What I’m Into – January 2015

We’ve been in Pennsylvania for two months and it feels like we are finally getting in the groove. All of my clothes boxes are unpacked (It took almost the entire two months *insert embarrassed emoji here*) and there are things hanging on the walls. I love the proximity to my family and our new church family is wonderful. I joined MOPS which has been a fun way to meet new friends,too.

February is already looking like it’s going to be packed, but here’s a look back at January.

Linking up with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer!

Birthday Hat Collage

I love that our family gets to celebrate a birthday in January. It helps banish some of the Winter blues that set in after Christmas. My parents and brother were able to come in for James’ 1st birthday, and though we made it a pretty mellow day, we did spend his birthday eve crafting these awesome party hats out of kraft paper. A huge roll is 7 bucks at Walmart and I have an endless supply of scrapbook papers, pens and other crafty ephemera.

Books

This is a glimpse at what I’ve been reading. I do my book reviews in the middle of the month, so check back for my thoughts on these and a couple more.

Jone's Sausage

We are a bacon family. But, over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom introduced us to Jones sausage. Game. Changer. They live in the freezer section. No filler or icky chemicals, just pure, sausagey goodness. I avoid our local Walmart at all costs, but I make an exception to purchase these mondo bags of sausage so we don’t run out. We had breakfast for dinner seven times in January and they all included this sausage.

Sugar Paper

I love planners and calendars of all sorts. They feed my inner organizational diva. This year, I’m loving these beauties from Sugar Paper (via Target). I got the large one on the left for Christmas and then purchased a smaller one to complete my calendar needs.

The larger planner has a month at a glance layout before the individual days. I use the month page to record what we had for dinner, anything I made (yogurt, bread, granola, etc.), and dinner guests. I like to have a record of our eating habits and as we continue our real food journey, It’s helpful to have a visual guide of how long our homemade staples last. I record Bible reading, exercise, and prayers in the individual days.

I bought the smaller planner for the blog. It’s slim with just a single double page spread for each month, but it’s just enough to record the posts that went live and jot down ideas for future posts. There are several pages in the back for bigger picture dreaming and brainstorming.

Bible Journaling

I got a text from my mom on January 2nd telling me all about Bible Journaling and that she had Amazoned (absolutely a verb) me an ESV journaling Bible that would be arriving the next day. I am no artist, but everything about Bible journaling thrills me. The practice of turning what I’ve read into something visual helps me mediate and remember what God has shown me. I’ve filled my Instagram and Pinterest feed with Bible journaling inspiration and I just can’t wait to fill my Bible. Shanna Noel is an amazing resource as well.

I decided to read the Bible chronologically this year. (Job was tough… I’m back in Genesis now.) Crossway has an amazing list of Bible reading plans in various formats. You can have the day’s reading sent to your email, put in your iCal or print it out!

I got Tim an Aeropress and milk frother for Christmas. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving… My $30 investment replaced our cheapy espresso machine and it gets used everyday. I’ve been getting up at 6 to do my devotions and, more often than not, it’s the thought of a homemade honey latte that gets me out from underneath my warm covers.

Frying Dutchman

We like to explore a place through its food. One of our recent explorations was The Frying Dutchman in Kutztown, PA that makes and tops your donuts to order. If you’re local and haven’t been – it’s a must. Having worked at The Donut Man I have a very high standard for donuts. These definitely pass with flying colors. (Top to bottom: French Toast, PBJ, S’more, Powdered Sugar, PB Cup, Honey Graham). Pretty sure this will be a weekly tradition. And, yes, Tim and I ate all of these.

Embracing Simplicity: #ECGsimplifies

Embrace SimplicityMotherhood has made me a little less uptight about messes, what with the pacifiers in every room, colorful toys scattered around the living room, and a bouncer seat that roves around the house and all, but I’m still happiest in a clean and clutter-free environment.

My preference for order and organization is probably the reason watching Hoarders makes my eye twitch. I just can’t hang with the piles. For whatever reason, these people stack and stuff and accumulate until their homes look more like a landfill than a habitable living environment. Possessions cover every square inch and begin to crowd out the very people who collected them.

It’s possible to do that with our lives. Hoarding is oftentimes a mental disorder, but it can also be a spiritual disorder. Our possessions, our commitments, and our leisure activities can create a hectic lifestyle, crowding out what really matters. Our hearts and our homes become so cluttered, we can’t keep our priorities in order. Sometimes it takes the absence of those things for us to realize that they have been subtracting instead of adding to our lives.

Our little family went on a staycation recently, finishing out the lease on the condo my parents rented for their Winter visit. We spent two weeks living in a smaller space with less stuff. It was glorious. When we transitioned back to our own house, I was totally overwhelmed. Though I enjoy my own decor, access to my full wardrobe, and the comfort of being home, I really enjoyed the simple lifestyle we had those two weeks. The contrast made me yearn to recreate the simplicity of our staycation in our normal environment.

I’m on a mission to embrace simplicity, to untangle and uncomplicate my life so I can focus on what really matters – being present in my relationships with God, my family, and my community.

Simplicity creates margins and spaces and openness in our lives. It honors the resources of our small planet. It offers us the leisure of tasting the present moment. Simplicity asks us to let go of the tangle of wants so we can receive the simple gifts of life that cannot be taken away.  Sleeping, eating, walking, giving and receiving love, the benefits we take for granted, are amazing gifts. Simplicity invites us into these daily pleasures that can open us to God, who is present in them all.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in The Spiritual Discipline Handbook

The first battlefield in my mission to embrace simplicity is my home. In considering what made our staycation so peaceful, I realized it had a lot to do with the physical environment. Everything had a place and there was little excess. I wasn’t distracted by small piles of unfinished business and the niggling knowledge of boxes that should have been unpacked months ago.

My decor style will never be minimalistic or modern, but I can make choices that will make our home a space where all who dwell and gather are filled with peace.

That starts with purging and putting together. I will systematically (because, unlike hoarders, organization is my mental disorder…) go through our possessions and release what is unused and unnecessary. I will make room for the items we love, the memories that are still covered in cardboard. As I “let go of the tangle of wants” that inhabit my home right now, I hope to create a habit of simplicity for the future.

I began this intentional effort to simplify a week ago and am finding the journey a bit draining. The work is physical, emotional, and spiritual as I take steps to free my home and my heart from excess. Sometimes the steps are small, but progress is being made one day at a time.

I’m documenting my progress on Instagram.

Follow along (and join in!) under the hashtag #ECGsimplifies.

What are some ways you embrace simplicity?