The Simple Life

I'm certainly not the person to write a post about simplicity! I must confess, in the past few years I have departed from my missionary kid upbringing to embrace the consumerism of Americans. I have always been an impulse buyer, but it's become even more dangerous now that I bring home a substantial paycheck (substantial meaning more than my baby-sitting wages of high school). I have fallen into the trap of wanting things.

Then I got married. My husband is one of the most non-materialistic people you could meet. As we start our journey together, he is constantly pulling me back to earth, reminding me to place my values into heavenly treasures that will last forever. He's very good for me in that respect. As we look at our life and where we will be aiming to be in the next few years, I realize that a simple lifestyle will be better for us all the way around. But the challenge of getting over that first hump! Of letting go my desire for things, and focusing completely on God's desires! Oh, easier said than done.

As I said, I am definitely not the person to write a post on simplicity. I am the person to write a post on American materialism, its negative impact on my life and.... that's where I am right now. In between. Heading the right direction, but certainly not there yet! Perhaps in a year I'll be able to reflect more on simplicity, but for now this is where I am.

These thoughts are not out of the blue, but prompted by an excellent post by my friend Joanna, entitled Simple?. She links to some good websites, and talks about different areas to pursue simplicity.

Other bloggers have touched on this subject as well. One of my favorite blogs, Amy's Humble Musings, wrote about it recently in a post from this summer called Reduction Production. An excerpt:

One detail I’ve learned along the way is that a penny saved is much more than a penny earned. But what’s even better is to reduce your need for pennies in the first place. While working to produce a supplemental income is wise (especially if the plan is entrepreneurial in nature), one shouldn’t overlook the value of reducing expenses as a wise contribution as well.
Amy also talks about how children fit into our desire for a simpler life (not applicable to us right now, I know, but definitely fitting into our plan for the future) in her post Good Things.

Another of my favorite blogs, A Gracious Home, has also addressed this topic numerous times. I can tell it is near and dear to Sallie's heart as she and her husband try to seek simplicity in their own lives. Here are a few of her posts that I liked:
I hope these links will help you in your own life as you strive toward simplicity. I plan on sitting down with Paul sometime and talking about this seriously... after the holidays, though. ;-)

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  1. Susan said...
    I liked this post :). I've pondered simplicity, etc. for some time. That is why I was drawn to the Amish for a while. Their lives just seem so much less cluttered. But then, they're also legalists who don't believe in assurance of salvation and who aren't a light in the world!

    Anyway, I think the simple life, like anything else, can become an idol of sorts, and I've seen some people focus so much on the perfection of simplicity like it's the answer to everything. I know that's not what you meant, of course :).

    I do love getting rid of clutter! Be it in my room, my inbox, etc. The key is to see any material possessions we do have as a gift from God and tools to be used for His service. The message of Ecclesiastes is to enjoy life and the pleasures it affords, but only in light of our eternal purpose, for without God, life is vanity, a chasing after the wind. After that, it's a matter of Christian liberty, and personally assessing whether that 2nd TV (or 1st!) or 400th book or 8th nativity scene is necessary, useful, a wise use of resources, etc.

    Anyway, very good post to ponder!
    Anonymous said...
    Thank you for sharing this post!! And thank you, too, for sharing these links!! Wonderful!

    Mrs. U
    Ashley said...
    So true, Susan. Simplicity can be held up as an idol just like a large family, homeschooling, stay-at-home-wives, etc. The action isn't as important as the attitude of the heart.

    Mrs. U: Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Please come back often. :-)
    Anonymous said...
    Hey Ashley,
    I haven't heard your voice yet!

    : ) tee hee
    Susan said...
    Yeah, ^^what Jessie said :). Though of course I already know your voice :).
    Ashley said...
    Blah blah blah... :-p Perhaps I'll post a video and then you can get to see an example of my voice *and* what I look like!
    Susan said...
    Ashley can't just go along with the flow, Jessie. She apparently has to one-up us. *raises eyebrow*

    Ashley said...
    Eh, it's more like I don't feel like signing up for yet *another* account when I can just post a video I already have. If it would make you feel better I could just hide from the camera so you can't actually see me. :-)
    Kara Gremaux said...
    Hey! Thanks for your comment on my Xanga. Yeah, I definitely remember our small group. :) And, congratulations on getting married. I haven't seen you since that year, so I'm really glad that everything got worked out. Although I never really knew exactly what had happened, I do remember you trying to deal with some issues that year. I was excited when I saw your facebook profile and it said you were married! God is good, huh? Oh, and, thanks for the ecouraging comment on my blog.
    Kara Gremaux said...
    Oh, I forgot to mention that I appreciated this post. It's a good reminder. Thanks.
    Anonymous said...
    A video would be alright, Ashley, at least so I could hear you! You don't need to hide though : )

    And Susan, you shouldn't speak so loudly about Amish people being legalists and dim lights-- they might get online and read your comment and be offended!!-- or not? : D
    Nichole said...
    I know this post is old, but I just got through all the links!

    Amy shares my thoughts about there being TWO ways to enjoy more FI and reducing spending being the best of the two. I feel like I'm constantly trying to convince Micah of this but he HAS been working on eating out less and we've been entertaining ourselves inside more. Bravo! I hope we continue perfecting the habit if/when we ever make more money. We want to increase income for entrenpreneurialship and so that ultimately we can afford to have a family.

    One of the things that I have a hard time remembering is that the people that write about simplicity have SO much more money than we do (or perhaps you would if you didn't work!) and they're talking about cutting out things like cable, SUV's, etc. When Amy talked about the book her husband read to her son and a bowl of cherries her youngest children ate I thought, "I wonder if that's a new book?" and "Wow, I hardly ever got to eat cherries as a kid!" Both Micah and I grew up with very little - him even more so. At times his family literally couldn't afford to eat. It haunts him sometimes when he thinks about having kids of his own, whereas I relate more to my parents' situationa and realize that they could have cut spending on entertainment to procure more important things.

    Micah often reminds me, "There's only so much you can do." This is where Sallie helped me relate to him: "For me, there is nothing simple about living paycheck to paycheck, going without health insurance, or living in a tiny home." We have been working on changing those very things because they brought too much stress into our lives. Now, thank God, we have a larger home, but we still need adequate car and health insurance and to stop draining savings. Just as for me, organizing my home even if it costs something (you can go cheap but sometimes you just have to buy a container of some sort) makes life simpler, for Micah sometimes life is simpler if he can just pop some frozen food into the oven rather than preparing it from scratch.
    Yaro Gabriel said...
    ww we w said...

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