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The Contentment Challenge 2015

Thinking about money matters makes me dizzy. In fact, I frequently want to dig a hole in the sand and bury my head in it until Kingdom come. I think I actually do this when I refuse to look at my bank account during the week... oops. Speaking of the Kingdom, I've been super convicted lately about my poor spending habits and the stockpile of unnecessary stuff I have accumulated over the years. 

In March, I purged my closet, pulling out 50+ items that either found their way to Goodwill or sold in an Instagram auction. If I wasn't spending the summer across the country I'd be tearing through my apartment again. However, I can make a difference starting this summer, and in an effort to both save for the upcoming year and to tackle these bad habits, I'm launching into The Contentment Challenge before I do any more damage. For real this time.

Back in 2013, I stumbled upon Nancy Ray and "The Contentment Challenge." Within minutes of reading her blog I jumped on board and Instagramed the key verse, planning to follow along. 

Yeah, well, that plan flopped to the ground in the speed that I hopped on the bandwagon. I had good intentions, but no followthrough. Welcome to one of the biggest struggles in my life.

The idea has been dancing around in my head in the months since its introduction, but I have never acted upon it. I kept saying, "Once I blog about it, then I'll do it..." I tried that too, and I still failed miserably.

Yikes! Sounds like a heart that is hardly content, and one that finds its satisfaction in stuff rather than a Savior. Can I hide in a hole now? No? Hm... how about in a pile of more things? Still no... okay. Let's do this.

The Contentment Challenge: July 13 - October 13, 2015
We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and "stuff" for the next three months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.

The Guidelines (from Nancy Ray's blog, slightly edited for my personal challenge):
  • For the next few days, your homework is to do the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months.
    • I've had a few days to think about this and have made the final Target run. No more knick-knacks or trinkets, unnecessary sweet treats, and no more books or clothes. I had intentions of starting this on July 1st, but after organizing my receipts last night I am horrified at the spending and determined to start right TODAY. My birthday is in a few days, but that money has already been spent, so I have no need to go meandering around Anthropologie or the mall (I did that this weekend...). 
    • When school picks up, I'm expecting a few expenditures, but I am doing my best to set that money aside ahead of time. I plan to keep busy teaching camps this summer, and I launch right into a show when I get back to Oklahoma. Hopefully this means no time for window shopping-turned-real-shopping. Plus, this time last year I was moving into an unfurnished apartment; this August I'll return to one packed to the brim and ready to go!
  • Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time
    • All the books, y'all. I'm reading all the books. I have several books coming in the mail to review, but at the top of my list to read are For the Love and Seven by Jen Hatmaker, It's Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, and I'll continue through Prayers for the Dreamer and the Doer by The Well Studio.
  • Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or a piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord.
    • This is not a plug for gifts, but an allowance for honoring others even if it includes spending. Gifts are in my love languages, but I am a firm believe that a note of encouragement --whether it arrives at a moment of deep need or just as a surprise-- goes a long way. I do have a few family members and friends whose birthdays are just around the corner, but this will remain a time to be prayerful and get creative. 
  • Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please get a new one. If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don't start justifying new purchases for items that you already have.
    • There is absolutely a difference between a need and a want, and I am eager to learn. In some places, saying "no" is a piece of cake. But in others... let's just say I don't watch a lot of TV because commercials and advertisements get to me. Needs as in basic toiletries, replacing a pair of tights, and food are allowed, but I am limiting my fast food to only when out with friends. And friends, let's do something other than eat out or go to Starbucks! This city is full of ways to get active. A jog around the lake, trip to the park, I'm up for just about anything ;)
    • I'm also hoping to kick some unhealthy eating habits and find a way to get active during this challenge, replacing the shopping and junk eating with walking and jogging. I do not need to buy another dress, pair of jeans, skirt, etc. until I reach my first goal anyway.
  • You must actively pursue something -anything- that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you've always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it.
    • I got a Fitbit Flex for my birthday and plan to put it to work starting TODAY! I plan to walk the lake near where I'm staying, as well as get back to the gym at school when August rolls around. Monday nights also mean dance class which I have SO missed! 

Okay, here we go. I'll write more on this as we go along. 
Have you ever tried such a challenge? If so, how did it go? 
Any suggestions?! I'd love to know!


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