Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why wait?

We had an appointment with our financial adviser, Michael Burton, the other day. He works for MMA and is free... but also a dear friend of ours.

I remember the first time I walked into his office. It was Jeremy's idea and I was mortified. I felt like I was walking in totally nude as we laid bare our finances before his scrutiny :) It ends up that God has called him to his role in finances and he has not been our judge or enemy. But Im sure you know the feeling. I know you feel the heat rise and the heart rate increase when you think of someone looking at EVERY penny you spend wondering at all the things you might suggest cutting out. Well, thats not what he does. He has helped us get rid of all of our debt (except our mortgage, of course). And continue to live debt free... with good sound advice on purchases (when we seek his council, which we do often) and life insurance policies, living trusts, etc. AND, MMA is a faith-based organization so its all with Godly stewardship in mind. We still get to eat out, buy things, take trips, watch movies... etc. :)

Anyway, we had a meeting with him and shared our resolution for the year, which, funny enough, didn't save us any money this month. We still ran out. Of course... I did go to New York. ANYWAY (focus, Marcy)... I would like braces. We would like a repaired fence. I "need" a sewing machine... so many "things." We happen to have a source of set-aside money that we can pull from and periodically we ask for it...

During this visit, Michael kept asking... "Is that something you can save up for?" SILENCE. "Well, yeah, I guess we could!" Save up for things? Who does that anymore? (I know Allison, you guys are GREAT at it!).

We live in such a culture of immediate gratification. If I want something, I go buy it. And then I buy something extra just because I can. There's no waiting. No delay. Our national mentality (even in goverment) seems to be "Why save for what you can buy with credit today?" I hadn't even considered that as being part of my FAMILY culture. We don't have debt. We don't charge things. We don't finance things (except our house). But we do happen to dip into savings quite a bit... Jeremy's Masters program, my continued education classes, small road trips...

This has really got me thinking. The best things in life are the things you have to wait for: a spouse, children, a much needed vacation, fruits fresh off the tree in their seasons... some things can't be rushed.

My last blog was on the blessing we might lose when we meet our own needs. This one is on the blessings we lose when we wont wait for them from God's hand. Really, I've lived 29 years with these teeth. Whats another year of saving up for braces? Had I rushed out and bought a new sewing machine... I wouldn't have the blessing of the one loaned to me (that I get to give some life to for its owner :) And can I TRULY appreciate something if it took little or no effort to get it? I don't think so. I have a new appreciation for paper (read the last blog). I have a new appreciation for fireplace keys, sewing machines, dressers, my community.

Proverbs 8:34
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
Isaiah 30:18
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Isaiah 64:4
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

We will begin saving for the things (even used ones) that we want/need. Greater, we will be waiting on the Lord to meet those needs and desires as He pleases! May we all learn the patience that leads to His blessing :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Paper Blessing!

Normally "paper blessings" might imply something flimsy, semi-transparent, or light-weight. Not today.

I made a request on Freecycle and the LivingHebrews135 facebook group for computer paper. Scrap, half used, or extra. Not something that would cost or be unethical (i.e. I dont want your work paper if you have to steal it from work :) Just your excess.

Though I was immediately met with an obstacle to my request... it caused me to really think about what is "okay" to buy new and what isn't. Before I finished deciding, the offers were coming in.

Two separate women quickly responded to my requests... full of encouragement and appreciation for our resolution. Both had paper that was excess and both felt that Freecycle was exactly the place to make such a request (I asked their opinions).

Well, the first woman ended up being someone with whom I'd shared some of our baby things. When it was SHE who showed up at my door... I was blessed all over again. I can only imagine how good it felt for her to RETURN a favor... and for me to be the recipient of what she now had to offer. I took note of God's detail.

The next women owns Secondhand Rose. This is a thrift store that opened last summer on Shaw and Armstrong. Maybe that sounds WAY out there... but its really not. She has a great little store... but the "catch" is that a portion of her profits goes to military families. She has a heart for helping people and often gives things from her store to people on freecycle asking for it. She embroiders, sews, makes beautiful dolls and baby things... as well as sells second hand items. She'd found a big box of 8 1/2 by 14 paper on the side of the road... no one has wanted to buy it from her store and she saw my request. I went to her store to get paper and left with a total blessing. Visit her store if you can! You don't just buy used, but you help the families of our soldiers when you do!

Then today a dear woman from church asked if I was still needing paper. I said "sure!" She brought me two brand new reams that she had extra of... and said, "my husband mentioned you might have some legal sized paper... thats what he uses if you don't need it." Well, PRAISE THE LORD! Now I dont have to cut the last couple inches off... I get to give it to someone who needs it AND in return get more 8 1/2 by 11 paper!

