A Simple, Intentional Life.



I’m not quite sure how to start this post. There have been so many thoughts running through my mind lately. Plans for our future. Goals for our family. Reasons why I blog. I’ve just been feeling unsettled. I keep coming back to this idea of a “simple life” but I am not quite sure what that is yet. I know I feel most at peace when I am away from my phone, this computer, enjoying life with my family. We sat the other night in the darkness of the Adirondacks, in front of the warmth and crackle of a fire. We were hand in hand talking about our day hiking and being all together as one and I thought, “how do I take this home with me?” I don’t want to leave this moment. It felt simple. It felt real. It felt like what I have been longing for. I don’t think the answer though is to sell everything, swear off technology and move to the woods. It sounds appealing but a little unrealistic for us. So how DO you find this simpleness right where you’re at? I don’t have the answer yet, but I do have some thoughts on how I hope to work towards that. I’ve been pulling away a bit from social media. I see the fun in it, I do, but at this stage in life I just don’t need the distraction. I’ve cleared out my Feedly account as well. Left only who is uplifting, inspiring and who I truly love. And really, this is where the internet can shine in my opinion. I love reading blogs with heart, worth and something to say. 2 blog posts that have really hit home for me lately (and were oh-so timely) were by my dear friends Monica and Lesley. Ooooh those posts were meant for me to read. I love those ladies so much.

I’ve also been reading Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider and I really love what she has to say so far.

“Living slower requires living with intention. And to live with intention means to make little daily choices that resonate deeply in our souls-that make sense deep in our being and ring true.”

Even the forward is good (of course, hello Ann Voskamp):
“Simplicity is never a matter of circumstances; simplicity is always a matter of focus…To realize that the real hidden cost of everything you buy- is how much life it cost you to get it. That life is not an emergency but a gift to slow down and savor. That it glorifies God to spend your extraordinary life paying attention enough to the moments you enjoy God. That the moments all matter. The daily decisions add up to the sum of your life. And a pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.”

Word. Doesn’t that just stop you in your tracks?

I want to live with intention and I don’t want to waste moments. I don’t want to be jealous of what others have or achieved. I don’t want to multitask my way to the top while pushing everything else that matters to the side. I want to be present in the tiny moments with my husband and children. Now granted, I know that we all need to work to make money. We can’t escape that fact but I think there are ways to live simple, work hard and be successful too (although success may be different than what the world sees as successful). Kev has worked so hard over the years for our family, but he has also worked real hard at letting work just be work. When he is home, he is physically and mentally here with us. He loves what he does but he loves us more. A job is not what defines you. And for me, I’ve always had very big dreams for this blog. It’s taken me since Rowan was born to realize my job as being a stay at home Mom is much more important than my goals for this blog/business. Letting go of that internal struggle is very freeing.

Tonight I got to swing on a swing (one of my most favorite things) by myself for like 15 mins while Kev and the girls played on the playground. I didn’t check my phone, I wasn’t counting down the minutes till we had to leave for the next thing, I was just there. Swinging in the setting sun, watching the girls laugh as Kev chased them. The breeze felt warm and I prayed that God would help us find our way. That He would lead us into more of these simple moments and that I would appreciate them. Because I think that is a key piece to all of this. I think we need to be grateful for the things we already have, the places we already are and the moments we already live out. I think we need to start with thankfulness. I also prayed that God would help keep my focus on Him. Jesus is what truly matters at the end of the day anyway, focusing on him will always lead your path straight.

So. I don’t really have an ending to this post. It was more like a stream of conscience of what I’ve been thinking about/working on lately. The girls are going to have a sleepover with their grandparents this weekend and Kev and I have big plans of cleaning out/simplifying the house. Garage sale here we come! To end this all- Here are a few pictures of a day this past weekend where I had that same “at peace” feeling. Being on top of a mountain can really clear your mind and put a lot of things in perspective. Whiteface mountain you were good to us!













  1. Thank you for sharing Jen! This is exactly what I needed to hear and came at exactly the right time. Blessings!

  2. lovely post and lovely picture. I have the book you mentioned on my amazon wishlist now. Finding peace in our chaotic lives seems more important than ever. I also think as we age what is important to us changes. For me my focal point became my family and some days I know that I distract myself. It’s hard to juggle all our identities as mothers, wives, bloggers, etc.

  3. Oh, thank you so much for referring to my post Jen! 🙂 Trust me, I have so far to go…but yes, living on a small island lends itself nicely to a simpler life. 😉
    You are headed in the right direction, and I think you’re doing an awesome job.

  4. This has nothing to do with your post, but I just wanted to let you know that your are (by far) one of my favorite bloggers and I really enjoy the blogs you write. You are an inspiration and I love your cute family.

  5. this is GREAT! simplifying has been a hot topic of conversation in my household as well. it’s wonderful to read that I’m/we’re not alone. and a daily battle here as well. keep on, keeping on! thanks so much for this. LOVE it!

  6. Jen, thanks for this. It resonates so deeply with me right now, as I am about to have my first child and figuring out what it means to allow Christ at the center and count everything else as secondary. I want to learn to be present with him in the smallest of things because I know that will help me to present with my husband and kid even more.
    I hope like the apostle Paul, I can learn to consider it all garbage in comparison to knowing and experiencing Jesus in the everyday. 🙂

  7. Such a great post! My husband and I have been talking about this a lot lately. How do we simplify and just lead a calmer more peaceful life. One without being rushed or having to have the phone always in arms reach. I think it really gets to us after we spend a weekend in the country and feel how happy and connected we are to each other and with God when we make time to just be still and enjoy our surroundings.

  8. CatieMcCartney •

    Reading this made me tear up. I (a 22 year old currently graduating college) have been thinking about the same things for the last year or so. I need to find my way in life, my work and my things without letting the world get to me and with every moment just as precious as the next. Please share more of this process, I’d love to read it 🙂

  9. feel free to sell everything, pack up a tiny bit and move yourselves down here to live simply with me. I mean, it’s hectic now, but give me two more months and we’re back to slow slow! Then you come, and we live happily slowly after.

  10. Ciara •

    Living simply and intentionally seems to be a regular topic of conversation for us too. As it is we live in a small flat in a Siberian city (in Russia) without much ‘stuff’, but we still feel we are so far from where we’d like to be with this goal. We left Ireland (where we’re from) two years again with just one son and the few suitcases we could carry. Now we have two boys, a little girl on her way in September and probably twice the amount of ‘stuff’ we arrived with.For me intentionality means I need to reflect to see what changes need to be made, which takes time. That’s been my first step recently, taking out time to stop and listen to what God wants to tell me, in this and every area, and it’s made a huge difference. May your journey be blessed. Ciara

  11. So simply and perfectly said! We only have the moment we’re in and were created with/for purpose and intention. We get caught up in things that have no affect on tomorrow and focus on things that bring temporal entertainment instead of long term, even eternal, joy and contentment. We have to be humans who seek value over entertainment, to be humans who are found changing our own little worlds around us and leaving a positive, deep mark on our sphere. Less and simplicity are so much more because everything absolutely good and life giving is outside our ability to manufacture.:) (haha..This turned out a deeper comment than intended.)

  12. I highly recommend reading two books: “Sliw is Beautiful” by Cecile Andrews and “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. They’re completely inspiring and transforming. Good luck with your journey!

  13. *”Slow is Beautiful”

  14. Heather •

    How do you talk about simplicity when you’re on the Internet 24/7? This makes no sense to me.

  15. I love this post. And I totally agree that mountaintop ideas are the best ideas. 😉

  16. adnana •

    I wish I were Rowan and had parents like you two.

  17. It’s funny Jen, I have been having incredibly similar thoughts lately. I am starting my first year of teaching this fall and I am trying to simplify, live intentionally and pray over the summer so that I can carry that with me into the year. I cleaned out the house of probably 40% of our stuff (whew, that felt soooo good!) and I have been trying to stay away from social media as well. Wishing you well on your simplicity quest!

  18. justine mckenzie •

    hmmm this post resonates with me! I’ve been thinking a lot about my use of technology / my relationship with God. I read a good book by Tim Challies called The Next Story http://www.challies.com/ (his blog) and its all about being very thoughtful and intentional with how you use technology from a christian perspective. I hope by God’s grace you’re able to find the balance you are looking for!

    from a long time blog reader,

  19. Love this so much, Jen! Been struggling and wrestling with similar thoughts lately. Unsettled is a good word for it, like you said. Thanks for putting this out there – love what you do, and I’m always so inspired!

  20. I like your stream of word vomit & appreciate you writing it all out for us. It’s thrilling to have connections via the internet at our fingertips but it makes one wonder what are we missing out on? Just today I did some major contemplating and struggling with the question about whether or not it’s worth it to continue an online life. For me, I don’t have a lot of opportunities/connections in the real world and most of them have been made online. I feel so much belonging online. But if I were to stop that (and I’ve been blogging/vlogging for 6 years so it’s become the norm for me) could I handle giving it up? What I still find outlets for my creativity? And so many more questions! It’s nice to be able to relate to others on this subject and I’m really happy to have read this. I started reading your blog right before you announced your pregnancy with Rowan and you’ve been nothing but an inspiration and a good role model since then. You have a blog that I really enjoy and I wish you nothing but the best in life!

  21. So good, Jen. I just read Notes from a Blue Bike last month and it totally inspired me to pare down and re-assess. Social media has this crazy magnetic pull and I’m trying to figure out how to balance that with things like a Sabbath!

