Tag Archive: mark scandrette


When tbV [the beautiful Val] and i were living in Oakland about a year ago, we came across a book titled ‘Free’ by a friend of ours we had met over here, Mark Scandrette.

free

The tagline of the book is ‘Spending your Time and Money on What Matters Most’ and that really does sum up the book. We decided to gather some people together and work through the book over an eight week period. Continue reading

‘It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.’ [Terry Pratchett]

change1Last year i ran a series called New Year’s Evolutions in which i challenged people, instead of making the traditional resolutions [that i’ve seldom heard to have worked] to rather take a bit of a stock take of their life and be intentional about making a series of evolutions [small discernible changes] so as to live a more effective life in the coming year. The end of the year is a great time to do this as often people are off work and have a little more time and the start of a new year feels like a good time to add some new things to your life, or to remove some things that are having a negative or even sometimes just neutral effect.

This year tbV and i ran a book study using a book that our friend, Mark Scandrette had written called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most.’  I would highly encourage you to get hold of a copy and work through it with a bunch of friends over an eight week period – was such a great time for us and we ended up with some new friends and better life habits as a result. But even if you don’t go that far, to make some time to address the premise of looking at how you SPEND YOUR TIME and SPEND YOUR MONEY and then really being honest about whether those things line up with what you would say MATTERS MOST in your life.

I spent a lot of years at ‘the singles table’ at weddings growing up and inevitably you’re grouped with a bunch of people you don’t know and i used to find small talk excrutiatingly difficult and awkward until i came up with a simple solution. I changed the question ‘So what do you do?’ [which, let’s be honest, unless they’re an actual lion tamer, astrophysicist or spleen dissection technician we really don’t care about and likely won’t remember] to ‘What is your passion in life?’. Often it initially throws people a little bit, because they are not expecting it, but when they take a moment and think about it and start putting some words to the reality of their life, when people answer the question ‘What are you passionate about?’ you start to really find out who they are. And quite often it has little to do with what they do.

Take a minute to answer that question… What are YOU passionate about? 

Once you have that thing in your mind, and it might be a number of things – write them down – then ask yourself these questions:

# How much of my time do i spend doing something related to that? [If my passion is the outdoors and i am stuck in an 8 to 6 office job, well then…]

# How much of my money do i spend on things and experiences related to that?

Do they align? If not, then as you end off this year and are about to start a new one, maybe this is the best time to do something about it.

And maybe that thing will be something quite dramatic. [Handing in notice at your work, start planning that overseas trip, make a phone call about that volunteering you have been wanting to do…]

Maybe it will be something smaller and more manageable, but decide now to be intentional about doing it. And then jump…

change2# One of my evolutions for 2014: Taking responsability

 

Two shirts in [thankx Maff, aka my newish friend Adam von Boltenstern, yes that’s a real name!] and two out… instant fashion upgrade.

i really like the principle of deciding on a set number of clothing items you need and then any time you get something new, passing on or recycling something old…

as i have been writing about recently, a group of us have been working through the book, ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ and it has been interesting, exciting, challenging and in some regards life-transforming.

mugshirtthe last two weeks, one of the experiments has been this thing called ‘Have two, give one’ with the very simple idea that if you have two of something you should give one of them away – so the first week we started with clothes and shoes and invited everyone to go through their closets and bring what they wanted to give away [we adapted it a little for our group – one of the suggestions we gave was that if there is an item you have not worn for a year you can more than likely pass it on] and the following week we moved on to small appliances and kitchen stuff and it can go on to bigger appliances and more. the idea was that if anyone else from the group needed/wanted anything someone was throwing out they could take it [remembering the purpose is to get rid of stuff, not accumulate] and the rest would be sold, passed on to thrift stores etc.

my new friend Maff [who generally has the raddest shirts in town] brought a huge bag of shirts he had decided to give away and made comments to the tune of, ‘Good luck going through that and not keeping half the stuff’ and so i kinda just left the bag to the side with the intention of going through it some time.

and i decided to go through it tonite. but i decided to be hardcore and only take stuff i REALLY wanted and so managed to resist a ‘Monty Python Spamalot show’ shirt and a ‘Darth Vader walking an imperial walker as if it was a dog’ shirt and a bunch of others, and in the end i left with two new [to me] shirts. but i decided to honour the intention of the exercise and went through my drawers and took out two t-shirts and got rid of them, finally [sadly] retiring my Monty Python ‘I fart in your general direction’ shirt which to be honest, had seen better days and had to go.

So why not join us and take the challenge… whether you decide to go for a ‘Have two, Give one’ or a ‘If I haven’t worn/used this for a year, pass it on’ approach, that doesn’t really matter, but make the time to go through your clothes/shoes at least and see if you can do some decluttering as one step towards becoming more free.

