Better is little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble therewith.
Photography by Curtis and Norma Beaird
For the past few years, there has been a trend towards minimalism and frugality. Of course, when you lose your job or you're living on a tight budget, that trend sorta creates itself out of necessity. However, once you hit about forty years old (give or take a few years), the trend towards minimalism becomes a fantasy instead of a reality.
Plus, once you hit about forty or fifty, there's a good chance that you have collected a lot of stuff, had yard sales, bought more stuff, moved to another house, condo or apartment, etc. etc. During these moves or clean-out sessions, you begin to realize that you have bought a lot of things over the years that you really didn't need. Things that you thought you couldn't live without finally became dust-catchers, thrift store donations or flea market treasures.
Life was not meant to be spent in a mall. When you're younger and full of energy, buying stuff and then moving it, storing it or even cleaning it is not a big deal. However, when you're older, you realize that the extra load of stuff is not worth the time, the worry or the aggravation.
Stuff can become an emotional "ball and chain"
just as much as........a physical "ball and chain".
You begin to relish the thought of walking into your house and seeing only what you truly need or appreciate. You long to see white space on the wall. Clean and cleared out. Less becomes more and more becomes, "Where can we put this for now?"
Therefore, Curtis and I are on a mission to minimalize, declutter and alleviate the worry of storing stuff in a climate-controlled storage unit. God has given us an affinity for writing and photography; and through our love for nature and all things beautiful, we have learned that we honestly don't use about half of what we have in our possession, to include furniture. Seriously......look at the things in your house. How many things do you use on a daily basis? How many things could you live without and never, ever miss?
One of the last times we had a vacation rental on Tybee Island, I remember walking through the door and seeing the living room completely free of clutter, magazines and endless figurines. It was mentally freeing, to say the least. If you ever want to get inspired to declutter or downsize, lease a vacation rental and walk through the door.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11........
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
The same philosophy can hold true with buying groceries, clothes, magazine subscriptions, cell phone contracts, cable or satellite television extras, GPS systems, etc. How many gadgets or features do we really need on our electronic devices? Do we really need that uber-expensive cell phone? Do we need a cable television bill that rivals our electric bill?
Is a GPS necessary when it's just as easy to read a map? There was a day when folks had to rely on maps instead of GPS. Reading a map forced us to focus, pay attention to the small details and figure things out, instead of being told what to do. By the way, if you don't have an old-fashioned roadmap, Mapquest is free on the internet.
After a while, every little thing begins to add up.
Consequently, before you know it, you're paying huge sums of money for things you don't necessarily need. There are cheaper cell phones, smaller TV's, basic cable......well, you get the picture. Over time, the "bells and whistles" will empty the checking account, unless you're Donald Trump or Bill Gates.
We could save more money and have a lot less stress if we would follow Philippians 4:11.......IF......we actually would. Who cares what friends or neighbors may think about your frugality? Are they paying your bills? Of course not; therefore, it's necessary to do what's right and beneficial for you and your family.
Curtis and I have managed to free ourselves from the worry of "having to have" the expensive cell phones, satellite television contracts, etc. We've never worried about those things anyway, so we have a modest-priced cell phone and contract and we have the least expensive satellite television package because we watch very little TV.
Why am I writing this article? Hopefully, we can all free ourselves from the bondage of "more is better". Hopefully, we can all encourage each other in the practicality of having only "what we need" as opposed to "having it all".
Remember, when you "have it all", it has to be maintained, cleaned, dusted, insured and protected from the elements or burglars.
The guy in the following link has inspired us: and hopefully, he will inspire you, too! His entire website is dedicated to living a minimalist lifestyle. If you've never read his material, this is a great place to start!
Copyright 2013, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.
Article By: Norma W. Beaird
Photography By: Curtis Beaird
A little over six years ago, I moved to a rural area in Georgia to work at the local college. I had never lived in a town this small, and for me, it was quite a culture shock. At first, it was a fascination because I drove to work down a long country road as opposed to a dangerous and traffic-laden interstate. Instead of stopping at traffic lights, I actually stopped for a family of turkeys to cross the road. At night, instead of being overwhelmed by city lights and sirens, I was overwhelmed by the number of deer attempting to leap in front of my car.
