Monday, December 30, 2013

Scream A Song Unto the Lord


Picture this:  You have found your pew.  The church has reached a point of stillness and quiet and peace that is so rare in your life that you begin to smile.  Today, the Holy Spirit is HERE and you are feeling it.  You have GOT this church thing going and it is good.  Without warning, there is a shriek, cry, giggle, laugh, whine, piercing scream that splits this spiritual silence and makes the hairs stand up on your head.

If it’s your child, you are a) Looking for the nearest door to escape with your little monster; b) searching for something to hide behind; c) wondering if you will ever find your spirituality again during the child-rearing years; d) wondering if the child is really as loud as he/she seems (ever notice how the vaulted ceilings of a church space really carry those little voices?); e) desperately searching through the diaper bag for toy/crayons/snacks to get through the longest hour of your life.

If it’s not your child you: a) Smile—every little voice is a song unto the Lord; b)  Smile—remembering fondly when you were in those shoes and praying that parent doesn’t worry so much, this too shall pass; c) Smile and wonder if that parent needs a little help; d) Frown: children belong in the nursery; or e) Ignore.

If it’s your child, BREATHE.  This too shall pass.  I am a firm believer that it is better to have the child in church and have a racket, than not bring your kids to church because of the lone parishioner who thinks kids belong in a nursery or at home.  We have family services for this very reason:  To encourage families to let their kid’s screams be a joyful noise unto the Lord.  If it’s your child, look at the responses from the rest of the congregation:  the majority is not bothered AT ALL by your little one and most would agree that they would rather have you there in the pew with them than not show up at all.  This is family.  Church is family.  Church can be YOUR family if you let them.  Church will take you and your family as they come:  shrieks, cries, screaming and all.  They will take you with un-brushed hair; shoes slapped on and mismatched socks.  It may be that you come to church in jeans and a sweatshirt instead of a dress or slacks, but at least you are there.  At least you are making a commitment to raise your kids in a church environment.  The church would rather you come, than not come during the child rearing years.

Finally, while you contemplate taking on the resolution to raise your kids in a church family, I will pass on a little secret I picked up from another savvy church mamma:  Park your kids and family in the front of the church. 

Have you ever noticed that most families with small children tend to choose the back of the church?  They choose the pew closest to the rear door for a quick escape.  Families think that if you are in the back, the shuffle and noise from the little critters won’t be as noticed (I have news for you—see the comment about vaulted ceilings above—it doesn’t matter where you sit, kids can be heard and will be heard in church—just embrace it).  We used to do this as well with our two.  And then my savvy church mamma friend said to me, “No, move your family to the front of the church.”  And I said, “Are you kidding?  Have you seen my two?  Won’t they be distracting?”  And she said, “Nope, three things happen: 1) The kids can see what is going on, hear what’s going on, and so they pay attention better (you can’t see squat from the back of a church.  2)  You can whisper that Father Joe/Preacher Jim/Pastor John is going to give them the stink eye if they don’t be quiet and kids usually pay attention to pleasing the minister, so it’s not YOU they are trying to please.  3) Everyone is behind you.  You can’t see if anyone turns to look at you, so it doesn’t bother you as much.”

Believe it or not, but I took this advice.  When I had a two year old and a 6 month old, my husband and I parked ourselves in the first two pews of our church.  Our congregation continuously reassured us that our kids were not excessively distracted and that they were louder to our ears than anyone else’s.  And slowly, the kids began to settle down.  My son especially liked sitting up front where he could see and hear better.  My daughter, while fidgeting and usually drawing on something, would often stop and listen and then ask questions later (as she grew up).  Six years later and many churches on our vagabond path, we still choose the front of the church to park our family.  I encourage you to do the same.  Don’t just take your kids to church, participate in it as well so that they know this church is not just a weekly obligation, but it’s also a place where THEY have a place and a part in the congregation.

And if they scream from the front of the church, it’s ok.  We have all been there, done that.  It really is just another joyful noise unto the Lord.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The "Christ Walk" program

The “Christ Walk” book is a framework for individuals, groups, bible studies, and churches to use to incorporate physical health and fitness into the spiritual growth and development of the individual and organization. “Christ Walk” provides a daily guide including daily reflections on health: mind, body and spirit. As a self-guided or group-guided spiritual fitness plan for any age group, Chris...t Walk is ideal for bible study groups, women’s groups, men’s group, Lenten Devotionals or other special events geared towards integrating spiritual, physical and mental health. I like to think that I wrote the book so that you feel that I am right there by you on your journey.

“Christ Walk” was designed for you and your church to get healthier. It allows individuals and groups to set goals towards improving their physical and spiritual health and offers questions for group discussions at the end of each chapter. “Christ Walk” can be purchased in bulk for groups by contacting the author for a discount code through the publisher, CreateSpace.

