Lessons Learned


While we build our homes, we build our lives.

Most days, this little log home is filled with giggles and running feet. Some days our high cathedral ceilings echo with stomping feet and angry voices. With eight strong personalities in 1400 sq feet, the sparks fly. We love fiercely!

I knew when we chose the open layout that it simultaneously allowed for large gatherings and loud echos.

What we didn't know, but suspected, was how much a home would define and refine us. We had grown to identify with our 100-year old duplex. We had people ask in condemning tones if we “still lived in that duplex?”  dripping with heavy shame.

I struggled and allowed that shame to define me until the day I decided to seriously love where we were and trust God with my whole house. That moment was a huge turning point. As I donated bag after bag to charity, I started to see my home with new eyes. The burden lifted and I could see how grateful I was for the lesson learned in that 100-year old duplex, where we lived for almost 9 years.

Then, we moved.

Again, we were shamed by our house choice. “You don’t live in a log home, do you? Isn’t that expensive?” we were asked. “I could never afford to live in a log home,” we were told again and left speechless by people who knew nothing of our journey. This home was a gift and an answered prayer on so many levels. We had asked for it to OPEN it to others and share the goodness, which we did in spite of the shaming comments. Through lots of help and support plus a crazy turn of events, we received an amazing price on this little log house and are deeply grateful each day for the small square footage and large amounts of grace in our home.

Which brought me to understand that the concept of home DOES matter. It’s not “just” a house. It shapes us. The concept and the physical floor-plan, the location and especially what we do with it. Most importantly, how we fill it. Do we make memories and share wisdom? Do we fill it with forgiveness for the days when angry voices storm? Are we quick to read books and snuggle on the couch? Is this the kind of life we want to be the foundation for the precious lives we love? Regardless of what other people say?!

Our homes should be intertwined with our lives and serve as the canvas from which we work to create our best lives.

Freedom comes when we embrace in faith the daily calling to create a haven in our homes.

And, we also have the freedom to change it all - move, renovate, re-create, renew, restore, and build anew. If your home is not serving you or even the items in it, you have the great responsibility and joy to CHANGE without apology, no matter who might be offended or what others may say. This is your life and your home and your lessons learned.

Blessings for your journey,


Minimal me, Maximum God

Minimal me, Maximum God

I'm excited to welcome a series of Guest Bloggers to CREATE:minimalism. Each person has a unique perspective on minimalism - each journey is a precious story. These are stories that need to be told, as we become deeply rooted in the truth of the stories we tell. Enjoy the first in this series, by author, coach, and wellness expert Dawn Hall. 

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New Ways to CREATE Sacred Space Even in a Crazy World

View of the "Cathedral of Trees" taken by my daughter

View of the "Cathedral of Trees" taken by my daughter

Hello my dear friend, I hear it your voice that the last several weeks have been crazy. Really crazy. From international and national events to your own soul, there's been turmoil. A lot of it. How do we find Sacred Space when it seems the world has absolutely lost its soul? 

Maybe you are trying to declutter while working full time, commuting, and juggling the children. Perhaps you are caring for aging parents and trying to declutter their stuff AND your stuff. Or may be you are expecting a new little blessing and trying to declutter with babies and toddlers surrounding. Maybe, like me, you run a couple businesses, homeschool six kids, and have a dog, cat, chicken, pigeons, and a chinchilla. Maybe not. Regardless of what season you are in, my dear friend, you are not alone. You CAN create Sacred Space for your soul to breathe. I will never tell you it is easy, but it is so worth the effort. YOU are worth the effort. Here's how I created Sacred Space.


When overwhelmed in my decluttering and the press of life, I did not even know that I needed Sacred Space. When all those 500+ bags of junk was still all over my home rather than the local charity, I couldn't see anyway out. I had to start digging. 

