Books, Christian Blog, Encouragement, Friendships, Relationships

Steps to Growth in 2019

Today I was playing Flipper in my tub treating myself to a bubble bath (yeah, that image makes me laugh too). As I was reading and relaxing in the hot, sudsy water I was thinking about the 2018 year coming to an end, with 2019 hanging around the corner, ready to make its entrance in just a few short days. I started thinking about the traditional “New Year’s Resolutions” that is somehow the “to do” this time of year. When I think of the word “resolution,” I’m lead to look up the definition (because I am a word nerd): “solving a problem,” but it also means “a firm decision to do or not do something.” As my yellow rubber ducky and I were chatting (ok, I was talking to myself), I started thinking about my resolutions or “goals” for 2019.

The word “goal” describes what you want to “achieve in your life; separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant, or a distraction; motivating yourself; building self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals” (Thank you Google). This last statement, “based on successful achievement of goals” became one of those “Things that make you wanna go Hmmm.” One thing that immediately comes to my mind when I think of “goals” or “resolutions” are diet and exercise or organization. I noticed the retail world is onto this mindset too. I was just at Costco and noticed the treadmills and the big Rubbermaid storage containers right in front as you enter the store.

In the past I have given into the goal of eating healthier and starting an exercise routine. I have always had weight problems and have never been active. This resolution seemed to fizzle. I don’t really care for the word “successful” because when I don’t measure up or meet a goal, I often feel like a failure. I’m going about this “New Year’s Resolution” business rather differently this year. I am not focusing on diet and exercise, because I know me too well. Yes, those things are important and I will be making healthier choices but I am not going to put a 100% focus into it, because it can turn into an obsession, robbing me other beautiful things in life. I just got a little smirk in my soul as I thought of “motivation” or “distraction,” I believe they can go topsy turvy on us if you think about it.

As the bubbles were disappearing and my mind was wishing it had a notepad and pen (does anyone actually have these items near their bath tub? It wouldn’t be a bad idea), I decided to declare 2019 the year of “Steps to Growth.” You know the saying, “Three steps forward and two steps back”? People often think of this statement negatively, but there is still a step forward, right? I want to grow my brain and my heart today, in 2019, and for the rest of my life. I want to learn and challenge myself in ways other than walking on a treadmill or only cooking from a “Daniel Plan” or a “Whole 30” cookbook. There is nothing wrong with these things, and boy do I need them, but there are other ways to improve or grow in rather than our physicality. I can actually achieve these things through my goals for 2019, so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts or “Steps to Growth” with you.

Build Relationships

I love people. I do. I hug everyone, even the souls I have the privilege of meeting for the first time (you’re probably thinking, “Awkward”). Sorry, I like big hugs and I cannot lie. I love hearing people’s stories beyond the usual, “Are you married?” “How many kids do you have?” or the golden “What do you do?” questions. I would like to be more intentional with my friends and families. I want to know my children better. I want to be intentional in my marriage. This is what grows my heart. To the fullest. Yes, this can be challenging with everyone’s schedules, etc., but I will not let that be an obstacle for me.

Change is hard at first, messy in the middle,

and gorgeous at the end.

~Robin Sharma

I realized that my diet and exercise patterns can improve through relationships. I want to invite family and friends over to cook healthy meals together. I told my husband that I’d like to try a few new and healthy recipes each month in 2019. When the kids come over for family dinner, why not cook together? I look forward to the Spring when my tribe and I can go on more walks and hikes (I grew a love for that this year). Am I going to put a number to the activities and recipes? No. Because when I don’t stick to the “walk 3 days a week” or “cook 2 new recipes each week” I can set myself up for failure. I am looking at each new thing in a new and exciting way.

Grow Your Mind

Last year I learned about a “Reading Women Challenge” by @thereadingwomen on Instagram and I thought it was the coolest thing. This is a group of women reading 24 books in the year written by women, in different genres. I love to read and thought I read a variety of genres and authors, but when I came to this challenge, I was like “Oh, maybe not.” There is so much more to explore. I have committed to read the 24 books, on top of the normal books I would read personally or for study. This challenge will grow my mind in new and wonderful ways. Will it be hard? I am sure it will be, but I won’t be doing it alone, I’ll have a group of ladies doing it alongside me. If you’d like to join, you can visit The Reading Women. I’m so excited to learn from female authors of all ages, genres, and colors. This is also a thing I can do to grow my heart as well, as I get to know other women, even if it is done virtually or if some of you local friends would like to do it, join me!

Pay Down That Debt

I am challenging myself to pay down some debt. We are living comfortably and not necessarily “paycheck-to-paycheck” but we do have some debt including medical bills. I am challenging myself to be more mindful in my spending and would like to pay something on my credit card from each paycheck rather than the minimum monthly payment. This is a big challenge for me since I am a regular client in “Retail Therapy” and have the gift of shopping. Anyone else? And who says shopping isn’t a sport or exercise? I think they are wrong, Honey. Shopping requires you being on your feet and I get sweaty sometimes trying things on, how about you? Doesn’t that burn calories?

This will also be a little taxing for me in my #readingwomenchallenge because I have also made it a goal to use books from the library or borrow them if I have to. I have already renewed my library card so I can now be a proud card carrying member racking up those frequent flyer miles. I’ve already checked out my first two books and have the next two coming. I did buy two books at Target yesterday because the categories were “Book You Bought” and “Book You Bought Because of the Cover.” Of course I couldn’t use a book I already owned, right?

These are my three “Steps to Growth,” growing my heart as I build relationships, growing my mind through reaching, and paying down debt so I can build God’s Kingdom. Relationships can bloom by cooking a meal together, with laughing and dancing in the kitchen; going on a walk or hike together; or encouraging and holding each other accountable as we read some mind-blowing and challenging books to work out our brain cells. I can also serve my friends or family by having them over for a cup of coffee at my kitchen table instead of going to Starbucks or Dutch Bros (I may still come by and see you guys as a treat, don’t worry).

As I focus on paying down debt, I can save money by hosting my very own personal “Coffee Shop” in my home. I can gather some girlfriends to go for a walk or hike where we do nothing but talk while we are getting our walking game on. And it’s free! See, still getting exercise in without making it a main focus. I had another thought: “Does the library offer audio books?” Perhaps I can listen to a book while getting out in the fresh air walking around my neighborhood. I can grow my heart to the fullest by giving more with the money I save as I pay down my debt. What does God tell Abraham in Genesis 12:2 “…I will bless you and…you will be a blessing to others?” Yes, I will be blessed as I bless others. And you will too.

I encourage you as you think about your goals or what I like to call “Steps to Growth” for 2019, think of what you can integrate together. How can you grow or improve your mind, soul, and/or body? Consider what is important to you or the distractions that keep you from things that matter to you. As I think about the word success or a goal achieved, I don’t want my “Steps to Growth” to be only for 2019. These are life and heart changes that I want to make a part of my life, to make them part of who I am and who God created me to be. I don’t want to put a time stamp on them, hoping to meet a “goal” by this time next year. There will always be people in our lives to build relationships. There will always be books to read to expand our mind and to teach others what we have learned. There will always be medical bills or some bill to pay and if I find someday that I am debt-free, there will always be an opportunity for me to give toward God’s Kingdom because that work never ends, it’s for eternity.

Hugging you so tight,

Tammy