Taking the Next Step in Spiritual Growth (aka: Was the Apostle Paul a Hottie?)

I think I’m developing a little crush on the Apostle Paul.

(just kidding!)

But really, I am so grateful for Paul’s willingless to obey. His faith. His dedication to writing letters to other believers. I’m pretty positive if I was sitting in prison I’d be feeling sorry for myself rather than writing letters to encourage, call out, and build up the church.

Right now I’m reading Hebrews. Hebrews 10 and 11 were exactly what I needed to hear today. Paul wrote about the basics of what we need to be doing and how we should be living:

  • Drawing near to God
  • Holding unswervingly to Him
  • Encouraging other Christians toward love and good deeds
  • Putting my faith in action

I don’t know if Paul meant these to be sequential steps, but if so, I’m ready to take the next step. I’ve spent the past four years committed to reading through the Bible (almost) every day. I’ve read through the Bible three times and this year I’ve been doing a deep dive in the Gospels and Paul’s letters; but now I ready for more.

In addition to reading and studying the Bible and praying daily (Drawing near to God), I want to jump into the other three simultaneously:

Holding unswervingly to God: this is where I think practicing spiritual disciplines like solitude and silence, memorization and meditation, and fasting come into play. This article does a great job explaining how to incorporate these spiritual disciplines into our Christian walk.

Encouraging other Christians toward love and good deeds: Community and accountability. I long for this. Not just friends. But a small tribe of women who are on fire for Jesus. I’ve heard many times that people are the “average” of the five people they surround themselves with. I don’t know if this is true, but I want to find five women who are at a similar place I am spiritually – and ideally a few who are more spiritually mature – who will push me, encourage me, and hold me accountable. And even though I’m not old (mid-40’s is the new 30’s, right?), I want to find younger women who I can encourage and spur toward good deeds.

Putting my faith in action: I know my primary mission field: the three beautiful people who live in my house. I need to be working my mission field everyday. Secondarily, I also believe God is calling me to be active in encouraging other women to spend time with Jesus every day and to be active in loving and supporting women facing unplanned pregnancies. I know my purpose. I know what God is calling me to. Now is the time to step forward in faith and take action on living out my purpose.

It is time to put Paul’s instructions to the early church into practice and go deeper in my walk with Jesus, taking each step in submission and obedience to Him.

P.S. Paul, thanks for writing these letters. Don’t worry, I don’t really have a crush on you. That was a joke. But, I can’t wait to meet you someday.

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Tools for Setting and Reaching Goals

Goal Setting: Resolutions, Traction and Progress Planner

I’m doing a something a little different this year for my resolutions/goals. Last year, my husband, girls and I, wrote out our resolutions on big sheets of paper using a vision mapping method I’d seen online (Blog post here). I reviewed the 2017 goals over the weekend and actually did a pretty good job of accomplishing the majority of them.

But this year, I want to go even bigger.

Here are the tools I’m using for setting and reaching my short-term and long-term goals:

  1. Progress Planner: I did some research on planners and finally chose this one based on the price ($19.99 vs. some of the planners that were $50+), reviews and format. It isn’t based on a calendar-year but instead based on two, 90-day periods. Also, the main focus isn’t day-to-day calendar items, but what I need to do daily to accomlish one major goal in 90 days. Find it here on Amazon. I started using the Progress Planner on January 1. So far: liking it. I like the layout, instructions, and daily accountability. Image result for progress planner
  2. Traction: Several months ago I read Traction by Gino Wickman. One of my clients is implementing the Entrepreneurial Operating System outlined in the book. I’ve enjoyed watching their progress and seeing the success of the operating system. The website for EOS has free tools you can download. For my long-term and short-term goals, I used the EOS Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO). While this tool is mainly for business, I used it to focus on my personal Core Values, 10-Year Target, and 3-Year Picture. Traction/EOS works in 90-day time-frames, so fits perfectly with my Progress Planner. To determine my personal 10-Year Vision, I asked myself the following questions:
    • If I inherited $100 million today, what would I do with the rest of my life? What would I spend my time doing? How would I spend my days if money wasn’t an option?
    • If I found out I had one month left to live, how would I spend the next 30 days? What would be the most important things I’d want to accomplish?
    • What is my “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG)? Taken from the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, this is again more of a business concept, but can be used for personal life as well. The idea is to come up with a big, bold long-term goal that is action-oriented and excites me.
  1. CliftonStrengths Assessment or Gallup StrengthsFinder: I’ve taken my assessment before, but I pulled out the binder of my strengths and reviewed what I should be doing to optimize my strengths. If you haven’t taken your assessment, I recommend it. More info here. Also, if it is in your budget to hire a Strength Coach, I also recommend. I used a coach previously and it was very beneficial in helping me understand my strengths and how to use them to the best of my ability.

Armed with these tools, I headed to the coffee shop on New Year’s Eve afternoon for a three-hour planning session. Taking this time was important to get away from distractions and dream, pray, conceptualize, reflect, and let my imagination take charge.

One important step in the “Progress Planner” system is to set a 90-day goal and to tell others about it for accountability. My goal is focused on my blog: To write 28 meaningful blog posts in 90 days, mainly focused on what I’m learning in the Bible or how I’m learning to spend more time with Jesus. 

Over the next 90 days, I’ll keep you updated on my progress and how the “Progress Planner” journal is working. I’ll also keep you updated on how I’m doing on my goal of 28 meaningful posts by March 31. Feel free to keep me accountable and also share any goal-keeping tools you have found useful.

Thanks for reading and for your feedback!