Pondera Life

Pondera

So what does Pondera mean? It is Latin for "balance."

Doesn't balance feel like a foreign concept? Maybe it is just an old fashioned, even quaint idea. We all want a balanced life, but reality often casts a shadow across that dream. Maybe balance is just too much to hope for.

Consider everything clamoring for our attention. We want a good job with good pay, we want meaningful friendships - to make a difference in someone else's life. And we all want some of that "me time" we hear so much about.

But come on you say. Get real. Balance is impossible.

Sure, balance feels like a foreign concept. Maybe it got lost in translation. But considering the alternative, it seems worth trying to learn more about.

These 9 young professional come from a variety of backgrounds and interests.  Each has a a passion for seeking balance and deeper life meaning.  Each shares a part of their spiritual journey. Several of these stories are a short continuation of their story from Pondera Magazine. If you would like to get a free copy of Pondera Magazine, please contact us.

 Laura Calenberg

My modeling career took off when I was living in Paris.

I was traveling all the time, working long hours seven days a week, and it seemed like I was in a different country every week, working with new faces and new people. I was exhausted.

My health began to deteriorate. My identity was so wrapped up in my work and being busy, I didn't know how to sit still. I had to take Vitamin B shots because I was burned out physically. I didn't have a balance. Everything was about work and money and me. There was no time to give or serve.   I ended up fainting after a fitting and twisting my ankle. I couldn't walk, so I had to cancel 12 shows. I was miserable. I worried about my career, I worried about my life. But then I made a decision to move back to New York.

Back in New York, I went back to a church that I had been involved with before. I realized I had not been living for God. I had come to faith in Christ when I was younger, but I recommitted my life to Christ then, telling God I wanted to serve Him.

Now, my whole life is about serving others, and using the platform God has given me to share his love with others. As I look back over my career, I thank God that He reached into my heart at a young age, and the thing that will count the most is how I use my time and the position that God gave me. Part of my change was saying to God, "I'm going to take a stand and I'm going to help others."

Laura Calenburg, model and magazine fashion editor.

Sean Fitsimmons

I joined the Marine Corps and after several different deployments I came back to the United States not really understanding life. A lot of things I saw in the world didn't make sense to me. I began searching for answers and started looking at different types of theology and religions. I was really struck by three things in Christianity. It wasn't works-based, it wasn't based on me and it offered the concept of grace.

As I started down that path I met a woman who later became my wife. She asked me if I was a Christian. My response was "yes." Her next question absolutely floored me: "When did you start living for Christ?" I didn't understand, so I spent some time figuring that out. I've come to understand that He is God in my life and my job is to align with Him.

That's because real Christianity, at its core, is real, relevant and relational. Being a Christ-follower is very real in all aspects of my life. It has helped keep work in perspective for myself and I think others see that. I maintain a pretty good life balance. I've set boundaries and live by those at work or outside work.

Secondly, real Christianity has relevancy in all the decisions and behaviors that I exhibit in any environment. So much of my life is spent at work and that is where others can see my faith played out in my behaviors. My faith shouldn't be segregated into family, work, church and whatever else. The same values, principles and discussions should happen in all those different environments. It's one continuous spectrum that drives how I make decisions.

And finally, real Christianity is relational: God created us to have relationships with Him and with others. Understanding my relationship to Him helps me to treat others as somebody special whom God specifically and uniquely created. This keeps my behavior and attitude in check.

Sean, rock climbing, team leader, telecommunications company, Estes Park, Colo.


Eric Alexander

A few years ago, I was asked to be a part of an expedition to lead the first blind climber up Mount Everest. I accepted the offer and began training.

While climbing in the Himalayas, I took a near fatal fall. I fell 150 feet onto a ledge about the size of chair. If I hadn't hit that ledge, I would have gone another 500 feet. But through the incident, I got pulmonary edema, a treatable though potentially life-threatening condition that effects the lungs and the heart.

The team said they still wanted me for Everest, though the pulmonary edema made it difficult to train. I took it on faith that God still wanted me to go on the trip, but climbing the highest mountain in the world while injured would prove to be interesting. I told my blind friend Erik Weihenmayer that I didn't know if I was strong enough to get myself to the summit but I knew I was strong enough to help him get there.

On Everest, God certainly blessed me with strength I didn't have. I made it to 26,000 feet without oxygen and was one of the strongest guys on the team when it came to summit day. And most importantly, Erik made it to the top.

