Friday, August 3, 2012

seven: the journey

day one: August 1

one month. seven foods. quinoa, chicken, tomatoes, spinach, plain greek yogurt, strawberries and eggs. i got ready and had my quiet time. and right off the bat, i felt God speaking to me.

this is what i read:
deut. 8:10-18  When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

i felt the Lord telling me to be thankful. remember all he has given me during this time. and know that it is all from him.

my day was going to be great. the Lord was already revealing himself and it wasn't even 6:30am yet!
then on my way to work, i got the sweetest text from a dear friend, courtney. it read: thinking of you this morning, sweet friend! you and your family are in our prayers as you start this incredible new journey. i can't wait to hear about the ways God reveals himself to you and how close you feel to Him!! have a wonderful day :)

i arrived at work feeling pretty confident. then, BAM, out of nowhere...pickled okra!! one of the sweetest girls i work with had brought it and was so excited to be sharing it with me. so, the explaining began. "i'm only eating 7 foods for the month. i read this book. jen hatmaker. decrease so God can increase. i can't eat the pickled okra." Lord help me. this is going to be hard!

for lunch, i was having some grilled chicken with quinoa and sauteed spinach and tomatoes that i had made the night before. it wasn't bad. but some of the girls i work with decided to order pimento cheese from the athens favorite, marti's at midday! homemade pimento cheese and pita chips, i die.

i decided the best thing for me to do was eat and leave. i had to run to the bank so that was my excuse for gettingtheheckouttadodge. on my way to the bank, i prayed. i prayed that God would give me strength to get through this month. i mean it was all i could do to get through the day. i needed help. but while i prayed, everything i was giving up kept coming to my mind. and it wasn't just food. it was the "gathering" that i was missing. we gather at work when we eat. we gather with friends on the weekends to eat and fellowship. i felt like i was losing that.

i got home from work and had three eggs and a glass of red wine, don't judge. pulled up facebook to read some of the comments on our group 7 page to see how everyone else was doing. i'm being honest, i was glad to see people so opened with their struggles. one sweet girl described how there weren't any fireworks like she had expected. there was no sparkle. just struggle. and that was exactly how i was feeling. i didn't hear anything from God. nada. nothing. zilch. zero.

but this morning, day 3, i read more comments. so uplifting and encouraging.
one person commented that when we feed our flesh, our spirit starves. but when we feed our spirit, our flesh starves. that is what i want. a full spirit.  full of jesus and empty of myself. i want to focus on what my spirit is receiving not what my flesh is missing.

and then someone else commented...the fireworks, they come at the end. yes, they will.  He promised.

James 1:12  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him

Friday, July 27, 2012

let the games begin

do you get as excited as i do about summer olympics???

the diving. the gymnastics. the beach volleyball. the synchronized swimming. and yes my friends and i did practice this event growing up. it's a lot harder than it looks folks.

i will be glued to my t.v. starting tonight. sweet jesus thank you for not pushing me to start with media month. amen.

but this summer games is different. i will be keeping my eye on one particular person this year.
john orozco.
have you heard of him?

he's a native from the bronx. he started his gymnastics career at age 8. but being from a low income family just struggling to make ends meet, he sometimes used the streets to train. using light poles to do pull-ups.

he received his first gymnastics medal at age 9. but he didn't keep that medal for long. he noticed another little boy crying from being teased for a bad performance and quickly handed the medal over to him, saying, one day you'll be better than i am, don't cry.  oh, there are no words. 

he got teased by all the other kids in his neighborhood. in the bronx, the cool thing was playing basketball or baseball, definitely not being a gymnast. but this was his dream and now it is his reality.

 his mother, who didn't just take him to every practice and drop him off, but stayed there with him to make sure he worked hard, says this:
"The person that he is, the heart that he has, the dreams that he has, he's a gold winner already so anything on top of that is just gravy," she says.
don't you just love that?

Thursday, July 26, 2012


7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress.
 They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

that's it in a nutshell. but where my journey will take me will far exceed trying to fit in a nutshell. i'm certain of it.
i'm sure some who read this will think i'm crazy for taking this step. questions will be asked such as, "why would you want to do that?'

read what jen wrote in the book....

