Does God Actually Talk To You?

Happy Friday everyone! As I begin this journey towards becoming healthier in my body, mind, and spirit, I want to share part of my day that really helps me to slow down and see the big picture.

I work 40 hours a week in a sales/business environment. I work in a gray cubicle surrounded by slightly less-gray walls. We don’t even have  a window nearby, so a small glass side door provides my only evidence of day or night, rain or shine. (I like my job, but I’m considering bringing a sledgehammer to knock a gaping hole in the wall next to me. A guy needs fresh air.) This all leads to minimal distraction and ultimate focus on work, which is good to an extent. But it can also make it seem like my job is all I have going on in my life, so if it is a bad day at the office or I have a stressful meeting, my whole day blowsup like a marshmallow in a microwave.

happy healthy holy marshmallow stress

The stress is building…

That used to happen a lot more than it does now. Thankfully, I learned a little trick that helps me to keep a nice balance in my day and focus on the things that are truly important: health, relationships, and my faith. It allows me to take a deep breath and relax. The secret? Time with God.

I’m not talking about talking through the Lord’s Prayer like a drone. Or reading a paragraph of the Bible so I can feel good about myself. I’m talking about talking. And listening.

I take 20-30 minutes right after work and I pray. I thank God for the good things going on in my life, and I get really honest with Him about the struggles I’m having. I also ask Him what He would like to say to me. This is a relationship, after all. How many successful relationships do you know that include one person talking 100% of the time for 22 years, and the other person just sitting and listening without ever responding? God doesn’t want that either. You need good communication in any relationship, and we can have that with God too.

happy healthy holy misunderstood comic

Learning to communicate is important!

He will actually speak to us if we ask Him to. Not like in the movies when the “wind” magically blows the leaves to spell out the exact words you were searching for. He will speak real words. The trick is getting in that quiet place and listening for them. After I ask for His thoughts, I also ask Him to quiet my heart, my mind, and get rid of distractions. This really helps clear my mind of all the needless daily junk that is rattling around in there. God quiets that, puts it in its place, and speaks right to me. This is amazing!

Think about it. You are spending time with the person who created you! He knows everything about you and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And you are getting one-on-one time with this person, just you and Him. You can bring up any topic, any question, any worries, and He will talk with you. That is truly a miracle, and it can be yours whenever you want it. Don’t just skim over that. That is powerful.

After the prayer, I usually ask God to reveal Himself to me in the Bible. I’m no Bible scholar and I don’t always understand how to apply the teaching of the Bible to my life, but God certainly does. I try to read  4 chapters of the Bible each weekday. The reading takes me about 15 minutes, but if you read 3 or 4 chapters you are bound to see something jump out at you.

You will find there are people in that book that are just like you, just generations earlier. They had the same struggles and the same problems and God talked to them in their daily lives. You can read about it! They were regular sinners and broken people just like we are. Why would He talk with them and not with us? He is eagerly waiting to talk with you. And it will absolutely change your day around if you let Him.

So there is my trick. Talk with God for a half hour each day. Go some place quiet where you can be alone, whether that is your bedroom, your porch, under a tree in a park, or wherever. You will be surprised how it can improve your day and your attitude.

And this afternoon I’ll be praying for him to create a window next to my cubicle…

The video below is from author John Eldredge. He wrote a book entitled Walking With God, and this book is what changed the way I pray. I started listening for God and talking with Him thanks to John’s work. I’m certainly not trying to sell books, but if you’re interested it is well worth the read. Leave a comment or tweet me and I’ll send you my copy.

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Rushing to Wait

become more patient healthy happy holy

Be patient. It took awhile to build this view!

Isn’t it the best feeling when you get a great deal? When your plan falls perfectly into place and you get that dumb grin on your face? I love that. But what about when the opposite happens?

I drive an ’05 Jeep Wrangler, and I’m the third owner. I love taking the top down in the summer and it’s great for drive-in movie theaters. However, Wranglers don’t have all the modern electronics of most cars on the road today. With all of their removable tops, doors, and windshields, it wouldn’t make sense to put a bunch of expensive electronics on the inside. I realized this when I bought it, but as it gets colder here in Iowa, I want to know what the outside temperature is. I also would like to know which direction I’m going as I drive, because I’ve always been a little directionally challenged. Just last month, I started a journey to Iowa City (2 hours directly east of my house) by driving north on Interstate 35 for 20 miles before realizing my mistake. Brilliant. And my buddy riding shotgun was none too thrilled about getting to Iowa City 45 minutes later than expected.

