Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making Space

  This month was awesome. Get rid of 7 things a day…..which basically meant getting to a total of 210 items by the end of April. In previous months I gave up something that I fully intended to get back when the month was over, but this month I was giving things away forever. 

Giving stuff away can be hard…..especially for the sentimental strong attacher like me. But when I was getting rid of things I began to see the reality of what I’ve been saying about being rich. I have so. much. stuff. For example, I went through my closet and tried to get rid of clothes I hadn’t worn at all for the past year. (I have this system of putting all my clothes in my closet with the hangers backwards, then as I wear things and hang them back up I return them to the closet facing the normal way.  After a season I’m supposed to get rid of what I haven’t worn.) So I started there and got rid of things I hadn’t worn or things I just didn’t really like all that much. It ended up totally about 40 items in my giveaway pile. Yikes! I had a long way to go! 

So then I went BACK through the same closet and told myself, this time I was serious…my rule was I was not allowed to keep anything if I said “Well, I might wear that,” or “I wore this once last year.” I mean seriously…..do I need to keep clothes I wear once a year?? That’s outrageous. And after wearing 7 articles of clothing for a month and no one noticing, I don’t need a shirt for every day of the year. I tend to be drawn to my favorite things over and over again because they are my favorite to wear anyways. I also chose to keep only clothes that I felt great in. I figured its better to have a smaller selection of clothes I love and feel great when I wear them, than a stuffed closet with some clothes that just look ok on me or are uncomfortable. And to be honest, after the clothes portion of my purging, I still have 81 shirts hanging in my closet. That’s not including dresses or the clothes in my dressers. Obviously I had an abundance that I didn’t need. I feel like this month became less of me giving things up, and more of cutting out unneeded excess. 
The rest of the month as I went through my things and chose what to give away, there were times when I would feel the heart clench of….buuuuut……what if I need that? Or, I’m just not sure i can give that up…….I reminded myself of what the Bible says about the things of this world. In one of Jesus’ most famous sermons He says,

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭19-21‬ Message)

I think about how Jesus lived His life; He is after all, my example. He did not own a house, or have a permanent place of residence.  My friend Lindsay and I were talking and she had been thinking about how Jesus probably had one tunic. One! Instead, His life was filled with people and purpose. He was all about doing the will of His Father and communicating His gospel message with the world. 

Now don’t worry, my goal is not to become a hippie girl who shows up on your doorstep wearing the one dress I own and ask if I can sleep on your back porch…..as Lindsay says “We’re shooting for normal here.” But I do want to have the same mindset as Jesus. To see the things of this word as what they truly are: temporary. To become a person who is generous. A person who does not hoard things and fill every nook and cranny of her house. A person who is about loving Jesus and loving people. A person who is about experiencing the gospel and carrying its message to others. 

And the best part of this month?? SPACE!! Seriously. When I began to get rid of things, I was amazed at how many less things I had to pick up off my floor. Everything had a spot! No more shoving shirts in drawers and cramming them shut. No more piling shoes on top of each other in the bottom of my closet. And guess what…..it feels great! 

I imagine that’s how our lives can be as well. Are we too full with the things of this world that we don’t have space to hear from and spend time with Jesus? Are our hearts so full of our own agendas that we rarely ever give thought to the One who created and loves us immeasurably?  I suppose I’ll process that more in June for my month of rest. 🙂 For now, here are some practical take aways…..or shall I say, challenges for you…..read at your own risk of feeling conviction….

1. Give away 210 (or 217) items in a month!

2. Choose the smaller space if applicable! For example, if you’re moving into a house/apartment with several people, choose the smallest room. A smaller space can help you keep minimal things. 

3. Try the hanger challenge for a season! (👆 see above for explanation) 

4. Count how many things you have hanging in your closet. And be changed. 

5. Read this cool mom’s blog about completely getting rid of her wardrobe. And starting fresh with 37…..yes 37 articles of clothing. See what she did!! So cool! Dallas City Mom’s Blog

6. If you’re friends with me, or even just in general, try buying consumable gifts. I love getting flowers, pretty blank cards, gift cards, great smelling soap, and other creative consumables. One, because they are fun, and two, because they will be used up!

