Simplify

Simplify.

We say it over and over again, simplify.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Simple,  but our lives are complicated.

We have huge homes filled with things to make our lives easier, more comfortable, happier, do they?

It used to take Ma Wilder a whole day to do the washing, everything washed by hand and laid out to dry in the sun before it was brought inside and put into use.

Today we dump our laundry into a machine, simple. But rather than using the time and energy we save for seeking God’s kingdom, we fill our homes, drawers, closets with so many things to be washed that it still takes a whole day out of our lives to wash, dry fold, store and purchase newer and nicer clothes, linens, towels.

Today we have mansion houses (just ask those who live in third world countries) filled with God’s blessings, but we’re so terribly busy managing, maintaining and improving.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest tosend out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

We don’t take the time to see the hurt around us, let alone invite the hurt into our beautiful homes.

We work a second job so that our children can have ‘happy’, but we’re supposed to teach service. When does serving our children turn into idolizing them?

We have time for researching the best homeschool technique/curriculum, time for ballet and swim class. We have time to collect more toys, clothes and food than we need, but we don’t have enough time to read through the Bible (less than 10% of professed Christians have ever read the entire Bible).

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

I’m talking to me. We don’t have the answers, but we’re seeking, we’re praying and we’re simplifying.

Simplifying (Part 2): What I’m Learning 

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39 Responses to Simplify
  1. Monica
    July 11, 2011 | 10:32 am

    thank you for this reminder. and you were talking to me too. 🙂

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  2. Amy @ Raising Arrows
    July 11, 2011 | 10:33 am

    We are thinking through many of these same things. Some days I just want to get rid of it all! It is so hard for me to decide what I NEED to keep and what should find a new home and bless others. We are such a society of consumers..consumers consumed by there “stuff.”

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  3. Laura
    July 11, 2011 | 10:40 am

    This is so so true.
    So how do we shed the extras, or even go about identifying the extras? It seems as though we are constantly paring down, and truly not adding more into our life and our home, but we are still overwhelmed…..

    ~

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    DeAnn Reply:

    Its a process that takes time. If you keep working on it, you find what works for you and what you can live without. Sounds like you are on your way…good luck!

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    Laura Reply:

    DeAnn, thank you for the encouragement, it really does help. 🙂

    ~

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Laura’s right it is a process.

    I started with some goals in mind (i.e. get rid of half the toys, 1/3 of the games, eliminate all but a few shelves of picture books, etc.) After we did that I found that there was more to get rid of. The children began playing more with the toys that were left, but we found that there were things that rarely/never were played with. Same thing with games.

    Hoping to post more about this in the future, but I’ve learned never to promise unless I have the posts already written.

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  4. Heather
    July 11, 2011 | 10:48 am

    Great post.

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  5. Shannon H.
    July 11, 2011 | 10:51 am

    Great post. We’re thinking these things as well, and trying to figure it all out. Please continue writing about this as you figure it out, too. I love the perspective of it still taking us a whole day to tend to laundry, though we’re not doing it like Ma Wilder anymore. Wow.

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  6. MBC scrapbooking
    July 11, 2011 | 10:53 am

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on simplifying! Your blog is such an encouragment to me, and I needed to read this as I am getting ready to majorly sort and toss “extra” stuff around our house today!
    C:)

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  7. Heidi
    July 11, 2011 | 11:12 am

    I think about this often. I live in a 3 bedroom, 1500 sq. ft. home that seems small to many of the people I know because we have 4 kids (and would like more if the Lord wills). However, I’ve been to other countries and have seen families living in run down, one room huts with scraps of metal on the roofs. Their kids roam the streets with no shoes and dirty hand-me-down shirts that say “Nike”. We are rich. Very, very rich. To whom much is given, much is expected. Thank you Lord for our wealth. Forgive our discontentment. Let us use what we have for you glory!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I think the same things. Thank you.

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  8. Jennifer
    July 11, 2011 | 11:14 am

    Are you referring to Ma Wilder from the LITTLE HOUSE series? (Sorry maybe I’m having a “duh” moment!)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes. 🙂

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  9. Laura C
    July 11, 2011 | 11:53 am

    Kimberly,

    Beautiful post – exactly what our family is in prayer over right now! Our big issues right now are outside activities – Cubscouts, Keepers, Bible studies, co-ops, even extra church activities like Awana. Each of these are only “once a week” or “once a month” but they add up quickly. We are praying about just taking a year off from activities and hunkering down to dig deep into God’s word and our family. Time for each other, time for service. I am so encouraged by your posts!! How do you all manage outside activities?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Laura C.

    How do we manage outside activities? We’re involved in very, very few. Currently, none.

    In the past we’ve done music lessons and for several weeks each year our children participate in cross country meets. Other than that we work together as a family to help others, do activities and learn.

