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The Contentment Challenge Guidelines

Last week I shared my contentment story. This week I am sharing the guidelines for this challenge with you. These are modified slightly from the original rules posted by Nancy Ray for her Contentment Challenge.

The Contentment Challenge : August 15, 2015-October 15, 2015
We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.

The Guidelines:

• For the next 10 days, your homework is the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months. (This is not a last minute shopping spree! This is one final trip to the store for items you will need, and the opportunity for you to say your goodbyes to Target.)

• Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time.  Nancy recommended any of the following: Seven, Weird, The Celebration of Discipline, 1000 Gifts, Kisses from Katie. I am going to read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, From Your Head to Your Heart: The Change You Are Looking For Is 18 Inches Away and The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

• Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means, do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord.

• Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please go get a new one! If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items that you already have. (“I really NEED this bathing suit, even though there are 8 in my closet already.”)

• You must actively pursue something – anything – that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it.

This is not about being perfect… This is about finding a place of contentment that is deeper than the “stuff” we surround ourselves with. Who is with me? I would love for you to join me in this journey and hold me accountable. Check back each week to follow along.

 

Happy Tuesday Friends! This weekend Alex and I snuck away for three days of relaxation on the North Fork of LI. We were blessed to be welcomed into the home of friends for a B&B like stay on this mini vacation. We drove out early and took our time making our way through the many towns that the North Fork has to offer. We walked and ate our way through Greenport, Southold and Mattituck and stopped at a few of the many vineyards that Long Island has to offer.

B&B, sunset, relax, Long Island, North Fork,

Saturday Morning we joined Captain Batkowski aboard the Miss Patty for a full morning of pulling lobster pots. Commercial fishing is no joke and a lobster pinch has a nasty grasp but we had a blast. While we did not pull in a large bounty we did catch enough for dinner!

north fork, long island, fishing, boat, lobster, relax, weekend recap

lobster, long island, the north fork, vineyards, barn, farm,  food truck, menu

After our morning fishing we drove around and witnesses the miles and miles of beautiful farms, fields and vines. Potatoes, corn, sunflowers, asparagus and more… We never could have imagined that the North Fork boasted so much beautiful farmland. There are also farms with alpacas, longhorns, goats and of course the bison at Tweed’s bison farm. Before heading back to the city limits we made sure to check out the local fish market and a few of the many farm stands.

It was a much needed relaxing weekend for both of us! Don’t worry Long Island – we will be back for you!

north fork, bison, farm, ranch, long island

contentment – A state of happiness and satisfaction.

Am I content? This is a question that has been plaguing my mind for over a year now! In 2013 I came across a blog post from Lara Casey about something called the Contentment Challenge. The Contentment Challenge is a 3 month challenge not to buy anything new. I remember reading it and thinking “wow that sounds intense!” It sounded interesting but I brushed it off as not being applicable to me because of course I came up with a million excuses why I stopping purchases did not apply to me. I was not unhappy with my life, so I must be content. Right?

A few months later I came across a blog post that Tiffany Farley wrote about Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. I bought the book, read it with my husband and we decided that we were going to start following Dave Ramsey’s guidelines for our finances.  It has been almost two years since we started this financial journey together and YES we have made definite progress but on the same hand there have been many moments of weakness where we have slipped back into old habits of buying things that we do not need that have set us back along the way.

Having healthy finances is just one component of being content. We live in a society where we believe that things can make us happy. We see something in a store, we  buy it and we feel content. We crave coffee, tea, a sweet treat and just indulge ourselves everyday not realizing the consequences. But material contentment is temporary.  I am totally guilty of all of this! Our finances, stuff and our current stage of life all intertwine to create a web of contentment and I have been struggling with all of it!

1 Timothy 6:6-8 “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”

Stuff is literally that…stuff. We can’t take it with us and if we are not careful things become nasty idols in our lives that take our focus away from the things that matter. Stuff does not matter. Some things that do matter are relationships, God, reading, spending time outside, being active and healthy and helping/giving to others.

contentment, challenge, am I content,

{Photo Credit: Pinterest}

Fast forward to March 2015 when I attended Making Things Happen and heard Nancy Ray speak about her lifestyle transformation after she completed the #ContentmentChallenge. Again bringing this challenge to my heart and attention. Here we are over 4 months later and I still have not submitted myself to relinquish control of stuff. This month is the month. I am tired of being in this season. The season of too much stuff cluttering my life. The season of financial struggle. The season of growth so slow that I feel stagnant. The season where I struggle with self control. We all go through seasons of life and I know that I am in this season for a reason and that God has a bigger plan that I  can not see. It’s His time, not mine but in the meantime I am going to start the Contentment Challenge to prepare my heart for the next season, whenever that may come.

Consider joining me and the many others that have done this #ContentmentChallenge before me. Think about your contentment story and whether it is complete. I will be sharing the rules of the challenge next week. Whether your joining me or just supporting me be sure to follow along each week for updates.

