A Time to Get Angry: Where to Start if You don't know Where to Start

A Time to Get Angry: Where to Start if You don't know Where to Start

… it's time for anger because it's in that moment of disgust and righteous anger that you'll find the place to start. It's that inner fierce love and defensiveness of ourselves and our family which ignites courage. It's in rejecting the lies our culture has told us about what our lives should look like. 

Read More

Minimalism: Unselfish Self-love?

IMG_3856.JPG

I think that we are all always seeking freedom and rest because we know at the core as humans that we were designed for that.

.

I started out on my journey to minimalism, in part, because I didn't want life to be so dreadfully hard. I wanted to be able to walk into my house without tripping over a weed-eater (it's the little things right?). I wanted to find my keys and to have clean dishes. I wanted the anger and despair to leave. And I wanted to no longer hate who I was; it was that simple.  

I didn't realize, then, who I really was. As a visual person, I know now that I am created specifically with a perfectionist eye for art and color and design. Clutter makes me have a hard time breathing. I had no self-awareness or appreciation for my learning style. I didn't know what self-love was then, and I probably would've told you "that sounds selfish. Minimalism is a stark art-form for elite, self-absorbed artists, right?" 

Let's just be clear, we are not talking about self-centered living when we talk about minimalism.

I think that we are all always seeking freedom and rest because we know at the core as humans that we were designed for that. Something in our souls knows that we require peace in our identity, provision in our homes, and freedom to love our families with all that we are. 

All of that begins in what we believe about ourselves. 

I remember the exact moment I decided to hate who I was. I remember the culture that told me I wasn't good enough, thin enough, successful enough - never enough. I remember believing that I wasn't worthy to be loved. I had to struggle through many dark days of depression to come to a place where I knew that I could not find that self-love in my own strength (I am a strong personality; believe me, I tried!) 

I found the foundation for self-love only comes from knowing I AM loved. As I dove into ancient writings, thinking back to how generations lived before me and handled the deep questions I was asking, I found great solace in seeking ancient pathways of simplicity and faith.

I found words that the Creator-God had spoken.

"You are His beloved." 

"You are chosen."

"You are worthy."

So worthy and valuable that God would come down to rescue me from my own darkness by His own suffering. The twisted-nature of religion never interested me; to be totally honest, it makes me sick. Yet, the healing brought by the reality of the cross of Jesus was exactly what I needed. His love came with the mix of violence and love and justice. I knew, in my depression, that I could not love myself without His love for me. 

My friend, I know that you understand the darkness that I speak of.  Maybe you've struggled deeply. Or perhaps you love someone who still wrestles with depression.

For me, I had to give almost everything away to find that what I truly wanted wasn't stuff at all. It was peace with God and peace with myself in my own soul. 

The path of minimalism still leads me straight to Him and all that I breathlessly needed in order to overcome self-hatred and despair. I needed this to be free to love my family as unselfishly as I can each day. Minimalism is not the source of self-love nor is it innately selfish; it is merely an unselfish method to clear a path to the Answer I needed. 

In your minimalist journey that you walk, dear friend, may you hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in in," and you will find rest for your soul. You will know how deeply loved you are.  And with every path you walk in this wide world, may it always lead you straight to the cross of your Savior. 

Blessings for your journey,

Elizabeth

 

Curate & Create: Why Minimalism May NOT Be About "Decluttering" After All

IMG_3842.JPG

Today, perhaps you are slightly burnt-out on decluttering. Perhaps it seems the clutter mysteriously multiples and every time you turn around there's more clutter. Or perhaps your mind is always going, thinking, planning, praying, begging for a way out of the stress and clutter. Maybe it's the mental clutter at night that keeps you awake. I understand; you and I can gently laugh together because if you were sitting here tonight in my snowed-in log home, you'd see that origami frogs have multiplied like the plague of Egypt across the floor! Even after 558 huge bags (2/3rds of everything) donated to charity, stuff sneaks in.

IMG_3760 (1).JPG

Even after 558 huge bags (2/3rds of everything in our home) donated to charity, stuff sneaks in.

