Day 6 – Someday, I’m Gonna Have One of These

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Matthew 6:21King James Version (KJV)

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

My dream car in college was one of those old school boxy Range Rovers. Paint color didn’t matter but I’d change the interior to peanut butter nubuck leather.  After getting the aesthetics finalized, a visit to Circuit City for sound system installation would be in order. I wanted to have one the cars LL Cool J rapped about “drive[ing] by with the booming system.” My affinity for this car stayed into my thirties. This is peculiar because I’m not a car person. I just need a vehicle to be reliable, have good gas mileage, affordable, and enough room for my family. Whether it’s an e class, LX, or XXX is of no consequence to me. So why, this car?

Growing up, I lived in a middle class suburban neighborhood as the third of four kids. Unlike many of my classmates, both of my parents worked full-time jobs. They also worked for the state and got paid once a month. I’m not sure if you’ve ever gotten paid once a month but it requires quite the financial acrobatics for a family of six.  Don’t get me wrong we were blessed.

 

But we didn’t live like them.

 

They lived in the neighborhood with the golf course and country club.

They all got cars when they turned 16.

They went on two week vacations and during the school year!

They were a one income household.

They knew how to declare bankruptcy, open a new business and still live in the big houses.

They drove boxy Range Rovers.

I wanted to be them. I wanted to have what they had. I wanted the status. If I could get that car, I could have a piece of that life. All I needed was a piece and I’d be okay.

I’ve heard similar stories to mine. A man went around to pawn shops buying up Atari consoles and games. His childhood may have been deficient but his adulthood was going to be rich with Atari.

The Range Rover and the Atari, while useful in their own way, represent status symbols. When we focus on achieving a certain status, wisdom is no longer used to make decisions. Indebted, we compromise to conform.

Mark 8:36 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

 

In simplifying, we sacrifice to condense. There is a draw toward usefulness and away from superficiality and status.

John 3:30 English Standard Version (ESV)

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

It can be difficult to tease out the difference in real time. A good way to test a decision is to ask a question?

Fashion: Will this outfit, jewelry, pair of shoes, etc. become part of the rotation? Can I borrow or get from Goodwill something to wear for this special occasion instead of purchasing? Do I already have what I need? What is the difference in warmth between that North Face jacket and the down jacket at Sam’s Club? If I don’t have a prescription, why am I wearing expensive glasses? Why buy boots that I can’t wear in the rain or snow?

(My child made me laugh the other day when she told me she needed ANOTHER light jacket. Who needs one light jacket? This winter I dare you to find a light jacket donation drive. I blame Members Only for starting this whole light jacket craze. Shame on you Members Only!)

Furniture: What is the difference functionally between an Ethan Allen couch and a Costco couch? Do I really need to switch out my perfectly functional brass fixtures for oil rubbed bronze? What purpose are custom window treatments?

Social media: While there is rarely money exchanged, time is spent. Is it time well spent?

Leisure activities: Will this boat and or vacation home be a money pit? Should someone without a sponsor acquire a $3000-$5000 bicycle? Should someone who is not a professional musician purchase a $10,000 guitar? Should a child who prefers indoor activities and doesn’t have a job possess Jordan’s?

Must everything I purchase be brand new?  Will they become obsolete, like a boxy Range Rover, Circuit City, Members Only jackets and Atari?

Beloved, we are to enjoy this life. I want to enjoy and I want you to as well. We can’t if what we consume is for show. It’s like eating empty calories. Once the show is over, are we fulfilled?

Be well, Beloved.

Day 5 – FOMO “That’s so 2016!”

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“You can’t kill fashion!” Zoolander

“Fashion has already killed itself.” Mugatu

(Zoolander 2 movie)

 

It died! It just up and died! I can’t believe it. It had all my contacts in it and my grocery list! My latest book’s notes! Did I back them up on the cloud?

I’m at a loss but have faith the geniuses will fix it. Unfortunately, diagnostic testing shot blanks on both my screen and their faces. The Golden Delicious is now an Arkansas Black. What is going on? This has never happened before. Historically, our mutual possession always ends with a choreographed handoff.