    Generally we have one or more of our children help in someone’s home one day a week, but that is on our schedule, it’s not a program. And of course we take field trips and vacations, have people in our home and homeschool. It’s a busy, good life where we are able to set our own priorities and meet our children’s needs and are not pressured to do something that isn’t best for our family simple because we’re committed to a program. 🙂

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  10. Julianne
    July 11, 2011 | 11:54 am

    Thank you for this reminder. It is SO true, yet often so difficult to deal with. I can logically reason that I have too much STUFF – more things then I need, yet it is alot harder to take the steps and simplify. Thank you for your example.

    I am 22 and I think this issue is growing with each generation. Among my own friends I see a desire to compare based on material possessions – which often signal status, success, etc.

    God’s Word in Matthew is so true and such a pertinent reminder of where our true focus should lie!

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  11. Corrie
    July 11, 2011 | 12:48 pm

    My 5 year old son challenged my perspective a few days ago by praying at breakfast, “Lord, please help all the poor people to be as rich as we are.” Wow. One salary, small house… and yet, he’s right!

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I love how God uses our children to remind us about what we so easily forget. Yes, he is right!

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  12. April
    July 11, 2011 | 1:36 pm

    Simplify and seek – Amen! I’m a new fan and admirer. 10 beautiful children. God bless!

    April

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  13. Tristan
    July 11, 2011 | 2:26 pm

    This has been on my mind too. I read today’s post at Generation Cedar( http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2011/07/simplify-less-really-is-more.html ) and loved how she used the example of lost shoes. Children used to have one pair. Now children may own several pair and we often hear of a child losing their shoes and not able to find them. Generations ago a child had one pair of shoes if they were lucky, and NEVER lost them. Why? Because they were valued.

    I find that the more children I have the less toys and stuff we need, which is a good thing as our space hasn’t increased with the number of children…LOL. #7 is coming and there really isn’t a thing to purchase, nor was there for the last few.

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    shannon p Reply:

    Wow, so true! I just made that comment last week about my daughter always loosing a shoe or the dogs eating shoes left outside.
    We have #4 on the way and it always cracks me up to hear or see 1st time moms “must have” registry list. And I know I was one a few years ago! I can imagine by #7 you really know exactly what basics are needed and what’s frivolous.

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  14. Rachel E.
    July 11, 2011 | 3:40 pm

    This post speaks to me. Thanks. I think we all try to live a life of gratitude and good stewardship. I know I have grown so weary from the kids’ desire for more. I grew up with plenty and it was far less than what my children have now. I wish I was as wise then as I am now (and that isn’t saying much). If I were, my kids would have far less.

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  15. Homeschool on the Croft
    July 11, 2011 | 4:50 pm

    It’s what we all want – to simplify…. but HOW to do it?? It’s so difficult to know, in practice what to do to give more time. When you homeschool, run a home, and cook, cook, cook (as well as launder, launder, launder!), it’s so difficult to find a minute in a day. I want so much to slow things down, but….. x

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Maybe we start by simplifying WHAT we’re doing. I find that it’s easy to find time to simplify when I make it a priority and we’re not running hithre and yon to various activities.

    Large Family Logistics has lots of practical advice on how to make running the home more efficient.

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  16. Gabe
    July 11, 2011 | 5:37 pm

    We’ve been working on this process too! I want to spend less time maintaining my home and more time enjoying my family and serving others! It is something we are working on as a family.
    It can be hard to change the mindset we’ve been raised with and grown into in this world, but little by little and day by day God is helping us see what we need to let go of, and what to grab on to!

    I’m enjoying seeing your posts on simplifying, seeing how another large family is walking through this journey! Thank you for sharing!

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  17. Amanda M.
    July 11, 2011 | 10:15 pm

    That is beautifully put. That is something I needed to hear today. Sometimes, we need to remember serving is happiness.

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  18. Ashley N
    July 12, 2011 | 10:26 am

    “When does serving our children turn into idolizing them?”
    This has been on my mind since yesterday. I am now striving for something a little different.
    Thank you!

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  19. Dare
    July 12, 2011 | 11:37 am

    I think this question is deeper than it appears on the surface, or perhaps I am taking what should be black and white and going to the gray. But I think about this: many people, my husband included, have an aversion to wastefulness. If he has two power drills, he thinks it would be wasteful to get rid of one, because he might need it if the other one breaks. Is this good stewardship, or stuffitis? We have a lot of books of the type the libraries all jettison. Should we keep these, or get rid of them? And I should say that this is not necessarily stuff we have gone out and bought. We have a lot of kids, and people really do give us a lot of stuff. I am thankful, but I struggle with right handling of it all, including the difference between my husband’s opinion and mine.

