Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pagan {Christian} Parenting

Please go here and read this article RIGHT NOW! :)  It's called "How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home".  It's phenomenal and will really prick your conscience if you're like the typical American Christian parent like me.  Here's an excerpt:

Do you teach your kids "be good because the Bible tells you to" or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.   

Continue reading the post here....

Jon Bloom on the DesiringGod.org website writes an awesome post called "Don't Raise Good Kids" - a post where I can very much personally relate to the author's words. Making our children see the total depravity that is in them is key to making them see the need for Christ's grace and salvation in their life. Another great blog post I just read from Sally Clarkson is about training up your child (especially that difficult one that knows just how to push your buttons!) and recognizing the unique traits that irritate you now but may help them fulfill God's calling on their life later.

I sit here in the midst of these incredible teachings and can only pray for God to help me teach my children the gospel, not just good behavior!  Help me to reach their hearts for God, not create an external facade of righteousness!

Some resources I'm either reading right now or own that I feel are helpful toward this end are:

For Instructions in Righteousness (awesome reference guide to match Scripture with different character weaknesses - this company also provides many other excellent resources for Biblical character training)

Shepherding a Child's Heart (love this book but have yet to finish it)

Wise Words for Moms (very thin reference book with easy-to-use chart of verses to deal with specific offenses)

Don't Make Me Count to Three! (reading right now)

Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training (very good book about getting to the heart of your child's behavior and how to train up your child in the admonition of the Lord)

Grace-Based Parenting (looks good though I haven't read it and don't own it)

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Offering Up Your Talents

When I do rarely happen to catch an interesting posting on someone's blog, many times I'm uplifted, encouraged, convicted, inspired, etc.  However there are times when I feel the posting is written *just* for me! This is one I love and want to share with you.  It's about being willing to sacrifice and lay on the altar your gifts and strengths and those things you actually take pride in and enjoy in life and give it all to God so He can use you much more mightily than you could ever do in your own strength.  It mirrors many of the same thoughts I've had regarding where God has me at right now and the lessons He's teaching me through my situation. Maybe you can relate.
Not too long ago a young woman was over at my house for some reason that I cannot remember. Now on a typical day  at my house you would find dishes in the sink, junk on the floor, a baby unloading a drawer, laundry on the stairs, and about 410 things on my to-do list. Children are always coloring, wielding scissors, and gluing things on the window when I’m not looking. Hopefully, you would also find me running around in the midst of it, because long experience has taught me that giving up on it won’t get results. I don’t remember what exactly was going on when she came by, but at some point she commented that she was the sort of person who liked things to be really orderly. It wasn’t a criticism and it wasn’t offensive, although it did make me laugh. Because, lo. Me too.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Opposite World courtesy of WLW Ministries

I follow a blog called Women Living Well Ministries and the blog author had a series entitled {Opposite World} where she shares how our lives as Christians are (and should be) quite opposite from how the world lives. I haven't caught all the posts, but the most recent one caught my eye.  It's about friendship between women, and I wanted to share it with you here.

"I got a phone call a few years back from a friend at church.  The girl called me to talk about our friendship that seemed strained. She called to see if anything was wrong (I LOVE that she took the time to call me).  I really had no issue with her –only that I could sense that she didn’t really like me. And I accepted the fact that not everyone in the world is going to like this fast talking, loud laughing, Bible girl…so I had made peace with it. We were polite in the halls at church but there was no real friendship.

So when she called to ask what was wrong? I didn’t know what to say…only that I felt like she didn’t like me but I didn’t know why.  Then she said it. She said her reason why."

Continued here...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

You Are Here

It's been a long while.  A long time since I've written on this blog.  A long while that I've had time to even think about writing or reading a blog.  My life is so busy right now, and I'm just now getting an inkling as to what everyone-else-I've-ever-looked-at-cross-eyed-because-they-were-too-busy-to-live-life feels like. I know this is a temporary season, but it's the season I'm smack-dab in the middle of right now.  The frenetic schedule and energy needed for it is actually quite addicting as life is constantly changing around me in a swirling frenzy.

