January Fast: Spending

During the year of 2014, Theo and I have picked something different to fast from each month. I am recording this journey in my journal, but I also wanted to record some of it on my blog, both for myself, and for any readers who may be interested or curious about fasting themselves. This is halfway through January, so I am writing an update about where we are right now. At the end of January, I will do another update, and so on and so forth throughout the year. Sorry this post doesn’t have any pictures!

Fasting is a tricky thing. When we fast, we are supposed to be humbling ourselves before an Almighty God and growing closer to Him through the process. However, I always run the risk of making it about me and what I have “accomplished”. Fasting can either bring about pride, or humility.

Right now, unfortunately, I have been finding myself in the pride camp. Well, that is when I am thinking about this fasting thing at all. Today in my devotions God really spoke to me about how it’s NOT about me. It’s not about accomplishing each month with a clean track record and a successful fast.

Instead, it’s about saying, “God, I’m giving this up. Not so I can brag, or blog, or journal about it and show my grandkids one day. I’m giving this up so that their will be a hole in me. There will be something missing, something that I long for. And when I long for THAT thing, I will instead turn to You and let You fill that hole. And through that process, I will grow closer to You, and hopefully, learn to let go of earthly treasures.”

Fasting is hard. And the longer it goes, the harder it gets.

For January, we decided to fast from spending. Obviously, as responsible adults who need to eat and pay bills, it would be almost impossible to not spend ANY money for a month. So we decided that we would allow spending in three areas: groceries, bills and gas. As for groceries, we agreed to only buy from Aldi. That does limit us some, as Aldi does not always have everything we are looking for. So far, this has been very challenging. We have run into so many situations where Theo and I look at each other and say, ‘We need this. But….we aren’t spending money.” For example, windshield wipers. We need them. But we aren’t spending money. Sooo, we have to weigh which is more important: my safety driving, or sticking with the fast (I think you can probably guess which one we chose). Or, Theo needs new work shoes. The sole on his shoe randomly popped off. He has to wear black shoes, and he prefers to wear boots as he may be transporting a patient through parking lots, hospitals, grass, carpet, etc. So do we buy the much needed shoes, or do we go without for the rest of the month and Theo wears his black (and blue) tennis shoes? Ah, dilemma. Or what about gift cards? Can we go out to eat with a gift card? Technically, we aren’t SPENDING money, but we are enjoying the fruits of spending.

And then it all comes back to what I was saying in the beginning….am I not spending the money because I feel like I am accomplishing something, or because I am fully relying on God to fill that longing to spend/buy/have that item.

And baby stuff. Oh, I die. This month has been so good for me in holding off on baby stuff and random food cravings. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost stopped just to look at those little onsie’s, but instead remembered to turn my longings over to God.

This month has so far showed me that I am a failure. Yes, that is what it has taught me. Is that useful information? In the way of the world, no, it’s not. Why would you want to learn that you are a failure? Well, I now know that it is necessary to know that I am a failure in order to go through a month, or a year of fasting.

God is teaching us so much. He is starting with hearts that have no clue what they are getting into this year. He is starting with hearts that are filled with pride, and that are leaning on their own strength to get through this year of fasting. And what’s awesome is that I know he is going to do amazing things with those hearts. I continue to pray that he will change my heart from one of pride, to one of humility and complete reliance on Him. Will that be extremely difficult? Yes, it will, I have no doubt.

So, in conclusion, a couple things about this month so far:

1. We have broken our “rules”. We have bough groceries at Wal-mart (a couple times, actually). We have bought several books on Amazon that Theo needed for a class. We bought some tools to finally fix the windshield wipers on my car. We have NOT saved any more money than we would have if we weren’t fasting. But it’s not about saving money vs. spending money. It’s about our hearts. That was something that I had to really let go of, as I’m such a rule follower. I like rules, they keep me safe. But it’s not about the rules, it’s about the heart.

2. Fasting is a challenge between pride and humility. I’m only just realizing how prideful I am, and I have a long way to go.

