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

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Words that Hurt, Words that Heal

I have been sitting on this post for several days now as I needed the time to let my hurt heal and be able to speak frankly and comfortably about this topic.  Recently, someone said some very hurtful things to me.  Long story short, I wasn’t supposed to hear the words, but I did and it was a little bit like getting punched.  I was so shocked and disillusioned that it shut me down for a day.

Out of this hurt rose friends.  Friends that brought cards; friends that texted; friends that called and friends that I ran into that had no idea I was sad, but who lifted me up by their presence.
This led me to realize that God has surrounded me by people that use healing words and kind words every day that make my world so terrific.  Their simple presence and kindness were healing words after hearing words that hurt.  I felt blessed.
Recently, the priest at church talked about the acts of grace in our life that we do not see, because we do not take the time to catalog the multiple actions of grace that happen every day.  He theorized that we probably acknowledge 1 in 10 acts of grace that occur on a daily basis.  This discussion gave me pause, because we (and I) are so quick to focus on the things that are wrong in the world and in our lives that we rarely place as much effort into categorizing the things that are right.  We rarely stop and think of all the ways that grace has touched us every day.
With his sermon, our priest challenged me to find those acts of grace.  And before I completely forgive and forget the words that hurt me, I want to recognize the grace of others that healed me that day.  Without asking, without seeking, grace entered my life and brought a smile to my face.
I am blessed by the grace in my life.
#christwalk1 #grace #blessed

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My most stellar self


This weekend, I wasn’t at my most stellar self.  I got upset at my children, was impatient and crabby:  Snappish.  I probably wasn’t very pleasant to be around.  While there are a multitude of reasons _why_ I was like this, in my heart, I don’t feel like it justifies being a crazy person. We all know it happens.  It happens to us all because we are fallible, and have feelings, but we all wish we didn’t have those moments when we react instead of thinking through the frustration and stress.

 As I went to bed, I prayed for forgiveness.  I prayed for peace of mind and heart and patience. I prayed for serenity.  I often pray that God helps me to stop and think before reacting. Each year I think I get a little better at it.

As I lay in bed trying to move beyond this bad day, I had a light-bulb moment.  I knew that God forgave me.  Not only because that’s what I have been taught, but I know God forgives.  I understand implicitly that God’s forgiveness is for me and for anyone who asks for it. What is more difficult is accepting God’s forgiveness and then forgiving yourself.  I had to realize I made a mistake, accept that forgiveness and let it be as far from the east is from the west in my mind as well as it is in God’s mind.  It is not God that dwells on my sin.  It is I that keeps that sin alive by not allowing the forgiveness of God into my heart.  Once I let that forgiveness in, it was much easier to move on and then the next day, return to my most stellar self.  J

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Giving 1%


You know those people that can just muscle through the last mile?  Or those that just go out to run and “accidentally” run ten miles?  Or just randomly decide to do something and do it?  That’s not me.  I have to train for anything.  I have to prepare my body mentally, physically and spiritually to take something on.
Before I ran, I walked.  Before I did 100 burpees, I did 1 burpee.  Before I ran a 5 K, I ran a mile.  Before the 10 K, I ran a 5 K.  Before the half, I ran the 10 K.  Before lifting 205, I lifted 65.  Before I gave 10%, I gave 1%.  Each milestone required physical and mental training to get me to that point and I never reach that feeling of being an “expert” athlete or “expert” person, or “expert” anything.  I look at my life as constant training over the course of my entire life.
We are constantly training for God’s work in the world.  We are (or should) be constantly seeking ways to do better.  When we slip up and slide backwards, we have to restart that training regimen all over again.  I have recently let my running slide.  It means I start walking again.  And then walking and running and then I will run again.  If I have slipped up as a Christian, I’ll need to start with the small changes that lead me back.  With God as my ultimate personal trainer, I’ll be successful in whatever training plan is established.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Joie De Vivre

My kids were recently complaining about something.  I don’t remember what, but I remember thinking, “Boy, I wish I could be a kid again.”  It was great being a kid.  I knew I was loved.  Things were taken care of for me.  I was fearless.  I was daring.  I had amazing imagination.  Life was larger than life.  I was so full of wonder for the world that I thought my heard would explode.  Everything was COOL.  And AWESOME.  And BIG and BRIGHT. The world through the eyes of a child is amazing.  My joie de vivre was huge.  Even during my hearing loss, I remember life being very vibrant.  I my poem, “On Deafness,” I call it a “life-vibrance, a hearing person would never presume.”

