less is more

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Living out of a suitcase can really change the way that you get ready for the day. I learned that throughout the process of wrapping up our life in Southern Illinois and moving to our new home in California back in May. Due to the military move, the majority of our possessions were packed away in a moving truck and had a five day head start on us across the country, leaving us with the essentials (granted our “essentials” meant two cars jam packed with far more than we needed for that time period, but it was a quick & last minute move so cut us some slack!). As we road tripped across the country, I had to lug around a suitcase that contained enough of the actual essentials so that I could shower, get dressed, & be somewhat presentable each day. After arriving to Vandenberg, we spent the following 12 days living in base housing (a.k.a. another hotel) while we waited for our apartment to be ready for us to move in. 12 more days of living in limbo and out of a suitcase. It felt inconvenient at times to not have all of my stuff in one place. And yet an unexpected feeling of freedom came upon me throughout those days with my wardrobe. It started to feel pretty nice that I had a limited set of options to choose from each day. I had less room to doubt whether or not I wanted to wear what I first picked out, which meant less room for frustration when I couldn’t make a decision. I found myself recycling outfits simply because I didn’t get more than a few hours use of out them, and I liked what I put together, so why not wear it again? It was simpler. It was more practical. It was freeing.

And it got me to thinking: what if I lived like this all the time?

Thoughts of reorganizing my closet and getting rid of the [many] things I didn’t need started running through my head. With all my spare time I utilized the handy dandy woman’s power tool of Pinterest to search for information on minimizing. Not only did I find ideas on slimming down one’s wardrobe, but I found blogs about people that were decluttering and minimizing their entire lives. I found one in particular from a couple years back about a family that committed to do one thing every day for an entire year to minimize their life. This ranged from downsizing the amount of items in their closet, to cleaning out their email inbox, to changing all of their light bulbs to energy efficient ones. I spent an entire night reading through the archives and growing more and more inspired. By the time I was halfway through, I couldn’t wait to have all of our stuff back so that I could rummage through it all & get rid of it.

My motivation, however, was not just for the sake of accomplishment in getting rid of the excess. I wanted to find freedom in loosening my grip on so many material possessions and just stuff that I have stored up over time and have no need for. I wanted to live more practically and less distracted. I wanted to live with the mindset of storing up my treasures in heaven.

I was even further inspired as I came across a post on the blog I mentioned before entitled “When Decluttering Hurts.” The following was stated in the process of the writer decluttering her kitchen:

“The truth is, decluttering should be hard. I should be standing in my kitchen with tears streaming down my face, beating my breast and calling out to God over all the times I wandered through stores full of fragile items, justifying myself as I put things I don’t need into my cart. I should be on my knees repenting for caring more about polka dot dishes than starving orphans. I should be begging God to never let me forget again that we are here for something so much better than spending and consuming and storing up treasure here on this broken earth. We are here to touch lives. We are here to spend our lives on HIM.”

BOOM. She hit that nail on the head. In fact, she hit it about a hundred times into my heart. It was the conviction and motivation I needed to be reminded that I am not meant to be wasting myself or my time on this earth away, but that I am to live with purpose – and there are so many things in my life that I let stand in the way of that.

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It was about time I started cutting the heartstrings that have been distracting me from my relationship with God and my purpose(s) in life. Since May, I’ve been finding practical ways to minimize, declutter, and downsize my home and my life, and I look forward to sharing it all in the days to come. So consider this the beginning. Because this is just the start of the process for me. Stay tuned for my tactics on dwindling down my wardrobe, the story of how I spent an entire night organizing my craft & office supplies, the impact purging my possessions has had on me, and more. This may not be anything too thrilling for you, but for me, it has been a wild adventure as I make slight changes to my life in order to make a bigger impact. & I hope that someone, anyone, is motivated to reduce the amount of excess in their lives along the way.


bind my wandering heart to thee

As last week came to an end, this wasn’t exactly the post I was planning to share right off the bat, but on Saturday God overwhelmed my heart with a topic that has been unfolding in my life heavily for the past year. It’s one that has changed my understanding and perspectives on following Jesus; One that I think is of utmost importance in the church today; One that I think is going to be a significant part of the heartbeat of this blog because so much of my life has been impacted through this. And it all started last September as we joined our church in Southern Illinois for a fall retreat to explore the topic of tearing down idols. The teachings were challenging, convicting, and motivating, & they left a large impression on my heart and life. One so big that I cannot contain it for myself.