I believe that churches should nourish not only the spiritual health of the congregation but also the physical and mental health. Only through balance in our life to we find the path to holistic well being. “Christ Walk” will get you and your church there on this journey towards spiritual fitness.

I really encourage people to do “Christ Walk” with another individual or in a group. Journeys in life are rarely traveled alone. The impression a journey takes depends on the people that travel it with you. A journey can be such a positive experience when it is share freely with a friend or loved one. When you make a commitment to the “Christ Walk” journey either individually or with other people, you make a commitment to work on becoming healthier. Change is hard, but change is very worthwhile. When we do “Christ Walk” as a group, we commit to loving each other through the ups and downs of our journey and support each other through these struggles. There is nothing more important than the commandment to love one another. If a “Christ Walk” 40 Day Challenge starts with love, everyone will be successful.
#fitness #church #biblestudy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Sale of Christ Walk! $7.99!

It's #Giving Tuesday! Now through #Christmas, Christ Walk is on sale for almost 50% off the cover price! You can get Christ walk for $7.99 for a limited time only at https://www.createspace.com/4114934#Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christ Walk: Chapter 2 Teaser: Using a Pedometer

Christ Walk: Chapter 2 Teaser: Using a Pedometer:   Biblical Big Idea #2: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when yo...

Chapter 2 Teaser: Using a Pedometer


 
Biblical Big Idea #2: “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Deut 11:19


Day Two: Using a Pedometer 

Steps Taken:_________________

Miles Journeyed: ______________

Exercise Chosen: ______________

Spiritual Thoughts: _____________

Feelings: _____________________
 

A pedometer is a nifty little tool that counts each step you take.  We use the pedometer as an easy tool to track all the things we do in our walk with Christ each day and subtract them from our various walking goals. The pedometer is not there to be a jockey whipping a horse towards the finish line; rather it is there to give you guideposts on how far you have gone toward the goals that you have set.  You will get more comfortable with the pedometer the more you use it.  Strap it on and take it for a whirl for a couple of days to find out how far you go in an average day.  The minimum recommendation is 10,000 steps a day for heart health.   

So how far did you go with your pedometer?  Were you able to reach 10,000 steps?  Did you fall short?  That is okay.  Falling short is all about being human.  The trick is to pray about it and get up the next day and try again.  I think every time a human tries a little harder, God smiles.  If you are so far off 10,000 steps that you do not think you can commit to Christ Walk, I pray that you consider doing incremental goals.  There are ways to “sneak” in extra steps to your day such as taking the stairs, parking at the back of a parking lot, walking to work or shopping or school.  Consider taking three 10 minute walks instead of one 30 minute one and then gradually increasing as your endurance and enjoyment of the activity increases. 

If you are walking 4,000-5,000 steps each day (which by the way, is the average American movement in one day), please start by a weekly goal of increasing your steps by 2,000 steps a day for a couple of weeks.  If by the end of the 40 days you have trained yourself to walk 10,000 steps a day, you have made a marvelous transformation.  Perhaps your next 40 day Christ Walk will be to complete one of the routes.  And perhaps the one after that will be to go a longer route.  Your Christ Walk is only as short as you limit yourself.  If you never stop walking with Christ, then you never stop your Christ Walk. 

While, I would again stress that this is NOT a diet, I do want to caution your understanding that 10,000 steps a day is the minimum requirement for cardiovascular health.  That is heart health.  That is how well your ticker keeps ticking.  I am a big believer that I want my ticker to go as strong and hard as it can. I would like to maintain a level of high physical fitness as long as possible so that I can continue to do what I am called to do.  If I do not take care of my heart, it is certainly not going to take care of me.  I pray often that I am able to walk myself into my grave as I get older. 

There is a difference between cardiovascular health and weight loss.  Most individuals who use a pedometer for weight loss will have to log 12,000-15,000 steps each day.  And they will have to watch what they eat.  We will discuss food (and how much I love food) in a later chapter.  But be advised as you start your goals and revise them, that there may be more steps needed to meet whatever goals you set for yourself. 

While we do focus on steps per day as a part of Christ Walk, because of the analogy of physically walking with Christ, you do not have to be limited by walking.  Walking is simply the most popular form of exercise, the easiest to do and the one exercise that people are most likely to stick with over time. I enjoy running, sometimes.  I like biking, sometimes.  I like walking, a lot of the time.  I like swimming, sometimes.  I like aerobic classes, sometimes, and I like weight lifting a lot.  I want to write, “Pick your poison,” but that has a negative connotation.  What I want you to do is pick something and do it.  And if you have to pick a lot of ‘somethings’, that is okay as well.  The point is to think about getting up and doing.  Our bodies were designed to move and do.   

