Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The World's Greatest Treasures!

We made it home from Africa, safe and sound. What an ADVENTURE it was! One of our days there was spent exploring the Indian Ocean and a deserted island nearby. 

The engine of the boat fell off TWICE (and was also thankfully caught twice before sinking into the water). The tide was really low because of a full moon. A storm was also brewing off of the coast of Madagascar which made for gusts of winds and extra waves. I gripped the board that I was sitting on in the boat and whispered to Sam, "What do I do if we tip over?"

Our kids were excited to hear of our adventures and see the little shells that we had brought them back from that island. Things are in full swing at home and getting back to normal one load of laundry at a time. Yet even now my heart is still stirring with thoughts and feelings from all that we saw and experienced while we were in Mozambique.

I hesitate to share or even write about our experience because I don't want to come off as the white American who visited one small part of Africa for 12 days and now has everything figured out. It is quite the opposite. I came home from Mozambique with lots of questions and a deep desire to learn and listen to those who are pouring out their lives into areas, like the one that we saw, ones that have been decimated by civil war. 

Areas that are full of people who need food and water and hope!  

What I share today are a few of the thoughts that flooded my mind as I saw first hand a culture and landscape that is so very different from my own. Prior to visiting Africa I had heard many times people talk about living in "the bush." And to many of us it might sound attractive the thought of living off of the land. But what I never stopped to think about was what people living in remote areas actually experienced day to day. With no electricity their day begins and ends with the rising and setting of the sun. With no transportation many have never ventured north the hour and thirty minutes to the closest city. With no employers there are no hired jobs which means that even the smallest amount of income isn't coming in. They rely on their surroundings to grow crops to feed the many hungry bellies. With no river or water source nearby my mind can't even grasp how life continues. Their clothes are tattered and their feet are calloused. Many have shaved heads or keep their hair extremely short because of the heat, itchiness, and constant appearance of lice. 

We were surrounded by many beautiful people...young children, mothers with babies, teenagers and young men, yet there was something missing. There were hardly any older, wiser men and women around. One person estimated that the average life expectancy in that area is 35 or 40. I think of how I turn 35 next week, and tears come to my eyes. Sickness runs wild and malaria is a normal occurrence. Complications from giving birth are the norm and take many women's lives in the process. 

Homes are created out of wood and mud. With no closed windows or screens people are constantly coming in contact with mosquitoes and other harsh elements around them. And the strangest thing was that there was no wildlife around, none! All of the animals were driven out or eaten out of starvation when the war was going on almost 25 years ago.

But the children were still smiling. They were still laughing! 

Our first visit to the very first Garden Well brought a roar of laughter when the children saw Sam take off his hat and reveal that the large white man had a shaved head, just like many of them.

I looked around at the innocence that surrounded me and I actually felt a small glimpse of relief. Relief that many of them have not been exposed to the world surrounding them far in the distance. With no electricity, there were no TVs in that village. For many of us in other parts of the world we are surrounded by everything that we could possibly need and still we are discontent, still we often want more. 

But how much is enough? 

How much more do we really need?

One of our days there we gathered with a group of people who are teachers, farmers, and medical staff. People who left their lives in their countries of origin and have been living in Mozambique for many years now. They didn't sugarcoat the situation there. They talked about the numerous difficulties they face, which seemed unending really. They talked about how it wasn't easy. They talked about how most days the challenges were simply overwhelming.  

As one person shared with me the challenges and how the process for change has been so slow, I could hear the tiredness in his voice. And coming from everything that I have ever known I thought to myself, but you are on the other side. The side that is hard, the side that is full of challenges, the side that seems so desperate for breakthrough

But nonetheless the other side! 

The side that is focusing on pouring out your life for others. It seems like such a short distance between the two sides. One step forward instead of one step back. But in the world that we live in the obstacle many times can simply be that one person standing in the middle of those two sides:


Are we always going to be taking one step back and focusing on making our own lives better?

Or, are we going to take that one step forward and pour our time, energy, and resources into this world's GREATEST treasures?

The world's GREATEST treasures...people!

Our friends Josh & Sarah Hardie have been farming in North Dakota for years. They never dreamed of going to Mozambique one day to farm there as well, but through a number of unexpected circumstances they found themselves doing just that. Now they are juggling traveling back and forth as they run their farm in the States and now run one in Mozambique as well.