7. Pray that God will give you a generous heart…..and then be ready to give something you might love and cherish away……sounds terrible you say?? The cool part is you get to know the heart of Jesus in a completely new way. 🙂
If you feel the Lord convicting your heart to take up one of these challenges, I’d love to hear from you!

For now…I’m off…..probably on my bike. 🚲 …but I’ll save those thoughts for next month. 😉☺️😊

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Quiet

Well, I started this month off really spiritual, telling God, “I’m sick of giving things up.” Yep. Let’s be honest. I was beginning month 3 of 7, and felt like this would be one of the “easier” months….coming off of fasting from excessive food and clothes….but when it really came down to it, I still had to give something up. And I just wasn’t that excited about it. It’s not in our human nature to want to give things up. And so this month again felt very much like practicing the very thing I want to get better at, but I have to choose with my will to do: denying self, in order to experience more of Jesus. 

This month, that meant giving up music. I was amazed at how long it took before my hand didn’t automatically reach to turn on the radio in my car. It’s so engrained in me. I think we don’t realize how many habits we have until we try to change them. 

Practically speaking it was a month that was much quieter than usual. I noticed the silence mostly in the car and when I was doing my hair. I tried to be intentional about replacing the quiet with prayer…which proved to be more difficult than expected. I listened to some podcasts on prayer that were very insightful. Sometimes it was nice to just be quiet and give my busy life a rest…..although my mind is always going so that can be difficult for me as well.  

I realized how much music helps me connect to God, especially in an emotional way. I really did look forward to times of worship at church and small group, but I missed the intimate times with God where I was alone in my room listening to songs and opening up my heart to Him. I am more thankful now for the gift of music; a beautiful art God has given us to experience Him in a unique way….not to mention how good it feels to drive with the windows down, music blaring, singing at the top of my lungs. ☺️

I wanted to have an epiphany to share. I wanted to hear from God this month, and have a crazy story about what He said to me. But sometimes it’s just about the every day; day to day moments, living life with Him. Right now I’m at a place in my life where I feel so close to Him, surrendered, and free.  Whether that’s from coming off a month of practicing quiet, coming off an Easter weekend where I’ve meditated on the cross, or just a result of where He has brought me and what He’s doing, I don’t know. But I’ll receive it. And quietly wait to hear more of His voice. 

They’re Just Not That Into You…



After a month wearing the same dress every day, with 7 accessory articles of clothing, this is what I’ve discovered: people just aren’t that into me. ☺️ 

I wore the same dull gray dress for 28 days straight, and not one person, who wasn’t already aware of this month’s fast, noticed. And even some people who knew about one dress February, forgot until it came up in conversation! I think as a woman especially, I spend a lot of time each day deciding how to adorn myself with just the right outfit and accessories, because I think the whole world is walking around thinking about me, or at least noticing what I look like when I breeze past them. There are times when I become obsessed with how others are viewing me. That obsession, combined with comparison, produces my self conscientiousness.

 After a month of one dress, it’s almost laughable that I would let how others view me, control the way I view myself. We humans are plagued with the sin of thinking more about ourselves then anyone else. And then we let our minds become contorted and distracted by that sin and self consciousness is birthed. One dress February is breaking me free from self consciousness and the traps that come with it. A friend once told me “I want to wake up each morning, and dress for me.” And that’s what I will be embracing too. Within appropriate reason and modesty of course, I will choose my outfit based on what I would like to wear, not what I think others would like me to wear. 

Aside from those realizations, it got me thinking….if people aren’t that concerned with what I’m wearing, is it necessary for me to have this many clothes? How much money do I spend on clothes that I don’t truly need? Don’t get me wrong, I still looooooove clothes. I love how choosing an outfit each day is like making a piece of art. It’s a way to express creativity and to feel outwardly beautiful as I pull on a pair of jeans that make me feel confident. But what I’m talking about is the fact that I have an exorbitant amount of clothes hanging in my closet. 128 articles to be precise. And that’s not including my piles of shoes, boxes of accessories, two baskets full of laundry, and 3, yes I said 3 dressers brimming with more clothes, or the bins I keep in the basement with my spring/summer clothes!

