The fact that things are actually growing in my garden...makes my heart happy. A rouge brussels sprout. This is not where I actually planted brussels sprouts, and yet, here one is. The ones that I intentionally planted are dead.
Sewing with my daughter...makes my heart happy. Braelyn's first project...a pillow.
Before I get down to business, let me just say...there's nothing like committing yourself to a blog series to make you not want to blog. Likewise, there's nothing like writing a series on not buying things to make you want to BUY THINGS! Geez Louise! And I'm not just talkin' like I want to buy a new shirt. No, no...the Pottery Barn catalog came in and and I was like..."Um...I NEED this DINING TABLE!" A dining table people! Plus chairs. So, as you can see...I am not just being humble when I say I AM NOT THERE YET!
Alright, now that that's off my chest...I'll get to it. :)
For the past few years, as I have toyed with the idea of spending wisely and buying less, I have straddled the fence between two camps. One camp being: I will spend more on quantity rather than quality. The other camp being: I will spend more on quality, not quantity. I have to say, I have more often been in camp #1. It was easier for me to "justify" buying a new dress or a new pair of shoes if it cost less. And actually, it makes sense doesn't it?...I want to save money, I want to live humbly and simply...I'll just stick to Target. But as I have been wrestling with these things these last weeks and months, I'm finding myself climbing over the fence into camp #2. I am finding that, for me, camp #1 has some consumer traps...
1. I am much more tempted and susceptible to impulse purchases. You run into to Target for diapers and out you come with a new bag and a pair of heels, plus more than likely, you've forgotten the diapers all together.
2. I buy something less expensive with a plan to buy the "real" item later. I would do this ALL the time! For example, say I got a new outfit and already spent my budget. But then I would remember that I didn't have a suitable pair of shoes to wear with my new outfit (problem #1, but we'll talk about that later). So, anxious to wear my new outfit, but anxious not to upset the hubs, I would grab a trendy, but crappy pair of shoes at Target until I could get a good pair of shoes somewhere else. So...I would literally be checking out with my crappy pair of shoes wondering when I would be able to replace them with what I really wanted! Crazy!
3. I am more likely to just buy something for the sake of buying something. When I have the quantity over quality mindset, I feel like I never really have what I want and so I feel more entitled to buy on impulse, thus leaving me with too many clothes in my closet with the tags still on them!
4. I am less likely to wear pieces year after year. Honestly, are you really going to wear that cropped suit vest thing from Forever 21 next year? No. No, you're not.
For these reason, I am trying to be more of a camp #2 shopper. Even though I was trying to spend wisely and be frugal and whatnot, I think I was probably spending just as much in the long run. As I am trying to settle into camp #2, here's how I am trying to renew my mind:
1. Going for quality over quantity forces me to wait. I talked about that with the Home post. Waiting for what I really need and what I really want, instead of being a slave to whatever marketers put in front of my face. Waiting, I think is evidence of freedom. Waiting ensures that I will be thoughtful about my purchases.
2. Quality (which usually means it costs a little more) over quantity means that I must have stricter guidelines before I make a purchase. Will this work well into my wardrobe? Can I wear this with more than one outfit? Does buying this item mean that I have to buy something else? (Important question for me!) Do I feel comfortable or do I enjoy wearing this? Does it fit properly or at least do I love it enough to get it altered (I'm short, you know :)? Is this something I see myself wearing year after year? Because I am going to be spending more money, I feel that I have a right to expect more from my purchase. If I can't say yes to most, if not all of these questions, then I DON'T need it!
The quality over quantity has been a helpful defense for me against mindless consumerism, but the Lord is pushing me to fight back with even more. The something in/something out rule applies to my wardrobe as well. Thankfully, this hasn't been too difficult because, as I mentioned above, I have a collection of unfortunate pieces to choose from. :) Again, I think this method helps with the accumulation of stuff and gives your mind some boundaries when you go shopping. Also, I know for me, that buying almost ALWAYS breeds more wanting. Have you noticed that? You get a new shirt, you "need" jewelry to go with it. You get the jewelry, now your bag doesn't look just right. As a consumer, I HAVE to go shopping with this truth in mind. Can I buy this thing without wanting something else? It's one thing to justify one little impulse purchase, and whole other thing to justify the things you bought to go with your impulse purchase. And finally, I think it is essential to get into the discipline of wearing what I have. As my favorite design guru says, "Make it work!" :) Whenever, I have an event, my first impulse is to go get a new outfit. I have 2 weddings coming up, and with all that I am learning that LESS is MORE...dadgum if I didn't say to myself, "Maybe I should go get a new dress." No...I don't need a new dress. I have a dress. Although, it does need a little altering. I got it when I was nursing, and it's just downright insulting how much room is in there now. Sigh...
So that's kind of the nuts and bolts of things. It's a start for me anyways. And truthfully, that's the easy part. The hard part is that there's flesh and heart and soul and pride and jealousy and selfishness and a whole big world that tells me that I deserve things and that I what I look like on the OUTSIDE reflects who I am on the INSIDE. But that's not what my Savior says. His Word says quite the opposite.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4
These words are so life giving! This is the MORE! More than saving money, or being green, I desire to be a Godly woman. And being a Godly woman means that I cannot think as the world thinks. I cannot buy as the world buys. I cannot look as the world looks. The world, and even popular Christian culture will tell me that I can, but my spirit grows weary at serving such opposing masters. It will never do. And even more...it is not a choice for me to try.
