Sunday, July 29, 2012

Choosing to wear clothes...

Clothes month update…

On the surface, this month has actually been great. Since I’ve been so busy being glued to my computer with daily group or online class meetings for grad school, I have not gone out much or done much mingling on week nights or weekends. This has made it fairly easy to wear the same clothes over and over again. Even the times I’ve been out, I haven’t really considered others thoughts about my clothes. I’ve even surprised myself with how little I’ve thought about it.

My weakness isn’t in the love of clothes or accessories.

The thing is, going into this whole month, I knew that fashion isn’t my thing. On an average day, I only wore basic accessories – watch, earrings, and wedding rings. I picked comfy clothes and shoes that I wear most of the time anyways. So, I have actually enjoyed the lack of variety. Simple, comfy, and quick. That is how I do clothes.

Now, that is just the surface level.

I really do care about how I look. It is deeper than the clothes I wear. My weakness is in how much I care about being very pale, as in Casper white. It is in how much I care about being short, yet not so petite. I use clothes to try to mask these things. It isn’t about how cute the clothes are, but about how much the clothes can hide the parts of me that lead me to struggle in the beauty or looks department. I'm not even sure why I struggle so much. Who cares about skin color or body size, right? Society, I guess. Jesus wasn't even a handsome guy (Isaiah 53:2). Nevertheless, I struggle. is really hard to type this knowing that other people might read this, but I guess that is a part of being real and vulnerable.

This is me, weaknesses and all. If you pray, please pray that I can continue to confront this and continue to know that God sees me as beautiful and that is all that matters.

Oh, and as I read this to my hubby before posting it, he reminded me that he loves me and finds beautiful and that matters too. :)

I truly want my focus to be on a different kind of beauty…“I want to belong to a Christian community known for a different kind of beauty, the kind that heals and inspires.” – Jen Hatmaker

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I’m sure I’ve said this a million times, but I’ll make it a million times + one: balancing grad school + working full-time + married life (love it!) + home-owning (condo, same thing-ish) + every other aspect of life…it can be quite the challenge.

Despite all of the mental and physical exhaustion, the frustration over missing social events, and the countless times I’ve wanted to kick technology to the curb, there are s-o-o many blessings and sweet moments that have come about as a result of choosing all of these things to balance.

I’ve learned more about myself as well as about the people around me. Right now, I am overwhelmed by the support, love, and encouragement I have received from family, friends, and co-workers. I’m blessed to say that I have people around me who will go out of their way to help me work out a realistic, doable schedule, people who will do the little things just to make me smile on a hectic day, people who will sacrifice so that I can function better, people who just plain understand and extend love and grace my way.

This process, this whole time in my life, it is humbling, without a doubt. I stress. I worry. I freak out…I know, I know, old news for anyone who knows me. But through this process I’ve grown in knowledge, experience, and skills. And I don’t just mean this in an academic sense. I’ve learned that my family is very understanding. I’ve learned that my co-workers just plain rock, that’s all there is to it. I’ve learned to not only accept help from friends, but to even ask for it (yea, it’s a slow learning process). I’ve learned to buckle down and push through. I’ve also learned to cut myself some slack from time to time.

I’m still learning...each and every day brings a new lesson, whether it is a lesson in time management, a lesson in discipline, a lesson in humility, or a lesson in the amount of blessings I have – from the people in my life or just the opportunity to pursue higher education and keep a full time job just so that I may continue enjoying a roof over my head and food in my belly. Wow, what a life I have.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Embracing Change

Just around the corner there are many things changing, things that really affect my life. And in the midst of it all, God is working in me. Boy, is He is r-e-a-l-l-y working in me. There have been some ugly moments, definitely. But, wow, having God chip away at the things that have a hold on me, opening my eyes to things that need to change…it is a powerful thing and a really great place to be.

I have a long way to go in this journey of sanctification, becoming more and more like Christ, but I’m excited to see what God has in store. I’m excited for my friends planting a church and all that comes with that. I’m excited for my church family, for what the future holds for us and what God is doing there. I’m excited about my husband and I BOTH GRADUATING from grad school. No school for either one of us! That will be a first. Most of all, I’m excited about the opportunities that come with change.

Yes, change is scary and unpredictable at times, but it is also an exhilirating adventure! I’ve already seen people stepping out of comfort zones, serving others, spreading encouragement, and most importantly, showing the love of Christ to others, spreading the good news.

I am being broken (slowly, but surely) of the many things that I let have a fierce hold on me. I’m realizing the idols in my life and the things that really keep me from true intimacy with my Creator. I want to say with full confidence that I am a follower of God, not just a fan.  There is s-o-o much more to say on that, but I’ll save it for another day…

Friday, July 13, 2012


We recently entered month two of the 7 month journey. Remember that 7 month journey of radical reduction? This month I am reducing what I wear down to 7 articles of clothing. Yep, just 7. We are a little loose with the interpretation of one “article” of clothing, but it is still a huge reduction from the norm.

