The term “simple life” means different things to different people. A matter of interpretation – so to speak.   As we get going on this series, I wanted to make sure that I defined exactly what the simple life means to me and from what premise I will be covering this series. 

The Simple Life defined:   the simple life is a life where I am free from the bondage that comes from being entangled in a life lived for things, prestige, public opinion and entertainment addictions.  It is being free to invest in relationships with others, starting first with God Himself, then moving to my family, friends and others with whom I come in contact.  

 It is saying that people – not things are what is important in life.

So many people have chosen to have things as a focus of their lives (sometimes deceiving themselves into thinking that the ‘things’ are enhancing their relationships – when in fact, often times they are destroying them); only to find that a life lives for material things is a life of bondage and emptiness.  The Bible calls it vanity.

The purpose of life is relationships.  The first and most important relationship to me needs to be that of developing a deep relationship with God.  Spending time with Him; being free to slow down and be able to hear His still voice as He draws me to Himself.  The most awesome thing about this relationship is that God desires a relationship with me more than I desire a relationship with Him; and has promised that if I seek for Him He will be found and when I draw near to Him he will draw close to me.  When material things are my focus in life it is hard to develop a deep relationship with God.

Another relationship that is very important is that of family.  When material things are held in high regard the family relationships suffer.  Now, I am not saying that having nice things causes a family to suffer; but when the focus is our things – our family relationships will suffer.  Many a marriage has fallen apart because of the stress that comes with debt and material worship.  Many a marriage has not had the time to deepen and couples are unable to bond closely together because one (or often both) spouses are needing to hold down the jobs in order to ‘just make ends meet’. 

The sad reality is that in homes where materialism reigns you will not only find husband and wife relationships strained, you will find children who have been negatively impacted by this idolatry.  Desperate for relationships themselves, children are left to have these voids filled by possessions that do not fill the emptiness; or friends who, like them are hurting because they have been 'left to themselves' as Mom and Dad run this way and that trying to make ends meet.

The simple life is not a life of environmental awareness, or of fanatic frugality.  It is not a life that delves into minimalism as an end to itself or is anti-government go off grid and isolate from anyone else to achieve the desired level of daily existence.  (Although many of these lifestyle choices can be studied and learned from and wisdom gained in tips that help free us from materialism and it’s life draining clutches.) 

 No, the simple life is a life that has relationships as it priority and is willing to do anything and everything to shape daily life in order to insure that all relationships in that person’s life are able to be developed and enhanced.

In order to live a life simple and fully we must free ourselves from things that have no value and place our time, energy and resources into those who have great value – the people around us.  I trust as we delved into this series that you will gain a fresh perspective on the real meaning of life and that you will find the freedom and simplicity of having a life focused on things of true value.  Thanks for stopping by, I am so glad you did!


The Weekend Camp Out

 This past weekend the teen boys in our church had a youth activity.  A camp out on our property.

 It was fun watching them set up their tents, getting a fire going and playing hide and go seek in the woods after dark.   Brought back a lot of memories of youth activities we have supervised. When we thought of all the work that goes into an activity we suddenly felt old; and thankful that we were sitting on our porch watching the activity.  We thanked God that night for young and energetic youth workers.  God bless them all.   :) 

Anna watching the boys from a distance...

Breakfast in the Mountain Air

Worshiping Wrong on Easter - Simple Life Series Pt 1

Today we begin our series, "The Simple Life".  I am excited to start this series and have felt burden for sometime to write and post on frugal issues and a minimalist mindset; but from a Christian perspective.  I hope you will join us every Monday morning for posts related to having a life that is simple and free from materialism.  We are hosting a book giveaway to launch this series and I hope you will enter your name in for the book drawing.  All the details for the book giveaway are in this post.  Comment there for your chance to win.

In "The Simple Life" series we are going to explore this lifestyle from many different angles.  We will tackle practical tips and give ideas and reference other blogs who deal with lifestyle choices that enhance this lifestyle.  However, if we are truly going to tackle this issue; we must first start with heart issues.  We need to find out why things are so important to us.  This first post we are going to explore to whom, or where we are worshiping.   

