What Is Enough???

To change the world, we must change our country. To change our country, we must change our city. To change our city, we must change our community. To change our community, we must change the room. To change the room, we must change the table. To change the table, we must change the conversation. The greatest way to change the world is to change the conversation. The more world-changing conversations we have, the greater chance for the world to change.” -Jim Doggett, excerpt from More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger

2 years ago, I read a book that completely rocked my world… so much that I went on a 7-months of fast, and I chronicled my experience starting with this post. What was amazing to me throughout these 7-months was that the less options I had, the easier my life was! For example, knowing that I could only wear 7 items of clothing saved me so much time from standing in front of my closet, trying to decide what would be the most fashionable, most sensible, most flattering outfit to wear. And it hit me that my life was easier when I had less… However, living in Los Angeles, bombarded by fashion, brand names… and being around people who had nice things to wear, brand name purses and shoes… it all influenced me to want more and better things! It’s really not other people’s fault. I’m just not strong enough to resist some of those things. I may not be a big shopper, but I still love my purses and shoes. It was the same for food, technology, etc.

more or lessWell, just last week, I finished a book called More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger, and it rocked my world again! Jeff reminded me that “my enough could mean more for someone else who has less.”  What a concept!!! I know, it’s not rocket-science… but it seriously rocked my world because I was reminded how excessive my life is. I may not live in a mansion nor even a house.. yes, I still live in the same apartment I’ve been for the past 10 years… I may not spend lots of money on shopping because I really hate going to the mall… but I still have more than what I need. My life is not inconvenienced in any way… and let’s face it–all my problems are really first world problems–like wanting a new iPad because mine is three years old and the home button sticks!

The good life is not found in luxury. Rather it’s found in the life that enhances the life of another human being.

Generosity is not about giving money. Generosity is a lifestyle that seeks to understand the needs of others in strives to end that suffering. True generosity is a choice. Generosity seeks to live with less so others can have more. (both excerpts from More or Less)

Sure, I try to do my share of helping others. I am passionate about sponsoring kids through Compassion International and World Vision. I try to help people that I see in need such as homeless that surrounds this city that I live in. If I have food or even leftovers, I’m usually in the habit of giving it away to them. However, I usually give out of excess that I have and because it’s convenient for me to give. I don’t think about what’s actually enough for me… and I haven’t made real conscious to live on less so I could do more for others. That’s what really messed me up!

I won’t lie… this isn’t as easy as it sounds. As I decided to sponsor one more child this past week, I thought to myself “I could just eat out once or twice less per month.” And then I started to think about where I go out to eat. I really do enjoy trying out new restaurants and fine dining. And I sure enjoy my sushi, oysters, and crab. I thought about giving up my favorite dining experience, and I immediately started to feel sad… How ridiculous that I’m getting sad about eating less sushi or seafood when I could be feeding a child for a whole month? It’s an internal struggle…

So… I’ve decided that some things really need to change! I need to do something to make conscious decision to determine what is ENOUGH for me! I need to make conscious decision to understand and meet the needs of others to help end their suffering. It’s a choice!

As I’m still processing all this… I took my first step: I decided that I could surely sponsor another child overseas. That’s why I took one more child through World Vision last week. I’m also starting to clean out my life–to declutter, to donate what I don’t need… and I’ve been thinking through “an enough experiment” that I want to do… I don’t know yet, but stay tuned. As soon as I get that figured out, I shall be sharing! That way, other people can keep me accountable, and I can share my experience and how God has worked in my life.

But for now… go read this book… or at least ask yourself “WHAT IS ENOUGH?” for your life!

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Month Five: Waste

Yup… I made it… so far, anyway!

Month 4 of Media fast wasn’t so bad… what I missed the most was listening to music… but I got through it!  I actually enjoyed not watching so much tv, I know that sounds weird coming from me!  And I realized that I could save so much time by turning off the TV and limiting my time on the computer!  So definitely another lesson learned.

Now, I’m in Month Five:  Waste!  This is where I develop 7 habits for a greener life.  In one hand, this is right up my alley! I caught onto recycling pretty fast… and this is already part of my life.  I know I could do better… but I’ve been very aware of how much we waste in the first world… I think I’ve become more mindful after I’ve visited countries such as Bolivia, Dominican Republic, and South Africa.  Thus, looking for 7 new habits is a big challenge for me… but here it goes!