Deep Roots is the name of their farm in Mozambique. They currently employee 17 workers to keep the daily tasks running on the farm. Which means that 17 people have a source of steady income. They believe in working hard and creating a business that can lift people up and empower the community around them for change. But every day is filled with new challenges.

A simple part on a piece of equipment breaks down with no local parts store nearby.

They've spent four years testing out various crops trying to find out what will grow successfully in that soil.

Trying to figure out how the climate works here. 

But with no river nearby they have no source of regular irrigation. Which means that they rely heavily on the rain to come to bring life to the large scale crops. 

They pray for the rain to come.

Rain came one day while we were there. 

Will it be enough for the corn to grow? 

When the corn has grown in the past, theft has always been an issue.

Will they have enough to harvest?

From everything that we saw, it would seem that the challenges of farming in Mozambique far outweigh the benefits. Why would they keep coming back? 

Why would they keep trying?

It is because they see hope

Hope to encourage a community to not just survive but to thrive!

The Garden Well Project was birthed out of that hope.  

The first step was providing a source of water so that people didn't have to rely on holes in the ground that filled with rain water.

Research was done, lots of questions were asked and some wells were dug in key areas in the community where the most people could benefit from them. 

The next step was purchasing simple irrigation kits that would allow people to irrigate their own gardens, using the garden wells, to provide food for their family all year long rather than having to rely on irregular rain. 

Now they are working on figuring out the best way to get these kits into people's hands in a way that people can be fully invested into their own future, even when their resources are so limited.

Josh and Sarah don't just want to see water bring life to a community, they want to see the gospel bring life as well! While we were there, one of the local pastors who is connected to the Garden Wells came to the farm to ask for help obtaining Bibles for his and other congregations in the local language.

"How many do you need?"

"Ten," he replied.

To which Sam and I both had the thought, "We have access to ten bibles in our house alone."

Josh and Sarah believe, just like Sam and I, that the word of God changes things. That the word of God brings life and transformation and hope! So we brainstormed that day on how to get Bibles, not only for this one pastor's congregation, but for the other churches in the area as well. 

Those Bibles will be delivered in the coming weeks!

When the challenges seem unending why not turn and run the other way?

Because there is hope.

The current challenge is finding the best way to transport simple garden irrigation kits to Mozambique. Nine hundred kits can fill a 20 foot container plum full, but the shipping cost to send the container over is around $6,000.00.

I came back home from our trip to find myself fully thrown back into the swing of things here with a week of great buy-one-get-one-free sales being offered through the essential oil company that I sell essential oils with. It means working extra hours this week on top of the writing that I am doing for the eBook as well as attending rescheduled parent/teacher conferences that we missed while we were gone. 

We have been using the income from my essential oil business to save up towards gutting and remodeling our upstairs bathroom. The tub faucet leaks quite a bit when the water is running and the tiles and tub are needing to be replaced.

But I couldn't shake this one thought that perhaps the income that I'll make from orders this month could be used in a better way for something else.

Because after all, we have a perfectly good leaky faucet where running water comes straight into our home, up some pipes and into our upstairs bathroom. 

A remodeled bathroom isn't this world's greatest treasure...

People are.

Josh and Sarah can't do this alone. The challenges are too great. But we can join together and help...and no amount is too small or too big.

This month 100% of my essential oil profits will go towards The Garden Well Project. Will you join us? You can go here to help!

                                                          Photo Credit: Sarah Hardie Photography

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House: Don't Wait!

It could be that it just takes years.

Years of collecting things.

Years of receiving gifts.

Years of holding on to something, just in case.

Years of slowly adding more and more and more to your home.

Which might also mean that it take years to figure out what matters most to you.

Years to discover what motivates you personally.

Years to discover what brings you great joy.

When you live in a not so tiny house it is incredibly easy to “fill it up” because, after all, you have the space. You might feel guilty for getting rid of that thing you really don’t like but that someone you really do like gave you years ago. You might be holding on to tubs of mementos from high school or your wedding day...are you really ever going to use that unity candle for anything again? Isn’t the picture that you have in your album and symbol of beauty that it created on that special day, enough?
Perhaps you are lacking systems that allow you the joy of bringing new things into your home only because you know that something else will be removed in the process.

