Shop the fall collection ➔

I wouldn’t exactly call my kids deprived, though sometimes their peers stare goggle-eyed when we tell them things like we have one TV,(OK – two. But the master bedroom one is parents only, switched on every blue moon or so) and that in the living room, away from where we dine. And, every dinner? Together.

These same kids are further shocked to find our laptop is pretty much business purposes only, no internet, few games. (I love my phone plan/library Wi-Fi. It has opened writing doors long shut to me.)

Not to mention the one Wii without blood and guts fest, limited turns, and strict homework first policy. The actually having to ask before play.

Clothes are purchased not for label but for wear.

And the thrift store price.

Free is also a great bargain.

No cell phone of their own or any handheld gadget for that matter.

We have invested in the last year or so in a couple of bigger ticket items, but with the express purpose to fuel some passions each have (we are raising a pack of creative performers).

And, yet, even there, old school tends to reign.

Oldies and parodies appeal over much of the current music scene.

TV from an antenna leaves us out of the loop on what the latest greatest show is or who a lot of actors are.

In their book, Gilligan is tops.

No Hulu. No Netflix.

Movie theater? Big event of maybe once or twice a year, when we can find anything decent.

Reading is a must every night. Some love it so much they get up early to cram more in.

We do church and they are encouraged to pursue what we can afford, but being rich in home time is as vital as being rich in activities.

Speaking of…

The activities they come up with from their fertile imaginations boggle the mind!

Elaborate, few props, expressive dramatics.

Or, they create the most intricate engineering marvels with just a handful of building materials.

Artistic beauty from a little paper.

Board games are tops. As is helping with dinner.

Or someone in need. We don’t always have a lot to give, but we try.

I know I risk sounding like a braggy minimalist mom.

I don’t expect all to live like this or get it.

Some will. Some won’t.

Honestly, I write all this and fear my own uncoolness. And wonder if life’s gone and sophisticated itself out of reach.

And, yes, sometimes,there are some sad little faces to contend with when I tell them something is not in our budget.


And, if I wallow in woe-is-me’s, I imagine my beloved children coming to me one day and saying, You never gave us anything we wanted.

And, then, they’ll buy a small fleet of cars and enough antiques to fill ten flea markets like my dear old eccentric uncle to make up for it.

And, yet, deep in my heart, I don’t think this will really be so…

Because, perhaps, this life lived on a frayed shoestring was exactly as God intended.

It forces us to get creative, stick close, make our own fun.

To say, “no” on occasion to inconsequentials.

To say “yes” more often to those things which matter.

To not be so slick in design as this fast-paced culture around us, seeking to grow up the young in a flash without the substance that teaches HOW to be grown up.

To miss out on things perhaps best missed out on, and to not miss out on those things we will look back upon as vital.

The love.

Of family, of Christ, of our fellow man.

Of course, we dream of being able to do more. What we wouldn’t give to give the kids the better end of the deal!

But, as I ponder this, I can’t help but feel as though we have the better end of the deal already.

A wad of cash does not a loving parent make, after all.

Give me unsophisticated old school any day if it means we are gaining this worthy brood I see around my table at night.

I hope my kids will grow up to say the same, that the pure and simple always satisfies.

Because, honestly, though their little peers are goggle-eyed, there is one or two I have caught also looking just a bit wistful, too.

Marisa Ulrich

Marisa Ulrich is a mom of four, two autistic, two “typicals," living in one of those great old fixer-uppers in rural Kansas. She is in a blessed second marriage with the handyman of her dreams. Her writing has appeared in Autism Parenting and Zoom Autism. Her first book, Broken Cookies Taste Just as Sweet: The Amazing Grace of Motherhood, Marriage, and Miracles on the Spectrum is set to debut July 19th via eLectio publishing. Join her ongoing thoughts on Facebook, and online at

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Got: Touch Feet Every Night

In: Faith, Marriage
Couple touching feet in bed

Twenty-six years ago this summer, I got a tiny piece of advice on my wedding day that has kept me from making a huge mistake time and time again. A wise woman told me, “When you climb in bed each night with your husband, make sure that your feet touch under the covers. It’s hard to be mad at someone and touch feet.”  I had no idea, all those years ago, how impactful this piece of advice would be and how many times in our marriage this would be the small act that kept us united. This simple act of...

