Hi friends, remember when we were doing our 7 challenge? We cleaned out our closets and our apartment and had an abundance of stuff to give away, along with our Community Group. We gave all the household items to Havenwood, but we all kept the clothes planning to do a free clothing giveaway. Well, it finally happened. We planted ourselves in the middle of the Gravette Farmer’s Market with a tent full with clothes, shoes, accessories and signs that said FREE. We weren’t sure exactly how it was going to work. We didn’t know how many people would stop by, if people would want to give money for the clothes, if they would let pride get in their way or if they would take everything in one swoop. I’m here to say, it was a HUGE success.
We had some fun.
We had great fellowship.
But most importantly, we blessed the community of Gravette.
We had numerous families come by who shared their stories about not having enough money to buy new clothes for themselves or their kids for Summer. They were so incredibly grateful and asked if we would be back. These families were needy and we were able to provide for a basic need. We have such an abundance and we don’t even realize how far that can go for others. I was extremely humbled and left ready and willing to clean out my closet again and again to give to those who truly needed it. It was so much more impactful seeing women go through my clothes excited to wear them than just dropping off bags of clothing at Goodwill.
What an incredible Saturday we had, and we will certainly be doing it again.
It’s official. I am not stopping this challenge at the end of the two weeks.
Guys, can I tell you how much this prayer time helps throughout the day? Picture me: an anxious, perfectionist, worrier, easily stressed person in a pretty high stress job. (I know, I know how stressful can social media be, right? Walk a mile in my shoes.)
Picture this: God is here for me 24/7. God wants me to be refreshed and refocused throughout the day. God doesn’t want me to be stressed or anxious or worried.
Now I’m not saying I’ve been perfect. I’m not sure if there’s even been one day when I’ve prayed the full 7 times, but I’m definitely praying more than I ever have throughout the day strategically.
When I was in Ohio last week traveling alone, the nightly prayers and Psalms were a tremendous comfort.
When I took a 2-minute pause in a hectic workday at 9:30am to ask the Spirit to bless my work with composure, creativity, inspiration and love and I felt overwhelmingly refreshed.
When I used the drive home to transition out of work and into the evening with family, I felt peace and thankfulness.
What a difference this makes in my day to day. I’ve been learning how easy it is to push God aside throughout the day and fit Him into our schedule, rather than the other way around. When I want everything I do to glorify Him, why not let Him lead my day through prayer?
I think Paul was on to something when he said “pray ceasingly.”
You might also enjoy: 7: Stress
One of my least favorite things is when someone asks how you’ve been and you say busy. Or crazy busy. Or soooo busy. Or ridiculously busy. NEWS FLASH: Everyone’s busy, and everyone thinks they’re busier than everyone else. I’m not saying I don’t do this, because I definitely do, but I’m trying to catch myself before saying it and respond with a less superficial and more sincere answer. All that to say, everyone’s busy and with busyness often comes stress. How do we combat that?
Let’s pray. 7 times a day. I’m good at praying in the morning and I’m good at praying at night. I’ll sometimes sneak a prayer in there during the day if I have a second to breathe or something major is happening. Most days my prayers are very similar. We kind of get stuck in the typical prayer, yeah? 7 shares a strategic plan to pray throughout the day, and I love it. The author calls these 7 prayers “breathing spells for the soul, an oasis to remember the sacredness of life, who we are, how to offer God the incredible gift of our lives, and learning to be in the midst of so much doing.”
I’m so in. Are you?
The Night Watch (midnight)
The Awakening Hour (dawn)
The Blessing Hour (midmorning)
The Hour of Illumination (noon)
The Wisdom Hour (midafternoon)
The Twilight Hour (early evening)
The Great Silence (bedtime)
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The Night Watch (midnight) – The Night Watch advocates for others in a dark night of the soul: the suffering, abandoned, oppressed, lonely.