...i've developed something of an immunity to sermons. typing that is embarrassing: it makes me sound so unteachable. teaching by example, radical obedience, justice, mercy, activism, and sacrifice wholly inspire me. i'm at that place where "well done" trumps "well said."

i want to live my life how jesus taught us through his word.
i want to sing a worship song on sunday or any given day in my car or in my home and actually mean the words i'm singing.
i want to hear a sermon or do a bible study where my knowledge is put into motion. 
i want the excess of my life to become much smaller so jesus can become much bigger.

i live in a place where i have been blessed with so much. but some of these blessings ahem, a lot of these blessings have become distractions and are being abused, by me!!

my pantry is full but i can't decide what we're gonna eat.
my clothes addiction is insane but i never have anything to wear.
i know the latest happenings on facebook but we haven't talked about how our day was as a family.
if i want an item, within reason, i buy it. period.
if there are leftovers from dinner, 9 times out of 10 they will end up in the trash. i don't like leftovers.
at any given time, 4 televisions can be running simultaneously in our home.

 i've asked kevin to join me in this. but i don't want to dictate to him how he needs to go about it. my journey is my journey and his journey is his journey. the end. i will have my boys going through it as well. and yes some months will be harder than others, but i think we're all ready.

i've also joined a group on facebook of fifty or so committed people. we'll all share in our experiences together. it will be good to know there are other families and individuals struggling and persevering through this at the same time as me.

so on august 1st food month will begin.
7 foods for 31 days. that's it. no more. no less.
 i'm still narrowing down my foods.
first it was salmon, greek yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and quinoa for sure. with spinach, broccoli and tomatoes up in the air. but now, i'm rethinking salmon just because it's not as accessible as say chicken would be. but i still have 5 days to make this decision and you can bet it won't be final till that 5th day is here!

so i hope you'll follow along as i journal my way through the next 7 months. or maybe even better, you'll start a journey of your own!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

only eight summers left

i was cruising blogs the other day and ran across this post.
how many summers do i have left?
with ethan it's 6. i'm counting this summer and the one after his senior year.
with eli it's 8.
to me, that's not long. not long at all.

it's so easy for me to come home from a long day of work and want to retreat to my bedroom and completely shut off from the real world.
all play a part during my isolation.

but i want the boys to remember their summers at home as a time where i was fully present. there are memories to be made and moments to treasure. i don't want to be remembered as a mom who never played outside or who always had her nose in her smart phone or the computer.

we've talked of camping...

we'll definitely make a trip to six flags...

i would love to take the boys to centennial park...

and swing by the georgia aquarium...

and i'm sure we'll catch one of these....

but most of all, i just want to spend time with them. i don't have much longer. i want every minute of every day to count. it's hard. it's hard to be intentional. it's hard to be fully present in every moment. and sometimes it just doesn't happen. but i'll give it my best. and i'll do it because i know it matters.

how many summers do you have left?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

yep, i'm still martha

i don't feel like i'm as bad as i once was, with details that is. you know, when you're having guests over and...
you have to get every blade of grass off the floor.
every fingerprint off the windows.
pillows perfectly fluffed.
beds perfectly made.
coutertops as if they were just polished.

you know, the details.

i'm hosting a bible study with some amazing women this summer. today was our first session and to be honest, i didn't feel any of the stress i used to feel when having guests into my home.
don't get me wrong, i swept. i wiped countertops. i cleaned the guest toilet only because i have two boys and sometimes they seem to hit everything but the inside of the bowl. but this time i was so much better about the details. ask my family... i was better.

 but for some reason today once everyone was gone, i really felt God leading me to revisit the story of mary and martha.

but lord, i know this story. i know martha cleaned and was busy with the details while mary sat at your feet and listened to you. i get that. i know. but i did a really good job leading up to today. i didn't stress. i didn't clean like a mad woman. i was fully present with these women. fully focused and engaged. so right now, i'm gonna put on my swimsuit and lie on my float and soak up some of this sun. mmkay?

and that's just what i did. i lounged on my float. soaked up a little sun. and all the while mary and martha's names kept playing over and over in my head.

