Monday, November 10, 2014

#Microblog Mondays: Happy Graduation!

My beloved nephew graduated from Marine Boot Camp this past week.  He is an Honor Graduate and Leader of his Company.  We are so proud of him!  And we also celebrate the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps!  They are definitely, the Few and the Proud.  We are so grateful for all who have served! 
(In an effort to get my blogging back in gear, I have taken the #microblogmonday challenge.  You can jump back into blogging too!)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Remembering Kelly

Five years ago, the world lost a beautiful soul to cancer.  Kelly is often on my mind and I can barely believe it has been five years since we said good-bye. 

She will always remain young, full of life, and full of joy!  She oozed laughter, even in the worst of times.  I pray her two boys will always recall this beautiful smile that she never kept to herself.

I miss you, Kelly.  Until we meet again!

(In an effort to get my blogging back in gear, I have taken the #microblogmonday challenge.  You can jump back into blogging too!)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Old Days

Beginning to feel my age, I suppose.  My children are aging out and moving on, and while I still have 3 at home full-time and 1 away at college, I sometimes long for the old days.  Before texting.  Before Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  

While I do remember how I felt "trapped" at home with no one around from time to time, I miss the old days when we could shut the world out.  Really shut the world out.  And the only way to let the world in was if they called on the phone or showed up on the door step.  

I do enjoy having the technology now, but this mindset of having to respond instantaneously, (I mean really, does everyone respond like that?  And why is that an expectation?) is driving me to start to wonder if I might go rogue and ditch my cell phone (don't really use it as a phone anyway), fb, and all the other "fun" things I feel slave to.  

This would mean I would re-claim a landline and communicate via email or **GASP** hand-written letters!  That would not be horrible.  Maybe I would even finish one of the books in my stack.  Or consistently write on the blog.  I could be the new "hipster" thing.  Hm. 

(In an effort to get my blogging back in gear, I have taken the #microblogmonday challenge.  You can jump back into blogging too!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ten For Texas

Had a nice day running at Ten for Texas on October 11th.  I won't say I "raced" it, because, well, let's be real, you need to train to race and I have not been very successful with any real training most of the summer.  

Still, I had a great run in the never- to-be-out-done warm and humid mid-October Saturday morning, aka Ten for Texas day.  No PRs, but a respectable time of 1:31:xx.  

Initially, this was to be my barometer race to see if I was in shape to give a go at a BQ in February.  Even though I wasn't where I wanted to be, I  ended up better than I expected I would so I have committed to a training plan for The Woodlands Marathon.

(In an effort to get my blogging back in gear, I have taken the #microblogmonday challenge.  You can jump back into blogging too!)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

For Scott

You were taken from us a week ago today.  Never did a daily mile post go by that you didn't add an encouraging word to.  The advice you passed along through our email conversations will forever be saved in a special folder with your name on it. 

Thank you for being a wonderful friend.  I can not  imagine how much your family misses you.  I miss you.  All of DM misses you.  And most of us have never met you.

I pray I can touch half as many lives with half as much kindness as you did, friend.  I pray that you and Dale are riding the hills of Heaven together while looking down on us.  Don't mind our tears.  They will fade in time leaving behind a smile that is there because we were blessed to know you.

I pray for the soul that hit you, going 100 miles per hour.  I know that he can't live in peace now.  May he find a way to go on in a constructive way, because I am certain you wouldn't want it any other way.

May your family recall all of the memories you have made together and that they share the many stories of your love and life with your grandchildren.   I pray that your beautiful wife knows just how much you want to be with her.  I also pray that she feels all of the love from the people around the globe that you have inspired and encouraged.  

This week has been so difficult.  I am thankful I was able to talk to you today while on my prayer walk.  I was able to let go of some of the anger, some of the pain, some of the hurt.  There will always be a Scott sized hole in my heart.  Tonight, however, I bid you peace.  Peace in the eternal space that only love resides. 

Rest dear one. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Aeturnus Discipulus

I have been quiet the last few months as I have been on again and off again with my running, my quest with simplifying, and my faith journey.

Sometimes we just get stuck.  Usually, not everything gets stuck at the same time, but for some strange reason, in a perfect storm of events, my world got stuck.  Or at least it seemed to.  

I was able to get away on retreat a few weeks ago and the important take-away from my time in silence was, "Just Breathe" and "Love".   So simple, yet, for me, so telling.  If I feel like I am choking, stifled, angst-filled, I obviously am not "breathing".  What must I do to live?  Just breathe.  What must I do to be happy?  Just breathe.  What must I do to spend eternity with Christ?  Just breathe.  And love.  If I am breathing, I can love.  If I am choking, all I can do is worry about myself.  

I asked God to help me to remain a learner, a student, a discipulus.  Forever.  I am seeing now that the "stuck" period wasn't really a period of non-movement, rather it was a time to experience the muck of life that I allow to choke me.  And in that experience, I am humbled yet again.  I am nothing without Him.  And I would not want to BE without Him.  So I begged to remain a disciple. 

