Journey to Holistic Fitness (From the Inside Out) Part 3


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2007 and 2014In Parts I and 2 of this series I talked about getting the wake up call to change my lifestyle from unhealthy eating and activity patterns to healthy patterns, and how I answered the call.  Now I will talk a bit about outcomes as my body started to change.

As I mentioned in Part 2, I started working with a trainer who was also a youth minister in his church.  He knew how to tell the truth.  Some trainers might say what they think the client wants to hear to keep the client coming back (I’m not pointing to any specific gym or person, but this statement is backed up by literature), but not my trainer.  He knew how important my faith was to me because we had talked about it before things got serious.  He knew I was focused on getting healthy because of what I believed God wanted for my life, and therefore I wanted it, too.  Because he knew these things, I knew that there would be no backsliding.  But as it turned out, I did not need my trainer to keep me focused. I was focused by some intense, intrinsic property that I had not seen nor felt since completing my dissertation several years earlier.

I started off not knowing very much about exercise and healthy eating patterns.  But I had this in my favor– God was on my side.  What more could I need?  He was my focus.  My hours in the gym and in the grocery store became important worship and meditation time for me because I prayed continually for strength in both settings.

I got stronger and leaner.  Soon, others noticed my transformation and I was asked at least once a day how I did it so easily!  I gave them the straight story- starting with the before picture, my faith, my prayers, and my total reliance on God.  I found myself witnessing often. I had not expected that, but I should have, because God was using me & my journey to His service.  I became even more motivated.

During that 14 month transformation I hit milestones that I never dreamed would be important to me until I experienced them.  First, I realized that I could sit on an airplane in between the arm rests, because my thighs no longer required so much space that the armrests had to stay up.  That was amusing but noteworthy.

My husband & I renewed our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary (November 2004), and for that ceremony I took off my wedding ring so he could put it back on my finger.  Except it would not go back on.  I had to slip it on to my little finger to finish the ceremony.  It was embarrassing and terrible.  In January 2007, I got my wedding ring on my finger more than 2 years of not having it. I was so happy!

In July 2007 I was trying to buy clothes since my body had changed.  I had been practicing the new lifestyle for a year and decided to celebrate with a new suit.  So I went to my usual store and tried on the smallest suit available in that section.  It swallowed me so that I could not see myself in the mirror! I looked at the size again, and there was no mistake. From that time forward I would have to start buying clothes in a different part of that store, or maybe in a different store.  The idea of shopping in an unfamiliar setting was so intimidating and so scary and so wonderful that I stood in the middle of the store and started to cry.  Every emotion I was capable of experiencing came over me at that moment.  I had to find someone to show me how to dress my new body.

Next time, more outcomes and benefits of the inside-out transformation.


Journey to Holistic Fitness (From the Inside Out) Part 2


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2007 and 2014 In Part I of this series I talked about receiving a wakeup call regarding my health, my future, and the future of my children.  I had allowed myself to lose control of my nutrition and physical wellbeing because I did not see myself in the Real Image, meaning, the image of God the Father and Creator, as written in Genesis 1:26-27.  Bottom line, I had very little self respect. As I declared in my first blog series, there is nothing more worthy of respect than God’s image. I knew when I saw the photo from June 10, 2006 (on the left), I had to change.  I had to answer the call.  Here’s what happened.

I started to pray like my life depended on it, because it did.  At first they were not only the quick little prayers that were and still are a part of my life, but long, emotional, painful prayers that came from my heart and soul and the very deepest parts of what makes me who I am.  These were prayers of repentance, asking for God’s forgiveness and His help as I began to forgive myself for what I had done to my body His temple, and for what I had potentially (unintentionally) done to my children by allowing them to practice the same patterns.  I prayed that they would forgive me.

My prayers changed after a few days as I asked for His strength and protection while I started to change my lifestyle.  With God’s help, and by His grace and mercy, I made a “cold turkey” change in my life.  I replaced unhealthy life patterns with healthy ones and did not look back even once!  I was becoming who I was meant to be.

I’ll confess now that this was one of the hardest things I ever did, but somehow, it was also the easiest.  I leaned on God completely.  I gave it all to Him. I could not do this without Him.  As I started to go to the gym regularly and to work with a trainer, I became more confident in the “me” I was becoming.  Make no mistake– I prayed before I went to the gym, every day.  I prayed that God’s strength and power would get me through before I picked up weights or did any exercise.  I still do.  I claimed Philippians 4:13 as my own, knowing without question that I could do all things through Christ who strengthened me.  I still do.

I also prayed for strength and wisdom before going to the grocery store.  I still do, though it requires a different kind of strength.  I still cannot do it alone.  I will talk more about that later.

