The Pursuit of Minimalism : Part 2

1464292104275This is a bit overdue. Homeschooling mom life happened… oh and stomach bugs, and playdates, and fellowship, and meal planning, and you know how it goes. But here I am so let’s talk about this again. Last time I wrote about minimalism, I shared my story of pursuing minimalism and how it has drastically changed my life for the better. I shared the Scripture that inspired me down this path, and a few of the practical ways that I went about that. I’m very much still in the process, I’m not where I want to be but I’m well on my way, and way better than I have ever been before at being in control of our things. I wanted to come back to the topic to share a few other thoughts as well as a few more practical outworkings as to “how” to go about this pursuit. Although I think there are many ways to accomplish it, I will share how I went about it.

 Pursuing Practicals

When I finally caught the vision for minimizing, I began to hear of a book that was gaining popularity at the time and so I bought and read the book. You’ve probably heard of it, ” The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I’ll just speak candidly, I did not care for the book at all. She’s very new age in her philosophies and has some major quirks that actually weren’t endearing (as some reviewers describe them), but rather seemed superstitious and weird.She tells people to talk to their things, set them free, etc…. she talks about how many things to put in your shrine and how long the charms have luck or power. Yeah, not my cup of tea, hopefully it isn’t yours either. However the basic concept of how to sift through things and decide what to keep and what to get rid of resonated with me…. and I began to get an idea of the “how”, eventhough I didn’t fully agree with her philosophies, ideas, or even her methods. The idea of keeping things I actually *really* liked and needed was a good concept to be able to grasp through her descriptions of various clients and the things they had to process through keeping or not. As I said before, I didn’t care for her method much either…. her recommended process (which she believes is the one and only way to really go about it) is definitely more fitting for a single person or maybe a person with 2 kids tops. It is just impractical to pile all your books, clothes, etc in the middle of the floor when you have many little people about. Trust a voice of regretful experience, if you want order in your house, do not put all of your things in the middle of the floor to be sorted, I repeat do not. ;) If your littles are normal kinds of kids who can make toys of anything, your pile will just become the coolest new thing to ransack and your house will be an even bigger mess than when you started. I recommend finding an off limits (to children) room or area to sort things in.

Kondo says don’t do things by area, but instead by category and personally I disagree. I did my sorting by area and it worked great. It was very logical to me. Bathroom closet, under the sink, kitchen, and so on…. I tried to pick some one day projects and then would take a break and pick a week long project. I simply took everything out and put back ONLY what I wanted to have in that space, if it didn’t fit and didn’t belong somewhere else that I could put it away, then I got rid of it. Even if it was useful or neat or whatever our random reasons are for keeping things that don’t fit in our homes. I still got rid of it if I could not find a place for it. I have a small house and a lot of people, I was insanely picky. I have gotten rid of 5 trailer loads full of stuff to donate, more random trips to donate here and there, and even more to a burn pile. I used the method I shared back in November. It worked for me, I feel like it would work for anyone who is ready to let go of the junk.

Maintenance:

Here are a few of the ways that I maintain, and do not allow myself to become a minimalist backslider. This is such a wonderful way to live, and I’m determined not to go back to my old ways.

I have changed the way that I shop big time! I don’t buy things just because they are on sale or look neat or fun to have around. I try to be very intentional with all of my purchases. This has a double blessing, it keeps clutter down and we say lots of money. When I buy things for my kids for birthdays or special occassions, I either get them big items that I know they need and will use (like a bike or a new pair of shoes or a camera) or I buy them a crafty type thing that they can use once, keep for a few weeks, and then throw away.

I get rid of a few things each week. I have become hyper sensitive to things that are wasting time and space in my house. A few examples: I wore a shirt a few days ago, and at the end of the day I thought to myself, ” I always dislike wearing this shirt, it doesn’t fit right and it’s uncomfortable.” I washed it and added it to my donate bag. Easy peasy, now that’s one less piece of clothing to clutter my closet, and one less shirt that will bother me when I wear it. Often times if I put on an dress, top, or bottom and decide I don’t want to wear it, then I just put it in the donate bag. If I don’t like it, then there is no sense in keeping it.  I also recently cleared off my deep freezer where some random decor and vases had collected, I couldn’t find a place for them (although I did really like them) but I just donated them. It will bless someone else, and I don’t have the space. For me ultimately it has been about not being greedy and loving my things too much. I only want to keep the things I actually want or need in my life. Keeping a shirt I don’t like just because I bought it for $20 last summer is just silly. I wouldn’t pay $1 for it now, so why keep it? If I don’t like or need an item or have space for an item, not being able to let go of it only indicates a heart problem concerning my things. I just remind myself that we as Christians are not to love the things of the world…. yes that applies to a variety of sinful behaviors, but materialism is definitely one of them, I believe. If you are controlled by your things and can’t “give them up” then I truly believe you should examine your heart to make sure you aren’t loving the things of the world too much, and remember that love for the world is enmity with God. We can not have a whole-hearted pursuit of living for the Lord when our earthly belongings have such a strong hold on us.

Christian Minimalism

This brings me to a few quick thoughts. Minimalism is a huge buzz-word right now. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.I talked about this in my last post too, but I’m going to put even more words around it because I think it’s important. I want to distinguish what I am pursuing by adding the word Christian before it, because this is not for some selfish gain like having a perfect home or traveling the world fulfilling the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Christian Minimalism is getting rid of anything that hinders you from walking in full obedience to Jesus.

Here are some examples how this can play out:

If you are married, then by default you are a keeper of your home and should keep it orderly. That is a part of walking obediently to the Lord in that role.

If you are a mother, then you by default are teaching little ones how to live a life of order because God is a God of order and purpose and He calls His people to walk in this way as well.

That is not to say your house won’t get messy! Please don’t hear that! But it needs to be at a level you can maintain and tidy up each day. My house gets used and messy every day…. we dirty dishes, we fill trash cans, we pull out toys and books and homeschooling materials…. every single day. And that isn’t counting special projects. But every single day (unless there is an extenuating circumstance, such as sickness or a new baby, etc…), we do what is necessary to bring it all to order. My older girls and I have morning, afternoon, and evening chores which keep things pulled together. But to keep things at that maintenance level, I have to make sure everything has a place and can be easily put away and we just can’t have tons of stuff to have to deal with. So you can see how getting rid of things that don’t have a place and that won’t be used or loved has enabled me to more obediently walk in my roles as wife, keeper of the home, and teacher to my children on orderly living.

Another huge blessing is that when I sit down to spend time with the Lord my house is not always beckoning me to clean it as it once did in the past. I am finally able to focus on what matters most. I treasure being able to come to the Lord with the heart of Mary and not Martha, that alone makes this pursuit so worthwhile!

Furthermore when I sit down to read to my children or to home school or to have a conversation with my husband, I am not constantly thinking about the endless piles of things that need to be addressed. I know that we have a schedule and I know that we will get to the duties that need to be done at the next chore time. I finally do not have to worry about what I will do with *that* huge pile of things that I just can’t ever seem to get cleaned up. Thankfully, those piles don’t exist anymore, and it is SO freeing!

