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forrest-gump-2I enjoyed the 1994 blockbuster movie Forrest Gump. Beside all the amazing historical tie-ins and interaction, I loved the premise. A simple man who was navigating the complexities of life in a simple way. The reaction of those who interacted with Forrest were always over the top and overblown. It made his simple and uncluttered demeanor stand out all the more. There was a line where Forrest quoted his mother, “Stupid is, is stupid does.”

I want to borrow that line and put my spin on it, “Simple is, is simple does.” If I’m going to simplify my life at any level or to any degree I must begin to “do” simple. How can I “do” simple? By slowing down my pace, being intentional with every act and movement, practicing subtraction instead of addition, taking a “solitude break” during the day (even it’s 5-10 minutes), or turning off the music from time to time to practice the discipline of silence. If I want my mentality to change, I can start with some of these baby steps and begin to act more simple on the outside.

The inside (heart/spirit) and the outside (body/actions) are inextricably connected. One feeds into and off of the other. So, try it… “Simple is, is simple does.” Commit to one simple act today. Not ten, just one. Execute it. Celebrate it. When tomorrow comes, do another as well as that one you did today and let one build upon another. As for me today, I have been listening to the Spa Channel on Pandora and it has created a simple and peaceful ethos (atmosphere) for me to work in today. What will you do Forrest?

Grace & Peace

runninstreamIt would be ludicrous to discuss simplifying your life without talking about the need to slow down. Have you noticed that life comes at you pretty fast? As I make my way around our community I’m always amazed at how hurried and frustrated people can be when they get behind the wheel of a car or, in my case, a pick up truck (Hey, it’s Texas!). It’s an interesting thing, this human nature. We rush from red light to red light burning fossil fuel like it’s going to last forever, just to get across town a few minutes faster. It makes no sense whatsoever.

I have found much peace in slowing down on purpose. That’s right, being intentional about every move I make. One of my favorite authors, Dr. Frank Laubach, called it an “economy of movement.” I have experimented with this principle in little things like taking out the trash, unloading a dishwasher or taking down our Christmas decor. In other words, intentionally slowing down and really “being” in the moment. The goal isn’t to finish a task, but make a mundane task a holy moment and a quality experience.

I have also experimented with this when it comes to driving. The speed limit on my 10 mile commute to town is 60 mph. Most people either drive it at 70 and are anxious and hurried, or they drive it at 45 mph and are not worried about getting anywhere. Both are extremes and can be a hazard to others. So, I decided to drive one to two miles an hour over the speed limit and no more. At first it was difficult. Like most other people my tendency is to pick it up a bit. I timed my 12 minute commute to the office while speeding and by driving the speed limit and I found no noticeable difference in the time of my commute! None! Conclusion? Be intentional, drive the speed limit, relax and enjoy the trip.

The key is to actually “be in the moment” whereby the goal becomes the experience and the journey and not just the destination. I know this is nothing new, but it seems we must be reminded again and again of the value of stewarding the moments. I have been applying this to everything I do and am finding a much richer experience throughout my day while executing what are typically mundane or menial tasks. Experiment with this. Slow down… on purpose and with purpose. Savor every bite of your next meal, even if it’s fast food. Take time to experience each moment of the day. Enjoy the journey for a change. Life will begin to take on much more meaning and the peace will radiate out of you and touch others.

Slowing Down,
Jimmy

simplebeautyLet me first start off by saying, I’m a “guy.” I drive a Nissan Titan truck. I’m from West Texas. I like sports. Now having said that, I’m also enamored by beauty. West Texas can produce some of the most amazing sunsets on the planet! There is nothing like watching a thunderstorm roll in from the Southwest. Lightening flashes, the rumble of not too distant thunder and the occasional tornado that touches down combine to produce an experience that is thrilling and beautiful in it’s own way.

