"Not that I speak in respect of want:
for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
In our quest to seek a more minimal life, we consistently pursue encouragement
from those who, not only align themselves with our mission to live minimal,
but who do so from Jesus' viewpoint and acknowledge His mindset and perfect example.
Some of these encouragers have been introduced to us through reading the blog of Joshua Becker.
The sweet friend whose Inner Views are being shared with you today is one such encourager.
and I have been following her ever since.
I am so blessed and thankful to be able to introduce you to her today!
I know you will love reading her amazing testimony, and you will glean much wisdom from the fresh insight and encouragement God has placed upon her heart to share with us.
With joy and gratitude I present to you the
Stay-at-home Wife and Mom, Writer, Holistic Health Nut, Lover of Jesus, Minimalist, and Creative Spirit who blogs to inspire intentional living,
Cheryl: Please introduce yourself to us.
Lisa: Hello! Thank you, Cheryl for inviting me to share my story. First off, a little about myself: I’m Lisa, and I blog at CreativeHolisticHome.com. I am originally from Vancouver, Washington and have lived in San Diego, California for the last 12 years.
I am the youngest of two and spent most of my childhood living in the country on a small goat farm. I think this experience, and being in 4-H with my goats, was one of the most defining experiences in my life (outside the church). It taught me about responsibility, communication, respect, and hard work.
I was extremely shy and 4-H required me to interact with many types of people and situations. I think learning showmanship and presentation, and that I was good at it, was the first time I felt confident about myself. Though, being a grand champion dairy goat showman doesn’t get me far these days, it still remains one of my proudest achievements because it was the first time I felt I was good at something.
Now 20 years later, I sometimes feel that little grand champion goat showman rise up again when I write and my words resonate with people. My teens and twenties were difficult years of being fearful to pursue my dreams and uncomfortable in my own skin. After my first child was born and I realized there was a lot more to me than a fragile and quiet shell, I started believing I could return to the little girl who wasn’t afraid to be the best at something.
So, for the last year my journey has been very exciting and difficult and surprising. I started writing again, a desire I’ve always had, and started simplifying my life. I realized most of what I owned was for comparison sake and what I pursued (or didn’t) was out of fear of being rejected, or worse yet…accepted. When you feel unworthy, succeeding at something can seem almost worse than failing, and I’m coming out of that, and learning about my worth and value and purpose in this life.
My husband and I have been married for 13 years and we have two beautiful miracle daughters, born after a five year struggle with infertility. They are God’s grace embodied, and I am humbled to be their mother. Camila is four and a half, and Carolina is two. At this point in my parenting journey, I’m most proud that they eat (and enjoy) vegetables and both are fully bi-lingual in Spanish and English.
Cheryl: When were you first introduced to Jesus? How has following Him affected your life?
Lisa: I was raised in the church. My parents became Christians when I was a toddler, and I remember going to church as early as age four or five. I gave my life to Christ and was baptized when I was fifteen. I would say my experience growing up in the church was very positive and certainly affected the direction I would take as an adult. There were struggles just like any childhood, but the culture was very sheltered. Though I always knew Jesus saves and I believed in Him, it took me a long time to understand WHY I needed Him, on a personal, deep level.
I was very active in my youth group and still believe that the group of kids and adult youth leaders who God surrounded me with at that time dramatically changed the direction of my life. I went to a public school with kids I’d gone to school with since first grade and had I not had the youth group experience I would have fallen somewhere on the wayside. Our youth group was very much spirit-filled and active in worship and prayer. My best friends were made there, and I developed as a young Christian through those relationships and guidance from the youth leaders.
Cheryl: Who has been most influential in your Christian walk?
Lisa: My parents for sure. They struggled in their own walks of faith but they made sure we were always connected to a church. Their example of sacrifice, resilience, and hard-pressed faith were very influential through-out my life, and still is.
I also would say my youth minister and his wife played a huge role during my teen years. Their daughter was my best friend, and I spent a lot of time with their family. I recognized many characteristics about their family life that I knew I wanted to implement whenever I had a family of my own. They were there to celebrate me and redirect me when I started veering. Their wisdom and leadership was invaluable.
