The 7 Challenge - Body Won't Break Style

Tomorrow is October 1st. It is the first day of my (scary) entrance into the world of The 7 Challenge.

What is The 7 Challenge? It's this crazy idea Jen Hatmaker created. An experimental mutiny against excess. And because Jen Hatmaker is destined to be my best friend (even though my attempts to "stalk" her in March failed), I decided it was time for me to take the plunge and stage my own mutiny against excess.

What are the 7 things? Here's a quick breakdown (thanks Barnes and Noble!). Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.”

I'm starting with food. One - because that's what Jen did. Two - because then I can enjoy Thanksgiving when November rolls around. And third - because I need to stop eating Chik-Fil-A.

I've always struggled with my relationship with food. And I'm realizing how much I struggle with my relationships with other things too. I want to break the struggle. Not just because I want to lose weight. I hope that happens (I kind of need it to happen) but that's not the main point.

The point is to stop looking to over things for fulfillment. The point is to truly simplify (and not just talk about simplifying). The point is to let go and then let God.

I've done a lot of crying over the past few weeks. Because of grad school, because of work, because of changes in our family situation. And I've done a lot of trying to fill up the emptiness with things. I've prayed some, but I haven't really prayed. I've just depended on my Chik-Fil-A to get me through.

And my diet coke, too. (I am not getting rid of coffee. That would be cruel and unusual punishment to everyone who ever interacts with me. I am, though, going to limit it to coffee at home instead of coffee from Panera Bread, Starbucks, Wild Hero, and the list goes on...)

But I can't keep doing that.

You know that saying about how insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results every time. This smart guy named Albert Einstein said those words. And y'all?
I'm guilty of it. I'm guilty of thinking I can eat Chik-Fil-A six times in one week (and yes, that did just happen last week) and lose weight (and no, that did not happen). I'm guilty of thinking that there will always be money in my bank account. I'm guilty of thinking that I honestly need a fourth grey tee-shirt or fifteenth cardigan. I'm guilty of uttering the words "There is nothing to eat" and "I don't have anything to wear."

I'm insane because I kept expecting different results. I keep thinking I can just want to simplify or want to be healthy or just kind of try but not really give anything up.

I don't want to be Albert Einstein's definition of insane. And I don't want to just kind of try. I want to die to myself and live a life that is unabandoned. I want to reflect Jesus in every stinking thing. So I'm taking the challenge.

I'm excited to (mimick/copy/stalk/pretend to be) Jen Hatmaker as I take on this adventure. I'm excited to blog about how hard it is to give up Chik-Fil-A, how much I dislike spinach, how much I miss diet coke, how much I want cheese, how I don't know how to tell if an avocado is ripe, and eventually how much I miss the plethora of cardigans just hanging in my closet.

I don't promise to be perfect. With blogging or with adhering to the challenge. But I am going to try. Not only that I am going to depend on Jesus as I embark on this fast and I'm going to give him my life in a way I never have.
“If a fast doesn't include any sacrifices, then it's not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens. Life zips along, unchecked and automatic. We default to our lifestyles, enjoying our privileges tra la la, but a fast interrupts that rote trajectory. Jesus gets a fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided.”  - Jen Hatmaker


Just As Lost As the Next Girl

18 days ago we went from a "family of four" to a family of two. After three months of being foster parents, my husband and I went back to just being husband and wife.

There were a lot of tears. A lot of questions. A bit of anger. Some relief (though I hate to admit that). More tears. And more questions. The why's behind our sudden change back to a family of two aren't really that important. At least not when it comes to sharing my story. The why's are important. But the why's will not make themselves known.

I've found myself second guessing a lot over the past 18 days. I've found myself placing all the blame on myself. Maybe I tried too hard. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. I should really learn how not to say stupid things. I should have been gentler. If only I could have been more present. How could it have been so hard when we felt like it was the right step for our family? I probably didn't pray enough or trust God enough. I leaned on my own strength too much.

Those thoughts alone are enough to drive me crazy. And then you add graduate school for social work plus a job in the field of social work, and I'm a big bag of crazy still - 18 days later.

I have peace, though. A peace that truly surpasses all understanding because try as I might I simply can not understand why I'm okay with all this (as okay as I can be) when I feel like so many things should have been handled differently.

We took a family vacation in August. A seven-day trip to Michigan. We left behind the humidity of Oklahoma, (most of) the stress of work, and we replaced it with a cool breeze and a chance to simply breathe. My husband and I both remarked how much of a family we felt while on that trip. I think that made the sudden loss sting even more.
There was a part of me on that trip that wanted it to be just the two of us. There was a part of me that wanted it to be just the two of us a lot. Not because I didn't like having a family of four but because I had no idea what I was doing. And because of a lot of circumstances. It was harder - those three months - than anything I've ever done, but it was also so rewarding.

We're taking a break right now. I'm in my first semester of graduate school. My husband is working rather consistent overtime. We're both still exhausted from the last three months. So rather than jump back into a family of four, we're taking a break and praying.

I feel selfish for taking a break. There are well over 10,000 children in Oklahoma's foster care system, and instead of rushing to their rescue, I am taking a break. I'm denying placements because of a lack of child care and because of hurt and exhaustion. And so I feel selfish and guilty.

But I know I'm not those things in this instance. (I'm those things plenty of other times though!) Because it's not that we don't want to open up our home. Rather it's that we need to let God repair our hearts and fill us with more strength.

I love my husband more now. I loved watching him parent. I loved that he was often the voice of reason (though I did not love the fact that I needed a voice of reason). I love his patience, his determination, his selflessness, his resolve to be kind and gracious.

And I'm excited to embark on another adventure in parenting with him - when the time is right. We have another 41 days until we can't take any more time. So as much as I am ready to know, and as much as it pains me to say no to placements, I am going to take however long we need and wait for direction only God can give us.


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