Less is More

Photo credit: Ashley Broadie Photography

The American dream is to be first, to be successful, to win.  It seems like the American Dream is all about upgrades - your house, your cars, your jobs, your jewelry, your bank account.  It's all good though, right?  It's evidence of God's blessings, right?  We give him the praise for it in our social media posts, in our blessings before meals, in our prayers.  Then we go on to what we are going to accomplish next, to what our next upgrade will be.  

I challenge that the American Dream is all wrong.  It's original essence - to pursue freedom of religion and the right to pursue happiness and freedom for our families - is not, but what we've made it today? It's just all wrong.  You see, everything in the Bible contradicts the dream we all seem to be claiming and chasing.  The first will be last, the last first (Matt 20:16).  Do not build up treasures on the earth (Matt 6:19-21).  I will give you riches...but my kind of riches (Philippians 4:19).  It is very hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matt 19:24).  The path is narrow - few will enter (Matt 7:13-14).  

You see, I believe the devil is at the center of the American Dream, not God.  Its his evil plan to blind us with worldly treasures, selfish entitlement and pride.  He tempts us with that newer, bigger house - larger mortgage requiring us to work more.  It's the devil that makes us think we need that fancy car with "more room."  It's the devil who tempts us with that promotion that may pay more, but will take time away from our families.  So when we are thanking God for all of "His blessings" the devil is smirking in the corner, scheming how he will distract us next.  

Here I go again - I promise I will get to the house projects and fun photos.  Stay with me...  So, what are the two most important commandments? To love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and soul and to love our neighbors as we do ourselves (Matt 22:36-40).  

Of course, not all "upgrades" in life are inherently bad.  And this post is not to make you feel guilty for having those things.  It's a challenge for our hearts in the new year.  What is your motivation behind wanting or having those things and is it pleasing to God?  If we are to love Him first - we should want to honor, please and glorify him in everything.  So we ask the question - how can having ______ glorify God and help further His kingdom?  Are you willing to walk away from it all to save your and your family's souls?

I've been there.  I've had the "successful" job, large house in a nice neighborhood, fancy car.  I will tell you that I feel way closer to God, closer to the people I love and more closely aligned with His mission for my life now in our tiny farmhouse, driving an old, used SUV, with no job outside of the home.  Thankfully God took all of those "American dreams" away to show us what is really important.  The more you have, the more you want.  The more you focus on it.  The less you have, you realize the less you need.  You focus on the most important things.  It's truly freeing - freeing to break the bonds material things and worldly aspirations can have on a person.  I'm still a work in progress and I still struggle with wanting worldly success each day, but I'm thankful for the progress. 

That brings us to our 1200 square foot house for a growing (physically growing, not numerically growing) family of five.  We have one bathroom and three bedrooms.  We don't have a playroom.  But it works for us and we've found ways to make do with less space.  If you are considering building a house or concerned that the one you're in is too small - I assure you that you can make it work!

Here are a few practical ways we've made "less" work for us:

1) Let the kids share rooms

Audrey and Elizabeth love sharing their room. It's barely big enough for a double bed and a little corner with some dolls, but they love it!  I used this wall for a fun little shelf and added hooks underneath for bags or coats.

2) Be practical with your shelf space

I had a teary moment realizing that one day, this shelf will be filled with photos, pretty trinkets and random "stylish" decor - but that will just mean the kids aren't kids anymore.  So let ALL the shelves be full of this stuff.   Found the containers at TJ Maxx, but these are similar

3) Disguise toys 

Give me ALL the baskets and all the wooden storage chests.  We don't have closets, so these are the next best things to providing a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back look.  



4) What do you use the most and how can you make it easily accessible (In other words, when you run out of room in your cabinets - take out what you use the most and just let it be part of the decor while also being functional!)

When I had no space for the silverware, I just put them on the table!  Never go looking for a fork again! I think this is Brett's favorite hack of all as long as I can remember to keep the napkins stocked.  These trays at Hobby Lobby work great.

These baskets house the kids' cups and plates.  They can easily get them when preparing to eat and they can "help" by putting them away!

Brett made this handy mug rack for me when I ran out of cabinet space for cups.  

My sister gave me this idea when I was struggling to find space for these larger entertaining pieces.  I grab one of these pieces once a month or so - especially that vintage butter churn, you know.  

4) Go to Goodwill A LOT.  I'm constantly cleaning out and getting rid of things that we don't need.  It gets easier and easier to let go of material things.

5) Remind yourself of the purpose in all of it.  

When I start to feel cramped or dissatisfied, I walk by this sign I had made and it reminds me of what's most important and how a small home can be a good thing.

Found this on Etsy and she was able to customize it. 

See our homes like Jesus would - a temporary place to lay our heads to rest from doing his work.  Not a sanctuary retreat, but a launching pad for us to raise our families to GO and spread the Word and further His kingdom.  

While the rest of the world is resolving to accomplish the next aspect of the American Dream in the new year, I urge you to do the things God would deem successful instead.  Reading Bible stories to your family, showing them Jesus in the every day, inviting your friends or neighbors to church, participating in that Bible study, telling the random stranger you meet in the grocery line about what God has done for you, getting your kids to church on Wednesday nights instead of that fifth activity they're involved in.   If you're too busy posting your latest "blessing" on social media or working late hours to get the promotion, you may miss those "little" moments that matter most.  

Let's figure out ways we can be less this year.  Less of us just means more of Him.

Be bLESSed in the new year!  Love, The Tucker Family


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