For me, the most beautiful things are the simplest things. I remember driving in the city and stopping at a light. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry. Edgy frustrated commuters anxious to get to their next destination were cutting people off and jockeying for position in traffic like NASCAR drivers in a race for the title. I looked to one side of me and all I could see were several lanes of impatient people, some were on cell phones and others were staring at the light as if it was a green flag. I looked to the other side and I noticed one beautiful solitary flower at the base of a light pole. In the middle of this chaotic scene in a concrete jungle during rush hour stood this one lone beautiful flower. I was stunned by its simple beauty. I was captivated… until the angry joker behind me impatiently honked his horn! He missed the moment. I did not.

I don’t want to run and gun through life and miss moments like that. Life is too short. I will be 47 in a couple of weeks and I am all to aware of how time seems to be flying by. I’m looking across my office and noticing the shadows that the rising sun is casting across the room through the blinds. It’s simple beauty at it’s best in this very moment. And to think I could have missed the moment, because it will disappear in just a few minutes as the sun rises and the shadows fade. On this journey toward a more simple life I want to stop and simply be amazed at the beauty all around me.

Continuing on the Journey

highroadThe journey toward a more simple life is just that… a journey. Like a fine wine or a majestic redwood, this cannot be rushed. There are no shortcuts… only steps and missteps along the way. Have you ever wondered, “How did things get so complicated?” I have and do ask that question often. There are many answers to that question that are as varied as the people to whom it applies, but I know for me the answer lies in neglect and procrastination.

If left to ourselves we naturally drift toward complexity. Things or “stuff” get left out, pushed aside or thrown on the pile. We think a dangerous and often unfulfilled thought, “I’ll put that away later.” You know how that plays out… just look at your garage, closet or desk! There is something in us that wants what we want… right now. In other words, I don’t “want” to put an item where it goes, or clean off an area of my desk because I don’t “want” to right now. I refuse to put forth the effort and sacrifice for long term peace and well being for a moment of “me time.”

One way to stay motivated is to recognize the lack of peace and the turmoil you have in our heart and mind because of the clutter and chaos. You cannot have internal order if you live in external disorder. They are not compatible. When I went through a painful divorce many years ago I found that I could live a very simple existence and yet still have a good quality of life. I found the lack of “stuff” very freeing. Keep your thoughts on the long term peace and inner grace that order and simplicity bring the next time you walk by that item that needs to be discarded or put away.

On the Journey

92240723_f4b9e99c7b1I did it. I took a few minutes out of my day to clear my desk and a nook in my office. It was incredibly empowering! Although I understand that living out a more simple existence is a mentality that begins with the heart and mind, I also know that we must put action to what we say we are desiring to do. I am taking the “K.I.S.S.” approach… that stands for “Keep It Simple Saint.”

Do you feel like your life is full of clutter and excess? Do you look at the “stuff” in your garage, closets, drawers, back seat of your car and attic and wonder, “How did I ever accumulate so much stuff?” This is happening to me a lot these days. I’m starting down the path to a de-cluttered existence… starting with my office. What will you start with? Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew, just take a small bite to get it moving.

On the Journey

oldmanwinter1Over the holidays I, like most parents with 8 year olds, saw just about every kiddie Christmas movie that’s out there… and there are a lot of them out there! I still get nastalgic when the Rudolf movies come on. You know the movies that have the little dolls that were painstakingly made one frame at a time. They bring back so many memories and I always enjoy watching them year after year.

What does that have to do with simplifying? There is a song in the movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town that Old Man Winter sings that speaks to Simplicity. It’s titled Put One Foot in Front of the Other and was written by Jules Bass. Here are the lyrics:

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

You never will get where you’re going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
A fast walking man is hard to beat

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If you want to change your direction
If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule be the exception
A good way to start is to stand

Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other
And soon you’ll be walking out the door

If I want to change the reflection
I see in the mirror each morn
You mean that it’s just my election
To vote for a chance to be reborn

Here is a key to simplifying, just put one foot in front of the other. Walk don’t run. Take your time. So many life-projects get started with good intentions and lots of enthusiasm only to fail because we try to run before we can even walk. So, put one foot in front of the other today. I’m cleaning out yet another area in my office today. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. What will you do today on the road to simplifying?