One more thought about the trainer mentioned above.  He was also a youth minister at his church.  He said one of his missions in life was to “grab hold of the boys before they got lost on the busy streets”.   He had been educated as an Athletic Trainer and he was working with clients part time to support his ministry.

In the next entry I will discuss some of the results. I hope you like it!


Journey to Holistic Fitness (From the Inside-Out), Part I


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2007 and 2014

Yes, that is me in both pictures.  The one on the left was taken at my niece’s wedding on June 10, 2006.  On the right, September 15, 2014.  Big change, huh?  When I saw the photo of myself in 2006 I became physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill, and I stayed that way until I decided to do something about it on July 1, 2006, when I got serious about hitting the gym, getting a trainer, and improving my diet.  Fourteen and a half months later, on September 14, 2007 I hit my target weight loss of 80 pounds.  I celebrate September 14 every year as the New Me, the Real Me.

How did that 80 pound weight loss happen then when it had never happened before?  I had given a half-hearted effort to weight loss prior to that time, accepting before I even started with whatever trend I was pursuing that I would fail.  I was not committed.  My motives were external based on the mirror image, but not internal, and not based on the Real Image.  I did not feel the need or desire to lose weight or be healthy on any other level.

Seeing myself in that pose in that dress, standing next to my then 13 year old son, I realized that things had to change, but more than that, I realized that I had allowed   myself to get in that state. I received a wake-up Call.  I would sit and eat bags of pistachios in front of the TV for hours after work, chalking it up to “job stress”, and would rarely get up to do anything unless I had to do it.  Getting up out of my recliner was an adventure, and if I was going to make the effort to walk across the room or into another room to do anything, there needed to be a chair waiting for me in the new location, too. I watched myself lose control.  I “watched” the (what I considered at the time to be) food go into my mouth, and counted each bite as glorious and heavenly without giving any thought to their long-term effects.  I did this to myself.

I’m a nurse.  I knew better than to let this happen.  I knew the devastating complications of overeating and obesity.  When I saw that photo it was as though I saw myself for the first time.  Not just my outward appearance, but my SELF, from the inside-out. I thought back to all the days of eating non-stop in front of the TV, and of numerous (and all too frequent) fast food nights that we enjoyed with our children.

I began to question how I could ever hope to gain the trust of patients or students regarding health and nutrition while I topped out at such a heavy weight.  I wondered about the message I was giving to future nurses, then I wondered if I would be around long enough to find out about the message they received.  I wondered again about my children and the message I was giving them.  They were headed down the same path.

I had a wake-up Call.  Next time I will talk about answering the Call.



Schumann_Renae_04a On behalf of the faculty and staff of Houston Baptist University’s School of Nursing & Allied Health (SNAH), I want to welcome new and returning students! We are so happy you are here!

This is an exciting time of opportunity and growth for the University with the beginning of the first real football season (Dawgs Up!!), the new women’s sport of sand volleyball, the new construction, and the new faculty and programs.  Our SNAH is doing its part to contribute to the excitement and growth with new clinical and internship opportunities, new programs, and new faculty.

There will be a lot of information and rigorous scheduling while you are in school, no matter what your major.  Time management will be important, but that will be covered in a future post.  Please know that the University has many resources available to help you manage your commitment to your education. Please take advantage of those opportunities.

Future posts will be directed at some aspect of success in college. Some will be written specifically about nursing school, some about kinesiology, and college about any major.  We will have posts about being an athlete in college, and some about being in the Honors College.  There will be posts on fitness and self-care, since you will see very soon that you cannot properly care for your patients and clients if you do not take care of yourself. Many of these posts will be contributed by other SNAH faculty. We all have the goal of helping you achieve A Higher Education.

Again, welcome! I look forward to seeing you around campus, and I hope you have a wonderful semester!

Dean Schumann




A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 7, Summary


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Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5

My first entries of this blog have discussed briefly my own personal and professional code which is described using the acronym “HIGHER”, as in “A Higher Education”, HBU’s slogan. I focused on a different attribute each entry, namely, Humility, Integrity, Glorify, Him, Encouragement, and Respect. This last entry of the series summarizes what I have learned from these writings.

I stated that my purpose in life is to glorify God in my thoughts, words, and deeds. It is interesting that the phrase “Glorify Him” is in the center of the acronym, just as glorifying Him is the center of my personal and professional life. This comparison makes perfect sense to me, and it feels right. Glorifying God is my focal point, and He provides my center.

