What my version of simple is not.

I took a little impromptu survey of my Facebook friends, asking what they would simplify if they could.  Over the next few weeks I plan to develop the answers they gave and incorporate them into this space.

We have so many common struggles:  clutter, busyness, stress, relationship drama and spiritual battles.  We all have too many irons in the fire and not enough sleep to have the energy to fight well.  That is why I am here, with you.

As you read the posts I write, I want to be very clear as to what this blog is not.  I feel this is very important to put out there now, at the beginning, so we can understand each other and truly let this be a grace-filled and simple space.  So, without further adieu…

  1.  This blog is not just about minimalism.  It’s about simplicity.  I battle clutter way too much to call myself an authority on minimalism.  Will I incorporate minimalist principles into the ideas I share?  As needed, yes.  Just look at the design of this site!  Simple, no frills, no ads, just posts and comments because…well…I’m trying to simplify.  Ahem.
  2. I’m not going to tell you how to decorate.  When I read articles on simple living the common thread is everything appears monotone, clean, and empty.  Well, that’s just not me.  I believe we can have a beautiful, cozy and warm home yet not be burdened by all of our stuff.  We just have to know what brings us the big happies and do away with the things that don’t.  That will look very different for each of us.
  3. I’m not going to tell you how to eat.  Y’all.  Don’t even get me started.  I am Paleo until I smell bread.  I am a Trim Healthy Mama until I am faced with a basket of chips and salsa.  I have all the cookbooks and dabble in all the diets.  I am consistent in my inconsistency.  So I’ll share recipes here and there, but I can’t promise they will always be healthy, gluten-free, or even made totally from scratch!  I’m a work in progress.  Sometimes that involves butter.  Ok…often it involves butter.  Grass-fed, of course.
  4. I’m not going to tell you to get rid of social media or your cell phone.  You might decide to do that.  Great!  But I am not here to give you rules.  That is probably what has bogged you down in the first place!  (Speaking from experience, here!)  This is about grace and freedom.  It is about keeping the main thing the main thing and finding joy throughout our busy days.
  5. It’s not about checklists.  Or the aforementioned rules.  This is a space of grace and freedom.  It is about learning to find joy because we leave room for it to emerge in our day.  It will take many forms.  I will share the joys that I find with you and, hopefully, you will do the same with me.  This is a conversation, and place to remind one another of the good and beauty all around us when we are so battle-weary that our eyelids are propped open with toothpicks.  It’s a cup of hot tea and a square of dark chocolate because we just need a few minutes to catch our breath.
  6. I’m not FlyLady or Sally Clarkson.  But oh, do I ever love those two!  As a recovering clutter-holic I am beginning the baby steps and, y’all, today my sink is shiny.  And Sally Clarkson…I am  going to write a whole post about her, I think.  If you don’t know who she is, allow me to introduce you.
  7. I’m not going to tell you to homestead or listen to classical music or read Jane Eyre.  Don’t laugh!  Do you know how many times I have read books or articles, seeking encouragement, and just cannot relate to the writer because what floats her boat sinks mine?  I enjoy music, movies, and books of all kinds and nearly every genre.  I like to garden but have stunk  at it for the past three years.  This is not a place of rules or “how-to’s” but of learning to live forward into who God created us to be! We are all so different, and that is a beautiful thing.  I will share what I find brings joy to my day.  It may be a book I read, a plant I bought at the grocery store, or a recipe I cooked successfully.  If a new album sparks the big happies in me I’ll tell you about it.  You may not like it, yourself.  You are free to feel that way!
  8. I’m not going to tell you how to parent.  Frankly, the only authority on parenting is God.  He is the only perfect Father who has ever existed and even His kids rebel…every last one of us.  I’ll encourage you.  You can encourage me.  But there are a bajillion (that is a number, right?) blogs, books, quips or quotes that have already said everything that can be said about raising kids.  This is about keeping life simple.  That might mean putting the parenting books on the shelf and going straight to the Source.  Speaking of the Source…
  9. I AM going to talk about Jesus.  Everyone is welcome here.  I love you and will be so happy to engage in respectful, God-honoring conversation with you.  So much of what I am finding as I seek to simplify is that outward clutter in the various areas of my life is a symptom of inward clutter.  It starts in our spirit, shedding the complications we have allowed that create confusion and fatigue.  God made salvation and relationship with Him simple.  We mess it up when we add to what He has already established.  In the words of Bob Warren:  Jesus + Nothing = EVERYTHING.  Any ideas or routines I share will be simple.  They will be what is working for me and my family.  They will not be a standard to which you should aspire.  Always, always seek God’s wisdom and will for YOU and your family.  Again, we are all different and our walks with the Lord will also be different.

