#Write31Days: Simplify Your Instagram by Rachel Nordgren


Raise your hand if you feel like you're in a tumultuous love/hate relationship with Instagram.

*raises hand*

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume I'm not the only one. Some of y'all chatted with me yesterday on Periscope about Instagram and about how social media (and Instagram in particular) feels all at once inspiring and encouraging as well as depressing and icky.

Instagram: The Good

Something we all love about Instagram is community, encouragement, and inspiration. Especially when you fill your feed with people who bright light into your life and point you towards Jesus.

It's also a great way to quickly jot down thoughts or work out ideas without having to create a full fledged blog post.

Instagram: The Bad

There's a love/hate relationship with styled photos. On the one hand, they are fun to create and super pretty to look at. For me, creating styled images forces me to take photos with intention and it challenges me as a creative. But, styled images can also feel disingenuous and prenentious, or discouraging to someone who doesn't have tons of time and resources to spend on photography.

Also, let's get real: it can suck up a lot of time if we let it.

Instagram: The Ugly

Three of the main feelings a lot of us can have about Instagram: comparison, judging, and jealousy. Instagram can bring up the ugliest of junk in our hearts in a hot, hot second. And the images and words of a near-stranger can throw our entire day into a straight up funk.

"Why doesn't my life look that perfect?" "Why didn't I get that many likes?" "Why does her house look like it could double as a West Elm showroom?"

"She's such a fake." "I would never post that many pictures of my kids." "I can't believe how pretentious she is."

"I wish my desk looked that nice." "My husband has never brought me flowers for no reason." "I wish my kid wasn't such a hot mess."

Here's the thing: social media isn't the problem. Instagram isn't the problem. We all know that, right? Our sinful hearts are the problem. Our jealousy, envious, wicked little hearts are the problem. The fact that we willingly put these people in front of our faces every day and then complain about them? That's the problem.

That all being said, we can simplify our Instagram habits to remove some of the temptation for jealousy and judging and envy, and to have a healthier relationship with Instagram in general.

How to Simplify Instagram

1. Unfollow. Unfollow. Unfollow. This is the quickest and simplest way to simplify your Instagram feed. If you find yourself habitually having feelings of envy or icky judgemental thoughts about a certain person, unfollow them. Take that out of your feed.

As a general rule, I unfollow brands and businesses before I unfollow people. I don't need Forever 21 telling me about their latest sale or one more social justice campaign firing up in my feed. It doesn't mean Forever 21 or that social justice organization is bad (far from it!) but I don't need to invite that information into my mind every day.

2. Set Boundaries. Unfollowing someone doesn't mean that you never have to see their lives again. I still check in on some of the profiles I've unfollowed, but here's the difference: I'm making a conscious choice to engage with them, instead of them passively consuming their content.

As an entirely self-imposed rule, I only follow around 200 people. I've found that to be manageable for me, and I've curated who I follow. Everyone who I follow has earned their spot in my feed...they are people I've connected with, respect, and/or add value to my day.

Maybe 200 is outrageous for you. Maybe 500 is more like it. Or 15. Whatever it is, having a general idea of how many people feels manageable in your feed helps you keep your feed curated and intentional.

3. Take Breaks. Again, this is a super simple and efficient way to simplify your relationship with social media. Some people take off on the weekends, or don't check social media on the evenings. Sometimes I will intentionally let a whole day during the week (a whole day, you guys! *hint of sarcasm there* ;) ) go by without checking Instagram.

I want to enjoy Instagram, and it's hard to enjoy things you're chained to.

This is a conversation I really, really want to continue in the comments. Can we do that? Because this is a common struggle, and it's something I think we can have a lot of healthy victory in.

A must-read: Erin Loechner's Post: The Apple Slice and Social Media Envy

Big thanks to Cassie, Katie, Nadine, Martha Kate, Anna, and Callie for helping me think through this on Periscope yesterday!

What do YOU love and hate about Instagram?

[bctt tweet="#Write31Days: How to Simplify your Instagram feed in 3 steps"]

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.

#Write31Days: 100 (more) Things We Got Rid Of by Rachel Nordgren


Newsflash: tiny homes are tiny. They can't hold a lot of stuff without starting to look more like a cluttered spare closet than a home. So, we've been simplifying and simplifying, trying to get down to just the beloved basics that we'll take with us to our tiny home.

I wrote a 100 Things We Got Rid Of post back in February, and I hope it (and this list!) will jog your brain and get you to think about a couple of things around your house that YOU could clear out! The odd thing is, I've missed exactly two things on these lists: a tiny spatula and our coffee grinder. Two things out of two hundred is pretty good! It's amazing how little we miss the things we've gotten rid of.

