an Intro: Joyfully Healthy

Okay, I admit it. I am not as healthy as I want to be. I love sugar and bread and pizza. I am really into eating junk food. My exercise routine ebbs and flows. Sometimes I’m so determined that when I miss a day or two I’m disturbed. While there are other seasons, thinking about exercise is disturbing.

You guys, we are all on a journey and while I am still trying to figure out how to be a “healthy” stay at home mom, I’m realizing, moderation truly is key. I know, I know- WE ALL SAY IT. It is NOT new. I am not a whiz kid when it comes to being healthy. My goal is to make the healthiest choice as often as I can. I know the basics and have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. So, my hope with this section is to share my health journey with you. While I’m not an expert in the area of health, I am an expert encourager! As I try my best to stay healthy, I will do my best to encourage you to be healthy too.

When you think about being healthy, what do you think about? Do you picture pulverizing celery and spinach through a juicer and gulping it down while holding your nose hoping you don’t gag? Or maybe you think about tofu or sweaty hot yoga rooms with rows of people standing on their heads. Do you picture gym equipment and really fit people using it? HAH. Those images come to my mind when I think of health and exercise. I think of the words “marathon” and “cardio” and “squats.” I think of strict diets and schedules, supplements and shakes. Yes, all of those things can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but what exactly IS a healthy lifestyle? It’s somewhat subjective, right?

Personally, I believe being healthy entails more then just what we eat and drink and how we exercise. I think we also need to keep our minds and spirits healthy. We aren’t just flesh and bone, so in my opinion, the gym and greens won’t cut it. We need to be sure that we are caring for all aspects of who we are. I’ve felt the best when I’m exercising my body and mind, when I have a healthy relationship with Jesus, and when I am eating a well rounded diet. If one is off, the rest seem to be effected, too. Do you relate to that?

Honestly, I believe our relationship with God TRUMPS EVERYTHING. So, even if you’re in the fittest physical shape of your life, but don’t have a real relationship with Jesus- YOU ARE NOT HEALTHY. How can we expect to be healthy if we don’t interact with the one that created us? It would be like a child living at home with their parents and never interacting with them or acknowledging them. They expect the parent to do everything but don’t have relationship- that ain’t cool, y’all. If my kid walked around all day demanding things, but never wanted to talk or snuggle or play or read, I’d think he was unhealthy. I also think that as you are working to get physically healthier, if you are actively pursuing Jesus, you can still have peace and contentment. But the best? To be healthy in all areas, right?

How do we do all of this? How do we stay healthy and take care of ourselves well?

If you’re an adult reading this, most likely you’re a busy person. If you’re a parent of young children, you are most likely sleep deprived and tired. Maybe you are a working Mom and never seem to find a sliver of personal time. You could be a business owner with crazy hours. Or maybe you work a really physically demanding job and are exhausted by the end of your work day. I get it, I’ve been there and still am. I’m busy, tired and mentally pushed to my limits often. #twotoddlers The key to living a healthy life for me lies in my motivation. WHAT is motivating me to make healthy choices, to exercise, to read my Bible?

I always find the best motivation in Christ. Yes, even when it comes to exercising and eating right. The word of God says that we are to be good stewards of what we have been given.

We hear that and often think of things like our house, car, or maybe our money. As a wife, I think I need to be a good steward of Jacob, my husband. He’s a gift to me and I have to take care of him. I think the same goes for my children. I want to do my very best to honor God in how I care for them. The same idea applies to our relationship with God. We need to steward that relationship above all others. We need to take care of our spirits. Our bodies and minds are gifts from the Lord, too. Let’s dive into how we can be motivated to be good stewards of these gifts.

Stewarding our bodies with Food & Exercise:

Do you think of your body as a gift? I know some of you out there may consider it less of a gift, but a curse. Some of you struggle with constant fatigue, sickness or disease. I know many women that struggle with body image and are uncomfortable with their bodies. The truth? Our bodies are GIFTS. We are all called to appreciate them and take good care of them. Taking care of our bodies as best as we can is pleasing to God. Think about how precious and perfectly kept the temple was in early scripture. We read about the sacred ceremonial things that happened there. We see the order and peace that was all around it. We see the hard work it took to build it and maintain it. In the inner room, we see that everything was lined and covered in gold. It was immaculate and pristine. Until it’s destruction it was considered holy and was most important building.

1 Corinthians 3: 16-17 says “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”

Now that God is living in us rather then visiting in the temple, we are considered his temple; living vessels carrying the very spirit of God. Isn’t that amazing?! I don’t know about you but when I think of it that I way, I feel a little more motivated to take care of this body (temple) of mine, dimples, freckles, laugh lines and all. Not only for my own benefit but for the fact that I’m hosting God. Now, does this mean God is upset when I eat pizza or drink wine? I personally don’t feel convicted to the point that I can’t partake in those things. However, I also know that I can’t eat pizza for every meal. Speaking of pizza, here is a quick recipe. When I’m feeling too tired to exercise but know I should, I like to consider that I’m exercising to the glory of God. I talk to God when my heart is pumping hard and my muscles are screaming in agony. I worship in the way I commune with God through physical activity.

“God thank you for this body that I can move and jump and run in. Thank you that you gave me breath in my lungs and a heart to race and muscles to move. You are such a good provider. I thank you that this physical pain will bear fruit and that I will be stronger and healthier.”

