Since the start of 2014, I have prayed with purpose over our family in a way I never have before. I don’t know exactly where it began, but one of the sparks that lit the flame was this post on Ann Voskamp’s blog. She created an in-depth list of sorts of her “sanity manifesto”- called A Grace Plan. (Doesn’t that just sound wonderful?) And then she included this beautiful, simple printable sheet with her Grace Plan mapped out upon it. Here it is:
You can download your own and print it if you go to the post. 🙂 Anyway, she expounds on what each things means, and that’s where the wheels of my brain began to turn. I thought about what I want for 2014. What did I want to see in my life, in my family, in my home this year? I didn’t come up with nearly as elaborate of a list as this, BUT I did come up with two words: Peace. Abundance. My desire was that we would be filled with the peace and abundance of God. Too many people- too many believers- look out at the world with scarcity lenses; they only see not enough, instead of more than enough. And I don’t even mean possessions or money here. I mean, those things are involved for sure, but I mean being abundant people. Isn’t that what we’re promised in John 10:10 when Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”?
So, if that’s true, what’s my problem? I’ve been asking myself that for years now. To be completely honest, since the beginning of our marriage. Don’t get me wrong; our marriage is fantabulous!!! But when we got married, that was the first time in my life I really had to think about money. And by think about money, I mean solve the grand mystery of where it might consistently come from in the future, via finding a service I could provide in exchange for it on a weekly basis, which would yield a Check-a-la-Pay to use for such necessities as bills, rent, food, products of the hygienic variety, and most importantly, coffee. Grown-up style.
This is a quandary for all of us at some point in life, and since I’m in my mid-20’s, this is especially common among my peers. Except this small percentage- let’s say… 5%? (Based on my sophisticated guestimating system. Aka I made it up.) Anyway, this 5% of people around my age that seem to be transacting such illustrious purchases as buying a house, owning pets, going on vacations. Yup. They’re just American-dreaming it up over there. And somehow, I totally got sucked into the mindset that these are the prize, the goal, and- as cliche as this sounds- the gateway to happiness. Intellectually, I know those things do not yield happiness. However, my track record of allowing my joy to be snatched away merely by the Have vs. Have-Not tension in my spirit reveals that I have only known the right answer to the Sunday school questions; I tried to start with the roof instead of the foundation, which is the real right answer.
Ok, enough nebulous metaphors. What am I trying to say? What is the foundation? If you said “Jesus” and then snickered, you’re still in Sunday School mode- specifically youth group Sunday School mode. Thing is, Jesus IS the foundation. (That whole house-on-the-rock-vs.-sand thing?) But, I’ve realized I had no idea what that meant. I thought it was just a wardrobe, but turns out there was a whole world inside. (Just kidding!! More metaphors…)
Anyway, I had to break down the foundation I made up about Jesus, and let him rebuild it. This rebuilding began when I first read 1,000 gifts by Ann Voskamp.
(Go and buy it and read NOW.) I related so much to her journey of a skewed idea of gratitude, of God’s love, and how I could pave the way back to a greater understanding of both of those things through counting the gifts- counting my blessings. At first, this idea sounded just as platitudinal (is that a word?) a Sunday School answer as any. But it’s not just a lip service kind of thing. When I started with the simplest thing- even counting the beauty of light through a window, the steam from my coffee- it was like peeling back layers of a veil, and realizing that God surrounds me with his love; he delights in me- AND he delights in delighting me! Wow. That was a game-changer to begin with. And here’s the song I wrote inspired by reading this book:
That’s when I saw the battle for what it was: abundance versus scarcity. To either choose life or choose the lie. It’s up to you. We are not victims- we are victors. Do you realize how HUGE that is?! That means the following: I have victory even when my bank account is overdrawn, victory when my child is in the hospital, when my car breaks down. I am victorious. Because Christ is victorious…
That was the first thing. The second is much more fluid, much less pin-point-able. (Yeah, that’s definitely not a word.) When I began my home business in January of 2011, it provided a place where I was challenged to live victorious. It was the most amazing thing- like a physical exercise in faith, trusting God for sales, being told “no” by people, stepping outside my comfort zone, testing my mettle. And I heard such things as “you can be pitiful or you can be powerful, but not both” (aka victim or victor) and “What you think about, you bring about” and such a wealth of illuminating wisdom that I can’t begin to describe. It was like- life education… which they don’t teach in school. Whether I made a million dollars or nothing at all, I’d still say this experience has been priceless.