You can do it too!

This probably sounds too good to be true. I know two to five years ago it would have sounded that way to me as well, and perhaps even a bit insane, if I’m really honest. I know what it’s like to live with clutter and to keep trying to organize it and clean it up to no avail. I know what it’s like to have a pile of things you feel like you have to or need to keep, but having no clue where to put any of those things. I know what it’s like to feel like a failure as a homemaker, and to keep wondering what it is that could fix the problem. But I promise you this is doable. It isn’t a quick fix, and it does take work. And it definitely takes intentionality! Begin to work diligently at de-cluttering various spaces in your home and you will begin to notice almost instantaneous difference in your daily workload. The project mode can be hard because at the time it is extra work, but when you finish that project is when you begin to reap the rewards. And don’t stop with one or two projects, be intent on de-cluttering every part of your home. It didn’t get this way overnight and it won’t be changed overnight, but if you will diligently pursue minimalism you will eventually get there. And I have no doubt that it will revolutionize your homemaking forever.

So there’s part 2. And I’m sure more on this topic will come in the future. Hope it helps!

,Stacey

Spring Day : Modern Modesty

It’s about time I put a spring outift up this season. :) I love when the weather warms up and I can live in skirts and dresses! So comfy, feminine, and modest…. perfect combo! This is one of my casual outfits to wear at home, for a play dates, or errands. Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a5 preset Processed with VSCO with a6 preset skirt : ross
shirt : target
undershirt : target
shoes : chacos

Want to learn more about modesty? Check out a few of my posts.

 Modesty an Act of Love

Modern Modesty

My Journey to Modesty

Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!

,Stacey

linked up with The Modest Mom

March & April Memoirs : May Goals

IMG_20160427_091840March & April Memoirs

It’s been full and fun, spring is in full bloom. I love it! It quite possibly may be my favorite time of the year. I’ve been thrilled to accomplish some pressing things such as cleaning out and organizing our storage building on our property, catching up and staying caught up on laundry (what!?((backflips and high kicks))), spring cleaning, ordering homeschool materials for “our next year” (which starts end of May because we school year round and we are pretty much on schedule this year, yay!). It feels good to have those things done! I still have a few more projects on my mind which I’m hoping to focus on in the next month or so. More importantly than these domestic pursuits of mine is that I’ve been able to make some good head-way on my Bible reading and current books. My time in the Word, praying, and journaling has been really fruitful and encouraging to my heart. I always NEED this, it is water to my soul and keeps me focused on what is true and important, and in this age of distraction that is a wonderful thing!

Homeschool

We finished out our Classical Conversations year, the girls did a sweet end of year presentation and had a field day with our CC group which was certainly a highlight of the year for them. We are signed up for next year, however we are praying about whether or not we are going to continue in the community. We definitely will be using the curriculum, but I’m not sure the community is a good fit for our family. The beauty of homeschool is being able to choose the things that fit our family’s loves, likes, and standards. There is no need to do something out of obligation. We might decide to do it (cautiously and pro-actively), and our spots are saved, but honestly….. we are leaning towards not. Not sure if I will blog about this decision in detail or not, but it may be helpful for others deciding if CC community is for them, so if I get some free-time to type it up then I might.

A Goat Story

Our goats that we got as babies last spring had their first set of babies this spring. It was a wonderful experience! The girls watched in wonder and delight from their club house. Those sweet baby goats are well loved, cuddled, and fed. One of our little baby goats got very ill mid April with tetanus. I was quite sure he was going to die. My second oldest daughter was very upset at his crying and struggling, she asked me to pray for him and so we did. It may seem silly to some, but it was a great opportunity for me to explain to them that the Lord was aware of the struggle of this baby goat, not even a sparrow falls from the sky without the Lord knowing. Also, he cares for us and encourages us to bring our concerns and requests to him. He entrusted us with this goat which He created, and so we would love it, pray for it, and care for it as we could. We took it to the vet, with a very limited budget. The doctor said things didn’t look good, but she would see what she could do. The goat ended up living! (and we were under the vet budget!) The vet told me it was the first baby goat she had ever been able to save. It was a sweet time of celebration and giving thanks to the Lord for caring for even these things which seem insignificant in the grander scheme of things. But perhaps we look at things all wrong sometimes, I feel like this experience was a monumental one in helping them understand how we can come to the Lord with our hearts and concerns, and that in His kindness He hears us, comforts us, and answers us. These seemingly little things, are the big things which build our childrens’ faith, and I don’t think we should quickly write them off as coincidental, because as we know, nothing is a coincident really. In these times our children actually get to experience His care and power first hand. It’s a beautiful memory that I will treasure.

Unplugging

I ended out this past month with a personal pursuit that had been on my heart. I endeavored to unplug for two weeks.  Now when I say “unplug”, I don’t mean from all internet usage, instead I mean from social media that I typically spend time on (primarily for me that was my public instagram and my personal facebook account).The reason was to seek the Lord and gain clarity on more intentional ways to use my social media. I feel like I was able to glean a lot and make some intentional and life-changing decisions in regards to it. I’ll hopefully find some time to share on that soon.

May Goals:

-Read the Word, pray, journal.
-Read and listen to helpful Biblical teaching and preaching throughout my days and evenings. My current go-tos are anything written by John Owen and listening to Albert Martin on Sermon Audio. They are such a gift to the Church!
-Implement my new strategies and ideas for social media use.
-Blog some. (more than some would be great, but some is better than none)
-Read and learn how to use the new curriculum for the coming year. Planning to officially start it end of May or first of June.
-Buy some new furniture for the house. (I’m pretty excited about this one!)
-Freezer cooking…. I didn’t do this one last month as planned. I did a few meals by doubling dinners in the evenings, but I really need to do a big monthly freezer cook.
-Get outdoors often with the kids.
-Give my oldest a canoe birthday. (her request which I personally think sounds super fun!) She turns 8 by the way! Very exciting watching her grow and mature!
-Take daily walks.
-Intentionally try to connect with my husband and my children one on one in a special way each day.

Hope everyone is having a happy Spring!
,S

February Memoirs : March Goals

And you thought I forgot…

Well it is almost April, but we’ll get this in.

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February Memoirs:

February was a full and lovely month. Spring seems to have come early, and you won’t find me complaining one little bit about it. I’ve been very blessed this month with the fellowship of other believers as well as times of refreshment as I sat under some older women and received some encouraging Titus 2 mentoring. It’s been a real blessing to my home and really helped press me deeper into my vision for marriage, motherhood, and homemaking for the glory of God. There is nothing quite as stirring to my heart as gathering with other believers who love the Lord and pursue Him with all they have. My heart is immensely blessed by these sacred friendships. Other than this, hings have been carrying on as usual: pursuing the Lord in His Word and in prayer, homeschooling, homemaking, hobby farming, getting out and enjoying the warmer weather, working on our house. My husband is so dilligent to work on our house in the midst of working a full time job. I’m continually thankful for how the Lord provides my husband with a wonderful job, how he so sacrificial serves and provides for our family. He somehow manages to have time and energy for all these things and to minister to me and the children and to others. To have such a wonderful husband is no small thing, there is always so much to give thanks for! A little about the house because I realize I haven’t written much about it, but it’s a huge part of our lives currently, so it’s worth sharing. We purchased our current house November 2014, we gutted and reconstructed the entire inside of the house and moved into the house September 2015 (right around the due date of our 5th). We moved in with quite a bit of work still left to do inside, and the outside hasn’t even been started on, but we knew this would be a process. I feel blessed to have such a cozy home, and I enjoy seeing our baby steps culminate more and more to a finished job. It’s fun, but it’s also time consuming and requires a commitment to contentment and patience. Once we finish I look forward to doing a detailed before and after post on the blog. For now, we will just keep plugging away at it piece by piece in our (almost non-existent) free time. So that was pretty much February, or what I can remember er of it.