1,2,3 make sure everything is backed up to the cloud

4,5,6 walk into electronic store

1,2,3 go straight to counter with exact make and color in mind

4,5,6 peruse cases for new companion while clerk gets ALL the paperwork sorted

1,2,3 make purchases

4,5,6 donate old companion with feeling of accomplishment

But today, I was robbed of this. I was robbed of planned obsolescence. And while planned obsolescence is a noun it definitely provokes action. Action fueled by fear. Action fueled by FOMO:

Fear Of Missing Out

Fear Of Mythical Obsolescence

Fear Of Me-tooism Obviation

Fear Of Muted Overweening

Fear Of Milquetoast Ossification

Please don’t misunderstand, it’s fine to have things. So many live in lack and that’s not God’s will. Detriment occurs when things have us. Planned obsolescence can breed a love of wealth, covetousness and self-reliance/selfishness while insidiously fostering oppression.

What percentage of our things do we let totally wear out before replacing them? Is it the exception or the rule? I know we touched on this yesterday but let’s tease it out a little more. Visiting a friend, I noticed his microwave has dials. It works just fine. Actually, it works very well. And no offense if you have one of these. But why do refrigerators need French doors? The house we moved into has one. If you have a regular side by side that’s functional, keep it. We can’t have one door open and get ice out of the other door at the same time. First world problem for sure but I hope the point is made.

It makes me wonder “How much?”

How much could we have in savings?

How much could we support causes important to us?

How much less would we say “they need to do…?

How much more freedom?

How much would our faith grow?

How much more peace would we have?

How much could we bless others?

How much of a stranger’s tuition could we pay?

How much simpler would our lives be?

 

Be well, Beloved!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4 – Decluttering

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I want that
I want that too
What is that you have?
Let me try it
I’m saving mine for later
I think I like yours better
Mine is okay
I’ll really liked it at first
But now…
Wow! Yours is REALLY GOOD!
No, I’m not hungry
But I don’t want to be hungry later
You know a bird in the hand …
I wonder what I’ll have tomorrow
There’s so much in my fridge and garage freezers
Half of the stuff I need to throw away
It’s been in there too long
No, it’s still good, I’m really just tired of it

Plus, I need to make room for new stuff

By the way
Did you hear about Larry losing his inheritance?
It’s a shame
His parents worked so hard to leave him the old soda shop
I loved going there as a child
Well, I saw him the other day
He looked so pitiful
I avoided him so it wouldn’t be too embarrassing
He and Frank used to be good friends
I didn’t want to run the risk of talking about how well our business is doing
Well, would you look at that
We finished all of yours and some of mine
Whew, I think I have a stomach ache

  • Me

I am hot
I have fought
My tummy is a knot

Am I thirsty?
Am I hungry?
Or am I just grumpy?

My tummy feels funny
And my nose is runny

I ache in all places
And can’t even walk two paces

My throat is soar
And my mouth is dry
I can’t sing even if I try

Mommy gave me Benadryl
Which makes me hazy
But my tummy still felt crazy

Until I get sleepy and out like a light
My tummy ache left after I said goodnight

  • Ivey

My daughter Ivey and I wrote these poems using the prompt Stomachache. Both touch on the effect of affluence. Recent days decluttering her room remind me of writing them. I couldn’t help but notice all this stuff! Some of it unused! Gasp! 

Half of the stuff I need to throw away
It’s been in there too long
No, it’s still good, I’m really just tired of it

Her well-appointed room serves as a microcosm of our culture right down to the two twin beds for one child. (It just looks so good in the Pottery Barn Kids’ catalogs!) We strive to have the latest, while what we have still does the job. How much do we own that we neither need nor enjoy? Affluence, the taskmaster, has the ability to stifle and disorient. 

Richard Foster calls this psychotic and I’m apt to agree. The psychosis lies in the fact that this lust separates us from what’s real.

Am I thirsty?
Am I hungry?
Or am I just grumpy?

In his article “The Discipline of Simplicity,”Foster further surmises “this psychosis permeates our mythology. The modern hero is [one] who purposefully becomes rich rather than [one] who voluntarily becomes poor. Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudence. Greed we call industry.” Believers are then lead on a duplicitous path. 

