“Homes are simple, uncluttered, and clean; the outside reflects the inside.”
I am joining Rachel over at Crimson and Wool as she reads Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. It chronicles her journey on the quest for a simple life. In each chapter Sleeth takes a principle of the Amish and talks about how she and her family applied that principle to their lives. I am not reading this as an end all guide to the simpler life, but as an encouragement to seek simplicity in our life.
I love my home. I love that it is colorful and eclectic and full of love. My mom and my grandma taught me at a very early age to only put things in your house that you love dearly. I have often found these are the things that tell a story. A story about who we are, where we’ve been and where we are from. I am not one to collect knickknacks and as time has passed I find my self more and more of a purger. I feel that something has to be BOTH useful and beautiful to have a place in my house. And I also know that the sooner you get rid of something, the easier it is to disconnect yourself from it. Suddenly something that you don’t even like becomes something you don’t think you can part with because you’ve moved it 4 times and so now it feels like you are stuck with it.
With that in mind, I thought that this chapter on homes would be easy for me. It was, however, an incredible challenge. When talking about the wardrobe choices of the Amish, Sleeth says, “They avoid using appearance as a form of self-expression or to attract attention to their bodies, which can lead to pride.” Yikes! Maybe this is why I had such a hard time cleaning out my closet. I don’t see clothes as simply a covering for my body. I see it as a form of self-expression and constantly fear others judgement of me when it comes to what I am wearing. This fear tells me that I am placing way to much importance on what I use to cover my body.
This statement also convicted me in relation to my physical home. I put TONS of pride in my home. I how cute or not cute my decorations are. In how clean or most of the time not clean my floors are. In whether or, well wether, there is dog hair on my couch. The hope for our home, and our most frequent prayer while renovating, was that our home would be a welcome place to friends and family. But more often than not, I find myself worrying about whether or not our house is cute enough or clean enough to welcome our friends rather than opening our doors and our arms to allow real community to occur.
Sleeth says, “A home, after all, is more than four walls: it is shelter against the tempests of life, a place to welcome friends, and a nest – after our travels – to which we long to return.” This is what I truly long for in my life. That my home would be a shelter. This is the new lens through which I want to view my home and my possessions. I will start getting rid of things that are not useful and beautiful. I think that there is something so calming and welcoming about a simple home. It allows your head room to breath and gives you space to do what you love to do.
1. I took all of the papers off of my refrigerator. Ahhh, it is so much more soothing to walk in to my house and see nothing rather than a fridge full of stuff.
2. Take all of the random knickknacks off of the bookshelves and get rid of most if not all of them. Most of it is stuff I don’t even like that I put on my shelves because I was afraid of empty space. But you know what, empty space is good for your eyes.
3. Clean off my kitchen counters. My kitchen counters are for cooking right? But it is a tad hard to cook when you have to rearrange items to get to the counters.
4. Get rid of all random toiletries. I HATE to get rid of unused toiletries because they are so expensive and I don’t want to waste them, but I NEVER use them. I know what I like now and remain pretty faithful to a handful of products. But my drawers are filled with things that I feel guilty getting rid of. Out they go! I’ll donate them to the local women’s shelter so that someone can actually use them.
5. Clean out unused kitchen tools. We cook almost every night and know what tools we like and what we don’t. We hand wash our knives, tools and pots and pans, when we are done using them and so we don’t need to have “extras” in case something is in the dishwasher.
Hopefully I will get to share the results of these action points with you later in the week! Pray with me that our house would be a place that reflects our values, that we would boast only in the Lord, and that as I seek to simplify my house this week that I would be in fact simplifying my life to allow for more time to be in relationship with the Lord and others.