Image "My Friend" by Helen Thomas Robson www.capturedmiracles.org (Used by Permission)
Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism© is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Make Your Needs Your Wants, and Your Needs Few

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."  
Matthew 6:33


Is that even possible?  In 2019?  In this consumerism-obsessed, materialism-driven age of time?  Is it possible to make a complete mental transition from being obsessed with what we want to being content with the simplicity of what we actually need?  Can a person truly make their needs their wants and their needs few?

I am here to tell you that yes, it is possible and far easier than you might think.  My family and I have been in the throes of making this transition over the past few years, and we are amazed when we compare our mindset today with what it was when we began this journey.  We are learning what it means to be satisfied with what we need, and it is a beautiful thing to find that the things we want and the things we need are harmoniously one and the same. 

There is enormous freedom to be found, if you just know where to look.

1. Identify Your Greatest Need

What is it that you really need?  For the moment, let’s lay aside the necessities of food, shelter, clothing, and good health, and let’s talk about the internal part of you.  What is that one need that when left unmet throws every other part of your life out of balance?  Identifying this is of utmost importance because no matter how much stuff you accumulate, how many avenues you explore, or to what extremes you go, you will never be fully happy until you identify and fill that one, basic, greatest need.  One of the first necessary steps to uncover this is to reconnect to your childhood self.  Remember that person?  For me, it is a little brown-haired girl with pony tails, hazel-green eyes, and a heart full of hope that learned early on to rely heavily upon prayer and a connection to God that was authentic and integral.  I personally found that my most pressing need was and continues to be a spiritual one.  One of my earliest childhood memories is kneeling beside my bed to pray and finding a rare sense of comfort and deep-seated peace.  That basic, deepest need as a three-year old is still my greatest need at age 52.  So simple, yet so profound.

2. Identify Your Second Greatest Need

For me, it is to live in peace and spend as much time as possible with the ones I love.  The older I get the more I see the brevity of life and feel a deep need to make the most of every precious moment.   I find that I cannot function well when I am at odds with anyone in my inner circle, and it is important to me to keep communication lines open and do whatever it takes to make them a priority.

3. Identify Subsequent Needs

Perhaps you feel an intense longing to serve others, create, travel, explore, learn, or teach.  Think about what fulfills you and makes you feel complete and identify what is preventing you from doing these things.  Answering these questions will help you to find your true calling and purpose in the Kingdom of God.  What stands in your way of living out that calling?

As you are identifying your greatest needs, are you seeing a pattern?  Are you noticing that true needs are not “things” at all?  Authentic needs are matters of the heart, the inside of you.  As your thought process is transformed to focus on what is internal, you realize that to fill those needs you will find it necessary to eliminate much that is external. 

Just a few years ago, my family and I “owned” a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, with an oversized 2-car garage on 2 acres of land.  Our house, garage, attic, closest, cupboards, and drawers were stuffed to the brim, we were up to our eyeballs in debt, the continual upkeep and maintenance of physical possessions robbed time and energy needed to nurture our spiritual walk with Christ, and our lifestyle required my husband to keep his nose to the grindstone bound to a job he detested.  He felt a deep sense of nagging guilt over watching our only son grow up too quickly and not being able to spend enough time with him.  We didn’t need much of what we wanted, and our wants were preventing the filling of our heart needs.  Our epiphany happened when our identity was stolen, and we were forced to face the reality of all we owed and the toll we were allowing excess to take on our lives.

We sold our home, released about 90% of what we owned, became 100% debt-free, and moved to the mountains.  We switched from the fast lane to a slow-moving pace that is conducive to the nourishing of our souls, and instead of going back into debt, we made the choice to rent a small, furnished home that someone else is responsible for and owns.  Several months after our move, my husband’s job was outsourced, and he is taking time off to finish our 13-year home school journey.  There was a time we would have been devastated and lost everything we “owned” because of the unexpected job loss but making our needs our wants and our needs very few ahead of time enabled us to be able to rejoice over being set free from such bondage.  My husband is now completely involved and the hands-on father he has always wanted to be, and we are free to explore and do things together that we could never have experienced before.  This is our journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life, and we have never been happier or more free.

Life has a way of blurring the lines and injecting unwanted, uninvited distraction to the filling of our deepest needs.  It may take some hard work, intense soul-searching, and deep digging to find what your greatest needs are, but there is great wisdom in finding your true self.  It is there, probably buried under a heap of cheap substitutes, insufficient fillers, and the inadequacy of excess physical possessions.

