When did simplifying make everything more complicated? My husband and I made a conscious effort to simplify our lives. The first step was to downsize. We sold the big house and bought a smaller, but still very comfortable house.
The problem is that we still have too much stuff. So once again, I am sorting. Only this time, it is much harder. I already pitched the fluff when we temporarily moved into an apartment. Now, I really have to prioritize. It is difficult to let go of anything related to my mom because her death from one year ago is still fresh.
The kids’ stuff is the next category. How can I get rid of the things that conjure up such good family memories? Besides, I want to save some things for grandchildren that will come someday. I move on to paper piles thinking that will be easier. There is something special about holding a piece of paper in your hands versus staring at a computer screen. Since I am a writer getting rid of personal papers feels like throwing away part of me. “Sigh.”
As I go through the process, I keep reminding myself of the goal we set and the prize to be attained. Getting there won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. It won’t be quick. It won’t be painless. However, I know that downsizing the clutter in my life will upsize my faith with God.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I heard the man upstairs loud and clear. I knew what area he was working on by the noise in my life. We were getting a new roof installed. It was loud. The house rattled as the shingles came off and new ones were hammered into place. It was messy. Scraps of tar paper rained into the yard and nails played hide and seek in the landscape. There were circumstances beyond our control. Questionable weather, impending rain and unrelenting wind hampered the work. Periodically, I walked around the house. I wanted to see the progress resulting from all the disruptions in our life. It took longer than we thought or had hoped for. But finally, after many starts and stops, our new roof was in place. Worrying about missing shingles and fearing every rainstorm was lifted. The roofer provided a beautiful new roof that I can enjoy today. More importantly, every day the man upstairs restores peace where we desperately need it.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
Most of the surprises at our house are not good. It usually means another project to add to the to-do list. But now and then, this house surprises me with unexpected joy. One of those moments happened recently.
The spring sunshine and warmer temperatures beckoned me outside to work in the landscape. A landscape of weeds, out-of-control shrubs and more weeds. That’s when I noticed it. A single white flower with a delicate yellow center framed by grass-like leaves. The flower’s simplicity captured my fancy. Over the next few days, more of these flowers appeared in seemingly random locations.
I so wanted these flowers to be a variety of snowdrops and a special message of reassurance from God. But God had a better surprise in store for me. An internet search revealed the name of the flowers: Glory of the Snow. What a wonderful name. What a wonderful reminder that God will display his glory in every season of our lives.
Song of Songs 2:11-12
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
2 Corinthians 3:10-11
For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Our new house has been more than we bargained for: in a negative sense. More problems to fix than expected. More money needed than expected. More time than expected. Like every homeowner’s lament, the to-do list is long. Personally, it has been a dark season in my faith. But I have learned a few things along the way. Our approach to difficulties matters. My husband’s approach is to tackle (just about) any house repair. He researches Do-It-Yourself projects online and browses local home improvement stores. I love his “can do” attitude. My youngest son is enthusiastic to take on new projects. There is a palpable excitement to jump in, get his hands dirty and make it happen. I love his “let’s get started” attitude. As for me, I just want to plant snowdrops in the landscape. I need the reminder that God can and will bless us in every situation. To expect to be blessed in this house and believe it today in anticipation of those blessings. Once I got the whining and the pity party out of my system, my attitude has been to be an encourager, to recognize the progress and to share the vision of home sweet home.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
I Peter 1:6-9
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.
A dear friend from church put his arm around me and with no other introduction than a big smile on his face, asked, “Do you or your husband need the name of a good divorce attorney?” Maybe I should have been offended by his question, but I knew exactly what he was referring to. My husband and I bought a “new” old house with lots of projects. We are trying to do most of the work ourselves which can result in some very long and tense days at the house. How did my friend know? The answer can be found in his marriage of fifty years plus and “been there, done that” type of life experiences. Oh how I needed the reminder that my husband and I will get through this. His smile also spoke volumes about his marriage. A sense of humor and laughter is required for a long-lasting marriage. Still, I detected more: joy in their shared stories and joy in each other’s presence that grows with the passing years. At only 26 years of marriage, my husband and I have some catching up to do. The house projects will fade and become another memory in our shared history. In the meantime, I will find a reason to laugh with my husband.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.