One Life To Live.

October 4, 2013

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People have asked us for the past couple of years where the idea of simplifying our life, traveling more, and wholeheartedly believing in giving our children experiences over things came from, and I’ve always been at a loss for words. Because I wouldn’t say it came in one lightbulb moment, but rather evolved over time. A long, hurtful time. And to understand that, you kind of have to know our story…

When we moved from South Carolina to Oklahoma in 2011, I had just turned 23 years old. I had been married to the love of my life for 3 years and in those newlywed years dealt with struggling finances, renovating/living in a house that was a dump while being pregnant, and parenting a toddler, my husband working three jobs, pregnancies, a miscarriage, my grandparents’ deaths, the unraveling of suicide in the family, my own depression, and 4 moves.

When we boarded that little plane in Greenville, SC, to embark on an adventure to Oklahoma, people thought we were crazy. And we kind of were. My husband had gotten the job promotion we had been praying for, and we were looking for change. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was 35 weeks along with our third baby and we had a 2 yr-old and a 1-yr-old. So we packed up what we thought we would need to live on for a couple of weeks before the movers could pack up our house and send it to an unknown address in Oklahoma, sent a couple Facebook messages to a friend Steven had worked with for a summer at a camp, and bought one-way tickets for me and our 2 girls. Those first couple of weeks in Oklahoma were faith-stretchers. Steven was back and forth between the coast and the midwest, we lived on very little money, borrowed time with my pregnancy, and the generosity of perfect strangers who had taken us under their wings.

And that was humbling for me.

We looked and looked for a house to rent, but couldn’t find anything in our tight budget that seemed worth dishing out our hard-earned cash for, so we decided on a very basic 2 bedroom apartment that we really did love. And it was small. Very small. With the most basic amenities, but very within our budget. And when the movers delivered all of our stuff? You couldn’t walk in the apartment, let alone see anything because the boxes were piled from the floor to the ceiling. I’m dead serious.

We were coming from a 2,100 square foot home with an unfinished basement that stored all of our tools for the renovating we had done, and an acre plot land. It was quite clear. All of our stuff was not going to fit in this little 1,100 square foot apartment. So we were faced with our first milestone in our journey to simplify our life: do we get a storage unit, or do we give away the things we can live without?

We chose the latter.

We gave a lot away to friends and loaded up our mini van from ebay to the brim and took trip after trip up to Goodwill. I prayed each time Steven would take off with another load of my nice, Gymboree clothing and our baby equipment I had always thought I needed, and my Pottery Barn outlet finds, that God would put the right people in that store who needed our things.

In the course of about three days, at 38 weeks pregnant, we downsized our things by %50. I couldn’t believe that although I was 40 lbs overweight, I suddenly felt so light! There was a peace and a relief that settled into our little home that only me and Goodwill could ever understand. We could settle in for baby now. We bought a set of bunk beds for the girls in the second bedroom, and I bought a small side chair at TJ Maxx for the living room and that was it. We were ready.


And then God sent the blizzards…and we weren’t ready to deliver a baby at home. (You can read that whole whirlwind story here.)

Looking back, I wonder how we lived in that little apartment with three babies. How we stayed sane. And then I remember Abraham Lincoln lived in a one-room cabin with his family. You know? I mean, have you ever read even a teensy bit about Abraham Lincoln? He was awesome.

I also think there is a part of me that loves the idea of living against the grain of culture. Of doing things that are slightly crazy, or don’t make complete sense. I know the criticizers in the world love to pounce on people or situations like this, but if I weren’t ready to hear it, I wouldn’t be writing this. You see, for several years I felt this overwhelming need to explain ourselves and the decisions we made as a family to other people. I hated that I lived in that trap, and yet I couldn’t seem to get out of it. But God slowly freed me of that in Oklahoma. I guess we did one too many crazy things, fell on our faces one too many times, and I just came to terms with the fact that we were a work in progress. That I was waaaay harder on myself, than what other people were. And my perspective had gotten very self-focused to think people even cared what we did anyway.

