my virtual magazine: stress and simplicity

We don't get the newspaper. I don't subscribe to magazines. Instead, I like to look at the internet, specifically blogs, as my own free, personal, and virtual magazine each morning. I love that I can pick and choose what is applicable to my life at that moment, and what isn't.

This past week was a stressful one, so articles and posts related to stress and simplicity really spoke to me. I am determined to face this week with a short list of priorities for each day, so I don't find myself overwhelmed when Pippa goes down for her nap. I also realize that I am living in the future instead of enjoying the day that God has given me now. These articles all give some excellent tips for finding joy, rest, and simplicity in even the busiest, most stressful times of our lives.

This devotion was the perfect way to start my morning. 

Sometimes we go through stressful seasons of life. Here are 5 non-negotiables to get though each day.

I love the idea of minimalism, but it's easy to get carried away with legalistic rules that make minimalism more stressful than freeing. Here's a guideline than can help.

Ladies transitioning between maternity, nursing, and different sizes of "regular" clothes can relate to my struggle to keep things simple. Here are some good tips.

Spring cleaning! I'm in spring cleaning overdrive right now with a cross-country move and a new baby in the near futures. This article is filled to the brim with practical tips for decluttering, organizing, and storing things in your home. 

aspiring minimalist

The first pangs of minimalism began nagging at me when my husband and I moved into a one bedroom apartment from a rented house the second year of our marriage. One kind family friend who was helping us move commented, “You sure have a lot of stuff for being a young married couple with no kids.” 

It was a harmless comment. Simply an observation. But for some reason it got under my skin and bothered me. I tried to put it out of mind.

A few weeks later, we found out we were expecting our first child. As more people found out, everyone’s first question seemed to be, “Do you have the nursery all set up?”

It’s a harmless question. One most people wouldn’t think twice about. But I took strange pride in the fact that we lived in a one bedroom apartment, and the “nursery” was a basinet in the corner of our room. We cleaned out our wardrobes of the unwanted and unnecessary to make room for her clothes in our dresser. I vowed not to purchase anything beyond the basics for the baby.

Due to people’s wonderful generosity, we got the bare necessities and more from baby showers. I rejoiced in the money we would save that first year, even as I scrambled to find space for the bulky items that accompany baby, such as swings, bouncy chairs, and high chairs. 

Almost 9 months ago, we moved into a slightly larger 2 bedroom apartment closer to Justin’s work. The move allowed us to reassess our possessions and get rid of a few more items that no longer fit in our lives. It also allowed us to simplify our lives by saving on gas and providing the opportunity to walk or bike to church and school.

As our daughter gets older, we are once again assessing what was helpful the first year of baby’s life, and what we could do without. The culling process is slow and painful, even as it liberates and lightens our lives. I am going room by room, cleaning out drawers and cabinets, making sell, donate, and trash piles. Days later I revisit the same room and get rid of more that I wasn’t ready to part with the first time.

It’s a process. I am aspiring to a more simplified life.

What is minimalism? Why am I aspiring to it?

To me, minimalism is getting rid of the excess to make room for the important. A trite example would be my jewelry. I got rid of 75% of my necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. What remains are the ones I actually wear. I feel less guilty for not wearing 75% of what I own, and accessorizing my outfit takes far less time. I can see and easily display the few items I have left. 

By no means have I arrived at a point where I can proudly claim to be a “minimalist.” It’s a process. 

I am aspiring to minimalism because it makes me grateful for what I do have. I am aspiring to minimalism because I want faith in God and serving others to be the most important things in my life, not my stuff. I am aspiring to minimalism to be mobile and ready to travel. 

It’s a process. I’m not there yet, but my goal is clear and I am slowly but surely working toward it. And so far, it feels great. 

weighed down

For those of you who live anywhere but the midwest, it may feel a bit late in the year for spring cleaning. But here in Minnesota, spring just arrived last week! The urge has finally arrived to scrub, vacuum, clean out, and purge everything we own. 

The desire to release my possessions this year is especially strong. Maybe it's my life-long desire to live on a tiny little boat coming to the surface, but I'm feeling weighed down by the amount of superfluous things my family owns. I want to push it all overboard from the metaphorical boat into the metaphorical ocean.

I keep getting stuck on Matthew 6:19-33. Especially verse 33.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.Do Not Worry25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Nothing wrong with having possessions. It's when those possessions are your focus that they become a problem. For me personally, when things are taking up space in my drawers and cabinets, they are also occupying space in my mind. When I clear away the distractions, the unimportant, the superfluous, I can focus more clearly on what is important. Seek first his kingdom.

I want to feel like I can travel this earth lightly. I want to be free from my possessions. I don't want the be the rich man who went away from Jesus sad because he could not bear to part with his possessions to follow Jesus.

The other impetus for The Great Release of Stuff and Things is the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Denko. I borrowed this book from the library a few weeks ago and finally got around to reading it this weekend. As I expected, the millionaires are the ones leading the frugal, disciplined, low key lives, while those with the lower net worths are the ones trying to look rich by the name brand luxuries they buy.

Now, while I'm working on not storing up treasures on earth, I'm certainly not opposed to paying off my debt and saving for retirement.

So it's time to simplify, and repeat to myself these two mantras every time I get the urge to spend money on something I don't need:

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


I have everything I require and more. 

Anyone else looking to live the simple life?