It’s here.  Letting go day.  Today I need to finish clearing out all the boxes and going through all my stuff into trash, donate, sell piles.  Some things in sell piles might move to donate and trash, but nothing gets to move back into the keep pile once I’ve put it into one of those three “get rid of” piles.

I’m allowing myself to keep certain things for the kids, certain mementos I currently have no way to scan, and seasonal items until I’ve gone through that season, but I’m trying to be ruthless.  Trying…

Life is a gift.  These things are a gift.  All of it belongs to God and if I’m having a problem giving it up, then maybe I need to let go of it even more.

The early church, as shown in Acts 4:32-35, were extremely generous and had no real issues with ownership.  Everything belonged to everyone.  They were able to be of one heart and one mind because there was no jealousy over possessions. 

How would my life be if I wasn’t defined by my possessions?  If I didn’t care about what I owned, how would my life change?

Time to let it all go. It’s not mine anyway, right?  By Matthew 25:14-21, I am just a caretaker anyway.  Am I hoarding what I’ve been given instead of using it wisely for God?

I’m grateful for what I’ve been entrusted with, but it’s time to share that wealth.  I pray for peace today as I give up ownership.  What I have isn’t mine.

I had originally planned to follow the original Minimalists’ guideline and write about my support system today.  While I do have support, I can do THIS largely without support.  I have a few friends and family members who know what’s going on, but I’m not relying on that support to get me through this.

I’d like to focus, instead, on generosity.

Matthew 25:34-40 is the story of the followers of Christ who either served Him by serving the poor or didn’t serve Him with their finances.  The moral, clearly, is that we should be motivated to be generous by thinking of others as a representation of Christ.

It’s not the representation I have a problem with; I love to be generous.  The problem is that my debt makes it highly irresponsible for me to be as generous as I’d like.  I’ve been selfish and spent money on myself (or my kids) and can’t give it to others who might need it more.

Luke 12:41-48 (especially verse 48) says that whoever is given much will be expected to give much.  I have been given so much.  No, it’s not always financial, but why am I not giving my gifts, my intellect, my talents?

I need to find a way to increase my generosity.  This may take some time to work out.

I was able to unpack eleven boxes last night.  I haven’t figured out everything I’m getting rid of, but I’m at least making progress.  I just told myself this was someone else’s stuff.  I got rid of things like someone else would… mostly.  I’m still going to have to work at it.

I’m praying for my finances tonight and giving up control of “my” money (that isn’t mine in the first place).  I want to do a full day fast soon, but not right now.  Next week.  Sunset to sunset.

I’m grateful for all the gifts God has given me.  Have I mentioned lately that, in spite of this process, I’m blessed?

I hit a huge brick wall trying to go through my stuff from storage.  I would open a box, pull out an item or two, get teary, and put everything back.  I did that with several boxes and finally just gave up and stopped.

What am I afraid of?  What am I holding onto?  This is stuff I haven’t used for well over a year and have used minimally (if at all) in the last four years.

Well, for one, I’m afraid I may actually start getting my life together and then I’ll need that stuff.  I certainly won’t have the money to buy new things if/when I’m able to move out on my own.   So a little bit of hanging on isn’t such a bad thing. 

I’m also afraid of letting go of the memories.  My memory is very associative.  Items trigger entire days in my mind.  If I get rid of the trinkets my kids made for me, will I forget exactly how they looked when they gave it?

Finally, I think I’m afraid of not having that buffer.  Stuff is a buffer.  Books, especially, but also movies and music to an extent, are an escape from the life I’m currently stuck in.  I shouldn’t be doing that, first of all.  I should be finding the growth in this life.  But even if I do feel the need to get away, I can get books from the library for free, music on the radio or an app, movies from the library, Netflix, Blockbuster, RedBox… so why hold onto the one I own?

I read Proverbs 30:7-9, which basically says to not make me rich (so I’d think I don’t need God) or poor (so I’m tempted to steal).  There’s a balance somewhere in between there, where I have enough and, maybe, give away the extra.  How do I get there?