After the apartment, we moved 4 times in the span of 2 years. We had put our house on the market in SC and needed to cut our costs here in OK significantly to afford both housing expenses, so we signed up to do show homes. They are homes on the market that you rent for a very reduced rate (ours were $400/month) and the pay-back is that you must keep them spotless for showings, and be ready to leave within an hour if a realtor calls you wanting to show a house. Oh, and you move when the house sells. We had realtors show up at our door and want to look at the house on the spot. We had people drive by taking pictures. We had an inspector show up once when I had a friend and her kids over for lunch and the realtor asked us to leave. And we did. The lasagna left on the kitchen table.

I had always considered ourselves pretty flexible people, but this. This really made me see we had room for growth! I was waking kids up from their naps and hustling to get the house perfect for showings. And it wasn’t long before we quickly realized – we need to downsize again.

So we did. We paired down our belongings to about a third of what we started with when we moved here from South Carolina. No microwave. No frilly baby items, just the bare necessities. We got rid of so many clothes, to the point that I was down to about 8 outfits per child. Steven and I shared one dresser (we have always done that) and it was comfortable again. We boxed up all the toys that were broken or that the kids never played with, and only kept what could fit into one small closet. We kept only what we were legitimately using, and what held sentimental value to us. And the rest? We gave away or sold.

We were beginning to experience a turning point. As we lightened our load and got rid of the excess, we began feeling more and more liberated. And less and less hindered. We began looking at life like not what is the next thing we can get, but what is the next thing we want to do? We began focusing on things in our family that had long been crowded out and ignored and began seeing monumental growth in our marriage and our idea of relationships as a whole. We began traveling and taking the kids on small weekend adventures in Oklahoma. All the free state park kind of places, museums, and libraries. We took a trip to our friends’ Missouri farm…where life is far from the city and very very simple. And we just kept soaking it all up.

Life was beautiful. Life was thrilling. Life was valuable…even without all the stuff.

I began wondering how we ever lived any other way.

I began dreaming about the future again and allowing my mind to wander….what if we actually pursued our dreams? Not just talked about it, but did them. What if we dared to live a little braver, and get outside of our comfort zones? What if we set our own course for our family, and not the one we were expected to take?  What if we viewed our school choices revolving around what we wanted for our family, not what felt normal? What if we were givers? Not just thinking about the next thing we wanted to add to our wardrobe, or the next really nice car we wanted to buy. But what if we gave? To people. What if we viewed our stuff as not ours, but God’s? And not just said it, but actually lived it. What if we got over ourselves and our own agendas, and began seeing the world? Like, really seeing it. The needy people. The hurting people. The insecure people.

The ones who were just like us. Who had been where we had been and where we still are sometimes, with their own stories.

And I don’t know. Somewhere along the line, we changed. We’re still changing.

I guess what I’ve learned from our simplifying journey is to keep an open mind. You’ll feel like you have to do what other people are doing, or “fit in” with clothes and cars and houses, but I really think the whole thing is a trap. A trap to get you to always be looking for something, something you’ll never find it. You’ll always want something you can’t have, or wish you could be someone else and have their “perfect” life. But it’s all such a lie. Such a cultural thing we’ve created in America, that bigger is better, and more is cooler.

When Steven and I were shooting the Red Carpet event two weeks ago, I overheard Leland Orser talking with what looked like an extremely wealthy Tulsan. He said, “I used to think I had to keep up. And when I finally realized I didn’t, it was so much better.” The wealthy Tulsan agreed and they shook there heads knowingly, like a huge weight had been delivered from their shoulders. Here was a person who had fame, a successful career, and money, and he was saying it all wasn’t what was truly important. I am amazed that over and over again, this same idea has been reiterated in all the biographies I’ve been reading about successful actors and royal family members. Like God keeps sending me little hidden messages and if I look really hard, I see them.


I hope that we can be in our own home someday, like the one we have in South Carolina that never sold, where I can pick the paint colors again and salvage historic wood for my countertops. I would love to have a guest room and be able to give people a place to stay. I heart J. Crew clothes and I would rather have one pair of pants by them, then a hundred from Target. And I certainly have my wardrobe wish list. If we have another baby, we’ll need to get another car and we’ll definitely need tobuy a few clothes, because I gave away all of ours.

But I want to hold loosely to all of that. I don’t want to be clenching those things in my hands so tightly that if God asked to take it away it would cause me to despair.

