What If…(on Downsizing)

June 27, 2014 · 10 comments

I have a large slice of chocolate cake and a glass of milk next to my computer. I picked up the cake this afternoon from one of our local cafes, after I picked up the easy (read: conventional store-bought) meals to feed my family for the next few days. I’m sitting at the bar in my kitchen, looking out at counters topped with grocery sacks, bowls, odd pans and utensils and jars (still more jars!) and  crumpled up papers of garbage and paper towels and of course–as usual–the various pieces of legos. My kitchen smells like tallow because that was the last of my freezer, and it’s in the crockpot rendering. It’s not the most pleasant smell. On floors everywhere are piles and piles of boxes: standard moving boxes, grocery boxes, paper boxes, diaper boxes….all full of a crazy amount of *things* that I think I’m actually going to find room for in my smaller house.


Because, after all, I can’t get rid of the waffle maker we rarely (but delicously) use. Nor the dozens of seasonings or a library of cookbooks (heresy, that!). But…oh….I look at all of the boxes and can’t even see how the boxes themselves will fit onto the FLOOR of my house. And this, after massive decluttering, selling, giving away. Methinks I need to redefine what a “massive” decluttering means.


The reality is this. Once in the house, I will try to put things away and very, very soon (day one, I’m sure) it will become very, very clear what are the most important things to have. A set of dishes? Yes. Four sets? Um…no. Four little plastic toddler cups for mine and their pals? Sure. Fourteen? No.


And I know the struggle that will occur. But what if I need them later? What if my kids want to inherit them? What if the internet goes down forever and most of my books are gone? What if a family of sixteen comes to stay the night and I don’t have enough towels for them all? What if, what if, what if…


The previous owner left a mug for me. On one side, it says “What if…?”


On the other side, it says,  I have set the LORD always before me… (Ps 16:8)


I think that’s the answer to the “what if”s. If it’s not, then the only other option is to be anxious, fearful, worried, and too tight-fisted with the things (and they are things) of this world.


As I look around at the incredible amount of boxes I have packed, both in the garage and in the house, I see clearly that I have so much more to learn about what it means to walk lightly. Debt is not the only burden; too many things to buy, take care of, insure, dust and repair are. It’s one thing to love the house you’re in, and what you have. It’s another to enslave our lives to it all, working hard to pay the bills or to spend all of our time to keep those things in order. Clearly I get the *idea* of this. But the execution? Well….I have a lotta lotta boxes packed around here….


We are moving in two days. That means only two more nights of sleeping in our McMansion, with its double washer/dryer set, four toilets, fourteen exterior doors and radiant heat floors. We’ll have to learn how to use one washer/dryer, cook in a very small kitchen, maintain a wood stove for heat, and use one bathroom for the 9 (almost 10) of us. Neither my husband nor I have any sense of false bravado that we can “just do it”. It’s a leap of faith.


It’s also a little overwhelming. But I wonder if….what if….I’ll actually get the chance to always–always–set the Lord before me? Maybe I’ll have more need of Him when the woodpile is low or rain threatens my clothes on the line or children are underfoot (because…where else are they going to go?). Maybe as the bills dwindle, the dependence on the car wanes, and our big entertainment becomes sitting on the porch watching the stars…maybe we’ll actually have more of a LIFE.


I really have no idea how this is all going to work out. But as I hand the keys to our realtor next week and wake up in my rustic bungalow, I think much work in my heart will begin to be done, about what is real, what matters. Even if He does let me keep the waffle maker.



{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy June 28, 2014 at 3:55 am

God Bless my friend, thoughts and prayers with you for the move. You will find that all things will naturally settle into the place they are meant to be…..eventually! May take a while though. Big, big hug…..


kerimae June 28, 2014 at 8:38 am

I am hoping so! And I’ll take that hug :)


rebecca June 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

I NEED you and your husband to podcast on this one. I am with you on the journey of getting out from under the bondage of stuff. And what bondage it is! You talked about toys and their organization once and it gave me so much courage to purge. I purge and purge and yet there is still more to go! Oh to be free to live… I am praying for you. Thanks for sharing all of this. You are such an inspiration!


kerimae June 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Thanks so much. It seems that every other night we’re saying, “we really ought to podcast this….” and then the very next noise is snoring from us both :) I can’t tell you how much I appreciate prayer; thank you for the gift of your time and love.


Emily June 28, 2014 at 9:43 am

I’m excited for you. You’ll adjust to the “lower” standard of living, and you’ll be glad you made the decision.

We found as we moved the big things, and then smaller things, and then our favorite things, there was lots of stuff just “there” sitting on the floor that we didn’t care to move, once it came time to actually put it in the truck. So that stuff was just put in goodwill or garbage bags and tossed. I’m pretty sure this will happen to you too.


kerimae June 28, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I heard this very same thing just a day or so ago. Sounds like a good plan to me!


Kim June 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Whether you realize it or not, God is changing you. When you first started dreaming of that little cottage, selling your home, and de-cluttering, it all seemed to much. Little by little, through your posts, I can see your heart and mind changing. It will be ok. I love seeing you looking to God for the “what if’s” in life. That is the perfect place to be……in the center of His will!
* Have your hubby fill a 5 gallon bucket with wood ash and mix it with kerosene to make a paste. When starting the wood stove, place about 2 T. on the bottom with kindling. The flash-point is very low and it will make starting the wood stove a lot easier. Sent from my hubby to yours. :)


kerimae June 28, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Thank you, Kim; you *do* bless me! And I am going to need all of the tips you can send; keep them coming! Thank your hubby for us, too :)


Melanie June 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Today I helped my mom begin to pack up her home of 40 years. The home where she and my dad brought me home when I was just days old. My dad passed away a few years ago now and the house is more than mom can handle. She now has the opportunity to downsize by more than 1/2 to mountains of North Carolina–her dream come true and I am happy for her adventure. My family is moving in for a year to fix it up to sell or to buy if we decide it is right for us. Forty years in a home accumulates lots of stuff. So does inheriting “stuff” rescued from grandparents who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina and more stuff from her mom and dad passing away. What do you do with the perfectly folded flag that lay across your step-dad’s casket or the packet of beautifully scribbled preschool papers she has kepts since 1980? As difficult as it is I expect we will both feel the freedom of a lightened load when it is all over. Can’t wait to see pictures of your life in your new home. I know you will make it functional and beautiful because you just have the touch.


kerimae June 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Wow, Melanie, you are off on your own adventure. That will be quite the challenge, giving up your current home to live in another (even though I know it “used to be” yours). And then…you’re right…all of those things that carry meaning. Seems so odd to let them go, and yet…to keep in a box in the attic….I don’t know. I wish it all were easier. I’d love for you to keep me posted on how *you’re* doing with all of that, too.


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