I’ll start with this: Back in the time of the Old Testament, God revealed to Moses the ten commandments. At the time this was a preamble of sorts to the law that God established for the people of Israel to follow him and the life that he desired for them. Now mind you, through Jesus’s death & resurrection the law was fulfilled, and therefore it is not binding in the same way for us New Testament folks as it was in those times, but God’s heart is still plastered all over these words that serve as a guide for believers to live more like Jesus & to live a holy & satisfying life. This can be made sure through Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament that not only bring up the ten commandments, but also expand and explore their meaning and application.

God stated in the first of these commandments, “you shall have no other gods before me.” This was then followed up by the second: “you shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them…”

When I first became a Christian, these were the commandments that I felt like I never needed to worry about. At face value I thought I had them covered. I didn’t have statues or images of things that I bowed downed to or worshiped. I didn’t believe any other religions, nor did I believe in any of their gods, so I thought I was good. As I’ve gotten to know Jesus more and have gained more knowledge of the Bible though, I’ve realized that these commandments are the ones that I defy probably more often than most.

You see, at their core, these commandments are not simply just speaking about the golden calves or Baal worship of the Old Testament, or the obvious application of false religions. They’re also referring to the things in our lives that steal our attention & hearts away from God. They’re talking about the things that we put in God’s place in our hearts and lives; the things that we put before God and devote ourselves to even though when they stand alone they will only leave us empty; the things that we are unwilling at times to sacrifice & give up for the sake of following Jesus.

Ever since our fall retreat I have had this eye opening sense of idols in my life & in the world. & it’s alarming. We don’t realize that we are idol worshipers in our daily lives. We put things in the place of God all the time. These hidden idols are all right in front of our faces. When we seek prosperity and money more than we seek Jesus, we are making an idol of it. When we spend our time devoted to seeking entertainment or status in order to fulfill our lives, or sex or romance or alcohol or the way all of those things make us feel as a way to make us feel whole, we are making idols of those things. When we put something in God’s place in our hearts, we are in severe danger of making that an idol in our lives. Many of our idols are not necessarily bad things on their own. Mark Driscoll once said, “Idolatry is taking a good thing, making it a god thing and that’s a bad thing.” Things like relationships, family, food, work, or money are not bad things in themselves. But if we make these things more important to us than God, we have a problem. When we are consumed by something more than we are consumed with Jesus, we have a problem.

For probably a year now I’ve been fighting a battle with materialism and vanity in different ways. I’ve fallen into the comparison game more times than I can count. I’ve sought to have the style or wardrobe that other admirable women have. I’ve sought to have life experiences that live up to, or out do, others. I’ve made efforts to have that well put together life that others admire. & every single one of those paths has led me to emptiness, brokenheartedness (I think I just made that word up), & self esteem issues that God’s been helping me work through since I finally turned to Him. I’ve sought these things more than I’ve sought satisfaction & contentment in the love of my Savior. I’ve spent time thinking of, and acting on, these things more than I’ve devoted my time to serving and seeking Jesus. & the real messed up part is, I’ve tasted & seen so much of God. I’ve experienced His goodness & faithfulness & sovereignty & love & healing & so much more of his character, and I still find myself choosing otherwise, & chasing quick fix idols. I’m constantly playing the role of the prostitute Gomer in the book of Hosea (which is one of my favorites in the Bible because of the humbling portrayal of our unfaithfulness to God & His faithfulness to us) where regardless of how much my God pours out his love on me, I still seek satisfaction and fulfillment in worldly things that leave me feeling empty & craving more. That’s what we do when we worship something other than God: we prostitute our souls to it. Praise the Lord for grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ!

I believe that we all have idol issues in our lives. & if you are having a hard time recognizing one for yourself, I challenge you to examine the way you spend your time, your money, and your thoughts. Just like our pastor posed the question to us, I ask you: if you feel like you couldn’t give up that one (or many) things(s) for a year, you very well have a heart issue that needs to change. We are to hold everything in this life with an open hand. If you are a Christ follower you are meant to give your life, ALL of it, to Jesus. Although it is terribly difficult for us to loosen our grip & hand it all over at once, there is beauty & grace in the process. Another note I have from the group of messages spoken at fall retreat is that “this life alone is not fulfilling enough because we were made for something more. We were made for eternity” and “we were made to be fully satisfied in nothing other than Jesus Christ.” If you’re seeking for satisfaction & fulfillment elsewhere, it may sustain you for a little while, but it will all leave you empty handed at best in the end.