Remember, every 15 minute block of physical activity is worth 1 mile towards your goal, or if you bike/run/swim/etc faster than a mile in 15 minutes, log the actual miles!  Just move and log that time. 

I am married to a lawyer, so of course I must insert the disclaimer that if you have never moved before or exercised, or set such a goal for yourself, please discuss with your healthcare provider to ensure that your physical safety is addressed.  They can also be a partner in your journey as they are goldmines of health information if you ask!  Develop your relationship with your healthcare provider and do not take “no” for an answer.  Pursue them until you get the information you need.  And if you are worried that your physical health will keep you from your journey, do not fear: I have had individuals with walkers and wheelchairs participate in the Christ Walk journey.  Your trail is only limited by your imagination.  Faith in God will keep you going along the way. 

I also believe that mental and spiritual nourishment are very important to your journey.  So for every 15 minute period of time that you are using to nourish your spirit and mind, log yourself a mile!  Research has shown that people who meditate and pray have lower blood pressures and feelings of stress. This is all good towards taking care of the temple.  So take credit for it!  We also Christ Walk when we do for others.  Volunteering is a great way to get bonus steps and every 15 minutes of volunteering is worth another mile.  My only caveat is that this is designed for us to move and walk and think about our Christ Walk Daily.  I encourage you to spend most of your miles in moving each day. 

And when in doubt about how to move or what to do, pray. 

Thoughts to ponder: 

1.                Where you able to start walking or Christ Walking as you had hoped?

2.               If not, what were your barriers?  Do you need help overcoming the barriers?  Who can help you?

3.               Did you feel rejuvenated by the experience of starting a new journey?  If so, write it down, so it will help motivate you along the way.

4.               How does the following scripture make you feel: Jesus said, “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Mark 9: 22-24

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CONGRATS to our Christ Walk Winner!

Congratulations to @Phyliss Pease Taylor! You won an autographed copy of #Christ Walk! Please message me your address and I will drop this in the mail!

If you cannot wait until our next give away, you can get Christ Walk on sale now on #Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Walk-Spiritual-Fitness-Program/dp/1481872036/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386764750&sr=8-1&keywords=anna+courie

Keep #walking!

Anna

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Join Christ Walk and Get Christ Walk!

It's giving Tuesday! Today, I will send a FREE, autographed copy of Christ Walk to one luck winner! Winner to be announced tomorrow! Be sure to check back! To enter, Just do the following:
1) Join my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/ChristWalk40Day
2) Share my page.
3) Join my new blog at: http://christwalk40day.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chapter 39 Teaser: God's Grace


Biblical Big Idea #39: Acts: 4:33:  “And God’s Grace was so powerfully at work in them all.”
 

Steps Taken:_________________

Miles Journeyed: ______________

Exercise Chosen: ______________

Spiritual Thoughts: _____________

Feelings: _____________________

 
Day Thirty-Nine: God’s Grace

God’s grace is amazing.  As I sit and write this chapter, I am awed by the journey that God has guided us on the last 39 days.  God has been with us every step of the way.  God is at work in each of us.  As I have reiterated over and over, we are on earth for God’s mission for us.  We have a purpose here and God’s grace guides us on that mission. 

God’s grace can transform our bodies if we are partners with God on the journey ahead.  When God gave us freedom of choice to make our own decisions, it was up to us to make the changes in our bodies that are needed.  God’s grace gives us the strength to make those changes.  It is also up to us to take up the charge of God’s work in the world and be an emissary of God’s love. 

God’s grace over comes fear of these changes.  I know personally that when I find fear overwhelming, it fills me with anxiety and trepidation for the future.  Through prayer, I open a gateway to God’s grace that washes away my fears and anxiety. 

When the early Christian discussed Christian discipline, they led a structured life centered on prayer, fasting, worship and activity that was done to the glory of God.  When we want to make changes in ourselves to a more Christ-centered life, it is imperative that we develop this same discipline.  If we take the time for Christian discipline, then we are building an ordered life of Christian activity that allows God’s grace to be a part of every day of our life.  I build Christian discipline through scheduling.  This sets a tempo for how I ensure that mind, body and spiritual health are a part of every moment in my life.  I have a very type-A personality so scheduling ensures that I have made time for the priorities that are important to me: 

0500 Wake

0515: Coffee, tea, prayer, meditation

0530-0630: Exercise

0630-0800:  Kids and school

0800-1200: work

1200-1300:  Lunch and Prayer

1300-1500 Work

1500-1700:  Kids, activities

1700-1800 Dinner and homework

1800-Dinner and Prayer

1900-2000 Bath

2000 Bedtime for kids

2000-2200:  Time with spouse

2200 Bedtime and prayers 

Because prayer is included at intervals throughout the day, Christ is a part of everything that I do.  With Christ at my side through my daily life, I have a pulse check on what is important and what is not.  When God does not feel close to me in my life, I know that it is I that have strayed and not God.  God’s grace is ever present for me to weave it back in my life. I am far more content when I remember to include God in my schedule, than not. 

