Archives For struggles

Have you ever read a book and when you were done you put it down and thought, wow, that totally just wrecked my life! Well that just happened to me! Recently my friend Michelle Clark wrote a post, One of those Christians, about her journey of reading and fasting through the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. After hearing all that she learned from this book and how highly she talked about it I decided I should check it out. All that I have to say is WOW! I finished the book in a week and realized this was one of those life changing books! We all have our share of clutter, excess and stress. Boy does this book really make you take a look at these areas and realize that you can do something about it. I knew when I put the book down that there was no way I would be able to simply read this book and just walk away, l was inspired! I decided to take Jen’s book to heart and follow in her example. I am on a seven month journey to seek simplicity, growth and change. I call it Searching for Simplicity.

Jen’s book focused on seven areas of excess. She picked one area of focus a month and then fasted from seven things in that area. Her seven focuses were food, clothing, waste, media, possessions, spending and stress. So as of November 1st I started month one of the seven month-long fast. Which area did I pick to focus on first? Clothing. Why is it that I have a closet full of clothes and there are mornings where I will complain of nothing to wear? Why is it that I can pick out a shirt only to change saying that I wore it recently, assuming that people truly pay that much attention to my clothes. How often can I so easily walk by a shirt in a store and see that it is on sale for only $5 and think, oh, that’s a good price, and it’s cute! I can honestly say that sometimes I will walk away without buying and other times I find the deal just good enough to buy, as if I need anymore shirts. The sad thing is how many items of clothing I keep in my closet for the “just in case.” I’m sure you know what I am talking about, it’s that shirt that you wore only once or twice but maybe if you find the right pair of pants you’ll wear it again. Or, that pair of jeans that doesn’t really fit right anymore but you stash it away in case you find yourself able to wear them. The kicker are the shirts that I have and I know have been in my closest unworn for more than year, why am I still keeping these?! 

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My seven articles of clothing

Thus begins month one of seven. In doing this clothing fast this means that I can only pick seven articles of clothing to wear for the next four weeks, SEVEN! This was not easy! That means seven articles to wear for the next four weeks, whether I’m awake, asleep, out and about or at home… SEVEN, that’s it! I have picked my articles, and yes I have swapped and switched a couple of times until the final decision was made. So here it is people, my seven articles of clothing that you will see me wear time and time again this November:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • Green LifeChurch.tv Financial Operations t-shirt
  • Grey blouse
  • Orange t-shirt
  • Pink long sleeve shirt
  • Multi-color cardigan

Here is what I am not counting against my seven articles. Shoes, I have picked two pairs of shoes to wear during this month, a pair of Vans and a pair of winter boots. Also, undergarments are excluded from this number because that’s just an essential. The last and final item that I do not count is a coat. Jen did not wear a coat, however I am making this exception in regards to my Lupus. One of my struggles I have is my fingers turning white and numb when I am cold and the doctor told me it is important to keep my core warm to help with this issue. So, I tossed in a cardigan to wear for the chilly days but if it gets cold I will wear a coat while outside. I have approved this with the “council” which is my two friends who are like accountability partners during this journey, which Jen also had. I don’t think that a coat on a small occasion will keep me from growing, but also I will only be using the coat if I honestly need it.

So yes, you will be seeing me repeat my outfits on a pretty regular basis this month. And yes, I will probably be more aware of how often I wear a shirt than everybody else. But, I am excited to hear all that God has to teach me during these next seven months. Sometimes the greatest lessons happen during those moments when we are the most uncomfortable, and that is what I intend to do during my search for simplicity!

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

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (NIV)

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25 (NIV)

I believe that we all have specific struggles that are harder for ourselves than they might be for other people. Certain things are just not a struggle for some people and I think that we all have certain struggles so that it causes us to lean on God more, trust Him and have faith. As many of you know from earlier blog posts I struggle with anxiety/worry. I believe this is my hurdle that I am supposed to over come with God’s help. To be honest there are some days or weeks that are great, it feels like it isn’t even work. But then there are other days when it feels like I am right back at the beginning before I ever even realized this was my struggle, having anxiety and worrying over everything. I pray pretty much every day that God will take this struggle away and heal me of it. I keep praying and waiting. Last night though God brought something to my attention. Before He will heal me of this I first have to realize that I have to give everything to God and believe in His power, authority and plan for my life. See, here was my problem… when there would be something that I would start to worry about my husband would tell me to pray about it and my response would be… of course I’ll pray, but it may not be in God’s plan. What I kept telling myself was that I would pray about the situation but it didn’t mean that the horrible wasn’t still God’s plan. I realized last night that deep down I was never truly letting it go and giving it to Him. I was almost afraid that if I did then that would mean the bad would have to happen, almost like He would test me instantly of my faith by making the worst occur. I know this is not how He works, I know that because I put my faith in Him does not mean that the worst will automatically happen to test my faith, yet for some reason I was telling myself it was. This is what it came down to last night when God was opening my eyes… I can not change anything by worrying or having anxiety, I am only hurting myself. When I give my fears to Him and truly give them up then He will give me peace and the strength to get through anything that comes my way. Good and bad will happen, that is just part of life, but when I live in peace and faith in God then I will be able to face any circumstance head on. And most important (for me)… God will not make my worst nightmares come true once I give it all to Him, He loves me beyond understanding so if something bad happens He will carry me through!