Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Next??

If you had told me this time last year that I would be able to make it through a year without buying any clothes, I would have laughed. Throughout the past year, people have often commented, "There's no way that I could go an entire year without buying clothes." You may be thinking the same thing. Let me tell you, if someone had told me this time last year that I would be able to make it through a year without buying any clothes, I would have laughed and never believed them. Let's be serious, I LOVED shopping. Still love it! But, I have done it...well, almost...and I'm so proud of myself. On the outside it was clothes, but on the inside I learned to lean into God and other people instead of clothes.

The thing is, the goal was for a year, and the year is almost up. I'm going to get to buy a few new things and I am so excited. I've been making a list and cutting things out and I'm looking forward to a fun afternoon of shopping. And that's what it will be. It will be a fun afternoon. Not retail therapy and not a day that breaks my bank. There are some items that I want to add to my wardrobe, but even more I want to keep away from my old ways.

I've decided that just as I set boundaries for not purchasing, I am going to have to set boundaries FOR purchasing...and those boundaries are about so much more than staying within my clothing budget!! My problem was never that I spent lots of money on clothes...just that I did it much too often. Here's what I've come up with so far to help me make the transition from...

  • Shop in my closet, and the closets of my friends first. For each time that I'm able to do that, I will reward myself with $5 to spend on something later.
  • Get one, give one. I used to be really good at this, but I kind of slacked off. From now on, if I love something enough to bring it into my house, I have to find something else to donate.
  • Shop to fulfill a clothing need and not to fulfill an emotional need. I'm not interested in going the rest of my life without buying clothes. That's unrealistic. But, from now on, I will shop for specific items. No more just breezing through and picking up things on a whim. I'll keep me list of things that I want to buy with me and if it's not on the list, it doesn't get purchased.

Now that I've blogged about it, you're more than welcome to hold me accountable. After all, that is one of the keys to success!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Decision and The Learnings

I won't buy any clothes for one year.

Seriously?! Yup. That's what my idea was. The first time I made the statement, I was doubtful if I would really be able to do it, but I decided that I wanted to try. I began May 1 of 2009, so I am almost finished with my 1 year clothes buying hiatus. I found that the beginning was super hard...the middle was surprisingly easy...and that lately things have gotten tough again. There have been so many positives that have come out of this though. For starters, I have saved quite a bit of money...but I've learned even more. And the fun thing is, the stuff I've learned transcends clothes. In fact, I was sharing some of the things I had learned while giving up the shopping this past year with a friend and we were able to draw so many parallels to other life situations that I decided to share some of my biggest take-aways...most are pretty obvious, but sometimes the obvious is what we need most.

  • Dig beyond the surface of a problem to find the root. When I first looked at my closets, what I saw was a girl with way too many clothes. Over the past year I realized that the clothes were used to replace lots of other things. Yes, I'm a bargain shopper, but more than I realized, I'm an emotional shopper. I shop when I'm happy. I shop when I'm sad. Sadly, one of my first reactions to situations used to be to shop. After a year of no buying, I've been focusing on other first reactions that have been much more beneficial. I've been doing more praying and Bible reading. More journaling and talking it over with friends.
  • Set standards for yourself, write them down, and look back over them. About two weeks in, I told someone about my plan and they started asking me some questions...lots of questions. I realized there was a lot that I hadn't totally thought through, so I decided right then to set some standards. My overall standard was I wasn't going to buy any clothes for myself. I decided that included shoes...mainly because I didn't want to transfer my clothes buying to shoe buying. I decided that it would be okay to receive clothes as a gift, so I could ask for them for my birthday and Christmas...just like the old days. I also decided that if something were to get messed up that was a "must have," I could replace it. Example...about 4 months into the no clothes buying, my white shirt got stained. I did everything I knew, but it wasn't coming out. It was my last white t-shirt, so I allowed myself to replace it.
  • Let others in on your decision. At first, I didn't want to tell anybody about this little idea. I figured this whole shopping thing was my problem and no one else needed to know about it. It didn't take me long to realize that while that was a personal issue, I was going to need the strength of my family and friends to get me through it. I didn't go off and tell everyone I met, but I told those that needed to know. When you set standards, you can't rely on yourself alone to hold them. We were not created to live life in a vacuum. I depended on God, my family and friends to keep me on the right path and away from the sales signs.
  • If you are weak, don't try to be strong. Some days were really easy. Some days were really not. There were times that I walked around in the mall, looked at stuff...even tried things on...but never felt even tempted to buy. There were also times where I could come within 100 feet of a store and want to buy everything in it. If you know you are at a point where you can be easily tempted, or if you know that something can cause you to stumble...don't even go near it. Over the past year I have called friends more than once telling them they are going to have to talk me out of a store. During those times, I wished I had followed my gut and just stayed home.
  • Don't let pride cause you to stumble. There were a few times where I felt like I really needed something that I didn't have in my closet. Truth be told, I didn't really NEED it, but I really WANTED it. I told myself that I didn't have anything that would work to wear to my friends' wedding. After lots of searching, I found nothing in my closet that I wanted to wear for Easter. There were times when I almost said "forget it...I'll just buy this one's for a special occasion..." but then my support system came along and reminded me of my goal. After that reminder, they encouraged me to borrow from others. Borrow from others? I had never thought about that. It was a wonderful idea, but it would mean having to ask. I hated asking. I don't know why. I don't mind loaning my clothes to others, but I hated to ask. I didn't want them to think that I wasn't able to buy. It was a pride thing. Well, I finally got over it and ended up asking the friends and guess what...they were delighted to share.
  • When you mess up, ask for forgiveness and MOVE ON. Truth be told, I don't remember the circumstances exactly. It involved me being in another town and staying longer than I had intended, so I decided to buy a new shirt. After I did it, I was so mad at myself. I told my friend who was with me and she told me to take the shirt back and either wear the same shirt again or wear one of hers. I took the shirt back the next day, and for once, instead of beating myself up about the purchase...I moved on. I learned from it and I never bought anything else.
  • Instead of complaining, make do with what you have. Now, I'm not saying that I never complained about not having something last year, but each time I did, I would remind myself how much I do have. I mean, I still have a closet brimming with clothes, a dresser stuffed and another season under my bed! Besides, for the most part, I am a creature of habit and wear the same things time and time again. There was really no need to add more options to my already planned out wardrobe. Case in point...a few weeks ago I switched out my closet. Winter clothes under the bed. Summer clothes hanging up neatly. I do this every year and always have a stack of things to donate to others. I didn't think there would be much of that this time. I mean I had only gotten about 15 new things over the course of the entire year. I was almost in shock when it took three bags to pack up my things to donate. Even though I was "lacking" in the new clothes area this year, I was still overflowing with more than I could ever wear!
  • Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel makes it harder. The first month was hard, but this past month it has been 100 times harder not to buy anything. Just the other day, I was in Wal-Mart...WAL-MART, people. Now don't get me wrong, I love Wally World as much as the next girl, and I have nothing against their clothes...but I was about to go into a fit to buy a dress and top. The enemy kept whispering "May is going to be here in 15 days...what does 15 days really matter one that loves shopping gives up clothes buying for a've done this long one has to know." Now that my shopping itch is beginning to come back, it's getting harder and harder to tame. But it must be tamed. I made a commitment that I wouldn't buy clothes for a year and I'm sticking to it. I'm not going to compromise because I know the reward will be so much better in the end.

I challenge you to think about the closet of your life. Pull it all out. Sit in the middle. Is there anything that you need to pare down? If there is, maybe this list of learnings will help you as you sort through the piles.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Overflowing Closet

Almost a year ago to the day, I sat in my bedroom in Atlanta, Georgia. My large bedroom with two huge walk-in closets and an 8 drawer dresser...all were filled to the kilt with clothes. Don't believe me, ask my roommate.

I had just signed a lease to live in a house in Alabama. The house was precious, but it was an older home...complete with charming details and tiny closets. I wondered how in the world I was going to fit all of my clothes into that tiny space. There was simply no way. I would have to donate some. I immediately began filling garbage bags with things I hadn't worn. Four bags later, I felt better...but the closets were still pretty full. My mind began to had this happened?

Growing up, we got clothes for our birthday and Christmas, a new dress for Easter, a few things over the summer and before school started. We didn't buy all that often, but I was never in want. That all changed when I entered college. The mall was much closer, so I found myself purchasing more frequently...and then when I started into working world, it became pretty much a weekly event. I shopped when I was happy. I shopped when I was sad. I shopped when I was bored. I loved to look for a good deal, and it was almost like I got a little rush from finding something on sale. The more I bought, the more I wanted to buy.

Something had to be done...I just didn't know what that something would be. A few days later, I got a crazy and drastic idea. The idea was so crazy and drastic that I decided I would try it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Here's To The Seniors

I remember August 20, 2006 like it was yesterday. After months of preparation and a week of formal recruitment, I found myself in a room surrounded by 83 freshman girls. Different personalities and different stories, but on that day they had one thing in common---Delta Zeta.

I was a senior that year so I had to do all I could to soak up the one year I had with them. What a blessing that year was. There's just something about being around people that are younger than you that makes you see life in a whole new way...and appreciate it even more than you have before.

From the outside, I was three years older. A senior preparing to graduate. I was the one that was supposed to be teaching and leading, but let me say that group of girls did more for me than I ever thought possible. I had more fun than year than any other year in college. Sure, some of that was because it was my senior year, but a lot of that was because of those girls. They taught me how to relax, laugh and enjoy the moment. They taught me to look for the good in others and in all situations. They taught me that a positive attitude can go a LONG way...and that even "big kids" enjoy getting a gold star every now and then. :)

After I graduated, I did my best to keep up with them over the years. I've enjoyed hearing the updates and the visits. It is clear they have done and will do great things. They have made me so proud.

This week is a special one at the Delta Zeta house...a week set aside each year to honor the graduating seniors. I can't believe those same girls that entered the house in August 2006 are now preparing to leave it. I'm sure this week will be filled with mixed emotions for them, but I hope that the emotion they feel most is not one of sadness or regret, but of happiness, fulfillment and excitement for what comes next.

On August 20, 2006, I heard the question, "Did you get a good pledge class?" more than I can count. I always said "it looks like it, but we'll have to wait and see." Now, almost four later, I wish I could find all of the people that asked me that question. If I could, I would say, "We did. We most certainly did."

To the pledge class of 2006:

Last week I pulled out an old journal. I found the entry from August 2006 where I had written down each of your names. Just as I did then, I began praying for each of you by name. Prayers of thankfulness for what you've meant to me over the years, prayers for knowledge to know what to do next, prayers of blessing for your futures. What a privilege it is been to lift up you up in prayer.

no...I didn't already have these pictures. I've been stalking their facebook accounts for weeks!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Best Weekend Ever

April 9-11 is officially my favorite weekend of 2010...and if you decide to read the novel of a recap that I am about to write, then you'll know why.

Even though the weekend didn't officially start until Friday, I got some great news on Thursday that helped to make the weekend even better. On Thursday afternoon, my bestest friend called to tell me that she would be having her little girl on Friday. Oh, the joy. I was in Auburn when I heard the news and so I smiled and cried the whole way home. The day I had waited for for so long was almost here. I was a bit sad because I knew because of a prior commitment that I couldn't get out of I wouldn't be able to be there for the actual birth, but I was thrilled nonetheless.

Previous commitment? I bet you're wondering what in the world would keep me from being at that hospital when my sweet friend gave birth. Well, about a month ago, my mentor--who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world--called to ask if I could help her out. She had signed up to be a driver for some women that would be coming to her town for an Extraordinary Women' conference and realized that she wouldn't be able to do it. She went on to say that the women she had signed up to drive for were Lysa TerKeurst and Holly Good. For those of you that don't recognized their are missing out...but, don't you worry, I'll tell you who they are. You see, Lysa is a writer whose books have literally changed my life, and is the President of one of my favorite ministries for women, Proverbs 31...and Holly is her assistant who does so much more than just assist. I had the opportunity to meet Lysa and Holly for the first time about a year and a half ago and ever since then I have been a groupie. No, but really, I stalk her speaking schedule and make it a point to see her speak whenever I c an. To say I jumped at the opportunity to be able to help them out by driving them around would be an understatement.

It was such a treat to be able to drive them around and help them out. I loved everything from helping with the table set-up to the drug store and coffee runs. It is such a blessing to be able to serve--especially those that have inspired and encouraged you so much.

An added treat was the all access pass that allowed me to get a great seat! That pass also gave me access to places like the green room. Do you know who else had that pass? All of the speakers. This particular conference had five speakers and two worship leaders. You may recognize some of their names...Karen Kingsbury, Chonda Pierce, Sheri Rose Shepherd, Angela Thomas, Jeremy Camp, Mandisa, and of course, Lysa TerKeurst.

Well, on Friday night before the conference began, I followed Lysa and Holly up to the green room to get something to eat for dinner and after we sat down, do you know who walked in? Karen Kingsbury. Yes. I was in the same room as the one who introduced the world to The Baxter Family! To top it all off, after she got her plate, she sat down at my table...and we TALKED to each other! On the inside, I was totally freaking out, but on the outside, I was doing my best to act calm, cool and collected. I was trying so hard to "act like I'd been there" that I forgot to ask her for a picture. But, I promise, friends. I saw her. I ate with her. I talked to her....and she was even more incredible than I imagined!

On to the conference. It was incredible. INCREDIBLE. If they are coming to a town near you, I highly encourage you to make plans to attend. All of you Alabama girls---they are coming to Birmingham in May...and I'm going back! I had never been to a conference like that before, so I don't have anything to compare it to...but what I really loved about this one was how assessable all of the speakers and musicians were. Yes, I had a pass...but even if I hadn't had one, it would have been very easy to carry on conversations with them.

By the end of Saturday, I decided that I should ask for some pictures. Here I am with Angela...and then with Lysa.

I stayed the weekend with my the person who made the weekend possible in the first place. I met Mrs. Teresa almost 15 years ago and have been immensely blessed by her love for the entire time. She and her husband lived close enough for me to be able to stay with them, so that made the weekend even better. I loved hanging out with her precious daughters...four precious girls that are growing up entirely too fast...and catching up on life. We stayed up entirely too late, but it was so worth it. Even as we chatted about the importance of young girls having someone they can look up to, I was reminded of just how thankful I am to have someone like Mrs. Teresa in my life. It's not just teenagers that need a mentor...we all do...and she has blessed me time and time again with her acceptance, advice and unconditional love.

Sunday brought more exciting things. First off, breakfast with Lysa and Holly before I dropped them off at the airport. The weekend provided me lots of opportunities to get to talk with them and get counsel from them on different things, but Sunday was so special. We actually got to the airport a little early, so much of our conversation was done sitting in that car. Those of you that know me well know that my favorite conversations are had in cars...and this one did not disappoint. They challenged me, encouraged me, loved on me and offered some wonderful words of wisdom. God was so sweet to allow our paths to cross at this particular time.

After a goodbye hug and a "see you in Birmingham in May" I was back in the car with one thing in mind---get to the hospital and hold my best friend's baby! As I drove, it was almost ironic how many songs I heard on the radio that talked about little girls and their daddies or children grown up. It made for lots of tears. Tears that continued when I got to the hospital. On Friday morning, Natalie texted me with the news of Baby Carrington's birth, and I had seen a few pictures, but nothing compared to seeing her in person. She was the softest and sweetest bundle of joy. I was amazed at how alert she was and for the most part she was happy and co
ntent...just didn't want to have her diaper changed. :) It was hard to give her back to her mommy, but I willingly did, knowing that I the days and years ahead would provide many more opportunities for holding, loving and playing.

My best friend, the mommy, with her beautiful baby girl

Carrington Bailey

Feels so good to have a baby in my arms again!

So there you have it. The novel recap of the weekend. So many special moments. Thank you, Lord, for your goodness.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Welcome to the world, Carrington Bailey
7.2 pounds, 20.5 inches

proud parents...Natalie and Scott
proud "aunt"...ME

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him. -1 Samuel 1:27

Yes, I know this verse is typically used by parents, but believe me...I have prayed for this child!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I got a phone call today that I know I won't soon forget. A phone call that I have waited years to receive...and that I have really begun to anticipate the last few months.

My best friend Natalie called today to tell me that little baby Berry would be making her appearance tomorrow. TOMORROW!! My best friend is going to be a mommy TOMORROW! I can hardly contain my excitement. I'm pretty sure I've told 100 people...and 98 of those people don't even know who Natalie is.

I can't remember the last time I held such a small baby...oh, wait, yes I can...and she just turned a year old! It's been too long!!

Please join me in praying for sweet Natalie and her hubby Scott as they become first-time parents tomorrow. They're going to be great...but I've heard from more than one set of parents that you can never have too many prayers.