Thanksgiving 2016 - Thoughts on Abundance and Gratefulness and My Year of Un-Shopping
Luke 12:15 ESV “Take care, and be on your guard against all
covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of
As always, as Thanksgiving nears and I think what I am thankful
for, first off, I am forever thankful for my Lord and Redeemer,
my family, my church, and all of you!! So many of you have
supported us in so many ways this year, encouraging Bernie in
ministry! It's been a wonderful year for him ministry-wise and we hope to re-do our website in 2017 to reflect a slightly refined focus. Bernie has been kept rather busy with many ministry invitations and requests
and had much positive affirmation and feedback. The Lord is using
him in a rather unique way to reach out with the gospel message as
told through the pages of American history. And the Lord is using
Bernie's gospel centered words to bear fruit for His Kingdom! What a privilege
and blessing for us!
But this year something else comes to mind that I am grateful
for, something I have been embracing and experiencing this past
year, that is summed up with the phrase "less is more!"
It has been, my friends, a year of "Un-shopping."
Un-shopping - my definition. "giving away, using
up, selling and getting things out of my home in much greater
quantities than what I buy and bring into my home."
Goal for 2016 - Each year I like to give myself
some sort of focus for the year and this past January I set for myself a
main focus to keep as I walked through the year - to "Simplify" in
all areas. "Use it up, wear it out, make it last, do without."
Simplify our budget.
Use up what we have.
Get rid of what we don't need or use.
Moving towards Minimalism? I had some inspiration
on youtube and began my quest to move things out. I wouldn't say I
am becoming a minimalist or expect to ever truly be one, but I think I have been inspired to seek
a simpler lifestyle by the minimalist movement. Beautiful things
give me a lot of pleasure - maybe I am an artist at heart and I
love to create beauty and give gifts to that end. But over many
years a person like me can accumulate a lot of stuff! Settling
out both my parents' estates brought more stuff, too, things
attached to their memory which is all that remains of their lives on earth.
This year something moved in me to desire to spend the
rest of the time the Lord gives me on earth, becoming smaller,
giving away, selling and getting rid of more than I take in - to
go from 'more' to 'less' rather than the other way around (which
is what happened in most all the years prior.) I actually like to
organize and de-clutter and do that fairly regularly, but yet, I
was hanging on to too much stuff and I really wanted to
work harder on simplifying my life as much as possible to have more time to focus on
what is important to me.
Urgency - I have had, for some reason, a sense of
urgency with this that actually produced some anxiety at times!
But honestly it also was fun, even exhilarating to begin moving
that direction. One result was my granddaughters holiday dresses
made from a lot of purple dupioni silk I bought at a really good
price after Bethy was born 7 years ago, for Kerin's mother to make
dresses for baby Bethy, 1 year old Rachel and 3 year old Abbi.
Many yards of fabric were left, so now about 7 years later I used
up most of it and added a layer of sheer fabric I bought a few
years ago, to make 5 more dresses for the holidays this year.
Exhilarating! - It really has been fun to use up
things in other areas, to find recipes to use up unusual dry goods
I had bought and never used, and things in my freezer, as well as
beauty products that had accumulated. Chia and hemp seeds bought
when I was making seed milks a while back had never been used up
and were stored in my freezer - now they found their way into 'the
best granola I ever had' (to quote Abbi). Extra Burt's Bees lip balms became
treasures for the grandchildren. Dan is
beginning to sell our used books on Amazon. Things
were sorted and organized to a greater degree and more
aggressively than I have in a while, then released in much greater
quantities. Clothes were consigned. I read and watched videos about the 'capsule
wardrobe.' I know I love color and variety too much to ever have a true 'capsule' but am trying to reduce my wardrobe to what I really wear and love, and I am getting rid of a lot. I got a popular book
on 'tidying' and honestly the author's system is what I have done
all my life, so it is not foreign to me, but what was new was the
idea to keep only what brings me joy. It has helped me to think
of 'stuff' that way, and helped me release things more easily. For clothes if you don't wear it, let it
go. If it's uncomfortable, let it go. For stuff, if you don't use it, let it go, if you have duplicates and 'back-ups', let them go, if
it brings sad feelings, let it go!!! (Ha! Am I detecting a children's movie theme song that was very popular last year? So funny, just thought of that as I am writing right now...)
1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV "For godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it."
30 Day Challenge - Several months this fall I
did a '30 day challenge' which was to get rid of the amount of
things corresponding to the date. By the end of the month you
have culled almost 500 items. Small things count, like something
in your fridge you use up and don't replace, old pens that don't
work any more, or things donated or sold can count as well. I
actually did this in August, September and October. :) Another thing that happened is
that sometimes I pulled out something that had been stored and
unused for a while and was inspired to use it rather than
automatically getting rid of it, which was fun, too! My house is a
bit retro decorated this fall because of that, as I am using some
country style things I purchased in the late 80s and early 90s.
But they make me happy and are attached to fun memories and work
with other things I have. So it isn't just about getting rid of
things, also about joy and about using things I have rather than
redoing or buying new.
Results! So here I am in November,
and it is quite exciting and rewarding to have seen so much
progress this year, and I hope to continue this for the rest of my
life! :) Hopefully by the time I am ready to leave this earth,
things will be simple for husband and/or my children to deal with - I am really
hoping all the decisions have been made and the stuff left is not
I also had an emotional goal this year that I didn't do quite so
well with, but if at first you don't succeed, try try again.
Still it was really good to identify it is as an emotional goal!
And I am sure the Lord will continue to help me in that area, and
maybe next year will see better results, and maybe I will tell you
about it next year if I feel I am succeeding. :)
But achieving in this area of 'simplifying' has been huge and
worth the work and time it took, and I am so grateful for what the
Lord has helped me achieve! Many more layers will be peeled off
in the future, Lord willing, and I am far, far from finished, but
much progress has been made.
So this year, when I think of what I am thankful for, I am actually thankful for 'less.' Less to take care of, less to
organize, less clutter!
How about you?
I hope you all take some time to slow
down and thank the Lord for how He is working and what He is doing
in your lives! He is wonderful, magnificent, outside to boundaries
of our wildest dreams in His incredible purposes for our lives! May
you all realize that, experience that, and live in that this year
and every year! I definitely struggle to live in that daily, but I
want that for myself and for all believers. Victory only lies in
focusing on His character rather than your personal failings, on His
power instead of your weaknesses, the reality of His Eternity instead
of the temporariness of our lives here.
Although I do know I guess I have a few strengths, I am totally
aware most of the time that I am incredibly flawed and weak and
easily hurt and when I look at that deep gloom and sadness can
overwhelm me. But I must lift my head and look at my Creator and Redeemer and Lover of my soul to have any joy and hope! May it be so for myself
and for you all as you look to your future! Blessed be the name of
the Lord!Photo Credit - 2nd and 3rd pictures: Brianna Estrada
Luke 16:11 ESV "If then you have not been faithful in the
unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?"
God bless you all! Linda for Bernie and me