March Goals:

-Read the Word and pray the Word.
-Take pictures with my camera.
-Go to the park.
-Start planning homeschool for the summer.
-Sign up for Classical Conversations practicum.
-Do some freezer cooking.
-Switch out the winter and spring clothes for myself, the hubby, and all 5 kiddos.

And that is about it since the month is ending soon.
Hope you have a lovely start to spring!
,Stacey

My Journey to Modesty

Sorry friends, this about a month later than I said it would be. Life with five littles happened, but here I am now. And I am excited to share where I have come from and where I am now in this journey. I want to share because I want you to know this isn’t something I have always been aware of. If there’s anything I’ve learned since trusting in Jesus to save me, it’s that I have to be humble, ready, and willing to have my mind renewed from what it once was. It is good to make changes in areas of our lives that do not fully reflect the heart of Christ. We may not (and probably don’t) see all at once every area of our lives that need to be changed. It may be something we have to slowly grow into. It may be strange or uncomfortable at first. But shedding off sin and giving more and more of ourselves to Christ is always worth it! There should not be any part of our lives that we withhold from him.

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My Journey to Modesty

For many years I had NO concept of modesty…. even after becoming a Christian. I was saved at age 19. In those early years of my walk with the Lord when I was confronted with my immodesty I protested that pursuing modesty was legalistic. (I had no clue what legalism was, for the record, people who call obedience to God legalistic don’t know either). Truth be told, modest clothing didn’t appeal to me because I thought I would look frumpy and unattractive, and I didn’t really see a problem with my current clothing choices (they didn’t seem like sin to me). I didn’t want to look weird or ugly, and I wasn’t willing to even consider that changing the way I dressed was something the Lord desired for me. This is certainly not the way I would’ve articulated it back then, but it was what I can see in hind-sight was happening in my heart. Because of my aversion to modesty for myself I made assumptions about girls who talked about and pursued modesty; I believed their modest dress was just as much for attention as immodest dress; only it was that they wanted people to look at them and think “oh how modestly she dresses”. I thought it was prideful and assumed they had a “holier than thou” attitude. I reasoned that if it wasn’t for the praises of others or for self-righteous pride, that if they *really* felt it was Biblically necessary, then they didn’t understand Christian freedom. Turns out I was the one acting like a pharisee, judging the intentions of others’ hearts…. “thank God I’m not like those self-righteous modest girls!” (sound familiar?Luke 18:11) I shudder to think of my sinful heart back then, and I honestly had no clue. God is so patient and gracious with His children. He had saved me and He wasn’t about to let me stay where I was.

Another anti-modesty soap boxes I stood on back then:

I protested that men’s lust was their own problem, that they would lust no matter what women wore if it was in their hearts to lust. I thought dressing modestly to love my Christian brothers and assist in the effort to keep their hearts from lust was like saying they couldn’t help it and it was all the girls’ fault….. and I believed that line of logic lead to even more disturbing ideas; such as the woman being blamed if she was raped, and things of that nature. Maybe some modesty proponents think like that, but in reality I didn’t know any and was simply making a straw man up to build my case against the idea of Christian modesty.

If I’m really REALLY honest, it was all just a huge excuse to not give that part of my life up. I didn’t want to admit I was wrong for dressing the way I was dressing, and I didn’t want to change the way I dressed either. Truth be told, I liked my short dresses and shorts and bikinis and strapless & spaghetti strap tops. I looked cute in them (according to worldly standards). I turned heads. It fed my flesh and my pride. I liked it and didn’t see why I would have to give it up…. I wasn’t saved by works but by grace! (I had Ephesians 2:8 &9 down, just failed to read on to verse 10) “A short skirt wouldn’t make me unsaved”, I’d reason. And I didn’t want to admit the trouble dressing that way often lead me into. I was too stubborn to admit that it attracted the wrong type of guys with expectations that I knew very well were wrong. But again, that was ALL their fault, not mine.

It was very wrong thinking to say the least.

I had never been taught at my church or the college groups I attended that dressing immodestly was sin, so I had no real reason to give up the cute clothes I loved to wear. The conversation only came up every now and then with Christians I considered to be a little over the top, and so I never took them very seriously.

This stubborn mind-set went on for about six years after my conversion! (seems crazy I know, but as I said, the Lord was very patient and gracious with me! He would work in a perfect timing on my heart.) Eventually, some difficult circumstances in my marriage lead me to pursue the Lord much deeper than I had previously before. I began devouring sermons and the Word and spending much more time in prayer. The Lord was my only real joy during this time, and I wanted to be as close to Him as possible. His presence was the only place I could find joy. That was a good place for me to be, and I knew it! With all of this Biblical teaching and reading and prayer, my mind began to change about things, not just dress, but everything! It was unintentional, I didn’t set out to become a radically different person, but it happened when I began taking the Bible more seriously and reading it more earnestly. Life looked so different through the lens of Scripture! My mind was really being renewed, I no longer wanted to be conformed to the world. I didn’t know fully what that would look like, but things were shifting and the Lord was opening my eyes to see sinful ideas in my heart that I needed to turn from and sinful ways of life that I needed to quit walking in. I learned during this time that repentance wasn’t something the Christian does one time, it’s something the Christian walks in. We are constantly repenting of our sin and putting our minds, hearts, and bodies in subjection to Christ….. it’s just what Christians do. Christians aren’t perfect, but we are being made perfect! And by God’s grace we will be one day!

What happened next:

Shortly after this the Lord brought friends into my life who didn’t look like the world, including in the area of modest dress.  Before I would’ve thought these people were too over the top, but now they were beautiful to me! They were never unkind or judgmental to me even-though I had not yet made the complete shift in my clothing choices, but their example and gentle exhortations were convicting and helpful for my growth in the Lord, especially in this particular area of my life. The Lord had already made my heart soft to the subject and I was ready to receive Biblical advice from others. It made me sad that I had never really been taught on it before. It made me sad that more ministers didn’t actually teach or preach about this common (seemingly acceptable) area of rebellion. I was sad that I had been so stubborn and unwilling to change. But at the same time I knew myself loved and forgiven by the Lord through the blood of Jesus; I was able to see how He faithfully pruned me and lead me in this journey. Sanctification is such a beautiful thing! The Lord used many people and situations to teach me the Scriptures regarding modesty and to show me the loveliness and beauty of modesty. It became overwhelmingly desirable for me to make a change in the way I had been dressing. So one day I went through my wardrobe and I pulled out everything that I (at the time) deemed as immodest. I tried to discern if I could layer it and make it modest, if so I kept it and if not then out it went. I put t-shirts under strapless and spaghetti strap dresses and tops. I tossed out my skirts, dresses, and shorts that didn’t come down to just above my knees. I tossed out my bikinis and purchased a few cute one pieces and swim skirts. I also purchased a few long skirts and long (tunic type) shirts to wear with skinny jeans. (I’m not trying to say my standards are what everyone is called to, but this was what the Lord had laid on my heart.)

