Today’s podcast is a listener request episode. After my husband, Derek, and I recorded a podcast episode last fall about technology and soul-care, it was requested that we do another episode on the same topic, but specifically related to technology use for kids and teens. So, we decided to base this conversation around a book on the topic by Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place.
After reading the book together, we pulled out the themes that seemed most important and relevant to us and discussed them on today’s podcast episode. If you like this conversation, make sure to check back in two weeks as we talk about the reality of our family’s use of technology.
If something from this podcast episode resonated with you, please comment below today’s show notes or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook community.
Practicing yoga brings a host of physical and mental benefits, including slowing down, breathing deeply, becoming more grounded, increasing flexibility, and developing muscle tone, to name a few. It can also be helpful for stress management. So, in this episode, it was a pleasure to sit down with yoga instructor and author Miranda Jo Davis to talk about her journey into the yoga world.
Miranda Jo has practiced yoga for over twenty years and has traveled around the world in her training and education. In our conversation, we talk about some of the spiritual pitfalls that can be found in yoga and how she has learned to navigate the yoga world from a Christian perspective. Miranda Jo now incorporates Scripture and Biblical meditation into her practice and instruction. She also shares about some of the ways that practicing yoga has benefited her and why she loves to teach and instruct others.
I am not a person who likes structure and routine. In fact, the more set a routine becomes, the more I find myself wanting to break it. So, you can imagine that the idea of a “devotion” or “quiet time” has been difficult for me. For years, I found myself reading the Bible at random times, as the whim struck, or quickly squeezing in a short devotional before bed. Participating in Bible studies has been a major help over the years, for both the community and the accountability of getting in the Word.
A year or two ago, I found a podcast called The Daily Audio Bible, which read through the Bible in a year. Listening to this podcast made it easier to get in the Word more frequently, because I could listen to it being read to me while I drove, cleaned, or cooked dinner. Still, I didn’t listen every day and often found myself missing sections of the reading as I was momentarily distracted.
So, I challenged myself last year to begin a two-year reading plan of the Bible. I figured giving myself two whole years was doable, even as a busy wife and Mom. I’ve never read the whole Bible chronologically before, and I wanted to become more disciplined in my reading time. Over the last year, I have made it a practice, almost every day, to get up before my children and read.
I am now more than a year into the practice, and have made it all the way into Jeremiah. Daily Bible reading has become one of my rhythms of soul-care. What then, after thirteen months, can I report about the changes in my own soul? Well, to be honest, it’s been really hard. I have found the last year of reading through the Old Testament to be, at times, difficult. Most of the time I don’t come away inspired for the day. God doesn’t always give me a personal word for my daily life or an encouraging tidbit to start my day. Sure, sometimes I come away with that kind of experience, but often it feels more like obedience than joy.
I began this practice, unbeknownst to me, at the beginning of a year that would bring in a pandemic, social distancing, and one of the hardest years of parenting I’ve ever experienced. I haven’t always felt “close to the Lord” this year, even while reading His Word. I want to be completely honest about this fact, before I go on to say that it has been completely worth it. Sometimes emotions don’t coincide with obedience, but there is a contentment and fulfillment that comes with being filled with God’s Word. I have gained a greater knowledge of the Scriptures. I am practicing perseverance and endurance, which is a huge step in my walk with Christ. Yes, I can say with full conviction, my decision to wake up early and read the Bible has been worth it.
As a family, we’re also beginning to make new soul-care rhythms. For years I’ve admired others who carved out time for family devotions and prayer. Over the years, my husband and I have not been consistent at doing this with our children. However, this year we have had A LOT of family together time, and much of it has not been positive. So, we decided to have a time each evening after dinner where we do a devotion reading, sing praise songs, and take time to pray together as a family.
Again, in my mind’s eye and with great expectations, I hoped this would be a time of family bonding, love, and answering sincere questions about God. On the contrary, our children fight about what song we’re going to sing, who’s sitting next to whom on the couch, and how long they have to pray. Usually they talk and sing over one another and fight with each other throughout our devotion time. My husband and I often finish our family devotions feeling more like we’ve run a marathon than like we have been sitting at the feet of Jesus. (Again, just being honest.)