Matthew 6:24 New Living Translation (NLT)

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

Duplicity convinces us to think we are the car we drive, the neighborhood we reside, our educational level, our accomplishments, where we were born, who we were born to, failures, or financial acquisitions.

Simplicity teaches that those in Christ are a new creation, a royal priesthood, his workmanship, not condemned, an overcomer, a fruit bearer, transformed, His friend.

Be well, Beloved!

Day 3 – Identifying complexities

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Matthew 6:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.

Where does my value lie? What gives me worth? For so long, I found my value aligned with my accomplishments. Initially, it was being deemed an academically gifted student and making good grades. The type of company I kept also took part. I wouldn’t dare be friends with those not in my social standing- taking honors classes, same or higher tax bracket, married parents, name brand clothing, etc. I can remember my friends and I covering our notebooks with clothing tags. As if to say, “We’re better and you’re not us. Don’t you wish you were?” We were such snobs!

And while I grew out of that over the years, feeling worthy via accomplishments has remained a constant companion.

Have you ever noticed how your day, time with others, sleep, laughter, forgiveness, are enjoyable when you decide not to worry about the outcome and rest in the moment? Maybe the better question to ask is, “Have you ever had a moment where you decided not to worry about the outcome and rest in the moment?” Some may wonder “how can I with so much to do?” Well, if it helps, I’m doing it right now as I write this piece. I felt led to write even though I have a million other things on my to do list. When anxious feelings and thoughts begin to build, I’m practicing to cast my cares.

Here’s an example:  What am I going to fix for dinner? That pile of clothes isn’t going to fold itself. How is it my family can walk right past the basket repeatedly and ignore it? I know my days are the most flexible but I’m trying to build a business, a blog, write a book, stay current with my medical knowledge, make sure the family calendar is current, remember what they won’t and remind them, and put out daily fires. Oh, how I miss full time patient care. I enjoyed the patient doctor interaction where we both come with needs. Mine- the need to feel helpful, to be heard, to accomplish. Their’s- the need to be helped, heard and accomplish.

God, please help, hear, accomplish! I need you to take this! Guide me to where you want me to be. Give me the strength and grace to endure. Show me the truth. Do what I cannot. Be with me. Hold me. Love me. Inundate me with your peace and joy.

Then He says, “I Am whatever you need.”

 

In order to live simply, we must define the process. The process is internal. The process is personal. The process needs no outside validation. 

John 15:5 New Living Translation (NLT)

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

 

The end result shows outwardly but isn’t showy. 

Matthew 6:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

As stated yesterday, simplicity is intricately woven with liberation. Duplicity does just the opposite. It leads us to use wisdom one minute and fear of what others think the next. Our lives then become unnecessarily complicated with fear and anxiety as parasitic ride alongs.

James 1:5-8New Living Translation (NLT)

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Our desire is to harness the singular focus of having Christ seen and not ourselves.

James 1:16-18 The Message (MSG)

16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Liberation lies in knowing the end result is not up to us. And for that, I am grateful!

Be well, Beloved!

Day 2 – K.I.S.S.

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Isaiah 26:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Keep It Simple Sweetheart!

During my prayer time, I like to talk to God about our triumphs together. I remember when I was in medical school, married and the mother of an infant. At night, my husband and I took turns studying and babysitting. My dad would would come and stay with us the week before and the week of tests. My father-in-law supplied us with a place to stay and a washer and dryer. That’s not even the summation of all the support we received. Help came to us from family, friends, classmates, church members, and the medical school staff. I am so thankful! God supplied through willing vessels. It gives me joy to remember. I guess that is what rejoicing is all about.

As you can imagine, even with all that support, it was a difficult time. It got even more difficult when we had our second child and we were interns in residency. But despite that, most days I felt peace.

Peace because of freedom.

Freedom to trust.

Freedom to not worry about the outcome.

I knew that we were following God’s direction. That’s the simplified life. The days where peace evaded me occurred when I forgot.

I forgot to keep focus. I forgot He has the last word in EVERYTHING. I forgot:

Psalm 116:6 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He helped me.

