The UFC women’s ministry team values community in the spiritual life, so in 2023 as our blog team returns to regular posting here at ufcwomen.blog, you will meet women in our church and read about parts of their stories of walking with Jesus. We hope these regular posts will encourage you! Today it’s a joy to hear from Sarah Tompkins as she shares about simplicity in her life.
Sarah grew up in Springfield and has been attending UFC with her family for seven years. They have three kids — Abel (6), Solomon (5), and Lucy (2). Sarah enjoys drinking good coffee, hiking, and cooking (and eating) new recipes.
What does the word “simplicity” mean to you?
Most simply put, making space for what is important.
What are some ways God has challenged or prompted you to live more simply over the years?
I am not naturally a “hoarder” personality, so letting go of the excess possessions is an easier thing for me. So, there has been less “prompting” in that area. Even though I still feel like we have a TON of stuff, I have recently been convicted about my time and commitments. My family is entering into the time of life when kids’ activities can be endless if we want them to be (our oldest is a first grader), and we have tried to be really diligent about not signing up for every last thing just because they sound fun. We think through what the schedule impacts would be (i.e. sports practices in the middle of when we usually eat dinner together as a family) or changes in family dynamics (like what it means for our other two children to also be driven all over town for the oldest’s activities). We have chosen to commit to a few things, but we are trying to be really intentional about what those are and make sure they align with our family values.
In this study, we are discussing simplicity of our possessions or the things we choose to acquire or spend our money on. What does this kind of simplicity look like in your life practically?
I try to regularly purge our possessions — usually it’s somewhat of an annual thing. I definitely have areas that are harder to stay on top of. Kids’ toys and clothes are especially difficult in our house. I’ve used our physical space limitations as a good driver in this area. For example, toys have to fit in our toy closet, and if they don’t, then we have too many toys and need to donate some. Or if my kids can’t put their clean clothes away because the drawer is overflowing, then it’s time to change out sizes or donate some.
You seem passionate about providing simple, homemade, or natural foods to your family. What brought about that passion and how has it developed over the years?
Definitely lots of room for growth in this area! But we had friends that started getting into more traditional and natural cooking and shared their new knowledge with us. We physically and mentally feel a lot better when we’re eating well, particularly if we are limiting processed sugar. It’s also been fun for my husband and me to learn more about food and its role in the body, and we’ve enjoyed trying new recipes and ingredients as we learn new things. All that to say, all five members of my family will typically be hitting up the cookie table at church on Sunday mornings, so it’s not something we are crazy rigid about!
How does your simple lifestyle of eating or living affect your faith and vice versa?
We are just trying to take the best care of the bodies God gave us in the best way we know how. There are tradeoffs to homemade cooking (like time spent preparing a from-scratch dinner) that require us to trust that this is what God wants us to be doing with our day.
What is one example of when you found it difficult to live in simplicity, or you failed to?
If you dig into the “homemade” community, you’ll discover that there is literally no end to the things you can make from scratch. So you’ve made the switch to organic whole foods, but why not take it a step further and grow your own food using sustainable gardening practices? You’ve learned how to make your own bread but do you bake exclusively with sourdough using ancient grain flour? You’ve mastered pie pastry, but does it even count if you aren’t using butter you made from the cow you milked out back this morning? Living simply can become its own idol without the correct motivations, and I have been tempted to be overwhelmed by all the things I feel like I’m supposed to be doing. And when I’m overwhelmed by my self-imposed to do list, I usually take it out on my family members, which isn’t fair or Christlike.
What did God teach you from that experience?
I learned that God doesn’t want me to be doing ALL. THE. THINGS. I read somewhere once that if you feel like you have too much to do, you have things on your list that God didn’t put there. It is a good thing to take delight in a passion like creating a simple home, but if it starts to clash with God’s priorities, then it’s time to reevaluate. I think that’s where I’ve gained the most wisdom in recent years — when to pull back on the productivity, focus on what is important to God and to our family, and serve hot dogs for dinner if needed!
Join us Thursdays in January from 9:30-11 a.m. or 6:30-8 p.m. as we explore what biblical simplicity looks like in the life of the Christian woman. The morning session includes childcare. The evening study is held during middle school group. For Brianna Hines’ introductory post on simplicity, click here.