Archives For Generosity

Month one, the clothing fast has now come to a close. I can’t believe how quickly it came and went. I’m looking back on those four weeks at all that God taught me and I am thankful. I honestly wasn’t really sure just how much I was going to get out of a clothing fast. I thought that I would only be revealed that I have more than I need. While this was definitely a point that was brought to my attention He didn’t stop there. I learned a lot about myself and I was reminded of points that I had allowed myself to forget. Here are a few things that I learned during my clothing fast.

  1. Tic-Toc Goes the Clock. I did not realize until this fast that I spend WAY too much time deciding what I want to wear. I will stand in my closet just staring at my clothes (confession, sometimes I get tired and I sit on the closet floor). My problem is that I over think it– I might get cold in this… I just wore that last week… that shirt just isn’t that comfortable… and on it goes. During the fast you know what I did? I got up, grabbed one of my seven designated clothing items and BAM! That was that! No fuss, no wasting time, just quick and to the point.   

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    My closet overwhelmed me the first day after this fast!

  2. Cha-Ching. Many items in my closet have been passed on to me, but not all. The point that came to me is just how much money I wasted. Think about it, I am sure that I am not the only one who has multiple pairs of jeans, several cardigans and numerous pairs of shoes. Every item has a price tag. Some might have been on sale… maybe $5 and others more pricey. No matter how you look at it, every item in my closet was money out of my pocket. (This isn’t to say that new items can’t ever be purchased, just put a little thought into it and make sure it is an item that will be used many times and the money would be worth spending.)
  3. The What If’s. I have countless items that I have not worn for at least a year just hanging there, taking up space and getting rejected every morning  Why do I keep these items that I know I have NOT worn and probably will NOT wear? I admit I tend to hold on to it because maybe, just maybe I will wake up one day and want to wear it… it’s the clothing “what ifs” that lurk in my closet! I’ve decided that if it has been at least a year and the clothing has gone unworn then it is time to part our ways.. no more what ifs!
  4. Dress to Impress. When I find myself having trouble picking out something to wear I realized, am I dressing to impress…. myself or everyone else? Does it really matter what other people think of my outfit? No, all that matters is what I think of myself and if I put together an outfit that reflects my style and personality then that is what is important.
  5. Use and Reuse. Confession: I re-wear my jeans a couple of times before I wash them. Yikes, I said that out-loud! I did this even before the fast. But it never occurred to me that this was remotely possible for shirts/cardigans. Apparently it is. Does anyone notice? Nope. Now obviously clothing does get dirty and smelly, but unless that is the case people have no idea. I’ll be honest, I do not intend on continuing this with my shirts now that the fast is over, but I definitely learned that this was possible and the world won’t end.
  6. Just a little Stain. I’m messy! I learned this about myself early in life but it was definitely amplified during this month when I continued to spill food on my very limited wardrobe. I think it is time for me to face the facts and make a conscious effort to be more careful when I eat.
  7. Take Notice. I think it is human nature for us to think that other people think about us more than what is actually true. The fact of the matter is that people think about me and my wardrobe far less than I would tell myself is the case… like when I am picking out clothing for the day and I tell myself that I just wore that last week, the truth is i am probably the only one who will remember that! And honestly if people do notice your clothing it’s not very often someone is going to tell you that you just wore that item… no one said that to me and I had bright, pretty obvious shirts that I continued to repeat.
  8. Less IS More. I survived an entire month on seven articles of clothing and you know what I realized? The world continues, nothing fell apart, and I am satisfied with far less than what I have. The closet full of clothing is a blessing that I do not take lightly anymore, but I can live on a fraction of what is in that closet and be satisfied.
  9. Give More. With this new realization that I can have a wardrobe made up of far less than what I actually have and the numerous items going unused in my closet I want to give away these items more often. Why hoard my clothing for the what ifs? Instead give them to someone who needs them more than I do. I am also finding myself wanting to simply reduce my wardrobe to find a more simple closet not filled with excess. This closet will be purged!
  10. Carry on Luggage. We went on vacation during this fast and you know what I figured out? I always OVER pack! There is simply no reason for me to bring as much stuff as I usually do. Toss a few items in a bag and be done with it! Hand washing an item in a hotel sink if it gets dirty is not the worst thing and it certainly will not ruin the vacation. Less luggage is very freeing on a trip!