I have been ruminating a lot on how I would think and react as a child versus now as an adult.  I have wondered how to bring that child-like awe back into my world.  As an adult, I love that I am confident, capable and trustworthy.  I love that I have two children of my own to give them that same sense of “life-vibrance” that I had as a child.  However, I miss my imagination, fearless, daring and exuberance that I had as a kid.  Somewhere along the way, joie de vivre got buried in being an adult.
I want it back.  So I have set for myself a goal to find my inner child-like joie de vivre.  Thus far, I have loved it.  I have taken the time to play with my kids silly games.  I have had a water gun fight and a sword fight.  I have attempted water skiing (unsuccessfully) for the first time in 20+ years and loved that I gave it a try.  I have roasted s ‘mores over a fire. I have engaged in conversations with my child’s imaginary friend and laughed at my own folly.  And I have begun to think of what I would want to do creatively to nurture this side of me because it makes me smile.  This playing adds activity to my life that I did not have before and so I get more miles on my Christ Walk journey!  This activity lifts my heart.  We all feel more joy when we are feeling joy ourselves.  There is a saying that goes, “when momma ain’t happy, nobody is happy.”  Well, the true can be said “when momma is happy (or dad, or grandma, or sister or brother), then everyone is happy.”

We all need to find our child-like joie de vivre.  Jesus says that we need to be child like to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10-5).  This child-like hope and joy and trust opens our hearts to the love around us in the world and lets us share that same exuberance with those around us.  It allows us to trust and believe in the grace of God without exception.
What child-like activity would you try?  What activity would you like to try again that you have never done before.  Life is short.  Don’t live with regret that you did not give it a try.

 

Friday, October 4, 2013

 
Part of establishing a healthy life is knowing when the only thing you can change is yourself.  You can go through life blaming objects, food, rules and situations, but at the end of the day, the only thing that you have the ability to change is yourself and your perception of the situation you are in.  When you change your perception and attitude, you send positive emotions through your body and a sense of well being develops.
 
Christ Walk is designed to focus on various aspects of holistic health over a forty-day period.  The program is biblically based and focuses on the tools that God gave us to make those changes within ourselves: mind, body, and spirit.
 
Right now, I have a 15,000 fan challenge going on my  FaceBook page.  I am giving away a free autographed copy of Christ Walk.  To be entered into the contest:
1)  Go to my FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/ChristWalk40Day
2) Like the Christ Walk page
3) Share the Christ Walk page on your wall
 
Happy Christ Walking!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day One: An Introduction to Christ Walk

What is Christ Walk?  Christ Walk is a walking program.  It is designed to improve your physical health.  I have a list of biblical routes (Appendix A) for you to choose a biblical journey to walk during the next forty days.  There is a chapter a day to help lift you up spiritually as your make your journey.

As I write this book, I will never claim to be an expert on what is the best thing for you to do to have a spiritually and physically healthy life.  I am not a theologian, although from my studies, I would argue that anyone who studies and works towards a closer relationship with God could be considered a theologian.  I do not claim to have all the answers.  Much like any Christian, I have many questions that I constantly seek answers for, which to me is an act of faith.  I am not an expert on health, although I have worked in the healthcare field for the last 12 years with an emphasis on health programs and training.  I do not claim that this book is the answer to all of the questions that you may have.  It is not a diet, nor a guidebook or even a recommendation on how you should live. 

This book is a personal reflection on my experiences, beliefs, and knowledge on having a spiritually and physically healthy life.  I have written this book after six years of running a Christ Walk program at two churches.  The program was well received and provided an opportunity for the participants to grow spiritually and physically.  The book is set up in a manual/journal format in order for you to have an interactive experience in the Christ Walk journey, much as the participants in the class experienced!  At the end of the 40 days, this book should be as much your book as it is mine.  I have designed the book for individual use as well as for groups.  The appendices include options for group leaders and options for individuals to transform their Christ Walk experience from journey to journey.  And there is always another journey.  Christ Walk should not end after one 40-day period.  These 40 days should transform you in to new journeys and new goals.

The Bible is rife with stories about journeys and food and eating and celebration.  God did not intend for us to be at war with food, nor did he intend for us not to use our feet and our bodies in our daily lives.  I am filled with awe that Christianity spread during a time when there were no cars, or trucks, or trains, or airplanes to get our prophets and disciples to the place where they wanted to spread the word.  There is a reason God gave us feet!  To use them, to walk with them, or run with them or jump with them, but all to the Glory of God and taking care of the temple he created within each of us. 

