Fit Faith: Health: Open Air Therapy

Several years ago, my husband and I started walking together. We had tried many times before that, but I wasn’t a very good walking partner. I liked to power walk, and I didn’t have much patience for anyone who wanted to stroll. I was on a mission, and my focus was on a good workout, which I defined as pushing myself physically. Walking didn’t have anything to do with anyone else but myself.

Then I made a concession. I would go for my walk and push my limits. When I was done, I’d go for another, shorter walk with Tim. It was a compromise we could both live with. The focus began to shift from the walk to the time we got to spend together. We talked about our days. We talked about our daughters. We talked about anything that was on our minds.

As we grew accustomed to walking together, we adjusted again. Instead of waiting until I got home from a walk, Tim would text me when I’d been gone for a while to find out if I was ready for a walking buddy. I rarely said no, even if I hadn’t been walking long, because I looked forward to walking with him. It wasn’t so much about me as it was about the time I got to spend with my husband.

Being able to walk and talk occasionally invited topics that spurred disagreements. That’s going to happen between two married people! Disagreements when walking, however, had a different tone. We were walking side-by-side, and as we’d work through the conflict toward a resolution, we avoided much antagonism, because we were headed in the same direction. We walked and talked it out.

The occasional disagreement and more frequent sharing took on a therapeutic effect. We were spending time together. It didn’t matter if we were talking about our relationship or things that impacted each of us as individuals, we were growing together. We still are.

We’re not in a regular routine of walking together, but we miss it when we go very long without it. We know we can spend time together in many other ways, but there’s something special about our walks – so much so that many times I don’t insist on a walk before our walk. He walks a bit faster, I walk a bit slower, and that’s okay with me. I’m just glad to be by his side, listening to his heart.

Health isn’t just about the physical. That’s often the focus, and it was certainly my main focus when determined to walk fast and far. However, there’s an emotional and relational health benefit I was missing and have been able to infuse into my walks as Tim has joined me. The physical benefits become secondary.

How do you compartmentalize your health?

How and when do you sacrifice one aspect of your health for another?

My child, pay attention to my words; listen closely to what I say. Don’t ever forget my words; keep them always in mind. They are the key to life for those who find them; they bring health to the whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Let them infuse health into many other areas of your life. Let God’s perspective invade your perspective. Let his words nourish you so that you know where he wants you to be when and with whom. He will help correct your focus if it’s misguided, and he’ll impact everything in your life when you develop a healthy relationship with him.

Morning Stress

We needed something to share as we introduced ourselves. There were about a dozen women gathered around the table, ready to share several days of ministry networking and training. Many of us had travelled and didn’t know each other, but we didn’t want to robotically recite our names. We wanted to share. We wanted to learn. We wanted to relate.

We looked blankly at it other, considering a great question we could answer and share.

“Well, I’d like to hear what stress each of you experienced in preparation to get here this morning!”

The suggestion came from the woman who had just arrived, sliding into the room a few minutes late but before we’d started anything formal. It sounded like a good idea even though nothing too stressful had happened to me. If nothing else, this woman sounded like she’d have a great story to share!

Mine was simple. My hotel roommate and had worked out. She took off running in one direction. I walked in the other direction. She planned to return to the room before me and get her shower. I’d get mine when I got back a bit later. That plan worked with only one glitch: my key didn’t work when I got to the room. I knocked several times, but she couldn’t hear me over the hair dryer. I gave in and went to the front desk for a new key. (I later learned her key had blown into the dumpster by the high winds when she set it down to pull back her hair. When she got a new key, apparently our room had a new code, and my key no longer matched.)

The woman whose idea it was to share stresses told us the story of not being able to get out of her garage because the door wouldn’t move. Another just wanted her hair to look good for our photo shoot. (It did.) Another tried to get ready in the dark so as not to wake her husband. She wore her new red shoes around the house as she got ready, trying to make sure they’d be comfortable throughout the day. They weren’t, so she packed them back in the box and slipped into a faithful pair instead. Her disappointment was short-lived as she remembered a woman who said she just wasn’t brave enough to buy red shoes but wanted a pair – a woman who was sitting at the table. Those red shoes found a new pair of feet that day!