Knee-deep in homeschooling while simultaneously getting one of my children off to school and picked up every day is an interesting dichotomy for us.  Living in this tiny house with too many bodies wears thin and seems to become more suffocating with each year that passes. But I'm finding joy and contentment in the little things, if you can call them 'little'.  Sending my kindergartner to school has had surprising results like making me again feel connected to this unbelievable community I was so recently ready to pack up and move away from without a second thought. (We really do live in one of the best towns in the whole of NH, in my humble opinion.)  Meeting new people in our neighborhood due to various circumstances has made me actually cherish our previously-loathed location on our "fixer-upper" street surrounded by lovely (i.e. well-to-do) houses in the historic district of town.  Yes, we literally live on the wrong side of the tracks.  In a neighborhood where the most common vernacular consists of four-letter words and where heavy metal/rap is the preferred music carried on the wind, we have recently heard worship music belted out of our next door neighbor's window.  I believe that is a definite first.

God's way can be a tough way, a narrow way, a hard-to-swallow way, but it is always a way full of Hope.  I know God is with us, and He will not abandon or forsake us in this little house on this little street.  Because no matter the issues we have with this house, He is here.  Living among us.  And from the beginning of our house hunting, I've always said that I would rather stay here with Him forever than move forward without Him.

But.  It is still sometimes so hard.

I feel stretched at times in trying to keep house, never mind fitting everyone into this house.  I'm seriously starting to feel like the old woman who lived in a shoe with her ten children.  My creativity has reached its limits with storage solutions, and my children sleep on mats on the floor because there is no room for beds.  And yet, He is here.  Our back yard is perfect for our toddler but not so much for three bigger boys who want to roam and run and play ball.  We have two tiny closets in the entire house to hold seven people's clothes.  Yet He is here and whispers that we have too many clothes.  Our fridge is a fairly small one in order to fit in the space allotted for it and so come winter, we sigh with relief that we can use our grill outside to hold food.  Yet He reminds us we are lucky to have so much food.  When it's laundry day and my kitchen and living room is full of clothes because our washing machine and dryer openly reside in our kitchen, my God reminds me that my neighbors still have to run to the laundromat a mile or two away in order to wash their clothes.  When I look at our house and see all the S-T-U-F-F we have (even after our many purges), I ask myself whom I'm serving - God or Mammon?  And He gently reminds me He's better than all this stuff. He's better than any house anywhere.  He is here.

So if I were to look at one of those maps that indicates "You Are Here" and be tempted to think "But I don't want to be here!", I would be remiss to not take notice of the fine print that says "God Is Here".  And why would I ever want to move away from that very spot?  When God moves, we'll move.

God's way is a hopeful way.  God help me to remember that every time I trip over my laundry or my children!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Time With God is A Very Fluid Concept Right Now

This morning, I was going to turn over a new leaf. Or rather, a dry brittle leaf that's been turned over more times than Jack & Jill would have had the hill they fell down been Mt. Washington itself.  I was going to start my day with God. You know, that glorious idea of a "Morning Devotional," or "Quiet Time?" I woke at 7:20am with visions of a breakfast date with Jesus. Here's what it was going to look like:

I was going to get up, greet my family members and pray with David before he left for work. Then I was going to make myself my standard espresso with chocolate caramel creamer and for a special treat, a grilled blueberry bagel with cinnamon neufchatel. Playing my Cool Praise station on Pandora, I was going to finally get around to starting a devotional journal by Luci Swindoll that has sat on my shelf for long enough for me to forget when I received it but short enough I still remember who gave it to me. I was going to cuddle up on the couch with Christ and start my day right, for once in my life thank you very much.

Here's how it really went down:

I get up, greet my family members and pray with David before he leaves for work. I find the book I want and crank up the praise. Then we realize our godson, Landon, is about to walk or drive by on his way to his very first day of Kindergarten. This is far too big a momentous occasion to sit idly back and miss it! Quickly we make a sign, "GO LANDON," and run outside to cheer him on. (I realize now, our sign could have been taken a couple different ways, but luckily I don't think his teacher will get to hidden meanings and innuendos on day one of English.) As he and his mom walk by, Vivi and I cheer and wave and I fight back the tears because I am the emotional equivalent to maple syrup.

Back inside. Forty minutes have passed since my feet first touched the floor. But I still have hope. I can DO this!

To the kitchen to make breakfast. While waiting for my espresso and bagel to be ready I multitask and fill the dishwasher and get it going. When I go to grab one of my adorable French espresso cups, I drop the matching spoon. I spend five minutes on searching for the pieces, which I am hoping I can superglue together, but later. Instead I must find a "safe" place to put them where they won't get lost or cut someone. The music stand of the piano looks a likely candidate.

