GUEST POST: SIMPLIFYING YOUR WARDROBE PT. 1

Simplifying Your Wardrobe Part 1 This post originally appeared on my blog.

Oh, hey there pretty lady! The rest of this post is going on the assumption that, you are in fact, a lady. If you're a gent, this probably isn't relevant...since your closet is likely already super small. Unless you're my father, in which case you have literally a hundred t-shirts, most of which you got for free for doing various bike rides and volunteer events.

He could literally clothe a third-world country with the amount of t-shirts he has.

Anyways.

Your closet should work for you - no matter your size, shape, budget, or place in life. You should be able to throw open the doors of your wardrobe and immediately put something fabulous together...an outfit that makes you feel confident and pretty.

You know what I'm talking about.

Those pants that are eternally forgiving yet chic. The sweater that is one part cozy, one part classy. The dress that makes you feel like you could take on the world. It should be effortlessly easy for you to produce outfits that give you confidence.

Unfortunately, those items are often drowned in a sea of clothes that... A. We rarely wear B. Look terrible on us C. Make us feel terrible D. Don’t go with anything else we own D. All of the above

Which, if you ask me, makes absolutely no sense.

(Also? Those clothes could be being used by someone else who actually needs them)

So, how do you simplify your closet?

1. Define your style.

Pick out a handful of items from your closet that are your go-to favorites. What do they have in common? Look at your style Pinterest board (or create one!). What are common themes? What does your lifestyle require (ex: business clothes, work-out clothes, classy-mum clothes, etc.)? Keep your style in mind as you move towards a simple, hardworking wardrobe.

2. THE GREAT PURGE.

Wage war on your closet, woman! Take no prisoners. Toss/donate/sell any clothes that:

  • Don't fit with your style
  • Are stained/torn beyond repair
  • You know you'll never get around to repairing
  • You haven't worn in the last year
  • Are poorly made/stretch out after it's been worn for seven minutes
  • You don't feel confident in
  • Are in a fabric or cut that you hate
  • Don't fit well or flatter your shape

*a caveat: if you're in the process of losing weight, do keep clothes that will motivate you towards your goal. To a point. Be honest with yourself.

Bonus points! If you're married, ask your husband what he likes and what he doesn't. Right after we got married, I modeled everything in my wardrobe for Hans. He was honest, and I got rid of clothes as a result. Being attractive to my spouse is a blessing to him!

3. Investing in pieces vs. consuming clothes.

Once you have defined your style and slimmed down your closet, then you get to do the fun part - buying! YAY! Identify what essentials you need and what "gaps" in your closet you need to fill, make a list, and then invest in those pieces.

Now, unless you're rolling in dough...this will have to be done gradually. That's ok! It's far better to spend $60 on a fabulously well-made dress that you saved up for and that will last forever vs. a $20 clearance dress from Target that will wear out by next year. Stick to your plan and only spend money on clothes that fit you, your style, and that will last for a long time.

4. Shop Like A French Girl.

“If she can’t afford it, she won’t buy it. If it doesn’t fit (or make her feel good, or flaunt what she’s got), she won’t wear it. If she can’t find it, she won’t compromise. If she loves it, she won’t toss it. She reuses it, rethinks it, lets it age. When a French girl shops, it isn’t a solitary act of buying something new. It’s part of a lifelong process of editing her environment, making small but meaningful additions to her home, her closet, her life. When you shop like a French girl, you buy only one of anything – and make sure it’s the best quality you can afford.” from Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl

5. Do you have essentials?

A couple of great tees and tops, some well-fitting jeans/pants/skirts, a couple of dresses (particularly a LBD!), a few dressier tops and a versatile selection of jackets/cardigans? These are essentials that every wardrobe needs. Here's a fantastic article from the Tiny Twig on just this subject, and here's a video to give you some ideas...

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmAWDGQmonY[/embed]

When you're on your way to building a wardrobe that works for you, essentials are the best place to start, and the best place to invest money.

6. As you're simplifying your wardrobe, experiment!

Here's another fun part! Spend an hour or two in front of the mirror and experiment with your clothes. Try layering, putting different pieces together, scouring the internet for inspiration, etc. This will help you in the future when you're putting together outfits - you'll already know what works and what doesn't!