We are always seeking simplicity in this ever-complex world. And in the realm of minimalism, I have found that I dislike the word "decluttering" more and more. It sounds negative to me, and I don't think that only decluttering will lead us all to the peace and simplicity that we are seeking. It's akin to saying "pay off all debt and you'll be fine forever." While paying off debt is important (and possible) just being debt-free is not the end goal. Financial stability is a process that far exceeds just eliminating debt. Only decluttering the home is not the end goal. I believe it is merely the beginning, and the language that we use when discussing this journey to simplicity does make a difference. I believe the language and words we choose to describe our journey can literally make all the difference. 

And tonight, you have my permission to stop decluttering.

Yes, as a ardent minimalist, I just gave you permission to stop. Instead, if we were chatting by the fire place tonight (as my oldest clears the frogs) I would offer you the alternative of "curating" your best life instead of just decluttering it.

Let me explain. I have many friends in the art world and several who make amazing decisions for shows and exhibitions. I adore the process they get to participate in as they are both artists and curators. It is through their choices of what to include and exclude that they actually create a whole new art - the show or exhibition itself is also art as much as the paintings and sculptures contained in it.

Your home is your canvas, a living, changing canvas on which you have the joy and responsibility to create. Not self-centered and cold, sterile and perfect so that no one touches it, but quite the contrary.

Home is a stunning masterpiece meant to be lived in, touched, tasted, enjoyed, shared, and created over and over again.

The art of our lives comes from the continuing act of creating, not merely decluttering. We are not just cutting out items for the sake of eliminating clutter. It seems too much like a diet left to a binge-and-purge-cycle. You and I both know that's wrong on so many levels. Instead, I would rather dream and create and work and replace, eliminating the unnecessary and the no-longer-applicable to showcase the current journey in simple, beautiful ways.

Let's be real and specific. Two simple steps to begin to "curate" your home. 

1. Get rid of junk because you want to, not because you think you should. Stop decluttering only to have it sneak in again. Change the emotion of your journey to simplicity from frustration to awe. See the beauty in the process and use the frustration to fuel courage. Changing how you view items coming and going begins also with guarding the door of your home just like a security guard only allows the masterpieces to enter the exhibit hall. Now, I don't mean everything in your home should be expensive at all or stuffy and untouchable like a forgotten museum. However, you can see beauty in the normal, daily-used items. You CAN clear space to showcase the stunning beauty in the humility of daily living. 

IMG_2408.JPG

2. Focus on what you want to keep and why. Is it beautiful? Enjoy it! Do you love the fading of roses that probably should be composted like I do? Keep them longer. Do you see beauty in old books? Or towels folded right, thank the Lord, the towels were folded right today!

Create a list today of your criteria for what to keep and what to share and why. Also, add a portion of that list for items that are simply no longer reflective of your journey. Permanent markers with toddlers are no longer part of my journey in my home with log walls, just as a fun example. 

Home need not be perfect and it need not ever be completely done, as no piece of art is ever complete in artist-eyes. Almost done is plenty "done." Did you take time to write today or play cars on the floor with your kids because the laundry was (almost) caught up? Did you write down that dream non-profit idea to serve those desperate for hope because the dishes were (almost) done? Good enough opens up possibilities to create anew. 

IMG_3812.JPG

Do you love the fading of roses that probably should be composted? Keep the the beauty that feeds your soul regardless of what others may say. 

Can you join me in no longer decluttering? Instead, we can together curate our homes and lives for the joy set before us.

 

Blessings for your unique journey,

Elizabeth

Frugal Fun: Zero Waste, Minimalist Toy Frog Tutorial

IMG_3517.JPG

Can you hear this sweet frog singing? Oh, the fun and joy this little frugal project has brought to my high-intensity household of six children! I never knew when I started cutting up worn-out pants into shorts that my frugality would bring such fun as making frogs.

If you stopped by our little log home on any given day, you may see one of these frogs peeking out of a couch cushion. Or you may see a little blonde boy carrying it with its pocket filled with rocks or small cars.  We don't have many toys around since I gave most of them away. However, these homemade frogs are a family favorite. 

The irony of this fun project is that I'm terrible at sewing. I give myself barely a passing grade. I know enough to be dangerous, not enough to be good at sewing. However, my boys look forward to Christmas when we secretly work on frogs for the younger siblings late into the night. Whispering and laughing with my 11-year-old boy is a precious treasure to my soul. This year, he told me "Mom, this is my favorite part of Christmas!" After a long day, that was healing balm to this momma of six. 

The instructions for this project are easy, I promise. Remember my sewing skills are below average. 

1. Cut off boys pants after they have shredded them beyond being patched. Cut the fabric so it's open and wide. You can also use old sheets or shirts like I did here. I cut out the pocket of my own pants for this particular frog. 

2. Draw freehand a pattern of a frog onto the pants legs or largest part of the fabric. Cut only once a doubled piece of fabric so you have both the front and back of the frog. 

3. Make silly jokes with your child about frogs singing and coming to life (this is a vital step, not to be skipped). 

4. Sew the pocket on what will be the outside of the frog. Turn the fabric so that it is inside out and sew around the edges leaving the bottom open for stuffing.

5. Turn the frog right-side out and stuff with whatever kind of stuffing you have. I used bulk raw cotton that was "seconds" online. I also have used old couch cushion stuffing or shredded t-shirts. Basically, anything can be stuffing if you cut it up small enough. 

6. Stuff the frog and use a knitting needle to evenly distribute the stuffing. 

IMG_3522.JPG

7. Sew up the bottom of the frog securely. 

8. Name the frog and sing a frog-song.

9. Give your sweet frog to your precious child.

10. Talk about using what you have in new and creative ways. Share your heart for being a good steward of natural resources to protect real frogs and their habitat.  Hug the child and frog close to your heart and ignore the muddy face and crooked stitching.

IMG_3557 (1).JPG

This moment is precious.

Giving doesn't need to cost money.

Gifts of time and experience and stewardship principles are precious.

 

Blessings for your sweet family,

Elizabeth

A minimalist Christmas bedtime story

IMG_3134.JPG


"We are the stories that we tell." ~ the late John Enright, Zambia, Africa

"Once upon a time, there was a little family who lived in a little log home in the woods. The daddy was a hard-working, loving man, and the mommy raised their fast and wild children who loved to run in the woods.  The children did not believe in Santa because they knew that their daddy was a delivery driver, and he worked nonstop to bring Christmas presents to all the little boys and girls in their town. They did not see their daddy between Thanksgiving and Christmas because he was gone before dawn and home long after they went to bed. Their mommy put up his pictures in their room so that they would remember what he looked like. The children would leave him voicemails because he was not allowed to even call. He had no lunch breaks. The mommy would wake the children in the middle of the night sometimes just to see their daddy while he tried to sleep a bit before leaving again. This little family cried a lot at Christmas because they just wanted to be together.

Then, one day the daddy told the mommy he felt trapped and she started packing their things in desperation to leave that little log home in the woods. As she packed, she cried and prayed for a way out of debt and out of mountains of useful stuff they did not need. She realized that her children just needed their daddy. As she packed, she found she did not need hardly any of the items in their house. She thought about selling them but realized others were in need, too, so she donated 557 bags to the local Catholic charity.

She found minimalism.

She started saving money like crazy cutting their bills to 75% or less than their income. The house was clean and frugal but still lonely. Then, one day she realized that expansion was needed as well minimalism. Since she wasn’t cleaning all the time, she expanded their tiny business. It grew and grew until one day, this little family found it was almost enough to pay their bills. Then, with a wild series of events and lots of prayer and help, the family paid off the last payment on their little log home. Finally, the daddy and mommy decided to take a big risk. They made a plan. They worked all night and all day and all night. Sometimes they made great progress and sometimes they got way behind, but the whole time they were thinking about Christmas. They wanted to give their children the best Christmas gift they could - the gift of being together. The daddy wanted to be home for Christmas. By this time there were a few more children waiting for him at home, five plus one on the way to be exact. At last, by Thanksgiving, the daddy turned in his uniforms with his five children carrying in the last boxes of uniforms. The mommy cried.

That Christmas, the fast and wild children decorated the little log home in the woods and could not believe their shining eyes as their daddy didn’t leave from dawn ‘til night. They clung to him for days, afraid that their dream wasn’t true, but it was. It was a Christmas prayer come true!

Now, that little family in the woods still works all night and all day and all night in their little, now growing, business, but they do it together. The children help their hard-working daddy build and fix and paint. Their mommy still keeps donating items to the local charity, now and then, so she can keep working with the daddy in the little business. Today, this little frugal minimalist family has new dreams and new challenges, but they chose to believe and pray and work hard to create a completely new life where this Christmas time, they have the deep joy of being together."

Of course, this is our story. And, we are deeply grateful for the path our family has paved for us in living to the fullest. We honor my Uncle John Enright in this post, as this week, he suddenly began his new story in Eternity the day after Christmas.  We know that all great stories begin and end in deep faith. 

