Last night, we attended an amazing Ash Wednesday service at our new church. (Have I mentioned that we started attending a sweet little church in late August and the first Sunday, knew we were home? Huge blessings all around with a church that is all about community- something we were craving in our very core.) I've never been to a Lent service but it was so fun to lay down a card with the thing we were choosing to give up for Lent, then take communion and pick up a card with "God" printed on it. Laying down something in our life, to push some extra room in, so we can accept more of God, awareness of His presence in our life and an appreciation of this precious season and the great sacrifice we celebrate at Easter. Oh how I love it! (We also got the ash crosses on our foreheads with a blessing and I can now check that off my bucket list.)
Lest I keep you hanging, waiting to hear what I gave up, I shall share. I actually spent a week on this subject recently because I wanted to give up whatever it was that God wanted me to give up. So I prayed and asked Him and He made it pretty clear almost immediately... complaining. (I know right? I was surprised too, especially considering I don't think of myself as an unusually annoying complainer type... then again, does anyone?) But, as the pre-lent weeks unfolded, I was so clearly aware that I complain (often subtly, sarcastically, or with eye rolls and humor to mask it) all too often, don't seek to see His blessings in situations I'm not enjoying, and let it affect me and seep into my surrounding relationships. Ack! So off to give that up these next forty days (and hopefully indefinitely). Are you giving something up?
I feel like our life is so different now than it was last fall when I "stopped blogging" (let's all giggle at that for a moment). (And when I say so different, I mean a little different. I like to be dramatic for effect, don't you know.) I just realized that I've been working part-time for an organizing company for the past 3 years and I can't tell you how it's twisted my thinking and ideas on letting go of things. I see so many homes that aren't homes, they are simply storage units for way too many unused material items... I see older parents holding onto things their adult kids are never going to want, and I see how things trap and hold people hostage in all manner of ways. It's honestly sickening and I find myself coming home from most organizing jobs feeling a bit desperate to throw something (anything) into a donate bin and refocus!
Years ago, Adrain and I dreamed about getting a bed and breakfast and running it in our retirement but I think the combination of seeing my parents forfeit the plans they had for later life as they go through this Alzheimer's journey, coupled with my job as an organizer, has taken Adrain and my dreams and pointed them into a whole other direction. We now dream of simplifying our entire life, buying a small condo, in our bustling little nearby Village neighborhood where we can walk pretty much anywhere we need to go, and maybe share one car. We dream of taking off for occasional weekends to do things and make memories while we can. Shaking off attachment to things and entirely changing the look of our next stage of life. We honestly can't wait. God often laughs at our plans so we're holding it loosely of course, but moving forward into this new direction for the life we crave.
Of course, this has had a dramatic effect on our daily choices. I've spent the past 3 years downsizing our things little by little. That's an odd way to phrase it, but true. We're still thinking and dreaming and we constantly ask one another, "would we take this to our condo someday? Why do we keep it now then?" (Throw pillows will of course go and are of great importance... Wink.) I did the Madame Chic closet challenge and have spent the entire last year going season by season, paring down my clothing to only about 22 items in any given season and it's incredibly FREEING. As in, totally life changing in every way and I so recommend it if you haven't done it. (Jennifer L. Scott is the Author and all three of her books are delights.) I don't have a linen, hall or decor closet stuffed with anything much other than some toys for tiny visitors... what we have is what's out, we love it, and it's seen and used daily. We all have one set of sheets and we wash them and put them right back on. My kitchen holds all we need for any entertaining event and we even have an empty cupboard. When we started this process, we decided to have zero guilt about it, no matter who gave it to us or when we got it, or what we spent. It was time for a life change and we flung ourselves into it! I even got our Christmas decorations condensed into one large bin. ONE.
Anyway, this is truly my heart these days and I daresay my passion. Part of why I wasn't certain the direction I could take this blog, was that so often you see social media showing more things to purchase, new ideas to incorporate, extra this, better that, new trends here, etc. I was at war with this idea and needed the space to shed actual things, and find my focus in all of it. I will still gladly open my home to you as we continue, and share our spaces. We have a few inexpensive home tweaks possibly to come, (can you say rip off that cabinet and hang open shelving?) but I do fear that it could be a bit more boring (or perhaps refreshing?) as we have more blank, breathable walls now where we didn't before, and are working on this daily less is more mindset in literal ways of having less. I included a few shots from around the house that make me smile since it's been quite a while since I shared any home photos and I'd like to say that I naturally gravitate to soothing, calm neutrals but even more so when the outside forces feel chaotic or stressful like this season we're in with my daddy.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on Lent, and letting go, and what I've said here about being so easily trapped by our possessions and excess. As always, you are precious gems and I adore your readership and encouragement and hope this place encourages you as well.