The Life Giving Table

When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, we talked quite a bit about the things we valued and the vision we had for our family. One of the things we decided to make a priority was sitting down to eat meals together.

We did not want to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of life and lose the connections with our family around meals. This decision was made in 2006, before the invention of the smartphone and the availability of constant distraction. I am so thankful we decided to make meal times together a priority and haven’t allowed the distractions of life to take over our meal times.

From the very beginning of our marriage, we have sat down to dinner each night. The children and I typically sit down and eat breakfast and lunch together also. We sometimes gather around our large bar to eat breakfast or lunch but we’re still gathered together and not planted in front of the television.

Since adding children into our family, we have continued to make our family meal times a priority and they’ve gotten so much more fun. Our kids are now 8, 6, 4 and 11 months and the conversations we have with the big kids are so enjoyable!

While gathering around the table has always been a priority, we haven’t always been intentional about our time together and I must confess that often the responsibility of preparing 3 meals a day for my growing family can feel more like a chore than a joy and I don’t put my best effort into creating delicious meals and delightful conversation. Having to prepare 3 meals a day each and every day (we rarely eat out) makes me somewhat of a utilitarian cook – I don’t always prepare meals focusing on delicious food. I tend to just fix something to minimize my time in the kitchen and the amount of dishes dirtied.

The Life Giving Table by Sally Clarkson has been such a convicting and inspiring book. The time gathered around the table should be viewed as invaluable for deep and meaningful connections with family as well as an opportunity to disciple our children, enjoy a beautiful relaxing environment and delicious food.

Some inspiring words from The Life Giving Table:

“Adults and children are not just bodies to be fed, but also minds to be challenged, hearts that depend on emotional input to survive and to grow as healthy human beings and spirits that long for connection with God and purpose in life.”

“Preparation for a meal indicates thoughtfulness, caring and intentionality. We show others their worth to us by considering how to best meet their needs and by intentionally arranging the environment to provide comfort and pleasure.”

“When we model to our children that pleasure, delight, laughter and food are not God’s after thoughts, but HIs generous gifts to us all, we do them a great favor.”

She writes about the importance of the blessing. We don’t always pray before meals, not because we’re not thankful but because we feel that sometimes it’s just a habit and not always heartfelt.

My thoughts about the importance of the blessing have changed after reading Sally’s words, “A blessings can also be a way for us to tune in to the sacrifice that is necessary for any of us to eat. Growing and living things in creation – plants and animals – must die in order to give us life.” When I came across this, I stopped and just pondered it for awhile. Every time I eat, something else must die.

My life is sustained by the sacrifice of something else. Since we have now begun raising our own food, we are reminded daily that our food doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The meat you eat was once alive and an animal had to die for you to eat it. Even plants give up their life in order to nourish you. I’m definitely more aware of what I’m eating, the true cost of my food and also profoundly thankful for the food I have to eat each and every day.

The Life Giving Table is one of those rare books that has a broad audience. We all eat and desire to connect with the ones we love. Whether you are single, newlywed, married with children or an empty nester, you can create a life giving table.

My hope is that my table becomes more than just a place where people are fed but a place where we enjoy delicious food (most of it grown here on the homestead), connect with each other and enjoy the good gifts God has given us.

*Disclaimer – I received a copy of The Life Giving Table in exchange for a review from the Tyndale Blog Network. This post does contain affiliate links.

Our Brick Ranch Home Tour

It’s been very quiet around here due to major life changes. At the end of March, we found a home on a little over 5 acres (after looking for nearly 3 years) and decided it was time to try to sell. We put our home on the market on a Wednesday and had 2 offers by Sunday evening, April 2 (which just so happened to be the 6 year anniversary of moving into this home!) The timing was right and everything has worked out wonderfully. We closed on both houses on May 2 and now are settling into our new home. We’ve been in our new home 5 days and have gotten quite a bit done and are feeling ready for baby (I’m 38 weeks today!)

I wanted to share the way our home looked when we started packing a few weeks ago for my memories and so you can see how everything was laid out and organized.

The view of the front door in the living room.

