SixEight Life


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Waste Not, Want Not- and a ‘7’ update

photo credit: (creative commons)

photo credit: (creative commons)

At the time of writing this post, I’m five and a half months in to my ‘7’ experiment. If you want to know a little bit more about the book 7 and the premise behind this experiment, check out this post. It’s been quite a ride and an incredible growing experience. I thought I’d give a brief overall ‘update’ before jumping into the lessons learned from the most recent month.

Month One- Food: Fridge clean out for the Laney’s, which lasted us almost the entire month. We only spent $50 total on food. Challenging but rewarding.

Month Two- Clothes: 12 items worn for the whole month. It would have been less, but I started a new job midway through and had to adjust. It was tough and I kept wondering if my new colleagues noticed my limited wardrobe. Later I asked them: they didn’t notice at all. This month helped me realize that my desire for style and clothing can be a huge distraction and source of insecurity.

Month Three- Possessions: So far the possessions month was my favorite. Our original goal was 100 items but the author’s goal was 210. We ended up giving away nearly 250 items. And months later I don’t miss a single thing.

Month Four- Media: Media was tough! I love me some Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, New Girl, Revenge, CNN, etc, etc. I allowed myself a couple minutes a week to ‘cheat’ to post blogs, but overall I stayed away. I read more and focused more. It was tough, but refreshing.

Last month was Month Five- Waste. The object of the month was to understand and begin to dramatically reduce the amount of waste we create. I have to confess, I don’t think much about waste in my everyday life. I try to recycle as much as I can and drive a fairly fuel efficient car, but I don’t try to conserve energy or water on a regular basis. We usually throw out our fair share of trash every week and there are many items in the trash can that could easily be recycled.

Why does it matter? To be honest, for most of my life I didn’t think that it did matter. But it does. God has commanded us to take care of the planet and our trash, abuse of elements, and overall waste is destroying the earth. The statistics are easy to find. And our world’s poorest are falling victim to our overuse of the planet’s resources in dramatic ways. It’s my responsibility as a Christian, and as a resident on this planet, to be aware of my waste and to preserve the resources God has blessed me with.

So for this month, I picked seven ways I’d be aware of my excess in this area. They are (with progress notes):

1. Shopping Secondhand/thrift/local for any goods I need that aren’t food- I didn’t do much shopping during the month, no goods besides food were purchased. I still want to check out the local Goodwill in my neighborhood, I’ll do that soon.

2. Conserving Energy- turning off lights and building a fire on cold nights. We built several fires and I did my very best to turn lights off and use less water. I think I could have done better but I did try. Building fires was wonderful and I definitely saw a reduction in our heat running.

3. Transport– taking Marta to work when I don’t have offsite meetings: I had a lot of off site meetings but I was able to take Marta a couple times. It was actually very relaxing and nice. It took more time but I didn’t feel like I was wasting time.

4. Recycle as much as possible: before the month I looked up all the items we could recycle, and made an effort to do so! We saw our recycling amount triple and our trash reduced by at least half. This was the area I saw the most difference and it was very surprising.

5. Food– going local/sustainable restaurants when eating out- We were able to try one or two really awesome, sustainable model restaurants during the month. Any other eating out was done at local spots, no huge national chains. It was great to be able to support local businesses.

6. Using cloth napkins and paper towels– we stuck with this one the entire month, and I’m still using cloth napkins as much as I can. I think this helped us reduce our amount of trash and I didn’t paper towels too much.

7. Remembering my reusable shopping bags for any shopping – Okay, confession, I forgot several times. Kinda failed on this one. We mostly shop at pretty sustainable places for groceries and get paper bags, but overall I could have done much better on this one.

So to summarize, the month went well overall and I went into it thinking that it wouldn’t be too difficult. But its difficulty came in a different form than other months. Wearing limited clothing items, giving away possessions, doing away with media- those are ‘in your face’ all consuming tasks. Waste seemed to be easier to forgot, easier to ignore. And I have to admit, the month didn’t leave me with as many spiritual lessons as other months had. But I do feel like I’ll stick with some of the changes I made.

Next month is spending. I’m midway through at the time of writing, and this one- it’s tough! More to come soon.

Changing Roles

Do you ever have one of those moments that makes you flash back to that time you were picked last for kickball in the 5th grade?

Do you ever have one of those moments that makes you flash back to that time you were picked last for kickball in the 5th grade?

It took about two and a half weeks for me to get my ‘feelings hurt’ for the first time in 2014. Just two and a half weeks, pretty sad, but true. It was one of those moments that makes you flash back to that one time in fifth grade where you’re picked last for kickball, or that awkward 8th grade dance where  you seem to be the only one without a date. Anyone with me? Remember those moments? I really thought we’d outgrow them but they just take different forms in adulthood.