When people ask why we have made the choices we’ve made in the past few years, how we got on this idea of simplifying and downsizing, and experiencing more, I guess you could say we saw that life was short. We saw that we only get one shot at this. And we wanted to live a well-examined life. We may be in our twenties, but we’re going to believe the 80-yr-olds who tell us it all goes by so fast. We’re going to believe the successful artists and creatives who have “made it” and who we look up to, and take what they say to heart. We’re going to believe the word of God when He says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

We only have one life. And I guess we know how we want to live it now.

Here’s to more adventures!

(This is in no way a post about people needing to live their lives the way we live ours. This is to tell our story, for those of you who have asked, in an effort to inspire and encourage and to give our God the glory for the work He has done in our life. I hope and pray my honesty here touches someone’s life today and gives you a small peek into our hearts. As always, I love reading your comments, and they truly make my day. But please leave them under that light.)

Lay Em Down, by Need to Breathe


  • Reply Amanda Bumgarner October 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I so long to unclench my hands, but they seem to want to grip so tightly.

  • Reply Jenna Riley October 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

    This entire post gave me the chills, and by the end of it I had tears building up. This is something that I’ve been struggling with for some time, and I actually mentioned to a friend last night that I feel so ungrateful for the things I have in my life, because I feel like I don’t have enough. It hit me hard, made me nauseous, and tore apart my heart because I know that God doesn’t want me to be that way.

    We’ve tried simplifying so much lately, and as hard as it is to see things go and feel as though people may “judge” you, it’s gotten to the point where it IS party of America and our society to be a ‘certain way’. Why not do and be what makes you happy? I’m going to ramble on and none of this will make sense if I don’t stop now, but I wanted to just leave a note and tell you that this is something that I REALLY needed to read. Thank you for sharing. I love your blog!


  • Reply Hannah October 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Mary Beth, thanks for sharing truth. My husband and I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment with no garage or yard and never enough storage. Sometimes I think I would trade just about anything for a spare room or even an extra closet. But this is such a good reminder how blessed I am to be forced into learning to live with less early on in our marriage. Also a plus: I can clean that thing top to bottom in an hour because it is so small.

    Happy weekend!

  • Reply drea October 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

    beautiful. it’s all so beautiful. i’ve been feeling trapped by all our belongings lately. i want to free up space. i’d rather have a sweet moment hugging my boys against the wall, than to have some console holding up frames there. 🙂 i’m glad you found your way to where you are.

  • Reply Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ October 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I love this post more than you’ll ever know. And I so wish you lived closer because I would share with you the many reasons why my husband I did exactly what you are doing. Some life events forever change you and make you view life in a different light. And yes, life is short! Blessings to you…

  • Reply Stephanie October 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I am SO glad you blog and share you life and choose to share your family’s story. While I can in no way understand all of what you guys went through early in your marriage, we too got married young (21) and had children right away. We too struggled financially and just moved to Oklahoma two months ago because my husband got a terrific job opportunity here. And after having everything in storage we are moving into a 1,000 sq ft apartment tomorrow. Too often I compare our lives and the choices we make to other people, wonder if we’ll ever get to announce that we’re moving into a real home like most of our other friends, have the money to decorate all cute and chic and buy all the nice clothes. I obviously needed this reminder that life is so much more than stuff and things, and it’s about loving people, giving, and serving. Thank you, thank you! You are blessing and encouraging so many people!!

  • Reply Lilly Price October 4, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Mary Beth! This is so wonderful. Your honesty is so refreshing and your family’s story is incredibly heartwarming. Praise God for people like you!!

  • Reply Allison October 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Mary Beth! I really think you may be my life twin! This is exactly our story right now. We own a home in SC, recently moved to a small 2 bedroom condo with our 2 girls in Charleston to pursue a job promotion for my husband. We have been simplifying our life for months now and it feels so great! We have the same dreams and reasons…to travel, see the world through God’s eyes, and to give with open hands. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I truly hope we can sit down and talk over coffee sometime in the future. God bless!

  • Reply Sarah Kate October 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    There’s so much I want to say and so little time as my little ones need me. There’s so much that resonates with me in this post, the big and the small details, like the fact that God also took us through a time of a house that never sold and all that we learned about him, and our pride and selfishness, through it. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s meaningful and important.

