Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mississippi River Trip - Music Video

As I have mentioned before, Jonathan is very into making videos which has prompted us to make a lot of music videos over the past year. Most have been very simple but we are starting to get a little fancier. This is our most complicated one yet (and I am not sure that we will ever top it). This was taken as we traveled the route down south along the Mississippi River. This is our first one to do with Ken in it too so that is fun for us.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Good Questions To Ask as You Declutter

As I was going through things in my office today (and many more items got moved out - Yeah!) I listened (kind of watched) some decluttering videos on Youtube. There was one done by Clutter Clarity that had some good questions to ask yourself.

 As you look at any item either that you already have or that you might be thinking about getting, ask yourself:

  • Do I LOVE it?
  • Do I (or will I) USE it?
  • Do I have SPACE for it?
  • Does it fit my LIFESTYLE?
If we can answer all those questions honestly it will help us to gain insight into whether it is a good thing for us to have or not. These seem very helpful to me, I hope they are for you as well!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Staying Simple With Electronics

So, today I just wanted to share a little bit about my ways of dealing with electronics and a few thoughts on that and I am hoping that this can be come a discussion of ideas and sharing about what works for all of you, also what you have found not to work. I know that there is a huge variety of thoughts on this and I don't want to sound like I have it figured out because I don't think I do but maybe this can give new ideas for dealing with things if this area of your life is not as simple as you would like.

  So I am talking about keeping things simple in the area of cell phone use, social media, e-mail, etc. I think that a huge part of living a simple life is to make sure that everything you do is done thoughtfully and hopefully prayerfully. That you lead the life that you want, not the one you feel you just happened to have. That you are conscientious about how you spend your time, your talents and your resources.

 Because I want to live a life on purpose I have thought about each of these areas and am trying to use them in a wise way - not heedlessly. Here is what is going on in my life in these areas:

  • Cell Phone. I do actually have a smart phone now. When Ken got a new one (he has needed to have a good cell phone for work use and he does also use it for personal use on a regular basis) he gave me his old one. The joke with friends and family is that I have a phone but it is never charged. That isn't quite true, but it is close. I really have not wanted to become attached to my phone so I pretty much never carry it on my person and when I am at home it generally stays in my purse up in my room (where I can't hear it). I check texts and voice messages around once a month. It used to be longer and it is sometimes less now but it still is not often. On our trip I did use Facebook on it a lot as we were trying to keep a log of the trip there but otherwise I don't use it much. I have always considered it to be more for emergencies. Because I don't use it much (and don't want to) I simply get minutes through Tracphone and I am not on a plan. So my phone costs us around $100 a year. We do have a land line phone (which I know is becoming obsolete) so people can generally reach me if needed. We have an answering machine on it which I check regularly. Or if I am with Ken he will have his phone on him. But over all I don't feel like being on call every minute of the day. Another thought on Cell phones - Ken puts his on a sleep mode for the night so that he will not get interrupted. We both try to opt out of any group text messages. It eats up what text message services I have available to quickly and I don't check it much anyway and with Ken he really doesn't like the interruption  that every little text brings to his day since it dings and he feels he needs to check it.
  • Social Media. I obviously do blogging. :-) I like to share on here and I enjoy reading other blogs but as any regulars have noticed when life has gotten super busy some in the last few years my blogging participation has dropped. So when I have time I do it but when I can't I don't. I have found blogging a great way to share and to learn from others. I have found it very beneficial and though I know it can be a waste of time I have not generally found it to be. I try to do most of my blogging after the kids are in bed while Ken is watching something on TV so I am not missing family time to do it.
    Then there is Facebook. This has been one of my biggest mental struggle areas. Is this beneficial or not. Should I go off forever? Should I take an extended break? Why do I struggle with getting off of it once I go on? It has really been an area where I can struggle with self-discipline. It also can be a super useful tool, free video chats and instant message with Mara when she was away and being able to stay connected with family and friends that live a long ways away. But sometimes I think we connect mainly through Facebook and don't develop our relationship in other ways. Anway, I am still working to manage this one. I am seriously considering only allowing myself to go on Facebook on Saturdays. I decided this wouldn't work well while Mara was in Texas but not that she is home again I think we could do it. I just struggle with knowing how to deal with people that use facebook messanger to contact me but I guess I could check my phone more often for that. I would love to hear your thoughts on Facebook.
    I am also on Pinterest which has been a time waster a few times but mostly a very useful tool. I love using it for organizing. I am not on snap chat, twitter, instagram or any other social media. I think I will keep it that way.
    I do also enjoy watching or listening to things on Youtube sometimes. Mostly I do it while I am working (I started doing it most while arranging flowers for my business) on something in my office. I have found it very useful for learning many things or being inspired or challenged. We do enjoy listening to music on their too - using that or CDs in our van are pretty much the only ways we listen to music here. But though I think it has been very useful (I did use it a lot as we were learning about Medieval times) it can also be a time waster so I have to be careful.
  • E-mail. My biggest help in keeping things organized and not overwhelming there has been to try and answer e-mails promptly and delete the ones that I have taken care of (or put them in a folder if they have information that I may need to look up later). I am not perfect at this yet but my e-mail is not overwhelming the way it used to be. I am also working to unsubcribe from everything that I don't care about that gets sent my way. Sometimes I wonder if unsubcribing really works but I am hoping it does. Sometimes I think it takes months to get it done.
  • TV. We have it but I made a policy way back when we got it that the kids and I just wouldn't turn it on. That has held true for the most part. I did go against that during Hurricane Katrina, a few times with the Olympics , President Reagan's funeral and I think the Royal wedding before the last one but that is about it. :-) Ken does like to watch some sports on it and I have watched a few football games with him lately - not so much because I love it but because I love to spend time with my husband. We do also tend to watch presidential debates together. We watch movies around once a month as a family.
I don't do any video/facebook games or any other entertainment on the computer or phone so I think I have covered my electronic distractions but I would love to hear how you deal with these things. We are still working at getting all these things figured out with my older children (the 3 oldest because they all work/go places on their own) now that they have phones.

  Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts and methods!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Make Yourself Mend It

So, I have finally really gotten started working on my office today. It feels good but also almost embarrassing. As I go through things I feel like people might think I was a hoarder if they were just looking in my office. I save so many things.

 Now, I can easily rationalize my saving. I am an avid crafter. I love to make things and I do it all the time. My family (the girls especially) also love to make things. They also do it on a very regular basis. We buy crafting supplies pretty much never. We almost always use what we have. We have been given so many, many craft supplies and we also love to repurpose things - so I save old jeans, old sweaters, old t-shirts, etc...

 That is all well and good but it can get out of hand. And my office closet (and even the office itself to some extent) was proof of that. I need to weed some things out. So I am. I got rid of over 100 items in my office today and there is still a long way to go. Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day at working on it.

  But I have been thinking on something else - also related- that I wanted to discuss. That is the subject of mending. I love to mend things. It is so fun to see something that was broken/not good in some way working well once more. Whether it be clothes or other items it is nice to see a life extended. But we get busy, it can be so easy to set aside that mending for another day, that day becomes a week, then a month, then a year, then a decade. Maybe none of you have done that but I know I have done it for years and quite possibly a decade before. By that time if it is clothes it quite possibly doesn't fit anymore or is out of date. And if it is something else it has just been taking up space unusable for far to long.

  I know for me if it needs mending I don't want to give it away and foist it onto somebody else, that just doesn't seem nice, but I hate to see it fill the land fill either. But I think sometimes we just have to draw the line and say "It is okay to through things away sometimes."

  So, since I have pretty much determined this month that we were no longer keeping things that needed mending I have been mending things like crazy. :-) It is fun to have various items in working order again. There is still one thing (a broken can opener handle) that I haven't figured out how to mend but I am working on it as I really like that can opener. It cannot just go back in the drawer to wait a while longer. And I want to take finished kitchen photos soon so it needs to get off the counter so the time to get it mended is running out. :-)

  I think setting some deadlines about mending is helpful. Also, just look at the article really honestly and ask "Is it really worth my time to mend it?" Will we really use it that much? Maybe I should just get rid of it.

   I would love to hear your thoughts on this and whether you also have historic mending piles.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Verses to Think About

 As I have been busily decluttering, cleaning and organizing I have tended to think about stuff quite a bit. I have come up with many thoughts and opinions but I want to make sure that they line up with what the Bible says. So I was studying into that a little today and I thought I would share a couple of verses that caught my eye.....

Jesus was in a crowd and was asked to resolve a dispute over an inheritance, he declined to do that but he did say this:
Luke 12:15 "Then He said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

I think the big message here is - there are more important things in life than things. How much we own is not what makes our life good or not. More important than the things is whether we are being greedy or whether we are showing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Another verse that has a great message and one that I believe is applicable to nearly every American and so many others is this:
1 Timothy 6:17-19 "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  

God did give us everything for us to enjoy. That is a huge blessing from Him. But along with that enjoying of what He has given us He wants us to use it to do good, to share with others generously and help them out. When we have a Godly mindset our focus will not be on having a stockpile of treasures here but rather treasures in heaven. We never, ever, ever want to put our trust in our possessions. Anything could happen to them and they would be gone tomorrow. Our trust needs to always, always be in God!!!