Ahhh. Finally, I sit down on the couch, anxious to inspect the underside of that Quiet Time Leaf once again. But as it turns out, Bo needs some attention. His endearing method of communicating that looks something akin to a gigantic fruit fly buzzing around my lap, my head, and of course my book. Being the Super Spiritual Mom that I am, I of course yell at him that "I am trying to have my time with God right now, please stop!!!" 

T + 90 minutes since blast off. Back to my book. I've managed to skim one whole page and almost answer an entire question when the phone rings. It's my friend needing last-minute childcare because their sitter was a no-show. "Of course you can bring them over, " I promise as I stumble to my feet and begin a mad dash up the stairs to my bedroom to find something clean and decent to wear, as getting dressed was supposed to happen AFTER my quiet time. Then I race to the kitchen and dining room to make sure the spaces most prone to being very UN-kid-friendly are a smidge more child-proof - knives put away-check, milk back in the fridge-check, cabinets closed-check, tempting treats out of reach-check. Even though Meme still needs her morning pills, I figure I better wait until after the children arrive or I might make the mistake of being in her bedroom when I should be at the door, death grip on our dog's collar as 5 children file in. So instead I sit back down to "enjoy" a chorus of "Hosanna" while I scarf down the remainder of my now-cold espresso and dried out bagel. As my last bites pass my lips the phone rings, but when I go to find the phone I see the family has arrived, so I let it go to voice mail.

*         *         *

In the midst of the last 3 hours I have managed to sneak in moments of typing this up in between at least a half-dozen phone calls, a visit and cup of tea with a friend, addressing a boo-boo, reading a book, doing a puzzle, getting seven snacks, policing the dog away from the children countless times, administering medication to my mother-in-law, helping a 3 year old go potty, and making lunch.

It's 12:30. I'd say I am going to attempt a lunch date with Jesus, but reality has lowered my expectations somewhat. If Jesus wants to hang with me today, he better be wearing running shoes.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Christian's Role

“The question “How can Christians be culturally relevant?” is redundant. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” wasn’t a temporary cultural need 2,000 years ago. Only Jesus can give the world what it needs, but often to show them the Designer and Author of Life we are too busy making sure that we fit in. Mother Theresa was out of this world because she was living for the next one. Can you say that?  Is the majority of your day spent making sure that this world knows who you are or is the majority of your day spent making sure that this world knows who Christ is? The gospel makes us culturally relevant because we know the answer to the question that every culture asks. We don’t need to remodel Jesus to make the salvation He offers appealing. Serving those around us as Christ did is all the relevance we need. Be culturally relevant by living out the answer to our culture’s most acute need: the need for The Savior. Appeal to this generation by dressing down your ego. Humble yourself to serve as the King of Kings served. Serve in a loving, practical way, getting your hands dirty.”1

A topic that keeps tumbling around in my brain and popping up in conversation recently has been Service.  Everyone who truly follows Christ feels led to serve in some way.  Whether you serve in your community, your church or your home, service opportunities are always before you.  What’s interesting for me though is how we label service.  For instance, because my family attends a house church, it’s much harder to see service opportunities, at least, on the face of things.  There are no sign-up sheets asking for teachers, nursery workers, musicians, etc.  There are no special collections taken for the poor, the unemployed, the widow or the regular offering to contribute toward all the expenses associated with running a charitable organization or church building.  I’m sure many people who have tried house church eventually leave feeling like there’s nothing for them to do or nowhere to give of themselves or their money, and God has placed some kind of cause or service on their heart so they must go somewhere to fulfill that role.  The point is God has placed service on every one of his follower’s hearts, and we are commanded to fill that role.

House church eliminates titles. And coming from a traditional church background, this can actually be very hard to deal with when you don’t know any other way.  When you know your role, you know your place.  Being a helper in the nursery helps one to understand how they are helping on a weekly or monthly basis.  It helps one to compartmentalize their service.  It may sound like I’m criticizing this, but truth be told, it helps one to see exactly where God is using them and how.  And that can be encouraging and uplifting.  But house church throws everyone and everything together into one big pot, stirs it together and forces one to figure out how to live life without the differentiations and compartmentalization between religion and daily life.  It is this melding of faith and works in my daily life that I sometimes stumble over.  How am I serving God?  When am I serving God?  Am I serving God enough?  Enough for what??

As a woman in a house church (or a small group Bible study), I run the risk of thinking that the only thing I can do is prepare food, serve it and clean up afterward.  I can validate my “role” by telling myself it’s important to be hospitable and make my home clean for guests, it's important to serve the food as it’s vital to the gathering that we share in the Lord’s meal when we come together, it’s important to keep the children quiet so others can pray, sing, worship in their own way and together as a group, etc.  It's not much different than a member of a traditional church telling themselves it's important to be involved in the music ministry so others can worship, in the children's ministry so the little ones can learn about God, in the mission board meetings so we can help spread the Word.  We tell these sorts of things to ourselves all the time; this can result in self-satisfaction in our own serving or we can feel like our service amounts to nothing and we must do more.  But no matter which side of the issue you fall on, it's vitally important to be listening to what God is telling us. 






One of the greatest acts of service I experienced was after the birth of my last baby.  One of my church family members, Vickie, came over every week to hold and rock the baby (as well as do laundry) so I could get a much-needed break from my high needs baby and get some things done.  Bless her heart that she chose to get her hands dirty and come give me some personal help!  I seriously don’t know what my mental state would be right now if she hadn’t come to the rescue.  True Christian ministry always consists of personal, relational, sometimes-dirty service.  I would go so far as to argue: if it’s not personal and relational, it’s not ministry.  Jesus’ ministry was always personal, and it was always relational.  Ministry is intimate, and I’m realizing the less comfortable I am with intimacy*, the less I’m able to be used by God.

* Intimacy  in·ti·ma·cy    [in-tuh-muh-see]  

  1. the state of being intimate.  
  2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
  3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.: an intimacy with Japan.
  4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.
  5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
As the years go by, I am slowly realizing my service to God is a daily “getting-my-hands-dirty”, “loving-people-through-their-mess” while “accepting-help-with-my-own-dirt” kinda thing.  One doesn’t need a title to be serving God, and if you’re searching for a specific role to fill, it’s probably right in front of you existing in that woman you met at church last week or that neighbor you bumped into yesterday.  Even closer to home, it exists in your family.  Do they recognize your service to God in your love for them?  Showing God’s love, mercy and grace to your own spouse and children is a full-time ministry in and of itself.  Do NOT trivialize that!  God wants to use where we are whether that’s traditional church, house church or you don’t go to church.  He will take every opportunity we’re willing to give Him and bend it to His purpose.

Kajiji Girls is its own ministry, make no mistake about it.  We mirror the early church far more than most churches do these days, because it’s the daily living with each other and the loving each other that is representative of the early church.  Our acts of service to each other blesses us all enormously, but most importantly, it points the world to God and His amazing love for us and through us.  Every act of service you perform for another follower of Christ, for one who needs Christ, for the one you’re married to and for the one(s) you mother ministers not only to them but to yourself and mainly to God.

When you’re worried that you don’t have an official title, remember you are a royal priesthood (I Pet. 2:9).   Or if you’re looking for a role to sign up for, remember you are to carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). Or you're worried you're not out there fulfilling the Great Commission, remember your home is your mission field and your love for those around you is the greatest testimony to offer the world (John 13:35).  Just look at those around you right now.  Look at the people you walk by every day or the sisters-in-Christ you fellowship with every week.  Look...truly look...at the needs present in those people and see if you can meet them somehow.  

That is ministry, dear one.  

That is your role.

1. From an article contained in the latest Medi-share newsletter, In the World, Not of It by Hannah Foti, Marketing Coordinator

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Motherhood is Not a Hobby

This one of the finest pieces I have ever read about Motherhood.  I just had to share it here:

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.
Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

Please continue on to the Desiring God website to read from the beginning...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Goodness as a Reflection

My husband was just telling me about this article he had read in some National Geographic magazine which intrigued him to no end.  It was about Singapore, a country 1/8 the size of Delaware. It states: "Out of a malarial swamp, the tiny island at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula gained independence from Britain in 1963 and, in one generation, transformed itself into a legendarily efficient place, where the per capita income for its 3.7 million citizens exceeds that of many European countries, the education and health systems rival anything in the West, government officials are largely corruption free, 90 percent of households own their own homes, taxes are relatively low and sidewalks are clean, and there are no visible homeless people or slums.  If all that, plus a typical unemployment rate of about 3 percent and a nice stash of money in the bank thanks to the government's enforced savings plan, doesn't sound sweet to you, just travel 600 miles south and try getting by in a Jakarta shantytown."1  Sounds nice, right?

