Friday, October 13, 2017

The Case for Christian Minimalism

I've been on a minimalist journey. I am not really a minimalist... I don't have interest in a home with no furniture or anything. I AM a minimalist to the extent of wanting less mess, less clutter and less STUFF everywhere. I want peace. I was simple. I want comfort.

I am, above all else, a creature of comfort.

So as I cleaned the other day, it became abundantly clear to me that in this day and age, we are, whether we admit it or not, addicted to stuff. We can, with one click of smart phone, purchase basically anything. It's easy to acquire credit to purchase whatever we'd like, and even things we can't even think we'd ever need, we are suddenly convinced to buy from an ad that comes across our newsfeed.

"Well, it's on sale!" we say.

We are covered in stuff.

I believe that Satan is in the clutter of our lives. When we allow junk, unused and unneeded to pile up around us, it demands our time. It demands our attention. It eats up our good intentions to serve, to act. It distracts and depresses us. So we buy more.

We build ourselves alters of amazon prime boxes to worship the gods of stuff.

It is, in it's truest form idolatry.

"Thou shalt have no other go before me." (Exodus 20:3)

 We usually take that commandment totally literally, that we not pray to gods other than the One True God.

But we give our treasures our love, our time, our attention, our affection, our money... the same things we are asked to give to God. Having too much stuff is absolutely idolatry.

In fact, we are told in 2 Nephi 9, that when we care too much about stuff, "wherefore their treasure is their god..." (vs 30).

Don't get me wrong, having possessions isn't, I don't think, inherently evil. We must have things. We can't escape the need for things. It's part of life. We can even have things we love, things we spend a great deal of money on, things we love and are fond of. However, when we are completely surrounded by things we don't need, we are forced to deal with them. Either by stacking them on top of each other, shoving them out of the way, or buying more containers with which to hold them. Eventually we rent a storage unit to hold the rest of the treasures we can't contain in our houses.

It is a cycle.

To me, after spending months creating a simpler home, with less STUFF, it is clear: healthy minimalism is a gospel principle.

Go with me here:

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, says Joshua. (Joshua 24:15)

At no time does he suggest that as for me and my house, we shall buy all the things.

Is our home the heart of Christ-centered service? Or is it storage unit? Are we engaged in just maintaining our things, or are we creating a stronghold for our Savior?

We can both serve the Lord, and have a nice home. Yes, surely, but it requires that we lay up treasures in Heaven, more than on earth.

When our homes are not in order, it feels uncomfortable. We can become blind to it, sure. Like anything we can subject ourselves to the anxiety that clutter affords enough to stop feeling it fully. We can pile things up and not look directly at them.

That is not how God would have us be. He wants us to live, full abundant lives. He does not want us to fill our homes with junk in the name of assuaging our natural man.

Satan tells us to buy things for comfort, entertainment, convenience, or status. He lies to us that those things with which we surround ourselves define us for good and for ill.

Indeed, he believes that you can buy happiness. Or at the very least, he wants us to believe it.

We know better! We know that the recipe for joy does not require the newest or best or most of anything physically material. Instead, we know that the Lord simply blesses us with joy in our eternal destiny. He grants us comfort and love and mercy, regardless of how cluttered our home are or are not.

When we have less junk distracting us, we can give Him more time.

What can you rid yourself of? What can you say goodbye to that will free your chains of idolatry?

For me? I'm still going room by room... donating, saying "no" to things, throwing things away, each week, I spend a chunk of time ridding our home of our idols.

It's not easy task. I fear it will *never* be done. But! These days, when we need to pick up the living room, it takes less time than it used to, I consider that a win. My heart is on my living jewels, trying to point them to Christ in both my words and my deeds.  I want my legacy to my children to have nothing to do with things, but with testimony. I want them to know that Mom loved Jesus, not that Mom loved her dishes.

A home built on the Rock does not need to be full to the ceilings with stuff to anchor it down in the storm. Instead, it stands firm upon the salvation of Christ. Things become meaningless when we focus on our Savior. We love and serve only Him, not the gods of retail.

Everyone's home is different, and everyone's alters and idols are different, but I submit that we can all rid ourselves of some stuff. When we do, we'll feel much more able to do other things outside of maintaining our mess of stuff.

We can worship the God who gives. That's all we'll need.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My First Experience with HIIT


I download Fitness Blender. GO ME.

I pass the baby off to the biggest child, and declare to all, "I am going to go exercise. Watch TV and don't bug me!"

They all agree with varying levels of enthusiasm.

