Simply Insane

The Road to Simplicity Began While Running on Empty

It is not popular to question the status quo…it is weird even.   To consider a slower pace of life or hop off the hamster wheel of busyness is rarely done.  In an attempt to not lose our minds or relationships with one another, we have started opting for slowness and simplicity.   

Last year my journal was totally depressing.  It was filled with pages of lamenting and whining about the busyness of life and in it I complained that I felt I was running on empty.  Our lives were way too full and the daily schedule was suffocating me.   On the outside, most days I was holding it together–but the inner turmoil was crushing.  I felt defeated and like a bad mom, a bad trainer, a bad wife, a bad friend, a bad daughter/sister…you name it, I felt BAD.  
On paper we had a great life!  Unfortunately we had filled our lives with so many things that we loved–we were losing a bit of ourselves in the process.   It was all good stuff…just too much good stuff!      
Maybe I long for slowness because I am  an Indiana girl.  We lived in a small town and did not “hustle and bustle” growing up.  Team sports were not crazy competitive like they are here–certainly not in elementary school!  The sleepy town would shut down around 9pm and was quiet…I’m talking crickets.  Maybe it was a longing for my kids to have an “Indiana childhood”…or for me to have a slower Indiana life.  But the truth was I felt that I was constantly running from carpool, to work, to preschool, to the grocery store, to the elementary school, then to a practice, then home quickly to eat something and then back down to work or rushing to put the kids to bed so than I might complete household chores and prep for the next day.   I am exhausted typing this and this only speaks of the activities never mind the the relationships in my life that needed to be cultivated.  Where was there time to rest, to play, to look my children in the eyes and truly listen, to share a meal together, to go for a walk after dinner or hold hands with my husband???  The answer:  there was none and I was coming undone. 
I began to wonder how in the world I could ever find relief because I KNEW this was not life to the full.  I saw others that lived much more simply and I began to long for their lives.  They ate meals at the dinner table with their family, they had gardens, and they did thoughtful intentional things for others because they had time to do so.  They also appeared to have patience with their children because they were not shuffling them to every activity under the sun, they were not rushing through bedtime routines because they had 20 other things to check off the list before they themselves went to bed.   They seemed to enjoy a slow evening and even “connection” time with their hubby was celebrated not resented.  Their lives were not boring they were sane. 
So I did something that made absolutely no sense–but all the sense in the world:  I decided to cut my workload in ½.  I ended class times that were not convenient to my family.   It was PAINFUL as I adored the women that I worked with.   The style of training that we do is so personal…it is a job that I love.   I knew the “feel” in my studio would be different and the financial ramifications that it had on our home as well as on my business partner were significant. Yet, that one decision created an immediate sense of relief, peace, and slowness in our home that we had not felt in years.  It was what I hungered for and had been begging God to give.  I even saw my children’s stress level begin to lower and my relationship with my kids and my hubby exponentially improved.  This choice was the catalyst for a whole new mentality in our home.  One that is focused on preserving our sanity…one that focuses on true simplicity and hearts of service. 

Simplifying looks different for everyone.  Whether we are simplifying our schedules or our “stuff,” this type of effort can bring a great deal of peace to our lives.  So I know that every journey looks different and cutting your workload in 1/2 may not be the best option for you.  The results from the “after effect” are what really matter.  I am hoping I might be able to share a few ways to make decisions that will create this type of peace in your home as well!  
Our family is on the journey—we have not arrived but I am passionate about this subject and excited to see where God is going to take us as we simply surrender.  My next few blogs are going to reveal several areas of our lives that God has shaken up and even wrecked us a bit.  It is humbling to write about all of the ways that I have “missed it.”  But I believe that growth happens when we own our actions as well as share them with others so that they might avoid some of the potholes we hit along the way! 
May You Be A Blessing and May You Find SLOWNESS…