The living room. One of my favorite parts of this room was the gallery wall. It was one of the first things I laid out when we moved in. Of course, it’s changed over the years and the pictures have been changed out since we added 2 babies in that time!

A close up of our bookshelf tucked into the corner. We love our books!

The view from the living room into the kitchen. About 18 months ago, we started our kitchen renovation, putting down new floors, knocking out some cabinets, putting in a new stove and refrigerator. We worked on it slowly (paying cash as we went) and it was officially finished 3 days before we moved! (We had ordered a section of countertop on December 31 and the order was delayed, then messed up, then reordered and delayed so we never really had the opportunity to enjoy the fully completed kitchen.)

A view of the whole kitchen post renovation (with the new ‘bar’ countertop installed). So many meals and memories were made in this room.

And, here’s a bit of a close up of the new countertop section! I hope the new owners love this kitchen.

The dining room and kitchen are one open room. This was the most used room in our entire home. We ate here, we did school work here (school books and supplies were stored in the white cabinet), it was our main entry (thus the coat rack along the wall) and it was my office area. We spent hours here each day!

Here’s the view from the living room looking down the hall. These floors were put down as part of our renovation. To the left is Cecilia’s room and straight ahead is the door to the boys room. The door at the end of the hall is to the master, the bathroom is on the right and the other doors were storage closets and the pantry.

Our full bathroom.

Another view of the bathroom.

This is Cecilia’s room, her sweet little toddler bed and play kitchen. I painted this room when we first moved into this house for Paxton’s nursery. It has been Paxton’s nursery, a guest room, Weston’s nursery, a play room, Cecilia’s nursery and most recently was set up as a shared room for Cecilia and our new baby.

Here’s the baby’s area of the room. Even though the baby never lived here, we were ready for baby and didn’t think our 1,300 square feet was too small for our 4 children! (The bunting and the C would have been replaced at some point but it was still Cecilia’s room so I just kept it up!)

A view of the closet in this room. It stored Cecilia’s toys, her nice clothes, extra bedding and blankets, her memory box and some diapers for baby.

The master bedroom.

Another angle of our master bedroom.

Here’s a peek into our closet. By most standards, it is a small closet but was perfect for us. We added some shelving for shoe storage and since we both have minimal wardrobes, we had more than enough space.

Our boys room. This was a very large room/playroom that served our kiddos quite well over the years.

Another view of the boys room. That dresser was purchased for Paxton’s first nursery before he was born and I made those curtains a few years ago.

John David custom built this closet shelving and it has been great for toy, game and clothing storage. A little bit of smart design can transform a small closet into a very useful space!

This little gallery wall was one of my favorites of the boys room. All of the artwork was painted by me or the boys which makes everything special!

That’s the tour of our sweet little brick ranch. We lived in 4 different homes in less than 5 years but lived here for 6 years. We made so many memories while living in this home. Paxton turned one here, we found out we were expecting our second baby a month after we moved in, Cecilia was born in our bedroom, all 3 of our kiddos learned to walk here, we started homeschooling here and we found out we were having our 4th baby here.

Now, we’re looking forward to making new memories in our new home and adding a new baby to our family. The house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. At just under 1,800 square feet, it gives us room to grow but it’s not too large of a home (we really wanted to stay under 2,000 square feet.) It feels absolutely massive to us right now! We have a little over 5 acres of land so we can have livestock here! We’re all pretty excited about living on our small farm. We already have honeybees and are looking forward to adding chickens very soon.

 

Breaking Free of the Guilt of Giving Things Away

Breaking Free

I’m following the steps outlined in Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’m finding that my thinking about possessions is changing as I go.

While letting things go is pretty easy for me, I am conscious of the value of the items I no longer need or want.

Finding value in my clutter is my biggest challenge.

Over the past few years as we’ve deliberately simplified, we’ve sold everything from outgrown baby clothes and books to electronics and furniture. We’ve gotten clutter out of our home and brought in some extra cash in the process. My frugal side loves bringing in money from selling our unwanted items!

I try to sell items that have a value greater than $5 and have successfully sold quite a few things via Facebook pages and Craigslist in the past couple of years.

However, it seems like we always have a ‘for sale’ pile somewhere in our home. And, our current ‘for sale’ pile has some items that have been in it for at least 6 months.