How does this pertain to running?  My running has always been reflective of my spiritual life and it is only fitting that as I emerge from another layer of myself being peeled away, that my running also go through a time of change, a time of learning, a time of growth.  So I am a beginner once more.  In my faith, in my running, in my perception of how I see others.  

I am so thankful that He has blessed me with the chance to start fresh.  In my new wineskins.  I pray that I can "just breathe" and "love".

The next smatterings of posts will be about how it feels to begin again.  Again.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Thoughts of a Running Mystic

I set out for an 8 miler in my mind today.  Decided to try and track some of my thoughts each mile for some amusement.  At least it got a blog post out of me!

Mile 0-1:  I FEEL GREAT!!!  It's not too's actually quite pleasant, at least in the shade.  Stay in the shade.  I think I will run 10 miles, maybe even 12!  I will pass Jim up in no time!!  

Mile 1-2:  My toe is starting to hurt.  Keep the focus on the breath.  Listening to Rich Mullins.  His music is so fantastic.  

Mile 2-3:  Wow!  It's HOT!  I'm sweating a ton!  I need to walk a bit...30 seconds.  OK...wipe the sweat off...It's hot.  really hot...did I mention how hot it is?  Jim who?  Jessica who?  What challenge?  Maybe I will turn this into a run for time instead of distance.  I can run 30 minutes and turn around.  That would be ok.  I mean, I'd be over 6 miles in an hour.  That's ok by me. Dang it's hot.  I love this song....

Mile 3-4:   I'm at 25 minutes.  Surely I can make it 8 miles today.  I will decide at the corner.  If I want to cut it short, I will take the short way home.  Rich Mullins can really grab the essence of God, can't he?  Maybe another short walk break. minute of walking-GO.  If I cut the run short, I will get home to start the laundry that much faster.  Decision made, I am NOT cutting the run short.  I will run 8 miles and then do the laundry after lunch.  

Mile 4-5:  Can't turn back now!  Heading home the long way.  Look at that pool...Forget the laundry, we are going to the POOL when I get home!  I mean, it is HOT!   I love the lyrics to this song.  Lord, I know that you love me, but sometimes, I feel so far away.  It doesn't take more than an instant for me to become aware of your presence that I recall your love and mercy.  You forgive me once and forever.  All of my sin and shame are forgiven.  Yes, even those. Thank you, Lord.  

Mile 5-6:  How would I describe my spirituality?  I am drawn to the Franciscan life.  A life of quiet simplicity, a life of gospel love, a life lived that is not of my own design.  I am also drawn to the Ignatian interior life.  Finding God in each moment of every day; in each person I meet along the way.  I am so blessed.  I want a BLT.  Wave hello to that lady and smile.  I might be the only person she meets today with a smile. 

Mile 6-7:  (Bathroom stop)  I hope that there aren't any horseflies in there today.  I despise flies.  I hate horseflies.  OK, Lord, show me where you are in the horsefly.  What is their purpose?  I don't think that they have one.  Running past the dog dogs out there today.  TOO HOT!  Poor Rosie, she wanted to run.  It's too warm.  I am too tired to take her out.  Maybe tonight when it cools down.  Oh, wait, I can't go tonight...I am picking up the Missionaries!!!  Foo is coming home from Haiti!!  Praise God!!  I can't wait for that BLT!!!  I am so glad Jim and Jessica encouraged me in this challenge...I love those guys!  We are a team.  A team in Christ!  Holding hands and running towards that finish line!  Jim can get that cake! 

Mile 7-8:  I am feeling good right now!  Everything feels right...even the sweat.  Thank you Lord for a glorious run, for time with you, for all that you bring me to, I love you!  I wonder if I can get Lem to start on the bacon while I shower...

Mile 8-home:  Switched to Third Day and sang King of Glory!  

Home:  Rosie is waiting...headed back out the door for a Rosie mile.  She loves this.  I love that we can do this together.  Wouldn't this whole experience be a ridiculous blog entry?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Project 20:14 Hurry Up and Wait 11

June was rife with bumps in the road, more than the usual number of bumps that is.  We lost two very dear family members, our oldest dogs, within weeks of one another.  I also seemed to have quite a lot of meetings that I needed to attend.  My "oldest-still-at-home" was gone for two weeks with camps which meant a lot of creative scheduling for the activities of the home.

Our son was in the throws of swim team season and while this was tons of fun, it did take away from our available "de-owning" time.  

I did start and finish the boys' room as I eluded to in my previous post.  Here are a few shots of the progress.
Mid Clean Out

Typically what the room looked like

"The bed IS made, Mom!"
After the initial clean out, we felt it looked pretty good, but we were ready to make some changes.

We chose a color scheme and spent a good week painting.  The hardest part was covering the trim which had previously been a blue color.  NEVER PAINT TRIM ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHITE!  

The boys are much happier in their room and in the month that it has been cleaned out, I can honestly say, they have been able to maintain it's order because there is so much less in it!  An added bonus is that they actually play with the few toys, (hot wheels and legos) that remain and read the few books that were their favorites.

Its not magazine perfect, but it works perfectly for them!

