Many of you know that I’ve got a large family – 7 children – which requires living minimally with a great amount of organization. So for the most part, I like the rule, “You Get One” or “The Rule of One.”
For example, in the wintertime, each child gets one pair of boots and one pair of tennis shoes. They also get one pair of snow pants and one winter coat. (The three older girls do have a nicer Mass coat…it’s the exception to our Rule of One.) In the summer, they get one pair of rain boots, one pair of flip-flops, and one sweatshirt. They also get one swimsuit and one beach towel.
But the question is, how in the world do I keep track of all that stuff – 7 pairs of boots, tennis shoes, coats, sweatshirts, beach towels… Just where does all that stuff go?
My solution is hooks.
Thankfully hooks are possible in our new house, as there’s room on the garage walls. And since it’s summer, the children keep their life jacket, beach towel, and swim suit on their appropriate hook out there. This way they always know where to find their things, and these things stay off the floor and out of the house. (Mostly!)
This is my first year of not allowing beach towels in the house, and it’s been lovely. There are no more wet children tramping through the house to find a towel only to use it once and throw it on the floor. Done with that.
We also have hooks on the other garage wall for their sweatshirts.
Of course during the 9 months of Never-Ending Winter, their winter coats hang in those places. But for now, it’s sweatshirts. You’ll notice that the winter hats and gloves are in the basket sitting on the top shelf. The boys also keep their Mass shoes up there too. The gray bin on the floor is for their one baseball hat. My husband’s winter gear, however, does stay on those hooks off to the right all year round.
Here’s a shot of both walls.
There are two things that make this possible for us:
We have the extra space in the garage
We put cheap carpet down, so that the children do not have to stand on cold concrete to put shoes and things on.
As an aside, do you see the pencil sharpener above the white garbage can? This was a genius move too. No more are the children allowed to sharpen their pencils in the house. Inevitably the little ones dump that container of pencil shavings all over the place. Now, they can sharpen away, and spill it, and I don’t care.
Lastly, where do I put their winter gear? Well, I don’t have a storage “room,” but I do have a little space under the basement staircase where we put more hooks. (And dressers.)
In the background you might notice a few dressers? I’ve got 5 of them hiding back there, which is were I keep the children’s clothing that is currently not in use. Each drawer is labeled as either “Girl” or “Boy” and is also marked with a particular size. This makes it very easy to find whatever clothing I might need. It’s a lot easier to pull out a labeled drawer than to dig through a large tub. In fact, I’m constantly in and out of these drawers every single season, and it’s lovely to be able to get in there so easily.
In the end, there are definite challenges to having a large family. To all of you out there, living in the midst of it, I encourage you to keep at it! Try to institute your own version of “You Get One.” And experiment with some hooks.
Bathrooms may be the easiest room to simplify. What does one really need?
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Oh, but the reality is, I’ve got more in mine.
I have a hair dryer, flat iron, and hair spray. I also have mascara and a cosmetic compact, with two different colors of lipstick. I’ve got 4 bottles of lotion. (Mea culpa.) My husband has shaving cream, deodorant, and a set of hair clippers. He also keeps a Bible and Euclid’s Elements “on his side.” (I suppose because it’s the only place where he can read uninterrupted??)
There are other things too. I’ve got a household of 9 people to keep track of. Therefore, I tend to buy things in bulk. I’ve got three bottles of contact solution. And a ton of toilet paper below the sink.
In any case, someday I hope to have less. But for now, here’s what I can recommend.
Tips for Less in the Bathroom:
Limit the number of bottles in your shower. I’ve got 3: my shampoo, body wash, and my husband’s shampoo. Really, we could get by with 1.
Limit the number of towels and washcloths in your cabinet. The children have 1 towel each in their bathrooms, and my husband and I each have 2.
Throw that old medicine away. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s probably bad anyway.
Throw those old cosmetics away and buy less!
