We're Working Hard, To Slow Down. 5 Lessons Building A Container Home Is Teaching Us
I sat on the concrete steps of Market No 9 with my friend Maria yesterday evening and we had a long chat. She asked me how our container home project is coming along. If you don't know, my husband and I have recently purchased farm land and are building a home up-cycled from steel shipping containers. If you need to catch up, click here.
We talked about how suffocating normal life can be as moms. Keeping up with work, kids and their schedules, house payments, car payments, bills, daily chores, the list goes on and on until it is dizzying. It is a constant game of catch-up.
"This is exactly why we are doing what we are doing." I said, "It's an experiment." See, Micah and I have talked about this for so long. We've talked to so many people who've said they would love to take steps toward minimalistic living. The problem is how? Where do you start? How do you step off of the spinning hamster wheel? That's where my blog comes in. I hope to document this process as we ourselves are experimenting with making these "what if's" a reality.
LESSON 01: Don't leave your future to chance, instead, take chances for the future!
There's always going to be risk involved whenever you attempt to do anything of significance. This project so far constantly reminds me of the saying, "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!" With that in mind, each decision we make concerning our new home is a calculated, deliberate attempt to achieve a lifestyle of minimalistic living. Someone else asked me, “Yeah, I get what you are saying, but what is your ultimate goal? What’s the point?”
This image came to my mind. I captured this shot at the very last leg of winter last year.
Judah, as usual, is forging his own path. Gabe and Siah mosey along behind their dad who is pushing a wheelbarrow across the quiet field right before sunset. I circled the image with my hand, “This is the goal. A life of peace. The peace does not come natural. Chaos comes natural".
LESSON 02: Peace needs to be planned to be achieved. This is true in my life, anyway.
Now obviously you don't have to purchase remote farmland and build a retreat away from reality to achieve peace. Remember, I have 3 boys, a husband and a Pit bull. Chaos lives with me. I cook for chaos. I tuck them in at night. You can't hide from noise, messes, and busyness. Even so, Psalm 34:14 (NIV) says, "Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." NLT breaks it down more, "....Search for peace and work to maintain it."
It seems like peace should come naturally, doesn't it? Like it should just....be.
I imagine past days, when life was certainly simpler. Days of early homesteading and porch swings, where mornings were spent dusting off the packed dirt walkway while your long hem brushed the ground. You waved to one of the three neighbors who lived on your street. These neighbors worked outside with their hands. All of this work was done while unconsciously absorbing the song language of birds. Children became familiar with the patterns of the sun, and knew when it was time to come in from playing and wash up for dinner. The loud applause of rain was cause for gathering everyone in the main room around a soothing fire.
Fast forward to today. Many hands, instead of working outside, obsessively clutch media devices. (I'm looking at you, Pokemon Go-ers!)
We use technology for work, for fun, and for good. But also, if we are not diligent, having so much technology available to us, literally at our fingertips, can become peace stealers. The constant noise makes us less productive, which makes us constantly playing catch-up, which makes us irritable and frazzled.
LESSON 03: Focus on your own life!
This sounds like self-centered advice, but tuning into everyone else can make you crazy! The marketing of the next greatest necessity being blasted in our view make us greedy, self-absorbed and unthankful.
Remember, just because someone puts something online for you to absorb, doesn't mean you actually have absorb it. You do not have to entertain and address every lunatic with a snapchat. You can take a pass. Likewise, seeing the best side of everyone on social media causes comparison between one another. Jealousy intrudes on our peace and makes the simple commandment to love one another become super difficult. Society pushes chaos. Reality TV sells family drama that is watched by millions, teaching our kids that drama and crisis are not only normal but celebrated family traits, something to be achieved.
Bah! My husband and I decided we were going to do something about it. We are working to maintain peace. We are told by society that there is a reward in busyness. But in fact, at the end of busyness, there is only more busyness.
LESSON 04: Make space for white moments.
If you are perpetually busy, (little ones active in sports or other school-related activities, Holla!) then you know that if you make plans for 5 nights out of the week, chances are, one or two things will surely come up and you have no moments left for the serene moments; the white space needed to recover your peace. This may not be true in all seasons of life, but in our season of building a house, working, and raising kids, the busyness can very easily turn into chaos.
As busyness rewards with chaos, peace rewards with peace. Laying outside on a blanket with the sun on my back and a cool breeze ruffling the pages of a good book, that is the goal. It's creating enough white space in life to actually live. Our children use nature to learn problem solving skills that can’t be taught in a classroom, that's our goal. Their little lungs were created to breathe in fresh mountain air. Their imaginations were created to be rewarded with wild exploration. They learn to be daring in discovery. Dirty boots and the taste of satisfaction growing their own food. They can't learn that from a lecture. They only learn that by example and by doing.
(Do not mistake my disdain for busyness as also a distain for hard work. All the laboring we've put into our property creates the sense of accomplishment knowing we are investing in something that will serve our family for years to come and also teaching my children a strong work ethic. Someone once said, "You do what you gotta do when you gotta do it, so you can do what you want to do when you want to do it." Wise advice indeed.)
I sincerely ask God for great things for my family.
I want my boys to be mightily used for kingdom work. Great things do not just happen. They start with a dream. But dreams are not birthed in the loud, crazy, busy moments of the day. They usually require white, quiet moments where your mind has settled and you have a few moments to breathe. Our goal is to pursue peace.
Beyond our personal goals, we also want to be aware that people around us may need us to be living in peace, or working to maintain it. Each night I pray over my kids, "Help us to love other people the way you love us."
LESSON 05: Free people free people.
Have you ever heard the saying, "A drowning man cannot save a drowning man?" I'm definitely not saying we've achieved absolute freedom, but we do feel an obligation to work to maintain wholeness. We only get one life, and we want to have wiggle room for the unplanned moments. We may be needed to offer a rescue to someone else, and when that day comes, we can't ourselves be drowning.
Our goal is not just about having a smaller house payment and less stress financially. It’s not just about cooking at home more and eating out less. It’s not just about decluttering and placing value on experiences over possessions. It’s not just about loosening up our schedule to allow for these unplanned, white moments. It’s about all of these things.
In a busyness culture, people who are within arms reach often go unnoticed and unloved. We want to be unplugged enough to notice. We want to live a life in alignment of Christ's command of one-anothering. Our goal is to cultivate an atmosphere of peace in order to welcome others. If we are too over-extended, in any of these areas, this won't be possible. Wether it be financial, over-scheduled, or otherwise.
What is our goal? That we pursue peace. And we work to maintain it.
Next week on the blog I will start diving into the actual building process of how we are making a home from shipping containers! Here's a little sneak peak of what happened today: See that rectangle structure in the center of the "living room?" That's the form for the foundation of my two-sided fireplace! I am the most excited about this feature. If you would like to follow our building journey, subscribe here!
Psalm 37:37 “….a future awaits those who seek peace.”