My 7 consists of:
(1) a maxi dress
(2) a pair of dark jeans
(3) a pair of lighter (work) jeans
(4) my heart for Africa t-shirt
(5) a (sorta) teal fitted shirt
(6) my FABC shirt
(7) shoes – wedges, sandals

In regards to clothes month, I resonate a lot with Jen Hatmaker: I’m not a big fashion guru. I don’t have different shoes and accessories that go with individual outfits. I rarely buy new clothes or accessories and I definitely don’t spend a whole lot of money on one item. In other words, you can consider me fashionably challenged. Or cheap. Or both.

However, I won’t deny that I have an undeniably large amount of clothes and shoes stored away in my bedroom. I certainly won’t deny my desperate desire for approval when it comes to the pesky ol’ looks department. All my life I have felt as if I’ve been surrounded by beautiful people. You know, the kind that others either want to be or want to be with. I’m ashamed of how often I’ve let the age-old desire to somehow “fit in” seep into my mind...and make a home. What I let these thoughts do to me…oh, it is just downright shameful.

I know my identity is in Christ, but I am definitely one to get caught up in how I “should” look, according to the world’s standards, at least. The world tells me that I should have my hair just right. I should be skinny and tan (don’t get me started on that, ha). I should wear the latest fashions, which I’m typically not up to date on (remember, lazy and cheap). This society seems to value style and outer beauty more than integrity and character. The evidence for this piles up as I scroll through facebook and pinterest. Not sure about this? Go check it out.

Don’t get me wrong, fashion, style, beauty – none of them are evil in and of themselves. Just look at all of creation. God is the expert on beauty as He created all things beautiful. The problem is that we tend to worship created things far more than we worship the Creator.

My Creator created me in His image (Genesis 1:26-28). I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” regardless of what the world may or may not say (Psalm 139:13-14). God creates beauty and He created me. You know what that means…I am beautiful (as are you, if anyone reads this). God looks on me with pleasure.

This month I want to learn to live this truth. My identity is in God, not clothes, shoes, jewelry, or in others’ opinions of me. I know it won’t be pretty, but I’m ready to confront my weak flesh and so desperately cling to God.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fasting: a Spiritual Discipline. By Chris White

Throughout our journey through 7, the issue of fasting has often come up. Is it really 7 months of fasting? Since it has been called a fast, why are we making it public? Is that biblical? First, we must affirm that 7 is not, in total, a fast in the most traditional sense. It does, however, contain elements of a fast, but only in part. As such, understanding fasting has become very important for us, though we recognize that all the biblical principles tied to fasting will not apply to our 7 experience. But before we get to the principles, we want to first layout a thesis that will help clarify some points of discussion that may be found in future posts about fasting.

Our thesis (at least for this first post) is this: we believe that the spiritual discipline of fasting should be a part of every Christian’s walk with God. By stating this, we must answer three questions: (1) what is a spiritual discipline, (2) what is fasting, and (3) why should it be a part of every Christian’s life?

(1) What Is a Spiritual Discipline?

A spiritual discipline is a personal and/or corporate practice that promotes spiritual growth. There are several different spiritual disciplines. Bible reading/study, prayer, giving, evangelism, service, and, yes, even fasting are all examples of spiritual disciplines. Each discipline is designed to help us grow to spiritual maturity in Christ.

In addition to Christian-to-Christian accountability and our experiences, spiritual disciplines are the primary ways by which we can increase in godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Note that godliness is not an automatic thing for believers. Spiritual maturity does not happen overnight. Rather it is something we attain by God’s grace through training. In short, spiritual disciplines train us to rely on God as our sole source of strength and guidance. As we come to depend on Him more and more, we become more and more like Christ, who, by the way, completely depended on the Father (cf. John 5:19).

Unfortunately, not every believer zealously dives into the spiritual disciplines (and believe us, we are no exception!). The reasons for avoidance are certainly varied and complex. It could be because of apathy, or the fear of attempting anything difficult, or simply having a lack of vision (i.e., not having the end goal in mind). But if we learn anything from 1 Timothy 4:7-8, we can know that being spiritually disciplined has both present and eternal benefits. It will not always be easy but it will always be worth it. Thankfully, we serve a gracious God who will supply our every need to help us stay disciplined so that we may grow closer and closer to Him!

(2) What Is Fasting?

