Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wardrobe Function

Just a quick post here to check in and share some fun resources.  We have been extremely busy this month- Saturday will mark our 7th wedding in 5 weeks, I went on a trip to Idaho, Josh was in the Boundary Waters, we have planned some cool events coming up for this fall, I am considering a therapy job, etc.  More on all that when I get to it : )

Anyway, we have a new fire for simplification.  We have put it on the back burner during this busy season, but we are planning on doing a big push in September.  As the weather changes, an issue that always comes up for me is wardrobe.  Sometimes it's exciting, but at this point it just elicits a groan.

[Disclaimer:  I am not now, nor will I ever be, a fashion blogger.  I am early in this journey, and I give myself a mental high-five every time I wear something other than workout clothes.  Don't judge; you know you're just jealous that I work from home and can do that : ) ]

I think it's the many paradoxes and demands of my wardrobe that frustrate me.  It needs to have:

  • clothes that withstand, protect, and look good in blistering to frigid weather
  • clothes and shoes that are appropriate for photographing weddings, doing therapy, hanging out with friend and family, caring for kiddos, church, work projects, working out, travel, attending events, etc.
  • Lots of color- because black and gray only suffice for so long- that all mixes and matches
  • the ability to hide unfavorable areas of my body that persist from before a major weight loss
  • Character and relevance, simultaneously
  • a VERY low price tag
  • good fit
And I'd prefer to accomplish all this in 12 pieces or less.  Just kidding.  Kind of.

When I was growing up, I kept as many clothes as possible.  I literally have (and wear, but only on special occasions) the twins shirt I got in second grade.  My sister calls it ghetto, I call it vintage- whatever.  When we first got married, Josh went through my clothes and made me give away everything that was held together with a safety pin (a LOT of clothes).  Let's just say I was a long way from simplicity.

When we got back from living overseas, we got rid of at least half the stuff we had in our storage unit.  We have continued to give away more and more, and we have caught the bug.

I feel the itch for simplifying again.  It's not that we've gotten less simplified; rather it's that we've acclimated to this place and see we are still weighed down by the burden of having more possessions that we need.  

Concerning clothing, I have actually found that when I have less in my closet, it feels like more.  It's a little backwards, but I think it's because I am more thoughtful about what I keep- it has to fit, look good, be a favorite- so I am more likely to see things I look good in.

This is still very much in process, but I wanted to share a few resources I've found that might help you in the quest to simplify your wardrobe.

  1. Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad-  So good.  Less detailed about wardrobe pieces that Glamour, but includes a lot of information about appropriate color and print choices for different complexions and body types.  The author also has a blog.
  2. Glamour's Big Book of Do's and Dont's- one of my first books about your complete wardrobe.  Lot's of advice about what you do and don't need.  Less than $5 on Amazon!  [P.S. I wouldn't let your teenage son look through it, as there is a somewhat graphic conversation about undergarments.]
  3. This wardrobe chart comes from the author of the first book, and it is totally FREE!  I love the concept, but I haven't yet gotten down to having the number of recommended items.  Nonetheless, it has been useful in cutting down my wardrobe, since I always fear getting rid of too much and not having "enough" (what is that, anyway?)
  4. Timm Gunn's wardrobe essentials - oh, you know you love him.  May not be exactly right for every lifestyle, but a great jumping-off point.
  5. The No-Brainer Wardrobe- okay, to be really honest, I just bought this book.  Nonetheless, it looks pretty solid.
  6. This, this, this, and this all link to posts that might be helpful.
Hope this helps!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

27 Blessings

For my birthday this year, I've decided to list 27 blessings  I am grateful for in my life thus far.  Of course, there are way too many to list, but one has to start somewhere!

  1. A personal relationship with the risen Savior of mankind.  
  2. A husband who loves, leads, and sacrifices for me and our future.  A man with whom this is true.
  3. A vibrant, dynamic, sometimes crazy family.  They drive me insane, but I'd do anything for them.
  4. A home.  God has taught me a lot about roots in the last few years.  I am open, flexible, and willing to be obedient.  However, we have now been in our home (and town) almost two years, the longest we've been anywhere since we got married.  This temporary grace is not lost on me.
  5. Growing up in what I am convinced is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  6. The little ones that we get to love, even though they aren't our own.
  7. Clean water to drink and nourishing food to eat- this is no small thing.
  8. Being born into a situation where I was cared for and had opportunities to grow physically, cognitively, and spiritually.
  9. Being able to practice my faith openly, without punishment.
  10. Holding Josh's hand.
  11. My education (thanks for encouraging me, Mom and Dad!)
  12. That God has broken my heart for the orphan, and has guided me in my part in caring for children without families.
  13. Having the opportunity to see many wonderful places in the world.
  14. Being married to my best friend.
  15. Access to good medical care.
  16. Beautiful friendships that withstand the test of time and distance.
  17. Learning to trust and have faith (in process).
  18. Photography.
  19. Curiosity and compassion.
  20. Growing up near enough to my grandparents that I have strong relationships with them.
  21. Physical health.
  22. That God holds my hand through the hard times, and hurts along with me.
  23. Dancing in warm rain.
  24. Mom's cooking.
  25. Scripture.
  26. Catching fireflies.
  27. That God's plan for my life, has been so much better, bigger, richer, and more complex than I would have ever imagined.  It wasn't my plan, but I am grateful He has given me the courage to follow.