I think that is all!  I hope this helps to clarify why I am here.  I am so excited.  God has really lit a fire in me and I hope He does the same for you.  If you are still reading, I would venture to guess that He already has.  🙂

So will you please share in the comments who you are and, maybe, the areas of your life in which you long for simplicity?  And if you have something that is working for you, I’d love to hear about that, too!

Until next week…

Simple begins now.

More than fifteen years ago I was a mommy of two toddlers.  We lived in a little white house on Galveston Island and life was blissfully simple.  I would sometimes go five days straight without ever leaving my house! My to-do lists were short and the kids’ naps were nice and long.

We were in a season of training, of waiting as my husband worked his patootie off to complete his residency and move on to the next phase of life.  We looked forward to the good things that were to come and dreamed of bigger houses, cars with warranties, and evenings out with friends where the meals came from restaurants that did not serve chicken nuggets.  It was a such a sweet time!

I had this incredible group of friends.  They were all medical wives, like me, and in various stages of training.  Some a year or two ahead, some a year or two behind.  We all had babies and toddlers and our play group grew from four mamas and a handful of kids to nearly thirty moms and kids destroying gracing a house every Tuesday morning!  We enjoyed endless hours of conversation, coffee and prayer while our children watched Veggie Tales and ate endless bowls of popcorn.  We called our little/big group “Pray and Play” and it was the highlight of our week.  Shoot, looking back, it is still one of the highlights of my life as a young mother.

I remember a particular conversation with my friend, Stacy.  We were coming up on our last years in Galveston and the reality of life beyond the island was hitting us.  She told me of a girl she had recently spoken with who had moved on to “post-residency” a year or so ago…

“She said to enjoy this time.  Life is so simple. Right now it is a big deal to get a 99 cent ice cream cone at McDonald’s.  Little things are such a treat.”

I nodded in agreement.

“She said that, after residency, life is so much more complicated and that it will never be this simple again.”

We looked at each other, knowing it was true.  We were so intentional back then, so determined to make the little things count and appreciate the joys that filled our young-mom days.  We wanted to believe we could keep it up and not lose sight of the beauty of this gift of wife and motherhood.

“Keep life simple.”

I mean, really, how hard can that be?  You just choose it, right?  You just don’t let the crazy creep in and you determine not to conform to the harried schedule of the world.  You have decided you are going to have dinner as a family almost every night and home-cooked meals will be the norm.  You are going to make memories with your kids and maintain that beautiful pace you have found, extolling the virtues of patience and discipline and raising little pastors and missionaries, right?

Wrong.

Somewhere along the way, the crazy crept in.  It doesn’t matter the source, you know what I am talking about.  You find yourself stretched so thin you can’t believe you haven’t snapped and died of whiplash.  Late nights find you in front of a screen in a haze of fatigue and early mornings find you mashing the snooze button and crawling out of bed only after your child pries your eyes open and asks if you are asleep.  Quiet time? You put on a Christian song and call it even.  You stop cooking from scratch and burn out two microwaves because you keep a steady supply of frozen junk in the deep freeze.  Processed food becomes such a staple that you have all forgotten what fresh food should taste like.  Yet, despite the lack of cooking, your kitchen is a disaster.

You are drowning.

Life is anything but simple.  It is complicated and you feel frazzled.  You stare into the mirror, wondering when the bright girl you once saw got replaced by a tired and bitter old woman.

So here we are, today.  Sisters, it’s time to start over!  God loves us too much to allow us to wallow in the pity pit!  He has so much waiting for us!  He longs to fill us with joy and the peace of Christ!  But, first, we must shed the entanglements and pare down our lives. What is holding you back?  What is making you feel like you can’t keep your head above water?  Pray for wisdom and clarity and get ready because today we begin.  Today we are going to find beauty in the mundane, rediscovering the little things that bring big happiness.  We are going to restore order and catch a vision for our future.  We are going to wake up prepared for each day so that when suffering does come (and you can be sure it will) we have the fortitude to face it and dare to find joy in the midst of it.

Are you ready?

 

Staying afloat, head above water, sunrise, mercies new every morning
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