3. Fasting is not, and should not be easy.

 

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Randoms

Nothing too serious or interesting to post today, just a couple updates on our home study, this pregnancy, and our January fast.
It has finally warmed up a little outside today, and I have been trying to work up the motivation to head outside for a walk or a jog. I’m wiped out, though. Usually I get many, many things done on Saturdays, but last night I slept 10 hours, and when I woke up, I got myself out of bed only to plop myself on the couch. I haven’t moved since. So, onto the meat of this post:

1. OUR HOME STUDY! We met with our case worker yesterday for part 1 (of 4) of the home study. Theo and I furiously cleaned the WHOLE house. I even cleaned INSIDE the closets of each of the rooms. I re-folded all of the towels and sheets in the linen cupboard. Theo spent time in the freezing garage organizing it and making sure it was clean. The lady walked it, said “hello”, and sat down at the dining room table. The only rooms she entered were the living room, the dining room and the bathroom. Well, at least I know for next time I can just throw everything into the (now organized) linen closet, and we won’t be judged for it. Ha! The meeting was over 3 hours long, and included going over paperwork, with the case worker explaining the paperwork that most people get tripped up on. We told her almost immediately about the pregnancy, and it didn’t cause any problems at all. She said we will continue the process as before, but we will be “on hold” until we decide that we are ready for a foster child. So, essentially, the ball is in our court. She did warn us, however, that if we wait too long, things will begin to expire. So for now we are praying that the Lord will show us WHEN to accept a foster child into our home. The meeting continued with a very thorough interview, asking us WHY we wanted to foster, WHAT we expected foster care to be like, what we thought the difference between foster care and adoption was. She then asked us a million questions about our childhood, our family history, and nitty-gritty details about our immediate family. It was funny because I doubt the interview would have taken as long if Theo didn’t have 6 brothers! Haha! We also spent a lot of time talking about my childhood, especially the boarding school part.

All in all, it went really well, and I’m much less nervous about the next meeting. We will continue to get our paperwork together, and continue the process until approval. When we get to approval, we will see where we are at in the pregnancy and go from there. Thank you all so much for your prayers and for asking about the home study!

2. This Pregnancy Roller Coaster. Oh. my. goodness. Those of you who know me probably think I am an emotional mess, but so far that has only happened once or twice (Theo finally picked me up and put me in bed, and said “we will talk about it in the morning”- of course, everything was fine in the morning!). Some days I absolutely LOVE being pregnant. Some days I kinda forget that I am. Some days I wonder what the heck has happened to me and how am I only 22 years old and carrying a child, that I will have responsibility for, for the rest of my life???? Ah! The morning sickness has gotten much better, and has gone from 24/7 to just in the morning before I eat something and in the evening when my body is telling me it’s done for the day. I am starting to get a little more energy, but it usually shows itself in brainstorming. “Oh, I would love to cook that recipe!” my brain says, to which my body replies, “But then I have to stand up and go to the kitchen, and get stuff out and cook it and then clean up. Ok, no thanks.” Or, “I should put make-up on and do my hair!” to which my body responds, “But then you have to stand up, and take a shower, and pick something nice to wear and put makeup on and do your hair, and then you will proceed to need a nap, which will make the whole thing pointless.”

Oh boy.

3. This weather- I’m confused. From two and half snowdays earlier this week, to weather in the 50s today. I’m confused. But I’ll take today’s weather over those awful negatives we experienced last week.

4. Our January Fast. Every month of this year, we are fasting from something different. January is our month to fast from spending. So far, it has been more challenging that I thought it would be. We decided that we would allow ourselves to spend only at Aldi, gas and medical bills. So far, we haven’t exactly saved any money this month. But I don’t think that the whole point of the month is saving money. It’s restraining ourselves from spending on this and that. So many times I stop at Wal-mart on my way to grab ONE item, and I leave with 5 or 6 things that I spotted and think I REALLY, REALLY need. Aldi is out of my way, and I have to intentionally make a list and drive all the way there to go shopping. It is really showing me what controls me, and what I don’t have control of (my spending!). It’s also really hard to not stop and get fast food! Since getting pregnant, the easiest thing to do after a long day is pick up that hamburger or that sub that I have been craving all day long. But to be free of spending this month means saying NO and going home to make myself a sub, instead of buying one. So far this month we have not been perfect. Theo needed some books for a class that he is taking, so we ended up ordering some books. We also had to buy some of our groceries at another store when the snow storm closed Aldi and we had just arrived back from 10 days in Michigan, meaning NO food in the house. I can’t believe we are only 11 days into January. I really hope that I make it through January in my regular jeans, though….cause I don’t think Aldi sells pregnancy stretch pants!

And for those of you wondering if we took into account pregnancy when we planned this year-long fast, we did. That is why I planed a fast from clothes in August (the month the little one should arrive), and a fast from food AFTER the baby is born.)

I will try to post 2-3 times a month about our fast, some posts may even be only about the fast. I challenge you to take at least one month of this year and fast from something, too!

