Category Archives: 52 Donations

Reality Checks

Sometimes I need a reality check.  Or two. Or three.

Sometimes more.

I am a stay-at-home mom.  I realize that this is not for everyone. Every family needs to decide what works for them. This was the desire of my heart, and my husband’s heart, and we were committed to making this work. We also knew, God willing, that we desired to have a large family.

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Having a large family and one income would require sacrifice, but this was a sacrifice that we were willing to make.  We knew that we may not have the finest things, and we were Ok with that.

In October, 2009, my husband and my very pregnant self, along with our three-year old and 20-month old daughters, moved from an area that is located about ten minutes east of downtown Indianapolis called Irvington to the suburbs of Westfield.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about being in the suburbs at first. My husband and I had a lot of conversations prior to moving. We liked the idea of being close to downtown.  It seemed so much cooler.  I still think it is cooler. 

But, coolness aside, it wasn’t a great fit for us anymore. For many reasons, including the location of his job, it made sense for us to move to the north side.

So, that’s what we did.

We found a foreclosure that was a wonderful fit for our expanding family.  I felt very blessed that we were able to move into a house that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. Along with the feeling of gratitude came the reality that our blessing was another family’s misfortune.  I would think of the family often, especially in the first year.  I would wonder about them.  And pray. 

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About three weeks after we moved into our home, our third daughter was born.  We began to settle into our new location.  At first, I did not think much about moving to such an affluent area.

When we lived close to downtown, we were surrounded by the rich and the poor.  Very nice homes were located just blocks away from poverty-stricken homes.  Our cozy little yellow bungalow sat across from the golf course.  Just a few blocks from our home was a street known to be a hangout for prostitutes and drug dealers.

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We went from living in this melting pot to living where we live now.  We live in Hamilton County. According to a recent article posted in WTHR, Hamilton County is now ranked as the seventh wealthiest county in the nation.

The longer we have lived here, the more I find myself comparing our lifestyle to others and feeling like I am not living up to some type of standard.  The longer that I have been surrounded by wealth, the more my perception on how people live has erroneously changed. My idea of what is normal is becoming skewed. I am comparing my lifestyle to the lifestyles of some of the wealthiest people in the world. This is one of the challenges people face when they are living in the land of plenty.  I am beginning to understand why the term “keeping up with the Joneses” exists. This struggle is not unique to me.  One of my favorite movies is about this struggle that many Americans face, fittingly called The Joneses.  It is a thought-provoking movie that I highly recommend.

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Now this is not a knock on the suburbs, or the people who live in the suburbs. This is not a knock on being wealthy, or having nice things.  Those are wonderful blessings that God has bestowed on people.  I really enjoy living here, and feel very blessed to be where we are.  This is just commentary on my ridiculous, absurd, insane thoughts.

I find myself forgetting about the early years in our marriage when we talked about having less and being Ok with that.  I find myself feeling like what I have is not enough, but here is reality:

I have an ample amount of everything that I need.

I am not hungry.  I actually have the ability to choose, daily, what I will eat.  I am able to make food at home.  I can go out to eat.  I can eat fast food.  I can sit down at a restaurant.  I can search Yelp and see what sounds good to me, and go there, and eat.  Everyday, I have an overabundance of dining options.

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I have water.  Clean water.  I have options of what kind of water I want. Tap water. Filtered water from the fridge.  Bottled water.  Flavored water. Water from the hose.  I can drink water. Shower in water. Bathe in water.  And when I drink the water, I don’t need to worry about if it is going to make me, or my family members, sick.

I do not worry that my children will die from starvation, or dehydration.  Thank you, Father.

I have a roof over my head.  I am warm in the winter.  I am cool in the summer.

I have clothes on my body.  I have a pillow to lay my head on at night and blankets to cover myself with.

If my children are sick, I can take them to a multitude of doctors and grab them medicine from a plethora of pharmacies.

To many people around the world, living in our home would be like living in a mansion.  It is all about perspective.

That is reality.  We are blessed beyond measure.

But, here is a secret of mine.   I am sometimes embarrassed by the cars we drive.  Yep. True.

We have a 1997 Toyota Avalon that we have had for years.  It is paid off and runs fine.  We have a Toyota Sienna that is also paid off and runs fine.  We own two working vehicles.  True, one of them is more like the car you get when you turn 16, but who cares? It works and it is paid off.

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When we first moved here and had our third daughter, we did not have the minivan yet.  I would load all three kids into the back of the Avalon. That was my car.  I thought nothing of it.  Now, I have become increasingly embarrassed to drive that car.  I actually will go out of my way  to be sure I will have the minivan when I need to go somewhere because I don’t want to be seen in the Avalon.

Do you know how crazy that is?!  There are people who don’t have food, and I am caring about being seen in our paid-off second vehicle.  Something isn’t right here.

Thankfully, God has been showing me the ridiculousness of my thinking.  He is teaching me gratitude.  He is giving me reality checks.

