I want to buy stuff…

This month of our “7” has been spending and possessions. We decided to combine the two. Truthfully, I’m not at a place where I feel like we have so much stuff to get rid of, but there is some that still needs to be cleaned out and donated. But I have loved (not sure that’s the right word…) the no-spending challenge. There have been many moments where I’ve thought it would be so easy to just drive through CFA, but I perservered and came home and made a can of soup or a sandwich. And I feel so much better about it.

I spend so much money on convenience, when it’s not that much more difficult to cook something or make a sandwich. As Kate, one of the girls I’m doing this with, said, it’s made me so much mindful of what I’m buying.

But I still have a list of things I want to buy when this is all over with. And most of it comes from Boden. My friend Michelle is getting married in May and I think I need some stuff for that.

I’m in love with this gray-purple. My new neutral.

I also think these are so cute and fun.

I also have several things I want to do around the house. We are hosting our Sunday School class in April, so I have several things I want to do before then. Not because I think anyone will care but because I need a deadline. I have some art that needs to be framed, I want to have our dining chairs and chairs in our living room recovered and curtains made. I also have a chandelier that needs to be replaced.

And now I’ve decided I want to change the doorknobs in our house.

And I want new house numbers.

And some fake lemons for my trifle bowl. These are from Dollar Tree. Is $1 a lemon a reasonable price? I’m trying to decide. You have to buy 36, which I could probably use that many. But spending $40 on fake lemons seems kinda crazy.

Let’s just add to the list.

I’m having a difficult time reconciling what we want to buy and spend on ourselves versus what we should give. We are wealthy and it matters. I guess the questions is what are we going to do about it?

If a man shuts his ear to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. Proverbs 13:21

 


Fasting

For the last four weeks, I have been participating in a fast with two of my friends from our Sunday School class. Actually, we will be doing several fasts over the course of the first seven months of the year but this first one was food. And I think this one will be the hardest. Well, until we get to media. But we’ll cross that bridge later.

Food is 3 times a day. Every time I would finish eating, I would only be able to wait a few hours before I started thinking about it again. This wasn’t something that I chose once during the day and then I just phoned it in the rest of the day. Nope, 3 times a day, about every 5 hours.

Food is also so social. We love having people over to eat and hang out and extend hospitality. But how do you do that when you have such limited things you can offer? And you can’t really go out to eat very many places or order much.

My foods were chicken, eggs, bread, tomatoes, rice, beans, onion, potato, spinach, and oranges. And water. Truthfully, I didn’t do it perfectly. If we went out to eat, I wasn’t going to be that pain in the ass that ordered plain spinach and chicken, but I tried to keep with the spirit of the fast at least. The water was hard. My tea in the morning is such a ritual. And I did indulge in a glass of wine a few times. But overall, I felt better drinking so much water.

Ryan saved me, though. Although he wasn’t technically participating, he cooked and made it easy for me because I would have come home and eaten rice and beans every night and cried. But he made it exciting and happy and experimented with food. I’m so thankful he likes to cook.

I didn’t get all the books read that I wanted to this month. I specifically wanted to read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen, Year of No Sugar (I’m not 100% sure who wrote it and I’m being lazy and not looking it up), and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I’m currently about half-way through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I’m loving it. The first few chapters were super dense and I thought there was no way I’d be able to read it, but now I’m loving it. Kingsolver (who wrote The Poisonwood Bible) and her family set out to grow and provide their own food for a year and anything they couldn’t grow, they sourced locally. Yes, including meat. I’m currently very excited for the Farmer’s Market to come back and am thinking about reordering our Fresh Harvest basket. And I can’t wait for summer to eat a ripe tomato!

In the middle of this, Ryan decided to do a food challenge. But basically the opposite of my food challenge. For years, every time we’ve watched Man vs. Food, he has said, “Oh, I could totally do that.” So finally, I looked at him and said then do it. He found one and one Saturday, we headed to Cheeky’s so he could try to eat a 7 lb burrito. He wasn’t able to do it, but our waitress was very impressed with how much he ate. She said he ate more than she and 4 of her friends did. I pointed out to him on the way there how ironic it was that while I’m in the middle of this food fast, praying and thinking about how we eat and food insecurity around the country and world, that he is going and eating 7 lbs of food in one sitting. We’re so American. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

I’m still not sure what my final takeaway is from this month. I’m praying that God can help us see what a privilege it is that we have so much food and that we don’t take it for granted. That we use this privilege to help local farmers and eat more real food and that he opens doors for us to help those without access to real food. And that convenience isn’t my first priority anymore when it comes to food. And that God may be glorified by the choices I make.

But I’m especially praying that I don’t make this about me. This is about God and his kingdom.

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58: 6-8


Looking Ahead to 2015

Every year, I make resolutions and every year I fail. Let’s look at last year’s.

1. Read a part of the Bible every day. (Unfortunately, I’m going to have to give myself a fail here.)

2. Spend 10-15 minutes every night picking up the apartment. Or at least don’t make it worse. (Bahahaha let’s not even go there.)