Honestly, it was a bit of a difficult adjustment for me at first. My mind had been so conformed to the world, that it was hard for me to know what beauty and femininity really were. The first time I wore my one piece and swim skirt, I felt somewhat insecure…. it was SO different than my tiny little bikini that I was use to. I felt like people were staring at me (I’m sure it was totally in my head!). My body hadn’t changed at all, in fact I was the most fit I had ever been. Prior to my mind change on modesty, I believed a girl would wear a bikini up until the day she didn’t look good in one, then she’d move to a one piece, but here I was all covered up, but totally not insecure about the way my body looked. I was constantly having to remind myself of what was really true, and what wasn’t. In the beginning I also had to fight feelings of frumpiness. Sometimes I felt ugly in my modest clothes. I think this was two fold: one reason was because my mind was still being renewed to understand that tight fitting and skin showing didn’t equal beauty and the other reason was that I hadn’t yet learned how to be me and be modest. I thought I had to have the same style as other modest girls, and it took me a bit to learn how to have the style that reflected my personality and still be modest. It was definitely trial and error for a while. But it was definitely worth it! Even though I struggled to “like” the new look, I loved the freedom I had gained! Freedom from sin and worldliness, freedom to walk in obedience to the God I loved so dearly. It was a true victory God had won in my heart! And in time, I grew to see so much beauty in modest clothing. Now it is worldly immodest clothes that seem unbecoming to me.

5 quick reasons it was worth it to submit to God in this!

1. I was able to cast off sin and grow in obedience.

2. My walk with the Lord got sweeter because I was not withholding parts of myself from Him.

3. My husband felt more respected by me than he did before the change.

4. Other men and women respect me more than before the change.

5. I am able to teach my daughters by words and example how to worship the Lord with our clothing choices.

This is just my personal journey to dressing modestly. If modesty has been something you are considering, maybe you know you need to make a change and your heart is being drawn to honor the Lord more with your clothing choices. Pray about it, consider what your clothes say about you and the God you claim to serve. And then just do it! Get in your closet and make some changes. Do it out of love for the Savior who died for your sins. Do it seeking to obey the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-39). Do it as an act of love.

I hope that gave you a little glimpse into why I’m passionate about modesty and why I’m doing these Modern Modesty posts. My hope is to help others see modest dress as beautiful too. 

So how about one wintery look before winter has completely passed us by (not that I will be the least bit sad about that!)

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I love to pair tunics with skinny jeans and boots! It’s one of my favorite looks!

top : rue 21 online

jeans : delias

boots : belk

blanket scarf : spoiled rotten (in Knoxville), a gift from my amazing mom

Psalm 16 bracelet : a gift from my sweet friend Jessica

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetProcessed with VSCO with a5 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presethave a blessed rest of the week!

,Stacey

Spring Cleaning that will change your life : the Pursuit of Minimalism

1455654783537This is going to be a series. I sat down to type this out and quickly realized it would not all fit into one blog post. There is just way too much to say about it! Before we dive into a how-to post I have a few stories, clarifications, and persuasions for you. It may be tempting to skip over this part, but I think it will benefit you to read it. Mainly because minimalism is much more a mind-set than it is a method. You really have to have your mind reshaped to pursue minimalism.

I want you to learn how this can really help the home-maker who is struggling to keep her home organized. I want you to pursue it for the right reasons. I want you to know that it *can* work for you in whatever situation you find yourself in. (big house, little house, big family, small family, it can work for anyone!) I want to persuade you to view your belongings in a totally different way. I want you to know why you have to be “all in” committed to minimalism for it to really change your life. Then I want to tell you ‘how to’ pursue it starting now with your spring cleaning efforts. I hope I don’t sound like a sales-woman when I say, this could be the spring clean that will change your life!

I will share how to begin living a minimalist life-style, which I promise is not as hard as you may think! Once you change your mind-set, doing it is actually very easy! And I will tell you how to continue to grow in it and to perfect it, that is the phase I am in now, and it has become so easy and fun. It no longer stresses me out to organize or find places for things like it use to. I will help you get there, if you are willing to change your mind about your things!

Again this is a mind-set, not a method. I can give you steps (and I will eventually give you steps), but you can do the steps and stay in bondage to your things if you don’t build the foundation first.

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How I Became a Minimalist:

So let’s kick it off with a testimonial of my personal story. I want to tell you how I went from an unorganized mess to a minimalist. I use to really struggle with keeping an organized home. I don’t any more. Now my house does get messy with toys and our daily things, but they are easily picked up; in about 10-15 minutes my house can be entirely clean. Not just look clean, but have stuff crammed, I mean actually clean! A few years ago this was not so, I really struggled with keeping my home clean and organized! It was bad! There were some areas I kept clean (my living room and kitchen mostly), but there were many areas that no matter what I did I could never keep organized and put together. I’m not talking about dirt and grime and cob-webs, I’m talking about our stuff. The task of organizing was absolutely daunting to me. I’ve never been a good organizer, I’m still not great at it, but minimalism makes it easier because there is way less to organize. Back then I hated it!!! Organizing was the bane of my existence. I wasn’t a hoarder or anything, in fact, I felt like I had the same amount of stuff as all the other people I knew. I just couldn’t manage it. I always had a room where I stored a few boxes of junk that I needed to sort through. I always had a mess of school and craft supplies and miscellaneous papers shoved in the corners in my office floor and piled all around my desk and shelves. I would spend hours picking up my children’s bedrooms, the toy/school room and my own, but in about three hours they would be destroyed again. I would pick up and organize all the time, but it never seemed to help! I constantly had an organization project going. It always flopped in the end! I’m not a lazy person, and I am passionate about my job as a homemaker, so I was perplexed by this whole cycle. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I put SO much work into it and yet the end result was *still* a messy house. I always questioned, “Why can’t I keep my house clean when I work so hard?” My husband would wonder what I had been doing all day, when in fact I had been cleaning and organizing all day. That caused conflict. It hurt him and communicated disrespect. It hurt me because I felt like a failure as a wife, homemaker, and mother. It hurt my children because they were learning my example, and they were witnessing the conflict between my husband and I. It hurt and it was very hard on my heart. I knew there were more important things than a clean house and I pursued those and focused on my areas of strength such as teaching my children diligently, but I believed a clean house was important too. I was suppose to be a keeper of my home. I was suppose to be building it, not tearing it down. A clean house is right, and I knew that. A clean house is a noble desire and we should pursue it! A clean house brings so much peace to the family! God is a God of order, and I knew that it would honor Him for me to run a home of order. I wanted it SO BADLY! But continued to walk in defeat no matter how hard I tried.