  • Reply Frances October 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Your story resonates with me deeply. My husband and I moved to Central California three months ago out of severe financial necessity. Though we lived minutes from the beaches in Orange County, I could see the life we were leading was not our own. We coveted so many “things” and became so far removed from the essence of living, really living. New jobs brought us here and when I look back at how within two weeks of receiving our job offers (which, by the way, happened within days of one another), we packed up the bare essentials and lived with our dear friends for two weeks (with our, then, 8-week baby boy) while we waited for the home we were going to rent to be ready (for us this was a real blessing to be able to move from a 700 square foot apartment to a 1200 square foot home for half the price of what we paid for our old beach adjacent apartment).

    My parents, bless them, packed up the rest of our belongings while we began working. In a matter of a month our life changed completely and I know now, more than ever, that only the Lord could have helped us navigate that point in our lives. Challenges still remain for us, financially, as we still have to address our decisions of the past, but I see those little messages He sends us – like at mass last Sunday where the priest’s sermon spoke to the idea of being a Steward and that nothing of this world belongs to us and that we must decide who to serve “Gold or God” (which came at all too good a time when I was feeling frustrated at how slowly things were/are progressing… at least to me). We, too, have given away things and sold things (like the expensive purses and shoes I bought recklessly trying to live a life I very well couldn’t afford at 21… almost 9 years ago) and have also been blessed by our friends and family whom have helped us with our son (now 4.5 months old). God is surely working for us and in us and I see that now so clearly (how fitting that the job I was offered was at a private Christian university too with my boss who is more than just a boss but who is quickly becoming a spiritual and professional mentor).

    Your words inspire me greatly to continue the journey towards living our life more simply and with purpose. I am reminded of Robert Frost where in his poem, The Road Not Taken, he says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” My husband and I have realized we need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing… how everyone else is living… which “road” everyone else is taking.. and just take the path we believe is best for us. And for now… this path will do just fine.

    I’m so glad to have found your blog. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your world. You are wonderful.

  • Reply Heather Disarro (@heathersdish) October 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Every post you write moves my heart so mightily. I don’t doubt that God has placed you in my life for very big reasons, that he placed YOU on this earth for very very mighty things! I have felt like we need to reduce our things for a long time, and this post (in conjunction with some other stuff I’m going through) has just affirmed that October is the month that we’re going to start doing just that. I can’t wait.

  • Reply Blissfully Blessed October 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Loved reading this MaryBeth. God has done so much in your life these last couple years. I will never forget that blizzard…:)

  • Reply caitlinmfrost October 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    i love this. my parents had an RV growing up, and since they were both teachers we would pack up and leave for 4-6 wks at a time. i got to see most of the US that way. and it’s the plan my husband and i have for our family. we would rather travel than shop and our dream is to own an rv and take our future kids out for similar excursions.

    we just moved into our home where we host the beginning stages of a church plant. it’s humbling to have 30 people not fit into the house God has given you because you have too much stuff. so we chucked it all out. now 30 people fit comfortably, but we’re growing by the week. and i am thankful everyday for this blessing.

    so kudos to you that you learned this so early.

  • Reply Aanika October 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Mary Beth, honestly your writing just gets better and better x

  • Reply Linnea October 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    This was really beautiful, thank you for sharing. I am also trying to learn to let go of things, and this helped inspire me to go ahead and let go of more.

  • Reply nadiakruger7 October 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I love this. That’s all.

  • Reply Sheila October 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Mary Beth, this is such a beautiful post! I am doing the Contentment Challenge now by Nancy Ray, and keep feeling God say — give, give, give. When I stopped thinking about what I can get, like you mentioned, I started thinking about what I can give. I wish we could spread this little secret around America 🙂 Love your story!

  • Reply melissa October 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I only recently found your blog, but know that it was a timely discovery. Living in really small, big-city apartments has, over the past decade, helped me to cull the non-necessities. I think it was God’s way of restructuring my view of “things”. Do my things serve me (as in necessities) or captivate me? Of course sometimes I struggle with sentimentality of things, and there are still things I’d like to have someday, but the difference is I don’t have as much trouble letting stuff go- and it is freeing. I long for my children to know that “things” are not so important, and hope they see that reflected in us as parents in the way we live.

    I also identify with what you said about feeling the need to explain the choices your family makes. Boy, that hit me! We live overseas, and we go against the grain here in a number of ways: one, by homeschooling our child. I never thought of myself as wanting badly to fit in, but lately I’ve felt self-conscious about the choices which make us different here. I feel it’s hard to be surrounded by people who think you’re odd. But the reality is I have some deep rooted pride I need to lose!