3. Have one date night a month. (I mean, we definitely ate out once a month, so that has to count, right?)

4. Invite someone over once a month. (I will say, this was a massive success. We probably averaged people over twice a month at least. I’m patting myself on the back here.)

5. Learn to curl my hair and make pie crust. (Hair, no. Maybe I can make a pie for Christmas and that can count.)

6. Get outside more. (I’ll say yes to this one. Of course, the house and Jolene helped with that for sure.)

7. Blog three times per week. (Yeah, no.)

So here we are at the end of 2014 and it’s time to look ahead for 2015. One of my new favorite blogs from this year, Hollywood Housewife, did monthly challenges instead of year-long resolutions and it seemed to work for her. And that’s kind of what I will be doing this year. Except I’m taking it a step further.

Two of the girls in our Sunday School class and I are doing “7.” Yes, Jen Hatmaker’s 7. Where for a month we eat 7 foods, only spend money at 7 places, get rid of all of our stuff, stop watching TV and scrolling Instagram, the whole she-bang. Each one will take a month (we are combining possessions and spending) with a week long break between to reset and prepare for the next one. So that is my only big resolution for the year. I think it’s enough. I just found out this week that I’ll be traveling for work the first week of the year and that’s when we are doing the “food” challenge. So yeah, that’s going to be super difficult. But the point of this is not for it to be easy.

However, I’m also declaring 2015 as my year of the “Long Book.” Basically, all of the long books on my shelves that I’ve been putting off will be read. So far, I have Gone With The Wind, Scarlett, Lonesome Dove, and the Rea book (a book about my family). Obviously, I’m going to be reading a lot more than just those, but that is my reading goal for the year. But I’m diving in with those over the course of the year.

Of course, Beth Moore is also doing her Siesta Memory Scripture this year and I’m thinking of doing that also. I tried a few years ago, but had a difficult time keeping up with entering my verses each week. But I’m going to try again and see if I can’t do better.

So that’s what I’ve got for 2015. Along with the usual- life, work, fun, etc. This will be the first year that I’m not working every Saturday and now football season is over. I’m excited and interested to see what it will be like to spend so much time with Ryan and just be able to have an active weekend social life. It’ll be good.

 

 


Reductionist

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

In my old age (ha), I’m turning into a minimalist.

Well, not really. I think a better term would be reduction-ist.

It’s not that I want us to live a minimal lifestyle. I just want to live a reduced lifestyle.

Our apartment was teeny-tiny, but I was determined when we moved into our house, not to have an explosion of “stuff.”

We have 3 drawers in our kitchen. And one of them is only about 4″ wide, rendering it almost completely useless. So we have one drawer with our silverware and one drawer with our kitchen utensils. I was looking for a measuring cup and realized we have three sets of measuring cups. Now really, that’s not that many. But when you only have one drawer, it’s too many. Just getting rid of ONE cleared up a lot of space in that drawer. In that same trip through the utensil drawer, I found 4 spatulas. Too many. Now we have 2. I also realized we had 2 spaghetti-strainer-spoon-thingies. Technical term. So to the Goodwill pile one went.

We have empty shelves in our cabinets since moving and I have every intention of keeping it that way. Mama came a few weeks ago to help me paint and just do some other things around the house. She remarked that we needed a drain basket for our dishes and I thought, “Nah. Stacking them on a towel has worked fine for this long. I guess we can just keep doing that.”

I also got rid of my curling irons. I don’t remember the last time I curled my hair, if I have EVER curled my hair. Plus my hair straightener can do it. Multi-use tools for the win.

It’s not just my physical “stuff” either. Y’all, I’m going whole-hog. I deleted Facebook off my phone. (I know. Revolutionary.) I’m unfollowing people on Instagram and Pinterest.

None of these things are that big of a deal. But small steps are better than no steps at all.

We have too much stuff. And when I say we, I mean Ryan and I, and I also mean the average American. Granted, Ryan doesn’t have a ton of stuff. Just 700 gray t-shirts and 96 concert posters. But we still have more that we need. Too many pairs of shoes, too much trash, too many blankets, too many craft items for “just in case,” too many plates and cups, too much food, it’s all just too much. I like nice, pretty stuff as much as the next person. But in the end, it’s all just stuff. And it’s meaningless. What’s the point?

I want to have less, so we can do more. The less I buy, the more money we have to do things like go to Chicago or out to eat with friends or to just plain give away.

I realized the other day that I really am “there.” One of the radio stations is giving away a $10,000 shopping spree. Now, I could use $10,000. There is definitely some house stuff that I could pay for like a bed or curtains or having some furniture reupholsterd. But I just don’t need $10,000 worth of more clothes, jewelry, whatever.

And “there” is a great place to be.


Just a little life update

Monday night, Ryan and I went on a date. I used to make fun of married couples without kids who got excited about date night. Wasn’t every night date night? That is, until I became one. And realized it’s so nice to sit down at a restaurant, have someone bring you your dinner (and clean it up) and look at Ryan with no distractions.