I just knew there had to be a way off of the hamster wheel! I began praying for the Lord to give me wisdom. I would say, “Lord, you know my heart, you know I want to be a good homemaker and to work as unto you, please show me what I’m doing wrong!” (in tears, begging, pleading, I was desperate)

The Lord did finally answer. Almost a year and a half ago we took a long work trip with my husband to Western Canada (about 3 days of driving for us). We had four children and as anyone knows when packing for a trip with lots of littles, we had to pack JUST the essentials to last us for six weeks. So I put together all that we needed: a week’s worth of clothing for everyone (we would have access to a laundry mat), toiletries, our current home school curriculum, our current read aloud books, 3 small toy sets, a pack n play, booster, diaper bag, blankets and pillows, an ergo, a stroller, my camera, my laptop, our homeschool ipad, and my husband’s work supplies. It seemed a meager amount to me, but still stuffed the 12 passenger rental van pretty tightly. Once we settled into our hotel in Canada, I was AMAZED at how light my work load felt while I was there. Sure, we had room service to come in and make the bed and clean the bathrooms and yes the hotel provided dinner 2 nights a week (amazing!), but I could’ve managed those things easily. The lightened load wasn’t from my relief of chores or dinner preparations; it was from the constant organization and picking up, and from being surrounded by my junk. It made a huge difference in my perspective to not be surrounded by a house that always seemed to be reminding me that there was so much work to do. The truth was, I couldn’t relax in my own home! I loved the simple hotel room with just the things we needed! It was SO much more manageable for me! What amazed me was how peaceful it felt to be surrounded with only the things we needed. The whole place could be picked up and put in order in five minutes flat. I could actually sit and read to my girls and enjoy it without feeling like it was taking away from homemaking. We could take outings without me feeling like I had work left undone. I could have my quiet time undistracted by a lingering pile of junk in the corner. It was wonderful! And it hit me then and there, I don’t need those things we left behind, in fact those things were a hindrance! My stuff was the problem!  As I processed through this life-lesson I was learning, the Lord brought this Scripture to mind:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1

 

I just knew this was the answer!!!! Yes, we lay aside sin, but not only sin, also weight….. to me that means anything (my belongings included) which caused me to not run the race with endurance. It was clinging to me, it was holding me down, it was distracting me from the Lord and my work for him, and it needed to be thrown off! Isn’t it so sweet when the Lord finally answers! It was like a glass of fresh water after being lost in the desert! I was thrilled to say the least.

This was before I had ever even heard of minimalism, I truly feel the Lord revealed this concept to me through His Spirit and by His Word first, then allowed me to learn more about it through other means later. He used my circumstances of the trip to Canada to graciously give me a taste of how wonderful it would be to live that way, which motivated me even more. It still motivates me!

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How I got started:

While still on my trip and learning these things,I endeavored to get rid of everything I didn’t need or love as soon as I got back home. I knew it would be a lengthy process because I had accumulated a lot, but I was set on starting as soon as possible! When we returned, I chose an area (my office) which had been messy for years. I used the method I shared in my No Clutter November post. It worked! Four huge trash bags later, and my messy office was cleaned up in a day!!! It was the first time since I had moved into that house four years prior that the office had been clean! And I had organized it and worked on it countless hours in months and years prior with no lasting result of organization. It felt so good to have it really done! A few days later, it remained cleaned. Weeks later, it remained cleaned! I was amazed and relieved! This small victory motivated me to continue…. I started getting rid of more things. Every day I was throwing stuff away like crazy or putting things into a huge donation pile and taking trips to donate trunk loads at a time. “Ruthlessly Purge” was my motto. I showed no mercy for things. If I didn’t love it or need it, out it went. I had a lot of stuff and four children so this was (as I had assumed it would be) a long drawn out process. Becoming a minimalist isn’t something you can do in a week. It took you a long time to get all those things, it will take a little while to get rid of them. That was my thinking, and as far as I can see, that is the truth. I did it by areas; which later I found out wasn’t the best method, but that’s okay, it was still a huge help! In the middle of my homemaking reformation the Lord led us to sell our house and to buy our current farmhouse. I then turned my attention to packing up for the move. We had to do it quickly because the house sold two weeks after being on the market, It was such a rushed thing, and I was pregnant with morning sickness so my pursuit of minimalism was put on halt. We had to put most of our stuff in storage for about 8 months and I didn’t have time to purge as I packed; the farmhouse had to be gutted and reconstructed before we could even move in. We lived with the in-loves, with our basics and even still I felt like we maybe had too much with us for the space we had, my cue was that perpetual messes were becoming a distraction again. That is when I began researching for ideas on living with less, and that is where I stumbled across this wonderful concept of minimalism. It was exactly the life-style I knew the Lord was leading us to! The possibilities were inspiring me. The objective was becoming very clear. I knew where we were heading when we opened that storage building. I would be extremely selective about what I brought into my house, and I was. That storage building is still stacked full of stuff. We took out what we needed and wanted, and stopped there. And we have been living quite well with the things we have in our house for months now, in fact, I purge from this small amount we brought in all the time. I have grown to love the simplicity and order so much that I just keep pursuing it more and more. I plan to tackle the storage building in the spring (it’s just too cold for me right now), but I’m not planning to keep the stuff, but instead to get rid of it properly. There are only a few things I have remembered and wanted out of there that I plan to keep. The rest is going!

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I can’t tell you how much I love living with less! It seemed hard at first, but the more I got rid of, the easier it became to get rid of even more. My trajectory is definitely to continue in this direction and to teach my children to do the same. Minimalism has made home-making a joy to me again and I no longer feel like a failure.

what is minimalism?

So you may now be asking, “what is minimalism?”  I think some people have a misconception that minimalism is only for singles or for childless people who live in 500 square foot houses. The tiny house movement has made minimalism a bit trendy with the hippy crowd. Most people think of that type when they think of minimalism. It’s totally not like that for everyone! A basic definition of minimalism is:  living with ONLY what you NEED and LOVE. Also, I would add it is a whole knew way of viewing your things and your home. You become much more intentional about the things you purchase or receive as gifts . You do not allow yourself to feel obligated to keep anything (either a gift or something you spent hard earned money on) if it hinders you from doing what the Lord has called you to by causing messes that you are continually spending time and energy on. Minimalism looks a little different from person to person and family to family, but it’s premise is pretty much the same for everyone; living with the things you absolutely want to live with and having your space look the way you want it to look. Minimalism is like organizing in reverse: instead of deciding where to put things you have, you look at your space and decide the very things you want to be there. Everything else needs to go somewhere else that you want it to be or out of the house. You also reshape your view of “need”. Our culture has made things into a need that are certainly not necessities. Figuring out those things that your family actually does use and need is a process, but it’s worth it!

