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I am a wife, daughter, mother, bilingual teacher, poet, author, women's Bible study teacher, world traveler, orphan advocate, and an adoptive mother.  Our adoption journey has been filled with a lot of hurt and loss, along with even more hope, grace, and healing.  Through it we have experienced more of God than we ever bargained for and have watched Him miraculously redeem our story when we surrendered all the broken pieces to Him.

Surviving the Valley Series

Surviving the Valley Series
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Longing for simplicity

I'm a minimalist. I don't like to spend money, get involved in every activity under the sun, or keep up with the latest gadgets, gossip, or story.

I live in a small house because I don't see a need for a bigger house. We all fit just fine.

I don't carry a purse anywhere because I don't like having to keep up with anything other than the two necessities, my phone and my wallet. I don't need or want to keep up with anything else.

I'm the girl who threatened my boyfriend in college to not even think about getting me a ring with a big diamond to propose to me because I didn't want to wear anything  "big and gaudy". I'm also the girl who said, "Please don't buy me a dozen roses. One means just as much." Yep, I'm that girl.

A friend once told me, "I'll never forget your wedding. Simple, yet elegant." Simple. Yeah, that's me.

I hate spending money on stuff when I could be using it to enjoy my time with my family or friends, to give toward a new initiative at church, to help someone in need, or to put it towards a new travel adventure to experience another part of the world.

Plus, if you haven't noticed, the more you get, the more you want. It's never enough.

Sometimes we just need to step back, look around, and thank God for everything He's provided and declare that it is enough. Actually, it's more than enough.

I've recently learned the hard way that I need to treat the time I'm given with the same attitude I use to look at money and material posessions. To keep life simple. I mentioned in my Bible study this summer that I just don't know how to be still. There are so many activities and good things to be involved in, but I simply cannot give of myself to all of them. I get bombarded with e-mails and phonecalls on a daily basis from my boys' schools, booster clubs, my own school, athletic organizations, and church people asking for my time and/or money to support this or that cause. They're all good causes, too, which makes it so hard to eventually push that delete button on some of them and just move on.

I long for simplicity, but in order to move in that direction, I need to learn to be a minimalist with my time, picking and choosing carefully (and prayerfully) as to where I should devote my time, attention, and energy. Because, quite frankly, I am really tired. All the time. So tired that I can't focus long enough to do something I really enjoy, and I don't end up enjoying anything that I am doing because I'm spread too thin.

October is always a hard month for me. I am an introvert, and certain types of social interaction can suck the life out of me. Hanging out in large crowds or having to make small talk with people I am not close to are two examples of such interaction. Forty-four parent-teacher conferences would fall into that "having to make small talk with people I'm not close to". I truly need extra alone time to recharge my batteries during and after those conferences. Unfortunately, October is always full of a ton of other activities, as well, in all areas of life. I cringe every time something else gets added to the calendar, knowing it's going to be tough, and then I always suck it up and say, "It's okay. I'll make it through. I don't want to miss it."

This year  I think I said yes a few too many times. When I found myself taking a 20 minute nap in the car to make it through Bible study, I should have listened to my body and gone home. Or when I drove home from a church function in tears, I should have realized that I couldn't handle another activity. I just about snapped.

I should have taken an inventory at the beginning of the month, knowing the strain that those parent conferences put on me, and I should have decided on a few minimal activities. Then I should have put my foot down and said no to all the rest. I should have said no to the weekly Bible study, at least for the month of October, and done the study on my own. I should have said no to teaching the Daniel Plan or asked to do it during a different time of the year. I should have said no to the staff dinner out to celebrate Christmas in October. I should have said no to the movie night at church whether it was my favorite movie or not. I should have stayed home more from soccer practice and missed a few soccer games so I could have truly enjoyed the ones that I made it to. I should have spent those Wednesday nights alone with God, letting Him lead me through the study rather than feeling like I needed to be with a group of women. I love women's Bible study groups more than anything, but there are times in my life when I need to listen to the body that God gave me and learn to let it recharge.

As October began nearing the end, and the activities kept piling up, I finally learned a very important and courageous word. No. No to the Fall Carnivals at church and school. No to volunteering for fund-raising activities and extra trainings at school. No to extra women's ministry events at church that drew crowds rather than small groups (the type of activity that drains me). I also learned a powerful action--delete. It's okay to delete those e-mails when I know those activities just don't fit into my season of life right now.

I said yes to my family, yes to more dates with my husband, yes to birthday dinners every single weekend for Mike and the boys, yes to an intimate weekend with close friends, yes to a prayer meeting for the ministry that published my books for me, yes to being a calmer and healthier teacher for my kids. Yes to finding and celebrating simplicity.

I keep thinking about that conversation I had in Bible study this summer when I admitted that I just don't know how to be still. Maybe God's trying to tell me something.

After I post a few pics and thoughts from David's birthday this week and stalk Instagram for pictures of the boys on their high school retreat with church over the weekend, I'm taking a needed break from all social media except for my blog for awhile, perhaps until the end of the year. We'll see. I think I need the time to focus on learning to be still, to be quiet, to pray, to simplify, and mostly, to listen.

When I woke up this morning sore all over from coughing all night long, I decided to listen this time, rather than push forward. I put in a request for a substitute and decided to stay home. A day of solitude with the chance to take a nap any time I want. Hanging out on the porch with all three of my animals, soaking up the sunshine and unusually beautiful November weather. I'd say it's just what I've been needing.

In fact, I think I'll go cuddle up with my kitty to take another nap before the boys get home shortly.

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