought to love their wives. Every man, by his very nature, loves himself. But no man can love himself without loving his wife. Therefore, the man who does not love his wife is a monster.”

Almost every sermon or commentary I’ve heard/read take it for granted that we (as husbands) love ourselves, tend to be self centered and selfish and we are to love our wives in the way that we already love ourselves. I agree with that sentiment but….I realized this week that it actually says something a little more than that. Here I’ll include the next verse:

Ephesians 5:28-29 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their
own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

The passage is not really telling us to love our wives as we love “ourselves” meaning the “our personalities” or “our Ego” (in the Freudian sense). It’s literally saying love our wives as we love our “physical bodies”. It’s not implicit, it’s actually explicit when taken with verse 29. Calvin seems to take it for granted that this would be true, but he’s never met an American. It’s clear that most of us hate our bodies! We don’t get the rest, exercise or fuel that our bodies need. We choose TV and facebook over sleep. We choose convenient frankenfoods (“because they taste better”- what a crock) over healthful homecooked meals. We say “when I get home from a long day of work I’m too tired to exercise” though what we really mean is “I want to watch TV when I get home even though a walk would actually make me feel better while the TV makes me feel even less energetic.”

Anyone who has been cornered by me recently knows that I’ve been pouring an incredible amount of energy into thinking about the root of the American obesity epidemic, while also getting back into “fighting shape” myself. Dorothy and I hit a low of fitness about March 2011. It had gotten pretty bad. After Ruthie was born June 2010 we really let our exercise go. We were tired, I was still figuring out how to juggle my schedule here, and by the time Ruthie started to sleep it was the brutal Jerome winter. Starting around April 2011 when I started doing Kung-fu and Dorothy started going to the YMCA to work-out. After a series of energy sucking meetings that ended in spring 2012 I upticked even more in my exercise and have really basically gotten back into what I would consider very good condition again. In many ways I would consider this my “normal” as I spent many years through the end of medical school and residency in this kind of shape when I was racing triathalon or bikes. I’ve also got my diet and appetite more in line with good health simply by not eating so much dang dessert (our diet was pretty clean all along). It turns out from review of my old exercise journals that I spent a long time around this weight also (averaging about 162 right now).

One outcome from this has been a noticeable increase in my libido and more specifically finding my wife much more attractive and desirable than I had while my fitness had been less. Not to say I didn’t find her attractive before (seriously she’s hot) but I found myself wanting to spend more time and physical energy on her as my fitness improved. I’m using the multiple definitions of attractive here, not just in the sexual/physical way. I’ve also find myself wanting to support her return to fitness. We likely have many, many years of marriage ahead of us and it would nice to enjoy them with energy and without the disease of poor health that I see plaguing Americans wholesale. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, poor balance, nursing homes….these are the realities of retirement in America. I never hear those that maintained good health and fitness say “the Golden years aren’t so Golden” it’s usually former smokers or the obese who can’t figure out how they got to this place of debilitation.

So men: this passage is first an explicit call to “love your body”. Not self worship, not narcissism but getting it the rest, exercise and fuel it needs. CHOOSE health. From there we are to love our wives as we love our bodies. If you are married, make the changes needed because I can tell you from personal experience it becomes easier to love your wife better. If you are unmarried make the changes ahead of time, health probably won’t hurt in helping you find a wife.

Women: I’d guess that if men are called to love their bodies….the same is true for ya’ll. Likewise if (which is usually true even in two income homes) you do all the shopping or cooking you can do your part by making better choices about what fuels are even available in the house. Take control: a household that contains no soda, cookies, or frankenfoods makes it much easier for everyone living there to make good diet choices.

Perfect hair night for delivery. My gorgeous wife.

Published in: on August 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Girls



Amy Elizabeth is born!  Technically it’s been almost a month, but I haven’t blogged in a bit, so better late than never. She was born July 9th 7lbs 5.5 oz 20 inches.  So here’s some background on that night and my feelings so far.

Sunday July 8th was starting to feel like do or die time.  My schedule was essentially changed to take that next week off.  Dorothy’s mom had been here for 10 days already and in her own words “Family is a little like fish, after too many days they both start to stink.”  We were past her due date and Ruth was born on the due date so we had been expecting a little before her due date. That and her very, very dilated cervix.  Dorothy had been having contractions for weeks, but nothing to “write home about”.  So Sunday we decided to try to help things along a little.  Prayer at church, check.  Nipple stim- check. I even ran out to the store and got real Raspberry Leaf Tea.  She had few cups of that.  Then in the evening after dinner we went for a short walk down our lane, Ruthie in the carrier on my back.