But when you start to read about their laws and how their enforced policies extend to every little facet of life, you wonder if the price of their prosperity and security is worth it. There are fines for chewing gum, spitting, even bringing durian fruit into certain places.  Littering trash or a cigarette butt will get you a $200 fine the first time; next time you'll find yourself doing community service and picking up others' litter.  If you're found with even small amounts of drugs, you'll be sentenced to a court-ordered caning.  Penalty for drug trafficking is death.   And woe to the foreign immigrants who find themselves in a family way!  Pregnancy means deportation.  Couples are encouraged to marry within their own status so college graduates should marry other college graduates, and the "Two is Enough" slogan gives you an idea of their population control.  The article goes on to explain the minister's ideas on humanity: "'The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I'm not sure he can be.  He can be trained, he can be disciplined.'  In Singapore that has meant lots of rules - prohibiting littering, spitting on sidewalks, failing to flush public toilets - with fines and occasional outing in the newspaper for those who break them."  According to the minister, the idea "'that man could be perfected...was an optimistic way of looking at life.'  People abuse freedom.  That is his beef with America: The rights of individuals to do their own thing allow them to misbehave at the expense of an orderly society.  As they say in Singapore:  What good are all those rights if you're afraid to go out at night?"

Even if it still sounds somewhat like an Utopian society to you, here's how some of Singapore's citizens summed up their thoughts:  "I do lament our lack of freedom to express ourselves, and the government's seemingly unmitigated grip on power and what appears to be an inconsistent willingness to listen to public sentiment that does not suit it." and another sentiment "Singapore is like a warm bath.  You sink in, slit your wrists, your lifeblood floats away, but hey, it's warm." Utopia?  Hmmm...

I was reminded of the above article when I came across a quote today in a book.  

"I was taught right and wrong as a kid.  But the truth is that I drive completely differently when there is a cop behind me, and when there isn't.  It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature, because we live in this system of checks and balances.  If we get caught, we'll be punished.  But this doesn't make us good people; it makes us subdued people.*  Just think about the Senate and the House, even the President.  The genius of the American system is checks and balances.  Nobody gets all the powers.  Everyone is watching everyone else.  It's as if the Founding Fathers knew intrinsically that the soul of humanity, unwatched, is perverse."2 

The idea that just because we might know right from wrong and live accordingly doesn't make us good.  It makes us subdued.  Only the Father is good.  Only Christ is good.  Only the Holy Spirit is good.  And the more we give ourselves over to God and allow the goodness of the Holy Spirit to shine through us, the more good we'll seemingly look to others.  But we will never be good ourselves and on our own terms.  Countries can mandate good behavior, but goodness or righteousness can never be attained.  Let us never forget that we are only the reflection of God's goodness to others.  Having no light of our own, we are the moon to His sun.  

1. From the January 2010 National Geographic magazine titled "Merging Man and Machine"
2. Quote from Jazz Notes: Improvisations on Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
* Bold font mine.

Note: Any references/notes pulled from Nat Geo or the book Jazz Notes does in no way mean I agree/believe with the philosophies put forth by either resource.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Seven - Possessions

We've wrapped up the clothing chapter of Seven and are moving on to the chapter on Possessions. This means we will be spending roughly the month of April in serious purge-mode. The challenge is to give away the equivalent of 7 items a day for 30 days, which totals 240 items. However, there are LOTS of variations on this, and the important thing is to reflect on where your own possessions are possessing you and address THAT.

For me, it will roughly look like spending one week on clothing & accessories, one week on closets, one on toys, books and crafts, and one on my kitchen. If my husband gets involved, there may be time spent in our barn as well. I will be working hard at applying the questions below to items and getting rid of anything that doesn't make the cut.

In effort to help you with the items you may be finding it difficult to part with, ask yourself the following series of questions:

1. Do I love it?
2. Do I use it/wear it? How long ago did I use it/wear it?
3. Does it serve more than one purpose and/or assist me to get rid of something else in it's place? (ie. a mixer with a bread dough blade could maybe replace a bread machine.)
4. Do I have the space to store it without creating a cluttered space?
5. Am I willing to give up something else in order to make room for it? 
6. Can I imagine myself or anyone in my family ever loving it or needing it in the foreseeable future?
7. Can I honestly see myself finishing, fixing, or using this item for what it was intended? (Ie, craft projects, broken items, unimplemented home improvement solutions, etc.)
8. Am I keeping this item out of obligation or expectation?
9. Is this a real "just in case item" or an imaginary one? (Ie. the difference between storing some emergency candles or that formal dress from 1986 that just might come in handy the next time you're invited to a prom.)
10. Do I have multiples of this item? (A great example - art supplies - how many burnt umber crayons do you need? - Hint: the answer is ONE. No matter how many kids you have.)
11. Is this item worth the time and space it uses in my life?