My heart has been breaking so much lately as I see just how prevalent idols are in our world & lives. That there are things deemed acceptable that are being increased to a status that they do not deserve. That something that can be good in our lives could put us so out of whack if we treat it with the wrong heart and intentions. This is serious stuff. So serious that the very first two commandments of the original Old Testament law concerned these issues.

God wants our hearts. He wants our lives. He asks things of us that are going to cost us. But we can look beyond the pain of tearing down our idols, cutting our heartstrings, & loosening our grip, to see and experience the freedom of redemption in Jesus & an eternity spent with Him. I think that is something that is SO worth it.

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If you want to hear more of what spoke straight to my heart, I would highly recommend checking out the link below. This was such a serious & important topic that the leadership of our church felt like it could not be contained to the core of the church that attended fall retreat and that it needed to be reiterated and emphasized to our church body as a whole. As a result, there are four sermons posted on The Vine’s website that you can check out here: http://www.vinechurch.net/teachings/tearing-down-idols.

catching up

Before I really get things moving with this blog, I thought it would be kind to update some (actually pretty much all) of our family & friends on our recent endeavors since we are living on the other side of the country. We get a lot of questions about what we’re doing out here, what Adam’s job is like, and what in the world do I spend my days at home doing, so hopefully this gives you a little snapshot into our life right now.

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For those of you who haven’t had one of us explain it to you yet, or you just need a refresher, we are currently living in the lower part of the Central coast of California for Adam’s job training. He is headed into the missiles career field where eventually he will be pulling shifts to sit deep underground in a missile silo & waiting for a potential order to launch a nuclear missile somewhere. (That’s the dumbed down Kelly version at least). So no, he is not flying planes even though he’s in the Air Force. But he has reached the point in his training where he now gets to wear a flight suit instead of the standard ABUs (& he is a STUD in it). Boone tried on the flight suit too, but it was a little big on him. Plans are in the works to find a Boone-sized one in the future. But training has been going well for Adam. He spends some days in a classroom setting, and other days he has trainer rides, which is like the lab part of the class where he puts the things he’s learned into practice. He is in the confidential part of his training right now so he is not even allowed to bring the class material home to study for his tests. He is enjoying the training for the most part & has caught on to the material very easily. He will graduate from training in October & we will leave for Minot, ND, along with the other 11 people in his class that we’ve gotten to know, shortly after that where we will spend the next three years dreaming of the warm California weather that we have right now, but still thoroughly enjoying the adventures that we’ll get to have there.

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My stay at home wife status has brought up a lot of people asking me what I spend my time doing. Before we left I had a lot of people comment that I would get bored not working. I can confidently report to you all that I haven’t gotten bored once yet.  I’m the kind of person that can easily preoccupy myself, especially with activities that still leave me feeling productive. I’ve decorated & organized our apartment with my own DIY projects (including the picture threads for our living room & the banner for our bedroom pictured above that are our newest, and probably my most favorite, additions to our home). I’ve developed a morning routine of reading my Bible while I eat breakfast, and then doing a quick run through of the apartment to keep it’s tidiness maintained (so yes, our bed is made every single day – mind you for like the first time in probably either of our lives). I’ve been reading a bunch of blogs through bloglovin.com (thanks to my friend Vanessa for the recommendation, who also happened to be the first follower of this blog!) & I’ve been preparing for The Pruim Life. I’ve been staying in contact with friends and family through phone calls, Facetime (man’s gift to the long distance relationships of the world), and even letters. I’ve been making attempts to work out more and to spend time outside. (I’m kind of failing at my goal of being the tannest I’ve ever been though so I need to step it up in the last couple months we have here & utilize that pool in our backyard). I recently started re-reading the Harry Potter series, because, well, why not. & a big chunk of my time has been devoted to raising our little bear of a puppy. So, no, I’m not bored, & I don’t see myself getting bored anytime soon. This has been an incredibly wonderful time of self-care for me, and I’m loving the ways that God has been revealing new truths to my heart, and putting them into effect in my life.