And there have been many others along the way; from the missions program I attended and spent a year doing mission work in Mexico City to the ordinary people who have extraordinary hearts of Jesus in the churches we’ve attended throughout the years.
Cheryl: How did you meet your husband? How long have you been married? What qualities about him do you most admire?
Lisa: I met Rolando at a missions program in Lubbock, Texas. We were studying to serve on the mission field as apprentice missionaries and became good friends. It wasn’t until we had served our time on the field (he went to Lisbon, Portugal, and I served in Mexico City, Mexico) that we both returned to Lubbock and started dating. We’ve been married for 13 years.
I am not sure how to begin when I think about what I admire about him. Marriage is a peculiar thing, as it gives us such a deep and rich perspective into someone else’s heart and life and struggles and joys.
I admire his tenacity to never quit. He moved to the States at age 18 from Guayaquil, Ecuador, not speaking English, to stay with a family friend who knew Spanish, but wouldn’t speak it so he could learn English quickly. He never gave up.
He’s faced adversity, spiritually and physically, and he’s never given up.
He’s fought for his education, his career, his family, and my heart much harder than I think anyone else would.
He won’t give up on anyone. He believes in people until it hurts, and still never stops.
He is deeply faithful to Jesus. He became a Christian not long after moving to San Diego when he met a girl in English class who was an apprentice missionary here in San Diego (from the same program we would eventually meet at. And in the beautiful way God weaves stories together, she was from Mexico City, and I worked very closely with her when I lived and worked there). When he met Jesus for the first time, his life was radically changed and the trajectory of his life catapulted in the opposite direction from where he was heading. He’s never forgotten what Jesus did for him, and he lives daily the life of a transformed man for Christ.
Cheryl: Can you share with us about your infertility journey? How did walking this difficult path enrich your marriage?
Lisa: We struggled with infertility for about 5 years. That journey led us to a few diagnoses that I continue to deal with today and supposedly were the main factors in our infertility. I was given oral medications, topical creams, invasive exams of my reproductive system, and sent to a fertility center when nothing worked. At the fertility center we were given very slim odds at achieving pregnancy with insemination procedures, but they agreed to try three rounds. After three failed rounds of insemination we were encouraged to move on to Invitro-fertilization. But, even that only gave us 30% chance of conception and because of a thyroid disorder my chances of carrying a fetus full term were less than 10%.
This was not encouraging information.
So we decided, prayerfully, not to pursue fertility treatments. We took a couple months to rest, pray for wisdom, and restore our relationship with each other. Within that time we felt God turning our hearts toward adoption.
We sought wise counsel, researched adoption agencies locally and nationally and decided to pursue adoption. We spent the next year and a half in that process. Toward the end of that year and a half, I became interested in holistic health and nutrition; I cut gluten, sugar, and dairy from my diet. In an effort to better control my thyroid disease and overall health I found a holistic nutritionist who after the first examination found a high level of toxins (mainly chlorine) in every major organ of my body.
His first recommendation was to put a filter on my showerhead to filter the chlorine. Within two months of using the filter, I was pregnant with my first daughter.
What the medical community swore was infertility due to hypothyroidism and PCOS turned out to be a chemical toxin blocking the hormone receptors. I’ve since had another daughter with no fertility issues.
We were married for four years before we began trying to get pregnant and had been through some difficult times. Throughout our marriage we’ve always felt that nothing has been easy for us. We’ve had to fight for everything; nothing has been handed to us. And so we continue to fight.
Fertility seemed like one more thing we would have to fight for. We faced it together, sometimes struggling and sometimes hopeful, but always together.
I think the most enriching part of this journey for our marriage came during the adoption process. The same day that I went to see the holistic nutritionist we received the call that we’d been waiting for. We had a baby. He was due in 10 days. So we hustled to get ready and planned a trip to Colorado where the birth mother was.
