Category Archives: Intentional Living

Why I Want to Live Minimally

“Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.”–Joshua Becker

Isn’t that beautiful?

I love this.  Memories are so much more important than things.  Our family will remember fun times and special moments far more than any thing we will ever receive.

I sort of stumbled upon the idea of minimalism.  I’ve always felt called to lead a simpler life, yet the process of getting there has always seemed a distant wish rather than a current reality.

But as I began to read about minimalism and what it entails and the life it embraces, I’m all in.

This is what my soul has been seeking.

A life free of clutter, free of stuff, a life lived with purpose, freedom and focused on what is truly important.

Who wouldn’t want this for their lives?

So what exactly is minimalism?  Let me quote you Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com:

“It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.”

Minimalism is freedom.

A friend of mine said this to me several years ago, “Everything you bring into your home, you become a slave to.”

So profound.  It’s one of those statements that we say “YES!” to.  Yet, living this out is far more challenging.

The same holds true for living a life of minimalism.  It’s easy and exciting to read about it, to agree with and desire.  But, it’s a whole other animal to live it.

It isn’t just about having a garage sale to get rid of some things.  Living a minimalist lifestyle will first of all look different for everyone.  But for me, it’s about changing my heart and what’s on the inside while changing my external world.  Because just getting rid of stuff will not satisfy.  It’s a heart issue.  A heart transformation issue to be exact.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)

Our treasure is either in Jesus or in this world.  It cannot be both.

So for the last several months I have been on this journey, initially just to get rid of things. But as I listen to God speak to my heart, it’s more about transforming my life so my soul can breathe.

It’s not as much about removing stuff as it is about living life-to the fullest.

Why I Want To Live Minimally

1. Freedom.  I want to be free.  To be a slave is to be entirely dominated by some influence.  For me, I’m a slave to my stuff.  Freedom is defined as ‘not taken up by scheduled activities, unconstrained’.  Freedom for me is loosening my schedule.

Freedom is choosing to play a game with my children without feeling shackled to my to-do list.  And as a mom, my to-do list is never ending.  I am not foolish enough to believe that minimalism is the answer to everything.  To-do lists will always be necessary to keep track of those things that need to get done.  But “need” being the key word.  What if I lived with less, so I had less to manage, and ultimately more time?  What if I had the freedom choose?

2. Makes room for what’s most important.  Too much stuff crowds out relationships.  It crowds out time to invest in my children, my husband, friendships and family.  I am constantly trying to find balance between my to-do list and people.  I realize that life demands us moms to manage our home and wear many hats throughout our days.  But how much of this balancing act is because of the management of things in my home that don’t really matter?

3. Diminishes clutter: from my counters and my mind.  Clutter sucks the life out of me.  I spend more time moving things around than investing in those things that really matter.  I look around and see the piles of things that need to be put away.  I am consumed with finding the best way to organize it all.  And yet, when I go to get rid of things I justify why I might need it someday.  Ugh.  I read this once–“Quit organizing and just get rid of things.”  Live with less.

4. Allows me to do God’s will.  What if I had enough time and a free schedule and a less burdened mind to actually hear from God?  What if I had the freedom to reach out to a neighbor in need, to invest in friendships, to do those things that God is nudging me to do?  What if I had more time to serve at church, or the women at the shelter in my town?  What if I could spend my days being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of a slave to the things in my home?  What if I had the freedom to love God, love people and serve His kingdom?  Imagine the difference my life could make.

5. Saves time-my most valuable resource.  I need margin in my life.  Do I have room in my schedule to do what’s most important?  I constantly feel as though I never have enough time.  I blame my messy house, my chronic tardiness, and my forgetfulness ALL on my “lack of time”.  Excuses.  All of them.  Excuses for my lack of planning, and my lack of treating my time as a priceless commodity.  Dave Ramsey is the king of budgeting our money.  God is the King of managing our time.  He knows everything we need to accomplish in our days.  And so much of what consumes my time…is unnecessary.

I have always felt drawn to the pioneer and the Amish lifestyles.  My husband tells me I couldn’t possibly live either one of those lifestyles.  Maybe this is what my soul has longed for-minimalism.  Pioneer and Amish might not be a reality.  But, this is achievable.  This can be true in my life today.  Living minimally.

Seeking God:  Lord, show me what minimalism looks like for me.  Give me eyes to see the unnecessary in my life and to be free from the grips of materialism.  Give me freedom to choose what’s most important today and be Lord over my time.  Help me to truly live as Psalm 73:25 declares, “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”  Amen.

