Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Less is More: The Home

For those of us women, who believe that God has called us to be the managers and caretakers of our homes, we know that that is no small responsibility. We are called to support and respect our husbands. We are called to train our children in the Word and the ways of the Lord. We are called to keep order in our household. We are called to open our doors to both friend and stranger, that they may see the love of Christ lived out in our homes. I also think, that along with this call, God has given us the privilege and freedom to create a warm, inviting, comfortable, place in which this ministry can happen. I'm not going to go too much into all this, but I will say that it is good to invest our creativity and time, and even some of our money into building a beautiful home that blesses our families and enables us to do the ministry we are called to.

Needless to say, this is no free pass to run wild in our nearest Pottery Barn. There are boundaries. In order to keep a Godly perspective on this freedom, I think our ministry as wives and mothers HAS to come before our home improvement plans, not the other way around. I think that when we begin to obsess about what we want or what we don't have, we take our liberty in this area, cross over into licentiousness, and inevitably end up with an ungrateful spirit, which of course, is sin. Also, when we begin to live beyond our means or when we fail to share our home with others, I think it is a sign that we are thinking more of ourselves than the work God has called us to. It is a narrow road we're walking here. And I confess to you, that I have veered off the road countless times.

Allow me to reiterate...I am still struggling with this "Less is More" reality. I sin in this area. A lot. What I am simply offering here, are a few ways that God is renewing my mind. For time's sake, let's make a list.

1. I am learning to wait. Too many times have I gotten something for my home that I didn't really love. Maybe I would like it at first, so I wouldn't return it, but then after seeing it on the wall for a while, I would realize..."That's not really what I wanted. I need to get something else." I was the WORST about this. Buying things to just "make-do" until I could get what I REALLY wanted. For the past year or so, I have been REALLY trying to WAIT. For me, I know that I want to go to the Round Top Antique festival every Fall and Spring, so instead of buying this little thing or that...I wait until I can go antiquing and get what I am really going to LOVE. If I have an idea to do something in the house...for instance, right now I am thinking of putting an arrangement of photographs on a wall in the living room...I sit with that idea for a while and see if it sticks. I have been sitting with the photo arrangement idea for about a year and a half. :) and look...I haven't died! I used to feel that way...that I would just die if I didn't get what I wanted when I wanted it. But strangely, the more I wait, the more freedom I feel that I have. "I am not a slave to THINGS," I think is the implication there.

2. When discontentment starts to creep in, I am trying to "take hold" of those thoughts and replace them with gratitude. Just practically...what helps me with being aware of how the rest of the world is living and reading about people doing great Kingdom work. Nothing squelches the lies of discontentment like hearing how the Gospel was shared with the least of the least. Nothing fills your heart with gratitude for what you have like seeing people with far less than you have the JOY of Christ on their face. I mean...there's something to that isn't there?...they have less and yet, perhaps they have MORE. I think it is a worthy habit to begin, of making ourselves aware of what we have and what others don't, and seeking out stories of Victory and Redemption. Seriously...what is a new lamp, when people are meeting Jesus?!

3. Something in/Something out. To stop the accumulation of stuff and clutter, I am beginning to employ the something in/something out method. Simply...if you buy something new, then you have to get rid of something you no longer want or use. (I would suggest making a garage sale pile or giving it to Good Will. Not just throwing it out.) I just got a couple of things at Round, I am currently deciding what things I have to get rid of. The goal for me is, that it will start to get more difficult to part with things, and in turn make it more difficult to make careless purchases.

4. Using what you have and buying "preloved" items. Admittedly, I am not great at the thrift store thing, but I am more willing than ever to try. One place I have gotten quite good at buying used...Round Top! :)

So at the risk of being ridiculous and self-contradictory, I thought I'd share with you some of my Long-Awaited, Preloved purchases that I made this year at Round Top. There's grace, no?! Like I said, I am still learning. I am still making mistakes. I don't think the answer is to never buy anything. Just buy wisely and with Kingdom perspective. I love Round Top so much, but not JUST for the antiques...although they are fun! But more than that, it is precious, quality time with women I love, having real, meaningful, UNINTERRUPTED conversations. And to top it off, what I am buying is not new, but recycled and repurposed! Perfect!

Day 1: Warrenton
A bird cage. Exactly what I was looking for!
Day 2: Marburger
With Erin (Also my day 1 buddy. We missed you Cynthia!)