With each box to charity, I found more of myself. I was crafting who I was, no longer in terms of what I had, but in terms of what I believed. My priorities. No more of worrying that people would judge me because of what I didn't have. I pitched out the door the concern if people saw I wore the same outfit to church each week (it was clean!). I love my capsule wardrobe because it reflects me. My values. I did NOT need to keep everything just in case the world ended tomorrow. I could walk out my life in faith, keeping what was needed for my journey in the relative near future and being wise, but not living in fear. 

ACTION STEP: Set aside 10 minutes each day for decluttering and then STOP to rest. Rest is key.  Give yourself a cup of tea or a walk outside. Read your favorite book of poetry for the first time in years. The point is to work and then rest. Rest is as necessary as the work. Reward your hard work, not by spending a gazillion dollars, but by being good to yourself. So many minimalist resources talk about the work side of creating space but for some of us, the rest is the important part. Others need the work part. Understand who you are and do both. 

As you are decluttering, you may find that you are getting overwhelmed because you keep seeing the next area that needs tackled. And it needs done faster. This is totally normal, all of my coaching clients feel this way, and I felt that same frustration. I wish that I could say I was peaceful and kind all through decluttering. Let's be real, you and I are friends. I was angry. Furious and desperate while I decluttered. Mostly angry at myself that I had let other people determine what I kept in my home. I had to forgive myself and others in order to create that Sacred Space in my home and my soul. 

ACTION STEP: Forgive the past. As you are decluttering, you CAN forgive yourself and others. This is a powerful step so don't skip it. Forgiveness is power. Maybe you spent more money on an item that didn't turn out how you had planned. Maybe the financial stress now turns your stomach. Forgive. You did the best you could and you've learned and grown from that experience. Perhaps the bills are high right now and income is low. Keep forgiving and look at what can be learned. Maybe you didn't spend the money but someone you love did. Forgive them. Holding onto resentment never solved anything. There is accountability, absolutely, but bitterness will only hurt you. Releasing all the negativity will make room for you to grow the peace and Sacred Space you are looking for. 


Walking the lane

Walking the lane


Here in our little log home in the woods, we are surrounded by nature, but we didn't always live here. I used to live on "Ambulance Alley" the busiest road in my city. The sirens rang all day and all night and the traffic was relentless. I learned in those hard days to find beauty wherever I was. Sacred Space in my physical environment became vital as well.

ACTION STEP: Find nature and beauty in hidden spaces.  Finding physical surroundings that bring peace to your soul is important. It can bring a keen awareness of beauty. Perhaps it's a neighbors' garden. May be a local park.  I hiked and trail ran on a local pike path and Metro Park. An urban courtyard often provides green space to just breathe again. Find your spot and use it! 

The world does seem to have lost so much of the goodness of humanity these days. The news is toxic on all fronts. Even the normal grocery line conversations are often negative.  To create new patterns in living and thinking, this negativity has to be held at bay even though it may seem at tsunami proportions. Taking these small action steps of work and rest, forgiving the past, and finding beauty in natural living spaces will carve out for you your unique Sacred Space. 

Blessings for your journey,


Minimalism & Money: Crazy Extreme Things I've Done to Save Money & Why You Shouldn't Do Them (Unless You Want To)

I’ve done crazy things to save money but none of that relieved the financial pressure entirely. I realized abundance is a choice first and always. Especially with our economic and materialist system, you cannot "tight-wad"  your way to freedom. I believe that it is mathematically impossible due to our tax code and financial structures.  Many well respected financial educators suggest beans and rice until you are debt-free. I respectfully disagree. There is a deeper answer. I found that answer in changing my heart first, before financial provision would come. 

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3 Ways to Never Say I Can't Afford It Again


Confession: when I left my corporate job due to my newborn daughter's medical complications, I worried about money. I knew that although we lived as frugally as we could, I was leaving a secure paycheck to care for my daughter and I was scared. During those years, I often said, "No, I can't afford it." I quickly realized that although kids don't need to be expensive, I was the one who was truly expensive. My time was expensive.  And I began to focus on everything in my life that I couldn't afford. Maybe you know that awful, hollow feeling as well. It's terrible. Fast forward 12 years + six kids total, and my life is totally changed.