Grace and Peace

eat-elephantI’m not talking rocket science here. It seems that of the endless websites that I have looked at after Googling “simplicity” there is so much information on living simply that I simply don’t have the hours in the day to read it all. Do you sense some irony here? So I’m taking a simple approach to living a more simple existence.

I’m going to start by de-cluttering my desk today. That’s it. Just for today I’ll take this one step. Not two steps. After all I have the rest of my life to walk this out one day at a time. If I start making a list of what I need to do to simplify then I will begin the slow fade toward complexity once again. See the dilemma?

It’s like the classic cliche, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer? “One bite at a time.” That’s my simple approach to simplicity. One bite at a time.

On the Journey

fastingToday begins a 3 day fast we are calling “Three Days of Reign.” It’s to bring in the new year with focus, intent and purpose. It’s interesting to me that whenever we call a fast I get a lot of questions about fasting i.e. what? why? how?… mostly the how question. Let me be direct. Biblical fasting is the voluntary denial of food for a given period of time. Simple.

I have read extensively on fasting and am amazed at how complicated we can make it. I’ll drink liquids, juices, tons of water, tea and coffee. No loaded protein shakes, geez, you might as well eat a steak! Just no food and I’ll spend that time reading the word, praying and blogging. You might consider fasting. It’s a basic spiritual discipline whereby Jesus made it clear that the issue is not “if” you fast, but “when” you fast. Care to join me?

Grace and Peace

celticimageI am convinced that left alone we will always drift toward complexity. It is the path of least resistance, especially concerning matters of faith. Over the years I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to have an esoteric revelation. The definition of esoteric is intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest. I have been a Christ Follower for 29 years this May and I am finding the closer I get to Jesus, i.e. maturity, the less I really know. That faith at it’s core and in it’s purest form is simple and childlike.

The apostle Paul was a brilliant and educated man, a compelling orator, yet as he stood before the Christ Followers in Corinth he made it clear that he did not come with fancy speech or persuasive words. In fact he was determined to know one thing and one thing only, Christ crucified. His message was simple, direct, profound. His message was to be a demonstration of the power and sufficiency of God not the clever persuasion of Paul.

I often find that I am quick to try to help God out. It’s not the worst thing, but I can get in His way due to my desire to see something happen. My desire to tickle the ears and win people over. My desire to be accepted and loved by others. Did you notice there was a lot of “Me” in those last four sentences. And there lies the issue… Me. I will be preaching a message in a few hours and my heart is to simply know nothing except Christ. That my words will not be clever or cute, but simple, direct, profound.

Continuing on the Journey,
Jimmy

celtictwilight1I enjoy getting up early.  Particularly when I’m up before everyone else in the house.  It’s some of the most peaceful and serene moments of the day.  It’s 4:59am as I write this.  I’m listening to Patrick O’Hearn, sipping a cup of Vermont Country Blend and my little dog Sparky is chewing on his rawhide toy at my feet.  Now this is simple.  When I turned the light on in the kitchen even Flash, my grandson’s fish (we are fish sitting) appeared to be sleeping… or so I hope it’s sleeping.  I better check on that!

Solitude.  The mystics and desert fathers wrote and spoke of the value of solitude.  Even Jesus was prone to slip away into “desolate places” in order to be refreshed, renewed and restored.  It’s in the quieting of the soul that life finds order, perspective and peace again.  I have always been fragmented in some ways concerning solitude.  In my early years I constantly felt the pull to be around people.  I sought the approval of the crowd, bowing to the need to belong and fit in.  At 46 I do not place too much value on the approval of the crowd.  At the end of the day, the crowd is nameless and faceless.

I have a gift in a couple of quiet hours to recalibrate the scale of my soul and prepare myself to greet the day with a hearty “Good morning.”

Grace and Peace