Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spiritual Health Is the Soul of the Self

Enjoying a spirit-filled evening on my birthday, January 29th with my husband, my mom, three of my four kids, my grand daughter, and one of my son-in-laws.  (Bobby's wife Hannah just gave birth three days prior so she wasn't there.  Angie and her husband Chris live in Dallas so they were missed too!)

 "...the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being."  Genesis 2:7

The Latin verb to breath is "spirare".   From there we derive the word "spiritus" which in English is "spirit".   When I read and examine the above account of how God brought man into this world by breathing into his nostrils I get an incredible sense of oneness and belonging with the creator of the universe.  He literally breathed us into existence and he imparted his spirit on us and in us.    When we grasp the magnitude of this creation story we can see how the invisible God becomes visible through his creation- you and me.    Why is it then that our souls or our spirit, the very central, life-force that lives at the center or the core of who we are can sometimes feel so disconnected from him and from others?  I'm not sure there is just one answer to this question but what I do know is that if I don't work on staying connected to God I can become very easily distracted.  If I unplug from my life-source, God,  I know that my day to day circumstances become more complicated and can even become fear-provoking.   There is a definite cause and effect scenario which takes place when I don't keep God in the center of my life.   Out of gratitude I work with intention on my body,  my mind, and my spirit or soul. (or should I say my spirit or soul first and then my body and mind).
  God never moves away from us but we depart from him when we cut him out of our daily routine or when we make hasty decisions without prayerfully considering all of our options.   I truly believe that "in order to know God we must know ourselves, and in order to now ourselves we must know God."

 I am a mother to four (thankfully) grown children.  For those of you who are parents I'm sure you will agree that raising teenagers requires wisdom, courage and strength.  Looking back I recall a time when our 14 year old was struggling with his self-esteem and also with with his faith.  For several weeks he just hadn't been the great, happy kid that we had known him to be.  He was having problems with his school work and also with his relationships.    One afternoon my husband, Robert asked him, "how's your relationship with God Anthony?"  I will never forget the question and I will never forget Anthony's reaction to the question.   As if it would rest on his lap, his head began to slump, as ever so slowly he shook it from side to side.  That's all he had to do to reply;  no words or anything else was necessary for us to see how confused and unhappy our son was at that moment in time.   Anthony's innermost essence and being seemed as though it was utterly lost.  In the depths of his soul he appeared to be struggling with a disconnection to God and thus a disconnection to us, to others, and to life.    This detachment was affecting everything about Anthony.   Fortunately we loved him through this relatively brief rough spell during his teenage years and he has grown and matured into a great 24 year old adult.  He now has a very strong and active faith and he feels called to share that faith with people who come into his life.   He is a solid example of a loving, devoted and faithful young man who loves to help others in many diverse ways.  He is involved in local and global missions and his latest  project will be in full-swing in just a few weeks.  He is leading a team of nineteen others to Nicaragua February 22nd through the 29th where they will build a school and a church for a very small village.  Please pray for Anthony and his team and if you would like you can make a donation to the St. Patrick Project by clicking on the icon to the right of this blog.  Please designate your gift "for Anthony Schuller/Nicaragua Mission."  No amount is too small.
*I'm sure if you ask Anthony now he will tell you that he had to work on his relationship with God before he could grow into the person who feels good about himself and others.   I have seen his example of dedication in the time he spends with his creator and I have also seen first-hand the positive fruits of his discipline.  His spirit is full of the love of God.

The dictionary defines spirit as "the life principle, especially in man, originally regarded as inherent in the breath, or as infused by a deity."  (I believe they got this definition from Genesis)   It goes on to say that spirit is "the thinking, motivating, feeling part of man, separate from matter but connected with life, will, conscience, and thought."   A definition of the soul includes "the immortal or spiritual part of a person which has no physical or material reality.  It is credited with the functions of thinking and willing and hence determines all behavior."
I think we can say that our soul represents the very center or core of our being and that all inspiration comes from it's essence.  This is why it is so important to keep God where he belongs and where he started in our human existence when he first breathed the breath of life into us.      
I love these words of Jesus found in John 16:7b  Incidentally, Anthony led me to them.
"...unless I go away, the counselor (also referred to as the friend or Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you."   Jesus spoke these words to his disciples before he was crucified.

