FitBit for the Soul

 

 

 

A few years ago my sister asked me if I had a FitBit. I told her I had no idea what one was. She told me it was the rage: her daughters had one as well as most teachers she worked with. She tried to explain it. I thought all it did was track your steps for the day. I figured I didn’t need one since I already incorporate some type of exercise into most of my days. I went out and bought a $10.00 step tracker at Aldi. I never used it. I’ve made it pretty well without any kind of step tracker, up until two weeks ago. I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth when I’m offered something free. So I wasn’t about to turn down a FitBit when it was gifted to me.

A FitBit is quite fascinating. I had no idea it could know so much about me. It knows:

  • The number of steps I take in a day
  • The distance I traverse
  • The calories I burn
  • The type of steps I take: a stroll, vigorous walk, or a run
  • The time I go to bed
  • The hours I sleep
  • The type of sleep I get: restful or restless

This FitBit is designed to make me a healthier “me”. Maybe it could make you a healthier you. However, we have to realize we can look quite good on the outside and be quite ragged looking on the inside. And, that ragged look on the inside matters to God and it should matter to us.

That makes me ponder these questions: Am I living the way God designed me? Am I doing the inward work that moves me more into the place of inward healthy living that brings wholeness?

I know I want to say yes to all of the questions. But, part of living out the yes is understanding there are places in me, and in all of us, that still need working on. It’s so easy to run and hide from these things. These things lurk in the shadows and keep us from living out the full beauty that is in each of us. God’s desire is that we live in the light of His son Jesus. But, to do that we must make sure our hands are open to God as we pray as David did in Psalm 139. He asked God to search his heart, and his thoughts, to show him his grievous ways, and then to lead him in the right path. It takes courage to pray this and really mean it.

The FitBit is not totally accurate on its tracking. That’s a given. But, God is accurate on all things about each of us. He knows those places in each of us that stump us up and keep us from going deeper with Him, deeper within ourselves with helpful self-knowledge, and deeper with family and friends. It takes humility to do this hard work. It’s a peeling off of things that are artificial. It’s a taking off of masks we wear. It is in this place, however, that there is true freedom to become the person God uniquely designed us to be. It’s a place that can make us feel more alive, more settled in our soul. We then can love deeper, care deeper, think deeper, live deeper, experience deeper, search deeper, and long deeper.

 

Most of us struggle saying yes to entering this kind of God work/soul work. It can be brutal but oh the joys! I love what David Benner says: “My identity as a Christian has more to do with becoming than with simply being. And what I have wanted to become has been fully alive and deeply human.” It’s rather risky to start living in this way but it’s a way of living the journey of becoming whole, alive, and deeply human.

The Right Question

 

How did Jesus attract people? In my first class of training for becoming a professional Life Coach we discussed the ways Jesus encountered those he met and how he invited them into relationship with him. To develop relationships, many times Jesus asked questions. Asking questions was central to his life and teaching. A question he asked Peter grabbed me a few weeks ago as I was reading through the book of John.

I landed in the book of John during the month of March. In January I began reading through the Bible using the guide found in the book “A Woman’s Guide to Reading Through the Bible”. However, I found that I needed to park in John longer than the guide suggested.

One reason I wanted to park there was that my sister, Kimberly, was also studying the book of John in Bible Study Fellowship. I wanted to be experiencing some of what she must be experiencing as she is diving deeper into this glorious book of John. This is the first year she’s ever had the privilege of doing BSF. You see, she taught school 22 years, but last year she took disability retirement. It was time. The sixth year of living with cancer was taking its toll. Truly, it is not just happenstance that this is the year of studying John in BSF, and that Kimberly is getting on it.

I slowly and intently read these powerful, beautifully written words of the disciple John. And, I must admit there were times my reading moved me to tears. What a Savior who suffered, bled, died, and rose again for ME, for ALL. He is my inheritance now and forever. He is this for anyone who calls upon Him, trusts Him and begins to really live life in relationship with Him. I was reminded by a friend this week that life here is just the pre-show. Yes, there are ups AND downs, but it’s the pre-show. The real show begins when I see Him face to face. What a glorious day that will be!

The last chapter of John did wipe me out the day I read it. I’ve read it many times, but there was something different that stood out to me on that particular day. It was the question Jesus asked Peter. Peter had seen the resurrected Jesus two times before this particular meaningful encounter. I can only imagine how much Peter was missing waking up and experiencing immediate fellowship with his dearest of friends. They’d walked and talked with each other for over three years. His life was definitely going to be different now.