Our “neighbors”…

[..side note that we took to calling them our “neighbors” because originally we were calling them “the Mexicans” and we decided that it just seemed too racist for some reason.  I mean they are all latinos in the little run down house that’s the only house on our road, we have yet (see below) to have any of them speak English to us.  It’s a little unclear how many live there actually, but they have always been friendly in the form of waves….]

…were outside cooking food which smelled great. We all waved at each other.  I’d say there were 7-8 men, which is more than is typical.  We walked about .5 mile up the road and came back, waving again.  As we got about halfway from our neighbors house to our house a car pulled up next to us.  The driver said “Here’s some carne asada.  When we see a pregnant woman walk past we give her carne asada.”  He hands us a plate with two pounds of meat covered by a paper towel.  The smell was amazing. We had already eaten dinner but ate half the plate on the walk home.  

So..walk- check, .carne asada- check.  We went to bed really hoping to have the baby the next day so I didn’t have to go to work  on Tuesday.  We went to bed about 10:30.  About 1:05 AM Dorothy wakes me and says “Josh, I think we need to go to the hospital.”  I’m like “Ok, how many contractions have you had?”  “Four”.  

“Four?!?!?”  “No I’m serious these are really strong.”  She had one at 12:30, one at 12:45, one at 12:55 and one at 1 AM and felt it was time.  I was skeptical. Then she started having them every two minutes and needing to kneel on the ground with them, then she says “I think I need to poop.”  to which I responded “Get in the car”.  The drive to the hospital was punctuated by rupture of membranes and by a brief pause for her to try to puke out of the open passenger side door. 

We got to the hospital about 1:40 AM and had Amy at 2:12 AM.  I actually called the OB nurse cell phone on the way because of that body language that anyone that does OB knows as “this lady is going to have a baby soon.”  

So first labor with Ruthie started at 11 PM and ended at 7:30 AM with two hours of pushing and was 6 pounds. Amy was 1:40 from first hard contraction to delivery with about 3 pushes at 7lbs 5.5 oz.  What a difference!  It’s interesting that the fast labor was sort of making Dorothy freak out about having to push. She didn’t have time emotionally to get ready for that last pain.  Right before pushing she was saying “I’m freaking out, I can’t do this, I’m not ready.”  Of course it was coming so fast it was pretty well out of her hands.  

My feelings toward baby #2 are very different also, I’ll plan on posting those thoughts soon.  

Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm  Comments (4)  

Something more…

Listen here first:

Easy in the summer time

If that doesn’t work try this:
NPR article
click on the link on the left for “Easy in the summertime”

It’s a gorgeous song. It’s actually very sad. The background history of the song is that those are two sisters who’s father shot and killed their mother and then himself. That song is about that summer that it happened, almost 30 years ago. The song helped push me to think more about something I had already been thinking about: how do families get so messed up?

I look at my current family: wife and daughter, age 7 months. We so happy it’s almost ridiculous. The degree of peace and harmony we have I know can only come from God. We’ve definitely dropped into a rhythm of life that is enjoyable, sustainable and full of love. The thing I keep worrying about is: how to keep it that way. I look at families I know and there’s so much tension. I myself was raised in a somewhat chaotic feeling family of divorce and re-marry. The classic split family of my generation. It didn’t feel good around age 10-14. I really sensed that my family was sub-optimal.

I was deeply wounded when I didn’t make the little league team around 7th grade despite the fact that my step-dad had played baseball in college. We practiced exactly once leading up to the big try-out. I’m not sure that wound has ever healed completely. At times during high school I was pretty sure my wrestling coach ended up filling the roll of “father” for me: the male authority figure that taught me what being a man was.

And yet my father also didn’t kill my mother. I was never abused, I never went without breakfast or dinner. I got a Christmas every year. I had all books I wanted. Two week driving vacations across the county. Never a doubt that I would go to college or be “successful” in life. I can’t complain about my life, how I turned out, or even my relationship with my family now.

But I listen to that song and I think that aiming for Ruthie growing up with her parents not divorcing or literally killing each other may not be aiming high enough. I don’t want to aim for “well at least I didn’t molest her”. I want to aim for genuine love. I want my daughter to love me and her to know and really feel that I love her. I want to aim for her to be able to trust me with her inner thoughts. I want her to know that we are there for her and for her to think “I want my marriage to be like my parents”. I want to aim higher…and I suspect that most people do when they get married or have a child, but somewhere along the way it often goes to pot.

