Biblical Minimalism book review and giveaway

Monday, June 29, 2020

Please read to the end to see how you can receive a copy of Cheryl E. Smith's book, Biblical Minimalism: Following Jesus from a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life.

I was so excited to receive a copy of this book. I have been following Cheryl's blogs, Biblical Minimalism and Homespun Devotionsfor a while now, and knew that I was in for a wonderfully encouraging and challenging read. Many of you may already know her, and her sweet, tender heart and her devotion to speaking words of truth and encouragement. As soon as I heard she had written a book, I knew that I could expect deep and satisfying help and guidance. I wasn't disappointed.

I have been on a minimizing and decluttering journey for some years now. No one who comes to my house would think I'm a minimalist with all my teacups and books, but I have decluttered many, many areas of my life, from clothing and decor and china to commitments and distractions, the most recent being Facebook (what freedom!).

I've read Marie Kondo with my book club and have studied and implemented ideas from a number of books, blogs, and articles over the years. All of these have been helpful in simplifying my life.

But Cheryl's book, Biblical Minimalism, isn't just another book in a long line of minimalism books that are so popular right now. She takes the whole minimalism thing to a much deeper level. This is not simply a book that shows you how to declutter your closet or how to get out of debt, although she covers these things. This is a Scripture-saturated book that really seeks to explain the WHY of minimizing and simplifying. 

Cheryl describes Biblical Minimalism as being, "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly and relinquishing all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, temporary life."

Her book is full of Scripture, and this, along with her inspiring personal story, is what makes this book so much richer than other books on the subject. In her gentle and compassionate writing style, she points the way for us as she describes her own minimalism journey, which included her family getting rid of 90% of their possessions. I had to stop reading in astonishment and ask my husband what we would get rid of if we did something like that. We came to the conclusion that it would be easier to decide what 10% we wanted to keep! This is hard-core minimalism! (Cheryl is quick to point out, however, that everyone's journey is different and she is not advocating for us all to do the same unless called to do so.)

She takes us through her family's journey of drastically downsizing, of getting out of debt, and of leaving a legalistic church. Throughout it all the cry of her heart is to follow Jesus. To allow nothing to distract her from her call to live in radical obedience to and "love for the single-minded, eternity focused, unassuming, plain-living Galilean Who laid down His life and shed His blood for our redemption."

Cheryl is not just talking about physical possessions that weigh us down and prevent us from living an unencumbered life. She talks about emotional baggage, such as unforgiveness, of mental clutter, of unhelpful or unnecessary obligations and commitments, and of all the myriad of distractions in our social-media obsessed and consumer culture.

Cheryl shares her journey with us, and gives us practical tips for minimizing. She guides us through steps to take to discover our true calling and purpose, and helps us to look at each section of our life to see where we need to be more intentional about minimizing. These are all very helpful, and I plan to re-read these sections prayerfully. But I think the best part of this book is how she continually points us to Scripture. I was again struck by how often Jesus speaks on this subject.

We're not to downsize and minimize just so our homes can have a pleasing aesthetic. We're not to simplify our calendar just so we have more time to do what we want to do. There's a purpose to all this that goes beyond having a quieter and more peaceful life for its own sake. The whole point is, as Cheryl says, "to let go of this world for the sake of a higher call."

I plan on re-reading this book. I've already marked up my copy! I know you will be blessed by reading it as well.

Please leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway to receive a copy of Cheryl's book. I will leave the giveaway open for a week, until midnight July 6. If you'd like to order a copy for yourself or a friend, please click HERE

Cheryl Smith is the author of the book “Biblical Minimalism,” the story of her family’s journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life. She is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and Homespun Devotions, where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.” She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write.

Weekly meal plan

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Do you ever find it tiring to try and come up with ideas for dinner? Every. Single. Night?

I know I do.

So I've come up with a plan that has really lifted that nagging question off my shoulders and made things a whole lot easier. Grocery shopping is easier, and I always know what to pull out of the freezer each morning.

Meatless Monday
Taco Tuesday
Wing-It Wednesday
Throwback Thursday
Fun Friday
Sizzling Saturday
Soup 'n Sandwich Sunday

Meatless Monday makes sense in a world with meat shortages and rising prices. It's also healthy! An easy recipe is beans and rice. I cook the (brown) rice and mix it with a can of drained black (or any other kind) beans. I add sautéed celery and onions, chopped tomatoes. You could add corn. I sprinkle the top with cheese, bake, and serve with salsa and/or sour cream and fresh cilantro. There are many variations to this simple and tasty dish. 

Taco Tuesday is anything Mexican. I make my own taco seasoning (cheaper and much less sodium) and use ground turkey instead of ground beef. We usually make some kind of taco salad, with cassava chips (for me) on the plate first, then topped with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.

Wing-It Wednesday (coined by my daughter) is not wings! My husband plays golf on Wednesdays and is home late, so it's leftovers or he'll grab a burger. For me lately, it's been a big bowl of stove-popped popcorn with butter and a movie for dinner! 

Throwback Thursday is any kind of comfort food from yesteryear. Spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, chicken broccoli casserole, etc.

Fun Friday was going to be Fish Friday as that seemed traditional, but I don't happen to like fish, haha. So "fun" = pizza. Homemade pizza. I've been experimenting with cauliflower pizza crust and spelt pizza crust. I'd like to try making pizza on the grill this summer, too.

Sizzling Saturday is anything on the grill. Hamburgers, brats, steak, BBQ chicken.

Soup n' Sandwich Sunday.  Sometimes Sundays are a feast day with family and friends and a ham or a roast. But more often than not, it is a quiet day for us. BP (before pandemic) we usually went out for brunch after church (this is the only time during the week we eat out). So we're not too hungry for dinner. Homemade soup, made in batches and frozen, or a sandwich, is simple and easy for a quiet restful day.

So there you have it. We've been doing this for four weeks now and I'm sold!

A glittery notebook and a unicorn pen, a birthday present from my daughter. Isn't this fun?

How do you plan your meals? Do you have a weekly plan?

xo Deborah

No-sugar cookies and pizza dough

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I really miss baking. Since I have gone no-sugar, I really haven't had the option. 

All I have been able to find, as I've researched online, have been recipes with sugar alternatives, such as Swerve or stevia, or "healthier" sugars, such as coconut sugar. 

I have tried making some of my favorite recipes without sugar. Pumpkin bread was a major fail. But gluten-free waffles, made according to the recipe but without the sugar, were a success. 

But now I've actually found a recipe for cookies with no sugar! I have revised it at least five times and this is version I like best.

No-Flour, No-Sugar Cookies

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3 bananas, very ripe, smooshed up (technical term!)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c no-sugar peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk (can use almond milk)
chopped walnuts and dates, as desired

Mix all together and drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

These are very moist, so I'm not sure how long they will last sitting out. My husband likes them so we can eat them in three or four days. I will have a few for breakfast with coffee.

These are very versatile. The original recipe did not include eggs or salt. I've made them without milk. I've used applesauce or almond butter instead of peanut butter. You could use raisins or pecans.

The sweetness comes from the bananas. The riper they are, the sweeter the cookie. Of course, this cookie is not sugar free, with the bananas and dates, but it is at least natural sugar.


I was buying the cauliflower pizza crusts until I saw they have 1 gram of sugar in them. They are also pricey. So I found a yummy recipe that has no sugar in it.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

1 lb bag of frozen riced cauliflower, thawed with extra moisture pressed out (I let it sit in a colander in the sink to thaw and drain and then press down on the cauliflower to get all the extra water out)
1/2 c shredded mozarella
1/4 c grated parmesan
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Mix together and pile onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Form into a circle or square. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 F. Remove from oven, add toppings and bake for 10 more minutes.

With all the cheese in the crust, you don't need as much cheese for topping. The first time I made this I 
thought it was a little rich with all the cheese. But so good!

I used a bag of riced cauliflower and broccoli for this pizza. This is before it is baked.

After baking, before adding toppings.

Now I've come to where I think I'm going to allow one compromise in my no-sugar lifestyle. And that is in bread making. I have made gluten-free, sugar-free bread and it's okay. Not great, to be honest. So, occasionally, I think I will allow myself to make yeast bread with honey.

{Am I being way too strict about all this sugar stuff? Yes, definitely. But I DO NOT want to re-gain the weight I've lost. Ever.}

We still have lots and lots of spelt berries stored in our basement from when I used to make bread on a regular basis for my family. But I sold my grain grinder years ago, and they have just sat there. Then I read that you can use a NutriBullet to grind grain. So I brought up some of those spelt berries and made a spelt crust pizza (2 tsp of honey in recipe).

Before baking, with roasted red peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, and fresh basil from my deck garden.

The crust ended up kind of heavy. I think I tried to grind too much grain at one time and the flour wasn't perhaps as fine as it should have been. Also I think I should have kneaded it for much longer than the recipe called for. (I also sold my bread maker so I kneaded it using my handheld mixer with the dough hooks.)

Hope you enjoyed these recipes. Next time, I want to share with you how I've super-simplified the "what are we having for dinner" question.

xo Deborah

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