Letting go of Stuff

Letting go of Stuff

It’s Just Stuff


A few years ago I encountered a woman who caused a turning point for me and my regard for things. She and her husband ran a guest house that was often filled with youth sports group retreats. I used their industrial kitchen and baked my friend a cake for her birthday. Unfortunately, the cake got rather stuck to her pan. Since I wasn’t able to get it out of the pan without destroying it, I had to cut the cake right in it, thus causing irreparable damage.

Apologetically, I went to her and begged forgiveness. And she astounded me with her response.

“It’s just stuff.” she said and shrugged it off.

She wasn’t just being polite when she said that either. I know this because she’s German. Germans aren’t overly polite… ever.
She kept going and said, “I can’t take it with me when I leave this world, and I can always get more things.
Done.

I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around that thought. Of course I knew that her words were her paraphrased version of what’s in the Bible. But I still held on tight to my feeling that when it’s wrecked, it’s the end of the world.

Her three simple words started me on a different trajectory though. This has helped me rethink my attitude when (especially) my children break my things. It’s just stuff. 

It can be replaced, and I can’t take it with me when I die anyway.

Who or What Do you Love More?

Last week we packed up our whole home and moved into a storage unit. We will be living out of suitcases for the next seven months until we move country. I’ve spent the last three months going through all of our things and trying to decide if I should sell it, keep it, trash it, or give it away.

But only six months ago I was struggling with the idea of  even moving to a different country and giving up my beloved Amazon Prime, and the fantastic German postal system. I have four little kids at home, so I take no pleasure going out to the store and buying things. I’d rather use my phone and computer and have it delivered to me.

These thoughts literally stopped me from thinking about working and living in a country that’s not as developed as the one I live in now.

I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was telling God that I didn’t think his call elsewhere was really worth me giving up Amazon Prime, or my new washing machine, or my lovely antique desk, or all my childrens’ toys that I spent so much money on.

It was shocking to find that in my heart. My husband and I have been in missions and Christian ministry for most of our marriage… so it’s tempting to think that we’re pretty holy. But God knows better though. We are not holy without him. 

I’m so thankful for God’s patience with me. Over the last half a year he’s been redirecting my heart to him, and away from the things I started to treasure too much.

The danger sometimes is that those treasures require our attention and responsibility. Sometimes so much so that we don’t have enough attention for our wonderful Father.

The many benefits of getting rid of possessions

 
Last year, I got rid of about 3/4 of my wardrobe.

Day after day I was standing in front of my closet wondering what to wear. After four kids, my body had changed multiple times and some things just didn’t fit the way I liked anymore. Others had colours that I liked, but rarely matched with the rest of my clothes. After feeling constantly depleted in my mind, I figured clearing out my closet was one way to help me make better decisions. We can only take so many properly thought through decision per day. I decided I didn’t want to waste that capacity on standing in front of my closet.

It was such a freeing experience to let go of stuff. It was like bits of bondage being cut away from me.

I bought a few more pieces of clothes over the year that matched. This helped me create a more cohesive wardrobe that I felt really good about.

 

Now, one year later, I love what I pick out and wear every day. Even though I have MUCH LESS selection.

Less selection = Less decisions.

 

You can read more about how you can make better decisions by getting rid of stuff here.

 

Other benefits of letting go of stuff include:

 

  • More space in your home
  • Spend less money on things you’re going to throw away anyway.
  • Less problems when things break (because you don’t have so many things)
  • You are less attached to things, and consequently more flexible
    • I know people who would love to travel, or could even imagine serving as missionaries but they are stuck with multiple car payments and a mortgage. 

Jesus our Declutter Guide

Jesus constantly challenges our hearts in passages like Matthew 6:20-21:

 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

How easy is it for our stuff to become treasures and take hold of our hearts? Jesus knew that our belongings had the tendency to become an idol. He knew that when we declutter our stuff we also declutter our hearts.

I think he also knew that we only had a limited capacity for decision making. Belongings require responsibility and more decision making. It’s easier to have less stuff when we are already inundated by myriads of daily decisions. He knew that to really capture our hearts and attention, then we couldn’t be bogged down with baggage (literal and physical). I love that he’s not only the healer of our wounds, but he gave us some pretty great guidelines for living life to the fullest.

Making More Space

Decluttering your wardrobe won’t necessarily change your life. But it can be an intentional step and proclamation that you want to make more space for God.

To get you started, I made a simple little checklist below. Sign up and it will be sent right to your inbox.

How to Spend Money without Guilt

How to Spend Money without Guilt

Have you ever arrived at the end of the month wondering where all of your money has gone? Surely, you didn’t mean to overspend, but the money has literally vanished from your bank account. Where did it all go? Is it even possible to spend money without guilt?

 

Our single income family has experienced years of living paycheck to paycheck, and large chunks of time without even that (lots of God miracles in those years!). After paying all the bills, we operated on a “spend as needed” basis.