We are promised that the Holy Spirit is available to us today.  It can enter and possess our souls and give us a feeling of hope and comfort in our good times and also in our challenging times. 
If you are facing difficulties, pain,  a sense of loss, or if your life is full of confusion and doubt, ask yourself this question: "How is your relationship with God today?" I do believe that your answer will tell you something about your life and it's journey towards wholeness.  Your answer will also have a strong influence on how you are functioning, relating,  and reacting to the world around you. 

God is blessing you.   Donna

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Life!

Hi!  I wanted to post a photo of our brand new grandson, Robert Cohen Schuller IV!!!  He was born on January 26th and he weighed 8lbs. 12oz.  (he is a big, healthy boy!)
Here is a photo of him at just three hours old.   What a great reminder of the amazing blessing of new life.     I will be writing and posting a new blog on spiritual health in the next few days.
God is blessing you.  Donna

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Renew Your Mind For A New You

I don't know about you but most days I feel like technology has a huge influence on me!   That's why I practice and I stress to others the importance of time alone without the distractions of phones, t.v., internet, radio, or anything that prevents us from an undisturbed time of self-reflection, prayer, and meditation.  For some of you that word "meditation" might throw up some red flags but let me assure you that I am only refering to the silent moments where we wait for God to speak to us.   Prayer is great but sometimes I think we might try to talk God's ear off and thus we can never hear his answers.  Of course I pray but the next step for me is to meditate and wait for an answer.   This isn't always easy because I have my own agenda and besides that I don't always receive the answers I want.  Often I hear no answers at all.

   In my last writing I focused on the body.  Today I want to focus on the mind.   There are so many sayings when it comes to the mind so I thought I'd add a little levity and list a few.  Feel free to comment and add more as you please!  Here goes:

Keep in mind that I am not always right and most often I need to be in the state of mind to write.  Hopefully you will keep an open mind when reading as I know that sometimes I may seem out of my mind because most days I have a lot on my mind.  My goal is to attract like-minded individuals so we can grow together in body, mind, and spirit.  If we can strive to be of one mind I know we can help inspire and motivate others.  I realize that we are sometimes double-minded and thus we can give each other a piece of our mind but the goal is to always have a meeting of the minds on this blog.  You can change your mind as to whether or not you want to read it but please be mindful that we are all individuals and entitled to our opinions.   Never mind that I won't always say what you need to hear but please bear in mind that I try to be sincere and honest.  I need to put to mind that not all of you will read all my blogs but if I set my mind on not including too much mind-boggling information I am sure that it will help with the mind-set of us all.  If you change your mind after reading this ridiculously silly paragraph, at least know that I am not on any mind-altering, mind-blowing, mind-bending substances.  I am trying to take your mind's off of negative, self-destructive thoughts and help you to set your minds on productive, God-inspired blessings.  Yes, to change you mind-set so that in your mind's-eye you may begin to believe how great the father's love is for you!  (please don't mind me for this craziness!)

"...be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will."  Romans 12-2b

To be transformed is to change your personality or character;  your deep and inner-self.  To make, new, fresh, young, strong; or to give spiritual strength to, to re-establish, to revive, to begin again, to become a new person.  In science it is related to the word transmute which means  "a change in basic nature that seems almost miraculous."  I found this definition to be most interesting since I'm sure that many of us have known a person who seemed to have changed overnight (miraculously).  I believe this is one of God's amazing mysteries, that he has the power to change anything, anytime, in the blink of an eye.  For most of us however change is a process which takes time and determination.   This is why I say it is so important to spend time in solitude and deep thought; to get away from all gadgets and entertaining distractions.  If you want to transform your mind I think you need to "pray like it all depends on God and then go to work like it all depends on you."   Martin Luther

It's a new year and it can be a new you as long as you are willing to put in the time.   As I said last week, we are body, mind, and spirit.   What part of your mind do you need to change or improve on?  Write down your goals for self-improvement and personal growth in the area of your emotions.  Until you get those in check you will seriously impede your ability to have good physical health.  This will also affect your spiritual life.  How you feel about yourself and others will influence how you feel about God and vice-versa.

Start spending time alone today.  Start with five minutes if that's all you have, or if that's all you can handle.  You can add five minutes a day (or a week) until you spend at least twenty to thirty minutes alone each day.   Take your Bible with you and also a pad of paper and a pen.   Be open to what you  might hear or what actions you might take as a result of this time alone.   You will be amazed at how much you will learn about yourself by doing this very simple thing.

