Challenge, Life

Less. So there can be More.

less

Last year was the first time that I ditched resolutions for just one word.  You can read about that here and here.  I was inspired by both One Word 365 and My One Word.  Definitely check them out when choosing your word.

For 2014, I intend to remain “Intentional” and for me, during this season of my life, this means “Less”.  And “More”.  I spent weeks thinking and praying about my word for 2014. So many good ones to choose from!  But I kept coming back. Over and over. I want more from life, but there are so many things I keep tripping over (sometimes literally!) and so many things blocking my way.  In order to get to that “More”, there has to be “Less”.

Let’s start with “stuff”.  The clutter.  You know what I am talking about – those {big} piles of stuff that fill our homes. It is living on borrowed time in my house.  Every closet, drawer, and room in my home will be decluttered {and organized} by 2015.

stuff

I will value quality over quantity. My home is a part of me and I want the message my home is sending to be one of openness, hospitality, warmth, and love.  Not chaos.  I want my home to be an inspiring place to spend time.  I want a home with space to actually live.  I want to look around my home and call it enough.  I want a place to recharge and unwind.  I want to live a more simple life, focusing on people rather than on things.

But…there is also the “More”. More relationship and connection.  But for there to be more of that, there must also be less.  Less stress, less preoccupation, and less  distractions.

busy

I want my heart and my life to be full of more love and more compassion for others.  I want to really focus on living second.  This life it’s not about me…it’s about serving God and loving people.  I want more of that. I want meaningful face to face connections with others.  I want to be content, no matter what circumstances I find myself in. Happiness and joy come from a place of choosing happiness and joy.  You can’t buy that at Walmart or even Nordstrom.  What I have and who I am in each and every moment needs to be enough.

So, here’s where the rubber meets the road.  I won’t include my complete action plan, but every goal had to be a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  I am committing to:

  • 2014 things gone.  Plus one additional item for each one that I bring in.
  • Less social media and technology – every day.
  • More face to face time with friends on a regular (at least monthly) basis.
  • Stick to my budget.
  • Healthier food choices and menu planning every week.
  • More exercise – daily doing something.
  • Prioritizing my tasks, cutting down where I can.
  • Nurture traditions and make memories.

Some helpful resources I’d love to share with you!!  This blog series was really inspiring to me on my journey to less (and more). I am participating in this 2014 Challenge to reduce the clutter in my life.

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Christmas, RACK - IACL

Day 4: Nothing beats spontaneous kindness

Day 4:  Today was another one of those days that hasn’t gone as planned.  I continued being a “coupon fairy” at every store I visited today.  I love getting a great deal and I definitely scored some today!  But I was the recipient of another coupon fairy and it totally blessed me!

It was a super busy evening and all day I had been looking for opportunities for a random act.  My nephew was over hanging out while his momma was working, so we decided to go to the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie since it was dollar night.  Perfect opportunity!!  We got to bless the people behind us by buying their tickets!  It didn’t cost a lot. but her whole face lit up when I handed her the tickets.

The thing that I like about this is that sometimes I think about doing these things but I get nervous or whatever, lately it’s been a feeling of being free to give.  The focus has been on just finding ways to bless others…and just show them that someone cares about them.  I didn’t hesitate at all tonight and that encourages me.  It’s becoming easier and easier to act on my faith daily.

Today’s verses were from John chapter 1, verses 29 and 34-37.  The theme was learning that we needed Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  We also read Isaiah 9:6.  We learned that one of God’s name is Everlasting Father.

From our calendar (I will post them again after Christmas):  Tuesday, December 4Verse:  John 1:29, 34-37 (We needed Jesus’ sacrifice); Isaiah 9:6 (the Everlasting Father).  Buy movie tickets for the people behind us.