I often get a chance to share about my adventures with others. I tell people that it's not about what I did, but what God has done. What I do is not just about Him bringing me to the summit of mountains, but that He has made me a new person and that I am forgiven.

Bio:

Eric Alexander, is a world-class skier, climber and mountaineer. He played in an instrumental role in leading the first blind climber to climb Everest, Eric Weihenmayer and is currently assisting him in his goal of summiting the highest points on each of the seven continents. Eric directs Adventures Beyond Limits, an organization that works with youth with disabilities. He lives with his wife, Amy, in Vail, Colorado.

Jim Lewis
Sitting in the basement of my home in Danbury, Conn., I had just added up all the debt we were in. I remember thinking, "This is ridiculous. I'm a CPA. I have a finance background. So what am I doing wrong?"

I never felt friviolous in my spending and I've always had a reputation of being wise with money. But we had just made a big move to an area with a higher cost of living, and we were trying to maintain the same standard of living but we didn't have enough money to make it work. I was 32 years old, we had a new baby, and I was just beginning a new job. Our credit card debt was embarrassingly large, not counting the mortgage on our house.

I looked at the number and at our situation, and I knew something had to change.

I realized I hadn't been doing what God wanted me to do. I hadn't been trusting God with my finances.

I had placed my faith in Christ, when I was 10 years old, having grown up going to church. My parents never pressured me to follow Christ, but there came a time when I said, "Yes, this is personally important to me. "

Through the years, I had grown in my faith, but that night I grew some more. I began to understand that the money really wasn't mine, that I was just the steward. And I made a real commitment to begin giving 10 percent of my income back to God.

Since then my financial situation has changed greatly and we continue to give, but at a higher level, so now instead of at 10 percent, we give 15 percent. Recently, my brother and I were able to buy our parents a new house, and retire the mortgage in two years.


Jim Lewis, vice president, Disney Vacation Development


Dawn Atanasio

Training in the martial arts can become almost like an obsession: in college, I started training between three to five nights a week. I needed balance in my life. Then, like a 2x4 to the head, I experienced the breaking up of three close relationships.

I watched a marriage break up, people I considered like parents, and discovered that one of my closest friends-a real confidante-was also deeply involved. I ended up smack in the middle of the three of them, and it became too much.

Suddenly, I had nothing else to cling to and I had no one to turn to, to pour out my grief and hurt and anger.

Even though I had asked Christ into my life in the fourth grade, prayer for me wasn't like a daughter talking to her Father, the way the Bible says it can be. It was like more like talking to a friend once every couple months from long distance. You think, oh I need to talk with him, you call him up and chat for a little bit, and then hang up.

After experiencing that train wreck of relationships, my prayer life got a lot stronger. I believe God uses difficult situations to draw people toward Him.

Today, there are days when I can't get enough of Him and then there are days that I actually forget to talk with Him. But I know that when I talk to the Lord, I can bare my soul and know that He forgives me and still loves me.

I also started reading the Bible at night. Proverbs and Psalms were like a balm to my spirit.

Martial arts is not my priority anymore. It is just a hobby, not my life. There are days when I think about where I was and where I am today and I can't help but cry in thankfulness. He's such a good God.

Dawn M. Atanasio, martial artist, senior programmer/analyst, Marriott Vacation Club

Patrick Davis

I've always tried to live an active lifestyle. I started running 5k races when I was 12 years old. During college, I started competing in triathlons. At my peak I was training 20 to 25 hours a week for the races. I was winning almost every race I entered but my personal life was falling apart-my girlfriend left me and I couldn't land a good job. It was the worst time of my life.

I remember specifically, driving home from a race that I won by several minutes. I should have been on top of the world. But I felt so empty.

I kept racing, and winning. But there came a point when I couldn't even race anymore.

I developed a collection of scar tissue on my right side that would cause severe pain during longer durations of high heart rate activity. After having to drop out of several races, severely disappointed, I quit racing triathlons and began adventure racing because it was a slower paced race and was a three-person team event. Curiously, both of my teammates were Christians and extremely talented athletes.

I grew up as a Christian, but during college I had left the faith. Yet now I was open to it again. I was invited to and began attending Bible Study Fellowship which was life changing. God drew me away from the "toxic" relationships in my life. He even afforded me the opportunity to restore a few broken relationships, including the one with my wife, Laura.