Another woman realized the night before that the bra she needed wasn’t clean, so she handwashed it and hung it to dry. Bras take a long time to air dry, and it was not surprisingly still wet the next morning. She did her best to dry it as she dried her hair but finally decided the dampness just might keep her cool through the day.

My favorite story came from my roommate. I had no idea the excitement I missed while I was walking! She pushed herself to multi-task, wondering if she could possibly combine breakfast and a shower. She fixed herself a bowl of Raisin Bran and try to gulp it quickly while getting her hair wet. However, when she tilted her head back to wet her hair, she didn’t keep the bowl level, and it spilled all over the shower. Time saved was then spent cleaning up the mess, which she did well, because I didn’t suspect a thing! The Raisin-Bran-in-the-Shower story will follow her for years to come.

Our team got to know each other much better as we shared, laughed and encouraged together. There were no pretenses – just a group of real women who looked photo-shoot-ready on the outside but were a bit frazzled on the inside.

What about you?

Take a look around you. Even those who look perfect to you have needs. What common ground will you find? You’ll have to start somewhere, but you can do it.

Take a look inside yourself. Do your insides match your outside? How can you be more authentic and share a bit of yourself with others? You’ll have to start somewhere, but you can do it.

Need some ideas? Try these conversation starters – or share your own!

  • If you could live in any other era, what would it be and why?
  • What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done to impress someone?
  • What was your biggest fashion faux paux or wardrobe malfunction?
  • What’s one technology trend you wish you’d had when you were younger?
  • If you could pick a theme song that would play every time you entered a room, what would it be?
  • If talent wasn’t an issue, what career would you choose and why?
  • What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had?
  • If you could eat anything in the world without gaining weight, what would it be?
  • What invention does the world need?
  • What’s your most compulsive daily ritual?

Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Are You Listening?

I know I need my husband’s attention before telling him something I want him to remember. We used to argue about it. It frustrated me. Okay, every now and then it still does. But in general, I try to work with it and just make sure I have his attention before beginning.

He was sitting at his computer when I said his name so he’d look up before I explained to him, “Instead of making a special trip to the store on Monday, I was thinking. Since we’re going to your parents on Sunday…I know we’ll have a long drive home, but do you mind stopping by the store before we get home?”

A brief pause and no response indicated his mind was still on the computer. I asked him if he’d like me to repeat what I’d said. “Yes, that would be good. Thanks.”

Repeat.

Perplexed stare.

“Did you hear me this time?”

“Yes.”

“What did I say?”

“That you’re going to do the shopping on Monday.”

I laughed, repeated it one more time, and he got it.

I have to give Tim credit. He’s actually a good listener most of the time. It’s just when he’s already focused on something else that leads to a problem. Reading a book or watching TV are the biggies. I used to get personally offended, thinking he wasn’t listening to me because he didn’t want to listen. What I said wasn’t important to him. So I thought.

But don’t we all have things and people we’ll listen to more (or less) than others? Some of it has to do with how much we want to hear or ignore something, but more often, I think it’s a focus issue. It’s timing and priorities.

When do you struggle most to listen well to others?

For me, it’s when I’m writing. I get “in the zone.” If there’s a break in my thoughts, there’s a break in my fingers as they fly across the keyboard. But I primarily write at home, and there are people I love around me, and I want to show them I love and respect them by
listening.

I also struggle to listen when I’m studying my Bible but for another reason. I need to concentrate to grasp what I’m studying. With writing, it’s about the outflow. With study, it’s about the inflow.

When the girls were younger, I wanted to study while they were awake, because I wanted to set an example for them. If I always studied when they were asleep, how would they know I took Bible study seriously? But I also didn’t want to be interrupted constantly, so I taught them to place a hand on my shoulder or arm to let me know they needed something. As soon as I could take a break, I’d turn and ask about what they needed.

On the other hand, sometimes when I’m writing, Courtney assures me I look at her with a disgusted look when she’s trying to share a story with me. I try to rationalize my response, but that’s her perspective of my reaction, so I have to consider she’s at least partially
right!

How do you respond when you’re interrupted?

What connections have you experienced among listening, interruptions, and God?

Happy are those who listen to me, watching at my door every day, waiting at my open doorway. Proverbs 8:34

This Week’s 7 – Challenge for Today

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week’s list includes a challenge for your day. Will you accept? I’m making assumptions about some of the things you’ll do today, so I’m not challenging you to add something to your day. Choose one or accept all the challenges. Let me know how it goes!

