Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why wellness matters (but the Gospel matters more...)


Falling asleep to crickets instead of careening vehicles is certainly one of the blessings of growing up on (and visiting) the family farm.  Summertime brings an abundance of sweet corn, watermelon and as many tomatoes and cucumbers as your heart desires (while also being entertained by silly cows)!  But a belly full of home-grown goodness pales in comparison to a soul full of love, wise counsel, and passionate discourse on many topics.  Sprinkle in lots of belly laughs, practical jokes, hard work, and board games, and you get a small picture of what we enjoyed as kids.  Going home provides a good body-mind-soul reset!  

It's been a full couple of weeks for Paul and I, visiting churches and praying about where God might have us next.  But the support of family and friends along the way has been invaluable. As my sister jokingly reminded me, we have enough family stops to keep us going for a while. It has been a blessing to stay in numerous homes and find the encouragement we need for the journey ahead, especially considering this road trip won't be over for at least another two weeks! :)  

Being on the road makes it harder to squeeze in exercise time, but it's certainly not impossible.  Taking walks with Paul and using whatever floor space I can find to do a yoga routine has been a fun challenge.  Though it's been an adjustment to shift my focus from my wellness ministry goals to the greater goal of finding a church to serve in as a ministry team, it is well worth it.  I'm reminded of 1 Timothy 4:7b-8 : "On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (NASB) Our passion for Gospel ministry is greater than my desire to encourage women in body-mind-soul wellness, but that God-given passion is still important.  I want to sit with women and encourage them in their marriages, visit them in the hospital, help them set up their homes, pour over Scripture, and hold hearts and hands as we laugh, pray, and weep through life together.  But I also want to encourage them to care for their bodies as well as their mind and soul.  Caring for our bodies may not seem to have lasting eternal value, but I know from my own experience, that when I have NOT properly cared for my body, I am limited in my ability to serve God and others.  It is certainly very important to remember as well that caring for myself physically honors God because I am His daughter and worthy of that effort and personal sacrifice of time and energy. 

This time on the road is also giving me a good opportunity to pray and consider how I'd like this wellness ministry to take shape.  Shifting this blog to more of a wellness focus is easy enough to work on away from home. But again, the overall direction of my future ministry depends on where we end up, and what God is calling us to there.  God (and my sweet husband) are reminding me to take things one. day. at. a. time.  Isn't that always the battle?  But a battle worth fighting.  

Just a couple of weekends ago, my favorite preacher spoke on Romans 12: 1-2: "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (NASB)  

It was a special blessing to my heart, not only because I think he is the best preacher east of the Mississippi, but also because God put this passage on my heart as I have been thinking about wellness ministry.  As we've pursued God's leading for our next assignment, both Paul and I had been thinking about this passage, and didn't know it!  

Our desire separately and together is to glorify God in body, mind, and soul, and offer our entire lives for His service.  What that will look like exactly, we don't know, but we know that sacrificing our desires for the sake of the Kingdom is always the right choice.  Sinking my teeth into some oh-so-good, farm-fresh peaches, berries and melon reminds me that spiritual fruit tastes even sweeter.  I won't be surprised if God has a nice big farm waiting for all of us Perrys in heaven, filled with fruit that lasts for eternity.  


Sunday, June 29, 2014

His beloved child

Yahweh Yoga - Tribe 48
Dear friends,

My intention to post regular updates about my time in AZ has been unrealistic, considering how full our days have been!  But we have some time today to rest, and it feels like such a gift.  Our training has been wonderful in many ways, but I have come to my limits physically, spiritually, and emotionally/relationally.  I would rather see my need to grow, however, than to be content with staying the same.  The first couple of days were especially intense, as I was getting over jet leg and also not used to getting up so early.  Oh, and doing hot yoga for the first time, in HOT Arizona!  I don't remember sweating this much since cross-country training camp in college :)  And that was, a-hem, a few years ago :)

One big thing that I am taking away from this time so far is the knowledge that I am a beloved child of God.  One sweet sister in our class has spoken of this often (thanks Melissa!), and I was also encouraged by a yoga mentor (thanks, Kristin!) to repeat this phrase to myself when I was facing self-condemnation, discouragement, fatigue, etc. : "I am God's beloved child."  What a simple, yet extremely powerful phrase!  It has calmed me spirit immensely over the last few days, even as I continue to struggle with the uncertainty of our future... where will we be living, serving, etc., in the weeks and months to come, now that things have changed with Paul's employment?  I have had to discipline my thoughts, as well as my body, these last few days.  I'm finding that those things, when married together, produce beautiful fruit.  While I would not consider myself a lazy person, per se, I can see how I have more potential 'growth areas' than I thought!  Doing yoga several hours a day is challenging me to not only discipline my body, but it is providing many opportunities to meditate on the truth of God's love for me, and my need to let go of fear, self-judgment, anxiety, and disbelief in God's goodness.  There is something powerful about holding yoga postures, listening to Scripture and worship music, and being given the opportunity to really look within.  I have discovered a deeper battle within - will I surrender to the will of God for my life?  I have a sense that God may be calling Paul and I back into full-time ministry.  Will I let go of my fears about what that might look like, and instead choose to trust His heart of love for us?

Beloved friends, children of the Most High God, you are faced with the same choice today - will you acknowledge God's lavish love for you, and embrace this day, good and bad?  Will you praise God in the midst of suffering, and thank Him for what He IS doing and WILL do through you, if you surrender?  I have not 'arrived', but I am closer to this than I was a week ago.

