Category: Simply Living (page 1 of 4)

It is Possible to Live TOO Small

If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know that I really like the idea of minimalism and its benefits. I believe in living small, and I try to keep my life relatively simple. However, the last five years have taught me that it is possible to live TOO small. Sometimes, less is NOT more.

I’ve been pretty introverted around here. Despite the MANY blessings and exciting events in the last year, I really struggled with anxiety and depression. I’m not a stranger to those things, but I think they got the best of me, because I thought I had grown beyond their clutches. True to my nature, I withdrew from writing, because I want to be a source of encouragement, and I just wasn’t a wellspring of positivity. I considered being vulnerable and talking about the ways I was hurting, but the words just wouldn’t come. I was stuck. And then I felt guilty and like a failure. It was a spiral, but I’m not sure I was even fully aware of it.

When we moved into our new home in April, I felt a very sudden loosening of those chains. Our new house, which I believe was an absolute gift being held for us by God, is a lot more airy and open. The four years prior, we’d lived intentionally very small so that we could pay off some of our debts and pursue the life we wanted for our kids and us. We learned and relearned that we really do need a lot less than we think. But those small spaces became even smaller when we added another sweet baby to the family. Her person and her belongings tipped the scales of what could comfortably fit in the space that we’d chosen. Daily, I was overwhelmed and even completely overcome by the clutter around me. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t purge and organize enough to really make it work. I’ll never forget tripping over laundry baskets to cook dinner and wash dishes. Just the basic functions of a stay-at-home-mama were extremely tedious.

Living small wasn’t serving us, so its very purpose was defeated.

Our new home, with the same amount of possessions as our apartment, now gives us the space we need to breathe. SPACE is a good thing. We still live small, but we can stretch out and live more fully. I can be hospitable in ways I never could before. I can live and work in close proximity to my children and not feel smothered. The possessions that enrich our lives have their own places and can be stored out of site, which creates an environment that is less visually stimulating. In short, this home is peaceful, and for that, I thank God continually.

We were able to host both sides of our family for Hosanna’s first birthday! 

More than necessary cabinet space is great for little explorers to play and hide!

We have time and space for blanket forts!

These quiet moments with my babies make life so sweet.

A yard of our own means we get to own pets. Meet Harold “Harry” Super Cat Dummel!

I realize that moving into a larger space isn’t always an option (it wasn’t for us for many years), but our situation is indicative of our need for space in many ways. We need space to think, to breathe, to grow. That doesn’t always mean physical space. We need to keep space in our schedules for Sabbath rest, for connection with the people in our lives, for communion with God. Are we tripping over the laundry baskets of life on our way to eating spiritual and emotional food? Laundry and serving and paying bills are all necessary parts of life, but when they begin to crowd out the peaceful moments that keep us going, we are bound to shut down.

Whether it’s my upbringing by two very hard workers or my type A personality, I’m a person obsessed with productivity. Learning to juggle two kids and a house that refused to stay clean got the very best of me in every way. I worked constantly and forgot to take time to breathe and fill up in my own unique ways. I pushed away my husband and kids in the name of cleaning and seeking spatial peace that wasn’t to be found. Thankfully, hard lessons can be learned, and I’m beginning to once again care for my family and myself the way that I should, which means a whole lot more than physical work. The depression and anxiety are mostly at bay. Intentional time spent building my relationship with my husband, my babies, and my Savior are all keys to emotional strength and well-being.

If your life is so busy that you don’t have space to breathe deeply, please take a Sabbath rest. It is possible to live TOO small. You can live with too little physical AND emotional space for a healthy lifestyle. Moving into a larger, more open home was extremely helpful to me, but depression and anxiety are imminent if I don’t follow God’s way, which includes hard, meaningful work, but also deliberate rest.

“She Pondered Them in Her Heart”: A Year in Reflection

Recently in our young adult Bible study, Dustin read about Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. In this account, there were shepherds who heard about Jesus from angels and went to see Him. Verses 18 and 19 say, “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” There was great hoopla!

And yet, “…Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Google defines the word “ponder” this way – “think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.” It also provides synonyms, which include contemplate, consider, review…and overthink. Mary really was just one of the girls, wasn’t she? Isn’t that so like us normal moms? Some major stuff is going on, but we find ourselves over in the corner overthinking.

All joking aside, this struck me as Dustin was reading. Truth be told, I was pondering, and probably missing the point of wherever the lesson was leading. All I could think about was the past year, and how quiet I’ve been about it all. I tried to write more, but I found myself in wonder most of the time, trying to wrap my head around it all.

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Your Childhood Joy

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you were downtrodden, depressed, anxious, or lonely? Maybe you’re experiencing that time right now? Unfortunately, I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life like that, despite having a relationship with Christ.

The Bible says Jesus came so we could have life to the full (John 10:10), and yet so many of us live without joy. We can blame this on others, on circumstances, on things out of our control…but I don’t believe that’s the real issue. Continue reading

July 2016 Update

I had good intentions to write this post early in the month, but it’s summer in the Midwest, and we are living life to the fullest while the weather is warm. Maybe it’s better, because I have more to say than I did 26 days ago. When you’re raising tiny people, a lot can happen in the span of a month.

Josiah has been equally adorable and hilarious this month, as he continues to grow into the role of big brother. He insists that he loves his sister more than anyone else, and that she feels the same about him. I know that their bond is sacred, and I’m content to take a backseat. They both still know who to come to when they’re hungry <snicker>.

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Time and Pancakes

It’s December already. Christmas will be here so soon, and there’s something about having children that makes one completely aware of how fast time passes. It’s tempting to spend these few days we have before Christmas thinking about “stuff and things”. I really like giving gifts. It’s not about the stuff, but about showing people I love them. Years like this one, when we’re on a tighter budget, are hard for me, because I want to buy something for everyone.

However, as I stood making silver dollar pancakes for Josiah today, it occurred to me that what’s actually made me feel loved over the years is the time my people have given me. You see, silver dollar pancakes will ALWAYS make me think about my Papaw Martini. Although my grandpa has always been generous with his resources and has bought us gifts every year at Christmas, one of my fondest memories are the mornings he’d get up early with us kids and make about a million tiny pancakes. He didn’t say much, but he’d stand over the stove and grin as we giggled about how we could tell our parents we ate ten pancakes for breakfast. It was pure joy.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every physical gift he’s given us, but even without material things, I’d never doubt his love. He spent time with me, and he’s one of the first to show up when I need help. He’s kind and loving and truly wants the best for his kids and grandkids, and that can never be replaced with material possessions.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been all that good at giving my time to others, but it’s something I’ve really been focusing on in the last few years. I used to be so driven to be “the best I could be” because I thought that accomplishments were the way I should use my God-given talents and that accolades meant I would be loved. And because I’m not good at balancing that drive with time spent on loved ones (holy introversion!), I’ve often found myself feeling empty and alone. With all that striving and work, I was still not the person I knew I should be.

Now, however, as I spend more time focusing on people instead of worldly success, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. At the end of the day, the time I spend building relationships will never leave me empty and regretful.

So although I won’t be able to give many gifts this year, I hope that more people are sure of my love for them. Everyone knows that time is precious, more than money. So if you give more time and make some precious memories, you needn’t spend your days worrying about how much money you spend on Christmas. Remember that this time of year is a memorial to a poor carpenter who gave His life for the people He loves. Give of yourself. That is love.

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