  1. Walk. As you take physical steps today, think of the impact your steps have on your spiritual journey. Are you blazing a trail on your own? Are you asking God to bless your steps – after you’ve already taken them? Are you second-guessing yourself to such an extent you’re frozen and don’t move? Be intentional as you walk today. I will walk with the Lord  in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:9)
  2. Talk. Be mindful of the words you say today. Encourage others. Build others up. Are you making excuses for what you say? Are you taking others into consideration? Are you being bold in what God wants you to say but remaining silent when he guides you to silence? Be intentional in your talk today. When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. (Ephesians 4:29)
  3. Rest. Life is busy. How well do you rest? Quiet yourself – even in the middle of a busy time or place. Look around. Take a deep breath. Soak in all God provides. Sink into his blessings. Trust him to refresh you throughout the day. Be intentional in your rest today. Anyone who enters God’s rest will rest from his work as God did. (Hebrews 4:10)
  4. Pay. How are you spending your time, money, and energy? Do you hoard time, money, or energy? Do you overspend time, money, or energy, resulting in emotional, financial, or spiritual debt? God provides. Respond with good stewardship. Be intentional in how you spend your life today. When people work, their pay is not given as a gift, but as something earned. (Romans 4:4)
  5. Read. How are you filling your mind? What sources do you trust? Be discerning in what is worthwhile to read, hear and see. Step beyond the basic choice between what’s good and bad. You’ll more often need to choose between good and good. Choose the best. Consistently soak in God’s Word. Be intentional in what you read today. Until I come, continue to read the Scriptures to the people, strengthen them, and teach them. (1 Timothy 4:13)
  6. Eat. Does your day revolve around food? Do you ignore what your body is telling you? Does the ease of eating override the health of eating, or does the short-term pleasure override the long-term effects when you’re making a decision? What do your habits reflect about your priorities? Make healthy choices – one at a time. Be intentional in how and what you eat today. The answer is, if you eat or drink, or if you do anything, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  7. Tech. You will likely use a variety of technology tools today. How are you using them? Are they helping you connect in healthy ways, or are they pulling you away from relationships? Reflect on your priorities. Choose each click well. Honor and glorify God in all you do. Be intentional in how you use technology today. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. (John 15:19)

This Week’s 7 – There Are No Words

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week features more of a creative challenge. I like words. I like to express myself and help others express themselves, and I enjoy digging into (very basic) Greek and Hebrew when studying God’s Word. I like the sound of foreign languages and enjoy the chatter of families and business people travelling through large international airports. I try to figure out what people are talking about based on their inflections, tone and body language. Of course, I recognize I’m imposing my own cultural norms onto others when making assumptions. I also play “sounds like” as I hear foreign words which sound like something I know in English.

This week I’m introducing you to seven words of various languages. What they have in common is no English equivalent. Apparently, we don’t need the specific word. It might take us several words to express the same concept. As you read through them, consider what words you would most miss if they didn’t exist. Be thankful for the opportunity to communicate.

  1. Slampadato (Italian) Addiction to the  UV glow of tanning salons.
  2. Luftmensch (Yiddish) A social misfit, who is an impractical dreamer with no  business sense.
  3. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian) To scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.
  4. Gumusservi (Turkish) Moonlight shining on water.
  5. Vybafnout (Czech) To jump out  and say boo.
  6. Mencolek (Indonesian) To tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to  fool them.
  7. Glas wen (Welsh) A smile that is insincere or  mocking.

For some of the words and phrases my family as “created” and used, visit Code Words.

This Week’s 7 – Celebrating the School Year

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This month marks the kickoff of another school year for many. The beginning of school brings excitement, anxiety, opportunities – a myriad of mixed emotions and experiences. Personally, my youngest is beginning her senior year of high school, prompting me to reflect on the many years of memories. So this week’s list includes fun ways to celebrate the mark of another year beginning – full of opportunities, accomplishments, and growth.