I do want to be honest, because I think we’re led to believe that devotions should leave us feeling warm or fuzzy if we’ve done it correctly. Truthfully, creating rhythms and routines in our faith lives is less about the emotions and contentment it evokes and more about the cultivation of our souls. I don’t know about you, but my soul is wayward. I think I can say that my children’s souls are too. Creating a rhythm of prayer, worship, and Bible reading will not happen on accident: Not for us, and not for our children. I am cultivating this time with my children in faith, believing that even if I can’t yet see the results, their little souls are being planted with Scripture, truth, and goodness. I’m believing their lives will bear the fruit of it: that their minds are being transformed by it.
So, friends, I want to encourage you today. I hope you don’t come away from this feeling guilty for not reading the Bible more faithfully. If anything, I want you to come away from this hearing me say that cultivating rhythms of soul-care is hard work. It will feel difficult. You may not always have positive emotions at the end, but I want you to hear me say that it’s completely worth it. Push through and try. Find something that is doable for you in this season of your life: something you can commit to. If you miss a day, it’s okay. Just get back in the next day. Running the race of faith is hard work, but if we pace ourselves, finding our rhythm, we will finish strong.
Pause: Take a deep belly breath and slowly exhale. James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” What does perseverance in faith mean to you?
Renew: When you think about rhythms of soul-care, what comes to your mind? Have you had rhythms and routines in your life that have helped cultivate your relationship with the Lord? How have you noticed these rhythms change in different seasons of your life?
Next: What kind of soul-care rhythm can you implement in your daily life? Think about ways that you could incorporate Bible reading, worship, or prayer into your life in a practical way. Then, over the next few weeks, begin to implement this new practice into your daily routine.
May we walk in rhythm with the Spirit, intentionally cultivating our faith walk.
For the month of January, I’m releasing short, soul-care episodes all about our relationships with our bodies. The last episode was about body acceptance and gratitude, and if you missed that episode, go back and check it out. Today, we’re going to continue our conversation about becoming friends with our bodies by discussing if and how we pay attention to what our bodies are telling us.
In today’s podcast episode, I referenced a great TedTalk about posture, body feedback, and power poses. I also referred back to two previous podcast interviews. If you want to hear those episodes, I’ll link to them here:
Taking care of, attuning to, and loving our bodies is an important part of soul-care. I hope that in today’s podcast episode you were encouraged with some new ideas about how you can become more intentional, even in small ways, of listening to and improving your relationship with your body.
This fall I have found a new favorite show to enjoy with my husband: the History Channel series, Alone. If you haven’t seen it, the show is all about wilderness survival in harsh and desolate climates. Ten contestants are dropped off in remote locations with limited supplies, and they compete to see who can live off the land longest using their own survival skills. They do all of this, you guessed it, alone.
The fact that I like this show is surprising given the fact that, for me, being alone anywhere for days or weeks at a time sounds like a nightmare. This extrovert enjoys alone time in short chunks only, yet there’s something almost therapeutic about watching people use their skills in the beauty and majesty of nature’s wilderness. Without having to leave the comfort of my living room, I can vicariously experience a little piece of nature. A few moments of solitude. (Nevermind that there are wild animals, starvation, and injuries…the idea of the wilderness is therapeutic anyway!)
The Lord keeps bringing me back to this idea of quiet and solitude. In some ways I find myself craving it. However, practically the minute that I find myself in silence, I immediately begin filling the space with noise or busyness. There’s always a to-do list to accomplish, a podcast to listen to, an email to write, a playlist to create, a message to respond to, or a social media app to check. Quiet and solitude just do not come easily to us humans, especially not in the modern age where there are distractions at every turn.
I’m coming to realize that the practice of solitude is something I’ll have to cultivate.
Jesus lived many years before cell phones or social media, yet he was a popular and wanted man. Everywhere he went, crowds gathered. From the time he woke up to the time he went to sleep, busyness could have enveloped him. Really, if anyone had an excuse to be busy, it was Jesus. After all, He understood that He only had 3 years to accomplish His ministry on earth. Still, in Luke 5, we see that He intentionally took time to slip away to quiet places to pray.
Jesus cultivated solitude. He carved out space and time to commune with His Father alone.
