New Year Resolutions - Make Them Anytime!
Treating the WHOLE PERSON was the mantra of my alma mater, Loma Linda University, when I attended nursing school in the late 70's. We were taught the importance of the interdependence of the body, mind and soul. They are in such intertwined relationship that each part craves balance and well-being, and the other two had better chip in to keep that balance!
Over the years I have worked with several health programs including Neil Nedley's Depression Recovery and Hans Deihl's CHIP here at the St. Helena Church, experiencing for myself the wonders of living an enhanced lifestyle affecting my thinking process as well as spiritual discernment. After just one week of consciously drinking 10 glasses of water, avoiding eating between meals, eliminating animal products and highly processed foods, adding all the walnuts and omega-3's I could get my mouth on, and walking 10,000 steps daily, I felt GREAT. More energy. Less stress.
The side benefit I absolutely did not expect was that I began to have more focus on everything I did. I completed tasks, wrote letters, took things out of the procrastination bin - and began understanding passages of Scripture as never before. Cloud nine? No, ninety-nine! I would love to live in that euphoric place forever, but know that here on earth's tapestry I need the "dark threads" as well to enhance the bright ones.
I admit that I fall away from living the proper lifestyle all 365 days a year. I'm okay with that, too. But when I find my spiritual walk with my Heavenly Best Friend slipping, I know it's time to re-group. I am shaken back to the realization that I can intentionally change parts of my life and affect the whole of it.
A new year is a clean page, an unwritten chapter, a genesis in the middle of your life story. Setting goals to fill the pages is a great way to make sure that some of your stuff will be done intentionally. Consider what you can do to make this year your strongest year in body, mind and soul. I like to add one more sub-category in there as well: relationships. After all, making your loved ones happy affects your own joy. And if you are reading this in the summer? Start YOUR new year right now!
Suggestions for enhancement of your life:
BODY: Choose to move! The current CDC exercise recommendations for adults include 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. It's important to spread that time out. Even moving with that intensity 10 minutes daily, three times a day for five days will be a good thing. Imagine if you did 5 sit-ups each day. If you missed a few days, say, 65, by the end of the year you'd have done 1500 sit-ups!
A few years ago our Northern California Conference encouraged all churches to adopt the InStep for Life program. We dutifully wore pedometers, monitoring how many steps we got in during a day, with 10,000 as the daily goal. Since then I've read different articles on that subject, all encouraging the 10,000 steps as a minimal goal. This would definitely fulfill the CDC's recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise.
MIND: Seek out good reading material and enhance your mind just one page per day! Imagine at the end of the year, you'll have acquired 365 pages of new life-enhancing information! Some DVD's and seminars, even some films, can be life-changing.
RELATIONSHIPS: Our church has a variety of good programs that will enhance lifestyles, but we wish we had more on relationships specifically. Parenting classes are a good, good thing, as are play groups where the parents attending are willing and able to discuss things that work.
Sometimes marriage seminars need to be far away from home turf for both partners to feel at ease. Discussing with friends things that don't work is not always healthy. If your close friends are having marital difficulties and you are the shoulder that they cry on, warning! You may begin to see the same "problems" in your own marriage relationship. Lovingly help them to seek professional help from a Christian counselor.
SOUL: Here it is! What can YOU do to enhance your own soul? Seek! God is your Creator and longs to be your Best Friend. He puts you in places and situations where He whispers your name - or sings it out loud. He loves to do good things for you, and the more you acknowledge that He is doing them, the more He heaps on you! I tune into Christian radio almost exclusively, and I am that person beside you at the light who is singing her heart out with the windows rolled up.
We hold a lot of prayer times and Bible studies at the church, but they aren't always convenient to attend. What can you do on your own? None of this is hard and fast, but here are some tangible suggestions:
Read a chapter of God's Word every day, and fast. Learn to pray. ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) is an easy way to order your prayer. Expect the Lord to answer. He intends to. God inhabits your praises! "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." Psalm 22:3 He longs to be near you, and it's usually by invitation only that He comes.
Journal what you read. Experience the story. Become a player. When Dwight Nelson preached over the airways in 1997 for twenty-some nights, our hearts were awakened. One of my sons walked to the front of the church as Dwight gave a call up there on that screen. On the last night, Dwight's question to us was our own: now that we've come this far and become this convicted, what do we do now?
Dwight Nelson suggested that we begin reading the stories in Matthew. Take one story (some stories are just a few verses long) and read it. Then read it again, slowly, and try to be in the story. Smell the damp hay, hear the low rumble of the cow and the bleating of the sheep. Touch the newborn baby. Feel the love and the wonder of seeing the King of the Universe lying in a lowly manger.
After experiencing the story, write about it. If you were Joseph, what would you feel or think? How quickly would you get up to race your little family out of harm's way? What would go through your mind?
Jesus is calling us - you ~ right now. There is no doubt. He wants to wind things up here and take us Home. He yearns to teach us and have us un-muddled and free from the distractions of the computer, videos, television, novels and busy work. He longs to enfold you in His arms of unconditional, everlasting love and give you the warmest hug of your life. He wants you well and whole. He loves you.