  • Reply Jessica October 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Oh my gosh, this is so open and honest and beautifully written. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your space (from seeing your beautiful food photos and recipes at Casey Wiegand’s site).

    Whenever I get frustrated that I can’t afford those J.Crew jeans (because God knows, I love them too, and with the pregnancies and post pregnancies nothing ever fits quite right, doesn’t it?), I try, try, try to remember (and sometimes fail) that I would rather have a home filled with joy, love, and laughter than one filled with stuff.

    Thanks so much for sharing. xoxo.

  • Reply Brooke October 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Wow, you spoke to my heart. I have felt a great need lately to simplify, and the Lord is giving us the opportunity to do just that (with a new job for my husband, a move, and quitting my own job). Thank you for being honest about what living simply really means, and what it can do. I’m excited about the blessings and abundance that the Lord has in store for my little family, and even the hard lessons along the way.

  • Reply Mallory October 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I love being able to read about those moments where God radically changes a heart. Your story is such a reflection of where we were at and where we are. We love going against the norm because for us it means we are following a great God and not letting the things of this world take over. God ended up blessing us with more space than we even wanted and we intend to use it for Him. Bring on the meals, a bed for someone to rest their heads, and space to grow our family through adoption. He is awesome, amen?

    This life will pass so quickly, but how great to be storing up our treasures in Heaven. You inspire me. Thank you.

  • Reply Amy October 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I have only recently found your blog and have been blessed already! Your post was so very convicting, in a good way! I have been feeling so overwhelmed by the stuff in our home. After visiting a friend’s home today who also homeschools and has three children, yet has such a beautiful, uncluttered home, I realized something has to change. We moved into a bigger house two years ago, not for all the stuff, but to open our home to missionaries and anyone needing a place to stay. Our downstairs is almost finished (thanks to my hard-working hubbie!), but my prayer is that we don’t fill that new space with unnecessary things, but only what is going to bless my family and others. Thank you for your honesty and for pulling back the curtains to see into your life. God bless!

  • Reply Enya Moran October 4, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    You and Steven are truly inspiring. You guys have made such big leaps in life, especially with three kiddos. I can not explain how much your blog makes me remember that life is simple and ‘things’ are not what make life better. Your words are so refreshing to read and I thank you for that. Your stories are so detailed and honest and I appreciate that with every post you write. I come here to take a break from my crazy schedule, to feel a relief that there are many people out there that have to make hard decisions, but to remember to be happy because you’re right we only have one life. Thank you 🙂

  • Reply Franchesca October 4, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I recently read a post on downsizing toys with young children (she literally threw out all her kids toys, and after reading the surprisingly wonderful effects on her children, I downsized our kids toys, though not as much — baby steps 😉 and then I read this. I feel like maybe God is trying to tell me something! Thank you for just laying it all out there. It’s so true. It’s the experiences that make memories that matter in the end, not the material things.

  • Reply Sherry Wroten October 5, 2013 at 1:58 am

    hi mary beth,

    I have really enjoyed your one life to live series. I really appreciate your honesty and your willingness to share such personal things with us. Your wisdom is incredible at your age. I see a lot of your parents in you but also see that sweet little girl who sang her bible verses to me in awana. I’ll always cherish that. For you and your husband to put worldly things aside and focus on what matters to god is of great wisdom and you’ll be blessed greatly for it. I can’t help wonder how your brother Michael is. You, Michael and mandy are particularly the ones I remember in awana. God Bless! Also, I wanted to add as I sit here working as a hospice nurse and your with someone at the end of their life you’re exactly right what really matters isn’t material things, it’s first does this person know Christ as their savior and the relationships with their family.

    Sherry Wroten

  • Reply Rachel October 5, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Mary Beth, I think it’s actually maturity and an eternal perspective. Those who go through trials and are forced to downsize and live on less/nothing so often find that the excess is just that. Excess. We are so much the same. Lives on less. Run one car. Tithe before bills. Buy less. Travel more. It is so liberating to see a good pair of ‘something’ and think “that’d be great, but really, who cares?” !!!! Good for you, girl!

