Category Archives: Project 7

Sara’s Gone Green

Hey friends! Man I’ve been missing writing. Last month was CRAZY (seriously where did January go?) and I’m finally recovering from 2017 entry into my life. So a little recap is due since it’s been awhile.

I’m doing project 7, a project for 7 months mirrored after Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. The purpose of her project was to challenge herself to focus on growth in the categories of media use, green habits, purging of material hoarding,  eating limited types of food, wearing only a small wardrobe of clothing, shopping at less places, and developing spiritual habits. Each of these categories is focused on for one month and generally emphasizes the word “7” so 7 different types of food, 7 articles of clothing, 7 habits added, etc. Myself and some other women across the country are doing our own version of her challenge to grow ourselves this year.

Last month was media and I failed pretty hard. I’m quite comfortable with my failing though because

  1. The book isn’t to be imitated to the letter, that’s legalism. I was using her book to challenge patterns and habits in my life.
  2. January had some curve balls at me and using media actually was often a way to celebrate community and let myself ask for help.
  3. The purpose of the media fast is to challenge my reasoning for media and to be using it for healthy reasons, not for the unhealthy reasons that so often drive me to my apps.

I’m overall really happy with how I was challenged in my media use and reevaluated what I want my use to be in the future. Some of the big things I realized are:

  1. I spend a lot of wasted time of the internet and social media. I have too many big goals to be on it as much as I am! I also can be using the time I am for “community” on Facebook to call and personally talk with some people that I am unable to otherwise due to lack of time.
  2. I like starting my mornings with no social media, it’s refreshing! I am still bad at this habit but I want to work at screen free mornings, I felt so good that way.
  3. I loved challenging why I am posting. Is it to validate myself? To show off? To brag? To be pitied? To get attention? If it’s one of those things I don’t want to post. If it’s to celebrate, to share, to educate, to enjoy, then yes! Post away! But I want to be sure that I don’t post in haste or with my heart in the wrong place.

Now we’re into February and it’s the green month. Not going to lie, it’s super tricky! And honestly the heart issue at the root of it all is convenience. We live in such a world that glorifies anything that makes our lives function faster, fuller, and at 120%. I think we are robbed not only emotionally but spiritually by how much we are doing, pursuing, and taking in. As I am working my way through this project I am seeing the theme of pausing and enjoying the time that things take. Yes some conveniences are not bad but so many are pushing me into overdrive.

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My dryer broke today which is really helpful given that one of my goals was to do two loads of laundry by hang drying to save electricity. I will be doing a lot more than two as Matt and I are probably not buying a new dryer since our $50 score was once in a blue moon kinda deal. As I hung dry laundry I wasn’t actually bitter or stressed about the fake that my dryer is out of commission. It was relaxing. My husband and I hung everything and chatted while we worked. I remembered how many seasons of my life have been spent hang drying: mission trips, El Camino, study abroad in Greece, fish camp, etc. This little pause in my day is welcomed. And though laundry day is more intensive now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I welcome the stillness of hanging fresh laundry on the line and folding sun kissed clothes.

I’m making baby steps. It’s not easy to break habits but I’m looking at my heart and seeing big changes already. I am faithful to showing up to the daily and though I’ll mess up through it all (I keep buying plastic grocery bags… why do I do this to myself), I will start each day renewed and thinking through my motive and purpose of my life.

For February:

  • No Ziploc bags
  • Reusable, cloth bags for groceries only (struggling still)
  • Use leftovers better (we struggle so hard as a family of two)
  • Buy a plant that’s good for the air (little things)
  • Turn off lights more (hard for me, I am kinda a wimp with the dark)
  • Go to the local farmer’s market twice this month
  • Hang dry clothes! (Well, all of the clothes now lol)

Media Fast Update

Hey friends! As you know I’m on a media fast for the month of January. I thought I’d just share how I’ve been growing through this project so far! Preface: I should also start that my media fast hasn’t been incredibly strict. Today I allowed myself to go on social media. I have been struggling with feeling isolated and alone and it seemed a little silly to be cutting out a resource to help remind me that there are a lot of people that care about me. I also am allowing birthdays because I love celebrating people and life and I don’t think that’s a bad use of social media. Also, there have been situations where I have allowed Hulu/Netflix.

So! What has Sara been learning:

  1. I have so much more time in the morning now that I don’t sit in bed and scroll to “wake my eyes up” or whatever excuse I give. This time I have been able to consecrate to daily devotional. I use to be really disciplined and eager for this time but ironically, I lost my discipline at school (Bible school) but I am so thankful to have this time back.
  2. In general, I have less wasted minutes throughout my day. I came into this challenge feeling pretty good about my current phone manners but there are still times where I check my phone and it shapes my behavior more than I want. I keep my phone on nighttime mode a lot now and I like the freedom it gives me to not be dictated by my phone vibrating.
  3. My silent commutes to work with no radio have been a great time to actually face how I’m feeling instead of ignoring it and distracting myself with noise. I also have tried to pray during this time and it’s been so rewarding and I enjoy the silence instead of dread it. The same goes for no music at the gym, I am able to be motivated without my pump-up playlist and let my thoughts move beyond worries.
  4. Social media isn’t bad but I want to make sure my motives are good. I recognize moments I want to go scrolling and what sort of emotions are tied to it. Am I wanting to do something mindless to not deal with my own thoughts? Do I want to scroll to disconnect from the community I’m a part of now? Social media is such a great way of connecting and it’s been a blessing for me. But I also don’t want to but using it for the wrong reasons.

