Becoming Minimalist

https://www.becomingminimalist.com/

I stumbled across this website the other day and was ecstatic to find so many kindred spirits. I have been thinking and living this way for many years. It is who I am. Yet I have difficulty finding others who are like minded. I sit in a group of ladies at the coffee shop and the topic invariably turns to the latest clothes and shoes they all bought. I sit silent.

I chat with a group of parents at the local high school basketball game. They begin to talk about the latest car or boat they bought. I sit silent.

Have we as a nation given our decision-making ability over to those in marketing? They write snazzy advertisements and produce enticing commercials—we fall all over ourselves to hand over our hard-earned money and fill our houses, and basements, and garages, and rented storage units with stuff we do not need and mostly will not use.

“The culture-driven inclination to find happiness in our possessions is rarely thwarted in any way through the process.”

Joshua Becker

Stuff does not give true happiness. It is a lie. Don’t believe it.

Joshua Becker is right. We must evaluate our lives. Who am I? Where is my life going? What will I leave behind when I am gone? Love or stuff?

I am noticing that my tone is a bit harsh. I apologize and I wonder why…? I think it is because so many people in the world, in our neighborhoods, do not have a real friend. They are starving for love. No one has the time to spend with them, listening and loving them. Instead America is busy with T.V., phones, social media, shopping.

Okay, let me return to my topic sentence. I am ecstatic to find so many kindred spirits! Check out this blog. I see that he has a following of over 190,000. That gives me hope. So, jump on the band wagon and throw overboard the latest doo-dads and gizmos.

The research is confirming our observation: we own too much stuff. And it is robbing us of life.

Joshua Becker

For eye-opening stats, read this blog post with careful attention. http://www.becomingminimalist.com/clutter-stats/

Today I am filling a box with stuff to go to my local thrift shop this week. What are you doing in your life this week to de-clutter and de-own? Share your story to encourage others.

Life Alone

A short fiction story of 1047 words.

Juan Hernandez had never wanted to leave home. He missed the Sunday dinners with his family: brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, lots of cousins sitting around the long wooden table, laughing while they ate tamales and pambazos. He missed the street corner vendors who sell tacos and quesadillas. He missed hanging out with his friends in the evenings after work, playing soccer in the empty field down by the school.

Then the drug gangs moved into the neighborhood. They brought guns and then people began disappearing. When they came to him, asking him to work for them, of course he refused. He loved his job working in construction. But they would not take no for answer; they worked their influence to get him fired. When he continued to refuse their offer, the shootings began.

That’s when his family called the meeting—over fifty people crowded into his uncle’s house. After much heated discussion, the decision was made. Someone would have to move to the States and get established, then arrange for the rest of them to follow. The journey would be too dangerous for those who had children and his uncles were getting older now. The family had chosen him. How could he let them down?

The trip north was not as difficult as he had imagined it would be. He hitch-hiked most of the time and made it in only two weeks. Even getting across the border was not difficult, even if it did take all the money his family had sent with him. Living on the streets of San Diego, that was the hard part.

He spent days walking the streets looking for work and nights sleeping in back alleys. The construction companies gave him only short jobs—two or three days at a time, paid him three dollars an hour. He had to swallow his pride while he stood in soup kitchen lines and washed his clothes in the dollar store bath room sink.

*****

Robert Miller learned early that if he wanted something bad enough, he could make it happen. First there was that new bike when he was twelve. He took a paper route and earned more than he needed in only three months. Next it was high school valedictorian. In his freshman year he made up his mind that he would graduate with that top honor. Four years of studying clinched it. It hadn’t even been difficult. Studying came easy to him. Then it was a degree in economics as well as a position as one of the city’s top financial advisors.

He had just purchased a new luxury home and furnished it with the upscale pieces that would let everyone know how successful he was. Now it was time to get serious about finding just the right girl to ride around with him in his red Mercedes-Benz GT convertible and to show off at the corporate parties around town.

*****

One afternoon Juan was walking the sidewalks looking for any work he could find. It had been a week since he had worked last. He stepped around trash on the sidewalk. Juan heard a car approaching close to him from behind. A red Mercedes-Benz GT convertible drove up. The blonde haired, blue eyed man shouted at him, “Get a job!” Then he laughed and drove away. Another day Juan would have been angry, but today he was just too tired.

A few minutes later he passed a store front; he watched as a large, burly man placed a Now Hiring card in the window. Juan looked up at the sign above the door—Sam’s Pizza Parlor. Juan stepped inside and pointed to the card in the window. The man smiled broadly and motioned Juan to the kitchen. Through broken English and lots of gestures Juan learned how to make a great pizza. Sam was a generous man. He paid minimum wage and gave Juan all the hours he wanted.