 I do truly find that considering God's word can give me such a better perspective on stuff.

  • How can I use what I have to His glory?
  • Will this slow me down and burden me as I try to work for Him?
  • Would somebody else be blessed by this?
  • Am I holding on to things out of wrong motives?
  • Do I look at every possession in my house realizing that it belongs to God, I am just a caretaker of it?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

When Your Family Makes it Hard to Declutter

So much for this idea of writing every day!! :-) Life just gets busy. There have been a couple of big things going on this week. Mara came home from Texas. She flew in on Wednesday night. She was just having to much trouble with her health down there and especially when they would go on trips she was struggling to keep up physically. We are still searching to come up for a reason for her extreme fatigue and other symptoms. She went to the Doctor down there a couple of times and they tested for Celiac and Chronic Mono but both came back negative. We are going to see a natural MD here this coming Friday. 

   The other big thing this week was finally getting all of my honey extracted. I like to do that much earlier but in September and October so far I was busy or sick every day that I had time and it wasn't cold or raining. Thursday I didn't really have time (as I had to take Megan to the Doctor, we went and sang at the Nursing home, Mara had just gotten home and we wanted to visit and I had a music lesson scheduled) but it looks like it may have been our last day this year to go up over 60 degrees and be sunny so I used the little time I had to get all of the frames of honey pulled from the hives. It was sad that I hadn't been able to do it earlier as it was obvious that the bees had eaten quite a lot of honey. Oh well, I still got a nice share and it is done now! Friday (amidst teaching music lessons, working with a friend on getting things ready for our homeschooling co-op, running kids into town and picking up sewing to do and then having a bunch of company for supper) and today I got all the extracting down. It is lovely to have it done for another year.

But on to the project of simplifying and decluttering. This week my big project has been the kitchen. It hadn't seemed super cluttered but Jonathan (the one who puts dishes away) has been complaining about the crowding and I am trying to go through everything anyway so it seemed like a good idea. It went went and I will share more about it in another post.
They are working at looking angry and upset over the things that I am getting rid of. 

All was going well anyway until some people in my household took note of some of the things that I was planning to get rid of. Aaron and Megan (my drama king and queen) started an uproar. Now truly it was mostly in good fun and they weren't actually breaking down in tears or anything but it is completely true that they would have preferred that I didn't get rid of quite a few items. 

   And when it came to the old, black, ugly pizza cutter (that I thought I would get rid of and just keep the nice looking, newer one that we had) they did truly start and uproar, then Mara joined them and then they brought Ken into it who said "We can't get rid of that Pizza cutter, we have always had that one." So on that item I had to cave and I got rid of the nice one instead.

  By the way, Jonathan was firmly supporting me in the whole uproar. He loves to get rid of things and is not very sentimental. The other three kids (especially the younger two) are quite sentimental and get attached to various things - thankfully not everything- they aren't quite hoarders yet. :-) Ken and I can be pretty sentimental too. Thankfully it seems to be just in certain areas. Ken is sentimental when it comes to anything to do with his grandparents house (thankfully we don't have a huge amount of items from there) or when our kids were little. Traditions are very important to him and if an item goes with a tradition then he is unlikely going to want to get rid of it. But otherwise he is incredibly neat and tidy.

  Getting rid of things when others around you (and it doesn't even have to be in your household - many outside your household can make you second guess decluttering decisions) think it is a bad idea can make the process hard. You may have already been struggling with the decision yourself and then they come and make it very hard to let go.

  Here are some of my thoughts for dealing with this:

  • Respect your spouse. If they really don't want you to get rid of something, then don't. Really work at decluttering the areas that are more your areas and that they don't care about and hope that they will see the beauty in doing that and be more willing to let go. If something they want to keep is really cluttering up an area that you need to keep clean maybe you can move it to an area that is more their area. I can think of a time that I did this; there was an ugly (in my mind), red, plastic placemat that had been Ken's Grandma's. We already had quite a few items "to remember her with" (not like he would forget anyway) so I thought maybe we could get rid of it. Ken didn't think so, so I put it in his office to decorate his desk with as I didn't have another good place to keep it. He is happy with it there and I am happy not to have to mess with it and that works for us.
  • Listen to your kids, but that doesn't mean that you have to do what they say.
  • If it is your domain and your stuff (such as the kitchen) then stick to your guns (with your children not your spouse) and move it out. 
  • Explain yourself - "Here is why we don't need this anymore."
  • Ask them when they last used it (whatever they don't want to get rid of). Aaron really didn't want me to get rid of a meat tenderizing hammer. Our neighbor (cleaning out her house) had given it to us a year or so ago and we had never used it. But Aaron thought it looked cool. Sorry, we weren't using it, so it goes.
  • As long as you are not decluttering their stuff (I think that really should be done with them in a sympathetic but realistic way- at least when they are as old as my kids are) then it might make the most sense to try to declutter when your sentimental ones are away.