We spent those 10 days in constant prayer and anxiety. We had so many people praying for us and joining our anticipation. We met with our adoption agency, and they organized a meeting between us and the birth mom. We were at the hospital every minute for the 2 days she was in labor.
And while waiting in the room next door, the birth mom gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and decided she couldn’t let him go.
As we were informed that we wouldn’t be taking our baby home - a home which was now full of baby clothes, diapers, bottles, and formula – my husband was there to catch me as I crumbled. That was a pivotal moment for our marriage, I think.
We left the hospital and got on a plane the next day and together, with God, we faced this terrible and unbelievable circumstance the way we always did, we fought through it. We trusted God had a plan.
We believed that we were meant to be parents, even though we didn’t know what that would look like now.
We had a great support team around us as well. It was one of the most difficult trials of our marriage, but God was (and always is) faithful. He never left us, and we knew that if we clung to His promises one day He would give us our hearts’ desires.
And within a couple months, He did.
Cheryl: What is your favorite thing about being a mother? How has your struggle with infertility deepened your bond with your children?
Lisa: Becoming a mother was the most life-changing experience. I knew that I wanted kids and that we could provide a very loving and healthy home for them, but I didn’t have a lot of experience with babies before having my own so I didn’t know how I’d do.
Immediately seeing my first daughter being placed in my arms I knew that I was different. I knew that I wouldn’t ever be the same woman. My heart was exposed now. The insecurities I always battled of being enough, being seen, being heard vanished and I became more confident and less worried about what others thought and said. Having a newborn came naturally to me. I didn’t mind the middle of night feedings. In fact, before having kids I was not a nice person if I didn’t get enough sleep – not to mention if I was woken up in the middle of the night. Suddenly, I happily would get out of bed at 3 am to nurse. And then at 6 am I’d be as happy as could be for my husband as he got ready for work.
I was meant to be a mom, and the story God has given me makes it ever the more priceless.
My girls are miracles. They are tangible answers to our prayers – our soul deep crying out to the Lord. They are grace in person. They are God’s promises with skin and bones and soul. Mothering to me is nothing short of a spiritual experience every day, and I love them with a mother’s heart, but also with the heart of a child of God who’s been lavished with grace upon grace.
Cheryl: What are you most passionate about? What fulfills you most?
Lisa: Well, as you can tell from the previous answer my kids and being a mother and wife is my number one passion. But I also am passionate about writing. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing but I quit writing in my early twenties. I was riddled with self doubt eventually I couldn’t pick up a pen. After a series of events early last year I decided to pursue my passion and purchased a writing course online. That was early 2015. and I’ve since started my blog, a book, writing for other blogs, and dreaming of all the ways I can pursue writing.
I’m also a classic introvert. I test very high on every introvert test, and I suspect I may be highly sensitive, too. So, for me, time alone is essential for me to recharge. I love to read and exercise and be creative in some way.
God has also blessed me with a love of travel and culture and language. My husband is from Ecuador, and we travel there as often as we can. We are raising our girls in a bi-cultural and bi-lingual home so they grow to understand they are not just American, but Ecuadorian, too. And more importantly, we are passionate about teaching them they are a part of a world community and to be compassionate and world thinkers.
Cheryl: When did you first begin your journey towards a minimal life? Were there specific life events that caused you to feel the need to downsize and simplify?
Lisa: I discovered minimalism in a round-about way, but by no means do I think it was accidental. I attended a conference in November of last year that focused on telling a better story with our lives. We learned how to use the principles of story to live full lives as God intended. It was really powerful. There were several breakout sessions and one of them was Joshua Becker speaking on minimalism. I was immediately interested, however, I chose a breakout session from another author I admire. When I returned home from the conference a few days later I looked up Joshua's blog, and his ideas clicked for me. It made so much sense to me that telling a better story with my life would include letting go of all that doesn’t matter and to create a life with only the things I truly love.
Cheryl: What does minimalism look like in your life and home? How has becoming minimal brought a sense of peace and calm to your life?
