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Reading: Exercising the Mind

My wife and I were talking the other day about homework.  When I was in high school, I rarely took school work home.  I found a way to get most everything done at school.  She said that she always had homework.  My lack of homework may have been due to the necessity of getting it done quickly because sports took up many afternoons and evenings.  Rarely did I enjoy the school work.  I enjoyed the benefits and rewards of having completed all of the assignments.  Most of all, my playing sports never was in question when it came to midterms and quarter grades.  I had teammates who weren't sure if their grades were going to be good enough to meet the sports requirements each quarter. There were many benefits of having high grades: respect from teachers, scholarships, sports privileges and others but few outweigh the benefit that it had inwardly.  I was unaware of it then but studying was beneficial for the mental health which affects the physical health.

This is another follow up to my Original Goals List for 2015.  The first goal was to GIVE MORE and the second is to READ MORE.  More specifically, read one book each month of 2015.  Admittedly, I am struggling and falling behind on this one.  Finding time to read is difficult.

That is my excuse.

I find time if I want to go to the movies.  I find time if one of my favorite TV shows are one.  I find time to do many different things; those things are more fun than reading.

I never was a huge fan of reading.  Playing the Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega Dreamcast or Playstation [original] was always more fun than reading.  Gameboy always suited me better on car rides than a book.  Riding my bike was much more of an adventure than sitting in my room with a book.  You would find me outside, playing video games, at a friends house or watching TV but never reading a book.  For whatever reason, I don't have many memories of reading a book because I wanted to.  Black Beauty was a book I remember reading as a child.  Goosebumps at school.  The 'Choose your Own Adventure' books were fun but always read at school during reading class.  

Now that I am older, I still struggle with just sitting down and reading a book.  Magazines are easy to read due to shorter articles.  It isn't that I don't read books as I have a need to stay current, relevant, be inspired and so forth in my profession.  I have to study and become more knowledgeable like any other who wants to be solid in their career.  I've taken a bit of that approach in order to complete my list.  Some of the books on my list will aid me with my job and some will be for 'pleasure'.  

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body" - Joseph Addison

In order to do fulfill my goal of reading one book each month I had to be prepared.  I needed to have a list of books to read for each month.  I took to social media for that.  I asked my friends if they could suggest some books for me to read throughout this year.  Here is the list that we, they, configured.

1.  Jesus + Nothing = Everything [[[January]]] -- page 141 of 209
2.  Sustainable Youth Ministry [[[February]]] -- page 51 of 204
3.  Unbroken [[[March]]] -- page 1 of 528
4.  Churchless [[[April]]] -- page 38 of 191
5.  The Explicit Gospel [[[May]]] -- page 150 of 224
6.  Circle Maker [[[June]]]
7.  Think Orange [[[July]]]
8.  Lead Small [[[August]]]
9.  Killer Angels [[[September]]]
10.  Sticky Faith [[[October]]]
11.  Love Does [[[November]]]
12.  The Tipping Point [[[December]]]


The Hobbit
The Two Towers
Multiply - Francis Chan
They Smell Like Sheep
Developing the Leader Within You
Becoming a Person of Influence
Growing True Disciples

As you can tell, I have some work to do.  If I look at it statistically as we look at almost everything else in our lives, I am only 16% towards my goal.  That means that I have only read 16% of the pages out of 5 books for January through May.  

That's not good!  

To find results is what I'm doing here.  Academically, a 16% would require a big fat F on my report card. With any review, you find where you are going wrong and fix it.  I find that I have not put the time and energy necessary into this particular goal. 

These are some benefits, from my own brainstorming session, that I believe reading does for a person.  

stimulates the brain - requires discipline - challenges self - makes hard things easier - ignites creativity - promotes imagination - inspires - educates

These are scientifically proven benefits, collected from here, which are from daily habits of reading. 

enhances the sense - enables life long learning - allows for better skill retention - improves creativity - better verbal abilities - increases one's store of knowledge - higher test scores - reduces stress levels - improves critical thinking - staves off dementia - dementia settles in at a slower rate - better reasoning - confidence builder - more white matter - increases brain flexibility - improved memory - builds relationship between parents and children - better listening skills - an easier time concentrating - alleviates mental health disorders

After reading that list, why wouldn't we all read daily?   

I know that it is motivating for me to see that a little bit of reading, even the smallest bit daily, is positive for my health.  That's what this is all about right?  Mental and Physical Health all play together.  What good would it be to have one and not the other?  We have the opportunity to help both forms of health by taking simple steps in the right direction.  

I challenge you to  be intentional in both your physical and mental health.



GIVING is making you stronger!

Why give? It's healthy!

This is another follow up from my goals list for 2015.  It's an explanation or a "where am I now" with the goals that I set at the beginning of the year.  If you don't remember my goals, you can find them here on a previous post.

