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Posts Tagged ‘simplifying’

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot of thinking. Even more than usual. I have been questioning things I’ve never questioned before. Questioning everything really. Around and round I go each day, the ground shaking beneath me, shifting and turning, keeping me from nailing much down. But as much as I’ve been questioning, as many things as I’ve been rethinking, there are these few that I keep coming back to.

It has been a year of change. But these things keep staying the same…

  • I believe in Creator God.
  • I believe Jesus lived, died on a cross and was who He said He was.
  • I believe that my husband and my children need me more than anyone else does and need me more than anyone else.
  • I know I feel so…alive when I am running (or otherwise active), writing, reading and experiencing this gorgeous planet (and that the purer I experience its form, the better). I believe all that has to mean something.
  • I believe Jesus is the answer to a lot of my questions.
  • I believe in real food. I believe it is the solution for much…maybe even most…of what ails us today.
  • I believe that being still, being quiet, truly simplifying, is the answer to finding the Holy Spirit. I believe it is through the Holy Spirit that we find peace, wisdom, clarity, direction, purpose, discernment, awareness, compassion, self control.
  • I believe in adoption. I believe it is on my heart and in my mind through out the day, every day, for a reason.
  • I believe in generosity and compassion.
  • I believe in green living. It makes so. much. sense.

These ten things I still believe.

And I would love to know, when your whole world is changing, what things do you still believe?

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My, my have I been M.I.A! Where does the time go? I started to write this post at the beginning January (you know, back when writing a post about a new year seemed a bit more relevant). But then life happened and blogging didn’t and here we are seven weeks later. It’s been on my mind ever since, though, so here we go.

I realized some time between the last week of December and the first week of January that I really only needed to make one resolution for the new year. I realized, with an astonishing amount of clarity, that if I would just do this one thing for the entire year, my life would see great improvement.

So resolve I did, that 2012 would be my year of letting go.

Letting go of fear.

Letting go of regret.

Letting go of perfectionism and judgmentalism and materialism (a lot of isms).

Letting go of the 20 pounds I was still carrying around from my pregnancy with Canyon.

Letting go of possessions, so many possessions (including our house, Lord willing!).

Letting go of the obsessive compulsive behaviors that take too much of my time and too much of my brain power and too much of my energy and really hold no value whatsoever.

Letting go of the cultural brainwashing I have allowed myself to fall victim to about beauty and convenience and what is truly valuable in this short life.

Letting go of hurt feelings and misunderstandings…and a grudge or two.

Letting go of impatience and anger and stinginess and pride.

Letting go of expectations.

Letting go of control.

For seven weeks I have been letting go, uttering that phrase to myself a dozen times a day or more. And you know what I am finding?

I am finding that the more I let go, the more room I have for grace in my life. Grace. And peace. And joy. And freedom.

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my travel companions

The trip was a last minute one. And a first for me and the kids, seeing as we had never before left town with just the three (ok, technically four) of us in the van. But my hard working hubby needed to stay in Nashville and work and my mom, dad, youngest sister, two friends and grandmother (the crew we would be spending the weekend with) all left town on Thursday (a day before we were able to get away). And even though packing and cleaning and loading by myself was a bit overwhelming (mostly because my very pregnant body makes everything overwhelming these days), the six year old was a huge help and the four hour drive went so smoothly I would actually describe the time as enjoyable! I did miss my hubby those three days (and the kids missed their daddy!) but I am so thankful we decided to go! The time away was worth every ounce of extra energy it took to get out of town.

The three days were quiet, peaceful (other than some major struggles with my three year old. another post for another time.) and relaxing and took place surrounded by breathtaking views of The Great Smoky Mountains. And as it always does, getting out of the city gave me the time, the distance and the space to reflect and calibrate…

So, here are a few of my thoughts and reflections in no particular order:

1) You don’t have to fly to Hawaii or Europe to see spectacular sights, sights you may never have had the privilege of seeing before. There are more of them than you think, closer than you think and they are worth looking for!

2) My boy is, well, just that- a boy. And he needs time out of this house. Time to explore and get dirty and burn off his surplus of energy. Just because one of us is carrying around an extra 30 pounds and would prefer to lay on the couch all day, doesn’t mean we all feel that way…

3) It’s a whole lot easier for me to believe that all of this was created by a Creator than that it all began by chance or coincidence or a meteor.

