The American dream.
We all have an idea of what that looks like. We dream. We look through magazines. We pin ideas on Pinterest. We shop. We look at other’s homes and have home envy. We watch our favorite TV shows, dreaming of buying the size home the couples on these shows buy.
Then reality hits. We stop thinking with our minds and think from our hearts.
That is what happened to my husband and I when we went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Not only were our minds changed by what we saw, our hearts were forever changed by the people who lived joyfully and content in a 3rd world setting.
At that time, we were living in a 1,051 square foot house, two bedroom, one bath. Not large by American standards, but to us it was enough. Yet what made the space feel even smaller, was the amount of stuff we had cluttering up our home.
I broke down in tears as I witnessed the lives of the people in the DR and had a realization in my own life, that “this” was not how I wanted to live. Thus began a life of simplifying, which has now turned into living an organized life with less.
Where did we start?
I started to read blogs and books – such a novel idea, right? Well, at the time it was perfect. Reading other’s stories brought to light what was going on in our own life, while also encouraging me that we were not alone. There were others who desired to live with less. Our faith and convictions also drove much of what we desired to do. As I walked through our home and realized we did not need half the stuff in it, I knew I needed to start somewhere. I needed to start with myself first.
· Am I content: if not, why not?
· Why do I look at what everyone else has?
· Do have an attitude of gratitude for what I have been blessed with?
· Why do I continue to buy things?
· What do I feel God has called me to when it comes to living with less?
As I went through those questions, I also kept in mind the people of the Dominican Republic. While talking with them in their homes, I admired their simplicity. One couch. One picture on the wall. A few pans. Enough dishes to serve their family and a few guests. It was all they had, yet their faces said it all – they were content. That was what I desired: contentment.
Our desire to live with less did not stop there. Our lives were forever changed when my husband lost his job and just 3 short weeks later, we lost our two children who were just a few weeks old, inside of the womb of our gestational carrier. Our world was turned upside down. So much loss in such a short period of time. Because of the job loss, we had to move out of our house and in with my in-laws (which we are forever grateful to them for!). Living with less took on a whole new meaning for us. What started on a mission trip, ended up influencing our lives years later.
We now live in another state, in a rental. Moving honestly did WONDERS for our desire to live with less. We were rather ashamed as we lined our yard with things to donate, recycle, or to go in the trash, but we knew we had to start somewhere and this was just another part of the living-with-less process. We did not think that our journey would include such loss, but as we reflected on our experiences in other cultures, we knew it was all for a purpose. Contentment can’t be found in our earthly possessions, but only in Him.
We continue to simplify. We continue to try to learn to live with less. We were able to travel this year to another 3rdworld country and we pray that opportunities such as those continue to arise. Our hearts continue to be molded by those experiences, so much that I started this blog.It grew out of a desire to take 100 days and 100 ordinary items in your home, and try to live with less of them. Though that challenge is physically done, I continue to strive to find other ways to encourage others to take a look at their own lives and how they too, can live with less.
Please check out tomorrow’s post: I want to hear about YOUR story!