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?

 

Primitive Pleasures {May}

MayOne of the very best things about this May is having a mini family reunion this weekend to celebrate the marriage of my cousin. Since not everyone gets to enjoy such a fun gathering, here are some other good things trolled from the interwebs this month.

Simplicity:

People who chronically multitask have lost the ability to focus on one thing – and they’re actually terrible at mutlitasking…. Interesting article on NPR (man I love public radio) about the myth of multitasking.

When -est should be -er and how that gives us the freedom to live simply.

Books:

I’m a book list junkie. Relevant Magazine has a great list of 10 books everyone should read by 25-ish. I think one of them might be our first book club book. Have you read any of them?

I love Heather’s idea to reinvent what classifies as classic literature for her 25 in 25 list.

Michael Hyatt’s podcast about how to read non-fiction was inspiring.

Marriage:

A New Kind of Sexy is honest and we need more of that when talking about marriage.

So we fought for it. We stumbled on redemption in the unlikely sexy acts of taking out the smelly-diaper trash, going to marriage counseling, and texting each other apologies for misspoken harsh words.

Beth of Red and Honey

And more honest reflection from Tyler Ward with 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married.

Etc:

I’ve been there – wanting someone to fully understand why I left my heart overseas…

Because I’m a sucker for articles about the twenty-something stage of life – here’s a good one by Anne Bogel.

Hysterical iMessage version of Chapter 5 in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. 

I LOVE McGriddles. Can’t wait to try these.

Primitive Pleasures {April}

Primitive Pleasures April

This month certainly blew by! Maybe that’s because I spent a glorious week in Southern California. I should do that more often…

Read

On my flight back to Idaho, I read this lovely article in Spirit Magazine {my absolute favorite in-flight magazine}. It was refreshing to see simplicity so boldly publicized.

Friendship: I loved Relevant Magazine’s 5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have and this guest post by Lesley Sebek Miller on Modern Mrs. Darcy reads like something Shauna Niequist would have written.

As and INFJ, I have a soft-spot for anything written about introverts. These four lies about introverts are so full of wisdom.

Eat

It’s getting to be quite Springy here in Idaho. The warmer weather makes me want to eat strawberries and angel food cake. Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake is… I’m actually coming up short on words to describe this incredible cake.

Listen

Andy Stanley from North Point Ministries in Atlanta did an amazing series called Follow. It’s life changing. Listen or watch the sermons and then grab someone to chat through the discussion questions.

Smile

I borrowed this from Katie of Cardigan Way – it was too good not to share. My cousins and I sang this hymn at my Gramma’s memorial service and I walked down the aisle {almost a year ago} to a rendition by Jami Smith. Needless to say, I was alternately crying and grinning like an idiot while watching…

This touches my inner flower child – whimsical and beautiful.

I created this to express the reality of my Zumba experience. I love it though!

Zumba - Expectation and Reality

{photo credit: heraldpost and asterix611 via photopin cc}

When unpacking is an exercise in thanksgiving.

I watched Tim vacuum our living room with a mixture of anticipation and agitation.  Our vast expanse of uncluttered carpet was going to be piled high with furniture and boxes in a matter of hours.

Twelve days ago, we had watched our possessions being loaded on to a large van. Those boxes and pieces of furniture would later be transfered to an even larger freight truck, then hauled North on its way to Idaho.  The next day, we made a much more direct and speedy journey to our new home.  Blueberry, my trusty Honda Accord, was packed with clothes, bedding, and a few other items we had deemed necessary for survival during a week (or so) sans the majority of our stuff.

joy is my best offeringEven after a trip to Target yielded a cart full of items to make our apartment functional, the empty spaces around the place were a bit startling – at first.  I quickly got used to eating frozen pizza on an upturned laundry basket and sleeping on an air mattress.  When we got a couch, I was shocked at the amount of space it seemed to occupy.  In reality, it was just odd to have a large object amidst the nothingness.

After reading Organized Simplicity a couple months ago, God has been reshaping my attitude about living intentionally.  Tim and I went through a great purge before we moved and I’ve enjoyed the beginning stages of pairing down our belongings.  Though this week of simplicity has had challenges – no oven mitt to take out aforementioned pizza, not wanting to buy hangers when we have some on their way, colder temperatures than we were prepared for in the clothing department – I realized I was growing attached to our stark apartment landscape.

So, on one hand, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of our coffee maker (yes, I am a caffeine addict), books, and real bed (oh to be at least a foot off the ground…).  It will be lovely to cook for new friends in an operational kitchen and hang family photos in the living room, but I know that with the delivery of our possessions comes a healthy dose of distraction. I am wary of being consumed by the task of unpacking, by the desire to make things perfect.

My prayer is that the process of unpacking would be an exercise in thanksgiving, an act of praise for His provision.  As we create a home out of our apartment, it is my desire to give joy as an offering to the One who has given to us abundantly in life and love.

Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.  {Joel 2:23}