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


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