As I mentioned in the “21 Day No Complaint Challenge”, I feel the need to live a more simple life. The more simplicity takes hold the more freedom I experience. There have been too many times where I felt shackled to expectations – both mine and others. 

These expectations have proven-time and time again-to be the antithesis of simplicity and therefore freedom. There is no rejoicing in that.

Philippians 4:4 King James Version (KJV)

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Be well, Beloved!

Day 1 – Simplify

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Proverbs 27:1 New International Version (NIV)

27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring. 

 

Hello Beloved!

Let’s continue our journey. My plan was to wait until New Year’s but as the license plate exclaims “Why Wait” for tomorrow is not promised. Plus, let’s not lose momentum from the “No Complaint Challenge.”

In preparation for writing about “Adventures in Simplification,” (sounds like a math book) it was going to be another 21-day journey. 

 Not this time. 

 This time we’re going to be more dynamic and organic. We’re going to experience and enjoy life by not focusing on details but on living freely and simply. I will not place expectations on you, nor you me.

If it ends up being 21 days, so be it.

Don’t misunderstand, discipline is always needed. Life is filled with entropy and work is needed to keep life simple. Over the next few days, let’s explore what that work entails.

Be well, Beloved!

 

 

Day 22 – Lagniappe

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Matthew 13:8-9New Living Translation (NLT)

8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

 

Lagniappe is term used in Louisiana and Texas which means something given as a bonus or extra gift. So today, I leave you with some tools to share and help on the no complaint journey. 

 

http://arabahjoy.com/grumbles-game/

This is a great game to do with the family. It fosters accountability therefore more engagement from participants.

 

http://meaningfulmama.com/teaching-contentment-with-the-complaining-game.html

This game uses bracelets to curtail complaining but can be modified to your likings. 

 

http://www.insomniacgames.com/community/showthread.php?1564-No-complaining

This is a thread from a gamers community. One of the members started a group for gamers who don’t complain. It’s an old link but it may still be in existence or you to form your own. 

There are many ways to augment our efforts over the last 21 days. Let’s take our new found super power and apply it imaginatively to different aspects of our lives. 

Be well, Beloved!

 

Day 21 – We made it!

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Matthew 5:16 English Standard Version (ESV) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Woohoo! 

It’s day 21 and we’ve made it to the end. I pondered and prayed over what to write about. All I want to do is celebrate with you. As usual custom, we’ll celebrate by looking at how far we’ve come – a recap. 

Day 1 – Rules were laid out and the challenge began.

Day 2- The challenge proved to be formidable and helpful pointers were shared.

Day 3- Focus shifted from not complaining to more positive thinking. The challenge was also renamed “The Butterfly Effect.”

Day 4 – Opportunities to be grateful get eclipsed by complaining. 

Day 5 – The only way we make it through this or any other challenge is to have the faith to trust God during the process. He and He alone is the agent of change. All we have to do is cast our cares.

Day 6 – This was one of the most helpful days for me being a natural critique/analyzer. Having knack for seeing what’s out of place is a gift that can be abused and lead to a negative complaining lifestyle. The question: “What could I/you do that would make a difference that requires no one’s permission other than my/your own?” helps curtail that.

Day 7 – We complain when we think we know the answer or a better way. It closes us off other points of view thereby stunting our growth.

Day 8 –  Grace needs to be extended to others and ourselves.

Day 9 – Acceptance quells complaints.

Day 10 – Some of our complaining stems from taking on too many tasks.

Day 11 – When everyone’s roles and talents are respected, we allow each other to flourish in our uniqueness instead of complain about oddities. 

Day 12- Complaining negatively affects our health.

Day 13 – Gratefulness positively affect our health.

Day 14 – How-tos for gratefulness.

Day 15 – Confronting issues without complaining or attacking people.

Day 16 – How to use reconciliation as the goal to confront someone.

Day 17 – Complaints can be avoided by not setting unrealistic expectations.

Day 18 – If we’re going to complain, take it to God in prayer. Seek Him and his answer in the word.

Day 19 – Colloquialisms and scriptures placed on pictures were used to inspire or amuse.

Day 20 – Life has difficult moments. We can look to biblical examples of how to deal and take control of situations influence by setting an ” I’m not going to focus on this any longer” quit date. 

