02 January 2011

Simplicity in Review

How do you decide on a New Year's resolution? Or don't you make them? I've never been big on making resolutions at the start of the year. Maybe it's because I find that I need a fresh start more than once each year. I don't need a date looming months away on which I'll make a fresh start. It's easy to put things off when you know you can just wait and do that thing that will help you reach a goal or make you a better person or challenge you physically, mentally, or spiritually...later because that's what everyone else is doing. I know I'm over-analyzing this. I guess I am mostly speculating anyway. Resolutions have never seemed to be a great idea for me. Maybe they work for you. I'd love to hear about that!

The past two years, the Lord has given me more of a theme on which I could focus. Last year, I focused on simplicity. It takes effort to simplify your life. I don't know that I've reached the goal which the Lord truly wants me to achieve with this idea of simplicity, but I believe I made great strides in the past year. Over the summer, for example, we took a month and didn't have piano, dance or extra church activities. We spent extra time with each other and re-energized for the new school year. We simplified our calendar, and it ended up being the only way we could have made it through what the Lord knew we were going to face in our personal lives during that month.

We simplified our lives in one big way last spring. It was something about which we prayed for a couple years and finally decided that the Lord wanted us to give up our homeschooling co-op. I don't know if this is something that we'll always go without, but, for now, the Lord has allowed us this extra freedom in our schedule. It ended up being an absolute necessity this fall. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a God-lead decision even though we miss our weekly time with our co-op friends.

This fall, we simplified our lives by allowing the children to do fewer activities. We learned a couple years ago that fall sports don't really work in our schedule. Unfortunately, our church's Upward basketball schedule began in November, which meant that we had to put much thought and prayer into whether or not our kids would be permitted to participate. This was a challenging decision for us. We hemmed and hawed over it because we know our kids need to have activity in their lives. In the end, we opted to not participate in basketball season. Were the kids thrilled? Not at all. Would it have worked for us in November and December? Absolutely not. They would have missed most of their practices during those months if they made it any at all. As it was, Ava missed dance class twice in December because of scheduling conflicts.

I didn't understand why the Lord was leading me to focus on simplicity over the past year, but I have watched as He has walked me through a time of dark shadows in my life, a time when I couldn't manage my life as well as I used to. I'm still going through that, but what I have realized is that this idea of simplicity was designed to help me through what I face right now. Our family has made some great memories together, though most of those were made in our own home, as it should be. We have still gone on plenty of field trips, spent time with family and friends and participated in ministry together. Simplifying my schedule helped to make it possible for me to be there when my parents needed me when Dad's stroke temporarily took his vision. I've managed my anxiety better because of it. I said in my blog last year that I didn't know why the Lord gave this word to me, but now I have no doubt that it is exactly what He intended for me in the past year.

I will continue to remember simplicity. I believe it is good for us to remember simplicity in our lives. The Lord didn't intend for our schedules to be overcrowded and cluttered with non-essential activities. He didn't intend for us to go through the motions of certain commitments because everyone else expects it of us. He intended for us to keep things simple enough to focus on Him and His life giving breath. When we clutter our lives, we miss the still, small voice. I love that I hear Him. I love that when I obey His whisper, I am rewarded with the most amazing gifts. Without simplicity? I could miss that. I most likely would miss that. I would never want to fill my life with so many good things that I miss His best for me. I always want to be available to listen to and obey His gentle song.

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