It's a new year so make it a new you!

God is blessing you.  Donna

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New You!

Happy New Year! 

What is the best thing that happened to you in 2011?  What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

You can ask any one of our four kids and they will tell you that this question was a focal point each New Year's Eve or Day for as long as they can remember.    These questions encourage a great time of sharing and I urge you to try it.  Since we just recently saw in the new year there's plenty of time even now!

If you noticed I didn't ask "what is the worst or most painful thing that happened in 2011"  I also didn't ask you what kinds of hurdles you have to jump over in order to make 2012 a great year.   Often it is so much easier for us to look back and come up with our gripes and negative memories.  Many of us were taught to focus on what we don't want in the future and this can easily sabotage what we do want!  What is it you are thankful for?  What is it you most want to accomplish?   Focus on what you do want, not on what you don't want.  It's a habit that at first may be difficult to embrace, but once you adopt it it you will find that you will experience more of God's blessings in all areas of life.

I am a nutritionist and one of the things I love to do is to give workshops to groups of people.  I'm giving one tomorrow.   I prefer this to one on one coaching because I really like the interaction that I get with a group.  We've all heard that there's strength in numbers and I have found this to be true in many ways.   Although my workshops focus on nutrition and physical health I make it a point to let people know that health is much more than taking care of the physical body.   In order to have good health we must strive for a balance in body, mind, and spirit (soul).  When discussing exercise and nutrition I tell people that they are spiritual beings on a human journey and thus they need to make sure that their spiritual health is in order.   The same goes for emotional health.  I don't believe you can be whole unless you examine the  mind and address the issues in your emotional catch-basins which have been filling up for years.   (I don't need to go into unhealthy food habits and if you want to learn about toxic relationships with food please go to angiewyatt.com and read her latest blogs-they are great)

Remember to plan what you will do this day, this week, this month, and this year!  Although it is a very old saying,  I adhere to:  "if you are failing to plan you are planning to fail."

1)  Make a list of your goals.  Divide them into physical, spiritual, emotional
2)  Do a detox.   This should include embracing new and healthy habits:  body, mind, and spirit.   Clean up your eating habits, start or improve your exercise, put all negative, doubt-creating messages out of your mind, pray and ask God how you can improve on this and how you can grow closer to him.   Concentrate and write down what you will do.  Do not dwell on what you won't do.
3)  Get an accountability partner and share your New Year's Goals with them.  Make sure you choose someone who you can really trust.  Ideally someone you look up to or admire.  
4)  Write an action plan and place it where you will see it several times a day.  Be intentional about sticking to it!  Example:  if you tell yourself that you are going to work out three days a week make sure you plan that time around your work, family and social life.  Willpower can only go so far!  If you do not have a scheduled time for workouts, prayer time, and self-reflection (mental time) you may be taken off track and off guard easily!  Write down realistic goals in this action plan and pray about it daily.

   Eat food as close to the way that God made it as possible.  Choose natural, certified organic, and hormone-free whenever possible.   Limit your intake of dairy and red meat.  Instead eat more wild fish and range-free chicken.  It you are a meat eater build your diet as close to vegetarian as possible.  Eat your vegetables raw when you can.  Eat a raw vegetable or low sugar fruit at every meal.
Take quality supplements that have been certified and tested by third party scientific studies.
Get your inflammation under control.  (if you have a lot of aches and pains this is inflammation which could be caused by food allergies like a reaction to gluten.) Inflammation can also cause skin problems,  asthma, heart problems and more. 

The above is a brief outline that I will share in my January workshops.  If you are local and would like to attend one they are held at Living Fitness in Newport Coast.   To sign-up you can call:  949-640-2300 or go to:  www.livingfitnessoc.com 

2012 can be what you make it.  Be intentional.  Be loving.  Be thoughtful.  Be kind.  Be appreciative. Find a purpose.  Expect the best in people and in yourself.    

            "Every moment comes to you pregnant with a divine purpose.  Once you do with it as you please, it plunges into eternity, to remain forever what you made it."  
     Fulton Sheen

What will you make of 2012?   Cherish each moment.  Be careful what you do with them.

"The body is a unit, although it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body....if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."    1 Corinthians 12:12 & 26

  God is blessing you.    Donna