Do it for the right Reasons

A quick word of warning: if you begin to research “minimalism” you will sadly find very little Christian perspective on the topic. There are a lot of great “how to” articles out there, but the motivation for most of those authors is not living for the Lord, but instead living for themselves. That is NOT where I would encourage your heart to be in this pursuit. If you want to get rid of your things so that you can do whatever it is that makes you happy, then you are worshiping yourself, and that is very dangerous for your soul! (call me dramatic if you want, but it’s just the truth) You will hear a lot of selfish reasoning in most articles on the topic, and actually it can sound appealing to the flesh….. travel, see the world, focus on climbing the career ladder, sit in silence, read, meditate, sip tea, retire early to a life of leisure.  I just want to gently warn you that is not Biblical! That is not how Christians live or think. If your heart is being drawn towards living a minimalist life then let it be for the glory of God. Let it be to honor your husband and children. Let it be so that you can work less on organizing your stuff, and spend that (undistracted) extra time in prayer, the Word, diligently teaching your children, and in service to God. There is nothing wrong with silence and relaxing with a cup of tea or traveling, those are blessings to refresh us, but those should not be life objectives for the Christian.

Minimalism does work!!! It will get you the freedom from the mess that you’ve always been wanting, but I pray that you pursue that with a pure heart and not out of selfish ambition.

Can a big family live a minimalist life-style?

This is a question I get sometimes when I explain to people that I am a minimalist. It is asked in a variety of ways, “is that house going to be big enough?” “don’t you need…. (fill in the blank item)?” ,but the big question above is at the heart of all the other questions, and so I think it a profitable thing to answer. In a word, yes! A big family absolutely can live a minimalist life-style! And let me explain, In truth, a big family only *really* needs a few more things than a small family with only two children. In fact, I had way more stuff when I just had my first two children than I have now for all of us (with the exception of beds and carseats). Kids don’t need every gadget and toy that comes along! They only need a few toy sets and puzzles. I promise they play in a much more content fashion with less than they do with more. I have seen the fruit of both first hand; I saw clearly that more toys only makes them play less! It doesn’t seem like it would be that way, but it definitely is! They don’t need a closet full of clothes and accessories.  And (this is a big one!) you don’t have to keep everything someone gives them for Christmas and birthdays! Gifts are a great way to see what toys work best for your family. If a toy becomes a nuisance or a constant mess maker, then get rid of it. The person who gave it did not want to give you something that would make your life hard, they wanted to bless you. So feel no guilt and donate it or give it to someone who will actually be blessed by the item. Give thanks to the person who bought it when it is received, give thanks to the Lord for the way you feel so loved by the person giving the gift, teach your children to do this because we give thanks in all circumstances, and then if you don’t love or need it, get rid of it! If people ask what you want, tell them exactly what you want! I recommend crafts (which can be done and then thrown away) or good books that you want in your family library, or experience gifts like season tickets to a local theme park or zoo or art classes. It most certainly can work for a big family, but you can’t have it in your head that you and your children must have whatever people and the world tells you that you need. You really probably don’t need it!

I believe this can work for anyone and any situation if you want it to and that it can be altered to fit various life-styles. If you have a huge house and lots of space to put things, then you can likely have more things than someone like me. And sure, there are things I wish I could buy and find a space for, I’d love to have some work-out equipment, but I don’t have the space for them so I will just workout outside and chasing my kids. If I don’t have a place for it, then I don’t get it. However, if you have space for a work-out room, can afford it, and you want one, go for it! That is still minimalism. It just looks different depending on the space you have to work with.

Now I will say minimalism is not for everyone. If you are a great organizer and you easily keep your house in order….. then keep your things. But I’m not bent that way, and for me to continue down the path I was on was like trying to shove a circle puzzle piece into a square spot. Nothing lined up! If you hear this concept and think it’s not for you, then great, but don’t quickly discount it because you are not ready to get rid of your things. If you are struggling with organization, at least give this a go in a few areas of your life and experience what a difference it makes. Try out my no clutter method, and get rid of everything you don’t need or love.

This conversation will continue…

I’m going to stop here for now. This series will definitely continue with the things outlined above. I am simply trying to whet your appetite. And so I will leave you with this bit of inspiration. I’m an instagram girl! I love it (do you follow me by the way?) it’s kinda my happy little creative outlet to share pieces of daily life, and it’s a place where I can be inspired by the lives of others. This lady on instagram, Amanda Watters has a beautiful feed of her lovely minimalist home. I always feel inspired looking at what she has done with her space! You should click over and get inspired. And she’s a mom just like many of us! This is possible!

I’m trying to get you hooked, to convince you. We will dig in deeper next time, I can’t make promises for when I’ll post the rest so be sure to subscribe!

Now here’s something fun!

Spring Cleaning IRL Blog Hop!

Spring Cleaning IRL - Love these tips and ideas for spring cleaning I can actually do!

I’ve joined together with some friends to bring you a BIG giveaway and a great set of spring cleaning posts to launch your efforts! Spring Cleaning IRL (in real life) is brought to you by these lovely ladies. Be sure to visit each one!

Spring Cleaning for the rest of us

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The Busy Mom's Guide to Decluttering(+Giveaway & Bloghop)

 

Spring Homemaking Giveaway!

SWEET! The InstantPot pressure cooker has been on my wish list, and Amazon gift cards are my love langue. :) Awesome spring homemaking giveaway!

Enter to win the Spring Homemaking Giveaway to bless your home and family! The winner will receive an Instant Pot Duo 6-quart 7-in-1 pressure cooker! ($234.95 value) AND a $50 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway runs until 11:59pm PST on 4/10/16. Winner will be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

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I hope you win!

-Stacey

 

January Memoirs : February Goals {& Valentine Giveaway!}

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January Memoirs

Well, it happened…. I turned 31 on January 15th. I can remember when I used to think 30 was SO old, and now honestly I still feel kinda young….. but then I look around me and see my house full of growing kids and I know the truth, I’ve seen a lot of life. I was saved in the summer of 2003 (I was 19 years old), so not only have I learned from life, but I’ve also had the privilege to walk with the Lord and learn from His Word for almost 12 years now. It’s incredible the things He has done in my heart during that time! When I reflect on where I was, what I was coming out of, and all of the ways that my mind needed to be renewed; it just astounds me. I have no doubt that I have much more to learn, but to see the work of the Lord in me over time is so humbling. I can’t help but give thanks because I know that it is His work and not mine. I am almost the opposite of everything I ever dreamed or imagined I would be 11 years ago, but oh how thankful I am that this was His will for me because it is so much better than anything I would’ve chosen for myself.

Other things from January: a little bit of sickness swept through the house, a quick snow swept through our town, and then the sun came out and it felt like early spring! We loved it! (except for the sickness, but I’m trying to give thanks in all things, and I’m sure it had its purposes). We are SO enjoying homeschool this year, a huge thanks to Classical Conversations! I was a little unsure at the beginning of the year, but the more we go, the more I love it! And the more we switch to the Classical model, the more I become convinced this is what we are sticking with! We just signed up for next year with no hesitations. It feels so good to find something that is such a wonderful fit for us. I really hope to blog all about this change in our homeschool direction soon, and even to share how very Biblical of a learning style it is.