The last thing I’ll recommend for your bathroom is a holy picture or crucifix. I have St. Therese right my by sink, and sometimes, when I’m brushing my teeth or doing whatever, I talk to her. Yes, I might be a little crazy, but she always listens.
Some of you could care less about what’s in my closet. Really, I sympathize. You may just want to skip this post.
For the rest of you, here we go.
My Closet: An Introduction
Now I’ve been pregnant or nursing for about 13 straight years. Just think about that a minute. Then consider that I likely have another 10 more years of fertility.
Take a minute, do the math, process it. Think some more.
So clearly my body has been up and down a lot and will be up and down some more. There’s my normal, pre-pregnancy weight. Then, there’s my pregnancy weight. I always gain about 50 pounds. Then, there’s the post-pregnancy period, wherein it takes about a year for my body to return to its initial weight. And then about that time, I’m pregnant again.
Why do I mention all this?
Because as any of you mothers out there know, this requires a variety of clothing sizes, unless you have the privilege (or burden?) of being able to buy new clothes every “Body” Season.
And then consider the fact that I live in a region that promises a temperature swing from a frigid -40 degrees Fahrenheit to a blasting 110 degrees.
It’d be a lot easier to live somewhere tropical year round. I imagine you could live in a sundress and call it good.
How does all this relate to my closet?
In short, I’ve got three wardrobes: Normal, Pregnant, and Post-Pregnant. Of course there’s some overlap with clothing. For example, my two nursing tank tops have simply become my pjs for all Body Seasons. (Romantic, no?) And fortunately (or unfortunately?) I can wear my one pair of sweat pants also during all three phases.
But for my sanity, I do have clothing for each specific Body Season, and I’ll mortify myself a little by writing about it. Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas. I’m hoping it’ll spur me on to get rid of more.
So what is in my closet?
No skeletons, I hope.
Here’s a shot of my clothes as one walks in the closet:
Let me break it down for you. As it happens, right now I’m experiencing a Normal Body Season, so my blue tub of maternity clothes is sitting on the floor.
The pink box on the upper shelf is my wedding dress, and the brown box is my sole box of childhood memorabilia.
My Post-Pregnancy clothes are discreetly hanging in the corner, behind a few tank tops, which you may be able to see, if you look closely.
My dress-up clothes are hanging on the right, with my 3 dancing dresses in plastic. (My husband and I enjoy dancing; it’s a hobby.) So, the clothes on the left are what I wear every day.
Here are the remainder of the shelves, which contain bottoms for all four seasons – jeans, skirts, skorts, and capris. (I don’t have any shorts. I hate them.)
Here are the exact numbers of my regular clothes:
Long-sleeved shirts: 12
Short-sleeved shirts: 6
Tank tops: 7
Dresses (including for dance): 8
I realize that for many of you, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of clothing. But I’m working on it. I was greatly inspired by Darci Isabella’s video on what she’s got in her closet. Wow. Like 5 tops and 2 skirts. Just wow. She does qualify it, however, with that she’s done having children.
My current rule is that if something comes in, something goes out. I keep the same number of hangers. And I also “rotate” my clothing, so that way I can see what is being worn, and what is not. For example, do you see that blue long-sleeved shirt on the end? I haven’t worn it in a long time, because it’s on the end. Everything that’s been worn, gets put on the other side. That shirt may have to go.
Confusing? Make sense?
It’s my crazy way of knowing what I need to get rid of.
And how about my husband?
Here’s his entire wardrobe.
He does have some running clothes too, and so do I. They’re just in the dresser, in the room, with underwear and socks.
I gave up on shoes a long time ago. Less is way better, and in my case, a lot more comfortable. Here is a picture of every single pair of shoes I own.
When I was a little girl, I used to imagine the perfect bedroom. It was atop a high, high tower, naturally in a castle, built with beautiful gray stones. My room had a tall ceiling and large, airy windows, with white muslin curtains flowing in the breeze. My bed was certainly canopied with the same said cloth. All was peaceful; all was beautiful.
