7 Changes

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Last week, I finished Jen Hatmaker's book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. I highlighted miles. It's left me thinking about areas of excess in my life, and what I can do differently. 
I'm thinking about how I can be more generous: giving my time and resources to others, and giving time and resources to God. The goal is to carve out more space for him. This involves more than purging my stuff:
When God told us to give, I suspect he had spiritual formation in mind as much as meeting needs. (7, Month 3: Possessions)
Like consistent discipline eventually shapes our children's behavior, so it is with us. Believe it or to, God can still change us. (7, Conclusion) 
I'm trying to think clearly about all this, because:
Guilt might be the first chapter, but it makes for a terrible story . . . If your stuff and spending and waste and stress are causing you tension like mine is, just do the next right thing . . . Take a little baby step. Tomorrow, you can take another. Offer yourself the same grace Jesus has given you. We're no good to Him stuck in paralysis. (7, Conclusion)
In some areas of my life, I've suffered from paralysis. Now, I'm wiggling my toes.
Here are my baby steps:
(1) Food - No more edible food in the trash. This happens during our whiniest meal of the day, supper. The kids are tired, they've snacked too much, and by 6:00 p.m. they don't want to eat something perfectly acceptable, like chicken. I've instituted a trio of new dinnertime rules (which, if successful, may deserve a separate post later) with the end goal being: eat what you've got. From now on, no one "has" to finish their supper, but they will eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
*I enforced this rule last Friday night/ Saturday morning, and it worked. I tried not to let the boys see my shock.
(2) Clothes - I finally see my closet as full. It doesn't matter that I have less than some women - that will always be true. The bigger truth is that I have more than I need. I can actually SEE that now, and that realization has made me appreciate what I have. This Target tank top doesn't feel second class anymore. I don't mind wearing my black shorts, again. I feel inspired to get creative with what I've got, and to purge, purge, purge. Which leads me to . . .
(3) Possessions - We will continue to give to Goodwill. We will also look for opportunities to make direct connections: Do I know someone who might be able to use this? In many cases, I do. A new prayer: Lord, open my eyes.
(4) Media - The major distraction in my life is the little computer I carry with me everywhere to check email, Facebook, read, and talk: my phone. No more using the phone when I'm in the car with the kids. (Oh, don't give me that look. I know I'm not supposed to use the phone in the car, let alone with my kids in the car, but I do, and I've seen you do it, too.) Not only is it a dangerous distraction - kind of like the kids - but it sets a bad example. Plus, car time is prime conversation time. How many nuggets have I missed because I was unavailable? I shudder to think.
(5) Waste - We recycle like crazy at home, but I cringe at how much trash we produce outside the home. I hate throwing things away that could be recycled, so to provide myself with an option when there are no recycling bins nearby, I'm keeping a container (just a bag) for recycling in my car. Yes, I will be that weirdo carrying the Chik-Fil-a nugget containers and milk bottles out to my car minivan. (Later, pride.)
(6) Spending - We have some household purchases coming up, and I am more committed than ever to shopping local and second-hand for them. I'm an impatient shopper, and that has resulted in some bad decisions. I'm learning to embrace the hunt when I look at it through the lens of a greater good. I'm not just out to spend money; I'm out to use my resources wisely. 
(7) Stress - My morning quiet time routine - where I actually read the Bible, and do not blog - is essential to keeping my stress levels low. I know this, yet I sabotage it with late nights or computer time. Instead of adding something to my plate in this category, I just need to get back to what works for me. I'm going to bed at a more reasonable hour, so I can get up when I want to, and have that sacred space.

Whether or not you've read the book - Do you see any of these areas as "excess" in your life? What can you eliminate, in order to quiet the world and make space for God?

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25 Responses to “7 Changes”

  1. Love this post.  WOnderful reminders of all the values I myself hold dear.  Including not blogging in the morning, convictingly so (as I sit here reading and commenting on your blog... in the morning... doh!).  All great points and good for you for taking the challenge.  God bless!

  2. I don't have a smart phone for two reasons: I just don't want to pay for it AND I don't trust myself. My life is already so media driven and I "only" have a laptop (and a very basic cell phone). I'm afraid I'd turn into a crack addict-like person if I had one :). Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I have to stop myself from turning on the computer (can you imagine me with smart phone?!!). S.C.A.R.Y. Talk about excess. Thanks for the great summary!

  3. Waste, I need to stop using paper plates. I got ino using them when my kids were little, time was precious and I didn't want to spend half the day loading and unloading. But it became a habit and we don't need to use them anymore. And I need to re-energize serving somewhere. Thanks for the inspiration Courtney.

  4. GREAT list. The wasted food is convicting. Not only what I throw away from the kids' plates, but what I allow to expire in the refrigerator, and then throw away later. 

  5. I'm changing several things in response to this book. Perhaps the most "radical," one I've been thinking about for awhile, is reducing how much meat I eat. A lot of what's bad in the food industry that Jen referred to is in meat production, plus it's a real luxury that most of the world doesn't have. So in response I'm limiting my meat to one meal a day. And as much as possible I'll be buying it local and responsibly raised.