More Bonus Points: the next time you make a clothing purchase, evaluate whether or not the item will "earn it's keep" in your closet and serve you for years to come. If the answer is no, don't buy it!

PS - I used this from Miss Minimalist to jumpstart this post.

PPS - If you're looking for an in-depth exercise to start simplifying your wardrobe, follow the 31 Days to a No-Brainer Wardrobe Series from The Tiny Twig. It's a bit old (like, when you still needed an invitation to get on Pinterest) but the advice is ridiculously practical. Plus, Hayley is just an effervescently lovely woman.

GUEST POST: SIMPLIFYING YOUR SCHEDULE PT. 2

Simplifying Your Schedule Part 2 This post originally appeared on my blog.

Once upon a time, I took an immense amount of pride in having an impossibly packed schedule. I was always leading something, on my way somewhere, working on something, meeting with someone, or volunteering someplace. When someone asked how I was doing, it stoked my ego to gush, “Oh! I’m just SO busy!” or “I’ve got SO much going on!” I wanted people to be envious of how much I was capable of doing.

You know where that got me?

Utterly. Burnt. Out.

Also? Utterly not dependent on God. I was running my life my way, thank you very much. He fit in when I led Bible study on Wednesday nights and flew off to my leaders’ meeting afterwards, went to Challenge on Thursday nights, and dragged myself to church on Sunday. Other than that? I made the calls on how I spent my time. I was doing good things, but I was making God fit into my schedule…not the other way around.

Two years ago, the Lord graciously slapped me upside the head with this idea:

(I say “graciously” because it’s in His love that He shows us hard things)

After Hans and I got married, I realized I needed to lean deep into Jesus in order to have a relationship with my husband that glorified Him. Marriage was going to take time, so we made the decision to “take our first year off“. My priorities shifted because God was leading me to a new place in life.

Hans and I pulled out of all of our ministry and extracurricular activity commitments. Cold turkey.

My chaotic schedule cleared up. God and I have time together in the mornings. Hans and I have date nights. I get enough sleep and exercise. I have time to read. We don’t eat out a lot because we have time to make healthy meals. We spend time with people we love. We’re not perfect at this, but we really like how it’s going so far.

It’s made a world of difference for me, and I know it will for you, too.

So, how do YOU start simplifying your schedule?

1. What are the things that God has called you to?

Above all else, He’s calling you to have a relationship with Him. After that, there are probably only a handful of “main things” He has called you to do. Matthew 11:30 tells us that His burden is easy and His yoke is light. If you’re overcommitted, you might be taking on more than He intended. Simplifying means setting your sights on the things that GOD has called you to do, not society or other people. Ask: What roles has He placed you in? What ideas keep you up at night? What fires will not die inside your heart?

2. Main the main things the main things.

Once you know what God has called you to – being a student, spouse, parent, small business owner, ministry leader, whatever! – and what He has given you a passion for – writing a book, singing in the choir, fixing dirt bikes, abolishing sex trafficking, whatever it is! – go and do those things, and cut out as much “extra” as you can. Simplifying means focusing on the essential, and eliminating the excess.

3. Say No.

Create firm boundaries for yourself. No, I won’t go to that thing because it interferes with my date night with my husband. No, I won’t sign up for that event because I haven’t had a weekend of rest in three months. No, I won’t lead that group because I need time for _____ thing that God has given me a passion for. It’s ok to say no, even to good things! That’s one of the hard but essential things to learn about simplifying. Just because someone asks, doesn’t mean you have to say yes.

You can download a FREE PRINTABLE to help you simplify your schedule HERE!

 

GUEST POST: SIMPLIFYING YOUR SCHEDULE PT. 1

Simplifying Your Schedule Part 1 First of all, a HUGE congratulations to Valerie and Matt on the birth of their son! They welcomed Xavier Joseph into the world on September 18th at 8:42pm, and he is quite literally the cutest little thing to grace God's good green earth. Oh my goodness!

Second of all, I apologize for getting behind on guest posts! I've been doing the Write 31 Days Challenge on my blog, and it's definitely proving to be a challenge to fit in this much writing. It's a good thing I'm writing about one of my favorite subjects!

