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 http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/rs/. 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