Blessings for living your best story,

Elizabeth

5 Ways Minimalism Inadvertently Helped My Husband Leave His Job

IMG_1055.JPG

Hello my beautiful friend, I must confess this story is still difficult to tell. The reality shocks me a little that minimalism accelerated our journey to the place where a year ago my husband could leave his job of 12 years. When I donated my first box to charity, I never dreamed my minimalist journey would lead us to where we are now. 

I remember feeling anger and desperation at the workload and time he spent away from his beloved children. I am still seared by the feeling that it would never change. Every morning my oldest son woke up extra early to cry on the front porch of our log home as his daddy left for work. He would watch and wave and cry until the truck was out of sight. My heart is still seared. Yet, I did not realize that the small changes I was making in creating simplicity was actually paving a pathway that would change the course of our family forever. 

How Did Minimalism Inadvertently Help My Husband Leave His Job?

1. Minimalism gave me mental clarity and the belief that I truly could change my situation. I could make different choices. With each item I donated, I believed that change was possible. Instead of feeling trapped in a home full of very useful junk,  I came to understand that I am the steward of my life and my home.  I have a choice. This mental clarity led me on a "fast-path" to have more mental clarity to expand our real estate business, adding two more properties in three months' time. I never would've attempted that expansion if I had been drowning in toys and dirty laundry!

2. Minimalism allowed me to quickly and easily train my children to run the household. In a kid-friendly, simple environment, my children can reach what they need, find the items without my help, and be (mostly) peaceful as they often cook their own simple meals.  I never dreamed this benefit of minimalism would allow us the simple freedom to build time in for business. My son packs his daddy's lunch and dinner each day. My daughter cooks a simple breakfast for the other children each morning. It saves time and money for the children to accomplish those simple tasks in the minimalist kitchen designed just for them. Without their help, our progress towards our goals would've slowed to exhaustion. The children are not just a beautiful reason to work towards our goals; they are actually an intricate part of those goals. Minimalism sets them up for success with kid-friendly spaces and systems in the home.

3. Minimalism allowed us to live first on 80% of our income. Changing my mental spending habits was paramount! Not allowing discouragement and despair to trick me into buying one more item to solve my emotional strain. This was a milestone I'll never forget. Minimalism allowed me to look at a problem in terms of how I could solve it with what I already had, rather than turning to "retail therapy." Slowly, we moved from living on 80% to 75%, and soon after to needing less than 60% to support ourselves. Again, that self-discipline created a new confidence that no matter what the circumstances, a new life was possible. 

4. Interestingly enough, it was my journey into minimalism that brought me to the end of my frugality. Having reduced everything I could to the lowest common denominator, I quickly realized that I could not save my way to abundance. Now, I still practice all my frugal tricks; I just had to realize that I could not scrimp and scrape and save enough to get my husband home from his job. Although I am completely committed to minimalism, I realized that expansion was needed as well. Abundance is, first of all, a choice and a mindset. Minimalism allows me to expand my viewpoint; we use its principles to create homes in our rental properties to be a haven for families in their personal journeys. I have had to expand the number of people I serve as a professional financial coach locally in our city and at a distance. Minimalism allows me less time cleaning my own messes and more time serving my family and my clients/tenants. 

5. Minimalism ended my long struggle with depression. I know that many factors can influence depression, but for me, depression was fueled by visual and emotional chaos. With a physical environment that was more calm, I was able to work through the emotional chaos much faster.  I also wanted to create a peace-filled home that my husband would want to leave his job for, so the emotional work and healing on my part was a vital component of that journey. 

A year ago this week, my children helped their daddy turn in his uniforms for the last time. As I carried baby six, due in six months, I watched my husband walk out of a job with full benefits. I knew that we would face obstacles (which we did in crazy ways), but I also knew that with the choices we had already made in minimalism, we had a firm foundation to walk into the unknown together as a family. 

If you are dreaming of creating a new story for your family, new simplicity in the home, or new stability in the finances, you are in the right place. Start today, one choice at a time. 

This Christmas, I'd like to warmly invite you to our log home for a LIVE Interactive Online Workshop. If you are ready to write a new story this year for your sweet family, you are welcome to come and ask and dream of what that would look like for you. 

Blessings for your new story,

Elizabeth