Growing Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength in 2014

Yesterday I blogged on the topic of how to set goals, and how using the categories of Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength can be really helpful to that end.  Today I thought I’d share what I’ve landed on as my personal goals in these areas for 2014

I’ve never been good at confronting things (i.e. a situation or my own feelings).  It’s very hard for me to be genuinely honest with myself and others.  I tend to either minimize the issue, or try to solve it in my head in isolation.  The results are never good.  I just feel more lonely, more frustrated, and more disempowered.  There are all kinds of reasons why the idea of confronting issues head-on causes me to recoil into myself, but I want to learn to become more aware of when and why I do this, and adopt practices that will help me avoid avoiding.

I’ve been reading Mark Scandrette’s book “Free” over the past few days, and I really love his phrase “living with presence and purpose.”  Living with purpose has never been an issue for me.  But living with presence is another story.  I’m so “next steps” focused that I rarely feel grounded in God’s peace and power.  I “know” about God’s peace and power, but my desire to do more (often fueled by anxiety and fear that I’m not doing enough) robs me of a lot of joy and life.  I really want 2014 to be different in that regard.  I want to come to know in a deeper way what it means to rest in God’s grace and live with presence and purpose amid all of my competing demands.

To that end, there are a few spiritual disciplines that I’d like to focus on this year.  Specifically, I’m going to be experimenting with different practices in the areas of prayer, journaling, and Sabbath-keeping.  If I find any of them especially helpful I’ll post some details at a later date.

I need to read more books.  I’ve gotten out of the book reading habit and have developed an unhealthy attachment to articles, blog posts, and other quick-reads.  But I’m more and more convinced that there’s something uniquely formative about inhabiting an author’s head/heart space for a time.  I’m aiming to read 2-3 books a month; a commitment that will force me out of my habit of defaulting to internet articles and “bits and pieces” reading.

I’m also going to continue my modified Grant Horner reading plan.  I want to be saturated in the Word of God, and this plan helps me do that.  I rarely read the prescribed ten chapters per day.  Instead, I aim to read 5 chapters a day and therefore progress through the plan at half-speed.

While welcoming Avery Eden Strong into our family last June was an enormous blessing, I found the transition back into sleepless nights and inconsistent daily patterns a terrible one.  I ate poorly, was the most inactive I’ve been in a while, and was exhausted most of the time.  Most days I was just trying to keep it together, doing my best for the Grindstone community and trying to be a serviceable father and husband.  As 2014 begins, Avery has finally begun to sleep through the night, and it feels as though our family is settling into a better–although imperfect–rhythm.  I’m very excited to start taking care of myself and growing stronger through proper rest, proper eating, and proper exercise.  While I’m hoping to transition into more lofty fitness goals as 2014 unfolds, right now I’m very content to focus on eating well, sleeping well, and starting to exercise daily.  Although I’ve tended to try to storm out of the gate and bite off more than I can chew when it comes to personal health and fitness, I’ve also become comfortable with the realization that in order to build momentum in this area, I’m going to have to start slow and small, and let things develop in a way that is sustainable.




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