I am now in the throws of my master bedroom and closet.  It is a struggle.  I find I am not motivated because it is so daunting a task.  I think part of the de-motivation is seeing the areas that I have decluttered just a few short weeks ago, mainly my kitchen, quickly fill with odds and ends from well-intentioned folks returning plastic ware that was never mine to the souveniers from VBS and other summer programs that society feels MUST accompany everyone home.  Speaks  to the fact that the "experience" itself isn't enough...we just have to have "stuff" to validate the memory.  How a water bottle confirms spending a week in deep prayer and contemplation, I'll never know....

So, as I blog this post, I can admit, I am procrastinating working in my bedroom.  I did get a good start on my closet.  I have just lost steam.  I am getting things done, just not as rapidly as I had hoped.  And today, I bought more clothing.  I am determined to remove  several pieces from the existing clothing pile (which I did cull through quite mercilessly two weeks ago) to make room for the new pieces.

It's not all fun and games de-owning things, but I have no doubt that the less I have, the more freedom I will experience and the easier it will become to let go of even more. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Project 20:14 Continued Progress 10

After the passing of Hannah, our other dog, also fairly elderly, began to show signs of illness.  Her gait was off and then she could not hold herself up with out up.  Five week after Hannah left us, KC followed suit.  We will miss them both, but we know that they are both free from pain and they have left us with many wonderful memories which we will cherish for our lifetime.

It's amazing to me the outpouring of love and caring that so many friends and family have shown us through it all.  What's even more amazing, how many offers of new puppies came within hours of losing KC.  I appreciate the sentiment, but truly, I could never replace my sweet dogs AND we still have Rosie who is full of life and is trying to adapt to being the top dog in the house.

We are on a de-owning/de-cluttering journey and I had a thought cross my mind after KC passed away.  I have noticed less dog hair.  Less noise/barking.  Less requirements to let a pup in and a pup out. Less food bowls, less beds on the floor in the walking area, etc.   I would not trade one day with my dogs and would have given most anything to have more time with them, but to my surprise, I am kind of enjoying the "less" aspect of having only one dog...for now.

The big project over the last few weeks has been the boys' room.  I decluttered and they helped me to de-own many, many items, books, toys, clothes, etc.  They were much more willing to let things go than I was.  We hauled off several bags of donations, sold some furniture, and threw out A LOT!  What is really crazy about that is we did a huge clean out last September!

The boys have about 10 books that they love in their new-to-them bookshelf.  They have Legos and a few small toys that fit in a plastic box under their beds.

We were able to find nice hooks for their race medals and ribbons and aside from those, an initial for each boy that they painted and a crucifix there is nothing on the walls.  It looks fabulous.  And speaking of the daughter volunteered to help paint the room.  My older son had painted it 4 years ago and the colors were dark grey, rust, and dark teal.  The trim was painted teal.  I decided upon a lighter grey and to repaint the trim white.  I plan to paint the closet door with chalkboard paint for the boys to decorate.

They love their "new" room!  They are proud of it.  They want to show it off.  They want to spend time in it.  They say they sleep better!  All of this inspired my daughter to thoroughly clean her room and cleared out that wonderful dark place...under...the...bed.   She is quite proud of herself.

I have taken June as the month I will work on my closet, wardrobe and bathroom.  If I can finish that up, then I will start in the bedroom.  So far, I have shrunk my wardrobe of my every day clothes down to 45 items.  This does not include undergarments, pjs, or workout clothes.  Also left out of the count are about 6 more formal dresses.  I placed my "winter" dress scarves and blouses/pants (about 15 items) in a box that will be stored under my bed until the temperatures return to Texas winter standards.

Along the way this past month, I have tried to be kind to myself with my expectations, my goals, my to do lists.  I am finding that things are "feeling" more open, less cluttered, and more organized just by the nature of having less.  One big de-own for us...our coffee maker.  We drink coffee.  In fact, we drink lots of coffee.  My son received  a percolator as a gift and I fell in love with it.  It is reminiscent of my childhood when I would prepare coffee on the stove-top percolator for my great Aunt FoFo.  This new electric model is fast, clean, and keeps the coffee the perfect temp!  In the bin with the coffee maker.  No more vinegar rinses!  And when my son goes back to college, I will have my own percolator.

I don't know that I want to call this process a journey to "minimalism" or "simplicity" because I don't think I am after what the truest sense of those lifestyles represent.  I do desire to reach a level of intention in how I am living with the flexibility that is needed for a homeschooling family with 3-4 kiddos still at home.

Whatever label this thing we are moving towards is called, it brings with it a sense of ease, a real presence of peace, and an affirmation that relationships with those around me are the focus of my life, not the thing I try to fit into my day after taking care of my possessions.

***will add pictures once I can get the files to upload.  Technology hates me.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Sweet Hannah came into our lives as quietly as she left.  13 years ago, we fostered a dog that was destined for the other end of the needle unless we could get her to eat and "cheer up" enough for the humane society.  A few days in our home, she was eating out of my hand, literally.  Her first meal was a few pieces of "Life" cereal.  Then we discovered that she had heartworms.  The organization agreed to treat her for the condition since she was brought in by a group of construction workers who pulled together enough money (500.00!) to donate to the shelter if they would agree to take her in.  I will always believe in the goodness of people.

