A Challenge for 2014

Blizzard of 2014

Our front yard in the Blizzard of 2014


Last year I started tried something new {inspired by blogger Ruthie Dean} that I would like to continue doing, and that is picking a “Word of the Year” describing the year past and speculating the year to come.


I wrote about those words least year in Reflections On a New Year. My word of 2012 was Choosing and my word for 2013 was In-between.



It’s amazes me to see how incredibly accurate last year’s word was….


I want 2013 to be about moments. I want to breathe it in. I want to enjoy the here and now, without constantly looking at what’s next. I want to cherish my season, and slow down enough to enjoy the incredible things happening all around me.


Because in-between the sun rising and setting, a whole lot of living happens.



Indeed. A whole lot of living happened last year. And I truly believe I positioned myself well to take it all in. Each moment, each day, the present of my reality. To enjoy rather than wish it away. To push play rather than fast forward. To look at the road ahead rather than to fixate in the rear-view mirror. The now.


And that will probably be a challenge this year and every year to come….living in the now.



In 2013 I lived with some of the most fantastic roommate I’ve ever had, I settled into calling this town home more-so than I had ever done in the past, got engaged and married, and celebrated alongside my best friend as she did the same. I embraced my singleness, and I was even a little sad to see that season go. I enjoyed so much of what my life had become that I knew getting married would be a wonderful adventure, but one full of change and growth and even more milestones ahead.


And it was funny, and not at all ironic, that people on our wedding day asked us about when we would be having children.


Hurry up!! One milestone down, so many more to go!! Go GO goooo!



Slow down. Push play. Enjoy the now.



Another word I would add to describe 2013 is indulgent.



I don’t care how frugal you are in planning your wedding day or how many DIY projects you tackle, there is something about the occasion, the glorious and grand celebration, that causes for money to disappear like water.





Don’t get me wrong, we are thankful beyond measure for our wedding day, for our parents bountiful generosity, and for the many blessing we received during this time. We budget, we planned, we saved where we could, we made a conscious effort to steward our gifts well, but it was an undeniable season of indulgence. Our time, our money, our focus, the way we ate, what we did with our resources…fun, celebratory, but at the end of the day we felt full.



And in some ways, a little sick.



While I think there is definitely a time for celebrating, for feasting and enjoying life to the absolute fullest, I believe this time should be balanced out by a time fasting. Abstaining, telling ourselves “no” when we would have quickly and easily said “yes” before. I believe this is character shaping in so many ways. We regularly take for granted what we have, whether we want to admit it or not. We say yes to debt, to a few extra pounds, to pouring our time into semi-useful activities and giving into indulgence that masquerade themselves as the “norm” for American culture.



So this year, 2014, my word of the year will be fasting.



Learning to say no, to embrace what I already have, to take notice of my bountiful life and to let my character grow with the simple practice of “no”.



I’ve got a plan. And friends who are crazy enough to join me in it. The team is comprised of my husband, my best friend, and her husband. We will embark on 6 months of intentional fasting, and we are all in it together.  { I will admit, I read Jen Hatmaker’s fantastic book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess  last year in which she does a similar fasting challenge. I advise everyone to read this book, and respond however you feel moved.}



We all agreed our indulgences in 2013 needed to be balanced, so we decided upon fasting from one thing each month for 6 months…



February: fasting froma vice


My vice…sugar. Dangit. I will be a cranky hott mess for the better part of 28 days next month as I embarrassingly find out just how much sugar over the recommended or even average intake is. Goodbye specialty lattes with a side of coffee. Goodbye breakfast cereals with fun cartoons on the box. Goodbye chocolate…I will miss you the most.



March: fasting from excess spending


The only money we can spend is on bills, gas, the necessities. Meijer is the approved store that we can spend money at for groceries and other necessities. No eating out, no shopping, no spending that is not deemed “necessary” (and since my husband would only deem meat and beer a necessity, March will be an interesting month in the Barcus household).



April: fasting from social media and video games


Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all of those sneaky little time wasters will be put on hold for the month of April.  I will probably have to just delete them from my phone because at this point, it’s more of a reflex than an intentional waste of time.  We will connect with people the old fashioned way…one at a time, through phone calls and visits (and ok–texting). Reconnecting with in slower, more meaningful ways. Sad to say, it will be a challenge.



May: fasting from “extra” sleep.


Up by 8am every day. No Naps. For those of you with kids, an “up by 8” rule probably screams vacation to you, and for those of you in college, this sounds completely and utterly unmanageable. It’s a funny thing, how relative “extra” sleep is. We’ve decided that at our worst, our childless selves can tend to indulge in sleep (it’s a snow day and I went back to bed until 11.Enough said). The continued goal of May is to use our time well, to chose productivity over sleep. To chose interaction over a sleepy sanctuary.




June: fasting from processed foods


I assume before this month starts we will have to do a great deal of research to figure out what that even means. Both ends of the spectrum…”organic” and “food product” are greatly abused. The golden arches advertise “food” that in countless experiments have proved is hardly worthy of the term. And on the other end, organic has been slapped on a good deal of products that leave you questioning what food is from God’s green earth and what is manufactured from a variety of unknown substances (“organic” cheese puffs? sounds natural to me).


Trips to farmers markets, homemade fill in the blank, throughout June we will make every effort we can to eat good, earth-grown foods that don’t contain excess chemicals, sugar and obscene amounts of yellow #5 and red 40. This does leave some room for debate, which is why we’re doing it as a team.




July: fasting from the luxuries of driving


I read somewhere (and I will fact check this later) that less than 9% of the world’s population owns a car. Less than 9%. The four of us each own cars, and take it for granted on a weekly if not daily basis. We can go virtually anywhere anytime and that is a luxury.


So for July, under 1 mile, we walk. Under 5 miles, we bike {with the exception of dangerous routes}. This challenge would be very different if we lived in a town friendly to bikers and walkers. To some degree, we do. But we also drive when we could easily bike or walk places that are closer than I care to say. Laziness. Luxury. This type of living needs to be reigned in.





So there it is. 6 months of fasting. Different challenges, different lessons, hopefully a meaningful time. I’m sure we will want to quit.






Which is why we’re doing it as a team. Accountability. Encouragement. And the helpful refocus of our goals every now and then when we’re ready to throw in the towel. Because we all believe there is much to learn when we set aside our wants, “needs”, luxuries and amenities.




2014….the year we live simply, carefully, and practice going without.







{Join us, if you’d like, and share your journey in the comments section as we post updates!}

9 responses to “A Challenge for 2014

  1. Kala
    Strangely enough I only occasionally stop to read your blog but being snowed in I have been grazing through facebook this afternoon. At 57 and about to retire in April, Tom and I have been discussing the fact that we need to cut back not just financially but in other aspects of our lives.I love the idea of the the six month fasting. I wish I had thought of all this earlier in life but there is still time to make changes.Thank you for sharing so much of you and your life. You like you father have and amazing gift. Love you, Pam

  2. Kala, i didnt know you blogged too …. This is beautifully written. I too am fasting this year from a lot of diff things. I love your monthly challenges 🙂
    Good luck and i will be following your blog now! – amy

  3. Pingback: I Didn’t Eat Sugar for a Month…And Lived to Tell About It | In It With You·

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    • Thanks! It’s been a process of discovery for me, too. Unless you’re ultra tech savvy, I would suggest a site like WordPress that builds it for you. You pick a format (free or paid) and you’re good to go. You can also purchase a domain name through WordPress which is a cheap and a fantastic option, too, as a way to drop the wordpress.com. I waited until my blog generated some activity before investing any money into it. WordPress or blogspot are easy ways to get started. Best of luck and happy writing!

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  6. Pingback: The Month We Fasted From…Nothing | In It With You·

  7. Pingback: A New Year, A New Rhythm | In It With You·

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