  Do you have to deal with family members that are attached to stuff? How do you go about it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Not Getting Buried By the Art Work of Your Children

Hello, welcome! Thanks for joining me as we talk about decluttering and simplifying.

Do any of your have children that are artists? All of my children have spent some time drawing but Megan has done it prolifically for years now. She draws basically every single day. She usually draws more than once a day and usually more than one picture at a sitting. She also likes to paint and use other art forms. She likes the idea of being an artist and truly she is one already. 

  Lots of time spent doing art creates a LOT of artwork. Sometimes that can be hard to deal with. Beautiful to be sure but it doesn't feel so beautiful when it is piled on the counters, falling off the front of the fridge or laying all over the table or the floor. So I thought I would share some of the ways we have dealt with mountians of artwork and maybe some other ideas I have heard of. I also hope that you will weigh in and give some suggestions for making artwork manageable.
 And here we go....

  • Give them a space (when Megan was younger it was a box in her closet, lately it has been a kitchen cupboard and tonight she moved it to a wooden box/stool that we have in our house) that they can keep their artwork in. When it gets to full they are in charge of going through it and getting rid of the ones that they don't like as much. It all needs to fit in that space.
  • Send it off in the mail. Pretty much everybody likes getting mail and a picture is fun to get and look at. I think this is especially good for grandparents and others that are like grandparents to us, young children - cousins, friends, missionary kids, Aunts and Uncles, whoever. In no way do they need to feel obliged to keep it (and try not to make them feel that way) but just like sending a letter to brighten their day you can send pictures. Personally I think it is nicest to pair it with a letter but do as you please. And if they do keep it for years you do not have to feel guilty about it, hopefully it is still bringing them pleasure.
  • Wrap a small present with it.
  • Make a card with it (to give to somebody).
  • Make an envelope out of it.
  • Frame it and hang it on your wall. You can have a frame that you rotate special pictures through.
  • I have rarely done this but many people suggest that you take a picture of it and then you can move the actual artwork on.
  • Turn it into wallpaper. (picture below) This is just temporary at our house but in our unfinished bedroom in the basement I suggested that Megan have an art gallery. So we are filling up the walls with pictures. It is kind of fun.
  • Have one small folder that you keep all the special ones it. Or just a random selection that shows their art style through the years. I have done this haphazardly (meaning when I remember) with my kids for many years. I pulled Mara's out when we were looking for display things at her graduation, I thought we could use a couple from when she was little. She decided to set the whole folder out and different ones commented that they enjoyed looking through it.
  • Have a string or ribbon hanging up somewhere in your house where you can clothespin pictures. When it gets full than something old gets discarded in order to put the new picture up. This was a good solution at our house for many years. 
  • Recycle the rest. For children that have been overly attached I have done it when they weren't around and they have never missed them.

So, how do you deal with artwork? I would love to hear.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Don't Defer Decisions

Hello! Thanks for joining me as I work to declutter and simplify our life.

   When it comes to decluttering something I have found very challenging over the years but that I am making good progress in is not to defer decision making. In so many areas of life I can be very decisive and I don't waver all over the place and in fact indecisive people have often been a bigger irritant to me than I care to admit. However as I mull things over and get to know myself better I have realized that I can be very indecisive in some areas. The one that I have struggled with for a long time is figuring out what to order in a fast food line. But as I don't go to fast food very often and it really doesn't matter that much if I take a few more minutes (I let people go in front of me) I don't care about this one. But the other area I do care about.

   Through the years I have really struggled with being indecisive about my stuff. Something comes in the mail and I look at it or maybe I don't truly have time to look it over well and then I set it somewhere to be looked at and considered another time or maybe 10 more times. I have actually gotten way better at this and now I do tend to just chuck stuff in the recycling pretty quickly and I have come to realize I don't even have to open every envelope that comes from a political candidate or some charity asking for money. I don't have to give them any time at all if I don't want to. And I don't have to feel guilty about not doing that.