Coming Out of the Closet

A few friends and I decided to embark on something we are calling The Sacred Adventure of 7.  They are brave women who want to look at life a little differently.  They want to eliminate excess and strip away some of the distractions in their lives so that they might more clearly see and hear from Jesus.  They want to live like Him and they know that in America (and the Western World) there is a spiritual depravity that begins in our closets.
So that is where we begin.  I spent over an hour in my closet on Saturday.  I tripped over several pairs of shoes as I muscled my way through my clothing to decide what 7 items  I would wear for the next 21 days…straight.   I did not just stand there for an hour, I purged old sports bras that didn’t fit, and pulled out clothing that had pit stains and others that clearly were worn back when I had babies.  (Why do I hang on to these items…FOREVER?) 
In that “closet time” I was struck by several things.  Most who know me, know that I am not “fancy” when it comes to clothes.  When first beginning this challenge most people would say that this month should be a “snap” for me because ½ the time I wear the same clothes over and over again.  I am a minimalist who dresses for comfort not style.  Anything “cute” or “trendy” that you have seen me in has been a gift or hand-me down from a fashionable friend.  (You know who you are—and I am very thankful for you—you clothe me and my children and we are snazzy because of you!)  But overall, I am a lazy dresser who is stuck having worked with high school students for one too many years and then has not transitioned in to “mom” clothes whatever that means? 
In this “stuck” place I live with WAY too many clothes.  No matter how “not cute” or “trendy” I am…I still own 7 identical white camis from old navy.  I own 5 cardigans and 8 black hoodie/jacket/pull-over type thingys.  EIGHT!  Whenever I go to a sporting goods store and leave with a clothing item Chris asks… “is it another black hoodie?”  I am obsessed.   I clothe myself for comfort.  The What Not to Wear folks would be knocking down my door if they actually saw what was in my closet!  Until recently I owned 2 pairs of velvety/velour OVERALLS…one in maroon and one in green corduroy.  Do you know how comfortable those were??  I still refuse to get rid of my jean overalls that were SO cute and in style in college with the prayer that they might come back in style…eventually?!  I love a good pair of sweat pants…but own 6!    You see the pattern…in choosing comfort…I choose a LOT of comfort. 
The items in my closet total 227.  (Not including sock, bras, and underwear.)   After reading this, for some, you are disgusted because yours is double that number.  For others you are disgusted because yours is ½ that number!  Either way I am disgusted because it is so far above and beyond my needs…and I purged before counting!
So why 7?  Jen Hatmaker wrote a book called, 7: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.  In it she outlines her journey through 7 months of purging her home and life of areas of excess.  I sensed that this was the very type of shake up I needed to get a better handle on the rat wheel or rat race that we run daily trying to keep up with the Jones’ or even just “better our lives and the lives of our children” for the sake of financial philanthropy.   After reading her book, I was struck by the fact that you can be very generous with what you have and still be living a life of excess.   This was something that was starting to gnaw at me.  I sensed that I was unintentionally going through the motions in this life and realized I was getting sucked in to something I had not signed up for:  entitlement and greed.  Because I was American and worked hard wasn’t I entitled to a great house, car, clothing, vacations, etc?  I was living a life of excess.  And worse, there were people within a few miles from my home who were living with far less.   I am not stupid—I knew this—but my actions seemed to indicate that I didn’t really care.  I wanted to figure out what that meant and it seemed that living with less might actually shift my perspective. 

So I am coming out of the closet.  I am ready for truth…healthy doses of humility and perspective.  I have no idea what this next 7 months will bring but I am hoping it will bring me closer to my Maker and closer to the way I was designed to live. 

I wasn’t sure when the best time was to actually post this blog…but I recently read another book…an ebook…and it has similar themes and practical suggestions for living simply.   (   Her book is different from 7…and I love Jen’s real, humble, and hilarious humor…but Lorilee’s book is great, practical, and a very helpful read as one examines living more simply.  So I figured today was as good a day as any to post about this adventure and share my headaches and hardships as I plunge and purge through the excess in my life.   Hope you enjoy the blog and the book! 

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed! 


Green Toes, Green Juice, and God’s Goodness

When my mom gave me a pedicure for Christmas she had no idea that her gift would give me little shimmering soft green pigs.  Yesterday’s pedicure propelled me in to a wonderful mental place ready for a sweet weekend of solitude and sinking those shimmering toes in the sand.

Years ago on Young Life Staff it was strongly urged that we take a day or weekend of solitude every 6 months.  It was encouraged so that we could mentally slow down, quiet ourselves, and get some quality time with God.  It was a regular part of our lives and Chris and I used to count down the days until we could go away even just for a few hours.  We would come back refreshed and ready for the rampant pace that we kept.

After going off staff and having children my solitude days were much more infrequent.  Understandably, quiet moments were almost obsolete for the first few years with toddlers.  Over the past year or two I have longed to go back and get some quiet time alone with God.  With no agenda…just stillness and quiet.  A listening ear, somewhere in nature, a Bible, pen and journal.  

A friend offered her beach house for the weekend and I jumped at the chance to go.  Another friend let me borrow her juicer and so with several gallons of green juice in my system (maybe not gallons) I am feeling quite refreshed and ready for God’s goodness.

When someone first suggested solitude to me, I thought it was an utter waste of time.  First of all–what if you carved out the time and God didn’t show up?  What if you tried to slow down but were completely distracted the whole time?  What would I do without a phone, email, or TV for that long?   What was really the purpose?  Wasn’t it sorta selfish to just go be by yourself and read and pray?  What about feeding the poor–wouldn’t my time better be spent in service?

There were many answers–but of course the first was that God modeled rest.  Doubtful he needed rest on the 7th day of creation–but he modeled it.  Jesus consistently took time to get away from the crowds and disciples to be alone and pray.  But honestly for me I have found that…

I forget.  I forget that God loves me.  I forget that He wants to spend time with me.  I forget that He wants me to daily put my trust in Him.

Listening is not my strong suit.  “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)  I am so quick to speak and become angry and listening slows me down.  In solitude there is no one to talk to.  The waves are crashing and I am listening.  When I stop talking…eventually I am better able to listen.

Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.   If I long to grow in my relationship with God I must slow down long enough in an attempt to better get to know Him.

Weekends like this remind me that I need to be way more intentional about my daily quiet times.  I need to be quicker to ask forgiveness.  I need to be more faithful to pray for others and specifically to surrender my entire day to Him.  Sometimes my time is half hearted or not thoughtful…it is mundane.  In times of solitude I am aware of my desperate daily need for Him and it awakens my soul.

May You Be a Blessing and May You Find Solitude for Your Soul.