 

The problem with this is: You can always spend money.
A “spend as needed” basis just invites need.
Sure you don’t have a donut maker, the money may be there, but do you really need it?

 

Needs end where the money ends.

 

If you have no plan, you’ll have no money.

 

When it came time to buy the kids new clothes, or when my husband and I just wanted to go out and have a coffee date together, it was always seasoned with guilt. I constantly felt the nagging lack of money.

 

In part, this feeling came from my childhood  where money was sparse. But there was another problem which we’ll look at next.

 

Who Does it Belong to?

 

At some point, I just got sick of living from paycheck to paycheck and was wondering if God had another way. I felt convicted that we were not stewarding his gifts wisely, but squandering them instead. After all, the money didn’t really belong to us, but God!

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Ps. 24

 

So we see the heart of it here, the problem is realizing our responsibility and lack of vision and overview.

This is incredibly important if we desire to take care of something we have received (which in this case, is money). This is one principle of biblical stewardship. The money doesn’t belong to us, it’s God’s, and we’re to use it in a way that honours him. And finances are important to Jesus!

So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11

The money in our bank accounts is not the true riches, but what we do with it has eternal importance!

No Purpose = No Money

One major culprit of spending guilt: The absence conscious spending and saving.   Without a plan, our family just spent the money as it came.

After feeling convinced that we needed to change our financial habits I browsed Pinterest and looked for different money solutions. I came across a cash based system using envelopes. I believe that this method was made popular by Dave Ramsey. My husband and I watched a few of his teachings via Right Now Media. I would really suggest  anyone interested in a biblical perspective of finances to check this out.

This got me started on writing out every single thing we bought and setting up my envelope system.

Three Ways to Begin Controlling Your Money

Get an Overview

Write every single thing down that you spend for three months. To the penny. Though this takes effort and persistence, you will get an overview of just where your money is going. Eventually, by looking through this list you will get a good idea of where your money is going. Where can you cut back? Where should you save more?

Cast a Vision

Then, you can think about the things that are missing. Are there goals you’d like to reach? Perhaps things that you want, or want? Check out the free budgeting resources here.

Fill up Envelopes

The benefits to having all your budgeting categories separated into envelopes, is that it’s incredibly satisfying to fill them up with cash. And when it’s empty… it’s empty. There is something much more impacting when you’re faced with an empty envelope, compared to an empty online bank account. Oh, that novel feeling of physical money. We put more thought into whether we should actually hand over that 20, than when we flippantly swipe a card.

Planning for the Unexpected

Before our financial shift, when the unexpected happened, we scrambled!

Here’s a little secret though: the unexpected always happens!

This was a critical change in our spending habits. Once I realized that you can plan for the unexpected I started setting aside money for new appliances, car repairs, and house repairs.

I have to tell you, this has made life SO MUCH EASIER! We always have at least a bit of money set aside for those emergencies, so they are no longer emergencies.

Spending without Guilt

Before my envelope system, I struggled every time I spent money on something that wasn’t absolutely “necessary”. After reviewing my budget, I saw that I wanted to be able to buy clothes for my kids and myself.  We wanted to go away on vacations as a family. We didn’t eat out that often, but when we do I want it to be a nice experience. Therefore, I budgeted for that.

I budget for all of those things.
That means, I have a monthly budget for clothes, entertainment, and savings for vacation. When I need to buy some clothes, I do it, the money is there, it’s for clothes.

NO MORE GUILT!

 

Because I have an eye on our spending, and saving, I feel a lot more freedom.
Freedom to be generous, freedom to plan for our future, and freedom to purchase what is needed and what we would like.

Ultimately, my desire is that God looks at that all and says, Yes! Well done, good and faithful servant!

How do you feel about your spending? Do you have other methods that have worked for you? Comment below and tell us about them!

 

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Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Stewardship of Time, Talents and Food

Welcome to the first of my Spotlight Series. Where we get to meet Jesus loving, inspiring, and creative people.

 

I’m really happy to introduce you to my first guest of the series, Amanda from Maple Alps. She’s a fellow Canadian, and also married to a German speaker (Austrian to be precise), and seeks to live an intentional, simple life that glorifies God.

 

Today, she will give us some insight into how cultural differences impacted her life and  how she is intentional in the choices she makes with her time, food and talents.

 

The Spotlight on: Amanda from Maple Alps

1. What are you reading right now? How did it get into your hands?

 

I have always loved reading and it seems that I always have something new to pick up to read. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of audio books because I have a long commute during the school year, and listening (I still make time for the physical ones, of course) to books is the only way my busy life can accommodate more of them! I am currently listening to Radical by David Platt. I actually read it a while back, but my husband, not knowing we had the book, grabbed it on audible, so it’s been fun to “read” it again.