Hannah was once named Mama Dog and had had at least one litter of puppies in a construction zone.  She became Hannah in August of 2001, a week before my 5th child was born.  She was the best of the best.  Never complained.  Never misbehaved.  Always obedient and loyal.

If Hannah barked, you better figure out why.  She watched over the home quietly and gently and maintained a sort of balance for us all.

April 27, 2014, Hannah became very ill, very quickly and was gone before we knew what was happening.  It was my prayer that when her time with us was done, that God would take her quickly and that I would know without a doubt that it was her time.  My prayer was answered.

Hannah walked many years with us.  She was the childhood dog to all 6 of the children.  She loved most everyone.  And if she didn't like you, there was a good reason for it.

I will miss my shadow.  I will miss watching her beautiful, lean body run ahead of me through the woods.  I will miss hearing her footsteps on the floor as she made the security rounds every now and then in the house.  I will miss petting her to soothe my own soul.

The luckiest people in the world get to share their lives with a good dog.  I have been one of the luckiest of all.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Project 20:14: Ponderings 09

This week a quote that stuck with me and seemed to resonate throughout the entire week was, "Are you organizing or are you decluttering/de-owning?"

I love to organize.  I love neat binders all in a row, books that appear as nicely arranged as our public library, cupboards to take one's breath away by their exceedingly amazing crisp, organized, and picture perfect presentation.  And I have spent many years working to achieve this look only to be undone quickly by living life in a home with real people looking for real things that while might appear to be in an organized home, honestly are in a home with too.  much.  stuff.

I have come to a point in my life where I no longer desire organizing too. much.  stuff.  I would rather live with less so that I can use my time doing other things that I enjoy and will bring more meaning to my life and to the life of my family.  My mantra for 2014 in all areas of my life is..."life-giving not life-draining".  From my sock drawer, to my vehicles, to my finances, to my relationships.  If the "thing" does not offer life-giving qualities then they must be discarded or at the very least minimalized.

Organizing is a great stress reliever for me, but it is also an untruth.  I feel as though, when I organize, I am gaining some positive control over an unmanageable area.  Most often, however, I find that very soon after my efforts are finished, the disorganization returns and I am more frustrated, disappointed and overwhelmed yet again.  I am done with this way of living.  I am choosing to own less so I can live more, and live more abundantly.

The last year, I have been working little bits at a time to find the balance between having too much and where I would like my home to be.  Less is more.  And the less we have, the more I think we have too much.  Funny how that works.

Homeschooling will be wrapping up fairly soon here and I aim to begin some major de-owning of things.  Especially homeschooling books, pictures, binders, furniture, and anything else that might not be nailed down...and maybe even some things that are.

I don't yearn for a house with nothing.  I love to feel the warmth of a home that loves books, but I want the books to be books we are using or books that we love and will go back to time and time again.  I began to clear out some items from one set of shelves yesterday.  Truthfully, I have three items left on the shelf and when I look at the emptiness, it startles me!  It will take some soul-searching to part with some of these things, but I know that this is an ever evolving process that will allow me to re-visit things as often as I would like.  Maybe I won't get rid of every single book that doesn't fit my profile, but sometimes I think sentimentality has a reason to be considered.  I have a book from my mother's childhood.  I will never use it as a school book and my children probably won't ever read it, but my mom is gone and I don't have much from her life around the house.  These are things I may choose to compromise on, and I may even change my mind about it someday and release it.

The idea of a more simplified life must be defined by each family, each person, as to what that means to them.  Today it means something different to me and to my family than what it meant 5 years ago and I'm certain as the years continue to click by, it will change again.

Monday I will begin to clear out one shelf per day.  I will go through 20 shelves in the family room.  I may do more than one in a day, but I will do no less than one per day.  Weekday that is. Weekends are for enjoying and working outside!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Project 20:14 Slow Steady Progress 08

I had set some real goals (aka dates to have stuff done by) for my decluttering/de-owning project 2014.  In typical K style... life happens and the above mentioned "goals" become lost amidst the sick people, the birthday celebrations, the Church retreats, etc.  I like goals because they keep me focused, but goals can also totally derail my efforts.  

"I can't get it done, so just forget the whole thing!"  This line of thinking has crept into my life before, but not this time.  I am trying to adopt a different tune to sing.  It goes something like steps, baby steps, baby steps.  Some days I will get a lot done, others it will be very small, but relentless forward progress is often that way...slow...steady...forward motions.

This weekend I realized what eats much of my time and honestly, it's just how it is.  I am a mom.  A mom that homeschool's the children.  I have other outside commitments to church, friends, and family.  As I should.  So rather than becoming completely frustrated by not meeting my goals, I will embrace the few steps off the path to larger goal of a life surrounded by simplicity.  

My kitchen is the hub of all activity in our family.  I have a counter that is about 6 feet long and 2.5 feet wide to work on.  School?  Taught from the counter.  Groceries come in?  They land on the counter.  Meal prep?  Counter.  Bill paying...Counter.  You get the idea.  So much of my day is spent here and my time is often filled with clearing the counter so I can think.  