I cannot emphasize enough, that I am just at the beginning. I have much more to learn. I have a lot more dying-to-self to do. But I have enjoyed thinking these things through with you. Even just writing those Scriptures...proclaiming their TRUTH...seems to urge me onward. So, thank you for reading. I have been blessed by your encouragement. I'll wrap this whole thing up with a quote from WWII that a friend sent me:
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." (Thanks Bri!)
1. Yesterday, Casey and I had our first appointment with a fertility specialist. We waited for over a month to get in to see her, and as I suspected, met with her only to do a little more waiting. All that was really accomplished yesterday was initial introductions, agreeing that there's a problem and that we need to take some blood tests and such. They took a few samples yesterday, but some I can't take for another two weeks and then it will be two weeks after that until they get the results in. Sigh...waiting. So that's where we are with that.
2. I have about 12 more pages of Through the Looking Glass, and then...
3. For a fun, toddler-friendly (but good for older kiddos too) fall craft, try this one. Braelyn and I had a blast doing this craft over several days. Creating art with nature, drawing with glue, blending colors, painting outside the lines....all good fun!
For those of us women, who believe that God has called us to be the managers and caretakers of our homes, we know that that is no small responsibility. We are called to support and respect our husbands. We are called to train our children in the Word and the ways of the Lord. We are called to keep order in our household. We are called to open our doors to both friend and stranger, that they may see the love of Christ lived out in our homes. I also think, that along with this call, God has given us the privilege and freedom to create a warm, inviting, comfortable, place in which this ministry can happen. I'm not going to go too much into all this, but I will say that it is good to invest our creativity and time, and even some of our money into building a beautiful home that blesses our families and enables us to do the ministry we are called to.
Needless to say, this is no free pass to run wild in our nearest Pottery Barn. There are boundaries. In order to keep a Godly perspective on this freedom, I think our ministry as wives and mothers HAS to come before our home improvement plans, not the other way around. I think that when we begin to obsess about what we want or what we don't have, we take our liberty in this area, cross over into licentiousness, and inevitably end up with an ungrateful spirit, which of course, is sin. Also, when we begin to live beyond our means or when we fail to share our home with others, I think it is a sign that we are thinking more of ourselves than the work God has called us to. It is a narrow road we're walking here. And I confess to you, that I have veered off the road countless times.
Allow me to reiterate...I am still struggling with this "Less is More" reality. I sin in this area. A lot. What I am simply offering here, are a few ways that God is renewing my mind. For time's sake, let's make a list.
1. I am learning to wait. Too many times have I gotten something for my home that I didn't really love. Maybe I would like it at first, so I wouldn't return it, but then after seeing it on the wall for a while, I would realize..."That's not really what I wanted. I need to get something else." I was the WORST about this. Buying things to just "make-do" until I could get what I REALLY wanted. For the past year or so, I have been REALLY trying to WAIT. For me, I know that I want to go to the Round Top Antique festival every Fall and Spring, so instead of buying this little thing or that...I wait until I can go antiquing and get what I am really going to LOVE. If I have an idea to do something in the house...for instance, right now I am thinking of putting an arrangement of photographs on a wall in the living room...I sit with that idea for a while and see if it sticks. I have been sitting with the photo arrangement idea for about a year and a half. :) and look...I haven't died! I used to feel that way...that I would just die if I didn't get what I wanted when I wanted it. But strangely, the more I wait, the more freedom I feel that I have. "I am not a slave to THINGS," I think is the implication there.
2. When discontentment starts to creep in, I am trying to "take hold" of those thoughts and replace them with gratitude. Just practically...what helps me with this...is being aware of how the rest of the world is living and reading about people doing great Kingdom work. Nothing squelches the lies of discontentment like hearing how the Gospel was shared with the least of the least. Nothing fills your heart with gratitude for what you have like seeing people with far less than you have the JOY of Christ on their face. I mean...there's something to that isn't there?...they have less and yet, perhaps they have MORE. I think it is a worthy habit to begin, of making ourselves aware of what we have and what others don't, and seeking out stories of Victory and Redemption. Seriously...what is a new lamp, when people are meeting Jesus?!
3. Something in/Something out. To stop the accumulation of stuff and clutter, I am beginning to employ the something in/something out method. Simply...if you buy something new, then you have to get rid of something you no longer want or use. (I would suggest making a garage sale pile or giving it to Good Will. Not just throwing it out.) I just got a couple of things at Round Top...so, I am currently deciding what things I have to get rid of. The goal for me is, that it will start to get more difficult to part with things, and in turn make it more difficult to make careless purchases.
4. Using what you have and buying "preloved" items. Admittedly, I am not great at the thrift store thing, but I am more willing than ever to try. One place I have gotten quite good at buying used...Round Top! :)
So at the risk of being ridiculous and self-contradictory, I thought I'd share with you some of my Long-Awaited, Preloved purchases that I made this year at Round Top. There's grace, no?! Like I said, I am still learning. I am still making mistakes. I don't think the answer is to never buy anything. Just buy wisely and with Kingdom perspective. I love Round Top so much, but not JUST for the antiques...although they are fun! But more than that, it is precious, quality time with women I love, having real, meaningful, UNINTERRUPTED conversations. And to top it off, what I am buying is not new, but recycled and repurposed! Perfect!
Day 1: Warrenton A bird cage. Exactly what I was looking for!
Day 2: Marburger With Erin (Also my day 1 buddy. We missed you Cynthia!)
With Sarah and Erica and delicious end-of-shopping cupcakes! A most exciting purchase! German bread pans to be hung on the dining room wall and used as a giant memo board! You can write on it with chalk or post things with magnets! I got a couple of other little things, but these were my favorite.
Thanks for stickin' around through this whole thing! The post on clothes should be significantly shorter...I think. :)