  So mail has been a big area but other random stuff is even bigger and messier. And this is the area I still struggle with more. In my office especially, with craft supplies particularly. Whenever something doesn't have any easy home that I have set up already it is easy to just keep moving it from place to place and maybe back and forth when I really just need to take the time to figure out it's permanent home (quite possibly away from our house) and not have to keep shifting it, keep feeling guilty about needing to do something about it. I need to stop deferring with my decision making.

  Another area I have struggled with this is dealing with e-mails. An e-mail needs to have some action taken on it but I don't feel like taking the minute required to figure out what action is needed and to do it so I defer it and then I keep noticing it over and over again and quite possibly I keep deferring it. When I do that it just causes me to feel (a little or a lot) stressed about it. It is much simpler if just as often as possible (I know that it isn't possible 100% of the time) I would just make the decision and take the tiny action right now and get it out of my hair and off my mind.

  So if you want to have less clutter either physical or mental than stop deferring decisions. I hope to join you in that!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Listen To Your Kids

Today was another productive day. Not quite a productive as I dreamed of being but still good. :-) How are you all doing? If you also have been working on simplifying and getting rid of clutter I would really love to hear how it is going.

Our big project of the day was Megan's closet. It wasn't horrible but I knew there was quite a bit in there that she didn't like, want or use. So we went to work.
 I am curious how things go in your family when you are going through your children's clothes. We get most of clothes second hand and a lot of Megan's especially are given to us. She has always had plenty of clothes as a result but not always ones she likes a lot. But I have been quite guilty over the years of making her keep a bunch that she never wants to wear. "That would look so cute on you." "You might want that sometime."  "You might need that." As a result Megan has generally always had a stuffed dresser and full closet but complains about not having clothes to wear or things she likes. She also has really struggled at times to keep things clean. She shoves things in her drawers and the drawers usually look quite chaotic. Like this:
  Today I determined to not make Megan keep things just because I wanted them for her. Yes we wanted her to have enough clothes to wear but currently she had way more than she needed and we had plenty of room for decluttering.

We got rid of (mostly ready for donation or taking to the consignment store, some things went in the trash and a pile is ready to be made into rugs) nearly 90 items in these categories:

  • Some didn't fit right. Megan is quite slim and unless the have the elastic inside the waist of the jeans she needs to wear a belt and she doesn't like to do that. So generally she won't wear them.
  • Some were worn out - those are ready for being repurposed into rugs and that was not part of the 90 because they aren't truly ready to head out the door.
  • Others that were worn out did go straight to the trash if I didn't have a good way to repurpose them.
  • Megan thought some were ugly.
  • Megan didn't like the color of some. She tries to avoid pink whenever possible. I haven't always been patient with this but as I am not a big fan of pink myself (and wear it very little) I really should have been.
  • They weren't a comfortable style for her. Socks were heavy in this category. She doesn't like the feel of short socks. She had been given a bunch of nice new short ones but since she doesn't like them they really were just clogging up her drawer. I said that she could get rid of them. Then I tried them on and they fit well and I like that style. Hooray! So those didn't count in the 90 either as they were just moving places.

 I have been frusterated with Megan being a bit of a messy "pack rat" before but when it comes to clothes I discovered that she really isn't very attached. I have been the real problem wanting her to keep many things that she doesn't like. So though I do think kids shouldn't be super picky and if that is all they have to wear and that is all that you can afford then they should wear it with thankfulness but when you have more than enough and your child is happy to get rid of some - far be it from me (now) to make her keep it. With all of our getting rid of things - they fit much better in the drawers!
 Megan wanted me to take a picture of the drawer above. We did our sorting while the weeks clothes were still in the laundry. So after she had removed everything from her pants drawer that she didn't like or want this was the only thing left in her drawer. But that did change after I got some more laundry folded....

Now she has a reasonable amount in her drawer and they are ones that actually fit well and she likes wearing. Wonderful!
 This is our stack of things to get rid of! 90 + items!
 The closet does look better now. It would have looked more sparse but I added more clean clothes in and we put some of her stuff that had made way over to Mara's side back onto her side.

  We did decide that there are a couple of things we still need to get for her (another pair of shoes and a couple of nice sweaters/tops that would go with some of her skirts. Over all we are quite happy with our job well done.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Resource: The Minimal Mom

Today as I was working at decluttering in my office I had fun watching/listening to some YouTube videos. I found a channel on there that I found super encouraging and motivating and I thought you might enjoy it to: The Minimal Mom. She does a really good job of creating videos, she has lots of good tips and is really upbeat. She has a whole series on dealing with toys which I know can be a challenge. So, if you have some task you can do while listening/watching I recommend checking her out. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Camping - A Way to Try Out Living With Less

 How are you all today? If you also are working on Decluttering and simplifying in your home - how is it going?

