Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Habits for November

So, I'll be getting the rest of my {ahem} 31 posts for October {shhhh ... don't tell that I didn't finish them all in October} out in the next few weeks.  I was going to post one today and then I thought I really wanted to share what I am doing in November in case it inspires any of you to do the same.  The good news is that I gave myself the grace to let those posts go when life trumped writing.  I let the important rule over the urgent and figured the timing of their release will fit you as well as me.  It is most important that we live well and then pour out from the well-lived life rather than meeting a deadline and becoming less of who we are called to be in the process ... But, I digress ... back to the reason I put those posts on hold ...

I'm taking on three simple habits this month.  Three little life-changing habits to help fix my eyes upward, make my life more intentional and give me a heart of gratitude in the season of Giving Thanks.  Controversial as it has become, Halloween has passed us by now.  Even when the holiday seemed more innocuous, I've always been glad when it is behind us because it means we all get to start focusing on gratitude - collectively.

Habit #1 - I'm purging.
Actually our whole family is purging one item a day in November.  I've even recruited some friends who are doing this with their families as well.  There's nothing like a group effort to make us all commit and feel a bit of camaraderie and accountability.

I've heard a lot of rumbling lately about how cool it is to be a minimalist.  I want to say it is awesome and I appreciate so much of the spirit behind simplicity and owning less.  I recently read this post that talked about simple living not always having to do with having less or doing less.  It has to do with intentionality.  Letting your yes be yes and your no be no.  I've written plenty about that, but also it goes deeper.  What Lysa Terkeurst calls our "Best Yes" involves truly choosing well.  I've decided I'm not going to be a minimalist.  I'm going to be an "intentionalist."  I'm coining it here.  You are among the first to hear the term.
Let's do it.  Let's be intentional.

Along the way, that does mean some purging may have to happen.  I've always been a purger - scheduling several times a year when we go through the home and get rid of things that don't fit, aren't used, are broken, others need, etc.  The book that amped up my ability and focus in purging was Tsh Oxenrider's "Organized Simplicity."  Beyond being a book about organizing, it leads you into evaluating your purpose, your family's mission and how you can aim towards those goals.  She introduces this little idea of only keeping things that are "purposeful, meaningful or beautiful."  I've taught my children this tool for choosing what they keep and it has been a great blessing to us all.  This book, by the way, contains so much goodness that I have to highly recommend it. 

So, this November, I'm purging.  Our whole family has agreed {ok, I wrangled them} to give up one item a day.  Each item has to be our own.  In other words, I can't give away my son's toys and they can't pick the china cup in the tea cabinet.  We are on day three and we've gotten rid of way more than our mere 12 items.  I've gone through my jewelry, make up and hair stuff.  I've gone through the attic (oh, yes, girls) and the garage.  We still have more that could be tackled out there, but hey, it's a start.  We pile up our selections every day and at the end of each week I'll take everything to the Goodwill.

Here's what I hope will happen from this habit:  We'll be lighter (letting go of unneeded things that take up physical and mental space in our lives).  We'll value what we keep a bit more.  We'll be better at letting go and choosing our possessions more wisely.  

Habit #2 - I'm counting my blessings.
33 a day.  It's not my idea, but it's a wonderful one, isn't it?  Ann Voskamp has upped the blessing-counting ante this month.  If you haven't read her book, One Thousand Gifts, it is one of my top 10 to recommend - ever.  This year Ann is inviting us to count 1000 blessings in one month - that's 33 a day!  So, I'm in.  Riding the falls of grace full speed.  I write at the end of the day.  Type them in a Word Doc.  I can count them throughout the day and then at the end of the day, I sit and wrap them up at night, thanking God for the goodnesses I saw - His fingerprints all over my day.

It's the month of gratitude.  What better month to count blessings?  You may have missed a day or two of this collaborative celebration of goodness, but you are welcome to hop in now.  Do it however it fits you.  Carry a little pad of paper around with you; get your family to count at supper or bedtime; write them in your IPhone; document them at night.  If you can't get 33, don't give up.  Just keep on counting.  Count the goodness.  Fix your eyes on all God is laying before you - His lavish goodness poured out on us in little morsels throughout the day.

Here's what I hope will happen from this habit: It's a given that counting our blessings makes us see more of the positive - be more aware of the goodness of the Giver.  I hope this habit lifts my eyes and fuels contentment with what is.  You know how complaining highlights what we lack?  Counting blessings causes us to see the good inside what even could be cause for complaining.  I am trusting that I will grow nearer to God as I turn to Him in gratitude. 

Habit #3 - I'm pausing. 
I'm building in space during this season where it seems someone puts a brick on the gas pedal and lets it run full throttle through January 1st.  It's hard enough to slow during the non-crammed months of the year.  Yet, in these months of November and December it is all the more important to set aside time to refresh and connect with God.  I'm building in time to read books that remind me of what is vital.  I'm reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace by the sweet and courageous, Bonnie Gray.  I'm going through it with a friend as we answer the self-reflective questions and follow the suggestions for making space for rest, confiding to and abiding in God.

I'm also reading "The Best Yes' which I mentioned above.  I'm finding such encouragement to refine my view of the purposes for which God has actually made me.  I am spending time considering what my "best yes" is and daily I run my choices through that simple filter.  Part of the best yes for this frenetic season is rest.  Rest is the place we reflect.  Rest provides perspective.  Rest is the home which allows us to go out well.  Finding rest in Jesus is part of my best yes these days.

I'm reading fluff.  I'm reading some books that are fiction intended for teens.  I sit with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket {Hallelujah, it is fall!} and I read something somewhat delightful and very escapist.  We all need a little place of retreat that isn't serious, self-reflective and requires no agenda or performance.  This time every once or twice a week is my haven and it gives me refreshment in needful ways.

So, how about you?  Will you join me in one or all of these habits?  I would love if you come along and come back here or to our Facebook Hearts Homeward page and share your experience as you make November intentional, less cluttered, more grateful and deeply connected to Jesus. 


Jamie Wheeler said...

I love love love this!!! And interesting enough I'm working on parts of all thee. I'm reading the book 1000 gifts already and I love it. Helps so much to see the goodness all around me and to slow down long enough to see any of it. I'm working on the purging with you too! I'm going through our craft cupboard today! So all in all that's all three! So this is very encouraging! ❤️ Thank you for sharing!

HeartsHomeward said...

I am so glad to hear all you are doing. What a great way to spend and invest in the month of November! It is so empowering and soothing to practice these simple (but sometimes challenging) disciplines. Grateful to know we are doing this together.