Lisa: Its created a lot of space, physical and mental. I really enjoy removing clutter and the feeling of freedom that instantly comes over me. I love the empty spaces in our home that decluttering has left. Before, I thought every space needed a table or bookshelf but when I started removing the “extra”, all the things that were there just because, I really felt like I could breathe better.
My husband and I both pared down our wardrobes recently, and that has been a blessing. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought. It felt good to finally cut ties with clothes that I don’t like anymore or that don’t fit. Better yet, there is less laundry and more space in our closets.
We also are working on being very intentional about including our kids. We will go through their toys every couple weeks and have them decide what stays and what goes. There have been a couple items she’s asked about later, but for the most part she doesn’t care. Getting rid of all the excess toys has been a huge relief.
Our house seems bigger now, and it actually motivates me to clean more! I hate to clean but I do enjoy clean, spacious areas, so I’m willing to keep up with dusting.
I think the peace that comes from minimalism that I’ve found is that as I remove things from my life, I also remove the false sense of security, the need for validation, and comparison cycle. I started to see how much of my identity was wrapped around my stuff, and it was suffocating the story I really wanted to live. As I let go of all that baggage (and still am), I find peace in my own worth, what I can offer the world with just my heart and my hands, and I know that it’s enough.
Minimalism strips away the outer layers which we tend to live under for comfort and forces us to deal with the inner layers; the scary stuff we’ve been trying to hide. I think for me this process has brought a lot of underlying struggles to the surface, and as I step into those I see how much I need God to break in and free me. It’s as much a spiritual journey as physical.
Cheryl: What would you say to the person who is discontent with the clutter and chaos in their lives, but who feels too overwhelmed to begin to make changes? What is the most effective first thing they can do to feel they are making a successful start towards minimalism?
Lisa: I always say start small. Miniscule, in fact. Choose one area, a favorite spot in the house and get rid of the clutter. It might just mean putting a few books on a shelf instead of stacked on an end table. Or if family dinners are really important to you, but the dining table is covered with mail and personal belongings, start there. I started with my writing desk that occupies a corner in our bedroom. It took me about thirty minutes to find a home for each item (and that home wasn’t on top of the desk) and when I was finished I felt liberated and ready to create something. I also felt motivated to find the next spot to declutter.
It can be very overwhelming when you look at the big picture of your home or life. When we focus on one spot, one desk, or one corner, the task becomes doable. I also like to tell people this isn’t a race. Simplifying is a slow and steady unpacking of emotional baggage, and we have to take care of our souls at the same time. There is no benefit to working harder than your heart is, so be intentional and mindful about the process and work at a pace that’s right for you.
Cheryl: How does pushing back against the tide of consumerism and living with less align with the values and lifestyle Jesus lived while on earth?
Lisa: Minimalism is elevating the non-physical over the physical. As Christians, the non-physical or the spiritual should always be our focus, and sometimes our stuff can stifle our spiritual walk. It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison game or seeking contentment in earthly things rather than heavenly things, and when we start stripping away the excess, we are pointed directly to Jesus. He teaches us to leave everything for His ministry, to lay everything down and follow. Minimalism calls us to lay down our confidence in our physical blessings and rest in our spiritual blessings.
Cheryl: What inspired you to begin living a holistic life? How has it benefited you and your family?
Lisa: Infertility was the major factor in reaching out for a holistic approach. I learned about holistic nutrition and a greener lifestyle and, fertility aside, it just made a lot of sense to me! My personal experience has shown me all the damage that chemicals and toxins and poor nutrition can do to the body, so my mindset shifted about what health really means.
Cheryl: Looking back over your Christian walk, what do you define as one of your darkest seasons? Can you share with us about some tangible ways God demonstrated His providential care and love for you during that time? How did He use others to minister to you and encourage you?
Lisa: The darkest season for me was definitely our infertility and failed adoption. It was such a long and dark period of spiritual warfare as well as physically distressing. Doubt was constant, but so was God. I felt alone in my struggle, but God would send people to encourage me or just walk along with me. During that time I met a co-worker who was in the midst of her own infertility journey, and we struggled together and lifted each other up together.