Bluntly I think the issue is human sin. Infidelity, greed (working too much and not seeing your kids), selfishness (a parent’s life or activities being more important to them then supporting their child), laziness, boredom, are all things that I suspect erode everyone’s goal for “doing it better”. I have to keep remembering that. As work gets busier and more expectations and requirements fall on me. As more Boards ask me to be president (I’m about be elected president of the Board I sit on). As I get more hobbies (I still want to pick up fly fishing) and resume my normal ones after having the baby (backpacking), I need to keep holding on to the fact that what I really want is loving family and loving God with those other things coming second.

This is a two part post the next to come sometime next week…..stay tuned!

Published in: on January 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  


Ruth Hazel Kern is born! June 1st at 7:26 AM Dorothy gave birth to our beautiful baby girl. The picture below is from today. She is amazing, wonderful, and mysterious. I love her. I’m not going to blog about her. I’m going to blog about my wife: whom is amazing, wonderful and mysterious. I’ve heard the phrase “proud papa” before, I had always assumed that the phrase applied to the new child. For me however the pride is in my wife.

Pride or more specifically “to be proud” is a difficult concept for me. Two very different definitions of proud that I will elaborate on here (from
feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself (often fol. by of, an infinitive, or a clause).
having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.

Biblically the word “proud” is never used as a positive. In fact it’s almost always used to describe those upon whom God’s vengeance is due. Pride is the root of most sin. It is the sin I suffered mightily from before conversion. The definition in view here is the second, “opinion in one’s own dignity, importance, or superiority.” When one thinks of oneself as higher then God, we face judgment.

Biblically the closest I’ve found to the first definition of the English word “proud” is the word “pleased” as used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to describe how God feels about Jesus (from Luke3:22, King James): “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” Strong’s defines the word used there for “pleased” (εὐδοκέω in Greek) as “to think well of”. Though I suspect, just from the context, that this English definition might not quite capture the strength of how God feels about Jesus. I think this type of “pleased” is probably a type of righteous pride. It’s proud that wouldn’t be deserving of judgment because it’s really a type of love.

In the 10-15 minutes before the birth of Ruth Hazel when Dorothy was really suffering and starting in her words to “freak out”, she kept saying “I don’t know” over and over. I knew that birth was imminent that one or two big pushes would result in the birth of our daughter. The pain was very intense for Dorothy and I could barely help her because I was starting to cry so much. As our daughter finally broke through and was finally born I wept to the point of almost sobbing. Dorothy looked in amazement the pain already gone (at least temporarily until her doctor began to clean up her birth injuries) and kept saying “Oh my gosh” and then the baby was on her chest she kept saying “Hi honey, oh honey”. I continued to cry so much I could barely see her. Later I realized that feeling that brought the tears was joy, to a degree, but the overriding feeling bringing those tears was pride, the first definition, the εὐδοκέω, for my wife. She had suffered at times mightily for almost 8 hours and already loved our daughter and had forgotten the suffering just moments after the birth.

I can’t recall ever feeling that way about anyone or anything. I certainly have never had εὐδοκέω for anything I have done in my life. Of any of the many “major” graduations I’ve had, getting a first job, buying a first house, I’ve felt thankful and I’ve felt relieved, but never really felt type 1 proud. The closest I’ve probably come (at least to my sleep deprived memory) was when my mother finished her 3 day 60 mile walk at age 50. The crowd, a packed stadium actually, was roaring for all these (mostly) women and I knew how my mom would be feeling down on the field as she entered the stadium and I felt a lesser degree of the εὐδοκέω at that moment for her.

Now over two days out from delivery I’m still somewhat choked up at times with type 1 pride for my wife. Being sleep deprived for 3 straight days helps make me more emotional, for sure. Today I have love for my wife like I haven’t felt ever, because of this amazing sense of pride in her. The picture below I think is tied for or perhaps even the most beautiful picture I have of her, the other being 1-2 amazing pictures of her from our wedding day. Now along with that love and beauty I have in my wife I have the same for my daughter. I now have a real “family”, which is such an amazing feeling. I am the proud papa.

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  


Being on the precipice of being a father has made me somewhat introspective. Dorothy was backing up some photos this week and ran across pictures from my bike accident. Looking at those pictures got me to thinking about the 3 years since my crash, the 1.5 years since I rode my bike and the 15 pounds I have gained since then.

March 2007: the start of what would be my last bike racing season. I was in an early season race in Seattle. Driving rain, cold, suffering, that was the order of the day. This was the season that I was going to graduate into Category 3 to a higher level of racing, but also a safer level of racing. I trained hard over the winter leading up to this, spending 4 hours on my bike every weekend day often watching movies in my basement in Boise because it was just too cold on the ground. I had spent a lot of time working the hills and I was my lightest weight since high school. I was ready. Forty miles into the race I’m, in fact, optimally positioned and going into the last .5 mile I was in the top 6-10 and as the final sprint is where I excel I was probably looking at a top 5+ easily.
We are now in the full sprint 100 yards from the finish, out of the saddle, 35+ MPH. Then… the guy in front of me lays his bike down.