You know something that is absolutely bonkers about our society? We love to glorify busy. We wear “busy” like a badge of honor, and we use our schedules as measuring sticks to compare to others. We end up either feeling superior to others because we’re busier than they are, or we end up feeling dejected because we aren’t as busy as someone else.

You know what the especially bonkers part is?

We COMPLAIN about how busy we are. We stroke our egos by answering the question “How are you doing?” with an exaggerated sigh as we bemoan how busy we are and how full our schedules are. We want everyone to know exactly how much we have on our plates so that they’ll either think we’re more important or have sympathy for us. Or both.

I did this with alarming proficiency in college. My days were packed with classes and meetings and activities, often until 11 or later at night. I bought into the lie that my self-worth and purpose were directly tied to the amount of things I had scribbled in my planner.

I bought into the lie of busyness hook, line, and sinker. I imagine that you’ve had seasons of life like that, too.

Where does this get us, friends? Nowhere good. We either end up utterly burnt out and frazzled, or puffed up with pride and self-reliance. Neither of which are where the Lord wants us to be.

Even if we’re actively trying to combat busyness, it can sneak up on us out of nowhere and swallow our calendars whole. Have you ever experienced that? Where you set out at the beginning of the month with every intention of keeping your schedule manageable, and somewhere around the second Tuesday of the month you find yourself triple booked for a coffee date, a friends’ birthday party, and an appointment with your own sanity?

Me too.

So, how do we simplify our schedules and guard against celebrating busyness and/or allowing it to run us over?

1. Set Priorities

This is the most crucial step to simplifying your schedule. Take time to come before the Lord, pray, and align your priorities with His. What are the things that He has called you to in this season of your life? What are the passions and dreams that He’s given you…the things that keep you up at night with an intoxicating mixture of excitement and holy tension? Your priorities should follow what God is asking of you…not what other people or social pressures are asking of you.

Additionally, your priorities should have an order. If anything else is to make sense in our lives, the Lord has to be the number one priority. After that comes things like family, ministry, community, work, health + fitness, the various side hustle, etc. Keeping everything in order makes it easier to make decisions when it comes to what you put on your schedule and what you leave off.

2. Set Boundaries

Once you’ve set your priorities, set boundaries to protect them. It’s all well and good to know that you need to be spending time with Jesus and His Word every day, but if you’re not protecting that time with good boundaries, that priority will get run over by things like a lack of sleep or social media. It’s great to know that you need to have a regular date night with your husband, but poor boundaries can mean that date night gets run over by other meetings or a lack of planning. (Just two embarrassing examples from my own life)

Like I mentioned in this post, boundaries are good, healthy, and essential for simplifying your life. Boundaries protect you, empower you, and ultimately help you simplify your schedule and keep it simplified.

3. Say No

When something doesn’t align with your priorities and fit within your boundaries, say no. “No” is the simplest way to manage your schedule. And we all know…if you don’t manage your schedule, your schedule will manage you.

The Around the Table Podcast just did a phenomenal episode about ways to say no that is definitely worth checking out if you need some more strategies!

Check back in next week for Part Two of Simplifying Your Schedule, as well as a nifty free printable to help YOU take action!

Congratulations again, Valerie and Matt!

GUEST POST: SIMPLICITY AND BOUNDARIES

Simplicity and Boundaries When I was in college, my life felt massively complicated and chaotic. My schedule was go go go with very little room for rest, I was pouring into people left and right, and I had a pitifully weak ability to say “no”. Because my life had no margin, I would go through crushing periods of depression and lethargy because my body and spirit weren’t being taken care of. My sleep schedule was nonexistent, leading to many mornings where I was late for class because I’d tried to pull yet another all-nighter. My friendships frayed around the edges, because I was trying to be too much to too many people and I also needed too much from too few.

Does any of this sound familiar to you, friend?

Boundaries are like a fence around a yard. My life in college had no “fence”, so people came in and out of my yard and took whatever they needed. Because I didn’t know where my “yard” ended and someone else’s began, I believed it was my responsibility to take care of every single need or hurt I saw.

My lack of boundaries made life exhaustingly complicated.