In no way can I relate to crowds following me from town to town like Jesus experienced. I can however, relate to four children needing me from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. I can relate to being present for clients who are in crisis. I can relate to writing and podcasting for the edification of others and sometimes feeling depleted myself. That’s what servant leadership is all about: being poured out and continually refilled. It seems that a key part of the refilling process which keeps us from burning out is the practice of solitude.
In the quiet hours with Jesus, He restores my soul.
In his book, The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes: “We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others.”
As a mother, I can attest that there have been seasons when I have had little to no solitude. When you are the mother of littles, naptime may be the only quiet time you get the entire day. The days of caregiving can be long and exhausting, and the few moments of quiet you have may easily turn into a short snooze. Yet, even in those quickly snatched moments of rest, the Lord has restored my soul. Sometimes solitude may look like rest.
In no way am I writing this blog post as an expert on solitude. Far from it. I am at the beginning of learning how to cultivate solitude in my own life. As I embark, I hope you will join me in turning off the noise when it becomes too much. In going outside and taking a breath and enjoying nature. In talking to Jesus in the quiet spaces of your day. I can’t wait to hear the creative ways you incorporate solitude into your life rhythm.
Pause: Take a deep belly breath and slowly exhale. Take a moment and consider Luke 5:16. What stands out to you about Jesus setting aside time to be in the wilderness to pray?
Renew: What is hard for you about solitude? Is it the idea of being still and quiet? Is it the demands of the day? When you are able to sit in stillness, what do you notice about your prayer life?
Next: Consider ways that you might carve out moments of solitude in your daily routine. Get creative! Mrs. Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley, famously put her head under her apron to escape her 12 children and pray when she needed a break!
May we learn to quiet our minds and hearts in the quiet places of solitude.
I am always happy to have my favorite person on the podcast: my husband, Derek. He and I watched The Social Dilemma recently, and on this podcast episode we talk through some of the thoughts and concerns presented in the movie regarding gaming and social media. As a computer programmer and game designer, Derek has a lot of working knowledge about the ways that games are produced and how they make money.
We discussed our concerns about the amount of time we are spending on our phones, as well as the addictive qualities of many of the apps we use. We also chat about how social media is causing us to spend more time in our own echo chambers. Conversely, we talk about some of the benefits of social media.
At the end of the episode, Derek and I share some of our own soul-care practices in guarding our minds and time on our phones. I hope you find this podcast episode encouraging in working out your own technology boundaries and soul-care practices.
If you you enjoyed this podcast episode, please share and subscribe. You can comment below today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
Touch is a topic not often discussed or written about, especially within the church, yet it is such an important issue for life, health, and relationships. So, it was an absolute privilege to interview author Lore Ferguson Wilbert on this podcast episode about her thoughts on faith, the body, touch, and relationships. Lore recently wrote her first book, Handle with Care: How Jesus Redeems the Power of Touch in Life and Ministry, in which she delves into the topic of touch from the perspective of faith.
During our conversation, we talk about friendship, body image, and the importance of touch in relationship. Lore shares how the act of caring for her body became a key part of beginning to heal after experiencing trauma in her life. We also discuss the differences between self-care and self-worship, and how mindfulness can be a helpful tool for navigating the relationship we have with our bodies and food. Additionally, Lore explains how the embodiment of Jesus means everything to the Christian faith.
If you enjoy today’s podcast episode, and you’d like to hear more from Lore, check out her book, Handle With Care, or visit her website, sayable.net, where you can read more of her writing. If something from today’s episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Please comment below today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
It was on the third day of an 8-day overseas mission trip that I found myself losing patience. I managed to make it through the jet lag of a six-hour time difference, the money exchange, a broken-down van, meeting new people in a new culture, and beginning the ministry portion of our trip, before my overwhelming exhaustion made itself evident in my behavior. I found myself feeling irritable, overly critical, easily offended, and misunderstood. I reacted to issues that I normally would have let slide. I responded in anger to well-meaning family members.
As my sister-in-law and I were getting ready for bed later that night, I mused, “Wow, today was not great. I got into two arguments today, and I just cannot believe I said those things.” She nodded, agreeing that she had noticed my attitude, and asked, “Are you talking about what you said to Nathan earlier?”
“No,” I laughed, flabbergasted at myself, “I wasn’t even counting that whole thing. Make that three arguments.” Clearly, it was time for me to go to bed and start a new day.