Stay tuned as I continue to post about My Journey to Minimalism.

 

 

 


Why I’m Throwing Away Photos

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What do you do with all those printed photographs you have stored away in boxes and totes in your attic or store room?

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Being Intentional: Cleaning Up After Meals

My intentional life goal this month:  Cleaning up after meals

Yes, I realize it’s April 17.  We are already a third of the way into the year, and this is about when I stop doing all that I intended to do for the year.  Ugh.  New Year’s resolutions pretty much start to become extinct during this time.  I am just as guilty.  I have fallen short this month on my intentional life goal, but I will prevail.  I will NOT quit!  Oh, no.  My plan for April is to clean off the table and counters and do ALL the dishes after EVERY meal.  I may be starting late, but at least I’m starting!  I struggle with this one.  It seems like a very daunting task to clean up ALL those dishes after meals, especially dinner.  Now, I always finish the job, but I’m very guilty of the “I’ll do it later” strategy.  My procrastinating gene goes into full effect.  But the truth is…I feel much better looking at a clean kitchen.  And, it takes less time than always think it will.

I read once on Flylady.com that one’s goal should be to have the kitchen completely cleaned, including counters, table and sink, dishes put away (arrghh..) and a clean rag beside the sink for the next day.

So…that is my goal.  I want to LOVE a clean, tidy kitchen.  I always appreciate it after I’ve done it.  But I want to love it so much, that I look forward to looking out over my clean, tidy, sparking kitchen once more before I turn out the light and head to bed to relax for the night.  Maybe that is a little melodramatic, but I know it’s a worthy goal.  And I will especially be thankful for my nighttime efforts the next morning when I wake to no dishes staring at me reminding me I failed to follow through…again.

I’m on mission this year to live intentionally.  To follow through on one thing per month.

So, you ask, how have I been doing with my previous month’s intentional steps?

  • I am proudly making my bed daily…I’ve probably only missed 2 or 3 times.  
  • Meal planning…Hit or miss, sadly.  I have no excuse.  Still a huge struggle for me.  But I’m intentionally trying to eat healthier, does that count?
  • Drinking 64 oz water daily…I am actually surprised at how difficult it is for me to drink this much water daily!  I am intentionally drinking more water daily than I was, but not necessarily hitting the 64 oz mark.  

So, there you have it.  I will continue with my intentional follow through plan for the rest of the year and continue with my monthly updates.  Check back next month for my post on loading and unloading that dreaded dishwasher.  Why that is so difficult for me, I’ll never know.

Are you making any intentional changes in your own life?  Let’s encourage one another to stick with it! 


12 Steps to an Intentional Life

12 Steps to an Intentional Life

Image courtesy of mapichai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s January 2014.  

(Ok, its almost February.)

But, it’s the year I’m going to make lasting changes in my life.  I’m on a quest for  “follow through” in my life.  So, I’ve decided to follow through with ONE thing each month.  By the end of the year, I will have succeeded in achieving 12 of my personal goals for living an intentional life.  There is SO much more I want to be intentional with, but we all have to start somewhere.  So I’ve decided to be intentional with 12 IMPORTANT ISSUES in my life.  All of which I want to do RIGHT NOW.  But, as you and I both know, wanting it all and having it all, unfortunately, don’t always occur at the same time.  So, I’m going to be patient with myself and allow some room for habit formation.

I am working on developing habits with my children this month as well. It is said it takes 60 days to establish something as habit.  I’ve shortened it to 30 days each to make this a month-by-month process.

I CAN do this.

Maybe not in my own strength, but I am reminded that “I CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13.  Even yesterday, I was doubting myself in something and I heard that voice in my head say, “I just don’t know how to change.”  But quickly, God whispered in my heart, ” But I do.  Trust ME.”  Oh, the sweetness and stillness it brought to my soul to know that I could release that which I was struggling with to a God who truly KNOWS me and believes in me, more than I believe in myself most days.  He knows my limitations.  He knows where I am weak.  It is then, that He is strong and ALL the glory for my transformation will be given to Him.  Praise God for his everlasting grace and mercy!

So…Here goes everything!  A new year for a NEW ME!  Yippee!  Let the transformation begin!

I will be posting monthly on each habit to keep myself accountable.

Step 1: January

Make my bed.

Step 2: February

Plan meals weekly.

Step 3: March

Drink 64oz water daily.

Step 4: April

Clean up after every meal. Including washing off table and counters, washing dishes

Step 5: May

Unload and load the dishwasher daily and put away dry dishes at end of day.

Step 6: June

Smile. Often.  Especially at my husband and children.

