Dear Thrive Mums’,
Happiest Thanksgiving to each one of you!
As I sat down to write my sponsor blog, I realized that I had already written it a year ago. I think it’s a timely reminder for myself as the Holidays approach, the Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals are posted and the mad rush begins. This blog post is a reminder to myself to keep focused first on Jesus and second on the things that matter most, the things that can’t be gift wrapped and my prayer is that it would be an encouragement to you during the holiday season and beyond.
Just wanting to share a little something that's been stirring up in my heart and head as of late.
A close friend and her family decided last minute to go camping and in talking with her I offered to feed their pets while they were away. All I had to do was feed the chooks (chickens), the fish and the two cats. No big deal. I brought my oldest son, whom I like to call my early riser, along for the task. He made it very clear that he thought they were practically zoo owners with "that many animals". He also tried to talk my dream of owning our own chooks down by saying "These chooks stink!! Let's get rabbits instead". "No way! Chooks give us eggs. Rabbits are high maintenance with no eggs, just more rabbits." We finished up our feeding of the "zoo". Chooks. Cats. Fish. and while standing in the kitchen washing my animal feeding hands (can you tell I'm the furthest thing from a pet owner?) I realized how quiet the house was. The life that normally floods that home, the 3 little girls running to and fro, my friend pouring me yet another cup of tea, her husband and his continual joking were all missing and for the first time that house felt so hollow. I just took it in for a few minutes. I sat there and absorbed how empty their house was, even though it was full to the brim with all sorts of treasures, it's truest treasures were missing. I have never stepped foot into their home and felt unwelcome or lonely, but in those few moments it all felt so shallow. All that stuff around me that whispered of their existence and yet no warmth or welcome. It was a moment that summed up what I felt that God had been teaching me over the past few weeks.
A few weeks ago I sat in the kitchen of another friend and watched her prepare dinner. I soaked up our time together, because I know it would soon come to a close. I thought about where we were a year ago in our friendship and as wives and mums. I remembered back to her packing up her house and preparing for bible college. It was a huge step of faith full of change for their family of six. As I watched her keeping busy in her much smaller kitchen I considered all the things she gave up to make these 2 years at bible college happen for her family, and I realized that even this tiny kitchen would one day most likely be remembered as a luxury. Again, I realized that most of their stuff was in storage, things were a lot more simple, and yet life was in abundance in their home. The kids were full of joy as they shared with me how much they loved the bible college and the people there. They were excited about an unplanned second year at the school and what was to come after that. I'm sure that their decision had been hard in a lot of ways but as an outsider sitting at their table taking in their life, I was encouraged. From where I sat I saw the rewards of them simplifying and trusting God in the simplicity. I honestly can not wait to see where they end up.
It was around the same time that I set out to do a final purge in our play room before our move. I went through that room showing no mercy "if you don't play with it, we don't keep it". It had to be done. In fact, I'm treating my entire house like that at the moment . . . even . . .wait for it, wait . . . even my craft supplies. *gasp* There is just so much stuff. Everywhere. Although I am thankful for all of it, and by no means am I saying it's wrong to have it, I'm just saying it's too much for our family. I've been asking myself for weeks "Sara is this necessity or luxury?" "Sara do you really need this?". I find myself replaying the words of a speaker I heard at a women's retreat years ago "let us keep a light touch on the things of this world." Ya'll I'm not trying to sound super spiritual or saying I'm giving it all up. For some that is what they choose to do, some even feel called to do it, for me I just feel it's time to keep things a bit more simple. I just want to focus on the things that matter and not so much on the things that I think matter and at times I find it hard to decipher between the two.
I'm not out to be a minimalist, I'm more looking to become a "matter-ist" how's that for a made up word?
Honestly, one of my biggest anxieties about moving back to America is that I'm afraid I'll get caught up in the "must haves", "I need", "want more" mentality that pumps through the veins of America's society. Australia is very comparable to America, I've not spent the last 4 1/2 year in a 3rd world country, but in my observations I find that the Aussies are a bit more simple when it comes to stuff. I have learned to love and appreciate the fact that my Aussie mates don't have crates of holiday decor for every holiday, in general I find that home decor isn't as ornate as some homes in America, and my favorite: they just invite you over on the spot. Does that sound silly? To me at first I thought it was the craziest thing, you mean you want me to just come over? You don't want to go and tidy or hide your piles of mess (ehmmm like I do???)? It was shocking! I am sure I'm not explaining it all that well, but over all I feel that life here is a bit more simple. Although I'm sure some of my Aussie friends would say that they're catching up with America on the gimme front. I still see a fair bit of simplicity in the Aussie culture.
Are you still following me?
I just want to surround myself with things that matter. I want to be able to weed through all the stuff and to really know what matters? what's lasting? what is worthy of my time? I know it sounds simple, but being in a society that has just about anything they want at their fingertips I find it a challenge and a distraction. I find my heart and head get mixed up with wanting just to have and wanting because it's a need. I find that wanting is a distraction from the important. When it's all said and done, do people really care if my couch pillows match my curtains?Or was it the conversations that took place while we sat on those couches?
I see nothing wrong with making a home welcoming, warm and beautiful, I love that and desire that for my home.I certainly don't expect it to be easy moving into our new home, visiting my favorite shops for the first time in almost 5 years and seeing how cheap everything is! Trust me, I've NEVER gotten over sticker shock in the time that we have lived here. I have no doubt that I will step foot into Target and nearly cry at the sight of the dollar bin or that I'll want to get those matching curtains and pillows. I am not above wanting. I am simply challenging myself to think things through. To stop and challenge the gimme's that often say "oh go ahead, it's only $5 bucks you deserve it any way." Do I? Do I really deserve it? Is it really only $5?" Will it sit unused, untouched? Is it truly necessary? Or if I am honest with myself, is it just stuff that will clutter my house and be a lame attempt to fill my deepest hearts desire to be invested into people and not things?
At the end of the day I just want it to have mattered. Sitting at the counter of my friends home without her there reminded me of what matters. She does. Her friendship. Her laughter. Her encouragement. Her prayers. Her honest conversation. Truly what makes her home matter are the souls that live there and how they give to others, not the treasures on the shelves or the art on the walls.
Watching my friend prepare dinner that evening I wasn't thinking about her decor and how much I will miss her decorating style when we say our goodbyes. Not at all! What I was thinking about was how gutted I am going to be when I hug her neck for the last time on Australian soil. How I'm not going to see her and her family off in person as they depart bible college for the mission field. I will miss our honest and vulnerable chats about missions, life, marriage, family. . . things that matter.
A light touch on the stuff and a ripper of a grip on the souls that I love dearly, my husband, my children, our family, the friendships I have made, the friendships that are to come. May I strive to avoid impressing and plunge into investing. That's where I want to be, covered by grace along the way.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21