Wait?  You don't need a clean counter to think?  You must be one of those normal people...  I need a clutter-free and clean counter to think AND work. 

Saturday, I found myself in a bit of a huff because I had cleaned every day last week and still found a counter that looked like this

6 foot long brain

Smaller brain whose only real job is to collect clutter

I have been wanting to declutter one particular cupboard in the kitchen that I had previously done, but I wasn't as ruthless as I needed to be in clearing out what I didn't need.  

I had about 30 minutes of free time and a small bit of extra energy, so I challenged myself to see if I could get the cupboard re-worked and the counters squared away.  

I can think again!

Yes, it will collect clutter again!

Not a HUGE transformation, but one that makes more use of the space.

The point of this post is to encourage you.  Do not let the daily hustle and bustle and incoming clutter bombs derail your efforts.  Do something everyday, no matter how small.  Do not let the lack of perceived progress get you down.  Remember that this is a mindset, not a look or style.  Enjoy the little moments of counter clarity...cause tomorrow is grocery day.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Sometimes all that is revealed to us is the very next step that we must take as we step out in faith.  

Faith is not believing in something that we can not see; faith is knowing we can trust that God will  lead us into the fog as he prepares us for something that He has planned just for us.  He always has and always will, the only variable is whether or not we take the time to listen to His whispers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Project 20:14 The Lull 07

My intention with this endeavor has been to declutter/de-own at least one thing, every day, till I reach my goal.  The goal of owning less to make room for more.  The goal of possessing nothing so that I can embrace all that God has for me completely.

So when I saw that yesterday and today I had not really thrown anything into the donation pile or the trash bin, I was disappointed in myself.  I took an evaluation of my days to see exactly why I didn't have the time to put towards my project.

It was then that I realized that I WAS in fact decluttering and de-owning.  But it wasn't physical stuff.  It was the stuff of busy-ness.  It was taking care of the bills and the filing of documents and the planning of parties, and the re-orienting of myself after a weekend away from the home and my family.

I was struck with the idea of mind clutter.  That which fills my mind and often times paralyzes me because I have so much to do, so much to be responsible for.  I have relationships with people that need me.  My time.  My presence.  I have responsibilities as a mom, wife, and friend.  And when I allow things to pile up in my mind, on my to do list, I become overwhelmed and I must spend the time I need to in an attempt to clean up my mind clutter.  Mind clutter often results in guilt which is never a good thing.

I am a perpetual list maker.  A professed disorganized organizational freak.  I don't know how I arrived at this, but it is what it is.  I am what I am.  So, I make my list, I cross things off, and I get done what I can.  My mindset has typically been one of negative thinking..."I still have THIS much to do!" Neverminding what I HAVE accomplished.  In my mental crazy box, it is never enough.  Until now.  I have implemented limits to my to do list.  Three  things per day.  I can manage three "to do" items per day.  I might have more than that on my list, but that just means that I have choices.  I like choices.  I also like progress.  I would love perfection, but that isn't happening, so I will settle for progress.

So, three things.  I can do three things.  They might be big things, they might be little things.  But here is the truest thing...if I don't get them done, I can even live with that.  My vocation as a mom comes before most everything else.  Homeschooling the children should be my very first priority directly after being able to provide for their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and love.  For years, I have battled the folks who think I have all the time in the world to do things for them.  And there is only one reason why they have asked.  Because I have allowed them to.  And when I say yes to them, it is an invitation to ask again and again.

I have learned a few techniques, but truthfully, I am horribly guilty of taking on too much and trying to "fit" school into the empty spaces in my day.  This year has been different in that I have blocked off "school time" and stuck with it more regularly.  It means life slows down and sometimes, seems monotonous.  But I know it is in these times that I am developing a deeper relationship with my children who see that my time with them is not an after-thought.  It is a privilege and it is very important to me.

Mental clutter must be worked through in order to be "free" to be with my children.  It is not easy.  One of the first things I can do to reduce this form of clutter is to reduce my online exposure.  Email, FB, DM, etc.  Texting and phone calls can also fall into this category.  I try to limit my time in these arenas, but I have allowed these forms of media to invade precious moments of my day that in turn take away from something else.

I recall years ago when my friends and I would "give up email" for Lent.  It seems as though that would be nearly impossible today.  No one calls anyone anymore.  Seriously.  The only reason I have a land line is so that doctors can call me to remind me of scheduled appointments and sales people have a number to call!  I will admit, I don't miss being on the phone as much as I used to be, but I also will admit, I miss talking with my friends in this way.

Giving up email probably isn't feasible anymore.  This is how most communication comes through.  It is convenient and I like that I can get to it when I can, but I do have a tip on how to limit email.

Have one junk email address.  Any website you visit these days wants your email so they can send you junk.  I use mine all the time and I very rarely open that email address.  If I do use my regular email address for a website, I will unsubscribe from every single one of the emails  if they are sent to me.

