How to Live Simply

It’s possible that living simply becomes a little bit complicated when you try to put it in a list. You wonder if you are forgetting things or if you are putting down far too many things. These are some ideas/thoughts that I have had about life recently. Things that appeal to me or things that I feel can give me a more Christ-like approach to life. And each of these things is on the list because I believe that it is valuable and something to strive for. Not because I have accomplished it. In fact, some of these things go against my nature. But I’m working on it!

If you had a disco ball and placed it where the sun can shine on it in the morning, you too could have wonderful diamonds of light all over your walls and ceiling and everything. I highly recommend it.
If you had a disco ball and placed it where the sun can shine on it in the morning, you too could have wonderful diamonds of light all over your walls and ceiling and everything. I highly recommend it.
  • Say thank you. To people. To God. “…give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise.” “The Grace of the Cross,” from The Valley of Vision
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do more for them than you would have to. Define kindness Gary Chapman style: ““Kindness means noticing someone else and recognizing his/her needs. It means seeing the value in every person we meet.” Blow people away with your kindness.
  • Buy the things you like, and like the things that you buy. Buy things that you need. Don’t buy things that you already have. Use the things that you have. Have things that you can use.
    • If something brings joy/pleasure/enjoyment/appropriate entertainment it is useful. (But don’t throw reason and sensibility out the window.)
  • When something is old, and you are not using it, or you have bought something to replace it, you must throw it away. Occasional exceptions may be made if “sentimentality” becomes involved.
  • If there’s not a reason to rush, don’t. Just enjoy whatever you are doing. Even if it’s washing dishes.
  • Like a wise teacher at Faith Builders once said: “Keep first things first. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God. Do not neglect second and third things.”
  • Make sure that you do the things that you want to. Meet your goals. Don’t always fail when you could succeed. Accomplish what you want to.
  • Grow plants and make food and create things- do the things that you love to do.
  • When bad things happen, instead of squeezing your eyes closed and scrunching up in a ball, reach into the darkness and feel around for God. You will find Him. He will be closer than you first thought. And you will always remember that. That He was there when it was bad.
  • If something is bothering you, change it! Don’t be continually frustrated by the same things if you could do something to change them. If you can’t do anything to change those things… then just CHILL OUT, Miss Shantz.
  • Be prepared. This means keeping socks and Kleenexes and a notebook in your purse and band-aids in your coat pocket. (It means other things too.)
  • Accept God’s invitation to come, and then invite him into all of your moments. Look for Him everywhere. Ask Him to make you more than you could be on your own. Trust that He will. Show Him to everyone that you can. “Your love is like radiant diamonds, bursting inside us- we cannot contain.” “Multiplied”, by NEEDTOBREATHE

March Break.

It deserves to have words such as beautiful, glorious, sweet, and luxurious used to describe it. It’s just that wonderful. It has been, perhaps, the most perfect March Break in my whole entire life. I think that I appreciate it more as a teacher than I did as a student.

I have been doing lots of wonderful things.

I planted my spider plant. It was time. It has been living in a cup since Christmas, I believe. I think that it has already grown. They grow up so fast, don’t they? Now I am always wondering if it’s time to be watering it. Unfortunately, they don’t need a whole lot of water. I’m so excited about watering it. A plant might be just the kind of pet that I need.

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I worked on my puzzle. What a puzzle. With its curly edges and massive chunks of blue sky and white blossoms and green grass. I like to sit down and work on it every few weeks or so. All good things take time, right? I loooooove my puzzle.

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I bought some things, like a song book and shoes and disco ball.

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I ate turnovers and drank tea. One time, I tried to do it while doing my devotions. In my mind, it seemed like the ideal situation. But it was too hard to do them at the same time. So I ate my turnover and then did my devotions for a long, long time. It was a glorious morning.

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Speaking of devotions, how do you guys do them?

I’m not going to lie.

I am a devotional snob.

As in, I don’t like devotional books, because I prefer to have my own thoughts. Isn’t that dumb? I’d rather read the Bible and come up with my own thoughts than take in the ones that someone has already had. There’s no pure reason behind this. It’s because if there’s something good to be thought of, I want to think of it myself. It’s a rather selfish thing. But it has affected the way I have done my devotions for at least the past two years. My system consisted of prayer journaling, reading the Bible, and reading a chapter of some “teaching” book. (Somehow, I don’t mind reading the “teaching” books, but don’t like the devotionals.)

But recently, I finished meandering through the Bible. I got to Revelation and I was done. So… I started over. But the thought of essentially doing the same thing again (in a different order and different time frame) really did not appeal to me.

That was when I decided that it is time for me to take in less.

Less scripture.

(Hold your horses. I know that it doesn’t sound good. I’m not done talking yet.)

Take in less, but focus more. This possibly goes with this desire that I keep feeling to live simply.

