Small Space Thriving #2

Small spaces.

Some people love them and there is even a major tiny home movement that is becoming all the rage!  In fact, we love watching episodes of Tiny Luxury and other Tiny Home shows.

However, there are also many home shows that feature couples viewing 2,000 square foot homes and referring to them as “small”.

It really depends on the person, I suppose, and probably a lot on what they are accustomed to.

So, what do I LOVE about living in a small space?  Yes, I said “love”.  Not tolerate.  Not appreciate. LOVE.

Of course there are challenges and things that I really don’t enjoy, but I am going to focus on the benefits!

  1. Easy access:  It is usually fairly quick and simple to find anything I need.  I don’t have to go far or reach far for much!
  2. Child safety: There are no stairs, and minimal rooms my children can be in.  They are never far from me and thus we have avoided many of those issues where a child has sneakily destroyed some part of the home! Ha!
  3. Cleaning: I already feel that housework is difficult to keep up with, so I can only imagine how this would be magnified in a larger home.  My cleaning responsibilities are much smaller, which frees me up to do other tasks.
  4. Freedom: Similar to the child safety benefits, I can give my children freedom when they play.  I can hear them from any room in the house.  Now that my older two are almost 5 and 3, I can send them in the yard and hear them from the kitchen/see them from the family room.  Thus, they can play freely, while I tidy up inside or sit on the couch to to my Bible study.
  5. Organization: You would maybe think this would be a difficulty rather than something I love, but being in a small space has forced us to analyze everything we have and how we store everything we have. The extreme organization has freed up a lot of time and removed a lot of stress from our lives.
  6. More outdoor time: Because the space is small, we take full advantage of our yard, which is a wonderful size.  We eat outside when the weather is nice. We have outdoor pets instead of indoor ones.  We keep a small garden.  We have many outdoor activities for the kids: bikes, mud kitchen, sand box, rock wall (to be installed), playhouse, etc.
  7. Tight Knit family:  We are always together.  We can not escape one another, ha ha!  This is one of the reasons why, if we are able to move someday, I do not want an overly large home.  I love that we can be in the same space and be close to each other, even when we are doing different activities!

Take Your Chores Outdoors

Happy first day of Spring!

We are expecting rain this week, but I don’t care: It’s Spring!

My girls and I have been enjoying hours upon hours of outdoor time and, surprisingly, I still feel as though I am keeping up on housework and getting many projects completed!

I compiled some of my tips for getting work done while outdoors and posted them over at Raising Homemakers.

I love having my kids spend as much time outside as possible, but there are still responsibilities and tasks to be completed. I have found a few ways to have the best of both worlds.

I hope this tips are helpful.  Do you have any to add?

 

Raising Homemakers

HOPE #4

Hope and comparison.

These two things are often at odds with one another.

We see what another has or does and we grow despondent.  Perhaps we covet, perhaps we cry out “not fair” to God, perhaps we despair that we will never be in their shoes.

However, we can use comparison to spur our hope on and to encourage us rather than discourage us.

When we see the blessings another has received, we can hope that the Lord is working in our lives too. Perhaps not through the same method or to the same end, but working he is.

For example, someone I follow on instagram just purchased a new home on acreage.  There are trees and space and the home is large enough for all of them.  It would be so easy to feel jealous.  So easy to say, we will never have that.

But, that would be so short-sighted and so limiting of what God can do and also so unfair.  After all, this person lived in multiple homes before this one.  This person lived in a very small house with multiple children for many years.  This person is further along life’s path than I.

Sometimes, I think we see the spiritual maturity of others or the financial prosperity of others or the “perfect” homeschooling of others and we compare in a negative light instead of considering what paths those people may have taken to reach those ends.

Even scripture tells us that, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Psalm 13:12).  Waiting can be hard.

I remember reading in a Bible study book about a woman whose life seemed so “easy” now.  Then she went on to describe years of barely surviving financially and of eating simple dinners and never going out and I thought, “hey, that is my life right now!” and she went on to say that those lean years had really shaped her family in so many wonderful and positive ways.  I realized that perhaps that might be part of my story.  Perhaps I am struggling now, but maybe we won’t struggle forever? I can hope that this will be a season for us as well.  I can do my best with God has given us now and I can hope.  Maybe that hope is that we will not always struggle.  Maybe that hope is simply that he will strengthen us through the struggle.

Sometimes, to look forward, we must first look backward.  How has he helped me in the past?  Where were we a year ago?  Two years ago? Sometimes we need to compare our current circumstances or the current circumstances of others to our or their past circumstances to accurately see the true picture.

Then, hope can grow.

hope4

Small Space Thriving #1

                             (source)

I’m sure you have heard me mention the size of our home.

A mere 816 square feet.

We love watching shows about people who live in Tiny Homes and we are drawn to many minimalist lifestyles as well.

We joke that we basically live in a Tiny Home if you factor in how many people live here.  We also pretend that we are minimalists since if we moved all our stuff into a 1600 square foot home, then it would appear to be a minimal amount of stuff.

All joking aside, we love our little home, but it is not without its challenges.

I posted some tips on purging and digital decluttering the last few months and we have been following those tips diligently. My husband estimates that we have purged, donated, thrown away or sold at least 800 lbs of stuff since January.  This is both exciting and embarrassing (how did we own that much CRAP?!).

Mostly, it is liberating.