I don’t want to assume that anyone would just take my word for it when I say that less is more. After all, I am most likely a complete stranger to you. But if you hear my heart, the lessons that I have learned over 12 years of cultivating our home is that stuff weighs you down, stuff plays a HUGE role in how your time is spent, and stuff can potentially keep you from your life mission...not amplify it.

Perhaps the courage, motivation and confidence to live free from your stuff comes over time. But my hope would be that you could read these words and have the courage, motivation and confidence to CHANGE right now. Don’t waste time and energy and YEARS feeling overwhelmed, insecure, and defeated about your home. Think of all of the things that are more important to you than your stuff. Think of all of the things that you want to see in life. Think of all of the relationships that you want to cultivate over time and think of all of the fun experiences that you want to have with your family and with your people.

Life isn’t going to just happen the way you want it to unless YOU play a key role in making decisions to move you in the direction that you want to go. And that takes courage and confidence to change which brings freedom to live the life you’ve always dreamed of living!

Start sorting, start purging and start creating systems to keeps things simple and moving forward in your home. Having space for your family is beautiful, having all of their basic needs covered like a warm bed to sleep on, clean clothes to wear, a kitchen to cook in, and a place to gather is incredible. Don’t dread it and don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Take the steps that you need to take to cultivate it and create a home where life can FLOURISH...each and every day!

A Series:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House - The Key: Systems That WORK For YOU

You just got hired at a new job.

You show up promptly at the time that your shift starts and immediately find your manager to clock in. "Where should I clock in," you ask. "Well..." (Your new manager looks around unsure and very oddly looks around the room and proceeds to grab the closest piece of paper.) "Here, you go! Why don't you jot down your name and starting time right here!" 

You reluctantly do it, all of the time wondering if that small piece of paper is ever going to successfully make it to HR. 

"Where should I pick up my uniform?" Your manager responds by taking you to a room, opening the door, and then says, "Here, grab whatever you need!" You look ahead to see a massive pile of various clothes mixed all different sizes and different styles. You come out after much time has passed hoping that what you salvaged and assembled is somewhat acceptable. "OK, what should I work on first?" you ask your manager next. You keep asking questions and keeping getting looks of confusion, or simply not much response at all. These are all questions that you assumed were going to be easily answered during your first day of training, but there is only one problem. 

You discover that your new job, doesn't have a system for anything. 

Quickly you realize how much time (and money!) this company is losing by trying to operate this way. Many times, without even realizing it, we try to operate our homes just like that.

We hope for the best. 

We are too busy to change the way that we are doing things.

Maybe too overwhelmed.

And we are comparing our home to our friend's home and their friend's home and...

All the while we are running around for the fourth time that week looking for our keys again, because that is just life, right?

But does it have to be?

We want more time in our day.

We want more money in our bank accounts. 

We want more peace in our homes.

And we want more time to spend with the people we love and...

We want more time to create meaningful relationships with the people around us.

But how do we do that?

The key is having systems that WORK for YOU!

A system is simply a way of doing things.

When you have a system in place that works (functions well in the dynamics of your home) for you (not your best friend!) then it literally WORKS (saves time & energy!) for YOU (yep, that's you!)

You've heard it said before, a place for everything and everything in its place.

But perhaps, like me, you have gotten caught up with the word everything in that phrase. In fact, you've often wondered how could EVERYTHING really have a place? Anyone who has a place for EVERYTHING is probably lying. And, well, you're probably right.

But just like our family's budget uses envelopes to help us be prepared for our basic family's expenses and needs...not everything in our life has an envelope. I remember when I first started using a budget and I needed to buy stamps. I thought, "I don't have a "stamps" envelope." I quickly realized that I didn't need an envelope for everything, I just needed to create a "miscellaneous envelope" for random things like that. By doing that we could still work with a budget and it didn't fall completely apart just because I didn't have envelopes for the 10% of things that I had no clue where to put. (I really like using the free version of this online site for budgeting so that I'm not actually caring around envelopes.)

Since applying this same theory to our stuff in our home, I have discovered the overwhelming JOY and SIMPLICITY of finding a place for 90% of your stuff!

I'm serious, it works!

But Sarah, why then are systems so important?

Having a place for things is a great start!

However, communicating where things go or how things are done to the rest of the people living in your home is key! Because, when you can communicate to them your laundry process, that works best for your family and in your home, then you have a system!

And that system will save you time & energy the more that you repeat it, which will ultimately allow you to do all of the OTHER things that you love!

