Thursday, September 1, 2016

Month 7 is here...

At work a few weeks ago, a friend of mine said, "Wow, it feels like you've been doing 7 for like, a year!"'re telling me.

But here we are, the finish line in sight. Something that didn't seem possible after my millionth scrambled egg in March. If you've read along the last 6 months (most likely questioning our sanity at many points), then you know it's been quite the journey. And although it's had its challenges, each fast has gotten easier and easier.

With every passing month, as God has gotten ahold of me and convicted my heart, whatever we're supposed to give up just doesn't seem like as big of a deal. My attitude has shifted from "I can't do it, why did I ever agree to this?" to "Bring it on. Try to break me, 7."

My priorities have changed. And the way I look at possessions and people's opinions of me have totally shifted. God has knocked down some huge walls in my heart and showed up in big ways as a result of our prayer and making space for Him. Yet both Emily and I are super hesitant about today. You're probably wondering why since it seems we should be 7 pros at this point.

It's because this month is intangible. We're not eating 7 foods, wearing 7 outfits or spending money at 7 places. We're simply pausing.

At 7 different points throughout the day choosing to stop whatever we're doing. Pray. And invite God into our circumstances. Interceding for ourselves and others, thanking Him for who He is and what He has blessed us with, asking that He would weed out any unforgiveness or bitterness in our hearts, and praying for His blessing, guidance and discernment in everything we say and do.

Midnight. When I wake up. Mid-morning. Noon. Mid-afternoon. Dusk. Nighttime.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about taking all this time to intentionally talk to and commune with God. It's something I know I need to do more often anyways. What's making me nervous is my schedule, the busyness of life, and the fear that I'll totally blank and miss, like, 4 pauses in a row. I tend to go, go, go with little time to rest. And when I do rest, I struggle to not let the remainder of my to-do-list interfere with that time.

So I've set alarms and have my Bible handy. Because slowing down is hard and I need all the help I can get. Wish me luck.

- Morgan

p.s. Enjoying some morning work and Day 1 prayer time with my friend here. She says I should do a month 8 where I fast from my love of cats. So there's that.


Friday, August 19, 2016

So you're saying it's almost over...?

Hi there.

If you're wondering why it's been so quiet on the 7ish blog it's because we don't have a whole lot to say.

Month Six is about spending money in only 7 places.

We didn't even blink.

It was a challenge to come up with 7 places I actually needed to spend my money.

We didn't even question why until we were eating dinner together earlier this week (chicken and sweet potatoes, wouldn't you know). This wasn't such a challenge because - it's month SIX people. We've been saying 'NO' for siiiiiix months, and apparently it's rubbed off on us. I confessed to Morgan that even though it was my turn to post an update, I had nothing to say. So she suggested I tell you all why that is, and the changes we've seen because of these last six months.

1. We haven't touched eggs since March. We can't stand the smell of them. Luckily, you can't smell eggs in cake.

2. I find myself wearing the same dress 2-3 times a week. I find that I don't care if you care.

3. Considering the above, every time I look at my closet I think it could be cut in half and I'd still have too many cardigans

4. Some of you have asked if I saw that thing on Facebook - I haven't. I haven't talked myself into re-installing the app on my phone. Turns out I like all of you a lot more when I don't have to read your opinion on the Presidential Candidates. I might stay off Facebook until well after the election. Maybe forever.

5. Even though I thought the month of Waste would be wasted on me, I found myself arguing with the girl at the drive thru window about upgrading my meal. I calmly explained to her that I did not need two sides and a bigger drink. She gave me a funny look.

Which brings us to 6: I've stopped buying clothes, I've stopped wasting fresh food, I've stopped checking Facebook, and if you ask me for anything in my house you can have it... except for the dog. My point being: this is working, I'm not going back and I have nothing else to report.

- Emily 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Confession Time

I feel simultaneously triumphant and completely ridiculous about my little recycling excursion earlier this afternoon. But more on that in a minute.

Let's do a little "wasting month" recap first, shall we?

5 months ago, I looked ahead at these 7 fasts and thought "Oh, month 5 will be the easiest, no doubt." I've grown up in a home where we recycled each week. And I like to think of myself as a person already very eco-conscious and not prone to wasting. Yes, college and the first year post-college has made it difficult to recycle (it's not like the truck comes to the second floor of my apartment building). But I thought, no big deal, it'll take a little more effort to recycle this month. But I already rock at everything else. Smooth sailing, right?

Consider this me officially eating my confidence-laden words. Emily, you're not alone my friend.

Apparently I cannot help but take 2 paper towels every. single. time. I wash my hands. No matter how many times I coach myself beforehand. It's like an automatic compulsion. Why? I wish I knew.

Apparently it is completely necessary that I have the TV on, but muted, while I'm 100% focused on something else. Because why not waste the electricity for absolutely no good reason.

And apparently I'm a little more hesitant about the whole recycling thing when it means half my sink is almost always taken up with empty cans, bottles, and plastic containers while they dry.