 I had another good day of getting some things cleaned up and organized around here and various tasks done. I really am loving being able to stay home more this month. I also like to be on the go sometimes but this month where I am home most of the time has been fun.

But, thinking of going, camping is something we enjoy going and doing. And I think that camping can be a good way to get you thinking about what you really need and what you don't really need in life. It can make you do things creatively and work outside the box. I especially think that back packing or camping when you haul things on bikes or in a canoe are especially helpful as you really have to lighten up but even normal tent camping can teach you things as well. I am not so sure about camper camping as far as the teaching you how to live with less.

  In September we went up North to the annual Jackpine Retreat that our family enjoys going to. I finally uploaded pictures this evening of the last couple of months and wanted to share some on here so this post is partly talking about living on less and partly just telling about the fun we had at Jackpine.

 When camping everybody tends to get a little more creative when it comes to entertainment. We are for the most part away from technology and for the little ones there are not lots of toys so we figure out our own fun - which never seems to be a problem. This camping outing is the highlight of the year for many kids that I know. It was fun to watch my little nieces and nephews (ages 1 and 2) who adored being able to run around outside and play. Sticks and dirt became fun "toys".

Jonathan did bring along his hammock and decided to hang it up super high. That then became entertainment for many for quite a while. It was a challenge to see who could actually get up into it. I tried once and didn't succeed. I was going to try again but it stayed pretty busy and I didn't get around to it.
 Sticks and knives are pretty popular at Jackpine as a lot of carving goes on. The kids arranged a huge jousting match using sticks and swords that they had made. They were quite careful and there were no injuries that I was aware of and they had a wonderful time. All that was needed basically was a few pocketknives to prepare sticks. They did also use some string to mark out the ring. Hours of fun without lots of "things".
 A couple of my nephews that were having a blast just playing around outside. They watchedt he big boys and worked on carving too. Ephraim had a little stick that he used to carve on another stick. Lots of toys are just not really needed.
This Jackpine Retreat is a church retreat that we go to and there are many non-related people that go but we are also blessed to have our family go in large numbers. The picture above is my siblings and I and all our spouses. What fun it is to enjoy camping in God's creation together.

   Anyway I do think that camping can show you that for the most part things aren't the truly important part of life. However we have had some camping trips that have shown me how thankful I am for some things and sometimes I wished I had more of them. When we didn't bring quite enough food (back packing) or enough warm clothes (back packing again) and when the tent leaks and things get wet I do certainly appreciate a solid roof, enough warm and dry clothes and plenty of food. It reminds me of this verse:
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. I Timothy 6:6-9

Monday, October 8, 2018

Success Fuels More Success

Thanks for joining me again!

I don't have time to write much just now as I really need to be heading to bed but I thought I would just stop in and report on the day quickly.

    It was a fun day where I set aside a little more time to work on getting rid of clutter and cleaning some things up. I went through our toy cupboard (I hope to devote a post to the subject of toys soon) and an area for storing projects that are in process and a paper drawer in the kitchen. I also sorted through other random things that I was putting away or noticing around the house. I am not sure what my total items to have gotten rid of today was but I think it was at least 50.

  I have noticed when I get going and decluttering and things go well then I really just would like to keep going and working on it. The success of doing the job well makes me to want more success. It is  fun. I hope if you are working on getting rid of things as well that you also are finding that to be true. And if you are having trouble getting started I hope this will be a little encouragement just to go for it.

   Decluttering is kind of amusing when you start thinking about it as you go along. It is a good time to laugh at yourself and wonder why you saved a overflowing bag full of holey socks or all the papers from your dogs vet visits. What funny things have you found as you declutter?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Don't Buy It

October 7th. Thanks for joining me for another post on Decluttering and Simplifying!

  I feel like perhaps I have talked about the idea of not buying to much and perhaps any frequent reader might be tired of it. But I think it is a super important concept when it comes to having less clutter in our homes and simplifying.

 Now, I do buy things from time to time and I am sure you will need to as well. However I think almost every American (me included) could buy a lot less, especially of non-consumable items. If we watch any TV, check our mail, look in a newspaper, look at a sign, listen to the radio or go online we are inundated with the idea that we need something that we don't have. But we need to question that very hard. Let's not allow ourselves to be influenced by what others think we need but rather just practically look at what we truly do need.