Because giving God the glory is central, the acts of humility, integrity, encouragement, and respect are natural (most of the time).  Keeping a Christ-like mind and attitude is often difficult in today’s world, and it is easy to forget to keep God at the center. Very easy. Alarmingly easy! But I thank God for His mercy and forgiveness when I fall short, and I make an effort to do better. I feel better about myself, and I have happier and more productive days when I try to be Christ-like.

The attributes of humility, integrity, encouragement, and respect are related. They each promote the others. Humility, or thinking of yourself less, contributes to the ability to (show) respect for others by thinking of them more. Respecting others is a way to encourage them, and they see that you are honest, trustworthy, humble, and of good character (integrity). Such relationship circles can be made no matter which quality is mentioned first.

It is certainly not that simple because people are flawed and very complicated. The patterns above are broken when God is removed from the center. When He is put back in the center, these patterns can be re-established with a little bit of work.

Being Christ-like is not situation or setting specific. (I heard a person say once that she only worried about how she behaved in church because she knew God was there, but she did not care about her behavior at any other time. Her regular treatment of others bore that out. ) It matters all the time and everywhere, because He is there. Inconsistency is not Christ-like and it does not glorify Him.

Healthcare providers, teachers, and leaders have a great opportunity to practice these HIGHER behaviors with their peers, patients, clients, students, and followers. The best part of that practice is when it pays off, and those peers, patients, etc. begin to practice the same mindset. It is a good feeling, a humbling feeling when someone who has observed you says they want to be like you, or they seek you out because of your Christ-like reputation and behavior.

I hope this first series has helped you get to know something about me. I love God. I love Jesus. I am blessed with a job that allows me to boldly proclaim my love. Because of His love for me and my love for Him, I hope to glorify Him in all things, and to conduct my life with humility and integrity, always encouraging and respecting others.

Thanks for reading.

A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 6 Respect


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love is respectGod created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

These first entries have described my personal code using the acronym, “HIGHER”, as in “A Higher Education” which is HBU’s slogan. My code, the way I strive to live and to manage my office and work environment includes the concepts of Humility, Integrity, Glorify Him, Encouragement, and Respect. Previous entries have covered (briefly) through encouragement. This time- Respect.

I tell my students in both nursing and kinesiology that even though it may be hard to believe, there is no person who actually did crawl out from under a rock. I have met several in my personal and professional life whom I just knew could not have been human because of their general disregard for other people. They HAD to have crawled out from under a rock, because nobody could be as bad or awful or whatever and still be human! But that is not the case. Everybody has been created, and other humans were part of that creation.

God created human beings in His own image. The image of God. There is nothing more worthy of respect than His image.   Since I consider my purpose in life to glorify God as I described in a previous entry, then showing respect for all humans is part of my purpose. Everyone should be respected because of Whose Image they hold. It would be wrong of me to withhold respect for another.

I am grateful for the defining moments in my career, though many have been unsettling. One such moment came when I was working in a large trauma center in the mid-1980s before many of today’s protocols and care guidelines existed. I realized that I was providing care for a sexual assault victim and her alleged attacker, who was in custody, at the same time. There was pressure (and I’ll admit to some temptation) to treat the alleged attacker in a manner which was less respectful than the treatment of his alleged victim. However, I did not give in to that thought, as I reminded myself about Genesis 1:27. It was difficult to hide my feelings of anger at one and pity for the other, but I treated them equally as simply people who were created in God’s image.

I have often considered the idea of degrees of respect for another person based on his or her behavior (which is beyond the scope of this entry), but again, I return to Genesis. Respecting other persons does not mean that I have to like them or their behavior, but that I practice the same dignity and care for them that I would show anyone else. Sometimes that is hard. Sometimes it goes unrecognized, and that is okay. Respect and recognition are not the same thing. Not everyone feels the same way about respect as me, and many feel that respect must be earned and can be lost.   The basic point of this writing is that everyone is worthy of respect.

Healthcare providers face this concept of respect daily, especially since they do not receive the respect they should get by virtue of being created in God’s image. But these providers are still supposed give respectful dignified care. Whether they do as part of a “calling” or because of the professional codes of ethics does not matter as much as the fact that respect is given. God is glorified.

A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 5, Encouragement


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encouragementTherefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

In this first blog series I am describing my personal and professional code by using the acronym “HIGHER”, as in “A Higher Education”, which is HBU’s slogan So far I’ve made it to “HIGH” having discussed Humility, Integrity, and Glorify Him. Now I will talk about the “E”, Encouragement.

There is an old expression, “If somebody does something good, tell them and make two people happy”. I believe this is true. If I had to list my strongest spiritual gift, I would have to say it is the gift of encouragement. I can look on the bright side of almost any situation and find something encouraging or positive to say.

