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!

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!!!

I Cheated Once… and Onto 7 Possessions…

July was a very busy month!!!  I meant to blog about my 7 clothes for the month of July… but I just never got to it!  Everyone thought this was going to be very challenging.  To be honest, it was easy!  I’m sure some people got sick of seeing me in the same outfit day after day… but it didn’t bother me so much.  In fact, it was easy and freeing.  I didn’t have to worry so much about what I was going to wear because I only had 7 choices to choose from… it was freeing. I didn’t have to think about shopping and what I wanted or needed… it was freeing.  Aside from sometimes recycling the same pair of jeans with coffee stain for 4 days in a row, it was easy… and it was freeing.  However, I did cheat one day!  I flew up to San Francisco for a dear friend’s wedding last Saturday… and I thought about wearing my one and only dress option to her wedding.  But after 10 minutes of contemplation, I decided that I should look nicer walking into Ritz Carlton for the reception, so I opted for a cleaner, better fitting dress for the occasion.  July was really easy… and most of all, freeing!

Now, I’m gearing up for the next challenge… 7 Possessions… This is really exciting for me!  One of my love language is gifts… I love gifting people.  Thus when I thought about giving things away to people who need them, I was really excited! The challenge is to give away 7 items per day… the catch is… I’m not giving away all junk to Goodwill or Salvation Army.  In fact, my goal is to give away usable things to people who need them.  That means, I need to seek out people who are truly in need of clothes, shoes, books, and whatever other things I have.  Now, the challenge is harder… I could just get rid of 217 old CDs, DVDs, and even VHS… but that’s not the point.  I’m seeking to give away items that other people can use… thus it can’t just be junk because my junk isn’t always someone else’s treasure.  Thankfully, my church is doing a shoe drive this week… and my first 7 items will be shoes to Solea ministry for the homeless in LA Skid Row.  I plan on taking this month week by week… I will clean out my closet and dresser one or two weeks.  I will clean out my shelves filled with books and trinkets another week.  I will clean out appliances and the kitchen another week.  At the end of August, I will have given away 217 items to someone else who needs them!  How exciting is that!!!  Oh, and Summer of 7 is still continuing throughout the country–so be sure to check out the blog hop!

August 1: Giving away 7 pairs of shoes to Solea, Love LA ministry to the homeless in LA Skid Row.

 

Only 7 Clothes for the Next 31 Days!

Yup… you read that right… Month of July will consist of 7 articles of clothes, 1 purse, 1 computer bag, & 3 pairs of shoes… yes… you read that right!  So there are a bunch of women (and some men) participating in Summer of 7 throughout the country!  Check out this blog hop as many chronicle their journey!  I also thought about doing the 7 things for 7 weeks rather than 7 months… but as I thought about them, a week to eat 7 items or wear 7 items of clothing didn’t seem like a big stretch for me… and I REALLY wanted to be S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D!!!  Besides, I think I only wear 7 articles of clothes per week already…  That’s why I decided to super challenge myself and go for the 7 month stretch…  And then today, I thought to myself–AM I CRAZY???  How am I going to wear only 7 items of clothing for the next 31 days???

But I decided that if Jen Hatmaker and bunch of other people can do it… I can do it too!!!  So here it goes.  I’ve thought long and hard about what I’m going to wear during the month of July… There are few things that are throwing me off-course:  4th of July Beach Trip, leading children’s ministry at a camp, pastoral staff planning retreat, a bachelorette party, and a wedding–all happening in the month of July… I thought about doing 7 clothes another month, and switching it out with Possessions this month… but once again, I found myself looking for an easy way out!  So… NO EASY WAY OUT FOR ME,  I decided!!!  Here it goes:

For the month of July, I will wear:  

  1. brown maxi dress
  2. pair of dark blue skinny jeans
  3. khaki shorts
  4. Inspi(RED) shirt
  5. blue top
  6. black tanktop
  7. purple tanktop
Accessories include:
  • Coach swingpack as my purse
  • Computer bag for work
  • flip-flops
  • pair of TOMS
  • Nude Sandals
  • My usual rings
  • one pair of earrings
7 clothes will NOT include underwear, sleepwear, and workout wear–because well… that’ just gross!  And I will NOT shop for any clothes or accessories in July.