Day 21 – Celebration and recap!

Be well, Beloved!

Day 20 – It happens

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It happened and it can’t be undone. I was just walking home as usual. I live about a half a mile probably less from school. That car is slowing down to turn.  I guess they live on that side street. There’s a guy walking toward me. What’s in his hand? Is that a gun?! “Get into the car,” he exclaims. He proceeds to violate me sexually. When he’s done. He kicks me out. I walk the rest of the way home. The rest of the evening is a blur. There are crying roommates, angry police, fluorescent lights, numbness, nausea. I do remember very vividly though the phone call. I call my dad. I tell him. He blames me.

It happened and it can’t be undone. Looking out the window, I see a steel blue Mercedes S class pull into the driveway. It’s foreign not just in origin but to my memory. Then, she steps out – the future step mom to my children and husband thief. (I knew I couldn’t trust him). Nausea. She is driving what should be my car. Her smile is a fake as her tits! I see the smugness in it when she looks at my home. A twinge of warmth fills my chest. It’s quickly replaced by a sharp pain when I see the joy. My kids actually look happy. I’m sure they hate me. I hate me.

It happened and it can’t be undone. I was reaching for a bowl in the cabinet and felt a pop in my back. That was ten years ago. The pills eased all the pains, but eventually stopped working.  More pain and nausea. So, I got some other stuff from this guy in the neighborhood.  What else was I supposed to do? I’m still a good person. It’s not like I’m a murderer. I did what I had to do. There are people out there doing things far worse. It’s not like I shot up. It’s not like I’m not in pain! Why did you turn me in? You’ve done some isht too! You’re no saint! If you had helped back then I wouldn’t be here now! Well, you know what they say, what goes around comes around and I hope I’m there when you get your just desserts. I’m gonna say “Well, how does it feel to have that happen to you. or “Don’t come to me with your troubles, you didn’t help me when I needed you.” or I’ll just laugh at your pain. Yep, I’m going to laugh at your pain.

 

Those three stories are based on real events. Very hurtful events.We all go through painful life experiences. They have the power to color our lives. We have every right to be hurt, not like it, and exclaim it. Mourning is a process we need to go through but it produces a hunger. One must be careful what to feed it and for how long. I recommend setting a quit time and/or making the best of the situation. It’s helped me and helped the following gentlemen.

 

It happened and it can’t be undone. I killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and took his wife to be my wife! Now there will always be people in my family who will die by a sword, because I did not respect God. Nathan, the prophet, told me “The Lord has taken away your sin. You will not die.  But what you did caused the Lord’s enemies to lose all respect for him. For this reason, the son who was born to you will die.” On seventh day the baby died. My servants were afraid to tell me. So, I asked them, “Is the baby dead?”

They answered, “Yes, he is dead.”

I got up from the floor, washed up, put lotions on, and changed my clothes. Then, I went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that, I went home and asked for something to eat. My servants gave me some food, and I ate.

My servants asked, “Why are you doing this? When the baby was still alive, you fasted and you cried. Now that the baby is dead, you get up and eat food.”

I answered, “While the baby was still alive, I fasted, and I cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? Maybe the Lord will feel sorry for me and let the baby live.’ But now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

Then, I comforted Bathsheba my wife.

 

It happened and it can’t be undone. I was engaged to marry a virgin but she’s pregnant. Because I was a good man and did not want to disgrace her in public, I planned to divorce her secretly.

While I thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to me in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel, “which means “God is with us.”

When I woke up, I did what the Lord’s angel had told me to do. I took Mary as my wife, but I did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And I named him Jesus.

David and Joseph are heroic examples of how to deal with hurt, disappointment, and shame. After a set time, they chose to move on. Amazingly, they did it without complaining.  

 Be well, Beloved.

Day 19 – Bless your heart!

If you’re southern, you know exactly what today’s title means. If not, “Bless your heart” is a colloquialism often used dismissively and in judgement. Please enjoy today’s post filled with sayings and scriptures aimed to aid us in this no complaint journey.

 

Be well, Beloved!

This post is dedicated to my son who turns 5 today. It’s ironic his new favorite song is about complaining – Grumpopotamus!