Summer of 7 Recap

Summer of 7 is officially over and I’ll be honest–I believed there was a good chance Summer of 7 was going to include a lot of suffering with minimal immediate impact and no long-term impact.  But, looking back over June and July I see God absolutely all over it.  Even with my mustard seed faith, He showed up.  Summer of 2012 will go down as one of my favorite summers.

Today, I wanted to remember what God has done.

He taught me that He gave His best, not leftovers, and we should too.

He showed me how fear and control played into my stress and reminded me to LET GO.

We purged, purged, purged the house and found a few trigger points.  My bookcases and closet are especially thankful. A few weeks later, Dani and I used the excess to fuel a Garage Sale for Orphans where $1,000 was raised.  Have I shown you these photos yet? 

 

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Me and Dani

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The kids ran the snack table and accepted donations 

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 IMG_9926-001Lots and lots of people turned out to make this a success 

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Summer of 7 organizer, Katrina, came by!

In clothes week, God absolutely shook me to the core on clothes and makeup and reminded me of my 1,000 foot view of how we should dress

God specifically provided for me in clothes week for my grandfather’s funeral.

He opened my eyes to “Waterfall Purchases” that I continue to pinpoint as we shop in all sorts of categories.

Spending week rocked me as He gave me a picture of being a Giving Tree and taught me that he blesses us to bless others and will continue to do so.

Waste week was a bit of a bummer but did I mention we did end up getting a compost bin the week after and have been ecstatically composting away?

In media week, he asked for a sacrifice but then provided a ram. We cut off DirecTV and soon followed with our phone bill so we could give that money for good every single month.

Even more in the last week, He tied together Grace for the Good Girl and Summer of 7 and showed me some yucky junk still going on in my heart and taught me He’s in the margin and continues to challenge me to create more margin.

 

Whew.  What a summer.  God is good.

 

To Katrina, thanks for organizing Summer of 7 and for coming to our yard sale and driving me to Greensboro and all your support.  I’m glad to call you friend after this summer.

To Jen Hatmaker, thanks for your 7 months of sacrifice and the hard work of packaging it into a book.  Oh, and all your Olympic tweets this summer.  It’s all been such a blessing.

To you guys reading and my fellow Summer of 7ers, thanks for reading all the words this summer.  The comments and emails and tweets are worth more than gold.  Thank you for traveling this road with me.

Grace for the Good Girl and Summer of 7 #worldscollide

Irony hangs thick as I write this post.  The good girl in me wants to share this post and talk about how Grace for the Good Girl has helped and yet the good girl in me also doesn’t want to share my vulnerable side and have to say I don’t have it all figured out.  Bear with me.

Good girl.  It’s a label I’ve carried as long as I remember.  So when Emily Freeman announced her book Grace for the Good Girl last year, I knew I needed to read it.  But honestly?  I had thought I was mostly over my good girl issues. 

Like books are wont to do, this book sat on my bookshelf until it felt like the right time to read it.  Finally, this summer when Emily announced a summer book club for Grace for the Good Girl, I felt like it was time. 

I’ll be honest and say I read it at arm’s length.  I had a hard time relating to the masks she described.  At the end of the book, I was frustrated there wasn’t a 12 step program to fix my good girl tendencies that I did recognize.  Clearly I wasn’t getting it.

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Last week for my media fast I was hit hard with how and why I use social media in particular.  I saw a bunch of ugly when I wrote it all down.  I’m still dealing with all the people-pleasing mess.  More than anything though I realized that the lack of media equaled margin.  Margin for God to speak.  I wrote in my journal:

I shut off each switch: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.  Each turned to off and unbeknownst to me, it was the on switch for God.  God talks to me all the time but this switch was a permission slip to go into the halls of my heart and walk, showing me doors I wouldn’t have seen before, close some, open some.   Why did I wait, I wonder in the quiet.  If God is waiting here in the fast, the sacrifice, am I really sacrificing all the other times?  Has God been inviting me to the feast and I’ve settled for the famine?