When I have struggled with how to live my life, for the strength to get out and exercise when all I want to do is stay at home, or when I have been conflicted by the stresses in my life, I have always felt that God was there to help me and provide me strength and guidance.  I remember running my first half marathon.  Around mile 9 I began to fail and doubt.  I began to pray that God would wrap my legs in strength and endurance.  I felt the power of the Holy Spirit lift my legs and make them strong again.  I truly believe God’s strength helped me finish my race.  The belief that I was not alone rejuvenated me.  I believe that God walks with me in every step that I take.  I believe that the Bible is filled with inspirational guidelines on living a healthy life.  Through the next 40 days, I would like to share that with you, as well as sharing a bit of my life and my journey through Christ Walk.

Each day, there will be a Bible verse related to a reflective piece on healthy living.  Some of these days may be more body-focused and other days may be more spiritually or mentally focused.  All of these days will help you on your journey to a healthier you!  If you are physical unable to walk, I ask that you look at your life in ways that you can change it and improve it.  Everyone has things that they can do to make their life healthier.  Perhaps your goal will be to study something new on your journey, or pray with more discipline or focus on changing your nutritional habits.  If you cannot physically exercise, discuss with your health care provider on some options that you are willing to do to change.  There is a place in this journey for everyone.  We may need to be creative on the method that the journey is completed.  I ask that you pray through those chapters that are not applicable to you and really focus on the ones that speak to your personal experience.  I have tried to write to many different perspectives and needs.  I am aware that this book will not work for everyone, but if you cannot make the journey on your own, consider how you can help others on their journey.  Keep an open mind and again, consider, “what can I do to change?”

So how do we make a healthy body?  We take care of it.  We exercise it, we feed it, we nurture it, and we rest it.  Scientifically, the best exercise that most people keep up with is walking.  I find that very reassuring as most of the stories and journeys in the Bible were done by foot.  Consequently, as you begin this journey with me, I am going to ask you to pick a walking goal (see appendix A) to focus on during the next 40 days. There are different walking goals depending on your fitness level.  Some people have walked the Via Delarosa (Jesus’ journey through Jerusalem to his crucifixion, one of my favorite routes) during Lent; others walked Jesus’ Birth and Death (the distance between Bethlehem and Jerusalem); while others have walked Paul’s missionary journeys.  There is a complete list of suggested journeys and distances for you to set for your goal (Appendix A).  Or you may choose to set your own goal!  It is up to you.  But as we physically walk through our Christ Walk journey, it will help to focus you on your spiritual goals as well.

Through the Christ Walk journey, we have taken the parable of the ordained journey and translated that to actual physical walking goals that are pulled from routes that Jesus and the disciples took during varying missions.  You can find a breakdown of each of these routes and their miles to include a map of the routes in the Holy Land in the Appendices.  Some of these distances are estimates.  At the time I developed the routes, I was using a ruler and a map grid to figure out how far we would go.  I take full responsibility in any inaccuracies and beg your forgiveness as these are supposed to be representative.

I chose some of these routes because they touched a very special part of me for different reasons.  These biblical journeys represent different themes to me and I will share with you how they became a part of the Christ Walk Journey for me.

The first year I did Christ Walk, I think I only had three different routes to choose from: a beginner route, intermediate route, and advanced route to challenge different fitness levels.  Over the years, I have added other routes as I journeyed through the Bible.  I have also added Group routes because we are all in this together!  Research also supports the impact of groups and teamwork on being successful in obtaining goals.  People who set goals together are more likely to stick with them and be successful.


The Nazareth Challenge was one of the first routes I developed.  It is 65 miles between Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth and Jerusalem.  This is approximately 1.6 miles each day for 40 days to walk the distance of the route that Jesus preached to reach Jerusalem.  The goal was very special to me because as a military wife, I am often far from home.  I look at my journey now as leading me to my final resting spot one day and I find that very satisfying. 

The Jerusalem to Damascus Route: This journey represents Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road.  The route is approximately 3.75 miles.  What an amazing journey to find your way to being a Christian and God’s love.  I can think of no greater journey than Paul’s conversion.  If he could walk this route blind, anyone can do it.  For me personally, I have a hearing loss that I will tell you more about in another story, but Paul’s loss of eyesight did not stop him from his calling.  This is a wonderful journey to choose.