In a few weeks I'll start taking you through our home room by room. I'm hoping that you'll gain a fresh perspective on some of the systems that we've implemented and why. You also might catch some of the things that aren't in our home and how that makes things function more smoothly for us as well.

Our home isn't a typical "minimalist" home. We have two couches and two crock pots and we even have two coffee pots. We have two of those things because we use them a ton and they function well for our family and lifestyle. But there are also a lot of things that we don't have in our home because they don't fit into our family and lifestyle. We've sorted almost everything in our house and 90% of the things in our home have a designated spot, are functional or bring beauty to our lives, AND have some sort of system to keep them clean or in their place. Which means that I no longer run around an hour before my husband announces that he is bringing people over, frantically cleaning both of the bathrooms! (I shared that hypothetical scenario here, ya know, for a friend.)

Systems are what makes living in a not so tiny house with a whole lot of people so easy

Not harder.

Because let's be honest, the laundry isn't going anywhere. It is always going to be there. But you don't have to dread it for the rest of your life. You just have to find a system that works for your family, implement it, communicate it to everyone, and move on! 

Let's break down those steps next. 

1) Find A System That WORKS For YOUR Family. Just because your best friend has a different system for having her kids pick up their toys, don't switch your system just because you saw hers. (Unless you don't have a system and come across one that you think would work well for your family.) Ultimately there are a ton of different ways to do something. So instead of pouring a lot of time into fine tuning that one system and making it absolutely perfect. Instead create a system that works best for your family, in your home! The goal isn't to have the BEST organized toy system in the whole wide world...the goal is to simply have a place for the toys to go with a system that allows your kids to be involved in the process so that you aren't the only one putting the toys away. (Doesn't that sound heavenly?)

2) Implement it! Creating a system doesn't mean that you have to commit to doing laundry the SAME WAY for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Maybe you currently have an infant at home who doesn't sleep through the night and you've discovered that working on laundry at midnight really is the best use of your time right now. Do it! Maybe your kids are big enough to figure out how to unlock your phone and "accidentally" text grandma (Thanks for showing me how skilled you are little dude!) which makes you wonder if they are now big enough to start helping put their own laundry away.  So you might rethink your system to incorporate your kids. Do it! The question is, in this season what is the simplest way for our family to do this and go with it!

3) Communicate it! Other people in your home are going to need to know where the shoes go or where the extra toilet paper can be found or where the rag is to wipe off the dining room table. The other KEY to living in a home that gives you extra space to fit your crew is the benefit of having extra hands to help take care of it. Just like at work, it is all about the team, and what can be accomplished when you all work together! But just remember that the team can't work as a team if they have no idea where they clock in.

4) Move on! Your system is probably going to be tweaked in the future, it is after all about seasons. It doesn't have to be the BEST system in the whole world. It just has to be one that works in your home and with your crew.

To get you started thinking about helpful systems in your home I want you to think of one task in your home that goes really smoothly. You probably already have a system in place for that task but maybe you have never thought of it that way. You'll know if you have a system in place if you can answer, "This is how we do...fill in the blank" for a specific task or thing in your home.

Next I want you to think of one task in your home that really frustrates you. What simple system could you create to solve those frustrations? Just think of the time and energy you could save yourself for days, weeks, months, YEARS to come!

I'd love to hear what you come up with in the comment section below!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Africa Bound!

I've been exposed to glimpses of Africa for my entire life.

I turn 35, next month.

Since I was a little girl I've heard stories about Africa.

I've seen pictures of  Africa.

As a child, I remember giving up my bed numerous times for friends visiting my parents from Africa.

I've sat around the dinner table with my siblings and my parents while our friends have shared stories with us about what life is like in Africa.

I've sat in numerous church services hearing stories about Africa. In fact, there are people from several different African nations in our church that are a great blessing to us. Their stories, their rich cultures, and their generous hearts have impacted me.

In those ways Africa has already shaped my life.

However up until this point in my life I have NEVER crossed that great and vast Atlantic ocean to set foot on the great continent of Africa.


Next week Sam and I will be getting on a jet plane and heading to Mozambique, Africa. Our trip is for about ten days. We'll be meeting our friends Josh & Sarah there and seeing their farm where, The Garden Well, was birthed. 

