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!
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the water.”
– Psalm 24: 1-2
I’m going to be completely transparent with you. I am not too excited about this chapter. It sounds boring, it sounds difficult and I don’t have as much conviction about it as I do other things (possessions, spending, clothing, etc.) Prayer request: That the Lord will open my eyes to see how important this really is.
The goal of the chapter is to reduce our amount of waste and live a greener life. We are wasters. We are consumers. We are not taking care of God’s creation like we should, because for some reason I believe that I am more important than the animals, the forest, the ocean, the soil, the air that God so carefully constructed.
So, here are the Alderman’s seven habits to a greener life:
– Allow only 5 minutes showers
– Turn lights off when leaving a room (something I am TERRIBLE at and husband says so all the time)
– Unplug electronics, chargers, etc. when not in use
– Recycle what we can
– Eat out only at local restaurants
– Use reusable bags while shopping
– Do not use plastic baggies/utensils for lunches
As I was reading through the chapter about gardening and composting and using only one car, I literally thought to myself, “What difference are these things really going to make?” (I’m obviously not a hippie/earthy type, eh?) Then I got to the end of the chapter where the author specifically addressed that question, and her response was exactly what I needed to hear.
“If we believe it is part of our task as earthkeepers to recycle, then we ought to recycle, whether or not it will change the world. Do the right thing. We should fulfill our calling to be caretakers of the earth regardless of whether global warming is real or there are holes in the ozone layer or three nonhuman species become extinct every day. Our vocation is not contingent on results or the state of the planet. Our calling simply depends on our identity as God’s respons-able human image bearers.”
Let’s do the right thing.
We are one week into our possessions challenge and we’ve already hit 100 items to give away. Wow. We have SO much stuff that we never use!
Here’s a photo of some of the stuff we’re giving away – clothes, shoes, purses/backpacks, kitchenware, blankets, pillows. This photo does not include the two huge trashbags filled with clothes we have.
As I mentioned before, we’ve been looking for places to intentionally give things to. Well, God certainly provided.
Wednesday night Husband and I were talking about some of the things we need we wanted to give away. Since we moved into our apartment, we’ve had an over-abundance in drinking glasses. We both had glasses from college we brought with us, then we got all new glasses from the wedding. And of course, we always use the same glasses and rarely touch the other 5 sets we have.
The next day I went to Havenwood in Bentonville to drop off some volunteer forms. I asked what their current most pressing need was. Can you guess what she said? Glasses. Not plates, not utensils, not bowls. Glasses.
God is incredible.
While we’ve purged our closets (and it feels so refreshing on so many levels), there hasn’t really been anything we’ve “felt.” You know, something you really didn’t want to get rid of even though you don’t use, but you know you should get rid of? I don’t often get attached to my glasses.
But then there it was, a conviction. One of the members of our group emailed about an organization that took prom dresses for those who couldn’t afford them, and it hit me. I have about 4 long gowns in my parents closet and about 4 short formal dresses in my closet. When was the last time I’d worn any of these? High school. Would they even still fit? Probably not. Did I still want to keep them for some reason? Of course. At our community group last week, one girl brought in several of her old dresses to give away and she shared how difficult it was for her to do so, so I knew I needed to give up mine. I keep thinking about how little they’re doing sitting in my parents/my closet and how much they would mean to some girl who might not have even gone to prom if it weren’t for this dress. And in all honesty, will I ever wear these again? Won’t I just purchase a different dress when I do have an occasion to wear it?
So, that’s been my hard thing to give up as shallow as it may sound. Anyway, we still have a week left in the challenge and a few more closets to clean out. Keep praying for us and keep me posted of any specific needs you hear of in the area. I’d LOVE to share another glasses story with you next week.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
As I mentioned in a previous post, husband and I are starting our first ever couples Bible study with a book called 7 – An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It is a challenge to cut down areas of excess in life: food. clothes. spending. media. possessions. waste. stress.
Our first challenge starts today: possessions. Give away 7 possessions every day for two weeks. 98 possessions total.
A few additional conditions we added on ourselves:
– Clothes/shoes can only count for 3 days, because you know you could go through your closet and find several bag fulls of things to give away that could easily count for the whole time.
– No purchasing any more possessions in the two weeks.
– Be intentional about where you’re giving. While giving to Goodwill or Salvation Army is good, you’re not seeing the need when you drop your bags off in a drive-thru. We are looking for specific organizations in the area that need specific things like clothes, home goods, electronics, etc. so we can actually see where and who our possessions are going to.
This will definitely be a challenge, but I’m already excited to see what happens and where God takes us. I’d love for you to join the journey with us or just pray for us. I’ll be blogging along the way, so if you’re interested in hearing how it goes sign up to get emails every time I post on the right side of the screen under “Don’t Miss a Post.” Also, if you know of a deserving cause in NWA with some specific needs please please let us know as our group will be on the lookout.
Now, off to purge for day 1…