  1. A laptop case
  2. A clipboard
  3. 4 necklaces I never wore
  4. Some bracelets I never wore
  5. A little lantern
  6. The cats (sad face! But, they went to a good home and two cats and a dog and two humans in a tiny house was going to be too much) ***note: one reader called me out on this, out of concern for the cats. I shed some more light on this decision in the comments.
  7. Technically, #6 counts as two
  8. Their litter box
  9. Cat toys
  10. The cat carrier
  11. A plant that the cats killed
  12. A flannel shirt that didn't quite fit right
  13. Our old fancy dishes (we bought new ones from IKEA that are as simple as simple can be, and also can be easily replaced)
  14. A ring I never wore
  15. Some photo frames we didn't use
  16. Orange candle holders because we don't own anything else orange
  17. A cute coffee mug
  18. Decorative salad tossers
  19. A floral wall decoration
  20. Assorted holiday wreaths
  21. A kiddie pool
  22. Director chairs
  23. A breadmaker
  24. Throw rugs
  25. A huge roll of corrugated tube (used for landscaping)
  26. Some vases
  27. African themed decor
  28. Hans' disc golf bag
  29. A feather collection
  30. A hat that made Hans look funny
  31. Our TV
  32. A huge armoire
  33. Hans' stereo system
  34. An itsy bitsy crockpot
  35. This strange ball/resistance band contraption
  36. Several sets of sheets
  37. A radio alarm clock
  38. Driftwood
  39. A gigantic mirror
  40. Puzzles
  41. Several scripture prints/artwork (these have found new homes with friends)
  42. Old audio cables
  43. Plastic Quik Trip cups
  44. DVDs
  45. Lots of DVDs
  46. Did I mention we sold LOTS of DVDs?
  47. An extra scarf
  48. Duck Dynasty playing cards
  49. A teapot
  50. One of those big fancy party servers
  51. A big chip and dip bowl that took up a TON of cabinet space
  52. An extra full sized bed
  53. A Snuggie (Hans brought it into our marriage, I kicked it out)
  54. A rock collection
  55. Old sermon DVDs
  56. A feather pillow that shed like a chicken in a tornado
  57. A tiny spatula
  58. A cake stand
  59. Some Christmas lights
  60. A chaise lounge
  61. An piece of artwork given as a wedding present that we never liked
  62. Halloween lights
  63. A floor lamp
  64. An antique heater/fan
  65. Hans got rid of 3 pairs of shoes!
  66. An extra pitcher
  67. A handheld folding fan
  68. Some games
  69. Monopoly
  70. Guess Who?
  71. Trivial Pursuit
  72. Clue
  73. Life
  74. A teabag holder
  75. An antique teapot
  76. Hans' roller blades
  77. Curtain rods
  78. Hans' roller skates
  79. Hans' ripstick
  80. A printer that never worked
  81. My bike (it didn't have gears, which made hills HARD)
  82. A futon
  83. Some extra pillows we kept for the pets
  84. A winter work suit
  85. Several tops that didn't fit well
  86. An extra dresser
  87. Our old coffee table
  88. A wooden shelf with knick knacks
  89. Stemmed wine glasses (our new stemless ones can double for everyday use)
  90. Decorative twiggy things
  91. An antique end table
  92. An old knife set
  93. State Quarters collection
  94. Hedge trimmers
  95. A meat thermometer
  96. A candy thermometer
  97. Beta fish stuff (you know, for the beta fish we haven't had in over a year)
  98. Circa-2001 greeting cards
  99. Little glass votive holders
  100. An extra large spatula

Whew! Many thanks to Hans, who sat next to me and helped me remember all the things we've gotten rid of over the last several months!

What can YOU get rid of?

[bctt tweet="100 (more) Things We Got Rid Of on our #tinyhouse journey"]

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.

#Write31Days: What Simplicity Isn't by Rachel Nordgren


If you’ve been on the internet for more than 3.8 minutes, you’ve likely heard the term “minimalism” or “minimalist” thrown around. The idea of a minimalist home or a minimalist wardrobe or a minimalist lifestyle is vastly appealing to people these days, because we’ve found ourselves neck-deep in the slew of consumerism culture.

We all want more simplicity. Which, I’ll confess, makes me super excited because it’s one of those topics I could jabber on about for hours.

But it also makes me a smidge worried. For several reasons.

Simplicity isn't a trend

I fear that minimalism and simplicity are becoming a trend, and therefore won’t result in any lasting change for people. Like fringed vests or poofy sleeves, I fear people will wear minimalism for a while and then abandon the idea when it’s no longer in fashion. Now, before you denounce me as a hipster and click off of this page to a Buzzfeed article about kittens in Halloween costumes, hear me out.

I think it’s great that minimalism and simplicity are trendy right now. Really! It gets me 57 different kinds of excited when I see my Pinterest feed full of tiny homes and capsule wardrobes.

