Small and Simple

When we had just two small children, one and three years old, we were looking for a house to rent. I envisioned something with a lot of charm: hardwood floors, a fireplace, a nice fenced back yard. But the house simply would not materialize. We searched and looked and prayed and kept driving by one horrible dive after another. Some friends of ours owned a very uncharming duplex on a culdesac. They asked us if we wanted to rent it. No, thanks. We kept looking. And that duplex just stayed open for us, despite my prayers that it would be filled.I think I had an ominous feeling that we were going to have to rent that place. After a summer of this, it seemed clear that we would have to go look at the duplex (I had seen it before because some friends of ours had lived in it). I was not excited. But lo and behold, there was new carpet, new paint, and the place was clean as a whistle. Maybe this would work after all. We had no choice but to rent it. It was while we lived at that duplex that I learned many things. One was to be content. I read (I think it may have been George MacDonald) that you should plant flowers around the cottages and not just around the mansions. I obediently planted tulips like nobody’s business. They were huge. Spectacular. A Korean couple bought the duplex from our friends and moved into the other side. We had another baby. One evening the Korean gentleman came by and asked my husband if he would mind explaining Christianity to a group of Koreans. Talk about falling into a chocolate pie! My husband was of course delighted. The result of that evening was a weekly Korean Bible study in our home that lasted for years. During those six years at the duplex I learned to bake bread and can pears, peaches, pickles, and applesauce. And as I look back on it now from this vantage point, I see the wisdom of God in giving me that simple duplex. It was a very straightforward floor plan: three bedrooms (one tiny) attached to a hall, with a bath that had the washer and dryer in it, then a living room and the kitchen and dining room stacked behind it. Couldn’t have been simpler. We drove up the drive, I had a dozen steps to the front door, and there I was. I could throw in laundry any time because it was just a few steps from the kitchen and I could keep one eye on the kids the entire time. I didn’t have to run up and down stairs, though they would have been charming, I’m sure. And I think the only reason I could start baking bread and doing those kinds of things was because God did not give me a complicated, charming home. It was simple, straight-forward, boring as could be, but it worked. One time a friend asked me how I kept it so clean. I told her that I worked hard, all day long. And that was true. With only three little ones to watch over, it was still a lot of work to keep on top of that little, simple house. If I had lived in my “dream” house, it might have been a big disaster. God knows what wisdom it was to give me that simple home to raise my children in. And I’m so very grateful He did. Bigger is NOT always better! 

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6 thoughts on “Small and Simple

  1. I often have the same thoughts with my 4 little ones. If I had a bigger house with more rooms, that would mean more cleaning time for me. As it is, I have more time to spend with the kids and do other things. The kids also can’t be very selfish about “their space” because they have to share it all. 🙂

  2. Thank you for starting this blog.
    Meeting you at the Carbondale IL conference in March was a blessing. It was clear to see (AND now read) that you happily “practice what you preach”, which is a good reminder for us all.

    Beth S

  3. I completely agree. Caring for a large, elaborate house and yard can really sap a family and siphon the parents’ time, energy, and attention away from their children. My husband and I often wish we had less home maintenance to do, because even our average-sized home requires so much of our time. I think large homes work best for families who have the resources to hire some regular help with the cleaning, yardwork, and maintenance.

  4. My folks used to turn us out into the yard to help, but by that point I admit the oldest (me) was probably 12-13 when they really started doing that. Even little kids can move the water hose, drag sticks into a pile, and such. I know we did.

  5. The situation here is not the same, it is a bit complicated, but there are MANY similarities and you have touched something I have been struggling with for the last 11 months.

    All I can say is “thank you.”

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