“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Then secondly, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31
Goal: To sculpt our heart, mind, and soul to better love God and neighbor.
Materials: Yourself, and instructions on this blog.
Time: Each sculpting project takes 10 or less minutes a day and is done for two weeks.
Projects are based on historic and current Christian practices and supported by research on well-being from the field of Positive Psychology.
Though short in time, when done on a daily basis, these projects are powerful in their sculpting ability.
Welcome to our Sculpting Group Project One Week 1: Three Things
About a year ago I was reading in the hammock that swings in the yard of our ranch up on the Plateau. I was half way through the book 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I remember thinking, “This is obviously a great idea, a no brainer, I should definitely start my own 1000 gifts list.” My first entries: 1. Wrinkles of white aspen bark. 2. Blue blue sky. 3. Wind blown trees that rock the hammock. I have been adding to my list on and off for the year and am at 269 as of today.
The gifts list is a variation of several practices I have read about and tried. It is a close kin to gratitude lists which have an excellent track record in psychology experiments (Robert Emmons, UC Davis). Spending a little time each day writing down what you are grateful for has been shown to have the following benefits:
Two week study: Higher levels of positive emotion (Joy, happiness, life satisfaction, enthusiasm, love.)
Ten week study: Higher levels of positive emotion Decreases in greed, envy, resentment Fights depression Better sleep Decreased pain More connected to others Exercised more More stress resilient
As Christians we can be leading the pack when it comes to thankfulness. Scripture is filled with admonitions to be thankful. And I have yet to count how many times ‘thanksgiving’ comes up in our Sunday Morning liturgy. The great thing about my 1000 gifts list is that is puts teeth into a good idea. Recognizing and being thankful for God’s gifts is a good idea, a no brainer. But how do I follow through and actually do it? My answer has been my gifts list.
The suggested sculpting project for these next two weeks is Three Things.
Each day find and write down three gifts from God. I found it very helpful to use the framework of 1000 Gifts and look for three things that I love. My gratitude lists sometime became things that I thought I should be grateful for (whether I felt deeply grateful or not.) ‘Things I love’ are things I naturally feel grateful for. And I found them much easier to think of. I love lemon bars so they can go on my list. They are not as deep a topic as God’s forgiveness, but they are genuinely appreciated so I list them. I have some deeper topics on my list too, but my list tends to be very ordinary loves. Bright starry nights, the smell of rain on dust, aspen leaves shimmering.
The second part of our project is to communicate with other members of our group. Supporting each other in our efforts to sculpt our hearts and minds will give all of us a helpful boost. Add your comments to this blog, post in out Facebook group, or talk to others about what you are doing.
As I was planning our project this week I was again on the hammock at the ranch. Our dog Wiggie was sleeping near me. Deep in thought I sensed that Wiggie had left and I heard some rustling in the grasses a few yards away. They seemed a bit loud for Wiggie so I sat up and saw a bear cub wandering through the yard. He saw me and kept wandering out of the yard. My first thought, “Where is mom?” I got up and moved to the porch as I continued to plan. I never saw mom. (Wiggie smartly had moved inside the house to sleep.) In Jesus, Cheri
First Sculpting Project: Three Things for Two Weeks
. . . every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. . . James 1:17
. . . whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, praise-worthy . . . think about these things. Phil 4:8 (condensed)
Summary: Each day find three things that you love (gifts from God) and write them down.