Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adventures in Simplicity: Beginnings, or My Second Trip to Mexico

These are the stories of our family's adventures in living simply. We've had our share of highs and lows in the few short years we've been on this path, but we're loving just figuring it out together as we go along. And now with a new baby in the mix, things are sure to get even more adventuresome! 

I've been to Mexico twice in my life and each trip changed my life profoundly. The second trip was as a youth leader with my home church, the summer after my first year in college. During the day, we served at a small church and orphanage in a rural village, and each morning and evening we spent with our host families there. It is these before and after times that I remember most, the warm egg and bean tortillas for breakfast and dinner, the cold glasses of Tang, the dirt floors, and the fading and tattered depictions of Mary pinned to the walls. We could barely communicate with our kind hosts, but their sweet hospitality spoke so loudly and graciously to us.

The part that changed my life though, was a story I heard on our last day there, as we were preparing to leave. The pastor of the local church told us about a donation of household goods he had received that week and about how he and his wife, looking around their community and seeing so much need, didn't feel like those items were theirs to keep. So, they gave them to our host family, a middle-aged couple barely making ends meet and caring for several grandchildren, while also being loyal members of the church and regular hosts for visiting volunteers. But they too, looked around at their community, and were reminded of the elderly woman that lived nearby, alone in a small shack, who depended on them for many of her meals. They saw that her need was even greater than theirs, so they gifted every single one of the items that they were given on to her.

Both the church and our host family could have used these items, and would have been completely justified in keeping them, but they lived their lives with such open hands, that they were ever ready and willing to gladly give up all they could to those with the most need.

It's been nearly 7 years now, since I first heard that story, but I still share it regularly. When I came home from that trip and read my Bible, it began saying things that I had never heard before, things about justice and community and poverty, things about flowers and birds and fog. So, I changed the way I was living and what I lived for according to these truths that had been hidden in plain sight and my life has never been the same. I stopped buying so much stuff and started living with what I had. I spent more money at thrift stores and way less overall. Like so many of my generation, I read Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution and said, "Yes. Yes. Amen." the whole way through because this guy was reading the same Bible that I had just read for the hundredth yet first time.

What I meant to explain was part of why this little family of ours strives to live simply, but what I am also explaining is how so many things came to be. It is what called me to downtown Nashville and Durham's Waltown and the Pine Ridge Reservation and home. It is also a huge part of what drew me to my husband (ok, that and his good looks), because I could see that he was as committed, if not more so, to a lifetime of living with less to put people first.

Beautiful Pine Ridge. O, my heart. 
So at the core, this is why we are striving to live simply, not because it is more affordable, or easier, or healthier, or better for the environment, though wonderfully it is all of those things, but because it frees up so much space in our lives to love people well, including each other and this little boy of ours. We don't always do this well, in fact some days we stray veeerrry far off the path we intended to trod, and we are forever traipsing through the bushes to find it again, but I guess that's part of what makes it such an adventure. We intermittently fail and succeed, we figure out when to stand firm and when to give, and we are learning to live life with open hands, knowing nothing we are given is ever ours to keep.


  1. Wow. Just beautiful. Thank you!

  2. "...because it frees up so much space in our lives to love people well."

    Yes, yes, so with you on that.