Simple.

aspen-629371a copyYou may notice a different tone around here.

My heart has been longing to strip off old seasons struck through with gold, like autumn trees letting go to the winter winds. 

Some of you may think this website changes color more often than leaves do.  And you are probably right.  Yes, I am one of those odd people who rearrange their furniture just because I can.  I know when something feels right, when it is a hair off or has grown stale.  I might not always know exactly where I am going but I usually do know when I have found what I’m looking for.  Found it!

This little online home.  It’s been simplified because simple is the pull in my spirit.  Focused.  Uncomplicated.  Still. Clean.  Pure.  Simple lines and loops making letters and words that speak His truth in love and call for change where change is so very needed.  What once felt sterile or stark to me in terms of design, feels uncluttered and peaceful now.

When I wrote from Africa, I wrote to connect with the unfolding story around me.  And to share it with you that we might journey together.  It has taken me two years to figure out, really nothing has changed.  This chapter in the story just looks a bit different than the last.

I don’t write to impart some vast deposit of wisdom.  I write to understand my own meanderings, my own wandering with Jesus, my own journey deeper into the heart of God.  The better I know Jesus, the simpler this journey gets.  Deep does not mean complicated.  Deep means still and powerful.

There is so much spilling from my heart friends and I’m finding His rhythm again.  My feet are finding this season’s sound and purpose.  So the tone is changing. But my heart is remains simply offered and poured out on a page that we might continue this shared journey into His heart.

Grateful for you beloved!

Let It Go: It’s Not Just Frozen’s Theme Song

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I started the year off with a commitment to simplify.  Everything.  Then as life does, life happened and now it is March.  No time like the present to get going on those New Year’s resolutions.

So here it is- my “spring cleaning” minimalism manifesto.  Call it guidelines to creating a life with space for more of what matters.  As I sort and organize and decide what stays and goes and where it all fits best, here are some of the thoughts behind my decision making process.

LET IT GO.

  • If it is worn beyond its use, cannot be re-purposed or transformed, let it go.
  • If it has no place or function and cannot be re-purposed and/or put away, let it go.
  • If it is more than 2 sizes away from where I am, worn/dingy, a style I just won’t wear anymore, reminds me of anything I don’t want to be reminded of or is something that doesn’t scream I AM GORGEOUS or I TOTALLY LOVE THIS (a set or two of scruffy gardening clothes and workout wear aside}, let it go.
  • If there are 10 duplicates without a specific purpose, keep only a few, let the rest go.
  • If I haven’t worn it in a year and it isn’t for a special purpose (i.e. formal wear, uniform, etc.), let it go.
  • If I haven’t worn it in a year and it isn’t for a special purpose (i.e. formal wear, uniform, etc.), but has crazy sentimental value… I’ll be cutting a swatch, saving the swatches and creating a collage on canvas, the rest- let it go.
  • If it is out of season and I know I can’t wait to wear it when it gets cold or hot again, wash, sort, pack away: otherwise let it go.
  • If it doesn’t have a purpose AND a place, let it or something else go.
  • If paperwork is more than a year old and is not needed for everyday reference: file & store according to documentation needs and shred the rest. Let it go.
  • If drawers are overflowing with nebulous amalgams of random things, sort and let anything not needed AND loved go.
  • If “stuff” has been collecting for a project more than 6-9 months & I have yet to start, let it go.
  • If it doesn’t help my mental, emotional, spiritual being, let it go.

Minimalism isn’t about if you live in 250 square feet or only have 100 things in your possession, it is a journey and a lifestyle valuing things that matter most, most.  It is understanding that trying to fill emotional or relational holes with things makes us stuffed up not WHOLE.  And whole hearts and relationships are what make us truly rich in ways our bank accounts never can or will.

As you spring clean and organize, why not consider simplifying at the same time?

Audacious Hope

EApicI miss the hush that comes over a place washed in white.  Like softly falling grace, snow transforms broken landscapes into testimonies of His beauty.  I might be a Florida girl, but I do love the quiet, shut in solitude and splendor snow brings. All in appropriate, convenient, limited measures of course.

How quickly autumn has marched on through thanksgiving to turn us toward the manger.  It seems before the fall leaves can even change color, Christmas is out in stores.  I am not that old but I remember growing up celebrating each season before racing into the next.  It seems society is in an ever maddening dash forward and it is our present that is lost in the scuffle.

I don’t want to do that this season. Rush through to Christmas.  The only way to lose time is by rushing through it.  I want to sit right here in my now and savor all of God’s incredible blessings and wander slowly toward Bethlehem.

I miss the slower pace of the bush.  I miss the tucked in wonder of snow days in Colorado.  I am truthfully a very happy hermit extremely satisfied with Jesus, my small circle of family and friends (including my studio assistant Charlie of course) and creating with paint and prose. I love my little 700 square foot sanctuary and I am grateful for where God has me.

But God doesn’t let me stay tucked away.  This love dance with Him includes times hidden and times stepping out to serve and connect and be stretched and learn new levels of trust.

Today we stepped a day closer to Bethlehem on an advent journey to celebrate His coming and His coming again.  The first candle lit radiates the audacity of hope in the face of situations that threaten its very existence.  Hope is audacious if it is anything at all.  It marches right into impossibility and bravely expects promises still unseen. 

