Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Difference Project

I read about The Difference Project a couple months ago on The Blair Affairs where Jennifer has a great blog full of Godly encouragement and cute anecdotes about her life with her husband. She's in the middle of 9 months of no new clothes. When I first read about the project, I thought it was a great idea (especially since the book that inspired it was Radical by David Platt and I love the principles of that book) but I didn't really feel like throwing myself into it, to be honest.

Actually, for the past several months I have known that there was a desperate need for change in my finances. I have been carelessly spending money for so long, not putting much thought into where it's going and if I'm being faithful to God through my financial decisions.

While Jennifer knows that her weakness is in clothes, my weakness is in makeup. When I was working at Forever 21, shopping for clothes was definitely my biggest vice, but since I stopped working there, makeup has been an ultimate weakness. I've never been a girl who needs makeup, but it is/was so satisfying to me to buy new, pretty things. When I look back over the past 6 months, I'm honestly ashamed at how much of my money has essentially gone down the drain. Or in the air. Or on my skin only to be washed off.

Now, this isn't to say I've stopped wearing makeup. I love makeup and will continue to use the products I already own. I love the process of getting out of a shower with a fresh face and putting on a new look. I love to feel feminine and pretty, but I am no longer throwing my money away. It wasn't intentional, but I'm doing my own version of the Difference Project.

Part of this process is redirecting my money to better things. July is my first month sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Our business is sponsoring two, but I wanted to sponsor one personally with my own money, so I decided to make sure there is a place in my monthly budget for this beautiful girl to be taken care of. It's amazing how good it feels to give back, even in a small way.

It's also amazing to me how much of a difference it makes for my heart when I know I'm using the money and resources God has given me for things He loves. I'm not doing great, but I'm taking small steps of obedience to use the abundant blessings He has given me to serve others. Little things as simple as handing a $5 bill to the guy outside Harris Teeter asking for donations put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Even small things like that make me feel closer to God, like I'm taking a deliberate step in His direction. It is beautiful and freeing to let go of the material possessions that have become soul-anchors.

It's been a month since I've bought new makeup or clothing with my own money (it was my birthday month so I did get mascara and some new clothes with a gift card), and I definitely want to keep it up. I know for the first time in a long time that God is pleased with my steps of faith and obedience. It's amazing. This decision to commit my daily act of managing money to Him and trusting that He will bless me when I use my resources for His glory is more heart-changing than any other; even more than making promises to read my bible more or pray more. I know that He is faithful and the blessings He pours out on me are truly enjoyed when they are given away.

[he] who lends his money to the poor without interest, who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. whoever does these things will never be shaken. {psalm 15.5}

whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. this too is meaningless. {ecclesiastes 5.10}

bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if i will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. {malachi 3.10}

What are you doing with the resources God has blessed you with? I know that everyone has heard the statements about how rich we are in America. It's true, we are blessed. But I don't believe we have to feel bad because God has given us good things. However, we do need to use those good things for the good of others. Are you using your money wisely? If you truly don't feel that you have money to spare, are you serving those in need some other way? Is there time you can give for someone who just needs to be loved? I know I'm not the best, but I know that God is moving in my heart to serve and love others using the blessings He has given me.

If you're looking for inspiration and advice on money check these out:

+ Jennifer's initial post on The Difference Project

+ J.Money keeps a blog all about budgeting. He runs you through his own personal financial decisions and helps lay out new methods to budget and keep track of your money in a way that doesn't even seem possible to me. The amount of detail he goes into is impressive. Check it out at www.budgetsaresexy.com :)