  1. Pack a lunch together. Put together some of your favorite foods and pack them in school lunch boxes or brown paper bags. Spread a blanket in a local park (or backyard), kick off your shoes, and savor the moment and memories.
  2. Write a letter. Record the memories of the past year and your hopes for the future in a letter to your child (or grandchild). Tuck it into a baby book or other safe place to be discovered later. Be sure to date and sign it!
  3. Paint the memories. One of my daughters’ favorite things to do was finger painting with shaving cream. It was clean and inexpensive! Squirt a pile of shaving cream on the table (or other safe surface) after several days of school and chat about your child’s classes, teachers, and friends. Young children will often speak more through their paintings than their words.
  4. Pack the notes. I know, most kids will tell you the notes their moms tuck into their lunchboxes are silly, but small reminders through the day can bring a smile to a face. Tuck notes in other places, too, such as a homework folder, backpack pocket, or pencil case.
  5. Say it with stickers. Do you want to know how your child’s day has gone, but you can’t seem to get much information from him? Create a sticker system, where the child chooses a sticker from a wide variety and places it in the same place everyday. You can use smiley (and frown) faces, speech bubbles with various words, or other stickers, depending on your child’s age and personality.
  6. Make a date. We schedule school, childcare, and a variety of lessons and other obligations. Face-to-face time with your child is important. Set aside a specific block of time to connect on a regular basis to lsten to what’s going on in your child’s day.
  7. Take a photo. Yes, most of us have those standard stand-in-front-of-the-house-or-bus-the-first-morning-of-school-and-smile photos. Have a dress rehearsal a night or two before school and take photos during a less stressful time. Plan ahead so you can be in the photo, too. Or, take the photo in a way you can string together for a masterpiece later. I know someone who takes video of his children as then run around the corner of the house each year. He plans to string all the video together someday to make it look as if the children are running around and around the house but getting a year older with each lap!

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.  (Clay P. Bedford)

Communication

Each of us is impacted by our past experiences, family, health, education, relationships, and much more. Consider everything and everyone who has impacted your life from teachers to friends to coworkers to ministers. Jot as many as you can in one minute.

Each time we communicate, we bring our background with us. We use it to make sense of what we’re saying. Others bring different background to their communications. We may have some similarities, but no two people’s lives are exactly the same, and no two people will communicate in exactly the same way. We filter what we say and what we hear. So every time you say something, it goes through two filters: yours and the person’s to whom you’re talking. Every time you hear something, it goes through two filters: yours and the person’s who is speaking to you.

Understanding our filters helps us understand our communications better.

Consider a situation in which you made an assumption that was later proved to be inaccurate about someone.

If one assumption you’re made has been proven inaccurate, consider the possibility than any assumption you make about people might be inaccurate. We hear and give information based on our filters. But our filters aren’t purely clean. Our experiences, relationships, and attitudes clog our screens…and the screens of people we’re communicating with. That’s why we sometimes think someone said something they didn’t say or insist they didn’t tell us something when they actually did.

Being aware of your filters means acknowledging the possibility there’s been a miscommunication. When there’s a miscommunication, who’s responsible?

There are at least two people involved in communication. Both have filters. Does it really matter who’s right and who’s wrong when there’s a miscommunication? If the goal is communication, and communication isn’t complete or effective, strive to focus on the goal-communication- instead of getting stuck in a blame game.

No one should accuse or blame another person. Don’t blame the people, you priests, when they quarrel with you. Hosea 4:4

We can’t assume everyone shares our experiences. It can be frustrating to start at the beginning to explain something to someone when we just want to move on, but again, if the goal is communication, and communication isn’t complete or effective, we need to strive to focus on the goal, communication, instead of getting stuck focusing on our filters, who should already know what, how much time we need to take to explain something, etc. Building relationships with healthy communication is always worth time and effort.

Here’s my list of communication tips.

  • No one is a mind-reader. If you want or expect someone to know something, tell them.
  • Take a breath before speaking. Once it’s spoken, you can’t swallow it.
  • Communication will fail. Do your best, but know it’s not foolproof.
  • Communication is not avoidable. You can be quiet, but you’re still communicating.
  • Communication assumes…based on past experiences, relationships, and personality.
  • Communication involves relationship. It’s not just about you, your intentions, and your goals.

How will you reflect God in your communication?

It will not really be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Matthew 10:20

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Communication is the third in a series of five blog posts circulating in blogosphere this month. All five blogs posts are adapted from the Pure Purpose Bible study. If you’re a blogger interested in future blog tours, contact Susan at susanhlawrence@yahoo.com)