  • Reply Anna Louisa October 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

    This post was so wonderful (and timely, since my husband and I are about to move and have a baby)! I especially appreciated that you didn’t just talk about it from a practical or financial point of view, but a faith-based one. That’s a reminder I needed! My one question is how do you make this work with gifts, etc? We’re hoping to keep everything simple and pared down with the baby, but already have relatives planning on spoiling her with toys :). I don’t want all the thoughtful gifts to end up being given away (that will definitely cause hurt feelings) but don’t know the alternative. Help, please! 🙂

    • Reply Mary Beth October 5, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Really good question, Anna Louisa! We really wrestled with this. We wanted to be good receivers, as well as givers, and not let our pride get in the way of accepting blessings from people. What we did was sort of let everybody know in our family that we were downsizing because of moving, etc. Then when people asked what we needed, or wanted, we asked for experiences. My parents gave our kids a membership to our local aquarium for Christmas. And that has been well used and loved! You could also ask for ballet lessons, gymnastics, gift cards for diapers, or things that you know you will need and are everyday expenses. We ask for date money or gift cards to Starbucks/restaurants for ourselves for Christmas. We love gifts like that! We also love getting the “extra” things too, but in moderation. We are not trying to be legalistic here. I love getting an Anthropologie mug or a sweater I’ve been eyeing just as much as the next girl. What we have found, though, that by bringing up this topic of excess and wanting to experience more, with our family and friends, that it liberates people. It liberates them from the guilt of feeling they HAVE to spend a lot of money. It liberates everyone from the whole cycle. And I just think that’s the coolest thing.

      • Reply Anna Louisa October 6, 2013 at 8:10 am

        Thank you so much! I know that especially for family living across the country, gifts are often a way of showing love, but this is a great way to explain it…so far I had only thought to stave off mountains of toys by asking for books :). Your consciousness about this is so great – not at all legalistic!

  • Reply Glorious Morning Five | Hello Morning Glory October 5, 2013 at 8:05 am

    […] This post by Annapolis & Company – Well shoot.  Did Mary Beth take a look into my very own soul while writing this?  So well written, such a great glimpse of a life lived well and for the Lord, and definitely what I needed to read yesterday.  (in case you can’t tell from my last few lists of links, Annapolis & Company is quickly becoming a favorite read). […]

  • Reply Amber October 5, 2013 at 8:48 am

    This is such a beautiful and timely post. I think it’s why I keep coming back to read your blog. I think the thing that I loved is that you prayed over your items you dropped off at goodwill. It really blessed me.

  • Reply Ali Farmer October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    You are such a precious soul MB. Truly. Thank you for sharing your heart. It is so refreshing and I can clearly see that God is raising you up for “such a time as this!.”

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  • Reply Heather October 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    A truth that’s certainly not easily happened upon, and too often pushed aside for various reasons. This is something I am struggling with during a transition out of full-time work into small business ownership that has yet to actually start seeing clients. More and more I realize that there are so many things that should take precedence over that constant drive for money, nice furnishings, a bigger this and a better that. Reading this post, your wonderful, stark words, comes at a perfect time and is very inspiring. I wish you all the best — that is, in terms of happiness, healthiness and spirituality.

  • Reply #LiveBoldly Day 7: Purge That Big Scary Closet | Heather's Dish October 7, 2013 at 5:00 am

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  • Reply Heather Burris (@heathersburris) October 7, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Wow. This is one of those posts I’ll want to come back to again and again.

  • Reply Brandi Howell October 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I could not love this more! There is so much freedom in letting go. I am also so thankful God sent you to that tiny apartment in Owasso where I got to spend a short time getting to know your sweet family. You are such a blessing Mary Beth!

  • Reply Courtney @ Neighborfood October 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I just found your site via Heather’s Dish and am so glad I did. This is just the kind of thing I need to hear right now. We are also seeking ways to simply, to be givers, to get the most out of the moments we have–and not be tied to a bunch of stuff or an American dream that isn’t even our dream.

  • Reply Tracy October 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Amazing words! May God bless you and your family.

  • Reply leah (@beautifulmolded) October 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    you are inspirational! i really love this post. people (pointing to me!) are so afraid of giving away feeling like a wave of discontent will come over of having less, but i love how freeing yourself from that actually liberated you to see life for what it is: valuable. i do stress sometimes about the things i have yet to obtain or the remodels i have yet to do in my home, but the only thing i feel when i stress about it, is an overwhelming feeling of defeat. this was so, so refreshing to read. thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Reply Lauren October 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Thanks so much for this Mary Beth. I feel like lately God has been trying to speak to me and I can see Him doing it over and over again with some of the regular blogs I read. The theme seems to be the same… don’t be afraid to be yourself, to let your weaknesses be your strengths, to explore the desires of your heart.