These are just some recent learning curves, I’m excited for the rest of the month!

This Year’s Big Project

I remember so clearly the first steps Matt and I took into this house that we call home. It was 115 outside and the air felt heavy and my island girl lungs were adjusting to the higher altitude and unbearable heat. My skin had already developed a shade of pink that hinted of the sunburns to come. We move in our suitcases and between us, the air mattress, and the three suitcases this was it. We didn’t mind a bit though because we were overjoyed to simply be in a place to call our home. Our wedding gifts were being mailed to us and we would eagerly add the generous gifts to our home as we started to set up. But overall, things were pretty simple. Two plates. No furniture. One suitcase worth of clothes. I had downsized significantly for the move simply because I had to. I had to binge clean at school because two suitcases were all I had to move everything to Alaska to then move to California. It was refreshing and foreign to finally be situated somewhere that would be longer than a few months.

I have lived fairly lightly since my backpacking endeavor but as I looked at my home I felt a switch flip and I desired to fill it. My intentions were not necessarily evil. I wanted our home to be a place of fellowship. I need couches, I need dishes, I need a guest bed, I need more pillows, I need, I need, I need. Quickly I noticed my mindset change from minimalist who lives out of a backpack to let’s set up our home! I was excited and a dreamer. This house was going to be so homey!

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The only AC unit we had at the time was this old and slow unit in the dining room. It felt pretty cold if you were right up next to it but didn’t do much good otherwise. We slept in the dining room for a good two weeks and didn’t get a bed until about a month into our marriage. Still wouldn’t trade these moments for anything in the world though because I was sharing them with my best friend and husband.

Fortunately, I was able to back up a few steps before my life was control by materialism and consumerism. Matt and I were convicted about our desire to fill our life with stuff instead of Jesus. I realized the language of “I need this” concerned me as it never applied to my life spiritually but always was in a material context. Now I want to be careful to stress that there is nothing bad to setting up a home. I’m not writing to shame having a full dining set or boasting that Matt and I are holier for being a one-car family; the stuff itself means little. What I am concerned and convicted about is my heart attitude. Why do I fill my life with stuff? Often it’s pride, fear, or comfort. I’m not saying all purchases are evil but I am concerned that my heart, and many others, are filling our lives with things instead of Jesus.

While I was feeling this conviction I was simultaneously reading Radical by David Platt, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. All these authors are convicted by the same heart attitude and are making changes in their life to reflect a Jesus filled life instead of a stuff filled life. I don’t want to mindlessly be filling my discomfort, my fears, my anxieties, my insecurities, my boredom with stuff. I want to be filling it with caring for others, growing in Jesus, and looking beyond myself. To challenge myself, I am participating in the 7 challenge that Jen Hatmaker created in her book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Essentially from January to July, I will be mirroring her project and focusing on eliminating clutter from these aspects of my life:

  1. January- Media
  2. February- Waste
  3. March- Possessions
  4. April- Food
  5. May- Clothes
  6. June- Spending
  7. July- Stress

Hatmaker stresses the number 7 in her project because

“Perhaps this is the philosophy behind the biblical fasts of three days, seen days, and forty days in the Word. Maybe we need more than one day to push through the inauguration onto the business of communion. After the shine wears off, the real spiritual work begins”.

And that “real spiritual work” is what I’m desiring in my life. I’m not alone in this pursuit and I have my own council of women from around the country that will be holding me accountable, growing with me, and challenging me as well and that is a blessing to have as I face the next seven months of growing pains. This month I am abstaining from 7 types of media.

  • Amazon: I spend an incredible about of money and time on Amazon. I hope that by cutting this out I will do my shopping around people more and not be so disconnected. I also hope to eliminate random purchases I make to just fill wants.
  • Facebook: This is by far the most time consuming part use of my media. I am still using Messenger to communicate with people but I am abstaining from Facebook itself which for me leads to a lot of hours of mindless scrolling or comparing myself in a way that isn’t healthy. I hope by February I can use Facebook in a way that drives community and fosters friendship better.
  • Instagram: Similar to Facebook, I spend a lot of time here. I am interested to see what sort of motivation I have to post of Instagram because I feel like this may be a pride issue as well that I hope to grow from this month.
  • Netflix/Hulu: Oh Lordy Lou. I spend a lot of time streaming. Though like everything else this isn’t necessarily bad in itself, I am hoping to develop healthier habits and to not default to “what do you want to watch”.
  • Texting: I am trying to limit my texting and focus on when I text. I don’t want to be on my phone when I’m with others. I don’t want to be governed by text messages. When possible I hope to video call or give phone calls. However, I am still maintaining normal texting with my out of area friends and family. After all, this project is in part about building relationship.
  • Radio: On long drives I am allowing listening to the radio but on my commute to work I am not going to listen to the radio. I hope to dedicate this time instead to prayer.
  • Spotify: I always, always, always plug in my earbuds at the gym and this month I will be device free. Instead I hope to either pray or allow my mind to be inspired and creatively think or talk with my gym buddy if I have one for that day.

There will be exceptions and days I mess up. A month is a good chunk of time and this isn’t intended to become something legalistic and cut-throat. My hope from the next seven months is to grow. I hope to reset my mind and with these seven unique fasts, I believe there is room for incredible growth and heart change. Friends, I’ll be keeping you posted and welcome to “an experimental mutiny against excess”.