simplicity

These Wonderful Things

These Wonderful Things

Newspaper for gift-wrapping.
Charlie Brown stamps.
Extra rehearsals.
(Endless) to-do lists.
Christmas concerts.
Amazon packages.
Bulletin drafts.
Doxology Press orders.
Shipping deadlines.
Various versions of Jingle Bells in lessons every week.

These are the things our December days are made of (especially if you're a musician!). As much as we long for a slower pace at this time of the year, the truth is this is one of the busiest seasons of all.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

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With the recent holiday weekend and a long car ride on either side, I finally finished reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker (please be impressed that I stuck with this bit of pleasure reading throughout the spring semester). The book chronicles the author's seven month experiment: seven categories (food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress) stripped down to seven essentials for a month.  Seven food items.  Seven articles of clothing.  Seven items to give away each day.  Seven forms of media to do without.  Seven ways to reduce waste and become more environmentally responsible.  Seven places to spend money.  Seven prayers a day to remind us to pause, give thanks, reflect, and focus on what matters.

My heart has been challenged by this "mutiny against excess" - our lives are so full, so busy and yet we strive for more.  We live with more than we need and yet we buy more.  We value our abundant wardrobes, earthly possessions, and excessive lifestyle spending habits.  Consumerism and the need for more has become part of our societal identity.  Whatever happened to that life of simplicity, abandon, and giving that Jesus talked about?  It's easy to lose sight of what we really need in our lives versus the things we want.

Where are our priorities in life?  What do we value?  Do our spending habits reflect this?  Are we responsible with the things we've been given?  Do we freely give away what we don't need or do we feel the need to hold onto it?  Have we ignored opportunities to help those in need?

If you're looking for a witty, easy-to-read book that will challenge you to live a more fulfilling life, I encourage you to read 7!

Have you read this book?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Read More: The Go-Giver

Simplicity

"Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci In my class’ study of American Transcendentalism last week, I got to remind them of Henry Thoreau’s famous quote: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”  You see, simplicity really is the ultimate form of sophistication, as the quote above states.  That’s why the impromptu “vacation” we took on Wednesday night, though as simple as could be, was better than ever.

“I think you need a vacation,” Steve said to me as we walked in the door.  I dropped my book bag and stack of papers to grade and kicked off my shoes.  “That sounds GREAT,” I said.  “What do you have in mind?”  A little while later, I was in my pajamas and we were sharing take-out pizza and watching a movie we picked up from the library.  It was perfect.

Sometimes, simplicity is all that you need.

Fully Myself

This week, I let myself become overwhelmed by fear but then I confronted it head-on.

I took few steps backward in reaching one of my professional goals but I made progress in defining my dreams and ways to achieve them. Steps in any direction is progress in my book.

I wasn't always a great listener this week but I tried to give encouragement wherever I could.

I have a few items that have stayed on my to -do list all week but I crossed a few new things off my teuxdeux list each day.

I may have improvised a little in my cooking this week but I managed to cook a wholesome dinner on top of a busy teaching day.

"Be fully yourself." We've all heard it before. During childhood, the words, "Just be yourself," seemed to relate most to integrity, honesty, and self-confidence. In the context of this week, the words take on new meaning. Being "fully myself" means accepting myself, not giving in, taking constructive criticism and learning from the experience, holding on to hope, learning to listen, taking action on the things that I care about, and showing grace to myself and others.

Moments

It was 9 p.m. on a weeknight. I got home late from teaching. Steve had vegetable pizzas in the oven for dinner. He washed the dishes, I dried and put away (it's our system). We sat in the breakfast nook catching up on the day and making mental checklists for the evening (our dining room table is currently covered in notebooks, paper folders, and stacks of documents - see here).

We lingered in the kitchen after dinner, discussing a very exciting idea for our WCMW special event (read more about that here) and documenting the experience for posterity's sake (shared on the WCMW blog here).

It's moments like this - the ordinary ones - that matter the most sometimes. You know the type of "ordinary" that I'm talking about: Those times when my hair is pulled back in a messy ponytail and I'm walking around the kitchen barefoot; when we eat a quick, informal supper instead of a sit-down, classical music-type of meal; when we laugh about the silly ways I combine words when I try to talk in a hurry.

Treasure these moments.