Christmas, Family, RACK - IACL

Day 2 & 3: Kindness is FUN

Day 2:  I knew today was going to be a busy day…I was right!  We had planned to go to the living Nativity near our house and we were so blessed to have not only my nephew join us, but my parents AND my sister!  My parents took us a couple times when we were little (10 and 7) and I still remember it, so I had high hopes these kiddos would love it too.  And they did!!  We decided to grab an early dinner together…perfect for today’s act of kindness!

We got our Random Acts cards ready with quarters and candy canes so we could tape them to the candy machines.  Daveid Michael (my nephew) really wanted to give one to someone…his mom.  He wanted to bless her and I thought that was super sweet of him.  Then, off to church.  It was an awesome living Nativity, that was cold but soo much fun!  They do a great job and it was well worth getting chilled for!

December 2012 001

Today’s verse was Genesis 3:6-8.  The theme was learning why Jesus came, that we needed a Savior because our sin separated us from God.  We also read Isaiah 9:6.  We learned that one of God’s name is Wonderful Counselor.

From our calendar (I will post them again after Christmas):  Sunday, December 2Verse:  Genesis 3:6-8 (Why Jesus came); Isaiah 9:6 (Wonderful counselor).  Tape quarters to candy machines.

Day 3:  Catching up from the whirlwind of the last couple of days.  Today was the planning meeting for the Spokane Orphan Summit and once I got home, it was a bit of a rough day for me!  So, we redeemed the day by spending some quality time together.  One of the reasons that I didn’t list our events before we do them, is that they are constantly changing.  So far, we have changed them around every day.  We had a little shopping today and decided today would be a great day to be “coupon fairies.”  We put out tons and tons of coupons that will *hopefully* bless future shoppers.  And we got some great deals so I was able to bless Fiona too.  And we got some great deals for upcoming Random Acts so that’s awesome too.

coupon fairy

 

 

Today’s verse was Isaiah 60:1-3.  The theme was learning about how our world needs God.  We also read Isaiah 9:6.  We learned that one of God’s name is Mighty God.

From our calendar (I will post them again after Christmas):  Monday, December 3Verse:  Isaiah 60:1-3 (World needed God); Isaiah 9:6 (The Mighty God).  Be a coupon fairy!  Take all of our extra unneeded coupons and put them with the right item for a customer!

Christmas, RACK - IACL

Day 1: Kindness Feels Good

I love love love random acts of kindness.  I try and do them as regularly as possible.  It makes me happy to be kind.  Fiona loves to join in on the anonymous ones or ones with professionals…she’s pretty shy when it comes to strangers individually.  🙂

So, today…I started off by recycling all of our plastic bags.  This isn’t our “official” one because I always save every bag and regularly recycle them.  I have become a bit of a recycling fanatic…it only goes in the garbage if it has to.  But I think that it counts for an unplanned act of kindness…the recipient being the planet Earth.

Next….we FINALLY started decorating!!  Thank goodness for Pinterest!

Here are some pics of the decorating madness:

My inspiration from Pinterest
My inspiration from Pinterest

My version (not nearly so elegant, but lovely and beautiful:

December 2012 002

Even Fiona got into the spirit:

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Our actual act of “Intentional Crazy Love” was to go through our stuff and donate it.  We have been working on this one all week!  We definitely have an abundance of stuff that could be given a new home.  I love that most everything could be given somewhere.  Even stuff not good enough to rehome can be recycled and that is being a good steward of our planet.

Along with each day of Christmas and love, we are reading specific Bible verses.  Today’s was John 3:16.  The theme was that God loves us…that’s why we love others.  We talked about the significance of this verse in our lives.  We also read Revelation 22:13.  One of the names of God (He has a lot of them!) is Alpha & Omega.  He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

From our calendar (I will post them again after Christmas):

Saturday, December 1Verse:  John 3:16 (God loves us!); Revelation 22:13 (Alpha & Omega)  Go through toys and closets for stuff to donate.  Deliver it!

