I joined sweet Nancy Ray in her second round of The Contentment Challenge last month, and whew. It is rocking my world. If you're unfamiliar with The Contentment Challenge, head right here and download the F-R-E-E guide about it! And if you're considering diving in, I highly recommend Nancy's Contentment Challenge E-book and Devotional as well, it's awesome!

So! Month one. At first, I had nothing new or good to report. The first two weeks felt like a whole lot of nothing. Or, rather, a whole lot of irritation and sadness at all the things I "couldn't" buy. I was adding things to my Amazon wishlist and favoriting items on Etsy like never before. Isn't it funny how that works? The minute we can't have something (in this case, shopping) the minute we want it with our ENTIRE BEING. It's so silly!

So for the first two-ish weeks, I was really annoyed. I wanted to buy things. Things I'd bought before the challenge stopped working, or fitting. I kept looking for loopholes. And in all honesty, I did buy a few things. My mom had Kohl's Cash she wasn't going to spend, so she gave it to me and I bought two shirts - but told myself it was a gift so it didn't count. I bought a vintage American flag for our dining room at an antique fair, something I'd been looking for forever. Then I'd immediately beat myself up about these things, and tell myself I should quit altogether because I obviously was not cut out to be content.

I read the Contentment Challenge E-book, and jotted things down in my gratitude journal, but I wasn't feeling content. Just mad! And then the absolute defeat kicked in. I had barely shopped for over two weeks, which I know sounds pathetic but to me felt monumental, but my desires hadn't changed a whit. I still WANTED all the cute clothes. I still WANTED all the house knick-knacks. So around the start of week three, I wanted to give up altogether. What was the point of the challenge if my desire never really shifted? I kept waiting to wake up and be perfectly content with the things already around me. And that wasn't happening, day after day. I think that's why it's important to do this challenge for three months. Because right around the end of the first month, things began to shift. It happened without me even realizing it, really. I suddenly realized, "hey, I haven't added anything to my Amazon list in a week! I haven't browsed Etsy at all! I've stayed off Pinterest!" And it hit me that, despite my early belief that nothing was going to change, things were changing. ARE changing.

It's a slow fade, the addiction to shopping. Just three nights ago, I added six things to my ThredUp cart then deleted them all and reminded myself that my current wardrobe is perfectly fine as-is and, oh yeah, remember how you're not shopping for two more months? Spending ThredUp credit still counts.

I feel like I'm finally noticing the things around me more, the truly immaterial gifts of this life like Xavier's infectious giggles, and the coo of the morning doves in the morning, and the way Matt rubs my shoulders when he gets home from work (he's the best!) 

I don't think it's coincidental that this challenge happened to cover May, the month of near-constant celebrations. Mother's Day - which includes me this year. My birthday, too! Normally, I'd use both as an excuse to go out and shop for myself. But not this year. I didn't receive anything for Mother's Day (except an awesome giftcard from my in-laws to put towards flowers for the yard!!) and although I thought I'd be more sad about no gift from Matt, I really wasn't! Matt wrote me a super sweet note in a journal he gave me a few years ago, and it meant more to me than any trinket or present. And since he worked all day yesterday, we're doing a belated celebration next weekend and going hiking! When I think about what I want MOST, it's not any item on my Amazon wishlist or Pinterest board. It's time with my people. It's undivided attention spent on each other. Leaving our phones in the glove box and holding hands over the table at dinner. Laying on the floor together with Xave, laughing like wackos. I'm smiling just typing that.

I"m also realizing that it's not inherently bad to like pretty things! We are made in the image of the Ultimate Creator - the God of the universe who is Beauty itself! Of course we have an innate desire for beauty and loveliness. It's letting that desire for beauty control me where it becomes distraction at best and sin at worst.

I want to be able to shop for home furnishings without feeling frantic about it. I want to be able to try on some clothes without feeling like my whole being rests on making the right choice about jeans. I want to be able to walk away from Target empty-handed.

I'm getting there. I see the shift happening. It's gradual and it's hard to come to terms with the ugliness in my heart but it's good. It's refining. It's drawing me closer to Jesus and for that, I am so, so grateful.