 

The most recent completed book was called The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy by Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC. It really inspired me on my plant-based journey. Of course, I daily read my Bible, which is a book of books and the ultimate love letter that I highly recommend!

 

2. You’ve traveled quite a bit! Could you share with us one cultural difference you’ve experienced that has impacted you for the better?

 

I do love traveling and I’m still working on my bucket list! I think growing up in a home where two different cultures were dominant helped prepare me to be open-minded about all of the different ways of life I’ve encountered. I’ve met people on my travels who didn’t seem to have a desire to embrace other cultures and instead resisted or complained. I always felt that they had somehow been robbed of a truly amazing experience because of that.

 

I suppose on a practical level, moving to a country and having to get used to a completely different political situation has opened my eyes to a lot of different things and has made me an advocate for things I used to take advantage of. Things like affordable healthcare or even simply recycling or knowing exactly what goes into the food we buy. Most importantly, I’ve learned that despite cultural differences, we are all human and we are all in need of a Saviour! It has made me take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to take the Gospel to the ends of the world more serious.

 

3. How do you understand the stewardship of your time and talents?

 

I believe that we were placed on this Earth for a purpose. That purpose is to show and tell others about Christ and His love for us! Everything that has been given to us is actually more or less on loan.

 

We cannot create time – we can only use it to the best of our abilities.

 

We do not choose our talents – instead, we can develop them to glorify God!

 

I think that it is really important to use our time and talents wisely. Our time is precious; our days are numbered (see Psalm 90). Once it is wasted, we can never get it back.

 

 

4. How does this look practically in your life now?

 

Filling my time with family and doing good and ministering to others is something I prioritize. There are so many distractions in this world that take up our time. All of the mindless entertainment (think: Netflix, video games, etc) that does more harm than good is something I believe is better off left out of our time slots!

 

As for talents, I try to develop them so I can reach others in different ways. For example, I play the piano for church and enjoy having people over! I also love using and developing my talents for photography and design for my blog. I also see my teaching career as a ministry (I teach in a church school) and I feel called to pour my heart and talents into that as well.

 

5. How do you understand food and intentionality?

 

I think that God gave us a design for a diet we should eat. When He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He gave them all sorts of trees with fruit they could eat of. There was no death there. Because of this, and because I believe that our bodies are a living temple for the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6), and for many other reasons, I have chosen to adopt a plant-based diet. I think what we put into our bodies is very important and affects our entire lives. We should not live to eat, but eat to live! Being healthy in all areas of life are important!

 

 

Thank you Amanda for your time, your thoughts and experiences!

 

 

 

Amanda Walter is a teacher, writer, wife to a pastor, and mom to a cat. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, sipping tea, and trying to keep succulents alive.
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Reusable Eco-Friendly Swim Diapers

Reusable Eco-Friendly Swim Diapers

I have a secret that I want to share with you. This was an absolute diaper game changer for me. And I feel a little stupid for not realizing it before.

There is something that shocked me last year. It’s actually silly how shocking it was to me, because if you really stop to think about it, it makes sense.

 

At the Pool

 

Last year I was at an outdoor pool with my nine month old who was splashing around in the baby area when I noticed another mama and her baby. The baby had a cute swimming diaper on, and I casually commented on it.

 

She dropped this bomb on me.

 

“Well, it’s really only a cloth diaper cover.”
Taken aback, I guess I looked puzzled.
“The store-bought swimming diapers don’t actually retain the urine, they’re just there to catch the ‘big stuff.”

 

 I pondered for a moment, slightly grossed out, but after thinking about it I gathered it must be true.

 

“What a great idea!” I said. Remembering all of the cloth diapers I had from my last two babies.

For me, it’s important to be mindful of the waste we produce, and I’m always looking for new and better solutions for our large family to reduce waste impact. With this in mind, I had tried very briefly to cloth diaper baby #4, and then packed the cloth diapers away. But alas, The laundry was already overwhelming without the diapers. I gave up.

 

Cloth Diaper = Swim Diaper

 

I was super thankful to this woman for pointing out something I had never thought of. The swim diapers we buy at the store actually don’t retain any of the urine. With that in mind, I was excited to bring out my cute cloth diaper covers and give it a try for myself.

 

Reusable Swim Diapers Eco Friendly

 

 

 

No more throwing all those swimming diapers in the garbage!

 

When we go swimming now, I just pack up three of them (just in case), and off we go. They’re cute, and they do exactly their job.

This season we have a little pool on our patio, and these diapers are totally practical to take on and off at will. I’m really excited not to be “wasting” diapers on his sometimes short bouts of water play.

 

 

You can find these diapers super easy on Amazon, and they come in a variety of different patterns.

What I love about these is that the diaper grows with your baby. So if you have babies with big chubby tummies (like mine), you don’t have to go out and a buy another size.

 

I hope you find this simple little tip as helpful as I did.
It’s one small way that our family can reduce waste. And it’s super easy!