  1. More gardening:  yes… I will plant more herbs and vegetables in my patio garden for consumption.  I’m just waiting for this crazy LA heat to die down before I even attempt to go out there to do some manual labor.
  2. Recycling:  I’m already pretty good about recycling paper products, bottles, & cans… but I know I can do more… My challenge for this month is to recycle EVERYTHING that I can!  I once read about a family of four who only creates one 13-gallon bag of trash per week!  What the???  I think I average 3 of those per week!  So I’m going to attempt to recycle even more!
  3. Conserving energy & water:  I live in an apartment and my water is paid for… so I’m not as concerned about conserving water… I will often turn on the shower, and start coffee or tend to some other things before actually hopping in.  I will be more mindful of conserving water (such as not having the water running while brushing my teeth and stuff) and energy by turning off lights when I’m not in the room (another bad habit of mine).
  4. Eating everything I have in the fridge!!!  Unfortunately, I waste a lot of food!!!!  This is something I struggle with… because I feel bad.  But it’s a habit that I can’t seem to break.  A lot of my produce and other perishable goods end up in the trashcan because I just can’t seem to finish I have in the fridge before they go bad.  For one, I need to be more mindful of what and how much I’m buying.  And I also need to cook more so they don’t go to waste!  Oh, and also eat my leftovers!!!
  5. Buying only local for produce:  This is going to be a challenge.  I love going to farmer’s market… but I rarely make it out because parking and time are inconvenient or for other reasons… But there’s always a time for new challenge.  Farmer’s market–here I come!
  6. Less driving!  yup, I said it!  less driving… how is that possible when half of my life is spent in my car?  Well, for one, I’m going to try to work from home on days I don’t have meetings or have to be in the office.  I’m going to walk to run errands that’s within walking distance.  I know, this makes me sound really lazy… I admit to driving to the gym that’s 2 blocks away!  😦
  7. Buy eco-friendly products and making my own cleaning products!  This should be fun!!!

So here it is!!! Month of October of going green!  Love it!

Lover of My Soul…

Today was a very looooooong day (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately…).

It doesn’t help that I haven’t been sleeping well for the past few weeks… and I also just feel like I fully haven’t been myself physically, mentally, and emotionally… Perhaps I am stressed…  Well, anyhow, I was so tired today that I got lost driving from our main church campus to the new campus… And then I missed the freeway to get home TWICE after my 12-hour day.  Oh man… Yeah, I’m kind of a mess… geeeeesh…

As I was sitting half-brain dead during my last meeting tonight, we had a time of worship.  Usually, I can pretty much sing most of the songs on pilot-mode.  Our worship pastor decided to end the evening with “Jesus, Lover of my soul…” Initially, the words would just flow right out of my mouth without much thought… but the third time we repeated the song, the words all of a sudden registered in my half-dead brain… and I found myself smiling through these words: “Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go. My Saviour, my closest friend, I will worship you until the very end.”  And as we repeated the words over and over again, I found myself smiling bigger and bigger (I probably looked pretty dorky at this point).

I was reminded that Jesus is indeed the lover of my soul…  He is the One that I need…  He is the One who made me and formed me… He is the One who knows me inside and out…  He is the One that I love and worship…  and those thoughts brought much needed smile to my face tonight… (on a side note, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of my blogs this month has been about music and lyrics–since I’ve been on media-fast, lyrics have made a bigger impact… God is so cool that way!)

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Jesus, I will never let you go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
You’ve set my feet upon the Rock, and now i know

I love you, I need you,
Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go
My Saviour, my closest friend,
I will worship you until the very end

7 more days… and I can…

I started making a list (in no particular order):

  • McCoy Tyner
  • Thelonious Monk
  • U2
  • Miles Davis
  • Bon Jovi
  • Duran Duran
  • John Coltrane
  • Marcela Gandara
  • Kenny Burrell
  • John Legend
  • Gungor
  • Ottis Redding
  • mixed in with some 80’s…