To simplify our lives, we must, must, MUST have boundaries. We must have fences that protect us from things and people that are unhealthy and unnecessary. Boundaries keep the clutter and overgrowth out of our lives. They also keep the clarity and sanity in our lives.

In her book 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, Joyce Meyer says, “We must remember we are called by God to follow Him and walk in wisdom. We are not called or required to let other people dictate to us what we must do to keep them happy.” In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. While God does call us to do hard things and He does allow us to walk through complicated situations, He never asks anything of us that is unhealthy or unnecessary.

I’m not saying that we ought to become selfish or gluttonously self-absorbed in the name of simplicity. I am saying that we ought to concern ourselves more with what God wants us to be doing rather than what other people want us to be doing. We are to be obedient to God and His calling on our lives, not other people and their calling on our lives. While we cannot always trust other people and the things they ask of us, we can always trust God.

Again, this ties back to the Gospel. A lack of boundaries in our lives is often indicative of believing lies or succumbing to fears. We say “yes” to unhealthy things that other people ask of us because we feel a need for their approval, instead of being satisfied in the approval that God has for us because of Jesus’ work on the Cross. We are afraid that the world will fall apart without our intervention, so we try and save everyone and everything around us instead of trusting that God can and will take care of it.

When you set and maintain good boundaries, you are putting up wise fences around the yard of your life. Wise boundaries lead to abundant simplicity. When you are following the calling that God has on your life and saying “yes” to the things that He has for you, you can trust that He will take care of the rest.

GUEST POST: SIMPLIFYING YOUR SPACE

Simplifying Your Space + A Free Printable! When it comes to simplifying, one of the first things people want to talk about is STUFF. How do I get rid of my stuff? How do I clean out my closet? How do I let go of sentimental items? How do I organize all my piles and piles of STUFF?

It’s totally understandable to want to tackle simplifying your space right away. Physical clutter is a lot easier to organize and throw away than mental clutter, so it’s a natural starting point on the journey to more simple living. It can also be a lot easier to fight for our mental, emotional, and spiritual simplicity when the physical space right in front of us is clean, organized, and simplified.

But.

Don’t miss this but, friend. It’s a big but.

Simplifying, decluttering, organizing and minimizing are all temporary solutions to a deeper heart problem.

That’s why your house never stays decluttered and organized, right? There’s always other stuff creeping in. It creeps in from well-meaning gifts from your in-laws or in the school bags of your children to those bewilderingly expensive trips to Target (“I just went in for peanut butter and dog biscuits...how did I end up spending $67.19?!”) and that stuff you bought at your friends’ Pampered Chef party because you felt subtly pressured.

The clutter in our homes is often just a physical manifestation of the clutter in our hearts.

We don’t get rid of gifts from family members (even if it’s something we don’t want or use) because we don’t want to make them feel bad, or we don’t want to feel guilty.

We can’t bear to part with any piece of paper our children bring home because that would mean we were bad parents, right?

We fill our Target carts with all sorts of knick knacks and scented candles and scarves because having THOSE things will make our homes and closets more Pinterest-perfect, and having a Pinterest-perfect homes means our family will be Pinterest-perfect too, right?

We buy things at product parties because we don’t want to look like a bad or uncaring friend.

At the roots of nearly all our clutter are heart problems. So don’t attack your clutter without getting your heart ready for the fight.

Here’s where the Gospel comes back in. We know that our approval and worth comes from Christ, and not other people. Therefore, we are free to let go of physical items that we are keeping out of fear that their absence would create an absence of love or acceptance from our friends or family.The Gospel frees us from that fear. We know that our ultimate satisfaction and joy comes from Christ, not material possessions. Therefore, we don’t have to fill our homes with pretty, expensive or trendy things in order to be content.

After getting our hearts in the right place, we can evaluate the things in our home based on how useful they are, whether or not they bring us joy, what purposes they serve, what emotions they evoke, etc. That’s easier said than done, though, so I created a helpful printable that you can use to simplify your space!

Ultimately, having a simple space begins inwardly with the Gospel and overflows into an outward reality of simplicity. Decluttering our hearts from fear, guilt, and striving creates room for the freedom and beauty of the Gospel. A heart that has cultivated contentment can create a simplified space with ease.