Challenge

Stress Detox Challenge Part 2

This is a continuation of the Tracie Miles Stress Detox Challenge…find it at www.traciemiles.com

Day 6:  Today’s theme of refreshment is a not a foreign concept to me.  In the world of social work, especially working in domestic violence, we talk A LOT about “self-care.”  It’s meant to refresh you, recharge you, prevent burnout.  But the things that we do (manicures, bubble baths, journaling, exercise, etc) are only a temporary fix.  Jesus is the only way to have true refreshment. I have used a lot of stress relief methods — some healthy, some not.  None of them gave me true peace, they simply took my mind off of my troubles or worries for a bit.  Finding true refreshment is in our relationship with Jesus.

My goals:  more time in prayer, more time reading my Bible, better church attendance, and true surrender.  My physical pick me up?  Today it’s Christmas worship music.  My absolute fave!!

Day 7:  Forgiveness.  Such an amazing concept.  There are a lot of really good books and songs out there too.  Check out Matthew West’s song and the story behind it.  Today was a great reminder.  Forgiveness (the real stuff) is COMPLETELY letting it go.  It’s gone.  No more hurt. no more resentment or anger.  And it’s not for them, it’s really for you.  It’s such a beautiful concept and although it can be one of the hardest things that you will do, it’s worth it.

While thinking of some of the ways that I have been hurt in the past, I realized that I truly have forgiven that person.  I am however hanging on to other things and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.  Resentment can be sneaky like that.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that they were right or that you were not hurt. it’s letting the anger and resentment out of us though.  The beautiful thing is…I can say anything to God, vent, get it off my chest, so that I can move on.  He can give me the strength to move past the hurt, to the healing.

Day 8:  When we spend our time and energy focusing on what stresses us, instead of on Christ — we lose sight of the big picture.  While sometimes we do need to deal with our stressors and work to eliminate them (or get through them), we can clearly focus on Christ while doing it.  Using His strength to get us through.  Instead of worrying or adding stress by simply focusing on the problem we are facing. Realizing what is actually causing you stress or making you feel hopeless is the first step.  Asking God to give you guidance and help you to see things through His eyes is the next.

I have been unemployed for the last eight months and the situation gets a bit desperate at times.  I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I am cranky and irritable.  But when I remember the promises of God’s Word — that He will provide for me and realize how He has repeatedly done that over the last few months, I can rest in that.  And it works.  I have to do my part, applying for jobs and whatever, but I can trust that He will be with me every step of the way.  Holding my hand — sometimes it’s carrying me completely.  But He doesn’t ever let me down or leave me.

Day 9: Today was fantastic.  We can choose to be a victim.  We may not have chosen our circumstances, but we do not have to become victims of them.  (Sometimes we do “choose” our circumstances, maybe not intentionally but we made poor choices that have landed us here.)  We can stand with Christ and be victors over our circumstances.  What power!  What joy!  It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have to make a committed CHOICE to be a victor and not a victim.  This does not happen naturally.  We can’t do it without God.  We must stand firm in Him.  We can choose to be joyful in all things or we can allow others to take that from us.  We hold the power.

I have a picture in my bedroom that reminds me of this.  It says, “Today I choose joy.”  Because each and every day I have to choose whether to keep or give my joy away.  And I choose joy.

Day 10: Real, true happiness is a choice.  Money can’t buy it.  No one can give it to you.  No one can “take” it from you.  You choose to be happy or not.  Life is going to be stressful, there are going to be challenges.  And we might not feel happy 100% of the time, but overall true, abiding happiness is within our reach.  And it comes from a relationship with Jesus and daily walking with Him through our struggles.  We will still have them, but how we face them is the key.  (I would highly recommend the documentary Happy.  It’s pretty amazing.)

So, I am going to crank up the radio and get to work on my huge list.  But I am also going to take time to recharge — go to bed early, chat with Fiona, and spend some time with God.  I can’t think of a better evening.  ♥