4) I may have been born in the wrong century. We spent our three days in a cabin in the woods with no internet or television and, somewhat surprisingly, I did not miss either in the slightest. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of posting that statement on my blog. Technology does have it’s advantages.)

5) I packed less than I’ve ever packed for a trip and we still didn’t use everything I brought. Maybe someday I will get this whole simplifying/minimalism thing figured out…

6) My enormous belly gets me way more attention than I am comfortable with. I cannot remember the last time I showed up somewhere and didn’t have a stranger ask me if I was about to go into labor. I suppose that could have something to do with the fact that that portion of my torso now enters a room a good ten inches before the rest of me does…but does it have to get comments everywhere I go?

7) I love, love, love to walk and run and hike and I am so excited to be able to do those things to my heart’s content again in the very near future!!!

8 ) God blessed me with an incredibly loving and supportive family, something for which I am constantly and eternally grateful!

(This post would more appropriately be titled, “Life Lessons: What I Learned and What I Was Reminded of During Our Three Days in Gatlinburg and from Our Adventure in Cades Cove”. But that seemed a bit wordy for a blog post title…)

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Inspiration can come from so many places…

– Last fall it was my dad. His knowledge of Scripture inspires me. It is truly incredible. And the stories and lessons he shares with me from Scripture inspire me too. So on January first I began reading the One Year Bible. I have made it to Joshua in the Old Testament and Luke in the New. I am excited about what is still left for me to read and learn!

– Sometime in January it was my mom. My mom inspires me, in one way or another, on a weekly basis. But in January it was a conversation about organic eating that inspired me. For about a year now I have had the desire to feed my family only organic foods. However, eating organic can be pretty expensive. And as I am also committed to a budget, I have been hesitant to spend that much more money every month. But her suggestion made sense to me- “Just switch some of the things your family eats the most. You don’t have to go cold turkey to be benefited. Little changes make a difference too.” So now we eat about 50/50. I feel better about what I am feeding my family. And my budget thanks me too.

– This spring it was zerowastehome.blogspot.com. Reading it has inspired within me a whole new perspective on quite a few different things. But more specifically it inspired me to start composting. It really is too easy and too cheap and too good for the environment not to do! So on May 11th my sweet husband surprised me with a compost bin and then this past Sunday he did all the steps required to get it started for me! (He is such a good man. I think it was about 95 degrees at the time. Good, good man.)

– Also this spring it was tumbleweedhouses.com. The whole idea of “tiny houses” is quite intriguing to me. I actually find it to be quite appealing too. And though I don’t see myself living in a tiny house anytime soon (if ever), the idea of a tiny house has inspired me to rethink what we truly need or are even benefited by in this life (like how many square feet, how many books, how many toys, how many pairs of shoes one should really own…). It has also inspired me to declutter! A process I am truly enjoying and feeling very blessed by this time around. Sooo freeing.

– Around the middle of April it was “Our Noble, Essential Decency” by Robert A. Heinlein in the book “This I Believe”. Reading that inspired this “glass-half-empty-gal” (yes, its true, as much as I hate it, I tend to be one of those glass-half-empty people), to pay more attention to, give more credit to and acknowledge more often to myself and others the kindness and thoughtfulness shown to me by the people in my life. One way I have done this is by writing down those experiences when they happen. This simple, easy practice has blessed me so much and really improved my perspective on people and life.

– Around the end of April it was a magazine article (I cannot for the life of me think of which magazine…). The article was about a mama of two who kept running (along with a support group of other preggo runners) through her entire second pregnancy. Yes, she got a lot slower. And yes, the distance she would run diminished considerably the further into her pregnancy she got. But she kept at it. And knowing that that was possible for her, has inspired me to do so as well. I may not make it to the ninth month (Or maybe I will. Who knows. We shall see.). But I can run today. And so I did. And so I will. As long as I am able.

– May 14th-21st it was the beach. Oh, the beach. I love the beach. I could (and might still) write a whole post about the beach. It inspires me in so many ways. It inspires me to spend time outside, out of the city, to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of God’s creation. It inspires me to travel. What a fascinating and magnificent planet we live on. I want to see more of it. It inspires me to spend more time with my family. All thirteen of them. They are amazing. And our family dynamic is pretty amazing too. And it inspires me to simplify. Everything we needed that week fit in the trunk of our car. Do we really need all of the other  2200 square feet of stuff that we came home to? It inspires me to run. And write. And take a deep breath. In so many ways it inspires me.

