My heart is so full. As expected, Making Things Happen was every bit as inspiring and fulfilling as I imagined. For those of you who walked through those two days alongside me, I know you understand! The heart-change that happens is something you can’t shake. My perspective on life and business is forever altered, and I’m so grateful.

This is my third time going through MTH, and each time one of the most powerful exercises we do is to complete this sentence: I am ____________.  This time, my chosen word was content. I am content. This is something I’ve been thinking about for months now, but I’ve especially been simmering on it these past few days since MTH.

If you’ve been following me, you know that debt-free living is something my husband and I are incredibly passionate about. You know that we’ve led four Financial Peace University classes, you know that after years of sacrifice and “living like no one else,” we finally paid off our house in December and reached Baby Step 7. Words cannot express how exciting that day was! How incredible it has been to pursue and achieve those dreams with my best friend!

When we reached Baby Step 7, I was expecting to start living the high life! I was excited to shop at Whole Foods, to go out to eat whenever we wanted, to revamp my wardrobe with new clothes (shopping is my weakness), to basically get whatever I wanted when I wanted it on our brand new budget. We increased our monthly spending in every category of our envelope system, and I was SO EXCITED.

Enter Princess Nancy. (The version of me that I do not like.) For the past two months, I have been spending more on food and clothes than I ever have before. To the average or “normal” person, it might not seem like a lot – but compared to the way we’ve been living, it was a whole lot. I’ve blown through the money we have at a much faster, much more frivolous rate, and I have NOT liked the way it feels. A few of our envelopes have been emptied halfway through the month, (yes, even with the increased budget,) and I was so disappointed in myself. It’s left me feeling like a consumer-driven person, not a values-driven woman of God. For the millionth time (the Lord’s patience with me never ends), I’ve learned that while “stuff” may bring temporary happiness, it never, EVER provides long term fulfillment or contentment!

Do you know what does provide fulfillment and contentment?
Quality time with those you love.
Being outdoors.
Healthy Living.
Working hard.
Playing hard.
Making Memories.
Being a good steward of your finances.
Giving stuff and money to those who need it.
Being thankful right where you are.

So, to be honest, my expectations have been shattered. I expected to work so hard and long for Baby Step 7 to find that life is so much easier and more fulfilling when I can buy what I want, when I want it! Let’s shop here! Let’s do this! Let’s go crazy! Yay this is what I worked sooo hard for!  Instead, I am finding TRUTH: Life is more fulfilling because we still choose to live on a budget and give money away to those who need it. Life is certainly not more fulfilling when I place my value in stuff!

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles, to abstain from the
passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. – 1 Peter 2:11

The Lord is so good. He never, ever leaves me to myself and my foolish desires. He is always refining me. He always brings me back to truth and what is really satisfying: Himself.

The truth is, I am to live a life marked with love, joy, peace, contentment, and self-disclipine.
The truth is, choosing to give my money and stuff away is much more gratifying than spending it on clothes for myself.
The truth is, we did not “arrive” when we paid off our house, but we must constantly be willing to learn and to change and to grow more into the likeness of Christ.

So, being grounded in truths, I’ve decided that I’m going to do something crazy, and I want to invite you to join me.

I’m going to give up shopping for new clothes or accessories or stuff for 3 months straight.

Am I crazy? Maybe. Do I need to do this? No. and Yes! No, because we have the ability to shop and enjoy life debt free, and there is nothing wrong with that! But YES, I need to do this because the Lord is calling me to this, and because I want to solidify the lessons of truth I’ve learned at Making Things happen with real and tangible action. Yes, because I am seeking a life of true contentment and fulfillment, and I will not settle for anything less!

And yes, you heard me. I’m inviting YOU to join me. If you feel like you want to hold your stuff a little more tightly, or if you feel like you simply could NEVER give up  your weekly trips to Target, then you probably need to join me. Heck, I need you to join me! It hurts like crazy to type this and share this, because then it makes it real! And to be honest, I don’t want to do this. Like I mentioned earlier, all I hear is this nagging voice saying “You didn’t work so hard for this! You didn’t sacrifice for this!” But that voice is selfish. That voice is entitled. And that voice is not obedient to the Voice that matters.

So here’s the deal. You’ve heard the “Why” behind this decision today – the pursuit of a more content and fulfilling life that is NOT fueled by material things. You’ll hear the “What” behind this in detail tomorrow – the guidelines, the motivation, the hashtags (so we can all cheer each other on), the community this will spark. (Even if it’s only 1 person! We’ll do this together.) So tonight, think about it. Pray about it. Ask yourself if this is something you feel you need to do. Then come back tomorrow and read about how we will do this. Together.

