Time to Simplify

With all of the house/pet sitting that I do, there are some weeks that I literally live in 2 or 3 different houses. They're all local here in town, and I absolutely love it, but carting around bags and suitcases every few days is enough to drive me nuts! 

So I made a rule that I could only bring along what fits inside one laundry basket. That's usually no problem, but as I was getting ready this afternoon to leave for an 11-day job, I began to think that this might be the exception. And so down to the basement I went, in search of a few pieces of luggage.

But as I groaned a little at the thought of hauling multiple heavy pieces of luggage up the huge flight of stairs that this particular home has (hmmm...maybe I'm just lazy?) something switched to "challenge mode" in my brain, and I decided to see if I could pack for 11 days with the "one basket rule." 

And I Did It!!! 
EVERYTHING fit inside, with the exception of a few refrigerated foods.

And all of a sudden it dawned on me...

Uhhhh..... why do I live in a house that's overflowing with things?

And furthermore,

Why do I keep buying more things to put in it?!

Is it because they're cute? 
...they're on sale? 
...they remind me of someone special?

Whatever the reason, I have decided that my home needs a good cleaning. Not clean as in "sweep yesterday's crumbs off the floor, attack the ever-growing spider web, and finally fold the laundry" clean (although I should consider those tasks as well). Rather a type of clean that clears the clutter and creates a space of peace; a space that is free of distractions and needless accessories.

So the challenge will be...
What is needed and what is needless?

The next few weeks will reveal the answers! 

(after I return from house sitting, of course)


Sweet Sixteen

"Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed?" the radio announcer's voice boomed across the airwaves.  My family had surprised me with a wake-up call from the local radio station on my 16th birthday, and I can still remember the sound of amazement in his voice as he stated that such a thing was almost unheard of.

"It's a promise that I've made to God." I proudly affirmed. "I'm saving the first kiss for my wedding day."

Filled with optimism as to when that day would arrive, I began to envision the next few steps my life would take.....

  • Graduate high school & college
  • Secure a job
  • Get married & have kids
  • Live happily ever after

Of course I knew that ultimately God was in control, but how long could it really take to get to the "happily ever after" part, especially because I wanted it so much? In my naive mind, I thought I'd be well on my way within a few years.

But as I hurried to complete steps 1 and 2, I seemed to have forgotten that my life was not my own. That there is a God who cares much more about the details than I do, and He saw fit to have me pause midway through my goals -- and not just a little pause, either. In fact, I've been lingering here so long that other people are starting to wonder what is going on! Like the one individual, who after not seeing me for quite a few years, walked up and greeted me with the words, "You're not still single....are you?"

I crawled into bed that night feeling like someone had diagnosed me with a horrible disease. And the worst part was that I had no clue what caused this "singleness" to happen, how long it would last, or when the cure would come. I would have to wait it out.


I began reading forums and websites, books and blogs, all filled with similar stories of being "stuck in the single years" and learning about the "common mistakes singles make." I shared my struggles with friends and listened to how they wrestled with much of the same things. It seemed like it was a common thing for young adults to have trouble navigating this path of middle ground between high school and the married life. I mean, even the word "singleness" itself sounds so empty and forlorn! No wonder no one wants to stay here very long.

One night as I brought my tears of frustration before the Lord, my mind was drawn to a certain passage of Scripture that reads,

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." 
Romans 8:35,37. 

Now I'll be honest and admit that I don't know much about famine or swords, but in that moment I can assure you that I experienced a taste of the tribulation and distress. And as I sat there with my face buried in a bucket of ice cream, I felt a gentle urging to apply this Scripture to the increasing struggles and loneliness that singles have to face.

Love. It's what we all want, right? To love and to be loved, to have the companionship of another in our life. Too often we find ourselves wishing away the days until we can experience that love, thinking that it will only come in a package that is tall, dark, and handsome, or lovely, fair, and beautiful. And all the while we end up overlooking the depths of amazing love that is right there in front of us...the Love of God.

It is His perfect love that has been with us since the beginning of time and will be with us throughout all of eternity! When we are lonely, it is His comfort that warms our soul. When in distress, it is His peace that calms our fear. When sorrowful or burdened with trials, we have the blessed hope that He will be with us to bring joy and victory in our lives. We can be more than conquerors over any situation that is presented us! 

Why then do we try to merely "cope" with being single? Who came up with the notion that singleness is just a period of life that we have to "get through" on our way to the married years? Listen, my friend - there is a God who loves us and has promised that nothing - not even our distress of a certain situation in life - will take away the constant love and care that He has for us! That in and of itself should be enough to put a skip in your step along this journey...I know it has for me.

So as I turn another year older tomorrow and consider the fact that "Great Twenty Eight and still never been kissed" doesn't quite have that cute little ring to it, I am inclined to believe that this portion of life was never meant to be trudged through with blinders on. Oh yes - we need to keep our eyes on the goal (marriage!) but our focus should lie on the beautiful love that God has  offered us today.

Surely then, as we delight ourselves in Him, His love will guide us to the desires of our heart. If you are single, use this time to learn about His love....the perfect love. Learn about kindness; develop a spirit of patience and mercy so that when you are blessed with the opportunity of marriage, you will be ready to give and receive love as Christ meant it to be.