In the mornings, I would awake to a serene quietness that you never find in the city. Instead of horns and screeching brakes, I would hear chirping birds, whistling trees and the irritated geese that lived across the street. However, the fascination soon wore off and I realized that I was living in “the middle of nowhere”. Some people call it the “sticks” or the “boonies”, but I called it slow and uninspiring. My newfound world suddenly turned into something that seemed boring, backwards and remote. Thus, the complaining began. I thought I was surely missing out on something. Then, I thought I had lost something. Later on, I finally realized that I had lost nothing, but had gained something much more valuable called peace, quiet and renewed faith.
In the past, I was always considered a social butterfly who never met a stranger, and I always enjoyed having a lot of places to go and see. Having owned a travel business, I enjoyed being on the go. I appreciated options, and that meant having a wide variety of restaurants, gas stations, malls and discount outlets within a five-mile radius. Convenience and entertainment always meant a lot to me, until now.
Sometimes life steps in and changes things. After my husband recovered from cancer, a heart attack and then a serious retina surgery, the recovery time forced us both back into an appreciation for the simple and quiet things of life. Healing takes time and requires peace and quiet. Later on, after I went through a surgery and recovery time, I found myself yearning less for action and yearning more for tranquility. This slow way of life was now agreeing with me. Trust me; it’s easier to recuperate when you’re not living a fast-paced life under stress while listening to sirens and loud neighbors.
Unlike the modern culture of “bigger is better”, we live in a country cottage and we are approximately ninety minutes from the nearest mall. We’re about thirty minutes from a department store, but that’s okay. Not having immediate access to materialistic pleasures has taught me something about life that should be evident to most human beings, but as usual, we have to learn the valuable lessons the hard way. Life is best enjoyed when a person is not overwhelmed with noise and stuff. If I want or need something, I may have to drive a while to find it, or order it online. But again, that’s okay, because living in the country teaches a person to have patience while calming a restless spirit.
Constant stimulation with no rest leaves very little room for creativity, imagination and logical thought process. In the Old Testament, we read in the book of Genesis that the Lord rested on the seventh day. If the Lord found it important to rest, and we’re created in His image, then we need to rest as well. It’s okay to stay home sometimes and not attend every game, every meeting and every concert. It’s okay to take a vacation or sit on the front porch. Sometimes it’s okay to say “No”. It’s easier to heal when your calendar is not full.
My husband and I love to go to the city, but we’ve been in the country long enough that the city noise now drives us bonkers. Driving in city traffic feels like a punishment for something we didn’t do. Being pushed through large crowds reminds me of being herded like cattle. It’s amazing what living the simple life can do for you. Consequently, you don’t realize how much you enjoy simplicity until you’re thrust into the middle of chaos.
A life of simplicity has affected other areas as well. We don’t own a microwave oven. My husband and I have collected old-fashioned cast iron cookware. One of my greatest joys in the kitchen is frying an egg on a round cast iron skillet, and, I must admit that butter-coated wheat bread tastes the best when heated on the same skillet where you fried the egg. I love to fry an egg and make toast for him and take it out to the front porch. He eats breakfast while watching Henry, our front porch lizard, crawl in and out of the Boston Ferns. Yes, something has definitely happened to us. And no, we didn’t lose our minds; we reclaimed our sanity. We traded stress for peace. We have learned that being busy and being productive can reside at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Simplicity is completely underrated. Sometimes, life brings us to a place where we are forced to reckon with what is really important. We realize that more is not always satisfying or even better. Sometimes, we realize that less is more and that more stuff just means more debt and more responsibility. In the end, it all goes to a yard sale or a landfill. Sometimes, the best things in life are truly free and they don’t require a storage unit. God will never send us a bill for viewing a gorgeous sunset, a butterfly or a red-headed woodpecker. The Lord won’t charge us for peace and tranquility. Our Creator provided a world of beauty that can’t be bought with silver or gold. You can’t put a price on love, hope, family or nature. Learn to enjoy the priceless things in life without a price tag. Take back what the culture stole from you and learn to enjoy the simple life. Sometimes we need to wait for the turkeys to cross the road.
Copyright 2011, Norma W. Beaird. All rights reserved.
© 2006 - 2023 Curtis and Norma Beaird. All rights reserved.