Answering the Objections to Minimalism ~ Part 2


This post is a continuation of my previous post, I would encourage you to read that one first if you have not. In my last post, I shared three objections to minimalism and I will be sharing three more today.

4) My ________ doesn’t feel the same way about minimalism that I do. You fill in the blank: husband, wife, mother, etc. If you live with other people the likelihood is that either they won’t embrace minimalism at all or that you will have differing opinions of what minimalism means. You cannot force your viewpoint on another. Trying to do so will likely bring resentment from defensive posturing. Understand that although you can’t get rid of someone else’s things, you are still in control of your own belongings. Start there. There are things that are strictly yours: clothes, shoes, papers, books, etc. Begin there. Talk to your family about your thoughts, but don’t nag. Nagging never brings about positive change. Often what happens is when you begin to purge and visible change is seen, this inspires others to join you on the journey. Understand too, if your family does embrace minimalism, it may not be with the same passion that you do. Some charge ahead and do a massive overhaul all at once; others get rid of one thing a day. It’s a journey and we should look at both extremes as a success. Just keep moving toward your goal without being judgmental.

5) I love shopping. It makes me happy. What will I do now? The first time I went out for some “me” time after deciding to go the minimalism route I found myself saying, “Now what do  I do?” Yes, that’s an embarrassingly true story. I was very much into the benefits of retail therapy. I wasn’t in the habit of buying things that were expensive; we have been debt free for years. But, buying that little something – a trinket here, a knick knack there – gave me a happy feeling. But, happiness is not found in a pill, bottle or a department store. It is found in loving God, loving others and loving yourself. So, what did I do? I took my Bible, found a secluded spot and read. I went out to get a salad and spent time planning. And when I came home, I felt so much better than I ever did when I went for a retail therapy run. There was soul contentment. My “me time” was quiet and allowed me to recharge. It wasn’t crowded with images and consumerism. It didn’t send me the message that my wardrobe was outdated, or that my house wasn’t a poster child for a decorating magazine. So what can you do instead of shopping? Here are just a few ideas. Go to a park or lake, and pray, read, or eat a picnic lunch. Go out and treat yourself to your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant and plan and dream about what you want to do the next week, month or year. If you recharge better with friends, take them along and really engage in their lives. Turn off the electronic devices and put others first. Go ice skating, swimming, hiking or running. Pick up a pen or pencil and start writing. Take an art or music class. I think you get the idea. Do something to enrich your life and then the lives of others. The things we buy get old and we need the next “fix” to feel better. Investing in people never gets old.

6) I don’t even know where to begin. It’s all just too overwhelming. This one was the hardest one for me. Being in recovery still from my type A personality, it was hard to see a way out. We perfectionists have a problem with long range projects like this because sometimes decluttering can be a downer if you look at the piles instead of keeping yourself focused on the end state. Pulling things out, trying to decide what to keep, throw away or donate means that initially all it looks like for a while is chaos. Our family has moved often, so having all those piles reminds me of the disarray my house gets in during a move. I will share with you later the baby steps I am taking in this journey, but for now, the best advice I can give you is just start somewhere, even if it’s one junk drawer. Starting is the beginning of your success toward minimalism. So even though the piles may seem insurmountable – don’t tackle them all at once. Wars are won one battle at a time. Pick a small battle. Find one area that bothers you the most and begin there. Remember baby steps are better than no steps. Minimalism begins by getting rid of that first item. And you may just be surprised how exhilarating it is.

Answering the Objections to Minimalism ~ Part 1

Flowers in the field behind our home
Flowers in the field behind our home

Labeling myself a minimalist means I have decided to go against the tide of the current culture. Rarely do I find minimalism promoted, and those that do are by far a small minority. There are as many reasons people turn to minimalism as there are personalities. So to say that my objections to minimialism are comprehensive would be presumptuous on my part. But I do feel there are common objections that many of us face when we decide to shed our excess stuff. Here are a few that I had to overcome.

