Oy! March 6th and I’m just now getting to my March goals. I am so behind on updating this blog. I have dozens of posts half-written, but for some reason the step between draft and published is really hard. Story of my life right now (btw, is anyone else mad at One Direction for ruining that phrase?).
This month is sure to be a good one, though, with birthday celebrations and weekend trips and warmer weather and daylight savings. I will exchange an hour of sunlight for an hour of sleep any day!
Celebrate my dad’s 60th, sister’s 30th and 27th birthdays! (March is a very birthday-heavy month over here!)
Put knobs and pulls on our cabinets
Finish at least one book
Write at letter to Jacques, our sponsored child through Compassion
Make a plan for our backyard — things to plant and where a vegetable garden would go
Create a will for our family
Buy term life insurance for our family
File our taxes!
Gather supplies to bring to Haiti
Go to the gym at least 8 times
What’s on your list of things to accomplish this month?
One of my dearest friends gave birth to a precious boy Owen on Sunday evening, and yesterday they found out he has a congenital heart disease called Shone’s Complex. It is serious and very scary, and my heart breaks for what they are all going through. Owen is undergoing his first surgery now at 11am.
Please pray for healing and a peace that transcends all understanding. Our God is great and powerful and mighty to save. You can find more updates on his Caring Bridge site.
Twice in the last week I was hit with The Ugly Feelings.
First, when I was walking the aisle of Target, admiring all of their super cute spring stuff that just hit the shelves. And second when I walked into an antique store and perused the collection of treasures and trinkets nestled in boxes and along tables.
Why I was perusing the home aisle of Target and visiting thrift stores in the midst of a shopping fast is beyond me, but there I was. Faced with the ugly feelings. The feelings of entitlement and greed and envy and whatever the noun is for “missing out.”
Unwelcome thoughts came swarming into my head, and before I knew I was thinking things like:
If I don’t buy this RIGHT NOW, it will be gone forever!!!
This whole aisle is 90% off. When in the world do you ever find a gorgeous picture frame for NINETY PERCENT OFF?
Yesterday I wore a shirt that I’ve had in my closet since high school. HIGH SCHOOL. I need new clothes!
I desperately need new workout clothes. And these are on sale!
I can think of a dozen ways to use this tray. Two dozen ways!
Who cares if it’s 40-degrees outside, I gotta buy these shorts.
Those antique paintings would look great on my gallery wall. If I don’t buy them now, someone is going to come in here next week and buy them. My paintings! Someone is going to come in here next week and steal my stuff!
(I told you they were ugly.)
The best way to battle against the feelings — no matter the variety — is with a good batch of truth:
Truth: Target has been making cute stuff since the beginning of its time. Why in the world will it stop now? If you miss out on this seasons’ home decor, it’s okay. Next spring will probably be cuter.
Truth: Buying just to buy feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t satisfy.
Truth: Impulse-buying clothes is the reason you aren’t satisfied with your closet. Make a list of clothes you need, and stick to the list.
Truth: Yep, you do need new workout clothes. But you can wait.
Truth: If you miss out on a deal, there will be other ones that come your way.
Truth: Do you really need another picture frame? You do not.
Truth: The reason you can still wear that shirt from high school is because it is a high-quality basic that can transcend trends. You need to buy more of those.
Truth: Your house is lovely just the way it is, and people don’t think about what you wear as much as you think they do.
Truth: To much is given, much is required. Isn’t there someone else who could benefit from the money you would spend on these things? Use this time dwelling on how to bless others, not what you are missing out on.
Truth: It is possible to be content with what you have right now. You just have to make the choice to look around and give thanks with what you have.
Welp. Two weeks into the Contentment Challenge and I cheated. Big-time cheated. I debated not sharing this, but it’s so huge I can’t go on without confessing. So, let’s get this over with.
It’s funny how life works. I decided to not shop for three months, and in the same week wrote a post about my master bedroom. That day my sister in law read the post and sent me a message that her friend is getting rid of their king size bed and, would I want it?
They were asking $500 (originally over $2k) and it was only 4 years old. And the reason they were getting rid of it was because it was “way too soft.”
Would I want it? A super soft king size bed? Why yes, of course I would!
I love J to pieces, but I am a terrible sleeper and need as much wiggle room as possible. Plus, in our long-term planning we had budgeted well over $1,000 for a mattress. So this is a steal, right?
The only hitch was my shopping fast. I vowed not to buy anything “unnecessary” for three months, and a king size bed just screams luxury. This is absolutely not under any circumstances a necessary purchase.
