Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Physical Stewardship Goals

This Sunday past (1/21/07), we had our first 2007 intergenerational seminar at church. I love these discussion sessions because they foster relationships between the youth and the adults in our congregation. The fact that Christ Lutheran makes a point of holding these meetings at least four times a year was key in my decision to begin attending the church. But I digress...

The topic of the January seminar was “Taking Care of Your Life.” The Christian Education Director chose this subject to coincide with the fact that, on the 2007 Missouri Synod Lutheran Church calendar, January 21st was “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.” Apparently, this event is observed annually on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church is opposed to this practice, as evidenced by the following quote from their website:
God’s Fifth Commandment is clear, “Your shall not murder.” This means, in the words of the Small Catechism, that “we should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” God forbids us to take the life of another person, and this most certainly includes abortion. God’s Word also says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5). Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
But, again, I digress...

The point of the seminar was to discuss what Scripture has to say about our lives and about how we should care for ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. These are the verses we examined, along with my responses/reactions:
Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. Philippians 3:21 (CEV)
I like this promise. It assures me that God will eventually take away my earthly body and give me a new and improved version that does not deteriorate. How cool is that?! No more aches and pains. No more astigmatism. No more scoliosis. Thank you very much, I will take this offer.
You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives. The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God. You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you. So use your body to honor God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NASB)
Ok, this is the convicting verse for me. If my body is the temple where the Holy Spirit lives, I am astonished he hasn’t been more vocal about a redecorating plan. Maybe he has been vocal and I just ignored him ... ALOT! The fact that I am 25 pounds overweight and exercise less than most people on the planet certainly begs for a new course of action in the physical fitness/nutrition area.
Listen to me, my children! Be wise and have enough sense to follow the right path. Don’t be a heavy drinker or stuff yourself with food. It will make you feel drowsy and you will end up poor with only rags to wear. Proverbs 23:19-21 (CEV)
So, what is the “right” path? The verse makes it pretty clear --- don’t drink heavily or eat too much. Well, I don’t drink much at all, so I guess I am alright in that department. I have been eating less recently as well, especially since my daughter lost over fifteen pounds just by focusing on appropriate portion sizes and by eliminating soda. Of course, I could definitely improve. I have also noticed that when I do eat a healthy diet, full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, I feel great. On the other hand, when I eat several heavy meals in a row, I feel lethargic. Amazing how Scripture proves itself true.
As the saying goes, “Exercise is good for your body, but religion helps you in every way. It promises life now and forever.” These words are worthwhile and should not be forgotten. 1 Timothy 4:8 (CEV)
The first part of this verse is pretty obvious. Years of scientific research have proven again and again that a balanced exercise routine is healthy for anyone, especially if that routine includes aerobic, flexibility, and strength training. The second part of the verse tells me that as focused as I may be on getting physically fit, I should be just as focused on getting spiritually fit.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB)
At this point, the seminar discussion focused on strategies for promoting emotional wellness, recommendations like:

- maintain a balanced lifestyle
- eat a healthy diet, exercise, and minimize stress
- relax and have fun
- develop coping mechanisms
- utilize a support network
- ask for help
- remember that you are not alone

This last suggestion was accompanied by an astounding statistic: 48 million people made office-based appointments for mental health services in 2004. Amazingly enough, many professionals believe this number underrepresents the actual need for those same services.

Having dealt with anorexia, cancer, and the death of a parent (among other challenges) so far in my forty-five years of life, I agree with all the strategies listed above. However, I would add one more that, I believe, is crucial: abide in God’s word. It keeps everything else in perspective.

So, after attending this seminar and meditating on these verses, I have devised some physical stewardship goals for 2007. My overarching goal is to become more fit but, in the words of Miss Tiffany (my Christian Education Director), I need to set SMART goals as well (SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Tangible). These are my SMART goals for physical stewardship:

- to exercise at least 15 minutes per day
- to lose 10 pounds
- to eat a more varied and nutritious selection of food
- to eat out less frequently
- to reduce my stress level
- to undergo a physical examination with all appropriate cancer screenings

Of course, it goes without saying that I need to commit these plans to the Lord so they will be established.

This was the verse that ended our discussion. It is my prayer for you. Go, be fit, and serve the Lord! Thanks be to God.
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2 (NASB)

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