October 1, 2011

Day 30 came and went…

30-Days of Nothing Challenge - COMPLETED

To be honest, I was just focused on trying to IGNORE the fact that I was on the final countdown.  And because I ignored it, the day went very fast and I had no time to melt my energy on any last minute temptations.  In fact, last night I got to be out with an amazing group of girlfriends – and they were counting down the hours with me right up until we were all too tired to keep it up and called ourselves “old” at 11:10pm. 

I could probably talk a lot about the benefits of a self-discipline like this; money saved, exercising of will-power, lessons in frugality and realization of habits.  All of those things are worthy reasons to have done it. 

I could share with you how even in the 11th hour, Anton withstood the temptation to spend with what boiled down to some pretty amazing integrity.  You see, he had to go to a meeting and it was at one of his favorite (I mean, FAVORITE) burger joints.  There he sat for two hours...with a glass of water...while his co-workers ooh'd and aah'd over their hamburgers and fries.  Not easy to do.  Especially when you have a gift-card in your pocket.  (EEK!)  But it's the principle - something I admit he is much better about than I am.  I would have whipped out the gift-card faster than a jack-rabbit can rocket across a field!

On the other hand, there are other reasons to do this challenge; with the ever-changing economy, it’s nice to remind yourself that you can in fact, do “without” all the extras we’ve grown accustomed to.  And not just minimally, but really and truly living well.  Because you saw the meals we had – it wasn’t Hungry Man every other night.  It was good eats!  And our outings were creative – mall picnics, play-dates, library visits, and good times with friends.  We were forced to be creative with how we spent our resources, and in doing so, we found wonderful ways to be together that didn’t involve money at all.

And to be honest, we were forced to re-evaluate where our funds go, and self-examine if we’re happy with the answers.  To re-assess if we’re using our resources wisely or purely for self.  Are we investing in things that have long-term reward or short term gain?  And I’m not talking about an IRA.  I’m speaking about heavenly treasures.  The whole…”Because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."….gulp.  (Luke 12:34)  We’ve had to ask ourselves honesty, where are our treasures stored?  In the “stuff” we’ve managed to acquire?  In our house?  In our cars?  In our dining choices?  Is our treasure in our money?  Because I don’t have to tell you…that is a serious short term gain.  Shouldn’t those who have been entrusted with much, DO much?  And you need only look at the rest of our world to know that you (yes, you) are blessed and have been given much. 

I think Anton and I felt a lot of conviction about how we give.  How much of our resources are wasted each month on temporary satisfaction and convenience?  How could those resources benefit others.  And how does God require us to use what He has given us.  I read a quote yesterday that really struck a chord with me…

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.” - Stephen Colbert

Ouch. That from someone who is admittedly not a Christian, and who meant it in the most sarcastic of ways. Still, it hit its mark a little too well.  Because it's far too accurate.   

That’s the most important thing we’ve learned about 30-Days.  We’ve been blessed with so much – far more than most of the world can claim.  And yet.  Here we sit, whining about missing out on Taco Bell because we can’t be bothered to cook from the plethora of food sitting at home in our pantry.  A luxury millions of children go without their entire lifetimes.

Have we become that jaded?  Have we really turned a blind eye to so much suffering, right in our own communities?  I’ll speak for myself.  Yes. 

Perspective, it turns out, through firsthand application, is everything. 

It’s everything.

Day 30 Menu – no pics

Breakfast: English Muffins and jam

Lunch: Leftover Chili – mmm mmm good!

Dinner: So, I got to indulge in a wonderful meal made by my sweet friend Laura – we had a lovely spinach salad with goat cheese and strawberries, Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti receipe (OMG DELISH!) and Brownie Sundaes!  Let me tell you – it was amazing!  The best part was sharing it with about 14 other amazing women!  Sooooo fun! 

Meanwhile, back at La Casa ABCB, the kids and Anton had homemade nachos. 

I have loved following those of you who have participated – even if it was just the Empty Pantry portion…

I have loved getting to know some new friends along the road…

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing about our experience…

And I am proud of the way we finished strong!

If you participated but did not blog, would you e-mail me your story?  I would LOVE to read it!  You can E-MAIL ME HERE

And don't forget to congratulate those who made it alongside me!


So now what?

Well - a couple of things.  We've decided that Challenges are really good.  For all kinds of reasons.  They have lots of benefits, the least of which is honing our DISCIPLINE.  So with that in mind, and a great Challenge officially over - we've decided to do a new Challenge every month for a year.  Some I will blog about a lot - others I will mention, invite you to join, and then not spend a great deal of focus on.

For the month of October, we will be participating in the following Challenge:

This is a family challenge to live by the following verse for 30 Days (and hopefully far beyond): 

James 1:19 - "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."

One of the things we are really anxious to work on in our family is being too angry, too quick to speak, and way too fast to DEFEND our actions.  We need to develop an attitude of gentleness toward each other.

So for one month, we are going to work each and every day to live by this verse.  We are posting it on the refrigerator, on the mirrors, and anywhere else we think it might help us to remember.

Anton and I are going to work very hard at listening and not defending when a conflict arises.

I read a great article by Joshua Straub in the magazine "Thriving Family" by James Dobson's Focus on the Family.  A wonderful quote that really stuck with me was this:

"The famous preacher A.W. Tozer wrote that one of the five keys to a deeper spiritual life is to never defend ourselves.  When we do, we put up emotional guards that make us hard and self-centered.  In turn, we cast blame in an attempt to protect ourselves."

And then about marriage and family life:

"{We} found that gentleness did not depend on who was right, but on lowering our defenses and handling each other with care."

They ask some really thought provoking questions for married couples and families alike - see how they grab you:

  • How have we shown gentleness toward one another?
  • In what areas of our marriage/family life do we need to practice gentleness toward each other?
  • When we're tempted to defend ourselves, how can we protect one another instead?

So if you'd like to take the challenge with us - if you feel your family could use a good dose of "No Defense" and more gentleness, then we'd be honored to have you along.  You can grab the image above to blog about your 30 Days, and link it back to Bushel & A Peck.  As always, those of you who don't blog - I love to hear from you - feel free to e-mail me about your participation and experience!

I'll be writing about our "No Defense" victories and our (inevitable) short-comings over the month of October - and as always - keeping it real.  

I have an AWESOME and very difficult personal challenge brewing for January.  After the holidays.  After all the traveling, parties, and extreme dessert overload that is October – December.  I’ll share more information later when I have the details worked out!  You know you want in...stay-tuned!

Thank you to all of you who encouraged us through this month and for all of the amazing gifts and thoughtful e-mails and notes I received.  What a great group of people my readers are! Muah!



P.s. More about my awesome October Blog Theme tomorrow!

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