We also were surrounded by amazing Christian friends and family who supported us and prayed for us. Some even prophesied over us. I didn’t understand the spiritual significance of that until much later. And God was present and active. He provided resources for us to pursue and even in our despair He comforted us with His Spirit and Word.
One Sunday after we returned from Colorado without our baby, God orchestrated that a woman from my childhood in the Northwest would be at our church in San Diego, who had a similar experience. She had also been there the first Sunday after we attended our orientation with the adoption agency at the very beginning of the process. She was there at the beginning and the end. And she spoke truth to me like no one else, she let me cry and cry and cry on her shoulder. She didn’t let me believe that was the end of my story.
There was a very tangible moment of being prayed over the week before I found out I was pregnant. The same woman and a few other faithful servants laid hands on us and prayed like I’d never heard before. That day I was at the bottom, the darkest place I’d been and they were conduits of the Holy Spirit, and I believe that prayer sanctified my pregnancy.
Seven days later, I took the first of three positive pregnancy tests (we didn’t believe the first two ☺).
I don’t think I could have come out of such a dark and long battle with my faith intact had God not surrounded us with prophets, teachers, encouragers, and prayer warriors. We learned how essential community is to our faith.
Cheryl: At the end of life, what legacy would you most like to leave for your daughters? As a Christian mother, what life lessons do you most diligently aspire to teach them? What qualities are you most intent upon instilling in them and hoping they will carry into their adult lives?
Lisa: I want my daughters to know that they are complete and perfect in the eyes of God. My hope is that they understand they are enough, created to be exactly the way they are by a living God who is present and loving and gracious.
Our desire as parents is to teach them to be kind to everyone, to accept and love everyone, to offer grace in abundance and give of themselves generously. It is important to us as parents that they view each and every person, of any race, color, nationality, religion, or social status just as God sees them.
We pray they will follow Jesus with all their hearts and love people.
We also hope that our life of simplicity and purpose will lead them to focus most on purpose instead of stuff. As a mother and a woman who struggles with self-confidence and self-image, I work intentionally to overcome those struggles and show them what they can do if they believe in and love themselves.
We aren’t perfect at this parenting gig but we have learned that simplifying our lives allows space to be intentional with how we raise our kids and what values we instill in them. We want minimalism to be a blessing to our kids as it is to us.
Cheryl: What are your favorite go-to Scriptures, books, hymns/music, and other resources in times of spiritual dryness or discouragement?
Lisa: I love worship music. Music reaches deep into my soul and lifts my eyes to Jesus. Currently, I’m listening to a lot of Bethel Music worship. I love reading as well. John Eldridge, Beth Moore, Donald Miller, C.S. Lewis are some personal favorites.
Recently, I’m finding so much encouragement and spiritual freedom in Galatians. I have read and reread the book for weeks and God is teaching me about the bondage I’ve been living under and showing me to where true freedom lies. Because I write about minimalism I talk a lot about the freedom this way of life gives, but I’m learning that physical freedom of minimalism is actually a metaphor for the spiritual freedom that Christ gives when we surrender to Him.
Cheryl: How can we pray for you?
Lisa: Thank you for asking!!! Please pray for my blog and creative projects, that they will speak truth and encouragement. My hope is not that I receive any glory from my writing but that God uses my words to bring hope to others.
I would also ask for prayers as we raise our young girls. That as parents we will keep God first in our personal walks, in our marriage, and in our home.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story.
Thank YOU, Lisa, for being willing to share with us here!
I love your heart and the requests for prayer you presented to us.
It was so wonderful getting to know you better and learning more of your story.
Praise God for the miracles He has performed in and through your life!
Praise God for the miracles He has performed in and through your life!
You are such a consistent blessing and encouragement to my family and me on our journey,
and I look forward to seeing how God uses you and your ministry in the future!
and I look forward to seeing how God uses you and your ministry in the future!
Please keep Lisa and her prayer requests in your regular prayers, dear readers,
and I hope you will stop by her blog and consider following her.
God bless Lisa and her family and each and every one of you, too!
To read more about our minimalism journey, click the following links:
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