ok ok. i'll look up and read the story. it's short. it won't take that long. luke 10:38-42.

so i grabbed my bible and i read the story. and nothing. nothing happened. i didn't feel the lord speaking to me. nothing.

then he lead me to the story of lazarus. mary and martha's brother.

in this story, jesus sees how upset mary and martha are with the death of their brother. he comforts them. he tells them that lazarus will rise again. and then he wants them to lead him to their brother's tomb.
"roll the stone aside," jesus told them. but martha, the dead man's, sister protested, "lord, he has been dead for four days. the smell will be terrible." john 11:39.

and there it was. the lord spoke directly to me. directly to my heart.
amanda, you're still worrying about the details.

no, i don't stress out about the details of my home. at least, not as much as i used to.
but i haven't stopped focusing on the details of my life.

i still concentrate too much on the

but today the lord told me...
if i can raise a man from the dead, even after being in the grave for FOUR DAYS (not a minor detail),
then i can handle the details of your life as well. you need to trust me in this.

just like martha, i get so caught up in the details that i forget to stop and see God's greater picture for my life. and i forget to trust Him to take care of those details.

so today, God showed me that, yes, i am still a "martha". but He also showed me that if i trust Him to control the details, He will raise me to a new life, one that's better than anything i could ever dream for myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

follow My lead

it used to be about wanting a little girl. we have four very precious nieces in our lives but some how it isn't the same as having a daughter to call your own.

i grew up part tomboy part girlie girl...can that happen? well, that was me. and i always knew i would have a little girl. hairbows. coordinating outfits. nail polish. that's right up my alley.

but God blessed me with two healthy boys, despite their start to life. i'm so blessed. we have a wonderful family. my boys are almost fourteen and eleven. practically independent.

and then i read blogs like these...

these families have given birth in their hearts for the little ones that have no voice.
they've struggled.
they've endured sicknesses.
they've had some really tough times.
but they've allowed God to carry them through this life. they lean on Him. He holds them in the palm of His hand.

and i read books like this...

i'm starting this bible study on saturday...

but then i ask...
do i really want to start over?
i mean our boys are practically out of the house..just kidding but they will be before we know it!
how can we afford this?
adoption can cost up to $45,000!!
could i really raise a daughter to recognize she's the true daughter of a King...a real life princess?
i see so many girls hungry for attention..but the wrong kind. i see bullying. i see mean girls.
raising a daughter in this world would be tough.

but then i ask...
do i believe if it's God's will for my life that he will make a way for all of this to happen?
yes, i do.
do i believe what he tells us in scripture?
yes, i do.

pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you
james 1:27

i don't know what God's plans are. right now, i can tell you kevin and i are not on the same page with this. and that's ok. i will continue to pray. i've been praying for over a year now. i don't pray for kevin to change his mind. i pray that God's purpose for us will be fulfilled. i pray we will obey. whatever that may look like.

i know God has placed this desire in my heart for a reason. i choose to follow, not knowing where He will lead me.


Friday, June 15, 2012

porch party!!

i have shown you several pictures over the last several weeks of our porch.
but rhoda at southern hospitality is having a porch party...and i love a good party so i wanted to join right in!

let's look how far we've come...

not much to write home about huh?

the view from our porch wasn't much better either...

we had lots of work to do.
there was painting
cutting down some trees
getting rid of that play set
and taking down that trampoline this one isn't quite completed yet.

we still have some work to do but here's what's happened so far...

we painted the porch floor with porches and patio paint from sherwin williams.
we added some rocks and shrubs to the beds off the front.
i also added some hanging baskets. and the trees were cut down. sod laid and filled in with sand.

i got to put my cushions on my furniture out there because my porch had finally become a place i wanted to sit and relax!
and purchased this cute little garden stool!

here's another view of our yard...

and here's a wider shot of our porch...

and you see that space to the right of those windows? well, that space will soon hold this cute sign my aunt has made for me...
it isn't completely finished (distressing and framing is next) but isn't this perfect for that space?
i know, right!

well there it doesn't look like a lot but there has been many blood sweat and tears going into this yard!
hope you enjoyed my little tour!