I. Am. Rich. 

And then it gets me is thinking about my kiddo Albert who lives in Mukono Africa who maybe has two or three changes of clothes….the homeless who I have no idea how, survived this bitter cold winter. There are many many people who has significantly less that I do, and yet I li my “American Dream,” lifestyle of comfort. 

So right now I ask myself, what do I do with all this? Do I feel God calling me to sell everything I have and live a homeless lifestyle? No. But how could this heart change I’m experiencing, change the lifestyle I do live? What if I bought one less shirt a month and used the money for something that matters eternally, like sponsoring a second child in Mukono? What if I went through my clothes and shoes and pulled out some of the nice things (I don’t want to just give the poor my junk) and gave them to someone who actually needed them for more than just “another cute outfit?” Good thing April is just around the corner…….☺️

I think small changes can make a big difference. And that’s what I intend to do. God has started with my heart, and He is working His way to my actions and choices. What if when Jesus called us to die to ourselves, He really meant it? What if He really wants us to live a life where we give, not only our things, but our lives away? And not just for the sake of giving life away, but to invest in the work of Jesus; work that makes an eternal difference. Could something as small as one less shirt a month do just that?

A journey of less, in order to experience more of Jesus. Join me?

What is hungry?

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Well…it was harder than I thought it would be. When I committed to eating 7 foods for the month of January, I thought maybe by the end of the month it would be really hard and I would start to really get sick of my seven foods. But it ended up being quite the opposite. When reality hit, the first few days were so hard. I made several discoveries….

First, I hate plain food. Hate it. I hardly ever eat food that has no sauce or seasoning in it. So although I had thought I could be creative and mix and match my 7 foods, at the end of the day……..I was still eating the same 7 foods. And they don’t taste very different when they are plain. I tried being creative with the way I cooked things, but ended up having some pretty bad stomach problems. Blaahhhh.

So after about a week and a half I got into a routine and ate the same thing for breakfast (eggs with rice mixed in), lunch (cold chicken, apples, and almonds), and dinner (chicken, rice, and tomato bowl with a side of green beans). This worked for me because by the time I got to dinner each night, it had been 24 hours since I’d eaten tomatoes so I was excited about tomatoes again….that is, as excited as you can be when you’re eating the same 7 foods for a month.

I experienced something those first few days that came as a shock to me. I had never only viewed eating as a way to be satisfied, not to be entertained. Truly, I was never excited about what I was eating, but rather I ate because I was hungry. I texted the council at that point and asked

Me: Do you think children who are starving even have taste preferences? Like do they even like or dislike foods? Or are they just hungry?

Lindsay: I think they’re just hungry.

That’s so sad. I’ve never experienced eating for this purpose only. And yet, there are children all over the world who experience this every day of their lives, and may not even get to satisfy their hunger the way I did every day. And here I am, I get to see food as a form of entertainment for my taste buds. I didn’t realize how many times a day I get to make a choice. I am able to choose what I want an incredibly large number of times a day, simply in the food choices I make. And I don’t notice it. Until I give up that “right” or should I say, privilege.

I had borrowed the Hunger Games movies from a friend and frequently watched them the past couple months. I think they’re ingenious. It’s a futuristic movie where 12 districts of people are starving, and then there’s the Capital, which houses wealthy people who have outrageous luxuries. The districts apart from the capital have to send two tributes from their district to an “arena” to fight to the death while the world, and especially the people from the Capital, watch on television. Sort of like Gladiator meets reality TV game shows.

