We have a small family. There are three of us (and a cat who is for sale, just kidding, but taking offers), and one on the way, making four and some fur. We live in a 954 square foot house, which by no means is big, but seems to fit three of us just fine.
As number four approaches I get all sweaty. I have literally measured all three of our bedrooms and made miniature cutouts of our furniture from card stock and play the moving game (because growing a child does not afford me the luxury of moving around gigantic dressers - I tried that last time I was pregnant and pulled things unmentionable on the interweb).
So as I obsess about fitting a future 7 pound child into our home and how we are going to manage so many in such a cramped space, I stumbled upon a podcast called, "Large Families in Small Homes" by Ahappyhomemedia.com and humbly took in an hours worth of wisdom and advice from a family with NINE (with one on the way) children in an 1100 square foot home.
This message came at such an appropriate time as my heart struggled with what I thought we lacked rather than seeing how God provides. I am shocked to learn about these fleshly strongholds of unbelief in God's provision as I struggle with my tiny home, thinking I need more.
It's certainly been a place of unrest in my heart.
We are not called to unrest. We are called to peace in Jesus Christ. A soul freeing peace that our God will richly provide all we need, even if it looks like we don't have a lot on the outside.
This message with bless you if you find your self saying yes, or even a maybe to any of these questions:
- Do you struggle with the size of your home?
- Do you find yourself thinking you need more?
- Do you find yourself dissatisfied with your current lot?
- Do you hold on to things because you might need it . . . in ten years?
- Is it difficult for you to let go of things?
Um, yes to all of those for me!
Large Families in Small Homes: It's A Heart Thing
Living in a smaller space is a heart thing. That's what I realized when listening to Bob and Erika Shupe share about their home and family.
First, it's about trusting God to provide all we need when we need it.
Is it wrong to want another bathroom in my 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house? No.
But it is wrong (sinful I will admit) to be unhappy without one; to covet my friends' homes with more potty space; to be dissatisfied with what God has graciously given me now.
There is nothing wrong at all about taking a big vacation, or buying a jet ski, or living on a lake; but it's a matter of what controls you and what you sacrifice in order to have those things, and if the Lord doesn't provide those things it doesn't mean you are lacking, it means he's provided differently and he has a different ministry with what he's provided for you.
Second, it's about letting go of what your heart may be attached to - your belongings. Our culture is so loud in telling us what we need, yet we chose the bondage of stuff over the freedom of having less.
I have a difficult time getting rid of anything - sentimental or not. It's revealing of my heart when I look at certain things in my home and think - I could never part with you! Yet I haven't used it in a year (ahem, our sofa seat shoved on it's side in our shed!!!).
To downsize stuff so that your family can fit in your home is a challenge for the heart. I am so grateful that this wisdom isn't about being a minimalist or living in one of those mini-houses on the bay because it's so hot right now, but this is about trusting Jesus with our whole hearts. It's about worship - thanking Jesus for what he provides, and loving him above our things.
Three Tips on Living with Less
There is a lot this podcast has to offer (and with greater detail and experience) if you live in a small home, if you struggle with space, if you find yourself always wanting a little bit more. I encourage you to take a listen as you cook dinner or clean your bathroom(s), but in the mean time (and to wet your appetite) here are three tips that blessed my heart and I want to implement so bad (pray for us!).
Tip No. 1
Go through your house and take out what doesn't fit and is not needed in the here and now. Put it in the garage or a storage unit and see if you need any of it (or miss any of it) within a years time.
After that year, whatever you didn't need or miss, donate, give, or sell.
This method gives you the freedom to TRY out what your house would be like without, but not the permanence so you can go back and retrieve something if you need it.
Tip No. 2
2. Everything has a home.
All your things need a home within your home.
What comes in the home must be given a home, even if it means something else has to go for it to have it's own space.
Before you make a purchase (especially something larger like furniture or a toy) think through where it's "home" will be. This will help you decide if you have room for it. If you don't have the room either forgo the purchase OR choose something that can leave.
Having a home includes the small stuff - like rubber bands, paper clips, shoes and dirty socks. Make a home for things and you will have less mess, less stress, and no junk drawer(s) <-- GASP!
Tip No. 3
3. Consider activities or memberships for gifts
Gifts can be a source of clutter (not all the time, but sometimes). Consider getting "family gifts" like a membership to a museum or zoo or a trip somewhere.
These gifts are a blessing to children who get to have more family time and build memories together.
Don't Live Out of Fear
The biggest thing I took away from this podcast is we don't have to live in a stressed environment out of fear I'll need something. . . someday. There is freedom in letting go of stuff we don't use and a faith building exercise to say, "Lord, if we need it again in the future, we trust you will provide."
I will be the first to admit that makes me so nervous. An actual trust exercise to believe God's provision. But to trust him is to truly be at rest.
So as we prepare for baby two, I am starting the journey of opening my hand and saying - give me wisdom and faith to declutter this home so I can fill it with more children . . . children, after all, are a heritage from the Lord, not more IKEA furniture.