This is day 3 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October! If you missed the first few posts in the series, you can check them out here. Thanks for taking the time to spend a few minutes here.
Simplicity and I were not completely friends at the beginning. In a way, I feel like I was a little bit suckered into it for a few years before I willingly hopped on board. I had six babies in ten years, and even after just a few, I learned that there is no expansion of the family without also the expansion of chaos. All the moms of one or more children are now nodding their heads up and down as they read this. Solidarity, mamas.
Not long ago, I would have said my journey toward simplicity was something I got into in my twenties and have more fully realized in my thirties, but after reflecting a bit, I realized that simplicity has been an underlying theme in my life from the beginning. When I was very young, I lived with my parents and two brothers in humble homes, on a single income, in a small quiet town. We did not take extravagant vacations or own particularly nice things. I wore mostly hand-me-down or thrifted clothes (which I didn’t mind a bit until I was a teenager), and I remember holidays being simple, but full of love. The gifts I was given were always thoughtfully chosen, and the vacations we took were always to majestic outdoor locations where there were rivers and mountains nearby.
As a hyper-aware child, I knew that my parents lived on a frugal budget, and early on, I took mental notes about how to not keep up with the Jones’. I am grateful for the ways that they planted seeds of contentment in my life—showing me in practice that more is not always better, that meaningful time with people I love is irreplaceable and needn’t be hijacked by a multitude of ways to spend too much money, and that slowing down and stepping out of the race to success and productivity (most often outdoors) brings respite to my soul.
I’m including photos from my childhood in this post, and I would be remiss to not explain the above two photos. On more than one occasion, my brother and I made our own fishing poles with a stick, discarded fishing line attached to the end, and a soda can as the fish bait. It was never my goal to catch a big fish with that particular set-up…I was really just hoping I could get a little 2-inch fish to swim into the hole of my soda can if I was patient enough. We took turns casting it out into the water and reeling it back in, holding the can up to our eyes to look inside and see if we had caught one. These are incredibly precious memories of uncomplicated times. Now that I am a mother, looking at these photos intensifies the desire I have to offer my children the beauty of a simple childhood, rich with experiences and delightful pastimes like I was given by my parents.
Less really is more if we’re talking about having less stress, less stuff, and less hassle in exchange for more peace, more connection, and space for more love to grow between us.
I didn’t find my way back to simplicity all at once. After spending some of my high-school and college years in a different (busy-to-be-busy) mode, it wasn’t until I had a few babies of my own that I had to face the reality that I could not conquer the world, chase every dream, or share my time with other people in the same way and also meet all the demands of motherhood with any measure of gracefulness. I was deeply humbled by the arrival of my third child in particular, and happened to pick up a book about that time that spoke volumes to my weary mom-heart. The ideas it contained have been with me ever since. It was a leaping-off point for me to beginning my own pursuit of soulful simplicity with intention, although, it has taken me some years to sort out what this journey would look like for myself as a mother of a growing number of children.
If you’re interested to check it out, the book is Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster. I will forewarn that it is a fairly dense and theological read—definitely not a quick self-help title—but it contains so many thoughtful principles that have become priorities in my life even today and it is an incredibly rich read.
“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth…I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:2a, 3 (NASB & NIV translations)
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