  Here are some ways that I have found helpful for buying less:

  • Try to space out your shopping trips as long as you can. The less often you are in the store the less you will be tempted to buy something. Also, you can save time by shopping less often.
  • Don't go to second hand stores or garage sales unless you have something that you actually need and are specifically looking for.
  • When you think you need something, for instance a couple of weeks ago our crock-pot broke and I think I want to get another one, wait a while before you replace it (whatever it is). See if you have any out of the box ways to do without it. Maybe something will actually work just as well or even better. I don't really think that will happen with the crockpot but I know when the thermos that I used to make yogurt in went bad I actually figured out a different way to make yogurt that I like better now.
  • I have found it very helpful in the past to have times when I try to go without buying anything for a month or months. I really like these challenges, they stretch me and help me to think more creatively and I find them fun. I know that isn't true for everybody but ff you are like me that might be fun for you.
  • Give thanks to God over and over again for what you do have. This is really helpful for making you feel more contented. When you are contented you don't usually feel like you need a lot more.
  Do you have any tips that have helped you to buy less? I would love to hear!

What Did Jesus Say About "Stuff"?

  Hello! Welcome to day number 6 (except I missed number 5 so really it is just my 5th day of writing - I may go back and make that day up - we shall see!) of my series on Decluttering and simplifying.

 When we decided to memorize the Sermon on the Mount a few years back I really enjoyed my time of digging deeper into it and really meditating on it. I guess I had read it many times before but I hadn't thought about it so much. Really dwelling on it left me with some pretty deep convictions that I hadn't held before. One of those really had to do with what we own. I believe Jesus teaches pretty strongly that we should hold what we own pretty lightly. That we should not be attached to it. I think this is a pretty big thing to grasp mentally that will help us as we try to simplify and get rid of clutter in our homes.

  Here are some of the verses that I found convicting on the subject of "stuff":

" You have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and ruse destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how    God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is throw in to the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you or little faith? So do not worry, saying what shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow but let tomorrow worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-34 

I hope these verses are encouraging and convicting for you as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Can You Be a Minimalist and a Prepper?

Welcome back to my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living!

So as I have been working on my journey that is leading somewhat towards minimalism I have pondered much over my other leaning which is towards being a prepper. And I wonder how well those two things actually mesh. I think many would say that they don't at all. I somewhat disagree. Now it does depend on how you define these two things. I haven't actually looked either one up in the dictionary but I have found that generally they can mean a wide range of ideas but I think these are fairly basic definitions:

  • A Minimalist: Someone who tries to avoid living with a lot of excess stuff that doesn't have a good purpose or add a lot of value to their life. They see the beauty in simplicity and having less. They really try to live a contented life. Their focus is not on material possessions.
  • A Prepper: Someone who works to be prepared for the future. Especially to be prepared should a disaster of some kind occur. They seek to be "self" sufficient as much as possible and be prepared to go without electricity or grocery stores and things of that kind if necessary.

 So, I am seeking both of those ideals. I don't think they need to be mutually exclusive. I believe that people for hundreds and hundreds of years have basically been minimalists and preppers. The pioneers carried all of their possessions in a covered wagon (Who today- even among minimalists could actually do that???) and yet they were prepared to go without shopping, possibly for years.

   Granted, our lives are different today and though I love to study that old history I am still super thankful for the time that we live but I think we can still live carefully like both a minimalist and a prepper.

  I probably will always have a lot more food storage than your typical minimalist (but I will be super careful to make sure it is truly being used - we aren't just storing things indefinitely for some big disaster).

  I will also try to have a lot of knowledge in my head and skills learned that can be used so that I will be prepared and henceforth I may have a little less stuff in some areas than your typical prepper.

  That works for me. I am curious to hear what you think on this topic. Are you a minimalist or a prepper or neither one or are you trying to be both, like me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Give Yourself Permission to Just Do Part

Thanks for joining me again for my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living!

I just wanted to share a quick tip that has helped me in this journey....

 Often decluttering can seem overwhelming if we have an area that is pretty bad. You wonder where to even begin. If I do begin how am I going to get stopped again? Do I really have time for this? Maybe I should just forget about this project and do something simpler???

  Something that I have found helpful when I face situations like that is to allow myself to just say I will do part of it. I am not telling myself I am going to do the whole project right now. No. I am just going to do something.

Here are some different methods I sometimes use:

  I set a timer (for say 30 minutes) and I work as hard and fast as I can during that time and when that time is up I am free to be done for the day. I do find that I often will get into the job and not really want to quit when the timer goes of. If I truly have more time that is wonderful I can just keep going but sometimes I need to move on and do something else. That is okay, at least I got started and I got something done.

  I set a goal. I tell myself I only need to work at this until I find 10 items to get rid of. Again I will often get into it and keep going but even if I only got rid of 10 items that day progress was still made.