It all comes down to what matters most and the choices you are willing to make.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Softening the Pain of Letting Go

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."  Colossians 3:15 (KJV)

First of all, I want to apologize for my lack of posting lately.  Secondly, I'd like to welcome all of the new subscribers!  I am so thankful for you and appreciate you taking the time to stop and read what the Lord lays upon my heart.

My family and I have been on another downsizing purge, and the process has been a mixture of highs and lows.  I have cried as we have pulled out crates that haven't been opened in a long time and memories of what used to be have spilled out along with the contents of the crates.  Whew!  No one could ever prepare you for the side of parenting that involves coming to a point of being able to embrace the reality that your child(ren) is/are no longer little.  The thing that is finally sinking into me is that keeping our son, Zachary's younger clothes will not magically take us back to those childhood days.  Clinging to every homeschool workbook will not offer a bridge to step back in time and relive those moments side by side, studying, teaching, and learning together.  I have cherished every single moment of this journey, and I will forever be grateful to God for allowing it to happen, but keeping the physical items that remind me of those long days that turned into such short years will never take us back.  We have to live life moving forward.  As hard as it is, we have to let the past go, and a big part of that is the release of stuff we have accumulated along the way.  Stuff becomes heavy.  It weighs us down.  It causes us to worry.  It takes us space, and far too often, it can make us sad.

As I sorted through some things yesterday, the inward struggle was real.  Long-buried feelings and emotions steadily rose to the surface, as I felt a sense of loss over the speed at which Zach has grown up.  How did we get here so quickly?  Where did the time go?  I don't feel ready for him to already be 18, but here we are, ready or not.  I look at our dear boy, and it seems like only yesterday that we were praying for God to send us a baby of our own.  After many years of infertility struggles and 12 1/2 years of marriage, He finally answered those earnest, Hannah-like prayers and gave us the deep desire of our hearts.  I still remember the overwhelming feeling of love and devotion I felt that first moment they placed him in my arms.  It feels like such a short time ago.

As I wrestled with such deep, raw emotions, I took out the little camera I carry in my purse, and I began to take pictures of the things I decided to give up.  As I snapped away, an epiphany that many of you have probably long ago experienced suddenly became crystal clear to me.  Sometimes the most basic wisdom can be so overlooked when it is right under my nose! In case anyone else is struggling, I wanted to share the comfort I found.

1.  Pictures stored on digital cameras or an electronic device take up no additional physical space.  The little camera is no more cumbersome than it was before I snapped those photos.  It still fits neatly in the side pocket of the inside of my purse.  Keeping all of those memory-packed crates, on the other hand, takes up a lot of space.  For some reason, I find an enormous sense of satisfaction in looking into the white space of an empty crate.

2.  Seeing is as good as feeling.  Looking at an item can bring the same amount of joy as being able to physically touch it.  I can take out the little camera anytime I choose, and I can look at the things that have meant so much to me through the years.  Seeing them on a camera screen evokes the same emotions as taking them out of a heavy-laden crate every two or three years and holding them in my hands.

3.  Someone else can make use of the things I insist on hoarding.  There are children who can wear the gently-used clothing that I so carefully stowed away all those years ago.  Christian homeschool curriculum that I have clung to so tightly can come alive again in the hands of another homeschool mama and mold the mind of her learning child.

4.  The lighter feeling I have after letting go is worth the pain.  Lugging this stuff around is cumbersome.  I may shed tears while dropping it, item by item, into a cardboard box headed for Goodwill, but once its gone, I seldom think of it again.  Instead of mourning it, I almost always feel a sense of relief to know that I have less stuff to be concerned about.

5.  In the midst of all of this, it is okay to keep the things that mean the most.  I am holding onto certain things simply because they are comforting and dear to my heart.  Sometimes, it comes down to the simple act of making a choice.  Instead of keeping every single childhood toy, I am choosing to keep a few small ones that hold the strongest and happiest memories.

My dear husband always tells me to do the thing that brings me peace.  I am learning the depth of wisdom in that.  The verse I chose for this devotional is Colossians 3:15.  It gives two basic instructions.  1.  Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.  2.  Be thankful.  I am finding that it brings more peace to let certain things go, and I am deeply thankful for the memories attached to those things.  Giving them away will not remove their memory, and the peace that comes from not having to deal with their weightiness is worth the pain of letting go.