Step 7: July

Have a date night once a month with my husband.

Step 8: August

Have a one-on-one date with each child once a month

Step 9: September

Maintain good posture.

Step 10: October

Put ALL laundry away at end of laundry day.

Step 11: November

Be thankful.  Write down 3 things DAILY that I am thankful for and verbalize them out loud.

Step 12: December

Find an opportunity for our family to serve once this month.

So, there you have it.  12 months.  12 goals.  12 life transforming steps.

Let the journey begin…

What steps can you take to a “New You” for 2014?

 


Step 1 (January): Why I’m Making My Bed

Why I'm Making My Bed

I have never felt making my bed was important.  Why would I go to such effort to pull up all the sheets, blankets and comforter neat and tidy when, in several hours, I will be sleeping in it again?  I just never saw the point.  I am a chronic non-bed-maker…from childhood.  Why after 30 some years would I start now?

My mom never made me make my bed.  My sister doesn’t make her bed (it must be genetic).  My husband certainly doesn’t care if I make the bed (he is a non-bed-maker as well).  No one sees it.  I know of many successful, happy people who don’t make their beds.  It must, then, not be important.

Or is it?

Why do so many people feel it’s important?  Every time my mother-in-law comes to visit, she makes my bed for me.  She never says a word.  I will just go into our room and find it made.  I must admit that it does look better, more appealing to the eye for sure.  It gives this small sense of “I at least have THIS together”.  Why do some people feel the need to make their beds, while others simply neglect such a simple act.  And it is simple.  I’ve timed it.  It honestly takes less than 1 minute to fully make my bed.

Why then, does something so simple, seem SO hard?

So begins my quest to make my bed.

Every day.

Yes, I’ve been reflecting on this bed making issue.  There are several reasons FOR making your bed every day.

#1 Its visually appealing.

#2 It does feel better to get into a made bed at night to go to sleep.

#3 It makes your room look better.

#4 It’s easier for the kids to jump on.

But the most important reason for me…

#5 It gives me the amazing feeling of accomplishment that I actually followed through with something.

I’ve said it before, but I struggle with the follow-through.  I have such great ideas and intentions….that never seem to come to pass.  I start things, only to fall short….again and again.  And after a long enough time period, with continuous plans that never play out, one begins to feel the familiar feeling of defeat and failure.

No one sees my bed being made but me and my husband (and my mother-in-law occasionally).  My 3 toddlers could care less.  They would actually prefer it unmade…more fun to rummage around on!

But I see it.  And I’m determined to make it.  Everyday.  It’s like a battle I have always been defeated at.  No more!  I will win.  I will succeed! I will set out to accomplish what I desire!

Yes, to some, they will never understand the importance of a beautifully made bed.  But to me, I see the beginning of a new life.  A life filled with purpose and intentionality.  When I wake up in the morning, and pause for 1 minute (literally) to make my king sized bed, I will reflect on the fact that I CAN change, I CAN win this very small battle I’ve never been able to succeed at.  I will begin to see that real LIVING is in DOING, not in words that leave my mouth as ‘should haves’.

For years and years, I’ve heard people tell me how important it is to make my bed.  I’ve listened.  I’ve even believed it.  But I’ve never done it.  Isn’t this the same with our spiritual life?  How easy it is to listen to God’s word, to even believe it, but to never follow through and DO IT?

The Bible tells us in James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

Nike got it right when they said, “Just Do It”.

And so I shall…

What do you struggle to follow through with?

 

 


What Goes In Must Come Out

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Today I’m sharing about my 15month old’s “poopie” issues. I’ve tried to think of a better way to start this, but the reality is….he just has poopie issues.  For 3 months now, his stools are often loose, soft, yellowish in color and smell “yucky”, as my 3 year old says.  We have been on a quest to figure out what is causing this malady.  It seems to fluctuate…it will be bad for a few days to weeks then be gone for awhile.  And the worst part of it all is that he gets terrible diaper rashes to the point of welts and blisters.  Poor baby! We’ve tried probiotics for a month…without change.

After consulting our pediatrician about it, we’ve essentially ruled out anything infectious.

So, thus our conclusion…

WHAT GOES IN MUST COME OUT. 

We began our dietary changes with cutting out dairy milk a few months ago.  It started shortly after I started weaning from nursing and introducing whole milk.  So we switched to almond milk and/or soy milk.

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 We saw some improvement with that short term, so I decided to cut out soy as well and stick with the almond milk.  We’ve tried really hard to eliminate all dairy such as mayo, cheese, etc.  But, still last week we had another “bad bout”.  The good news is that he is still a super happy baby!  None of this has affected him in the least.

