Don't worry, this entry is NOT about Paris (or Nicole). This entry was inspired by a chat with a friend last week about how people live. It got me thinking and being really grateful for how I was raised...
My favorite childhood memories involve: my sisters (rae and ruth), church, football (naturally) and family vacations (which involved car toppers, absolutely no head phones, lots of family 'bonding', and living out of a suitcase for 6 weeks). My family is a real hoot - I wish you all could meet them (for those of you who haven't).
I was raised simply for lack of a better term. I didn't go without any real needs being met - but we didn't live an extravagant life either. Our home was full of fun, family, laughter, friends, and most importantly, faith. What is wasn't filled with was electronics (my parents have FINALLY got a DVD player and an Apple computer), luxury cars (try a 14 year old mini van I learned to drive in), or lavish allowances.
My Dad told me several times in middle school and high school that it's important to realize that nothing is handed to you in life, you work for what you want. The God we serve is a provider - but that didn't mean we got cars for our 16th birthdays or cruises for Spring Break every year. What I love about sharing this with you is that my childhood was one of the fullest I know of. You would be hard pressed to find 3 girls who had us much fun as my sisters and I. We continue to be best friends and all maintain great relationships with our parents as well. If given a choice, my family is still who I choose to spend time with. We cherish the memories we made in those years and we're grateful for the opportunities our parents gave us to learn, grow, and achieve.
As I've reached the ripe old age of 25 I have come to the sad realization that so many in my generation have been crippled by the absense of simplicity in their lives. Everything was done for them and as a result they have never developed a healthy work ethic. I was amongst one of the first graduating classes (from college) to be part of the worst job market - ever. Three years later many of my friends are STILL trying to score their first 'professional' job or have given up and gone back to school.
In addition to having weak worth ethic and little experience I'm also from a generation of people with an 'I deserve it' attitude. Why shouldn't we have BMWs, condos in the nicest parts of town, lavish vacations, destination weddings, and wallets full of plastic? We want everything our parents worked 30 years for, without the 30 years of work. I mean, we deserve it, right? We EARNED it. Sadly, those I know living that lifestyle right now, aren't enjoying it nearly as much as they hoped and most of them will still be paying off their current lifestyle, 30 years from now.
What really hits home for me about this is that while I love to work (I got my first job at 15 and haven't quit working since) - I also appreciate that my parents taught me to value the things money can't buy. They taught me to keep my relationship with the Lord first, to live below my means, to buy only what I can pay cash for, and to be grateful for used cars without monthly payments and fun that doesn't break the bank. They put the emphasis on people and not on 'stuff' and they taught me to set goals and work for what I want.
I'm not opposed to cars, homes, clothes, or cash but I do grimace a bit when people say 'I deserve it'. As a Christian, I'm just thankful I'm NOT getting what I really deserve. I've got a lot left to learn about money, about sacrifice, and about living a simple life but I will tell you this - I have never been happier than I am right now. My life is full. I don't have every 'thing' I've ever wanted but I have what I need and I'm working towards a few of those wants while I'm at it.
I'm especially thankful today for Griwald style family vacations, my first car (a 1994 toyota camry with 146K miles on it), an education, and a family who loves the Lord.
Here's to the simple life.