About writing/blogging: I’m always hoping to be less busy, but the nature of a homeschool mom with 3 under 2 (yeah you read that right, lol!) is just, wel….. busy. I have a lot to accomplish every single day, and I have to do those things first.  Also, we want to trust God with my womb, we welcome more children; we believe they are blessing! (and who wouldn’t want a bunch of blessings, right?) ,so things may not slow down any time soon. But only God knows, it is the Lord who gives life, I can’t assume that He always will. But no matter what, I trust that one day if it is the Lord’s will, that He will allow me to pursue my dream of Titus 2 writing and blogging. And even now, I ask for Him to allow times for me to do it here and there. I just feel so alive when I write, I learn so much from the Word as I write about it, my heart is so filled when I get messages from readers who were helped or encouraged; and I almost can’t explain this with words, but writing feels like one of the things I was meant to do in His Kingdom. He has just placed such a desire in me for it! I trust He will see that through in whatever it is suppose to look like.

February Goals

-Bible journaling plan (ending out Genesis, middle of Psalms, and middle and end of Matthew, it’s a lot and it may take 2 months to study and journal properly)
-Finish memorizing Psalm 16 (this one is almost there! Woohoo!)
-Keep working other memory work.
-Be diligent in our Daily Homeschool Meetings with my girls (This is where we do Bible memory, Catechisms, and CC memory work together. It’s a core part of our school day, but easy to skip when things get busy, so I’m making it a huge point to do it. Toddler nap time is our designated meeting time for now.)
-Get back on Trim Healthy Mama (totally fell off the bandwagon recently, did I say that last month? lol!)
-Finish my current books: “Mortification of Sin” and “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
-More organizing projects around the house (as time permits).
-Publish a few posts here and on FgI blog. (as time permits). PS Farm Girl Initiative got its very own instagram, you should follow!

And now for a special giveaway!

I am so excited to team up with some of my blogger friends to bring you this Valentine “treat yourself” giveaway!!!


Check out what’s included:

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Mary Kay Satin Hands Set

3 Jamberry Nail Wraps

The Love Dare (book by Alex & Stephen Kendrick, mailed to you)

Song of Solomon Love Notes (mailed to you in time for Valentine’s Day)

God’s Word in My Heart: A Scripture Learning Guide with Memory Verses eBook (by Jennifer Thorson)

A Wife’s Guide to Studying Proverbs eBook (by Becky Zale)

To enter, just plug in your email address into the Rafflecopter giveaway below and follow the instructions for entries! Your email address is just for contact purposes, and the other entries are optional, but recommended! I love these ladies and I know you will love what they share if you choose to follow them via the options below!

Contest ends 2/6/2016 at 11:59 CST!
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Hope you win! And I hope the Lord draws your heart to know and enjoy Him more this month!

-S

Modern Modesty

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. -1 Corinthians 10:31

I’m super excited to introduce something new I’m staring here at Abiding Woman.

Modern Modesty

In a nutshell, these will be modest fashion posts to inspire the modern woman to dress to the glory of God.

Why modesty?

I’m passionate about modesty, partially because I think it’s greatly untaught about in many Christian circles: perhaps for fear of offending people, or legalism, or both, but it just seems to be a taboo subject for many. But the thing is, we need to be taught about this! It is important.  I’m also passionate about it because of my own personal journey leading me to care about modesty which I will be posting next week.

Why modern?

As I’ve pursued modesty, I have learned that it is very possible to dress in modern clothing and be modest. BUT (and to be clear, this is a huge “but”) ultimately if being modest meant that we had to wear old fashioned clothes, I would be completely content to do that. Now I want to be careful here, I have grown to see a beauty in older styles of clothing, and many women and their husbands love that look! I think it is quite lovely too, it just my first preference for myself.  I have found that I enjoy dressing modestly with affordable clothes that are currently in fashion. It may not always be this way, but for now clothes that are currently sold in stores like Target, Old Navy, local boutiques, and more can absolutely be worn in a modest way. You just have to be intentional about it. You can’t always (or often) wear it like it’s advertised on the models. Take the style you love and layer it so that you can enjoy your clothing and be modest. That is what “modern modesty” is about on this blog. I have a deep desire to teach the why of modesty with Scripture and to demonstrate the how of modern modesty with “modest fashion posts”.

Now let’s get one thing straight

I am not a model. I’m 5 feet even and a mom of 5 (and hoping for more kiddos one day). My size and weight change often, and I am having a really productive day if I find time for a shower and makeup. So I am nowhere close to being a model, and I’m good with that!

But here’s the thing I’m not going to let that stop what I’m trying to do here. I’m passionate about helping women see that modest dressing can be beautiful, stylish, and even demonstrating that our creativity and care we put into our clothing choices can cause people to delight in the Lord.

How this will work.

I will share a few photos of my outfit and I’ll share where I bought the items I’m wearing. Not necessarily so you can go and buy the exact thing, because it’s likely that most of it won’t still be available, but instead so that you can see “how” I piece modern modest outfits together. I have some old posts (here and here, back when I was pregnant) where I did this sort of thing, but I had not yet caught the vision for “Modern Modesty” fully. I went back and re-labeled them as “Modern Modesty” because my heart for it was there, just not the full workings of the idea. So this isn’t the first time you’ve seen this type of post with me, but it is the first official Modern Modesty post.

Styles and Standards:

I know that we all have different styles. I’m not sharing these to say my style is the best. You may not even like my style for yourself. These styles are just what I like and what I wear. I tend to be drawn to slightly bohemian styles. You probably have your own style preferences, but that doesn’t mean these posts still can’t be helpful. I want to encourage women to find the styles they like and to wear them in modest ways. I love how God made us all different, and I love to delight in the different styles of my friends. Some are more classic, others casual, others sporty, and others vintage. I love the variety! Christian women don’t all have to dress the same! :) And I really believe we can dress with our own style preferences in a modest way.

Furthermore, we will likely have different opinions about modesty, my standards are just that…. my standards, granted, I have come to my standards through the Scripture and through what I consider to be sound teaching on the subject. Aside from this so many things have shaped my personal standards, and I’m sure the same is true for you. I realize others may have a different take, even on the exact same Scriptures. I always want to be careful that I’m not adding to the Scripture in any way. I look forward to posting on what the Scripture says about the way we ought to dress and even sharing my standards eventually, but even still I will share them as my personal standards and nothing more.  My standards may change or shift as I grow in my understanding of the Scriptures. I want to be ever-learning and ever-growing…. don’t you? So changes and humility are par for the course in the Christian life in all areas, even in the way we dress.

Finally, with this introduction to what modern modesty is about we’ll kick this thing off in one of my favorite dresses.

So here we go….

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dress : Rue 21 (online, I always shop their store online because call me crazy if you want to, they have some ridiculous music in their store that I can’t stand, so there’s that.)
scarf : Rue 21 (online)
belt : Target
leggings : probably Target ;)
boots : Belk (watch for the boots to go on sale soon, usually March or April you can get them for super cheap ((like 75% off)), that’s how I got these.)

