Thursday, May 7, 2015

to the woman who bought my stuff

Our shopping fast prohibits buying gifts for our kids, so with Chelise's birthday coming up, I've had to think creatively as far as what we can do. She is such a girl and loves anything pretty, and I have a huge stash of beading supplies, so I decided to make her some bracelets. I realized this was a good decision when she had a major meltdown because I took off the bracelet she was wearing to measure its length.

Unfortunately, I lacked 2 items I really needed to actually make the bracelets (clasps and wire). What to do? I dug through my supplies and found 3 recently-purchased items that I hadn't opened, so decided to return/exchange them in order to get what I needed. I ran this by Morgan to make sure he was on board with the sort-of-compromise. He was, so I went to do my shopping.

Even though I wasn't spending more money, and even though it wasn't technically breaking our fast, I still felt not-quite-right going through the aisles of Hobby Lobby. I was determined to stick to my budget of returned-merchandise money ($3). But still... I was buying something I didn't technically need.

With my 2 items in hand, I went to stand in line. The lady in front of me saw I only had 2 items and apologized for not letting me go first since she had a cart full (people frequently feel sorry for pregnant women of my size, I've noticed). Then she told me to toss my items on the counter, she would pay for them. I graciously thanked her but said no, that's ok, I didn't want her to have to do that. She insisted. I protested again. She insisted again. So I did and offered her the cash I'd just gotten for my return. She refused. And so she paid for my items.

It was so little, but I was so overwhelmed. It was a gift, not just from this total stranger, but from God who put it in her heart to do. I was SO blessed. After a little chat, and a huge thank you, I went to the car and thanked the Lord with tears. I felt so loved! The $3 from the return I used for groceries, and even though it was only $3, it was still a reminder that He is the One who provides for our needs, and sometimes even provides for something we don't really need.

She had no idea what buying my 2 little items meant. There weren't really words to tell her in the 5 minutes of interaction we shared. But she showed me Jesus, and that blessed me more than words could say.

On a side note, I love the bracelets I was able to make with the items she purchased. I think Chelise is going to love them too!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I Want to Shop For

I've hit my first obstacle in our shopping fast. 1 month down and I haven't really struggled with overwhelming shopping desires so far. I have, however, come across a stumbling block.

I the past I've had a hobby of making/selling pens out of wood and other materials. I had someone approach me with a request for a pen to give as a gift, so last week i got to make the first pen I've made in about 7 years.

One of the decisions pen turners have to decide is how to finish the pen. One of the most beautiful and likely the most durable finish you can use is a super glue finish. Sparing you a more detailed explanation, using a super glue finish gives you a thin, high gloss, extremely durable layer of plastic over your wood. I never have figured out how to do this finish properly - until last week. Having finally figured it out, I was super-excited to make myself a pen, the 2nd pen I've made in the past 7 years. That's the pen in the picture above.

The problem now is this - I'm out of super glue! No more super-shiny beautiful finishes for my projects! I do have a Lowes giftcard leftover from Christmas which falls under the birthday/Christmas gifts from other exemption, but I'm definitely feeling the need not to blow it, since it's all I have for the next 11 months.

I guess I won't have any true need for more super glue until I have another reason (other than just wanting to) to turn any more pens, but having picked up the hobby again, I'm itching to do more! One thing I've realized about creative hobbies is that unless you have people wanting to buy or take whatever it is you make, you end up accumulating stuff. So even if I had all the super glue my heart could desire, there would be no point in amassing a huge stockpile of pens around our house - it'd just be one more thing to minimalize.

Sigh... Time to focus on the things around the house that actually need to be accomplished...

Friday, May 1, 2015

something to fill the void

1 month down, 11 more to go on our shopping fast. It's been an interesting journey so far, and I've noticed several things about myself:

1) Consumerism is an addiction. Or at least it has been for me. I have to avoid looking at the ads, avoid looking at the fabric (new projects are my weakness), avoid looking at the style boards showing me all the outfits I could put together if I just had ___. I know that if I look, I will want, and if I want, I will have to go through the whole internal struggle, the desire to justify a purchase, the ultimate pain of saying no... It sounds so serious, when it's really quite ridiculous. So I can't buy myself fabric to make a new scarf! Why should that be hard?!?

2) I was spending money like a fiend and never even realized it. Since we've gone on our fast, our spending (obviously) has come to a screeching halt. It's amazing how little I'm spending if all I'm shopping for are groceries and diapers! I had no idea I was spending so much, and now looking back, I'm not even sure what in the world I was buying! It was simply the attitude of consuming, of buying more, of allowing myself to be attracted by something and taking part because I could.

3) I'm bored. Shopping, consuming, new things... it was something to keep me occupied, something about which to be excited. Even if it was simply a pen, it was something new, something to go out and buy to fill my otherwise boring life with an interesting tidbit. Yesterday I went to Target to exchange a box of diapers for a bigger size. I decided to quickly peruse the sale section for kids clothes. Morgan and I decided that yes, clothes for the kids are actually a need, but I also tend to go a bit crazy with clothes, so I made myself an extremely specific list so that I don't buy more than they need (like: 2T gold tights, 1. 3T winter top matching black pants, 1. 5T khaki play-pants, 1. etc). I actually found 2 items on my need-list for the kids on the sale racks for awesome prices so I bought them. The purchase was so not exciting (I found the pair of khaki play-pants for Emerson and a pair of jeans for Chelise), but I felt like an addict getting a fix. I'm embarrassed even to admit how extreme my dependence on stuff has become!

But then I started thinking about it... My life really is pretty boring. My conversations are almost exclusively with a 4-year-old and 22-month-old, and my activities consist mostly of washing dishes, breaking up tussles, disciplining backtalk, wiping butts, occasionally doing something as exciting as getting groceries. Up till 1 month ago, I dealt with my boredom by shopping. Looking at how high our credit card bills were getting every month, I must have been really bored! I know I'm doing the most important thing I could ever do - raise my children and spend these precious and short years with them. I know it, believe it, and wouldn't trade it for anything!! This is what I want to be doing!! But... yeah, it can be pretty boring.

4) I need something better than shopping to fill my heart. I used to look forward to Morgan coming home just so I could run out and do... something! By myself, of course, alone in the van, without listening to Veggie Tales. But this week we haven't needed groceries, and until I needed to get diapers, I had nothing to go out and do. The boredom settled on me. It weighed on me as heavily as the persistent clouds. I needed the sunshine of something to fill that void. Harry Potter got pulled back out to play in the background as I do my daily chores. But even Harry Potter can't quite fill the void of needing something to enjoy in a day of humdrum. I need to learn how to turn to God and let Him fill this void. Jesus wants my heart completely, and so as I rid myself of the idols, I want Him to replace them.

Practically speaking, what does that mean??? I don't know. But I want to know. I want to be excited about Him, about the mysteries of His ways, about the incredible truths of His Word! This week, I have asked myself what I need to do in order to turn this idol into devotion. I don't want simply not to shop for a year; I want to be changed. And so I ask the Lord to show me what this means. Show me, Lord, what You want for my days, so that You are the joy that fills them and You are my excitement in them.

Jeremiah 33:3 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' I believe You, Lord, and I am excited. I am waiting. I am wanting You instead of stuff. And I know You will do far beyond anything I can ask or imagine.