Fasting is most commonly understood as the voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. Other things may also be given up for a fast, such as involvement with other people or certain forms of media. It can be either corporate (cf. Joel 2:15-16; Acts 13:2) or private (cf. Matt. 6:16-18). It can be either partial (cf. Dan. 1:12; Matt. 3:4) or complete (cf. Ezra 10:6; Matt. 4:2; Luke 4:2). It can either be long (40 days, for example) or short (30 hours). No matter what form the fast takes, each should aim for spiritual purposes. These spiritual purposes can be varied, but all of them should share one single purpose: so that one receives God as their ultimate treasure.

Fasting from food says, “I value the life that comes from God more than the life that comes from food.” Fasting from your smart-phone says, “I value communication with God more than communication with others.” In other words, fasting is the practice of intentionally giving up things we value to grow deeper in love with God. Doing so says we value God and are dependent upon Him far more than the things we fast from. To avoid doing so leaves us prone to our idolatrous tendencies we all struggle with by which we will end up worshiping what is created rather than the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:25). And believe us, it will happen!

(3) Why Should Fasting Be a Part of Every Christian’s Life?

The answer to this question is surprisingly simple. Take a look at what Jesus says in the beginning of Matthew 6:16: “Whenever you fast...” Look also at the beginning of verse 17: “But you, when you fast...” Notice Jesus does not say “if” but “when.” It seems clear enough that Jesus expects His followers to fast at some point in their spiritual journey. And Jesus knows best! Those committed to following Him in all areas of their lives would do well to listen to His words and realize that fasting is an important spiritual discipline designed to place God as the primary object of affection and worship in the hearts and lives of believers.


So, let’s bring it all together, shall we? Because fasting is the voluntary abstinence of anything we value in order to receive God as our ultimate treasure, it is an important spiritual discipline that trains us for godliness, and Jesus fully expects His followers to do it. As we fast, we learn to rely less and less on the good gifts God gives to us and learn to rely more and more on the One who gives. We can certainly be thankful for what we have and can use our gifts to honor the Lord, but there is something to be said for surrendering those things for a time in order to remember that every good and perfect gift comes from one place – the very hand of God (James 1:17). Is fasting difficult? It can be. Is it worth it? If it means greater intimacy with God, you bet it is!

For additional reading, we highly recommend John Piper’s book A Hunger for God. He does masterful job of handling the subject of fasting at length, and he really makes it both understandable and applicable. Additionally, Donald S. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life not only helps in the understanding and application of fasting as a spiritual discipline but he also covers a vast array of other important spiritual disciplines that, we believe, every follower of Christ will find challenging yet refreshing. Both works (in conjunction with the Bible as the primary text) were instrumental in helping us understand this issue as a whole.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

the WHY behind this whole 7 thing

Now that life has slowed down a bit for my sweet husband, he has taken some time to lay out our thoughts on why we not only agreed to this 7 month journey, but why we jumped all in, thrilled to experience every bit of it. Here is a guest post that I believe was well worth the wait:

“Our primary reason for pursuing this whole 7 journey is so that we may experience the presence, grace, and love of God in a more intimate way. We realize that by doing so, certain things about us will have to change. Why? Because God is holy. But what does God’s holiness have to do with us changing?

It has everything to do with us changing.

Remember, holiness means “otherness,” i.e., as much as we are God’s image-bearers in this world, we can only portray who He is in an extremely finite way. But God is infinite. We do all things imperfectly. God does all things perfectly. Recall what God said through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Is. 55:8-9, NIV).

Simply put, God is vastly beyond what we can ever imagine or understand, and His holiness makes Him the absolute standard for righteousness. Therefore, when we grow closer to God, simply being in His glorious presence reveals to us our own sins.

Turning again to Isaiah, this prophet of God understood and repented of his own sins when he encountered the presence of God (Is. 6:1-7). The more light that shines upon us, the more aware we are of our own shadows. And we are reminded that God does not fellowship with darkness (cf. 1 John 1:5-7).

Therefore, experiencing God in a more intimate way will cause us to change, and that is a good thing! We desire to be challenged and convicted by the Holy Spirit. We want to be awakened to the sins and injustices in our own lives. We want to make those changes that will cause us to fall more deeply in love with our Creator-Savior. We do not want to be blinded by what our society says is normal or okay, but rather we want to realize what it is we have been taking for granted and hording for ourselves.

We truly want to be a light unto the world and a blessing to others for God’s glory. That journey only begins when we repent of our sins and give ourselves over wholly to God’s presence and purposes.”

As my husband has so eloquently shown... this is why we have embarked on this journey and hope to make it a life-long journey. We do not intend to change our lives in some particular way for 4 weeks at a time, but to make room for God to change us each month, a change that will last a life-time. A forever kind of change.