Author name: elizabetheck

The Circle of Second Hand and the Practice of Living with Less

Our church here in Vienna is home to a seemingly never-ending circle of hand-me-downs. Moms are constantly bringing outgrown clothes and other items to church to be passed on to the other kids. We’ve been blessed by this time and again, and we enjoy blessing others with hand-me-downs as well.

The sentiments of one mom express how committed people are to decluttering and re-purposing: “Somebody take it because it’s not coming back home with me! I’ll put it in the Goodwill box before that happens!” Decluttering is such a way of life here. The work of it is ongoing, given the limited amount of living and storage space. People here are good at using it up, giving it away, or recycling.

I remember being anxious about how Naomi and Evie would handle not having their toys with them during the year we were on “home service assignment” in the States. We packed a small amount of favorites, but it was just not possible to bring more than a few toys. Once we got settled into the apartment in Texas, we found some Duplo blocks at a thrift store, friends let us borrow their supply of baby toys, and we bought some coloring books, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. We borrowed dvds from the library. And you know what? The girls were fine! Even bigger kids have fun with baby toys when that’s what is available!
We also ended up taking a huge road trip across the southwest U.S., all the way to San Diego, and then on to Indiana with our toddler and baby in a 4-door Toyota. There were a few toys in the back seat and a couple of cds with kids songs. One of them had kids songs in German, and by the end of the trip all of us were singing them together. Not that we would want to repeat that kind of roadtripping ever again, but the point is, the kids were fine and learned to make due with the minimalism.

So that was really freeing, realizing the kids didn’t need a lot of stuff, especially as we had to de-clutter in preparation for moving into a new apartment after returning to Vienna. Our current apartment is bigger than our old one, but the basement space is smaller. Once that is used up (which it pretty much already is), everything else we’re storing fits under our full size bed, and after that everything else has to go! In fact, when my parents were here, Dad helped me clean out our basement space and take some items to the dump/recycling place.

The neighborhood dump has big dumpsters designated for recycling different items, and a person can walk right up and throw stuff in, self-service style. Dad had so much fun throwing a broken, standing floor fan up into a huge dumpster (although there were stairs he could have used to gently drop it in)!

Over time I’ve tried to develop a habit of decluttering on a regular basis. At first it was overwhelming, but with practice it has become easier. Now it’s kind of fun and simplifies life.

How about you? Do you enjoy decluttering? Do you have any tips that have been helpful for you to make this a habit in your life?

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I was a very unlikely runner. I was lazy and wasn’t a natural with good form. I only got into it because of a positive kind of peer pressure in junior high and high school. My friends were doing it so I did too and grew to enjoy it.

Biking, however, was my first love. No, not the serious, sporty, spandex-wearing kind. The banana bars, spoke beads, little plastic license plate, ride around and around my block on the sidewalk kind of biking. I was a late bloomer with the bike so I was probably 8 or so when I really got the hang of it. I would pretend I was driving my car as I made the loop around the neighborhood, coasting back into our driveway and pretending I was pulling into the bank or restaurant drive through.

This past year I rediscovered my love of biking when a knee injury forced me to stop running. I rented a “City Bike” and felt like a kid again! I also realized that I had stopped making time for things that I simply enjoy doing, or hadn’t yet learned how to do as a mom of three kids. In this season of life where my stress and exhaustion levels can get out of control if I’m not being a good steward of myself, I’m learning to take “having fun” very seriously. And the exercise type of having fun really does help my mood!

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The Family Small Group Riddle

We are so thankful to be a part of a small group for families in our local church. It is amazing to think that this is our second year of being involved with it, especially because for the longest time, we had no idea how to solve the riddle of being in a small group.
Sure, we had led a Bible study in our home, but we had been the only family with kids in that group. So we hosted it in our home after the kids went to bed. But when more than one family with small kids wants to be in a small group, then what?
The elders of our church came up with a great solution: having a twice-a-month meeting on a Saturday afternoon for the whole family. Two families of the group take turns hosting It, and all the kids can play together in a separate room, with older kids looking out for the littler ones.
The concept has been so successful that this year the group birthed a second group to make more room for everyone. Our family hosts the group once a month, with our co-leader leading, while the second meeting of the month is at their place, with Matt being prepared to lead the discussion.
This has been a great way for us and our children to form deeper friendships in the church. Maybe it would be an idea to try where you live! Does your church have a different way of solving this Riddle?

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