On this particular day, Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing. Peter was a fisherman. It was something he’d done most of his life. It was comfortable. It was familiar. It was a part of his identity. Going fishing could have been a way to deal with some of the sadness of knowing his dearest friend, in bodily form, wasn’t going to be around anymore in the way he’d known him. He and his friends had fished all night and caught nothing.

Then, morning came and someone on shore calls out, “Friends, haven’t you caught anything?” The answer is no. This person tells them where they need to cast their net. They do as he says and the catch is big: 153 fish. Suddenly, they know this is their friend, companion, and now Savior, Jesus. They gather together on shore and Jesus says, “Let’s have breakfast.” Mealtime is the perfect time for fellowship. A powerful conversation ensued that included some powerful questions for Peter.

Jesus asked Peter. “Do you love me more than these?” I’m sure most Bible scholars are quite certain Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Him more than the other disciples. But, as I read this I couldn’t help but wonder if  Jesus could also have been asking Peter if he loved Him more than he loved fishing (the thing that was bringing him comfort on that day). Jesus asked him this same question three times. Peter says yes each time.  Jesus then gives Peter instructions on how to live for the rest of his life. Peter was ready for God to use him in turning the world upside down with the message of the Gospel.

Jesus often asks me, “Kristi, do you love me more than _______________?” That question has ended in many different ways. Lately, I’ve realized it could include an old way of thinking.  It includes anything that needs pruning or  totally weeding out. My thoughts and beliefs can be very self- centered! They can be dark. I am amazed at how blinded I can get to that very thing. This place of soul work can be painful, but oh the joys. It’s taking me to a deeper place of knowing God and knowing myself. And, it is good! It is freeing! It is cleansing! It is challenging! It is transforming!

What would Jesus put in the blank of that question for you today? Do you love me more than______? Jesus rose again so we could really live, not for ourselves, but for Him. If we know Him, what an inheritance we have! We haven’t received our full inheritance, heaven, now. But, each of us, if we have a personal relationship with him, can have a taste of it now, in the pre-show. Let’s not get stuck, through our own selfish agendas, wrong worldview, and selfish motivations that we miss out on what we have offered now: Peace, contentment and joy that come when we live a life for His glory and honor alone.

Taming the Inner Critic

 

MB900387808

I love to be with people, but in small groups. It’s just how I’m wired. I love leading and facilitating Bible studies and other types of small groups, but I have a “favorite” number for group size – five to seven. That’s where I’m most comfortable. Oh, and it’s really comfortable when I actually already know one or two in the group pretty well. It gives me comfort and security. Needless to say, I’m an introvert. It’s how God designed me.

But, in my life God has asked me to get out of that place of comfort and share my life with bigger groups. It’s quite scary. I’ve said “yes” many times and I didn’t faint, get sick, or die. I know I’ve felt sick, but it didn’t happen. I have God and His strength to thank for that. However, I don’t come away from those uncomfortable situations to a place of joy and peace, thinking to myself “oh how God used me. It was wonderful!” I come from those places with my own inner critic screaming at me saying things like, “What you said was confusing. That didn’t go so smoothly. You should have done better. On and on and on my own inner voice goes.”

How grateful I am to be in a better place of understanding this about myself: I have a strong inner critic that God wants to tame. And, he’s in the taming business! So what are some things I’m learning?

  • There are times I won’t be at my best, and it’s okay. When God calls me to a new place where there’s some stretching going on in me, there is never any need for beating myself up because it didn’t go perfectly. Give myself grace. It will go better next time, if there’s a next time.
  • Accept that no matter what, I am Christ’s beloved. That’s the only thing that really matters.
  • Give thanks to God when He shows me something I need to correct in my life. It’s out of love He shows it to me. He’s not pointing it out to beat me up or condemn me. He’s revealing it to me so I can grow up more.
  • I am me and His design in me is good. So, there is no need to ever compare and compete with anyone else.
  • I ask God to show me how to replace those critical remarks I make to myself with life giving thoughts. He will do it.

Thank you, God, that even as I ponder and write these words, I realize more and more how easy it is to fall back into living in a “me centered” place instead of in a new creation place. Although I’m never perfect, help me to always make forward movement that brings greater freedom in Christ .

To what new place is God taking you? How are your getting there? What are you learning on the journey?

