Monday, October 10, 2011


Well it has been one month since I began my 36-4-36 challenge.  What a month it has been, I didn't expected much to transpire this first month, but the past 30 days have been full of surprises, blessings and lessons learned. What follows are some progress highlights.

#1) Lose AT LEAST 36lbs: So far success! I have lost some weight - 13lbs since June 15th, not sure how much of that is since September 9th, but hoping I can far surpass the 36lb goal over the next 11 months.

#6) Read AT LEAST 12 books of which 6 are not Academic/TheologyI completed 3 books this first month.  "A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS" by Khaled Hosseini, this was my favourite of the 3 books, I actually finished reading it, through tears, sobbing as the story came to a close.  My favourite quote from the book was "A woman who will be like a rock in a riverbed, enduring without complaint, her grace not sullied but SHAPED, by the turbulence that washes over her." The second book I finished was "ROOM" by Emma Donoghue.  I started this one night before going to bed and finished it the next day.  It is a riveting story, told through the eyes and language of a 5 year old.  My favourite quote from this book, at least the one that caught my attention was "the little cards with numbers all over are called a lottery, idiots buy them hoping to get magicked into millionaires."  Finally I did read an academic book for my course called "UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE" by Dr. Larry Crabb.  I highlighted a lot of this book, too many good quotes to just share one. "Something is wrong when the message from a loving God to the people He created becomes more an academic treatise to be studied rather than a wonderful truth to be grasped and breathed." and "...the real culprit behind all non-organically caused human distress: a steadfast determination to remain independent of God and still make life work." Finally this quote "...They thereby avoid responsibility for facing the painful reality of confusion and helplessness...Facing wrong directions that are painful to realize and repenting of them is no longer at the exact centre of the change process. It is no longer minds that need renewal; it is rather some internal psychological condition for which we bear no responsibility (we are victims), which must be changed by a mystical operation of the spirit.  Active repentance is replaced by passive yielding "

#8) Give TV up for the year, plus a different thing for a month, each month: Giving up TV has been a remarkable thing.  It has allowed me to redeem the time and use it for more productive endeavours.  I am more inclined to remain visiting a little longer, go out and do something active, or simply read a good book. I gave up playing Settler's online for the month of October, again just another thing to distract me from more important things.

#9) Write & Mail a personal note of encouragement a dayIn the last 30 days, I have mailed 38 notes of Encouragement.  I was so touched when one of the recipients came to my home to tell me how it had arrived at the most perfect time, and touched her heart so deeply, that she cried for an hour!  God is so good, to place a person on my heart, and to provide me the words to share so that their hearts may be encouraged.

#10) Do a 3 day fast once a month: Completed and Lesson Learned.  Perhaps it was not so much a lesson learned, as a point driven home.  I have fasted in the past, in fact years ago I did a 40 day fast, where I drank only pure fruit juice and water. Some might think, wow what discipline, what spiritual fervour - if this is you - save your kudos.  In the interest of authenticity, that fast was a failure.  Sure I did not eat, and in fact I found it quite easy to not eat.  I never found myself consumed with thoughts of food.  After those 40 days I realized I had simply, though perhaps unconsciously, replaced eating with more work and more doing.  I kept my mind occupied, I was doing twice as much, going twice as fast. At the end of the fast, I wondered why I did not feel any different, why it seemed to have so little impact.  I knew better however, and I realized that the whole Fast was spiritually pointless, because I actually didn't consciously and consistently take the time to focus on God. While I never found myself consumed with thoughts of food, I also rarely found myself consumed with thoughts of God.  Not all my fasts have been such a dismal failure, but that one certainly was, and I was the only one to blame.  So this year, as part of my 36-4-36 challenge, I was committed to fasting properly, more consistently! Giving up food would not be as much of a challenge as giving up doing!  But I did - for 3 days my schedule and the menu was cleared. The difference was astonishing!  I was hungry, hungry for food and hungry for more of God.  My thoughts at the beginning were consumed with food, wanting to end the stomach pain that felt like someone was scraping the inside of my belly with a metal spoon, as if it were a pumpkin being removed of it's innards. It was a pain I never felt during my 40 days of not eating, but now felt after only 1 day of fasting and simply being.  As the days progressed, more and more my thoughts were consumed with God, with prayer, with being in His word. Did I have any mystical revelations, visions or experiences? NO, not to say that it couldn't happen. What I did experience was a phenomenal opportunity to focus more on God, to shift my attention away  from the things of this world that often consume me and place them on the only one that should.  Fasting in this way, has and will continue to serve as a disciplined way for me to develop a deeper understanding and closer walk with God.  That being said, over the next few months, as I continue the 3 day fasts, I will be seeking clear direction, and clarity of God's will, in a decision that I am struggling with.  Should I come to your mind, please feel free to pray for me with regards to this.  The lesson learned, the one I knew in my head, but hadn't adequately applied to my life is "If you wanna go fast, you gotta slow down."

