Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Simple Little Giveaway

The other week, I reviewed Nancy Twigg's great book From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out. In addition to this book, Nancy has also written Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions; and A Month of Mites: 31 Devotionals on Simple Christian Living. Nancy has graciously agreed to answer my questions, and the interview is below.

Nancy, you seem to have a mission to live simply. Could you please share with us how you were led to such a mission?
I have always been interested in simplicity, but that inclination to live simply became a necessity to live simply in 1997 when my husband, Michael and I both left our jobs to begin working at home. The initial plan was not for both of us to quit; I planned to stay at my job. But when my already stressful job became intolerable, we agreed it was best for me to quit, too. As we learned more and more about being good stewards of our resources and keeping our lives focused on what is most important, I felt called to begin sharing what we had learned. That "sharing" took the form of writing and speaking.

In addition to being a published author, you have created two Internet ministries: Creative Frugality and Counting the Cost. Please tell us about these websites.
The Creative Frugality is really just a hobby site. In fact, it is actually being phased out and will soon be replaced with my new work-in-process, Frugal-Living-Tips.net . CountingtheCost.com is my main Internet presence. Counting the Cost began as a printed newsletter. I started it in 1998 when I began feeling called to help others live simply too. After almost 3 years as a print publication, Counting the Cost became a free, twice-a -month email newsletter in August, 2000. The website is simply an extension of the newsletter. All the great reader tips as well as the back issues of the newsletter get posted online.

Did From Clutter to Clarity grow out of these two ministries?
Yes and no. My first book, Celebrate Simply, definitely got its start in my newsletter. I had addressed the ideas of simplifying holidays, saving money on gifts, etc., many times in Counting the Cost. My second book—a self-published book called, A Month of Mites: 31 Devotions on Giving God Your Very Best—also started there because it is a collection of all the "Scripture Thought" columns that ran each month in the printed newsletter. When I wrote From Clutter to Clarity, I definitely drew on all of my experiences with living simply but I believe that book would have been written with or without Counting the Cost.

How did you first begin speaking and writing? Which came first for you?
I have been speaking all my life—I helped teach children’s Sunday School classes and VBS when I was still a child myself! Also my church had a wonderful program called "Lads to Leaders/Lasses to Leaders" that helped young people learn at an early age to speak in front of groups of people. However, my "professional" speaking began after I wrote my first book. The first edition of Celebrate Simply was self-published (later republished by Kregel Publications). To promote the book, my family traveled all over the eastern part of the country. I spoke for free anywhere they’d let me sell books. After a year or so of that, I began to actually get invitations to speak for a fee or honorarium.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would say, "Just do it." In other words, find a way—any way—to use your writing to bless others. When I first began Counting the Cost, I wasn’t thinking about writing a book. But now, ten years later I have written three books and had freelance articles published in national magazines. At the time I was just finding a way to use my gifts for God’s glory. With the prominence of blogging and self-publishing these days, it is easier than ever before to share your message for the world. Keep writing. Keep blessing others with your gift. Eventually God will open doors for you to reach bigger and bigger audiences.

You homeschool your daughter. What do you find most challenging about homeschooling? What do you find the most rewarding?
We are "part-time" homeschoolers. Lydia is part of a homeschool co-op that meets three mornings a week. I teach her at home (following the teacher’s lesson plan) the other two mornings each week. The biggest challenge for us is that our personalities (mine and Lydia’s) are so different. I am a focus, get-it-done kind of person. I want to check each thing off my To Do list so I can get on with the rest of my day. Lydia tends to be more spontaneous and less focused. Unlike me, she is not driven by a need to accomplish! We clash sometimes when I feel she is moving at a snail’s pace and she feels I am steamrolling over her as I try to plow ahead. The most rewarding times come when we really connect and enjoy the process of learning together. On those occasions when I am able to plug in to her preferred learning style with a particular activity or lesson, the difference is amazing. I have no trouble keeping her on task because she has so much fun.

Nancy has graciously agreed to provide a copy of From Clutter to Clarity (her last copy from the publisher, no less!) for one of you!
Just leave a comment, either telling us about a way that you have found to live simply, or telling us why you feel the need to live more simply. I will draw a winner on Saturday, September 13.


Kathryn said...

Loved this interview, Celly! After your initial review of "From Clutter to Clarity", I went to my local Christian bookstore to buy it, but it was not in stock. :-) So, I would be delighted to win a copy!

As you well know, I abhor clutter! Yet, I feel that life today, despite all of the advancements designed to "simplify" our daily tasks, is more cluttered than ever. I continually pray, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal those areas of my life which need to be further stripped and simplified.

Sometimes, He reveals something practical, like paying off debt, which we have done (with the exception of the home mortgage). Other times, He reveals things that appear "good" on the surface, such as volunteering, but which clutter and complicate my life because they are not where the Lord is calling me to focus my time (in that particular season of life).

More than anything, He reminds me every day to put the Lord first on my priority list. With Him in His proper place, everything else falls into place ... or falls away. Like Nancy revealed in her interview, I am task-oriented and driven by tangible accomplishments that I can check off of my "To Do" list.

The greatest freedom and clarity for me, however, has been the ongoing lesson of being less like Martha and more like Mary, willing to stop and just sit at the feet of Jesus. Prioritizing Him--not serving Him but just loving Him--really cuts through the distraction of life's clutter!

" 'Martha, Martha ... you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed ...' " (Luke 10:41-42)

Shane said...

I find myself passing down traits of clutter to my oldest daughter. And, I have to say, it's something that I haven't taught her... she clearly has it in her genes. So, I am trying desparately to find a way to create a system of organization that is simple and easy to follow. We are on the right path... but it is a journey, not an overnight event! I'd love to win the book!

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

This is a great interview and thanks for the giveaway! I could really use some tips on clutter because we move so often...and can't take everything with us when we go! But it is hard to keep things from piling up, so any tips would be great!