my minimal mondays... RESOURCES

#my_minimal_mondays!

RESOURCES

This week I just thought I’d share some of the blogs and articles I’ve read that have inspired me on my journey. If you’re ready to dig in and go a little deeper and find out how other people are living this lifestyle…These blogs are full of inspiration on every level! Enjoy!

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/diderot/

http://nourishingminimalism.com/2015/05/clutter-depression-and-anxiety-a-vicious-cycle.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/9266628/Over-consumption-is-killing-off-the-worlds-most-precious-wildlife-from-tigers-to-tuna.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/21/overconsumption-environment-relationships-annie-leonard

https://hippieindisguise.com/2016/01/11/glimpses-into-our-home-atmine/

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/19/the-rise-of-mending-how-britain-learned-to-repair-clothes-again

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/joy-of-one/

https://hippieindisguise.com/2016/01/24/13-ways-to-simplify-your-wardrobe/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/causes-of-clutter-just-in-case-thinking/

http://www.theminimalists.com/jic/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/thin-closet/

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/millennials/

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/why-fewer-toys-will-actually-benefit-your-kids/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/not-free/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/minimalism-quotes/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/03/17/anger-hunger-the-thrill-of-the-hunt-whats-your-spending-trigger/?utm_campaign=Forbes&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Investing&linkId=22389285#20ba77d45ae6

https://hippieindisguise.com/2016/02/22/ecominimalism-an-interview-with-a-minimalist-robin/

Why minimalism...

[WHY] 

I get asked that question a lot. Why minimalism. Why did you start? Why do you continue? Why is it so important to you? 

For now, I was able to break it down into three reasons...

1. Jesus says so… 

It wasn't the original reason I started pursuing minimalism but one of the huge things I noticed over time was how minimalism was directly connected to my faith in the Lord. I always thought of myself as pretty minimal. I didn’t have sentimental attachment to everything and never really had a problem getting rid of stuff. But new stuff constantly made it through the door which is why I had to purge so often. And after a season of unemployment several years ago, my fear of being without, caused me to hold onto things I didn’t need. I also made a bad habit of saying yes to anything FREE just in case I needed it. I thought having more STUFF would make me feel more SECURE, but instead it made me feel overwhelmed, burdened, and more stressed than I already was. Being reminded of where I can put my trust and my hope helped me to let go of all those extras and unnecessary items. 

Matthew 6:11, 25-29

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…"

“...I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

2. the earth says so...

"Currently, 80% of the world's resources are used by a minority of the world's population (17%).” Read that again. Seriously. (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/21/overconsumption-environment-relationships-annie-leonard)

"The average American household contains more than 300,000 items." (Los Angeles Times)

"The "ecological footprint" of human activity was 50 per cent higher than the capacity of the Earth's land and oceans in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, with people living as though we have a planet and a half to sustain us. This means the Earth now needs 1.5 years to produce and replenish the natural resources consumed in just one year. Rising population and consumption means that by 2030, two planets will not be enough to meet human demand, threatening the resources including food, freshwater and a stable climate that people need to survive, the report said.” Read the rest of that article here- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/9266628/Over-consumption-is-killing-off-the-worlds-most-precious-wildlife-from-tigers-to-tuna.html

These are just a few of the staggering statistics I’ve discovered since learning about minimalism. I was ignorant of how my consumption affected every resource. @hippieindisguise has been such a huge inspiration for me on my minimal journey and was one of the first people who mentioned eco-minimal living, including the benefits of buying secondhand. This also pointed me to the “mend it movement”. Let’s fix the clothes we own rather than disposing of them and replacing them when they tear or no longer fit. I am not perfect at this and cannot claim that all my clothes are secondhand or ethically sourced but we cannot continue to use a finite resource as if it is infinite. Controlling our consumption can literally change the world. 

3. my frazzled, sleep-deprived, mom-brain says so…

This is where it started for me but it’s obviously not where it ended. I was tired and overwhelmed. My house always looked like I was losing a game of Jumanji. My kids kept telling me they were bored and my full time job was referee. They were constantly fighting over things and when I told them to clean up their reaction was the same as if I had lit them on fire. So, Much. Screaming. 

That’s when I read a blog about a mom who had taken all her kids toys away as a punishment. The plan was, that over time, they would earn their toys back. But instead, although their behavior improved, they didn’t want their toys back. Her house was clean, her kids weren’t fighting, they stopped telling her how bored they were, and their imaginative play went through the roof. 