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Our Boonie boy has been growing like crazy. He’s so tall already. I feel like such a mom saying this, but I just want to keep him little. He keeps life so interesting for us though. Australian Shepherds are SUCH smart dogs so he’s picked up on a lot of training already. The only downsides to him is that those little teeth of his hurt a whole lot when he gets too riled up, & he sometimes likes to eat every possible stick, wood chip, or bush he sees when he goes outside regardless of how many times you tell him no, but that adorable face makes up for it all in seconds. He’s a goof though. We laugh constantly at the silly noises he makes, the way he rolls around on the floor (like he’s doing in the picture above with Adam), and how he will keep 2-3 toys within arms distance while he is playing just so he can switch around which one he is chewing on. He recently grabbed the courage to start going down the stairs so I don’t have to carry him down every time he has to go to the bathroom. It’s the little things.

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Over the weekends when Adam isn’t working we take advantage of opportunities to explore new places. Recently we took Boone to the beach for the first time & discovered that the little boy LOVES to dig. We brought him to Avila Beach since we hadn’t been there yet & then we walked the main street along the coast while their weekly farmer’s market went on. I saw these boldly colored buildings on our walk & was convinced that I need to come back to visit again sometime soon.

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A huge perk to California living is that we have the opportunity to see a lot of one of God’s greatest creations: sunsets over the ocean &&& the mountains (double whammy!). It doesn’t get much better than that. Also, our latest family picture just makes my heart so happy, so if I’m being honest here, I really just posted it so I can stare at it a little bit more.

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At the beginning of the month, we celebrated six years of being together. I had no clue that back in 2008 just before my senior year of high school that I’d start dating my future husband, but boy am I glad I did. Every year we spend together I get more & more amazed at where God has brought us through the years. To celebrate we grabbed Panda Express for dinner (classy, I know, but it used to be one of our “things”) and some Baskin Robbins for dessert, because, well, ice cream…duh.

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& speaking of celebrations, I’m 23 now! As of this past week, I’m another year old, & another year wiser. Let me tell ya, it has been one crazy year. This time last year I was starting my foster care job in Southern Illinois & moving from a trailer to an apartment while Adam finished up his undergrad degree. Now we’re in California, Adam’s in training for his active duty career, I stay productive at home (which is our third home in the 15 months we’ve been married), & we have a puppy. A lot has changed, but it’s the road God has us traveling on, so we make the most of it.

We celebrated my birthday throughout the weekend since Adam had to work on the day of. On Saturday we took Boone down to Santa Barbara to explore Stearns Wharf & Adam graciously waited with the pup outside of some stores that I’ve been wanting to check out on State Street. Going anywhere with Boone is like being with a celebrity because SO many people stare, compliment, or want to pet him. That’s why I mean it when I say he is the cutest puppy EVER. On Sunday we went surfing with a couple friends, & alas we have no photo memories of this because we were busy participating in the coolest water activity ever created. No, neither of us are pros yet, but even getting beat up by the waves makes for a really thrilling and enjoyable time. I also got my favorite salted caramel pretzel milkshake from Hoagie’s, because salted caramel anything is my thing right now. On my actual birthday Adam didn’t have to go into work until the afternoon so we officially celebrated by going out for breakfast at a local restaurant. Then I spent the rest of the day doing laundry & grocery shopping (all sorts of celebratory goodness) – but it was a great birthday weekend spent with my family nonetheless.

In other news, we are ecstatically looking forward to Adam’s parents coming to town next weekend to visit, & my parents coming shortly after that. California has been so good to us, & we really enjoy it here, but we just miss our people. Homesickness is much more prone to occur when home is so far out of reach. So those of you who are back in our homeland, or at least from our homeland, this post is for you. Because we dearly miss sharing life with you all.

the pilot episode

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Starting a blog is a thought that has crossed my mind many-a-times over the years, but I’ve never quite settled into the action of actually doing it. I mean, what would I write about? Is my life really exciting or fascinating enough for others to know about, or care about for that matter? So after quick two second spans of pondering I would push the thought to the back of my mind and let it go. It’s come and gone in distant waves, but it started to surface more often in the past months. Upon moving out to California for the start of my husband’s Air Force career in May, I was looking forward to a great deal of free time. And by a great deal, I mean all the time. This season of our lives in the Golden State is a short one due to the training nature of this job assignment, so we’re here for 5 months total before we move on to North Dakota – not a very reasonable time span for me to get a job. Thankfully our new active duty income allows for wiggle room too so that it’s not mandatory for me to be working at this time. Therefore during our time here, I have been soaking in the job title of “stay at home wife.” Best gig in the world! I certainly do love it, especially after a busy and heavy nine months of working with foster care. Praise the Lord for rest! But I digress…