Alas, I have grown up, and to my dismay, I do not live in a castle. But I have not given up my hope of a peaceful, beautiful bedroom. One wants a quiet place to retreat to after all.
Today I’ll look at our master bedroom, which may give you an idea or two for your own bedroom. Also, if you have any good ideas, please be sure to post them below. I am always looking for ways to simplify.
There are a few things I’ll point out about our room first:
In order to achieve a quiet atmosphere, I’ve limited the amount of objects sitting out. You’ll notice that each night stand has a lamp, with my side also featuring a clock and my Bible. (My Bible is the only reading material in the room. This is intentional.) The other dresser has a picture of my family, a few flowers, and a little perfume bottle that my mother gave me.
I’ve also limited the number of objects on the walls. You’ll notice in the photos below that I’ve got a picture of our wedding ceremony, a picture of the Sacred Hearts, and a crucifix. Nothing else.
There is no mirror anywhere to be found either, not even a tall looking-glass. There used to be one attached to the dresser, but I got rid of it, and in our old house, I kept a tall looking-glass behind the closet door, but I decided I didn’t want it anymore. Yes, there is a mirror above the sink in my bathroom, and I suppose it’s necessary, as I don’t want to look completely disheveled all the time, but in the end, it is better for me to not walk by mirrors all day long.
Lastly, you will not find a TV in this room. Nope. We wanted an atmosphere of simplicity and peace.
So here we go. If you’re walking down the hall, here’s the first glimpse of our room that you’ll see:
Notice the wooden rocking chair? That’s my time-out chair. It’s one of the best things about our bedroom. I have a place to go, when it’s loud and chaotic in the rest of the house. Truly, I am very thankful for this little spot. Above it is a photo from our wedding and off to the side you’ll see this hanging on our wall:
I intentionally put the crucifix on that wall because I can see it from both the rocking chair and from our bed.
Here is another shot of our room when walking in the door. The only obnoxious thing is the big, ugly fan. I wish I didn’t need it, but I do. Every afternoon I lie down for about twenty minutes and must turn it on, to drown out noise from the rest of the house. I have heard about white noise machines and have wondered if I should look into them? We’ll see.
The opposite wall looks thus:
You might be able to see the holy card of Jesus to the left of the dresser. Next to Him is a drawing (also of Jesus) that my daughter made for me. I hid those two little pictures there on purpose. It’s my little spot where I sometimes kneel to say prayers.
The door on the left is our bathroom.
There isn’t anything special in here. For example, you won’t find tons of towels. I’ve already mentioned elsewhere that my husband and I each have two. You also won’t find a scale, though, either. About ten years ago I got rid of that Mood-Wrecker.
And the closet? I think I’ll do a separate post on clothes later on. I’ll just leave you with one last photo.
This is my little bird that perches on my windowsill. It was my Grandma Martha’s. I think she’s rather pretty. She brings joy to my heart. I find that she often changes locations, though. My children have a habit of sneaking in my bedroom and flying her around the room to land somewhere else.
For those of you without children, you probably won’t be interested, and I’ll see you next time. For those of you with children, here we go.
Does it seem like an oxymoron to anyone else, to put the three words Christ-Like, Minimalism, and Toys in the same sentence? Uh, yeah. Because it is.
Nevertheless, as Chesterton reminds us, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”* So, we have too many toys. Let’s look at the situation and see what we can do.
It’s Complicated (i.e. An Excuse)
First of all, we need to acknowledge that this is a complicated situation. I can think of four reasons why this is so.
We practically live in the Arctic Circle, therefore we need some toys, lest we die of boredom while we’re trapped in our houses for ten months of the year.
We homeschool, therefore we need some educational toys.
We don’t own a traditional TV, therefore we need some board games and the like.
