The relationship between 

waste + covetousness + gratitude 

is unmistakable. 

Two of my Intentions for 2015 included less waste and more gratitude. I've been feeling convicted of covetousness (the opposite of gratitude) lately, as well. Up until today, I didn't even consider the seemingly obvious relationship between these three things.

When vanity strikes, I blame my propensity for coveting and/or needlessly buying more of what we already have on my "good taste." I like high quality things. Truly, I don't want to own an excess of things. But without a mindset and discipline of gratitude, my quest for better suddenly becomes a quest for more. This is applicable in so many areas of my life: 

  • Groceries—It's the attitude of I'd rather try this super cool recipe that requires yet another trip to the grocery store rather than using all the wonderful pantry staples we already have, or I could quick grab a piece of pizza from one of of favorite local pizzerias instead of making lunch at home
  • Cleaning and beauty products—we've been transitioning to more natural products for a long while now, specifically in body care products, laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies. Prior to this decision, I generated a stockpile of household products. Rather than using up what we already have, I constantly face the temptation to buy all the best of everything right now, because that sounds better than using what we have. 
  • Clothing—I like to browse and occasionally buy items at Madewell or J.Crew for pieces that are more permanent wardrobe staples, rathe than filling my closet with cheap, low-quality sale items that I bought because they were on sale. But every time I go to Target, I'm tempted by the clothing section (that being said, I do have some wonderful clothes from Target)

No matter what, these situations can only have one outcome: waste. Food or products expire, and we have to shuffle our stuff around to make room for the self-inflicted redundancy. Ill-fitting and impulse clothing gets pushed to the back of the closet. When I'm faced with the decision to use adequate vs. new and shiny, I'm bound to use the best and ignore the rest.

Avoiding waste makes sense on all fronts: practically, financially, and it's fitting for our role as stewards of God's provisions for us (John 3.27). The solution is not only cutting back covetousness at the root, but then practicing gratitude instead. 

"It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and to have courage when things go wrong."

Laura Ingalls Wilder 

On Tuesday, I had to put this into practice. I went to the yarn shop with a friend. We enjoyed the yarn shop, but we said to no to everything but the materials she needed for her new project (+1). The yarn shop is in the cute part of town with the best walk-up pizza place, but we said no to pizza (+1). We drove home past some cozy coffee shops, but we said no to coffee (+1).

These seem like small sacrifices (they are!), but my goodness, it was difficult to turn away pizza and a latte. I kept wondering why it was so difficult not to indulge my every whim. I'm not opposed to treating myself—Nicholas and I frequent a few pizza places for date nights, and a solo coffee date is a great way for me to re-charge. But on Tuesday, I was tempted to consider those indulgences to be necessities in order for me to have a good day

But on Tuesday, because we said no, my friend came over and we made a lunch of homemade breakfast tacos (yum!) and French-press coffee (yum!), and we had more time to knit together and talk. I've almost forgotten how refreshing it is to have someone over for coffee rather than always going out for coffee. Because we said no at first, we could say yes to better things. 

No to excess provides the opportunity for a more desirable & planned yes.

(below) Here's Molly, working on her first project :)

(below) I wrote out this Charles Spurgeon quote a few years ago when I was a college student, and it's moved with me from bulletin board to refrigerator, Indiana to Texas, but today I saw it with fresh eyes. Spurgeon is referring to big things, but truths about big things so frequently apply to little things too. 

I love this part: "Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good."

These struggles are generally somewhat seasonal for me. When we first moved to Texas, my struggle was with contentment in the big things, and this season, I'm feeling challenged to weed out my covetousness for little things, and to practice gratitude in its stead. 

In what areas of your life could you say no to excess to make way for a better and planned yes?