“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be  content.: – Phil 4:11

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[…] Contentment Challenge. I came across a blog post by Nancy Ray earlier this year explaining her contentment challenge and thought it was really neat butttt just […]

[…] 1: I am Content 2: The Contentment Challenge 3: April Goals + Guidelines -State of Satisfaction -Legacy -Simplicity -Gratitude 4: May Goals + Guidelines -Start Living – Halfway! -Grateful or Frustrated 5: June Goals + Guidelines : Final Post : Nicaragua Missions Trip : Part 1 & Part 2 […]

[…] Continue with Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge which you can find here. […]

Very good blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress
or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Bless you!

So fantastic to finally meet you in person, Nancy. You are such a light!

This is so hard! I’m working on giving up my Target trips, and Target is where I buy everything. I know it’s something I need to do. I don’t need stuff, and the savings are so helpful right now. I’m just an emotional shopper. Thanks for the inspiration to help with this. It’s something I need. :)

[…] also know that April begins the Contentment Challenge! (Read part 1 and part 2 of my thoughts on contentment.) I am so thrilled for each of you who are bravely joining […]

Oh Nancy! This post is SO SO wonderful! I feel the tug on my heart to join but honestly?! I really don’t think I can… it’s so terrible to say, but I doubt myself in this a lot! Thank you for sharing your heart, and I will pray about joining you!

Nancy, this was just what I needed to hear. So fortunate to have traveled through MTH with you. Trying to keep my focus where it really matters!

Love this post. God has put this exact thing on my heart recently. For some reason everytime I get to a place of being really content with life, something happens that brings discontentment into my life….and it is so silly! And I know it, but it still happens. Love seeing your journey here!

I recently stumbled across you and well, I fell in love with your sweet spirit!!! Love this post…so true. Somehow we forget the truth of this so easy!! Blessings to you…

Hi nancy! Thanks for this. It’s funny how God puts exactly what you need to hear in front of you at the perfect time. I literally just finished making our budget for April because we (mostly I) blew through every category of march’s plus some. It’s been like this for a long time, and I can’t seem to make the month last until the last day. And I know exactly what the problem is… Me. Just because we’re debt free and have no credit cards, I think it’s fine to buy whatever I want whenever I want it because I’m paying cash. It catches up with me sooner than I like though. I’m excited to see your post tomorrow and hop on board. But my weakness is not clothes, it’s things for the house. So ill be making some tweaks, I’m sure, to your guidelines, to fit just what God needs me to improve on. I’m thankful to you for challenging me just when I need it, as ridiculously hard as this is going to be for me!

nancy!! so proud of you. 3 months will go by so fast, and i bet you’ll learn so much! we’ve just started FPU, and are still on baby step #1, so we kind’ve HAVE to do this alongside you! :) i think making it official by saying no shopping for clothes/accessories for me OR ruby would help me to be more accountable. so i’m in! love you!

Nancy! You don’t give yourself enough credit! You’re amazing! I just completed 40 days of no shopping for shoes/clothes/jewelry/accessories and actually only allowed myself to wear 35 pieces of clothing in those days! It went so well. It forces you to appreciate everything else in your closet and it also makes you get creative with what your options are, because they’re limited! When my 40 days was up, I did get a cute new top to celebrate! But, I really had no desire to shop! I just avoided it. I turned my focus elsewhere-and I made a goal in our house happen-decorating our master bedroom. Sometimes for me, it takes no shopping at all to focus on something else I’d like to do-whether it’s decorate or travel. I also gave more. I know that sounds strange, but when I knew I couldn’t spend $30 bucks here and there on anything for myself, it was alot easier just to make a donation to a good cause with that money, because I wasn’t missing it! I am hoping to do another challenge this Spring, once the weather here warms up! It definitely changed my perception when it comes to frivilous spending. It also made me appreciate my clothes and it’s easier to go through and donate what I don’t care about. I’m hoping to do more of these challanges throughout this year so I can see what staples may be wise to invest in for my wardrobe and to weed out unwanted stuff! Good luck!!

Nancy I too have been thinking about this topic of contentment. What a hard but sweet lesson! Something I want to instill in my children – but if I’m ever to do that I must be the model. Here’s an article that’s been hugely encouraging to me and I hope it will be to you as well:

Nancy, what a great post! Thanks for such an uplifting message. I have actually been keeping the same goal for myself – after Christmas I decided that I needed to put a hold on all personal spending (clothes, accessories, nail polish etc.) until May. This has been incredibly hard – but I am almost there! I will be cheering you on too! Good luck!! xoxo

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