Monday, December 7, 2015

2016: Year of Connection & Gratitude (#ycg16 challenge)

2015 has been a really interesting year - filled with lots of fun (ministry work, plans for a new business, travel, hosting friends and family in our home for short and extended time periods, conferences, etc), rough stuff (a couple mini adrenal fatigue and autoimmune relapses, church hurt, relationship difficulties) and a total lifestyle change called "seminary."

Through it all, and perhaps because of it all, I've begun to start craving more authentic connection with "my people," less clutter around me, and more gratitude. I've been praying for the last couple months that God will help me see how to make all of that happen.

And He seemingly answers "out of nowhere" with these two in the last few weeks:

The title of the top book is pretty clear: The Year Without a Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting by Scott Dannemiller. The printed pages with my (messy) handwritten title is Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned that Saying No can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch. I'm so blessed to be on the launch team for Kristen's book that will be out in late January, so I get to read the advance PDF copy. I tried to read it online, but found myself taking so many notes that I decided to just suck up the cost of the ink and print it out. So glad I did - the pages are filled with doodles, plans, notes and highlights.

Both books point readers to the beauty of not letting our need for "more" run our lives and ruin our relationships - with God and the people He places in our lives. Scott's book shares his experience with curtailing family spending and Kristen's focuses more on practical strategies to overcome a general sense of entitlement. Both are compelling, excellent reads.

As I read through the books, my 1st-grader and 3-year-old gave my husband and I several reasons to pay closer attention to the words on the pages. Every single night for two weeks in a row, they threw massive tantrums during playroom clean-up time at the end of the day - seriously - screaming, crying, the whole nine. They wanted absolutely nothing to do with picking up all their stuff that they're so lucky to have.

When we entered into the third week of said fits, we decided enough was enough. We cleaned out all their toys. From the playroom and their rooms. We left books, dress-up clothes and Legos, so they can still develop creatively, but all the other toys are in storage. As we put them all away, we realized how much we really do have - and how much we really don't even value what we have. We were embarrassed.

Our shame reached another level entirely during that same timeframe when we took the kids to Target  - not for anything big, lotion or something like that. While we were there, we didn't even make it past the bargain bins before they both started "needing" new ______________. They filled in that blank with almost everything they saw. Seriously.

Then, the last straw .... I closed down their "Christmas lists" (lists of all the stuff they want for Christmas), so they both started in on their birthday lists. Their birthdays aren't for several more months.

#parentfacepalm anyone?

All of the above is so not ok. We want different for our family!

So .... we're taking a stand against entitlement and consumerism in 2016. We're going to follow Scott's plan and go a year without a purchase, while also implementing many of the suggestions in Kristen's book.

I posted about the challenge on Facebook and it turns out that we're not the only family ready to take on this challenge, so we're starting a little challenge group to support each other. Click here to join in the effort and watch my blog for posts to come with all the challenge guidelines.

Looking forward to a connected, grateful year!

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