Better is….

“Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full with painful effort, a vain striving after the wind and a feeding  on it.”  Solomon


I came across that proverb two weeks ago.   It continues to resonate and give me a warm, “I am on the right track feeling,” with our most recent decision to downsize and take another look at our finances.   I am  enjoying a season of “quietness” on multiple fronts of my life, in spite being  in the middle of the Fall rush at work.

Is “a handful with quietness” worth pursuing or have you bought into “two hands full with painful toil”   road map for your life?

That is a watershed question, each of us gets to answer 😉

If you are a dad with a wife and  children in tow, then before you answer all by your lonesome, include the family in that decision.

I do know what it feels like to have the wolf is at the door.

It is not a fun place to be.

Back when I was in my late 20’s, under tremendous self-imposed stress I came across the following ditty:

You are a fool if your goal is to make it to the top of the company ladder but end up loosing your family in the process.


Like someone took a 2 by 4 and smacked me across the nose.

I wasn’t trying to climb a corporate ladder.  I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, putting in long days at work, etc.  It wasn’t until my wife was almost at her breaking point, that I finally stopped long enough to see what the heck I was doing to everyone.

(It may not be making it to the top of the company ladder, but making payments on  stuff.  Stuff  that rusts, breaks fall apart, including a fancy house.)

In talking with another young dad recently about his financial pressures, I was dumbfounded at how much money they were spending on “needs” like Internet/cable, school activities,  that were costing $100’s of dollars a month.

I just listened as he rationalized all of their well-meaning decisions.

I never quite know if I’m dealing with a fool or a wise man so I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

I don’t need the grief.

But since this is my blog, and you are free to leave, I will tell you what I think. 😉

When we had kids in the home, part of what it looked like to make ends meet included starting a family cleaning business. We cleaned the offices,  a bank, and a house.   The kids got in on cleaning  toilets, scrubbing floors and experiencing the joy of getting a pay check for a job well done.   We bid the bigger jobs, so rather than working by the hour, it was a set price.   Each of us had our specific jobs and were usually done in an hour .  The money they made went to help buy their clothes.

We rented instead of owning, the first 12 years of our marriage.  At that time, coming up with a 10% down payment on a house was impossible on my income.  I remember coming to the painful realization we would probably never own a home. That was so counter cultural, and painful to my ego , but I had a higher calling, I wanted to have some energy left at the end of the day to be present with my wife and children.

* By the grace of God we were eventually able to own a home.  It can be done.


Thanks for stopping by.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.  DM

Here are some recent pictures taken by a photography club  when they visited our home:



libby 2014

Libby the Great

doug in the orchard 2014

Interacting with photography club


Heirloom variety of apples

honey crisp

Honey Crisp ready to be picked

litter carrier

Litter carrier in the barn

sun crisp

Sun-crisp variety of apples

And finally, if you are still reading along and have a minute,  here is a link to one of my favorite songs on Youtube currently :


This entry was posted in christianity, faith, family, life, personal, relationships, Uncategorized, wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Better is….

  1. That’s a hard one – we definitely have two hands full with painful effort going right now in an attempt to obtain one handful with quietness. I guess the trade-off for us is that our goal (and so far so good) is to not incur any debt along the way. It’s taking longer – which is painful in and of itself, but if we can just stick with it another year or two without killing ourselves, it will be worth it. The big question is – can we keep up the pace? So DM – are we fooling ourselves or doing it wisely in your opinion? I value your opinion!!!

  2. Bill says:

    That writer had a lot of wise things to say. “As goods increase so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to their owners, but to feast their eyes upon them?”

    Eventually I chose a handful of quietness, rather than both hands full and a life of chasing and trying to eat the wind. But it took me decades to get to that point and I missed a lot of life along the way. The key it seems to me is to strike the right balance, to find one’s place in the world and to learn to cultivate contentment. That is much easier said than done of course.

    I appreciate and enjoy your reflections on these things. Peace.
    Thanks Bill. I think both of us have walked a similar path from crazy busy to striving for peace in the day today. Always good to hear from you. DM

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