We’re Simplifying Life in 2016. We’re eliminating things that serve no purpose, take up space and don’t speak to our souls. We’re eliminating material things in order to make room for beautiful, purposeful living. Sometimes that will look like spending less. Other times it will look like getting rid of material things. Still yet, it will take on some hard decisions that will lead to creating more physical space, a clean living environment with a focus on creation care, healthy bodies and mindful hearts focused even more on faith and increasing our ability to give away what we don’t need to someone who does. Our goal is that Simplifying Life will lend itself to less dependence on earthly goods and more dependence on Jesus, all while living even more in community with others.
The 5 W’s:
What? Simplifying Life by: purging the house of excess material goods, buckling down on the budget, committing to a mostly whole foods diet(while realizing that there is little wrong with enjoying birthday cake, going out for ice cream, a splurge here and there as long as unhealthy food isn’t a habit), choosing to live with less, learning to say no, recognizing impulse buys, increasing knowledge in financial goals, gardening smarter, spending time and money on people and experiences, growing in our faith and spiritual disciplines, choosing healthy habits, considering what we truly need to live successfully and meaningfully.
Where? The Smallwood Parsonage
Who? The Smallwoods and anyone who wants to join us.
When? Heavy on the front end of 2016 and habit forming on the back end of 2016.
Why? This is the big question.
- Because we want to save more and spend less;
- Because we want to decrease our carbon footprint;
- Because we want to make more memories and
- Have less items.
- Because we want to be good stewards of what we have
- Because we want to spend our time with each other instead of spending time cleaning, doing laundry, cleaning, doing laundry, fixing things, cleaning….you get it;
- Because we want to use our time and money more wisely;
- Because we no longer want to be burdened by a houseful of items we don’t use when it could be used by someone who needs it;
- Because we want to make healthy lifestyle choices;
- Because we want to stand against child labor and unfair labor practices;
- Because Mom has had enough of clutter;
- Because Dad has had enough of clutter;
- Because we want to practice the discipline of simplicity;
- Because we value people over items;
- Because we want to experience freedom from material desires.
- Because we want a clean living environment. CLE meaning: healthy bodies, open living space (not every inch of a home has to be filled), using natural products, lessening plastics, increasing recycling,
- Because we want to spend money on things that matter, not things that will be thrown away in six months;
The Simplifying Life idea has been in our minds and on our hearts for a long time. For years, it seems, getting rid of unnecessary items has been something we’ve done, yet we’ve never understood why it seemed like we still needed to get rid of more and more items. Until this year. This year the desire for Simplifying Life has increased dramatically, enough that now we are willing and therefore choosing to make some drastic changes about how we live day to day. That’s the difference. Before it was just an idea, something we wanted to do but couldn’t really take hold of it and own it. Now we own it. Now we can make progress. Now we understand why we want to live a more simplified life. We want life to be as full as it can be and too often material things simply get in the way, if not literally, then figuratively. Keeping up with the Joneses is an easy temptation to fall into-a temptation we don’t want to battle.
To be clear, simplified doesn’t mean bare walls and bland food. It doesn’t mean a quiet, keep to ourselves kind of life. It also doesn’t mean a rigid, disciplined to the point of inflexibility existence. In fact, it means just the opposite. It means our walls are decorated with pieces of art that speak to us, that were handcrafted by us and those we love-full bodied, colorful works of art that have meaning and memories behind them that come into our home with love. It means the food we eat was grown by us or, as much as is possible, sourced locally and is rich in nutrients and flavor, full of color and appeal. It means our home is full of friends and conversation, of gift-giving and story sharing, of laughter and tomorrow’s memories. It means that meals and drinks are shared around the table as kids are running in and out of the continually opened front door. Instead of rigid inflexibility we live in freedom. It means our calendar and our money no longer define us.
Now the big How…..How will we do this? What does this look like?