I use my vacation response.  If I am gone out of town, have many outside obligations, I do not hesitate to use my vacation response to state that I am not able to respond to emails until such and such a date.  I might be able to check from my phone, but I do not have to respond until I am truly free to do so.  If the person emailing me receives that vacation response, they respect my time away and understand that a response may not be immediate.  Funny how that works.  I used to respond immediately to email and texts and then was shocked when people expected me to!  Now I set aside times of the day to check these things and respond as needed.

FB.  I have a hate/hate relationship with FB.  I hate that this is how people keep in touch with one another.  I long for snail mail.  I hate that people think that what is shown on FB is what is truly happening in someone's life.  I hate that people think FB is not a good way to have a relationship, but yet, they won't find time for a more personal encounter.  I go back and forth with FB.  Deactivate, delete, activate, blah, blah ,blah.  I will most probably deactivate again for Lent.  I need that break.  I crave it.  I do like to see the pictures of my friends and students and that is about it.  So yes, I will miss some things, but you know what?  When I am using FB I am missing things, the things of my real life.  The things within my home.  I'll take a few misses on FB.

I have enjoyed using DM (dailymile) for awhile now.  As I try to simplify my life, I find that this social app is also on the list of possible chopping block material.  It is a wonderful way to track workouts and I have made some wonderful connections there, but as I am not training for anything big and I am seeking to be less and less, this site is one that I may need to back away from for a time.

So, I suppose the past few days have not really been a lull, but rather, quite busy in fact.  My mind wrestles with these thoughts and I take them to prayer.  Not because they are huge life decisions, but because my faithfulness grows in the little things.  In the details.

I am yearning to find my true, best-version-of myself.  I am a long way from it and my version will not look like anyone else's.  My expression of simplicity will not be the next guy's.  My decision to becoming smaller will not reflect the reason of another.  This journey goes beyond the stuff in my closets.  Beyond the clutter in my mind.  This journey is about cleaning the cobwebs of my soul and making room for Him to move in.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Project 20:14 Minimalist Monday 06

Having been away on an amazing retreat this weekend with 250 of my closest teenage friends, I am taking the minimal, simple approach to what could easily be a very overwhelming Monday.

Last week, I uncovered some long lost cupboard knobs buried deep in the very untidy hall closet.  I decided that they will either be used or be let go of so as to bless someone else who could use them.

I had just enough drawer pulls and not enough cupboard knobs so those were ordered and happened to arrive while I was away.

My amazing husband equally amazing 12 year old man-child installed the hardware to surprise me.  They look beautiful, don't you think?!

While on retreat, I experienced a gentle whisper from God.  To be certain that what I am doing as I travel the path to less, I embrace all that He has to offer me.  And to let go of things with the primary objective being to give Him the room and space He needs to reach me.  Letting go of earthly possessions does not have to mean living with nothing.  It does mean that I have let go of the emotional attachment to things so that my eyes, heart and soul can focus on Him and moreover, help my family to see Him in me. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Project 20:14 Small Stuff 05

Today was a busy day with outside appointments and catching up on some errands before heading out this weekend.

Sticking with my parameters, I set out to declutter/de-own one small drawer.  I got on such a roll that in 20 minutes I managed to clean through 2!  These drawers are in my nightstand.  I bought this piece about 4 years ago to hold my pajamas and some journals, nighttime reading, and to have a place to hold my lamp.

I had so much JUNK stuffed into these drawers and what's more, I had ZERO reason for keeping 98% of it!  Of the 2% I kept, 90% of that were items that were not put into their proper place, ie, books that should have been placed into the bookcase, pens and highlighters that belong in the office, and cell  phone cords which belong to phones I no longer own.

Now my stand is holding precious letters from my children, husband, and friends.  My filled journals and a few sentimental items that I will probably keep for a very long time.  This morning these special things were mixed in with so much trash that it is impossible to think that any of it mattered to me.  Tonight, these drawers are special places that will no longer be a catch-all for things with no home.

I am beginning to see the journey to less is about more than getting rid of stuff.  It is embracing what is truly important, making room for those things, those people, and letting go of all that weighs me down.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Project 20:14 Parameters 04

Thinking it might be beneficial to lay out some parameters with regard to the Project.

With regards to decluttering/de-owning

*Be patient and positive.  We didn't acquire these possessions overnight, we won't de-own them overnight. Rest assured, it won't take as long to de-own as it did to possess!

*Be diligent.  Do one thing every day, even something small, a drawer, a cabinet, a shelf.  Some days will be very productive, some will be about taking baby steps.  Like the saying goes, "Just Do It".  

*Try to get a price for anything worth value, but don't hold onto it if it doesn't sell.  Put a "sell by" date on the item and then give it away for free to someone who can be blessed by it or donate it to a charity.

*Storing of items for growing children is helpful budget-wise, but save nothing that will not be worn within two years.  By then it will be out-dated.  It could bless another child before it is used by ours.

*Grandkids can have one container of toys kept here.  All else is given to them directly or donated.

*While decluttering, ask if keeping it will provide one or more of these things:
      *Is it something we love?
      *Does it serve a function? (Even if the function is that it adds beauty, within reason)
      * Does it reflect who we are as a family?
      *Is it beautiful?
      *Would someone else love this more than us?
      *Is having this item worth the maintenance to keep it?
      *Do we possess the item or does it possess us?

