Practicing Simplicity

Last week I shared about how I was learning soul freedom. Seeing my scatteredness and my many distractions more clearly has pushed me forward in practicing simplicity in my moments. It has encouraged me, even more, in walking with slow-feet in my days.

I have been greatly helped this past week by an online course I am taking. This wonderful course by Mary Gallagher is such a blessing. You can find it on her website Simple Life Simple Faith. The course is called Find Your Simple and it has led me in finding more focus in my life.

It seems that only a few words at the right time can make all the difference. The words I am referring to that resonated with me are these. “Everything isn’t meant for me. I must choose wisely.” Wise words by Mary Gallagher.

After reading, “Everything isn’t meant for me.” I had to ask myself what really is meant for me? It quickly became very clear to me that I only really want my everything to draw me to Jesus, that is what is meant for me as His daughter. Busyness does not do that. Busyness leaves me frantic and distracted. But, I am finding that slowness leads me back to Him throughout my day.

Practicing simplicity in my moments allows me space to breathe. When I stop multitasking and do one thing to completion, I find I am present in that one thing. I am available to His words and the Spirit’s nudges. As I went through my day yesterday, one thing at a time got checked off my to-do list. Running errands, raking leaves (it’s fall), making a vegetable salad with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from our patio garden, cutting back dead flowers, reading a chapter in a book, working through four loads of laundry, folding each load as it was finished, taking a walk, and doing some yoga. I didn’t rush, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed.

What surprised me is that I found I had a spirit of gratitude in my heart throughout the day, (well, most of the day). Overall, I felt gratitude, not frustration. I enjoyed the process, and my joy in that overflowed with thankfulness to the Lord. Besides that, I found I didn’t end up with a bunch of loose ends when my day was over. My tasks were complete and there was order. And that filled me with a feeling of peace and satisfaction.

Focusing on the task at hand gave me space to think, to be mindful of the Lord’s presence, to talk with Him as the moments went by. Not my normal, frantic cries for help, out of frustation, but rather to just be with Him in my day.

I have found a lacking in my ability to concentrate and make good decisions in my rushing and busyness. It begins before I even get out of bed, when I am racing through the coming day in my mind. This crazy-thinking has led me away from my routines. When the day starts out with me thinking about twenty things at once, it is hard to begin the day focused on reading the Word and praying. My mind wanders, and thoughts scatter. I think about all I need to do. It is hard to keep my mind stayed on Him, and to know His peace within.

I recently found that it is helpful for me to write my prayers as letters to the Lord. That too is slow. I write whatever is on my heart. I write about the verses that come to mind as I “pray.” I write responses to what I have read or studied. I write about my feelings, my worries and concerns, and the needs of others as they come to mind. I go back every few days and read through my prayers to mark down His answers.

I wrote my prayers years ago, but this “letter writing” is more relational. Now it is just heart-scribbles in an old journal that lead to connection in the quiet of the morning and in the sleepiness of bedtime. And I am loving it! My soul is refreshed.

I can’t do everything. I must choose wisely what I can do in the given moments of my days. What will draw me to Jesus? I am finding that slowness leads to less fretting, and more gratitude and joy. Practicing simplicity in life gives me space for cultivating connection and creativity. These are good things.

Recalibrating life isn’t just for this year. The learning process will be ongoing. I learn, I try, I fail, I learn more, I try again and again. It amazes me how quickly I fall back into old patterns after I just learned an important truth for my life. But one day at a time, moment-by-moment, I keep trying, I keep learning.

What about you, are you practicing simplicity in your moments and in your days? What leads you back to Jesus as you move through your day?


Learning Soul Freedom

Packing and the busyness of getting ready to move has me behind in my writing. But even in the craze of throwing away, recycling, giving away, and packing up, it seems the Lord has lessons for me.

My Recalibrate Life read, this month, is not one of the books I originally chose. In fact, I came upon it as I was trying to figure out if I could part with any of my books. It seems I had started the book before, but like so many other books and projects, I didn’t finish it. This month I am reading, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.

I picked it up off the bottom shelf, and found the wisdom within the first few chapters to be just what I needed for recalibrating my life. So instead of putting it in a box to give away, I chose it as this month’s read.

Packing up for a move is filled with a never ending list of questions. Do I want this? Do I need this? Have I used it? Will I use it? Is it a duplicate? Where will I keep it? On and on it goes. These are tough questions when it comes to some things, especially if the things are special to you and you want to bring them with, and you want to believe you will use them.

This book is about choices and choosing the best. When we choose our less than best, we actually are giving those things time and space in our lives that should belong to our best yeses. That makes perfect sense to my brain but has proven hard for my heart.

I had the boxes all packed, and there were too many, even I recognized that. I mentioned it to my husband, that I had filled a lot of boxes even after throwing out a lot of stuff and recycling a lot. He wasn’t happy about it.

I had it all figured out, I would use the stuff I packed, I had a plan in mind. And that is when I found this book. How does the Lord do that? Just when you think you have it all figured out, He has a way of rearranging the plan.

I read this sentence at the end of the third chapter, “Don’t get so locked into your overwhelming schedule that you haphazardly spend your soul.” And tears filled my eyes, convicted. I am guilty and have been guilty of this for way too long. Filling my life with too much, overfilled to overwhelmed. Not just my calendar, but my closets too. And it seems that just as I read that sentence, suddenly I realized the Lord had impressed on my heart that I wouldn’t be using those things. The ones all packed in boxes, the ones I had painstakingly gone through at least three or four different times trying to narrow down my choices so as to not have too many boxes. But Lord

It all seems too important to let go of. There are so many precious memories attached. And I could use them in volunteer work. But is that my best yes? I knew it wasn’t. I know what I want, what my goals and focus need to be, and yet I thought I could do this too. I always seem to think adding one more thing won’t be too much. 

So, a couple days passed and I went back to the basement, back to the packed boxes and I emptied out their contents. I repacked much of their contents in other boxes to give away. Giving away my children’s books from teaching felt sad. I told my husband how I felt, each story had a special activity to go with or a sweet memory attached. It feels like giving away a part of my life. He suggested giving them to a soon to be teacher that we knew. She was thrilled, but my heart still feels sad.

Even so I know the Lord is right. I wouldn’t ever have opportunity to use six boxes of children’s books. I kept some of my absolute favorites and I don’t know if I will have any opportiunity to use them, but maybe. For now I want to keep them.

Things not only take up space but they take up time as well. I can see how my soul ends up in bondage to the myriad of choices I reach for. I am seeing how I need to weigh my options more objectively. Letting go is hard but things come along with expectations within our hearts. Ideas of what we could do or should do, and then soon we end up overwhelmed and we haphazardly spend our souls. It is a hard lesson.

How about you? Do you know soul freeedom? Or are you in bondage to too much stuff, and too many chioices? Are you choosing your best yeses? Or are your choices unintentionally leading you to say no to them?

I realize now that is what has been happening with me.  I choose too many things, put too much on the calendar and in the closet and never have enough time for it all. It seems that I have lived like a child at a carnival filling up on cotton candy and caramel corn, wanting to go on all of the rides, and play all of the games. I need to learn from my past in order to choose my best yeses for the future. It is the way of simplicity. I am still learnimg.

I am continuing to read this book and will share more of this recalibrate life journey in my next post. I hope you will join me.