Try to think outside the box whenever possible. A great way to do this is to bring in a friend who you know approaches life differently than you do - use this to your advantage and have them help you evaluate your true "need" for things or even how to put what you have and the space you have to their best use.

Do you have more tips on organizing and purging? Share them with us! Don't forget to also share how you hope to attack your stuff this month!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Clothing Cheater

Well, I've started cheating. I kinda knew I would. Last night, when I went to get ready for bed and remembered that my one set of PJs was in the wash (downstairs) and I hadn't had the time to do laundry (like, this whole week), and it was just way too warm (thank Jesus) for my fleece jammies anyway, so I grabbed a cotton pair and called it a night.

Then, this morning, after two days of sweating to death, I grabbed a cardigan to get me through the morning and evening instead of wearing one of my sweaters. If you know me, you know I don't over heat EVER, so this is serious business.

The Lesson learned? Clothing fasts of this magnitude were not meant to be conducted during a change of season in a four-season climate.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Crystal here.  Going into my second week with this experiment has shown me that I am perfectly comfortable wearing almost the same thing every. single. day.  Wow, totally didn't expect that.  In fact, my pile of approved clothes sits in a small pile right inside my bedroom door so I don't even have to really put my clothes away when I'm done wearing them for the day.  This also makes it quite brainless in picking out my outfit for the day.  The ease and convenience of  it all has me seriously considering planning out my monthly wardrobe like people plan out their monthly food menu.  Month of May?  Oh, yes, 3 pants, 4 shirts and a pair of pajamas.  June?  Shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops.  All. month. long.  Hmmmm...I thought this was supposed to be a sacrificial experiment.  Am I missing something or just reveling in the simplicity of it all?  Is there boredom there? Sure.  Am I sometimes tempted to choose something else?  Of course.  But this experiment is really catering to my overstimulated, overwhelmed, need-to-make-life-really-easy, don't-make-me-think-too-hard brain.  I blame it on the children.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Clothing - Christmas in March

I woke up celebrating this morning, despite the unfavorable amount of white stuff covering my crocuses. I have no printable comments to say about welcoming the first day of Spring with a blizzard. Rather, I realized I had two shirts off my approved list that never made it out of my bureau and therefore haven't been worn these past two weeks. EUREKA! I am so excited. I think I may be on to something and should consider gradually adding back articles of my clothing once this month's fast is complete. Talk about changing my attitude about what it is I have to wear. I've never been this emotional over a red turtleneck in my life.

Oh shoot. I think I just figured out that I am still missing the point.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Clothinng - 1 Week - Backfire

So after being at this for one week, there are a few thoughts swimming around in my brain.

1. I'm sick of wearing this stuff.

2. When this is over I need to go clothing shopping.

Rest assured I am just as aghast at that 2nd item as you may be. What? Go shopping?! Obviously I am missing the point. But here's the deal. I own one pair of jeans. I think I may be the only American who fits this category. ONE PAIR. And the pair I do have were hand-me-downs. I think a second pair might be in order. If for no other reason than I am realizing the serious "Go-to" potential of jeans. Don't know what to wear? Jeans. Going out on the town? Jeans and a dressy shirt with some bling. Staying home for the day? Jeans and a fleece pull over. They really are the be-all-end-all of a wardrobe. Who knew?

I also own one pair of yoga pants. Yoga pants are the yuppie-version of the pajama jean. Once again, you can pair them with anything. Plus, if you splurge and get the shinier, spandexier kind, you can get away with wearing them all the time, without looking like you are in your PJs or on the way to the gym, which is the only thing I use my current pair for. I am beginning to figure out how much I am missing in that setting that limitation. Seriously.

And the third item I have added to my shopping list is a good, personally fitted bra.  I went and watched a video about how to be properly fitted and the difference a quality bra can make.  So now I've had it with misshapen cups, falling down straps and bent-to-heck clasps. I think the last time I bought a bra was about a decade ago and was probably purchased at TJ Maxx.  It's time, Ladies.