I have no problem using reusable grocery bags, though. So I got that going for me.

But really, so much of this month has been harder than expected. And more mentally taxing than anticipated. I learned very quickly that as much as my eco-friendly intentions had me believing I was the queen of not wasting, I had been letting things like water and electricity go completely unchecked. Overlooking them as there's nothing tangibly being thrown away.

God has convicted me, though, of wasting these luxuries that a huge percentage of the world doesn't have access to. Clean running water. Light with the flip of a switch. Easy access to food. God has blessed me with so much, and who am I to just throw away these gifts like they mean nothing? Who am I to carelessly waste and pollute the earth with things that could easily be recycled and transformed into something else?

So today I loaded the car with all my glass, plastic, paper, and cardboard and set out. After 30 minutes of searching for these fabled, 24-hour recycling outlets around town, and only finding a wannabe bin that I managed to cram most of my plastic into, I finally stumbled upon the holy grail of recycling. There were 8 different categories and each one was the size of a dumpster. Only to come home and see another one of these approximately 0.2 miles from my apartment.

Awesome. You live and learn.

Guess I have no excuse now to stop recycling even after month 5. But what's an extra trip every other week to throw away a few things? If it means I'm being a good steward of the resources God has given me, then that's worth it in my books.

- Morgan

p.s. pretty sure the guy who saw me take this picture thought I was certifiably nuts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Month number five here we go...

And I already hate it.

We made a long list of lofty things that we would be putting into practice this month. They were great things like not using paper towels, sorting plastic and paper, using less water, not using plastic silverware, preserving electricity, taking reusable bags to Walmart and monitoring food waste.

So far I've put forth just about -12% effort. This is officially the worst month ever. 
- I don't like recycling, pretty sure it's a scam.
- Paper towels are scientifically more sanitary than cloth rags or towels.
- There is no real silverware at work.
- Fine, I'll turn off the lights.
- I have like 2 reusable bags, and Garrett is doing the grocery shopping this week anyway. No chance of that happening.

So there's really just one thing I can get behind here: food and water waste.

I love you Morgan, I'm sorry.

When I first read this chapter of the book the topic of food waste was what stuck out to me most. We are terrible at this - if you ask my husband, I'm just really terrible at this. Fresh food goes to waste a lot around here. Also, I leave cups half full of water all over the house like I'm that little girl from the movie Signs.

This is the internet, so of course I'm going to be honest: reducing my food and water waste are going to be my main goals this month.

It's okay, you can hate me. Just try to keep in mind that a few months ago I was surviving on sweet potatoes and greek yogurt. 

All of that being said, this week we're eating out of the pantry in order to prove a point - that we have way more food than we think we do. So there's still things being learned.

Bear with me, Morgan's inspiration blog is coming soon.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

No really, I'm listening now.

Yesterday, I actually forgot that it was the last day of month 4.

True story.

Interesting, I thought. Considering I was counting down the days during month 2 until I could wear a different shirt. And in month 1, just the thought of coffee at the finish line was enough to get me through each day.

Yet here we are at the month I had absolutely been dreading the most, and I forgot the 28th marked the end of my media fast.

On day 1... and day 2 and day 3... I couldn't believe how slow time was passing. For about a week, I was in detox mode from all the over-stimuli I was used to. Instincts and old habits kicked in countless times as I reached for the radio the second I got in the car, or walked towards the TV minutes after getting home. In selfish moments, I responded with anger and audible frustration to God that I couldn't use outside noise to drown what I didn't want to think about.

But in moments of growth, the quiet was uncomfortable, yes - but so freeing, I discovered. The absence of excess sound gradually became the norm. It didn't take long to realize that silence creates this beautiful mental, emotional, and spiritual awareness that allows you to experience life more fully...

Reading on my deck one evening, and looking up to see the most breathtaking shades of blue painted across the sky. Going on a bike ride rather than watching Netflix, and stopping at the sight of these unique little black and red birds I had never seen the likes of before. Opening the window and just sitting, listening to the myriad of almost imperceptible noises coming in from outside. Enjoying car rides filled with prayer and giving thanks for things I might not have otherwise taken the time to be grateful for.

The silence became a calming, reassuring constant in the middle of my busy life. No matter what the day brought, I knew my quiet car and home would bring solace. And even if that meant reflecting on and thinking about things I would rather avoid, when I chose not to ignore them, it always proved worthwhile.

If you're a believer, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of wanting to avoid God at times, because you feel guilty coming to Him after messing up once again. Yet part of you feels just as guilty for ignoring Him, and this vicious cycle of shame and even more guilt ensues.

And you're miserable.

I loved this month because I didn't have an excuse to ignore Him. Even when I felt unworthy of His love and presence, I had no choice but to turn to Him. Because there was no other distraction luring me into denial. The silence taught me that He is always there, no matter what, to take on everything that I am, everything I've done, and everything I'm concerned about. My mess doesn't scare Him away.

Your mess doesn't scare Him away.

