7 Clothes for 7 Days

Me in Junior High in the 90s

Me in Junior High in the 1990s

Another story from 7 – Week 2: Clothes
A few weeks ago an old friend was in town from California. Along with our other old best friend, the three of us made plans to go to dinner. We weren’t going anywhere fancy, but it was in Chicago and I had a doctor’s appointment beforehand and hadn’t decided if I would drive down town or take the train and walk… All of these situations were going through my mind that afternoon as I tried to figure out what to wear. Meanwhile my two year old Jack was downstairs watching tv and calling my name. Finally I realized these girls were friends with me when I was in Junior High and wore plaid shirts that were so big they wouldn’t fit if I was 9 months pregnant. Clearly the friendship runs deeper than fashion.

IMG_5235As I mentioned yesterday, this is the second time I’m going through parts of this 7 study since I did a few weeks of it with my church. My first clothes fast only lasted 4 or 5 days and then we had Easter and weather changes I wasn’t expecting. This week I stuck to 7 clothes and had my son Jack wear 7 clothes also, since we all know that children are basically another accessory to our own outfits. What I found was that it wasn’t hard. If I had planned a little better I could have easily eliminated one or two items which I had barely worn anyway. I found most often that I wanted to change because I didn’t feel clean or I thought maybe my shirt smelled. But I realized that many people don’t have the option to wash their clothes as much as I do. They go to bed at night wearing what they wore all day and it probably does smell.

photo 2I felt guilty NOT wearing all the clothes in my closet. Rotating through 3 tshirts for 7 days when I have enough tshirts to wear a different one everyday for two months, made me realize the excess I have. It had me wondering how many tshirts should I own? How many pairs of jeans should I keep when I only wear two of the 10 pairs anyway? And to be honest, I only wear that 2nd pair when my #1 favorites are being washed.

20120526-114717.jpgI’m sure many of you can relate to having a variety of sizes in your wardrobe. When I was pregnant with Jack I was on bed rest for 4 months and I just got really big. After having Jack, recovering from bed rest was really challenging. It was at least a year before I was back to my normal size. Therefore I have a pre-Jack wardrobe, a maternity wardrobe, a post-Jack wardrobe, and then back to normal but with new things because it’s been years since I wore the other stuff and some is out of fashion or doesn’t fit the same. Do I hang on to it all? What if I have another baby – then I’ll need the maternity clothes, and possibly the “big” clothes …

All of this takes up 17 dresser drawers, 2 closets, and 1 crate across 2 rooms in my house. And that doesn’t include jackets.

An entire closet full of clothes I gave away.

An entire closet full of clothes I gave away.

How much is too much? Jen Hatmaker said the only people who ask “how much is too much” are the rich people. I don’t have an answer for how may tshirts or jeans I should have. But the solution comes in changing my heart. The more aware I’ve become of other’s needs, the less stuff I want to keep and the more I want to give away to help them. Why should I keep so many unworn items when someone is struggling to find enough clothes for the day.

All of this led to a Clothes Swap party last fall. After reading 7 and hearing about their Clothes Swap, I thought that’d be a great thing to do. I invited lots of friends to donate clothes to the Swap, then come to the party and “shop” from each other’s discarded items. All the leftovers would go to a shelter that gave the clothes away for free to people in need. All together I collected clothes from about 15-20 people. It was only women’s clothing, shoes and accessories – we didn’t even attempt children’s or men’s clothes. I set everything up in my dining room and barely had enough space for it all.

Dining Room turned to Clothes Swap

Dining Room turned to Clothes Swap

The actual party was a lot of fun. Everyone was friendly to each other and passed items around, “This didn’t fit me, but you try it on.” There were no fights over anything, although we debated what was still in fashion. And everyone left with something, but much less than what they brought. After cleaning out their closets no one wanted to fill up that space again. After the party I kept things out for a few days and more people who couldn’t make the party stopped by. After a week my house was starting to smell like a thrift store, so I knew it was time to pack up. After our “shopping” we donated more than 400 items! I 1467300_10152424245509676_388797311_ncompletely filled my SUV. I took everything to a church nearby which opens their “closet” for those in need each week.

This Clothes Swap was last fall and I gave away almost half of my clothes. However, all the numbers I told you of tshirts and jeans and filled drawers are from now. Clearly I still have a long way to go. In 1 Samuel the Lord says, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Proverbs 31 says “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

I know that I have this struggle of dressing for others. Dressing to be noticed, to be accepted, to be valued. But the truth is I already am noticed, accepted, and valued by the Lord. His opinion of me is the only one that matters. And the more I seek to live in a way that pleases the Lord, the more “attractive” I will be to others. In a year, or a week, or a day, people won’t remember what I wore, but they will remember my character and how I lived. I want them to see what Colossians 3 says – that I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved, clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. That I forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. And over all of that, may they see love – that I love God and love others.

IMG_5215Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

I Was At The Cross

I was at the cross. I watched as Jesus hung there between two criminals, yet He is an innocent man. Why does it have to be like this? The pain, torture, agony. I thought He was the Messiah. The One we’ve waited for but I didn’t expect Him to be crucified.