  1. No credit cards and no debt.  It’s easier to get from paycheck to paycheck when you don’t owe half a paycheck (or more) to your creditors.
  2. Own less.  What you own, in a way, owns you.  You have to worry about upkeep, payments, providing space for it.  I have no home to upkeep, no car to perform maintenance on.  Those are huge bills that I don’t have to worry about.
  3. Keep a budget and stick to it.  If I ever get to where I have enough money, then some of it should be going to charity.  Right now, I’m stuck largely being my own charity project, but I can, on occasion, help out those who have even less than I do.

Greed is idolatry.  It’s the worship of money over God.  Covetousness is the step-brother of greed.  I don’t want to give into either of those.

I am thankful today that I’m not starving, not homeless, and can occasionally do nice things for my kids.  I’m giving up these fears and going to tackle my boxes.  I pray for the strength from God to hold true to this.

It’s time for a part I haven’t really been looking forward to in this process.  I tend to hoard my entertainment, whether movies, internet time, music or books.  But that defeats the whole purpose of minimalism, right?  Am I more attached to these things than to people?  I might have to answer “yes”, which is really not where I want to be.

So, for today, I’m going through my TV shows on Hulu, my Twitter follows, movies and music I own, and books; I can keep only what is actually serving a useful purpose per Phillipians 4:8: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things (paraphrased).

I won’t be doing this all at once, because it’s going to take some time to determine what all of those things mean to me, but I will be doing it over this entire process (and probably for the rest of my life).  There are some things that are obvious, though.  Movies that glorify violence need to go.  Shows that glorify promiscuity, same.  Angry music (especially since music has such an impact on my mood) should never have been there.

Per Ecclesiastes 2:10-11, I also need to determine what is wasted time, “vanity and a chasing after wind”.  There is plenty of that.  I suppose the movie I watched last night, Warm Bodies, was that, although I did get some social time with a friend out of it.  The hardest part isn’t realising that there are lines; the hardest part is where to draw them.

I’m actually struggling with typing this, but I’m going to assign myself a media fast through Thursday night.  I can clear my Twitter feed, not read it.  I can’t touch my Hulu queue or watch live television.  Social sites are limited to an hour a day, including entering my blog updates.  I can’t touch my phone before 6:30am (except for my devotional reading that is on my Bible app) or after 9:30pm.

These things are too important to me if I’m struggling to give them up, so give them up I must.  Really, I feel slightly shaky about it.  Guess that’s a sign.

I’m going to continue praying for a spirit of forgiveness because I’ve discovered I have a lot to forgive (others and myself).  Minimalism shouldn’t just be about what you carry physically; the stuff inside is far more important.

Here goes nothing…

Today is supposed to be an action day, but I get to slide through a bit.

See, today I’m supposed to pack up all my stuff and only get out what I absolutely need to use.

Three years ago, when I moved back to California from Illinois, I packed up everything.  I still have most of that stuff in storage (except for what I’ve sold over time).

The good news is that today should be a pretty easy day.

The bad news is that I’m gonna have to get rid of everything in that storage unit.  If I didn’t use it in three years, I probably won’t ever use it.

I’m going to use this extra time, instead, to work on contentment.  I need to remember the following:

  1. It could be worse (and has been).
  2. How long would a new situation/ item make me truly happy?
  3. I need to be grateful for what I have (see I Thessalonians 5:18)
  4. I need to ask myself where my soul finds true satisfaction (see Psalms 63:1-6 and Philippians 4:12-13).

For each remaining day, I need to list at least one thing for which I am grateful.  Today, I am grateful for my children.  My seventeen-year marriage will never have been a waste of my time because I have been blessed by the four children it produced.  My oldest (a teenager) still shares his life with me.  My second cares so deeply about me that he feels my pain (not always a good thing).  My third is a pure ray of sunshine.  My youngest, only girl, is so generous that she puts me to shame.

I am going to pray for our president and nation today; I believe both need it desperately and I need to remember that either the president is who God has chosen for our nation or our nation is not currently walking with God and deserves who they get.

I am trying to give up sarcasm for the remaining 19 days.  Being completely honest, this may be the hardest thing for me to give up of all!

Are you trying this along with me?  If so… time to get packing!

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.  Proverbs 29:18

I need a vision and a plan.  Today I’m getting out a calendar and putting everything on it, day-by-day.  My key concept and verse.  What I’m giving up and what I’m praying for.  Each day will be detailed.