What are you most grateful for right now?

Monday, August 13, 2012

And So I Take A Stand (Even a Tiny One)

Disclaimer:  These thoughts are to my fellow followers in Christ (or to non-followers who want the behind-the-scenes view of what Christians talk about to each other).

In the past month, there have been 2 mass shootings, a large-scale drought, the international athletic celebration that happens but once every four years, political unrest in many parts of the world, and almost 200,000 children have become newly orphaned.

In short, there has been a lot going on.

What strikes me as strange, however, is that those aren't the issues I am hearing or reading most about.  In contrast, the Chick-fil-A debate/debacle/drama is all over my news feed and feed reader- still.

There is so much I could say, and so much that has already been said.  Rachel Held Evans has a nice synthesis of the issue here, and I'm also liking this post.  Visit those posts for far better writing and more complete thought and whatnot; I figure since they already did it, why waste my time?

But as I listen to all the Chick-fil-A related rumblings out there, I am reminded of something my mom used to tell me when I was a kid:  As Christians, we are already selling a message.  She always reminded/reminds me that there are only so many causes you can take on before they begin to get watered down.  And I have to wonder if we haven't missed the mark here, if engaging in heated debate and boycotting the restaurant or posting pictures to support it isn't overextending ourselves.  I like what Rachel Held Evans says about drawing an imaginary line between Christians and the GLBT community where there doesn't need to be one. Is that what we want?  To push this group of people even further from Christ?

This whole topic brings up so many issues for me that I have been learning about and working on for the last few years.  God is stretching me and molding me and it's scary to even share that.  I hope someday I have the guts to share the rest.

What I know for certain is this- I want to see all people have relationships with Jesus, including those from the GLBT community.  Jesus loves each of them so much, and I want to tell them that.  And while I want to be bold for the Lord, I think that it can usually be done in a kind and caring manner.  After all, I don't think anyone who's GLBT is going to sign up for a relationship with Jesus because I shove a Chick-fil-A bag in their face.  I would rather use that time and energy to love, encourage, and to hear their story and tell them they matter to Jesus.  This may sound like a ridiculous naive view, but it's surprising how many people from the GLBT community have been told only horrible, hateful things by the Christian community.  I wonder what would happen if we simplified our message, if we just started loving and praying.  If we let God be the convictor, and instead we were the servants.  What would happen if we gave Jesus the space to move?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Complaining and Bragging At the Same Time

I read this article in the middle of the night last night.  Even in the midst of my bleary-eyed fog, it made perfect sense.  If you are are reading this, it will probably make sense to you, too.

"If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint."

This phenomena has annoyed me for a long time.  How should one respond to the complaint of busyness, especially when stated negatively and not cheerfully?  So many times, it's as if people want sympathy for the consequences of their own choices:

"It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence."

How does one respond to "well, I've overscheduled myself and I don't like it and now I am going to complain to you and please make me feel better?"  I don't know.  Don't get me wrong- this is not me simply pointing out the flaws of others, this is me admitting my own.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been doing.  My mom talks about me sitting at the kitchen table and doing my "projects" (leftover Sunday school materials from my Grandma) at two years old.  It has been a lifelong habit, maybe even an obsession.  But it flies in the face of Scripture.  A verse that I have been meditating on a lot lately is:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." - Matthew 11:28-29

I am not sure what Jesus' yoke looks like, but I know I want it.  And the days of working 16 hours straight and not eating a real meal or going to the gym or leaving my house or even knowing what time it is, of just 5 minutes of undivided attention for my husband when he gets home, of stress and frustration and being burned out; well, I just don't think that's God's way.

 "The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it."

This quote reminds me: It is a CHOICE.  As Josh and I are in a time of transition and making lot's of changes anyway, why not throw one more in the mix?  I am 26 right now, and I have wasted too many years being "busy."  I would rather be purposeful, obedient, and peaceful.  That's easy to say, but challenging to do, especially in a culture that often equates rest with laziness and busyness with success.  But I don't want to follow the world, I want to follow Jesus.  I am jumping off the train of insanity, and I am hoping to take others with me.  Wanna come?