  22. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog via Instagram & just wanted to say THANK YOU for sharing! The thoughts & wants you articulated are everything I’ve been feeling lately as well! As you figure out HOW to formulate a simple/intentional life…I’d love to hear you you do it! I’m also a stay at home mom with a passion for my own biz, all while trying to hear God’s leading in what His will is for our family in this beautiful life He’s given me. <3

  23. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I just came back from a vacation at the beach saying the same thing. If only my husband and I could stay away from our phones and work, the way we did at the beach…. We are working to find a balance. A grateful heart is the first step!

    I always appreciate your words.

  24. I’ve been loving thoughts from Beginner Beans and Becoming Minimalist (both bloggers) about living simply with intention where you are. They’ve refreshed my soul for sure. Your pictures from vacation are LOVELY. Hoping they foster simplicity and hope as you look back at them.

  25. Begoña •

    I think is insane the amount of time you Americans dedicate to think and rethink and think again your life, you are testing it all the time and that is not good. I come to this blog every now and then and It feels like every other week you are reading a new book or something that’s telling you how to live your life, how to rise your children, how to eat, how to be. I think is insane. It’s your life, you shouldn’t need no one to tell you how to live it! Also, you seek perfection and that it’s just impossible to get, not 24 hours a day seven days a week. How about seeking moderation and setting lower expectations??? And Jesus girl, just relax and enjoy your life, you’ve got every thing to be happy, how about you just enjoy it instead of think about it all the time. Im sorry if I haven’t express myself correctly, English is not my first language, but i had to say something, i’ve been reading your blog for years and although we are not friends I feel like I know you…

  26. Jen, your words are inspired. I could not agree with your sentiments more. And that Ann Voskamp quote? Most definitely stopped me in my tracks. As in, stop, copy and paste in an email to myself, re-read over and over again so I don’t forget those powerful words.

    I so resonate with your thoughts and (from the best I can gather over the internet) the desires of your heart for your faith, family and life in general. We’re so excited to be expecting our first baby this December. I feel so fortunate to be so in love with our faith in Jesus, our beautiful marriage and friendship of many years, and now our little one who’ll be joining us soon enough. And yet despite how lovely things inherently are, our life can still become unnecessarily busy, crowded with empty energy expenditures. I often come back to the word ‘intention’ when thinking about my goals for my sweet little family and our very blessed life. Reading your words today was just the reminder I needed that a simple life lived with wholesome intention is a truly life-enriching way to live.

    Many thanks for sharing <3

  27. This post. Maaaan. This is my heart’s song lately.

    As we are now 1/2 way through 2012 we are focusing on our vision at church, specifically our family vision statement and our homework has been eye-opening. The questions we’re asking ourselves and as a couple. I too feel this great need for simplicity- and a tug on my heart to get back to the basics. Really stop and focus on what matters most NOW. I read Lesley’s post awhile ago, and it was so real and spoke to me also!!

    I am copying the forward from Ann- that one line in there, “To realize that the real hidden cost of everything you buy- is how much life it cost you to get it.”, just wow. I need to post this somewhere as a reminder to myself.

    Sorry to be all over the place!! Your post is awesome, thanks for sharing!!

  28. Wow, I love this and I can so relate. I’m definitely going to share this post on my own blog.

  29. What beautiful photos and I love your sweater! I’ve been feeling the same way lately though! We went out to the country for my husband’s family reunion where there was no cell phone service… we had the BEST time! Just sitting around, eating, talking, and letting the kids play in the creek! It was so nice to be disconnected from the rest of the world and not worrying about anything! At one point, someone asked what time it was and my husband went to the car to check his phone… we were all certain it was like 7 pm by now… it was only like 3:30! LOL! Time moved so slow and it was so nice!! 🙂

  30. I adore Tsh’s book and I’ve been thinking a lot about this simple and intentional mindframe over the last year. Soon, after we actually did rid ourselves of about 80% of our things, we’re moving to a smaller apartment, where I know our lives are going to look different. And I can’t wait!

    Loving your blog, btw. First time here 😉

  31. I absolutely loved this. It seems like this must be something ‘in the air’…myself and several friends have talked about how we are just getting by in life..work, chores, repeat…and not truly living. Enjoyed the Ann Voskamp quote. Thanks for sharing!

  32. This is so true Jen! I am also seeking this life for my family and praying daily that we can simplify and spend more time enjoying and focusing on Him. Some days we do better than others but that’s part of the journey. I would love to hear more about this and how you are putting this in to practice, what material things are you purging, what time are you setting aside to be with God, to be with family etc? In my family’s journey I find it so helpful to hear what others are doing in these areas. Looking forward to hearing more!

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev