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I'M ASHLYN

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January 6, 2017

How to Start Your First Contentment Challenge

Faith

Reading time: 6 min.

I’ve been fangirling Nancy Ray for months: she’s a small business owner, photographer, shop owner, and Jesus-loving wife and mama. I spied her Contentment Challenge on a PDF buying spree (see the pattern?) last fall, and read the guide. TOTALLY hooked, I slammed my laptop and told Wes I was doing a “Contentment Challenge — so make sure I don’t buy anything for 3 months.”

Two weeks later, it was Black Friday: Plum Pretty Sugar’s sale emails piled in, and I *needed* more pretty loungewear.

(They new PJs are beuts though. Lemme just tell ya.)

How to start your first #ContentmentChallenge -- learn about how to do the contentment challenge here!

Sooooo …. suffice it to say, I realized maaaaybe that’s a sign I really CAN’T go more than a week or so without hitting the Target office supply section … or finding something on LikeToKnow.It from some Instagram queen … or shipping things off Amazon Prime to our home when I can’t sleep.

“Sometimes, the expanse of a whole fresh year knocks at the door and I have no idea how to rise to it — too scared to answer it.”

-Ann Voskamp

BUT, I’m all kinds of fired up about the new year, while simultaneously fearful I’ll fail miserably. I’m daily having to preach a theology of grace to myself, reminding that contentment will never be found in resolutions … but the revolutions. The turning ’round to the Lord. Because living with grace is ALL about finding gratitude (Ann Voskamp’s A Thousand Gifts will teach you that!).

I named last year “eucharisteo,” and Cinderella-post-ball style, I realized the shoe fit like a glove right about midnight of its last day. For us, 2015 was this violent roller coaster year of change: new rings and a marriage covenant, a cross-town move and eating disorder diagnosis. On its heels, 2016 swept in: hard but necessary, like when they tell you to put your mask on first before helping your neighbor. A year ago, I was still trying to re-learn how to eat. How to navigate out of social anxiety and depression and wondering if life was worth it. Marriage was at a battered brink in infancy. There was no “business” … just a fresh realization that maybe one day I could bring in an income AND love my job. Eucharisteo’s a Greek word about giving thanks with joy through grace.

I named this year “rooted,” and I’m ready to dig down into contentment.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  Phil 4:12-13

I’m doing the #ContentmentChallenge for realz this time, and I’d lurve for you to join me. 🙂 My sweet friends Kat Schmoyer and Jessica Pedicord are doing it too, and seeing them give it a whirl inspired me to give it a go!

Financial Business Bible Verses

There are rules, yeah sure, but after readin’ up on some other women I admire who’ve done this (check this, this, and this), the center of the challenge isn’t the rules. Contentment’s not a certain weight, a state of pristine organization, and it’s certainly not perfection. It’s just a state of communion with the Lord, no matter the circumstances. It’s being thankful in ALL the gifts, all the moments, all the life … just as He graciously provides.

From the puppy dog nose streaks all over my back door … to the smooshed pillows in every chair (some with a nice splash of coffee stain on them) .. to the closet STOCKED with plenty of clothes, and a beautiful, well-stocked studio I love working in and job I geninuely want to treat as my ministry … to the not-exactly tiny ranch-house sized dreams we’re learning to love and a tiny kitchen where we prepare the meals to nourish and bless our family and friends

The point of the Contentment Challenge is to learn more about ourselves and our Lord.

Quillian House Rules* for the Contentment Challenge

– For 90 days, I’m fasting from buying clothes/accessories, beauty products I don’t REALLY need, magazines, house pretties, anything that’s not a business need, and just general STUFF.

What’s ok? Basic living items and household expenses. The thing I need to watch out for is food … I tend to get Target syndrome at Trader Joe’s, and chalk it up to a “but I’m at the grocery store” expense. New succulents, prettily packaged sweets, etc. But I can buy the basics.

Also, most women that I’ve read spent time in prayer and stocking up on needs before, but I feel like I’m going into this post-Christmas and advent and present-city and annual goal-setting, but I would definitely spend some time in that if it wasn’t January!

– I’ll give AND receive gifts graciously, and pray about necessity purchases that come about (like make-up needs). Basically, I can replace anything I need of course, just not justify the things I already have.

Read 1-3 books about contentment during this time. This is tough for me! I LOOOOVE business books, but — duh, they usually wire me towards discontentment and get my mind reelin’. My 2017 book reading plan is to tackle 36 books, so the next few I read will be focused on faith and stewardship (Nancy Ray’s book club is my favorite reading resource, and pretty much anything with her stamp of approval rocks). I’m posting the 21 books I read in 2016 and my plan for this year tomorrow!

Actively pursue something that replaces my tendency to buy stuff. For me, that’s going to be craft and community. Y’all. I have SO. much. art. supplies. Soooo many hours of calligraphy and watercolor courses I’ve bought. A gajillion books I’ve Amazon Primed … that are unread on the shelf. I’ve got a sewing machine gathering dust. Plus, I love to read and write. Artsy/craftsy stuff is one of my FAVORITE ways to worship and celebrate how the Lord made me. I feel like a little kid sometimes: I need to answer my own “I’m bored, mom,” moments with the good, ol’ fashioned “Sorry. Find something to entertain yourself. You have plenty of toys.” Also, I want to focus on stewarding community … my relationships. Time on the phone with friends, time over dinner, etc.

– Organize what you have. I feel like I’ve done this well lately, tearing through The Magic Rules of Tidying Up last year, but I’m working through Nancy Ray’s family legacy guide, an annual path to planning your family legacy, getting your finances, will, home, family photos, and paperwork in order. It’s a GREAT download in her shop!

– Become a better steward of our finances. Ashlyn Writes finally has a bookkeeper and a CPA, so it’s my turn to do the work and build out a family budget that actually serves our family. Wes. Hates. Budgets. The kid’s a mathematician, and to him, they’re trapping: if he can see all the numbers and roadmap ’em in his head (he could probably remember what I paid myself in June of last year), why on earth track it? HA! Me? Clearly I’m a tracker/recorder/writer-downer, and it’s because I’m literally THE most forgetful human. And I’m not good with numbers. I need to see it to understand it. I also need the accountability. So I really wanna focus on praying about how to do this when we’re night-and-day on financial tracking … but both really want to use our money to serve our family and love others well.

*Remember, it’s not about the rules so much as the heart!


Ok. So those are the “rules.” Now, off to the races, and I’m so excited.

We’ve got a girls’ mastermind retreat in Savannah in two weeks … and I know The Paris Market is gonna be rough!

I’m expectant and excited to learn more about how to live on less. Sometimes, I actually think it’s kinda more fun than spending. And I love a good challenge.  🙂

Have you ever done the #ContentmentChallenge, or anything like this? Comment below — I’d love to know!

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Hey, y'all! I'm Ashlyn.

Freshly sharpened pencil bouquet ready, I'm here to make sure you stand out as a copywriter and calligraphy. I help women like you steward your story well, so you can work from a place of rest—not hustle.

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Welcome to the AW blog! I hook up women with words. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, and enjoy a peek behind-the-scenes of my ink stained life. 

LET'S PARTY:

I'M ASHLYN

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