Sam helped Juan find a small, basement apartment nearby. It was dark and smelled of mildew but it was big enough for a few more of his family to stay in when they eventually arrived. Juan worked every day, eating leftovers from the pizza parlor, and saving every penny he could. He made a few friends at the restaurant and started smiling again.

*****

The first news Robert heard of the market crash was Monday morning blaring from the car radio on his way to work. No, that’s not true. He had seen the signs. Everyone had been talking about them for over a year now.

If he had only taken precautions.

He could have diversified.

Instead, he lost everything.

His company cut jobs, and they started with him.

First, the bank came to take the car. He borrowed his mother’s 1971 mud-colored sedan. Then, they came for the house. He had tried to sell it, but it was too late. When they foreclosed, he slept in the sedan. The consignment store was willing to take his furniture and his many fancy suits, but it didn’t help. No one was buying.

As soon as he ran out of gas money, he took to walking the streets at night, just to keep moving, just to keep from going crazy.

*****

Juan had just finished cleaning up at the end of a long Friday night. He said good-night to Sam and stepped out the back door and into the alley. He carried a box that held a cold, unclaimed pepperoni and mushroom pizza.

At the corner Juan saw a disheveled man sitting with his back against the dirty brick building. He had a week’s growth of beard and grime spread across his face. Juan approached him.

“Are you okay?” Juan asked.

The man did not look up. Instead, he turned away. “Yeah,” he answered.

Juan was pretty sure this guy wasn’t drunk. “Hungry?” Juan motioned to the pizza box. “Need a bed? Come.” Juan pulled the man up by his arm. “Come. I give you food and bed.”

Without speaking a word, the man followed Juan the four blocks to his apartment.  It would take a full year for Robert to get his job back, and by then he was a new man. He was a humble and compassionate man.  

This Season of Giving

When I hear the phrase “Season of Giving” I immediately think of all the gifts I need to buy for my family before December 25th. Yet the other day I was reading through the book of Luke and came across chapter 12. In verses 33 and 34 Jesus gives us a straightforward command. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

Give to the poor. I find it interesting that this command comes on the heels of the section where Jesus commands us not to worry about having enough. It appears Jesus is saying ‘God knows we need food and clothes, therefore go out and give to the poor.’

Isaiah 58 also talks about sharing our food with the hungry, providing shelter to the poor wanderer, and clothing those who are naked. James1 likewise commands us to care for widows and orphans.

Give to the poor. I love giving Christmas gifts to my family, but no where in scripture am I commanded to do so. I am told by scripture to love and provide for my family (1 Timothy 5:4). But…my family can hardly be described as poor. Our pantries and closets are bursting at the seams.

Give to the poor. Actually, Jesus said to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” I do have a couple of automatic donations that come out of my checking account every month, but the money I give does not require me to sell anything. I have been challenged this year to give more. Much more.

See the source image

I pray that you will join me in this challenge. When you give to a large ministry through mail or online, be sure to check out its rating with groups like GuideStar and Charity Navigator. Don’t forget local needs as well. Local food banks and community organizations touch people right where you live. And it is great to give money, but they also need volunteers to give of their time and talents.

Join me in reaching out to the widows and orphans this Christmas season—and all year long.

Give, but give until it hurts.

Mother teresa

Here are a few ministries which I support and highly recommend.

  1. CompassionInternational  https://www.compassion.com/
  2. Special K Ranch   http://specialkranch.org/
  3. Four Corners Home for Children (Navajo Ministries)  http://www.fourcornershomeforchildren.org/

Leave a comment: Which ministries do you recommend? Why are they important to you?

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

No story, fiction or non-fiction, written by humanity can compare to the Incredible Story of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the kingdom will be on his shoulders. 

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, has told us plainly about himself and what we are to do. 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

Will we soften our hearts today? Let’s listen for His voice.

For Heaven’s Sake “Keep the Soil Covered.”

Guest Post – My friends Wayne and Connie Burleson travel the world teaching people everywhere to grow their own food. 

Find them here:  http://farmer-to-farmer.org/volunteer/stories/wayne-burleson

And herehttps://www.amazon.com/Gardening-Life-Required-Illustrated-Growing/dp/0989286304

(Excerpts from NAKED LAND NO MORE articles)    By Wayne Burleson

Let’s wakeup everyone, especially gardeners, ranchers and farmers.  Poor soils equate to poor life. No soils, no life. Healthy soils, healthy life. If you look out your windows or walk on the land and see naked soils, these soils are dying, and economics are dropping.