Our extended families are generous, and we do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
That said, we need to learn detachment, and less is always better. Nobody wants their children to be greedy or have an attitude of entitlement. So in our household, we have a simple rule:
If something comes in, then something goes out.
Let me illustrate that. If Grandma makes a quilt for my son, then another blanket in our house goes out. If my little girl gets a doll for her birthday, then she must give one of her previous dolls away. (Or she may give the new doll away too.) If a new game comes in the house, then an old, unused game must be given away. Ect, ect.
In order to do this, one must have already purged to a point where no more is needed to give away. For example, you must determine how many of each kind of toy your child actually “needs.” If Suzy has 15 dolls, then that’s likely too many. Find a number that hurts just a little and go with it. Then when Aunt Sally gives her a new one, she must choose.
In our house, we decided two dolls per girl. This has worked well, and the girls get it. But even two dolls per girl gets to be a lot. We have four girls after all!
So just what do we keep?
It depends on what you call “toys.” There are really two big categories:
Educational books, supplies, and games
Toys that tend to be age and/or gender specific
Educational Supplies & Things
This first category has such things as books, puzzles, circuits, art supplies, coloring books, play-do, and games. These things are all great to have on hand. But again, one doesn’t need hordes and hordes of them. In fact, you’ll go crazy if you don’t limit the amount of puzzles or coloring books you own.
And there are ways to cut back too. In our house, we don’t have markers or watercolor paints. I detest them. So they’re just gone. We do have, however, a small container for crayons and a small container for colored pencils. And these containers are located where everyone can access them.
Fortunately I have a closet in what we call our “Homeschool Room” where we keep most of these things. And that’s just it, everything must have a place. If it doesn’t have a place, then likely you should just get rid of it, or something else, so that it does have a place. This is so important because then your children know where things go and can put things away properly.
Back to Toys
This second category I will break down into Boy Toys and Girls Toys. But first I’ll just say that we really have a preference for toys that can be manipulated, like legos. (Although one can have too many legos, as we learned last year. Click HERE for that one.) These kinds of toys are far more likely to get used in our household, so these are the ones that have survived our many purges over the years.
So, I took an inventory of what we own, and I’m embarrassed. It’s a lot. Nevertheless, here you go.
trains and wooden train tracks
nerf guns (I hate them, but my husband loves them)
a marble run
a couple trucks, tractors, and balls
dolls, a few doll clothes, doll chair, 2 doll beds
my old barbie dolls
some fake food
some paper dolls that they made on their own.
And that’s it. Well, actually, the girls have one stuffed bear and two stuffed bunnies.
What have I gotten rid of over the years?
We have gotten rid of a lot of toys over the years, and the children have never missed them. It’s funny how that works. For example, we got rid of all our electronic toys a few years ago. These were annoying contraptions that required batteries. One was a leapfrog device, another was an alphabet computer thing, another was a talking Elmo stuffed animal, etc., ect. Good Riddance.
But there are many other things that have been tossed too. I mentioned earlier that we don’t have markers or watercolors, but I also got rid of construction paper. I hated the mess. Instead each child gets their own spiral bound sketchbook. This way they have paper, which is thicker than normal paper, and it stays in their notebook, unless they tear it out.
Now of course, if I have a child that is interested in making something particular that requires a certain material, I will purchase that, if it’s reasonable. For example, my eldest daughter took an interest in learning calligraphy, so I did buy her 6 calligraphy markers and calligraphy paper, which she keeps in a special place.
A few other things we’ve gotten rid of are stuffed animals, except the three mentioned above, and an entire box of army guys and trucks. These things were just never played with. Of course if your children aren’t playing with certain toys, get rid of them.
We’ve also tried to cut back on Big Plastic Toys. For example, we used to have a big kitchen set, and I hated the amount of space it took up. While it did occasionally get used, it wasn’t generally for its purpose. Rather, the boys used it to make forts because it made for a nice, tall wall. We got rid of it.
