Hey all. Sorry for the long pause, but I was caught up in Christmas/New Years celebrations and then a week-long vacation that took me to Memphis, Tennessee, and Breckenridge, Colorado. I hope everyone out there had a fantastic Christmas celebration with friends and family and was filled with joy thinking about the gift God gave us on that day.
As for fitness goals, they really take a hit around the holidays, don’t they? I started back into my fitness regimen this week and it hurts. All those cookies, cakes, egg nog, and beer really take a toll. However, I was introduced to a new winter workout while in Breckenridge last week: skiing. While this probably isn’t new to most of you, I’m usually a winter-hater that refuses to go out in the cold and prays for April. Living in Iowa also limits your exposure to skiing: no mountains (or even hills) around here.
So that is why skiing was such a nice surprise in Colorado. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching football or re-runs, I was training my legs in a way they have never been trained. Skiing puts near constant pressure on your quads, as you are always leaning forward with bent knees. It also strengthens your knees, ankles, and hips, as you are constantly turning your body with your legs. As a bonus, your mid-section gets a great workout because it has to balance all of this effort and keep you upright as you go speeding down the mountain. All of this is one exercise!
Now, if you were working all of these body parts in a gym, you would get results but it wouldn’t be much fun. Skiing is fun. You are flying through the snow while going down a beautiful mountain, for Pete’s sake. There are huge pine trees rising up on either side of you and a gorgeous mountain landscape out in front of you. Now, if you’re from Colorado or Wyoming or Utah this probably isn’t as exciting, but it is rare and beautiful when you are from Iowa.
Besides a great physical workout, skiing in this scenic place also offered me a spiritual renewal. I was able to really connect with God (I always do better when I’m outside in His creation). I could look at the mountains, trees, streams, and animals he created in their natural setting and I felt so blessed to be healthy and active enough to be a part of it in those moments. Sometimes I forget just how big His creation is, but a trip into the mountain wilderness will quickly remind anyone. It’s a beautiful world, and if I can get some exercise and hang out with God in it at the same time, then I guess I’m a pretty lucky guy. Getting healthier in my body and mind is the goal of this journey, and my trip to Colorado did both at once.
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.
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.
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.