From there, I pondered the balance between silence and social media.  I still don’t have the answers but it was clear to me that the lack of media = margin.

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On the Thursday of my media fast, I attended Emily’s book club meeting at her church in Greensboro.  She told her story, some of what was in the book but other that was not.  In those 30 minute or so, through glassy eyes I completely connected with Emily’s good girl story.  I knew it was mine too and I still have issues.  My good girl tendencies aren’t a thing of the past.  I also realized how funny Emily is.  I hope you all get to hear her speak or meet her one day so you’ll see.

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When I got home, I reread almost the whole book.  In some strange way, I was reading it with a new voice, with new eyes and a new heart.  I realized that 12 step program is a one step at a time program and led by the Spirit.  And for me, I needed more margin for that.

In one fell swoop, Summer of 7 and book club collided.  It was almost as if both efforts had been orchestrated by some great planner or something *cough cough*. 

I had to get rid of the excess of media so I could have more margin to live by the Spirit and not be dictated by my feelings and people pleasing ways. 

The hard part is I’m not there yet. I haven’t figured out a balance.  I still try to manage and control.  I still people-please.  I don’t have it all figured out.  But I took a step.  And that’s something.

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If the phrase “good girl” or “people pleaser” has ever applied to you, I’d recommend Grace for the Good Girl for you.  And if you have a teen or young adult, watch out for Emily’s teen and young adult version next month, Graceful.

To Emily, I know what it’s like to bear all your ugly mess so from one recovering good girl to another, let me get in line and give a heartfelt thank you.

 DSC03130 Me and Emily in Greensboro at her home church

As for Jen and Summer of 7, I’m planning a separate wrap-up post to see all that God has done this summer!  Stay tuned!

The Lord Provides

Sweaty hands type hesitant words. My desire in writing this is not to glorify me. For some, I know you’re going to feel that way no matter what I say, but just in case there is doubt for those that will believe me, I want to clear up I don’t really want to write this post.

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When I woke up last Saturday morning to start my media week for Summer of 7 and wasn’t sure what to do with myself and I spent time with the Lord, He immediately knocked the wind out of me and told me I needed to quit my job. I have always wanted to stay home with my girls but have never felt released to do so. You’d think I’d feel some elation but all I felt was panic.  How would we survive? As much as I respect my husband’s job, it would be very difficult to make all our current bills on its pay.

For the whole day I started running numbers in my head. I even made lists in my journal of bills that would need to go. After several hours, I handed my journal to Scott and he read where I thought God was leading me to quit. Scott has always said he’d support me if I were to quit but was never been keen on having to live extremely frugal. He didn’t have much of an initial reaction. We both spent the rest of the evening and night in deep thought about how we’d make it work. Saturday evening he talked about the extra jobs he could take. I felt horrible about giving up a well-paying job and then making him work even harder than he does.

On Sunday morning, Scott even told the kids. “Mommy might be quitting.” Surprisingly, the girls were not fans. Scott said later, “Maybe he wants to just see if we’re willing.” I agreed, but I was pretty clear on what he told me Saturday morning. It was clear-cut that I needed to quit. I continued to pray about it.

Sunday afternoon during my quiet time, God then clearly said “Amy, don’t do it.” After Scott’s comment, the story of Abraham and Isaac came to mind. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a test. Genesis 22:1 “Some time later God tested Abraham.” Just before Abraham took a knife to his son, God cried out, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” So Abraham was tested to see if he truly feared God. When Abraham looked up, he saw a ram in the thicket and sacrificed it in Isaac’s place. Genesis 22:25 says Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.

I’m not trying to say my story is like Abraham’s. Quitting my job is a far cry from sacrificing my children. However, the principle of that story was relatable. When I looked back in my journal, I saw the list of expenditures I identified as excess, things that we have just because we can. If forced, they are not necessary. I felt it was clear looking at those, that they were my ram. God had asked me to sacrifice my job, but only to test me and then point me to another sacrifice, one that would be an offering to say that the Lord provides.

