Category Archives: Health & Wellness

If your soul is healthy…

John Ortberg“If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life. If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life.” ~ John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Health & Wellness, John Ortberg, Soul

Soul Rest… by John Ortberg

John OrtbergIn my early 50s I was given a sabbatical: seven weeks with nothing to do. The elders at our church invited me to take it. Actually, they insisted that I take it. I needed it because I was becoming increasingly frustrated and impatient and preoccupied. I felt as if I had too much to do and not enough time or ability to do it. I was obsessed with the external things that needed to be done around me. I was operating on the unspoken assumption that my inner world would be filled with life, peace and joy once my external world was perfect. That’s a great recipe for a healthy soul, as long as you live in a perfect world.

During my sabbatical, it was easy to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life,” as my friend and mentor Dallas Willard had so wisely counseled. I found myself thinking that I’m a better person when I’m on sabbatical than I am when I’m working for God at a church, and I knew that was just plan wrong. I began to form a new goal: I want to be as relaxed as I am on vacation while being as productive as I am at work.

There was only one place to learn about that. So I drove to Box Canyon. I had a whole day to spend with Dallas. I told him that I felt frustrated because the people at the church I served were not changing more. I asked him what I needed to do to help our church experience greater levels of spiritual growth.

Long pause… “You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God.”

Huh?

“No,” I corrected him. “I wasn’t asking about me. I was asking about other people. I was wondering what I need to make the church do. I was thinking about a book everyone should read, or a program everyone should go through or a prayer system everyone should commit to.”

“Yes, brother John,” he said with great patience and care. “I know you were thinking of those things. But that’s not what they need most. The main thing you will give your congregation – just like the main thing you will give to God – is the person you become. If your soul is unhealthy, you can’t help anybody. You don’t send a doctor with pneumonia to care for patients with immune disorders. You, and nobody else, are responsible for the well-being of your own soul.”

“I’m trying,” I said. “I learned long ago about the importance of having a quiet time when I read the Bible and do daily devotions; I do my best to start each day that way.”

“I didn’t say anything about having a quiet time,” he gently corrected again. “People in church – including pastors – have been crushed with guilt over their failure at having a regular quiet time or daily devotions. And then, even when they do, they find it does not actually lead to a healthy soul. Your problem is not the first 15 minutes of the day. It’s the next 23 hours and 45 minutes. You must arrange your days so that you are experiencing total contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God.”

“But how can I have total contentment, joy and confidence?” I responded. “My work isn’t going nearly well enough. Lots of people are not happy with me. I am inadequate as a pastor, husband and father. Every week I carry the burden of delivering a sermon and knowing I’ll have to feel the pain if it doesn’t go well.

“I didn’t say you should experience total contentment, joy and confidence in the remarkable adequacy of your competence or the amazingly successful circumstances of your life. It’s total contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday experience of God. This alone is what makes a soul healthy. This is not your wife’s job. It’s not your elder’s job. It’s not your children’s job. It’s not your friend’s job. It’s your job.”
~ Excerpt from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under God, Health & Wellness, intimacy with the Lord, John Ortberg, Priorities, Relationship with God, Rest, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

“Would this be a good time for deep breathing Dad?”

So the other night Brynden (our 13-year-old) and I were headed to a dad/son gathering when he mentioned that his neck has been sore whenever he stretches it. I’m no doctor but he is healthy in every other way so I suggested that it might be tension or stress.

Supreme_pizzaHe tends to get worked up rather easily and is just a couple of months into a new school semester after two and a half years of homeschooling. It was his idea and we believed he was ready but he was still fairly nervous heading into it.

So we talked a good 10-15 minutes about learning to relax.

I explained that it’s not that uncommon for most people to get tense without even realizing it but that our body feels it and lets us know with little aches and pains. I mentioned that clenching or tightening our shoulders is a biggie and could easily cause the kind of neck soreness he was describing.

When I talked about being intentional with learning to relax he asked if that was why I did stretching every morning. I told him it was and explained that stretching is half of it while the other half is breathing deeply while doing them to help push oxygen all through the body.

I even mentioned learning to be aware of certain situations that make us tense and being careful to practice deep breathing whenever we felt the tension building.

About that time we pulled into a pizza place to pick up our order.

Five of the pizzas we ordered were ready but they had forgotten to cook the sixth one. I don’t eat pizza very often so when I do I make sure to get at least one that I especially enjoy. Guess which one they forgot to make? Yep! My favorite.

