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Posts Tagged ‘living small’

A few things we’ve incorporated immediately upon return from 6+ weeks of living in an RV, piggybacking on the post I wrote a year ago called What I Learned From Leaving:

Purge – we took a truck full to the thrift store.  It turns out that living with two drawers and about 6″ of hang up space was ample clothing for each of us.  We never wanted for more, from summertime temps to chilly nights.  All six of us took up less than an average armoire’s space for clothes.  It was perfect.  I committed to sending at least one Large Size Flat Rate USPS Priority Mail box per month to my Alaskan cousins since we can wear the same gear.  I sent two on arriving home out of excitement.  For years, we’ve already incorporated the rule: for every bag/item that comes in, one of equal size leaves.

No More Food Waste – we literally threw away zero food.  That’s nuts.  Around this house, we feed the chickens at least one day’s worth of food for them per week, or 1/7th of their entire diet.  It’s mind-numbingly-frustrating to me, the waste that goes on in (err, out) of our refrigerator.  We ate great on our trip, eating out only once in a while.  We grocery’d every 4-5 days for fresh items.  We ate more nuts and fresh veg than we do at home.  We ate less white flour and refined sugars than we do at home.  Well, other than our ice cream stops.  That’s another story.

Less Trash – Though we threw away more than we expected to (about two plastic grocery bags per day), it has kept me in the mode of trying to throw away less.  We have been keeping a small plastic bag hanging from a hook in the kitchen to monitor our trash, and have notably decreased what goes into the black hole.  A rather dramatic – but effective! – trash sign we saw in a restaurant along the way: “Landfill.” in white words on black paper right above a trash can.  Yipes.  Definitely made me sweat a little. And if you know me, you know we’re not usually on top of being recyclers.  But even without recycling, we have limited ALL of our personal throw-aways significantly.

Lastly, it inspired me to work on our skoolie.  We had budgeted a chunk of change to it this year, and haven’t touched it.  So we ordered new lights, are in the middle of getting sheet metal to re-do the over-the-windows, then will paint the exterior.  Those three will about eat up our set aside money ’til February, BUT we also have a small stash of cash that is in the bus fund from selling things.  If it works out, we’ll put it toward getting a flushing toilet back in there*, and all that entails.  We’d love it to be fully use-ful again asap.

*we pulled the residential porcelain toilet out when we got the bus to replace it with a more efficient toilet.

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Once upon a time I blamed genetics on my “thriving on chaos.”  My family has a long line of go-getters, and have come a very long way in their lives.  I respect that, I do!  But some have used their wandering spirit in misguided ways.  I know, because I’m one of them.  I spent years investing in things that I suspected would not yield a return.  Things that ate up our resources quicker than they replenished them.  I did it anyway.  I have lots of speculation about why: the feeling of being useful or needed, seeking approval, lack of clear direction or listening to God’s call, plain stupidity, etc… But rather than dwell on those things, I want to delve into how we’ve changed our life to reflect ourselves in a more true way.  For what it’s worth, we learned a lot along the way, and tho’ retrospectively we would make different decisions, we are who we are today because of our past, and I’m thankful for the ways God used those situations for His glory – and has blessed us greatly through the process.

The nagging itch I used to try to scratch has softened.  Though the yearning still lingers, it has been redirected.  Now I know that it is a gift, not a curse.  It’s a longing for a life after this one.  Nothing here can quench the thirst to eternal life with Christ.  But here’s the hitch: we  live with Christ not only later on, but today.  Every day.  Every moment.  And that is what I truly believe became clear to me, calming the need to create my own false paradise.

This multi-generational quality* continues to be apparent.  I still am motivated by many things, and always have goals.  Let’s be real, life is a work in progress that will never be complete.  We are not supposed to sit around lolly gagging but should use our resources wisely and productively.  And so we press on with new adventures in business, family, home & education.  We seek to ‘better’ our lives in ways that we can, but with contentment.

And there is the key: contentment.

Since the day we listened to God’s call and decided to let our old farm go, God has blessed us exponentially.  Our discontent turned into bigger blessings than we could have reached for in all of our trying.  For one, peace reigns.

A few short weeks after we moved to our current farm, Scott ended up in the hospital for some time.  We saw this as a clear blessing from God, orchestrating timing so perfectly for what could have easily been a fatal blow had we still been at the old property.  Almost losing him – over and over while he was in the ICU – left our whole family with a lot more contentedness.  We value every day more.  We also let things roll off our shoulders that would have been big deals before.  We learned how to let go in a way we never knew before.  The freedom we sought in doing came by not doing.  It’s a shame how we all seem to have to learn through experience instead of the wisdom of others.  Makes me extra prayerful for our children.  As much as I would never wish hardships on them, it is often the refining moments that are the most powerful and life-altering.

So this all sounds honky dory and all, but I wanted to share specifically some practical ways we have learned to curb discontentment.  Cuz let’s face it: it rears it’s ugly head in the mundane.

When we’re feeling discontent, we go to action:

If we want something, we figure out what we can get rid of (sell) to buy it.  Even the kids do this with us.  While waiting in the process,  it allows the desire to wane, or makes it all the more worth it.  It also keeps our goal of living more minimally in check as we do not add to our stuff without eliminating things first.

If we want to do something, we make plans that fit our family and budget and lifestyle.  Vacation can be simple to be gratifying (for us anyway).  We also love road trips, which helps.  Our family of 7 can travel via road much more affordably than fly.  That said, we’ve let Adyn know we’re banking on him for private flights when he’s certified.  Ha!  There are also several buddy programs that allow affordable access to local attractions, friends with fun toys, etc.  There’s never a lack of something we could do and have fun doing!

If we’re discontent with our lot in life and try comparing it to others’, we try to spend more time with them.  We learn quickly that they, too, don’t have a perfect life.  Everyone has flaws.  We can grow together instead of separate ourselves into levels of “coolness.”

If we are not content in a circumstance (relationship, place of work, church, school, etc) we try to change it starting in our homes first.  Our lives should be a testament of what we believe.  Whether or not other places reflect our values 100%.  I’ve found that when I’m content with our personal lives and home, it’s easy to be content outside of it.

These are a few ways that we have personally harnessed discontentment and turned it into something positive. I can think of oodles of examples that we’ve put these to work, and with prayer, God has been faithful to turn our attitudes around every time. Sometimes it took a while, no thanks to my impatience and stubbornness.  😮

Which leads to one of the biggest ways I have personally combated discontentment: Seek advice/counsel and find a prayer partner.  Sounds like a big sister club, yeah – but really, I’m incredibly thankful for the brothers & sisters in Christ who are particular prayer warriors in my life that I can ask anytime, anyhow, without being discouraged. Find someone you know who you trust to understand your heart, and encourage and walk along them as you work your way through things. I cannot share how much the value of solid transparent christian relationships has been in our hard (or bad attitude) times.

Ha! A perfect opportunity happened just now. A youngster was fussing that we ran out of white chocolate syrup for coffee (ridiculous. we don’t usually have this.) and said we need to buy more, so we Googled and made more with a few pennies worth of 3 measly ingredients.  All the while talking about how often we have what we need for what we want if we’re willing to work a little at using our noggins. Why buy when you can make?!  Oh, and now we have semi sweet chocolate syrup, marshmallow cream and caramel sauce.  Great.  We’re all going to get fat.

*or is it just “the American dream/er” in us all?

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