I head upstairs and realize, oh. First, Ima need some support. It's been a month or more since I exercised. I had been treadmilling, but then got pneumonia, and then I was lazy. Digging through drawers and laundry baskets was necessary to find the proper clothing *aka, sports bra*.

Ok, so five minutes have passed since I declared I was "GOING TO GO EXERCISE."

At this point, three children have already come upstairs to goggle.

"Are you going on your treadmill?"
"Are you going to wear your pajamas?"
"What kind of exercise?"

I answered each of them with the compassion and love any angel mother would, "No, go away, I'm going to exercise!"

Finally, I pulled out the big guns and LOCKED MY DOOR.

All right, so this cute little thin, super fit lady is on my phone screen. I briefly debated downloading the app to my iPad, but ultimately decided not to take the time to go down the rabbit hole of forgotten passwords, and the app store.

Anyway back to the tiny woman on my tiny phone screen. I hit play and we GET TO WERK.

Thirty second later, I'm kinda sweaty and there is a gentle, but constant tapping on my door.

"ARG! WHAT?" I snap pausing the workout and angrily unlocking my door.

"Um," says a contrite Spencer. "Henry was wondering if he could have your computer." Ah, the eldest, in all his wisdom sent his brother into the beast's lair.

"No! He is supposed to be keeping Beatrice happy. Go watch TV. I'm TRYING TO EXERCISE!"

Snap goes the door. Click goes the lock.

I hit play again, and the little woman continues bouncing and doing all the things. I do them with her, grateful that the HIIT aspect means that like every 30 seconds I get a "break" meaning I can walk in place instead of jumping about. Walking is good.

Two minutes pass, and a hysterical Freddy is at my door. I don't even ask, I just unlock the door and he sobs his way to my bed, where he stops crying and watches me with fascination.

Three minutes later, the tiny woman on my tiny screen on my tiny phone goes, "PHEW! You know it's going to be a good workout when the WARM UP is making me winded."

Wait. What?


Oh no. No. H-E-C-K (I'm trying to be good and not swear) NO.

I am going to DIE, and this is just the WARM UP.



WARM UP BE DARNED! (See, I'm being good!)

So, I fast-forward her skinny butt until I get to the REAL DEAL.

The REAL DEAL was MORE jumping, lunging, squatting, kicking, side-steping, cycle crunches and I don't even know what else.

Ezra comes crying to me, "OLIVER STOLE THE NERF DART AND..."

"NO!" I cry, after angrily pausing my super awesome workout AGAIN!

(It must be sidenoted that we have MANY Nerf guns and exactly ONE dart. You can imagine how well this works.)


He begrudgingly complies. Well, he went away, so who knows what happened after that?

Back at it. We're doing some sort of hop-step thing now. The girl in charge on my phone is like, totally out of breath. I quit breathing entirely, I'm pretty sure.

At some point in my haze, Miriam came upstairs screaming and crying because SOMEONE hit some part of her body.

"NO!" I cry, not bothering to pause Miss Skinny Workout girl. It's ride or die time people. RIDE or DIE.

"Just lay in my bed Miriam. I am TRYING TO EXERCISE."

She demurely complies and proceeds to watch me shuffle around like a dying T-Rex, trying to reach her toes. THEY ARE SO FAR AWAY.

Finally, my enthusiasm has waned, and I can't even pretend. I've gone from the "high impact" to the "low-impact modifications" that Miss Workout Queen has suggested to just straight up trudging in place. Ya'll I can't even call it walking in place. I was sort of sliding my feet from one spot to another.

I'm sweaty.

EVERY child of mine has come complaining at some point.

I can hear Beatrice hollering in protest. I'm done. I'm beat, I'm spent.

Surely, I have burned ALL THE CALORIES. My six-pack is well underway. I am AMAZING.


I pause little Miss Tiny Tushie, and see the truth. Subtracting the WARM-UP *curse you warm up* that I skipped, I have managed to work out for twelve minutes.


Which is two more than I was expecting.


Until tomorrow Miss Tiny Arms. Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Saved Through Grace

Grace is one of my most favorite gospel topics. It is, in my opinion also, very misunderstood in the church. The doctrine is clear, but we get confused by all the "to dos" as members of the church. 

But what it boils down to is simply this: 

His Grace is sufficent. 

2 Nephi 25:23 says, "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

You can not work your way into Heaven, friends. You can't. So, trust in the Lord, repent, and let His Grace be the key to your whole life. Jesus makes all the difference.