Now, the thing about having a vision and a plan (I’ve learned the hard way) is that I have to be flexible enough to change as circumstances dictate.  So, yeah, maybe I won’t do exact what the plan says.  Just having a plan to try to stick to is the important part.

What is my life purpose?

My purpose is to serve God, be a witness to His awesomeness, and raise my children to know Him.  Everything else is filler, either to get me to my purpose or to distract me from reaching it.

What are three goals to  help me reach this purpose?

  1. Know God, through prayer and Bible study
  2. Serve God each and every day to the fullest of my abilities
  3. Teach my kids about God through word and example

Make a budget (no, I will not list it here).  I’m basing it on Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover– roughly.

  • Housing 30%
  • Transportation 15%
  • Tithe 10%
  • Food 10%
  • Savings 10%
  • Utilities 5%
  • Health 5%
  • Clothing 5%
  • Charity 5%
  • Miscellaneous 5%

Some modifications for me: because I’m living in the same home with all my family, my housing (fortunately), only equals roughly 5% of my monthly income.  My transportation (even with no car), is 17%.  Tithe stays the same.  How is food supposed to be 10%?  I’m fairly certain I would be nutritionally deficient and starving.  Food will be 15-20%.  Savings is currently debt payoff at 10%.  Utilities is only my phone right now; I need to find a slightly cheaper plan or it will be just over 5%.  (That’s really sad).  Having the rest at 5% should do, although this will make dates with the kids and birthdays rough.

For prayer, I’m reading Matthew 6:16-18 and praying over the times I will be fasting (that I will do it with wisdom).

I’m giving up discretional spending for the remainder of the 21 days except for my son’s birthday party on Sunday.  I even gave my sister my debit card and the grocery money for next week.  I’m already feeling fidgety about it.

On the up side, I did go grocery shopping last night and managed to stay within my budgeted amount, although I had to give up some things I really wanted (for health reasons).  I’m going to have to modify my menu until it’s more affordable.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Today, I have to make a list of the “musts” in my life versus the “shoulds”.  Not “I should lose five more pounds”, but “I must stay within a healthy weight range so I can enjoy life to the fullest.”  Not “I should reduce my debt”, but “I must pay off my credit cards so I can be generous when the opportunity arises”.  I may or may not share the list below, but I will post it somewhere conspicuous so I see it often.

Although my key verse is 2 Chronicles 7:14, I’m also read Ecclesiastes 5:10, Matthew 6:26, and  I Timothy 6:10.

PBS defines “affluenza” as “the bloated, sluggish, and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses.  “Credit-itis” (per Adam Hamilton) is “the opportunity to buy now and pay later”.  Are there signs of affluenza and credit-itis in my life?

Yes.  Let’s be honest, even as rough as the last few years have been financially, you don’t get into the credit issues I’m in without some credit-itis.  I’m getting better; I didn’t use Fingerhut for Christmas gifts.  Until I stop having the affluenza that makes me want to keep up with my ex (I never have worried about the Joneses), I’m going to have problems. 

I’m read Matthew 13:1-23.  What happens to the gospel in my life when I am consumed by a desire for wealth?

The desire for wealth can consume me, choking out the life given by the gospel until it’s lost completely.  Even if I manage to not have the gospel choked out, the very act of worrying about stuff means that I have spent more time, money and energy on stuff than on God.

I’m praying for commitment to this process and that I learn gratitude through each step.  As part of that, I’m giving up whining.  Whenever I want to complain about something, I have to Pollyanna it and find the bright side.

Day one, here we go.

  • I must stay healthy for my kids.  Weight only matters so much as it inhibits my ability to stay active and healthy; appearance is secondary to a healthy body mass. 
  • I must use moderation in exercise.  Over-exercising is as unhealthy as not exercising at all.
  • I must watch what I eat so my kids don’t have to deal with the effects of colitis.
  • I must get out of debt so I can get past worrying about it.
  • I must learn to live below my means again so I can take care of my kids, pay my tithe, and practice random acts of generosity.
  • I must stop valuing things more than people.
  • I must realise I’m not taking anything with me when I die and put my treasure in eternity.
  • (more to come)