1. I may need or want these things later. Whether it be the clothes I hope to fit back into or the kitchen gadgets I’m keeping to try out that lovely new recipe, the fear of missing or needing something I once had was a real hurdle to decluttering. The truth is, that even though I am at the front end of my minimalist journey, I have not needed nor have I wanted anything that has exited my home. I may remember an item fondly, but rarely does that happen. The truth is that excess stuff is just that – excess. It isn’t something that adds any value to my everyday life. On the contrary, my life has been immensely blessed by shedding those things I don’t need.

2. I don’t know anyone else personally that is doing this. People will think I’m strange. This can be a tough one. Some of us will struggle with this more than others. The desire for acceptance is huge. Most people don’t get their joy out of feeling rejected. That is where faith in God takes over. If I am acceptable in His sight, the naysayers just won’t matter. It can be especially hard not knowing anyone personally to walk this road with you. Accountability is a huge motivator. That is one of the reasons I chose to blog about my journey. Putting it down in words keeps me honest. Writing about it drives me more. It is becoming who I am more and more each day. Don’t be afraid to be different. Successful people tend to be the ones who swim upstream, who go against the tide, those who aren’t afraid to follow their dreams regardless of what society says. Be free to choose the path that makes you happy. I think we all know more stuff does not equal more happiness.

3. I will offend people who have given me things. I’m sure we all have gifts given to us by friends and family. Some are family heirlooms. What do we do about these?There are questions to ask yourself before you get rid of these items, but that is another blog post for another day. Understand that choosing to give away or sell an item that has been given to you is not a betrayal of the person you love. What is precious is the time you spend with that person, or if they are no longer with you, then it’s their memory you cherish. If you are holding on to Grandma’s china because giving it away would feel like you’ve lost her, then that is the wrong motivation. If, however, you use that china often and every time you do, it brings you joy, then by all means, keep it. Hanging on to items out of guilt is wrong. Freeing ourselves of excess stuff should also motivate us to free ourselves from the harmful emotions that often accompany them. Let go – even if it’s one small item a day. Don’t begin with the hard things. Start small and easy and before long you will develop a minimalist mindset that will enable you to tackle the items of sentimental value. Either way, don’t let those hard to get rid of items keep you from minimalism. Remember, even if you decide to hold on to those heirlooms in the the end, the ridding yourself of other unwanted items will still free you to spend time focusing on what’s important rather than taking care of all the things that aren’t. Live the life you want, not the one spent caring for objects that have no eternal value.

My Journey to Minimalism


It is hard to say when my journey toward minimalism actually began. It has been coming on gradually for months now, so I can’t pinpoint one moment or epiphany that brought me to the place where I want so much less than what I have. I am sure there are several factors that have played a huge part in this transformation. With my health being up and down at times, having so many things to take care of becomes a real burden. I don’t have the time or energy anymore to take hours out of my day to rework the garage, or come up with the best organizational tools to keep things from looking cluttered. I am finding that the less you have, the less you need to spend organizing and storing things. Another huge factor was realizing the drain of materialism on our society. I guess I never realized how much it had affected me. By our culture’s standards, one would say we are a normal middle-class family. We don’t have lots of money to waste on things. We have five children that are being homeschooled and we live totally on my husband’s income. So, there never were these huge buying sprees.  I figured because of that I must be doing all right. When one looks at the Joneses over there, we seem pretty good. After all, we don’t go out to eat much. We don’t buy expensive gadgets. We drive our cars until they die on us. We don’t have cable. We only have one TV. You get the picture. But the truth is, I did have those days where retail therapy was my salvation. Can anyone out there relate? You know those days that look like Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good day. So, off I would go for some local retail therapy and it would make me feel better. I never would have huge spending sprees. I rarely buy things that aren’t on sale. But when you go to Hobby Lobby for the umpteenth time to buy those lovely 12 x 12 scrapbook papers that are on sale that you hope to use that elusive day in the future when you have enough of something called time…well, there’s only so many papers you need when you don’t even scrapbook regularly.  So, 200 and some lovely scrapbook papers later, they sit in a special holder I bought (because of course they had to look pretty and be organized) just staring at me, reminding me that the elusive scrapbook days, months, years never have come. They are a thorn in my side because they say “waste of time and money” every time I see them. They clutter up an already cluttered small craft desk that can’t be used for crafting because it would have to be cleaned off first, and by that time, I wouldn’t have time to craft! I think you get the vicious cycle! So, needless to say, I have begun my journey of minimalism. I am tired of the somedays that don’t come. I am tired of the moving piles from one place to another and spending so much time storing and organizing that very little living gets done. It is time to tackle the clutter and taste the freedom that comes from owning less stuff. I want to own my stuff, not have it own me. I want to spend time on those horrible, terrible, no-good days seeking joy from the only source it can truly come from and last ~ God. I want to have take my children out for ice cream and look intently in their eyes and drink in the beauty of each moment. I want to come into my home and see only things that are loved and useful. I want to spend less and give more. This is my journey. One that will take time and patience, but one that will change my life. And maybe, just maybe, along the way, I can encourage someone else to come along with me on this journey.