Stewarding our Mind with Intentional input:

Our mind/brain is sooooo interesting. I was recently watching an interview between well known pastor Steven Furtick and neuro-scientist, Caroline Leaf. The interview was fascinating. The conversation between the two was based around taking thoughts captive and the science behind it. It was incredible what Dr. Leaf had to share. Turns out our brains are capable of being renewed and rewired, which goes nicely with the directions given to us in Romans 12, that tell us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. WHAT exactly are we renewing? And how can we do it? From birth we’ve been learning. We’ve learned from our immediate surroundings, from society and what the world tells us, from the people we associate with. We are constantly taking in information. Our brain is like a computer in constant download. Much of the way we are transformed is by identifying wrong thinking patterns/lies and replacing them with the truth. This takes work and intention. Not only do we have to know when we are believing lies, we have to know the truth to replace them with. How? God’s word- the living word of truth and life moves in us to transform our thinking. This is a HUGE part of our faith as well as a huge factor in living a healthy life. We need to be diligent to rid ourselves of lies and wrong thinking as those thoughts never lead to life or righteousness. Perspective and mind sets can either be the way we remain in freedom and peace; or can be toxic and bring us to places of sin, pain, anger and bondage. Our minds really are a battlefield. The enemy of our souls knows he can’t stop God, but he can try to stop us. If he stops God’s people from knowing and believing the truth, he disarms God’s army. We are the hands and feet of Christ. If we don’t have the right mind sets and perspectives, if we aren’t nourishing our minds with healthy input, we will not be effective in this world. Letting love be our motive, we need to be very purposeful of how we think, and what we allow in our minds.

“God thank you for this mind that you’ve given me. Thank you that you can renew my thoughts to make them obedient to your word and will. Thank you for providing all the wisdom and knowledge I need in your word and that through your word all other things can be filtered and understood. Help me to have wisdom in what I read, watch and how I allow myself to think. Give me discernment and let your word transform my life.”

Stewarding our relationship with God through Prayer, The Word & Fellowship:

I think we are all aware that communing with God takes work. Yes, God lives in us, so He is always with us, but just like the example I gave earlier with the child not talking with their parents, we should be interacting and talking with God. Relationships involve two or more people interacting with one another. I heard a wonderful example in an online sermon by Pastor Dan Mohler. (Dan Mohler is one of the biggest influences in my faith. Look him up on YouTube- you will not regret it.) He described observing his neighbor. He knew so many things about her; when she left her house for work, when she got home, the color of her winter jacket, her boots etc. He could tell people about her by the information he gathered about her in passing. It could even appear that he knew her well because some of the things he could say. But did he know her? Could he tell you her favorite things, or what she enjoyed doing? No. He didn’t have any intimate bond with her, he just knew about her. He appeared he had a relationship with his neighbor but never actually talked to her.

How often do we do this with God? We read about him, talk about him, watch other people worship him. But do we actually have that intimacy. Y’all if nothing else from this post, I hope this sticks. Intimacy with God trumps everything. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. It trumps family, friends, your housework, your job, your things. Having a healthy relationship with God will lead to a healthier mind and body. Remember what Jesus said is the number one commandment? To love HIM with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength! (Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30)

Figuring out how to fellowship with an invisible God can be difficult though. I know many of us have struggled or still do struggle with maintaining an intimate relationship with God. I think a lot of that is because of the lack of physical presence and how we often compare our relationship with God to our human relationships. While it’s okay to be spurred on by how we fellowship with people, we have to keep in mind that we don’t SEE Jesus, so the relationship with him will LOOK different. (pun intended.) So much of my intimate time with God includes me just sitting and listening for Him. I say something like, “Here I am God. Just me and You. I want to be with you right now. Show me your presence.” I will get nudges in my spirit, I’ll have thoughts around verses he wants to speak to me through, or people He wants me to pray for or encourage. Other times my it looks like me reading a few verses and then praying that He very personally ministers to me through them. It’s as if I’m meditating on HIM. Not on ideas about HIM- but on HIM. Other times I literally just repeat “Jesus- I love you, thank you for being here with me." Meeting God in His word is precious and irreplaceable. Knowing what God thinks by reading His thoughts on paper gives us insight in how to relate with Him. Have you ever thought about the Bible that way? That it’s God’s thoughts on paper? I like to think of it that way, because it helps me know Him. I can more easily understand the heart of God by the truth in His word.

Fellowship with other believers is such a special way to feel close to God. He is so into community and desires we all be united in love, spurring one another on in good deeds. When I’m loved well through another believer, I get a big glimpse of God loving me. If we are God’s body here on earth, let’s take joy in delighting in one another considering that God himself is loving us through His people. A big hug from a friend, a thoughtful gift, a needed word of encouragement, a warm meal when I’m sick, even a kind rebuke show me God is actively demonstrating His love.

One thing I want to bring up before I close this post is that I know many of you are struggling in your bodies with disease, pain, shame…

Many of you may not even be able to exercise your bodies because of limitations or conditions. Let me remind you of this scripture,

design+%2872%29.jpg

I hope this encourages you because even though we struggle in our flesh, we still have the most precious relationship that transcends these bodies to keep us ultimately healthy. We know our bodies fail. They are weak, they break down, get injured, become old and one day, these bodies are retired. But let me reassure you with FULL CONFIDENCE that Christ will redeem every single ounce of pain and struggle you’ve faced in your body. Our God is powerful and can move mountains, so keep praying for miracles and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. I love you and I am so sorry you’re struggling.

I pray Lord that you give each of us motivation to make healthy choices, to delight in being good stewards of the gifts you’ve given us and that as we endeavor to make this life a joyfully healthy one, we would shine bright your light for all people to see.

Shelly Jata