Ya know, on any other day or year I would have run to walmart and just bought some paper. I would have missed all of these blessings... a favor returned, a conversation with a servant, and the opportunity to give what I have. I certainly didn't expect paper to be so rewarding!

This is all causing me to wonder... how many times has my need for immediate gratification of a need robbed God of a blessing for me? How many wonderful people have I missed meeting? Or ministries have I missed contributing to? Or robbed others of blessings? Or myself been robbed? I hope that the end of this year will find me a more patient person for the things I think I need. And in return, may I become a less hurried and more intentional person.

Wouldnt it be so cool if life wasn't actually about the end goal? But instead about the journey of getting to it? Hmmmm :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Moochers :)

I have noticed an interesting phenomena over the last 20 days of our resolution.

First thing: I often feel the need to explain that I'm not just taking from the community, but that I'm also giving. Some people respond with thrill when we describe our goal... some even feeling inspired to join us in some form or another. Others seem to have a... "so you're gonna mooch on society" type attitude. This has been rare but not absent.

Second thing: I often noticed others feel the need to defend their own use of "freecyle" or the idea of re-using other people's items. Now, I KNOW that I am not standing in judgment of them so its not my subtle attitude causing them to give me an explanation.

These two things have caused me a lot of pondering :) Why would we feel... embarrassed? defensive? judged? for choosing to live within a community that shares its excess??? This makes me sad. I don't have the answers now. I can imagine that the few people in this world who have taken advantage of the generosity of others has given ALL recyclers fear of being viewed as the same. This is unfortunate.

Acts 2:45-47 says, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

What an awesome vision for this life of living on excess! THIS is my vision... not to spend as little money as possible taking from others... but to support ALL who are in need... and to be supported. There was no shame in this. Only joy.

May we each find the joy as we are blessed with the "extra" others give as well as the joy found in giving our "extra" to others. Give to everyone who has a need, no matter how big or small, and see how God meets your OWN needs... sometimes through others, sometimes through sheer miracles, sometimes through freecyle :)

I will end on this note. I will not defend our choice by listing all of the things I have given away... as if to justify my asking for things I am in need of. Just as I will not ask for a list of donations from a brother or sister in need of whom I am giving my things. In a world SO focused on self-interests and self-gain, we will certainly come across people who just don't understand. May we seek only to please our Lord and be justified before Him as we make decisions based on prayer and Scripture in an effort to live Spirit-filled lives. Go, therefore, give and receive! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and Me

This project of living on used things seems more appropriate in light of the situation in Haiti. For those of you who don't know, my husband and I were down there in July with one of three mission teams our church sent. The three teams combined helped build an orphanage, ran a music and fine arts camp, sports camp, vbs, and spent time with the orphans who were to be living in the orphanage. Our church, the previous Feb, raised money for the orphanage, a church, sugar cane equipment, wells, and more.

We've heard, so far, that our friends and all of the orphans are accounted for. Fortunately, the orphanage is in a town called Pignon some 80 miles north of Port au Prince. Still, dear friends of ours were in the capital for a number of reasons, one of which was to pick up a shipment of shoes (over 600) that our church gathered and sent.

When my husband and I left Haiti with our two youngest children, we left behind all of our clothes and shoes but one pair (whatever we had on). I was totally blessed to see a little boy in pictures wearing my 2-year-old's clothing after we left. The earthquake and resulting devastation has weighed heavily on our hearts, as well as on the hearts of our teammates and church body.

I sit at home, glued to the news (yahoo) and facebook... waiting for updates on friends or their family... crying over the pictures. The hotel I stayed in, the Karibe, is gone.... that's so hard to fathom. It seems easy and awkward to walk away from the computer and pretend this horror isnt occurring in Haiti. Obviously, it never really leaves my mind... but how strange it is to gaze in shock at the destruction... and then pause to feed my children a meal so readily, or use the restroom with running water, or KNOW that my family is safe and well wherever they happen to be... then to return to the computer and rejoin world of Haiti through photos and friends. It doesn't seem fair- especially when I think of all of the people who can't just turn it off. They are THERE and stuck... with nothing.

I know this is a heavy blog so far... but its a heavy situation. Hopefully the load lifts a little here. Though I have everything and they have nothing, in terms of material... so many are finding relief in communing with one another and singing and wailing before the Lord. This is baffling our nation... how people who already had little and have lost what they had... including their family, shacks of homes, friends... are praising Jesus in the midst. My dear friend Dorina reminding me of a powerful verse for this time: Isaiah 54:10
"'Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,'
says the LORD, who has compassion on you."