The above list is just a few artists that I’ve been craving for the last few weeks… and that I plan on listening to as soon as my Media fast is over.  People have been asking me how I’ve been doing during this media fast… And for the most part, I’m doing fairly well… Yes, I miss watching tv, especially tonight because the Emmy’s are on… and I have no idea what’s going.  Boo… and I miss vegging out in front of the television on Sunday evenings because that’s what I usually do after a long day at church.  It’s so quiet right now…  Today, I came home and took a nap… and it’s only 7 pm… hmmm, what am I gonna do for another 4-5 hours until I go back to sleep?  Because frankly, I really don’t want to work tonight…

I’ve had to pass up on about 4 movie screening passes this month so far… I was sad, but I’ll live…  but what I really, really miss is listening to music… Music soothes my soul, calms my heart, and usually helps me express my thoughts that I can’t express in words.  Two days ago, I walked into Noah’s Bagels and they were playing “Reflex” by Duran Duran and then “Let’s hear it for the boys” by Denise Williams (it must have been an 80’s station) and I just got so excited (I may have looked pretty pathetic as I was mouthing along the lyrics).

Today at church, I met a potential volunteer who is an amateur musician and we started talking about great live venues around LA, and music we enjoy… right now, I’m just playing the tunes in my head… and feeling really, really, really bummed that I can’t listen to them…  I may be looking pretty pathetic right now too… So, how’s my media fast going?  It’s going great because I’ve been challenged to use my time to be more productive, but I’m definitely feeling it… So 7 more days… and I can listen to the above artists and more!!!  Perhaps I’ll do some work tonight afterall… (sigh…)

when there is no music, you make your own…

No, that’s not a metaphor for anything!!!  Don’t read too much into things…

Since my media fast began 11 days ago, I knew I’d miss the sound of the television and music… but I didn’t realize just how much… okay, TV–I’ve actually been okay without… but I really, really, really miss listening to music!  I miss listening to music when I’m driving.  I miss listening to music when I’m working.

This may sound odd, but nothing moves me more than music.  I’ve probably cried more tears listening to music than I have watching a movie…  I was so desperate yesterday that I actually played the piano that I hadn’t touched in about a year!  (But then I realized it was so out of tune that I just gave up).  And the last few days, I’ve just been singing songs to myself like a lunatic in the car!  But the last two days, for some odd reason, God’s been putting this beautiful song in my heart… and of all songs, it’s a song in español!  Not only does this song have a beautiful melody, but also beautiful lyrics… and it really spoke to my heart today (and today was a very, very looooong day with very looooooong meetings)!

ANTES de TI

Antes de ti, no había razón no había nada sin ti.
No había canción, en mi corazón no había nada en mi.
Después de tanto buscarlo lo hallé
Mi corazón encontró ese lugar.

Eres todo lo que quiero, luz a mi alma, todo lo que necesito, llenas mi espacio,

eres mi vida, mi todo, eres lo que quiero para mi y en ti encontré la razón de mi existir.
Antes de ti, un vacío viví, no había nada en mi.
Sin ilusión, en mi corazón no había nada sin ti.
Después de tanto buscarlo lo hallé
Mi corazón encontró ese lugar.

Eres mi vida, eres mi todo, eres mi anhelo, la razón de mi existir

———

Before You (it doesn’t sound as beautiful in inglés… oh, and my spanish isn’t that fluent…i had some help!)

Before you, there was no reason, there was nothing without you.
There was no song, in my heart, there was nothing in me.
After much searching I found
My heart found this place.

You’re all that I want, light to my soul, everything that I need, You fill my space,

You’re my life, my all, you are what you want for me, and you are the reason for me to exist.

Before you, there was a void lived, there was nothing in me.
Without hope, in my heart there was nothing without you.
After much searching I found
My heart found this place.

You are my life, you’re my everything, you are my desire, the reason why I exist.

THANK YOU JESUS FOR BEING MY EVERYTHING…

AND GIVING ME A REASON TO LIVE!

Time Stands Still Without Noise…

Yipee!  Labor Day… My plan for today was to do NOTHING!!!

If it was last week, NOTHING would have meant watching TV or movies in bed.. roll out of bed around 1 or 2 pm, eat lunch, check email, fb, twitter, and instagram, watch more TV, and lounge around… and it would have been 6 pm before I know it!