They are helping others grow small sustainable farms to provide food to sell as well as food to feed their families. In the past families would struggle through the dry season, they were using all of their energy and time to just get by. But now, with some training on farming and new wells dug FULL of fresh clean water to provide year round growth, these families are able to provide clean water and healthy food for their families.

The video below shows a small glimpse into that. At minute 5 they talk about the irrigation kits that cost $10, and are so simple, yet will provide vegetables enough to feed their entire family year round using 80% less water than other methods.

The first well was dug last year. Since then 2 more have been put in and funding is in place for the 4th. There is one single picture placed on the front of our refrigerator at home. It is a picture of that first well and a daily reminder to me of just how much of a difference water can make.

I've downloaded the newest albums from these artists, Brian & Jenn Johnson and Ellie Holcomb. I have a new book packed. And our bags will get packed at some point between now and take off (most likely just a few hours before take off) and I'm ready. Ready for my heart to be tumbled as I set foot in a land that has already impacted my life for 30+ years. 

Our son asked at lunch yesterday if we could take some of his quarters to Mozambique with us and give it to a child so that that child could have a meal and not be hungry. We told him that our friends were making a way for people to have the tools that they needed, like an irrigation kit and clean water, to provide a way for people to work hard and provide for their family so that they could eat more than just one meal. 

"What do you think is better?" Sam asked our son. 

"If someone gave you one meal to eat or if they gave you a way to eat for years?"

Our kids are gathering their quarters together to purchase $10 irrigation kits. Perhaps your family would like to be a part too. You can go here to make a donation.

I'll be sharing our journey on Instagram. Will you join us?

Our series on Minimalism will continue with scheduled posts going live while we are away. When I return I'll begin posting when the live video walk thru's of each room of our home will take place. 

Being intentional with our stuff, with our time, and with our life isn't just to create a happy place for our souls to dwell.

It is to create moments like these.

Creating moments that we've only dreamed of...for decades, perhaps. 

Moments where we'll finally step foot on that rich, African soil.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chasing Slow - A Book Review

It arrived on my door step Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon I had read it from front to back. Sam looked at me in disbelief, "You finished a book in LESS than 24hrs?!?". He isn't quite used to me being one of the avid readers in our family. I can't blame him, the shift only happened about a year ago when I discovered that my favorite reads were non-fiction memoirs with authors who were passionate about growth, not staying the same, and life.

Erin's journey spanned over a decade and was filled with lessons & discoveries that she had experienced along the way. Those are my favorite kinds of stories.

The real life ones. 

Perhaps it struck such a positive chord because of the journey that I have been on. One that I've been beginning to share in this series, Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House

Chasing Slow, the book title was so fitting. Erin is a wife, a mother, a blogger, and she hosted an show. And it was her stories about slowing down that had my eyes glued to the pages. 

Don't you mean speed up?

That is what the world is telling us, isn't it?

Speed up!

No honey, you have permission to slow down.

You have permission, that is what you feel you are blessed with after reading Erin's book.

Last week my schedule was packed to the brim and I was short with everybody who calls me mom and the one who sleeps next to me in bed. This week I intentionally left my week wide open. A few meetings here, a few phone calls there. The rest of the time was filled with writing and reading and cooking dinner and purging things in our home (I call it a process of removing the many layers that have formed over the years).

I feel it, the need to speed up, the need to DO everything.

But I also feel the need to slow down. The need for constant reminders of gratitude and grace and contentment.

In 2016 we told the kids that they could each have a birthday party and invite a few friends. Then we told them that 2017 would be an off year for parties. In 2018, they could each have one again.

We will still celebrate each birthday this year with a special family breakfast & dinner, the day of.

Our youngest daughter turns 8 soon.

I asked her what she wanted me to cook for her special birthday dinner.

Rice & Beans, she exclaimed!

(If you know our daughter then you know that she LOVES Rice & Beans.) But I still found myself asking her over and over...are you sure that you want Rice & Beans? I make those every week.

Don't you want something different?

"Nope, I just want Rice & Beans!"

Rice & Beans, it is, I guess.

If you need a reminder to chase slow, or simply need a reason to snuggle up on the couch for hours over a good book, check this one out. I don't want to give too much away by sharing Erin's stories, but here is one example that Erin used of someone else's story, a familiar one perhaps. One that the very first time that I heard it, many years ago, caused me to reflect on what I have, what I'm chasing, and what the purpose of it all really was.

I'll leave you with that fable... (author unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House - Finding Your Motivation

We've all been there.