*When bringing new items in
      *Do we need this?
      *Are we paying cash for it or taking on debt for it?
      *Does it help us to fulfill our Family Mission?
      *Is it worth the work it will take to maintain it, store it, possess it?
      *Does this allow us to continue to have fewer things while having a fuller life?

As I go through this journey I may add to or edit some of these parameters.  I think the most important is to just start.  Go through the easiest rooms first and work towards the more challenging areas which for me will be photos, books, and sentimental items.  

Project 20:14 New things 03

Today I spent some time at Hobby Lobby today and happened upon a pair of lamps that were originally 89.99.  They were on clearance for 18.00 each.  These are the deals I just can't say no to, especially when they meet my newfound mantra, do I love these and will I love them in 5years?   Yes and Yes!

My prayer corner with lamp that does not offer enough light

New Lamp, fantastic light

I also found an answer to my fruit bowl problem.  Because of the gas bananas give off, they can not be kept too close to the other fruit because it causes the other fruit to spoil too quickly.  Banana "trees" are not very pretty, in my opinion, and when there is only one left or one breaks from the bunch, it lies on the counter too.  This little gem seems to solve the problem and fits my criteria of loving it and providing function.  

The rest of the day, I spent jotting some ideas down in my journal.  I have some nice visions for our school room, the fireplace I hope to re-face, the backyard I look forward to creating a prayer center in, and the built ins I plan to display things of beauty rather than things I stuff there and never find time to dust.

The kids are enjoying the subtle changes.  Little do they know, their room isn't safe either.  

Project 20:14 Week One 02

Yesterday was our second "snow day" in four days.  Consider that it didn't snow, and barely iced at our home, but still, local schools were closed for those who had to travel on highways and on roads in more rural areas.

As we homeschool, I did not let the kids have a complete day off, but they did have some time to play outside in the very cold temps and wintry elements.  This freed me up to tackle a few small de-clutter/de-own assignments.

First on the list was my hall closet.  It is a small closet that holds our coats which are very rarely worn, my vacuum, and a few odds and ends.  The tragedy of this closet is that I can't find any room to hang anything in it.  When guests come over, their coats land on chairs or the couches.  When we get home, our jackets sit on the backs of our kitchen chairs.  Little thing, but really irritates me.  Seeing things that should have a home but don't because there is too much stuff in the "home" are the points that would lead me to think..."If only I had a bigger home, a better home, a "nicer home.  Enter Project 20:14.  Learn to love what I have and recognize Jesus in my midst.

Time to either make room for the jackets or get rid of the jackets.  Or both.  Using A Slob Comes Clean Decluttering techniques

Hall Closet Before

About 30 mins later, this is what I discovered

Perfectly wonderful hall closet!

I culled through years of stuff.  This is a closet that I have "cleaned out" not so long ago, but I never really de-owned the things in the closet.  This day was different.  Two garbage bags of junk were removed and one 30 gallon bag of coats and tote bags were collected to donate to those who could use a warm coat during a very cold winter.  I placed the remainder of the coats, one rocket to be played with soon, and my vacuum back into the closet.  The top shelf holds a box of gloves and hats as well as the vacuum attachments.

If you come to visit, I will be able to offer to hang your coat.  Please let me!

This seems like a simple no brainer, I know.  But it set a something in motion.  I moved to de-cluttering and de-owning a few other areas as well as sprucing up a few things around the house.

These pulls and knobs have been in the closet for 2 years.  We forgot all about them.  Now I am installing them on my cabinets and they will offer a touch of beauty to some cupboards that I have been not appreciating lately.

Decluttered our art bench

The Hope-less Chest was not spared.  Rosie was a bit nervous that she might be next.

Hope-filled Chest!  Table linens, yoga gear because I do yoga in this room and blankets for the couch cuddling weather

One element that I want to try to keep in my project 20:14 is to spend as little money as possible.  Too often I decide to "organize" and spend money on things to buy to organize the stuff I should really get rid of.  I would prefer to spend money on things for the home rather than things to organize it.  

I have a bookshelf that has been sitting unused, collecting dust in another room.  For quite some time I have wanted to buy a cabinet to house our entertainment components.  But the cabinet I want and the budget were not jiving.  Yesterday, I was struck with the idea that I could re-purpose the bookshelf and clean up an eyesore in my familyroom.  I rather like the results, though I am sure my husband wasn't too excited about walking in from work with a project to do on a week night.  He must love me.

Project 20:14 01

I am embarking on a new project that has been going on behind the scenes in my home for a few years.
This year, 2014, will be the year the biggest changes happen.  Having been on a "less is more" interiorly for a few years, stripping away the "busy-ness" of life, attempting to make room for God to move in more and more with each passing day, I have come to the crossroad of where my exterior life must now look like my interior life.

I have been feeling quite claustrophobic in my home the last year or so.  Allowing myself to slip into a sort of intolerance of my home, a quite ungrateful place to be, and seemingly wanting more...a bigger home.  A newer home.  A "nicer" home.  But the spirit has been working on me as well and the desire for this newer, bigger, and nicer home is not at all reflective of the simpler, "less" lifestyle that I am trying to achieve within.