Waking up every morning in house that is paid for, not being in debt for student loans or credit cards, and being available to my kids....that feeling is priceless! 

I'm sure you could guess that it has been a long journey to get here. Maybe you are still on that same journey and it feels. very. very. long. There's hope! Along the way, I found 3 key ways to change that horrible feeling of not being able to "afford it" into a feeling of gratitude, ultimately leading to a place of abundance. 

1. Change of Mindset

I redefined what I needed. What is truly necessary? Children need their parents' love in the form of time, patience, attention, discipline, and a huge amount of affection. Children don't need a gazillion migraine-making toys or a string of stressful activities. It took me a while to learn that. Looking at all of the abundance that I did have, rather than focusing on the areas of lack,  was a huge shift and one that I still remind myself to keep. It's too easy to slip by into scarcity and fear. Abundance is first a choice.

2.Change of Patterns

In my journey to affording the time with my loved ones, I found I needed to change my patterns. First my mindset, but next my actions. I changed what I did for fun...no more shopping even if it was sales or thrift stores or *gasp* upscale neighborhood garage sales. Instead I found I loved hiking and trail running. Maybe you might enjoy free museum days in the city or walking the beach like I do. Quality experiences can be free! I changed my pattern of eating to more homemade, wholesome foods. I changed my social obligations to working with families and business owners so that my calendar correlated with my desire to help others. All of this reflected my new attitude of abundance. I found wealth in hidden places. "I Can't Afford It" began to stop coming out of my mouth!

The path to freedom

must include right choices....

3. Asking the Right Questions

All of these changes happened as I was searching for more income and for more time, less stress and more happiness with my family. And these changes of mindset and patterns brought me to face serious questions. I found that I questioned what I truly needed as far as material possessions and ended up giving away 2/3 of everything I owned to charity. I questioned relationships that weren't life-giving, and allowed those negative relationships to diminish. I found that with asking the right questions, I got the results I was looking for...more time with the ones I loved and less time worrying about affording it. I know you're probably thinking that's not rocket science, but for me, asking the right questions changed everything.

Instead of saying "I Can't Afford It" I began to ask .......

  Does it move me closer to my dreams and vision for the future?

  Does the item/event/service create value or solve a problem to get me closer to my dream life?

 Does this decision provide something that is an asset, creating addition income or making it possible in the future?

You may rightly wonder how these questions wiped away the worry about affording things. Changing my mindset, changing my patterns, and asking the right questions led me to find all the answers I was looking for. I was able to use our resources better. I balanced our finances without fear. I worked from home to expand our residual income with adding new rental properties because I had the time and vision (a ton less time cleaning with 2/3 of everything donated).  I was able to start coaching families and business owners in the area of finances through my training and my work with a financial publishing company.

I changed that hollow ache of not "affording it" into an abundant attitude of sharing and loving and living intentionally because I was willing to take the leap of faith and do the work to change.

What faith decisions have you made on your journey to simplicity?

Clean House & Happy Children - YES! You Can!

If I could write a letter to my previous self, I would tell her "You CAN have a clean house and happy children." Seriously I had never seen it done! I did not grow up in a minimalist home. I was raised to be a career woman. When I had my daughter, I was not prepared to leave my corporate job, but I knew that I made the best choice for my daughter as she had medical complications at the time. Choosing to come home was the right decision, but it wasn't easy.

You see, if you fast forwarded several years,  I was floundering as a mom. I did not have good boundaries for allowing well-meaning family to "store" items at my house. Maybe you have family like that. I'm sorry. I totally understand. Seriously, I couldn't walk through my house safely - toys, furniture, too many clothes, dishes literally to the ceiling. I'm not proud of that and I was miserable. My children weren't particularly peaceful either. We were a huge, hot mess in more ways than one.