I don’t even know how to describe what I mean by simply. I picture a white living room and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables when I think about living simply, but that’s not what I mean. Maybe I mean being appreciative of and thrilled with the simple things and moments. Not having a life that’s filled with unnecessary clutter. I haven’t defined this yet. I’m working on it.

I had already taken a step in this direction close to the beginning of Lent. Let it be known that I love checking Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and some of my favourite blogs. And I realized recently that it’s becoming very habitual to do these things, and that they can be beneficial things, but I was taking in too much, and not doing anything useful with what I was taking in. It was not benefiting me in any way. So I decided that it was time for me to take in less. Not eliminate these things completely… just use them less. Don’t let them take away from other things. When I read a blog post that challenges me, stop there. Don’t go on to the next post. Think about it. Use it.

Basically, my idea was, “Take in less. Produce more.”

So I decided to apply that to my devotions too. Read less. Pray more. Do more. Write more.

What good is all that taking in if it doesn’t change you in any way?

All this to tell you that I am doing the “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” reading plan on She Reads Truth. And I am enjoying it. There are a few verses to read, and then a devotional that goes with it. And that devotional… it’s okay. I’m enjoying this whole ordeal very much. I love that March Break allows me lots of time to linger, whether it’s in the Bible or in my journal or writing other things.

But are there devotional books out there that you have enjoyed? Or studies that you have done on your own? Or creative things that you have done? If there are, you should tell me sometime or comment! (Don’t feel obligated to comment. I’m not doing this for comments. I’m doing it because I’m interested in hearing what other people do. Because this reading plan will end, and then I’ll need something new to do. And if you don’t give me ideas, I will probably never stop doing unnecessarily long posts about my devotional journey, and I don’t think that’s what any of us want.)

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How to Beard a Beard

I announced to my family that I thought I was going to write a blog post called “How to Write a Play”.
Kenton said that I should do one called “How to Beard a Beard.” I then offered him the opportunity to do a guest post, and share his wisdom with my mainly female audience. I actually kind of was in the initial stages of begging. He refused. And I could tell that there was no changing his mind.
He did, however, mention something about Vitamin D?
Today, we will not be learning how to beard a beard. (Once you have successfully bearded a beard, then you are officially bearding. That’s another thing that Kenton said.)
Let’s talk about plays.
Plays.
Drama.
Romeo and Juliet.
Our Town.
Antigone.
Hamlet.

My friend Meghan and I, we wrote a play. Yup, we did. It’s about Moses. You can come see it sometime this spring, if you want to. The drama class at our school (taught by the wonderful Mr. Ricky Martin) is going to be performing it. It will be weird to watch it. Maybe I won’t even come to see it. Just kidding. I’ll be there. But I’ll be rather jittery.
But that’s enough about the emotional side of things. Let’s talk practically.
I am going to tell you how to write a play.

(Insert awkward pause as I realize that I somehow don’t know what to put on this list.)

How To Write a Play
1. Make a plan. Never mind. Make half of a plan. Yes. Plan half of the play. Much more manageable than thinking through a whole play.
2. Start writing.
3. Stop writing.
4. Start writing.
5. Stop writing.
6. Start writing.
7. Cry.
8. Think, “Hey! This is going to work! This is going to be okay! Maybe it will even be a good play.”
9. Think, “This is awful. I must run away. Or at least find a substitute to teach for me for a day so that I can just get this blasted thing out of the way.”
10. Plan the second half.
11. Start writing.
12. Stop writing.
13. Start writing.
14. Stop writing.
15. Look over the parts that your friend is writing and think about how annoying it is that you can think of exactly what you would have a certain character say in THAT situation, but you can’t figure out what they would say in the scene that you are trying to write.
16. Pretend that the play doesn’t exist.
17. Keep pretending.
18. Panic, because you pretended too long and too well.
19. Cry.
20. Text Ricky.
21. Read Antiquities of the Jews, by Josephus. Just the part about Moses. And a few other parts that may catch your eye.
22. Text Ricky.
23. Write everything except the play.
24. Read through the parts that you have written so far out loud, and wonder why, in your mind, your Hebrew narrator has blond hair and an Irish accent.
25. Go to Williams with Meghan. Eat quesadillas and wonderful cake. Talk, laugh.
26. Grit your teeth.
27. Hunker down.
28. Admit that music doesn’t help you focus. It distracts you. It has always been that way. And it hasn’t changed.
29. Write.
30. Keep writing. Until the end.
31. When you are finished, feel free. Feel like dancing. Feel like you could act the whole entire play by yourself. Briefly consider a career in acting. Decide that it’s not for you.

There you go. Your free, complete, 31-step guide to writing a play.
And to think that some people take this a step further, and add songs and music and dancing, and create musicals.
But the funny thing is, after all of the heaviness and the wrenching out of hiding words and the frustration of just not knowing some things, I find myself thinking that I’d like to do this again sometime. Isn’t that funny?