+ Lauren's post two years ago about budgeting, giving and organization. In my mind, Lauren is the queen of taking a thousand tiny, complex principles and rolling them out into one well-written blog that cuts to the heart of the issue. Here, she gives some helpful websites and tips to keep it together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I feel beautiful today, God.
is that You?
i know it's not me. I haven't showered in 3 days and I put minimal effort into my outfit this morning.
it's certainly not the world whispering to my heart, "you look lovely."
it must be You.
Pursuer of my heart.
Creator of my dreams.
Lover of my spirit.
every day i search for Your voice in my life, without realizing that Your ways are not my ways,
Your thoughts are not my thoughts,
Your voice is one that my weak ears do not easily tune in to.
i don't always realize that if i just stopped floundering about for a minute,
if i stopped hyperventilating and frantically searching for You,
if i just decided to sit and be still--You will find me there.
You will see me.
You know me.
when the world wants me to try harder and do more, You ask me to sit still and rest in You.
when the world wants me to feel guilty and shamed, You ask me to believe i'm free.
You are the one who believes in me.
You are the one who carries me and loves me.
You are the one who calls me beautiful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

love and respect: putting theory into practice

A few weeks ago, Robert and I started meeting with a group of people and walking through a dvd series based on the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge.

One of the first questions we were asked was "Do you think marriage is hard?"
We talked about it in the car on the way, and Rob's answer was no.

Five minutes later, I was crying and we were arguing.

I really think marriage is hard, and that's ok.
You take two people who are (sometimes completely) different, have them live together and share all aspects of their lives, goodbadandugly.
Things are going to get hard. And that's not a bad thing.
I think we all know by now that life is not all rainbows and sunshine.
But I think that if you can find the heart of an issue, you can solve the problem. 

Last night, Robert wanted to play video games and I wanted to spend time with him...not playing video games.
Round 1: I realize he is not going to fight for me. I may have told him it's ok to play his game, but now I'm pouting because he didn't object. Now we're both mad for reasons that don't really make sense.

Round 2: I sit and think for a minute. I realize that I've read about this a dozen times in the book Love & Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs. I felt unloved by his willingness to disengage from me. I was hurt by his decision even though I opened the door for him. In return, I acted disrespectfully and stomped off like a child dishonoring a parent. He responded with an unloving comment about me being immature. So on and so forth, in the "crazy cycle" as Eggerichs calls it.

So after thinking about it, I tried to explain to him how we went from happy to frustrated in a matter of seconds. It feels so silly to explain "well I felt unloved by that, so I acted disrespectfully." I don't know why, it just feels silly to just...say it. But it just makes life so much easier when I can see the heart of what's really going on.

So ladies, the next time you react in a disrespectful way, think about why. Is it because you're just too emotional or quick to react? Or is it because for a moment, you felt unloved, and the only way you could think to react was in disrespect.
When your husband/boyfriend/brother/male acquaintance says something surprisingly hurtful to you, is it because he's a misogynistic jerk? Or is it because he felt disrespected and belittled by what you said and his quickest reaction is to strike back with unloving words?

For me, at least, the sooner I realize why my husband and I react this way, the sooner we can break the cycle and spend more time doing enjoyable things, such as...not fighting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Big Year

I was going to let my 23rd birthday come and go without much mention, but then I started thinking about what happened in the last year. I just can't pass up this opportunity to look back and what God has done in my life this year.

+ Marriage. holy cow. I got married when I was 22 years old. I'm still a baby! Sometimes it seems so crazy to me that God is trusting me to form a good life with someone else permanently. This person is mine to love, comfort, care for, share with and serve. The first six months of our marriage have been a blast. There have been challenging times for sure, but I would not want to share this experience with anyone else.

 this is literally what i wore to get married. i'm so glamorous

+ Business. another holy cow. At 22 I got to do something I never thought I would: quit my (not great but relatively safe) job and go to work with my husband, owning and running our own business. Fixing cars! I know nothing about cars and next to nothing about running an office, but here I am, in charge of bills, paperwork, customer service and a plethora of random tasks to make Robert's life easier. It is definitely not an easy job, but it is stretching me and growing me in so many ways.