I donate items quite regularly but sometimes it’s hard to donate things that could potentially be sold and sometimes I feel guilty for just giving ‘valuable’ items to thrift stores.

Marie Kondo writes, ‘To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful or shameful.’ How freeing this statement is for me. 

One of my biggest takeaways from ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ has been breaking free of my guilt of giving away ‘valuable’ things.

And, as an avid thrifter, I am thankful that people donate nice, ‘valuable’ things (like my boys’ Georgia jerseys) so we can benefit from purchasing them and support a charity in the process.

Within in the past year, I’ve thrifted a smocked dress and a pair of Matilda Jane pants for Cecilia, a set of Duplos for my kids, a Marmot pullover for me and a Camelbak bottle, paying no more than $2 for any of those items.

My mindset has shifted from feeling guilty to being excited that someone is going to find our former possessions in a thrift store, find value in them and get a thrill from thrifting.

This change in thinking is getting things out of my house much faster and it’s so much easier than taking pictures, posting items for sell, storing them until they sell and arranging to meet up with a buyer once someone is interested.

Instead, I load items into bags and boxes, place them in my car and drop them off at The Salvation Army at my convenience.

During this season of life with 3 small children, it’s so much easier to donate. Yes, the extra money is nice when we do sell things but since we’re debt free (except our home) and living comfortably within our budget, it’s not necessary for us to sell everything that has some value.

Do you ever feel guilty about donating ‘valuable’ things? 

*In full honesty, I probably will still *try* to sell items that have a value of $10 plus but if they don’t sell within a week or two, I’ll just give to a friend or donate!

Related Posts:

Beginning Our KonMari Journey

First Week of KonMari

First Week of KonMari

First Week of KonMari

With the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in hand, we started KonMari-ing our home last week.

We’re following along with the method so we worked on clothes and books during this week. Even though we already live simply, I was surprised with how much we were able to let go!

Clothes

This was my clothes and accessories pile, including my spring/summer clothes. This is not a shocking amount, I don’t own a lot of clothing but I picked up each item and asked if it sparked joy or not.

Decluttered Clothes

In the end, I was able to let this stack of clothes go. It’s not a huge pile but I really was surprised I was able to find this many items I really didn’t care for.

One of the things I let go was a purple pajama set. I purchased it to wear after Cecilia was born as a comfortable sleepwear/loungewear option. It is very comfortable but I never have loved it. I’ve been wearing it but feeling frumpy each time I wore it.  It felt great to let it go!

Folded Clothes

Here’s a glimpse into my casual, everyday clothes drawer. I love the way my shirts looked folded using the KonMari method of folding.

Spark Joy

During the middle of last week, I received a surprise package from my mother-in-law containing Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy. I was excited to receive this and have it accompany me through the rest of this journey. My favorite part of this book so far is the illustrated pictures showing how to fold various clothing items.

John David clothes

We spent last Friday working on my husband’s clothes. We were able to let this stack go.

I also went through all of our kids clothes. I went through all of the clothes in their drawers and closets as well as the clothes in their bins they have to grow in. I ended up with a decent pile of things that were outgrown, worn out, didn’t spark joy and we had too many of (I think Weston had about 20 t-shirts that should fit this spring in his bin…where does it come from!?) I’m handing down some of the items to friends with kids younger than mine and donating the rest.

Donations

This was the declutter pile hanging out in my room for a few days. I was glad to see it leave the house!

Declutter Stuff

And, here’s what we loaded up to drop off at Salvation Army last week. Not all of this was a result of this week’s KonMari-ing of our clothes and books. Most of it was clutter that I had boxed up that I was holding on to because I viewed it as ‘valuable’, thinking I might try to sell it or at least put it in a yard sale sometime.

Just looking at those boxes that were taking up space in my home was mentally draining. I decided the space they would free up in our home and in my mind was worth just donating them. And, I was right. It felt great to drop off this load and our home seems so much more open with all of this stuff out of our home.

All in all, week one was a success! I doubt the following weeks will see this large of an amount of stuff leaving but who knows.

If you KonMari-ed your home, did you think going through clothing and books was the easiest part?