Just as flexibility exercises stretch your body, journal writing stretches your spirit.
There are many similarities between flexibility exercises and journal writing:
Flexibility exercises and journal writing are both activities that many people do not do on a regular basis. Benefits are seen only when these activities become a part of your daily routine.
It is difficult to see the results. With flexibility exercises, you may feel that your body is more supple, but not “see” the effects. The same is true of journal writing. You may not see any specific changes, but rather feel a change in attitude.
Both flexibility exercises and journal writing can melt tension, reduce your stress level, and provide peace.
With a pure motive, they both delight God.
(Excerpt Taken from Fit for Faith – 7 weeks to improved spiritual and physical health)
Stretch your Knowledge
a) is just for athletes
b) relieves your body from tension
c) is “warming up”
d) is painful
a) helps you to express your personal feelings about God, or about your experiences and needs
b) is a way to document Bible information that you have discovered
c) helps to record ways to put Bible truths into practice in your personal life
d) all of the above
a) is the joint’s ability to move freely in every direction and is an important component of fitness
b) activities include gentle reaching, bending and stretching of all your muscle groups
c) melts tension, reduces stress, decreases risk of injury, maintains good posture, increases range of motion of joints, and improves muscle imbalances
d) all of the above
a) is writing for other people’s benefit
b) nurtures your spirit and helps to achieve greater well-being in your body and spirit
c) is about writing only “nice” things
d) can not help you recognize and avoid repeating old, nonproductive patterns, and free you to focus your energy for God
* I plan to start stretching activities in the morning in my bed
* I plan to explore my eating and exercise habits through journal writing
* I plan to buy a video on stretching and use it two times each week
* I plan to write in my journal at least fifteen minutes every day
Welcome guest blogger, Janet Stobie
Last September, I started on a program of daily physical exercise, just twenty minutes of strengthening and stretching my tummy and leg muscles. I’m happy to report that I’ve lost five pounds – not much over five months, but my joints feel great, loose and supple.
When I told others about my new health regimen, I said, “It’s easy. Tom and I do the exercises together first thing in the morning, in bed.” Everyone laughed. I struggled to explain. The most important part of the program for me is that we do the exercises before breakfast. Exercise on an empty stomach seems to kick-start my sluggish metabolism for the entire day.
Our faith life functions in the same way. For nearly thirty years, I have started each day with God, through prayer, scripture and daily reflection. These exercises get my spiritual being rolling for the day. Similarly to my body, missing intentional exercise for my spirit means I don’t have the strength to resist today’s temptations, the stamina to withstand today’s trials or the gratitude to enjoy today’s gifts.
All you need for this spiritual program is a Bible, preferably one in modern English for ease of understanding, a book of daily reflections, and time. (I also need pen and paper.)
It’s the time that is most difficult.
Thirty years ago, I started getting up a half hour earlier than the rest of our household so that I could have special quiet time with God. At first, it felt like a huge sacrifice. Eventually, that time became a precious gift. Today, as I settle into retirement, once again I struggle with time. Often, I give in to my love for late nights and need to sleep in. I’ve learned that if I don’t start with God, the day disappears and I’ve never got back to my prayer time. My morning reflection time is a sacrifice as well as a precious gift. It’s well worth every single moment.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
Visit Janet Stobie – Author and Storyteller and check out her books: Spectacular Stella, Can I Hold Him? Christmas Stories for Everyone, and A Place Called Home
I did it all wrong. During the Christmas season, I stopped doing the things that I needed to do in order to be right with me, and to be right with the world, but most importantly, to be right with God.
My first error was in going to bed much later than normal.
Over the Christmas holidays, I would allow the children to stay up later than their regular bedtime, and then found myself eventually going to bed a few hours later. My body clock was thrown off.
My second mistake was letting my body dictate when I felt like getting up. I know from years of experience that the process of waking up – no matter what time it is – is slow and painful for me. I will feel just as groggy and resentful about being yanked from my warm, cozy bed after a six-hour sleep as I would after a twelve-hour slumber. So, when I relied on my body to signal me to wake, I would actually stay in bed extra hours, then feel guilty for sleeping in. These two mistakes threw my physical and emotional state into alarm by changing my routine.
Then to further upset my system, I stopped taking my morning walk. Usually after bringing the children to the bus stop, I would continue on for a forty-five-minute walk. It was a good time to get my body moving, my blood flowing and my mind thinking. Without this walk, I didn’t get my usual energy surge needed for the day. Without this morning boost, I felt like I was dragging myself, and so I also did not have the enthusiasm or desire to do my other exercise – strength training. I was on a downward spiral.
Physically and emotionally, I was out of sorts. Add to this the new chores and unique assignments of the holiday season. I was shopping when I normally would be reading. I was wrapping when I normally would be writing. In addition to this, I was cooking, cleaning and preparing for festivities.
As if that was not enough, I had two children home from school for two weeks. I love my children – let’s get that straight from the start – but they are kids. They bicker and argue and they complain and fight. And they love me. They want to spend time with Mom. They want to help Mom shop, wrap and cook (they never want to clean though). They want Mom to play with them, to read to them, to be with them.
Too much sleep, no exercise and children all day — they were the ingredients for a stressful holiday season.
However, there was one other thing that I had neglected that could have truly helped me. I did not spend time with God. Oh, I continued to pray at meals and bedtime, however, I did not spend quality, one-on-one, reflective time with Him.
On my morning walks, I do more than just look at the passing homes. I practice my walking meditation. It is a time when I connect with God and talk to Him through my thoughts and prayers. It is a mindful and special time between us that I have come to cherish. On my walks, I explore my life and give praise and thanksgiving for what He has given me. I open my heart and pour out my troubles. I give thought to others and pray for the needs of my family, friends and community. Without my morning walk, I not only missed out on the healthy physical benefits, but more importantly, I denied the spiritual healing it had provided.
Generally after my morning walk, I return home to hot coffee and my pen and paper. I spend one hour writing. I record any enlightenment God has shown me and I reflect on the prayers I had offered up. It’s a time for me to not only talk with God, but to listen for a response. For the entire Christmas season, I had not done this.
Lastly, I did not spend time in His Word. My usual routine affords me time each day to spend reading and studying the Bible. But because the time set aside was not given its usual priority, it was lost.
I enjoyed my holidays. No one was sick this year and we were able to visit many relatives. However, each day took a little bit more out of me and by the end of the month, I felt very drained.
God is the only thing that really rejuvenates me. He feeds me each day. He gives me the energy and enthusiasm needed to get through the day.
I will take this past Christmas season as a lesson for my life. My resolution is to pledge my life anew to Jesus. Although routines change, and life can throw me curves, I resolve to spend quality time with God first and foremost every single day in order to be right with me, to be right with the world, and most importantly, to be right with God.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)