+ I think those two things are enough to call it a very busy and very amazing year, but add to that a brand new kitty, several friends and family staying with us for several weeks, lots and lots of church stuff, and of course the never-ending process of God moving and changing our hearts. I am in love with Charlotte. I love living here and being a part of this city. I get the feeling that one day God will call us out of our box to live somewhere else, somewhere new to us and exciting, but for now, I'm so thankful that He has us here.

My birthday was great, but my 22nd year of life was just ridiculous. God has done some phenomenal things with me. Year 22 was a big year in obvious ways: marriage, business, family. I think year 23 will be a huge one spiritually. As we get more settled into this new life, I believe my heart is going to continue getting a bit unsettled. I can already feel a change in the way I want to serve and love others, spend my money and use my time. I'm so looking forward to whatever is ahead in the next year.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Cleaning

I decided this week that it's time to clean up some things in my life. I think I've been doing the same things, the same way, with the same view for so long that I've just been in a bit of a trance. So this week I woke up a little and decided to do some cleaning.

I spent the last couple days purging my tumblr dashboard and ridding it of all the useless images and subjects on it. I've been flooding my eyes with trash for the longest time, and it's time to get a grip on things and give my brain a break. I've been trying to shove so much through my mind's filter that not enough good, beautiful and lovely things are getting through.

I made a new list on my listography of general goals, such as devoting a set time to writing/singing/creative outlets, developing a mission for my life and an idea of who I really want to be, volunteering with some local organizations (especially ones that help children), and having a bit more structure in my planning.

As always, a general goal for myself is to dive into Scripture more. The Word of God is so powerful and meaningful to me, and yet, I don't spend nearly enough time doting on it. My friend Max wrote an amazing blog about Truth this week that left me hungry for more of God.

I like the feeling of knowing I can make improvements in my life without the weight of having to change things drastically. So often I burden myself with huge, unattainable goals that take forever to accomplish, so I never do. I really feel that the Lord has a lot to speak into me right now, and I'm ready to clean up a bit and clear some space in my life, heart and mind to truly hear Him the way I need to.

Also, this week, I got a beautiful kitten for my birthday. My husband is so wonderful and caring. He doesn't love cats, but he knew how much I truly wanted one. On Tuesday night after work, this little thing came into our lives

It's not the best picture (I'll have more later), but she is so dang cute. Her name is Spricket and she's a beautiful little 2 month old Maine Coon mix (mixed with what, we don't know). She is the most curious little booger I've ever seen, but she's incredibly friendly to us. She's already getting used to her new home, and I can't believe Robert literally bought me a cat haha.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I don't like angry people.

They make me nervous and anxious and worried. Those people who are angry all the time. The ones that want to start a fight over every little thing. The ones who feel the need to defend themselves to the death.

Because I spend so much time on the internet, I find that I come in contact with a lot of these kinds of people.

Read: annoying.

At my church we have a principle that states "we are known for what we're for (not what we're against)," and this is our way of saying, "Hey. We're not going to fight with you about your issues. We are not going to debate about your views on abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, etc. We will not fight with you." We want it to be known that we are FOR spreading the Gospel. We are FOR spreading the love of Christ. We are FOR the love of God.

I love this principle.

Oswald Chambers takes it a step further in My Utmost for His Highest.
"Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ...Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in Him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds."

This really struck me. What kind of causes or creeds am I fighting for? What am I fighting against that is distracting me from my devotion to God? Am I being inconsistent in my relationship with God because I'm so concerned with who I might offend? Is my ultimate priority my devotion to God?

It makes me feel that I'm not wrong in feeling anxious and nervous around confrontation, especially when it involves Christians. I don't believe we are meant to fight with each other over the issues we feel strongly about. I don't think we are meant to get sidetracked from our devotion to God because we want to be right. 

It was a good eye-opener. A good reminder that my devotion should not be to one cause or one fight. My devotion is to Christ alone.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." -luke 14:26

"I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord." -1 corinthians 7:35