Compared to Jen Hatmaker’s 7, I feel like a wimp because I’m trying to plan everything out for the whole month.. instead of just going for it and dealing with it!  She had speaking engagements, and she just showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt… I’m not that brave!  But I’m giving it my best shot!!!

At least I can go back to drinking coffee… and I’m sure God will do awesome things throughout the month of July as I simplify my life in clothing, just as He did this month!

How Will My Life Change After 7-Food Challenge?

So I have 2 more days left of 7-food challenge!  To recap, I have allowed myself 7 items of food to eat for the whole month of June… and I’ve allowed cooking condiments and few sauces.  I cheated 3 times:

1.  I was invited to my cousin’s house for a meal, and it was early in the month.  They didn’t know that I was doing 7 foods, so they made me my favorite meal–sashimi rice bowl and crab.  I couldn’t turn down such hospitality, and I hadn’t given them the heads up because I though we were going to go out to eat.  So ate yummy seafood!

2.  Staff Meeting Lunch was catered in.  It was one of our extended meetings… and although they knew about my 7 foods, they had forgotten what they were, and thought I could eat noodles… so Chinese noodles they were… It was going to be a long meeting day, and I was feeling starved… and knew I wouldn’t have access to food for several hours… so I gave in, and ate my portion.

3.  I went up to our church’s singles retreat for one day to connect with them.  None of the food that was served at the retreat site included any of my 7 foods… They even served spinach and coleslaw rather than regular lettuce.  I skipped breakfast in hopes that I could eat something for lunch… But once the menu became known, I gave in and ate a little at lunch and dinner.

Now that I’m at the end of the month and reflecting on my experience, below are some of my thoughts and decisions:

  • I spend a lot of money and time on food.  My monthly food budget is about $450-500.  I go out to eat fairly often especially since I use meal times to connect with people.  But when I go out to eat, I like to eat well…  This probably won’t stop… but there are ways to cut down.  For instance, I usually order a drink instead of water.  I don’t have to deprive myself of tea, coffee, or soda all the time… but I don’t have to order them every time.  So I will cut down and be mindful of what I order in restaurants.
  • I also spend a lot of money on groceries because I have to try everything new I see.  Once again, I don’t believe in going cold-turkey with anything, but I need to be more mindful of what I purchase, especially since a lot of it also goes to waste.  I would like to cut down my food budget… My new goal is $300-350/month.  Wish me luck!
  • If I ate out 2 times less, I could support another Compassion Child!  In the past month, several flier regarding sponsoring older kids through Compassion International caught my attention.  Statistics is that older kids (10+ years old) tend to be overlooked by new sponsors.  I think that’s the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  So I will eat out less, and put that budget towards supporting an older Compassion Child.
  • I waste so much produce because I can never finish a whole bunch of cilantro, green onions, etc… I already grow few herbs… but I’m gonna try growing more things on my balcony so I don’t waste so much!
  • I always see homeless people as I exit the freeway.  In the past, I used to carry McDonald’s gift certificates to give to them… but I decided more effective thing might be to carry granola bars and water in my car to give to those who need food on the street.  This is something that’s easy to do… and as I’ve been blessed with so much, especially in terms of food, I would like to bless others in small ways that I can.

So have I learned a lot in the last 28 days!  Food is something I never lack!  A simple dinner easily contains 15 ingredients!  There are many people who would just love a little portion of what I eat every day!  I’m challenged to be more mindful of how blessed I am… and learn to bless others!

I’m currently thinking of 300 kids that came to daily feeding scheme at a community center in a township in South Africa!  They start lining up 30 minutes prior to the door opens because this meal is often the only meal they have per day.  As you look at these sweet faces, and how could you not share what we’ve been richly blessed with others?