Monday, December 23, 2013

the contentment challenge

Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone! Tonight our church has a special Christmas service and I cannot wait to hear the beautiful voices singing praises to our Lord! Christmas hymns are my favorite! I pray that you experience the Greatest Gift this Christmas-- God's grace through His son Jesus Christ. 
Oh how He loves us!

Today I wanted to invite you to consider joining me in a challenge that will begin in January. I have seen several posts about The Contentment Challenge on Instagram and Twitter. After reading more about it, I felt convicted to participate. Beginning January 1, I'm diving in. The Contentment Challenge, started by Nancy Ray, is basically a 3 month (or whatever timeline you decide to follow) fast from making extra purchases. You can read Nancy's full Contentment Story and posts during her challenge here.

I am so thankful for Dustin's financial wisdom. While we were still engaged, Dustin created a budget for us to follow once we were married. I am sad to say that I did not have the same mindset coming into our marriage. I am still learning so much about the importance of giving and saving, rather than just frivilously spending. I tried my hand at being the "Budget Police" and let's just say I should have referred to myself as the "Budget Barney Fife." I would attempt to justify spending quite a bit extra at the grocery on seven million different specialty cheeses and other impulse buys of ingredients/utensils that really aren't necessary. Don't even get me started on the Dollar Aisle at Target…

What really has become clear to us is that we have not been good stewards of the financial blessings God has given us when we don't give generously, save, and spend wisely. It also revealed to me that I have not been living out my gratitude for the closets and dressers overflowing with clothes, the kitchen cabinets jam packed with ingredients and utensils, and the several nooks and crannies of our home into which I have squeezed excess stuff. Especially when I am constantly adding to our growing collection of pig everything and anything with a "C" on it! I should confess that I am somewhat of a hoarder-- my momma prefers to say that we are very sentimental. She is correct, we are, but I am learning at some point you have to let go. You have to simplify. Which is why when I read about the Contentment Challenge, there was no denying the feeling that I should participate.

From January 1 to March 31 (and possibly longer if I feel led to extend it) I will be saying "no" to non-essential purchases:
-trinkets from the Dollar Aisle at Target
-scented candles
-cutesy decorations
-pigs (real and inanimate)
-monogrammed everything
-impulse buys at the grocery store that just sound/look tasty & are not on my list
-new clothes or accessories
-anything that is not a necessity

I will follow The Guidelines listed in Nancy's original post. I plan to spend the next three months simplifying our home and routine rather than adding excess to it. My focus will be to give thanks for what we are blessed with, rather than add to the on-going list of "wants" that I often try to pass as "needs." I want to donate our excess to families that are truly in need and would appreciate it. I hope to conclude the Contentment Challenge with a greater appreciation for the simple things--for our things--and a deeper understanding of the Lord's generous heart. I hope to replace my impulse to buy and obtain with the desire to give and serve. 

So here's your invitation. Will you join me--and several others-- in the Contentment Challenge? I ask that you prayerfully consider it. While this definitely is a personal decision and process, I do find it encouraging to know that there will be others participating, including Nancy who is going through the Challenge again. I am so thankful for my friend Cathy who has promised to hold me accountable. I would love to be there for you as well! You can find others who are participating or have participated with the hashtag #contentmentchallenge on social media sites. I fully believe in support systems! 

I am so looking forward to 2014 and to gaining a deeper understanding of contentment. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi about this very subject. He knew that strength from Jesus Christ would empower him to do all things. In chapter 4, verse 11 Paul wrote: 

"…for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances…"

Even if you don't feel led to participate in the Contentment Challenge, there is so much to gain from this verse and those around it. In any and every situation, we are to be content. It is a learning process. Paul uses the phrase "I have learned" twice in two verses. Let's make it our goal to learn contentment in 2014. Don't worry about doing it on your own-- He will give you His strength to do all things and I would love to encourage you as well. 

1 comment:

  1. Wait.... does this exclude the purchase of real pigs from friends? Just saying.... I may come into contact with a baby pig.