Regardless of Haiti's past (as we've all been untimely reminded of recently by Pat), God LOVES Haiti and His creations. And though we can't ever fully understand why He allows such calamities to happen... we KNOW that He is good and His ways are higher than ours. We live in a fallen sinful world yet we can praise Him still.

My point, as I process this in front of you all, is not why God lets bad things happen. :) (though I will have my fair share of questions when I get to heaven too :)

My point is this: even in a nation with such excess... we still have nothing if we don't have Jesus. I can have everything and have nothing. I can have nothing and have everything. I've had dear friends in Israel, Paraguay, Guatemala... from all over, envy my life as an American. A life with "freedoms" and the "American Dream." And monetarily... religiously, materially, there is truth to these privileges of America... However I have often envied them. The community they live in and rely on, their very deep relationships with one another... the way they MUST rely daily on the provisions of the Lord... the way they see His miracles, grand ones, in ways we've only hoped to... so much so that some of us even think God doesn't do miracles anymore.

Even in our excess we can have nothing. My prayer is that I may be like the Haitians singing in their perfect harmony... praising God in the storm, in the midst of questions, confusion, and chaos... in the midst of grief deeper than a heart can bear on its own strength... that they can yet praise Him.

Lord, may that be the story of my life as well. May I be like the Haitians, whom you love deeply and with compassion and mercy, when all this life has to offer is removed from me, that I will be found in your presence- in the midst of rubble, dust, destruction- praising You.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New York- fashion capital of the world!

Hello again! I know its been a couple of days. I went to NYC with my sister. I MADE IT! I didn't buy a single thing. I heard the shopping deals were incredible. I wouldn't know. Some of you may be super impressed at the moment. "You went to NEW YORK CITY and didn't even walk into Bloomingdales? Macys? JC Pennys? THE HERSHEYS FACTORY?" As incredulous as that my seem... I'm not a big "shopper" as it is. I get a headache.

The hard part was not buying a souvenir! My plan was to find a thrift store and then tell you how funny it was that I bought an "I LOVE NY" shirt from there... but nope. Plan fail. I only saw ONE thrift store the entire time I was there... and I was passing it on the tour bus. There were "cheap" gifts everywhere. I could get SEVEN shirts for $10. My tourguide assured us that we'd only get one wash out of those... but still. I DID, however, take 400 pictures.

On that note, I again felt the weight of how easy it is to buy something JUST to buy it. I think, even though I didnt NEED anything (and I surely don't need another knick knack statue to remind me of a place) I would have bought something. A mini lady liberty. Some momento for the kids. The payoff was this: my family spent a good half hour together enjoying my photo slideshow and watching the videos (esp. of our crazy cab ride!). That kind of gift to my family is worth far more than a re-made blanket of the titanic or a jumbo souvenir mug.

That said, I'm glad I made it! My sister was good at trying to find ways to twist the rules, like: "I'll buy the $2 shirt, wear it, then sell it to you for a quarter!" Sweet girl :) LOL :) In the end, I realized NY had nothing that I NEED. But is an amazing city regardless.

More to come! OH, and I found a free used fireplace key! WHAT????!!! Amazing...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The REAL Reason

Ive been trying to put my finger on the ACTUAL reason I am doing this... I've had people ask, "Is it to save money?" No, though I hope that happens too. "Is it to be content with what you have?" Well, another hope, but also not the driving force. Finally I figured it out.

I was looking in amazement at the 81 members who'd joined the Facebook group within 24 hours of its start (link in previous post) that I had spun from this idea... feeling so blessed by all of the conversations that were happening: the swapping, selling, taking, giving, sharing. And it hit me.

I am in love with community :) I LOVE to see the community of friends and family joining together to meet each other's needs. I love to see people helping each other out. I love to see someone find value in someone else's junk. Its such an awesome blessing! I am NOT buying anything new this year so that I can be a bigger part of the community that cares for one another. To give what I have... and find what I need... and even those things that I just want. More importantly, I'm excited to see God meet our needs in a different way. We live in a country that has made it very easy for us to meet our own needs on our own time. That's not necessarily bad... but it is easy to forget the ultimate Gift-Giver.