This year, at our Christmas dinner, I looked at the overabundance of food on the table and in that moment God did something to my heart.  I felt like He said to me, “Look.  Look at this blessing before you and be grateful.”  I was struck in that moment by the fact that I was able to feed my children.  I could feed them without any fear of where the food would come from.  There was so much food on our table that some would go to waste.  My heart was grateful, and it was also very convicted.

I have carried that conviction with me into the new year.  When I find myself thinking about the things that I want, I quickly remind myself of all that I have.  When I find myself thinking about wanting a new car, I remind myself that we have all that we need right now.  When I find myself feeling embarrassed, I remind myself to be grateful.  I do not need to impress anyone.  And, really, nobody cares what kind of car we drive.  Our friends care about us, not about what we have.  The way that I feel has nothing to do with people saying, or doing things, to make me feel this way.  It is just my own stinking thinking.  The thought that we need to have more, or be more, to prove something is just a lie.  It is a lie that I am not buying into anymore.

I am on week four of my 52 weeks of donations and it has been a wonderful experience thus far.  I do not think that it is a coincidence that I am embarking on this at the same time as I have been struggling with these thoughts.  As I clean out our home, God is cleaning out my heart and my mind.

I am thankful for the work that God is doing on my heart.  I am thankful that He is patient with me.  I am extremely thankful that I do not need to worry about how I will feed my children tonight, and I pray for those who find themselves in that situation.

I am thankful for abundant blessings.

I am thankful for reality checks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Potential

I love fresh starts.  Maybe that is why one of my favorite times of year is the beginning.  It feels like the slate has been wiped clean and it is time to start over.  It is a time of reflection and anticipation.  Reflection on what has passed, and anticipation for what lies ahead.  It is a time filled with potential.

Last year may have been great, but this year can be better.   This year is an open book filled with blank pages that I am about to fill.

I can eat better.  Sleep more.  Workout more frequently.  Pray more. Spend more time with the kids.  Plan more date nights. There are so many possibilities.  All for the better.

That is how I felt on the morning of January 1st.  Giddy with excitement about another year bursting with opportunity.

So long 2015….Look out 2016….Here I come!  My Wonder Woman cape is on!  Hold on tight!  I am flying toward all of that potential at break-neck speed.

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But then reality hits.  The cape is removed.  I am still me.  Just because the calendar year changed, doesn’t really mean that I have changed.   It isn’t about the calendar.  I may have more excitement on January 1st for what lies ahead, but if I am not intentional then that excitement will eventually fade.  If I am not committed to making these changes, then the end of this year will look no different than the end of last year.

I can have one hundred goals, but if I am not committed to the necessary work that precipitates change than I am just making resolutions for resolutions sake.

Change takes more than desire.  It takes planning.  It takes commitment.  It takes perseverance.

Before the holidays, we had our kitchen, and living room, painted.  I feel like I have a pretty clean house.  Or so I thought.  Until that morning.  What I discovered, on the day that the painter arrived, is that my house may look sparkly on the surface, but when you move items around you get an entirely different view.

Dust. Dust. And more dust.

I was appalled.  My seemingly clean house was actually filthy. The parts of the objects that were out of my view had been completely neglected.  The side that was seen was unblemished.  The side that was unseen was a mess.

Something hit me when I saw all of that grime, other than the fact that I really needed to clean my house.  I realized in that moment that it is easy to focus on what people see.  Making the surface appear sparkly isn’t the hard part.  The hard part is moving things around and cleaning all of the parts that people don’t necessarily see. That takes extra time and commitment.  For me, it is the same with my goals.  If I want to make changes that will stick, then I need to focus on the unseen parts.  I need to work from the inside out.  I need to change the way that I think, and that will ultimately affect the way that I operate.

This year, I have set a goal to donate something every week.  Seems lofty.  I know.  But, not impossible.  I have set one big goal, not one hundred.  For me, this works better.  If I set too many goals, than I usually am not as successful.

I have a lot of clutter in my life.  My sister calls me a stage-one hoarder.  If you were to open the drawers in my house you would see that I am an extremely organized packrat.  Why have two coloring books, that the kids rarely use, when you can have 30 saved up for a rainy day?  Seriously.  Not exaggerating.

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I don’t need this much stuff.  So, what am I going to do?  I am going to be making some type of donation.  Every week.  52 donations made one at a time. I am going to go from the attic to the basement in small little baby steps.

I will donate more than just material possessions.  I will donate my time.  My money.  Whatever I feel God is calling me to donate that week.

Part of this isn’t just cleaning out the “stuff.”  It’s cleaning out the dust in my house, and the dust in my soul. I’m praying that this adventure that I am embarking on in 2016 makes me more generous, more loving, more prayerful, and more aware of the abundance of blessings that God has bestowed upon me, and where He is calling me to share those blessings with others.

Right now my trunk has bags with items destined for Wheeler Mission, our church, and Goodwill.  My daughter’s backpack has some books for her classroom.  I’m starting with a bang.

The year ahead is bursting with potential, and I am ready for it.  I am about to put on my cape.

Look out 2016!  Here I come!

 

 

And just to show how excited I am about the start of the new year, I am including a video from this year. Everyone else is relatively calm, and then there is me…….

 

 

 

 

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