The Much of Little

We no longer travel a great deal by train, but I remember the long train trips of our early carless years in Italy. When Hubby also rode an old moped 12 miles to work – even in snow or rain.

There are areas of Italy where you can live without a car thanks to the public transportation system. However, we lived in a small hamlet near Luino, in Lombardy, without a bus line. Walking and mopeds were the only ways we could get around.

Outings were limited to 3 mile walks into town, where we attended church as well. Our money was just as scarce as passing buses, so even ice cream and cappuccinos were rare treats. Even so, we enjoyed those long walks pulling along our nifty 2-wheel grocery bag. Talking and singing the whole time. We never felt deprived, except perhaps in cold rainy weather, which was often.

And indeed, we felt really spoiled after getting our first TV, a tiny used black and white model.

We had little

Those were days when we had very little. But that first tiny TV introduced new, low-cost family fun times! The kids loved watching reruns of shows like Little House on the Prairie and Fury Brave Stallion. (Listen to the Italian theme song below). We learned Italian watching those old shows and Italy’s Wheel of Fortune!

Back then Canale 4 broadcast Disney movies every week. This was something our kids loved so much that they always bought the la Guida TV to see which movie would play. And a VHS cassette (remember those?) so they could record and watch the films over and over. They had the entire collection!

All the while munching delicious, hand-cranked popcorn from our stovetop popper. Which we still use, 30 years later!

That 2-room rental house, with just a kitchen, bath, and one other room, was a real challenge. Especially because of the bed arrangements for our adolescent children. Our daughter Anna slept on a chair-bed in the kitchen. And our son Enzo slept in our room, which we had divided with a wardrobe. He slept on the sofa which became a single-size bed.

That sole bedroom was a combination of bedroom, living room, TV room, and it held the only small wardrobe. But those weren’t the biggest challenges.

Our landlady was miserly, and our neighbors were mostly unpleasant. And it was out in the country far from everything, at least in our carless state!

We lived without a washer for the first few months, and the hand-wrung clothes took forever to dry. Since it was so rainy there I often had to hang them indoors on my handy stendino. Which only added to the already abundant humidity! Drips surrounded us, both inside and out!

That was not only the tiniest of our homes, but the dampest. Water even ran down the inside walls due to the high humidity. Many a tear I shed while mopping up and tossing out shoes and handbags ruined by the humidity.

But how wealthy and pampered I felt when we managed to buy a washer, which we crammed into the tiny bathroom. No clothes dryer of course. They were unheard of back then in the early 90s!

I can’t deny that all those challenges made life complicated. Yet it was, in many ways, more simple and pleasant.

Greater appreciation

Because of not having much, we seemed to appreciate the things we had all the more. Progress has brought the west so many things, and we race to get them all. Larger homes, nicer furniture, flatter TVs, fancier phones, and new cars. Often working overtime to afford it all, but with hardly any time to truly enjoy it.

The wealth of true riches

Money wasn’t plentiful for sure, but health, happiness, joy, and communion with the Lord were. We were wealthy in life’s real riches! All the things money can’t buy. Blessed with a loving family, a happy marriage, and countless wonderful friends. Plus time to enjoy it all!

  • No car – but more time to enjoy the flowers along the road!
  • No phone of any kind – but no phone bills either!
  • No clothes dryer – but the health of fresh air by hanging laundry out!
  • And a super tiny house – that would have been so much quicker to clean, if not for the humidity!

We had few material things. But that taught us to count our blessings and stop taking things for granted. We learned the value of simple contentment. The peace of realizing that we didn’t need more and more.

But most of all we learned to trust God more and more. And we found that he is not only a mighty God, but he is faithful even when we have very limited resources!

We were so blessed because we had learned that the much of little made us truly wealthy!

I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself.

Philippians 4:11 CSB

Images: Flowers by Lisa Fotios | TV by Pexels | Clothes rack by Joes Valentine | Shoes by Lisa Fotios | Others ©SignoraSheila / SignorMario.

26 thoughts on “The Much of Little

  1. This is a great post ma’am, I can relate everything with your scenarios.
    May I ask the timeline for this period in your life?
    It’s true that when there were not so many tech-gadgets, and moder appliances people were more social, jovial, and friendly, and leads a healthy life. But, now…


    1. Thank you, Sir. The time period here was the early 90’s. It’s a dilemma. All the modern gadgets and conveniences make life easier. But how much do we lose by their entrance into our lives? Finding balance can be difficult!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that really would save some money! It is a shame they got rid of pay phones. Yet the cell phone can be so useful. Especially when you get lost!


    1. Thanks Pete, I find the memories and insights people share to be such an encouragement! We used to make popcorn with just a regular pan too. But hand crank version is great. Not so tiring, and the salt and butter or oil gets distributed more evenly. And the popcorn never burns!


  2. Thank you so much for this!! I watched this TV series in the States as Fury! I had forgotten. Thank you for a sweet stroll down memory lane and thank you for reminding me of the preciousness of simple and that the LORD is the One who makes simple precious!


    1. You’re more than welcome, Kathy! That really is the secret… with God. Because he helps us focus on the true treasures… which are usually the simple things with eternal value!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know that the simpler my life is, the more contentment I feel. The “much of little” is very true and I love how you wrote about that fact from your own experiences. I believe that the unhappiness we see today is partially due to the fact, too, that we’re seeing the “little of much.” How little peace it brings – peace that only God can give. Thanks for your wise words today!


    1. Thanks Patty. I’m grateful that the Lord allowed us to go through certain circumstances that taught us many of these important life lessons. And I hope he continues to allow them so that our eyes will remain fixed on true eternal treasures!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Praise and thanksgiving draw us closer to the heart of God! You have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances! Your testimony has touched my heart!


    1. Thanks Deborah, but I would say rather that I am learning that secret. The things of this world have such a strong pull. It is a continual battle!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved reading this again and refreshing my outlook. I want to be like you, Sheila, and see the positive side of life! We DO have so much to enjoy, so much to be thankful for. God has indeed supplied all our needs–and then some!


    1. So true Nancy. We who have Christ are rich in all the things that truly count!! Mat the Lord help us to keep our eyes on those!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The much of little–brilliant wisdom and so much healthier all the way around. I love how you focus on the small things. The big, expensive, time-consuming, energy-draining things we focus on today don’t bring joy. They typically bring guilt for spending the money, exhaustion because there’s no time or energy to enjoy them, and frustration because what seemed important then is obviously unimportant now, I’m grateful for your story that shows how valuing the small and rich things of life give more joy than what we perceive to be grand and necessary.


    1. I’m so glad it inspired you, Dayle! Life in this world centers around stuff. All that we can see and touch. Things that are passing away. But the things we experience with others remain in our hearts and can even become eternal treasures!! Those really are what count!!


  7. You are so right, Sheila: The true riches of life have nothing to do with stuff. ‘Love that Chesterton quote, too. P.S. Also loved the show, Fury, when I was a girl!


    1. Stuff comes and goes, people remain. I love Chesterton, lots of wit and wisdom. I never saw Fury until seeing the reruns of it over here. We enjoyed it!!


  8. You are, indeed, a reminder of what is really valuable. I love that GK Chesterton quote–one of the greatest lies of the enemy is our sense of never having enough, of feeling the need for more stuff and things. I’m learning the truth that gratitude is a discipline. Thanks, my friend.


    1. Thanks Dayle. Yes, gratitude and contentment are disciplines. They are so contrary to what this world pushes that we have to constantly battle to hold on them. And I think Chesterton hits it on the head. We fall into taking so much for granted.


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