Wednesday, September 19, 2012

7 possessions week: recap

I've got some catching up to do. After food week and clothing week, we took a little bit of time off of 7 to regroup and go on a cruise. A few weeks ago was possessions week, with the challenge being giving away seven items a day for a week. That's 49 items. This is still a work in progress for me. I started cleaning things out and then things got busy and I haven't finished. I was just going to wait until the end of the week and give everything away at once, but that week is long gone so once I finally get done I'll give everything away. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time for that during media week. 

This is a picture of the things I've gotten together to give away. (Except the exercise ball.) (Which I could totally give away because I never use it.) 

I don't know exactly how many items I have to give away, but I counted roughly and quit when I got to 50. So I think it's safe to say there are 60-70 items I already have. Clothes, bathing suits, shoes, dish towels, bath towels, bath cloths, picture frames. There's no telling how many I will add to the pile when I finally finish going through everything in my house. Not to mention, I just cleaned out my room at my parent's house and gave away tons of stuff. These are all things that I don't use and/or don't need anymore, so chances are, I won't even miss them or know they are gone. 

And that got me to thinking, how in the world do I have so much STUFF that I can give away (probably) close to 100 items and NOT EVEN MISS THEM?!?! Granted, not all of these were purchased by me; some of the things I am getting rid of were given to me, but I'm sure I spent plenty of money on the things in that pile that I bought. And now I'm just giving it away and won't even know it's gone! What the heck?! There are people starving because they don't have money for food, or homeless because they can't pay their rent, and here I am getting rid of all of these things (that I clearly don't need) that were bought with money that could have been used for things that actually matter! I'm pretty sure this is the exact opposite of what it means to be a good steward of your money. And by "your money" I mean "my money." 

I want to be a better steward of the things God has blessed me with, so my prayer is that I will stop throwing away money on THINGS that I will ultimately throw out and never miss, and will use that to meet needs that will bring Him glory. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

7 clothes week: recap

This past week of 7 was eighty billion times easier than the last week. This week's focus was clothes. The challenge? Only wear seven articles of clothing, all week. This didn't include underclothes, workout clothes, or shoes. Only two pairs of shoes, and no accessories, other than a watch, which is pretty much a necessity for me. My wardrobe for the week consisted of two pairs of scrub pants, two Target tees, a pair of khaki shorts, a t-shirt, and a dress. This was pretty easy since I basically wear the same thing to work every day, didn't do much after work, and didn't really have weekend plans. I'm sure had this challenge fallen during some down time where I had a lot of fun plans it would've been much more difficult. 

One of the things I thought about this week was how much time we spend on appearances. And by "we," I most definitely mean "I." I spend so much time every day making sure I look okay. Almost without fail, I will take a shower, do something to my hair, and put on some make-up before I go to work. And if I'm going out to dinner with friends, I'll take a little extra time to make sure I look okay and have a cute outfit on, and probably some accessories to match. But how much time do I spend making sure what is on the inside, what the Lord sees, is as acceptable as what is on the outside?

"...The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

Honestly? I don't spend nearly enough time working on the "inside," and don't even want to compare it to the time I spend working on the "outside." This is definitely an area I need to work on.

I finished a DIY project this week that hangs on my closet door. I need a daily reminder that just as intentionally as I pull an outfit out of my closet to "clothe myself with" for the day, I have to just as intentionally clothe myself with things that are so much more important: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
Colossians 3:12

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

7 food week: recap

chicken (grilled), bread (whole grain), cheese (mozzarella), peanut butter, spinach, grapes, sweet potatoes

This week of 7 was HARD. If I had to eat peanut butter toast for one more breakfast I thought I was going to gag. The monotony of eating the same seven foods, day in and day out, was a lot more difficult than I anticipated. By the end of the first day, I had eaten peanut butter toast for breakfast, a chicken and cheese sandwich and grapes for lunch, grapes and cheese for a snack, and a spinach and grilled chicken salad and baked sweet potato slices for dinner. (That's basically what my diet looked like all week). Honestly, by dinner of the first day I was already tired of eating the same foods. So, instead of eating what was on the list, I just didn't eat at all. Needless to say, by the end of the night, I was hungry and a little weak from such a drastic change in diet. As I picked up my Bible to work on my Bible study for the night, I was whining to myself, thinking, "I'm so hungry and weak I don't even know if I can concentrate on this." Mind you, this was after only ONE day, and I totally realize how spoiled I am. Anyway, I opened my Bible to the passage we were studying in Habakkuk, and this is what I read:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

-Habakkuk 3:17-19

I just loved the grace I felt when I read this passage. In the midst of my whining about something SO small, God reminded me that HE is my strength and HE makes my feet swift like the feet of a deer. And I needed a reminder that "though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines" (or in my case, "I am only allowing myself to eat seven foods this week and it is not fun and I'm just plain hungry"), I needed to still "rejoice in the Lord" and "be joyful in God my Savior. And, just to make the point a little plainer, I read through my devotion book, Jesus Calling, before going to bed and lo and behold, the verse for that day was the EXACT same verse from Habakkuk. Okay God, got it. 

I realized this week that a huge area I need to work on in my life is gratitude. Instead of being thankful that I had seven very healthy foods in abundance that I could have at any time I wanted, I whined and complained about how I was tired of those foods and I wanted something else, anything else to eat. I couldn't help but think of people who eat rice and beans for every meal, or are homeless and begging for someone to feed them, or children who actually go to bed hungry because they haven't had anything to eat all day, or the 25,000 people who die every DAY of hunger or hunger-related causes. 