Through this journey in Christ Walk, God’s grace has been with us.  As we go on from Christ Walk, we will need to focus on how to continue to include God as a part of our call towards mind, body and spiritual health.  God has been with us as we discussed and discovered prayer.  God has been with us as we pondered physical fitness and healing.  God has been with us as we prayed for spiritual growth and transformation. 

God has been with me as I wrote this book.  At times, I have heard God’s voice more clearly than others and I apologies for those moments when the message has not been clear.  I hope as you have come to this point, you have been transformed as well.  I believe that you can be changed.  If you have not felt God’s grace as a part of this transformative process in your life this forty days, I pray that in time, you will pick this book up and try again.  God’s grace is available at any time and any moment we need it.  WE need to simply ask.  God’s grace will redeem us and change us if we let it.  We can be made new through the Holy Spirit and we do have a purpose for allowing God’s grace to work through us.  We are nothing without God:  Acts 20:24: However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. 

Thoughts to Ponder:

1.  Do I feel God’s grace in my life?

2.  How can I open myself up to the power of God’s Grace?

3.  What is God’ Grace calling me to do next on my journey?
#christwalk #fitness #health #faith

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Daddy's Girl


My daddy turned 70 two weeks ago.  15 years after a debilitating stroke, he continues to live on.  Even with limited speech, when I look at my daddy, I hear his deep voice softly telling me, “Soft over comes hard.”
What does this mean?  It’s taken me a long time to realize that when I get filled with righteous indignation, anger, frustration or meanness, it usually is a lot of wasted energy with no positive outcome.  Does this mean that I never feel this way?  On the contrary, I am fallible.  I feel these emotions more frequently than I really want and I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy bemoaning injustice and firing up my anger over petty deeds and actions that ultimately I cannot change.  The only person I can change is me and my response to a negative situation.  As I have grown up, I hear more and more, the whisper of my daddy saying, “Anna, soft over comes hard.”
I think that when you look at Martine Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Anne Frank and others—these people that made massive change in very hard parts of the world, did so by using relentless softness to overcome the hard.  Many hard hearts were softened through their selfless actions.  “Soft over comes hard.”  It may take a long time, but kindness and softness in responses to difficulties pay out far more in the long run than anger.  If we pray for God to help us with our overwhelming anger and frustration, God will help bring that softness to the hard parts in your soul.
“Soft overcomes hard.”
#christwalk 1 #love #church #spirituality

Friday, December 6, 2013

Burning Bridges


Most people don’t know this about me.  I doubt even my husband does because I don’t mention it and I just ignore it and push it to the “irrational” portion of my brain.  This is an irrational fear.  If I let this fear overwhelm me, it would take over my life.  I wouldn’t cross bridges; I couldn’t travel; the scope of my involvement in the world would get narrower.
It’s really easy to fear the 0.00001% things that happen in life.  They are usually really horrific and traumatic events.  It does not make them any less real, or any less possible, but I refuse to live my life of the 0.00001% things that _might_ happen.  There is 99.9999% chance that good things will happen in my life.  Even if the 0.000001% happens, God’s grace will get us through it. 
We tend to look at the things that happen in our life as defining the now forever.  However, the world is full of stories on how people overcome being a random statistic.  They certainly don’t let that statistic rule their life.  I don’t think we should let minute statistics rule our life.  God has so much more in store for us.
As I write this, we are on the road for our move.  We have crossed at least eight major bridges so far.  My stomach still drops every time, but each time I pray that God wraps our car in safety and delivers us to our destination in one piece.  While my fear may be irrational, my prayer allows me to give it to God and not worry about becoming a 0.00001%.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Food: It's not Just for Feelings


