Archives For seven

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!

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I’m a little messy and I smell like menthol, but I’m okay with it!

With still having five days to go with my Searching for Simplicity clothing fast I have finally stopped spilling food on me! Instead I have started having another issue. Since there has been a shift in the weather my Lupus has flared up and sometimes I use a muscle cream to soothe my aches and pains. This is normally not a big deal when you have an entire wardrobe to change into, but only having seven articles of clothing is leaving my shirts smelling like menthol. Isn’t that just lovely?!? You can probably smell me coming around the corner. But, I decided that I just don’t care. If the cream helps, which sometimes it does, then I am just going to have to smell! So be it!

I trade one issue of stained clothing with smelly ones and it’s not even because they are dirty! Oh the irony, how I truly appreciate you! It definitely is giving me a humbling experience, no fast is supposed to be easy. There are always challenges and I could very easily let these little bumps in the road cause frustration, and even distraction from the entire purpose of the fast… BUT only if I allowed it. How easy it would be to let my spilled food or menthol smelling shirt cause me to worry about what others will think of me… They probably think that I don’t wash my clothes? Didn’t she just wear that? Why does she smell like menthol? Does she own anything else? Guess what… those lurking questions are WHY this fast is so important! It’s breaking me free of what others think of me! All that matters is what God thinks of me and what I think of myself. So what if I tend to be a messy eater and get food on my clothes… yup, I’m a little clumsy and I am okay with that. And so what if my shirt might occasionally smells like menthol, that’s just what I have to do and I am fine with it.

I never would have thought that this fast would have brought so much insight into myself. I am so glad that I started my seven months of fasting with this one. Check back next week for my Top 10 things I learned during my Searching for Simplicity clothing fast.

 

I am officially two weeks into my first month of fasting towards simplicity. Let me just say that the beauty of only having seven articles of clothing for a month really makes packing for vacation a breeze! Boy did I plan that well, or did I? Seriously though, I was done packing in less than 10 minutes. There was no standing in front of the closet debating which shirts I would possibly want to wear. I never thought about how much I over pack for trips. I usually plan an outfit a day and then some. Really, do I honestly need four extra shirts and three pairs of shoes to visit family? My argument would usually be what if it gets dirty, spill something on it, the weather changes or I just change my mind on what I want to bring. If you can’t tell, I tend to over think when I am packing… I believe this fast has taught me to come to terms with that. My options for our vacation were limited, I got my seven articles and that was that. Did it make my trip any less fun because I didn’t have a ridiculous amount of clothes in my suitcase to pick from, no! Actually, it made it worry free. I absolutely loved that we only had one suitcase and it made getting home and everything put away so much easier! Worry free I tell you! The biggest difficulty so far with the limited wardrobe is that I am a messy eater. In fact, night one of the fast we were eating a snack and of course I drop it on me. I knew this about myself all along but it has never been an issue until I’m on vacation with no washing machine and a limited number of clothing. I admit, every night I was hand washing my shirts in the bathroom sink and then laying them in front of our fireplace in our room to dry. I mean honestly I am not that much of a messy eater but apparently on vacation my messiness was at an all time high:

Day one– I spill my gravy from my french fries at lunch 

Day two morning– I spill cranberry juice at breakfast

Day two afternoon– I spill hot chocolate

It was a pretty funny picture to watch two of my three shirts hanging to dry while I am hoping to not spill my chips and salsa on my only clean shirt… at least it makes for a funny story now. I know this probably sounds ridiculous and you are probably wondering if I am even pay attention to what I am doing when I eat. I guess I need to be a little more careful, when you have an entire wardrobe of clothing being a messy eater doesn’t really seem to catch your eye, I plan to change this… so far since being home from vacation I have not spilled anything on my clothes! Woohoo, yay me!

Month one clothing fast- so far, not as bad as I thought. Still two weeks to go…

For those of you that have followed the guest blog posts you will remember Michelle Clark of Miss Banana Pants from her earlier post she did for me about All Moms are Liars. Well today she brings some great insight into her journey of a seven month fast…

 

We’ve all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more “stuff” makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I’ve truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn’t mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I’m okay with it. To a certain extent.  The truth is I’ve been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I’m given/what we can afford. I’ve just always had a very “disposable” mentality about stuff. It’s here today, it’s helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it’s okay. It’s all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me.  Maybe it doesn’t. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don’t cling to my stuff, doesn’t mean I don’t take it for granted. I’m not concerned with it being gone, because “out with the old, in with the new”. Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you?

Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked.

I made the massive mistake of taking this “simple-looking” book with me on vacation to read by the beach. I think I must be the very first girl ever to sit in a lounge chair in the sand staring at the ocean waves and reading a book about EXCESS. Seems a bit hypocritical.  Not an easy book to read while on vacation, I’ll tell ya!  Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.  It did feel wrong.  I was so spoiled at that moment.  No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation.  Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we were humbled by the love that has been shown to us.  It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all.  We just have so much stuff and are so selfish.  Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become?  It seems like the more we get  –  the more we THINK we need.  We feel like we DESERVE it all.  It’s a terrible cycle and I was ready to get off.  Something definitely had to give.  I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart throughout vacation and came home with a resolve.  This stuff that Jen Hatmaker covered in her book wasn’t “new” new but she did something about it.  She put feet to her words.  I knew that I wanted to begin to put feet to mine as well.  I was not going to be just another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” theory and experiment.  I wanted to do.  I wanted to act.  I wanted to be wrecked to the point of change.  It was official.  I didn’t want to be comfortable anymore. I wanted to take on Jen Hatmaker’s challenge to fast in the seven areas of my life that were defining who I was:  Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Spending, Waste, and Stress.

Currently, I’m just finishing up my Food Fast for month one and boy, am I glad it’s almost over! Not because I didn’t learn a TON, but because I am ready to try to be a better steward in this department on my own. In the book, “7”, Jen just chose seven different foods and ate nothing but those seven things all month-long. What dedication! I am not that spiritual! Ha! I, instead, made seven food rules for myself to adhere to for the entire 4 weeks, and I have to say, I followed most of them pretty well.  They were:  No Fast Food, No Pop/Soda, No Alcohol, No Pork, No Chocolate, No Eating After 7 pm, and Only ONE grocery trip per week.

During this whole first month, the main things that I’ve learned are just how spoiled I am in the area of food. I’ve never had to worry about what I will eat until now. I’m having to plan ahead because I can’t just grab something on the go. Sometimes I have found myself literally consumed with how to organize my day around us having enough time to come home and cook something. I’ve never had to think about food so much in my life! I am realizing what a blessing it’s been to be born into a society that, for the most part, doesn’t have to worry about food.  I live a privileged life.  I’ve never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been ridiculously blessed relationally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it’s almost embarrassing at times when I think of it in comparison to so many other people in other countries.  And yet, this month, I let the little things like the fact that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window for lunch or grab a soda obstruct my view on my reality.  I struggled to see how blessed I am because I wasn’t able to see the forest because I was concentrating on the trees.  Even before this month I did that.  I concentrate too much on the few things that I can’t have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal  I have more food (even with all this month’s limitations) in one single day than most of the earth’s population see their whole lives.  If anything is ridiculous, it’s that fact. But how many times do we really stop and think about that fact?  If we did, it would not only change the way we think about food, but it would revolutionize the way we think about life.

As this month ends and I am about to embark on the next phase of this 7 month fast, I’m excited to see what more God has to teach me. Next month’s focus is “Clothes” and I’ve decided to mirror the experiment that Hatmaker did in her book.  She chose only 7 articles of clothes and wore nothing but those things for an entire month. Sounds completely ridiculous, eh? But I really think that this month might stir in me a new-found appreciation for what it feels like to not only not care about what you look like, but focus more time and energy on changing the ME behind the facade of fashion.  This month I’m sure to see some inner change. I can’t wait.

For those of you who think this whole thing is so WEIRD, you are totally right. I think it is too, actually.  Really, it’s okay to think I’m becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, “I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn’t working anymore.” It’s not. I’m sure that most of Jesus’ ideas weren’t so popular either.  I’m convinced that He got the “I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong” face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd.  He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified.  He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him.  It’s as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it.  I’m okay with an oddball label.  I think we should all learn to be a bit more different. One of my all-time favorite quotes came from a speaker at a youth conference I went to almost 10 years ago but it has always stuck with me.  “You cannot make a difference in this world unless you ARE different from this world.”

 

Photo Credit: Rachelulgado