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So perhaps this sounds silly and not worth all this dramatic intro but today I called and suspended DirecTV. Yesterday we bought a HD antennae and Roku box so we would have basic channels, Netflix and HuluPlus. The hardware will be paid off within 3 months of what it would have taken to pay DirecTV. We’re paying $7.99 for HuluPlus monthly and then after that, we have a total monthly savings of about $55 a month.

We will be using that money to intentionally and automatically fund something for good.

Please hear that I’m not throwing that in anyone’s face. Hey, look what we’re doing! Look how bad all you cable subscribers are! It’s not my intent.

What I think God wants people to hear is there’s a different way.

Those things culture says you deserve, you must have, are required, are, in fact, not.

I asked God to please confirm our decision.  Yesterday at church, the sermon was about how God’s blessing is not for us, but for us to be conduits of his blessings to reach the nations.  How much more confirmation could I get?

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Katrina and I met the first week in July and one of the things we talked about is believing we should find our “required operating expenses” and then be able to give generously above that. The linchpin is finding your required operating expenses. Is DirecTV required? Are weekly lattes required? Are two cars required? Is 2500 square feet required? The more we can reduce these operating expenses, the more we can give.

We’re still on that journey. I don’t claim to live this out perfectly by any means.  In fact, I hate putting this out there because then I feel like I have an expectation out there to live a certain way.  However, I believe through my week of media fast, God showed us this one operating expense that wasn’t required. There was a different way. A sacrificial way.

There’s a part of me that still screams that we work hard enough to deserve it. There’s a part of me that’s screaming that $50 a month isn’t going to make a difference.

Don’t let culture tell you differently, being a giving tree is painful. I am loving Jeff Goins’ brand new book Wrecked. He said if your giving feels good, you’re doing it wrong. I’m not elated about this sacrifice. I’m going to miss the DVR, Scott’s going to miss Megan Kelly on Fox News and the girls are already missing the Disney channel.

But it’s in these small decisions that change is made. The Lord is providing for someone or something and God is using us to be the giving tree. And for me, He provides life and purpose and thankfulness. Guess how much more thankful I feel for my job? Guess how much more I want to use what He gives for good? Guess how much more purpose my job has? Guess how much more we get to teach our kids about sacrifice and giving? Guess how much more time we’ve reclaimed from excess media?

 The Lord provides. Indeed.

Media Week

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Summer of 7 Media week has been my best week in years.  Years.  Last Friday night when I shut the TV off, walked away from my computer and deleted all my iPhone apps I was sure, I mean SURE, I would be counting down the hours last night until I could get back on the Internet.  

I was wrong.

I was counting how many more hours of the quiet I could savor. 

Media week was so good.  Like, so good.  I felt as if a weighty fog had been lifted from around me and I was left with life.  Just simple life.  I could do what I want and think what I wanted without filtering it through 1,000s of other people. 

Social Media

Now, don’t get me wrong, when I woke up on Saturday I had no clue what to do with myself.  Like, literally, I did not know what to do after getting out of bed. 

What do I do next when I can’t tell someone what I’m going to do? 

What do I do when the view doesn’t have to be just-so so it makes a good Instagram picture? 

Where is Facebook to tell me all the cool things going on today?

I did not realize until that moment just how influenced my day to day activities were by YOU.  And even more than that, by COMPANIES trying to tell me what to do with my time.

By day two or three it felt like 1994 again.  And I don’t mean I was wearing Birkenstocks.  I mean, I just did life and it didn’t matter what people thought.  It didn’t matter what it was going to look like.  It didn’t matter what I was wearing.  It didn’t matter when I left or when I got back.  I just did my thing and enjoyed it. 

And more than that, I felt like a super secret spy doing fun! things! that no one knew about.  I went to a picnic and a baseball game and an outing with my daughters and a bloggy meetup out of town! Someone had to buy Facebook event attendees at Social Media Daily so that the place would get full.  And I know it sounds weird but I got to hold them all close to my heart and they were all mine.  You have to understand I’ve been on Twitter answering “what are you doing?” for 5 years.  I’ve been blogging now for 11 years.  For eleven years I’ve been airing nearly my every move.  I had forgotten what it was like to just BE.

I felt free as a bird.

And don’t even get me started on how much I enjoyed not seeing the phrase Chick-fil-A all up in my face.

But I did miss the people.  I love to hear when you’re happy and mad and frustrated and I just love sharing life with people online.  But you pay for it.  You really do.

 

The Internet

I also restricted myself from the Internet as a whole.

Can I just say you don’t really need the Internet as much as you think you do?  OK, *I* don’t need it as much as *I* think I do.

I mean, it’s nice to look up recipes and the weather and what movie that guy was in 1996 but really?  You don’t NEED it as much as you assume. 

I didn’t look on the Internet for one single thing.

I looked up recipes in cookbooks and talked to people when I had questions about my garden.  I looked at the sky for the weather report and called a phone number for my bank account balance.  The rest just fell away.

I did miss reading blogs and dearly missed writing here but ya’ll, the break from it was just so good.

 

TV

And TV? 

I didn’t miss it at all. 

I mean, I sort of hate I missed seeing the great Olympic moments this week.  I did.  But I enjoyed my time so much in the quiet that I would not trade it for a single second of a high dive.

 

What’s Next?

So am I writing it all off? 

Nope.  I still believe there’s value in connecting with folks online.  I really, really do.  But there are some things that have to change for me

You know what I did Saturday morning when I had no clue what to do?  I stayed in bed and opened my Bible and cracked open a notebook and I read and I prayed and I listened and I wrote.  And I did that over and over all week.  I realized that I need more of that and less of media. 

I’ve been batting around ideas on how to do that.  Do I fast the first 3 days of the month?  Do I only allow certain hours of the day?  The last thing I want to do is be legalistic about it but I do know I want something different now.  I need margin.

These details are just the tip of the iceberg.  I have pages and pages of things I could share of what happened in the quiet.  I’m leaning on the Spirit to lead me on what to share but initially I just want to say God is good and faithful in our sacrifices.  He’s there just waiting on you to give Him some of your time.  I’m here to say it’s worth it, so worth it, to click that little “X” and listen to the quiet.

Summer of 7: Waste


I’m finishing up my week of waste and the only conclusion to be drawn is I wasted the week.  I half-heartedly made an attempt to make changes. 

My original goal for the week was to add a compost pile to further eliminate the kitchen waste. I asked Scott and he said he’d have to think about where he would want it.  I just got him to do this yesterday so I may have met my quota of the hubby to-do list for a few days.

We did manage to add a second kitchen trash can just for recyclables but that’s mainly because we were tired of Tucker eating out of our old can without a lid.  I found that we were less likely to recycle when we had to take it outdoors.  So, when we got the new trash can this week, the old trash can became just for recyclables and the new one for legitimate trash.  On the up side, it really has been working and the recyclable bin has been filling up really fast.

Many other areas of waste are of concern–power and water off the top of my head—but I just haven’t tackled them other than to remember to cut a light off here and there.

Most of all I feel like I’ve missed the spiritual aspect of the week.  How does my heart play into the waste I produce?

Perhaps I will revisit Waste Week.

For now, I am on to Media Week

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Here are the rules I’m kicking myself for laying out:

No blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reader, general browsing, no TV and no cell phone use except for calls/texting when necessary.

I will be checking email but only reading if it looks like it’s an emergency.

I will be offline from tonight (Friday 7/27) midnight until next Saturday (8/4) morning.

See you on the other side!