Hey friends! Happy Monday! It is quite the Monday around here as I start my second round of whole30, finish out a month of doing Pilates everyday (or mostly every day), and gear up to join Nancy Ray in her Contentment Challenge starting on Friday!

I'll be honest: not shopping or splurging on extras for three months straight scares me. What if that (insert thing everyone seems to have) isn't available anymore once the challenge ends? What if it goes on sale and I miss a good deal? What if I really, really want it? What if I miss out?

But to be more honest, the struggle with contentment is one that runs DEEP for me. I've been wrestling it for months and months, or even years, it feels like. And I've thought about doing this no-shopping-for-three-months challenge before, but I always talk myself out of it, only to have God nudge me in that direction again. I really feel like He is asking me to do this - to be faithful and obedient, and to seek my true contentment in HIM alone.

So, I'm doing it! For the months of April, May and June I'm giving up shopping. Giving up Starbucks. Giving up running to Qdoba because I'm lazy and don't feel like cooking the dinner I planned. Giving up browsing on Etsy "just to look." It's going to be hard, I have no doubt about that. But dangit, I'm ready to break free of these materialism chains. I want my soul to rest in Christ alone, and not my closet.

There's a few things I'm doing to prepare for The Contentment Challenge, so I wanted to share them with you here! I'm definitely learning that preparation is the key for success in anything, so here's how I'm preparing to be successful and steadfast with this no-shopping thing:

  • Unsubscribe from store emails. As soon as I get an email from a store, I hit "unsubscribe." You can also use I definitely don't need to be tempted with LOFT's annual sale while I'm trying to keep my eyes on Jesus.
  • Recycle store mailers as soon as they come. How do these people even get my addres?! The catalogs from West Elm and Anthropologie and Boden are going straight to the recycle bin before I can turn their pages filled with beautiful goods.
  • Unfollow Instagram accounts. Y'all, this is a hard one for me, especially the small, handmade shops I love. But to have their beautiful goods constantly in front of my eyeballs, filling me with discontent, spells trouble for success with this challenge. I went through and unfollowed a bunch of accounts yesterday. I want Instagram to be a place to be uplifted and encouraged, not a place where I scroll endlessly wishing I could buy x, y and z.
  • Plan for a hobby or something to fill your time. Matt and I are picking up a jogging stroller we scored off Craigslist tonight, and I'm taking up running again! I'm really excited about it. I also plan to read a bunch and play more board games with Matt in the evenings, rather than stare at Pinterest for things I can't buy.
  • Swear off "window shopping" and Pinterest. This goes with recycling those store mailers and unfollowing Instagram accounts I suppose, but I'm swearing off online window shopping for the next three months. So often, I find myself searching Amazon or browsing Etsy "just to see." I always wind up with things in my online cart that I think I need, then have to delete them all from my cart because they aren't in the budget, then feel sad that we "can't afford them" even though I was equal partner is establishing the budget in the first place. It's ridiculous!
  • Keep a list. I plan to keep a list of things I think I want or need during these three months. If, at the end of the three months, I still feel it's a need or something I REALLY want (that is in the budget), I'll consider buying it then. The reality is that I am fortunate to have all my ACTUAL needs met. Food, water, clothing, shelter, transportation. Anything else is just extra, and I can sit on those decisions for a few months and survive the wait. It's good for me.
  • Read a convicting book. I'm re-reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess again and plan to read 1-2 other books on the same topic. This particular book ROCKED me when I read it a couple years ago, and I'm excited to read it again within the context of this challenge.
  • Practice gratitude. I used to be really diligent in keeping a gratitude journal, but that habit has fallen by the wayside. I'm going to refocus on counting my blessings - by literally numbering them in a journal - as a means of fostering contentment. When I have eyes of gratitude to see everything I ALREADY have, I don't desire new/more/better stuff as much.
  • Keep it Christ-centered. This should be number one, but the biggest thing I'm doing is focusing on the REASON for this shopping break: to fix my eyes on Jesus. I'm purchasing Nancy's Contentment e-book and devotional and will be praying HARD for Jesus to bring revival and growth in this area of my life. As with anything, it's the WHY that matters. Why do I want to give up shopping for three months? Because I want to break the chains that bind me to my material goods, I want freedom from the fear of missing out and I don't want to continue to be filled with envy over what other people have.

So that's that! I'm excited, scared and mostly hopeful to break my shopping addiction and find my contentment in Jesus. Are any of you joining Nancy (and me, I guess!) in the challenge? Let me know, I'd love to help stay accountable with you! xoxo!