For Youth Workers Post

Taking Care of Me

Sally Chambers

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for June 10–16, 2013.


“I joined a new gym about six months ago. I found that an hour at the gym was comparable to an hour in a counselor’s office. Workouts pushed me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Instead of using words, as in counseling, I was using my body. I had known, in my head, that the body was intricately woven with the mind and spirit, but going to the gym brought my knowledge alive.

“One of the first things I noticed was that after going to the gym, I was so hungry I could eat a horse. I was craving meat, and I wasn’t a huge meat-eater. I learned that my body needed protein, so I became more intentional about working protein into my diet. By increasing my protein, I had more energy, my hair looked healthier, my nails got stronger, my sugar and junk-food cravings decreased, and my muscles healed faster. When it comes to taking care of my body, perhaps nutrition, giving my body what it needs, is more important than size, shape, or weight.” —Sally



sally 2Sally Chambers has been practicing youth ministry for nineteen years; she is currently on sabbatical. By trade, she is a counselor and spiritual director. She is a lover of art, photography, people, hosting, adventure, stories, a cup of tea, beauty, all things English, her niece and her Grandma, abbey ruins and cathedrals, creation in its grandeur and wildness, playlists, and her furry four-legged companion Doodlebug. Sally is a co-author of the leader’s guide to The Way of Pilgrimage and the creator of The Pilgrim’s Way, an approach to leading pilgrimage with teenagers and adults. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is currently on staff and worshiping with St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. She dreams of creating altars in the world where pilgrims may gather together; rest for a while; find renewed vision; be healed in body, heart, soul, and mind; and offer to the world the hope of God in Jesus Christ. Be sure to check out Sally’s blog.



  • a candle and a lighter or matches
  • Bibles
  • newsprint and markers
  • handheld mirrors or 1-2 full-length mirrors
  • dry erase markers
  • (Optional) 2 Mr. Potato Heads and an Internet connection (or copies of questions from the quiz mentioned in “Checking In” section below)
  • Print-Friendly Version of this Session



  • The “Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” website includes a few interactive games that might get the group’s blood moving.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture website “Choose My Plate” offers great resources, handouts, and nutrition tips.
  • Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” invites people to get involved in changing the way the United States eats. Oliver is working especially hard to change the food offered in schools. The site includes statistics and a petition to sign.



Welcome group members as they arrive. Then ask the group to form a circle. Light a candle as a way of remembering that God is present. Have everyone close his or her eyes and take a deep breath. Invite people to consider what worries or distracts them. Then ask them to breathe out their worries and to breathe in the peace of God that passes all understanding. Encourage group members to practice breathing in and out for several minutes.

Conclude by saying a prayer based on Psalm 139:14: “We praise you, God, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Add to the prayer if you wish.)

Go around the circle, asking each person, in turn, to answer the following questions:
       When did you last eat?
       What did you eat?
       How did you eat it? (from a plate, with a fork, with your hands, dipped in milk)
       With whom did you eat it?
       Why did you eat it? (hungry, bored, mealtime, with friends, excited, upset)

Ask group members what they have observed from listening to everyone’s answers. What common threads did they notice? Then invite discussion by asking the following questions:
       Why is food important? (Food is the fuel we need to be able to live.)
       Why does it matter what we eat? (Like a car, we run better on the right fuel.)
       Does it matter to God what we eat? Why? Why not? 

Introduce the session: “Today we’re going to think about why it matters what we eat and why eating right is a big part of taking care of ourselves.”

Optional Interactive Game: Ask people to form two teams. Give each team a Mr. Potato Head. Use the quizzes on the website “Bodimojo” as a source of questions. Ask questions first of one team and then the other. If a team answers a question correctly, the members of the team may add one piece to their Mr. Potato Head. The first team to complete the Mr. Potato Head wins.



Scripture: John 10:10; Matthew 22:36-40; 3 John 2

Invite the group to go a little deeper, exploring why the way we eat matters to God.

Have a volunteer look up and read aloud John 10:10. Point out that The Message translates the last part of the verse like this: “I came so they can have . . . more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Invite the group to discuss these questions:
       What does the scripture tell us about what matters to God? (God wants us to live life to the fullest. Iranaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” In other words, God is revealed, God shines, God is beaming with joy, when we are living fully.)
       What does living fully or abundantly mean?
       How well do we live if we don’t have energy or health?
       What robs us of life? What foods rob us of life?

Have another volunteer look up and read aloud Matthew 22:36–40. Ask:
       What does Jesus say? (The summary of God’s law is this: love God with your heart, mind, and body. Love your neighbor as yourself.)
       How can we love God with our bodies? (What do we do with our bodies that expresses our love for God? We help other people and use our gifts and talents. Do we love our bodies the way we love a sunset, the stars, or other parts of God’s creation? Do we treat our bodies well? Do we get enough sleep, wear sunscreen, stay hydrated? The food we put into our bodies is another way we love God with our bodies.)
       Loving God and loving neighbors is tied to loving ourselves. How is loving ourselves related to what we eat? (To love ourselves includes loving our bodies. Loving our bodies means taking care of our bodies. Taking care of our bodies means eating right. What we eat matters to God because we matter to God.)

Have a volunteer look up and read aloud 3 John 1:2. Explain that 3 John is a letter written to early Christians, encouraging them to live as followers of Jesus. Ask:
       What does John pray for? (Good health)
       What does he distinguish from good health? (Good health is different from a soul that is well.)
       Why is John’s prayer important? (It says that both the soul and the body matter to followers of Jesus. The soul may be well while the body is not well.)

Invite the group to brainstorm answers to the following question, and record their responses on a sheet of newsprint:
       If what we eat does matter to God, what can we do to care for ourselves, especially in relation to what we eat?



Ask each person to think of one way of eating or one new food they might try this week to better care for themselves.

Have available several handheld mirrors or a couple of full-length mirrors and some dry erase markers.

Invite group members to get comfortable and to close their eyes. Invite them to breathe deeply a few times. Encourage them to offer to God the way of eating they are going to try, and invite them to talk with God about how they can take better care of themselves. Allow several minutes of silence.

Then invite people to look in the mirror and to pray several times silently this prayer based on Psalm 139:14:
       “God, I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

After a time of silence, invite people to write on the mirror their response to being “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

[NOTE: If you do not have enough hand mirrors, ask people to wait quietly in turn, repeating the prayer silently, until a mirror is free.]

Conclude by praying aloud, asking God to help us love and care for ourselves as God does.



  • Spend some time considering the possibility that we can care too much about what we eat, which may lead to various eating disorders and means that we are no longer caring for ourselves.
  • Encourage group members to look at some of the websites listed in the “Plugged In” section. Invite them to plan a healthy meal to eat together. If possible, shop, cook, and eat the meal together around a table.
  • Make a list of what, other than food, is necessary for taking care of ourselves. Ask group members to consider how well they take care of themselves.
—from devozine In the Habit (May/June 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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