I am an emotional eater.  Not only do I love food, but I love the comfort of food. I love how some food makes me feel.  I get excited over food; over new recipes; and over feeding other people.  I also get an instantaneous craving for chocolate and coffee and starch when I am overwhelmed and anxious.  I am not sure how my body got programmed this way, but anxiety can trigger emotional eating in me faster than you can say, “Merry Christmas.”  A great deal of research indicates this is not exactly a healthy mindset when it comes to food.  Let’s explore this further:
This is an emotional time of the year.  We are celebrating the coming of Christ:  Yea for expectation!  Yea for anticipation!  A new year is coming!  Rebirth is coming!  Everyone loves a baby, a birthday party, and a reason to have a good time. This is a time to celebrate.  Food is a normal part of a celebration.  We all have certain attachments to food and memories associated with certain recipes.  I have mentioned before in my book, “Christ Walk,” that I cannot think of my Neenie’s squash casserole recipe and not smile.  I eat this recipe with joy.  I do not have a single bad memory of a family event that included my Neenie’s squash casserole recipe. It may not be the healthiest recipe, but it is one of the most joyful ones for me.  With moderation, I continue to, and will always enjoy squash casserole because of my memories.  I do not think that joyful eating is necessarily a bad form of emotional eating.  You can eat MINDFULLY, but joyfully at the same time.
This season is also filled with anxiety, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed.  We are filled with the anxiety of pleasing others.  We are filled with anxiety of “getting it all done.”  This is the busiest time of the year and we all have a very difficult time in slowing down to appreciate the best gift of all in Christ’s birth.  Rates of depression skyrocket during this time.  Between the waning sunlight, the cold temps and the frustration with seeking joy, people who suffer from depression are caught up in overwhelming feelings.  All of these issues can lead to emotional eating.  This is not a healthy form of eating.  This is eating that is not mindful.  This is eating that seeks to feed feelings with food, but often leaves us feeling emptier and more frustrated than when we put that first bite into our mouths.
It is more important than ever during the holidays that we focus on the mindfulness of our eating choices.  I do not buy-in to dieting.  And I will enjoy the holidays—food and all.  But I will also savor each bite and mindfully engage in whatever I am enjoying at the time so that it is a part of the celebration and not just a by-product of an event.
Mind-fullness in eating ensures that we are aware of what we are eating.  It ensures that we are aware of HOW MUCH we are eating and WHY we are eating as well.  I have also found that in order to curb poor emotional eating habits, it is important that the food choices I make are healthy ones.  I have found that the more processed food I eat when I am emotional, these foods fuel the emotional roller coaster.  If I have focused on food choices that are low in processed carbohydrates and refined sugar, but high in protein, this helps to balance the body’s blood sugar to ensure that our emotional chemicals are not being fed by the food we eat.  What we choose to eat, will impact how we feel. 
Along with healthy food choices, I have found that exercise helps to clear my anxiety during this time.  It is often more difficult to get in a rigorous fitness routine, so I focus on some sort of exercise every day.  Even if that exercise consists of a walk around the block, I have done something.  Every activity that takes me outside, or increases my heart rate, helps to clear the anxiety from my system.  Whatever you choose to do, choose something in which to squeeze in some sort of physical activity. I chase my kids out of the house almost every day—I should chase myself out of the house too!
Finally, during this emotional season, it is more important than ever to remember prayer.  This time is not about a secular approach to Christmas.  This time is about the coming of Christ.  This time is a reminder that we are saved by this miraculous gift from God.  This time is a reminder that we are all a part of God’s celebration of the greatest gift of all: eternal life.  Enjoy every moment, every bite of it, with joy and thanksgiving.  #christwalk1 #Christmas #fitchristians

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Challenge Me


I love a good challenge.  I am sucker for someone setting a bar for me to reach over a specific period of time.  I think challenges are a great way for you to stretch your capabilities both physically and spiritually.  I have done various fitness and spiritual challenges over the years.

As we move into the holiday season where cold weather pulls us to stay inside and yummy food leads us to eat more than the norm, a good holiday challenge will help you stick to your goals.  A friend of mine just challenged me to run a mile a day until the New Year.  This means that I have committed (as of Sunday) to 38 miles between now and 1 January.  This is very doable for me, especially when I know I can easily make up a mile if I miss a day.  This sort of challenge doesn’t overwhelm me when I have a lot going on, but it does keep me doing SOMETHING, EVERY DAY through this season of excess.  If you are not a runner, you can set your goal to walk a mile, or bike a mile, or do something every day for 15 minutes that is physically active.  ANYTHING is better than NOTHING.  As I have written before, physical activity also gives me the time to clear my mind and hear God’s word.  So every time I make time to exercise, I am doing a better job of making time for God.  If you absolutely cannot exercise physically, make the time for 15 minutes every day to exercise yourself spiritually through prayer so that God remains the reason for the season.

The benefits of setting a physical goal during the holiday are huge.  We are moving into a season of increased rates of depression and anxiety.  We are moving into a season in which materialism tends to take over.  Physical activity can help you connect to the quiet parts of your spirituality in your heart and open your mind to the voice of God.  Physical activity will help to release endorphins to stave off the depression and anxiety.  Physical activity will give you a break from the hustle and bustle that may leave you wondering, “Why am I doing this to myself again?”

So, I challenge you to join me in a mile a day challenge until the New Year:  36 miles (starting today) or more towards better mind, body and spiritual health.  Post your miles here and we can be accountable together.

#christwalk #fitness #challenge

Friday, November 22, 2013

Becoming a Christ Walk Group Leader


If you are taking on the role as a Christ Walk Group leader, congratulations!  What an awesome experience for you and your team/church.  As a Christ Walk leader for the last six years, you can message me at any time and I will be happy to discuss any thoughts and concerns that you may have.  You can also join the Christ Walk forum on Facebook© to discuss ideas and goals with members of the Christ Walk community around the globe! 

