Friday, May 4, 2012

Yearning to Simplify

I am a busy mama.  That is a given with 9 precious children entrusted to me and my husband to raise, teach, civilize, and equip for life in the world we live in.  But lately, I've been feeling like the pace of our life is becoming frenetic, almost out of control.  It is true that each year the month of May brings recitals, concerts, soccer tournaments, evaluations, along with the push to finish out the Homeschool year.  So maybe I am just feeling the "May frenzy." Maybe not!  This year, our crazy schedule, along with the demands of now having a freshman in high school as well a new baby and more clutter than I can ever remember having in our house, I feel like my world is spinning faster and faster.

I want to slow down. I long to have more lazy times sitting outside watching the little ones play in the sandbox, more time to read to everyone, more time to push them on the swings or go for a long walk.  I am desperate to get rid of stuff and declutter our home and our schedule.  All this has led me to commit myself to spend at least 1/2 hour per day working on the clutter in our home.  I also want to commit to praying each day beginning now through the summer about how we can get rid of the unnecessary clutter in our schedule. I plan to blog about my journey, and hopefully post some before and after pictures, too!

First, a little background.  Our family lives in a rather small (considering the size of our family) home that was actually going to be our garage when we moved to our little ranch.  The original plan was that we would live in the garage for about a year while we built our "dream home." We had a relatively small mortgage on the land we purchased, and we were able to build the garage cash with my husband as the general contractor.  Thankfully, as we were building, we added a few closets and a decent built-in kitchen area along one wall of the open downstairs.  After we moved into the "garage-house," my husband and I decided we would work to become debt-free before building the house. We have lived in our little cozy home for about 5 1/2 years, and I can happily say that we are now debt-free!

Over the years as we were paying off the land and living in our little, rather unconventional house, I have learned to become content despite the lack things that I may have previously thought I could not live without.  Sometimes, I look at our home compared to the homes of all our friends and I am surprised by how different it is in so many ways, but I have come to realize that it's OK.  We have a great little place that we all fit into just fine, and while I could stand to have a bigger kitchen or a master bathroom with a luxurious bathtub or a nice, big laundry room, God has been teaching me contentment.  He has been humbling me as I see my pride if I think about how I wish I had this or that "like most of my friends," as he shows me that pride is found in both exalting myself above others as well as comparing myself (and what I do or don't have) to others.  I have been amazed at how the little improvements we have made inch by inch, baby step by baby step, over the years have made me feel so happy.  I am ecstatic at every improvement we make.  It's actually been really good for my level of contentment, and it has made me really focus on what is truly important in life.  It has also made me think of how many of the things I miss about a "normal" house are luxuries most people in the world will never have.  Our American culture of excess definitely is outside of reality compared to the vast majority of the world.  My "little" house would be considered a mansion to many people around the world.  I am so thankful to God for constantly bringing that to my attention.

Another thing that I am slowly learning, is how to creatively use space in order to organize and fit the possessions of a family of eleven into a smaller home that is lacking closets in most rooms.  In the next few months, I hope to improve in this area in big ways.  I also hope to tackle some of our outdoor spaces--storage shed/feed and tack house, garage (the actual garage we can use as a garage, built a year after we moved), outdoor toys and bicycles. I believe God created us to be orderly and to have order in our lives.  There is order all around us in our world that God created for us.  Of course, I have to balance this with the fact that I have nine children, including 5 boys under the age of 12 (mixed in with 2 girls under that age as well).  I hope to keep my blog posted with my progress in working on clutter in my home and in my life (schedule).  I hope it's an interesting ride.

"Simple living is about living your life with a purpose that aligns with your values.  It's about enjoying the things you love and care about and not about stressing over the things that don't matter.  It's fulfilling; it brings peace; it drips with contentment. Living simply is about being who you were meant to be."
-Tsh Oxenreider, Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

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