I’ll explain the situation a little bit so you can get an idea of where I’m coming from but not to the point where I’m gossiping about a situation in hopes of making myself feel good. I am involved in a ministry where I get to have a leadership role. I love my role in this ministry and am always eager to serve. Well, two and a half weeks into 2014 I was at this ministry position and learned at the last minute that I didn’t get to do my ‘role’. I wasn’t sure if I was forgotten or deliberately left off the list, but I felt embarrassed and just plain bad about myself. Have you ever had one of those moments?

I put on my happy face, blinked back tears and went about my day, but I struggled with my attitude and my own feelings of insecurity. Why wasn’t I good enough? Did I make my leader mad? Have they been talking about me? Am I failure?

But before I really went full force into wallowing, I heard the still small voice of the Lord remind me of His truth. “Child, you belong to me. I have placed you here for a reason. All things work for the good of those who are love me and are called according to my purpose (Rom 8:28). Before you were in the womb I knew you and set you apart. (Jer 1:5). And you are my precious child. (1 John 3:2, Rom 8:17) (NOTE- scripture quotes are paraphrased in this paragraph)

 I am so thankful for the word of God and the way that the Lord communicates his truth to us. I rested in his truth and actually ended up having an incredible conversation about the Lord with a woman who was not part of this ministry. I realized after our conversation that she and I were supposed to talk that day. And if I had been busy doing the role I thought I ‘deserved’ I probably wouldn’t have been able to talk to her. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed her.

God has orchestrated your steps for this year. Even during situations that are painful or don’t make sense, He’s got a plan laid out for you. Even when we can’t see the path in front of us, it’s there and he’s guiding us. When your ‘role’ changes in a relationship, job or ministry, actively seek out God’s voice. Cling to the truth of scripture and seize the moments that God places in front of you. My experience a couple weeks ago was frustrating and disappointing, but in hindsight I can clearly see what God was up to. My prayer for myself is that I can trust God from the beginning that He knows what he’s doing. I’ll pray that for you too.


Worship + Justice

end-it-movementI had the privilege of serving at the Passion Conference last weekend at Phillips Arena. There are very few things I’ve experienced that are anything like the Passion movement. I attended a Passion conference in 2006 as a student, and this was my second year serving as a ‘door holder’ (volunteer). This year was shorter than last year and there were fewer students. I’m not going to lie, I’m getting older and going for four days straight with little to no sleep is hard for me, so having a two day conference was better on the exhaustion level  (I’m pushing 30, I need my sleep!) But the time was amazing and God moved.

A special part of last year for me was serving with the “Worship+Justice” team to help facilitate the students’ giving to the “End it Movement”. I was so thrilled to play a small part in such a huge movement, it was humbling and very exciting. This year there wasn’t a team centered around End it or Worship+Justice, and I was admittedly a little disappointed. I was thrilled to be able to serve in any capacity and really enjoyed serving on the resources team, but I was looking forward to a big push for a new, big movement to do huge things for God. Last year’s press, the light, the funds raised, the energy in the area- all of it was so incredible and powerful. I loved it.

But this year it was much more quiet. There were fewer students but they donated a significant amount of money to printing Bibles for the persecuted church in Iran. The End It movement was mentioned but it wasn’t at the level it was last year. I was wondering about the movement and what the plan was on the Passion leadership end, but then God reminded me of something. I heard that still small voice say that when His son came to the Earth he didn’t come in with fanfare. His birth was announced to lowly shepherds in the fields. He was born in a stable and was placed in a feeding troth. Much of his ministry was very private. He didn’t need the fanfare, because He is God.

We don’t always need the fanfare and the fame either. The act of individual and corporate times of worship inspire us to do acts of justice. Momentum is great and can be really powerful, but all God really needs in order for Him to use us are willing hearts and open hands. When we are worshiping God and are focused on His truth, He will inspire us to acts of justice. Our acts may be big or they may be small, but any act of worship that leads to justice matters to God. He finds value in our obedience and we don’t always need to have a huge movement in order to make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t get me wrong, I love the End It Movement and all the momentum that has come from our collective efforts to end slavery, I just want to encourage you and I to do the little things as well. Small acts of obedience can lead to amazing things.

End It is still happening this year though: mark your calendars for an awareness day on Feb 27. It’s be a chance for us to collectively come together to further the awareness campaign so everyone knows the atrocity that is modern day slavery and has action steps to help proclaim justice.

Are you “In it to End It?” What are you doing in this new year to fight for justice as a form of worship?

(Shameless plug: Go here to find out some information about an incredible event our team at Not for Sale GA is hosting next week on ways we can all fight trafficking- especially you men out there)

The Quiet Place

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God's presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God’s presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

The new year is in full swing and if you’re like me, you’re wondering how we’re already 19 days into 2014. Part of me feels like I haven’t been able to catch my breath since the holidays, which were insane. New year, new semester, new commitments, renewed responsibilities- there’s not much time left in the day after my ‘to do’ list is done. I was thinking about the myriad of things going on and a little word came to mind.