Well, I guess that is all for now- and no pictures to share with you all, either! Sad day. I hope that your Saturday is warm, productive and enjoyable!

2014

Well, it’s a new year.

On all the blogs I follow, the trend this year seems to be to throw New Year’s resolutions out the window. I feel like this happens every year, though. New Year’s resolutions: either team DO IT or team NOT WORTH MY TIME/ENERGY/I-FAIL-EVERY-YEAR-ANYWAYS.

I am 100% team DO IT. I love lists. Any excuse to make a list/goals is totally my thing. I make a to-do list every day (there are some great smartphone apps for that!), and sometimes I even include ridiculous things, like shower, just so I can cross that off my list. So when the New Year rolls around, I absolutely love another reason to make some goals.

First, I dug out my journal from last year, and I checked out some of the goals that I had for the year:

Do a chore everyday I’m not entirely sure what I meant by this, but I did a pretty good job of creating a chore schedule and sticking with it.

Cook dinner at least 6x a week Well, I probably cooked dinner 7x a week most weeks of the year, but certainly not all.

Run a marathon Score. Check. Done and done.

Pray for at least 1 person/day I wish I had been better at this one. When I sit down to pray, I have a list of people to pray for, but I certainly did not do that on a daily basis.

Begin the process of adoption. A year ago, when I wrote that resolution, the picture in my head is totally different than where we are today. We have most certainly begun the process, although it happens to be the process of foster care, not necessarily adoption. Through several different books that I read, we felt led to begin the foster care process, and maybe be able to adopt from the foster care system. And, yes…we have our home study next Friday. So that process is certainly underway.

Graduate Cedarville with honors. Check. And make that high honors.

So, I didn’t do the best, but I probably did better at most of those tasks than if I hadn’t written them out at the beginning of the year.

This year, 2014, has more in store for us than we can even imagine! I am so excited to embark on the journeys that this year will bring us. One thing that we are doing is a year-long fast. After reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7,  I decided I wanted to do something similar. Jen Hatmaker chooses 7 things that are in excess in her life and spends one month fasting from each of them. I highly recommend her book.

Theo and I decided to change things a little bit, but to fast from something different each month of the this year. We picked 12 things and then assigned them to a month. Some months will be really tough, some months will be easier, some months will probably be harder than we would expect.

Here is our layout:

January: Fast from Spending (We can spend money for groceries (at Aldi ONLY), gas, and bills- including medical ones).

February: Fast from Music (No music in the house, car, etc.)

March: Fast from Media (No Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, Hulu, online gaming, etc. I’m still debating whether or not I will blog)

April: Fast from Possessions (Giving away what we do not need/use, and giving it directly to people in need of those items, not just a Goodwill dump)

May: Fast from Electricity (this one was all Theo’s idea! We are still debating whether we will cheat and use the oven/fridge and an outlet for charging our phones…but we have a couple months to decide. We do want to cook over our fireplace as much as possible that month, and no lights/fans/AC, washer/dryer or heat. Internet will be allowed, but only if we go to a different location with Internet, like Barnes and Noble or Panera)

June: Fast from Waste (use compost, recycle, buy Fair Trade/organic/local)

July: Fast from Stress (take a legitimate day of rest on Sundays, spend time in prayer 7x a day, at certain hours)

August: Fast from Clothing (Choose several articles of clothing, and only wear those for a month. We are still working out the details on this one.)

September: Fast from weekend commitments (just spend time as a family)

October: Fast for Hospitality (it’s not really a fast, but something that we really want to work on- so October we will be focusing on opening our home in very intentional ways- more to come on that)

November: Fast from Food (Still working out the details on this one, too, but there will be certain things that we will be forfeiting for the month. I don’t think it will be as extreme as a Daniel Fast, but something along the lines of going without sugars, or spices or other things that we are blessed to use on a daily basis, but that we take for granted)

December: Fast from Personal Bad Habits (Theo and I are doing this together, and we both have bad habits that we would like to break. Mine would probably by my iPhone or Facebook, but Theo’s would be totally different…so we are going to pick two personal bad habits and fast from them for the month).

Phew! There is a lot to look forward to, and a lot to plan for in the upcoming year! I am excited and nervous and really praying that God uses this year in our lives to grow us more like Him, and to grow our marriage to become more like a picture of Christ and the Church.

I also added a few more goals to the list:

– Read through the Bible at least 1x

– Start making money blogging

– Pay off all school loans and be DEBT-FREE!!!!

– Finish cooking through a cookbook

– Write at least 1 handwritten letter/note a week

– Log 300 miles of running/walking