Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So are you growing?

So today I am going to look at the “growth” that we might be experiencing. These are the suggested things from the book Never Mind the Joneses which inspired this financial fast. So let's take a look.

Increased Opportunities for Generosity of our time, talent and treasure. The biggest increase of opportunity for generosity has been our time. One of the goals in our spiritual growth process is to have an "outward face". When we start looking at others instead of ourselves the use or our times has become apparent. We spend a lot of time on ourselves on a daily basis. I am not talking about showering and commuting, I mean TV Watching, shopping and the like. When we put those things lower on our list of priorities our calendar becomes more open and we recognize that our time can be shared. As we have read through scripture we notice that Jesus was a great example of how to give of your time. Even when He was hungry or tired He put others before Himself.

Living Simply. This has been relatively easy for us. We have cleaned out some of the nooks and crannies in our house, used up food from the pantry and not added anything to our home. Living simply also provides us with more time to be generous with. We have more than ample living space but it is not huge. We also don't spend as much time cleaning our space as we would a larger space. That 'extra' time can be used to give to others.

Counting our Blessings. Absolutely! We have been through some ups and downs in our journey. We have definitely been tempted to spend above and beyond our budget. However, we have also been reminded of how much we have. We have a lovely home that is very comfortable, we have clothes that keep us warm as fall approaches and we have plenty of food to keep us full. We have so many blessings that we are able to share with others by providing a meal, donating our clothing and sharing our home.

Daily Prayer. We have seen a big change in this area of our lives. We have made a big effort to spend more time praying out loud. Now for some people this is a very comfortable, easy thing and for others it is not. We are a mix of comfort and discomfort when it comes to praying out loud. What has driven us to do more praying out loud, besides this fast, has been the desire to set an example. We pray at dinner together as a family. It is an easy opportunity for us to be an example to our son and we hope that by doing these things now our son will not have the discomfort of praying out loud that we have experienced.

Today's challenge is to look at one of the above areas and see where you are struggling or perhaps were you are excelling. What can you improve and how will you improve on it? Make a decision today to take action and allow God to show you what amazing things He has in store for you!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So, are you learning contentment?

Let's take a second to circle back. This journey was sparked by a discussion on contentment, having a spirit of contentment that would then spur us on to other things in our life. (If you weren't there from the start you can read about it here.)

So, here is a commentary on how things are going:

We will spend on necessities (groceries, house payment, etc.)
So far so good. We have done an incredible job staying within our budget, this one has been pretty easy.

We will spend on events we have already committed to (a dinner with a friend, a Sunday brunch)
We have done this and I am so glad we have. I am so encouraged by the time we spend with friends, neighbors and members of our church community. Their encouragement, support, prayers and love are overwhelming each and every time we are with them.

We will replace “doing” with “being” - taking the time and money we spend doing things for ourselves to be something to others. This may involve being a family, being a better neighbor, being in prayer, etc.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being an amazing success, I would say this is about a 4. We could really work harder at this. We have taken the time to spend time with neighbors and be more involved in our church. BUT we have not pushed ourselves to the limits. We have not forces ourselves out of the house and into the community as much as we had hoped. The challenge is not over but perhaps this will take a little more than 45 days of commitment.

We will eliminate unnecessary things in our life - starting by cutting down the cable TV package we have.
I feel like this has been easier than I thought. I have started going through our house and deep cleaning closets, we have eaten from the pantry and have been very careful to not 'add' anything to our home. On review, we have everything we really need plus some and I am immensely grateful.

We will say no to doing activities that focus on us and instead say yes to doing activities that focus on others.
We have done well here. We have really been able to say no to some activities that would have been very self-satisfying. We have also been able to say yes to activities that help us get to know others, especially our neighbors. The act of saying no is much easier than I had originally thought.

We will actively seek counsel from others and God’s guidance for this specific task of fasting and learning about contentment.
This is a big resounding yes. We have seen the time that our family spends reading God's Word, praying and listening really grow. The time we have spent seeking God has shown us what a difference it makes in our daily living.

These are today's points to ponder. Tomorrow I would like to take a look at the other part of the commitment taken from the initial reading and see specific results it has produced...Have we...

-Increased Opportunities for Generosity (of our time, talent and treasure)
-Lived Simply (not being cheap, but being simple)
-Counted our Blessings (being thankful)
-Prayed Daily