Saturday, December 31, 2016

intentionality 2017

I like January 1st.

It's actually one of my favorite days of the entire year.

Next to my birthday. That's always my favorite.

And I don't feel bad not saying Jesus's birthday is my favorite, because we don't actually know what day that was.

See how I did that? Boom. You're welcome.

Back to January 1st.

January 1st is like a new cozy blanket that just came out of the dryer.

It's that good. You wrap it around yourself and you feel totally untouchable.

Like nothing bad can even come in your direction, and you could probably fly if you wanted to.

But then February comes creeping in like a cold breeze, gusting towards you through the front door that your brother left open.

And then she snatches all that warm cozy goodness out of your life and jolts you back to reality.

I'm a real optimist over here. Again, you're welcome.

So, I started thinking about my 2017 theme back in August, because, well, I'm an overachiever.

And I wondered how I could potentially keep the momentum we all get in January and keep it going throughout the year.

You know, when the gym is the BEST idea you've ever had, and you are FINALLY going to get organized?

That momentum. The momentum that dies somewhere around January 30th and February 1st.

Back to the topic at hand though.....

I seriously contemplated keeping simplicity for another year.

You know, like a Simplicicity 2.0 - real creative.

It just taught me so much, and I felt like I grew more than I ever had in previous years.

But, I couldn't shake the feeling that doing the theme for another year would set me back rather than propel me forward.

I firmly believe in doing my themes for a year, learning all I can, and then letting them go.

Kind of like moving through grades in school. Maybe you don't learn everything perfectly in the 5th grade, but you aren't really supposed to. You learn it the best you can, and then you graduate to 6th grade.

In lieu of doing another year of simplicity, I started focusing on everything simplicity had taught me.

Honing in on those specifics, and then vision casting what I could do with those things.

Simplicity showed me how much more capacity I have for things and people than I realize. It revealed to me that which I truly value, and that which I don't care about one way or the other.

Simplicity exposed where I rely on myself instead of relying on God. And it taught me that in order to get what you want, you have to let go.

That's when I landed on this theme of intentionality.

I realized that I could take the things I had learned, focus intently on them, and see what a year of focus does for my life.

For Example:

I want to read more books. Which means I will probably be watching less tv.
I want to watch less tv. Which means I will need to be intentional about when I do and don't want it.
I want to build my side hustle. Which means I just might have time if I watch less tv and put away my cellphone.
I want to be more productive.
I want to continue my wellness journey.
I want to go back to school.

Simplicity showed me I have the capacity for all these things, but I am hoping Intentionality will show me I have the time, determination and drive as well.

I think sometimes I give up before seeing the end result or seeing something through to fruition.
And I want to challenge myself to push through the ugly in order to get to what I really want.

I want to see if I am really capable of all the things I think I am in my head.
I want my daydreams to become reality.
I want to whole heartedly seek God and know Him better.

Again, much like last year, I am not sure where this journey will take me, but I'm happy to be on it.

Stay tuned.... I'm talking about television next... And it might get gnarly...


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

simplicity 2016: a year in the life

366 days ago, I sat on a sunny, albeit breezy beach in Southern California, thinking about this idea of simplicity.

To be honest, my mind was spinning, and I felt overwhelmed AND excited at the same time.

There was something really appealing about living my life with less stuff. I traveled lightly most of the time, and that was nice. So I thought that living the same way might also be a nice change of pace.

But I had this hesitation....

I had read for years about people who were super organizers and had achieved minimalism nirvana by living in a white walled apartment with only 12 items to their name.

And while simplifying was practically screaming my name, I was almost 100% positive I didn't want my life to look like that. Because that looked like a cult. No thank you.

Over the past year, simplicity has taken on many forms, emotions, experiences and paths. None bad. All teachable moments in my life.

To continue something I started last year, I give you my Year in the Life: A Recap of Simplicity

January - Oh January, you glorious month of new beginnings and fresh starts. You are the most motivating and the most empowering. But that's what makes you sneaky... Because by the end of those first 31 days, I start to ask myself what have I gotten into this time. I got rid of some dresses. I attacked my budget, and I realized once again, that I cannot sit still.

February - I learned a long time ago to pray for magical, beautiful, big things and then expect Jesus to show off and come through for me. And He did. In the form of a sunset. The most divine sunset. The most heartfelt answer to prayer, because I think Jesus was saying to me that the deepest desires of my heart were coming. Coming soon.

March - March, you were crazy busy. But loads of fun. I took a work trip. I met a really cool girl who came to Serve Seattle. I got some earrings from Africa, and I got to see two of my favorite humans. It was rad.