Month one has come to a close and now it’s time to begin the next fast of this journey. Month two- the stress fast, spending seven times a day in prayer and reflection to focus less on stress. This begins on Monday!

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” Burton Hillis

So many people are stressing about Christmas. What gifts to buy, budgets and will it be enough? I too have been a part of the group stressing about Christmas and budgets. But why? Does it honestly matter if I spend a lot of money on a gift or take the time to make something from scratch? Don’t they both say that I love the person it is going to and spent time thinking about something unique to give them? I’m sure I am not the only one to believe that Christmas has become commercialized and that retailers have made it into a great way for people to spend more than they usually would or can afford just to buy for loved ones. It’s not about the gifts. But the commercialized side of Christmas can make that point hard to remember.

Every other commercial right now is a holiday one with new sale prices, new gadgets and special holiday hours. It’s hard trying to stay balanced and not be taken in by it all. Chase and I have talked more than once about what we want to do to be able to make sure that our family has a fun Christmas every year but also with out it being all about the gifts. One thing I know that we have talked about doing is a special Christmas donation every year to our sponsor child we have through Compassion International. Hopefully this will be a good start to keeping the focus more on others and not so much on ourselves. Of course Eli is only a year old so we have plenty of time to come up with more traditions for our family.

I am by no means trying to be negative or a downer. We want to celebrate and enjoy Christmas just as much as everyone else. I just hate when we get stressed about what we will buy everyone. I don’t want to forget that Christmas is not all about the gifts, but that we should celebrate Jesus’ birth and show His love to every one we meet! So this year one thing we are doing to be a little less commercialized is we are brainstorming ideas to do more homemade gifts with a lot of love built-in!

Photo Credit: Shimelle Laine

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NIV) 

Last night Chase sat down to write a letter to our child we sponsor. A few years ago we signed up to sponsor a child through Compassion International and I am so glad we made that decision. I love when we get letters from our sponsor child! I love hearing about what is important to him and I love seeing the drawings he sends us every time! This morning Chase and I were talking and I told him how eventually when our kids get older I want to sponsor a child for each of them. I want to teach them early on the joys of giving, caring for others and making a difference. With so many influences in our kids lives what better way to truly teach them that it is better to give than to receive. It will be so fun when we all sit down as a family to write to the children that we sponsor and then when we sit down to read the letters we get back. I also think this is a great way to teach our children that they do not have to be a grown up to help others or to make a difference. Sure they may not be “paying” for the sponsoring, but the prayers they say and the letters/drawings they do is just as important! Right now we have one child we sponsor and I look forward to the day that we get to sponsor more children!

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey 

My husband and I have never been bad with money. We have made a few bad choices… but who hasn’t? We learn from these lessons and move on. Any time Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey has been offered at our church Chase and I always felt like we already knew what it was about, we manage our money and we don’t have a bunch of credit cards so we don’t need to go. Last weekend Chase told me that he feels like we should be more serious about it. We have been working to be debt free but haven’t necessarily done it the Financial Peace way. Now we are. Thankfully we do not have much debt, but we want to be able to get to the point where we have the freedom to do with our finances what God wants… the ability to give generously when He prompts us and the ability to truly be good stewards of what He gives us. I think because we have been working on paying things off on our own made us feel like we didn’t have to take the suggestions of others. But, God changed our heart. We don’t want to go about life acting like we know everything, Financial Peace has worked for so many people making them completely debt free. I know that we will get there! We will be able to look at our finances and truly have the freedom He intends, to give as He intends… instead of being tied down to a monthly payment. We have begun our journey to being debt free!