I've been blogging a lot about this book on simple living. Well, my real life has provided us with an exercise in practicing this on a big scale. We are getting ready to buy our first house. I have this dream homestead in my mind complete with chickens, the dog breed I've wanted since I was a kid, an outdoor kitchen for when we have friends over, and the biggest garden I can get away with. My husband wants the biggest house his money can buy, turn-key ready, and the dog he has always wanted (not the same one I want, mind you.) What constitues simple living in a home purchase?
None of the things I really want come inside a house, they all have to do with the space outdoors. I want fruit trees, blueberry bushes, a vast garden with flowers and lots of edibles, and I want space for the kids to run. I've told my husband a few times that I would even live out of an RV if we could just buy some land already. If I could have space outside, I would forgo space inside. We could homeschool in the sunshine, dine outdoors when the weather permitted, and spend all day in nature.
So, when I saw a house come onto the market in our price range on just under an acre with views of the mountains behind it, I wanted to see it right away. I made everyone get in the car that day and drive over to peek at it. I started dreaming big dreams again. My mind started planning how to move into a new house and transplant my garden without killing everything. The fact that there were no pictures online didn't even phase me. As long as it wasn't a manufactured home, I was sold.
We pulled up to the house, and it was pretty much exactly what I expected. It was trashed on the outside (which I read online so I already expected that) but it was a nice enough looking house. I contacted a realtor the next day and we set up a walk through. While we waited to see the inside, I mentally ran through every scenario, and I talked to my husband about possibilities. We could fix drywall, paint, flooring; we didn't want to fix an air conditioning unit or holes in every single wall. If someone dumped cement down the drains, or it was infested with scorpions, that was not going to work.
I was ready for anything when the door opened and our realtor let me step in first...except how small the house was going to be. It felt like a mini house to me. Every single room I walked through, the first thing I thought was, "Wow, this is so small!" The house was nice, and structurally sound (though it needs a lot of cosmetic work, we are willing to put in the man hours), but it was so small. I walked away feeling a little defeated. I wanted that lot, but I wasn't sure that I wanted that house.
When we got home and talked about it some more, my husband reminded me that I told him I would live out of an RV. Words I had to eat because it sounds do-able, but in the real world, I don't know that I could actually do that. In reality, that lifestyle is so different from the one we have now, that I can't wrap my mind around it at all. Hypocrite me...saying how I want to live more simply and then balking at downsizing that much. I would have to get rid of so many things for us to fit inside that house.
And still, I played with the idea, because I couldn't get it out of my mind. I asked my friends with bigger families what their square footage was and how small they would be willing to go. I was surprised when families with more kids said they would be willing to live in way smaller houses than we were considering. I walked around my house and mentally checked off every piece of large furniture that I would be willing to part with. The list was actually pretty big, to my surprise. We finally decided to look at the house again, this time with some family to help us decide if it would work for us.
When we looked at it the second time, I tried to envision where everything we would keep would belong in the new house. My aunt encouraged me by seeing through the mess and telling me what great potential she saw in all of it. It made me feel a little less crazy to know someone else saw that it could be a great place to live. And you know what? The second time around, both my husband and I thought it felt bigger. He finally got on board after talking to my uncle and walking the property again.
I set myself on this path to simplify, but I didn't realize that God might be using my downsizing, de-cluttering, and re-thinking as a gateway to a big opportunity. If we get this house, I know it will be by His hand that it happens because it's felt like a long shot since the beginning. However, I think we all know that this place might be our new home soon. My kids are calling it our house even though I keep telling them we are barely into the process. At the very least, it has made us really think and search ourselves for what we really want and what our lives will be like when we move. They will be simpler, with more work and more fun but less clutter, harder in some ways, and easier in some ways. Living more simply to me, means living less stressed and enjoying what I have. It also means that I trust God to provide for us and I don't have to hold onto every little scrap for dear life because I don't have to.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27
I don't mean to say that I can be lazy for the rest of my life and do nothing; I only mean to say that I don't want to feel like I have to save clothes that fit me seven years ago for when I get skinny again. I don't want to keep scrapbooking stuff because I "might" get around to using it one day because I "should". I don't want to feel like I can't say no when someone asks if I want something because I might need it in the future at some point. Any of this sound familiar? I've got a lot of mindsets to get around, and purging half of our stuff to fit into a smaller house is going to get me there quick.
I don't know what is going to happen from here, but I will keep blogging. It's going to be an adventure for sure.
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