I'm keeping my list handy for additional shopping inspiration as we head into our second week. Only our SECOND WEEK. This might turn into a more expensive experiment than I estimated.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mutiny Against Excess Experiment (Crystal's Clothing)

This month, as you've probably read, we're diving into the book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  Since we're doing the Clothing month first, we've decided to share our allowable list of clothing for the month.  Some of us are doing other things such as only wearing clothes we haven't worn in more than a year,etc.  I'm really looking forward to hearing about others' experiences.  I started my "month" on Sunday this week and am on my second day.  Here's my rundown of clothing items I've chosen for my Seven experiment this month:

  1. One pair of jeans
  2. One pair of pajama jeans (should I be embarrassed about this? Hey, they're really comfy!)
  3. A long-sleeve white shirt
  4. A short-sleeve slate grey top (will usually be layered with #3 white shirt)
  5. A long-sleeve navy top
  6. A long-sleeve teal decorated top
  7. One button-down "blouse"
  8. My slippers (what I wear all day every day)
  9. Black shoes
  10. Green fleece zip-up jacket
  11. Winter wool jacket
  12. Gloves & scarf (can I combine these two things or is that cheating?)
  13. One set of pajamas
  14. A 'duster-type" sweater
I have not included my underwear, socks or the camisoles I wear for nursing purposes.  Because I nurse and have a toddler, I find that I need extra layers and my clothes don't stay clean very long due to sticky fingers, stains, etc. (which is why I've chosen maybe one or two tops more than usual).  I almost didn't include a scarf, however since most of my tops are nothing like turtlenecks (again because of nursing), I'm allowing myself the warmth of a scarf when I step outside.  I've also decided against jewelry and am only leaving my crummy stainless steel studs in my ears (so they don't close!).  I'm sure I'll have my own questions as I go along as to what is or is not allowed.  I'm looking forward to seeing what this experiment will teach me.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Clothing - Day Two

Came up with two questions today.

Do hair accessories count as a banned item?

What about my winter robe?

Not trying to be legalistic, but I've been in a minor tizzy about these two all day.

(Written while wrapped up in my robe with my hair in two buns held by hair elastics.)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Clothing - Day One

I almost forgot today was the start of Seven. I was so excited to embrace a pajama day when I saw the snow flying outside. Hmmmm. A day of staying in the house, warm and snuggly in my footie jammies for the WHOLE DAY. YES!

But the jammies I was wearing weren't on my approved list.

I got dressed.

Which is probably a good thing, because then I went to my chiropractic adjustment and later we're hosting house church. I guess red footie pajamas aren't really doctor visits or worship and fellowship attire.

Monday, March 4, 2013

1st Month of Seven = Clothing

Reading through the Clothing chapter of “7,” reminded me of some key cultural differences between us Northern gals and our sisters to the south of us. For some reason, despite our need to be prepared for temperatures which range from below zero to over 90 and humidity which fluctuates just the same, I still think we have a tendency to accumulate a mite bit less in this category. Unless long underwear collections count. For many of us, paring down on our clothing for a month may at first glance appear to be a gentle easing into this mutiny against the excess of our lives, but I want to remind us that by comparison to the rest of the world, we still live with far more articles in our closets than we need and could use a few weeks of reflection on this fact. Therefore, be careful you don’t take it too easy on yourself as you develop your plan of attack for March. To help you get the ideas rolling, I’ve copied down Jen’s regimen and additional suggestions from her workbook. Be sure to enter your comment below, being as specific as necessary about your perimeters for our clothing fast. Include any questions you have for the KGG Council so we can all be ready to get going this weekend!

Jen’s Approach: Choose Seven items of clothing for one month:
The articles she chose (obviously, we would choose what fits our own needs most):
  1. One pair of jeans, dark wash, kind of plain
  2. One long-sleeved solid black T-shirt, fitted
  3. One short-sleeved black “Haiti relief” T-shirt with white print
  4. One short sleeved gray “Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop” T-shirt with yellow print
  5. One pair of gray drawstring knit Capri pants
  6. One long silk darn brown dress shirt (my “speaker shirt”)
  7. Shoes: Cowboy boots and tennis shoes
She adds these comments:
 "Shoes counted as one item. However I only rotated through two pairs of shoes. I had to reconcile my stay home life with my Conference Speaker life, and I’m sorry, but I wasn’t wearing nice cowboy boots with my yoga pants to the park. Underwear didn’t count. It just didn’t, OK?   I also omitted all jewelry for the month (except my wedding ring) and accessories. TEAR."