Keep Reading

Faith is a Verb, So We Go to Church

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman and teen daughter in church pew

Every Sunday morning we rush out the door bribing, coaxing, and threatening our kids to just “Get into the van!” Luckily, we live remotely rural so we don’t have neighbors to witness our often un-Christlike eye rolls and harsh sighs as we buckle each other up. We’ve always lived within a five-minute drive to a chapel, and yet we are usually there not two minutes before the service starts. Once sitting in our seats, we’re on high alert for noise control and sibling altercations for the next hour of what is supposed to be a peaceful, sacred, spirit-filled service. Which...

Keep Reading

3 Simple Ways to Be a More Confident Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and young child smiling outside

Do you ever ask yourself why you can’t be more like that mom or why can’t your kids be like those kids? The comparison trap is an easy one to fall into if we aren’t careful. At the click of our fingers, we see Pinterest-worthy motherhood in every category. From the mom with the black-belt kids to the mom with Marie Kondo organizing skills—it’s easy to look at their lives and feel like we’ve fallen short. Even worse, is when we start to strive to become something we aren’t or prod our kids to become something they aren’t.  Comparison makes...

Keep Reading

Grief Is Persistent But God Is Faithful

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Woman praying by ocean

The loss of a parent doesn’t just sting, it leaves you with an irreplaceable hole in your heart. It’s been two years since my loving daddy went home to be with Jesus, and the loss I feel is still unimaginable.  I know in my heart he’s in a better place that is absent of pain and distress. However, his physical presence and wisdom are so dearly missed here on this earth.  He left behind an army of a family who adored him and looked to him for solid guidance. No matter how hard I try to look to the bright...

Keep Reading

I Gave up on God but He Never Gave up on Me

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother hugging son, color photo

I grew up in a religious house. We went to church every Sunday. My mom taught Sunday school, and we participated as a family in most church events. We believed in the power of prayer, hope, faith, love, and forgiveness. As a little girl, I watched my dad kneel at the side of the bed every night and say his prayers. In the last six years, my faith has not been what it should have been. It has plummeted into the depths of nothingness, buried deep below the darkness. I have felt angry and abandoned by God. In response, I...

Keep Reading

I Count My Blessings Every Day

In: Faith
Mom and child by beach

I remember being jealous of my classmates often. I would look at the girls at my school who seemed to be living such a carefree life. They would do well in school effortlessly and go home to their moms, dads, and siblings, to a house they’d grown up in. I wanted that so much for myself! I wanted my mom and dad to be together, and if it wasn’t too much to ask, a sibling or two. I wanted us to live in a house where I could have my own room, but I wouldn’t mind sharing if I had...

Keep Reading

Dear Lord, Make Me a Grace Hunter

In: Faith
Woman with crutches looking out window, black-and-white photo

I want to be known as a grace hunter. Every day, I pray I would be given eyes to see the world in which we live through a lens of grace—a lens that causes me to marvel at the ways of my God and be constantly filled with wonder. I am thankful I have no choice but to live life at a slower pace. I pray for the ability to see the beauty and God’s grace in the seemingly small and insignificant things. RELATED: In the Midst of Grief, There is Grace I pray for eyes to see His grace even...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, Follow Your Beautiful Heart

In: Faith, Kids
Mother and daughter smiling

When I held you in my arms for the first time, it was like time stopped. As you looked up at me with innocence and new life, I was struck by the reality that my main role in your life would be to guide and direct you on the right path. I hoped I would do the best job possible. As I watched you grow, I basked in your joy of putting on your pretty dresses, adorned with layers of costume jewelry, parading around the house for your father and me to see. I dreamed often of what path you...

Keep Reading

So God Made Midnight

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and newborn

When God created a mother, He created her to love and serve in every moment. He knew the constant need would sometimes overwhelm her and she would have no choice but to rely on His strength and grace. He knew she would feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day . . . so God made midnight. He knew a mama’s days with a newborn would be busy and sometimes chaotic. He knew she would be distracted by meeting needs and attempting to find balance—that sneaking in a hot shower would become almost a luxury . . . so...

Keep Reading

Lord, I Don’t Want To Face This Storm

In: Faith
Rain cloud over a lake, color photo

“I feel like I’m right in the middle of that rain shaft, suspended over the ocean,” I told my husband as we waited out a Florida afternoon rain on our hotel balcony. “There’s light and beauty all around me, but I feel like I’m just lost in that storm.”  Just two nights before, we awoke to the cries of our 11-year-old son, the pain in his right lower abdomen so great that he woke up from a deep sleep. Our vacation took a solemn turn as my husband loaded him up in our rental car and drove to a children’s...

Keep Reading