    Philosophically, to go with the shoe example, I don’t think people in the past had one pair of shoes because they were more noble, but because of their cottage method of production as opposed to our present manufacturing system. It’s like there is more footwear flotsam and jetsam in the world because now we get glued-together plastic shoes from Walmart, and back then the shoemaker came to the house for a week and custom-made Almanzo’s boots. So is it wise for me to “save” money by buying three pairs of (disposable) kids shoes at Walmart rather than save up for one pair from StrideRite? It’s all so complex, it melts what brain I have left after multiple pregnancies.

    Sounds like we all struggle with this question. I guess we should all be looking in the Book for the answer!

    I appreciate your blog so much, read it faithfully, and gain inspiration regularly. Thank you!

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    shannon p Reply:

    First, love the comment about “what brain you have left.” HA HA! I say after my 3rd child my brain reduced by 50%.
    I think the example you gave of your husband is a big of stuffitis. Both my husband and I tend to be the same way. I think at it’s root it’s trying to cover our backs because we doubt that the Lord will provide. We are struggling through this right now.

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    Dare Reply:

    Thanks, Shannon. It is a struggle, isn’t it?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Dare,

    First, if your husband wants to keep it, keep it. 🙂

    I think that WHAT a person keeps is completely dependent upon that person’s priorities, passions and calling from God. It will be different for all of us as will the amounts.

    In regard to being wasteful, (and this is simply my opinion) if I have two food processors, I have to have the space to store them both, I have to expend the energy to keep it put away, clean it and clean around it and it’s sitting there aging with no one using it and my primary food processor may not wear out for 10 more years at which time the back up food processor may no longer work or meet my needs.

    If we multiply this scenario by all the extra things we can accumulate (often with little to no cost to us) we will need larger homes, spend more time cleaning and organizing and feel the pressure (I feel pressure when I have things that I’m not being a good steward of, like a food processor that is sitting in the cabinet getting older, but never being used) of having more than we can sufficiently care for.

    If, on the other hand, I give the extra food processor to a friend who could use it (and multiple that by all the extra things we have) I’m not only providing a blessing for my sister in Christ, the food processor is being used (and presumably being cared for), our family can function smoothly in a smaller home, I’m no longer cleaning or storing all that extra and I know that if my food processor breaks, I can probably find another at a garage sale for less than $10 or perhaps one of my friends will have an extra and bless me. 🙂

    As Amy said above,

    We are such a society of consumers..consumers consumed by there “stuff.”

    I’d rather bless others with extra “stuff” rather than find the time, space and energy to care and store things that we aren’t using or don’t need, but like I said, that’s my opinion and God’s called us all to different roles.

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    Dare Reply:

    Thanks, Kimberly! I do think that the most important thing in the whole issue for me is to be cheerfully submissive to my husband’s opinion. We are so different: he was raised with little, and knows what it is like to lack the essentials, something I never experienced myself. If I were truly gracious about it to the core of my heart, then the stuff level would not matter as much! I keep trying to remember that Godliness with contentment is great gain.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Absolutely! The Bible doesn’t say anything about what we should or should not have in our home, but it says plenty about submission and contentment. May God bless you (and me) with both.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

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  20. Heather G.
    July 12, 2011 | 1:38 pm

    Wow. I was just thinking about this today. I was walking through my house thinking, “Can I just toss it all? Give it all away?” I definitely believe living with less is a calling I feel on our lives.

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  21. Valerie
    July 12, 2011 | 4:36 pm

    Your talking to me too Kim. I have been thinking these things too. Thanks for the reminder! I needed it. It’s always good to get back on track to something you once had a passion about. I need my passion! Thanks!
    Val

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  22. Cindy Lau
    July 12, 2011 | 11:34 pm

    Everyone wants to simplify! This year, I have made a big effort to give away or toss 10 items a day. Not really daily, but I keep marks on the calendar in our kitchen to keep up with it, and plan to do this for the entire year. Every so often I get about a month behind, then do a big sort, and I’m back on track again. We’ve had a lot of change in our life: a new baby, two daughters moving out, and relatives passing on. These happenings seem to cause us to collect items and then need to evaluate what we keep. Good luck in your simplicity.

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  23. Jamie
    July 14, 2011 | 3:00 pm

    Thank you sister. This has been on my heart for some time now. Wow, I never imagined I woulld have a difficult time with this. But I have been struggling with getting rid of all the stuff, but praise God we are having a garage sale next weekend 🙂 This is after several trips to the Salvation Army drop off truck. Oh, I feel the burden lifting already. THank you for your encouraging words and the scripture that backs it up.

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  24. Mary
    July 14, 2011 | 4:07 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, we so often just go about our day and forget the reason we are here on this earth, Jesus, help me to be more aware of the people around me, not things. Help me to share the message of you and what you did for all of us.

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  25. Weekends in the Word - Enough to Give
    July 29, 2011 | 8:01 pm

    […] the verses above stuck out to me. The very next day I read how Kimberly from Raising Olives is simplifying her life and I realized the call I feel on my heart right now is to not only simplify by downsizing, but […]

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