The words “Naked Land” comes from a trip to Tanzania, Africa.  An elder African fellow that has a very interesting museum at the base of the famed Mount Kilimanjaro made the following impacting statement to us:  For 2,000 years after the invention of iron; “Man has been making the land naked.” (meaning no cover).  Impacting statement, but true!

An African shepherd leads his goats across a large dusty plain, a few scraggly trees and bushes are the only green for miles.

Bare soil leads toward death.  Covered soil leads toward health.  It’s that simple.  Dust kills – Covered heals.

If you have trouble understanding this biological law, just try laying out flat on the ground, with no clothes on some warm day and see what happens to your skin.  Your uncovered skin will start to burn immediately. Stay there all day with no sun protection and you will cook yourself into the hospital.  This same principle applies to the land, your flower beds, vegetable gardens, croplands and even pasture lands.

Sun cooked soil becomes very hot, plus the ultraviolet light kills valuable microorganism that live in the soils.  Their job is to build and grow new soils.  The long-term effect of this affects all of us.  The big picture is that our weather patterns can go completely nutso.  Is this happening today?  Yep, just turn on the news and you will see it, someone is always talking and showing news clips about extreme weather events.

I listen to these climate reports documenting catastrophic fires, floods, droughts, and intensifying hurricanes that are killing people.  Most reports talk about global warming caused by industrial factories, carbon dioxide emissions, the burning of fossil fuels … carbon going up into the atmosphere.  Seldom do I hear that these devastating events are being caused by poor land management.  Farmers are making the land naked by plowing, tilling and severe overgrazing.  Plus, the millions of African farmers burning their croplands sending valuable carbon the wrong way – up, instead of down into or leaving the carbon (plant matter) laying on top of the soils surface, where it is badly needed. 

Naked land leads to death.
  • Loss of WATER            
  • Loss of SOILS
  • Loss of PROFITS               
  • Loss of HEALTH
  • Loss of PRODUCTION

    Even Leads to Civil Unrest & Wars

Try growing a crop on this naked farmland in Tanzania Africa.  It will cost a pile of money using “Chemical Farming.” Sometimes 80% of the farmer’s gross income. 

We have published a book Gardening for Life – No Money Required.  For those interested in more information, watch our YouTube video.  Just Google “Top 5 ways to grow food with no money

The point of this article is; Please do your best to keep naked land covered.  Our lives depend on you.

What I Learned From Nanowrimo

books on bookshelves

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

I did it! I wrote 50,928 words of my new novel in the month of November. The first week was fun and easy. The second week was hard, the novelty had worn off and the ideas were not flowing as easily. The third week was back to fun and almost easy. The fourth week was simply a matter of writing enough words to finish my goal.

Here are the most important lessons I learned from doing this exercise.

  1. When I sit down to write—even if I don’t feel like it, good things flow from my fingertips. It was amazing how just an outline of ideas in my head turned into some fantastic scenes on my paper. My feelings did not dictate that part of my day, my will had already made the decision that I was going to sit and write.

 

  1. The difficult parts don’t have to trip me up. When I ignored them and just kept writing, I made so much more progress. When I stop at the difficult parts and fight with them, my flow is interrupted and frustration mounts—then I quit for the day. I do need to go back and rework the hard parts, but doing it later has turned out to be easier because it is in context of the whole story already on paper.

 

  1. It required a daily commitment no matter what. Making dinner, cleaning house, or calling a friend had to wait. I finished my words on Nov. 25th, well ahead of my deadline because I averaged 2,000 words per day. (It was made easier by the fact that my children are out on their own.)

 

  1. Surprises popped up out of nowhere. The end of my novel changed from my initial idea simply because I needed more words. The new ending adds a greater depth to my main character and to the climax of the story. I love it.

 

  1. I have created a new habit. Now, when that time of day arrives, my brain perks up and says, “Time to write.” The feeling is even stronger than the craving for chocolate—well, almost.

 

When I finished my story, I immediately began worrying. “Oh no! What will I write next year? I don’t have any ideas.” But then a character popped into my mind, one that came from a true news account I heard several years ago which intrigued me. I immediately wrote out an outline of a new story with this character at the center. I got so excited that I almost started the story right then and there. Instead I cherished those new ideas and tucked them away. I might write that story before next year’s Nanowrimo, and I might not.

So, now what is on your writing to-do list, you ask? Well, one of my previous novels needs to be finished. I have learned much about the craft of writing in the past year since I last worked on it, and it needs a few dents and scratches hammered out of it, then a buff with a sparkling polish. I hope to be in the market for a publisher some time soon.