The Jerusalem Challenge: During Jesus’ final days, his route through Jerusalem included preaching at the temple, the clearing of the temple, the Last Supper, his arrest at Gethsemane, his trial and Peter’s denial and then his crucifixion.  This is roughly a 2.2 mile route.  This is known as the Via Delarosa or The Way of Suffering.  What a powerful image to walk the distance of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us each data during Lent. And you can reflect on our walks the great gift we have been given.  This is a lovely, lovely journey to try as you explore your spirituality and relationship to God. 

The Damascus to Caesarea Journey:  This is a journey of 5 miles a day representing the walks that the disciples took on their missionary journeys.  I find it powerful that the disciples traveled such great distances without cars or other forms of modern transportation.  Aside from a donkey or camel, these journeys were taken by foot.  See yourself as part of a mission and a way and a journey and step proudly each day on your challenge.

The Bethlehem Challenge: I think of this challenge as the Alpha and Omega Challenge.  It is about 5 miles between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and this represents walking the route from Jesus’ birth to his death.  This is Jesus journey from where God put him in the world to his ultimate calling.  Where will your journey take you?

The Exodus Challenge:  Not for the faint of heart.  This challenge was chosen for some of the most advanced of my Christ Walk participants.  This is the route the Jews traveled to get to the Promised Land: 375 miles or 9.4 miles/day or 18750 steps per day.  (You may use this one as a group challenge).  We are all on our journey to the Promised Land.

The appendix in the book has additional group journeys where teams can pool their miles towards additional (and longer) challenges/routes found in the Bible.  The second year I did Christ Walk, I learned that the journey was a lot more fun when we did it with teams.  The teams provided a support system to get each of us through our different strengths and weakness on our routes.

If you are doing Christ Walk as a group, I recommend that during the first week, you coordinate some fitness professionals to come in and discuss principles of healthy living.  It is also useful to have them provide some type of fitness testing so that you can be provided with some baseline information on the fitness level of your body.  These numbers such as blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index, weight, cardiovascular fitness can give you some objective information on what you need to change.  These tests can be repeated at the end of the journey to show the progress you made.

Finally, since I am not a dictator, I have always let the Christ Walk participants find their own journeys.  There may be another route that speaks more deeply to you than these favorites of mine, and I encourage you to find that route and journey it.  The point is to get up and get moving.  The journey cannot get started if you are sitting down.

Each day, there will be a place for you to fill in your steps/distance, your activity, your feelings for the day and your spiritual thought for the day.  Do not rush to finish the book.  This book is designed to be read one chapter a day. This way, the book is a journal to help you on your way and improve your Christ Walk experience.  If at any time you need to change your goals, feel free to do so.  Life is a journey and many bumps happen along the way!  The test of the issue is that you continue to have faith to continue on the journey, even if it is in a different way that the one in which you started.  If you are doing this as a group, these journal entries may help your group to share their Christ Walk experience and deepen your understanding of a life of walking with Christ.  See Appendix B for Recommendations for Groups.

So, how do we measure the steps we took, the distance we traveled?  I recommend the purchase of a pedometer, which can be clipped to your belt or pants and will track the number of steps/miles traveled each day.  Recommendations from the experts encourage every individual to take 10,000 steps a day for heart health.  You may need to work up to this level of activity, and perhaps this will be one of your goals.  Roughly 2,000-2,500 steps equal a mile.  Depending on the maker of pedometer, it may tell this for you, or you may have to calculate your stride if you want to be more accurate.  For the purpose of Christ Walk, we generally give 1 mile for every 2,000 steps. There is a brief description on using a pedometer in Appendix C.

If you want to bike, swim, dance,  aerobics or whatever you choose for exercise, it takes about 15 minutes to walk a mile, so every 15 minute block of exercise can be calculated as a mile.  The important thing is to choose an activity that you enjoy and do it. The purpose is to get out there and move, to think about every step you take as walking with God.  I am not big on punishment and it is your walk with Christ, so you will have to take it up with your conscious if you cheat!  That is up to God.  Your job is to give it your best shot with all your heart.

So take your first step(s) and see how many steps your pedometer took you today. 

Thoughts to ponder:

1.               What is my goal?

2.               How do I feel about my goal?  Is it reasonable/attainable/realistic?  If not, how can I make it something that I will stick with the next 40 days?

