Friday, March 7, 2008

The Simple Life

There are certain people in my life whose homes radiate beauty, warmth, calm, peace....Whenever I visit them, I come home more motivated to care for my family and create the same in our house. I'm thinking in particular of my sister, Lucinda, and a friend of mine, Karen.

Lately my book bag from the library has consisted of decorating, organization and frugal type books. They really all tell me the same thing- get yourself organized. There are various methods and tips which are all helpful, but seem impossible to keep up long term. And when I consider all the components (7 children) that make up my life, these programs seem even more implausible.

Being frugal was something that I once perfected out of sheer necessity. When we were first married I was in my last year of nursing school and Sean was in grad school. He worked at the university and I as the biscuit maker at McDonald's at 4:30 am. We brought in just over $300 a month. Being frugal wasn't an option. We wanted to eat, so we learned quickly. I'd say it was wonderful and we were very content.

Over time I had gotten away from it, but this year I've set some frugal goals. However, being frugal does not make one's life simple I've discovered. It takes some planning and I get a lot of pleasure from saving money for our family, but it doesn't equate to a peaceful home.

People assume that I must be organized because of the sheer number of children that we have and the fact that I homeschool. I strive and succeed sometimes. And other times it is apparent that I am not. There is a system in place and it works as well as it can at this point.

Reflecting on all of this, I realized that the simple life that I admire in others has more to do with what they don't have than what they do. Both Lucinda and Karen work hard to keep the "stuff" out of their home. Not to say that their homes are barren caves, but they are not stepping over "stuff" to get to what they need. They really are grateful for what God has provided and walk close with Him. They've learned to trust instead of hold onto the things of the world tightly. Striving for frugality can sometimes cause me to live with closed hands rather than open ones, to keep instead of give.

Lucinda and Karen are both very creative in gardening, cooking and decorating due in part to the fact that they have time. They both regularly invite others over because they have a ready home. They both have energy to serve others in times of need because their own homes are already in order.

Gardening, cooking and decorating are not my priorities, but a joyful, inviting, clean home is. So as I continue to be frugal out of necessity, I will be working hard these next few weeks on getting rid of those things that are cluttering our lives and causing frustration. I will be organizing, but not organizing "stuff". Maybe I'll even find a few hidden treasures. And then there will be some serious Spring cleaning going on around here!

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. -1 Thessalonians 4:11-12


JenniferLayne said...

I found you by accident, but I'm so glad I did. I am now exhausted because I attempted to catch up on your entire blog in one sitting!! :) I love reading about your sweet family. To this day, when Tim and I are talking to people about the influences in our lives, one of the people I always point to is you. The talks we had about life, love, "wifehood", etc. still roll around in my brain. Thanks for that!! I have a blog if you have a spare minute to look--yeah, right, a spare minute!!! :) It's under my name. Have a super day!

Jen Wood

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Sweet friend, you ALWAYS inspire me.

soccermom said...

Monica, I hope you know how much you inspire others... like myself! Thank you for being you!

Sniz said...

This post hit close to home. I think these kinds of thoughts a lot. There are two things that really overwhelm is that I feel like when I organize something, it doesn't stay organized if anyone but myself uses it. Like the silverwear drawer or the school supply closet (or any closet but mine). The other thing is that whenever I do purge, it takes such a long time and sometimes a lot of money to get rid of the stuff I am purging, you know what I mean? If I want to have a garage sale, I have to store the stuff in the meantime. The old refrigerator in our garage died and now we have to get a truck, make an appointment at a place in Moresville that actually takes old refrigerators, then pay 40.00 to have them take it off our hands. If a computer monitor gives out, for example, it sits on the floor forever because Rog doesn't know what to do with it. It doesn't work, but you can't throw a huge computer monitor in the trash. When we cleaned for our new couch and set up a place for me to scrapbook, we got rid of so much stuff, but some of it still sits in piles...
I'm just complaining, aren't I?
This post was so sweet and encouraging...I sure didn't mean to whine like I just did! I admire you for your diligence, Monica. You are an inspiration.

See you tonight!

Sarah said...

I love what you said about learning to trust instead of holding onto the things of the world tightly. I'm a frugal keeper too. I've saved all of my kids clothes in case we have another. When we bought a king sized bed, I saved all of the queen size bedding in case we ever have a guest room...I've been realizing that if I don't start getting rid of things our house may spontaneously combust.

Thanks for a little motivation.

mindi said...

Thanks for the post.
We have a lot of spring cleaning to do here, if spring ever gets here!! Can you believe the snow?? I'm in awe of what you do, weather you feel organized or not. Your life seems peaceful to me, where over here utter chaos reigns . . .

Mary@notbefore7 said...

What an inspiring post and great reminder!

Such great women in your life!