I hope that this year ends filled with blessings all around as people rise up to share- a lesson we can't teach our children with words alone. Thank you for joining me and doing whatever you can to join the community of giving!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Used/Re-used Resources

There are some really great online sites available for giving/taking free things as well as selling your items. Here are some links:

Clovis Freecycle
Clovis Yardsale
Fresno Craigslist

There are also a number of thrift stores in Fresno... I looked in the online yellow pages and there were about 20 LISTED. There were some I noticed that WEREN'T listed. I don't want to offend anyone BUT here is my opinion... Salvation Army has a really great ministry and service to the community... one that you see the fruit of and I've even had dear friends participate in. Their prices are good and they offer sales all the time. Goodwill, I have found, is too highly priced and not as service oriented... at least, not in such visible ways as Salvation Army. Go where you want... but I have found a number of things at Goodwill that was MORE expensive than the SAME item next door at walmart. When I brought that (on both occasions) to the attention of the staff... they told me to shop at Walmart.

There are also great websites life,, where you can get used items at a decent deal. Google will compare prices for you. Lots of great options!

Your best options, I believe, are your friends and family and local community. The blessing of sharing as a greater body is awesome! Just a taste of what the Church recorded in Acts must have experienced :)

You may also join my facebook group: Living Hebrews 13:5 where local friends and family in the Fresno/Clovis area are swapping goods as well. :)

Now, on a slightly humorous note... I came home last night and found that I'd won a $25 gift card to Target. Of course I did!!!!! :/ Instead of getting to use it on something new, like I would normally do, I will be buying toilet paper and diapers! :) "Thank you Lord for your blessings which come in such timely ways!"

Monday, January 4, 2010


Here's a thought for January 4, 2010. Perhaps you think that you will only be reading my story and now somehow involved. WRONG :)

When your birthday or Christmas or Valentines Day or WHATEVER comes around... you will be getting a USED gift from me. Don't be offended or surprised :) At best, it will be homemade. At worst... it will be clearly used and re-gifted. Regardless, I love you. :)


Sunday, January 3, 2010

The reason

I wanted to start this blog with the purpose behind our 2010 journey.

I have often said to others (and myself): "How is it that companies make any money selling new stuff??? There is so much used stuff out there, I don't think anyone really NEEDS to buy anything new." Of course, I was speaking specifically of those living in the US- a country of excess. It seems to me that most new items purchased are either upgrades from already owned items, bought new for convenience/warranty, or just because thats what we do.

So the other day I was pondering potential New Years Resolutions and a thought popped into my mind in such a way... that I knew it was the Lord. You know them. Those thoughts that show up that are CLEARLY not yours. That was THIS thought: "What would it be like to go a year without buying anything new?" Hmmm.... seemed plausible. I already buy a lot of things used... or trade/swap on certain websites.

I began to think of all the things I'd need to buy before Jan 1. :) Well, that didn't happen, but it probably should have! That said, Jeremy was quick to jump on the idea and here we are, as a family of 6, embarking on a journey of living of the excess of our nation :) Jeremy found Hebrews 13:5 as a rock for our journey. "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." There are a number of verses that could apply... but the idea of being content with what we have, not needing the newest model, and stretching ourselves to trust more deeply in God's provision is the flame igniting our excitement. And we will be sharing this journey with you!

On that note, here are some exceptions to our "buy nothing new" rule. We will continue to buy groceries (I don't want your used broccoli :) Actually, Id love to live on your leftovers... bring 'em buy ANY TIME. We will exempt home necessities such as diapers, toothbrushes, TP, shampoo... I DO NOT want your used TP. Keep it. Flush it. We will also continue with service items... such as servicing our vehicles. I will have to continue to spend $35/month for clothing for my foster children until their adoptions are complete. (We are not allowed to buy them clothes at a thrift store/yard sale yet.) And finally, my Creative Memories business will be separate from this family goal.

Other than that, nothing new can be bought!

That said, heres how the first 4 days have gone. Jeremy was at Vons and almost grabbed a movie to buy... when my oldest son said, "Dad, arent we NOT buying anything new?" Conviction! Jeremy hadn't realized how easy it is to just grab something on a whim and go. It was also humbling to have our child remind him! Especially since we hadn't announced it to the family yet (yeah, our little eavesdropper :).

In the first 4 days of this year, my sewing machine had broken down, Jeremy's Bible has flown off the roof of our car, and a big drawer in my kitchen has broken. We ran out of duct tape and lost our fireplace key :)

I posted a wanted ad on the Fresno Freecycle and got a bunch of duct tape AND masking tape free from a wonderful woman. Still waiting on the fireplace key. But we are so excited to see what God is going to do through this! I'll definitely keep you posted and give you some great tips as I figure them out.