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December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield

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!

With Mother’s Day tomorrow I think about my sweet little boy and the joy that he brings to our family. Mommy’s work is a constant… changing diapers, washing diapers (we use cloth), making meals, laundry, hugs when he needs it most, story time and the list could go on, but I wouldn’t change it for anything! Not every day is perfect, in fact some days it feels like nothing goes right and Eli woke up in a mood, but again it changes nothing. I love every minute of being a mommy. Right now at his young age he doesn’t realize what Mother’s Day is, and that is okay because I know that he loves me! So with all that said I want to give my little one a blessing for his future. I pray that in all my efforts, in every day mommy work I encourage and inspire him to be creative, be filled with passion, to seek God’s word daily and sprint towards God’s plans for his life.

With Mother’s Day approaching and everyone around us reflects on the work of moms what do you hope your children learn from your life? What blessing do you have for them?

 

I wish all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day! 

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

At church now we are going through a series that is inspired by the book Soul Detox by our pastor Craig Groeschel. The sermon last week was about a restless soul. Now if your like me I wasn’t completely sure what that would mean and I definitely didn’t feel like it would be something that I would need to worry with. But, Sunday was just another one of those days where you are sitting listening to the sermon and you feel like God is speaking directly to you, and rather loudly in fact.

There are so many things that I worry and stress about. I pray and ask God to take control and I believe that I have done what I was supposed to do because I have “given it to Him.” But, then I realized that I might have prayed about it, but then it’s still on my mind through out the day. The point that really spoke to me was when my pastor said that we can’t truly focus because our mind is elsewhere, worrying, stressing or just thinking about that to-do list. Wow did that make everything clear to me. Just because I pray and ask God to take control doesn’t give me the freedom to still sit and stress and worry. I have to be able to pray about things and leave them with God and not try to carry them back with me.

He challenged us to sit for five minutes a day and think about nothing but God. Here’s a hint, if you don’t think you have a restless soul just try the five-minute challenge… you’ll be surprised at how many things you think about other than God… like doing the dishes, cleaning the house, cooking, finances or anything else that is stressing you or just on your plate. I have done this challenge everyday since last week and some days are harder than others, but I have noticed a major difference in my focus, my attitude and just my day. We have to be able to turn off our spinning wheels in our heads and focus it on the things that matter… the dishes will be there later, it’s all okay!

Photo Credit: Cristiano Betta

“My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (MSG) 

Don’t you just love when you are sitting in church listening to the preacher and then suddenly you feel like God says  “hey, this point is for you.” Every time that happens it always comes in loud and clear and that is exactly how last Sunday was within the first five minutes! Have you ever been praying for something and your waiting for some big gesture to happen to confirm that its God speaking to you? Well Sunday this particular point was brought to my attention… over sensationalizing God’s presence. While God can do big gestures to speak to us He doesn’t only work this way, sometimes it is something so simple yet just as real and meaningful but speaking to us just the same.

Since this has been brought to my attention I have tried very hard to be intentional about being aware of those smaller moments where God is speaking to me. He is with me everyday, I can feel His presence in my life and I just have to take a moment to see all the little things He says/does throughout the day and those moments are just as important and significant as the times when He does something “big!”

Photo Credit: Travis Isaac