We used to have a racing car track. Gone. We also had a big, plastic basketball hoop. Gone. Plastic barn and silo. Gone. And then there are the baby things that I hated because they took up too much space. High chair. Gone. Baby Swing. Nope. Extra baby gate. Nada. Nursing pillow. Don’t need. In fact, babies need a lot less than most people think!
We still have too much. I never even mentioned that outside things – ice skates, rollerblades, balls and bats, ping pong table, bikes, and wagons. Seriously, have you ever taken an inventory of every single toy you own? It’s an eye-opener. It might be a worthwhile activity, if you’re trying to determine what stays and what goes.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I do know that for our family, and for my sanity, less is always better. We’re always trying to cut back, but then also, not to take so much in. Anybody else have a few thoughts or ideas?
*It comes from Chesterton’s book What’s Wrong with the World. Click HERE for a great little article on it from the American Chesterton Society.
Today I’ll continue the minimalist discussion with a look at my kitchen.
I’ll say it again, always be careful about comparing yourself to other families. We are all different and are called to different stations in life. No two families will look alike! I am only offering one way that works for us. Maybe an idea or two will stick out for you in the following.
So here we go. The above is my kitchen, which you can see is one big room with the dining room to the east and the living room to the north. (You can’t see the living room, as I’m standing in it to take the photo.)
I probably don’t need to say that our kitchen is used for preparing food, (I do have 7 perpetually hungry children and 1 husband who is grateful to eat anything) and the dining room is for eating in. Except that I feel that I do have to mention it. Not all families cook and eat together. We do. So this space is important.
A Note on Beauty
Beauty matters. Beauty is objective, and it affects us. I learned this in grad school, studying art and reading what St. Thomas Aquinas and others had to say about it. But really, I didn’t need to study those great thinkers to know that I am influenced by my surroundings. Walking into a clean and simple room has a calming, peaceful effect on me. Walking into a dirty and chaotic room will instantly overwhelm me.
Since I am at home all day, with 7 loud children, I find it very important to live as neatly and simply as possible. And if I can, I add a touch of beauty. Maybe it’s a candle; maybe it’s a few flowers for the table. Wild flowers are readily available where I live in the warmer months, and during the rest of the 10 months of the year, my husband can pick them up from a florist very cheaply, if they’re bought by the stem. (It’s only arrangements that are expensive.)
I’ll say it again, beauty matters, especially in our culture of throw-away, plastic ugliness. We are not utilitarian communists after all. We are Catholics. Do you suppose Jesus ever picked a bouquet of wildflowers for his mother? I’ll bet he did.
Back to the Kitchen
So in the kitchen, I’ll point out 3 things I try to do.
I try to put very little on the countertops. In the above photo, you’ll notice that only the items that get used daily get a place there. This is for both practical and aesthetic reasons, for it allows for more space to cook, and it makes the space seem cleaner and bigger.
Everything in the kitchen has a place. If it doesn’t have a place, then it doesn’t belong. And I try to put things in a logical spot. For example, since my husband and I drink a bottle or so of wine per week, these items need to be easily accessible. (See the photo below.) Of course if wine isn’t your thing, then get rid of all those wine glasses taking up space!
And lastly, #3. If I haven’t used something in a year, then I get rid of it. I’ll highlight that for you again.
If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it!
Seriously, if you haven’t used that egg separator in over a year, get rid of it. If you’ve never used that brand new juicer, get rid of it. If you have two ice cream scoops, get rid of one. For that matter, how many large, cooking spoons do you have? Or when’s the last time you used all those cook books crammed in your cabinet? Or how about those 52 water bottles?
It’s freeing, living with less. And who knows? Maybe someone will be overjoyed at finding your mini-muffin tins and champagne flutes at the secondhand store.
Lastly, I’ll point out a few other practical things that I do in my kitchen.
Here’s a shot of the island.