I have discovered, that God creates us with a missing ingredient. That missing ingredient is Him. And when you find that missing ingredient, you find that sense of completeness.

Patrick Davis, adventure racer and tri-athlete, regional vice president, Outreach Senior Healthcare, Orlando, Fla.

Roger Dunnavan

For a long time, I was focused on only my own career and making sure that everything I did was going to benefit me. But the work place is not something you can count on. Careers are shorter. Loyalty is gone. Things can change literally overnight. What people thought was a safe, dependable livelihood can literally be taken away tomorrow. Over time, I began to understand that what we do at work is not just about building our own goals and achieving our own objectives.

As a person progresses in his or her career, certainly there will be a lot of successes as well as a lot of disappointments. To balance this, your association with work should not be limited to winning or losing but to other areas that can bring you satisfaction and a feeling of contribution and contentment.

But if that's all you look at and all you can count on, your career and your work life can still end up being frustrating and hollow.

You can do a lot of professional development and all kinds of things to further your career. But the only thing I know that is fully dependable and fully satisfying and is a relationship with Christ. It's not, Did we win the next deal? or Did you get the next promotion? All that stuff fades after a while. But a relationship with Christ is a constant and you start to understand how it helps you live your life a certain way.

When I first heard about Christianity, I didn't feel like it was something that I needed. I was focused on only my own career and making sure that everything I did was going to benefit me. But then I attended a Bible Study and the message that I heard was very relevant, and I wanted Christ to be a part of my life.  Since making him central and seeking his guidance each day, the balance, focus, direction that I needed in my life is orhestrated by Him.


Roger Dunnavan, vice president of sales, Zero Chaos, weight lifter.

Laura Hilton

In August of 1988 I was in a near-death car accident. I was in the hospital and unconscious for about three weeks. I gained consciousness and began screaming, "What am I doing here?" The nurse came in and told me I had been in a car accident. My sorority sister, Cindy, was sitting next to my bed reading the Bible. I looked at her and said, "What are you doing?" She said, "I'm praying for you."

Cindy had invited me to church the day before my accident. Everything I remembered about the sermon came flooding back to my mind. One thing stuck out-the pastor said that there was a lot more to being a Christian than just being a good person; it means completely surrendering your life for Christ.

I lay there and thought to myself, I know a lot about You but I don't know You personally. I need You. From that point forward many people from the church came to visit me and I got involved with the college ministry. They really encouraged me in my faith and I began to grow.

[Today], I have a passion for people to know God. People can't really know love and forgiveness until they really understand God's love and forgiveness [by] what He's done for them individually. I would be in the depths of despair if I didn't believe that God has a better plan than I can see. I'm still single and I never thought I'd be where I am today-I thought I would be married with three kids. God has me here for a reason and a purpose. My calling, I believe, is to help people know God's love and forgiveness.

Laura Hilton, residential mortgage consultant, Wells Fargo

Nancy Thong

I was a quarter of a mile from the finish line when I saw my brother cheering for me. I got so excited I started hyperventilating. It only took a minute to catch my breath but it was scary. That brief moment of panic showed me how important it is to stay focused. I realized that, when I'm not focused, any distraction can really throw me off balance.

There are a lot of benefits I've experienced from running. Mentally and spiritually I'm more focused. I enjoy my training because that's when I have alone time with God. Running by myself, there are no distractions. It's just me and God. I'm more in tune with nature and my surroundings: the sunshine, the birds and nature.

I was born in Cambodia and when I was 5-years-old, my family came to the United States. We were befriended by two families who took us under their wings. They really took us in as part of their family. They also made sure we had a ride to church and made sure that my brother, my sister and I attended Sunday school.

At age 12, I asked Jesus into my heart primarily out of a desire to go to heaven, but at age 34 it's definitely more than that. Today, it's about having a close, personal relationship with Christ, a loving, dynamic, growing relationship with Christ.

Church plays an important part in that growth. When I obtained my nursing license I moved to Indianapolis where God led me to a wonderful church. They have a tremendous single's ministry which God used to transform my view of Him and transformed my walk with Jesus Christ. In a short period of time I grew so much spiritually.


Nancy Thong, clinical research nurse coordinator, Indiana University School of Medicine, marathon runner.

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