You found out suddenly that you'll be moving in two months and have never felt more motivated to finally paint those rooms you've been meaning to paint as well as finish remodeling that bathroom that has been half done for months now. After all, you will likely get a better offer on your house if you list it as having two bathrooms as opposed to one bathroom and one ALMOST DONE bathroom.

It is 4 o'clock in the afternoon and you just found out that your husband is coming home after work with...friends! But don't worry he says, they are bringing pizza so you don't have to worry at all about cooking for everyone on such short notice. Perfect, because now you have approximately one WHOLE hour to clean the ENTIRE house. Ok, well, maybe I can just concentrate on the main floor. But what if someone is in the bathroom and someone else needs to use the bathroom upstairs? And what if they go upstairs and the kids' bedroom doors are OPEN? GASP! Shivers go down your spine! Thanks for taking care of dinner, honey, you mumble under your breath while rushing to clean BOTH bathrooms.

Just in case.

Maybe your in-laws are coming for a visit and you really want to be their FAVORITE daughter-in-law so you spend the whole week prior cleaning and grocery shopping and organizing... Wait, you are their only daughter-in-law. Well, still want them to have no question at all that their son picked really, REALLY well. 

The truth is...we all have things that motivate us and things in our home that we are living with that drive us nuts. But before you can tackle each room in your house, you need to know why you want to live more simply. 

Personally, I was tired of feeling overwhelmed by our home and stuff. I was tired of turning every corner only to see more chaos and more confusion. I desperately wanted our home to be an inviting, peaceful place for people to gather and rest. I also wanted to enjoy our home and not just brainstorm how I would fix it up someday, if we ever decided to sell it. 

I was so over trying to impress people or worrying about what other people thought of our home when they came over.

But it was something more than that for me. 

I think I just got tired of pretending. 

I didn't want to only have a clean home, only when I knew other people were coming over. 

I wanted to have an inviting, peaceful, and restful home all of the other hours inbetween too. It became less and less about trying to impress other people and more and more about simply wanting it all to be real.

But could we have a clean and orderly home AND have five children?!? I certainly asked myself that question countless times over the past five years.

And what I discovered was, YES! 

At first I discovered that having an orderly home, more often, was possible if I did one thing...invited people over more. By having a weekly potluck meal at our home for neighbors, you can just imagine how motivated I was to straighten up and clean our house that day. And all of that random junk that I had no clue what to do all got thrown into a basket somewhere, and I hardly missed it at all.

Then I was motivated more as I started to implement solutions for the things in our home that were driving me nuts! Why are all of these backpacks on the floor? Why can't I ever find my keys when I need them? Why do I keep stepping on LEGOS everywhere I turn!?!

And that is when a new system would be born, something that I could communicate to everyone in our house the ins and outs of. I'll talk more about systems next week!

I uncovered a home that was becoming more and more peaceful and was enjoyed by all of us, not just our visitors. 

When we traveled to Mexico this past summer and listed our home on AIRBNB, I realized that being together as a family...anywhere in the world, was MORE important to me than EVERY SINGLE THING in our home. And since we were now suddenly paying someone to clean our home over and over, in between guests, let's just say that it made me re-evaluate every single thing in our home to decide if it was really worth keeping or not.

I'm currently writing all about our AIRBNB experience, with helpful tips and how to's for hosting, in an E-book that will be available to purchase this Spring. Maybe you've dreamed of going on a family vacation this summer and have considered listing your home. You'll have plenty of time to read the book and get set up to do that later, but first, you need to find out what motivates you. 

Seeing our home as a haven, a place for our family and others to rest and gather, discovering a way for us to fund family trips that we had only dreamed of going on and a deep desire to take care of what God has entrusted us with, has undeniably motivated me to live this way!

Today the question is, what motivates you?

Why do you want to live a simpler lifestyle or have a simpler home?

What motivates you to do the things necessary to change how your home has always been to how you've always dreamed it could be?

What dreams do you hope to accomplish by living more intentionally in your home?

Comment below, it will certainly encourage us all!

After all,

we have all been there.

But now,

we can all move forward and do the work to simplify together.

To help you get even more motivated, check out this documentary on Netflix called, Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. I heard one person say that she immediately organized all of her spices after watching it. I personally, went through every single thing in our dining room after I finished the film. The trailer is below!

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things from The Minimalists on Vimeo.

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