Project 2014 is a multi-layered endeavor which I hope will bring me closer to the place I desire to be, the place I desire my family to be.

John 20:14 says
"She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus."

"She" is Mary Magdalene.  I have been that Mary in my life.  I have thrown myself at His feet and prayed for His mercy.  And He has offered it to me overflowing!  And today, I find myself wanting earthly things to make me happy when I know, when I have experienced that love of Christ that is the only true contentment that I will ever have.  I have allowed myself to become blind to the Jesus before me in my own home.

Project 2014 will provide me to recognize Jesus in the blessings of my home.  My beautiful home complete with my beautiful family.

I will begin to declutter, de-own, and simplify.  I will organize the small bits I choose to keep and I will appreciate each and every item (I pray) that I leave in my home.  I desire to have my exterior life reflect my interior life and to allow that which no longer blesses me materially be a gift to someone else that it will/can bless.

I desire to appreciate my home and have my heart changed so that I no longer desire things but rather desire loving relationships that are life-giving.  I no longer want to maintain and care for things that do not proclaim my desire for only that which breathes life into my family.  I want to recognize Jesus in my midst.

Living with less will allow my family and I to spend more time with one another, enjoying the only commodity we can never buy more of.  Time.

Some blogs and web-sites that I have found helpful in this quest for a more intentional life are:

Becoming Minimalist
A Slob Comes Clean
The Simple Year

I am also embracing some very intentional direction with my nutrition and health.  My training will be "minimal" this year, instead, I will be embracing the moment I can maintain my health and if a race falls into place along the way, wonderful.  If not, that is ok too.

Project 20:14 will be a year long process, and truth be told, it will be a lifelong process.  I hope my posts will inspire something in you as well.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Leading Up to Project 20:14

For several years now, I have felt compelled to simplify my life.  Not just in activities, but in mental clutter, physical clutter, spiritual clutter, and emotional clutter.  Even electronic clutter.

The more I strip away, the more I feel compelled to go deeper.  Yes, there is a human component to this draw to becoming less attached to the "stuff" in my life, but it is more than that.  It is a call to become free from the worldly so that my family and I can focus on where He is bringing us.

My husband and I have spent the last several years paying off a huge amount of debt.  HUGE.  And truthfully, we do not have much to show for that debt.  Yes, we live in a comfortable home, have two cars that run most of the time, and have all of our necessities and many of our wants, but, we do not live luxuriously nor do we have a fortune stashed away for our children's college tuition or our retirement.

So what did we "gain" by racking up tons of debt?  I truly don't know.  Some was medical debt.  Honestly, I just don't know what the rest of it was.  What it has cost us, however, to carry this debt I do know.  It has robbed us many nights of restful sleep.  Time with our children.  Time with our friends.  Opportunities to help others.  The ability to help our children with school expenses.  My husband has worked 6-7 days a week for the last 12+ years.  While I am thankful that he comes home to us every night, and understanding that many people have husbands that travel to far off locations for weeks at a time to provide for their families, I still desire that he could be here on the weekends, doing what dads do with their children.

We have learned valuable lessons that both my husband and I will never forget and we hope our children will also learn from.  First and foremost.  Consider any debt that you might take on VERY SERIOUSLY.  Think of the loss of freedom that debt will shackle you to and if it really is worth it.  Some debt is.  Most is not.  Think about how much the debt will actually cost rather than thinking the you can afford the monthly payment.  Debt seems not so terrible when you  only see it as a monthly payment you can afford, but the reality of debt is the number of monthly payments you will make and the years of your life that you can never get back paying it off.  Hear me on this...DEBT IS A PRISON.  I do not make that statement lightly.  I make it as a woman who has lived it.  And recognizing that I have not had to live in extreme poverty, I have experience extreme despair and hopelessness from our situation.  I would go so far as to say that there is NO DEBT that is worth the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll that it will take on someone, but sometimes, as in the case of medical debt, there is not much choice.  (It should be noted that all of our medical debt was accrued when we had "good" insurance.  Today we now participate in a Sharing Program that has allowed us to help others with their medical needs.
Thankfully, we are quite nearly debt-free.  Our goal now is to quickly pay off the remaining amount that we do owe while building our savings.  We use a combination of ideas from Dave Ramsey and others as well as a budgeting software that has truly worked for us the past 8 months, You Need A Budget.
I am beginning a new project for 2014.  It will be a year long process of learning about how to value people and my relationship with them over the shiny new things that I only think will make me happy.  It will be about learning to live with less so that we can live life more fully, more peacefully.  It will be about finding and recognizing Jesus in my midst and having the ability to let go of my worldly possessions so that they can help others rather than offer me a false sense of success.  I will strive to become someone of significant, intentional living rather than a collector of stuff.  I will strive to become more humble and more quiet allowing God to take the rightful place at the center of my life.
I look forward to sharing my family's journey with you.  I will try to share the good, the difficult, and the not so good.