– This week it was the heat. That, combined with feeling so, so pregnant these days, has inspired me to drink more water. I have committed to downing 80+ ounces of water each and every day for the rest of this pregnancy. So far it has been surprisingly easy! (The only downside being how many freakin’ trips to the bathroom I make every day!)

– And two days ago it was an article in the “Davidson A.M” about Mayor Karl Dean and his challenge to the city to “Walk 100 Miles With the Mayor”. Running has evolved dramatically for me since getting pregnant in December. And as a result I have really struggled with motivation. But my days are so much better when I fit in a run (even a really short one!) and so is my health, my energy, my mood and my frame of mind. I have run/walked more than 136 miles this pregnancy. This article has inspired me to commit to running/walking, over the next 15ish weeks, another 150 more.

So with all that said…what’s inspiring you lately?

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I must confess, I went out of curiosity more than anything and with expectations of being an observer rather than a participant.

But I should have known.

I should have known that my walls would come crumbling down. Should have known that the shroud covering my heart would be gently pulled away.

They are just too good at what they do. And His spirit is too mighty. Especially in those moments where I am forced to be still. And quiet.

SPACE, they call it. SPACE. What is SPACE? Well, let me tell you what SPACE was for me…

When I walked in an immediate quiet surrounded me. Not just an audible quiet. A complete quiet. Instantly, without my even intending for it to, this caused my spirit to take a deep breath.

Dozens of candles flickered across the front of the room. They, along with a few strands of soft white lights that had been wrapped around some wooden beams were all that lit the space. Black curtains hung around the room’s edges. A small stage, an area rug, a few scattered chairs and four “stations” completed the gathering of items with which my eyes connected. Several dozen people had arrived before me. Some were sitting. Some were standing. A track of soothing music played very softly in the background. I grabbed a sheet of paper from the table by the door and settled onto a spot on the rug that had been layed in the middle of the floor. I glanced down at the words covering the paper that I held in my hand.

“SPACE is designed to be a soul environment – a sacred, reflective time for prayer and calibration. Our hope is that you experience the love story of Jesus through this environment and feel the freedom to journal, pray, reflect, or just rest at the feet of the Father. We are glad you are here. Be still. Listen. Reflect.”

After reading these words, curiosity about the four stations pulled me back to my feet and I began a slow walk around the outer edge of the room. A few minutes into this time Leslie, David and a woman who’s face I did not recognize, took the stage. I returned to my spot on the rug. Moments later Leslie’s soothing voice filled the room, inviting everyone to worship with them through music if we so desired, or just continue on with what we were already doing if that was where we needed to be.

And for the next hour, with Leslie on her guitar, David at the piano and the stranger accompanying with a violin, I was swept away. I couldn’t even sing. I could only sit and weep. Weep unexplained tears. Not tears of sadness. Or anger. Or disappointment. Not tears of regret or pain or fear. Not even tears of joy. Just tears from a soul overwhelmed to be sitting in the presence of my Father’s Spirit.  Soul environment. This is what they mean when they say soul environment.

After a half hour of tears, a half hour without a clear thought in my head, I received a message so penetrating,  I couldn’t’ve ignored it if I’d wanted to: My soul needs the white noise to be quieted. My soul is desperate for it. For several breaths I just sat in the clarity of that moment. But that wasn’t all that would come to me. Moments later a rush of words began running into my mind. I grabbed my paper and hastily wrote them all down.

– Get out of the city.

– Get rid of stuff.

– Get off of the computer.

– Turn off the t.v.

Rebuke the lies in your head.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

– Keep reading.

– Keep writing.

Love your children.

Love your husband.

Cherish your family and your true friends.


I am still meditating on these thoughts today. As well as a few more thoughts:

Our souls are longing to be fed. They are desperate for nourishment.

Everyday we feed our faces. Our egos. Our desires. Our impulses.

But how often do we feed our souls?

And how do we? What does this even look like? Sound like? Feel like?

We must begin this soul journey. Or continue it if it has already begun.

For truly, our very lives, our very souls depend on it.

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The following is a list of ten, kind of random things that I have been thinking about and trying to do, especially since the new year. They have all been a blessing to me. I challenge you to try each of them. I hope they are a blessing to you, however big or small!