Are you on a minimizing journey?  What are some of the things you are doing to soften the pain of letting go?  I'd love to read your ideas and suggestions!  Please take a moment to leave a comment below before you leave!

God bless you on your journey!

Friday, January 18, 2019

January ~ A Perfect Time To Minimize, Declutter, Organize, and Give!

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."  Isaiah 43:19


I love the month of January each year. There is just something about that clock striking midnight on New Year's Eve that feels like a reset button has been activated. Everything feels so new, untainted, and like we've all been handed a brand-new start. So, now that we are several days into the month of January, the Christmas decorations are put away, and the dust of party and celebration aftermath has settled, what could be a more perfect time to begin the clearing out of what we no longer need, use, or want?

Though my family and I have released about 95% of our physical possessions, and our minimizing journey has been going on for a few years now, from time to time we feel the need to start at the beginning again and assess the things we currently own. Especially right after Christmas. It is amazing how much stuff can sneak back in and begin accumulating without our notice.

So, in this month of new beginnings here are a few things that I hope will prove to be helpful reminders and suggestions as you begin or continue your own minimizing/decluttering/organizing journey.

1. Imagine you are making a long-distance move in 2019. If you were moving everything you own from Florida to New York, and if everything you were taking had to fit into one moving truck, what would you categorize important enough to squeeze in? Now, even if you are not making that long-distance move, go get started, and de-clutter as if you were!

2. Approach the new year with new eyes. It is amazing how something I felt I couldn't live without just six months ago now seems less important or even insignificant to me. Sometimes, just letting something sit for a while, then revisiting it a few months later creates a whole new perspective. I find this is true when it comes to birthday and Christmas cards we receive. It seems inconsiderate and ungrateful to discard them immediately, but if we enjoy them and reread them for a few months, I feel more at peace in letting them go.

Children are continually outgrowing clothing, homeschool and art supplies, shoes, and toys. January is a great month to reassess their current needs and wants in light of Christmas gifts received and the things that currently fill up their space. What no longer fits? What do they no longer play with? Could other children benefit from the gently-used things they no longer need, use, or want?

3. Don't try to tackle it all at once. Break it down into one drawer, one closet, one cupboard, one shelf, one section at a time. Anything else becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. Doing it a little at a time makes it seem more achievable, boosts productivity, and being able to see the smallest amount of progress is inspiring and encouraging.

4. While decluttering, minimizing, and organizing, keep sets and like-minded items together. Having them all in one place really gives a visual of the number of that item in your possession and allows you to identify areas of over-abundance and excess. After every, single like-minded item is in one place, create three piles. Label them as "needs", "wants", and "keeping only because of guilt". Honestly evaluate and differentiate between the three. Keep the "needs" pile. Analyze the "wants" pile, keeping only what you really love and the things that make you smile. Get rid of the "keeping only because of guilt" pile—the sooner the better.

5. For storage of the things you decide to keep, use up every available permanent, pre-made space, especially what is hidden & out of sight. If there is already an empty drawer, closet, shelf, or cupboard in place, make good use of it. Instead of rushing out to buy the latest organizing tote, crate, rack, or gadget, ask yourself if there is an already-existent area of space in your home that could be used instead. It is already there, taking up a certain amount of space. Sometimes, adding another organizational assistant ends up just creating more clutter and taking up more space. Using what you already have is frugal, efficient, practical, and extremely gratifying.

6. The parts of our minimizing journey that have been the most gratifying and blessed us most are the times we have been able to give something that is still useful to someone else and know that it fulfilled one of their needs. As you sort through the things you plan to dispose of, mindfully and thoughtfully throw out the things you wouldn't consider good enough to purchase today at a thrift store. Chances are, if they aren't something you would want to purchase, they aren't something anyone else would want to receive. Then of those things that remain, give respectfully and freely. Not that we should give in hopes of return blessings, but the laws of giving and receiving are firmly established in God's Word.

Jesus said, "...freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8

"I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Luke 6:38

"But whoso hath this world's good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" I John 3:17

"He answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Luke 3:11

"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Joshua 1:8

God bless each of you dear readers on your minimizing journey, make your way prosperous, and give you good success in 2019!

Happy New Year!