A Mirroring that Never Fails

l_151-mirror

 

David Boudia and Steele Johnson are synchronized divers. Watching them perform at the Rio Olympics was fascinating. I can’t imagine the time and discipline it takes to master the moves that ensure that they are completely in sync with each other.   These divers mirror each other. It takes years of hard work to develop physically and mentally to be able to compete and win. The physical skill and mental toughness required is incredible.

The journey of Steele Johnson and David Boudia began a decade ago. Boudia, at age 17 would pick up Johnson (10) and they’d head to practice. Boudia became Johnson’s mentor. They spent endless hours together developing the skills it would take to become two of the world’s best divers. They worked hard. They worked in unity. They focused completely on the task at hand: Do it right, do it together, do it better.

Johnson watched, listened, and learned from his respected mentor. He did what he was told to do. It paid off. Steele Johnson says of David Boudia, “I’ve learned so much inside and outside of the pool from this guy—about diving, about faith, about being a man—that I wouldn’t be where I am without this guy teaching me along the way.”

Some of us are blessed to have a mentor in our life who helps us in our journey. They are ahead of us in some areas that we still need to develop. We can learn much from them. Others may not have that person in human form. But, as believers in Christ, we all have the Word of God in our hands that is available at all times. His Word acts as a mirror. It reflects back to us how we are to look, act, and live.

We are to spend our lives gazing at the right thing. That right thing is Jesus. We gaze at Him as we read about how He lived. He teaches us how to live. He teaches us how to flourish. When there is pain, struggle and brokenness, Jesus puts us back together.

Boudia and Johnson know about pain and hardship. They know what it’s like to be unsure about the trajectory of your life when, at the moment, your dreams seemed crushed. Seven years ago Johnson had a diving accident that could have taken his life. In 2009 Boudia was in such a pit of despression he contemplated suicide. They both turned their eyes to the One who was able to reach down and restore them in their greatest time of need.

It is worth taking the time to look at Jesus’ life as revealed to us through the Scripture. Making it our life long goal to reflect Him in the power of the Holy Spirit to a watching, waiting, wounded world is a huge part of discipleship.

What will we reflect?

  • An eagerness and availability to minister to others
  • A Christ-like compassion for those who suffer
  • A Christ-like humility
  • A steadiness of purpose
  • A disciplined life
  • A serenity of spirit

We won’t ever get it done perfectly, but what joys there are in the journey of being in the right race. It’s anything but boring. Ask Boudia and Johnson.

What race are you running? Are you reflecting Jesus? What is one thing you can do this week to reflect him more to your family? A neighbor? A classmate? Or a stranger?

Where to Find Significance

Success3

The 2016 Olympics came to a close a few days ago. At the close of the events, I came away totally in awe of what these young, and even not so young, accomplished. They sacrificed so much in order to get their bodies ready for these competitions. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when they get back to the real world. Many say they’re going on vacation to rest and relax. Well deserved!!

Some will start preparing for the next Olympics. Others will now start a new season which doesn’t include competing again. One thing we all know. There will be a day when no one in this year’s group will return. Our bodies finally wear down. No one can have a fit Olympic body forever.

It’s evident they’ve run on adrenaline for a substantial length of time and for most there will be quite a let down when the emotional high has worn off. Hopefully, they’ve all prepared for the moment of returning to those ordinary mundane days of working, studying, taking care of family, even needing to decide what to do next.

Two American divers, David Boudia and Steel Johnson, gave the key to dealing with the jolt of unsustainable elation followed by real-world reality. They just achieved an incredible victory—winning the silver medal for synchronized diving. But David and Steel know where real success lies; more importantly they know significance. They know a significance, an inner peace, an identity that is not dependent upon any career, any medal, any fame, any role, any man’s applause, any natural gift or ability, any human relationship, any perfectly fit and good looking body.

The key of lasting significance that continues into eternity is found in one thing and one thing only – a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ. These divers both discovered that their identity in Christ is the only thing that matters. They know that it is in Christ that true peace, joy and purpose are found.

Boudia experienced the enormous pressure that comes with being in the limelight of competing for an Olympic Medal. When asked by a reporter what it meant to win the silver medal, he said, “When my mind is on this (diving), and I’m thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy. But we both know that our identity is in Christ.” Johnson said he, too, went into the event knowing that the root of his identity was in Christ. Because of that he was able to have peace and enjoy the contest. What wisdom these two young men have!

To many people, the thought of having an identity in Christ is a foreign idea. Either they’ve not thought about it or they haven’t been taught. But, this is a biblical idea. In reality, it’s a foundational truth of one’s relationship with God through Christ Jesus. So what does this identity in Christ mean? Who am I? Who are you?