1) Start your day thirty minutes to an hour before your children wake up with some sort of quiet time with God. This is a new one for me and it has been such a blessing. Thankfully my children don’t get up until after eight so doing this is not a particularly challenging schedule, but starting my day with a quiet breakfast while I read my Bible and write in my prayer journal affects me the rest of the day. My patience is improved, my peace, my attitude. Incredible!

2) Commit to some kind of exercise program! I know not everyone is crazy like me and enjoys exercising but I am more and more convinced that being active in some form, at least a couple days a week is invaluable, no matter who you are. (If you have no idea how to go about this or where to start or why this really matters, ask me!) And eat better! Not because you have to, not because you’ll die if you don’t…because you will feel better! (I have a lot of thoughts about this one too but I’ll probably write them in another post, another time…)

3) Make lists. I am a listmaker so I like this one but I have seen it bless non-listmakers too. I suggest finding a notebook rather than random slips of paper that get lost and thrown away. Keep this notebook with you always. Write in it ideas, goals, to-do lists, contact information, etc.; all the random things that you think of and are told through out the day that you will never remember. (The one exception I suggest is your grocery list. Keep this one on the fridge and write on it every time you run out of something and need to replace it. That way you don’t have to try and remember what all you need on grocery day. The list has already been written, just grab it and run!)

4) Turn off the TV; for your sake, for your childrens sake, for peacefulness sake, for creativity sake, for motivation sake, for relationship sake. This entertainment box robs us of our time, our connection to one another, our peace and quiet, our motivation to get off the couch. So just turn it off. And hide the remote! 🙂 It will be hard at first and weird and you will be very tempted to turn it back on…but turn it off anyway and see what happens!

5) SIMPLIFY AND DECLUTTER! We are a culture that believes more is better; more stuff, more activity, more money, more more more. Well I say, be counter-cultural! There are not enough hours in the day to do everything so be committed to only doing that which is important to you, that which will be a blessing to you or someone else. If there are too many important things in your life to fit in, then you may need to reconsider what really is important! And declutter! If you don’t love it or use it…get rid of it!!! The less stuff we have the less there is to clean, to manage, to find, to maintain, etc…and the more time there is to love our families, our friends, our God and ourselves!

6) Find something that you love to do and do it! So many of us grow up and become so consumed with what we have to do that we stop doing what we want to do, what we love to do! Find a hobby, make a little time each week, and enjoy! I believe taking a little time to do the things we want to do makes the time we spend doing the things we have to do more peaceful and manageable and even enjoyable. So I encourage you to find the balance between the two.

7) Wash one load of laundry every day and set it on your bed to be folded before you get into your bed. I have tried so many methods of staying on top of the laundry, so far this one is working the best. Avoiding laundry baskets and avoiding doing seven loads at once has kept our laundry clean and put away. I have been skipping the baskets, going straight from washer to dryer to bed to folded to put away! Ideally it’s folded and put away before bedtime but worst case you spend ten minutes right before you crawl into bed and its done! Voila! (You do have to be committed to not just setting it on the floor or dresser for tomorrow if you are particularly tired that night though…)

8 ) Go to bed with a clean kitchen. Waking up to a clean kitchen helps set a more peaceful, more comfortable tone for my day. Knowing that I am starting fresh in the kitchen has helped me feel less overwhelmed with the rest of the house. The two ways this has stayed possible for me are: doing a light cleaning after each meal or snack (this includes putting away all food, throwing away all trash and putting all dishes in the sink) and doing a final, more thorough cleaning right after dinner (including putting away all food, throwing away all trash, loading and starting dishwasher, handwashing any other dishes, wiping down all counters and stove and sink, and sometimes sweeping), while daddy plays with the kids and gives them their baths. Staying committed to this has been a challenge for me but sooo worth the effort! (I am still working on figuring out how to keep the rest of the house clean. Sigh.)

9) Get enough sleep! Seven to eight hours is ideal for me, less and I feel it the next day. Sleep for your health, your mood, your energy level, your attitude, your quality of life!

10) And lastly, though I believe that one through nine matter and are life improving, always remember that people are more important than stuff, than money, than chores, than hobbies. I am confident that when we are all old and life has slowed down, we will not look back and be glad we had all our laundry done each night or that we stayed in amazing shape or that we were never late or behind or forgetful. I believe we will look back and remember the laughter, the love, the forgiveness, the intimacy that we shared with our spouses, our children, our friends and our neighbors. Let us improve who we are and how we love before we improve what we do and how we do it!

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