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Last week I published my one hundred and twelfth post!

If you’ve been following me for long, you know that I write as a simple homemaker, recording some of my personal reflections on

* “HOME LIFE” (the things that affect the way we live together),

* “HEALTHY LIVING” (tasty food, natural cleaning and self-care recipes) and

* “MATTERS OF THE HEART” (that part of you that plays into every other area of life).

As a wife and homeschooling mother to our 5 children, it’s the stuff I’ve discovered, practiced and implemented in our home (though certainly not perfected!). There’s nothing super special about my musings, but it’s a way for me to record my own journey, my thoughts and passions… and a way for me to have a ‘hard-copy’ of things I’ll want to hand off to my own kids someday. I also hope that it’s found useful, encouraging or enlightening to YOU, dear reader!112

I can hardly believe that it’s already been a little over two years since I started on this blogging journey. But since I’ve remained fairly consistent about posting each week, that means that I have about 37 entries in each of the above three categories! I thought I’d spend the next few weeks highlighting some of my older posts.

Today, I’m showcasing a few of entries from the category “HOME LIFE”. If any of the snippets sound interesting, simply click on the colored words. It’ll take you right to that blog post. Check them out! May they be a blessing to your day.

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~  Whatever I own, ultimately owns me. As I press forward, as I re-evaluate this fall, I want to keep this in mind. I want to be content with simplicity.

 

~  Is he actually saying that by being overly committed, over involved outside of home, that I may lose what, in fact, is most important to us? Our family?

 

~  You don’t have to have answers. You don’t need to make things appear sunny and bright. Life is hard. Things happen that we don’t understand, that we can’t explain, that we don’t like. The uncomfortable is uncomfortable… but not unbearable when you’re in relationships.

 

~  I thought I’d share some of the money saving tips that we’ve used and benefited from. If you find one or two that can help you and your family pinch pennies, I’ll be just tickled!

 

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Next week, we’ll browse the category “HEALTHY LIVING”. Looking forward to it! But for today, make your home and family a priority. You’ll not regret it!

Seven

7/7
Welcome to the seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
Some time ago, I read a book titled 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

Rebelling against excess and resolving to live differently is what 7 is all about.

It is a good hard book, a book that caused me to admit that7b
as my life has zipped along unchecked and automatic,
I’ve actually lived unconsciously with greed, ungratefulness,
ruined opportunities and irresponsibility in some areas of life.
Ouch.
That, my friend, is what I call a good hard book.

With life’s excesses piling up around her, Hatmaker embarked on a self-imposed challenge to simplify her family’s life.
She spent seven months focusing on seven areas of surplus, one focus each month:
food,
clothing,
media,
spending,
possessions,
waste and
stress.

7

Her goal was to begin living a deeply reduced life that would, in turn, allow her room for being more generous. Reduction by means of a fast in each of those categories of abundance.
By focusing on a fast of sorts in the seven areas, Jen hoped to interrupt the lifestyle of privilege she’d created and instead form a “fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided.”
Hatmaker explains that when you fast, you become acutely-conscious.
“It’s like jeans you wear every day without thinking,
but take them off and walk outside,
and you’ll become terrible aware of their absence.
I bet you won’t be able to forget you are pantsless,
so conspicuous will this omission feel…
that is basically the result of a fast.
It makes us hyper-aware, super-sensitive…”
And which of us doesn’t need to be jerked from the ordinary, mundane of life to be made more mindful?

At the start of each chapter, Jen explains her plan for implementing the challenge of month.
She then reports every day or so how it’s going… how it’s playing out in her life, in her home, in her heart.
At the end of the month (and the chapter), she gives a review of what she’s learned.

Hatmaker is funny, raw and a bit sarcastic, in my opinion. Her conversational writing is like sitting down to coffee with an honest, humorous, contemplative friend. I laughed; I cringed. I wrinkled my eyebrows and twisted my mouth in thought.

There are several things I appreciated about this book.

I appreciated her frankness. Although she says things in a way that I would not, though she and I would handle things differently, I was glad that she acknowledged how hard it can be to hold to one’s convictions or even just our “self-imposed challenges”.

