Thanks to the Mennonite Central Committee (East Coast) page on facebook, I was pointed to another book to add to my “wish list”. Joy and I have been trying to find ways to live simpler by not falling victim to the consumer, “must have” mentality of our culture. That seems to get especially harder around Christmas. My folks and my sister love to give the kids lots of stuff. My in-laws don’t mind lavishing our kids with stuff as well. Most of this is stuff the kids like, and will play with for a while. The problem is just that we don’t really need all of that stuff. We have a relatively small house, and we don’t have room for all that we have now. We try to keep some of the clutter under control by rotating what is available, and storing the rest in the basement out of the way. That only works so far, as our basement is way to full. We also try to clean out some of the old stuff, and we will be trying to donate some away in anticipation of even more to come next month on Christmas.
Part of this is also about Thanksgiving. How do we get the kids to concentrate on being thankful for what they have, even as we talk about what they want to get new. Thankfully, the list making is pretty much done. Now we can concentrate on being thankful for what we have and how much fun it is to give gifts to other people. We have had the kids look through the World Vision Gift Catalog in order to pick some gifts to give to the many less fortunate kids around the world. They were so excited to pick out animals, food, water, clothing, etc. to give. We had them pick one thing each that fit within the budget parameters we wanted. Mommy and Daddy will also pick something, and then at some point we will go online together and make the donation with them on the online catalog so that they can see us do it.
Another thought is about our house. We live in half of a duplex in a small town 20 minutes from Messiah. I would love to live closer, but this would cost more money. We’d both love more yard space, and more bathrooms. A first floor laundry would be really helpful. But all of these things are wants, not needs. Our home is large enough, and much larger than most of the world gets to have. There are times it is tight, or at least feels that way. In our prayers, though, we really have felt that we need to be content in this circumstance at this time. More than this, we need to figure out how to be happy and content to think about the future possibly in this house. If we cannot fit all that we have in this house, we must admit that it is possible the problem is not the house, but the amount of stuff that we have.
This is, of course, a balancing act. It is a journey we walk, and we desire to learn what Christ would have us to do each step of the way. This book on living simply looks like it could be helpful as we continue to process what God has shown us about our need to live in such a way as to be in control of our stuff, lest our stuff begin to control us and mandate how we live.
Heather and I walk with you in this, Sam. We have a similar house, small duplex in town. It’s enough. Sometimes it feels tight and cramped, but it is enough for us.
But as concerns stuff, other than our kids toys, I think we’ve done pretty well at keeping things minimalized. Yeah, there are probably still places we can cut back and cut down but that’s always such a balancing act. As it is, though, Heather and I were just talking about the “mountain” we usually see under the tree on Christmas morning and were pondering, does it REALLY need to be that way?
Vegetable garden at church, simplifying the rest of our life, “greening” up what we do, thinking about what we eat… stewardship I think is the word here.