"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I love to meet people who inspire me on this minimizing journey.
When they approach minimalism from a Biblical, Christian perspective,
well, that's just icing on the cake, and it makes it all the sweeter.
I recently "met" one such lady through a pin of this post, and I knew right off the bat, I so wanted to share her inner views with you, dear readers!
So, I asked, and, she so graciously accepted my offer to participate,
and, God bless her, she kept her word, in spite of the busyness of the Christmas season!
I know you are going to be inspired, motivated, and encouraged as you read along, and I hope you will stop by and visit her.
I am so blessed to share with you the
Wife, Homeschooling Mama to Four, Minimalism Guru,
and Intentional Living Coach,
Cheryl: Could you please tell us about yourself?
Allie: I grew up in Southern California, was raised by my amazing godly parents, attended a private Christian school, and knew the presence of God from a very young age. My mom taught me to know the Holy Spirit, and I talked with Him often even as a very little girl. I always had a deep sense of purpose because of that. I met a boy named Brian in seventh grade algebra class. We hung out in the same group of friends all the way through school, then went to our senior prom together on a whim and realized we were kind of perfect for each other, so we started dating and got married two years later. We have four small kids (age seven and under, all born within four years).
I run my business from home along with my husband, we homeschool our kids together, and we are currently traveling the California coast in our twenty-six foot camper. It's an adventure for sure!
Cheryl: How has following Jesus most influenced your life? How has knowing Him changed you?
Allie: His leading in my life... His gentle tugging at my heart in making big decisions and knowing which way to go when life gets crazy - I'm not sure where I'd be without that. Knowing Jesus has made me a purposeful person, and it's profoundly influenced every step I've taken in my life. He is my best friend.
Cheryl: Will you share with us about your love story? How, when, and where did you meet your husband? Do you remember how you felt when you realized he was the one for you?
Allie: I remember noticing Brian and how he always tapped on the back of my chair in class - he's a drummer. I always admired how sweet he was, but funnily enough, never really got to know him very well until prom night. We stood on the deck of the Queen Mary and talked the entire night. I remember thinking, "how has this guy been right in front of me all these years and I am just now realizing he's the one?" When we went inside to eat dinner, my plate was placed in front of me and it was the chicken I had ordered, and I must've made a face because it looked gross. Brian traded plates with me without even hesitating (he had ordered the steak) and I knew right then I would marry him. We fit like an old couple right away. He knew me.
Cheryl: What is your favorite part of being a mother? How does motherhood enrich your life?
Allie: The constant sense of play. I have an incredibly imaginative bunch (thanks to our minimalist lifestyle) and my kids are always coming up with amazing scenarios and stories and games. I love watching them play and being a part of their play. It fills me to the brim.
Being a mother obliterates all boredom in my life. Our life is loud and messy and adventurous because of our kids - I wouldn't change a thing.
Cheryl: How were you first introduced to minimalism? At what point, did you feel that God was calling you to live a simpler, more minimal life?
Allie: Between my third and fourth babies, I struggled very much with depression and chronic overwhelm. I felt like I was living every day in survival mode - barely getting by and not really enjoying my life, despite how blessed it was.
Through God's leading, I came to figure out that when I let go of the things that were cluttering my home, I had more time, more joy, and more freedom. I felt lighter and like I could handle the chaos of three babies under three and a husband who worked long hours. I kept lightening my load at home and that led into lightening my calendar, the toxic relationships in my life, my eating habits, etc. Now I live a very minimalistic lifestyle, and my business is all about helping other moms do the same.
Cheryl: Once this calling became clear, what is the first step you took to begin this process?
Allie: I purged the playroom. It was this big, open room with no door that you could see from the entryway, the living room, and the kitchen. There were toys pouring out of bins, off of shelves - just everywhere. My kids weren't even playing with them. They would wander in there, dump everything out, then wander back out complaining of boredom. That room had no purpose except to burden me and steal my time, so I donated almost everything in it.
Cheryl: What happened next? How did the journey continue?
Allie: My kids started playing better and for hours at a time. At their young ages at that time, it was incredible. I knew I was onto something after that. I decluttered my laundry and dishes next (the two huge time-suckers for me), and that made another massive difference in my life and my joy. I found that I had so much free time! I was becoming more joyful and the kind of mom I always wanted to be - less stressed, able to play and relax with my kids, able to soak them up and enjoy this sweet season - it made all the difference in the world to my family.
Cheryl: Where would you say you are now, as far as reaching your long-term downsizing goals?
Allie: I am all the way on the other side of minimalism now. We're doing the full-time travel thing right now, but before this our house was very simple, open, and held only what we love and need. It wasn't boring and white like a stereotype minimalist house - that's not me. You can infuse your home with your style and personality without living cluttered.
Cheryl: How have you eliminated excess in your home, in your life, and in your obligations? Are there creative ways you can share with us concerning how to dispose of material things that are no longer wanted, used, or needed?
Allie: I started questioning everything, and keeping only what is essential to a holy, fulfilling life. I got rid of everything in my home that wasn't worth my time, because what takes up your space takes up your minutes. I began implementing that same strategy in my calendar, in who I spent time texting, what commitments I made, what obligations really needed to be a part of my life- everything fell under the filter of minimalism.
As far as disposing of your unnecessaries, I'm a huge fan of donating to small places. Find a local place, church, or organization that accepts donations and bless them at the same time as you are liberating your own life.