Until next time, Mrs. Minimalist

Miss Sweetness had a Birthday!


Miss Sweetness turned nine last month! It is hard to believe that my youngest daughter is nine years old already. I remember when my oldest was nine and she was just born! My how time truly does fly. Soak up those moments with your young ones Mamas. They go so very quickly. I now have an eighteen year old who will be graduating in three months and it seems like only yesterday that she turned nine. We have such a short time to raise our children for the Lord. Never, ever lose sight of the goal.

Now, back to Miss Sweetness’s birthday…as you can probably tell, she has a thing for Hello Kitty. I had her help me in the kitchen on her birthday and told her to go get something out of the pantry. Inside was this sweet Hello Kitty and some stickers. How precious her face was! She also got a Friends Lego set that was a collaboration from money from her grandparents and us. She loved her birthday, especially the cake and ice cream! Pictured with her are her siblings. The boy in the Angry Bird shirt is her 10 year old brother, Mr. Chef, my oldest daughter, Miss Encourager, who is eighteen, my oldest son, Mr. Deep Thinker, who is fourteen and my middle daughter, Miss Loyal, who is eleven. And if there wasn’t enough reason for my children to love birthdays, I instituted a new rule that birthdays are officially school holidays! One of the many benefits of homeschooling!

Things I Have Learned Part 2

Our fireplace

This post is an extension from the previous post.

3) People will hurt and disappoint you; forgive them anyway.  This one is biggie! We all know what it’s like to be hurt by someone, and many times that hurt comes from the ones that are closest to us.  The truth is, that is the reason we are so hurt. It is much easier to forgive an offense from someone who we have no vested interest. But, when it’s from someone who matters most to us, the pain runs deep and forgiveness seems monumental at times. For some people who come in and out of your life at different seasons, it is much more doable. But what about those you are in close contact with, like family members? The wound has a way of staying open and fresh when we see those that have hurt us over and over. One thing that has helped me is to remember my fight is not with them, but rather the spirit behind that person. The Bible says,”For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We all make choices as to what spirit we listen to and submit. We can do what is right, or choose what is wrong. We hope it is the Holy Spirit we are listening to, but the truth is we all fail. Remember that when people hurt you, because you have hurt others too, intentionally or non-intentionally. Remember too that bitterness and an unforgiving spirit hurts you more than the other person, and it gives them control over you. Release them. Life is too short to hang on to an unforgiving  spirit.

4) Forgive and forget is not even realistic. You do NOT have to forget the painful memory to forgive it. Do you think Christ forgot about the cross? Yet, He forgave. There may be times the memory comes back to you. The way you know if you have forgiven is by taking stock of how you feel when you do remember. Do you run the scene over and over in your mind? Do you dwell on all the negativity and think of things you wish you had said or done to that person? Do you have a high-octane ping that goes off in the pit of your stomach? Or are you thankful that you’ve released the pain and bitterness? Can you see how you have grown? Can you still wish the best for that person? You will fall on one of those two sides and that is how you tell if you’ve truly forgiven.