 

freeso last nite was week 6 of our ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ book study and we vulnerabled [it’s a verb!] things up a notch as a few of us shared the money plan/budget we had spent this week working on [an interesting point of note was someone realising that it had been all the married couples who had volunteered to share theirs first – don’t worry singles/daters, your time is coming…] and it was such a powerful experience – it is amazing how speaking about money [especially when it becomes personal] has become such a big thing for so many of us – definitely think i want to write a bit more on money soon…

i would highly recommend this book as a catalyst for getting some great, helpful and healthy conversations going [like the big one of DOES THE WAY YOU SPEND YOU TIME AND MONEY REFLECT THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO YOU?]

– for married people, especially young [as in recently] married people – the parts on money, budgeting and debt alone are worth it.

– for small groups of people – this is part reading book, part workshopping book and so it has proven really helpful to be working through it with a group of twelve people who committed themselves to the eight week process – so whether a church group or just a group of friends who feel like it’s a good idea, it is.

– for anyone else. it’s just a good solid book.

do i agree with everything in it? absolutely not. but there is enough good stuff to make it worthwhile and some of the stuff you disagree with might make for good conversation and reflection

and there are some great challenges or experiments which i invited a bunch of you to do with me, with some interesting results:

[1] First up was the invitation not to rush – to take a bit of time every day for a week to slow things down and look and listen and just be and a whole bunch of you dived into that one with me and gave some great feedback.

[2] Next up was the Gratitude log where I invited people to join me for ten days of taking time at the beginning or end of a day to write down five different things from the day that you were grateful for and a medium amount of you decided to join me for that one, although there was not quite as much feedback.

[3] Lastly, I invited people to join me in a discipline of contentment, in which you were invited to give up something you liked [I chose coffee] for a week and the response was deafening. I’m sorry, that should read ‘deaf’ – there was the sound of the absence of crickets. Could it be that not rushing and being grateful both feel like things that have an immediate payoff for me, whereas something like fasting [even just one thing for a week] just feels like a bit of work? Interesting.

Which brings me back to the prayer at the start of Mark Scandrette’s book which is called a prayer of abundance and the invitation is to meditate on these words and see if this prayer is or can become true for you as you pray it with me?

I know that I am cared for by an abundant Provider

I choose to be grateful and trusting,

I believe I have enough and that what I need will always be provided.

I choose to be content and generous.

I know that my choices matter for myself, for others and for future generations.

Help me to live consciously and creatively,

celebrating signs of your new creation that is present and coming.

Creator, who made me to seek the greater good of Your kingdom,

Guide me to use my time, talents and resources to pursue what matters most.

Teach me to be free,

to live without worry, fear or greed in the freedom of Your abundance.

Give me my daily bread, as I share with those in need.

Thank You for the precious gift of life.

[From ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ by Mark Scandrette]

So seriously consider getting hold of this book or maybe a bunch of these books, and your friends or spouse and set aside time to work through it [a slow eight week approach works well – you could even do it regularly around a meal] and then come back here and let me know how it went…

Why wouldn’t you want to be more free than you are now? 

 

So these experiments of various disciplines began with tbV and me running a book study of this book called ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ by our friend Mark Scandrette which none of us had actually fully read yet [we’re discovering it as we’re leading it which has proved interesting and fun]. And which i highly recommend that you totally just order and get and work through.

If you are married it’s an excellent book to work through with your spouse and if not then with a group of friends or small group. It is practical and inspirational and challenging and just really helpful. For some of you this will literally change your lives. For others of you there will be some helpful stuff. But yes, so good.

txSo it started off with an experiment of inviting people to slow down the rush and take time every day for a week to be still for ten to fifteen minutes and just be and meditate and pray and observe and listen… and a bunch of people got involved in that and it was really great reading through some of your comments over here.

And then next up was the invitation to keep a Gratitude Log for ten days [i have done 8 so far] and to come back and share some of your reflections with us in the comments section below here [so please do that!]

In the meantime, here are two of my days from this last week or so…

I am grateful for…

an old crazy friend visiting for two fun-filled nights

the opportunity to lead a listening to God exercise at a home group from church

a request met on our behalf that will lead to urgent dental work being covered for Val

an inspiring marriage blog post by Rachel Held Evans

corn/mielies left in the fridge for me by my beautiful wife to eat while she is away

God completely showing up and rocking the house at the home group tonite

I am grateful for…

a repaired bicycle tyre

date nite with my beautiful wife

some great 3D ‘Gravity’ movie action

the likelihood of getting to see my Jhb/Pta friends in January

some fun online connection and silly banter with Re:Generation church okes

what has stood out for me is that it has been so incredibly easy once you actually make the effort to sit down and write things down.

i tried to find a range of things to be grateful for, from simply daily pleasures like a good meal or drink to deeper experiences and realisations.

i found that relationships and people tended to dominate many of my entries as well as awareness of and experience of God moments.

today i sat outside and combined the being still and just taking in everything around me and the meditating on things to be grateful for and found the combination to be completely inspiring and life-giving.

doing this has caused me to want to make time for it more often and to continue to notice and speak and write and relive and above all be grateful for things both large and small that i have in my life and that take place in the world and people around me.

i have two days to go, but it is not too late to start… if you begin today then when you are done come back and share an entry or two of yours with us.

So what do YOU have to be grateful for today?

