Wednesday, August 14

Too much

I like things simple. Clean. Uncluttered.

But I don't always know how to get there. Throw me square into a pile of junk, and I have no idea where to start. Set me down somewhere tidy and I will be able to keep it that way.

Since having children (well, and even since having a husband) this is not realistic. My life is cluttered, in more ways than one. And there are parts of that I like, because the messiness is often reflective of a life well-lived. A full life.

Then there's "too much." Over the years, I have gained a greater appreciation for what "too much" means. For a half-dozen years now, I've been taking part in garage sales, selling hundreds of dollars of STUFF each spring. You think I'd have nothing left by now, but unfortunately that's not the case. (How is it possible, since I have less money to spend on stuff than ever before!)

I know I am incredibly blessed. By and large, all the stuff in my house represents a loving and thoughtful gift or act of kindness, mixed in with the occasional "what the ...?" buys that my kids have talked me into over the years.

But it's more than I need. And I know this because if you take a worldview of our financial situation, it's shocking. Reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker recently has re-opened my eyes to that fact, to the truth that even being poor in America has its distinct advantages. A few stats from her book:

  • The wealthiest 1 billion people in the world average $70 a day.
  • If you make $35,000 annually, you are in the top 4 percent. At $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1 percent. (what?!)
  • We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all good combined
  • 8 percent of the rest of the world owns a car
  • One-third of all American families own 3 cars

It's hard to imagine. Scott and I are decidedly smack in the middle of middle-class when it comes to our salary, which is comfortable. But there are times when it feels tight. That's the reality of life in America. But when you look at those numbers, it's almost unfathomable (did I spell that right?) that we feel this way when the rest of the world doesn't. Or can't. 

And the bigger question: what should we really be doing with all of our excess?

My oh my.

So at our house, we are challenging ourselves to live on less, to have less. For those of you who know Scott, this isn't much of a stretch. He's the guy who claims he can live in a cardboard box (um, yeah...). I'll admit to being more of the "keeping up with the Jones's" type. This challenge is definitely a stretch for me.

But one benefit? An uncluttered house. And that just started with the basement. I know the photos aren't great, but you get the idea:


And after

Clutter removed and the rest organized. Selling or donating the excess. It's a place to start.

Challenge ON.

Wednesday, August 7

Random thoughts v.3

It's time for another episode of random thoughts. Mostly because it's been awhile, but also because it's summer and I don't feel much like conquering "big" posts these days as I am busy balancing running around and doing absolutely nothing. The recipe for the perfect summer.

-- Yesterday, I did a night run, my absolute favorite. OK, really, it was a sundown run. This is probably one of the best parts of summer. I cut my running teeth on night runs. I know - it doesn't seem like the smartest decision, but Scott watches out for me, and I must have passed 10 others that night with the same idea. It was the kind of run where I was dodging little toads and sucking on humid air just begging for a thunderstorm to arrive to sweep it away. And maybe it's the mystery of the night, but I always run 10xs faster than I do in the morning. Which is good, because I have a goal of running a 5K in sub-24 minutes before I am 40. And by sub-24, I mean I am perfectly comfortable with a 23:59.

-- Monday arrived gloomy and cool, and I took complete advantage of the inside time by purging all the stuff in my house. Organizing drawers, dumping junk. Now, I am pretty good at regular trashing. Once a year I gather all my extras for a spring garage sale. But, the latest message series at church is hitting home in a big way, and I feel overwhelmed with the excess in my world. Crazy. Overwhelmed. And we had the house for sale for awhile, which made me look at my basement everyday and say, "Really? Do I want to move this?" So I cleaned the basement last night. Reorganized. Took heaps of junk to the garage. Unearthed about 5 totes of "memories" to go through, things I am sure that Scott and I will laugh about, and some items we will have difficulty parting with. But here we go. I really, really feel like God wants me to be free from my stuff. Something is in the works, I think.

More on excess in a later post, because there is much more to say.

-- Did I mention how much I LOVE having Scott home for the summer? Cause I sincerely, deeply love it. The temperature of our family mood is resting in ultra-comfortable. Yesterday, the boys rented a boat and went fishing on a whim. They had a competition: who could catch the most panfish. They caught a bunch of little guys, not worth keeping, but provided hours of fun. This is the life.

-- We also ventured to Packer Family Night for the first time and had a blast together ALL day. That is so rare for us, a full day of time together uninterrupted by little plans apart. We meandered through Oshkosh on the way up so the kids could watch all the flyovers during EAA. Scott and I reminisced as we drove through campus. We may have almost stopped at Kelly's. But the Pack was waiting.

-- I've been shooting some pics in black and white this summer, and it is my new favorite. Here's one from a recent camping trip with friends. I call it "Boys in a Meadow." I know, so clever with the words. You must be blown away ...

-- My friend Katie is always rocking my world with some new truth that makes me see the world differently. Her latest is Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted. Transformational. Utterly eye-opening, and I feels completely in tune with her thinking. Again I say, something is in the works.

Make it an amazing August, friends. As I like to say, savor every sunset. (And this is why sundown runs are so fantastic!)