The number one guidance I have in leading Christ Walk is to give freely of yourself and your experience.  You may have a lot of fitness experience or none at all, but since we all have health, we all have a perspective that can be shared and discussed in our small group settings that are valuable to anyone in the room. I have led groups from as few as five participants to as many as 80 and the experience is as much as we share of each other during that time together.  Give Freely of Yourself and Your Experience. 

There are several ways that the Christ Walk experience can be structured for groups: 

  1. As a simple Bible study, meet each week to discuss the Thoughts to Ponder after each days reading.  Simply share your experiences with those meditations.  Make sure that everyone reports and tracks their miles to their destination.
  2. Meet each week to focus on a different topic: 
    1. Week One: Introduction
    2. Week Two: Physical Health
    3. Week Three: Mental Health
    4. Week Four: Spiritual Health
    5. Week Five: Nutrition
    6. Week Six:  Pot Luck and Graduation/Sharing
  3. Meet each week to discuss one of the Scripture Readings from the meditations and what that says to the members of your group about their health.
  4. Meet each week:
    1. Week One: Introduction
    2. Week Two: Yoga
    3. Week Three Aerobics
    4. Week Four: Guided Walk
    5. Week Five:  Weight Lifting
    6. Week Six Meditation
  5. Meet each week and have a theological reflection on one of the topics in the weeks’ readings.  Discuss the topic from the point of view of Creation, Sin, Judgment, Repentance and Redemption (Take Notes!)
  6. Meet each week and discuss:
    1. Week One: Introduction
    2. Week Two: Creation
    3. Week Three: Sin
    4. Week Four: Judgment
    5. Week Five: Repentance
    6. Week Six: Redemption
  7. Meet Each week and provide keys to healthy living:
    1. Week One: Introduction
    2. Week Two: Health Fair/Health Assessment
    3. Week Three:  Making Change/Change Exercise/Goal Setting
    4. Week Four: Fitness Testing
    5. Week Five:  Cooking Classes
    6. Week Six:  Healthy Potluck
Feel free to comment or message me if you have questions on running a Christ Walk group utilizing the #christwalk1 program!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The "E" Word: Evangelism


Evangelism is defined as the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.  Most people get REALLY uncomfortable with Paul’s call to us to be evangelists to the world.  Evangelism has gotten a bad rap.  Generally people associate evangelism with individuals trying to ram down a specific orthodoxy on a group of people.  I do not believe that evangelism and orthodoxy are the same thing. Evangelism to me is the sharing of your belief in God with others.
As a Christian writer, I cannot begin to explain my own process of coming to terms with my personal evangelism.  Let’s face it; it’s very difficult to say, “I’m a Christian!”  We are afraid of the looks we will be given; we are afraid of the preconceptions that people may have about us; we are afraid about the changes in relationships.  We are afraid about how we will perceived by others when society and the mainstream media tend to portray Christianity in extremes that rarely seem to represent what I believe; how I act; and how I know other Christians to act.  I generally believe that the majority of Christians are good, caring, and kind people.  I also believe that generally speaking, religions try to teach people how to be kind, caring and productive members of society.  But Christianity is often portrayed in extremist definitions that make the average Joe reluctant to share how God has touched his life.  It can be for some, almost like coming out of the closet.
When I was in the process of publishing my book, “Christ Walk: A 40 Day Spiritual Fitness Program,” I had not said anything to any of my friends.  I was very quiet about this process.  My spirituality and writing were my secret, shared with God alone.  I came to this realization that if I was going to publish this book and promote it; I was going to have to get really comfortable, really quickly with talking to LOTS of different people about my beliefs.  I remember very specifically having a text message conversation with a dear friend.  I went along the lines of:

Anna: BTW, I am publishing a book.

Friend: No way sister!  Why didn’t you tell me!

Anna:  Umm.  It’s about God. I didn’t want you to think I was a crazy Christian.

Friend:  No way!  That’s cool.

Anna:  You don’t think that’s odd?  Especially since you know I like cheesy chick lit and science fiction?

Friend:  No.

Anna:  You won’t think I’m weird?

Friend:  No.

Anna:  You’ll still be my friend even if we don’t agree on what I say?

Friend:  Uh.  Yes!  I can’t wait to get a copy for me and my mom!

Anna: Do you think I can do this?

Friend:  Absolutely! 

From there, I started to realize that people to understand each other’s belief sets if they don’t take the time to talk about it.  I am the same person I was before I wrote “Christ Walk.”  I simply took the time to express what I believe in a way that I wanted to share my passion for God, my family and my health in a holistic way.  Evangelism doesn’t have to be a scary word.  Evangelism can be that moment when you make a deeper connection with someone else by realizing that you both have a profound faith to share with each other.  It may also be the opening of the door for someone else that might not know about God, but allows them a safe relationship to explore a faith they may have never considered before. Evangelism is a fancy word for taking your faith out of the pew and into the world you live in daily.  It’s about how you show your “Christ Walk” to everyone around you in your life.
If you look at your faith story as God’s Story in YOUR life, and not something YOU own, then it becomes easier to share and evangelize your belief.  You don’t own your story.  It would not have happened without God being involved in it.  Therefore, give your story in the world as God’s gift of you to it.
#christwalk1 #fitness #church

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 5: Biblical Journeys


Here's a teaser from Chapter Five in "Christ Walk."
 
Biblical Big Idea #5:   “Your Journey has the Lord’s approval.”  Judges 18:6


Steps Taken:_________________

Miles Journeyed: ______________

Exercise Chosen: ______________

Spiritual Thoughts: _____________

Feelings: _____________________

Why are we here?  God created us with a purpose.  We have a journey to take on our time here on earth.  We are not here for ourselves.  I believe that many have great dissatisfaction because they are so focused on themselves and their needs.  We took the concept of “me time,” which is not necessarily a bad thing, but turned it into a “me all the time.”  If there was one book I would recommend on our Purpose, I would recommend “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.  He has a wonderful message about our time on earth being not about us.  It was an amazing relief to hear that.  I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders when I read, “It’s not about you.” 

If it’s not about me, then, we were created with purpose to do for others.  If you let go of the burden of what society, government, politics, movies, magazines, and others try to tell you is your purpose and rather focus on what you feel called to do for your family, friends, church, and community, then I think you will find the burden lifted from your shoulders.  There is such great joy in letting go of the self and doing for others.  As I discussed in the previous chapter, my journey for health frustrated me until I included others in my goal and made my running about doing for others, not just for myself.  We are all called to do different things and THAT is what keeps the world ticking when we are doing our calling in the glory of God.  “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to life a life worth of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4-1. 

Here is a little exercise for you.  Get a piece of paper.  I like a 3x5 card because I can fold it in my wallet.  Think about something you either want to change about yourself or something you’ve always wanted to do but have been afraid to do it.  Write it on one side of your card.  On the other side, write the three most important things in your life.  For me, the three most important things are God, my family, and my health.  These may be yours as well.  Many people have God and family in the top three; sometimes a job is also considered important.  When you look back at what you change about yourself, is it reflected in the three most important things in your life?

For example, if you need to quit smoking and you cannot find the strength to do it, consider that smoking does not support the OTHER things in your life:  it may take time away from your devotion to God; it is an addiction (one that costs money and has great impacts for you, your family and the environment).  If you are addicted to tobacco, food, drink, drugs, whatever it may be, then you have given so much of your vital energy to an inanimate thing that takes you away from your time with God.  God would rather you be addicted to him than a vice.  And he can give you the power to overcome that vice.  Consider your family. Tobacco, or whatever other bad habit you may want to address, has physical ramifications for your family.  Children of smokers have multiple health problems; these habits cost a great deal of money that could be a burden on your family; the toxins are damaging to your home and your family would be utterly lost without you if you were to die from your habit.  Needless to say, if health was one of your most important priorities, tobacco use or ANY other addiction is bad for your health.  I hope that goes without saying.

I also hope that you see this exercise as a positive reinforcement for WHY you can change your life.  You have three important things to lift you up and take on any challenge or goal that you may have.  I used this exercise in helping me to get going with this book.  I knew I needed to write this book, but it was much harder than I ever thought it could be.  I knew also that writing this book supported the three most important things in my life.

I also hope that you see that the three most important things in your life are an important part of your journey.  Your journey here on earth was ordained by God.  I do not believe that we live a meaningless existence here at the whim of a petulant God.  I believe that God reveals himself to all of us at different points in our lives and in different ways.

Thoughts to Ponder:

1.               Is there something I want to change about myself or work towards?

2.               What are the three most important things in my life?

3.               What are three things that are keeping me from being successful with my goal?

4.               What can I do to overcome them?

 