I learned you can’t be successful in anything (wealth, your marriage, parenting your children, your relationship with God) without thinking abundantly- being an abundant person- first. All of this exposition to explain that this year, I finally decided that we were going to be powerfully intentional in reclaiming our abundance, rediscovering victory, rebuilding our foundation. (Did you know that the word “decide” means to cut off? As in, to cut off all other options? Something else I learned in my home business journey.) As my beautiful friend Aimee’s eldest son Jackson once said,”The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” (Wow. How many 15 year olds do you know that pull that kind of wisdom out of their brains???)
Of course, when you decide to intentionally grow in your faith/relationship with God, you immediately open yourself up to attack. Of course, once I decide that this is the THE year- the year we’ll be abundant, peaceful, strong people- it’s also THE year for physical expenses…. i.e. having a 9lb. baby, painful recovery preventing me getting back to work as quickly, taking said baby back to the hospital a week and a half after her birth because she’s down to 6 lbs. 9 oz. and being there for 5 days, deciding to rent a studio space in February for my business, traveling across the country in May for a special, 24-hr-long training with my husband and baby, and on and on… (Thank the Lord we have REAL insurance that ACTUALLY pays for things… our bills were hugely less than they would’ve been, though they’re still a lot.)
However, I’ve gotten so much confirmation from the Lord about this, because everywhere I look, someone else is talking about gratitude, joy, peace, abundance, and in all seriousness- Jesus. Just look at this amazing mom, Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog post I found the other day- click here– my fav quote from which is, “In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free.” Seriously, go read that post and then come back… Okay, now read this one, by another gal named Hannah who’s in her 20’s like me. I love where she says, “…our life is not anyone else’s. And we chose this life, this little apartment big-city life, and I have to remind myself how much I love it. Because the rest might come, someday, even if it feels like it never will. But it probably won’t come here, in this city, not unless we change careers or become involved in shady dealings that make big profits. And when it comes, we won’t get this back, this life where we have so few responsibilities and such freedom.”
Whether you are in the same phase of life as either of these women or not, can’t you so relate to this fight- this choice- to either have a grass-is-greener complex, or to put on “perspectacles” as Glennon calls them? And if you’re wondering, being courageous is not only a choice; it’s a command. Here’s Joshua 1:7-9 in case you don’t believe me, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Fear is about who you are. Courage is about who God is. I love this truth, but I have a habit of forgetfulness. I need instead a habit of remembering. So, to help me win this battle, to help us be a household of PEACE and ABUNDANCE, I’d decided to fight. To remember. I will fight with the words of the Word of God. I’m going to build our house upon a foundation of beautiful words that remind me who we are and Whose we are. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
So, here is the official launch of the Reclaiming Abundance project, where I will be taking God at his word by taking His Word and posting it all over my home. Because of my propensity for swirly writing, as well as the unused picture frames and scrapbook paper I have, I will take these words of life and make them my own- binding them to our walls, to our fridge, by our coffee maker, and so on. I will post images here each week, as well as to Instagram with the hashtag #reclaimingabundance… and I’d LOVE for you to join in too! Sometimes I won’t use schmancy paper… sometimes I might use sticky notes. The point is to be intentional, and use something I LOVE- aka doodling- to do it. My goal is to create 5 per month for the next 6 months.*
I CAN’T WAIT to share this part of the journey with you!!! Launch Sequence activated… Reclaiming Abundance in 3…2…1…
How are you creating abundance in your life? Tell me all about it!!! Inspiration please…
*However, this is in the same spirit as Jesus said in Mark 2:27, “… The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This isn’t just a project for project’s sake or to gain any earthly recognition or fame etc, but to cultivate an abundant spirit in myself, in my husband, and our family, being filled with the Holy Spirit so we can be generous with our lives.