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Believe it or not, Joe and I try to live as simple as possible. It is a call that we feel has been bestowed on us as caretakers of God’s creation. What does it mean to live simply? The words speak for themselves. Living means to be alive. Simply is straightforward or unadorned. We want to be fully alive in our spirits and yet travel like pilgrims without a lot of material things.
I remember wanting so many ‘things’ growing up – a new Barbie or the Easy Bake Oven, a pair of roller blades or a movie, a handmade flute or a new car. Having the newest thing would always be so exciting when I first got it, but after a while the feeling would wear off. I admit that even now, supposedly wiser and more responsible, my wish list hasn’t gotten any less expensive, but it has gotten a lot shorter. At the very top is a new skydive rig 🙂 But never has any one thing made me permanently happy before. One of the mysteries of life is trying to discover the contentment that the Apostle Paul found. He was content both when he was rich and poor.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:10-13)
Only in Jesus can we find ourselves content. The farther that we get from Him the more we wind up competing with the Kardashians. As I have gotten older I see the world through a much clearer lens. Right now living simply for Joe and I means that we are on a strict budget. We make a conscious effort to spend as little as we can. It’s actually a pretty fun sport for us. We high five each other whenever we find a new way to save. We are at the point where we buy almost every single thing on the discount rack. Being frugal day to day is what permits us to have more discretionary funds for traveling and skydiving (which we hope to do a lot of!). We work hard and save, not for the sake of it, but so we can afford to play hard and take time off. We sacrifice so that we have more to give to those in need and more to invest for the long term. Someday we want kids, a house, and a dog, and we know that none of that comes cheaply.
On Cyber Monday, Joe and I hit the jackpot. At least we thought we did. We found a deal that was almost too good to be true. Cloudveil, one of our favorite outdoor clothing companies, was offering 40% off of certain products. Combined with our pro-deal status, we were able to save almost 80% off of our entire purchase. This meant that a $140 Polartec, full zip fleece was selling for just 35 bucks! So, like any sane person would do, we took the opportunity to buy quality clothing at unbeatable prices. We got Christmas presents for family and friends, and we even bought ourselves a few goodies all right within our budget. The shipment quickly arrived at the house and we celebrated like we had just robbed the bank!
It turns out we had.
While we were dancing around in our in our new mountain fleeces like 5 year olds on Christmas morning, the phone rang…it was Cloudveil. They explained that there was a glitch in their system that permitted us to get the pro-deal pricing plus the Cyber Monday discount. They wanted us to pay an additional $600 for the gear that we just bought to make up the difference. Our too good to be true deal was too good to be true, after all. I told them that we would work it out and hung up. We prayed about what to do and it was clear. We sent back everything that we had ordered for ourselves and kept only the presents that we could truly afford. Cloudveil had to refund us in the end. I was frustrated and disappointed. But you what? I completely forgot about the whole ordeal within a few days. I didn’t need a new coat. I already have a couple dozen brightly colored mountain layers. So why was I so crazy about getting a new coat just because it was on sale? To be honest, I often have struggles like this. Because Joe and I try to live so simply, we rarely justify buying clothing even at half price. So, when deals like the Cloudveil one don’t pan out, we have to stick to our convictions and return the clothing. It’s that simple.
Don’t get me wrong, Joe and I are not in dire straits. $600 wouldn’t completely change our lives but it did go against our budget and pre-determined convictions. And both of us agreed that we should stick to them. The Cloudveil experience was a good lesson for us, it helped us to put things in perspective. Our Christmas is going to be amazing, even without all the sweet gear!