Monday, November 4, 2013

CRAZY Busy


I have been CRAZY, CRAZY, CRAZY busy lately.  My writing has fallen off, I am scattered, and my exercise has taken a bit of a back seat.  Between an ankle injury, walking pneumonia, work, kids, Christ Walk presentations, and trips; I have not exactly been the poster child for work/life balance.  My body has been conspiring against me to slow down and I am not very interested in listening.
CRAZY busy also leads to me putting God on my back burner.  Don’t get me wrong, God is always with me; God it always patient; and I know God will always be there, but I have been the bad friend.  I have not been the one holding up our end of the relationship.  I have been saying, “hold on just one more minute” in our relationship.  If God were anyone but God, I think God would have left me a long time ago because if I treated people the way I treat God sometimes, they wouldn’t put up with me either.
I have done this before.  If you are honest, you probably have done this too.  When life takes over, you say, “wait a minute, I’ll get back to you.”  When I am CRAZY busy, I become CRAZY Anna.  I start making CRAZY decisions.  I don’t put God first in my life and therefore, I do not make Godly decisions when I’ve told God: “wait a minute.”
I am one of those people that need to stick to the training plan.  I need to stick with my commitment to God, because neither training, nor being a Christian comes as second nature.  If it’s not first in my mind, first in my agenda or first in my life, then I will push it to the back burner.  And when the things I care about most in my life get pushed to the back burner, I regret it every time.  I have priorities in my life:  God, Family, and Health.  Even when CRAZY life happens, we need to make sure the priorities remain up front, not pushed to the back.
#christwalk1 #fitness #spirituality

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


“Christ Walk” is a 40 day study program for churches.  As a self-guided or group-guided spiritual fitness plan for any age group, Christ Walk is ideal for bible study groups, women’s groups, men’s group, Lenten Devotionals or other special events geared towards integrating spiritual, physical and mental health.

“Christ Walk” was designed for you and your church to get healthier. It allows individuals and groups to set goals towards improving their physical and spiritual health and offers questions for group discussions at the end of each chapter.  “Christ Walk” can be purchased in bulk for groups by contacting the author for a discount code through the publisher, CreateSpace.

I believe that churches should nourish not only the spiritual health of the congregation but also the physical and mental health.  Only through balance in our life to we find the path to holistic well being.  “Christ Walk” will get you and your church there on this journey towards spiritual fitness.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Getting your Church On


I had a really bad attitude about going to church.  This is a bit unusual for me, but I was not in the best mood, I did not want to take it to church and I was feeling really resistant about church in general.  But I went anyway.  And as usual, God turned my heart around.  God softened my mood, my anxiety and my irritability and I walked out with my prayers answered for a new day, a new week and a new outlook on the tasks ahead of me.
This reaffirms my belief that we need to be churched.  Let me caveat this statement because I know many disagree.  This is a personal belief.  I believe that going to a church is a good thing.  I don’t always agree with my church, or THE church or necessarily the doctrine espoused through tradition by various denominations, but I still believe that going to church (temple, whatever you want to call it) is very important in spiritual development.
First off, more often than not, church provides a moral compass; second, church provides a discipline to self development; and third, church provides a community of believers.  Church is very important in the development of a moral compass.  Very few individuals have the individual discipline to develop a spirituality with God and a moral relationship with the world around them on an individual basis.  Sure, I consider myself a fairly spiritual person, however, it is through the discipline of church that I learn that consistency and repetition is key to feeling God in my everyday life and not just when I want to call on the divine to participate.  Most of us live a very charmed life.  I can go months, if not years, without being touched by poverty, sickness, loss, or devastation.  I am blessed beyond reason. Church is very good at reminding us about our Christian call to help the sick, the homeless, the needy and the destitute.
Often, our call to the church is financial.  There are very few people who are disciplined independently to tithe (whether to the church, or some other helping organization) and be involved not only financially, but with time and talents.  Church often provides the means for giving of time, talent and money to those who are without.  Churches are struggling now as more and more people leave the church.  How do we actively engage in our Christian calling without participation in church?  How do we see the sick, the needy, the poor and the destitute without God and the church to show us on a weekly or daily basis?  We are members of a church to help the whole of our communion and not just who are wealthy enough to attend.
Finally, being a member of the Body of Christ is a community of believers.  Being a Christian is about being in a relationship.  Not only a relationship with God, but with other people who believe in God or want to believe in God or are searching for a relationship with God.  You don’t have a relationship by yourself or with yourself.  You do this by developing a relationship with those around you and building a sense of what others believe around you.  Relationships are built by communicating thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about a topic.  A church community is built by the parish membership talk, living and sharing about a God-centered life.  If we do not go to church, or religious organization, how is God communicated throughout our society or community? How do we learn about God to teach God to our children?  This is not something that is innate.  Learning about God takes study, discipline, practice and sharing.  If I do not tell you that I believe in God and I struggle to know God’s teaching, you would not know this if I did not share this with you.  Church allows for us all to share in the journey of being a part of God’s creation.  The church has often been referred to as the bride of Christ. We cannot participate in the wedding festivities if we do not show up.
I apologize in advance if my ruminations today offend.  I am a strong believer that, more often than not, church is an important part of the Christian journey.  Even when I do not want to be there, church reminds me of why I am here on my journey and provides me with the structure and discipline to hear the Word of God when I am being my most resistant.  When I have made the effort to go to church, I have never regretted it.  #christwalk1 #fitness #journey #church