    The part that really struck me with your post was when you said that you finally stopped explaining yourself and your life to people. I feel like as a young mother of two, living in another country that is not my own, I am always explaining myself to people… why we got married young, why we decided to have kids young, what we’re doing living in Mexico, what the plan is for the next few years.

    It becomes such a burden and a weight, this constant explanation, and often an explanation that no one is even asking for, but I go on and explain anyway.

    I’m working on living more and explaining less. This post and your blog are such great strength and wisdom as I embark on the journey.

    Thanks again!

  • Reply Crystal Hoffman Knox October 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    This was wonderful to read, and I stumbled upon it the same day as I was reading the conclusion to Jen Hatmaker’s “7” (which is all about a major simplifying experiment and is an amazing book!) My husband and I are on this same path, but sometimes I get sidelined by things like reeeeally wanting new clothes/not being content with mine or my kids wardrobe. Your story is inspiring and God has definitely used you to get me back in the right mindset. Thank you. Love your blog btw! The granola bars you posted at The Wiegands are a staple in our family now:) Totally off topic I know, but just thought I’d tell you!

  • Reply noni October 9, 2013 at 6:44 am

    you just said whats on my heart and whats growing inside of me within the last years, maybe because we also moved a couple of times and found out that reducing things can feel so very light. And being here, reading the comments of others I can see how important this topic is becoming to a whole lot of different persons. Reading your lines was as if God points again on it. I think we as a family are in between this transition, still finding our own way. And it so worth it. We really love to become givers, not so much caring and revolving around unnecessary things, that make life heavy. I guess it just needs some time to come to this point and realizing it. Thanks so much for sharing, inspiring and confirming!
    many greetings from Germany, noni!

  • Reply Hannah October 9, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Last night, my husband and I were talking about this very thing, in particular about what would happen “if we dared to live a little braver, and get outside of our comfort zones”. Thank you Mary Beth for your honesty, beauty and Christ-like example, you are shining His light! Lots of love, Hannah xx

  • Reply Natalia October 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I’ve been rereading this post, and it’s taken me awhile to sit down and write a comment. We had moved every two years as long as I can remember until we moved into the house we’re in now, and we’ve been here for four years. Every two years though we get the urge to declutter and purge through everything so at the moment that precisely what we’re doing. I loved what you said about recognizing that we are a work in progress and that people are way less hard on us then we are and that they don’t even care usually, and thinking that they notice is very self centered. I’ve been working on some areas in my life and I worry too much and so that part really really hit home. Thanks so much for sharing your story and blogging about your life. I absolutely love love your blog and everything you write. I always leave feeling super inspired.

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  • Reply CMH October 10, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful. Just what I needed to be reminded of.

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  • Reply Jessica Jensen (@j_jensen21) October 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    MB, thank you for being so vulnerable to share part of your story. Your spirit and mentality are a breath of fresh air and lines up so well with the folks I spend my time with. The ones that challenge me, push me to do and be greater, yet live a life based on my values, not cultural status. I feel that you and I are kindred spirits my friend and next time your adventurous life brings you to San Francisco area, let me know! 🙂

  • Reply Kallah January 24, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Ok I feel like an idiot for telling you about Greenville when you definitely used to live there! I hadn’t had time to spend on your blog yet… But goodness, you are the coolest person! I can relate so much to your reflections and perspective, although I still feel the burden of the typical young, American suburban family life weighing on me with its tempting expectations and disappointments. And so much STUFF!
    We live in a tiny little house that we can barely afford to take care of, much less decorate, and how do we always get pulled into expensive clothing brand sales, or monthly payments for things we don’t need?! I have such a passionate desire to give the Beautiful Life to my children… But realizing more everyday how alternative that is from the “American Dream” and all it’s excess. I am seeking simplicity and praying for a heart of contentment for this year as a young mama (I’m also 25, and recently had my 2nd child).
    Thank you for sharing your perspective with such challenging honesty! I’m so inspired by your story.

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