For Youth Workers Post


Ciona D. Rouse

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for January 1–4, 2015.


“I started belly dancing when I was 24 or 25 years old. I remember someone telling me, “Oh! That’s a great way to get dates. I bet guys think you’re sexy.” But my belly dancing had nothing to do with how guys thought of me. I simply realized that I had spent most of my life hating my body in some way. I wanted to be in my body and to love it; dance felt like a good symbol of being comfortable in my body.

“So many young people hate their bodies. They’re told or made to believe that they’re either too skinny or too fat. They think their bodies are invincible so they fill them with junk food and experiment with smoking, drugs, alcohol. They work out too much. They sit on the couch too much. They run around doing things all the time and forget to be still and to breathe. What would happen if we tried being in our bodies, recognizing their beauty that God designed for us, and taking care of them?” —Ciona


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Ciona Rouse
lives and breathes and has her being in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a poet and author who is obsessed with two small bodies and souls who live in her home: her cat, Fival, and her German Shepherd, Lacy.


  • possible guest: yoga instructor
  • the Heads Up! app
  • skeleton or mannequin
  • dry erase markers
  • computer and projector
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session


  • Is the Name of God the Sound of Our Breathing?” by Jason Gray, at The Rabbit Room website reminds us that body and spirit are connected; we feel it in our breath. The article includes the words and music of “The Sound of Our Breathing.”
  • Nooma: “Breathe,” by Rob Bell. We were created from dust. Then God breathed into us the breath of life. Breathing connects us to the spirit of God.



Invite the group to play a true or false game. Read aloud a list of statements. After each one, invite group members to move to one side of the room, designated “true,” or the other, “false.” Choose statements such as the ones below (or find other trivia questions here):

  • There are more than 500 muscles in the human body. (true)
  • Smiling takes more muscles than frowning does. (false)
  • The smallest muscles are in the inner ear. (true)
  • The largest organ in the human body is the stomach. (false)

[Option: Invite the group to play the anatomy rounds of the Heads Up! game app.]


Scripture: Psalm 139:13–14, Luke 10:27, John 3:16, 3 John 1:2

John 3:16 (CEB)
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.

Psalm 139:13–14 (CEB)
You are the one who created my innermost parts;
you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
Your works are wonderful—I know that very well.

Luke 10:27 (CEB)
He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

3 John 1:2 (CEB)
Dear friend, I’m praying that all is well with you and that you enjoy good health in the same way that you prosper spiritually.

Ask volunteers to read aloud each of the four scripture passages, and invite the group to discuss what each one has to say about our bodies. Here are a few directions in which to take the conversation:

  1. Our bodies are so important that even God became water, blood, flesh, and bone—body—to show how much our Creator loves us (John 3:16).
           What does it mean to have a body?
           What makes up our bodies?
           Why is the body so important that God would become human to show love for us?
  2. How amazing and intricate the body is—that God would create us to work so well that we can break and repair, get sick and heal! We have layers: skin, fat, muscles, tendons, bones (Psalm 139:13–14).
  3. God has given us a precious gift of a body.
           How do we care for the precious things that people give to us?
           Who has given you a gift that you treasured?
           What was it?
           How did you care for it so that it wasn’t broken, damaged, or lost?
           How can we best care for our bodies?
           In what ways do we abuse them?
           In what ways can we commit to loving our bodies better this week?
    Draw a bone (or print one here). Distribute copies of the bone. Have each person write on the bone a commitment to his or her body. [Option: Find an old skeleton or an old mannequin, and have people write on it with dry erase markers their commitments.]
  4. What does it mean to prosper spiritually as well as in good health (3 John 1:2)? How are body and spirit interconnected?Invite the group to watch Rob Bell’s video “Breathe.” Then discuss:
           How is our breath a physical aspect of our spirituality?
           In what ways does the film ask you to look at breath differently?
           How does it make you interact with your body differently?
           In what ways can you connect your bodily practices with deeper spiritual meanings?
    Consider using parts of The Upper Room Prayer Workshop “Breathe In and Breathe Out Prayer.” Invite a yoga instructor to lead the group in a brief asana and breath practice.


Close the session with this body prayer. Invite the group to move as directed with each line of the prayer.

     God be in my head and in my understanding. (Place both hands on top of the head.
     God be in my eyes and in my seeing. (Place both hands over the eyes.)
     God be in my ears and in my hearing. (Place both hands over the ears.)
     God be in my mouth and in my speaking. (Place both hands over the mouth.)
     God be in my heart and in my feeling. (Place both hands over the heart.)
     God be in my legs and in my moving. (Place both hands on top of the thighs.)
     God be in my hands and in my touching. (Place open hands one on top of the other in front of the body.)
     God be in my life and in my journeying. (Place both arms at the side of the body, hands open and turning outward, offering our lives to God.)


  • Any girls interested in learning more about their bodies and how they work may appreciate The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body, by Cameron Diaz. You may want to check it out and see if you feel it is appropriate for the girls in your group, perhaps the older ones.
  • Consider designing an active youth group activity that touches on the souls and bodies of the youth—a faith-based scavenger hunt, a labyrinth, yoga. Maybe contact another congregation who has used yoga in their youth groups. Here is one I found online.

—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2015). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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