Needless to say, in those wet conditions, in full sprint I hit the deck. I had been in very mild “skid-out” type crashes or “into the bushes” type crashes before, but nothing like this. I broke my helmet, tore up my bike, destroyed a racing jersey, separated my left AC joint, contused my ribs, and had a terrible amount of road rash. The pictures (for the strong of stomach) are below which show that since changing into my jeans (1-2 hours before) I bled through them from the one wound you can’t see in the pictures (on my left hip).

Dorothy was standing about 10 feet away when the crash occurred. She heard me cursing the pain and the other rider. There were about 5 others that hit the dirt. One of the other guys ended up with surgery to repair a tendon in his hand which was lacerated by the gears of another rider’s bike. A few other guys I knew came over and wanted me to sit down because I must have looked a mess and they were worried I was more hurt then I thought I was. Which later it turned out I was. On the way home I called the sports medicine fellow in my residency and she offered to call in some pain medication. I initially refused but about 15 minutes later when the pain started I called her back and requested some.

That was the worst pain I’ve had in my life. Showering when I got home was awful, trying to clean road rash like that on such a wide spread area of my body was excruciating. The worst pain though was my shoulder and ribs that first night when I awoke in the night and needed to use the restroom. I almost couldn’t get out of bed from the pain. It faded quickly over several days and I ended up only using about 10 of the pain pills. The damage was done though, I was racing bikes within 2 weeks but I was never the same. I was scared. You can’t be scared when you race bikes because to do well in the sprint you have to be willing to take risks. I finished out that season and had a few good results, but never had the fearlessness I had previously had. I remember one race in particular that we hit the last half mile, I was in the front, I was feeling strong and when the sprint started I just sat up because I got too afraid.

So I quit bike racing after that, but not because of the fear. Because I was about to graduate from residency, thinking about having a baby with my new wife, and knew that if I had been the guy with the lacerated tendon I wouldn’t be able to work to the full extent of my profession and I would lose money.

I think that had I trained biking over the next winter I would have been fine, from a fear stand-point, that next year. But this was the first time that I was forced to really face my mortality and I had to make the adult decision that a broken arm and loss of income probably wasn’t going to be worth the pleasure I got out of riding bikes. This is, however, part of what being an adult is. Besides maybe marrying Dorothy or going to medical school this was probably one of the first really adult decisions I ever made. I sacrificed what I wanted for what I needed to do to take care of my family. I foresee, of course, similar decisions to be made in the near term as we begin to raise our daughter.

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bun in the Oven

I can’t decide if my response to my wife’s pregnancy are within the standards of my normal personality or heavily influenced by my profession. It’s a somewhat strange position to be a Family Physician and deliver a few babies per month and have your wife be pregnant.  I’ve made a very strong effort to avoid the temptation to be her doctor, which is good.  My dilemma lies in the fact that I think I’m probably less “excited” then I should be.  I felt our baby move the other day and I was sort of….underwhelmed.  I’m obviously very excited about having a baby and looking forward to it, but when I start thinking about it to much I start worrying about all the things that could go wrong.  So my response is to not think about it too much. 

It could just be a personality defect that causes my lack of excitement.  The trouble is that while I can be quite excitable about things I also tend to just roll with the punches.  Bad things happen: move on.   Good things happen: move on.  Wife’s pregnant: move on.  My issue is that I don’t intellectually feel like it should be like that for something like a pregnancy.  Alternativly my non-chalance could be from my over-exposure from doing this as my job.  It could be the “mystery” is gone to a degree.  How many times have a felt a baby kick? 100? 1000?  How many times have a heard a heartbeat on a doppler?  Somewhere around infinity.  So I feel somewhat conflicted.  I don’t want to be Joshy Downer on my wife’s pregnancy, but I can’t really feign excitement. 

Now with all of that said: I guess I do get pretty amazed at my wifes ever growing belly.  It’s pretty amazing to see my rather thin framed wife with a prominent “baby bump”.  She’s now well over halfway (over 5 months in lay-person terms) and showing quite obviously no matter what she’s wearing.  This wonder however stems more for the ongoing wonder of marriage, not as much about the wonder of pregnancy.  I’ve got an upcoming post on that topic, the wonder of marriage. 

No answers today.  My favorite quote of the pregnancy: “Gosh the baby is really kicking, it’s kind of bugging me.”   That’s just a few week after pure excitement and facebook status posts about feeling the baby kick.  Maybe I’m not the only one for whom the magic fades?

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm  Comments (2)