By the time I woke up the next morning, life seemed more manageable again.
That’s what exhaustion does to us. It takes us to a place where we no longer feel regulated and integrated. We begin to feel dysregulated and disintegrated: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even relationally.
Dysregulation: abnormality or impairment in the regulation of a metabolic, physiological, or psychological process.
Disintegration: the process of losing cohesion or strength; the process of coming to pieces.
We are not just spiritual beings, or relational beings, or physical beings, or emotional beings, or thinking beings. We are souls, comprised of all of these layers. When one of these areas becomes disintegrated, it tends to affect the other layers as well. For example, if my body is depleted of energy, then my emotions and relationships are affected by the exhaustion as well.
Dallas Willard, author of Renovation of the Heart, developed a holistic model of the soul as being comprised of all the layers of the self. In other words, we are created as integrated beings, a sum of all of our parts. All of these layers affect the others. For instance, if I have a headache, it is my body affected by pain, but I will find myself with less emotional, spiritual, and relational bandwidth as my physical pain takes the majority of my focus.
If I am disintegrated relationally, due to a conflict or abuse, I will probably find that not only my relationship is affected, but my mind is also affected by feelings and thoughts about the hurt I’ve experienced. My body may also be affected, as I find myself crying, or holding muscle tension from the stress of the conflict.
Often in Christian circles, we talk about spirituality as if it is separate from the other three layers. As if bodily issues, or our thoughts/emotions, or our relationships are separate from our spirits. Yet, the Lord created us as physical beings. Jesus was born into a physical world where he suffered physical hurts, he experienced human relationships, and he had thoughts and emotions. Even our new lives in heaven will be lived in glorified bodies. There, we will still be physical. We will eat. We will love. However, in our glorified bodies, we will be fully integrated, with no sin, pain, physical or emotional exhaustion left to disintegrate us.
For now though, in these real, physical bodies that we are blessed to live in, we need to give ourselves and others grace. It is easy to become depleted and disintegrated. We must give ourselves permission to pause and rest, allowing ourselves to renew and recharge. And of course, we can always seek forgiveness for hardships and misunderstandings that were caused when we were feeling dysregulated. Soul care requires caring for the whole self: relationships, body, mind, and spirit.
Pause: Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Quiet your mind and your heart; then meditate on the verse above, Psalm 107:9.
Renew: As you read this verse, contemplate how the Lord satisfies your longing soul and fills your hungry soul with good things. How does He provide for you in each of the following areas: in your relationships, in your body, in your mind (thoughts and emotions), and in your spirit?
Next: If you have found yourself feeling disintegrated lately, take time to think about which layers of your soul feel affected. Try to enact one form of soul care this week and give yourself the grace and rest you need as you work towards feeling more integrated again.
May your longing soul be filled with the good things God provides… …even rest.
How does one practice healthy soul care? In the midst of our busy lives, caring for ourselves can often take a backseat. It was my joy to interview two of my colleagues, Deni Huttula, LPCA, and Kate Wimberly, LPC, to have a conversation all about soul care. As therapists, both Deni and Kate share their experiences of teaching soul care practices to their clients as well as ways that they incorporate it in their own lives.
You will hear the terms self-care and soul-care interchangeably throughout the podcast. However, I love the term soul-care, because I think the phrase is more life-giving and all-encompassing. I define soul-care as integrating the care of our relationships, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. I love the way Kate defines soul-care during the podcast interview: “it’s any healthy behavior that sets my soul on fire, that makes me feel alive, and I know my soul is nourished through it.”
During our conversation, Deni shared that body awareness is an important part of her own self-care. She specifically mentioned two resources that she often uses with her clients to help with regulation and mindfulness:
Both Kate and Deni discussed their favorite Scriptures during the podcast and explained why those particular passages minister to them personally. Kate shared that Joshua 10 is one of her favorite passages because, through the story of Joshua’s bold faith, she is being challenged in her own walk with the Lord. Deni’s favorite verse is reflective of her personality and our conversation about soul care:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
I loved this conversation, and I hope you came away from it with new encouragement and inspiration to better incorporate soul-care in your life. If anything from today’s episode resonated with you, please comment below, or join the community on PRN’s Facebook page.