Like the countertops, I keep this as clear as possible too, so that it is a space that can be used throughout the day. Children will do homework here, work on a puzzle, or just sit and watch me chop vegetables.
The other notable thing about the island is that I put all the plates, cups, and bowls in the lower righthand cabinet. I did this so that the little children need not climb the cabinets to set the table.
The other thing I’ll point out is a shelf by the dining room table. (See photo below.)
We keep our laptop here, so that we can listen to audio books during lunch. (The speakers are on the middle shelf.) My husband I also enjoy listening to jazz music in the evenings too, so it’s nice to have it readily available.
Next to the laptop are our prayer books for meal times. This includes the Magnificat for the Mass readings and Butler’s Lives of the Saints. I also keep the children’s current poetry there too, since we review them at breakfast.
And next to the speakers, you’ll notice a white basket. This is where we keep our cloth napkins during the day. After supper, Child #5 empties it into the laundry.
That’s all for today. If you have any questions, be sure to ask in the Comments Section below. Others may have the same question! Or if you have any great ideas to live more simply in the kitchen, post them for us to see.
*Two notes here. 1. We enjoy drinking wine out of proper wine glasses. Hence all the different stemware. 2. Did you notice all the glass bowls? It also may seem ridiculous that I own that many. And I agree with you. I think I’ll give away one or two. But I’ll also have you know that I’ve made progress in this department. I used to own about 25 beautiful glass bowls. Not kidding. People were very generous to us at our wedding.
Today I’m going to begin a series examining each room in my home, in light of minimalism. But not the secular minimalism void of any deeper meaning. No, I hope to have the message of the Gospel at the heart of all of this. Christ is the beginning and the end after all.
I am not an expert. I don’t know what I’m doing, really. I just know there is an overwhelming interest in this area lately and many are asking for help and guidance. I’m only sharing what has worked for me and my family. Of course my family will be different than yours. You will have different needs. I only hope to offer a few ideas that may work for you.
My main source of inspiration comes from Fr. Thomas DuBay’s book, Happy Are You Poor. And man, let me tell you, I fall so short from where he would have me be. But I like that because I like a challenge. If you don’t own this book, you should. It’s a great one to come back to.
Secondly, though, I was greatly inspirited by Darci Isabella. She has shown me that a large family – she’s got ten children – can homeschool and live with less. If you look around on her YouTube channel, you will find videos where she does room tours. I found them helpful over this last year, even if I didn’t do things exactly the same way she did. (For example, she doesn’t like owning books. I do.)
And that’s my goal. Just so show you an example of a large family, bumbling along, and trying to live a more Christ-like simplicity through what our cultural calls “Minimalism.”
The Living Room
So here we go.
What is the purpose of your living room?
Certainly our living room is a place for anyone to gather at any time, but it’s real purpose is for us to have a place to pray. We gather here as a family twice a day for that very thing. In the early morning, at 6:15am my husband and I begin Lauds with him lighting the four votive candles that you can see on the fireplace mantle. (We love candles.) On Sundays, we light the two tall tapers too.
I wanted the focus of this room to be on Jesus, which is why His icon is centrally located above the fireplace. You can also see the house phone on the mantle, but that has been bothering me lately, so I moved it to a more discreet location in the dining room. Also on the mantle are two family photos and a vase of flowers. (I love flowers – fake or real, but preferably real.)
The bookshelf consists of four inner shelves. The lowest shelf is usually empty because the baby just tears stuff out of it anyway. However, sometimes I will put a baby toy or two there, as you can see from the photo. The next shelf up contains the children’s prayer books, since they join us at about 6:40am for prayer. The shelf above that one holds my grandmother’s King James Version of the Bible that we frequently reference for the beauty of the language and so want it to be easily accessible. There is also a family photo here and a bowl of rosaries. The last inner shelf are all current books that my husband and I are reading in addition to our prayer books.
Next to that bookshelf on the floor is a basket full of children’s picture books.