Here are some examples of the types of things we have been purging:

  1. Pictures: I went through all my old albums and photos and tossed duplicates, blurry photos, photos I don’t care to save.
  2. Extras: Do we need three plastic ladles?  No!
  3. Papers: We had a bonfire with all our old forms and documents and only saved three years’ worth in small boxes.
  4. Toys: How many stacking toys does one baby need?!
  5. Outdoor Equipment: broken squirt guns, old chairs, superfluous sand pails.
  6. Random Stuff: What does this cord even go to?! Are these batteries new or old?
  7. Art/Decor: Can you say mason jar hoarder?
  8. Clothing: Haven’t worn it recently, can’t wear while pregnant or nursing, looking shabby.
  9. Gift wrap/Party supplies: If the bag says “baby girl” it goes.  Generic gift bags only!
  10. Linens: I always wash and dry our bedding the same day, so extras aren’t necessary.  Threadbare rags are gone. Newborns don’t get bathed very often, so only a few hoodie towels are needed.
  11. All the expired things!

You get the picture.  Pretty much every closet, drawer, and cabinet in our house is being re-evaluated, rearranged, and ransacked!  The garage, shed, and outdoor toy box have begun to be re-evaluated as well.

This is one of the easiest ways to live comfortably in small spaces.  It frees up your space and your time.  Each time I open a drawer or cabinet, everything is easily accessible.  So, if I save 30 seconds each of those times, then gradually I am saving more and more time and stress.  It also allows my children to have more responsibility and to be more helpful as they can easily find and access items that I ask them to fetch for me.

I have created a bit of a monster and I am still obsessing over purging and organizing and rearranging more things!  I’m sure a little bit of nesting is to blame as well!

 

So, let me have it!  What kind of space do you live in?  How do you go about purging and reorganizing?  Any tips or inspiration for me?

HOPE #3

butterfly

We raised 4 butterflies.

They came to us as tiny caterpillars, no longer than a fingernail.  Over time they grew and grew and grew.

Then, they were shrouded in darkness as each caterpillar formed a Chrysalis around itself.  There it hung, no movement and no beauty, until finally one day it emerged.  A butterfly!  Weak at first, but beautiful and new and complete!

Much like Christ, who hung on a cross and was shrouded in cloth and laid in a dark tomb, but emerged alive and whole and new and perfect.

Isn’t that how hope is?  It grows in us, the longing becoming stronger and the dreams becoming larger.  Then, perhaps you feel it is snuffed out. Darkness covers it and it seems hidden.  But, you can not see the work that God is doing or the changes he is weaving beneath that darkness.  Then, one day, it will emerge.  It will be new, perhaps look different even, but it will be beautiful and perfect and whole.

Don’t lose hope in the darkness.  That may be the place where the most work is being done.  It is simply being done by hands greater and more skilled than your own.  Simply rest in that dark place and wait.

 

psalm 71: 5-6, 14

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.

I will ever praise you.

As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

butterfly2 butterfly3 butterfly4 butterfly1butterfly3butterfly1
    

Why it is actually ok to “lose yourself” in Motherhood

Have you seen the titles?  The instagram captions?  They are meaningful and honest and well-intentioned.

How to not “lose yourself” in motherhood, or why you shouldn’t “lose yourself” in motherhood.

I’m not sure where this idea came from that motherhood inherently makes you lose part of who you really are?  Does motherhood change you? Yes, definitely.  Is that inherently bad?  No.  Is motherhood sometimes all-consuming. Yes. Is that wrong? No. Does motherhood define you in many ways? Totally!  Does that make you less of a woman?  Absolutely not!

It saddens me that many of the very women who seem to praise and love motherhood, are also belittling it by suggesting that in order to stay true to yourself you can not give your whole self to the task.  I do not believe that is the case.

After all, the same can be said for any phase of life. You can “lose yourself” in school and studying or in your career and work, or in a marriage. I think it is the word lose that really gets on my nerves. If you are lost then that means you are confused about which way to go, you are unsure, you have no direction.

That’s not really what we are talking about here.  What we are talking about is self-denial, yet also self-realization.

If I have always been a creative person, and then I become a mom and I use my creativity to plan a super adorable first birthday party, have I “lost myself” in motherhood?  Or, rather, have I just used a part of my personality to benefit my children?  If I love photography and my children become my main subjects, have I “lost myself” in motherhood, or am I just using my gifts for the people that are most important to me.

It seems to me that motherhood often makes us MORE of who we are, rather than detracting from us.  The difference is that we are no longer using our gifts, interests and abilities to merely serve ourselves.  We are using them to serve our children and our families.  The world says this makes us less of a woman and that we are “wasting” our talents or we are “losing” ourselves.  I disagree.  Who we give our all for or where we choose to demonstrate our personalities is not what matters.  It doesn’t change the worth.

A woman who sings beautiful grammy-award worthy lullabies to a crying infant is not less worthy than the woman on the stage.  A woman who cooks gourmet meals for a husband and hungry children is not more lost than a woman who constantly serves strangers in a five star restaurant. A woman who paints murals on the nursery wall for her coming child rather than for a museum is not wasting her talents.  She is still herself.  She is not lost.  Her personality has not changed. Rather it has more purpose.

If daily learning to deny myself and to serve my family is considered “losing myself” to motherhood, then so be it.  I am happy to be lost.  This “loss” has grown me and shaped me and fulfilled me more than any other pursuit of my life.  It is harder and lonelier than many other experiences I have had.  But, it is life-changing, eternal work I am doing.

After all . . .

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” philippians 3:8

So, mamas.  Don’t feel like what you are is not enough.  Be who you are IN your motherhood, not outside of it.  Tap dance in the kitchen, dress your children in the latest fashion, hike and travel with your kids, do what you love and be who you are FOR them and don’t be ashamed of it.

20160813_105058

Real life photo of my motherhood, and just for fun . . .  a LINK to a post on this same topic that I wrote very shortly after my first daughter was born.