Aerobics for the soul

Habit + Enjoying eating = one who is committed to, as we say in China, morning exercise.

Years ago I read in a Bill Hybel’s book that he doesn’t decide in the moment if he’s going to exercise since he’ll be more likely to opt out. He decides ahead of time. I have lived by that principle and the trenches of routine are so deep that when I don’t exercise I am off kilter.

Beijingers have been anticipating and commenting on the advent of spring and the flowering trees she brings. I enjoy wandering a local park with my camera because by looking through a camera lens I slow down enough to pay attention. This part of the season isn’t long and it’s easy to miss. Last week was the week to go.

Seeing beautiful flowers and being out in nature (as much as you can get out in nature in a large Chinese city), you’d think I’d have been more eager. Instead it felt like I was missing out by not exercising “aerobically” as I stopped to smell and photograph the flowers. But, using Hybel’s principle of not deciding in the moment, the decision was made. I was going.

It turns out one’s soul can benefit from a change in exercise as much as the body does. Which is a no-duh kind of statement! By clinging to my routine I almost missed ….

The quiet of an early morning in the park about ten minutes from my home.

Oh the colors of spring and the palette of the season.

This is my soul ‘comfort food’. I have taken this picture over and over throughout the years. I return to it again this year and it feeds me.

A man doing Taijichuan (Tai Chi) — a moment of calm amongst other park activities.

Another man practicing his writing, using water that evaporates as he finishes one line and moves on to the next.

Even after all these years, this bridge is a “pinch me do I really live in China” kind of picture.

People playing hacky sack — I picture my parent’s small group gathering in the early morning hours to kick around a pink feathered shuttle cock and laugh out loud!

One more dose of soul comfort food that does my soul good.

“Beauty ushers us into places of the soul that breathe life, inspiration, and awe. Seeing beauty, we hear the voice of the God who inspired us. Beauty turns our eyes toward Jesus.” Stephen W. Smith

I was ushered in. My soul worked out, my heart pumping and singing in ways it doesn’t on a treadmill.

What changes in soul care have shaken up your routines recently? Share with us in the comments.


  1. Found you on In Courage… so here is where I sheepishly announce “my ipad?” But in all seriousness… it has allowed me more connectedness and chance to jot my thoughts down instead of scribbling on napkins and what not.

  2. Amy! I love the picture of people playing hacky sack. Wish we did that here. I’m fascinated by life in China.
    Anyway, one thing that shakes it up for me is getting to sing again. Being in a choir doesn’t fit into my life at the moment, but when I pretend I’m a professional singer again and use all that training, I feel alive.

    • I know that music does it for many …love the picture of you belting it out to the heavens! Sing more in this season of your life :) and hopfully it will help with all of your transitions.

  3. Cousin Nancy Begg says:

    I love the pictures you took! I feel you have sent a little bit of China all the way to Michigan. I’m sorry but I don’t see your folks doing hacky sack. I’m trying but the picture just doesn’t come to mind. Love you Amy and love your Blog!

    • Thanks Cousin Nan! This group had some young people, but often it’s the “older” folks who play hacky sack. Very inspiring, actually :). Love you too!! Amy

  4. Oh to pause for a moment in the busyness of the day. I’m glad you took a slower paced exercise for the soul and I’m sure the body benefitted in a different manner as you were able to worship in the beauty of his creation.

  5. Just beautiful!! So nice to meet you.

    Blessings to you♥

  6. I have to stick to a routine or I’d never do my exercises in the morning. But yes, occasionally we need to mix it up. A year ago I switched into running, but after months of aching knees, I gave that up.

    With my soul routine, I try to switch things up too. God is in the details as well as the big picture and I don’t want to miss what he has to show me by being bogged down in the same old routines! Thanks for this post. Glad I showed up and didn’t miss him here.

  7. It’s so great that you’re enjoying the small blessings that God has bestowed upon us!

  8. This is so true. Running or walking fast and “doing” exercise is a good thing… BUT seeing the flowers and birds and hearing the birds [as is happening outside my house as I’m sitting here writing on your blog], and seeing what others are doing… all those turn us closer to our dear Father. YES, I should exercise or at least be out and about more often, but I also need to focus on Him and Him alone and all the ways He’s has built the world around us.

  9. Found you at the One Word Carnival. Exercise is something I must do more of. I do walk, but I like what you mention about deciding ahead of time. We must do this when we commit to serve the Lord. Receiving Jesus is a decision ahead of time that causes our future to be secure.

  10. As one who doesn’t like exercise at. all. I smiled at the Hybel’s quote. I am always looking for opportunities to opt out! Gorgeous photos.

  11. Hi Amy, I’m honored that you would quote me on your blog. I’d like to send you a copy of my new book, The Jesus Life: Eight Ways to Experience Authentic Christianity. How can I mail it to you or get it to you?


  1. […] so we walked into the cool of the night, headed first for the local park (pictures at that link from a morning walk in the spring). It’s alive at night! Turns out […]

  2. […] so we walked into the cool of the night, headed first for the local park (pictures at that link from a morning walk in the spring). It’s alive at night! Turns out […]

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