We substituted a couple orders of bread sticks but I was ticked. When we got back in the car to leave I growled and yelled “Dang it! That makes me mad!”

That’s when Brynden, in a matter-of-fact sort of way, asked:

“Would this be a good time for deep breathing Dad?”

“Yes! Yes it would! Thanks!”

[In… out… in… out… slow it down…]

When I talked with Brynden about learning to relax I hadn’t planned on having to practice it so soon, but it was good to know he had been listening.

I know… it was only pizza. But the point is that we all need to learn to be more intentional about relaxing. Perhaps that is a part of why David wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Some of us wear hurry and stress like a badge of honor even though it tends to destroy our health and attitude.

May our breathing today be slow and deep no matter what we are facing. And remember, nothing we come up against is a surprise to God; and He is still on His throne!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Adversity, Anger, Frustration, God, Health & Wellness, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality, Rest, Trusting God

Friday Funny! ;-) It does sound better!

Go to the Jim

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Friday Funny, Funny, Health & Wellness, Humor, Just for fun, Laughter

I’m gonna live to be…

I’m gonna live to be 85… according to the Longevity Calculator.

You can click the link below and answer a series of just 13 simple questions to find out how long you can expect to live.

It was developed by Northwestern Mutual Life; though of course it comes with no guarantees or promises.

But before you try it, let me ask you something. If you could actually know exactly how much longer you would live on this earth, would you want to know?

What would you do with one week, one month, or one year left to live? What would you change or do differently?

I once heard Tony Campolo mention this years ago. He suggested that if you are living your life centered on God then you wouldn’t need or want to change anything about how you are living life.

One last question.

How will you live today since it could be your last day on earth?

Longevity Calculator – http://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan/

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Death, God's Will, Health & Wellness, Priorities, Religion and Spirituality

A radical health and fitness secret

A couple of months ago Susan and I bumped into a friend that we’d not seen in a while. She had lost considerable weight and when I asked how she’d done it she said… Get ready. You’re going to want to write this down.

“Eat less, move more.”

I know, I know. It will take a few minutes to wrap your head around such a radical concept. Take your time. Let the layers of wisdom unfold as you pause to reflect on it. And don’t get too upset. Reread the title of the blog. I never said it was a “new” secret.

I don’t know how much money is actually made yearly on new diet plans or books but I am sure it’s no small amount. Add to that the endless parade of new exercise products or workout programs and we could make a sizeable dent in reducing national debt.

But in the end it all comes back to simple common sense and basic physics. Eat less, move more. What great advice!

Susan and I have been doing that for a few months now with riding bikes and eating smarter – more protein and less carbohydrates. Besides losing weight and feeling better, it’s fun to rediscover a whole new wardrobe in your closet.

And along with a changed waistline is a change in what we enjoy. Riding bike wasn’t all that fun to begin with but now we look forward to it. Our bodies long for it if we skip a couple of days. And we no longer crave the junk food.

First, we made a conscious choice to exercise and eat better; then our bodies began to long for and enjoy those things more and more.

The same is true of God. The Spirit abides in us to stir our longings for fellowship with God but we can make a conscious choice to spend more time with God.

We can make time to enjoy His company in silence and solitude. We can intentionally do life with Him as we go through our day.

The more we give ourselves to fellowship with our Creator, the more we will long for it above everything else.

“As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ So humble yourselves before God… Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” ~ James 4:6, 8

It’s a new day and it’s our choice.

 Will we choose to draw closer to God?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Desire, God, Health & Wellness, Holy Spirit, Humility, intimacy with the Lord, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

One way to deal with frustration

Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right. Strike that! When was the last time you had a day when nothing seemed to go right?

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I actually woke up early and was excited to get the day underway. But it went downhill as soon as my feet hit the floor. I’ll spare you the details but it was definitely a “two steps forward, three steps back” kind of day.

I tried taking space. I tried talking with God. (more like grumbling at God) I even downed about 8 oatmeal/butterscotch cookies. Didn’t work, but they were good. And oatmeal is healthy right?!

If I still had hair I would have pulled it out!

So when I got home that evening, Susan and I took a bike ride. That was a big help.

Fresh (though humid) air, the chance to chat with Susan and a beautiful sky as the sun disappeared into the horizon.

No big spiritual insight here, just the observation that sometimes a good physical workout does more to put things in perspective than anything else.