To the right of the fireplace is another chair. (See photo below.)
Behind this chair you will see the children’s rosaries on hooks. We need the rosaries to be in a handy spot because every night after dinner, we kneel before the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a family and pray five mysteries together.
Here is a shot of the opposite side of the fireplace. The end table between the chair and loveseat usually has our periodicals on it with a book or two that someone may have been reading and did not put away. Ideally, I’d put the periodicals in the bottom part of that stand, but I can’t with the baby always tearing things out right now.
The lamp to the right of the loveseat is the only other light we have on in the mornings. I particularly like its location because is lights up Jesus in the Last Supper directly above it.
Here’s another shot of the living room. You may be able to see that to the left of the gray couch, on the floor, are two folded blankets. They are kind of hiding, but they’re important since we live in the Arctic Circle. (Not really.) The children use them every morning to snuggle in.
And that’s all that’s in my living room. I used to have all kinds of toys in my living room when my older children were younger, but I never liked it. I hated the mess. So a few years ago, I said enough. No more. And let me tell you, it’s way better.
Now that doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t get drug in throughout the day, but it does mean that it gets put away after dinner.
Toys are a big problem for most families these days, and I hope to address that one as I go along in this series. For now all I can say is, less is better. I’ve never regretted giving away toys. And strangely enough, neither have my children.
That completes my living room tour. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to put them below in the Comments Section, as others may be interested in what you have to say. In a week or so I hope to examine another room, but I want to leave you with a memory that popped into my head while typing this out.
The Family Whose House Burned Down
A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire. It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs. Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.
So I thought, what can I give? I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase. (I thought they might as well have that.) And I began to fill it. I had an extra quilt. I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels. I had a few kids’ games that were never used. I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.
Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used. I held the wooden box in my hands. It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding. I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.
I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no. This lovely silverware set was not meant for me. It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.
The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things. The mother of the family was so thankful. So thankful. But you know what? I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give. I walked away with Love burning in my heart.
Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all. But that one time I did get to see. And it was worth it.
But it is always worth it, no matter what. For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.
Yep, it’s Thursday. But I have a busy day tomorrow and would like this post to go out today.
I was recently interviewed by Mrs. Laura Gardner for her company’s blog. The topic was Minimalism. If you’re curious click HERE for it. All the photos in her article are from my home.
I want to highlight the book she mentions at the beginning of her article. This book was life-changing for me. If you need a little kick in the behind to get rid of some of your stuff, then read THIS. It’s Fr. Thomas DuBay’s Happy Are You Poor: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom.
Man, this book is tough to swallow. But it’s true. Your exterior surroundings are a reflection of what’s going on inside you. One ought to live, in his words, “Gospel Frugality.” (I have a long, long way to go.) This is the key, however. I like DuBay’s phrase – Gospel Frugality – because it suggests something that “Minimalism” doesn’t. In short, it means that God cares how you live. And unless you get that, you’re not going to simplify your life. Or your possessions. (And no, it doesn’t mean living in squalor with zero possessions.)
This week our sceptic pump went out. That was exciting. Actually, the pump probably gave way some time ago, but we didn’t know it. We thought maybe a kid shoved something down the toilet in the basement, as that toilet wasn’t flushing properly. We shrugged it off and told everyone to use the upstairs toilet, hoping to get around to having it fixed sometime in February. Well, then my husband noticed that the water level was much higher in the furnace room drain. Then the upstairs toilet wouldn’t flush fully. Then my husband investigated and discovered that the sceptic tank wasn’t draining because the pump wasn’t working.
Do you have any idea how big of a disaster this might have been? Imagine the nastiest fecal matter you can. Imagine the stench. Imagine it inches deep all over your house! Oh praise God for observant and inquisitive husbands!
In case you’re wondering, the matter has now been resolved. We have a new sceptic pump, and everything is functioning properly. Deo gratias.