In anticipation of these months (that we’re more than halfway through by the way) I thought about what I would use my time for. Jokingly (but somewhat seriously) the day before leaving our home state of Illinois I mentioned to Adam and one of my best friends that I would just start up a blog with all of the time on my hands. To my surprise, they both supported the idea immediately with statements like, “you’re really great at writing encouraging words to others so I think you’d be good at it.” Woah. Speaking one of my love languages here with those words of affirmation! So I began to think: what if I stopped daydreaming and actually seriously considered this shindig. Fast forward through the past few months and you’d see montages of me contemplating and going back and forth about the decision to actually pursue this – granted those would be pretty boring scenes to watch as they would just be of me thinking, and that’s just weird, but you catch my drift. So these months of consideration have brought me here for two primary purposes.

The first is more surface level, but still a significant factor in my decision to be here now doing this. Here’s the thing: I’m a woman. Therefore my mind is a constant highway of quickly flowing thoughts that sometimes rage out of control because there’s just so much mind traffic. Therefore, any way of mind dumping and getting some of those thoughts out to make more room and get some relief is a significant tool. Journaling has been that for me forever and always. Now I don’t do it nearly as much as I would like to these days, nor as much as I should, but there is something about putting pen to a paper (or fingers to a keyboard) that helps me drain those many strings of thoughts. It helps me to process and piece together things that I wouldn’t connect otherwise. And sometimes those connections are so good that I can’t help but want to share them. Ergo, putting them on the world wide web seems like an easy and practical way to do just that.

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The second purpose holds a much greater deal of meaning for me, and an even greater deal of purpose. And it goes something like this: I’ve just recently come to a new understanding of God’s will for my life – one that is applicable for all of us. Over my years of getting to know Jesus I’ve heard the phrases “I am not my own,” or “my life is not my own” and they’ve become more and more true in my life as my relationship with God deepens. And in the past few weeks this phrase’s truth has been expanded to the point that I understand it with a broader perspective. As a Christian, I am called to live my life for Jesus: to honor him, to imitate him, to lay down my life for him. But not only am I to just live my life in a way that exudes Christ’s character – I am to share my life with others; to live alongside of others and tell others about the things God has put on my heart and is doing in my life. God’s constantly at work in me in ways that would completely overwhelm me if I knew all of the details. He is consistently teaching me new things and deepening my understanding of who he is, and how that affects my life and my faith. I’ve realized that if I keep all of those lessons and experiences to myself, I think I am being selfish. To store up the truth and the spirit that God has breathed into my life just for myself is hiding how the gospel has unfolded in my life. If I’ve experienced the redemption of Jesus Christ, then I want to proclaim all that he does in my life. I want to share it with others, and in turn share more of Jesus with them. Stories are meant to be told. Mine is no exception. Yours isn’t either. Our stories aren’t meant to become dusty books sitting on the shelf. And so I’ve been motivated & encouraged by this truth to open up the pages to mine and let everyone in the world (or at least those who happen to read this blog or share life with me) read it and know it. That’s what I intend to do here. To share all that God has done, and is doing in my life. To present what he puts on my mind and my heart. To use the gifts he has given me to extend the reach of the gospel. Whether that means sharing something I learn straight from the Bible, a practical way I’m being challenged to live my life, family happenings to keep far away friends and family updated, or a DIY project here or there to connect with and inspire others, then so be it. I just want to be able to open the doors to what is going on in my and my family’s life as we venture on the journey that God has laid before us.

It’s a scary place to be. It’s a vulnerable place to be. But it also seems to be a very kingdom-minded way for me to be living my life right now. And if all I ever do is impact one heart for the sake of Jesus, then so be it, because that is His plan. If it’s more, then that’s something even greater to rejoice. As timid as I am about doing this, I am also incredibly excited to share my heart and soul with all who come to read this. I’m excited to share my story as it unfolds, and to hear your stories in return. So here goes nothing.

Welcome to the Pruim life…