My last 18 months have tried to strip hope right out of my heart.  Loss does that.  If we let it.  And there were days I did.  I couldn’t see beyond the pain in my heart. I felt like I left the best days of my life in the red dirt of war torn South Sudan and there wasn’t much point or purpose left.  There are seasons it is a miracle of grace just to stand and having done all stand.  His grace held me up when there was no strength left.

150785_10205455381810918_8024107357480221386_nAs a small candle flickers in my makeshift small version of an advent wreath, His hope is flickering again in mine.  I don’t know what lies ahead but I know God’s got it and it will be good, because HE is good.

I know this can be a hard, lonely season, especially if its coming reminds us of loss.  But this time of year doesn’t have to be lonely.  The One Who was born in a stable still comes to obscure, hurting places too crowded to welcome Him.  He longs to walk with us, taking us beyond tinsel and trappings to renewal and redemption.  To slow our race down to a stroll with Him, to remember and reflect, to see and expect, to follow the star once again to a Baby in a manger Who is still changing everything.

I look forward to sharing this advent journey with you friends.  May His hope be rekindled in your hearts today in every place it has been dampened by disappointment or loss.  You are loved.  And you are never, ever alone.

Letting Go

lettinggoThe trees flame bright before they bare their branches and let go of last season’s fruitfulness.

Then they stand stripped, stark and brave against the cold winter’s winds.  {Maybe not so much here in north Florida but in so many other places I have lived and traveled through.}

It seems a fitting time of year for a new level of stripping away and letting go.  And along with it comes a new kind of focus.  We have to let go of old success and old fruit in order to be ready to bear a new harvest of fruitfulness in its new season.

…every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit… John 15:2

A line I read this week has stuck with me.  “Be aware of that which does not serve your spirit. It is likely time to let those things go.”

I have been in a place of examining that which does not serve my spirit well, on every front.  Sitting in stillness listening to His whispers of where to turn next and what to put my hand to in this time.  The path to burnout is often paved with “good” ideas and with a body still in need of extra grace anyway, I can’t afford the tyranny of the good idea right now.

I am more keenly aware than ever the damage stress does to this body I am in. So I’m in a season of chopping anything unnecessary, anything lacking the grace to carry it, anything lifeless and wearing.  When God gives a call or a mandate, He ALWAYS gives the grace to walk in it.  Period.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard at times. Of course there are hard parts.  It simply means there is grace that carries you through the challenges.  Because our life in Him is not one lived by might or power but by His Spirit.

Jesus reminded me this week something He has said repeatedly in differing seasons of my journey in Him: Provision is in your pen and paintbrush.

printautumnWell if that is where some much needed provision lies and that is where His grace is flowing, then it is there I must be faithful.  And in the middle of an intense grad school program that focuses on coaching/consulting/leadership, my brain needs my work to be creative and intuitive to balance the academic and cerebral. After the intensity of the last years in Africa, spending time creating from a place of reflecting His beauty to my community locally and online feels incredibly right.

While I still do coaching/consulting as God leads and brings me clients and I will still be developing that part of what I do, this season is one of focusing on the creative part of what I do.  I’m learning lessons trees have known forever.  There are seasons of great fruitfulness and then there are seasons of letting go to make space for more fruit to come.

What part of your life is not “serving” to build up your spirit?  Maybe like the trees, it a season of letting go in the expectancy of the promise that lies within.

Simple Doesn’t Mean Cheap

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Found on Pinterest

Sometimes it is easy to assume.

If you are living simply, of course it must mean you are living on the cheap.

While I am ALL for cost effective and I do do a happy dance when I can find what I need at 50-75% off, simple does not imply a poverty mindset. Not at all.

In fact intentional simplicity it is the exact opposite of a poverty mindset.

A poverty mindset says I cannot afford {practically speaking that might be a present fact} what I really want so I will fill the space that “want” creates with 10 lower grade versions there of.  The irony of it all is when you add up over 1-3 years the money spent on the lower cost versions that break more frequently and are really not what you want usually the total will cost more than buying the one you wanted to begin with.

Lower price point does not necessarily equal real lower cost or true greater value.

A wealth mindset says I will invest in the one very good quality item I really want/need and enjoy one that will last {instead of ten that won’t}.  If I can’t buy it now, I’ll save to buy it later.  Of course if you know a semi-annual sale is around the corner. Ahem. Get it on sale.

Two years ago when I began to stock my art studio here I bought lots of different variations of watercolors to try out.  Now I have a stack of scholastic grade paints lying around that I never use.  I have 3-4 professional grade palettes I love.  So I am packing up ALL my unused paints to simplify my workspace. Some sets will be stored for when I give in person classes.  Some new sets will be put on e-bay to resell.

I am only keeping in my corner studio exactly what I love to create with.  And the same process will be eventually by applied to my closets and my drawers and my nooks.

Poverty says I’m afraid of not having in the future so I need to stockpile resources in the present.  Wealth says I know I am loved and taken care of by Jesus so I can be satisfied with just what I need for today because I know the One Who holds all my tomorrows.

Poverty and wealth are first states of mind before they ever are reflected in our bank balances.  {This power point is a fascinating comparison between the mindsets of poverty, middle class and wealth.}

My goal in simplifying is to live truly wealthy.  In all the ways that matter most.