I remember as a little girl hating Easter Sunday.  I remember this aversion starting around my third or fourth grade year of school.  Before that time I had fond memories of the spring holiday.  We had the Easter egg hunts in our yard, a nice lunch following church and pictures before church that marked the special day.  You know the pictures; you probably have them in your family’s photo albums as well. 

Each Easter we took the pictures before church.  My sister and I adorned in our new Easter dresses. Complete with a spring hat, white gloves, new white shoes (you could not wear white shoes until Easter Sunday) and usually a new little purse to finish out the outfit.  Sometimes the picture was taken on the couch with the big Easter basket full of candy and gifts – other years the picture was taken on the front steps as we headed out for church.  Year after year.  Hat after hat.  Each Easter – a new outfit and a new picture to add to the photo album. 

Then that year happened.  I was too young to remember what had caused there to be no money for an Easter dress; but that year I went to church in an ‘old’ dress.   There was no hat. No gloves.  Black shoes covered my feet.   To this day, I remember sitting in my seat in Sunday school and feeling out of place.  The skinny legs of my Sunday school chair could not hide the color of my shoes as I tried in vain to wrap my feet around them.   I wished that I could be anywhere but there; and I determined in my heart of hearts that I did not like Easter Sunday. 

Time passed and I grew up; and as I got older I focused more on the spiritual emphasis and meaning of Easter Sunday.    I got married and started having my babies.  My babies had grandparents who had fond memories of how sweet and wonderful it was to get a new spring outfit for the kids and through their gifts my children lacked nothing when it came to dressing up for the big day.  I enjoyed it too as the new dresses and suits were taken from their hangers and the kids were dressed up for the special holiday.  The weeks before that Spring Sunday were filled with plans and preparations for what they would wear on that Sunday to church.    

Finally the Easter Sunday was here and we got up early to get the kids ready in time to take the pictures.  The dresses looked just right, hats where adjusted and straightened; and the shoes were double checked to make sure there were no scuffs and the new shine was still there.  Then we lined the kids up on the couch and started flashing the camera to get the perfect shot for the album. 

One Easter, and I don’t recall which one – or what prompted the flashback memory – I took the picture and as the camera flashed I was transported in my mind’s eye to a Sunday school classroom where I was sitting with my legs wrapped around the chair.  I felt at that very moment the awkwardness I had felt all those years earlier.  It was the feeling of rejection; of being sub-par; of not measuring up to the status quo.

I was immediately concerned and convicted.  I was sending a message to my children; and my spirit knew that it was a wrong message.   I knew that this was not a message I wanted to teach my children.  How sad I would feel if they ever felt deprived and second class because of the clothes that they wore to church on any given Sunday; but the uneasiness in my spirit went even deeper than that.  Much deeper than that!  I grew deeply concerned that if I was putting an emphasis on the outward things that they had on that someday they might look down on someone who did not have those things and think them someone beneath them.  That thought terrified me more than the pretense I was feeding by my emphasis on their new clothes.

The battle was just beginning.  God was confronting a philosophy that I had been exposed to for as long as I could remember.  I was not the only little girl in the Sunday school class with a new spring dress, hat, and purse.  Most of the entire class had on their new Easter outfits.   Doesn’t everyone get a new outfit for Easter and Christmas?  It is the American way – our culture so to speak.  Through the conviction I argued:    “There is nothing wrong with getting my children a new outfit for this special day.”  

I grew frustrated with the conviction; agitated deeply in my heart of hearts.    It was the Holy Spirit who pointed out that the issue was not the new dress, the pictures or the color of shoes.  The issue was deeper.  God began to show me as I pondered these things and as I allowed the Holy Spirit to work in my heart that I had my worth tied up in things.  In this instance, it was the clothes my kids were wearing.  It mattered to me that people thought that I was a good parent based on what my kids wore to church on Easter Sunday.  It mattered to me that people did not view us as poor or needy by making sure that my kids had a new outfit to wear on the Sunday when everybody gets a new outfit for church.

Ah, the nerve the Holy Spirit was hitting on hurt.  I started to see that I was worshiping what others thought of me more than I was worshiping God. 