A crowd has gathered to watch Jesus suffer. Some, like me, are sad and confused. Others just mock Him, tease Him about being King of the Jews. “He IS the King!” I want to shout but I’m afraid they’ll put me on a cross too. Isn’t Jesus going through enough? Just leave Him alone.

I can hear the criminals talking to Jesus. “Save yourself and save me too,” says the one, just mocking Jesus. But the other criminal… he seems to know the truth. “We are guilty. We deserve this. But this man, Jesus, is innocent.”

I stand here paralyzed by grief as tears stream down my face. Jesus is almost unrecognizable because of the beatings He has endured. He doesn’t deserve this.

I think about what He said. The miracles He did: feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, bringing Lazarus back from the dead! He has led an amazing life, always pointing to the Lord. A perfect life. He shouldn’t be hanging on a cross.

Me on the other hand… the things I’ve said and done and thought … I should be the one on the cross.

I try to fit these puzzle pieces together in my mind to make sense of all that is happening. Before I know it, Jesus speaks: “It is finished.” He took His last breath and He’s dead.

It is finished…? What is finished? It seemed like it was just beginning…


He Found Them Sleeping

Everyone is known for something. Their job, family, personality, jokes they tell.  I am famous for sleeping. When I was a baby my parents had the entire second story of the house constructed. I learned to sleep through the hammering and sawing, and so we credit my deep sleeping abilities to the early days of my life.


I’ve slept while a poopy diaper sat on the pillow next to my nose. I’ve slept in an arcade when supervising a youth group retreat. I’ve slept in restaurants (although that was after a concussion so it doesn’t seem like it should count). I’ve slept in my car – if Jack can do it, so can I. I taught my nieces and nephews how to play a sleeping game so that I could actually sleep longer instead of getting up to play. I’ve slept at work waiting for our party to begin. While I may enjoy sleeping, I realize some things are more important. Still, it can be hard to choose to wake up early.

sleeping at CR party

Just days before Jesus was going to be crucified, He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and a few disciples were with Him. Jesus tells the disciples to keep watch while He goes to pray. He returns to find them sleeping. “Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so you don’t fall into temptation,” Jesus said to them as He went away a second time to pray.

When Jesus came back, He again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. This time Jesus didn’t even say anything to them, but turns and goes away to pray a third time. Returning, Jesus finds them still sleeping.

How would you feel if you were Jesus? Facing torture and death and your friends are clueless – sleeping because their eyes were heavy. I wonder what the disciples missed out on because they were sleeping. We know they couldn’t have prevented Jesus’ death. Jesus said He had to die. What was He praying for those three times? For God to take the cup away from Him. “Yet not as I will but as You will,” Jesus prays to the Father.

I wonder what have I missed out on because I was sleeping. Have I missed opportunities to show compassion to friends? Have I missed time with the Lord because I chose to sleep instead of pray? Have I misunderstood what God is trying to say to me?

We know that we all need sleep. God created us like that and He says in His word that He gives His beloved sleep (Psalm 127:2) and that our sleep will be sweet (Proverbs 3:24). But I don’t want Jesus to find me sleeping. I don’t want to be “asleep” to His word or His guidance or His message for me. But to be aware of how the Lord is leading me, I need to read the Bible and pray. And in my life that’s going to mean choosing less sleep.

Matthew 26:36-46


*I’d like to point out that I wrote this instead of taking a nap. 🙂

**My new favorite sleeping position is cuddling with Jack!

Shine On

It seems to be around this time each year that we Midwesterners complain about the weather. Anxious for spring to begin and bring the sun and warm we’ve been missing. Meanwhile piles of snow linger next to driveways and the weather report shows an upcoming snowstorm this weekend. But the sun is out today. And kids are soaking it up, running around in hoodies and Uggs. Spring break officially started. For those who still get a spring break.

It seems so appropriate that Easter would be next week. Another “spring” if you will. Death. Rebirth. Celebration.

When Jesus died on the cross and was buried in the tomb, His followers were confused. They hadn’t understood His death was necessary, that it was the path He chose. The three days Jesus was in the tomb, His followers weren’t waiting to celebrate Easter. They didn’t know He would live again. They were mourning. Trying to reconcile their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and their confusion that things didn’t go as they expected.

Have you ever been in their shoes? Things don’t turn out as you expect and you’re sitting around mourning a “death” when spring is around the corner? The hardest part is believing “spring” will come and not knowing when it will arrive. How long do you wait? What if the disciples gave up after two days? What if they agreed their idea of Jesus being the Messiah was wrong.

“Hey everyone, forget the miracles you saw, the healings, the amazing teaching. We don’t really know who Jesus was, but He wasn’t the one we were waiting for. Sorry…”

But you can’t forget. It’s the memory of the miracles that gets you through the questions, the trials, the doubts.

I think it’s funny how everyone is complaining of the cold. This happens every year. Don’t you all remember? Spring will come. Jesus rose from the grave.

The trials you’re going through may not have a happy ending now, but someday you’ll look back and see the spring-like transformation God has done in your life. He makes all things new. He brings the dead back to life. He gives you beauty where there were ashes. He restores. He redeems. He has risen. He has risen indeed.