3.               Who can I reach to help me out on my journey?

4.               What do you think about the following scripture in relationship to your own journey?: “ So on that day your feet have walked will be your inheritance, and that of your children forever because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” Joshua 14: 9

From "Christ Walk:  A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program," 2015, Morehouse Publications.  Used with Permission.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Introduction to Christ Walk

A Step of Faith in Christ  Father Derek Pringle, Emmanuel Episcopal Church

I am an average person.  I am average weight, average height, average looks, average intelligence, average Christian, average person.  I like to think I am normal, with normal issues as the average person, with the average struggles and the average thoughts, beliefs, doubts, concerns, wants and needs.  I believe that the average person finds it hard to find time for prayers, healthy eating, exercise, time with family, demands of job and everything that we “should” be doing.  I believe that Christ-centered living can get us there.  A Christ-centered life provides us with forgiveness when we slip up, or if we need extra help, or if we need a friend on the walk of life.  Christ transcends us from the average and ordinary, to the extraordinary.  Since Christ lives in all of us, average is a misleading description. I believe that all of us have opportunities to improve our health and transform ourselves through Christ to the amazing and extraordinary.  Christ Walk is a program towards a healthy, Christ-centered life.  We use the grace of God and the Strength of Jesus to improve our health: mind, body and spirit.

I began Christ Walk in 2006 at +Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Hampton, Virginia.  I remember walking into the priest’s office just as bold as you please and telling him that I was going to run a walking program during the 6 weeks of Lent for the parishioners.  Father Derek was either bowled over, or incredibly trusting as he gave me the go ahead to implement my program.  That began a six year odyssey of making Christ Walk work for a church and making it work more than one time and in different ways.  I will always be incredibly thankful to Emmanuel for the gift of testing the Christ Walk Program with me.  I pray that they received as much out of Christ Walk as I received in sharing it.

I am a registered nurse by training, although the last several years of my career have been outside of the hospital setting.  I am married to an Army officer, so my professional life has taken twists and turns depending upon where my husband has been stationed.  We were stationed in Germany where I was unable to find a job as a nurse and ended up landing a position as a Health Promotion Coordinator for the +1st Infantry Division and W├╝rzburg Medical Command.  It ended up being a life changing and career changing experience for me as I found that working with people to help them become healthy was the calling in life that I always wanted. 

When we moved back to the States following our tour in Germany, I was eight months pregnant and had given up my dream job.  I was not sure what I was going to do, but I felt this strong calling to develop a walking program for my church.  I had done something similar with the 1st Infantry Division by developing the “Walk to Iraq and Back” program for deployed spouses.  From that experience, I knew the routes in the Bible would make for an incredible walking experience.  Thus “Christ Walk” grew out of my experience with health promotion programming, but was centered on walking with Christ every day.  I believe that we need to exercise in mind, body and spirit in order to make a body strong and whole. I also believe that the Bible has a great deal of inspiration for living healthy mind, body and spirit.  As a result, you will find quotations from the Bible at the beginning of every chapter.  While I generally do not hold with “cherry picking” biblical verses outside of the context of the story, I have found that these phrases have been guideposts to ensure that Christ Walk stays centered on God.  You may have other verses that call you to a healthy life, but I hope and pray that these verses will lift you up on your own Christ Walk journey.

I am an +Episcopalian by church affiliation, although I feel quite comfortable in a variety of churches and have heard God’s word in many denominations outside my own.  Christ Walk is not intended to be Episcopalian; however, there will be references to the church year and church traditions as that is the environment in which I grew up.  Christ Walk was originally designed for the 40 days of Lent.  Forty days is a powerful period of time in the Bible, and Lent is often used as a time of prayer, fasting, denial and personal growths we prepare ourselves for the forgiveness God gives us in Jesus’ resurrection. Forty days can be transformational.  While you can do Christ Walk at any 40-day period during the year, I find it an especially powerful tool during Lent.  My Christ Walk challenge reminds me to always be cognizant of walking with Christ every day of my life.

I have also designed this book to be written in as a journal.  The book is designed for you to track the progress on your journey and express your mind, body and spiritual thoughts.  Research shows that people who journal about their health and their progress towards their goals are more likely to stick to their plan.  People who track their goals are more likely to be successful in their endeavor.  Christ Walk is not just for reading.  Christ Walk is for living.

In each chapter you will find a space to record your physical accomplishments with the exercise you have completed, the mental thoughts that you have discovered, and the spiritual insights you have experienced as a part of your Christ Walk journey.  Christ Walk is designed to be shared, recorded, used, and re-used as every day of walking with Christ is a new experience and new revelation into a healthier life.