This past Monday, I found the solution to both of these problems at the only place that could have such a magical cure: Wal-Mart. I located a “3-in-1”, battery-operated, self-mounting device that simultaneously told you the direction you were driving, the temperature outside your car, and the time. All I had to do was activate the sticky tape on the bottom and stick it on my dash. Incredible, right? After the initial shock of this amazing find wore off, I composed myself long enough to purchase it for $3.89.

The perfect deal! I’d found it in my first attempt! This solved all my problems, and for less than $5. Y-E-S.

It was only 3 minutes after this moment of ecstasy that I learned the sad truth. My “guaranteed accurate” thermometer gave me a reading of 95 degrees, which is strange mid-October weather in Iowa. (This never changed once throughout the day, despite the temperature dropping from mid-60’s to high 40’s.) And my trusty compass assured me I was traveling north as I drove home, even as I was driving straight east for miles. Ugh. I had gotten screwed. And do you know why?

I’m impatient.

I was so eager to fix my problem, I was willing to accept any solution. I didn’t even look at any other stores or check out Google for other options. I don’t even remember looking around the aisle at Wal-Mart for other choices. All I could think about was solving my problem, completely, right now. So I bought a poorly made tool that did exactly nothing of what it promised. In fact, I didn’t even check to see if it worked before dedicating 2 minutes of my life smashing it into my dash with my entire body weight. Smooth move, Thomas.

themometer compass living happy healthy holy

$3.89 worth of regret

After spending a good chunk of time removing the boneheaded purchase (and its stinky gunk) from my dash 2 days later, I realized this wasn’t the first time I had made a hasty decision or purchase. I do it all the time. A cheap thermometer/compass tool isn’t a big deal, but it shines as an example of my thought process as I make decisions, both big and small.

If I would have simply waited 15 minutes until I got back home, I could have Googled a solution with high reviews from other drivers. I could have checked prices at Wal-Mart, Target, AutoZone, and more. This would have saved me $3.89, 2 days of buyer’s remorse, and it would have actually solved my problem (which is still unsolved). All I had to do was be a little more patient.

Do you find that you struggle with this as well? Are there other areas of your life that you switch plans and make choices due to a lack of patience? I rush to find the newest workout plan that offers “guaranteed results” and “massive triceps in 3 days or less”. These change every week, so my workout regimen does too. I read half an article about yogurt’s dietary powers on the Internet and all of a sudden I’m shoveling Yoplait in my mouth at every meal. I see clients meeting with my mom (a registered dietician) and filling her in on this new diet they’re trying that “works better than anything I’ve ever tried!” They are usually off of that diet within 2 weeks and moving to the next one they swear is even better. What’s the deal?

This isn’t just fitness, either. If I do the same boring thing at work for a week straight, I start looking around at what other people are doing in their jobs and thinking about how much fun that would be. I often look at my savings account and decide it’s growing far too slowly, so I begin brainstorming additional ways to make money. When driving to Ames from Des Moines, I try a different route each time because I just know I can shave 3 minutes off my travel time if I go up the “back route”. What’s the deal?

Patience comes down to trust. If you trust that something good is going to happen, then you have a great reason to be patient. But when you lose trust and you no longer believe that waiting is worth it, then why would you be patient? You wouldn’t. Trust is essential to patience. I need to trust in my workout plan to achieve my results. I need to trust that slowly saving my money is a responsible way to build up my savings for later. And I should have trusted in the opinions of other drivers before spending actual money on my Wal-Mart debacle.

In my life, I have recently been putting a lot of my trust in God. I realize people might be at different points in a relationship with God, but I just wanted to share something that works for me. God says through the Bible that He has our best intentions in mind, and why wouldn’t He? He created us. All too often, I try to take things into my own hands (my Wal-Mart purchase, my new diet, my get-rich-quick schemes), and every single one of those plans fail. And they fail hard, right on their face. It has been very helpful for me to slow down and trust in God’s plan, not my own. But I still struggle with it every day, because I’m so used to this culture of impatience and trying every new thing on my own.

