Friday, July 20, 2007

Featured Family Friday

Presenting the Stanley Family -- There are five of us living in the suburban utopia of Spring Hill, TN. Daren and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary of wedded bliss. Our lives have been richly blessed with our three daughters – Mary Carsen (4), Eliza (2), and Nora Blayre (8 weeks). With our recent third addition to the family, our sanity hangs by a thread from moment to moment.

I was reluctant to write anything for the blog. Daren and I feel very inadequate to contribute in any form. Simplicity is far from the essence of our lives. We stand in awe of most of the people in this group who meet together regularly, and our mouths water for change in our own lives. Please do not continue to read this if you want practical advice in how to live simply. We have little to offer as of yet in our journey. We offer ourselves and our struggle along this process.

Fluctuating – That describes our family history – including our finances, our personal theologies, and our marriage relationship among other things. We have long desired to be fully committed to outreach and to live life beyond the status quo. However, we have continually flip-flopped between pursing a higher calling and running to the familiarity of the typical American dream. Our first five years together were spent seriously seeking out full-time mission work. When that fell through, we moved to a trendy neighborhood, bought a restored 1920s bungalow and furnished it racking up $40,000 in credit card debt. It has taken us two downsizes in houses to recover from this, to live within our means and to keep me home to mother our children.

We are evolving as a family, and I have high expectations to see where God leads us. I truly believe that we will see God work in our family if we are still enough to discern his voice. Currently, we are struggling the following:
  • As a family, how can we position ourselves most effectively to reach out to others? Do we relocate to inner city Nashville in order to do this? Are we compromising the safety of our children in so doing?
  • How do we experience community in the deepest sense? How do we best develop enriching relationships for true accountability? Does this mean some type of communal living situation?
  • How can we shape our children to lessen the effects of consumerism, competition, performance-based self-worth and vanity in their lives? Is home schooling part of the answer for this? We are actually about to begin our first year of home schooling.
  • How can we practically go green as a family? How do we weigh the immediacy of our money concerns with the long-term effects of our daily decisions on the environment? For example, sticking to our budget vs. buying environmentally friendly diapers.
  • How important are our money concerns when there are others wasting away from lack of resources? Is it moral for us to save money at all when others lack clean water and a sustainable diet of any kind?
  • How can we best be socially conscientious consumers? ? Do we spend more money just to buy fair trade clothing and coffee? Do we change our bank and our mortgage company because I just found out that both have histories of unfair business practices (Discovering this was due to Sarah’s referring us to Thanks, Sarah, I guess.)
  • On a very personal level, what about my identity as a fairly fashionable mom who outfits her children with bows the size of Texas? Very shallow, I know!!! Being concerned about the environment, contemplating communal living and living simply all conjure up hippie images for me. I can dig this new hippie image, but I feel the need to spend several hundred dollars on different clothing from Pangaea, Patagonia and Anthropologie.

Any insights and constructive feedback are more than welcomed. We definitely appreciate the encouragement and positive peer pressure from the group to seek out purity and holiness in our lives.

God, have mercy on us and move us beyond discussion to practice. -- Christy


Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing, Christy. I wish that I had the answers to your questions because we struggle with many of these same things. I am constantly encouraged by you so please do not feel so inadequate. This is a constant journey and we will probably always being trying to find the "right" answers but thankfully we follow a merciful God who knows we will probably never get it "right." (And sorry if I have confused you more with the concerned consumer website....I have confused myself as well. :))

lance said...

thanks for sharing. i think i identify with you guys more than any so far and feel like your questions were pulled from my life. let me know if you figure something out...

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DB Carden said...

Your comment and question concerning "going green" will actually be one of the focuses of the Environmental Stewardship ministry. I am afraid that many times the "environmentally-friendly" choice is also equated with being more expensive. That notion is not necessarily true. Much of that is the result of companies trying to exploit an affluent, socially-conscious consumer demographic.

I have not studied the new "biodegradeable" diapers etc. because we simply gave up on the whole disposable versus cloth argument. We figured that if we didn't want baby urine and feces everywhere, we HAD to choose something that is not environmentally sound either way. Unfortunately, that is sometimes the only choice. Here is an excellent article about diapers and the environment if you are interested: