Sarah Nieto“Simplify” with Sarah Nieto

Michelle: Meet Sarah Nieto, the newest member of the Iron Rose Sister Ministries Board of Directors!

Sarah: Thank you for the warm welcome! I am beyond humbled that I’ve been added to the IRSM Board!

Michelle: Sarah, tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Sarah: I’ve been happily married to my husband for 17 years and we have a 14-year-old daughter who we currently homeschool. My husband and I both are graduates of Harding University. He has always been in full time ministry, and I’ve always been identified as a “preacher’s wife!” Over the years, I’ve worked full-time, part-time, been a stay-at-home-mom, and been a work-at-home-mom, primarily in the accounting and finance sector. We’ve had our daughter in public school, private school and homeschool. Our family policy is to constantly re-evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and to not be timid in making changes as needed!

Regardless of my employment status or of our daughter’s school enrollment status at any given time, I firmly believe in fulfilling my role as a “keeper at home,” and of promoting education of all kinds in the home. There is so much joy that comes from not shying away from pouring into our families as only a wife and mother can!

Michelle: You have recently shared that you have made it a priority to simplify various aspects of your life. What prompted you to do that? What does “simplify” look like for you? We want to hear your story!

Sarah: There is a huge movement these days, especially among people in my age group, to simplify our lives in an effort to be better stewards of our belongings and our time. We hear about living in tiny houses, adopting the use of compost bins, and using cloth diapers. I believe the idea stems from a backlash against the mindless overconsumption and rampant consumerism that has become so prevalent in our society.

While I’m not a true minimalist, I do subscribe to a purposeful accounting of how our family spends our time and money. Paramount to this lifestyle is setting priorities, then unapologetically sticking to them. Over the past several years, my family and I have done our best to ruthlessly edit our calendar and to donate items sitting around the house that do not add value to our lives (and make it harder to dust around...)!

Michelle: As Iron Rose Sisters, we want to encourage and equip each other to connect to God and one another more deeply. How do you think the concept of “simplify” helps us achieve that goal?

Sarah: Returning to the concept of setting priorities, our number one focus needs to be having a solid relationship with our Lord and Savior. It needs to be making our home a peaceful haven that provides comfort and shelter to our families and friends. If we are married and/or have children, it means making sure we pour into our loved ones in a way that communicates God’s love, acceptance and purpose. It also means that you have time in your schedule and the wherewithal in your mind to serve those in need. In order to accomplish this God-given priority, it is a very real possibility that you’ll need to strip away some extracurricular activities, time spent on social media and TV, and maybe even some work responsibilities.

By releasing the engagements society tells us must be on our family’s calendar, we can effectively uncover not only time in our schedules, but the mental bandwidth necessary to truly experience a relationship with God. Trusting God with our every fiber and leaning on Him for every decision makes this transformation an exciting adventure and a vital learning experience for your whole family!

Michelle: Another friend on her own journey to simplify recently shared that she loves “my brand of simplicity.” What you are doing or what I am doing may not be the exact plan for everyone, but what would you like to share with other women as they look to “simplify”?

Sarah: I agree 100% that each person needs to discover their own “right fit” of simplicity! Personally, I like the “simple” kind of simplicity! In other words, simplifying your life doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

As an example, here are some things that do not work for me:

• Spending lots of time and energy researching the “right” planner for 2018;
• Spending money to purchase more storage bins to organize our closets and drawers;
• Download an app to track my prayer life and Bible reading;
• Coordinating carpools and quick meal plans to be able to make it to all our family commitments.

Instead, this is what I prefer:

• I identified the qualities I appreciate in a planner, such as both a monthly and weekly calendar, with some motivating reflection prompts. Then, I simply selected a planner that met these needs and put it to work (and looks cute, too)!
• I LOVE keeping our house decluttered! I strive to only keep what truly brings us joy and adds value to our life. Less stuff around the house means less to clean and care for. And that means more time to spend working on our family’s true priorities! When I do need to organize a closet or drawer, I use an empty iPhone box or a basket that we already have at home, rather than bringing in additional bins and storage solutions.
• Technology is so convenient...until it becomes a distraction! When it comes to exercising spiritual disciplines such as reading and studying my Bible, praying and reading devotional thoughts, I’m old-school. I find that if I have my phone in my hand, I’m tempted to get off-track and check social media, or let my mind wander to an unanswered e-mail. I prefer a print Bible that I can underline, and a notebook to jot down prayer requests and praises. I keep these items, along with a pen and whichever Bible study book I’m currently reading in one central location.
• Instead of using my planning skills to coordinate rides and quick dinners, I prefer to use them to cook alongside my daughter, and participate in evening activities as a family. We’ll find a recipe, gather our ingredients, measure and pour, then enjoy the time at home as the house starts to fill with the aroma of a home-cooked meal. We do our best not to schedule activities back to back and to avoid the feeling of being rushed. Obviously, there are days when this is unavoidable, but our routine, daily life beats to a slower drummer these days.

Michelle: Great ideas, Sarah, and thanks for sharing what works for you. Is there a specific Bible verse that has been an encouragement to you as you simplify?

Sarah: At this time in my life, two passages come to mind. One is from the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. It talks about God’s charge to the Israelites to take seriously their responsibility of teaching His ways to their children and the people they come in contact with, through a constant, running narrative.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The second passage is from the New Testament, in Titus 2:3-5. It speaks to the women in the Church about their role as mentors and mentees. We lose sight of this commandment sometimes, so I like to remind myself of it from time to time.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Michelle: Sarah, thanks for your time and for sharing your story! And we invite you, our readers, to respond to Sarah and chat with her through this blog, or through her own blog:

Sarah: Thank you for the opportunity to share! I have much to learn from your readers!

#IronRoseSister #Simplify #mystory

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