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Putting the Simple in OatSoSimple

My husband and I are in a season of life that we refer to as OPERATION: SIMPLIFY!

We started simplifying our life primarily when our son, Micah, was born two years ago. It started out of necessity, because we became a one income family so I could stay home. Over time, however, it has turned into a lifestyle that we have grown to love.

“What we eat and how much stuff we own are the two ways that we have focused on simplifying our lives.”

As Micah started to eat solid foods, we found ourselves at a crossroads. We did not want to even introduce many unhealthy foods into Micah’s diet. If we wanted Micah to eat a healthy diet, we had to change ours. So, shortly after Micah’s first birthday my husband and I gave up all desserts and soda. We thought if he grew up without nearly as much refined sugar from the beginning, it would be easier for him to maintain a healthy lifestyle later on, and hopefully he just wouldn’t like it.

Although giving up sugar was super hard at first, and still is occasionally, it has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. We still eat refined sugar, mainly in forms of condiments, breads, granola bars, and our daily allotted amount of 85% dark chocolate, but we are much more conscious of how much we consume. I am happy to report that Micah is two years old and doesn’t know what a “cookie” is. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have “perfect diets” by any means, but we are trying to set Micah up for success in making his own choices later on in life.

The next part of our journey, simplifying how much stuff we own, came a little bit later. I think it all started with a fundamental shift in the way that Matt was viewing his work. Though we both intellectually knew that things were not the most important part of life, that knowledge didn’t seem to have much application in our day to day life. We were still very focused on how much money Matt was making at work and what things that would allow us to do and buy. A couple of books, Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile and Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived really allowed us to start re-framing the way that we think and act as followers of Jesus. Matt’s goals in work began to shift to making a difference in people’s lives and bringing more of God’s love into action in the world. At the same time we began to reflect on how this might change our lives at home. Right as these thoughts were forming and we were discussing what to do next, an unhappy event gave us the push that we needed to start making actual changes. Our basement flooded.

In the midst of the cleanup project, we realized that our basement was where we kept a massive amount of things we simply didn’t need or use. Since we had to move / dry out just about everything, we decided to start purging. While we wanted to get rid of things, we wanted to also do it in a responsible way. So, we had a rummage sale, listed items on craigslist, gave away things we no longer used, and donated things to a local food-bank that runs a resale shop.

We aren’t finished yet. For us, the journey is just beginning. Stay tuned for what’s coming next!

Nikki Stenson

I am a wife to my husband, Matt and a Mom to my son, Micah. I live a simple life and eat a lot of oatmeal.

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  • Charity Koltes

    So smart! Kids eat what they are used to eating. If that is mac and cheese and pop, that is what they want. My kids have always eaten real food since they stared solids and I get no complaints about veggies and salmon for dinner. In the age of childhood obesity, GMOs and disgusting “franken”food, we need to be vigilant. Learning to live with less is also a hard lesson to teach our kids. We are still working on that one.

    • Nikki

      Thanks, Charity and way to go! We feel the same way- and we love real food! I love the challenge to see how clean we can eat! Kids are not born with a sweet tooth, that is learned behavior.