Life Simplified

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I’m on a mission.

Three months into the year, having just entered the fourth, it might seem strange for me to post about a goal of mine in 2014. But having given birth to and lost my second child just days before we turned the corner into 2014, there were several more things on my mind besides goals for 2014. And it’s taken me these three months just to get on my feet enough to start thinking about anything like goals {other than the goal to stay afloat}.

So my 2014 resolution post is coming a bit late… or if a quarter of a year is more than a bit to you, then it’s coming more than a bit late.

As many in the blogging community have done over the past several years—doing away with a list of resolutions {instead choosing one word to focus on for their year}—I too decided not to make any lists. I’m not a list-keeper, although I still believe in them… just for this reason alone. But I’m not doing the “One Word” thing, either. Personally, this New Year trend also does not really work for me. {Maybe I was doing it wrong the two times I tried it in years past? It just never connected with me and felt too elusive… like the word was floating “out there” somewhere, instead of anchored here in my heart. I think I was doing it the wrong way… or maybe I had the wrong one word.}

Instead, I’m engaging in neither. No long list of resolutions. And no mystical one word that’s out there in the cosmos leading my every step for the year {because I just don’t think that’s how it works… for me, anyway… and besides that, I don’t think we really choose our “themes” for the years or seasons of our lives… I think they sort of choose us, and I think it has a lot to do with whatever God is trying to teach us during those points in our lives… which is why there may be multiple themes in one year and not always just one}.

So what is God trying to teach me this year? Oh, boy. I do believe I have not even begun to scratch the surface of what God is trying to teach me this year as I come out of what was undeniably the worst and most difficult year of my life.

But I do know one thing…

For years and years and years, I have felt God tugging at my heart in an effort to teach me to and get me to simplify my life. Simplify, not per any blog or book or guru standard {though I know these can be helpful}. Not even per what my view of simplicity was {or how I saw and admired it in others}. Just per what His standard is… what His word has to say about it. I’m actually studying that now. I believe the Bible is full of verses that speak to how simply we should live our lives.

Unfortunately, I am my own conundrum… an oxymoron. I crave simplicity, but as an artistic type, I am drawn to clutter… sometimes almost thriving in it. So does that mean God does not want me to be artistic? Nope. I don’t think so. I think it just means He wants me to an artist and simple.

Somehow, while compiling this post and looking for something online about what the Bible has to say about living a simple life, I came across a web site that is obviously well-known and read by many {as it was one of the Top 100 Mom Blogs of 2012}. Its name, The Art of Simple, sounds vaguely familiar to me, so perhaps I have come across it or read about it before. But even if so, I never stopped to stay a while… until tonight, that is. As of tonight, I am a subscriber to the posts on the blog. It looks like exactly the kind of place I want to spend my time as I work toward living the simple life I have always wanted to live.

In fact, I am so glad I stumbled upon it, because their little manifesto video touches on the exact points for this post that I wanted to make, but probably would not have been able to state quite as… well, simply {or eloquently}…

The Art of Simple from The Art of Simple on Vimeo.

Love that line… “Because when we live simply, others can simply live.” I would only add one more thing—”And so can I… simply live.”

Even though I am only just now posting about this new mission, it has been under way {though off to a slow start} since the year began.

The list of what I want to simplify is enormous… from big to small, covering everything from the eternal to the here-and-now. Some of it clutter. Some of it distraction. Some of it patterns and habits. Some even excessive possessions.

I want to simplify our garage,
my Christian walk,
my computer hard drive,
my sock drawer,
Izzy’s toys,
the basement,
my methods of doing laundry,
the days and what I fill each one with,
my library {done},
the cleaning supply cabinet and what I use to clean with,
my CD collection,

{Notice there is nothing of Mr. B’s in this list?—He’s already a pretty simple guy.}

my contact lists / address books,
the office {done!},
my purse {they say when it’s a mess, your life is a mess},
my free time,
pretty much every process I currently and consistently use,
our expenses,
the yard,
the way I take pictures,
blogging {I’ll start tomorrow},
the foods we intake…

and the list could go on and on and on.

Even the depression I’m experiencing—though not really brought on myself as a result of my habits, but rather a result of extenuating circumstances—is a form of clutter… the thoughts that clutter my mind and distract me from focusing on the simple truths of God’s word. So, as I mentioned in my last post, it’s something I choose to go after… to quiet and simplify… as I am doing or plan to with all these other areas I’ve mentioned, and more.

For forty-two years I’ve complicated my life. Not without trying to complicate less or trying to do what I always hoped to—simplify more. But never fully getting there.

{This is life, though, wouldn’t you say?… never fully getting there?}

For the first time in my life, however, I realize just how short life is. I don’t necessarily say that merely because Anysia only lived for six short hours… though that is certainly part of it. I say it also because this past year was a blink of an eye to me. It’s like I woke up one day, and Isaac was a year older… overnight. Like we had just moved into our house the day before {instead of a year earlier}, which is the way our house looked many months out of this past year… as though we had just moved in.

I’ve said it before… we didn’t just lose a daughter. We lost a year of our lives. Of course, we gained so many things in place of that time. But it’s a year we can’t have back. I’m not complaining about that fact. I mean, there are days that I struggle with bitterness about it. But I am not complaining here today. I am simply pointing it out to explain my deep longing to finally simplify and make simplicity a deeply-rooted lifestyle down at the core of every aspect of our lives… and sooner than later.

I’m not saying I must be finished by January 1st of next year or that I have to be a fully-practicing purist in the art of simplicity by then. But I am saying that it isn’t a bad goal to shoot for. And it is mine… my one and only goal and resolution for this year. I figure that if I can achieve {or work toward} this, everything else will fall into place beneath it… or under the umbrella of a simpler life.

Mostly, I hope to rid my life of the distractions that keep me from focusing on God… the things that so easily make me stumble in this race. Clutter in my life, whether sin or patterns that keep me weighed down or material things I simply don’t need, is all just a burden.

So many days during my pregnancy with Anysia, I felt so burdened by the clutter that I had created in my life up to that point. When we had moved into this house just a few months earlier, I was so sure I had removed most of that clutter. But it wasn’t until I faced such trying days that I realized just how crowded my life still was.

I’m not proposing that we don’t have anything at all that is enjoyable or that we give away every worldly possession. In fact, most of the clutter and threats to simplicity I’m referring to have more to do with habits and patterns than they do with the things we own. But I am saying that it’s all part of the same issue… like the video above says, the goal is that “all the parts of your life line up in the same direction.”

Anysia changed me.

That is the inevitable {and even welcome} truth that is beyond my control. But it’s how her life changed {and continues to change} mine that is up to me.

If I could pray just one thing to that end {besides praying that God teaches me how to care for those who are suffering}, it is that her life would have taught me the art of simple… and an art it is!

So throughout the rest of the year, I will be posting about my attempt to simplify more and more. Why? well, I think part of that answer can be found in the first sentence of the article I linked to above… the “sharing” part. It’s sort of an accountability thing. If I’m writing about it here, I am sort of forced to keep up with it… perhaps. {*crosses fingers in hopefulness*}

The other reason is one that goes right along with the first. And interestingly, I just came across it yesterday as I was thinking about what to write. I read this post which led me to this video, both of which made me realize that I am what is called an Obliger. And apparently Obligers should be setting up forms of external accountability to help themselves meet their own expectations. So posting here about my Life Simplified will hopefully be just that.

What is the biggest simplification in my life as of late? My office… where I sit to write this {what is turning into a very long} post.

Oh, my!… I should have taken some before photos. It was the most awful space… so cluttered, I don’t know how I was able do a single thing in it before the makeover in such a state. That alone, I think, was contributing to my depression. I found myself working in here with the light off and curtains closed, because it was so uninviting and I didn’t want to see that any more than I had to. Yes… that bad. Not just cluttered, either. But dingy peach. With awful 1980s pink and powder blue country heart wallpaper border.


Now it’s sans border and washed in white… simple. {I still plan to blog about that experience.} And my desk has never been cleaner… nothing more than the computer, a lamp, a little elephant bowl that holds my cell phone, and a Willow Tree figurine of a mama holding her baby girl that a dear friend sent to me. Behind me is the new guest-room area, also clutter-free. Of course, I must confess… to get it all this way, I had to take a bunch of junk and stuff to the basement before Mr. B’s parents came to stay. That is just one reason the basement is next on the physical-space-simplification agenda. Oh… prayers for conquering that, please!

And thus starts my new series, but ends my long introduction into it.

But before I go, I wonder if you have any suggestions or tips on living a simple life… if you have mastered it or, like me, are currently trying to… or even if you are the pre-2014 me that was in great need of a simplicity overhaul. Is there a nugget of wisdom you could share about creating simplicity? An idea, an “avoid this” list, a web site you like that is dedicated to living simply? {Remember this one I linked to a few posts back?… it’s a good one!}

Or do you have a system you’ve adopted that helps you stay living simply? I’m talking, anything from budgeting to photography to your utensil drawer… and everything in between. I love it all, if it gets me closer to living more simply.

Please, do tell.

Or at least wish me luck well. =)