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Cruz’s 15month appointment was today.  I discussed with our pediatrician the possibility of dairy vs gluten sensitivities.  He explained that some kids can be very sensitive to milk products, even milk listed in the ingredients of dry products.  He certainly doesn’t have the symptoms of a child with a severe gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, but even a mild sensitivity can produce stool disturbances.

So begins our quest to eliminate ALL milk/dairy from his diet.  We will attempt this first for a few weeks.  If no improvement, we will try him on a gluten free diet.

All of this diet changing comes at a great time, as I am on a quest to improve the nutrition of my family as a whole.  We have a new Natural Grocers Store in our town which has inspired me to eat healthier and more natural and to eliminate refined sugar from our diet. In my quest for better nutrition, I’ve determined three things…

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1. Eating healthy isn’t easy.  Reading labels, looking up new recipes, researching, breaking old habits. All of which, take effort.

2. Eating healthy isn’t cheap.  It is true that organic and fresh foods cost more.  No one can deny that.  But the other side of healthy eating is that I’m not buying the JUNK we were eating before, so I essentially feel I come out even.  I’m also a lot choosier at the grocery store, so I’m not filling my cart with things I will either end up not eating or throwing away before I use it all.

3. Eating healthy is worth it.  Oh, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  Again, as I’ve posted in another post, I struggle with the follow through.  I know eating healthy is beneficial for many, many reasons.  I know the poor food choices we make can affect our lives more than we even realize.  I’ve listened to the truth of this for so long.  I wholeheartedly believe in healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices.  But doing it….well that is another story.  I fall short.  Again.

So, Cruz’s “poopie issues” seem to be just the trigger for me to make some serious changes in our diet habits.

I’m certainly not perfect.  Nor will our nutritional changes be.  But perfection is NOT  my goal.

Intentional living is.  

So, stay tuned to see my progress with eating healthy and Cruz’s progress with his dairy-free lifestyle.

Here’s to a healthy Perez family this year!

How have you made healthy diet changes in your family?


Don’t Just Be….Become

image courtesy of wiangya/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of wiangya/freedigitalphotos.net

“Don’t just Be…Become, ” were the words I said to my husband about a month ago.  We were discussing some dreams and desires we had for ourselves and that sentence just flew out of my mouth.  I paused and then I said it again, this time I listened to what I was saying.  I don’t just want to “BE”….I want to “BECOME”.  To “BE’ means to exist, to be alive.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with existing or being alive.  I’m quite thankful for both.  But, it sounds so stagnant.  I questioned myself…is that ALL we were meant for? I think not.  Rather, to “BECOME” means to undergo a change or development!  That was it.  That was a turning point.  Since then, I started taking a look at where I am and where I want to be.  I realized several things; first that I am amazingly blessed!  We have a beautiful healthy family and being a stay at home mom is what I’ve always dreamed of.  I have a devoted, involved and loving husband who inspires me and encourages me in everything, I have a wonderful family and a fabulous group of friends.  The second is that I’m a habitual “non-follow-througher”, an “I can’t-er”.  I find myself wishing and hoping and wanting and too often, not accomplishing, doing or following through.  I’ve set New Year’s Resolutions and failed at following through with them.  I think of so many home ideas, activities or memories I want to create for my family but instead find myself saying…”I wish I could…” or “I would love to be able to…” “why can’t I…” or “I wish I would have”.    Too often I find myself feeling disappointed and discouraged.

I’m ready to BECOME the woman God wants me to be!  Am I the wife, mom, daughter, sister, or friend that I am supposed to be, that I should be?  Am I living my life with intention and purpose?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on this beautiful life God has given me TODAY.  I want to be intentional, to live life on purpose, to be disciplined.  I’m exhausted from waking each day without a plan and purpose.  This is my journey.  My journey to follow through, to finish what I start, to be intentional with my days, and to pursue life change through God’s word! I want to be a real life do-er!  And my journey begins right now, right here, this moment!  The best part is that I don’t pursue this intentional life alone.  God is with me every step of this journey.  He is my biggest encourager, guide and inspiration.  And I am so thankful He also uses people to encourage us on our journey as well.  Your life is entirely different from my own, but ladies, we are on the same team!  We were created to encourage each other, to live life in relationship and to build each other up!  I’m ready to make some purposeful changes in my life.  Let’s do this together!   Let’s impact our  lives, our families, our world, one small finished task at a time.  Are you ready?  Let us pursue an intentional life….together!