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.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Years And The Fears Of Moving Forward

I made that call I was telling you about, here. I found out that the next step was attending a foster-care orientation on January 12th, 2017. Since it had been five years since we let our license expire we needed to start the process again from the beginning.

The orientation seemed so far away back in November, until suddenly it wasn't. 

Last week I sat in that meeting in our local county board room listening to social workers share the ins and outs of foster care and foster-to-adopt. And today our family is celebrating Gotcha Day. It is a special phrase that adoptive families use for the day that they "got" their kids.

While we love to remember the day in November when our family officially became a family on paper, it was always official in our hearts that we were a family since that first day that the kids walked into our home carrying all of their earthly possessions.

This year's gotcha day also marks our fifth anniversary of being a crew of seven. Seriously, where did years two, three & four go?!?

Back in January of 2012 FIVE years as a family seemed SO far away, until suddenly it wasn't.

I still remember the day I took the photo below, like it was yesterday! It was the day before the kids were going to arrive and I was already worried about our, first born daughter, having a hard time adjusting to more siblings and well suddenly being demoted to now the fourth born.

Would we be able to love more children, like we love her?

Would she feel slighted? 

Will we screw her up with this whole messing up the birth order thing and expanding our family?!?

Those were all of the fears running through my mind as we went out for a little date together, just one sleep before her world would change forever.

Today we plan on celebrating BIG. The kids are testing for their gold belts and then we are going to enjoy a feast at one of our favorite restaurants, Tepanyaki (Sushi as far as the eye can see AND chicken nuggets...everyone wins!) ;-) And then we'll come home for our traditional gotcha day ice cream cake. A homemade recipe that my mom made at birthdays growing up...a tub of cool whip, a half pint of vanilla ice cream, a container of oreos (crushed in a plastic bag), and then everything is mixed together, spread out in a cake pan and refrozen, serve & enjoy!

I wrote about the reality of our one year anniversary, here. I wrote about our second anniversary and a glimpse into open adoption, here.

I digress.

Back to that board room!

I sat in the back, mainly because I was late trying to find a place to park our 12-passenger van. It is massive and doesn't always fit in parking garages and is one of my least favorite parts about having a large family. 

I saw individuals and couples spread out in that room as they listened intently to the social worker share stories and information up at the front. It felt as though you could cut the tension in that room with a knife. The stories shared were all of the terrible ones. The ones that make you question why in the world you ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. 

And then you remember that they are talking about children

I remember the first time I watched my friend, Beth, carry one of the boys to their bedroom at her house. She was their foster mom at the time. At that point we didn't have any clue that we would adopt them someday.

My jaw was on the floor as that little boy kicked and screamed and kicked and screamed and did everything he could to escape her embrace. 

Then there was that first time that I took one of the kids to their routine dentist visit. I was shocked. How could a child THAT small have that many cavities, fillings, and crowns in their itty, bitty baby teeth?!?

It took my breath away.

People asked questions at the foster-care orientation.

"Do the parents meet us?"

"Do they know who we are?"

Every situation is different, the social worker responded. But in most cases they see you during the visits and for some situations we'll be the middle person to transport the child at the front of the government center from you to the parent waiting upstairs. 

I immediately thought back to all of my fears.

I remember that first time we would see the kids' birth mom again since the adoption had been finalized. 

What will she say? 

Will she hate us? 

Five years later and she has never shown up unexpectedly at our door or used my phone number to call at all hours of the night. Instead she texts me on every holiday and on each of their birthdays asking if I will tell them how much she loves them. 

I will definitely relay the message, I text back.

And my face lights up just as much as theirs does when I tell them what their mom said.

They have SO many people who love them.

That is what they understand!

"No child asks to be put in a broken situation." 

I listened as the social worker shared.

I knew she was spot on. "These stories are hard, you have to learn how to stay calm", she said. They don't want to share all of the happy stories and then have you become a foster parent and come back asking why caring for children in broken homes is so difficult.

But as I sat there listening to the stories I thought of how things are now...five years later. 

I thought of our son who walks independently to his room each night for bed and who runs back to find us and asks for his nightly "hug and kiss."

