Monday, January 15, 2018

Are we taking care of ourselves?

    "As we talked, I discovered that Joe smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and spent sixty to seventy hours a week in the church. Further probing revealed a pretty shaky marriage.  I wondered if a little scare tactic might reach him. “Are you aware that you are killing yourself with your lifestyle?” I asked.  He responded, “If God want to take me, I’m ready. Who needs this vale of tears anyway?”  His anger and depression were apparent….  Joe is not unlike many of the clergy I meet.” [1]
   Roy Oswald wrote those words over 25 years ago.  How true they ring still today!  Generally, we may talk about health more as a society than in the past, but has our attitude changed that much? Oswald named  a “sort of eschatological fatalism” that clergy use to justify our lack of self-care.  He says, that clergy “feel that if they expend themselves completely in the Lord’s work, God will look after them—body, mind and spirit…. Because the final goal is to be with the Lord, it is all right to mortgage one’s body against this final eventuality.”[2]

            What is your theology of self-care? Have you even thought about what the theology is behind how you care for yourself?

            Those of us who are in full-time parish ministry often talk theologically, but do we think about the unspoken theology that is expressed in the way that we take care of ourselves?

            If you are interested in improving your self-care while looking at this care through a  theological lens, then I invite you to join one of the newly forming Wholy Life Groups. These groups are for clergy who want to engage in mindful self-care that increases their health in body, mind and spirit. 



[1] Oswald, Roy, Clergy Self-Care: Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry (New York: Roman & Littlefield, 1991), p. 13.
[2] Ibid., 13.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Called To Be Wholy - November 30 - Key Note Speaker

Being effective leaders requires us to be healthy leaders – not just spiritually healthy, but also  emotionally, physically and mentally healthy.

Join us for Called to be Wholy – a day of wholistic lifestyle training for clergy that features an unforgettable keynote presentation by Bruce Bright, High Energy Leadership Expert and Turnaround Specialist.

As CEO at On Target Leading, Bruce inspires people who are truly ready to create successful lives for themselves. He has a proven track record of motivating clients to make dramatic improvements in their lives and reach their personal potential. Bruce knows that becoming a great leader requires balance and health which led to his founding the OT-90 Cellular Health and Weight Loss Wellness program. 


You can learn more about Bruce here.   


At Called to be Wholy, you’ll also receive:

·         self assessment tools to avoid burnout

·         financial planning training

·         body and breath awareness exercises

·         congregational health ministry blueprints


Thursday, November 30

8:30 – 4 pm.

Pleasant Grove UMC, Pleasant Grove (just north of Hueytown)

$25 includes lunch and giveaways!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Yoga & Prayer?

Why Yoga and Prayer?
Prayer
Marjorie Thompson in her book Soul Feast says, “The spiritual life has to do with how God relates to us and how we in turn relate to God. Prayer is the essential expression of this relationship.”[1] Richard Foster in his classic work on spiritual disciplines, Celebration of Discipline writes, “Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. Of all the Spiritual Disciplines, prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with [God].”[2]
Prayer is our connection to God; prayer is communication and communion with God. Prayer is what brings us into alignment with God’s will and is how God’s grace transforms our lives. Foster writes of this transformation. “In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after [God]: to desire the things [God] desires, to love the things [God] loves, to will the things [God] wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from [God’s] point of view.”[3] Knowing that prayer is a learning process can free us to grow and gives us the liberty to experiment by trying different forms of prayer.
Paul writes in Romans 8:26 that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes with sighs too deep for words. With this scripture in mind, we might can see that prayer engages us in the conversation that is already going on deep in our hearts. We can then align our thoughts with what is already happening deep in our hearts.[4] 
When we talk of prayer as communion, we are acknowledging that prayer has a relational component that goes beyond visible actions and embodies a dimension that cannot be contained in words. The primary expression of prayer as communion is contemplation which is about experiencing God’s presence.  We recognize the presence of God in our lives while quieting ourselves and opening our spirits to God.
Thomas Merton said: “The great thing is prayer. Prayer itself. If you want a life of prayer, the way to get it is by praying…. You start where you are and you deepen what you already have.”[5] When we live a life of prayer, prayer is not an end in itself. Rather, persistence in prayer is what brings our spirits into alignment with God’s Spirit.
Prayer that is contemplative in nature and which draws us closer to God in not incompatible with the tradition of Yoga. Let us look closer at what Yoga is and then we can see how the two might intersect.
Yoga
In common usage in the United States, yoga is understood to be a form of exercise that involves a variety of poses and postures that are practiced while controlling one’s breathing.  Yoga is viewed as a form of physical fitness that will improve one’s physical health.
           However, a study of yoga reveals the spiritual nature of the yoga practice. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit root yuj which means “to join” or “to yoke.”  What is being yoked or joined is the individual with the universal Self.  B.K.S. Iyengar says,
“The union results in a pure and perfect state of consciousness in which the feeling of ‘I’ simply does not exit. Prior to this union is the union of the body with the mind, and the mind with the self. Yoga is thus a dynamic, internal experience with integrates the body, the senses, the mind and the intelligence, with the self.”[6]

