Posts tagged ‘texarkana spiritual’

Be By My Side: A Healthy Soul, For A Healthy Life

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” Galatians 5:22-23 NAB

my husband, david, grew up in the Texarkana area on a farm as his father did before him. His teenage days started early with many chores: feeding the cattle, weeding the garden, bush hogging the hills and pastures. He also enjoyed the freedom of exploring their hundred acres for hours and hours. Life had a rhythm that flowed with the seasons: the early spring was for planting, summer for tending and the late fall for plowing the gardens to let them lay fallow for the winter. Harvest took place in each of the seasons depending on what had been sown: onions in spring, tomatoes in summer, pumpkins in fall, turnips in winter. On the farm, he lived the truth that “a person will reap only what he sows.” Gal 6:7

We are each made of body, mind, and spirit. Planting and tending to the seeds of health in all three areas will bring about the harvest of a balanced and purposeful life. The fruits of the Spirit and spiritual health, as described above in Galatians 5:22-23, are each characteristics I desire for myself and my children.

Through his example, Jesus gives us many exercises to boost our spiritual health: worship, solitude, prayer, fasting, silence and service. Each of us has different ways in which we can work these into our lives. Our family worships with our church community on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. Most days I combine my spiritual exercises of solitude and prayer with my physical exercise by taking a long walk while listening to a daily podcast from http://www.pray-as-you-go.org.

Just 12 to 15 minutes long, it includes a Bible reading, evocative questions, and quiet music. Alternatively, a corner of your home with a comfortable chair, Bible and a candle might provide a place for prayer for you. Fasting and silence can be combined by fasting from electronic devices for a half an hour before bedtime and listening to the quiet of the house, the quiet of your heart. It is in that quiet that God speaks.

It is easy to think that you can’t possibly fit something else into your busy schedule.

Being spiritually active is as easy as taking a moment to be really aware of your surroundings. This would be a positive way to spend time driving or waiting for the kids after school. The color of the sky, the sound of your child’s laughter, and the smell of fresh coffee brewing can remind us to be grateful for our many blessings.

Each of us is gifted with the same 24 hours every day. What we choose to do with these precious moments speaks volumes about who we are and what we hope to harvest. Spiritual health ultimately is a matter of deepening your personal relationship with God.

Growing up on the farm, David learned what needed to be done and how to do it just by observing his dad who was working in the fields with him. Kids tend to pick up their parents’ habits, be they good or bad.

“Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

Advertisements

July 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Faith Can Be Caught, Not Taught

By Chris Thomas

 

Pray, then, in this way:  Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name… Matthew 6:9 NAB

 

When our sons were small, evenings would be full of bubbles and baths, pajamas and stuffed animals. The lights would be lowered and the four of us would share prayer. Memorized ones like the Lord’s prayer and spontaneous ones beginning with “thank you, Jesus” followed by gratitude for the day’s happenings. We would end with a blessing by tracing a cross on each others forehead. I treasure the memory of our middle son’s two year old face – so solemn and so cherubic – as he touched his chubby thumb to my forehead and said “God bless you, Mommy”.

As parents, we made a special effort to set aside time for family prayer during Lent. These forty days after Ash Wednesday mark a time of reflection and preparation for Easter. Christians have a long history of observing Lent. As early as the second century, St. Irenaus wrote about the early churches readying for Easter. Forty days mirror the time of fasting that Moses endured before receiving the Ten Commandments; Elijah walked for forty days to Mount Horeb; and perhaps most importantly, Jesus spent forty days in the desert in preparation and reflection before he began his public ministry.

The word Lent comes from the Dutch word “lente” which originally meant the “lengthening of daylight” and eventually became the general term for springtime. In 2012, it is observed by most Western Christian churches from Ash Wednesday, February 22 to Easter Sunday, April 7.

Traditionally, Christians have spent this time in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  I have always been of the belief that faith is more “caught” than “taught”.  Instead of just telling our kids about these practices, we did them together. 

Prayer is our conversation with God. As we take time to speak and to listen, we grow closer in our relationship with him. During the rest of Lent, your family might commit to attending your church on Sundays, praying together at bedtime or saying a blessing before meals.

Fasting can take many forms. It is an ancient practice that reminds us of our hunger for God. In the past we have given up chocolate, sodas or eating out. One year, we decided as a family to give up television. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. We had more time for reading, family games and getting to bed earlier.

Almsgiving is giving to the needy in love and is our response to all God has given us. Your family might give up a night out to give that money to your favorite charity or collect change to have the children put in the offering at church.

Finding time for prayer and reflection, fasting from food or activity, and giving from our material goods are not necessarily easy but they are worth the effort. The celebration of the resurrection of Christ at Easter will be experienced more deeply when our hearts have spent Lent in reflection and preparation. 

May 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

Be At My Side by Chris Thomas

by Chris Thomas

…and Mizpah,

for he said “May the Lord

keep watch between you

and me when we are

absent one from

the other.” Gen 31:49 NASB

One of the first gifts from my husband was a Mizpah coin inscribed with the above verse. We each wore half of the coin for years until they were literally worn through. It gave me comfort during college or vacations to know that David and I were praying for each other and reminded of each other by this simple token.

As our love solidified into marriage and we took on the role of parents, separations remain a part of life. They might be as short as a visit with a friend or as long as a week at Grandma’s during the summer. My goal as a mom is not to be such a snug cocoon that our children are hindered from growth but rather to be the foundation from which they stretch their wings and fly.

How does one provide stability and refuge as well as freedom and the confidence to explore?

I asked our children to share memories of going to a new school or camp for the first time. Our fifteen year old daughter said she was comforted when we told her that no matter where or when, if she wanted us badly enough, one of us would come. She confessed to testing us a few times when she was so homesick in kindergarten that she couldn’t stop crying. I remember sitting with her on my lap as I savored her warmth knowing that the next morning I would open my arms and encourage her to

run into the classroom with laughter even as she seemed to forget my presence. Today we remind her that we are still only a phone call away if she needs us, yet we all celebrate as she explores her world.

Our middle son values the strength of a family structure with parents serving as role models. The rhythm of a day’s comings and goings full of familiar activities helped him to feel grounded but not dependent. Mark’s dream career is in the world of opera. Though we have little personal expertise in this field, we delight in encouraging him to pursue his gifts even though to do so he needs to live a thousand miles away from home.

Our eldest son appreciates the fact that we always strive to make our goodbyes and hellos heartfelt. He recognizes the need to take time to be present and not just “there” for these moments.

Mizpah, a Hebrew word for watchtower, was the place east of the Jordan River where Laban bid farewell to his daughters and son in law in the book of Genesis. They shared a meal, accepted gifts and built a memorial at the place of their parting for they knew they might never see one another again. They took time to say goodbye.

Summer is full of opportunities for exploration and growth through experiences around the corner and even around the world. How do you provide your children a grounded environment?

How do you encourage them to fly?

April 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm Leave a comment