On Mother’s Day we visited Amish Acres for lunch. If you aren’t from our area, there is an Amish community about 30 minutes from our house.  Amish Acres has a restaurant that serves fabulous food as well as a few acres of land which holds old Amish houses, a school house, barns, etc. The weather was so perfect that day. It was so nice to walk around in the sun and explore these old places.  The thing that struck me about each building was the simplicity.  I know that’s the whole idea of being Amish, but the idea hadn’t really made it’s way from my head to my heart until we walked around awhile.

I think the reason it really hit me is because simplicity is somthing God has been trying to help me understand in the past few weeks.  I’m learning to cut the clutter from my life.  Clutter, meaning the needless “extras” which weigh me down, sucking life and energy away from what really matters.

I wrote a few posts back about how I pulled the plug on Facebook for a few weeks.  Since then, I’ve turned it back on *mostly because poor Rob was getting bombarded by people who wanted to talk to me, but couldn’t*, but also because I missed seeing the updates of friends I really think about and care for deeply.  Since the “pulling the plug” week, I’ve dramatically reduced the time I’ve spent on Facebook.

Also, I’m trying to cut the clutter around our house. I’m throwing away or giving away things that aren’t necessary, but just extra. It’s amazing how we can get choked up by that kind of clutter, or feel the weight of it pressing in around us.

In my spiritual life, I’m trying to keep it simple too. I’m realizing that a lot of times God just wants me to “be still” in His presence. So often, I come to him rambling off my lists and fears without just being still.

In these last few weeks before the kids are home full time for the summer, I’m going to try to be quiet more, listen more, and draw strength from those times, which are so few and far between.

I hope you can enjoy the benefits of simplicity in your day as well. How do you do it? What works for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Choked By Clutter

Growing up in Chicago, we had a neighbor from across the street that was a clutter-addict.  He had a 1960’s Ford pick-up/trailer full of junk, top to bottom.  His garage was one of the most fascinating places I remember seeing as a kid.  We would go in there, and be memorized by the piles and piles of junk.  Not junk to Ed.  His garage was full of treasure.  His Juke-Box, his record collections, newspapers from every decade he had been alive, dog cages, magazines, gumball machines, tools…you name it.  Literally top to bottom side to side, every square inch of the garage filled with trash accumulated over a lifetime.

Clean House About once a year, his wife got to the point where she reached her boiling point.  She’d say things like, “It’s me or your trash.  You pick.”  He’d sulk while she dragged item after item out to the curb.  As the day progressed, predictable as ever, we would watch from our window across the street as Ed would sneak around the house from the back yard, grab a few items and dash over to his truck and cram it into the back, only to be put back in the garage when everyone’s back was turned.  We would giggle every time this happened, but, truth be told, over the years, the trash took over the marriage.  Our neighbor said to her husband, “Ed, it’s me or the trash” for the final time.  He chose the trash.  She moved out.  He stayed and lived in a house full of his treasure until the day he died.

Our family has been closely watching the show Clean House on the Style Channel.  I don’t know why it fascinates all of us so much, I think each of us has a different reason for watching.  Belle can’t believe adults are messier than her, Whitney and Maddie love to see the designers do their work to a house utterly demolished by years of neglect.  Rob and I watch because the reasons people hold on to their trash like it’s life.  It’s fascinating.  People hold on to “stuff” tighter sometimes than to the people they love. 

Watching this show has brought up a lot of very interesting conversations in our household.  Why do we keep what gets in our way?  Why do we argue and fight about “stuff”?  Can we live with less?  These have been great conversations.  We even followed suit, just like the show and had a gigantic yard sale.  We made almost $500 by selling our junk.  We could not believe it.  It was an amazing and freeing feeling for all of us, and we are using all that money to do some fun things along the way as we make our way over to India.

Has your stuff ever gotten in your way of loving people?  I think it has been a fascinating question to ponder myself.  The older I get, the more I see the less I need. 

Watch the show sometime if you have an hour.  You’ll learn something…maybe even about yourself.