Nothing feels better to me than hearing one of my students or colleagues say that something I said or did had a positive impact on them. I receive so much more encouragement by being told the simple, specific, and sincere truth about my actions than I do from the sometimes canned “atta girl”, “way to go”, and “you got this”. Of course if those common expressions had a short follow up sentence describing what I did to deserve them in the first place, I would be truly encouraged.

I get a great deal of joy from telling my faculty and staff that they have done well at something, even something routine and mundane. The simple, specific, but sincere encouragement can transform an ordinary event into a personal victory, no matter how small. Victories are to be recognized and celebrated, especially during bad times. God is praised and He is glorified. I love to share my team’s individual and group accomplishments with the rest of the school. Sometimes they feel awkward or embarrassed by my sharing, but they understand that I want them to be recognized for their work and their achievements. It is not boastful. It is realistic and specific recognition for something.

As a leader and a teacher it would be easy to give false praise to the team or to students, but I am not talking about that. I am not easily impressed, especially with low quality work. But even in that situation, it is possible to give the same simple, specific, yet sincere encouragement regarding progress toward meeting expectations.

Healthcare providers are often tempted to encourage clients or their families in the form of false hope. Some variation of “it’s okay” may be delivered to lift a person’s spirits, but since “okay” is a relative term, it almost never produces the intended effect. Most caregivers do not want to deceive or downplay clients’ feelings and fears by using those words, rather to show that they care and are trying to help them look on the bright side of probably a very bad situation. For most caregivers, overuse of the phrase is an effort not to say the wrong thing and create more distress for the client.

The better encouragement is to “be” with the clients, to listen if they want to talk, and to say nothing. Demonstrating encouragement by being available is simple, specific, and sincere. It shows caring instead of fear of saying the wrong thing. It builds others up. And God is glorified.

Next time, respect.

A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 4 Glorify Him


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glorify GodTherefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

During this first blog series I am discussing my personal and professional code using the acronym “HIGHER”, which stands for humility, integrity, glorify, Him, encouragement, respect.  My acronym is similar to HBU’s slogan, “A Higher Education”, which you can see at I have talked briefly about humility and integrity separately. This post will combine the two middle letters and discuss “glorify Him”.

HBU’s President, Dr. Robert Sloan (@DrRobertBSloan) recently tweeted, “Worship is the beginning of all Christian piety, of all Christian experience.”

Worshipping God glorifies Him. It puts God first above else, setting Him apart from everything and everyone else. It involves every thought, every word, every action. In all things I strive to glorify God.  I believe with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength that my purpose in life is to glorify Him.  Because I am human, I often fall short of glorifying Him, but I try to remember to give Him the praise and  glory for everything that I have and everything I am.  After all, He knows I fall short and that I will continue to despite my best efforts. The great thing is that He does not require me to be perfect because out of His love for all of us He sent the Perfect One, His Son, Jesus.  God will not hold my failures to glorify Him against me because I believe and accept the gracious gift of His Son. In Him (Jesus) I am made new, and my imperfections (aka those times I do not glorify God) are forgiven.  I am grateful. Out of my gratitude and love for Him comes praise and worship to God, Who gave me life. He is glorified.

Glorifying Him does not have to wait for Sunday church service. It can happen anywhere at anytime.  As I said before, my life’s purpose is to glorify Him in everything I do. As a healthcare provider, a leader, and a member of the human race, I have plenty of opportunities to practice glorifying Him in all things, and giving Him the glory for all things.  When healthcare providers humbly care for others, thinking of themselves less and thinking of others more, and with integrity, do the right thing even when that right thing is hard or unpopular, they glorify Him.  Leaders who consider themselves team members, and with humility and integrity help the team reach its goal, whether that goal involves patient care accomplishments or other achievements, glorify Him.  We humans serving others with humility and integrity glorify Him as we follow the example Jesus set by washing the feet of His disciples, as I stated in the post on humility.

Remembering that I am created by God in His image reminds me that I should take care of my body which His creation, and that I should use it to serve and glorify Him, with humility, and with integrity, and in all my thoughts, words, and actions. Giving my self, my talents, and my body to serve and care for His people at the bedside, in the classroom or office, in the community, and throughout the world is worship, and it glorifies Him.

My purpose in this life above all others is to glorify God. I want to worship and glorify Him in all things.  Next up, Encouragement!


A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 3 Integrity


Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.  Proverbs 10:9

During this inaugural series I’m describing my personal and professional code, which, by using the beginning letters of each word, spell the acronym “HIGHER”. It is similar to the HBU slogan “A Higher Education” which is found on our website and in many other places.  I have always tried to practice these attributes and I discovered that these words fit nicely into our slogan.  HIGHER stands for Humility, Integrity, Glorify, Him, Encouragement, Respect.  Today’s entry is about Integrity.

