Monday, October 7, 2013

Simple Days

My adolescent sticky-fingered hands clung to the juicy peach. The old car rattling beneath us, we sped towards Plymouth, the site of our once-a-year vacation rendezvous when I was a little girl. My sisters and I were wedged together tightly in the backseat, like three squirming puppies, each of us gripping our piece of fruit. Our car, bursting with camping equipment and warm bodies made its way towards our final destination. This was before the days when most people had air conditioning and you just had to hang tight in the backseat, roll down the windows, and hope that you could catch a breeze. And when you finally piled out of the car you felt like you might have dripped away the very last ounce of condensation from your body. But then you were free to run and to play and to ramble and to be a child.

I remember the excitement of arriving at the campsite, usually sometime in the late afternoon, and setting up our big red tent that drooped when it rained and didn’t quite keep all the moisture out. I remember pushing the stakes into the ground and arranging my belongings in my designated area and making sure to remember to take off my shoes before going into the tent. No one wanted to sleep in a bed of dirt and pine needles; my Mom was quite adamant about that  . . .

And when nighttime came there was a roaring fire and hotdogs on the grill (this was before people could afford to regularly cook steaks on their grills) and the cozy feeling of sitting together as a family and just basking in the warmth and the pure delight of it all.

Going to Pinewood Lodge was our only vacation back then, and we were content with that. We were satisfied with the simple, because we were raised in a simple way. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothing and shoes and lessons and vacations (and that was probably a salvation for us in many ways; poverty can be a purifying means if it shifts the focus from material things to the Great Provider). We were thrilled to pretend that we were Mary and Laura from Little House on the Prairie and to collect baskets of green seeds outside to “cook” enticing, muddy soups with. And we were happy. And our refrigerator was always a little on the “empty” side. And we didn’t complain much about the things that we couldn’t have because we didn’t even realize that we were lacking anything.

How much does a child really need, anyway?

We didn’t have a lot of luxuries growing up, but my Mom made everything special — the holidays, the seasons, even the weather. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter were the crowning celebrations of our year, with birthdays coming closely in second, and Valentine’s Day, like a fairy-wisp of delight in the cold days of February. One of my clearest memories is of my Mom teaching me how to write my name in the soft light of the evening, while her able hands shaped a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day. And there would be pink applesauce some years, or cranberry soda with doilies placed festively around the table. And then our Valentine’s Day heart -- always Russell Stover, and our allowance of 2 chocolates per day. We were ecstatic . . . and still feel that sense of making each holiday very special.

We live in “easier” times now, monetarily speaking, but I wonder if we are deceiving ourselves in thinking that our children have it “better” than we did . . . Are we really benefiting our children by giving them all the luxuries that we didn’t have? Or are we driving them farther away from the realities of life, and from Christ, who is the Ultimate Reality? Simple things like walking to school — wasn’t it good exercise and didn't it teach children the discipline of pulling themselves out of bed just a little earlier? Do children really need a plethora of different snacks and favorite foods eaten at random times, or was it better when families sat down together at the table and ate a common meal while sharing in the events of one another’s lives? Do children need to be pushed into so many different activities that there is not time for them to enjoy their childhood, no time for good, honest hard-work, and no time for daily family worship and reading the Scriptures? (What is truly important to us, anyway?) Our lives may become less complicated if we prayerfully considered how we are raising our children and how much we, as believers have embraced the culture of hurry and chaos.

But sometimes it’s just easier to press through a drive through, to throw a quick movie into the DVD player for our kids, to jump into the car and head for the most enticing store. And sometimes there is nothing wrong with it, when a respite or a break is needed. But it shouldn’t be the direction, the leaning of our lives. Investment should be . . . investment into the lives of our children — not quality time, but investment all the time —prayerful, loving, concerned, involved, radical parenting, that defies the norm and that rejects the culture and its ideals when they don’t coincide with the freeing direction of Scripture. Who says that my child needs to “socialize” in the way that this world dictates that he or she should? The Holy Spirit is ultimately our Guide, not the parenting magazine in the doctor’s office, and not the Mom who has read all the latest and greatest and has her degree in child psychology.

The simplicity of Christ . . . when we humbly guide our sons and daughters in the ways of the Lord and make Him first in our lives, then everything else will peacefully fall into place. We will lead less busy, frenzied, hurried lives and our homes will become sanctuaries of rest rather than cookie-cutter culture-embracing, Christ-minimizing condominiums. What do we truly want our homes to look like, our lives to look like? And do we really care the most about our children’s character — whether his or her heart is being fashioned after the image of Christ — not whether he or she is fitting into the ideals of the culture? When we care about the real things, the things that will endure and matter eternally, then our hearts will be changed, become unfettered, and the litter of this age will be cleaned away. Then we will be satisfied with the much of Christ and disenchanted with the littleness of this passing world, and our children will be free to walk as sons and daughters of the Living God.

You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Renewed Daily,


  1. I think these are excellent thoughts Rebekah. I think you have wisdom beyond your years! God bless you & thanks for sharing. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  2. I couldn't agree more! I think that though our children "have" more, they are missing out on so much! Thank you for sharing this important message on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

    Spoiling them with things and mesmerizing them with images isn't a childhood to remember. We grew up similar to your description and I see so many blessings in a life with less...

    1. You're welcome, JES! Now, that I'm older, I'm so thankful for the "simple" way that we were raised--it was such a blessing from God, even though we didn't have a lot of material things.

      Thank you for hosting the link-up; have a wonderful week. :-)