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Our upstairs bathroom doesn’t have a shelf, vanity, or any kind of flat surface near the sink.  In fact, due to less than brilliant planning by the landlord, the entire wall from the bottom of the mirror to the floor is tile, so we can’t even attach a shelf to it.

So I have to use the downstairs bathroom to put in and take out my contact lenses.  And because my eyes are too bad for me to take a shower without glasses or contacts, this means that in the morning I gather up all of my clothes and take them downstairs with me, where I put in my contact lenses, take a shower and then get dressed in a tiny bathroom instead of in my bedroom.

The task is so daunting that often I just sit on my bed and stare at the floor instead.  Or, I decide to forget about showering and just get dressed and go downstairs.  It isn’t a good morning routine.  I’ve been letting this paralyze me so that I’m not doing things that I should be doing, or so that I end up rushed, harried, and constantly late.

There are a number of possible solutions:

  • Find a way to install a shelf in the upstairs bathroom.
  • Do a better job of picking out my clothes in the evening, so that all I have to do is grab and go.
  • Shower in the evenings instead of in the mornings.
  • Get Lasik surgery and forget the contact lenses
  • Tell myself to just suck it up and do it because it’s not that big a deal.

And I’ll be implementing one or more of those in the weeks to come.

But I’m wondering whether this is happening in other parts of my life as well.  Am I letting little things stop me from doing what I should be doing?

For instance, in my spiritual life.  We’ve basically left the institutional church at this point, and we’re not attending a church service on a regular basis.  We’re working out what it means to live our faith in the world.  But I do need to establish some routine of spiritual discipline for myself, to keep myself grounded in God.  I haven’t been doing that.  It’s too hard.  Mornings are awful, days are full, and by evening I’m often so tired I just crash into the recliner and stay there.

What are my options?  I’m not totally sure yet.  Perhaps:

  • Find some very short devotional or set of prayers for morning – something with which I don’t have to think too much, because I do not think well early in the morning.
  • Establish a family devotional time in the evening.
  • Start of program of reading spiritual books and writing about them (since I can obviously manage writing)
  • Work on being mindful of God and of what I’m doing throughout the day.

And again, I can probably use more than one of those in the weeks to come.

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Because there is always laundry to do, I spent part of my Saturday folding laundry and listening to a Christian radio station. During a commercial break, the station announced that they are having a contest, and the prize is a Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) shopping spree, complete with limo ride, lunch and $500 gift card.

I dropped one of my husband’s shirts on the floor in surprise. Yes, this is the type of contest radio stations normally offer, but I was taken aback at hearing it from a Christian station. I immediately asked myself, “where would Jesus be on Black Friday?”

The first thing that comes to mind, I’m afraid, is the Temple scene, where Jesus drives out the moneychangers and tells everyone off. I think you can make a pretty strong case for shopping malls and big box stores, and yea, even the Wal-Marts, being the temples of the United States of America. So I’m thinking he’d be there, but not to shop.

You may have heard that some people celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead of Black Friday. I’ve gone back and forth on this. It’s hard to resist the deals (especially, in the Pacific Northwest, the Fred Meyer half-price sock sale). And we don’t have a lot of money, so huge deals can be helpful to our budget. So, in some years I’ve gone with Buy Nothing, and in others I’ve shopped. Last year I even wrote an article about Black Friday deals, in order to earn a little extra money.

This year, I could easily justify scrambling for the best deals. Our budget is as limited as ever, if not more so. But I’m not going to do it. This year, above all years, we need to change our ways. We’ve seen the economy going down the toilet. Many people will tell you that the cure for this is for people to spend more money. Spending more money will make the economy better!

Maybe temporarily. But, as we’ve seen this year, an economy based on consumerism and greed is not sustainable. We can’t keep doing this.

If you believe we need to change, join me in ditching Black Friday. But don’t stop there! If we boycott Black Friday and then shop just as much as usual later on, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Think about alternatives that help other people, or that support the local economy.

  • Alternative gift giving, or giving to charity instead of giving a physical gift. Check out living gifts from the Heifer Project, Mercy Kits from Mercy Corps, or the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) gift catalog.
  • Used items: books, games, kitchen items, clothing, and more.
  • Handcrafted items from a local bazaar or from Etsy (http://etsy.com)
  • Make your own handcrafted gifts, and spend time together as a family while doing it.
  • Gifts of time or experience rather than things: Babysitting, yard work, a trip to the zoo, dance lessons, etc.
  • Give your time to help others instead of giving each other gifts: volunteer to serve a holiday dinner for the homeless, help with a food drive, or pick up trash on the beaches.

After all, Jesus didn’t just stop at throwing the merchants out of the temple. According to Matthew 12:14 (The Message), after this “Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.” And children ran and shouted through the temple for joy.