As my roommate and I were watching one day, we got to a scene where the two tributes from one of the poorest districts are forced to go to a party at the Capital. They meet people from the Capital who offer them tons and tons of food and drink. At one point the tribute says “I couldn’t eat another bite.” To which a Capital resident hands him a drink and says it will make him throw up so he can go on eating. He later says to the other tribute, “People are starving in 12 and here they’re just throwing it up to fit more in.” My roommate looks and me and said something profound…

“Do you think that’s how the rest of the world views the United States?”

Wow. I couldn’t argue with her. I don’t know how other countries view us, but I wouldn’t doubt that we seem that way. When I watch The Hunger Games I am so judgmental of the people from the Capital. Then I dump out water on a daily basis because I poured too much in my cup, while there are communities dying because they don’t have fresh water. I throw away food because I’m full or don’t like the way something turned out, and there are children eating scraps out of dumpsters they’re so hungry.

And it’s not just in other countries…it’s here too. In my country, in my neighborhood. This month I was reminded of a commercial I saw years ago that broke my heart. It showed a mom taking a bunch of ketchup packets from a fast food restaurant, and then putting it all in a pot, adding water, and cooking it over the stove to make tomato soup. When she tried to feed it to her kids, they were so sad and didn’t like it…but they was all she had to give them.

And I struggled to be thankful and satisfied with seven foods to eat each day. Extremely humbling.

And then there’s the other aspect….it’s so easy to feel convicted about something, create this extravagant plan, post it on your blog, and get ready to start these big commitments….then you begin……..and then it gets hard. Really hard. And everyone around you is eating catered Piada for your teacher in-service, or cupcakes for helping your friend move, or you walk into someone’s house that smells like garlic and roasted onions…..and all you want to do is throw away your almonds and apples and eat a big piece of lasagna.

I was definitely reminded of how hard it can be to stick to a commitment. I can feel very convicted about something, but then when it comes down to actually doing it, it’s hard. When it comes to denying myself of the “rights” I think I have or deserve, it’s challenging.

It’s extremely hard to break away from a life of entitlement.

I thank God for awesome friends who cook seven foods for me and find creative things like rice cakes, and dried green beans and gift to me. I thank God for encouraging texts from my council of girls, and for an understanding family who let me eat at home instead of spending time with them at a restaurant watching them eat food I’m not allowed to have.

And most of all, I’m thankful for grace. God gives me so much grace as I struggle with feelings of entitlement on a moment by moment basis.

Lord, continue to open my eyes to see life in all its reality. Empty me of my selfishness and pride. Make me aware of how many millions of moments I should be walking in thankfulness. And grant me opportunities to be generous with the bounty you’ve given me.

7 Amendment!!!

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Day 1 and I panicked. I discovered that as wonderful as I think guacamole is, however good a dish mixed with avocado is, and however much my mind wants to love avocado, I don’t like it plain. Hate it in fact. And whether my queasiness that day was due to the chocolate withdrawal or eating plain avocado, I will never know. But I panicked.

“I can only eat 7 foods and found out I don’t like one of them???” ($#!&)

I texted the council to let them know of my recent discovery, honestly not going to ask to switch foods,no just had to tell them so I could wallow in self pity. I got this response…

Tracie: Day 1- I’m willing to let you change to a different food so you can survive the month.

Lindsay: I agree. Change the food. Avocados are so bad. (Sorry Tray Bay)

Angie: Total permission. Avocados are like eating baby poop.

Lindsay: Fact.

Tracie: What?! I eat them with a spoon. So good.

Erin: I like avocados but only in combination with other things. And based on my experience yesterday, baby poop smells a lot worse than avocados. 🙂

I love my friends.

Erin: What is the new replacement item going to be? I vote for cheese.

Tracie: Almonds for everyone! (One of her 7 foods is almonds)

Lindsay: cheese baby!!!!!

Ha. Couldn’t live without them.

So what is my pick? After one meal I officially changed my food item choice of avocado to almonds. Reasoning? I need something else to eat on the go. And a different texture. Or my teeth will forget how to chew something crunchy.

So long avocados!! Neither my tastebuds, nor my stomach, will miss you. Maybe I will continue to try and like you when I’m not eating plain 7 foods.