I started to see that if I was going to allow God to dictate my value system I was going to have to not value status quo.  I was going to have to confront the way I had looked at things; and sometimes those confrontations were painful.  I wish I could say that it gets easier; but when our heart has grown accustomed to worshiping at one altar it is difficult to stop our religious exercise of futile worship. 
I was worshiping at the altar of acceptance.    I was forgetting that my approval rests in God Himself.  He has bought me for a high price, I am His, accepted, cherished.  His acceptance of me is not based on what clothes I wear, the color of my shoes; but He loves because He is love and has chosen to shower His love and acceptance on me.  Through the years I have realized just how much I want my children to know that truth.  You get what you honor.  If I honor the material things of this world – I will get children who turn into adults who worship at the altar of materialism. 

If we are going to ever pull away and live a life that is free from the ties of this world we must evaluate at which altars we worship.  There are many altars.  They are altars of our own making.  The altar of acceptance has many worshipers; as does the altars of fame, leisure, entertainment and money.   

Where we worship is where we will spend our time, our money and our emphasis in life.  The simple life is free from being entangled in the worlds’ system and philosophies.  The simple life is a life that is focused on what is to come – not the here and now. 

Where are you worshiping?  What value systems are you promoting to your children, your friends, your neighbors?  May I challenge you to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and show you the idols of your heart?  It hurts.  It cuts deep; but when we are willing to tear down the altars that have so crowded our lives it opens up to us the ability to love God more, to understand Him deeper and to worship Him with our whole heart.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.”

“Know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity against God?”

Unnoticed Blessings

Picture shared from:

A simple gesture, really.  I pick up the red ones instead of the green.  She likes red better.  Purchase is made, bagged and taken home. 

Snack time has been declared and she asks what she may have.  I think… and remember the purchase.  I open the fridge and tell her that an apple will make a good snack for that day.  Then she sees it.  The red ones!

She jumps for joy and runs over to embrace my legs with a hug of gratitude.  I am amazed at the display before me.  Amazed and convicted.

The display of joy because I remembered amazes me.  Her display of affection and gratitude convict me.   He has done so much more for me and I fear I have not noticed. “His mercies are new every morning.”

The beautiful sunrise.   

The sunsets – even a gifted artist only feebly duplicates His work.

The clean water I drink.

His revelation given to me in complete form, available for me to read as much as is needed.

A machine to wash, another to dry.

A shower - always there to clean, disinfect and refresh.

Birds to awaken me with songs of rejoicing and playful fireflies to observe as I relax for the evening.

My children’s kisses goodnight.  Each one.  A gift to me from Him.

I forget the blessings.  My human heart so easily notices the bad and forgets the good. So much good!
Oh, how I long to be His little girl who jumps for joy at the smallest of His blessings to me. 

I wash the skin of the apple and take in more than the color or the zeal of her hug.  I whisper,   “Make me see them, Dear God.  All of your blessings to me”.  And as the skin is dried the apple cut I am amazed at the greatest blessing of all.  He knows me and continues to bless me – even when I don’t notice!  

Reveling in His blessings to me today,

New Series Annoucment - and Book Giveaway

I have delayed writing about the topic of “The Simple Life” for some time now.  There are many reasons for my delay.  Perhaps because I am not sure exactly what the term means – and am convinced that it is not a term that means the same to each and every person.  Another reason in my delay is because it is something that hits at a core level with me and would require me to become more transparent – more open about a subject that can be hotly debated and criticized.  (I know, I have been on both ends of that coin.) 

However, I am convinced that it is something that we as Christian’s need to talk about and needs to be addressed.  I want to convey my thoughts on different matters because I feel very much that it is important for us to dialog and discuss and to challenge our thinking.  Have you ever wondered if what you believe or do is because you have never been challenged to believe or do something differently?  Perhaps a lot of how we live is done by default.  Simply because it is what has always been done and what everyone around us is doing? 

It is my opinion that materialism has a lot to do with the apathetic state of the Christian church in America today.  I will agree that it is not the only contributing factor in the declining condition of the church; but I must say that it is a factor.  It is my opinion that it is a very strong factor.  I also believe that most Christians would say they agree that materialism plays a big part in the overall health of our churches.  However, we often stop there; agreeing that there is a problem; but failing to go further.  To the practical; and perhaps the reason for that is because it hurts.  It hits us where we live and it gets downright uncomfortable.