But I don’t want you to shrug off simplicity as soon as another lifestyle becomes trendy.

Because simplicity that endures is simplicity that’s anchored in the Gospel. If you’re not into Jesus (which is okay, I’m never going to shove something down your throat on this blog, but man you’re missing out), then what is simplicity anchored in for you? A desire to live more fully and authentically? A goal to become debt free? A declaration of mutiny against consumerism?

Simplicity isn't behavior modification

Another fear I have about the trend of minimalism is the idea that we can formulaically manufacture a simple life. Slice your wardrobe down to this number, get rid of X number of bags of stuff, declutter your whole home in 43 simple steps, paint all your walls white and organize all your paperwork into a file cabinet the size of a shoebox...and viola! You’re a minimalist!

The problem is, that kind of mindset convinces us that modifying our behavior will create lasting simplicity.

Simplicity begins in the heart and works itself outwards. To be sure, blog posts about decluttering your closet or putting boundaries on your schedule are great, but they are only band-aids for the cancer of consumerism and excess if a deep-seated shift in thinking hasn’t occurred.

Simplicity isn't legalism

Another tendency I’ve noticed in the conversation about minimalism is the “simpler than thou” mindset. We create minimalism measuring sticks, grading others and ourselves by how few items we own or how few square feet we live in.

We can swing to the other end of the spectrum - becoming enslaved to asceticism instead of consumerism  - and think it makes us holier.

Concerning this legalistic mindset, Richard Foster says, “Asceticism makes an unbiblical division between a good spiritual world and an evil material world and so finds salvation in paying as little attention as possible to the physical realm of existence.” Over and over again in Scripture (Deuteronomy 8:7-9, Psalm 34:10, Matthew 6:31-32, 2 Corinthians 9:11, Philippians 4:19) God says that creation is His good gift to us and that He will provide for our needs.

This kind of legalism rejects God’s goodness and provision, and can be just as deadly as excess. Finding our identity and self-worth in anything other than the Gospel will never make us truly content.

In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul talks about being content in Christ, not in his external circumstances: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Simplicity is being anchored in the Gospel. Nothing more, nothing less.

What else do you think simplicity isn't?

[bctt tweet="Simplicity isn't a trend, behavior modification, or legalism"]

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.

#Write31Days: Simplicity Quote #4 by Rachel Nordgren


"We are not called or required to let other people dictate to us what we must do to keep them happy."

"We are not called or required to let other people dictate to us what we must do to keep them happy." // Joyce Meyer
"We are not called or required to let other people dictate to us what we must do to keep them happy." // Joyce Meyer

Every Sunday for Write 31 Days, you'll find a quote about simplicity to inspire you for the week ahead. Just hover over the graphic to pin it or tweet it below! If you need some practical simplicity inspiration, head over to yesterday's post for a free printable about how to bring simplicity into your home. We'll pick back up with content tomorrow!

[bctt tweet="We are not called or required to let other people dictate to us what we must do to keep them happy. // Joyce Meyer"]

Happy Sunday, friend!

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.

#Write31Days: Simplicity Resources by Rachel Nordgren


When it comes to simplicity, I'm by no means an expert. By no means. That's why I want to point you towards some other resources from people who have this whole simple life thing figured out a little more than I do! Note: not all of these resources completely tie in with our Simplicity Anchored in the Gospel thread, BUT they do all have something significant to contribute to our conversation about simplifying.

Simplicity Printables

How to Simplify Your Life in 15 Minutes

How to Simplify Your Space

Simplifying Home: An 8 Week Challenge from my friend Trina

Books about Simplicity

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess - Jen Hatmaker

The No Brainer Wardrobe eBook - Hayley Morgan

Make It Happen: Surrender your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose. - Lara Casey (read my review here!)

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth - Richard Foster

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life - Joyce Meyer

Becoming a Woman of Simplicity - Cynthia Heald

The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir - Dee Williams (a fantastic book about tiny homes)

Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World - Tsh Oxenreider

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living - Tsh Oxenreider

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists - Joshua Fields Millburn + Ryan Nicodemus

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No and Take Control of Your Life - Cloud + Townsend

Simplify - Joshua Becker

Clutterfree with Kids: Change Your Thinking. Discover New Habits. Free Your Home. - Joshua Becker

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands - Lysa TerKeurst

Blogs about Simplicity

The Art of Simple

The Minimalists

Courtney Carver

Becoming Minimalist - lots of practical advice...start here (this post is great, too)

Goedeker's Home Life 101 Steps to a Simpler Life post

Finding Contentment: The Go-To Guide

Videos about Simplicity




What other resources would you add to this list?

[bctt tweet="#Write31Days: Resources to help you simplify + declutter"]

Rachel Nordgren Signature
Rachel Nordgren Signature

You can read all posts for the 31 Days series here.