Keeping my eyes open to glimpses of God

Monday, August 27, 2012


Over halfway through my spending fast, and I reached the depressing hump of negativity. I've caught myself pouting as I drive past favorite restaurants, discontent with my possessions and wanting what's new, and being tempted to browse through Target for something other than necessary food or toiletries. Two words: no good.

I've had a bad attitude, focusing on what I can't have. Ridiculous, right? But it's true. I'm more than a little spoiled.

Slowly but surely, though, I've been seeing spiritual breakthroughs. For instance, during a recent meeting with other church leaders (where I tend to stay quiet), I found myself speaking up continuously. I was passionate about the topic (spiritual formation), and I just couldn't hold back. Plus, I had a clarity that I don't normally have in those busy, loud meetings.
A few days later I found myself really focused on my devotional reading, chewing on the information. In fact, I doubled the amount of time I normally spend on an entry because I wanted to keep thinking it through. (I don't think it was a coincidence that the devotional was on desire.)

I'm also finding that I'm more in tune with my body—specifically, knowing when I need rest. As an introvert, I tend to run myself down as I pretend to be outgoing and bubbly all the time. With this new awareness, I've been able to take time to slow down and rest. I've been reading more, and doing individual activities like sewing. Plus, additional rest gives me more energy to give others when I am with them.

I'm appreciating food more, too. Simple meals are ok with me, and we're having more of them. Plus, my parents took us out for dinner this weekend, and I absolutely savored my food. And I saved some to create two more meals. Restaurant food was such a treat!

I'm still not through this fast, but I think I've made it to the other side of depressing. And that's a breakthrough in my book.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cinnabon Is Stupid

Ok. Yesterday and today have been hard. It all started yesterday when I had to walk past Cinnabon after my eye appointment at the mall. Now I can't stop thinking about how I want pizza, a burger, or ice cream--from a restaurant, not from home. Oh, discontent. You're no good to me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

10 Days In

Today completes 10 days of our spending experiment, and I'm learning a lot. Sometimes it feels no different than our regular rhythms—I still get groceries, take my lunch to work, and spend time doing things I enjoy. Other moments are stark reminders that I'm out of my norm.

Take last week for example. Wednesday I was happy to take advantage of a free breakfast coupon at Corner Bakery . . . only to realize on the way there that I wouldn't be able to purchase coffee to go with my free oatmeal. Thursday I attended an all-day conference and I brought my lunch . . . then realized everyone else was going out to eat. I sat with them at Potbelly's while they ate, eating my lunch when we got back. Friday my coworkers went on their weekly coffee run . . . and I went with and had to explain why I wasn't ordering coffee. I'm getting better at navigating these awkward moments—both by knowing what to say to others and by learning to rest in the discomfort.

I've also craved Dairy Queen and wanted to stop at Starbucks countless times. I've forgotten a key recipe ingredient and couldn't run out to the neighborhood grocery store. I've run my car near empty because I was far from home and realized my agreed-upon gas station was far away. I've started on crafting projects only to realize I don't have all the materials . . . and I can't buy them.

However, our bills have gone down, and our diets are made up of more whole foods and whole grains than ever before. Plus, I've found that I'm more connected to God lately. As I've been working through my current devotional book, Seeking Spiritual Intimacy by Glenn E. Myers, I've found myself really thinking and applying. I've found myself resting in God's presence more. And I've found that my passion for spiritual formation is being reignited--as evidenced in a meeting I attended yesterday. I kept bringing these church leaders back to the facts of spiritual formation: we can't measure it through numbers, it won't happen accidentally, and we have to work on it in ourselves as we help others in their journey.

I'm feeling more like myself—like a better version of myself. Plus, I feel confident to tackle other things, like cleaning out our home office. As I think about this process, part of me wonders if it will get easier and easier as I go along this month. Another part wonders if it'll only get harder to say no to my desire for a cold brew from one of our local establishments.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Starting My Spending Adventure

Well, I'm on day two of this spending adventure . . . and I already cheated.

In my defense, we had no food! I was out of town all weekend, and when I got back late Sunday night, our electricity had just come back on. And our entire fridge and freezer had to be dumped. That means we basically had no food. Nothing. So making lunch to take to work yesterday was a little difficult. My husband and I both had to eat peanut butter sandwiches. Problem was that there was about two tablespoons left for the two of us to share. So we both had two pieces of bread with an extremely thin layer of peanut butter. I looked through the cabinets for something to bring with my sandwich.

No produce left.
No yogurt.
A peanut butter granola bar.

That's a lot of peanut butter and carbs—even for me. Maybe if I brought a good breakfast I'd be okay. So, I looked around. Cereal? No milk. Eggs? Nope. Looks like I was back to that peanut butter granola bar. I threw it in my bag.

On the way to work, I passed a Dominick's. I was compelled to stop and add to my lunch. I couldn't believe I was already cheating at 8 am, but I was desperate. I couldn't survive on a peanut butter granola bar (mini-size, by the way) and a peanut butter sandwich! I bought a carton of raspberries on sale and two nectarines. I'm just too used to the convenience of stores at every corner.

After work I went to Trader Joe's—one of our approved stores—to get lots of groceries. And I really stocked up. I intentionally planned lots of easy, healthy meals to prepare, things that we could quickly make instead of being tempted to run to McDonalds.

Other than my fruit-buying, so far, so good. I got up early to make a Greek pasta salad today to take for lunch and have with our turkey burgers at dinner. I knew tonight would be tight because we have small group an hour after I get home from work. Looks like I'm already starting to plan ahead.

I'm realizing how tough this month will be, though. So far today, I've received six e-mails from stores telling me about their sales and promotions—things I have to take advantage of. Well, guess what? I can't. None of those stores are Trader Joes, Target, or our farmer's market. They're not approved. That's it. So I've started deleting the e-mails.

As a side note, I really have to applaud my husband. He was super skeptical about this. He kept saying, Really?? Only the gas stations in our neighborhood? Only Trader Joe's? Only going out to eat four times?

But he's already thrown himself in head first. He's a good guy. Good thing I have his support. J I know God's going to be teaching us a lot this month.