Why we live the way we live and how we've simplified our lives

I didn't happen all at once. I don't think at the time it was even conscious. But slowly over time our life began to change.

I've talked about the moment I realized I wanted to get out of debt. And I've talked about what it was like for Jason and I to hit financial rock bottom.

But I honestly cannot pin point the exact moment we decided that a life of simplicity was for us.


Maybe it was when we left the Atlanta suburbs and moved to a little blue house in the country. Maybe it was when we decided to give up cable and new clothes and shop at the thrift store. But slowly, bit by bit Jason and I have found ourselves embracing a more simplistic lifestyle.

I think this season is the time that I have felt the most peace in my life.

I thought today I would talk about some of the choices we've made and why we've made them.

1. We live without debt

Right now we have a mortgage payment and that's it. We owe no one else on the planet a dime. And we are really working hard for it to stay that way.

We are actually in the market for a new roof and on Friday we had a metal roofer come and give us a very long (very long, 2.5 hours long) presentation on roofs. It was mind-numbingly boring. We had been pretty up front with him and said "hey, we're getting estimates and we will be getting a roof in six months."

At the end of the presentation he quoted us a price and we said "thanks, we will call you in six months."

He couldn't understand why we weren't just willing to run out and secure financing right away. We explained that we are cash only people. We don't use credit cards and we don't borrow money (minus our mortgage).

He even tried to argue with us. Guilt us. Flat out tell us we were wrong. It didn't work. Sorry.

Guess who we are not buying a roof from now?

We chose to live a life without debt because we vividly remember how it felt to owe people money. We remember what it was like to owe Sallie Mae, Visa, GM, and a host of people their share of our livelihood. Why live like that?

So deciding to live without debt means you have to plan, you have to save and you have to be disciplined. These are things that are popular in our instant gratification society. But trust me, it really is a simpler way to live.

2. We got rid of a lot of our stuff.

I am not going to pretend that we are minimalists. We're not. I actually love the new minimalist movement. I think it's great that people want to live with fewer things in their homes.

But we just aren't there yet. However, over the past two years we have gotten rid of half of our stuff.

In fact, I've talked about how and why I got rid of half my clothes. And since then I have really adopted a one in/one out approach. Last week I got four new shirts. So guess what? Four items of clothing left my house.

I feel like stuff breeds stuff. The more I had the more I wanted. I had a home filled with clutter I didn't need but thought I wanted. As I began to rid myself of all the excess my mind shifted. I began to reprioritize almost every compartment of my life. Including how I managed my time and my money.

We got rid of a ton of furniture, clothing, toys and shoes we didn't want, need or use. Our house is still cluttered. I trip over blocks and Thomas trains all the time. But there is less of it there.

3. We started buying our stuff used.

We are not opposed to new stuff. I do not think new stuff is a sin. Or wrong. Or greedy. Or selfish. I just think, why pay more when I can get it at Goodwill for a quarter of the price.

Or why fill up a landfill with packaging and eventually the item itself when I can buy it used and do my part for the planet.

Plus y'all, I got a tub of legos for $7! They are $25 new at Walmart. So pay full price, suckers.

4. We live on one income.

I really want to be at home with my kids as long as possible. We don't know what our school situation is going to be like once Ryals reaches kindergarten. But even if home school isn't what we feel called to do I still want to be available to be involved in their school situation. So that means we live on one income. And since we have chosen to be debt free that means living on a portion of that income to save for the future.

5. We gave up caring.

That Lydia, she just gave up caring. Yoga pants on Sunday! Just kidding. When I say we gave up caring I mean we don't make our life choices in a way that pleases others. I wish I could say it had always been like that. But looking back I know that we made some really stupid decisions so that we could keep up with our peers. Sigh.

Instead I want to live a life that is authentic to who I am. And when I am living a life authentic to who I am I might make choices that aren't always popular. But who cares? I'm a big weirdo. It's taken me a long time to get to that point.

I don't want to live a life that pleases society. I want to live a life that pleases the Lord. And I fail at that often.

To me it is about valuing our relationships with people over our relationships with things. It's about finding time to do the things we love and not be bogged down by obligations. It's about allowing our children the opportunity to grow up slowly with time spent with us, their parents, and lots of open-ended outdoor play.

The life we've chosen isn't for everyone, but simplifying and letting things go has been one of the biggest peace-bringing experiences I have had.

What about you? What have you done to simplify your life?