 

Can we just take a minute to be grateful for the gorgeous weekend we had here in New York! Alex and I spent it outdoors. We got outside early Saturday morning and started cleaning up the yard. We employed the use of the dump truck and wood chipper to chop up all of the branches that had fallen throughout this long winter. This was quite a project, it took a lot of work but after 4 hours we completed getting the bulk of the larger branches out of the yard. As Alex was trying to maneuver the dump truck back up to the garage he hit really soft ground and both the dump truck and the chipper began to sink into the mud. The more that Alex hit the gas and tried to get out, the deeper the tires seemed to go. Eventually after realizing that he was not going to be able to get out of this situation on his own, he enlisted some extra hands and the tractor. The truck and the chipper were unhitched from each other and the tractor was hitched to each piece separately. Only then were each of the machines able to be pulled out of the mud. The aftermath…very large ruts all over the ground where the machines got stuck.

Often times I think we go through the same thing in the course of “doing life”. Whether it is at work, home, in a relationship or something else we often work really hard to form something, create something, wipe a new slate only to feel stuck in the mire once we have reached that place. We don’t know necessarily what the next step is. We created the beautiful thing but it is not going where we envisioned it would be. We formed a new relationship but somewhere along the line it stopped growing. We get to the place in our life where we always wanted to be only to find that the door in front of us is closed. You are not alone! When we feel stuck in the mire, sinking deeper and deeper when we try to get out we need to stop gunning the as pedal and stop to evaluate the situation. Maybe you have to enlist someone to assess your situation from an outside perspective. Maybe you need to sit down and have a hard conversation with yourself. But there is a way out and once you get out the ruts will heal.

Psalm 40:20

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

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One week ago today, I had the honor of attending the Making Things Happen Conference in Chapel Hill, NC. I will forever be grateful for the people that God has put in my life and the tangled web of creatives that led me to hear about this conference. I first heard about this conference about two years ago. Alex and I had just gotten married and the timing just was not right but I remember starting a conference list in my notebook with the hope of one day being able to attend.

When December 2014 rolled around and the tickets for the Spring conference went on sale I had a several day debate with myself and with God over whether this was the right time for me to attend. Was the timing right? Could we afford it? Was it going to be worth the investment? These were some of the fears that were swirling around in my head when I approached my husband the last night that tickets were going to be sold at the Early Bird Rate and asked him if he would support me going to this conference – that I really really really wanted to go! Of course being as wonderful as he is completely supported my decision and that night I ordered my ticket, not knowing exactly what was ahead.

I will be honest, when I bought my ticket for Making Things Happen, I had read alumni reviews of the conference. I had read a few blog posts about other peoples experiences and I was excited. However I would have never been able to fully comprehend the level of change that would occur in my life. I had to take the leap of faith and show up in Chapel Hill.

Making Things Happen Spring 2015

Photo Credits: Robyn Van Dyke Photography

I think that originally I signed up for Making Things Happen with the impression that it would give me the tools and the butt kicking that I needed to leave my current job behind and to follow my creative heart to the next chapter of my life. Instead I learned so much more about myself than I ever would have imagined possible. There was laughing, crying and a growing community within the four wall of the conference room. I want to share a few of the many things that I took away from this conference.

Do What I Can. With What I Have. Where I Am.  I went into Making Things Happen being discontent at my job. I was confused with why certain things in my life were not working the way I thought they should. I was searching for more. I wanted to be in control. And I wanted perfection. And then I learned about contentment – a state of happiness and satisfaction. And then I relaized that if I surrender my life to God’s plan and his timing. He will allow for me to be content where I am. Contentment does not mean that I have stop where I am. I can still continue to grow. I can still continue to dream. I can still continue to build my dream job.

Hard Work Is The Root Of Growth. I am not always the best at evaluating myself but sometimes we have to take a step back and do just that. Ask ourselves the hard questions while digging deep for the real answers. The answers that we keep hidden within ourselves because we do not want anyone else to see. Lara helps you do this hard work while you are at Making Things Happen however this hard work does not stop after you leave the conference. We are continually growing and as such our goals, dreams, challenges and fears change right along side of us therefore this hard work is never done and should be re-evaluated often to make sure that our action steps continue to strive for the ultimate goal of living life on purpose.

My Life Its To Short. My life is too short to succumb to fear, self doubt, overwhelm and discontentment. My life is too short to live a life of comparison. My life is to short not to live in the present. My life is too short not to believe in myself. my life is too short to let distractions get in the way. My life is too short to deny community. My life is too short not to love selflessly. My life is too short to not spread gratitude.

I am so grateful for the amazing speakers who opened up their hearts and gave us permission to open up ours in return.  I am grateful to be a part of this encouraging community. Encouragement truly is contagious and when you encourage someone else not only are you helping them, but you are also bettering yourself in the process.

Making Things Happen Speakers

Photo Credits: Robyn Van Dyke Photography

If you are considering attending this conference, DO IT! It is completely worth it! Tickets for the November 2015 Conference are on sale now- grab your while they are still available!