Head-to-Soul Makeover

Shelley Leith is the author of the new book, Head-to-Soul Makeover, Helping Teenage Girls Become Real in a Fake World, and co-author of Character Makeover: 40 Days with a Life Coach to Become Your Best You. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their five children, who have been the targets of Shelley’s early attempts at character development exercises.

Head-to-Soul Makeover. The name sounds like another study for teen girls on self-esteem.

My daughter Heather came up with that name. This study is based on my book for women called Character Makeover, but Heather told me that teenagers would not show up for a study with the word “character” in the title, so she gave it this clever twist. It’s actually a ten-week study on how to develop eight different Christlike character qualities, and I use television reality shows as metaphors for the different qualities.

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Relationships, theology, and suffering play important roles in spiritual growth

This is the fifth and final reflection in this blog series on the spirituality of students at Christian colleges. We asked students across the United States to rate how various aspects of the school environment and programs impacted their spiritual development, ranging from very negative to very positive.

The top three growth facilitators were peer relationships, working through suffering, and Bible/theology classes. This, and numerous findings from both studies, highlight the centrality of relationships and a biblical worldview for spiritual development. This suggests that we need to communicate a theological framework for growing through relationships, and for the role of suffering in spiritual growth.  In addition, we need to develop a relational environment that will help students process their suffering in a growth-producing way.    

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On legacy and time

I'm sitting in my home office having just gone back to my regular part time job at a local university.  The last three months I have filled in for a dear friend and co-worker while she bonded with her new baby.  I'm trying to get out of my funk (aka writer's block) as I "go back" to my old routine by showing up and writing.... and then starting over again, and again. 

A funny thought dawned on me as I thought about "going back": There is no going back. The last three months have pushed me vocationally, challenged me professionally, and made me start dreaming once more. It's hard to turn those voices off.

Although, it's not hard to want to settle into the comfortableness of predictability.  I am beginning to understand why people settle into a pattern for years on end - there is an ease to it.  And even though each year brings its own excitement and unexpectedness by nature of working with college students, I sense a tug out of the easiness.

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Alluring Sermon in the Starbucks Bathroom

I like supporting local spots. And I like Starbucks. And I think God likes Starbucks. Sometimes I think of the significant conversations that have brewed from this place, and am perplexed as to how the Spirit moved pre-Howard Shultz. Kidding, of course, sort-of.

Inadvertently, Starbucks preaches a lot of gospels. I don't suppose they mean to present “gospel truth,” but the church sure is quick to give them that platform. Frankly, Starbucks could probably care less what happens at your church this Sunday, but sadly, most church leaders are frighteningly concerned with what happens at Starbucks.

Consider this poshly hung ad I just saw hanging in a Starbucks bathroom.

“Your drink should be PERFECT every time. If not, let us know and we’ll make it right.” 

It makes me cringe. Not because it’s not true from their standpoint, or a wise marketing motto. But because I know it will preach to a lot of Christians—and will probably make its way into a sermon this weekend.

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Shadow of Myself: A Confession

I forgot something the last couple of months and for that I must apologize.  You made me remember.  I have forgotten myself.

Last week when I pieced together the pictures of our homestead, I was struck by the surge of energy I had in working on it as well as the almost 200 visits (and counting) to that entry in particular.

I’ve been in a season of emergence. A season where new dreams and desires are materializing while also colliding with other’s expectations and voices.  In this process, I lost my voice.

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There are some bands that I never tire of, no matter how many times they've sung albumns through my heart. Tenth of Avenue North is one of them. Thankful for these lyrics this week.

I know i need you
I need to love you
I love to see you,                                                                                                                                                 but its been so long
i long to feel you
i feel this need for you                                                                                                                                         and i need to hear you
is that so wrong?
oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh

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Giving-up on Chastity

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other hand, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 93-94

How to Invest Your Money

How did it get so cold in here?

Kids, full time work, and a vacation from the gym – these are all things that are likely to happen after the big day.  You used to dress up and look really great for your wife but now you settle for sweat pants and faded Nirvana t-shirts.  You used to put effort into your time together, but something happened – You got busy with the kids, distracted by your job, or stuck in a routine to take care of business.  You’re tired.

It’s hard, and I get it.  I have been married for over 7 years.  I love my wife but can definitely identify with those dry seasons.  So, I want to speak to the fellas for a moment.  Yeah – You who sits on the couch with the PS3 controller and Madden on the screen.

You Want to be Mentored?

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Battling Your Relationship With Shame

Discovering who we are inevitably leads us to discovering the reality that we're not who we desire to be - at least in ways.  Shame and guilt over past sin or current struggles can paralyze us....completely.  We feel separated from God, the people of God and the things of God.

We have to understand, though, that shame creeps in because we wrongly identify ourselves in sinful actions/tendency/behavior.  At it's core this misplacement of our identity is because we view ourselves as bodies that have a soul versus a soul that has a body.  

It may seem like a matter of semantics, but it's not at all.  It's an entirely different identity.  If we view ourselves as a body that continues to sin and do what we ought not - cf. Romans 7:18 - we inevitably end with feelings of shame and guilt.  However, if we view ourselves biblically and through Christ as a soul that has been made new, our identity is beyond our fleshly limitations and actions.  This is important to understand because our identity, then, is not found in sin, but instead in who God has made us to be spiritually (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14).

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