When Jonathan and I started feeling as though the Lord was calling us to a more "simple life" we began talking (and still are, by the way) about ways in which we could begin to make those changes now. Our long range dream is to have a mini-farm: to be able to grow most of our own food, to have a cow to get our raw milk, butter and cheeses, to grow less and less dependent on stores and their stocked shelves for our needs. But what kinds of changes can we make now? In our urban lifestyle, a Jersey cow is definitely out of the picture. :) But, there are ways that we can become less and less dependent on things...and one of those is battling the war on "stuff!" Isn't it amazing how many things one family can accumulate? How much do we really need? How much of our perceived happiness is tied to these things? In Philippians 4:11 Paul says, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." I like the fact that Paul used the word "learned." That is what I am doing too...learning to be content. How easy is it to stroll through stores (craft stores for me especially!) and see all those new things that line the shelves and start your mental wishlist! Then, when the next season rolls around, those things you bought last season all of a sudden look dull and unattractive up against all the "new things" that have come out this season! How many clothes does one need? How many decorations? What about all the latest tools for your favorite crafting hobby? I wonder how people managed years ago and made such beautiful things without the latest die cut machine. Am I saying all these things are bad? No, but I am saying at some point, it is wise to take stock of our motives and realize if our momentary "contentment" is tied to these material things. Living a simple life to us begins with getting rid of excess. Scaling down means freedom. Although many things we have may bring us temporary satisfaction...the more things you have, the more time it consumes just managing them all...whether that means dusting, organizing, or storing. Then, secondly, beginning to live the simple life means taking stock on what you need and asking the hard questions about future purchases. Do I really need this? Can something I already have serve the same purpose? Can this be paid for in full now? Will it put a strain on my budget? How often do we just take a look at God's creation, the sky, a gentle breeze, a sparrow in a tree, the variety of colors and designs among God's flowers, and realize nothing is more beautiful than these? How it must grieve the heart of God to see us hurrying constantly from here to there with our list of things to get and do...filling up our days with things that often amount to nothing in the end. So, next time you are outside, stop a minute...take a deep breath and look around to see all the wonder God has given to us in the form of His creation. That is a great first step along the road to living simply.