  6. No more using the phone when I'm in the car with the kids. (Oh,
    don't give me that look. I know I'm not supposed to use the phone in
    the car, let alone with my kids in the car, but I do, and I've seen you
    do it, too.)

    *smiling big here*

    I love that! Yes, yes, I'm guilty.

    GREAT post and I just love that quote from the book.  I've added it to my wish list and I've followed "liked" you on facebook to learn to know you more. Thanks for the comment on my post over at Finding Heaven today!

  7. Thanks for sharing this book! I'm pretty wasteful in many areas. Sounds like that's a book I need to read!

  8. Not blogging in the morning is hard for me, too. I try to save that time for actual Bible study, and sometimes I have to physically separate myself from the computer in order to do that. Glad to know I'm not the only one!

  9. Amy - You are wise. Stay away from the smart phone! :)

  10. Shelly - Perfect example of a small change that can have a big impact. This is especially true during summer cookouts. I bet you just inspired someone to put the paper products away there, too. Thanks!

  11. I know - that happens at our house, too. I've been eating lots of leftovers lately!

  12. Duane - I loved your piece over at Finding Heaven. And thank you for admitting I'm not the only one on the phone in the car. I feel much better now :)

    So glad to be connected with you now - I'll do the same. And yes, you must read 7. It is great - in a tough way.

  13. Oh, the food waste. Certain things go in my fridge to die a very disgusting death and I really need to change that. And I've been working on my attitude about my clothes, too. I've actually caught myself giving a second thought to purchasing yet another shirt I do not need. This is progress, because I can always justify buying another shirt! 

  14. Courtney,
    Late, late, late, but here!

    So, first off, I'm so glad you decided to read with us. I love your insight and the way you connect with your readers.

    For me, 7 has inspired (and overwhelmed!). It's for sure the kind of book I need to put down and come back to because when I think of all the areas in which I need to grow, I get stuck.

    Things I am doing since 7:

    1. Baking bread.
    2. Making a point of shopping at the Farmers' Market.
    3. Truly realizing I don't need clothes. Although I haven't implemented the 7 challenge, I've tried to ignore the majority of clothes in my clothes and focus on three summer outfits, and you now what? It is totally freeing (Makes me miss wearing a uniform to Catholic School!).

    More will come, slowly, but more will come from this I'm sure.

    Anyway, appreciate you and all the good you add to the blogosphere.

  15. I've been decluttering and streamlining, but I've gotten a few extra ideas from your post. I think we have to learn how to live in this new "constant contact" world without losing/wasting what's in front of us.

  16. I meant "missing" not losing. Perhaps I should take your advice and go to bed. :)

  17. Looks like I've just added another book to my long summer reading list.  Thanks for the inspiration! 

  18. Got it :) But yes - ! That is it: learning how to live in this "constant contact" world without missing/wasting what's in front of us. THAT is what I struggle with and that is what often is the source of my stress. It seems like all we have to do is turn things "off" but it often isn't as simple as that, because the brain has to re-center, too. Love how you framed it so succinctly for me. 

  19. Alicia BruxvoortJune 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Jen's book is on my summer list. I'm so convicted by your commitment NOT to talk on your phone in the car. Don't know why I see that as the perfect time- kids are all buckled in and we're "stuck"- which as you pointed out lends itself to opportunity with my children, not just scream control. Thanks for the nudge of conviction today!

  20. Stopping by after a little computer hiatus!  Love this post!  Perfectly stated:  "Oh, don't give me that look. I know I'm not supposed to use the phone in the car, let alone with my kids in the car, but I do, and I've seen you do it, too.) Not only is it a dangerous distraction - kind of like the kids - but it sets a bad example." *Big smiles*  I'm guilty too! :)  And, the food thing - I've actually been doing that for awhile now.  I started doing this because my child was being ridiculously picky, and I was about to explode with frustration.  Not to mention, I felt so wasteful.  Another Mom shared this idea with me, and her wording cracked me up, "If it's not good enough for dinner, then it's good enough for breakfast."  Amazing how well it works in my house! Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  21. I'm stealing your quote: "If it's not good enough for dinner, then it's good enough for breakfast." Love!

  22. I used to see it as the perfect time, too. Believe me! But now I'm convicted about plugging into THEM during that time. Still, it hasn't been easy. I've been tempted to make "just a quick call" during a quiet moment, but so far I'm resisting. 

  23. Thanks for your kind words, Amy. It's been a treat to be a part of your book club. I also feel overwhelmed by Jen's book. It is a lot to absorb. Like you, I'm focusing on a smaller portion of my closet this summer and it suddenly feels like I have more to wear. This means that a major purge is in order soon. Also, I think I would have enjoyed a school uniform. Never got to do that! 

  24. great post - I'm in woman in need of some change myself! I'm in need of cleaning out my closet too!