The first of my goals is to give 10% more than I did last year.  That's not a crazy goal.  To give more is something I think many of us would like to be able to do.  Money doesn't always seem to be there though does it?  It's there probably more than you realize.  I remember a time that my wife and I were looking to rent a house and the monthly rent was a bit more than we could afford and the very generous potential landlord said to me, 'It's not hard for money to come around, you set the price that you can afford'.  We were blown away by that.  Someone that didn't worry about money?!

I work in the ministry, it's no secret that most of those who work in the ministry don't make a ton of money.  It's also no secret that much of the population live like it is better to receive than to give.

That old saying, it's better to give than receive has flip flopped and is a distant memory from today.  I am encouraged however when I see others paying it forward.

Why give?  Isn't this a health site?  To answer the second question, it is but there is something very healthy about giving.  It doesn't have to do with the tax write-off of giving.  It doesn't even have to have anything to do with the church.  Giving is good for the person, mind, and entire body.

Don't just take my word for it.  Take this article for instance.  Take this article too!  And another.  Actually, Google came up with result after result when I typed in "health benefits of giving" to the search bar.  There must be something to this giving thing and the direct relation to physical and mental health.

I went through a study called '40 Day Spiritual Journey to a more Generous Life' a few years back.  It's primary approach is obvious through the title.  It used the Bible as the focus throughout the topic of giving.  While many feel that the church is all about money, that's not true.  The church does need money to pay the bills, aid and support missionaries, aid the community and the likes of that.  I raise the question as to why we believe, church goer or not, our wallets are the only things that are called to give of?  Why is it that we view those that need our help only in a financial manner?

I do believe in tithing and strive to give 10% more financially this year than last but I also hope to give much more of myself to those in need as well.

What does your community need?  Think about that?  What is it that your community could stand to benefit from?  Is it trash clean-up at the park?  Maybe it is volunteering at the soup kitchen, animal shelter, helping the elderly with yard work, visiting the nursing homes, sharing your skills for a project, writing grants for non-profits, making blankets for abused women shelters [so many kids go through those].  This is a never-ending list!

To be honest, if most of us were to consider how much time was spent serving someone else other than our family and friends last year, it wouldn't take much to give 10% more than last year.  The art of serving other people exited the building several years ago but it's time to give back.

If the idea of giving simply to help another out doesn't work for you, think of the health benefits anyways.  I know that is selfish to view it that way but if you are helping someone out selfishly or not - follow through.

I particularly like that the studies show that giving offers:
  • better managed stress
  • longer life expectancy
  • better outlook of others
  • stronger marriage
  • better mental health
  • more success
  • a little more happiness at work
Whatever it is that will push you to give more this year, do it!  Your relationships, mental & physical health, success and life will benefit from it as well!




Setting Goals and sticking to them!

I love Kansas City sports teams!  Chiefs & Royals all the way!  I have been a fan all of my life.  Watching the Royals last year was really awesome for me.  Do you think that the Chiefs or the Royals start each year thinking and believing that they will only go so far?  Take any professional sports team and ask them at the beginning of the year and they all believe that they have what it takes to make it to the top.  Take any profession and ask each employee and most will say that they have what it takes to make their company better or make them more money.  It's all because of goals.  The Royals want the World Series Championship.  The Chiefs want the Super Bowl Championship.  The Patriots want their quarterback back.  Whatever it is that people want - it starts with goals.

I am a "Goals" person.  Each year I write out a list of goals and hope that I have the discipline to stick to it.  One of the hardest goals that I had set for myself, and failed to complete, was to reach 1000 miles running/jogging/walking in one year.  I got to the 750's.  It was close but didn't get the medal that they'd give every runner at the end of a marathon, (or half).  I'll admit, it was a bit of a pipe dream, impractical, unrealistic but it got me moving.
This year, I believe I set difficult goals to achieve for myself though they are attainable goals.  Here is a list of my goals from the beginning of the year.

2015 Goals:
1.  Give 10% more than last year
2.  Read one book each month [outside of my Bible Study]
3.  Spend one hour outside each day as possible
4.  Limit TV time to 1 hour each day
5.  500 miles [run/walk]
6.  Get Healthier!

I'm going to do some follow up posts in evaluating how I'm doing on each of my six goals so far and throughout the year.  It's important to do this after you've set goals for yourself.  How will you know if you ever achieved what you set out to do?  

My goals are specific.  I don't want to be cookie cutter.  The only cookie cutter goal is #6 but if I do #'s 1-5, #6 is bound to happen.  Too general of goals makes it very easy to back out.  The general "decisions" takes any decisive approach out of making goals.  "Make more money" is subjective; will you be happy if you make $1 more than you did the previous year?  

Goals are important in life.  They are used as motivation to keep moving; to push forward further than you thought you could.  Will there be times that I fail? Absolutely.  Will there be time that I succeed? Absolutely.  

They say life is a marathon and not a sprint; I say life is meant to be lived and  not to wait for tomorrow to live.  This doesn't mean to be stupid for the sake of stupidity. It means to live life in the present because life is happening all around you!  

Goals are meant to better oneself.  They give a person something to strive for and the moment a person gets an inch closer to completing a goal, it's encouraging and the goal is made real.  

This is real life.



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