The changes started slowly at first. I think it's called the compound effect. I stopped allowing others to redecorate my home. I donated bag after bag to the local charity. Furniture started to go the mountain of toys. Anything with batteries and noise was on my "hit list."  I was like a woman on a mission to get rid of those migraine making toys!!

Slowly, our true life emerged from under a mountain of "stuff!" I took nightly walks with my children as the evening sunset painted the sky. I read book after book instead of screen time. The behavior improved, in me actually first and then my children. I started to see our home from their eyes. If I was upset about the toys being out everywhere, I realized that I was totally responsible. I realized they needed a system, each activity needed a home. Suddenly a clean home became possible because every item HAD an actual home. Now, please don't judge! I know this is common sense and I have a high level degree. I get it that I should have known this, but how did I actually do this?

Maybe you have wondered if a clean home is possible with children, you are in the right place. I wondered that as well. I wasn't willing to give into the sarcastic sayings on FB about blaming the kids for a messy house. Like you, I also wasn't willing to let the kids trash the place either. Not going to happen....ever.

Here's 3 things that will help CREATE a happy, kid-friendly house:

1.See your home from your child's eyes. Follow their footsteps through an ideal day. Do they need their socks with their shoes? Done. Move the socks to the shoe cupboard. Kids always asking for drinks? Done. Step stool in the kitchen with stainless steel cups. Always finding toys on the floor? No problem. If found on the floor, the toy goes to the job shelf. Each child must work to earn their toy back. Clean house? Done.

2. Teach the concept "if you want to get something out, put something away." I also have a play pattern for each day. It's not strict but I am the one to direct their activities. In the morning after breakfast it's math blocks. Afternoon time is outside play or art in the basement. I am in charge so that there are no roaming bandits flooding the house....it has happened twice, just saying.

3. Encourage the children to keep their favorites. And share! Blessed day, my two year old is finally learning to share.  Discernment takes time to teach and model as does sharing and decision making. We often joke as moms about how difficult it is to teach sharing but we have a great opportunity in decluttering to practice what we preach. Ouch. I have shared items that I didn't want to share and it was so, so good for my children to see it. A mom in need asked for cloth diapers. Silly, I know, but I had a hard time letting go. When I did, I was so excited that my children saw that I shared even when I truly needed that item for our own family. Shortly afterwards, we received "upgraded" organic cloth diapers as a gift. Sweet poetic justice.

The systems in a home help CREATE a deep trust and happiness that I cannot quite explain. Children enjoy rhythms and dependability. And happy children, a clean home, aaahh this CREATES the sacred space that our family needs.

Blessings for your journey!!


Our reason....our story

Moments create our lives. Our reason and our story has multiple beginnings. Perhaps it began with trying to live on a youth pastor's salary and keeping everything, "just in case." Maybe it was the weight of our grandparents' passing away and all their stuff being poured into our basement. Probably it came with a deep conviction.

People are more important than stuff.


We knew we needed change. And as all good and permanent change does...it began slowly. Slowly, painfully, I began with the support of my husband (as long as I didn't touch his stuff), to peel back layers of years and in heartache. In short, we ended up giving 2/3rds of everything we owned away.

In the last 6 years, we have donated over 550+ huge bags, pieces of furniture, and stuff to charity (doesn't count other items shared to friends and family).

We also are about to have baby #6. With children, we thought it would be difficult to find peace and minimalism. How wrong we were! Actually children thrive in a less cluttered home. And not only thrive, but help create minimalism. More than we ever realized. Sometimes in humorous ways. Sometimes in extremely hard ways. Always good and always moving us forward.

This is our story, with our reasons, but as you hear in these pages and images the laughter and often deep struggle, may you find courage. A path. One more step forward. For your family, for your season. Create for yourself the kind of life you want using all that we have learned along the way. Welcome to our journey and yours.

We know that you will find the life you want to CREATE is just beyond all that is let go along the way.

~ Blessings,