I can’t say enough about the importance of forgiveness. Bitterness causes so much pain. It even affects our physical bodies. Think of the people that you know who consistently hold on to bitterness. They are unhappy. They spread their negativity and bitterness to others. Many times they have health problems because God never intended for us to go around stewing over past wrongs done to us. He is our example. Remember, if He can forgive you and me for all we have done, we have no excuse for holding on to wrongs others have done to us. So, release your bitterness to the Lord!  Blessings!

Things I Have Learned Part 1

A view atop a hill in our town
A view atop a hill in our town

If you had told me 20 some years after marriage, thirteen years of homeschooling and five children later that I would feel like I could sum my life up in one word…tired…I would never have believed you. I know there is no such thing as perfection on earth, but I felt like I had gotten as close as was humanly possible. I got everything I wanted: a great husband, a house full of children and the ability to stay home and build relationships with them every single day. What more could I want or need? But, years later, with two deployments behind us, unexpected health problems, a multiplicity of moves, a death of a father, a dark time with another family member, and a feeling that somewhere along the way I had lost who I was, I pretty much feel my life can be summed up in that one word…tired. Some of that would have to be explained through health issues and the fact that I am not as young as I used to be. If there is one thing that reaching the half century mark has done for me, it is to take a close examination of my life and decide what I really want the rest of my life to look like. When I die, will I be able to stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?” The truth is, statistically, I have lived longer than I have left to live. But the gray hairs I now embrace on my head didn’t get there without some wisdom along the way. That is why this blog is called “A Purposeful Life.” I want to make sure there is purpose to every day I am granted on this earth. I am taking hold of the idea of simplicity and desiring minimalism in every area of my life. I am only starting this road, but I can tell you, every little thing I shed, brings me a little closer to breathing a little easier and feeling a little lighter. So, here are some random thoughts that will 1) explain a little about my philosophy of life right now, and 2) hopefully impart some wisdom from someone who has walked this road before you.

1) Never lose who you are or what you love. I have never, nor do I ever expect to, regret being a stay-at-home Mom and teaching my children at home. However, somewhere along the way, I found myself so totally wrapped up in everything involving my children that I forgot who I was. I remember not too long ago looking at my husband and telling him I felt as though I lost my identity. Before I got married, I loved to sing, play the piano, scrapbook, read, write, make cards, etc. Over the years, every one of those things were replaced with teaching, chauffeuring, nursing, counseling, cooking, cleaning, you get the idea. Now, I know what some of you are thinking. But, it is a mother’s job and duty to give herself up for her children. Yes, that is definitely true, but not to the point that she forgets who she is and everything she used to enjoy doing. I have found also that a creative mother, not a tired one inspires her children. It is hard to inspire others when your own creativity is lost. I found that I couldn’t even go shopping for myself because I would always end up getting something for the family. I didn’t go out to eat with a friend without talking about my children constantly. I didn’t know anything else to talk about because my identity was totally wrapped up in them. Not too long ago, I went to a holistic Christian doctor in the area. He diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue. If you’re not familiar with that, it just means I got sick because I didn’t know my limits and how to take care of myself. His statement was that the sickest people he sees are homeschool Moms. I don’t think we have a problem ladies of giving up ourselves for our children, I think the problem is that we are not good at giving things back to ourselves. Which brings me to my second insight…

2) God does give us things we can’t handle. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “The Lord never gives us more than we can handle,” I’d be rich. The Lord definitely gives us more than we can handle, what He doesn’t give us is more than He can handle. The problem is that as Moms, we feel we need to control everything. We see a problem and we run to our computers and research the best ways to handle this sickness, those finances, moves, etc. and the list goes on and on. We run to the experts first and then when we figure out those experts don’t really know everything,and then we throw up a desperation prayer to God for wisdom. I look back over my life and wonder how many things would be different and would not have caused me such angst in my life if I had spent the hours I spent researching in prayer instead. Every single difficulty in life is another opportunity to put your trust in the One who has all the answers. Giving things to God means not becoming anxious over them, but trusting them to a Father who has our best interest in mind.

So Moms, until next time, spend time in prayer and doing at least one thing this week that brings you joy!