Lindsay: Who picks a nut over cheese??
😉

7-Coming January 2015

As I mentioned in my last post, this coming year I will embark on my own journey of a “7” version fast. I feel that I have a responsibility to respond to the challenge that comes with having my eyes opened to reality. The weight of my abundance and irresponsibility when it comes to living frivolously presses on my inner being.

My heart also desperately wants more of Jesus, for He is my life. And I desire to know Him and His way of living more and more. I believe a fast of this kind will prepare room for Him to move in and through me as well as discipline my mind to focus on Him in a moment by moment way.

As I was reading the book I sensed God speaking to me about specific areas to reduce and challenge my comfortable life. I accept those challenges and anticipate a movement that is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

If a girl’s gonna do something this crazy, she’s gonna need her support people! So much like Jen Hatmaker, meet my council:

Angie-kindergarten teacher, mission minded friend who will be getting married this summer and moving to Costa Rica to be a missionary. Talk about crazy sacrifice! She has lots of personality, a merciful heart and is not afraid to speak her mind.

Tracie-dietician, has championed a gluten free AND vegetarian diet over the past several years, very thoughtful and selfless friend who actually introduced me to 7.

Lindsay-my young hip mom friend who has wisdom beyond her years. She’s an avid reader and challenges me in so many ways. She is constantly reminding me with the way she lives her life that we have so much to be thankful for and we serve a good God.

Erin-a new mom with a tender heart who shows love by feeding and being with people. I couldn’t imagine this journey without her as she has walked with me and been accountability in life for 3 and a half years now.

Each of these women are crafting their own fasts coming in 2015 as well. Maybe we can hear some of their thoughts along the way!

And now for the months…

January-food
7 foods. This may be the craziest thing I’ve ever taken on. Council member and dietician Tracie (who is also taking on this month’s 7 foods challenge) has approved and assured me in eating only the following foods for a month, I will not die…
Chicken
Eggs
Brown rice
Tomatoes
Green beans
Avocado
Apples

As far as drinks-water and milk.
Cooking/seasoning-salt, pepper, oil or butter in moderation.

I’m already thinking about what I will eat December 31 which I’m affectionately calling The Last Supper.

February-Clothes
I really loves clothes. A lot. I also love when people notice what I wear if I’ve taken the time to be creative in putting something together. It’s like creating a masterpiece each day. Now I’m hoping everyone will forget all about what I’m wearing and notice nothing for a month. Ha.

I will wear one dress for a month. With seven “articles” to go with it. Two pair of shoes and two pair of tights each count as one. Exceptions include gym clothes when going to the gym. Maybe that will be the motivation I need to get there! 😉

March-Quiet
Month 3 will consist of a music fast. With an intentional focus on replacing time I spend listening to music with prayer. I already know a silent car will be tough. Obviously worship music at church is still ok, as well as going places where music is played in the background. But pandora, the radio, and intentionally playing music are out.

April-Stuff
Get rid of 7 things every day. I do not want to hold on to things of this world. I do not want to live a cluttered life. The discipline of purging stuff will be practiced this month with intentionally looking for people in need of my “stuff” who could be blessed by it.

May-Car
Ok people. This one terrifies me. But I will be biking to work for a month. I’m only probably a mile away from work, but in the morning it will be uphill the entire way. Yuck. Because I’m terrified of oversleeping, an exception would be catching a ride with my roommate in case of an emergency. I’m already feeling tired thinking about this month…

June-Rest
The month right after an exhausting year of school makes rest a very appropriate focus for this month. I will plan each week to have one day where I do not leave the house. (Unless it’s a week when I’m doing a workshop for work or something. Then I will come home right after work and stay home the rest of the evening.) I’m a go go go person and have recently been reminded of how healthy it is to slow down.

July-Green
This is my green month. It’s still in the early developmental stages but the purpose is to look for intentional ways to “go green.” Some ideas I have are: continue with my bike when I can, recycle, grow my own herbs instead of buying them, possibly buy all produce from a local farmers market.