Some no-noise, no-screen time, even if just for a few minutes, I think is absolutely vital to our daily wellbeing. Give it a try. Unplug for a while. You may be surprised how loud God becomes, and how much love and grace He is waiting to lavish on you.

- Morgan

P.s. Day 29 update: enjoyed another quiet car ride of my own accord.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Pictures I Didn't Take

If you haven't heard, my friend Morgan and I are doing this crazy life experiment where we fast from seven different things for seven months. It's been challenging, we've had to admit some difficult things about what we eat, what we wear and what we give away. 

Oddly enough the month away from media landed in June. 

At first I was just taking pictures and not immediately posting them to social media. That felt like enough of a challenge in itself. 

But the more time I spent away from my phone the fewer and fewer pictures I took. Until I found myself making the conscious choice to put my phone away completely so that I could enjoy the moment. 

I do not have a picture of our yard full of kids on the last day of school. 

I don't have a picture of our Ft. Wayne boys playing cards at our kitchen table with Nathan. 

I don't have a picture of the Squad trip to Menards or late nights at Cracker Barrel

I have not a single picture of the view from my hammock at 4 am in Shea's backyard. 

Not junk food night, not the vanilla soy latte I bought or a single #ootd. 

I don't have a picture of sorting through my moms basement together or watching home videos and eating pizza. I don't have a picture of the circus that is Luke and Kenna together  or my Sunday morning walk with Hattie. 

I don't have a picture of Scott's birthday dinner, the Father's Day service on the square or Jimmy's hair at the LeVault cookout. 

I don't have a picture of the moment right before my Aunt and Uncle saw Bethany in her wedding dress, or Kelsey's face when it was time to give her sister away. 

I don't even have a two year anniversary snapshot. 

My friend Wally went to be with Jesus today. 

This past Christmas Eve we invited Wally to our house for pie. He sat in the middle of our tiny house crammed full of our family and told us stories about Mt. Pulaski and when he was in the Navy and of course complimented me on my apple pie. It's my favorite picture of Wally. 

But it's not on Instagram, The Cloud or my camera roll. I remember realizing at the end of the night after everyone had left that we hadn't taken a picture of Wally. I was so upset. Maybe today more than ever I wish we had a snapshot of that moment, but I know it's one I won't forget. 

This month has made me mindful of the time we spend with the ones we love and the images that no photographer could capture. 

I highly recommend putting your phone down so you don't miss it. 

With Love, 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I'm Listening.

Hello, Month 4. I've been dreading you.

When I first read the list of things we would be fasting from during 7, I had a visceral reaction to this one: Media. And it took me off guard. So instead of thinking about it too intently, or considering why I responded so strongly, I decided to ignore month 4 and deal with it when the day came.

Well folks, it's here.

We're not getting rid of all media (these words aren't magically typing themselves). Emily is giving up 7 specific outlets, and I am limiting my media usage to 7 hours or less a week. This does not include tools you need on a daily basis for your job, to complete your work, to pay your bills, etc. The goal is to weed out extra and unnecessary media that bombards us every day.

And I know what you're thinking - shocker, the 20-something Millennial is freaking out because she can't check Instagram all month. Oh how I wish it was that simple. As I've been gearing up for this transition and really thinking on why it is I have such anxiety about parting with certain media, some things have become apparent.

I actually don't care about Instagram that much. Or Snapchat. Or Facebook. Or Pinterest. Yes, I check at least a few of these on a daily basis, but often out of boredom or procrastination.

My battle is with television and radio. Hands down. I use their noise daily to drown out what I don't want to think about, deal with, or hear. When I would rather not dwell on whatever current hurt or pain is in my life, I turn on the TV. When I know there's some tough things I need to pray and talk to God about while driving, many times I turn up the music and choose not to deal with them. And when the Lord is convicting me of poor decisions I've made, often my first response is to drown out His voice with whatever drama is on ABC that night.

Time and time again I choose to live in denial and embrace a false sense of self-sufficiency, rather than have a tough, gut wrenchingly honest conversation with God. I seem to always forget that even though those talks with Him can be hard - they lead to freedom.

And quite honestly, I'm sick of it. I'm sick of media being my first response. I'm sick of prayer being an afterthought. I'm over how full my mind has become with all the media and stimuli the world tries to shove inside it.

I'm scared for this month, but I'm ready for some quiet. Some peace and genuine listening. I'm ready to stop running away from God and what He wants me to hear, learn, and do in His Kingdom. How fitting the verse we read at small group tonight: "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;" James 1:19 ESV (emphasis mine).

It's definitely been a quiet day with all the hearing I've been forced to do. Not sure I utilized the extra, rather uncomfortable nothingness like I could have - but being engulfed in so much silence, and choosing to sit there anyways, was a start.

This month is the main reason I'm doing 7. I'm in such unchartered waters it's not even funny, so no guarantees about what's to come out of my mouth these next 28 days. All I know is I'm scared. And so excited to meet the person who emerges on the other end.

- Morgan

P.s. For someone who lives by a strict "no notification ever left on my home screen" type of policy, this is driving me bonkers.