Go ahead. Get active.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Anger, Frustration, Health & Wellness, Life in General, Recreation

The value of discomfort

I recently read about a long-distance runner named Dean Karnazes. Check out his list of accomplishments:

  • He ran fifty marathons in fifty states on fifty consecutive days.
  • He once ran 350 miles in three days—without stopping and with no sleep.
  • He’s run the Badwater Ultramarathon seven times. It starts in Death Valley, 250 feet below sea level and concludes, 135 miles later, halfway up Mt. Whitney, at 8,360 feet. He won the race in 2004 on his fifth attempt.
  • He runs 100 to 170 miles a week.
  • He couldn’t find time to run 4–6 hours a day, so he began sleeping less. He currently only sleeps four hours a night.
  • His resting heart rate is 39 beats per minute!

Can you begin to fathom the kind of energy and effort and discipline it requires to accomplish such phenomenal physical feats?! It truly staggers the imagination!

In another interview in Outside magazine, Dean offers a unique perspective that many of us have forgotten:

Western culture has things a little backwards right now. We think that if we had every comfort available to us, we’d be happy. We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure. We get in a car, we get in an elevator, it all comes easy. What I’ve found is that I’m never more alive than when I’m pushing and I’m in pain, and I’m struggling for high achievement, and in that struggle I think there’s a magic.

I believe that in every area of life – spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, vocational – God desires to stretch us and grow us. He longs to bring the real us out because each of us is His gift to the world. We each have a role to play in furthering His kingdom plans here on earth.

Are we settling for comfort or giving ourselves to be stretched and used for His glory?

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Filed under Choices, Determination, Glory of God, Health & Wellness, Inspiration, Morphing

Practical suggestions for boosting your energy

Having been made in the image of God we are both physical and spiritual. It’s easy to ignore the physical but it greatly influences our journey with God.

So along with the traditional habits of Bible reading, prayer, fasting, etc… we also need to pay attention to our body; and especially our energy. So here are some practical suggestions to help boost your energy.

Pursue intimacy with God. We are physical/spiritual creatures made in the image of God and every aspect of life flows from our connection with Him.

Watch your attitude. A positive or negative mindset will take us in a good or bad direction. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). And pay attention to your relationships, some people add to the positive while others do the opposite!

Feed your brain. You’ve heard the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This applies to the world of computers, but it also applies to our brain. Reading is a great habit and no, TV is not a good substitute.

Exercise regularly. There are too many benefits to list here. Set aside excuses and get active. There are few things that have a more positive effect on the body than physical exercise. And involve your family!

Good nutrition. Take a good multi-vitamin, drink LOTS of water, eat more vegetables and avoid simple sugars. And yes, it’s easier said than done! But it’s possible.

Get plenty of rest. I can tell you from personal experience that this is a BIGGIE! Beyond just making us grumpy a lack of sleep can cause some serious health issues. Don’t ignore this most basic of human needs!

Good energy is vital to every other aspect of life. Make the most of it by making good choices!

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Filed under Choices, Health & Wellness, Rest

Saving lives with left-over soap!

Imagine life without soap!  It is critical to our health and humanity, a vital component of our ability to keep our families safe. But what we take for granted in non-existant in many places around the globe. Consider these facts:

  • 1.4 million deaths can be prevented each year by handwashing with soap
  • Children under 5 who wash with soap can reduce their risk of pneumonia by 50%
  • Handwashing by birth attendants before delivery reduces mortality rates by 19%
  • 7 million children have died due to disease that could have been prevented with proper hygiene since 2009
  • Handwashing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together account for 3.5 million child deaths annually. ~ UNICEF. Soap, Toilets & Taps, 2009.

The Global Soap Project began with Derreck and Sarah Kayongo, humanitarians and social entrepreneurs, who together, are fulfilling a dream to help families in developing nations improve their health and build better futures for their children and their countries.

From Africa to Atlanta with nothing but a dream and tenacity, Derreck Kayongo beat the odds, earned an education, and has served in leadership roles in some of the world’s most respected NGOs since 1994. In 2009, he met Vicki Gordon, a veteran hospitality executive, and shared his idea – what if we took the discarded soap from your hotels and turned it into new bars? Derreck recalled his time in a  refugee camp in Uganda – where families were vulnerable to disease simply because they had no soap or clean water to wash with. Vicki, who became one of the founding board members of the Global Soap Project, started making calls and assembling a team to support Derreck and his mission.

In just two short years , the Global Soap Project has expanded operations from Derreck’s basement to a warehouse in Norcross, Georgia with the capacity to produce thousands of bars of soap a day. It seems fitting that a recent shipment of 10,000 bars will soon arrive in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.

To find out more or to get involved click here.

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Filed under Health & Wellness, influence with the world, Loving others