I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this, but I am. I very much dislike following teachers on Pinterest this time of year. I have a lot of friends that are teachers and I love them all, but I just don’t really care how you’re going to teach math to 2nd grade this year. I feel like a terrible person.

Moving on. I’ve already started thinking about Christmas gifts for this year. It feels a little ridiculous because it’s so early, but I’m totally going to avoid last year’s catastrophe of gifts arriving at our door on Christmas Eve and being wrapped Christmas morning. By the way, Uncommon Goods and Cracker Barrel are awesome for unique gifts.

I’ve been trying for a month to read The Agony and The Ecstacy. Let’s just say it’s not going well. So I’ve decided to abandon it and move on to something else. I think I will come back to it one day because it’s interesting, however, it is insanely difficult for me to keep up with all of the different characters that come in and out of his life every other page. Plus, they all have long, similar names that make it extra confusing. So I started The Book Thief. I’m usually behind when it comes to books because I almost always buy them from Goodwill. I’m only into the first chapter, but so far, it’s pretty fascinating.

I think mosquitoes have been worse this year than any I remember in a long time. Granted, I’m outside a lot more lately between just having a backyard and Jolene, but I don’t ever remember mosquitoes in the mornings.

Robin Williams died on Monday. All of the tributes on Twitter made me a mess. It was amazing to think back to all of the movies he was in and the range he had. Hook will always be one of my favorite movies and I will always stop for a minute when Mrs. Doubtfire is on TV. So sad.

We really do have the sweetest puppy dog in the world. She is so good. It’s a good thing she has an eating problem, otherwise she might be perfect and we just don’t do perfect around here. The two humans took a nap on Sunday and before I fell asleep, I snapped this picture. She’s such a lover.

Speaking of pets, our fish, O.B. died the other week. We’re not exactly sure why because betas usually live a while, but one morning, I went into the kitchen and he had turned white. It was yucky and sad. I made Ryan flush him. I think he was sad because I moved him in the kitchen alone. But we’ll never know.

Gosh, I hate to end on a down note. There have been some sad things lately, but there have been some happy things, too. Erika and Matt brought home baby Millie last week! That might be the best thing I’ve heard in a long time. She is sweet and squishy and I’m so happy for all of them!


Stuck in a Rut

I feel like I’m in a rut.

At the beginning of summer, I was waking up early, doing my Bible study, reading a lot, blogging regularly, staying (somewhat) caught up on chores around here. But every since we got back from the beach, I’ve been slacking. Granted, I didn’t get a weekend this week so that somewhat kills my productivity levels. It’s hard to get stuff done at home when I’m not home. But last night, instead of doing a load of laundry or my Bible study, I sat on the sofa and watched Real Housewives of New Jersey and the Bachelorette. So there’s that.

SPOILERS

(So excited Josh is still in. Yes, I basically know he “wins.” I thought she handled Chris very well last night by being honest with him and not taking him to the fantasy suite and I also liked that she did the rose ceremony because she acknowledged that the guys have a choice also. And even though she still says ‘like’ all the time, she has slowed down on the Stop and duck lips, so I’ll take it. Although last week, Ryan and I died laughing when she said, “I’m not a city girl. I grew up in the suburbs.” Um….)

Anyway, I’m ready to have my Monday back. Ryan needs clean clothes. I need to do some yard work. And just other general life things.

I’m not complaining though. I’m happy to have work to do and a sweet husband and house to come home to and I’m glad I can just throw laundry in the washing machine and I’m not using one of those wash board things like Ma Ingells. We’ve come a long way, baby.


Five Things for Friday

Just a few things to round out your Friday.

1. The Lou and Grey collection at Loft is AMAZING. I’m loving their light and easy dresses and tops. Sadly, I’m on a shopping freeze for the next few months. But someone should buy this sweater because I love it. Beyond perfect for fall.

2. Ever since we got back from our trip, I have not been sleeping well. I’ve had multiple terrible dreams and have just not been able to wake up in the morning. It stinks.

3. Sarah posted this squash recipe a few weeks ago, and every time I think about it, I start drooling. Oh, it sounds out of this world amazing! Squash and bacon, what’s not to love? Too bad our oven has been broken for the last 2 months. :( When you hit the “bake” button, it simply says, “feature not available.” Well, that’s not helpful at all. And when the guy came to look at it, he said, “Wow. I’ve never seen that before.” Not exactly what you want to hear. Thank goodness for home warranties. Anyway, I’ve been dying to bake all the things and this squash recipe is at the top of the list!

4. I read of Facebook yesterday that my favorite Jen Hatmaker is releasing a new, extended edition of Interrupted. I’m so excited! This will be one of those books that I rush to Barnes and Noble to get the day it comes out. Speaking of books, I’m also going to explore the library in our area. It’s been YEARS since I’ve been to a library, mostly because I just love to own books. However, I’ve set a lofty reading goal for 2015 (yes, I’m already thinking about that) and I think the library will be my new best friend.

5. I can’t believe today is already Friday. But I guess that’s what happens when your first work day is a Wednesday. Not a bad thing at all! Happy weekend, y’all!