Even after one day of limiting my food options, I already wanted to quit. Probably the one thing that spurred me on to completion more than anything was a nine year old boy. This particular little boy is one of my patients who I have been treating for a while, and have come to love him and his family. Because of a medical condition, he is on a severely restricted diet, with supplements via feeding tube. He is only able to eat eight foods. EIGHT FOODS! He does this day in, day out, and has for years. So I figured if he could do it every day for years, I could do it every day for a week. 

A few confessions:
  • My 7 days was actually only 6. The other girls doing this with me started a day before me because I hadn't been to the grocery store yet. I suppose I could have gone an extra day but I thought it was poetic to end on a Sunday. Actually I was just really hungry and wanted to be done with my friends. And eat whatever I wanted.
  • The other girls only drank water. I couldn't give up my morning cup of coffee. Other than that it was just water. No Coke Zero at lunch. Although I always love my morning coffee, I REALLY loved it last week.
  • We decided a little butter, salad dressing, and mayonnaise was okay. I used Chick-fil-A sauce on a grilled chicken sandwich for lunch one day. And I ate a piece of Lindsay's cheesy bread and dipped it in marinara sauce. Whoops.
  • My food list specified only grilled chicken and mozzarella cheese. We went to Mellow Mushroom twice and I got a grilled chicken and cheese hoagie both times. Except it was teriyaki grilled chicken and provolone cheese. Whoops again.
Lindsay and I ended our 7 fast on Sunday evening at sundown. We celebrated with Five Guys Burgers and Fries and had cheeseburgers and fries, and then came home and baked chocolate chip cookies. It was heavenly. 

This week's theme...clothes. Seven items of clothes, all week long. More to come!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

peer pressure

A while back, Lindsay told me about this book she was reading. The name of it is 7, by Jen Hatmaker. Jen is a [funny, Jesus-loving, make-you-rethink-what-it-looks-like-to-be-a-Christian] Christian author and speaker who embarked on a social experiment of sorts, and documented it in her book. 7 is "an experimental mutiny against excess," in which she, her family, and some of her friends took seven areas in which most Americans have serious excess and spent one month focusing on each area. Areas: food, clothes, spending, possessions, media, waste, and stress. The challenge? For a month (with each area focused on for one month, then moving on to the next area/month), only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, spend money in seven places, eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe "seven sacred pauses." 

Sounded...interesting, and a little weird. I didn't give it much thought, until Lindsay brought it up again and said she thought we should do a modified version of it. My initial reaction was, "I don't want to do that, but have fun!" To be honest, none of it sounded like any fun, and I didn't want to give up any of my conveniences to participate. 

After reading an email Lindsay wrote explaining how we could modify it so that it isn't so extreme, I was a little more interested. Then, I borrowed the book and was on board. The book is great and I definitely recommend it. The basic goal of her whole 7 month experiment, is

        "Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your Kingdom. I        will reduce, so He can increase." -Jen Hatmaker

In our modified version, we are only doing a week focusing on each area, rather than an entire month. First to come!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Every Tuesday afternoon, I get to spend 45 minutes teaching these precious little ones. Plus 4 more who have joined our special needs ballet class since this picture was taken. Forty-five minutes of joy, craziness, dancing, and love. The best 45 minutes of my week.

I am their "teacher," but I find myself learning more important lessons from them than they can possibly learn from me. I teach them that ballet is in French, and how to do plies, and that ballerinas always point their toes, but they teach me things far more important.

We have a sweet little girl, C, in our class, who loves to dance and is a chatterbox. She has been taking since I started teaching this class in the fall. I often have to remind her to zip her lips so that the other children can hear me talk.

We also have a newer friend, M, in our class, who joined us a couple of months ago. She is nonverbal, and older, and taller than the other girls. Because of her deficits, I'm not sure exactly how much she understands about what is going on. She is naturally a loner, so it takes some effort to get her to join the class and participate in what we are doing. A lot of the girls gravitate towards each other, and talk to each other, but M hasn't really done that with anyone, or shown any kind of desire to "hang around" any of the other students.

Last week, I put the girls in pairs to do a step across the floor. They have to hold hands, facing each other, and chasse across the floor. I was naming off partners, and said that C and M would be going together. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, C threw her hands up in the air and yelled excitedly, "Yes! I get to go with M! I get to go with M!"

I was speechless.

In that excitement about who her partner was, this little one taught me about looking at someone else through eyes of love, and really, like Jesus does. She did not care that this child had never spoken a word to her. She did not care that this child had never smiled at her, or wanted to stand beside her during class. I even glanced over a little later, and M was resistant to holding hands with C. But C was patiently standing there, encouraging her to hold hands so that they could dance together. With no expectation of anything in return, sweet little C threw up her hands in excitement and exclaimed how excited she was that she got to be M's partner.

What a beautiful picture of how Jesus looks at us. Regardless of our actions, or our behaviors, he DESIRES to be with us. It doesn't matter what we've done, or haven't done. That has all been covered by His precious blood. He loves us, and wants to hold our hands. Even when we will surely fail and fall again.

I want to look at people like C looks at M, and at everyone. Her sweet eyes are blinded to disabilities and deficits. And don't we all have disabilities and deficits? She looks with eyes of love. She sees a beautiful, worthwhile, valuable person of infinite worth. That's what I want to see with every pair of eyes I look into.

And they call me the teacher.