Happiness is a warm hoodie!

Week 2 of The 7 Experiment brought us to clothing.  Face it; our closets are full.  If you are like me there are a whole host of clothing items hiding out in there that do nothing but remind me of a different place, a different time, a different SIZE!  Sitting on the shelf just mocking me!  For this week I chose 7 articles of clothing to wear for the week.  Undergarments and 1 pair of PJ’s were freebies.  Here’s what made the cut:

IMG_6136

  1. University of Illinois hoodie (my go-to comfy shirt)
  2. Dark wash jeans
  3. Not so dark washed jeans
  4. long sleeve black t-shirt
  5. Teal short sleeved sweater (can go over the black tee)
  6. Gray sweater
  7. Shoes (1 pair of Nike’s, 1 pair black slip on)

And there you have it.  The sweater and t-shirt combos for work and church, and the hoodie and casual jeans for everything else.  In addition to my laundry for the week being minimal, I never had to stress over what to wear.  That had already been decided.  And here’s what I discovered at the end of the week…..No one cared!  Most people didn’t even notice.  I’m glad that I do have a few more than 7 options now, but the stress, money, and time that goes into clothes just didn’t seem to be worth it.  Lesson learned!

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Lessons from far away

My friend Rachel in Haiti

My friend Rachel in Haiti

Some of my friends have participated in medical mission trips to Haiti with FAME (Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism) in recent years.  Lisa & Chasity went to Haiti in 2010 and Lisa returned with Rachel in 2011.  I asked them a few questions about their experiences to help prepare for the breakout session that I will be leading at this year’s Transformed Conference in Indianapolis.  I wanted to share their response and insights with you.

1. Was there one situation or experience that really got to you? Especially in comparison with how we live in America?

Lisa –  2010 on our first day to a really poor village FAME gave us bread & peanut butter to make sandwiches, we quickly made our sandwiches and stepped outside to be out of everyone else’s way only to be surrounded by a village of hungry children wanting our puny peanut butter sandwich. That was the worst sandwich I ever ate literally. Never having traveled out of the country before I didn’t realize that everyone can’t just eat when they’re hungry. My next trip Haiti had improved & my focus wasn’t on me & my survival because I knew differently & God would take care of me.

Rachel  – Seeing the children play and their lack of clothing, especially shorts/pants and shoes. They do not know any other way but so sad to see them playing in the nasty dirt/trash with bare skin and knowing the devastation that disease causes so many of them.

Chasity  –  2010 I as well will never forget the p.b sandwiches. I would say how it was the simple things in life that we take for granted like a bottle water or hand sanitizer, even as simple as a vitamin. One more thing would be how freely they would give up their children to come back to the U.S for a better life

Chasity & Lisa in Haiti

Chasity & Lisa in Haiti

2. When you came back home how did what you had seen and experienced change how you view how we as Americans live, or did it in any way?

Lisa –  A hot shower is such a luxury but one that we assume will be there every day. And electricity , you never knew when the lights would go out at the mission.

Rachel – I too was so very thankful for a hot shower and the privilege of being able to take on whenever we please. It made me appreciate the amount of water/electricity we have and often take for granted and allowed me to evaluate how much water and electricity I use on a daily basis.

Chastiy – .The love for Christ that the Haitians had even knowing they had little material things if any at all. Yes we Americans have no clue, it is so easy here to take things for granted

3. Did your experiences cause you to change how you view your own possessions and resources in any way and how

Lisa –  My aunt told me something one time that I try very hard to live by; people are more important than things. The Haitian people have very little but are happy & thankful. I think that’s how God would like for us to be. We do try to be responsible with our possessions & I know we have too much compared to others.

Rachel –  Of course it made me feel guilty because I have so much yet didn’t even realize it as we have the opportunity and resources to shop whenever we want. It made me go through my things and give locally. This is an ongoing process that should be evaluated often!

Chasity –  To look at everything as a blessing someway somehow. The waste of food, enjoy what he gave us and possessions are only possessions, we will not take them with us. Haiti will forever have my heart.

If you’ve been on a mission trip or have had friends go I would encourage you to talk about those experiences.  The insight to be gained from a new perspective or a first-hand account of conditions in other areas of the world is invaluable.

Spoiled Rotten

I read a report recently on CNN.com that forty percent of the food in the United Sates is never eaten.  It amounts to $165 billion a year in waste.  It broke down to $1,350 to $2,275 annually in waste for a family of four.  This is the country we live in.  All of this while 963 million people across the world are hungry.  The contrast is jarring.

For my family most of what is wasted is due to poor planning.  Buying items and then not using them before they go bad.  Not planning ahead to thaw out meat and taking the easy route and eating out.  If I would take the time to plan out my meals we could save a lot in the way of waste and money.  It’s a small step, but a much needed one.

Amy and Amber, my friends at Camp Mommawatchi (www.campmommawatchi.com) have posted a wonderful idea for a DIY menu board.  Check it out, and perhaps it will get you started on the way to better planning

DIY Menu Board

I know for me and my family, we can not continue as before.  The waste (of time, food, and money) is simply not worth it.

Is this food?