  • A person created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27
  • A person God designed with unique gifts, abilities, talents that are to be used in His Kingdom work in our homes, communities, and church. Hebrews 13:21
  • A person perfectly loved by God. Jeremiah 31:3
  • A person perfectly valued by God. Psalm 139:13,
  • A person perfectly accepted by God. Psalm 139:14
  • A person who can bring glory to God through inward devotion to Him and outward actions. 1 Corinthians 10:32
  • A person who is blessed. Ephesians 1:3

How are we to live out our lives with these indelible truths? We live in growth. We live in the Word. We submit to His Lordship. We rehearse the Truth. That is, we read daily the truths mentioned above. We live in the power of the Holy Spirit and trust Him to transform us to be more like Jesus everyday.

Where are you? Are you living out these truths that develop us into being the person God designed us to be? If so, we can change our world. Jesus in us, the hope of glory!

 

Finding Noel

thQVF8RX91

Three years ago, my husband and I got in on our first Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt with our daughter, son-in-law, and their three children. This was our third year – so now it’s a December tradition. We love it! You can find the scavenger hunt at familyfriendlyfrugality.com

The first two years we found everything on our list except for the lighted word NOEL. Yea for us! We found it this year! Even more exciting – it showed up on their street. We got 100% this year!

Lily, our 7 year-old granddaughter asked me what Noel means. Even though I sing the Christmas carol, The First Noel, I didn’t know the origin of Noel. After researching I found that it’s a French word which means Christmas season. The French word is nael and it is derived from the Latin word natalis which means birth. The birth of Christ was truly the beginning of the greatest event in the world’s history – the death and resurrection of Christ. The birth of Christ is not complete without rejoicing in the fact that Jesus’ death and resurrection is what truly turned things around in a sick and dark world. His resurrection continues to be the catalyst for turning things around on my messy days.

Here are truths that turn things around for me:

  • I always hope when I am troubled. I have the hope of heaven and the hope of abundant life every day and right now. This hope is there for all who will humble themselves before the One who gave His all for them.
  • I am perfectly loved.
  • I am accepted just as I am.
  • I have a friend who never lets me down. All I have to do is cry “help”. He is there regardless of the time of day.
  • I can be free of any bondage because of the perfect One who has limitless power that he wants to make available to me, if I choose to do things his way.
  • I can have peace because Jesus is peace.
  • I do not lack, because Jesus is enough.
  • I can find strength in exhaustion because he is strength and gives strength to the weary.
  • I can take care of “me” in a way that is right and good because he guides and directs in a way that is best.
  • I can depend on him to give me the aid I need to trust and obey.

Let us not allow ourselves to focus on any “I can’t” declarations for 2016, but add more and more “I cans”, and there are many.

The Most Important Message

8368705946_85ed9a72ce_z

“Stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God.” These were the words Samuel spoke to Saul when the time had arrived for Samuel to let Saul in on the news that he would become king of Israel. Messages in the Old Testament were delivered through prophets of God. What a blessing and privilege it is to live during the time when we have the written Word that speaks to us personally. We don’t have to depend on another person to deliver a concise message to us. It’s a message I can find. It is here. It is easy to find. God’s Word says, “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach.” Deut. 30:11.

This message is in the most important book ever written: the Bible This book has the message we all need to hear over and over: God loves me. God loves you.

If we have gone to church all of our lives we have probably heard the message “God loves you” so much that it has lost its meaning. Familiarity can bring complacency. Familiarity can steal joy. Familiarity can cause us to take things or people or even God for granted. But, the message God loves you, God loves me is the most important message there is. It’s this message that is central to the Bible.

This is the message of truth that when believed, accepted, and lived out will bless me beyond measure and allow me to be a blessing to others. I will not understand God, the reason He sent Jesus, nor have joy in this life without drinking in the meaning of this perfect love. The truths in Ephesians 1 and Psalm 139 say it all:

  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
  • I am blessed because I am God’s child.
  • I am redeemed.
  • I am forgiven.
  • I am perfectly loved just as I am, flaws and all.
  • I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • I am precious to God.
  • I have purpose.
  • I am cared for by the One who created me.
  • I am important to the One who created me.
  • I am understood by the One who created me.

May we immerse ourselves in these truths over and over until they run through every vein, pumping life into the depths of our soul. There we will find joy, peace, and freedom that we’ve never known before.