Packed like sardines. Busting at the seams. Maximum capacity.  

Whichever way you spin it, we’re full!  Small house, big family means it can be crazy chaotic interesting, but we strive to be content being sardines.

Seventeen years ago, when we bought this house, we assumed it to be a “starter house.” We had no idea that we would still be living in the same 1500 sq ft house seven kids later.  Honestly, we’ve tried to get out of it.

There are times when it feels real tight.  Truthfully, it can be downright frustrating with nine people, especially when eight of them stay home all day most days. And then the rainy days.  Oh, bless my soul, the rainy days!



[Do you have this picture in mind?  You are crawling through the trenches, hiding from enemy fire, and then rain comes….]

A Call to Be Content

A few years ago God so strongly urged me to be content in my current stage of life that He might as well have been sitting on the porch swing with me.  Such a calm came over me, and I realized that this is what He wants for us:  to be cozy and content in our small house.

How to Be Content Being Sardines

How can you be content when you feel like you live in a can?

I must confess, that I don’t always feel the calm that I felt that day on the swing.  And sometimes, I want to sell and start over.

But we are choosing (continuing to choose) to focus on what we do have rather than what we don’t.  When you live in a culture in which things are very important and label who you are, that’s tough.

Think back to your grandparents’ house, your great-grandparents’ house.  Typically, houses were much smaller.  Actually, 100 years ago, the average house size was 700 to 1,000 sq ft with one or two bedrooms and maybe a bathroom. (Chicago Tribune)  Couple that with the fact that family sizes were typically larger, and you have a “sardine can.”

I remember my mom telling a story about how she and two of her sisters shared not only a bedroom, but one full-sized bed. The house did have three bedrooms (parent room, boy room, girls’ room), but it was small and didn’t have a bathroom for many years.  And yet, she remembered fondly and enjoyed telling me how they were content being sardines.

Bottom line:  Focus on what you do have!

How to Be Content Being Sardines

A Gentle Reminder

When I struggle with wanting more, God gently reminds me to be content in this cozy little house.  He reminds me of the warmth, the laughter, the comfort, and the love.  We brought all seven of our babies home to this house, and right now, I want to enjoy those memories right.here.

What about you?  Where are you in your journey?

Listen, it’s okay if you have a big house, but it’s also okay if you have a tiny one. What matters is that you are content with where you are.  I know that’s hard! If you are feeling uncertain about where you are in life, take a step back and try to be thankful for where you are.

Let us find joy by remembering God’s promises, remembering the blessings, remembering what we do have, and remembering where we’ve been.  And don’t forget that while you are crawling through that trench (trying to be content being sardines), seeking joy, I’m right there with ya!


Brina Lynn

15 comments on “How to Be Content Being Sardines”

  1. There’s just something about a small, humble house where everyone is close in proximity AND relationship. Hang in there. There’s a lot of love in that house of yours. Love this sweet post.

    Shan

  2. Very well said, as always! You are a true encouragement to me. We’re sooo looking forward to downsizing. This house is getting to be too much for us, especially as we’re rocketing toward becoming empty-nesters. Bigger is not necessarily better.

  3. I LOVED IT! It is so amazing how things change when our attitude changes. Thank you so much for thinking of me and sharing!

  4. We’ve been struggling with the opposite, do we stay in a large house with enough room for kids to run around when it’s freezing outside and the snow is too deep for a toddler to walk, or do we move to more acreage and try to get minimal and get rid of TONS of stuff just to squeeze in? I just don’t know what’s right. The small property needs tons of work, this property needs none. This property has downsides like the annoying association with its rules (no solar panels, no chickens) and our enormous electric and gas bills. … But we would incur more debt to live in a smaller space that needs a ton of work, with our 4 children. I’ve been praying for guidance since we began thinking about it, and your post might be the answer to my prayers. Just be content where you are at! This is fine, we can make the yard more secluded some how and just make it work. Life is so short and I don’t want to spend the rest of my kids’ childhoods trying to make a new house a home for us all. Thank you!

    • Andrea, first, thanks for stopping by! Second, I’ll be completely transparent: I go through phases of being content and I have to remind myself. Honestly, I wouldn’t want to incur more debt, BUT, sometimes that may be necessary. We are getting ready to close in our carport so that we can have a couple hundred extra square feet–we NEED it! We are busting at the seams. And while that will cause us to have more debt, it’s what we need. I’d continue to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance, but while you wait for an answer, seeking contentment helps!

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