  I break it up into smaller portions. For those big overwhelming projects another thing that I have often done is to break it up into segments. Often there are shelves, boxes or baskets that are part of the big section, I can plan on doing one of those segments and then leave the rest for another day.

Those methods all work for me to help me to get going on tackling the big projects. I hope they might be helpful for you as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The "Why" to Decluttering and Simplifying

Day 2 in my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living.

Today I wanted to talk about why I want and have been working getting rid of clutter and simplifying my/our life. I decided that I would keep it personal - not go into reasons that you might want to do it but rather stick with why I am doing it and perhaps it will resonate with you as well.

 1. My top reason for doing ANYTHING: I want to glorify God. If I can do nothing else in life at all but I can give glory to God then that is worth it. Whatever I do I want it to be so that He can have first place in my life and I can use my time for Him. So that is where having less comes in - I want to free myself from as many unnecessary distractions as possible so that I can focus on following Jesus. I don't want unnecessary things to take up my time that could have been better spent in some other way. I feel like that has been an issue in my life at times. That I have had to worry to much about things (finding a home for them, trying to keep my home clean and tidy around them, just being distracted by them) and I really want to get away from that.

2. To have less stress and bad attitudes. Our family for the most part (I haven't noticed this as much in the girls as I have in Ken, myself and the boys) tend to be more stressed and struggle with bad attitudes when our house is messy and full of clutter. This provides a temptation to have ungodly attitudes. I would prefer to prevent that as much as possible. By having less stuff it is easier to keep it in it's place.

3. To save us time. We have a lot of things we like to do in life. We don't want to spend more time than necessary trying to getting things to fit in the spots we have for them. I don't want to spend a lot of time sorting through my clothes trying to find something that I think that I will look nice in. I want to narrow my choices so that I don't need to make so many of them and can be more efficient in these non-important areas.

4. So we are not wasteful. I have found when we have a lot of stuff we tend to lose track of it. Sometimes we even cannot find or don't even realize we have something we need and we go out and buy something like it. We try not to do that but it can happen. So that is a goal of mine too - that we would truly be able to use the things we have and not needlessly consume more.

5. To promote contentedness. I have found that when we are not so heavily into consuming, when we take time to enjoy what we have then we don't feel the need for more so often and are more contented.

6. So we can be a blessing to others. In our decluttering and simplifying I hope to be able to share what we don't need with others. I also hope to free up time to be able to give of my time more generously to others.

So, those are the reasons that I can think of right now for decluttering and simplifying. I may think of more and share them later but that will do for now.

 If you are decluttering and simplifying in your life I would love to hear your "why".

Monday, October 1, 2018

31 Days of Decluttering and Simplifying

 I have been doing a lot of thinking lately on the idea of minimalism and living with less. Though I have a long way to go before most people will start labeling me a minimalist (I have gotten that label maybe once so far and it was by somebody who is very, very far from being a minimalist) I have made a lot of progress in the area of having less clutter and mess. And I still have a long way to go. Last year I carefully got rid of 25 items every week. I have been working on doing that this year as well.

  I am signing up to join the 31 days blogging challenge and I will be writing about Decluttering and simplifying. If that is something that interests you - perhaps you are doing it too or maybe you would like to- then I would love to have  you join me.

  Lord willing I will be sharing posts about-
  • The "Why" to simplifying and decluttering.
  • Personal stories
  • Tips and tricks that are working for me.
  • Tools and resources to help us.
  • The end goal.
  • Encouragement from God's word.
  • Motivating links

So this month I am varying from my normal goal of 25 items a week and instead am trying out the idea of getting rid of as many items as the day is. For example 1 item today and 16 on the 16th and 30 on the 30th and so forth.  I am also going to really be working on cleaning on digital clutter so I thought maybe I would do that same thing but backwards. So I need to clean out/delete 31 things today and then less each day as the month goes on. Let me know if this might be something that you are working on too!

Lord willing we will visit again tomorrow!

If you would like to see what a bunch of other bloggers are writing about this October (the 31 days series) you can check that out here.

Also, so that you can see my series more easily here are some links:

October 2- The "Why" to decluttering and simplifying.
October 3- Give yourself permission to just do part.
October 4- Can you be a minimalist and a "Prepper"?
October 5-
October 6- What did Jesus say about "Stuff"?
October 7- Don't Buy It.
October 8- Success Fuels More Success
October 9- Camping - A Way To Try Out Living With Less
October 10
October 11
October 12- Resource: A Minimal Mom
October 13
October 14


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