Spiritual Autobiography

I am a graduate of the Education for Ministry program for lay ministry through the +University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.  While this changed my way about thinking of things theologically, I do not claim that this makes me an expert on the Bible or God.  Education for Ministry challenges each of us to develop a lay ministry.  Christ Walk is my lay ministry combining my love of God and my love of healthy lifestyles.

As  a part of that four-year program of study, each year we are required to share our Spiritual Autobiographies in order to express how we got to where we are on our spiritual journey.  I feel the need to share who I am and where I came from to bring you the Christ Walk program so that you understand how passionately I feel about God’s presence in all our lives.

I was born in 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina.  I am the daughter of an Episcopal priest who served as a Navy chaplain.  I have a double bogey against me as a priest kid (PK) and a Navy brat!  I think I turned out all right.   My parents brought my brother and me up in the church and I felt to this day that I have always believed in God, but it was more of the status quo rather than an experiential communion.

During my teens, there were two major events that resulted in a powerful connection with God and a birth of my spirituality as I know it today.  First, my father began suffering from mental illness, which deteriorated over the next 10-15 years until he ended up having a stroke at the age of 56.  During that same period, I unexpectedly lost my hearing to an autoimmune disease.  The doctors were not sure what was causing my hearing loss and associated symptoms and I was put on many experimental therapies in order to stem the hearing loss.  I lost the remaining vestiges of my hearing at the age of 15 and went through a 6-month period deaf.  I remember very vividly being in church and we had all stood to say the Nicene Creed and I could not hear anything.  I sat down suddenly, extremely angry, frustrated, sad, and fed up that I could not hear the words of the service.  I remember thinking, “Why bother?” and “What’s the point if I cannot hear and participate?”   Then I remember very clearly the voice of the Lord saying, “It does not matter, you don’t have to hear to experience.”  And a light went on for me.  I do not have to hear, I do not have to do this by rote, but I do have to experience God’s love and share God’s love with all that I am, however I am.   We are all different, with our own losses and own pains and in that moment, we can ALWAYS experience God’s love and share God’s love with others, because he is the living God here on earth.  What matters is how we love and how we use our bodies and lives towards God’s love.

So that is my spiritual strength.  God gave me a message that has endured through various ups and downs and tragedies: we all have a place in doing God’s work in the world no matter how we are built or the faulty equipment we may be endowed.   I know without a doubt that God is here amongst us and sharing in our everyday lives if we let God be there with us.  I know that when I have the most internal conflict over my life, it is invariably because I am paying too much attention to the self, rather than what God is telling me.  We are not put on this earth about the SELF, rather what the self can do for God.

My mental strength is my ability to reason, to always search for knowledge and growth.  I probably find this my easiest place of growth because I love to learn and read.  However, for you it may be your challenge and goal during Christ Walk to set a learning goal as a part of your journey.  Your ability to learn never ends.  In fact, I think sometimes our ability to learn improves as we age when we put our minds to it.

Physically, my body always feels like it is against me.  I am not a very athletic person, nor a very competitive person.  I have asthma and allergies, gastrointestinal problems, hearing loss, and one leg that is a bit shorter than the other.  I often feel that when I set a physical goal (I have now run two half marathons and a 10 miler and none of them seem easy) that something invariably happens with my body to keep me from being successful (or what I have defined as successful in my own mind).  One of the great lessons in life, that I continue to learn, is that success in my mind may not be the same as success in God’s mind.

So, with Christ Walk, my goal for you is to set mind, body, and spirit goals that will help you focus on God.  Take care of the temple (the body) that God has given us for the Christ spark in us all.  We are all different.  We are all shapes and sizes and all different levels of health, wellness, and physical capability, but we all have a bit of Christ within us.   Therefore we should take care of that temple that God has given us.  A healthy body can do more for others and share the Christ love within us in whatever capacity we are called to serve.

Finally, these are my thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences.  I will use a lot of “I” statements, since my experiences have shaped my theological beliefs on the topic of health and wellness.  If these thoughts and feelings and beliefs do not resonate with your own experience, that is okay.  All of our experiences collectively are shaping the Christian community’s testament to God in the world.  It is all good, when it done for the love of Christ.  I do hope that any way you take these meditations that they help you along on your journey.  I hope you feel free to make it your own so that it works within your own set of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and experiences.  It is all good in the spirit of God.

So, through Strong Minds, Strong Bodies, and Strong Spirits, we can walk with Christ all the days of our lives.  Join me over the next 40 days on your personal Christ Walk Experience and see yourself transformed.