The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart. Let's dive in!
I was very excited to start this book this past weekend, and had a feeling that despite being nonfiction, it would flow very quickly. I was right! I devoured the Introduction and first three chapters in just a few days, which for me and my limited reading time these days, is very, very fast!
As we begin the book, we have the following themes:
An Introduction to the modern "everything is disposable" throwaway culture;
Chapter 1 on this family's dramatic back story, and how they left behind the security of being near extended family and a dependable desk job to chase their dream of farming, and have more family time together;
Chapter 2 on simplicity and winnowing down your physical possessions. What do you actually *need* rather than storing things that you think you want;
Chapter 3 on love of the land and ethical treatment of animals.
I was so captured by this story. I absolutely love memoirs and life stories that involve courageous choices from the norm of everyday routine. Routine is great, don't get me wrong, but every once in awhile you need to make bold choices when the timing is right, and it's just plain the right thing to do. And so I was completely taken in by Haley's story of her young marriage, and her being at home with 3 small children, homeschooling, and her husband trundling off each day to work long hours in front of a screen. None of them were satisfied with their lack of family time, or with their overall suburban situation, but they felt stuck financially. Then came the inspiration to live in Texas for a year, near their old college alma mater, and live/work on a sustainable farm for a year via an internship program. They made the decision to sell their house in Florida, move to Texas, and pack the 5 of them into a small apartment for a year with no flushing toilets.
Bold. Yes, very bold. :0
Love, love, love this story. Despite the obvious challenges, this had the benefit of them all being able to be together during the day and evenings, and fitting in with homeschooling perfectly. Haley and her husband had satisfying work that they had always wanted to do, and the kids were able to play outdoors and experience real opportunities to learn and grow in nature.
One of the things Haley mentioned that I really related to was reducing clutter and overall looking at your possessions and releasing things that you no longer need or use. Sometimes we have emotional attachments to things, and granted, things with strong sentimental value can still be quite important to hold on to. But ALL of the things that we are reluctant to part with because of guilt or some other such emotion? It can be so freeing to give that stuff away or have a big garage sale. Not having so much stuff means less to clean, less to store, but more free space to live in. We try to go through our basement and storage room regularly, but sometimes we let it go far too long, and lately that has been the case. Release the guilt!
Haley makes a point of saying that not everyone is called to do what her family did. There is nothing wrong with living in the suburbs, sending your kids to a brick and mortar school, and working at an office job. The key is: where do you need to be, and what do you need to be doing, to fully live out what God is asking of you? At your job and at home, are you able to live out your faith, and spend quality time with your family? That's all that is important. You may be called to share your faith in unexpected ways in your workplace, and for your kids to do the same at their school. You may be able to happily weave together faith and family life in satisfying ways right where you're at now. But reading inspiring stories such as this one helps us to stay vigilant, to be always searching and aware of what God is asking us to do on any given day. He may be asking us to reduce clutter to create a more freeing prayer and study space for ourselves and our kids, to take walks outside with our family when the weather is right, to treasure those special moments. The implementation will be different for each of us, but the message is the same. GOOD STUFF.
What did you all think of the introduction and first 3 chapters?! We'll cover Chapters 4, 5 and 6 next Thursday!