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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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.  ♥

Challenge

Stress Detox Challenge Part 1

This challenge comes from the beautiful Tracie Miles.  (Check her blog out at http://traciemiles.com/.)

I love that this isn’t a “how to,” that it’s deeper and gets to the core of stress.  It isn’t about getting rid of stress by removing the stress, but how to OVERCOME stress for good.

 

 

 

Day 1:  Great start!!  Getting away from blaming stress on others or our situations and start relying completely on God for His peace and guidance.

There are a lot of things in my life that could/are causing me stress:  unemployment, health, parenting, grief, debt, money (in sooo many ways!).  They do cause me stress, sometimes more than others.  Surrendering them to God gives me courage, hope, and a fresh ability to take on the day it’s challenges — not borrowing stress of tomorrow’s.

Day 2:  Peace.  We all want peace — peace in our lives, peace in our relationships, world peace.  But today was a GREAT reminder that true peace comes from God and can be in ANY circumstance, not just when we are living without conflict or struggle.  Because we will face struggles in life, finding that peace from God will help us to maintain no matter what is going on in our lives.

My view of peace today:  a simple life.  No drama.  Just living for Christ and loving others.  When I think of peace, I think of being outside, a slight breeze, warm sun on my face, and resting in the love of Jesus for me.  I don’t have to have the physical parts of my scenario…I only need the resting in Jesus part.

Day 3:  Reclaiming our identity in Christ and not how the world sees us or how we see ourselves.  This could be life-changing for many (me included!).  I am not perfect, nor will I ever be.  And I can beat myself up over those imperfections or I can accept God’s love and forgiveness despite my shortcomings.

Today I am choosing to embrace and reclaim my identity in Christ.  I don’t have to prove my worth.  My identity has not been my identity in Christ.  It has been wrapped up in proving myself and striving for perfection.  I struggle with this more than anything else.

Day 4:  Negativity.  The old glass half full/glass half empty debate.  The beauty is that you get to choose your view.  You get to have complete control (!) over this area of your life.  You may not be able to control what happens — but you can control your reaction.

My mom likes to remind (nag) me in this area.  She is consistent in reminding me to have a positive outlook.  I am blessed to have her to quickly reshape my attitude (even when it annoys me or I want to wallow in my own pity).  Negative attitudes = stress, positive attitudes = peace.  No matter what the circumstances are.

Day 5:  Trained to be stressed.  Fed lies about productivity and accomplishments being the measure of our worth.  Our society has programmed us to believe that it’s every man for himself, we must be the most productive, most accomplished, most successful to be significant or have worth.  That’s not Biblical, that’s not what God says about our worth or our value to Him.

Spending time with Jesus gives us strength and yet so often, we don’t spend time with Him because we don’t “have time.”  (Being a Martha, not a Mary.)  So relevant to really readjust our priorities and see what we define as being more important than our time with Jesus.  We need to follow God’s leading as we seek to redefine what activities we participate in and what our priorities should be.  Being in the middle of God’s will brings peace and comfort.

Part 2 coming soon!!  And I encourage you to sign up and do this challenge too!  It has been AMAZING.  God bless!!