#13) Memorize an entire chapter of the Bible: I decided on Proverbs 3, reasoning that I would do well to memorize it's sage advice, recall the encouragement, share the truth, and live the principals. I have memorized thus far verses  1-4.  I realize it is not a lot, but I am pacing myself so it is well hidden in my heart.

#16) Finish at least 6 required courses: I've submitted assignment 1 of 5 for my PSY277 course with Briercrest Univeristy,

#19) Invite 1 new and different person to church a month: I have done just this, and to my surprise each person has said yes.  More than this, one young woman that I met at the gym has been coming out to our church as well our young adults program for almost a month now and has even gone so far as to have her picture taken for our church directory.  I was telling my new friend Maria (see previous post) about our churches community dinner and movie night, and she said she would love to go. I then decided to invite her to a Sunday morning service, at which she excitedly agreed to attend, and also asked if she could take part in the Sunday morning Discipleship class I teach, explaining that she would like to get involved in a bible study as she has never made bible reading and bible study a priority and would like to pursue that more.

#27) Recycle: Everything was sorted into boxes in my storage closet/now a recycling room. I am not sure I got it all right, but I only had one little shopping bag of garbage at the end of the month, the rest was all recyclable.

#28) Volunteer at least twice a month: Started going back to Martha's Table, serving the homeless and transient of Kingston, food and love.  I love this ministry, such a privilege to be a part of it.

#31) Go to the gym at least twice a week for the year: So far so good, spin class and Kickboxing have been my go to classes.  However Spin Classes have been cancelled the last couple weeks, so I have taken it upon myself to climb the stairs in my building - 20 flights 160 stairs with 3.5 additional pounds in each hand.  The first time I ascended and descended the 20 flights twice, for 320 stairs up and 320 down. This past week I did it 3 times for 480 stairs in each direction.  Let me just share, that if you have flights of stairs, you do not need a gym membership, it was a grueling regime.  I have also begun walking each week with my friend.  First week we did 5km, this past week we did 7.5km.  I am looking forward to our upcoming weekend of hiking, as the trees create a cornucopia of colour.

#33) Do something just for me every two weeks: You wouldn't think this one would be hard for me, but it is.  I was delighted to receive a record player, something I had been trying to acquire for a few months now, so as a treat I took an hour or so, and went down to value village and picked me out some sweet vinyl.

Another delightful consequence of initiating my 36-4-36 list, is that others have contacted me, saying that they were encouraged to create their own lists, and have shared with me their challenges for the year!  What are you up to this year?  Consider joining us - maybe I will start a FB group where we can all encourage and support one another, share ideas, success stories, and challenges.

I remain so excited for what is going to unfold this year as a result of undertaking this challenge. For the ways that I am going to be stretched and grow closer to God, the ways I am going to be blessed, and hopefully be a blessing to others.

1 comment:

  1. I teach clients about maknig SMART goals... your goals are SMART goals in a lot of ways:
    It's remarkable your list of to-do's for this next year. If you are anything like me, don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get to all of them or if you need to modify some of them as you go. Don't miss out on regular, every day life in the midst of the goals (like I can do at times). Have fun!