“My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Psalm 119:148
Readings: Psalm 42, Psalm 63, Psalm 119: 145-152
The Awakening Hour (dawn) – The Awakening Hour includes thankfulness for a new day, a fresh slate. Our desire to live this day for Jesus glory is an offering. We celebrate God’s redemption.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love; so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
Readings: Psalm 19, Psalm 95, Psalm 147
The Blessing Hour (midmorning) – This mid-morning pause has two emphases: The first is mindfulness of the Spirit’s abiding presence to invite the Spirit to stir our souls. The second is about the sacredness of our hands and work asking the Spirit to bless us with creativity, composure, inspiration, love.
“Let your loveliness shine on us, and bless the work we do, bless the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17
Readings: Psalm 67, Psalm 84, Psalm 121
The Hour of Illumination (noon) – At midday we honor the hour when Jesus embraced the cross, and we recommit to giving our lives away. We pledge to shine brightly, becoming hope to the hopeless and light in the darkness.
“You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:13-14
Readings: Psalm 24, Psalm 33, Psalm 34
The Wisdom Hour (midafternoon) – With the evening approaching, we pray for perspective on this short, fleeting day and life and we hold out forgiveness, release our grudges and offer our gifts to the world.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
Readings: Psalm 71, Psalm 90, Psalm 138
The Twilight Hour (early evening) – We invite God’s peace as we leave work and transition into dinner, family, home, rest, training our minds toward tranquility. The Twilight Hour is for exhaling, calming our minds and transitioning into the evening and being thankful for the day.
Readings: Psalm 34, Psalm 139, Psalm 145
The Great Silence (bedtime) – This prayer concludes the day; the focus is on awareness and we include not just weaknesses but the strengths and accomplishments of the day. The second theme is darkness – We ask the Spirit to guard against our enemy, protecting our seal and innocence in Christ.
“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
Readings: Psalm 23, Psalm 91, Psalm 134
Look at your bank statement. How many places do you spend money within two weeks? I looked at ours: 50. These last two weeks we’ve spent money in 50 places. For the next two weeks, we’re taking it down to 7.
Our 7 places:
– Walmart (includes gas and WM Home Office Cafeteria)
– Husband’s Karate
– Starbucks (it’s a serious addiction, I’ll conquer that in our food challenge)
– Restaurant A
– Restaurant B (restaurants to be decided throughout the two weeks, but I’m almost positive one will be Houlihan’s…)
– Wildcard (this could be anything we choose throughout the challenge – something fun or something serious that comes up)
I think this challenge is going to be very convicting. I’m such a consumer. I must consume something everywhere I go. How often do I buy a coffee at Barnes & Nobles just because, purchase a new necklace at a shop I’m perusing or download a new song on iTunes? Too often. Look at these facts and try not to cringe.
Annual U.S. Spending on Cosmetics: $8 billion
Basic Education for all global children: $6 billion
Annual U.S. and European spending on perfume: $12 billion
Clean water for all global citizens: $9 billion
Seriously? I feel sick. Think of the difference we could all make if we watch where our money goes more closely. We’re making a choice every single day with our dollar.
I’m not sure if you ever think this, but I certainly have before – Since I tithe and give to other good places, I can do whatever else I want to do with my money. How selfish am I? Who’s money is this really? It’s certainly not mine, so why am I spending the majority of it on things I want that won’t even matter in the end. Just because I can have it doesn’t mean I should.
With this much expendable income on movie theaters, restaurants, shopping, I doubt Jesus will accept my excuses for neglecting the poor on account of cash flow.
Instead of our American way of thinking and fearing poverty and simplicity, we should fear prosperity.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25
I know we’ve all heard this, but I hope these next two weeks we can really meditate on this fact and find ways to simplify our lives and use our money to love our neighbor as ourselves, just as Jesus would have wanted.
* * *
“God, may we be focused on the least, a people balancing the fasting and the feast.”
Happy Wednesday, friends!
Quick post today just to refer you to go read my guest blog over at Little Dutch Wife. As part of my dear friend Erin’s blog series Operation Revamp she’s been writing about revitalizing her wardrobe by getting rid of excess and defining her style. I was so honored when she asked me to share my closet essentials and how we have been getting rid of excess in our life through our 7 study. I don’t want to give it all away, but below is a sneak peek at 1 of my 5 closet essentials … now go read about the rest!