Cheryl: How do you maintain simplicity after it is achieved and not allow yourself to fall back into old habits?
Allie: Rhythms. We have a monthly decluttering rhythm where we re-question the things in our home as we do our deep cleaning. We are also mindful when we're shopping and implement little rules like one in, one out, with things like toys and clothing.
Cheryl: How do you think minimalism relates to the way Jesus lived His life on earth?
Allie: This is a fantastic question! Jesus lived the most humble life. He wasn't focused on material things, in fact, He often talked about living in a way that focuses on everything but material things, and He modeled that for us. He says we should be living in a way where we could ditch all our things to follow Him (Matthew 19) - that means being unattached and living a life intentionally focused on something bigger than our possessions.
Cheryl: What are your favorite Scripture verses that teach minimalism?
Allie: "Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke 12:15
"Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also." - Luke 12:33-34
"Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." - I Timothy 6:6-8
Cheryl: Has your husband been on board with your determination to live a minimal life?
Allie: He was not on board at first. He had some serious hoarding tendencies and liked to keep random things for future projects, and had a very hard time letting go of things. It got to a point where I knew I needed to live this way, as I was seeing it transform my motherhood and help heal me of my depression, but I didn't want a wall of resentment between us, so I had an honest talk with him and we came to a compromise. I would declutter all the areas in the house that affected me and my days at home with the kids, and he could have the master closet as well as the garage to store all his things and keep it as messy as he wanted; he agreed to that.
We went on like that for about two years, and honestly I could've gone on forever that way and been totally happy. But there was a move we needed to make to a new house, and I packed up the entire house in two days, by myself with the kids at home with me. When it came time for Brian to do the garage, he assured me it would be done before our move date. It ended up costing us lots of extra money and extra days spent in the old house because of all the stuff he had collected. After that, he asked for my help and he's been a minimalist ever since. In some ways, he's stricter than I am now!
Cheryl: What would you say to the reader who feels led to let go of excess but who has a spouse who does not see the need of simplifying and may even be a hoarder?
Allie: If your husband isn't on board but you want to live this way, relax and don't pressure him. Nagging will only push him further away. Compromise like we did, and realize that just because you're married doesn't mean you'll always be on the same page in everything all the time. It's okay to move forward with this in your own areas and let him be. Also, pray about it! Prayer changes things.
Cheryl: Let's face it. Living a minimal, Christ-centered, eternity-focused life is complete opposite of today's consumeristic, always wanting more mindset. Who, if anyone, has most opposed you in your process of letting go of things? Who has most encouraged you?
Allie: I haven't encountered very much opposition in this journey, but there have been some hateful comments on social media as my message has spread. I think they come from conviction, which is silly because I don't want to convict anyone - that's not my intent or my job.
My husband has been the most encouraging, as well as my mom. She always lets me know how happy she is that I'm living my motherhood in freedom, unbound by clutter and chaos. That means the world to me coming from her!
Cheryl: Are there special minimalism resources that have inspired you that you would like to share with us here?
Allie: Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist is such a gem. His words are so poetic and well-put - I just adore him and his site.
Also, for help putting minimalism into action in your own life, I have put together a starter kit that you can download for free here.
Cheryl: Have you ever gotten rid of something and regretted it later?
Allie: Honestly, no. Not even once. And I'm a pretty ruthless purger.
Cheryl: Overall, how has minimalism made you a better wife and mother?
Allie: Less cleaning! I spend an extremely small amount of time maintaining our home (maybe 30 minutes a day) and that is incredible with four small kids! It allows me to spend intentional time with my family, I am able to read books, write, have white space in my day, pursue my purpose through my business, and homeschool my kids well because of all that freed up time.
Cheryl: What does minimalism look like in your home?
Allie: Photos are attached. They're so much better than words ;)
Cheryl: Tell us about your blog. What are the main goals you hope to achieve through blogging?
Allie: I want to reach millions of mothers with the message of hope and light! I want them to know that their struggles don't have to be the norm for one more second. There is another way to do motherhood - abundantly well, with joy and intent and focus. Survival mode has no place in the life of a woman raising babies to do great things for God's kingdom!
Cheryl: As a Christian mother, what are the main things you try to teach your children about life? How does having a minimal mindset enable you to do this?
Allie: I want them to understand that they have a responsibility to change the world with their gifts and talents - I want them to feel the weight of that in a healthy, balanced way that excites them and gives them a sense of purpose. I want them to be not of this world, and minimalism is a huge part of that. Our kids know that we choose experiences over things, and that because of that we have Disneyland passes, travel the country in a camper, and spend so much time adventuring as a family. They understand that toys are not worth losing that for.
Cheryl: How can we pray for you?
Allie: Thank you for asking! Please pray that I can continue to spread this message to other mothers.
Allie Casazza is wife to Brian and homeschooling mama to their four small kids.
She runs a business from home as a minimalism guru and intentional living coach
and is passionate about Jesus, black coffee, and inspiring her fellow women to ditch survival mode.
Thank you ever so much, Allie, for sharing your heart with us here
and being willing to take the time to answer our questions!
May God continue to bless you and enlarge your ministry in ways you haven't even imagined!
Let's keep Allie and her sweet family in our prayers, dear friends.
God bless you all, and thank you for reading!
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