I know.  I have been made uncomfortable.  Not by materialism in others but in the worship of things in my own life.  The day to day choices I made proved that my heart was worshiping at another alter.  The alter of things, possessions and prestige have consumed my worship too many times.  I would like to say that I never go back to that alter.  I do.  I would like to say that I can confess my sin of idolatry and it never comes back.  It does.  God has showed me and continues to show me how much things permeate my life and the culture wherein I live.  It hurts.  As the Holy Spirit shows me the spiritual cancer that is eating away at my joy I have to consent to let Him cut away at these tumors and remove them from my spiritual heart.  Physical surgery causes pain; spiritual surgery does also.     

I do not want to share these posts with you as one that has arrived.  I have not.  Perhaps like me you will be hit at a level that hurts too – if so, I am sorry for the pain; but convinced that God is leading me on a path that has been difficult at times for me to follow.  Looking back, I am seeing how He has been leading and what 
He has been teaching me; and quite honestly, I am excited about it!

Could it be that the work of God is being hindered in America because we have become so materialistic and “things” oriented.  Forgive me for bringing it down to our level here.  I am a Christian wife and mom.  Could the work of God be hindered in the lives of my children because of my focus on material things and money?  This one hurts because there is nothing that I want more than to see my kids grow up to serve God with all their hearts. I must say that God has showed me that indeed it can!  This causes me to tremble because I care very deeply that my children love God and serve Him long after they leave my care. 

In the posts ahead I challenge you to be open to thinking outside the American ‘box’.  Be willing to ask yourself the hard questions.  You know the questions, they hit at gut level and cause you to squirm and really have to ponder the answer. The Holy Spirit has a wonderful way of asking these questions!  

 I want my children to know that God is real that He does provide and that He can be trusted.   In this series, I not only want to cover the philosophies into materialism; but also delve into the practical things that  give us ideas and knowledge on how to live an everyday life that is frugal and allows us to make decisions that cause us at the end of the day to be able to pillow our heads in assurance that we have been wise stewards of the money and resources that God has given to us as homemakers.

 Money, Possessions and Eternity

If you have not done so I would challenge you to get the book:  “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn.   This book challenged my thinking – I mean it REALLY challenged my thinking.  So much so, that there were a couple of times when I had to put the book down because I was under conviction about the materialistic leanings of my heart.  It was a hard read for me; but one that left me changed and caused my view on things to never be the same.  It is a good read; and a book worth adding to your library.

 Now for the announcement!    I have decided to offer this book as a giveaway item to launch this new series.  Here is how it will work:  There are several ways in which you can add your name to the book giveaway.    

First, by just commenting on this post and telling me you would like to be entered. 

Second, by posting on your blog about the new series; and providing your readers with a link over to my blog. After you make your blog post simply come back to this post and comment and tell me about your post and that you would like to be entered again. (Please provide me a link to your post about the book giveaway).    

Thirdly, by posting on face book about the series every Monday and providing your friends with a link over to my blog. Again, after you place the face book link for your friends to see come and let me know and enter your name in again – (on the comment section of this blog post), commenting to me about your face book invite to my blog.  (Inviting your friends every Monday to join us will allow you to add your name to the drawing 4 extra times!)     

The book giveaway will be promoted until Monday, August 5, 2013.  On that Monday at 8pm EST I will close the giveaway comments section and will draw a name by random.  The winner of the drawing will receive a copy of Randy’s book.  I hope you will participate in the giveaway and invite your friends to join us for this series on The Simple Life. 

The Simple Life series will be posted every Monday morning.  I will continue to post family postings and other devotional blog posts throughout the week; but reserve Monday’s for the Simple life series.  I do not know how long we will continue the series; but am looking forward to posting about The Simple Life and getting your input and thoughts on the matters we discuss also!

So, get ready for the ride.  I am excited to post about some things that are near and dear to my heart.  Thanks so much for stopping by, I am so glad you did; and I hope you will continue to join us for the upcoming posts on “The Simple Life” and invite your friends to join us too! Our first Simple Life Post will begin on Monday, July 15, 2013. 

 ( Due to the cost of shipping, the book giveaway is available only to USA shipping addresses only)