There’s no other way to say it.  Our American culture is focused on convenience.  How else do you explain individually wrapped snack cakes, cases of bottled water, and hamburger helper.  Fast and easily available.  In fact there is a 4-mile strip of highway near where I live that is full of restaurants, fast food joints, and stores.  I decided to count them one day.  How many would you guess?  70!  That’s right…70 restaurants in that 4 mile stretch.  We’re surrounded by convenience.  Don’t have time to cook?  No problem, we’ve got you covered.  No time to take real ingredients and make a healthy meal.  Here’s a bag of frozen food to pop in the microwave.  It all comes at a price.  We no longer feed our bodies with whole simple foods.  We ingest food products that are chocked full of preservatives, artificial colors, sugars, and processed ingredients.  Take a look at the labels of some of your favorite convenience food.  I’m willing to bet they look something like this:

pop tarts
Words like enriched, high fructose, and a whole host of words I can’t even pronounce make for an ingredient list a mile long.  1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “You realize, don’t you , that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you?  No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that.  God’s temple is sacred and you, remember, are the temple.

I admit I have read these verses many times and just glossed over them.  Hmmm, I really need to eat better, and then I’d go about my day just as usual.  It’s one of the many verses that I read and try not to think too hard about.

I have been doing myself a huge disservice by mistreating my body.  The first step that I took as a result of this week of study was to cut out the processed sugar.  It’s harder than you might think.  It’s in EVERYTHING!  Even in the places you wouldn’t think to look.  Spaghetti sauce, bread, you name it!  We discovered the joy of eating local honey.  I started taking time to really see what was in our foods.  Are we eating whole and organic foods all the time now?  No. But we are taking serious the command to take care of the “temple”.

On a side note, one of the things that got dropped this first week and has stuck is diet soda.  I love me a Diet Dr. Pepper!  I had given up diet soda before and felt so much better when I did, but then I went back to it.  Here’s the facts.  Off the soda, I sleep better (no caffeine issues to keep me up), I feel better, and I drink more water.  The effects of aspartame and artificial sweeteners have been hotly debate.  I can only speak from my own experience.  I’m better off without it.  I’m sorry Diet Dr. Pepper, but we have to break up.  It’s not you, it’s me.  Actually it is you.

How about you?  I know there’s one step you can take today toward a healthier life!

Lingering

lunchI left our study after discussing the next week of focusing on food and headed home to make lunch.  Eggs, toast, sliced apples, and water were on the menu.  I automatically grabbed my plate and headed to the living room to switch on the TV when I caught myself. No, go sit at the table and take time to slow down and enjoy the food.  I have a very bad habit of rushing through my meals.  It’s not out of necessity; it’s become habit.  I sat down at my kitchen table, turned on some quite cello music, gave thanks, and ate….slowly.  Taking time to enjoy the taste of the food I was eating and spending the time just talking with God was a welcome change.  I lingered over that meal.  What would have normally taken me 5 minutes was stretched out to 25 minutes.

During that time I looked out at the soggy backyard and the play fort that my daughter and her friends enjoy playing on and I was struck with this thought.  How many other things in my life am I just rushing through?  Time goes by quickly enough.  It wasn’t that long ago my son was out on that fort.  Now he’s 15, in high school, and spending more and more time with his friends and peers.  Will it seem like just an instant and then my daughter will be too big to play in the sandbox and slide down the slide?  When I get to hurrying through life trying to check off my “to-do” list so much that I miss out on those precious fleeting moments.  They will soon be gone for good.  I don’t want to miss them.

So as I savor my simple lunch I ask God to help me savor the moments that matter, and to cherish each one.

Food

Each of the areas we are addressing in this study will be focused on for the week and will be approached in the spirit of a fast.  As our group has read the past week in preparation, “If our abundance and consumerism is part of the problem, maybe we should fast from it”.  In preparation we read the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew.

16 “Whenever you fast, don’t be sad-faced like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so their fasting is obvious to people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, 18 so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
–Matthew 6:16-18

With the reminder that we are fasting to allow God to come into the empty spaces and speak anew to us, we jump in.

Week one of our study starts off with a bang.  Food.  The scope of this particular area is great.  In her original experiment the author of our study, Jen Hatmaker, reduced her food choices for an entire month down to seven options:  chicken, whole wheat bread, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, apples, & eggs.   Our group is jumping in with varying goals.  I have decided to limit my food choices to 7…ish for the week.  Avocado’s do not sit well with my stomach, so that seventh option is on a rotating basis.  Others have decided to cut out sugars or certain processed foods.  One of our members has a house-full of visitors coming for 4 days, and the prospect of offering them chicken and sweet potatoes for those 4 days is not at all appealing.  We’re giving her a free pass for the week!

Goodbye coffee….it’s only temporary, we’ll meet again soon.  So long Diet Coke…we may be on a permanent break!

About the Name

Sunny Summer CalendarA new blog…a blank slate.  It’s needs a name.  The possibilities are wide-open.  After some of the discussions with my fellow bible study ladies an apt name might have been, “How I Drove My Husband Crazy!”  After all they were not necessarily reading every bit of scripture and digesting every single fact about consumerism, waste, and the poor that we were.  All they knew is that their wives suddenly came home talking about changing eating habits, recycling every little scrap they could, and why their men didn’t need the latest and greatest from ebay or amazon.com.

I had this blog with its name “For This Day” set up a while ago for another project, but it just seemed to fit what we had been experiencing.  When looking at the poor of our world, the injustice, and whether or not our meager changes really make a difference, we can easily become overwhelmed.  The scope is great.  However, I think sometimes we just need to take a step back and focus on today.  What can I do for this day to make a difference.  What can I do for this day to listen to the direction God is leading me in.  What can I do for this day to leave the world a little better than I found it this morning.

I’m reminded of the chorus from an old gospel song. (Forgive me for using the word old.  I’m 37 and it’s been around for as long as I can remember)

One day at a time, sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you
Give me the strength to do everything that I have to do
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Help me today
Show me the way
One day at a time

Yesterday can’t be changed.  We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow.  Today is here and now.  How am I going to serve Him with all of my heart, mind, and soul….today!