the day I decided to stop shopping and put on my running shoes.

When I meet people who dread shopping, I’m instantly conflicted: one-part envious, one-part stupefied. I have always loved clothes and shoes (particularly the impractical ones), and, most especially, shopping. This was true as a toddler when I asserted style choices about my walking shoes; as a preschooler when my parents lost me to the accessory section of a store; in middle school when I would save months of babysitting money to buy a pair of ridiculously rad teal LA Gear hightops (complete with double laces); and even as a twenty-something spending all of my birthday money on one French Connection dress. Needless to say, the cash envelope system and a budget that includes “personal expenditures” (no matter how small that budget is) has saved my marriage. Have you seen Confessions of a Shopaholic? Truly, it’s never been that bad (and homeschooling doesn’t really afford me the time or flexibility for shopping anyway). No, I envy shopping-haters because I imagine them to be more content, not having to coach themselves regularly on the difference between a need and a wante.g. “No you can’t use our emergency savings because those 4″ heels you’ll wear twice this year are an ’emergency’ good deal.” I imagine those non-shopping people occupy more of their time with things that don’t necessarily involve them (or maybe they’re just sitting around playing video games instead–who knows); at least that’s what starts to happen for me when I stop worrying about what I’m not wearing or what I can’t buy. I start thinking about what I do have and what I have to offer others.

In the spirit of thinking of others (at a time other than Thanksgiving or Christmas), I’m giving up my personal budget for the month of April. That’s right. No clothes. No shoes. No fancy coffees. For all of April. And while some of you reading this may think that’s not a big deal, it is for me. There’s very little in this life shared with 5 other people that I can call my own, and my tiny stipend is one of them. Besides, I’m finding creative ways to work with the clothes & shoes I already have (plenty). So instead of spending more money on myself and instead of our Chick-Fil-A meals (the kids’ choice), our family is supporting and walking in the Run for Compassion, a local 5K/10K raising money for a school/community building in Ghana. Our friends, Jen and Rusty, who established this annual race a few years ago, just adopted their 8 year old daughter from Ghana this year. Here’s a little of what Jen had to say about the experience:

When we made the journey to Ghana last summer to meet Ella, we knew we would be changed, but we didn’t know how much. We saw poverty like we’d never seen. We saw the hopelessness of poverty up close. And we also saw Compassion’s work there, and God doing huge things to bring HOPE and LIFE! We saw the JOY the Gospel brings to us all!

We are collecting donations for this 5K (that we’ll be walking) through the end of April if you’re interested in helping out. The kids will be especially enthusiastic to see their friends and family participate and “give up” something in their own lives (even if it’s just $3 in lieu of your fancy coffee). Nothing is too small. And if you live locally and want to walk (or run) with us — well, sign up, grab your running shoes, and come on!

And here’s a video (under 2 minutes) about Compassion’s work in Ghana.