April - Finally... I planted my garden. And by garden, I mean I planted cilantro and parsley. And some basil that never grew. But I did it. So that was a cool thing.

May - Apparently nothing excited happened in May. Because I didn't blog at all. Oh wait... my friend Dawn got married and I met my best friend's sweet little boy. So those were cool.... :)

June - Once upon a time I thought I was going to get my identity hacked and I kept all the receipts. And I mean all of them. I also fangirled over Joshua Becker. I'm not ashamed of that. At all.

July - This was a sobering month. I reflected hard core on my privilege as a white woman. I asked questions and sat with the answers. If you have never done that, please start. We all have a lot to learn.

August - I like to think I can accomplish all the things. All the time. At the same time. For eternity. I cannot. So I started trying to focus on 1-2 things at a time. It's hard. But it's nice. The shuttle express driver woke up my landlords and I stressed out about the trash under my sink. But even those were good things. I think...

September - Jesus has a lot to say about simplicity, if I will only listen to Him. Thought I could learn it in a month. Haha. I'm hilarious.

October - I'm a firm believer that I have learned more about life from my grandmothers than any other humans on earth. Oh, and in my next life? I wanted to be a honey bee. Or a yoga instructor. Or both. A yoga instructing honey bee.

November - No Spend November is apparently a really popular thing. And I suck at it. Because I like food. And books. But hey, I found out instant coffee is gross. So that has to count for something.

December - I wore the same dress for a month. And it was delightful and stress free. No sarcasm. I'm being serious. Oh, and in case you were wondering? Jesus was a minimalist. And a pretty darn good one.

I thought about being really inspiring and stuff here at the end, but if you are still reading, I want to reward you and keep it brief. You're welcome.

Simplicity is my most favorite theme to date.

It's like a really good friend who has to move away, but you know you will always be able to pick up where you left off. And that's such a comforting feeling.

As with my other themes, I want simplicity to become a part of who I am. Another way of being. Something that is now so ingrained, I don't even think twice when I practice it.

My most treasured take away is the one that says, "simplicity is about having the most room in your heart for the things that matter..."

2016, you've been divine.
2017, I'm ready for you.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

simplicity 2016: anything in a dress

Last year I counted the dresses in my closet.

31. 31 dresses, a majority of them unworn.

This year, I chose one dress.

One dress to wear for the entire month.

Why? Because... simplicity.

Last year I participated in Dressember, did fundraising, took pictures, read books and opened my mind to that which makes me deeply saddened and at times, helpless.

This year, I chose to do it again.

But, with this theme of simplicity, I wanted to be more intentional.

I wanted to be less focused on myself, and more focused on the cause.

I thought that maybe if I wore the same dress for the entire month, it would free up my mind to focus on things that have greater meaning.

I thought that if I wasn't thinking about how to outfit myself for the day, I could devote 10 minutes more each day to fighting for freedom.

At the end of the month, that's 310 minutes. Over three hours. Not necessarily a lot, but it's something.

The first few days were annoying. Which is such a first world problem, but it's still true.

I was trying to figure out different ways to wear the dress. Trying to mix it up a little. Also trying to stay warm. Because....winter.

Around day five, I really wanted to not wear it anymore. I wanted my jeans and hoodies.

I felt bored.

Which is exactly where I think I needed to be.

So I pushed on, and kept wearing that dress.

To every single Christmas party. To every staff event. To every church function.

The same dress.

Day fourteen was the shift. And I thought it would be.

Two weeks in seemed ample time to feel like I was getting into this new rhythm and habit.

I figured out how to wear it in the most comfortable way.
People weren't commenting on it anymore.
In fact, I don't think people were even noticing.

I was posting my pics each day, really and truly able to focus on how I wanted to share the message and focus on what I was truly asking people to do.

Then, this weekend, it hit me.

I mentioned before that I was bored with the dress after the first few days.

I think I was bored because I actually have found quite a bit of my identity in how I look and in how I present myself.

In college, I would not leave the dorm without making sure my outfit was on point, my lashes looked good and my hairs were unmovable. #hairsprayfordays

There was a lot of focus on me. And honestly, I don't think that was the healthiest of things.

I don't think there is anything wrong with looking nice, or wanting to be your best. Not at all.

Because this month, I have tried to look my best and make this dress look good.

I just know myself. And all my focus on the outward appearance was just a cover for some deeply rooted insecurities.

But, this month. That shifted.

And it just seems like wearing the same dress every day for the entire month seems to have put a few things in perspective for me.