With my current month of 7 challenge on media… I’m not turning on tv nor music… and I have limited computer/iPhone/iPad usage.  The only things that are looming over me are cleaning and work-related things… otherwise, I have nothing to fill my time with today (but today is suppose to be do-nothing day).  I’ve been sitting in the living room with my cup of coffee, read few devotions and blogs that are work/ministry related, and it’s only 11:30 am… barely lunch time!  Wow, time is going by real slow…

I’m reminded how much of my time is occupied by noise.  Every day seems to go by so fast and crazy because I’m constantly surrounded by noise… but when I’m sitting in silence… time truly stands still… Maybe this is a good reminder that I need to carve out more silence in my life!  It’s only day 3, and it’s already been pretty challenging…

by the way, this time standing still during media fast might not apply if you have a noisy family… but for me, a single gal without any kids or pets around, makes for a very quiet environment!  So…. I think I’ll go make myself some lunch now… and I’m sure it’ll only be 12 noon by the time I’m finished eating.

It’s So Quiet In Here…

August has come and gone… and to be honest, I have no idea where that time went!  It started out sane… and then it got crazy!!!  With our church’s new multi-site launching in about a month, my brain, time, and energy has been drained out of my being… It’s exciting, but it’s been CRAZY!!!

Well, this past week, 2 people have asked me “so has this 7 thing changed your lifestyle at all?  or did you just binge after your fasting was up?”  And my answer was “it definitely has changed my life!”  Here is how:

1.  Since 7 Foods, my food budget has hit its all time low.  During the month of August, I came under $300 on food… that’s ALL TIME LOW for me!!!

2.  I’ve started giving out granola bars to homeless people on the street when I come across them.  It’s not much, but I’m doing what I can to share Jesus’ love with them.

3.  I’m more mindful about going out to eat just because I’m too lazy to cook.  In fact, I’m currently trying to eat everything I have in my pantry and fridge before I go food shopping again… And I have a lot of stuff to eat through!

4.  I still haven’t shopped for clothes in over 2 months… I’ve only bought 2 accessories this month… I just couldn’t resist, but I had to get a new purse that was on 65% sale… and a laptop bag that was on 70% sale!  (I know, I’m weak…)  but I have not missed shopping AT ALL!!!

5.  I’ve been continually cleaning out my apartment to give things away.  Due to my busyness this month, I’m a bit behind on giving away 217 things during the month of August… but I have committed to giving away 217 items, and I will keep that promise as I go into September.

So… now it’s the month of September (it’s 12:34 am on 9/1).  “What’s your  next 7 things?” has been the big question… And I have to admit that this is the hardest one so far: it’s MEDIA!!!  What’s so hard about it?  Well, I’m personally surrounded by media… and since I was a latch-key kid in elementary school, the first thing I did when I came home was turn on the TV for background noise… I would fall asleep to either TV or Radio in high school… I’m on my computer majority of my days during the week…  Between my iPhone and iPad, I’m rarely unplugged.  My life is surrounded by media!!!  There’s a part of me that wishes to banish myself from all things media… but reality is, I need to be on email and check my email periodically for work.  And realistically, I do a lot of work via social media (yup, weekly blogging and fb is one of my current roles)… thus it’s not realistic to be completely unplugged… but since part of this experiment is to simplify my life but also do something that would help me change the way I live my life now, this is what I’m committing to:

1.  NO TV!!!  (i have officially put the remote in a cabinet so I won’t even be tempted.)

2.  NO RADIO in the car… I often like to listen to music and sing along… none of that this month!

3.  NO MOVIES!  (I often get movie screening invitations, and that’s how I usually watch movies… I already have 2 tickets for this month… Guess I’ll be giving those away!)

4.  NO SPOTIFY, NO YOUTUBE, NO HULU, NO AMAZON INSTANT MOVIES–so NO entertainment on computers!!!

5.  NO GAMES!!!

6.  NO iPhone nor iPad apps unless it’s work or productivity related such as banking, taking notes, etc… A lot of discernment needed here!

7.  LIMITED Social Networking:  I say limited because I fb message as much as I email re: work, ministry, network for work purposes… once again, a lot of discernment is needed here… as my goal is not to just sit read every fb and twitter post, but to use it only for productivity.

So when I re-read my 7 media fast above, one thing screams to me:  NO NOISE!!!  I love background noise.. I just love noise! But with giving up all these things above, I’m sensing that it’s going to be super quiet around here!  God, help me!!!