With Sarah and Erica and delicious end-of-shopping cupcakes!
A most exciting purchase! German bread pans to be hung on the dining room wall and used as a giant memo board! You can write on it with chalk or post things with magnets!
I got a couple of other little things, but these were my favorite.

Thanks for stickin' around through this whole thing! The post on clothes should be significantly shorter...I think. :)


Mommy, M.D. said...

This is pathetic: I'm literally sitting here tearing up, so sad that I didn't get to go to Round Top with you. Um, discontent? Ungrateful? Check, check.

Cynthia said...

You look great in all that green! :) I just bought that dress from Target in blue!

I really missed going with y'all. Did you get a lemonade?! I'm looking forward to going in the spring. I should mark it on the calendar now!

Our clearing out is moving along well over here, for the exact same reasons you mentioned in this post. It has been incredibly freeing to get rid of the stuff that has been so entangling me/us. I'd rather sit in a house with the few things we absolutely love, than have it chalked full of 1) college days leftovers and 2) really poor prior purchases. I have found it greatly helps ease my discontentment if I'm not reminded of it at every turn. Great post of encouragement.

Jenny said...

Oh, Steph. This coming Spring I just have to go again, (without my dear little one) join you and get your eyes to help me scope out great buys. Your items are darling. I found nothing and even bought a pizza at Marburger that I wasn't pleased with. Ah, well, sweet memories anyway.

mandi said...

love those bread boards. they are as big as you and sara!

about less is more-
this is what i love about thrifting. well, one of the many things. anyway, i love that i have been taught patience through this. for example, i want a vintage suit case to store my yarn for knitting. i saw several at round top for $18 and up, but i know i can get it for about $6 at the thrift store. so i wait. i keep a little list of items i'm looking for and try to buy only those items. another example, i was wanting a bell jar for display purposes. i put it on my list and found 3 at HB for $1 each! well, they were actually cheese trays, but whatever. they'll do!

i love these posts on frugality and consumerism. it's funny, i have always been waaaaaaaaaaay on the other side of the the point of hoarding money. so where your freedom is coming in being more frugal,mine is in letting go a bit. and while i still don't spend much on stuff my view of money has changed. it's not mine. and this leads to a free-er heart. a more generous heart.

i should also add (why not- while i'm at it!?) that this is why your thoughts on creating a beautiful home stuck out to me. i don't really think about this often enough. i like for things to be neat and comfortable, and i do like pretty things...but honestly i'm more interested in spending my time and money on plants and dirt! so this was good for me to read!

Anonymous said...

thanks for this stephanie...we are in the process of buying our first home and with that comes....lots of buying?? this give me lots to chew on for future purposes and the purpose behind purchases. thank you -- liz dammel

Erin said...

Ah, did you notice the big "B" on the tent behind in BIG BUST because Corey wasn't even there!
Ah, well, good times.
Loving these posts and your thoughts. And those bread boards! Coolest ever! I wanna see a pic of them in use in your house!

Jenny said...

Now this is crazy. I think I mentioned that I got to see a blog friend in Marburger, well, that friend is Corey from Tongue in Cheek. My family and I are actually on her post for her last day at Marburger. I am the girl that brought her food. How funny that Erin, your dear friend should mention her. It is certainly a small blog world. I came across Corey's blog a couple of years ago when I was researching for our possible trip to Provence and then we instead ended up not going to Provence. I am sorry Erin missed her because she is a sweetheart, just like on her blog and a hugger.

Steph said...

I know Jenny...isn't that funny! I love that picture she got of you! How sweet of you to bring her Tex Mex! And homemade Spanish wine coolers! Um...AMAZING!!!

And Erin! She gave you a shout out!!! AWESOME! That makes up for missing her a little bit, huh?

Abba's Girl said...

Wonderful someone who was a young wife in the greedy decade otherwise known as the 1980's; I feel your pain. Less is more became the norm in the 1990's and I was able to live it out by the grace of God. Every now and then I feel the buy me thing rear it's ugly head, IE 2 lamps I bought 2 years ago and have not even plugged in much less put in the bulbs.

Bless you sweet one as you share the Gospel and your heart.

Love, Mrs Annette

kaytie said...

I am continually challenged by you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an honest way.