Wait. 

Don’t my kids need these toys that encourage imaginative play in order to use their imaginations??? Turns out that ummm. NOPE. Nope they don’t. 

The more toys I got rid of, the more they played with EACH OTHER. The less clutter that surrounded them, the less they argued over who got to hold the clutter. hahaha I’ve since read lots of articles on this topic and do you know why they believe kids fight over toys when another kid has them? Studies have shown (and I’m summarizing here) that children's brains are not capable of large amounts of decision making. It’s why they say they’re bored when they’re surrounded by stuff to play with. Their brain literally cannot compute the quantity and they are unable to choose one thing because they can’t really “see” any of it. That being said, when another child is holding a toy, the decision has been made for them. Their brain can process that one item. So they want it. And the fight ensues. 

And it’s not just the kids who can’t handle the quantity. Although as adults our brain CAN process the amount of stuff surrounding us, studies have found that the more stuff we (women) own and are surrounded with, the higher cortisol levels we have. (stress hormone) There is a link between clutter and depression. Depression and anxiety. This was me. Clutter everywhere. Depressed and anxious. 

"With our 3.1% of the world’s children, U.S. consumers purchase more than 40% of the toys consumed globally. In the United States, they found we have “child-centered homes”, with the children’s belongings spilling out into living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and even parents’ bedrooms. Parents purchase more for their children, because they work more to maintain their quality of life and therefore feel guilty about not spending time with their children. Feelings of guilt (and also knowing deep down that material goods are a poor substitute for time together) add to depression and anxiety.” http://nourishingminimalism.com/2015/05/clutter-depression-and-anxiety-a-vicious-cycle.html

And the thing is, we joke that it’s normal. We tease each other about how exhausting it is and laugh about how having kids has destroyed our homes and it made me feel like there was no alternative. This was motherhood. Motherhood = total chaos. 

And it just doesn’t have to be true. Everyone told me that the transition from 2 kids to 3 was going to be the hardest. And that made sense. The hubs and I would be outnumbered. I’d have more kids than I have hands. etc. But this has truly been the easiest transition so far. The least stressful. The most enjoyable. And honestly the cleanest my house has been since we started having kids 5 years ago. haha Postpartum depression is real and hit hard with my last two. This time, there has been a quiet ease in the transition and I truly blame/thank minimalism. 

“Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we discover all the things that really do.” (Joshua Becker- Becoming Minimalist

Keziah Ember

Keziah (kez-EYE-uh) Ember…

Naming your sisters was hard enough. I never thought we’d find a name for you. Little did I know that we would not only be given a name for you, but that it would be full of so much hope and promise. You, my love, are a reminder of God’s goodness. A shot of light into the darkness that pain has brought to the path your Daddy and I have walked the past several years. 

You are our rainbow baby in so many ways.

Three years before we found out you would be joining our tiny tribe, a different pregnancy test was telling me we were about to go from four members to five. I cried. Not happy, excited tears. But tears full of fear and disbelief. I hadn’t recovered from the delivery of your sister and I held that test in my hands truly wondering if the pregnancy would kill me. 

Two short weeks later I would start bleeding and- having lost a baby to early miscarriage before, I knew what was happening. So the tears changed. No longer full of fear and disbelief but overflowing with guilt and shame. Had my anxiety and detachment caused this loss? I carried the question and regret for a while. But your sisters were a great comfort to me during that time. Watching them play and listening to them laugh and stroking their soft curls when their bodies lay heavy on my chest. I didn’t know why I had two babies on this side of heaven and two on the other, but I had to find a way to embrace that reality and raise the ones I could touch, while holding onto the memory of the littles waiting for me. And though my desire for another child hadn’t yet sprouted, my desire for a large family never dwindled and I believed with time, I might be ready to try again. 

But you see, after I had your sister I wasn’t the only one traumatized. Your Daddy had to sit and watch while my face sagged on one side and my speech slurred. While I was poked and prodded. He sat and listened to doctors argue over whether I had Bell’s Palsy or was suffering a stroke and buried frustration as they never agreed which had actually occurred. He held my hand helplessly while I hemorrhaged after her delivery and doctors and nurses crowded my bedside to try and get the bleeding to stop. He heard me scream while they treated me and had visions of raising two daughters alone. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he told me we were absolutely done having kids and that he was ready to do something permanent about it. 

Although I was nowhere near ready to entertain the thought of another pregnancy, I definitely didn’t feel ready to close the door entirely. Our family didn’t feel complete. And now I know, it’s because it wasn’t. 

We argued for a while, never really agreeing on what to do. I hoped so badly he would change his mind. We agreed not to talk about it for a while because it was only causing tension between us. And eventually my prayers changed. Instead of wishing for your Daddy to change his mind, I just prayed that one of us would. That my heart would no longer wish for another if it wasn’t what God had for our family.

Less than a year later, we were attending a worship conference together and during one of the sessions, your Daddy leaned over and whispered in my ear, “We’re going to have more kids.”

Shocked doesn’t even begin to cover the emotion I felt. Relieved. Giddy. The feelings crashed over me and I let them. I still didn’t know if, how, or when our family would grow, but to know that our desires were aligned made me feel so content. 

We talked to several doctors to get an understanding of what my repeat risk factors might be. And although no pregnancy is without risk and mine would have to be monitored very closely, no doctor would tell us that another pregnancy should be out of the question. And in April we found out you were on your way to us. By June, we knew you were a girl and I thought it would take us the full pregnancy to decide on a name for you. Instead, it was the quickest we have ever found and agreed upon a name. 

The name Keziah (kez-EYE-uh) is Hebrew, just like your sisters first names. It comes from the book of Job. She was one of the daughters that was “born after his terrible affliction”. Now, I do not pretend to understand the suffering of Job, and I am grateful that I have not experienced loss like he did, but having walked our own season of loss- from jobs, to babies, to facial paralysis and walking the road of special needs with your sister, we have hoped and prayed desperately for a season of redemption. Of beauty to replace ashes. And here you are…

We have also added an element of worship or singing to the names of each of our babes and you are no different. 

Jaryn means “to call out or sing”

Selah (say-luh) describes a time during worship to be silent- to pause and reflect. 

Keziah means “a sweet spice”. This definitely has a less obvious connection to singing or worship. Oh. But it’s there. In 2 Chronicles 13:11 it says, “They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices…” In the Old Testament, these offerings were an act of worship. 

Your Daddy and I pray daily that your life would be an offering of worship to the Lord and that he would use you in mighty ways. 

Keziah is also believed to be derived from the root word “cassia” which is a tree that produces a cinnamon-like spice. And that’s how you got your nickname- cinnamon bun.

The meaning of Ember is more literal- “a small glowing piece of wood or coal”

This part of your name came quick and obvious. 

You see, at that conference where your daddy’s heart changed about growing our family, the speaker was talking about embers. About how a large fire can be lit by a tiny coal. He spoke about how revival happens when the existing church is reignited. And of all the things we leave behind, our children are our greatest legacy. You are an ember of our flame for Christ. And our prayer is that you would be used to light a fire in others for our Savior. We hope He will accomplish more through you than He ever could through us. Your name reminds us that you do not belong to us- and to pray that you would find your way into the story He is writing for you. We are so grateful to be a part of it…

if you're wondering about my face...

The pain was excruciating. Even when my newborn slumbered peacefully next to me, I lay awake. I held my face to find relief as tears streamed down both cheeks in the dark of night. My state of mind would soon match the inky black of those hours.

Three days earlier I was just a pregnant mom with a 17 month old. Swollen feet. Swollen hands. Scratch that. Swollen everything. Busy trying to keep my feet up and my daughters diaper dry. Waiting on the arrival of another miracle. I thought the years prior had pushed me to desperation. Unemployment. Miscarriage. Broken dreams and endless uncertainty. This was my third pregnancy and although we lost the second baby to miscarriage, my body had indeed changed in all the ways the honest mamas said it would. A little bit bigger. A little bit wilted. But that was not where my journey with self-hatred began. 

I grew up in a loving household. I was the oldest of four kids. Two sisters and a brother below me. Each of whom surpassed me in height by the time they reached high school. I guess you kind of expect that from a brother. But measuring in at 5’2” when both your sisters stand at 5’11” was quite noticeable. My dad always praised us in our differences though. He was constantly reminding us that it was always possible to want what someone else had and to instead focus on our strengths and to view unique as beautiful. 

My husband and I have known each other most of my life. With a 6 year age gap it wasn’t love at first sight but after years of friendship we realized we wanted it to last forever. And because we already knew each other so well, we fell quick and deep and were married by the time I was 20.

There are benefits to marrying your best friend. There was an ease to the honesty in which we communicated with each other. There was a comfortability and security that only comes with nearness through many seasons. There was a confidence in our intimacy that made us boldly believe in our love and in our story. And he’d already seen me at my worst. Or so I thought. 

Through my pregnancy my husband had been supportive and loving. He was patient with me and chose to focus on the parts of me that weren't stretching and swelling. 

"You have the prettiest smile babe." 

He was always saying that. 

I had been battling preeclampsia for months. I was retaining water. I hadn't seen my feet in a long time. I reached 37 weeks and my symptoms were worsening. I had headaches regularly and spots in my vision. They wanted to me to make it to 38 weeks before inducing and so I tried to stay off my feet. Quite unsuccessfully as I chased my toddler around each day. 

I was at home enjoying my daughters nap time, when half my face got numb and heavy. I looked in the mirror to see it unresponsive and drooping. After rushing to the hospital and being poked and prodded, an ultrasound determined that our baby was ok, but that I had Bell's palsy- a nerve disorder that paralyzes half the face. I thought I was a confident woman who saw beyond the outward appearance. But facial paralysis was the thing that revealed my deeper certainties. 

I no longer believed my husband could love me. I knew he deserved better than this. He hadn’t chosen me this way. He was stuck with me this way. 

I was terrified of what my girls would think of me once they were old enough to realize something was wrong with their Mommy's face.

I couldn't look in the mirror. Seeing a photo of myself from before onset could reduce me to tears. It only served as a reminder of what I had lost. I could see an excited sparkle in my eyes that no longer existed. Someone daringly ready to embark on an adventure because they had not yet experienced the danger that adventure brings. I didn't think I deserved to be loved anymore. I pushed people away. I stopped leading worship at church. I was angry. Other women complained about what pregnancy had done to them, but in my eyes, all they had to do was wear a shirt to hide their scars. Mine were hanging out for all to see. No padded bra or shape wear could hide the damage that had been done. 

So I cried. For a long time. I hated myself and the people who tried to encourage me. It was affecting my marriage. In an effort to hide my face, all I was really doing was hiding from my life. My face wasn’t recovering and so I lived in the dark of my heart and my head. I allowed the despair to reign and I stopped dreaming. 

But hope. I never managed to stop hoping. So eventually I went and saw a Christian therapist. 

He listened to me. Saw the self hatred. And when I finally took a breath to wipe some tears away he said, "Well... do you know what I see?" 

"I see a girl who has spent most of her young life serving Jesus. Someone who storms the gates of heaven and takes people with her through worship leading. Someone who the Lord has gifted to do mighty things for His Kingdom. And I see Satan trying to take you out. I've heard your whole story. The miscarriages. The unemployment. The lost friendships. And I’m not saying he had the power to cause all those things. I’m just saying he has been able to use them against you. I see the Devil- a mallet in each hand, beating you down every time you get back up. And the Bell's palsy? Well now you're doing his job for him. He just put the mallets in YOUR hands and walked away." 

One session was all it took. I never went back. Every time my mind went raging on bashing myself, all I could see were mallets in my hands. So each day became an exercise- of dropping them and walking away. Each day my mission was to find freedom.

I needed to stop pursuing “pretty”. The kind that comes and goes. The kind that fades with time. The kind that makeup accentuates and a long night with no sleep can destroy. The kind the world sells me. And the kind that Bell’s palsy can rob from me.

Freedom feels better. And the only person who can steal it from me…is me. 

That therapy session was the turning point for me. Since then it's been baby steps toward freedom. Leading worship again? Another step toward freedom. Posting a selfie? Another step toward freedom. Allowing my husband to tell me I'm beautiful? One more step...chasing freedom. After all,

"Freedom feels better than pretty ever will..." {morgan day cecil} 

Now when I see a photo from “before” I can still see that sparkle. But I also see someone who relies on herself more than her God. Someone who had only praised in victory, and not on the battlefield or in defeat. I see a girl who had only been loved because she thought she deserved it somehow. Not yet a woman who had been loved through all of the reasons she no longer thought she was worthy. I see someone who was not as compassionate, not as prayerful, not as courageous. And sometimes I still miss her. Her plans. Her zest. Her beauty. But her faith had not been tested by fire, and that is the only kind that brings Him glory.

Sometimes the things that almost wreck us, are just meant to recreate us. My face is weak but my soul is stronger.