- Household Purge #1: rid the house of unneeded, unwanted, unused material possessions. We can’t give a solid percent or number of items that we will get rid of because it’s hard to tell exactly what percentage we will end up getting rid of. We didn’t count our items before starting, and to have an exact percentage we would need to count every single item we have. Instead of percentigizing how much we are getting rid of, though, it’s more an exercise in asking the hard questions: What do we use daily? What clothes would we buy if we shopped today? If a certain item broke would we need to replace it today? What could we put aside for 6 months and not miss it? What about family memorabilia? What about family heirlooms? What things are vital to our health or causing an unhealthy habit to form? We entertain a lot—what do we need to keep for that purpose?
- ACL: Ask questions, communicate with each other, Learn from those who are already doing what we want to do.
- Goal setting: What are our personal and familial goals for 2016? Jeremy asked us this question on New Year’s Eve and we shared together our personal goals. Accountability and mutual support are precious things.
- Read, read, read: We have spent a good amount of time reading articles online about minimalism, simplifying, organizing. The difference between wanting and doing is learning.
- Revisit the budget: Make changes as necessary. Or if necessary—start a budget now.
- Consider who and what we want to be and begin living as if we were already that person with those goals. (i.e. if we want to be healthy physically, it does no good talking about it, we must exercise and make healthy food choices as if we were already physically healthy)
- Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize: Is giving a priority? What about certain activities to accomplish this year? Financial goals? Family time? Prayer and Bible reading time? How about Volunteerism? All of those things are things that, if not intentionally focused on could easily be pushed to the back “until tomorrow”.
- Consider our schedule: This is a good time to step back, look at our calendars with fresh eyes and ask some hard questions about how we spend our time. It might be a chance to learn to say no, to stop doing activities that overschedule and overstress ourselves and our families.
- Make a list of places we can send our unwanted items that isn’t the dumpster.
- Increase our spiritual life: seek out a mentor or prayer partner, begin daily devotionals, spend more time in prayer, increase ministry involvement, take a spiritual gifts test, read and study more, spend more time in Scripture.
- Consider our passions: What really makes our hearts full? We need to make sure we’re spending time doing those very things.
- Choose the Best: What I mean is this: Sometimes we have the choice between multiple good things. Doing any one of them are not bad or wrong. We need to ask ourselves which one is the best choice. That’s what we need to go with.
- Celebrate!: We celebrate everything….good grades, birthdays, holidays, hard work, each other.
Where we are so far:
- October 2015: both Jeremy and I knew that it was time to get physically healthy (meaning eat better, exercise more). When you know you know.
- November 2015: We had an experience that made us (but mostly me) realize I was putting my time and energy and our family finances in the not-best place. It wasn’t anything bad or wrong, but wasn’t the best choice for me or our family resources.
- After Christmas Purge 2015: We began with easy things like closets and clothes, toys and linens and extra dishes, books, games, craft supplies. What we don’t use or no longer serves us went bye-bye. We moved onto bedrooms, living spaces and the kitchen. The kitchen has been my hardest yet….because we cook most meals at home, entertain often and make from scratch our kitchen is full and used often. This room will probably look a lot different than most minimalists would agree with. (I’m not quite done with the kitchen…admittedly this is the hardest room for me…I have a love interest in dishes and all things kitchen….sniffle sniffle). Lastly, we are considering furniture pieces that no longer serve in the physical space they have take up. For example: Anna had a desk in her bedroom, that when we went through it, we realized she didn’t use for anything other than storing things she didn’t need or want anymore-what she did want to keep was reorganized on her new bookshelf or in a different spot. The desk is going away to make room for reading chair that she really wants. Some furniture has been re-purposed. A small end table on it’s way out replaced a large sofa table that I didn’t like and another small white end table replaced a larger black one Anna had beside her bed.
We feel a sense of calling to this lifestyle and almost an urgency to begin living it. We realize this is a process and not always easy, but we believe God desires for us to have healthy bodies and to give to others as there is need. It is a goal of ours, via our ministry and this blog, that we can show how a simple life can be a beautifully lived life full of purpose and satisfaction no matter what budget, size house, or income a family makes.
Praying God’s best for you and us in 2016!