Life Beyond the Contentment Challenge

For those of you just tuning in, for the last three months (February-April 2016) I have quit mindlessly spending. Starting on February 1, I only spent my money on necessary things such as bills (rent, car payments, utilities), groceries (an outrageous amount when you’re only eating at home), and gifts (birthdays, valentine’s day, and “because I love you” gifts.) It has been ten days post-contentment challenge and I cannot believe how quickly those 90 days flew by. While there were many times where all I wanted to do was go out with friends and eat, grab a new pair of running pants, or even get my nails done, I am absolutely so thankful that I stuck it out and finished strong.

While my way of thinking has been transformed, it was not the challenge that changed me but the Lord who softened my heart. Through this period He was able to show me how destructive my spending had been not only to my bank account, but to Him. In my comparison, my coveting, and my greed all I was doing was further fueling the need for more. I would not just buy something because I needed it but was rather fueled by it. By emptying my tank completely, my need for the Lord became more apparent. It is true when they say that if you have the Lord you have everything you need. Yes, I need food, water, and shelter, but if you trust in the Lord to provide those things, He will.

One of the greatest gifts that this season has given me has been learning how to cook. If you had told me just three months ago that I would be cooking and cooking HEALTHY for myself, I probably would not have believed you. I am such a believer in sweets, carbs, and gluten; how could any meal be good without them? Once I began grocery shopping strictly out of need it became interesting to try new recipes and truly challenge myself beyond my previous abilities. From about the second week of the challenge I became ecstatic for the recipe box I was sure to purchase once the 90 days were completed. I am proud to say that I got that recipe box and have written down all the delicious foods that I prepared during those three months.

I want to include them for anyone to try! And please, if you have any recipes that you love, share them with me. [Check out previous blog posts for pictures of the meals]

Buttermilk Banana Blueberry Bread

Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Extra Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges

Lemon and Thyme Chicken 

Slow-Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Vegetable Egg Muffins

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Floutas

Homemade Frappuccino

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Sweet Potato Bread 

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Carrot Cake Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting

Vegan Loaded Sweet Potato 

For someone who used to consider boiling pasta as cooking, I have come a LONG way. In addition to these recipes, I made millions of smoothies and other simple meals. Shout out to Aldi, Meijer, and Kroger for becoming my best friends over the past three months.

While cooking and obviously reading took over a huge part of my life during this challenge, I absolutely could not have made it through without the support of my family and my wonderful boyfriend, Cole. He took me out for coffee when I couldn’t buy it for myself, went on many free dates of hiking and adventuring with me, and prayed with me along this entire journey. I am so grateful to have had someone to so ardently believe in me as well as listen to me rant about how long it takes to chop sweet potatoes or how much I have spent at the grocery. I am looking forward to taking him on a date this weekend in Nashville to show my appreciation.

Also, thank you to everyone who has read my blogs, asked me about my challenge, or offered up prayer during this time. Although it may seem silly, the accountability from everyone has been precious to me and I am thankful for it. And a final thank you to my Heavenly Father for guiding me throughout this process, filling my life with beautiful people, and loving me wholeheartedly amidst my lustful nature.  While this challenge may not seem like a big deal to most, this has marked a transition in my life that I know was part of the plan that the Lord has for my life. I pray that as I enter my life post-contentment challenge I may see the purposes that this season has served and continue to live out these lessons that I have learned.

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