A few reasons why this dress is one of my favorites. First of all, it’s cotton and feels as comfy as pajamas! Secondly, it’s black and white and pretty much goes with every accessory I own. Third, it’s knee length and flowy. I love the style and shape of it!

So that was the first official Modern Modesty post.

Ultimately, I hope these will be an overarching encouragement towards your pursuit of modest dressing, whatever that looks like in your current stage of your Christian walk, take a step… evaluate your clothing, be intentional to love God and others with the way you dress. And while you do, give grace to others in the process. We are all learning here.

Hope everyone has a great week!
Abiding in Christ,
-Stacey

PS These will NOT normally be this long.

linked up with The Modest Mom Blog

December Memoirs : January Goals

IMG_20160104_140612Is it really January 18th? 2016??? really, where on earth did the time go? So I’m a little behind on getting this out. One thing is for sure, I am one busy mama these days and it makes the time slip away quicker than I’d like, but I’m excited to break away from the usual duties for about 30 minutes to write a quick memoirs and goals post.

December Memoirs:

We had such a nice December, it is always a fun time of year visiting family and attending fun little celebrations with friends. I love that we can set aside time each year to focus on the first advent of our Lord Jesus. Thinking on His first coming brings such joy; that He came to bring us near, to be Emanuel- God with us! To live a perfect life and to die on the cross in our place, and then to be raised from the dead in power! Highest praise to Him for the things He has done! This time of Advent celebration also gives me great anticipation for His second coming when all things will be made new and we will be with Him forever! The good gifts we give each other point my heart to how our Father gives good and perfect gifts which grow us up in Him so that we may have our fullest joy. The gatherings and joys of the season so often point my heart to that final family gathering with all of His children to worship Him for eternity. It truly is a wonderful time of the year!

We did some other exciting things as well: a trip to visit family in Atlanta, a day trip to DollyWood, and setting up a teepee in our living room, to name a few! We also continued in many of our regular pursuits: homeschool, Scripture memory, catechism memory, and working on our farmhouse renovations. Everything is coming along and I give thanks to God for giving us the grace, time, and energy to do these things.

It’s been a fruitful year, and I Iook forward to what the Lord has for us in 2016.

Goals:

Instead of just sharing the usual monthly goals, I thought it would be helpful to share my one life-long goal and my word of the year, and why I make goals in general.

My Lifelong goal:

To know and enjoy the Lord Jesus Christ as much as is possible in this life; and to honor Him in all aspects, duties, trials, and relationships in my life.

Uniting all things in Him

I’m currently trying to memorize Ephesians 1 and something that sticks out to me time and time again is this (verses 7-10):

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

(emphasis is mine) This is beautiful, all of it, just soul-stirringly beautiful! But one thing I’ve noticed recently which I had not noticed prior to attempting to memorize it is this part in bold. God has a plan to unite ALL THINGS in Christ. We will see this in it’s fullness when the Lord returns and we are in Heaven with Him, but until then as Jesus has taught us to pray (and act), “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” We as Christians are to emulate this with our lives….. EVERY. SINGLE. FACET. of our lives should be united with Christ (and in submission to His Word). Not simply influenced by, definitely never compartmentalized from, but UNITED with Him. It may seem a little extreme, but it’s not extreme, it’s just Christian (and I guess to the world Christians seem extreme, but that has always been true). All of this to say that as best I can, my main life-long goal works it’s way down to my yearly goals, to my monthly goals, and even to the to do lists I make every day.

Now I don’t do them all perfectly, sometimes I don’t meet my goals, but I at least have a vision and know which way I’m heading. I think this is so important for a Christian. We are not people who live haphazardly, in fact if we allow ourselves to just drift then we will likely drift in the wrong direction. God’s Word tells us to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)

I believe that we should strive to unite all parts of our lives in Christ, from the way we study Scripture, to our attitude as we unload the dishwasher, to what we watch on TV, and how we parent our children. And everything else. ALL THINGS.

My Word of the Year:

DISCIPLINE I know you’ve heard of the word of the year thing, and I’m hopping on board. My word is “discipline”. This has been heavily influenced by the book I’m currently reading: “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” (aff link) by Don Whitney. I love it! But also influenced by my previous struggles with it. I have by God’s grace grown so much in this area! I never would’ve guessed that I would be managing a household of 5 children, homeschooling them, working on projects, starting a farm with my husband, accomplishing goals, working as unto the Lord in all of it…. I say none of this to brag or boast in any of my abilities, but only to say to God be the glory because He has made me into a person I never imagined I could be and that I have prayed and asked Him to help me be. He does answer prayers like that! And I trust by His grace He will grow me up in this even more. So this is my word of the year, and I’m excited about it!

I hope this encourages you to consider how you can unite all the areas of your life in Christ. How you can bring glory to Him in the roles He has placed you in and how you can walk in obedience to Him and abstain from evil. How you can set one life-long God-honoring goal and let it work it’s way down into each moment of life. May God richly bless you this year in your pursuit of honoring Him! 

happy new year

-S

November Memoirs : December Goals

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November Memoirs

I blinked and November was gone.
It wasn’t even that we were super busy or anything, but it just flew by! I got sick for about two weeks which was no fun; and it definitely threw a wrench in some of my goals I set last month, so a few have moved over to this month’s.

About mid November my Nana (my mom’s mom) had a mastectomy as part of treatment for breast cancer that she unknowingly had for (possibly) over ten years according to the doctors. I was blessed by her contentment and confidence in the Lord. She was completely at peace and was praising the Lord through the entire experience of her diagnosis and surgery. Nothing warms my heart quite like watching the Lord sustain His own children through difficult trials with peace and joy that transcends circumstance.

We ended out the month with traditional Thanksgiving festivities…. turkey, dressing, and all the yummy goodness with our families.

We topped it off celebrating the birthday and life of my amazing husband. With each passing year I thank God more for him. I’ve been given such a good gift in my husband! He has truly grown into a man who demonstrates the picture of how Christ loves the church within our marriage. Growing up I always wanted to witness a miracle… like God raising the dead or making the lame walk…. and now daily I live alongside a real miracle. I watched God take out my husband’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh, and I witnessed Him turn the dry bones of our marriage into a strong army for Him. My heart rejoices greatly for what He has done! I believe that even when I’m old and gray I will still be amazed at this miracle.

December Goals

-Take more pictures with my camera instead of my phone.
-Advent crafts with the littles.
-Tackle my list of DIYS (especially my Christmas gift ones)
-Keep working on memorizing Ephesians 1 and Psalm 16, start memorizing Psalm 2
-Finish up my New Testament in 30 Reading Plan
-Write Thank You cards
-Make and Send out Christmas cards
-Christmas shopping
-Christmas wrapping
-Turn our Sunroom into a homeschool room and office
-Organize the utility room
-Keep on our family schedule
-Work Scripture memory, catechisms, and hymns of the month (“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Sovereign Grace version, and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”) daily with the girls
-Start new book: “The Mortification of Sin” by John Owen

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. ♡Psalm 16:5-6♡

Have a blessed December!
-Stacey