I thought of how my biggest "struggle" at the dentist is trying to remember to schedule everyone's 6-month cleanings because we spend far less time in that waiting room than we once did.

The social worker said, the greatest impact you might have in a child's life that you foster is teaching them how to use a tooth brush.

And that, that matters.

It matters, friends!

I left that meeting feeling a little conflicted. Conflicted not quite knowing what the next step is for our family.

It felt like all of those old fears came back up to the surface...

Would we be able to love more children, like we love them? 

Would they feel slighted? 

But as this five year anniversary approached, I started thinking about my original fears that I had about my daughter. And it occurred to me that it has been years since I've ever wondered what the answers were to those questions.

The answers are clear.

She knows exactly how much we ALL love her.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House - Introduction

You've probably seen those shows about tiny houses and maybe you started dreaming of living in one yourself. But then all of a sudden you are snapped back into reality when you wonder, "where would I put my coffee mug collection and all of the children?"

You've followed fabulous instagramers who tour the USA in their adorable & cozy motor homes and stopped to wonder if your husband would let you sell everything and buy one of those. After all, adventure would be right around every corner. But then you remember that you get motion sickness just looking at the spinning rides at the amusement park...let alone riding in a large moving vehicle sideways, for that matter.

Why does this minimalist lifestyle seem to be catching on? 

I think that it's because every where we turn we are surrounded by more and more stuff with the promise that THIS will make us happy.

But then it doesn't.

And then we wonder...

Is there more to life than having all of this stuff?

Is there more to life than working overtime at a job, to be able pay for a really nice car, to be able to use to drive to work...and so forth, and so forth.

The minimalist life is all about simple and living with less and doing more of what you love

But if living in a tiny house or owning a hip, retro motor home isn't in your future, is living a minimalist lifestyle even possible? What if you want a warm & inviting home, space for friends to gather, have multiple people living in your home AND want a room of your own to sneak away to?

Can you own a "not so tiny house" and still live a simpler & fuller life by applying some of the same principles?

The answer is YES!

This past summer our family took an epic road trip from Minnesota to Mexico and back! All seven of us packed up our one tote each and hopped in our twelve passenger van. We logged more hours on the road and in the sun than we ever had before.

We had the time of our lives!

Two months before our trip we cleaned, purged and organized our home. 

We had one clear goal. 

Getting our home ready for numerous guests to stay there over the summer. We gave away a week stay each to two amazing families and filled in the rest of the time with guests through AIRBNB. 

This experience gave me a totally new perspective AND motivation like never before to clean and purge our home.

The outcome was epic.

We came back home right before school started and thankfully our house was still here. ;-) We had signatures left on the chalkboard guestbook wall with thank you's and little notes left where people shared how much they really enjoyed their stay.

We funded our whole road trip to Mexico and back because of opening up our home to others. 

When we returned I gained even more freedom as I continued purging and cleaning our home after realizing how AMAZING it felt to continue having quality family time, continue to open up our home to guests and NOT continuing to spend hours shopping for, cleaning up and organizing ALL OF THAT STUFF!

My home feels inviting and I feel free!

I feel even more able now to focus on what matters most...loving God and loving people.

Now, everything that is in our home is there because it serves an important purpose or multiple purposes or brings someone in our home great joy. 

Through this new series, Minimalism In A Not So Tiny House, I want to guide you through creating a minimalist home that you love (regardless of the size of your home) that gives you the freedom to do the things that you've always dreamed of doing!

Over the course of these next few months, I'll share advice on downsizing your stuff, give you a tour of each room in our house and give you meaningful tips for tackling your space and finding freedom from "stuff" for the long haul! 

I'm also writing an e-book that will launch this Spring! A manual of sorts on how to prepare your home, host well, and have a thriving AIRBNB listing. I'll share all of my behind the scenes tips and things we learned along the way that will help you prepare and list your home well, right from the start!  

But this whole minimalism thing is going to take work.

And a mindset change.

And you are going to have to get rid of some stuff.

But it is going to be WORTH IT!

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