So thankful for this opportunity to learn, grow, see more of God's love, and rest in my need for Him... Rest in Him today, my friends.  I'd encourage you to check out this great movie about Rich Mullin's life as you seek to deepen your confidence in God's love for you.  We are His beloved children,  ragamuffins, as Mullins and Manning would say, desperately in need of Grace.

Blessings, sweet friends!

Ruth


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The best is yet to come

Dear loyal friends and readers,

I'm thinking of the band Joy Eternal as I write this, and clinging to the amazing truths they sing about.  Life has certainly been a winding road (sometimes troubled, yes!) but we hope in Christ.  God has done so many wonderful things over the past few months, not the least of which being the chance to grow closer to my sweet man as we have prayed for God's leading in our lives.  Every day, we offer our lives over to Christ, and ask that He would use our talents, resources, time, everything for His glory.  It is a scary but wonderful thing to pray.  And so when Paul was laid off just a couple of weeks ago, we fought despair, but remembered the truths of 2 Corinthians 4.  Our hope is that the light of the Gospel would shine through our brokenness.  We are imperfect jars, but the blinding truth found in Christ, of His deep love, compassion, and protection for us, shines best in times like these.  We are 'struck down, but not destroyed'!  We look forward to coming back to this little online space and sharing what new adventure God has for us in the next chapter of our lives.  There are so many dear friends and family who are lifting us up right now (probably you too, dear reader!) and for that, we thank you.  We feel the strength provided by your faithful prayers.

One part of this new season includes my pursuit of a Christian yoga certification with Yahweh Yoga! It has been a wonderful journey these last few weeks, as I've completed the online portion of the training. This morning, we are flying to AZ so I can spend two weeks finishing the training at the studio. I have been so blessed by those who are supporting and encouraging me in this new endeavor, primarily my dear husband, but also many friends and family. Your prayers and words of encouragement are such a wonderful gift! It has been such a privilege to offer the gift of peace and connection with our Savior to friends who have already allowed me to use them as test subjects. 

I look forward to returning here to chronicle my next two weeks for you! I am confident that God will meet me in a new way. To Him be the glory in all things!

Your sister,

Ruth 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Taking a break...

Hello readers and friends, 

It's the Sabbath and I'm thinking about how to find refreshment in the Lord, and in all areas of my life.  I'm surfing through blogs I like to read because that's so refreshing, right??  Not really.  Reading blogs can be helpful, but oftentimes, looking at blogs and social media can make me envious, exhausted, and feeling badly about who God has made me in Christ.  Not exactly the best recipe for a restful Sunday!  

I was also reflecting that though I enjoyed writing most days in October for the 31 day series on praising God, it sometimes felt forced.  Not coming out of who I really am.  Doing something like this should not be an obligation, but a source of joy and refreshment.  So with the holidays coming up, I'm going to take a break from blogging.  I want to focus on serving my husband, friends, family and church, and also taking care of myself.  I want to encourage you to take the pressure off of yourself in areas where you are doing something you don't need to be doing.  Who are you trying to impress?  Who am I trying to impress?  

"Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn’t receive it through the traditions, and I wasn’t taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ." Galatians 1: 10-12 (MSG)

I'm not sure when I'll be signing back on, but whoever you are out there, find comfort in the grace offered by Christ to you.  "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast." --Ephesians 2:8-9 

This holiday season, let's all find ways to accept the GIFT of GRACE from God.  Not only for our salvation, but in every area of our lives.  

By Grace,


Ruth

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Praise for Lessons Learned

It's been a lovely month with you here, reflecting on ways to praise our Savior.  This was my first try at the 31-day blogging adventure, so forgive me for not showing up every day.  I enjoyed the push to write more often, however!  In the process, I was able to find grace to look past my circumstances and towards Christ.  Being a bit melancholy by nature, it can be a discipline to see life positively at times.  What a hope and comfort to know we can look to our Savior in praise, despite how bleak a season of life may appear.  There is also much joy in knowing that God uses all circumstances for our good and His glory (James 1:1-12 and Romans 8:18-37).  Nothing is wasted!

What lessons have you learned this month? Are you able to praise God for the lesson, or does your heart still feel tender?

Also, try the links below for a couple of 31-day bloggers I've enjoyed this past month...

Holley Gerth: 31 Days to a Happier You
Ann Voskamp: Missing Him: 31 Days of Calling On Jesus

Blessings on your weekend!


Ruth




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Praise the God of Rest {Day 24}

Hello friends.  Can you imagine quiet music, no one pulling for your attention, an afternoon nap...wishful thinking?  It may not have happened for you today, but God can provide the rest your soul needs, even in a moment.  Praise Him for the soul-rest He promises, even in the busiest of days.  You don't need an hour alone to know the Rest of your Savior.  He says to come.  Bring your tired, weary heart, and pour it out to Him, even as you go about your daily tasks.  He will lighten your load and carry you through the trial in front of you.  

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  - Matthew 11:28-29






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Praise the Provider {Day 22}

Unexpected Christmas blessings.  Last-minute mission trip funds. Rent. Groceries. School loans paid. Fees waived. Hospital bills covered. Perfect apartment just on time. And the list goes on.... I've been in some pretty tight spots, and never cease to be amazed at the ways God has provided for me, now us.  And yet, I can still slip into fear when it appears like something might be lacking.  More often now, it's not as much that there are huge material needs, but my heart is still learning contentment (Phillipians 4:11-12).

Can you sing 'Blessed be Your Name' regardless of your circumstances?  I often sing it through tears, but sing with with me, brothers and sisters!  God doesn't ask for perfect hearts, but He does ask us to come, to praise, to confess our weakness.  He will provide all the rest (and more)!

Philippians 4:19: "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."