on paddling upstream


Simple living is all the rage these days, and I’m afraid I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. There is something in particular about this season of, “More, more, more!” that sets me on a mission of, “Less, less, less!”

Books like Simplicity Parenting and Organized Simplicity started me down this path several years ago, inspiring a life built around people, not stuff; space, not clutter; purpose, not busyness. Recently, Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect caused me to pause and evaluate where we find ourselves these few years later. Does this stuff, this pace of life, this trajectory, honor God and serve our family and others well?

Perhaps we have lost sight of what’s important?

Please hear me: These books only go so far. “Simple living” is not the gospel, nor is it the only expression of biblical obedience. These books have many shortcomings, and I’m interested to explore further this intersection between the gospel of Jesus Christ and a minimalist life. Another day.

Today, I’m thinking about this online course I took a couple of years ago. It used the metaphor of “paddling upstream,” calling you to a counter-cultural life. But rather than offering a pattern to follow, the course gave a new definition of the simple life: “Living holistically with your life’s purpose.” Basically, a simple life is one where your choices and actions align with who you are and what you value. So the course walks you through the process of determining those things: Who did God create me to be? What do I care about? What are my callings and responsibilities? How do they all fit together? You create a purpose statement that becomes your grid for evaluating decisions you make. Does this align with my values? Does this continue me down the trajectory I’ve determined is right for me and my family?

As with all the books on the subject, this course only goes so far. It requires discernment to glean what is true and helpful and reject what is not. It requires the truth of Scripture and the wise counsel of biblical community to help us sift through our own biases and our culture’s lies. But as I look at my purpose statement hanging on my office wall, I’m reminded of the definition and clarity I felt upon completing it. I’m reminded of how it aligned Jordan and I and helped us to better understand each other. And I’m reminded of how easy it is to lose sight of who God has created us to be and what he has called us to do.


I love new years. And firsts. And Mondays. And this course was just revised and updated. So I’ve decided it’s good timing for a refresher. Want to join me? I’d love to hear what you’re learning as you process what it means to live holistically with your life’s purpose. And I’d love accountability and camaraderie as we consider how to navigate a Christ-centered, counter-cultural life. Let me know if you sign up. 🙂


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One Response

  1. Hi, Kendra, visiting from the Upstream group. Your blog is lovely and I love how you’re reevaluating. Inspiring! Knowing ourselves is key to a solid faith. Love how you look at the course objectively too. It won’t fill in all the holes but it certainly provided me with a great start. p.s. Since you’re an adventurer too, you might love my friend Charissa’s blog, Art of Adventure: https://charissasteyn.com/. Have a lovely weekend!