Phew. What a journey this will be. I’m excited. I’m terrified. But coming 2015…my own version of 7 will commence.

Our church learned a new song this Christmas season by Sovereign Grace called “Prepare Him Room.” (Click for song) I feel like it fits well going into this fasting season. I want to prepare room in my heart for the Lord to move.

Lord, have Your way in me.

Overflowing–Meets–Intentional Reduction

My life is full of stuff.  FULL.  Overflowing.  I have a bedroom busting with things, my clothes barely fit in my closet and drawers…actually I will tell on myself and admit that I have several bins designated as the “switch out bins” for when I switch my summer and winter clothes because not all of my clothes fit in my closet and….yes….three dressers.  Right next to my clothes bins are several other bins with…who knows what….just “stuff.”  I secretly think my roommates must take my name in vain every time they go to do their laundry in our basement and have to maneuver around all my storage.  Love them.  They put up with me and all my stuff.

I also live an extremely comfortable life.  I eat what I want, when I want to, and if I’m not eating what I want, it’s because I’m too lazy to go get what I want!  Because I have the luxury of being lazy.  And I have a car that will take me wherever I want to go.  I have the world at my fingertips with my iPhone…no matter how slow or cracked it may be…..ha.  🙂  My mind is filled with noise….never a dull moment as I listen to pandora, i-tunes, the radio, CD’s…yes I’m still a CD user sometimes.  I run, run, run, and do as many fun things as I can pack into every moment of every day of my life.  I am currently sitting on my comfortable couch, listening to the wind howling outside my door, wrapped in a warm blanket, fresh from a hot shower, reading a great book.

Enter Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess.

Talk about eye opening.  I mentioned in my last post how I was shocked to learn that not only am I rich, but based on my annual salary, I’m in the top 4% of the wealthiest people in the world.  That number often sticks in the front of my mind these days.  In fact just today I was explaining this recent discovery to my fifth grade students who seemed just as shocked as I was.

Jen became overwhelmed by the excess of stuff and what it does to us.  How it shapes us and makes us more self-centered and entitled than we already are.  How it feeds so many of our sin areas and does not create in us a heart like Jesus.

So she began her adventure of Seven.  The basic idea is a seven month fast with a different theme every month.  Each month focusing on an area that she felt the Lord moving in her heart to purge, give, remove, simplify, reduce.  Jen says,

I’m embarking on a journey of less.  It’s time to purge the junk and pare down to whatever is necessary, what is noble.  7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal:  to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.

I love that.  As soon as I started reading it…I knew I had to participate.  I must take action when I’m learning something.  (Yes I was that kid in school who always shot my hand up to be the volunteer.)  I need to do things.  Experience them.

And I’ve felt the Lord walking me in this direction for awhile now.  If you’ve been with me over the past year there have been many lessons learned……My eyes have been opening to blessings, spiritual and physical.  My heart has been challenged to practice thankfulness in order to find true, deep, joy…challenged to obedience and submitting my whole self to Jesus and what He wants from me….deepened my vision of loss as true gain in order to share with Christ and experience all that He chose to let go of…learned how to fall at the feet of Jesus in utter and desperate need of Him.

All that to say…I will be embarking on my own journey.  I am currently creating my own fast similar to Jen’s.  She defines a fast as

an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in my life.  A fast creates margin for God to move.  Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center.  A fast is not necessarily something we offer to God, but it assists us in offering ourselves.

I need help in offering myself.

So…how do I feel about the fast?  (more to come on details….will begin in January!)

I’m terrified.  Scared.  Think that I’m probably as crazy as Jen Hatmaker.  And I think the only reason I will make it through some of these months is pure stubbornness….and the grace of God.

I’m excited.  Stoked actually.  I love a challenge…competitive in nature.  I love the idea of simplicity and the purging of junk. I am excited because I know God will move.  I know He will do more than I could ever imagine.  I need Him to teach me more.  I’m hungry for Him.  If this physical exercise will help me become more aware of my blessing and more aware of my need for Him…then so be it.  Bring it on.