[For the next part and the challenge to Fast Something you Enjoy, click here]

 

coffeefastIn the Anderson household [Val is away in Atlanta this week] a variety of yellow post-its have suddenly appeared saying things like ‘No coffee’ and ‘Coffee fast’ as reminders to me of what i have committed myself to.

Who is up for a new challenge?

So by now if you’ve been following this blog you will know that tbV and i are leading a book study of Mark Scandrette’s book, ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ and have been engaging in a variety of experiments which i have been inviting others to join in via this blog and the book of facings.

First up was the invitation to stop rushing and to be still and it was most excellent reading the feedback in the comments section of others who gave it a try with me [so thank you for that gift!]. Next up was the gratitude log, making a note of at least five things every day for ten days that you are thankful for [and the feedback post for that will be coming later this week].

This coming week the chapter we are looking at is titled, ‘Believe you have enough’ and the experiment we have been invited into looks like this:

EXPERIMENT: DISCIPLINES OF CONTENTMENT

‘We are challenged to believe that we live in a world of abundance and that our true happiness comes from receiving the lives we’ve been given. As with all of His teachings, Jesus’ instructions about money and wealth point to the heart and invite us into greater freedom. They are designed to help us see accurately that we live in a world where God provides all that we need.

Take a voluntary fast. To experience the freedom of enough requires us to take new risks of action and practice.

For thousands of years the discipline of fasting has helped earnest spiritual seekers to curb the desire for more and to distinguish between needs and wants. Jesus seemed to have assumed that His followers would fast [Matthew 6.16] A fast can also help to reveal our disordered attachments – those things we habitually go to that are not a true or lasting source of comfort. Many people find that abstaining from something they normally us as a coping mechanism brings them face to face with pain, worries or deeper wounds they have been avoiding. Dallas Willard suggests that fasting helps prepare us to do good, because it trains us to say no to bodily desires in favour of intentional choices of obedience.

What do your patterns of spending or consumption reveal about a potential disordered attachment? Is there something that you consume on a daily or regular basis that would be revealing for you to abstain from this week [snacks, coffee, alcohol, media, meat]? As an act of contentment commit to a seven-day fast from something you regularly enjoy… Remember, your fast is something between you and God. Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly, in a way that wouldn’t be obvious to others. [Matthew 6.16] 

You may also want to consider the potential benefits of a longer-term fast of some kind. Our friend Melanie has challenged herself to live on $1.50 a day for forty days, giving the money she saves on daily living expenses to an organisation that helps people get access to food or clean water. The next year she tried to live on $1 a day. Each year our friend Darin gives up something he enjoys and will miss as a reminder that his true happiness isn’t dependent on always having more or getting what he wants.  One year he might abstain from meat or caffeine; another year he might abstain from watching movies or buying books. Many people have found it helpful to fast from shopping or buying new clothes for a specified time. To make it more fun, people often make these commitments with a group of friends.’

THE CHALLENGE: 

So i am inviting you to join me in a week’s fasting of something you enjoy. I have chosen to abstain from coffee for the week. And I know there is the line about keeping fasting to yourself but I am going to invite you to share with us what you choose to fast from as a form of accountability. So don’t make it a status and let everyone else know, but if you choose to join us on this, then leave a comment telling us you’re in and letting us know what you will be choosing to abstain from for the next seven days [if you start this late just do seven days from when you begin]

As with the other challenges, i will do a follow up post later and you will also be invited to let us know how it went.

So is anyone with me and what is your thing?

[For the Final Part Summary and Conclusion and Invitation to you to get involved, click here]

txSo a bunch of us are nearing the end of an experiment of avoiding the rush, which you can read more about here, and i am going to share some of my experiences and hope others will do the same in the next day or two…

…but in the meantime our ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ carries on and this week we are focusing on Gratitude and Trust.

And one of the pieces of homework is a Log of Gratitude and once again i would love to find at least nine other people who will commit to doing this with me for the next ten days, so, if you are one of them, please leave your name in the comments below…

‘KEEP A DAILY GRATITUDE LOG

The practice of gratitude helps us recognise how we have been lavished and loved. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” [Psalm 106.1]

Living gratefully is an important discipline because it affirms what is evidentially true – that we are cared for by an abundant Provider who delights to give us many good things. This week keep a daily gratitude log. At the beginning or end of each day write down five things you are thankful for. Try not to repeat. If you write each item in sentence form, your list will begin to take the shape of a poem. For example:

I am grateful for…

the taste of coffee in the morning

how sunlight fills a room with warmth

the gentleness of a kiss on the cheek

the power I feel in my legs when I run

Your list could be a random collection of things that move you, or you might pick a theme for each day: food, people, nature. Or you might want to spend some extra time outside looking and listening for signs of God’s abundance. At the end of the week read your poetic list to a friend or small group. ‘

[from ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matters most’ by Mark Scandrette]

So there it is, and if you’re feeling particularly brave and sharey then i will invite you to share your ten day’s worth of Gratitude with us in the follow-up blog.

Anyone up for this? 

[For Feedback from my Week of Gratitude, click here]

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