As shown in the graphic, integrity has many traits or features. It is doing the right thing even when the right thing is inconvenient or hard or scary.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize the right thing versus something that is sort of right or not right at all.  That recognition of what is right is directed by the person’s own moral compass or code.  Integrity showcases the concept of authenticity, or being true to yourself.

I was recently in a situation where doing the right thing was indeed very inconvenient and a little scary.  The right thing included my taking a risk to help people I had never seen or known, and would most likely never see again.  I was far away from home, and it would have been much easier to tell myself and others that I was leaving soon and that I did not want to risk getting involved.  That would have been acceptable, and everyone would have understood.  Most would have done that very thing without giving the situation another thought.  It would have been okay to do, but it would not have been the right thing to do.

I did the right thing, meaning I got involved.  It was inconvenient and hard and scary.  But without question it was the right thing to do.  As a result, I felt “legit”.  I was true to myself, to people I would never see again, and most important, to God. In that situation I saw what I was made of.  I saw myself for who I am, and I was relieved to know that my true self will strive to do the right thing, even when it is hard.

Integrity involves ethics.  Healthcare professionals, no matter what their role, are expected to be ethical.  There are codes of ethics or standards of expected behaviors for nurses and other professionals. Some people need the written code to help them know what to do, but many know what to do in most situations because they can recognize the right thing, even when it is hard and complicated. Sometimes external factors make doing what I or others would consider to be the right thing difficult or even impossible, but those can be discussed in a future series.  Important to note is that not everyone considers “the right thing” to be the same thing as everyone else.

Integrity is practiced in someone’s personal life as well as professional.  If integrity relies on authenticity then it should not vanish because the roles or settings change.  I want to practice integrity as a college Dean, a nursing professional, a family member, a CrossFit athlete, a global citizen, and a child of God.  Lack of integrity in any of those roles can spread like a virus to the others, and lead to my spiritual dysfunction.  I will talk about that “virus” in another post.

The next post briefly discusses glorifying God.  I hope you enjoy it.

A H-I-G-H-E-R Education, Part 2, Humility


humility flower (3)“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves”. Philippians 2:3

My first post talked about my personal code which I describe using the acronym, HIGHER, as in a HIGHER Education. My acronym “HIGHER”, is taken directly from the HBU slogan, “A Higher Education.” Each letter has a special meaning for me, and I will discuss a different letter each time. HIGHER stands for humility, integrity, glorify, Him, encouragement, and respect.

Humility can be described as considering other people to be better than you, putting someone else’s needs in front of your own needs, and putting someone else first.  Putting yourself last out of love for the others, whether you know them or not.  It can be serving another person in the same way you would like others to serve you, but with no expectations of actually being served. Humility does not mean you think of yourself as a doormat to be walked on, it means you have enough self confidence that you feel free to put others first out of love.  When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet at the last supper, He was serving them with humility, not because He was less important than everyone else in the room, but out of love for them. He considered them more important.

The example of Jesus washing feet is very significant for nursing and healthcare providers.  Our patients are very sick, and caring for them is increasingly more complicated.  Many hospitalized or home-bound patients are too sick to wash or feed themselves.  Nurses are skilled and well educated and could consider themselves better than everyone else, especially the patients in their care.  But nurses put aside their egos, and provide care which could be considered humiliating for both patients and nurses.  They do the things for their patients that most people could never think of asking another person to do for them, cleaning body parts and wounds that lesser people could not manage.  But nurses can manage, and with humility and love, they put their patients needs above their own needs.

Leadership can be the same.  As the Dean of the Nursing School, I lead the faculty and students through the day-to-day processes of higher education in nursing.  I am The Chief Nurse.  The Chief Nursing Executive for the school.  That title could go to my head.  I make sure to check my own ego at the door each day.  As I said in my first post, these HIGHER behaviors are so important to me that I ask my faculty and staff to remind me if I’m not practicing each of them, including humility. I seek leadership and management advise from my faculty, because they have the expertise, and I often accept and act on the sound advice they give.  After all, they are the teachers, the advisors, the ones who take care of the students each day.  They are the important ones in this arrangement. The faculty and the students make this a school, not me. I am humbled by what each group does out of love. Asking for advice from anyone requires the humility to admit that I do not know everything, and following it requires the self-confidence to know that it is okay to admit it.

A short blog post is not enough to cover in-depth each of the letters which represent my personal code, but each writing helps me know a little bit more about myself.  I like that, and I hope you do, too.  Next post will talk about Integrity.  More later!