This book is a plea that the believer create a
time to pause and examine her life in terms of
how well she is expressing care for herself.
Welcome to Soul Spa, a journey in self-care. An element of our spiritual growth, practicing self-care is a heart-response to God's movement in our lives. Far from being self-indulgent:
"Self-care means living the life God has intended for [us]."
—The Spiritual Leader's Guide to Self-Care
Our Creator God, who connected the distinctive parts of our being—heart, soul, mind, and body—and who made us capable of relating to each other, is surely a wonderful God. And He tells us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14 NIV). He intends for us to "love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength" (Mark 12:30 NIV). Added to this is love for neighbor—relationships (Matthew 22:39 NIV).
No one—other than the individual woman herself—is aware of the state of the interior elements of her life. Each of us, alone, knows whether all is well with our soul.
I personally have not discovered one solution or set of steps that promotes self-care 100 percent of the time, but I do believe developing the habit is a significant start. Experts say it takes 21 to 28 days to develop a new habit (or break an old one). This self-care falls into the category of habits I want to cultivate.
If you are of a similar mind, would you engage in nurturing yourself with these 77 experiences? Allow Soul Spa to be your self-care companion. At a pace of one entry per day, you can establish the habit of self-care in your life and for your future.
Step into Your Private Soul Spa
For each devotional in the Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength, and Relationships sections, you'll find:
These can cause us to ponder and plumb tangible as well as intangible benefits of taking time for soul care just as pampering one's physical body produces tangible and intangible benefits. Simply spend a brief time reflecting on what God is stirring in you. These Soul Spa moments may serve to spark your creativity and lead you to imagine actions that fit best with who God has made you to be. Add anything you would like, in order to grow in a sense of well-being and happiness.
For example, consider how your self-care can have an impact that you'll share in your relationships.
Soul Spa Experience—Individual and Group Spa Plans
Regarding your relationships, if you decide to embark on this self-care journey with other women, you will find plans for several group approaches, including a retreat plan, on pages 175-83.
The heart is the very core of a believer's life:
the center or inner part of being.
Empty pockets never held anyone back.
Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.
—Norman Vincent Peale
Scripture reminds us that the heart is one of several elements of who we are, which includes soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:30). And then Matthew adds: how we relate to others—our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).
These facets of our lives have one thing in common: no one, outside of each one of us, understands or sees the condition of our heart, soul, mind, or strength. Only God, our Creator.
So, each of us should ask our self, How's my heart today? Unless you have a heart condition medically, you may not have pondered the state of your heart very much. Here, each day, for the next 16, you'll explore an element of the heart.
A believer's heart is strengthened as she comes to grips with why God has placed her on the planet at this time in history. Engaging God in conversation about life's purpose can be a meaningful experience. Your mind may meander to the movie classic It's a Wonderful Life. You may wonder as the main character did: What if I hadn't been born? What gaps would exist in the lives of my friends, family, and co-workers without me? That's purpose.
Ponder how satisfied you are with your life as it is today. Wonder how satisfied God is with who you have turned out to be. What do you anticipate for the future? What future dreams require actions today to make the dreams come true? Will lack of resources be an excuse for not pursuing a dream you yearn to fulfill?
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."
—Proverbs 21:1 (NIV)
Today, I'll slow down enough, and sit quietly long enough, to hear what God wants to say.
I won't presume to know the direction of the watercourse God directs.
If He doesn't speak on my schedule, I'll be persistent. I'll ask again. and again.
I'll make a list of nudges God shows to me.
Random Act of Self-Care
Get eight hours of sleep tonight.
Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is
possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
—St. Francis of Assisi
This book is a plea that the believer create a time to pause and examine her life in terms of how well she is expressing care for herself.
In the midst of a self- absorbed culture, it would be easy to veer off the path of reasonable self-care—self-care that allows one to be her best self in Christ. It would be easy to make our self the center of our universe.
So much of life is a matter of balance. Balance between family and profession. Balance between faith and culture. Balance between our identity in Christ and our most selfish identities. Balance between work and play. This list could be expanded by anyone who thoughtfully reflects on the world in which we live.
How does one balance the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23-25 in which He describes the cost of discipleship in terms of denying self and following Him, and the words of the Greatest Commandments in Mark 12:30 and Matthew 22:39?
A very first step in self-care is simply an intention to pay attention. If I find my mind easily hijacked by the sight of home chores, work projects that require problem solving, or a demanding church committee, I am the only one who can carve out a few minutes each day to touch base with myself and ask, So, self, how are you doing?
The time frame does not require rising hours earlier than usual, but we must be awake. And if we rely on jotting down our thoughts and heartfelt feelings in a journal, we will have a current journal handy and pen nearby.
When we begin to consider self-care in terms of the Greatest Commandments, a lightbulb should go off in our thinking. The elements of heart, soul, mind, and strength are such an appealing way to look at our inner self.
We can leaf back through earlier entries and see in our own handwriting our efforts to identify the part of self that lacks vision, is obstinate and willful, or lacks generosity. After an aha moment, we can be vigilant about change.
Today, I will pay attention to how I am caring for myself. I may learn something.
Random Act of Self-Care
Sit and listen to the birds.