(See? The fact that she is this detailed about what clothing she picked reveals she’s not from around here. And where are the pajama pants for her Wal-mart trips? Sheesh.)

Alternative Ideas (from her workbook or my head)
  • Grab a small bag, like a reusable grocery bag. Whatever fits in there, including shoes is what you have for the month. Shut your closet and live out of that bag.
  • Seven clothes too easy? Count undergarments and shoes as one item
  • Wear the same outfit for seven days, but change accessories. You would need four outfits to get through the month.
  • Choose seven items to wear every day for each week, but find a way to wear them differently – one outfit, seven ways.
  • Reduce your toiletries to only seven items, including make-up.
  • Give yourself a seven-minute time limit on getting ready each morning after you shower.
  • Wear only clothes you haven’t warn in over a year, even shoes.
  • Put away your "comfort clothes" for the month and do your best Doris Day impression. See if anyone notices you've stopped looking like you just stepped out of bed each day!
It’s totally up to you whether to include the rest of your family on this month! 

Now it’s your turn. Comment below on what YOU will be doing! Include any questions you might have for us to resolve together. Be ready to BEGIN this Friday!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Room" by Joshua Harris

My daughter is the one who found this story and shared it with me.  After just reading it and with tears in my eyes, I feel compelled to share it also with you.

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. 

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.


"The Room" by Joshua Harris. Copyright New Attitude, 1995. You have permission to share. We only ask that you include this copyright byline and do not alter the content.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Intoducing "7" and Our Seven-Month Fast

As Crystal mentioned in a previous post, our Kagigi schedule has changed to include a book-study / discussion group once a month. Last Friday we introduced our first book – “7: A mutiny against excess” by JenHatmaker. Here’s what she has to say about our American Dream:

                “How can we be socially responsible if unaware that we reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world?...Excess has impaired perspective in America: we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in unmanageable debt while feeding the machine, because we feel entitled to more…The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change."

 Thus she embarked on a seven month journey through seven areas of excess common to most Americans: Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, Food, and Stress. For one month each, she significantly restrained, stopped, fasted, or altered her habits in each of these areas, journaling as she did. Enter in her raw, hilarious and deeply convicting book, “7.”  

                “Seven months, seven areas, reduced to seven simple choices. I embarked on a journey of less. It was time; time to purge the junk and pare down to what was necessary, what was noble. For me, 7 was an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.”

 But like any good sanguine, she certainly didn’t go at it alone. “The Council,” as she called it, was a group of her friends who agreed to do this with her. “The seven of us conferred on all things 7. They were advisors, cheerleaders, decision-makers, counselors, collaborators, and brainstormers.”

If this creates a resounding “Amen” response in your heart, then won’t you consider joining our Kagigi Girl Council as we take up the challenge to conduct fasts of our own sorts in these seven areas over the next seven months? You don’t have to buy a thing. (In fact, quite the contrary. Stop it.) You don’t even have to attend our 4th Friday of the month discussion meetings. (But we’d love to have you – they’re from 11-1:30 at Erin’s house.) All you have to do is indicate through commenting below that you are In and commit to reading and commenting on the blogs I will submit each month with instructions on our next fast and reflections on our previous one. Oh, and one other little thing – you need to agree NOT to make decisions about “exceptions” on your own – we will ALL be holding one another accountable and The Kagigi Girl Council will approve any and all deviations from your stated regimen for each month. We will also encourage one another and cheer each other on.

Before we take off running, errrr, fasting – let’s prayerfully consider Jen’s advise:

                "It is supremely important to get your head right before a fast. Take as long as you need to work this out with Jesus. Fasting for the wrong reasons is just narcissistic. This doesn’t mean you need to have all your junk together – hardly! You can come a hot mess like we all are, but come for Jesus. Come for transformation. Come for worship. Come humble and honest, open ad listening."
Don’t feel this way yet? Pray for it. Ask God to prepare you and render your heart willing. Ask about those blind spots. Put it all out there. Jesus can handle every bit of your honesty.
OK? If you decide to join us (even if you have already told me as much), please comment below so we can form our list of Kagigi Girl Council Members. 
Keep a look out later this week for the introduction to our March fast – Clothes. ;-)
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