Sweet Things In Small Spaces: What Living Simply Has Taught Me

About a year ago I posted this blog to let everyone know we were moving and the truth of why. Well, we’re moving again!

The Lord is always good to us, but He has been especially good to us this past year in spite of our unwise decisions that led us to downsize to apartment life in the first place. We had some really big goals that we wrote down and laid at His feet at the beginning of the year. Most of them were really big, like the kind that you write down, take a deep breath, and say “we’ll see.” One of them was buying a house, as we knew our lease would be up at the end of May. As time drew closer we were still debating on what to do, because though we have been able to pay down debt we’re still not debt free. May came, and an opportunity fell in our lap that we honestly thought was too good to be true, both a bit skeptical. But it was real, and by the end, we were taking a picture with a sold sign in front of a small plot of land in a new development outside of our current city.

So, we are on the move again, and each time we have gone out to see the progress of the house, I walk in and just feel I am standing on the Lord’s great faithfulness. It is far more than all could we could ask or think not because it’s new, but because God makes a way where there is no way. Because He hears our petitions, He sees our needs and not only meets them, but sometimes exceeds them. This sweet home is the perfect space for us, with an extra room for our family to grow. Right now I’m in the middle of writing my second book, and this time it’s really going to “tell all” about our story, our struggles and mountains and His faithfulness in them the past nine years. As I’ve reflected and looked back, I can’t help but see the sweet lessons we’ve learned in our smallest, most simple spaces. Living simply has taught us so much, both when we were first married living in a tiny, one bedroom apartment, then again this past year living as a family of three in a 2 bedroom apartment for a season, I wanted to share some of those things with you here.

  1. Small spaces doesn’t mean you have to play small. As I look back on our journey, God did really big things in our lives when we were living in the smallest spaces, extremely dependent on Him. When we were first married, it wasn’t the plan for us to buy a kid’s fitness franchise, but two months in, we did, and our 9×9 “dining room” was full floor to ceiling of kid fitness equipment. Most franchise owners in this business had huge homes, storage units, and office spaces. Not us. We took a leap, and those first two years were hard and a ton of work, but in that small space I learned how to run a business. I was thrown to the wolves in entrepreneurship, and even though we sold it three years later, I still carry so many of those skills with me today. We could’ve said “No, we don’t have the space. It doesn’t make sense to buy something that’s 40 minutes away. It’s too soon to do something that big so early on in our marriage.” Let me tell you something: Just because you aren’t in the “perfect” space for something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Sometimes we sell ourselves short because we play small, we believe we’re “not ready.” That may be true in some cases, but newsflash: You’re never fully ready for anything. Eight years later as we moved into an apartment again, we took another leap even though it wasn’t the perfect space or made total sense. Right after we moved, I decided to re-launch my blog and start something new. I partnered with my friend Charity for personal brand photography. If you follow bloggers on social media, most of them have big beautiful homes, designer spaces and furniture and clothing. I could have said, “No, now’s not the right time. We can’t shoot things in a two bedroom apartment! I need to wait till our life is more together.” But…how silly would that have been to “wait” to do something I knew I was called to do, just because it wasn’t the picture perfect scenario? I love what we created in these small walls, and I hope that this encourages anyone who isn’t taking the jump because your circumstances aren’t perfect. Don’t waste your gifts by playing small. cropped-cropped-christa-80Christa-13Spoonful of Jordan-5Spoonful of Jordan-38Spoonful of Jordan-31
  2. Big dreams are born in small spaces. Looking back, some of our biggest dreams and goals (and achievements) came when we were in our smallest spaces. I don’t know if it was the motivation to get out of it and do something more, or the closeness we experienced because we had less space between us, but beautiful things were born in these seasons. Remember when Jonathan won that screenplay contest last year and went out to L.A.? The screenplay he won with…that was written in our first tiny apartment together. I remember him being really excited about a story he had just written, and he asked if I would read out loud so he could hear it. We sat on our craigslist couch together and read that screenplay aloud in our tiny, one bedroom apartment. And eight years later, that screenplay that was written when we had little to nothing in our one bedroom apartment landed Jonathan representation with an agency and manager in L.A. Three months after moving into our apartment last year, Jonathan had some meetings with people in the industry, and he got a phone call from his agent that he had been hired to write a screenplay for a movie in the works. Now, I have a feeling that we will soon celebrate another script that was dreamed up and written in this two bedroom apartment. It was also within these small walls that Jonathan published his first novel. Shortly after we moved and I re-launched Spoonful of Jordan Blog, I had no plans to write a book. Yet what I had been trying to figure out for years, finally became clear when I decided to take this whole writing thing more seriously and make it more legit. Three months after moving in, I started writing my first book. Three months after I started writing it, Before You Adopt was published. Since then I’ve written so many blogs, recorded podcasts, set up booths at conferences, things I didn’t ever plan to happen. And that opened up the doors for more dreams, and in this sweet little space I started dreaming up and writing book number two. If you don’t sell yourself short by playing small, then big dreams can not only be dreamt up, but achieved no matter where you are. Don’t let your environment or your circumstances define you or hold you back. The only thing stopping you, is you. 

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  3. You have only what you need. Kind of no brainer, but practically speaking when you move to a smaller space, you get rid of a lot of your stuff. I have loved the opportunity to truly purge and learn that we don’t need as much as we sometimes think we do. When we downsized last year, there was no getting a storage unit. If it didn’t fit in our two bedroom apartment, then we didn’t need it. I cannot tell you how freeing it was to get rid of so much stuff that was honestly just a waste of space. It’s also been a beautiful lesson for Kai this past year to be able to teach him just because you want something or even have the money to buy it, doesn’t mean you need it. There were so many times things were an easy “no” because we simply didn’t have the space! Every three months, I was cleaning things out in the apartment when it felt like the walls were closing in on me, and Kai would join in on cleaning out his toys and things he didn’t want or play with anymore. Though we are thrilled to have more space, I am so grateful for this season that really taught our family to live minimally and think more wisely about wants vs. needs.
  4. I learned what I could realistically manage. Managing our first home and then our second home even though it was smaller, was so overwhelming to me. I often felt like such a failure because I just could not keep up with the housework, and it drove me crazy. Living in this last apartment in particular I really learned that it’s ok to go against the grain as far as what I want in a home. I learned that as of right now, I don’t want a big house, I just want what we need and fits best for our family. I want what I can more easily manage, because that means less stress and more time that I can have to spend time with my family, more time to write and engage in things that I enjoy, more time to say yes to the things that matter. It’s not wrong to have a big house. It’s not wrong to have extra space. I just learned that in this season, it’s not what I can manage, and that has completely changed my outlook as we look to the future.

We are so excited for this new chapter in our lives and cannot wait to see what the Lord will do in this new home and season. There have been times where I have started to panic, thinking back at our mistakes from the past two houses we lived in and how difficult those seasons were, and wondering if because we’re moving into a house again will history repeat itself? But this morning as I poured out all the things I was grateful for and written about our story, I see we are such different people than we were in the past. We are not defined by our mistakes or our circumstances. That’s not the way our good Father works. My prayer for this home is this is a season of rest, a season where He restores what the locusts have eaten the past four years. The seasons of living in small spaces will hold a special place in my heart, there was such sweetness to it.

Wherever you are in your journey right now, I hope this encourages you that it’s ok to go against the grain. It’s ok to move forward with something you know is right even when others pity you or think you’re crazy. Being obedient to Him often makes us look crazy, but it also yields far more abundantly than all we could ask or think. His ways are better. His plans for you are good.

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