I love to go to antique stores. They are filled with the most wonderful treasures: quilts, old books, tea cups and saucers, enamelware, primitive wooden utensils, crocks, Raggedy Ann’s, baskets, bears. The list goes on and on! Just thinking about them gets my heart rate going! I am particularly fortunate in that my husband is as crazy about antiques as I am.
I have to be careful though because this particular blessing could be our undoing. Acquiring new items means additional time, effort and money. I must find the time to clean the item regularly. I must find the effort to place the item where it will look the best. I must spend the money to maintain the item so that it does not lose its value and detract from my original investment.
I have learned that just because I like something does not mean I need it. And just because I want it does not mean I have to have it. Re-read those two sentences if you need to fully grasp the meaning. Now whenever I am considering purchasing anything, I ask myself three questions.
- Do I absolutely love this item?
- Will this item improve my life or the lives of my family?
- Do I know exactly where I will put this item in my home?
If I answered no to any of these questions, I do not purchase the item. This new approach has helped to limit the number of items I bring into the house. An additional rule we have implemented that helps to keep life simple is that if we bring something into the house (other than perishables like food, toilet paper, etc.), we must get rid of something. For everything that comes in, something must go out.
A few weeks ago my husband and I met my sister and my niece to go through our favorite antique mall. I saw several things I wanted—all from sentimental collections attached to memories of my deceased mother. Also, all of the items were priced really reasonably.
The first thing I found was a small Steiff bear. My collection of these bears started with inheriting my mother’s collection upon her death. I have added to mom’s collection and am always looking for a few more. The bear in question was $18.
Next, I found a set of 6 six hand-painted tea cups in pink and flow blue. When my mom was alive, we spent an entire summer hunting for these hand-painted items at yard sales, flea markets and auctions. Also, as a tea addict myself, I love to drink out of pretty tea cups! The set of tea cups was $45.
Finally, I inherited a collection of vintage, handmade quilts from my mother. Mom quilted and I cross stitch, so the old handmade items have a special place in my heart. At the mall, I found a beautiful quilt that totally matched my library colors of mint green and raspberry pink. The quilt was $100.
(Couch quilt in our library)
Apparently it was my day! And yet, if I purchased all of the items, I would be straying away from my budget of $50 a month for home decorations. If I purchased the items, where would I make the adjustment? In groceries, utilities, or tithes? I decided to apply my questions to the items I so very much wanted at the antique mall.
With the Steiff bear, I answered yes to all three questions. With the tea cups, I answered yes to the first question, maybe to the second, and no to the third. With the quilt, I answered yes to all three questions. However, even though I loved it, I did not love the one section on the bottom that was completely torn and unrepairable; my little Chihuahua loves quilt batting and will eat any that is exposed.
I bought only the bear. I made the right decision for a number of reasons. First I stayed on budget and didn’t cost my family any inconvenience or financial tension. Second, even though I would have really liked having the tea cups, I really didn’t need them and would have had to get rid of six other items to bring them home. Finally, with the torn area of the quilt exposing batting, I am certain Duke would have eaten it, making himself sick and damaging the quilt further, reducing the value of the item.
The bear is adorable in the library and adds to the coziness of the room. I use this room for visiting and extending grace and hospitality to guests. I also use it as my work space. Its cheerfulness inspires me and keeps me focused on my work. I didn’t need the bear but it adds to the enjoyment of our home for us and for those that cross our threshold. I would have enjoyed the tea cups and the quilt, but I didn’t need them and couldn’t justify the issues that purchasing them would cause.
(A shot of our library)
Looking back on this experience, I can’t help but remember Christ’s words in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” May we remember those words and choose daily to Live Simple!