I appreciated the practical suggestions that Hatmaker gives.7a
For example, when she tells about eliminating 7 items per day from her home, she doesn’t advocate tossing them. Or selling them for a profit. Or even just dropping everything off at a thrift store. She advises giving the items you purge to a specific organization in your area that, for example, helps victims of abuse or violence. Or asking the local under-resourced school about the needs they see.

I especially appreciated her ‘fast’ from s-t-r-e-s-s. To do this, she began the practice of taking seven sacred pauses throughout the day. On another blog post, I’ll expound on this, but suffice it to say that I am working on this area also… and without those pauses, there would be times when I would continue on the downward spiral I’d started in, uninterrupted. And that doesn’t end in a good place.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker is a book about embarking on a journey. It’s a book about purging the junk, about paring down to the noble. But it’s a journey that can only be taken by the individual; there’s no pressure from the author to follow in her footsteps. And that’s another thing that I appreciated about this book. The feelings of conviction I felt came only from within.

In each area of life, I have to adopt an “as for me and my house” perspective.
I won’t answer for the way another person lives their life.
I’ll only answer for my choices.

Is that refreshing? Challenging? Frustrating?

After hearing a friend talk about the book 7, I decided to pick it up and read it. The prayer of the author is “Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.” If that resonates with you, I’d encourage you to read this book also.

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I’ll only answer for my choices.

7a

Learning to be Content with Simplicity

It’s almost September.  The leaves on a few of the trees in our backyard are beginning to turn color already. School starts in a week. It feels like it’s nearly time to get out some of my fall decorations!  Don’t worry – I’ll wait a bit yet.  But the changing foliage has got me thinking. It’s time to re-evaluate!

At the start of each new season, I like to freshen things up around our home with some eye-catching curios, maybe rearrange some furniture, and then…re-evaluate our belongings.  My aim in the assessment is two-fold.  The first is to strive for simplicity. The second, contentment.

Have you looked around your home lately and thought to yourself, “What is all of this stuff?” Do you find yourself exhausted from constantly picking up, moving around or covering over things? I understand, and thus my aim for simplicity in the home.

And yet, when you walk down the street or through the mall and notice something lovely, something enticing, are you are tempted to purchase it? It. Another something? I know. And it’s so pretty! But my true need isn’t another thing. I seek contentment.

Last summer I went through our home, room by room, closet by closet, and tried to pare down our belongings, to simplify our possessions.  I know that in reality, the less I have, the easier it is to keep it clean and organized. But I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy. I like to keep things “just in case,” or because of “sentimental value,” or for a “rainy day.”  But I tried to keep in mind my plan – simplicity, with contentment.

I had to make a lot of decisions. It wasn’t much fun. Taking a load of “extras” to Good Will that I might “need” or just “wish I had” in a few months was actually a bit daunting. The fondue pot we received as a wedding gift (that we put on our registry). The extra sets of bed linens. (Did I seriously need a second set for each bed?). The candle holders. The ones that haven’t held candles in several years (People with young, active children don’t burn them like they did in the pre-family stage!). The shelf full of puzzles that we’ve memorized or are simply tired of putting together. The box of trinkets and cheap toys that relatives think they should continuously gift us (Okay – that one wasn’t hard to get rid of!). I kept thinking to myself, “Do you honestly need any of this?” You know the answer. No!  The stuff I eliminated was, in a way, like a security blanket. One I had been too careless to throw out. I could do without it. I’d never intended to collect so much… it just happened. Of course, none of us start out intending to be “gatherers.” We don’t plan on increasing our appetite for material possessions. But it happens. And so, I re-evaluate, in order to fight this craving.

I once read that everything should by either USEFUL or BEAUTIFUL.  And if it’s not, then you can get rid of it. I’ve posted that on the tack-board in front of my desk. “Is it useful? Is it beautiful?”That has helped me when sorting through our belongings on a quarterly basis.

Is it helpful, practical, functional, handy…useful?  Is it striking, attractive, charming, lovely…beautiful?

Whatever I own, ultimately owns me. As I press forward, as I re-evaluate this fall, I want to keep this in mind. I want to be content with simplicity.