Trusting in His plan gives me more patience than I could ever have on my own, because I know His plan is simply better than mine. It also helps my mind to relax and become free, because the pressure is off. God has it all under control, and that is a freeing thought! I can stop scheming, planning, and worrying. That greatly improves my mental health and reduces my stress level. All I have to do is trust. And be patient.

bad planning living happy healthy holy

Does this look like some of your “great” plans?

I’m a work in progress. I’m one half-bent piece of a 1,000 piece puzzle, but with patience and trust I’m confident I can continue to make progress. My body can get healthier, and my mind can become healthier through freedom of stress. Patience is a pretty powerful tool. Way better than anything you can buy for $3.89 at Wal-Mart…trust me.

What do you think? What are you impatient with in your life? What creates that “rushed” feeling inside of you? How do you deal with trusting in your future plans? Let’s talk about it as a community! Leave some comments and join the discussion.

The First Step…

live healthy happy holy

I want to get healthier. I want to be more physically fit, and I want to have more energy in my daily routine. Now, this doesn’t make me special. If you went outside and threw a rock right now, you would probably hit somebody that agrees with one of those statements. Everyone wants to get healthier in some area, whether that be with their body, a pattern of behavior, or in their relationships.

I don’t want to meet any weight “goals” or muscle-building “benchmarks”. I just want to get healthier to be happier. I find that I have more energy, a more positive outlook, and just flat-out better days when I work out. I feel like I’m also nicer to people, I get more work done, and I’m more fun to be around. I don’t feel as run-down or lazy if I spend 15 minutes running. That seems like a pretty small commitment to having a better day, doesn’t it? If you sleep 8 hours a day, that leaves you 16 hours to do something. The 15 minutes spent running represents 1.56% of my “awake” day. And if 1.56% can get me healthier, and makes me happier, then why not spend the 15 minutes that way? What if I decided to dedicate a little more time? What if you joined in with me?

I want to take a journey to see if I can be happier by being healthier. If I lose weight or gain muscle during this process, great! If I look like Channing Tatum at the end of this, I’m onto something. But if my only results are being more engaged in my relationships, having more energy at work, and having a more positive attitude, then this will have been a fantastic success. My goal for this journey is to live a more satisfying life. Who doesn’t want that?

But health is just one element of true happiness.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I want to test something as a Christian believer. I want to see if I can live healthier and happier and if they are somehow related to a relationship with God, because this verse seems to be saying something that I have missed. This verse tells me God created my body. If God created us, He must want us to have a full, satisfying life, right? I can’t imagine He would spend all that time giving us intricate bodies, complex personalities, and a variety of skills just to sit on the couch and eat buffalo wings all day. God tells us that he lives within us and that our bodies are His temple in this verse, but when was the last time you treated your body like God’s house? Many of us, myself especially, reach for another cinnamon roll or throw down a dozen extra beers on Friday without ever thinking of God. Or our bodies.

Now, before you start throwing things at this screen, let me say one thing: God loves you. I’m not a pastor, but I’m convinced of that fact. And He loves you the same regardless of whether you are preparing for Miss America pageants or you are sucking cheesy puff residue off your fingers right now so you can scroll easier. His love doesn’t change. By the same token, if He truly is living within you, then at the very least it should be a sign of respect to take care of the body He has blessed you with. This is what I’ve been thinking about in my own life, and this is what has urged me to start this journey.

So this journey is going to be about improving my total health. Physical, mental, and spiritual health, and I’m going to group them together because I’m starting to believe they are deeply related. If you want to join me, that’s awesome! I could use the company. If you want to read about my journey before making your decision, that’s cool too. I think (and I hope) we will all be healthier and happier individuals as we go along. I’ll post updates, pictures, exercises, experiences, videos, food ideas, and more along the way for all of us. I’ll also take suggestions from anybody and everybody who is having success. (@HappyHolyHealth, let me know!)

For now, simply think of areas of your life that you feel are “unhealthy”. It can be related to your body, but it doesn’t have to be… it could be a job that you don’t really like, or a relationship that has been neglected. It could be a fear about the future or something that gives you stress. Think about those areas and what a relief it would be if you became healthier in that area. And how happy that would make you…

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