A Series on Christ-like Minimalism in the Home
Today I’m going to begin a series examining each room in my home, in light of minimalism. But not the secular minimalism void of any deeper meaning. No, I hope to have the message of the Gospel at the heart of all of this. Christ is the beginning and the end after all.
I am not an expert. I don’t know what I’m doing, really. I just know there is an overwhelming interest in this area lately and many are asking for help and guidance. I’m only sharing what has worked for me and my family. Of course my family will be different than yours. You will have different needs. I only hope to offer a few ideas that may work for you.
My main source of inspiration comes from Fr. Thomas DuBay’s book, Happy Are You Poor. And man, let me tell you, I fall so short from where he would have me be. But I like that because I like a challenge. If you don’t own this book, you should. It’s a great one to come back to.
Secondly, though, I was greatly inspirited by Darci Isabella. She has shown me that a large family – she’s got ten children – can homeschool and live with less. If you look around on her YouTube channel, you will find videos where she does room tours. I found them helpful over this last year, even if I didn’t do things exactly the same way she did. (For example, she doesn’t like owning books. I do.)
And that’s my goal. Just so show you an example of a large family, bumbling along, and trying to live a more Christ-like simplicity through what our cultural calls “Minimalism.”
The Living Room
So here we go.
What is the purpose of your living room?
Certainly our living room is a place for anyone to gather at any time, but it’s real purpose is for us to have a place to pray. We gather here as a family twice a day for that very thing. In the early morning, at 6:15am my husband and I begin Lauds with him lighting the four votive candles that you can see on the fireplace mantle. (We love candles.) On Sundays, we light the two tall tapers too.
I wanted the focus of this room to be on Jesus, which is why His icon is centrally located above the fireplace. You can also see the house phone on the mantle, but that has been bothering me lately, so I moved it to a more discreet location in the dining room. Also on the mantle are two family photos and a vase of flowers. (I love flowers – fake or real, but preferably real.)
The bookshelf consists of four inner shelves. The lowest shelf is usually empty because the baby just tears stuff out of it anyway. However, sometimes I will put a baby toy or two there, as you can see from the photo. The next shelf up contains the children’s prayer books, since they join us at about 6:40am for prayer. The shelf above that one holds my grandmother’s King James Version of the Bible that we frequently reference for the beauty of the language and so want it to be easily accessible. There is also a family photo here and a bowl of rosaries. The last inner shelf are all current books that my husband and I are reading in addition to our prayer books.
Next to that bookshelf on the floor is a basket full of children’s picture books.
To the right of the fireplace is another chair. (See photo below.)
Behind this chair you will see the children’s rosaries on hooks. We need the rosaries to be in a handy spot because every night after dinner, we kneel before the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a family and pray five mysteries together.
Here is a shot of the opposite side of the fireplace. The end table between the chair and loveseat usually has our periodicals on it with a book or two that someone may have been reading and did not put away. Ideally, I’d put the periodicals in the bottom part of that stand, but I can’t with the baby always tearing things out right now.
The lamp to the right of the loveseat is the only other light we have on in the mornings. I particularly like its location because is lights up Jesus in the Last Supper directly above it.
Here’s another shot of the living room. You may be able to see that to the left of the gray couch, on the floor, are two folded blankets. They are kind of hiding, but they’re important since we live in the Arctic Circle. (Not really.) The children use them every morning to snuggle in.
And that’s all that’s in my living room. I used to have all kinds of toys in my living room when my older children were younger, but I never liked it. I hated the mess. So a few years ago, I said enough. No more. And let me tell you, it’s way better.
Now that doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t get drug in throughout the day, but it does mean that it gets put away after dinner.
Toys are a big problem for most families these days, and I hope to address that one as I go along in this series. For now all I can say is, less is better. I’ve never regretted giving away toys. And strangely enough, neither have my children.
That completes my living room tour. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to put them below in the Comments Section, as others may be interested in what you have to say. In a week or so I hope to examine another room, but I want to leave you with a memory that popped into my head while typing this out.
The Family Whose House Burned Down
A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire. It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs. Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.
So I thought, what can I give? I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase. (I thought they might as well have that.) And I began to fill it. I had an extra quilt. I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels. I had a few kids’ games that were never used. I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.
Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used. I held the wooden box in my hands. It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding. I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.
I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no. This lovely silverware set was not meant for me. It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.
The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things. The mother of the family was so thankful. So thankful. But you know what? I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give. I walked away with Love burning in my heart.
Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all. But that one time I did get to see. And it was worth it.
But it is always worth it, no matter what. For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.