  1. People do not love me because of what I wear, or how I look. People love me for me.
  2. Some people think it's really weird to wear the same thing every day. I don't. As long as I am neat and clean, I don't really care if it's the same thing.
  3. I feel like I am working smarter, not harder. 
  4. Wearing the same thing consecutively might become a habit.
  5. I think Jesus wants me to focus less on vanity, and more on substance.
  6. My feelings of self worth are more solid now than they were a month ago.
  7. Consistency doesn't have to feel suffocating, it can actually feel quite freeing.

Maybe some of these won't make any sense to you. Or maybe they will.

All I know is, I have spent the last month in the exact same dress, and I think it's one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time.

Dressember has this saying, "You can do anything in a dress." And I know this to be true. Not because I have spent the last month doing it, but because I grew up doing it.

Growing up, you wore dresses all day, every day - if you were a girl that is. It was this really legalistic and controlling thing, and honestly, it was pretty damaging to a lot of my friends.

So when Dressember first appeared on my radar, I was skeptical. 

Skeptical if it would really be that big of a deal for me. 

Skeptical if my friends who still choose to wear only dresses would be able to jump on board and want to participate.

This year, I think I finally got over that skepticism. 

It doesn't matter what the past narrative has been, or what I fear the future narrative will be. 

What matters is that there is a platform to talk about freedom. 

And as women, we are powerful advocates to affect long lasting change.

I guess that's the other thing this dress has taught me. 

The past doesn't have to control the future. But it should propel us forward to make it better.

Who would've thought? I learned all that from a dress.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

simplicity 2016: jesus the minimalist

Last week, I got to share about this topic of simplicity with my intern family at Serve Seattle.

Maybe this is super silly, but you guys, it was so much fun.

The process of gathering information, researching, compiling everything I've learned, creating a power point, sharing with the group and then being on the podcast - it was all amazing.

I think sharing what Jesus is doing in your life should feel amazing, right?

When my friend Kyle asked me to speak on simplicity, I asked him if there was anything in particular he thought I should land on. His response was basically just this, "Yeah, just share your journey and then also share what Jesus says about simplicity."

Oh yeah... Jesus.


Sometimes, I get pretty involved in my projects, and forget to check back in with the Lord about it.

I hear what He wants me to focus on loud and clear, but then I forget to check back and see if there is more He wants to say.

In preparation for this talk, I was amazing at what Jesus had to say about minimalism and simplicity.

For instance.....

The Rich Young Ruler - This dude. This dude said he wanted to follow Jesus. Even become one of the disciples. But when Jesus asked him to do exactly as the disciples had done, and give up everything to follow Him, he just couldn't let go. His things and the false sense of comfort they gave him mattered more in the moment than the life changing act of following Jesus. If I am being totally honest, I am not sure that I wouldn't have also hesitated. Because as much as I love Jesus, and as much as I try to practice simplicity, I still get alot of joy from my things...

Mary and Martha - Jesus comes to hang out. Mary sits and learns. Martha storms around the house being pissed because her sister isn't helping her. Jesus tells Martha to calm the heck down and be more like Mary. I usually feel sorry for Martha, because it totally would've been me, but not this time. This time it stood out to me that Jesus never asked Martha to do all that extra work. He just wanted to teach her. He wanted to give her a gift that most women would never get to have. And she was cleaning. Priorities Martha.

Breakfast on the Beach - You know how in the book of John, Jesus makes breakfast for the disciples on the beach? What stood out to me in that story was that Jesus prepared this simple meal, in a simple way, in a simple place so that the purpose of fellowship wouldn't be lost. How often do I try to plan the perfect thing only to have the heart of the matter be lost in the process.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I really was. Jesus had so much to say about our relationship to our stuff and His desire for us to focus on the things that matter.

I still feel like I have a long way to go, but man, this year has been a lot into perspective for me.

My five most reflective take away's were:

  1. Less stuff means less managing which means more time for the things I love.
  2. Handling the unknowns and the curve balls of life feels less terrifying.
  3. I am a better listener because my mind isn't full of things that don't matter.
  4. Making decisions based on what I want not what I think other people expect me to do.
  5. Jesus wants really good things for me, and He is bring them into my life now that the unnecessary is out
There are a hundred other things I could write, but then this would be a book and that's not #simplicity.

Maybe you are thinking about a life that is simpler, more easy, less overwhelming and stressful. I'm by no means an expert, but I can say that it's changed how I am walking through this season of life. 

It's changing how I interact with people and it's changing how I decide what I want my future to look like. 

Which is an incredible empowering thing to feel. And that's what it's really about. The journey and what we gain by traveling it. Not just what's at the other end waiting for us.

"The goal of simplicity is not to have the least amount of stuff; it's to have the most room in your heart for things that matter."