the Hebrew word (rapha) for 'be still' in psalm 46:10 can be rendered “to cause yourself to surrender, give up, to be made weak”. All for the purpose of knowing that God is in control. How often do we fight for control rather than surrender?
As an herbalist and Christian I believe that God is in control. As the creator, he knows us intimately; our bodies, our dis-ease, our illness, and how best we can be healed.
To take back our health, we are not going to find the answers in a magic pill. It takes time. We must escape our culture of 'busy' and be still. Surrender and slow down. Take time to listen to what our bodies and saying. Changing lifestyles, listening more, moving more, stressing less, unplugging from this constant distraction of connectedness. Our culture makes it so very difficult to hear the important things amid the noise of the 'busy'. (this is very often a 'two steps forward and one step back' process!)
Our family has been making a conscious effort to slow down these past few months. That means saying "no" to new obligations that keep us out late, away from home often, or conflict with our family time. I have taken time-sucking apps off my phone and turned off notifications for just about everything. I even changed my notification alert to a bird sound instead of something jarring and urgent.
For the past year and half I have been enamored with minimalism. The idea of owning less stuff in order to have more life. If you are like me, you feel owned by your belongings. Cleaning, organizing, shopping, etc. The stress of overflowing toys the kids don't actually play with... kitchen tools we never use but promised to make our lives easier... technology that breaks and must be replaced. Ugh. I threaten to rent a dumpster and pitch it all. Or move and leave it all behind. But let's face it, that wouldn't fix things. The cycle of being discontent and engaging in consumerism to solve our problems is the actual problem. It is a heart problem. Things don't make us happy. A real relationship with God and with others brings us true joy. Relationships cannot be replaced by a new couch, better car, or the latest iPhone and deep down we all know it.
How I've been adding minimalism, subtracting belongings, and increasing joy in our home.
I have been attempting to keep a minimal wardrobe for the past year. Capsule wardrobes are all the rage. Take a peek on Pinterest and you'll get the idea. Neutrals, a favorite color or two, everything matches, a few statements pieces (like fun scarves or earrings). I'm now happy when I see my closet (brown, black, blue, green. 1 yellow sweater. I like texture, not pattern. Plaid is the exception) and I like pretty much everything I own. I've given away so much that I no longer need my dresser. Every clothing item I own fits in the closet I share with my husband. (I'm ready to sell the dresser!)
For a person who cooks every single thing their family eats... I don't have a lot of 'kitchen tools'. I own 2 cast iron skillets. The shallow one acts as a lid on the large one, so it doubles as a dutch oven (sort of). I own 2 pots. The big one and the small one. (this does NOT include what I use for making soaps, salves, ect. Those are never used for food) I have baking dishes in a variety of sizes. All glass or corning ware. 1 drawer of everyday utensils. 1 drawer with 2 larger knives, ice cream scoop, cheese grater, cork screw, and few other items. 1 drawer full of spices. Minimal amount of plates, bowls, utensils (we are a family of 5 so we have about 8 of each). I have and use my blender and crockpot on a regular basis (1-5x per week). I have a pressure canner that sees a lot of use during canning season. I refuse to count canning jars. I have a lot. At the end of harvest and canning season every single one is filled and I could use more. I keep a large Excaliber dehydrator on the counter and it sees weekly/bi-weekly use. We do not own a microwave. We have a toaster that comes out of a cupboard for use and then goes back. I don't think we need to keep this....
Minimalist Toy box
I have just started cracking down on the toys. I took a live e-course about purging children's toys. It was suggested to keep 20-50 toys. So far, I have bagged well over 100 toys and still have more to go! For this first go-through we allowed the kids to keep 50-70 toys. Legos, beyblades, pokemon cards, card and board games, dress up clothes, and art items not included. I've only just scratched the surface on this one!
Minimalist Book shelf
I have purged most of my books this past year. Here's what I have kept: field guides, herbals, holistic health references, Bibles, Greek and Hebrew Keyword study, a few select Bible studies, A couple favorite authors (4 or 5?) that I re-read on a yearly basis. I still need to sort kids books (again). We eliminated 2 boxes of their books last year. It's tough for homeschoolers. We want to keep everything we might use for school. I've been selling old curriculum and buying what I need for next year. Our school books and binders only take up 2 shelves. It could be worse.
Why I don't keep a minimalist pantry
In two words: food allergies. 'Safe' food for our family can be hard to come by and I cook everything (and I mean everything) from scratch. I buy in bulk, shopping a few times a year at a Mennonite store an hour away. We have a large garden and a greenhouse. We raise meat chickens and own a bee farm. We buy grass fed beef from a local farm. I barter for venison. Food and the way it is raised is important to us.
I gave up complaining for Lent this year. Not my choice! Through much prayer it was the Lord's decision. I wanted something easy, like giving up chocolate. ;) As the 40 days progressed, I realized something. I hadn't actually given up anything, rather, I started doing something new. Not complaining is really about showing grace. Showing grace to others and showing grace to myself (which feels like the more difficult of the two). God is still growing me in ways I didn't quite expect. (this could be an entire blog post by itself!) Showing grace is definitely a way to increase joy in your life.
To be honest, I'm still overwhelmed by stuff. But I've found a way to get rid of things and make it fun. (details in a minute) I feel a sense of relief in clearing out this unwanted and unneeded clutter from our home. I long to spend less time managing our belongings and more time engaging in relationship with those we love. Clearing clutter from our homes and our hearts. Finding what's important.
So that's where we are. For the month of May, I, along with my sister in law and maybe a few brave friends, will be embarking on a minimalist challenge! We are getting rid of 1 item on the 1st. 2 on the 2nd, 3 on the 3rd and so on. I may or may not blog about it and share pictures. You can find all the details (and play along!) here: http://www.theminimalists.com/game/
A few of my favorite Minimalist blogs to inspire you!