According to Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (Swami J), “As the goal, the word Yoga is virtually one and the same with the word Samadhi, the deep, transcendent realization of the highest truth or reality.”[7]  
            As Swami J further explains the nature of Yoga practice, traditional understanding of yoga is not about physical fitness or health. Although practicing yoga may lead to increased health, this is not the primary purpose. In fact, Yoga can be understood to be a spiritual practice which includes a physical component. [8]
Yoga & Prayer
            For some Christians, this inclusion of a spiritual practice may raise red flags as to what sort of spirituality might be practiced. As Candy Gunther Brown seems to conclude in The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America, because yoga has come from another religious tradition, Christians should be cautious when taking up a practice of yoga.[9] Yet, other Christian scholars have concluded that “yoga functions as a source of a wide range of meanings and functions….. Symbols, practices, and ideas vary across yoga studios and ashrams within the United States alone, thus illustrating that the quest for the essence of yoga is an impossible task.”[10]  When the goal of yoga is described as the union of “the little self and the True Self,”[11] we might see yoga spirituality as compatible with the Christian tradition of contemplation. Prayer in this tradition would be about knowledge of the Divine that cannot be contained in words while experiencing the presence of God.[12] The breath control that comes with continued yoga practice can help Christians to quiet their minds “and allow one to focus more pointedly on the experience of prayer or worship, opening them to perceive the presence of God more fully.”[13]
In his book Praying with the Body: Bringing the Psalms to Life, Roy DeLeon writes, “When the body participates fully in our spiritual journey, our relationship with all of creation and with God our Creator is enriched.”[14] DeLeon reminds us that the Christian tradition has engaged in physical postures during worship including kneeling, standing, making the sign of the cross, bowing of heads, and raising of arms.  Some monastic orders have even included lying face down on the floor as a gesture of thanksgiving, penitence or reverence.[15]
Combining the reading of scriptures with traditional yoga poses while also engaging in a contemplative form of prayer can be spiritually enriching and deepen our experience of God in our lives. In some cases, we can actually embody the words of scripture through physical postures and therefore cultivate an incarnate experience of God.  We can pray with our entire body and experience God at work in our body, heart, and soul.



[1]  Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast: An invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 31
[2] Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1978), p. 33. 
[3] Foster, p. 33-4.
[4] Thompson, p. 31.
[5] Thompson, p.49.
[6] Iyengar, B. K.S. Yoga: The Path to  Holistic Health  New York: DK Publishing, 2001, p. 46
[7] http://www.swamij.com/yoga.htm Swami J is someone I know personally and have attended a study at his Ashram.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Brown, Candy Gunther, The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative medicine in Christian America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 65.
[10] Jain, Andrea R., “Who Is to Say Modern Yoga Practitioners Have It All Wrong? On Hindu Origins and Yogaphobia” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, June 2014, Vol. 82, No. 2, p. 459  
[11] SwamiJ
[13] Sheveland, John N, “Is Yoga Religious?” in Christian Century. June 14, 2011, p 23
[14] Deleon, Roy, Ob|SB.  Praying with the Body: Bringing the Psalms to Life. Paraclete Press: Brewster, Massachusetts, 2009. p. xii
[15] Ibid., xiv.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year, New You

Happy New Year!

What is your resolution for this year?

Many of us have made resolutions for this coming year about how we want to change our lives and become healthier.

Having someone along in the journey to hold me accountable is always helpful. Are you interested?  Would you like a companion on your journey?

I am looking for some fellow travelers in the wellness journey.  Let me know if you are interested.  Leave me a comment here or send me an email wholylife@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Want to learn more about Essential Oils?


Discovering Essential Oils has been a revelation for Ron and me! Everyday, I am finding a new use for my oils!  I use them as natural health alternatives and in conjunction with medicines that I already take.  In my office, a diffuser always has an oil in it to create a positive atmosphere and uplift the mood. Ron has found oils that support his system and ease discomfort. Because of our success with Essential Oils, we would like to share what we've learned with you!

Most months, we have an introductory classes scheduled on the third Saturday of the month. OILS 101 is a basic introduction to doTERRA Essential Oils.
If you can't make the classes but would like to know more about Essential Oils, use the link below. If you'd like a sample or two to try, let me know!  

Please join us for a class and bring a friend as well!  

I'd like to know more


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Loving my Fit Bit and "linking" apps!

  Fitness monitoring devices can be great motivators!  I have so far had two different pedometers and two polar monitors. However, my newest device is the Fitbit Charge HR.  This is by far the best device!

 Two things about the Fitbit Charge HR that I really love are 

  1. the "continuous" monitoring of my heart rate (no more putting on a heart rate strap while I exercise! ) 
  2. the sleep monitoring!
However, I wasn't as thrilled with the FitBit smart phone app--that is until today!

The "exercise" function on the fitbit had frustrated me because it didn't seem to record exercise as accurately or as easily as the Runkeeper App which I had been using.  I especially like how Runkeeper maps the route and easily assesses distance and the pace.

So, I had given up on the fit big app recording my exercise and began using Runkeeper again. When I looked at my app today though, my exercise from today which I had recorded through Runkeeper was showing up on my Fitbit app!  I then realized it was because linked the My Fitness Pal App to both Fitbit and Runkeeper, Fitbit was receiving the information from Runkeeper through My Fitness Pal!

Hooray for apps that talk to each other!!  I can now use the easier My Fitness Pal to record my food intake and the better Runkeeper App to record exercise and all that data will be transferred to my FitBit app where I can look at all the data in one place!  

Now, if I can only stick to my exercise and eating plan!!