Sometimes I feel like I attract stress like a magnet. This week was absolutely crazy and I haven’t had a chance to stop, and it’s almost Monday again. I feel so thankful in where God has me right now, but while my cup runs over with blessings, my plate is also completely full. I had a full, fun weekend but in many cases my thoughts were overrun with insecurities, my to-do list, and the myriad of ways I didn’t have it all ‘together’.

There are many things in play here that result in stress, but I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about boundaries, saying no, and over commitment. Those are certainly aspects of my life that I need to work on. I imagine I’m not the only one.  I could also talk about society, how we’ve created a culture that is completely nonstop. It’s a culture that applauds the woman who can ‘do it all’ while still looking perfect 24/7.  I feel like we have conversations about society and boundaries a good bit. We know the deep cultural ideals that lead to stress being our norm, and we know that healthy boundaries can decrease our stress.

But what we don’t talk about very often is this term in my profession (social work) that we call “Self Care”. Self care is essentially what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. It’s taking time to relax, unwind, and refuel. It’s something that we all should do but very few of us consciously take the time to practice. It’s practical, simple and even Biblical.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Gen 2:2

God rested, Jesus went away to a quiet place, and if we dwell in the secret place, we will be under the shadow of God. These are just a few verses that come to mind when I think about “self care”. Many of us bustle around like Martha when we should be resting at the feet of Jesus like Mary. (see Luke 10:38-42). We think that we are supposed to be busy busy busy- which usually means we are also stressed, stressed, stressed. When I am constantly on the go, I can miss out on ministry opportunities and just miss out on the simple beauties of our world. I know God didn’t intend for us to live in that way.

My encouragement for us today (including myself- I need to hear this over and over) is to take some time to go to your ‘quiet place’. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes and you have to sneak away, find things that help you relax and do them. Take time to read your Bible and pray, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do your devotional a certain way. Just sit in the presence of God. Take deep breaths and visualize your stress going away. Go on a walk outside and breathe fresh air. Do a favorite hobby just for the fun of it. For a few minutes each day, take care of you. God cherishes you greatly and loves you so much- He doesn’t want you to stress yourself out to burnout.  You were worth Him sending His son, and He wants you to be healthy and resting in his presence.

New Things: SixEight

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

Photo Credit: quinn.anya (creative commons)

Photo Credit: quinn.anya (creative commons)

When I first started this blog I had a simple purpose- to spread activism and social justice and to spend ‘everyday’ working towards the cause of freedom. Micah 6:8 was one of several verses that really spoke to me as I started on this journey. I’m having a hard time articulating exactly what my expectations were for this blog, but the goal was activism- pure and simple. I wanted to educate the masses on injustice and social causes I thought were important. I wanted to change the world, one word at a time.

But things evolve and things change. Pretty soon after I began writing I realized that stories resonate with people. We all love a good story. I was also shocked that the posts that got the most ‘hits’ were the posts where I deviated from my ‘focus’ and got raw and honest with the world. When I shared my stories, my struggles, my doubts and my goals it seemed to resonate with my friends and family. All of the blogging experts out there said that I should stick with my blog’s goal (in my case social justice) and any other posts would just be confusing. But after I started writing about my struggles, victories, goals in addition to my passion for justice, I felt like my blog became more complete. It was a complete picture of me and my quest to live a life for others and for Jesus. But what did that mean for the blog? “The Everyday Activist” didn’t really seem to fit as well with how the site evolved.

I revisited Micah 6:8 and I started thinking about the last few words in that little verse: “walk humbly with your God.” What does it mean to walk humbly? What does it truly mean to act justly and love mercy? I focused on the justice part, and some of the mercy while not really diving into the journey. Those three words: justice, mercy, and journey (from walking humbly) really seem to encompass a full life lived for God and for others. It’s simple and straightforward, which is something today’s complicated world is lacking. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s what I’m striving for.

So as of today my blog is officially renamed from “The Everyday Activist” to “SixEight Life” . Nothing will change content wise and posts will be centered on the three topics from Micah 6:8.

Justice – My heart is to proclaim freedom by spreading awareness about major social issues like human trafficking, extreme poverty and inequality.

Mercy – The church needs to continue to have difficult conversations about how we extend grace and mercy to ‘outsiders’. We can’t keep labeling certain sins as worse than others, and I want us to talk about the radical life of mercy Jesus lived and how the church should emulate that.

Journey – We’re all on this journey together to walk humbly with God. I want my journey to be for others, but I also want it to be full of adventure and radical acts of service.

The blog has been re-branded, and over the next month or so I’ll be continuing to work on creating a place where we can have conversations about this journey. Bear with me because I am terrible with web design (if you’re good at web design and want to help me I wouldn’t say no).

Thanks for reading friends, it means more than you’ll ever know.

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