"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." I Timothy 6:6 (KJV)Are you starting to feel the slightest nip of autumn in the air where you live? Oh, I do love the fall of the year! As I type this, I am looking out our kitchen window at the plethora of trees on the mountainside directly behind our townhouse. The leaves are rustling, and even though they have not yet begun to change colors or fall, and even though I am inside with the air conditioning running, I still sense a slight "change in the air." Our days are still very warm, but at night ~ well, I sometimes go out on our balcony, and the air is just a slight bit cooler. I am SO looking forward to the ushering in of my favorite season of all. The other day, my sweet husband said to me, "We're getting ready to go into your favorite time of the year." He was referring to that wonderful span of time that begins with my birthday (yesterday!) to his birthday on February 3rd, with Zach's birthday (the day after Christmas) and Thanksgiving and Christmas tucked right there in between!
Hope you enjoy it!
I don't know about you, but I get highly motivated and inspired to declutter, minimize, and downsize at this time of year. I've always heard about "spring cleaning," but I declare, "fall cleaning" comes more naturally to me. I just get a hankering to "shed" as the world around me "sheds" and breaks forth into such vibrant, beautiful colors. I sense a fresh, new zest for life and want to clear out to make way for the new!
It's a lot easier to accomplish these tasks than it was a few years ago. The less you have, the less you have to worry about, and I love our new way of living with few possessions! As you probably know, if you've read this blog or Homespun Devotions for very long, my little family and I have been on a minimizing mission since 2015 - even before that. By God's grace, we have made tremendous progress, and our lives today hardly resemble our pre-minimized lives at all. We are so much happier, lighter, and less stressed. By God's grace, we have maintained our minimized state and have never allowed stuff to creep back into our home and lives, and we remain 100% debt-free. I say all of this NOT to boast - believe me, this was ALL God - we never thought it could happen. I say this to encourage you today that there is an abundant life Jesus wills for each of us to live, and He came so we could find and live out that level of life. "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10
Jesus came to make a way for us to live that abundant life, but He leaves the choice in the hands of our free will. We have to take the necessary steps to reach that abundant life - He is a Gentleman and will not force it on any of us.
If you would like to read more about our story, please consider ordering our new book by clicking HERE, and if you are feeling "a change in the air" and wanting to get started on or resume a past minimizing journey, here are some tips to help motivate you as we prepare for the refreshing coolness of autumn. A great place to start is in your kitchen.
1. Get your transport containers ready first. Whether it be cardboard boxes, crates, or something else, set them up in a convenient spot and label them, "Donate," "Sell," and "Put Away." As a fourth container, have a garbage can handy to immediately dispose of trash items. The "Put Away" box is for any misplaced items you find that you still want to keep but need to be moved to another area of your home. The "Donate" box is to be given away, and we have found it helpful to put our "Sell" box in a location out of sight until we can figure out where to sell the items in the box. The methods we have used most often are eBay and Letgo, but there are many other options including having a fall yard sale, utilizing facebook marketplace, or setting up a table at a local flea market.
2. Start with a kitchen drawer. Yes, just one. Take everything out and assess every, single item. Do you have more than one? Do you need more than one? Do you even use, want, or need the one? Try to put less back in the drawer than you took out. Move on to the next kitchen drawer, and the next, until all drawers are completely decluttered. Breaking it down into one drawer at a time makes the job doable, gives you a quick sense of accomplishment, and inspires you to move on to bigger areas.
3. Next, tackle one kitchen cabinet. Perhaps, you will want to do just one per day, or if you have time, you can do more. Ask the same questions - do I really use this anymore? Do I even like this? Am I only keeping it because it was gifted to me? Here is the cardinal rule: If you find that the answers are no, then you'll see it is time to let go.
4. Assess your countertops. Do they looked cluttered? Do you frequently use everything that is taking up countertop space? Could something be moved inside an empty, out-of-sight cupboard to create a more clean, organized look? Is there anything that needs to be dealt with, i.e., bills, papers, etc.? Deal with what needs dealt with, and clear away any unnecessary clutter. For example, we leave our stand mixer on our countertop at all times because it is too heavy for me to lift in and out, and I use it several times a week. However, we store our toaster in a lower cupboard because it is light and easy for me to take in and out, and we don't use it nearly as often. Arrange your kitchen in a way that is most convenient, user-friendly, and streamlined to your needs and wants. There is no hard and fast rule about what a minimized kitchen should look like, but a universal thread in every minimalist's kitchen is that the unused, unwanted, and unnecessary have been removed, and what remains is neatly arranged, well-placed, and organized.
5. Keep eating area clear at all times. This way, when meal time comes, all you have to do is set the table. If there is anything cluttering your table that discourages you from sitting down to eat a peaceful meal, remove it and find another suitable place for it. Keep on the table only what will not create extra work for you before meals and only what is necessary. For example, we do not have a formal dining room; our eating area consists of a small eat-in kitchen table with four chairs. There are only three of us, so we keep our daily medications and vitamins inside a primitive wooden box situated on a pretty doily on the 4th side of the table where no one sits, and we keep the other three places cleared off, clean, and ready to place our plates at mealtimes. Again, do what works for you, but keep it minimal and uncluttered.
6. Analyze your pantry. Check each item's expiration date. If anything is past using, throw it away. Are there things left that you know you and your family will never eat? Donate unopened, unwanted items to a local family, food pantry, or homeless shelter. Make meal plans based on what you have on hand, and make a list of frequently used items that need to be replenished.
7. Clean out your freezer and refrigerator following the same suggestions as you used for your pantry. While items are removed, take this opportunity to clean shelves, doors, sides, and drawers with a warm, soapy rag. You will feel so much better after you do!
8. Wipe down any accummulated cobwebs, the top of your refrigerator and stove hood, inside your microwave, and any other areas that may not get more regular attention.
And, there you have it! Your kitchen will be completely decluttered, cleaned, and refreshed for fall in just a few, doable steps. One step at a time breaks it all down into bite-size pieces and makes it less overwhelming.
I wanted to also give you an update on my intermittent fasting weight loss endeavors. I am thankful to say, that by God's grace and help, I am still going strong! Since July 25th, I have made it a point to fast from food for 16 hours each day. This daily discipline has evolved into a habit and a part of my lifestyle. I have not weighed, nor will I, until I see and feel a marked difference. I am feeling just a tiny bit lighter, and I am noticing the smallest change in the way my clothes fit, so hopefully, this is working. While I wish I could find a wonder pill that would melt the pounds overnight, I realize this excess weight has built up over a period of several years, so I am settled in for the long haul and am not going to focus on how long this is taking.
In younger years, had I made the drastic sacrifices I am now making to lose weight, I would have seen a big difference by now, but we all know what happens as we get older. Everything slows down, and the climb gets harder all the time. So, I will give myself grace, continue to draw close to Jesus during this time of daily fasting, and I will stay the course, by His grace. Feeling a heightened sense of His presence each day during those fasting hours is worth it all to me.
I would love to hear your minimizing, decluttering, cleaning, and weight loss suggestions and stories in the comments. Please share with all of us, and may God bless each one of you on your journey!