Elise Boulding said:

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.

I’ve been simplifying my home. It’s different than de-cluttering. I’m not just throwing away clutter, but I’ve been prayerfully restructuring and organizing in a way to avoid clutter being a part of my life. I’ve taken a bit of fascination in the many blogs and books on minimalism. I think it points to the desire of an overstimulated, sensationalist culture to return to something pure again -getting off the materialism train. Of course, I think for Christians, simplicity is an actual part of the disciple’s call. Jesus said:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:25-34, ESV).

Jesus addressed material things and made it a thing of the heart. It’s actually about the kingdom that you live for. With first thing in first place (God and His Kingdom), the anxieties of life do not have to be our driving force in life. We can be intentional in how we live.

So, back to our living space. We are invested in living as an extended family on mission with those we’re in fellowship with. Our house is a smaller one (though when it gets warm we have an extra room with our 3 season porch), so we have to be intentional with our space when it comes to hospitality. We have to use our space in a smart way. A few things that I’ve done lately in our home.

  1. Hanging things in our small kitchen. We have a small kitchen so I’ve been clearing counter top space by hanging utensils, organizing the cabinets better, and putting stuff we just don’t use up high.
  2. Continually organizing, not de-cluttering. I’m kind of learning that if I’m de-cluttering, I’m too late. It’s sort of the sentiment that it’s easier to maintain/prevent than recover. Staying on top of the dishes, putting junk mail in the trash or shredding pile, etc. Doing it daily as much as possible, instead of once a week.
  3. Using creative, meaningful art on the walls. We have our big painting print of Oahu with a Koa wood oar (helping us to get through the long MN winters :), and a series of drawings that an artist/art teacher friend of mine did (Jennifer Cronin – sample in this post!), adding to a homegrown creative feel. I’m really trying to be more intentional to have good ‘vibes’ in our living space, even if there are toddler toys lying around sometimes.
  4. Using every nook and cranny. I’m thinking/praying about out how I can use the basement office/entertainment area, the guest room, our 3 season porch, and even our backyard to spend time with our extended family (family and friends).
More will happen in the process, but the big point is that the more organized, intentional living space that we have, the more potential we have for inviting others into our lives. Not just for ‘events’ but for the event of sharing life every day. It’s not about having to be clean in order to invite people into our lives, because let’s face it -if that were the case we’d never invite anyone over! Just like Thomas of Celano spoke of St. Francis and his brotherhood, “Because they had nothing, they feared in no way to lose anything,”I’m finding that the more I simplify, the more generous and relaxed that I feel inviting others into our space.
Some books on simplicity that I’ve been enjoying: