Summer Steps: Ordered in Holiness

As a young girl growing up on a farm, summertime meant barefoot time –liberating my feet from the snugly fitting shoes I’d worn all winter. Early in the season, I learned to avoid the “sticker-patch.” I vividly remember the deep purple stains on my feet from playing under the mulberry tree. Now that I’m grown with a home of my own, I feel compassion for my mother and the much scolding I received for running through the house leaving purple footprints. Sorry, Mom!

During my professional career as a massage therapist, I began to observe feet in new ways. I learned that the average human foot is made up of 26 bones, 75,000 nerve endings, 33 joints, 125,000 sweat glands, 20 muscles, 114 ligaments, and 12 tendons. Our feet are our physical foundation, giving us stability and security. If we lose our footing, we lose our sense of balance. Feet are our physical mode of transportation. During these summer months your feet may support your tromping through gardens, running on beaches, or climbing mountain trails. The feet serve as the body’s sensors for disturbance. When you step on uneven ground, your feet send a message to your brain so you can adjust your balance. If the ground is hot, your foot sensors register that in your brain so you can move to cooler ground. And, if you step on something sharp, your foot’s sensory receptors send an urgent message to your brain to react! Now, that’s amazing, anatomical “arch-itecture.”

In my own spiritual walk, I’ve enjoyed searching God’s Word for instruction on living in holy health. Imagine my surprise and delight to find nearly 256 references to foot/feet in my Strong’s 21stCentury Edition Bible Concordance. God has a lot to say about feet.

In the culture of that day, feet washings were an accepted household practice – especially when guests arrived. I love the story in Genesis 18 where Abraham is sitting by the door of his tent in the heat of the day, and three travelers approach. He shows hospitality in verse 4 by saying: “Let a little water be brought, and then you may wash your feet and rest under this tree” (NIV).

Later, in the Book of Exodus, God speaks to Moses from a burning bush, instructing him: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5, RSV). I think that God still wants us to slip off our shoes, wiggle our toes, and feel His presence in the nature that surrounds us. Summer is a great time to feel the warmth of the earth and the embrace of our Creator.

My favorite scripture comes from Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings who proclaim salvation” (NIV). Perhaps I enjoy this verse because I live in Colorado where the majestic Rocky Mountains proclaim God’s greatness. This verse also mentions “how beautiful are the feet,” implying an attractiveness of the feet. It’s easy to neglect our feet and even consider them the lowliest part of our body. Simple daily attention helps prevent most foot disorders and restores and strengthens our feet.

Here are some quick and easy summer-sole-savers:

  • A cooling, soothing pedicure to promote inner health as well as outward beauty. Hint: Add a few drops of lavender, peppermint, or tea tree essential oil to the water for a refreshing foot bath. A few drops of lavender oil added to your lotion or foot cream softens and heals cracked heels.
  • Before beginning a summer hike, rub a few drops of peppermint essential oil on your feet to keep them cool. Massage the oil into your feet for improved circulation.
  • Choose appropriate foot-wear for the occasion to prevent foot injury. Summer is sandal season, but sandals don’t fit every occasion; protect your foundation.

Summer is a bold and busy season with numerous activities that keep women on the run. I urge you to save a few minutes each day to find a shady place and sit for awhile; kick off your shoes and commune with God. Let His divine nature draw you in, calm your spirit, ease your mind, and restore your body. Let God’s Word come to life in your summer routine by:

  • Extending a warm welcome and hospitality to summer guests (Genesis 18:4)
  • Allowing summer’s rhythm to revive your relationship with your Creator (Exodus 3:5)
  • Letting your beautiful feet carry you near and far in proclaiming the good news of Christ’s love, peace, and salvation (Isaiah 52:7)

J.M. Barrie, a Scottish journalist in the late 19thcentury, said: “Make your feet your friends.” This wise counsel is relevant in all seasons, but particularly in the barefoot season of summer. I pray that your steps will be divinely ordered as you stroll (or sprint!) through summer, and that above all, “you may enjoy good health” (3 John 1:2, NIV).

 

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 A Unique and Wonderful Treasure

In today’s society, we are continually looking ahead to where we need to go next and what we need to accomplish. We seem to be nonstop, running from soccer practice to dance recitals to parent-teacher conferences and everything in between. When we are goal-oriented and task-driven, we tend to focus on all of the things that we need to accomplish rather than the relationships that God places in our lives. We forget to place the true value on the treasures—the people—who are right in front of us.

If this does not describe you, I commend you. If it does, even a little, remember that God gave you your child, an incredible gift to cherish and enjoy. Psalms 127:3 states: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (NASB). Think about it—in His amazing wisdom, God specifically and intentionally chose youto be this child’s parent. He knew you would be the right person to treasure, value, and help the child grow. You are the perfect person for the job!

Discovering the unique treasure within your child takes an investment of time, effort, and finances. It’s like a great shopping adventure, but the result is far better than any trendy outfit or sale you could ever find in a department store! Connecting with your child is one of the most important things you will ever do. Seize each moment; capitalize on every opportunity. Learn how to connect with your child and unveil everything that God has made your child to be. You will never regret the investment, and the joy you will find is…priceless!

Here are some practical ideas to help you discover the treasure that is your child:

  1. Schedule a Date. Plan individual time with each of your children to develop that special one-on-one relationship. Make the time all about them, and they will realize that you value them and believe they are special because of who they are. You’ll be reflecting God’s love to them and building their self-confidence. This also helps with behavior issues, because your children will understand that they do not have to act out negatively to receive attention. When your attention is divided, it can be challenging to discover what makes each child tick. Family time is very important, but it focuses on the group rather than the individuals. The specific timing of your one-on-one time with each child will vary based on age, schedules, and each child’s needs. Be intentional, look for creative ways to schedule time; then honor that commitment. The high priority that you place on cultivating the relationship with your child will form lasting memories and produce amazing fruit.
  2. Practice Active Listening. The simple act of physically getting down on your child’s level allows you to see things through his or her vantage point. Maintain eye contact while your child is speaking. This lets children know that you value them and are interested in what they have to say. To show that you are listening, repeat what they say, or ask questions. You will see their eyes light up when they realize how important they are to you!
  3. Give Your Undivided Attention. Share specific time together that does not include running errands, e-mailing, or anything of that nature, because then the activity being accomplished takes priority over the relationship. Take a technology break and push your “to do” list to tomorrow. Focus completely on your child. You will fall in love all over again with the beautiful little person God has blessed you with!
  4. Uncover (Listen for) Clues. Identify your child’s interests and unique design. Take the time to speak into your child’s life. Give positive reinforcement by talking about your child’s God-given gifts. This builds self-confidence in children and helps them learn who God has made them to be. They will also be more likely to hear God’s voice amid all of the other voices that will speak into their lives as they grow.

When you devote time to your child and develop the precious relationship God entrusted you with, you will continue to unveil your child’s giftings each and every day. Look at your child through God’s eyes, seeing your little one as He does…a unique and wonderful treasure!

Ideas for “Dates” with Your Child

  1. Go on a hike or a picnic. It makes for great conversation, and there are no distractions!
  2. Check out your local recreation center—they have great activities and classes that you and your child can participate in together.
  3. Go out to a special dinner together—just the two of you.
  4. Cook a meal or special treat together.
  5. Let your child choose an activity he or she likes, such as Lego building, shopping, pottery classes, etc. Then do it together.
  6. Visit your local children’s museum, where you can play and explore together.

 

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