But how often do people sell their king size beds? And how often will someone you know sell one? (A mattress is on the Will Not Buy on Craigslist list).
I emailed my mom and two sisters — the three people I know will tell me the God-honest truth and not sugarcoat it for me. I explained the situation and asked if they would weigh in. They all said,
Sounds like a good deal. Go for it!
It was confirmed by my council, but I still wasn’t sure. Because even though we wanted a king size mattress eventually, we didn’t really need it. And isn’t that the point of this challenge to be content with what you have?
Naturally, I made a pro/con list and talked through for waaaaaaay too long with J. Maybe I should have polled you blog readers. Was I making this too legalistic? Probably.
We decided to get it. And I felt at peace with that.
But lest we close the book on this whole Ginna Goes Schizophrenic Making A Decision, I can’t overlook the fact that beds require more than just a mattress. So not only would I be buying a new bed, but it would need a new bed frame, sheets, duvet, duvet cover, pillows and shams. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. The bed may be a gray area in my rule book, but these are definitely not acceptable when you’re on a spending fast because I love buying things like this.
Lucky for me, I found a little loop-hole.
I am a gift card hoarder. When I get a gift card, it is a treasure. That bad boy isn’t getting spent on groceries or paper towels — I have to mull it over for weeks, months, even years before I find something worthy enough to purchase. (J, on the other hand, spends his cards within the first three days. One of the many reasons are very different.)
So I decided to go through all of my gift cards in the last year and see if they could help me pay for any of these extra items to ease my mind about this massive cheating. Turns out I had a $100 Pottery Barn gift card from our wedding (three years ago! seriously what’s wrong with me?), $100 Bed Bath & Beyond gift card, $30 Kohl’s gift card and some credit card points on Amazon. So I managed to buy almost everything I needed for the bed with gift cards and coupons.
Here’s a very bad picture of the bed (we still need to get pillow shams… I had to draw the line somewhere):
Duvet: from Amazon, using credit card points Duvet cover: from West Elm during their 20% bedding sale and using my Pottery Barn giftcard (they take Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma giftcards!). Sheets and pillow inserts: Bed, Bath & Beyond using 20% off coupon and $100 giftcard Bedframe: $60 from a mattress store – only thing we paid for out of pocket
And that’s the story of how I spent well over $800 (with gift cards) on my spending fast.
In the last few days of 2013, J and I sat across from each other on our couch and talked about this year. We didn’t really know what 2014 would hold, which is pretty rare since we would normally have 10 things on the calendar by January 1st. (Our calendar now, however, is back to normal with most weekends for the next seven months accounted for.)
It was one of those good talks where you dream and make plans about the future loosely, knowing full well God may take us on a different journey.
We talked about the goals we had for the year. The trips we want to take. The friends we want to get together with. The family events we anticipate attending. The home projects we want to prioritize. And also the timing for when we want to start a family, and the things we want to do before then.
One of the things on my pre-baby bucket list is to go on a missions trip.
J and I have talked about going on a mission trip for the last few years, but it has never worked out with his limited vacation days. And with a few obligations on the horizon, it is unlikely he would be able to do a trip this year. During this conversation, however, he mentioned that I go on one this year by myself.
I went on a few missions trips in high school and college, and always enjoyed them. It was a chance to travel to different parts of the world and spend time with my friends. Oh, and help people. That was an fringe benefit.
I’ve changed a lot in the last ten years. God’s been doing a major work on my heart, altering my perspective on missions and grace and the poor and what my role is in all of it. It’s something I’m still navigating through, but the desire to get out of my Americanized bubble is strong.
For a long time, I thought of missions trips as something students do, not really working adults. Our church has certainly changed my attitude, with its mission-centric sermons and offering dozens of mission trips throughout the year for all generations.
Coincidentally, earlier in December I had looked at the trips that my church was organizing, but didn’t see any that resonated with me… mainly because I didn’t see a trip going to Haiti. And for some reason I really want to go to Haiti. I’m not sure why, but I have thought about Haiti a lot in the last few months.
After J suggested I go on a trip, just for kicks I pulled up the site to see what trips were on the horizon. Low and behold, there was a new trip listed going to Haiti in the spring. I started laughing. Wouldn’t that be an adventure! I emailed the leader of the trip to learn more about it. They still had room, and they needed more girls.
I made a pro/con list (naturally), prayed about it, and on our way back from Charlotte where we celebrated New Years, I decided to do it.
So, April 15th I will be heading to Haiti to help serve the people of Port au Prince. I don’t know any of the other team members and am not sure exactly what to expect, but I am so, so excited.