The last few years, we have begun to feel like we didn’t just own stuff. It was like our stuff was beginning to own us.
I would look in my attic and get overwhelmed by the boxes that hadn’t been opened for years. There were rooms in our house we rarely used. But we had to fill them with furniture. And decor. And more stuff. So many of my drawers were filled with items that had no purpose. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
We owned a lot of what my friend Ashley calls, “anticipatory” items. Things we anticipated we might need in the future, so we kept them around…even though we absolutely never used them and would probably only use them if a hurricane happened to hit Indiana.
There was a lot of nostalgia. Things we kept around to “remember”, although it would probably just end up being boxes of stuff for Kayden to go through after we’re gone. Don’t get me wrong.
There is nothing wrong with stuff. It’s just when the stuff started to take over, we got lost in the shuffle.
I constantly felt the need to “de-clutter”. But then, after de-cluttering, I would find more stuff to fill the 2400 square feet we were living in.
I would take whole days to clean the house – hours that could have been spent with Brady and Kayden on our bicycles, or reading a book, or being with friends.
We began to become interested in the “minimalist” movement. People who, like us, liked their stuff — but didn’t want to be owned by it. People who, like us, wanted to make sure everything they owned had some sort of function, some sort of value.
But we really didn’t know where to start. Or what to do.
For Christmas, we decided to take some of our most precious items and give them away. Items that, at one time, were really valuable to us but we weren’t using now. Items that were gently used and gently loved. And it was awesome seeing our loved ones get excited about their “new” gently loved things.
What we didn’t know is that our hearts were being prepared for the big change.
In May, a little house popped up on my Zillow app. I texted the house to Brady, and he responded, “You know this house is like 950 square feet, right?” It made us a little nervous, but we decided to look at it anyway. We contacted the owner and went out to see it.
Immediately we were in love. In. Love. Not only was it the perfect size, but it was also the perfect place. The outdoor space had so much potential. The location was directly across the street from our church. It was on the river. And surrounded by acres of forest.
For years, we have talked about wanting to live IN A FOREST. Seriously. Not in the country. IN A FOREST. And being in Indiana, we just didn’t see how that was possible.
But God knows just what we need. He cares about our hearts and intentionally gives us super good gifts. Like a little house in the woods.
To be in a forest, and ten minutes from the store. Closer to my school. Right by the church. Surrounded by birds and animals and trees and water and creation. All of it.
And the inside of the house was gorgeous. Completely “Chip and Joanna Gainsed” as I call it. A big gathering room, a sweet little kitchen, a sunroom, a couple bedrooms, two bathrooms. An unfinished basement for storage and a detached garage for all Brady’s lawn machines (that’s what I call them).
Just the right space. Perfect for us.
So we began to purge. And guys, I can tell you…it felt SO GOOD. I sold and gave away 3/4 of our furniture. We threw away SO MUCH IT IS ALMOST EMBARRASSING HOW MUCH (I don’t get embarrassed easily, that’s why it’s “almost”). The side of our street was LINED with all of the things we had to get hauled away.
Because we were moving to the little house in the woods, we could only bring the things that would fit in the little house. You’ll have to watch our YouTube video tour of the little house (at the end of this post) to see how it all turned out.
Fast forward a couple months and here we are. In our Little House in the Woods. And you want to know a secret?
I don’t miss ANYTHING we threw away. In fact, I don’t REMEMBER all the stuff we got rid of or threw away. None of it. I’m not sad about it or upset. I don’t look for things I can’t find. We have just what we need.
And even some fun things (like my Converse shoes with “Choose Joy” embroidered on them). Because we value them. And love them. When you only have things you love, nothing feels wasted.
When we moved, so many people called us brave. Which was awesome. Thanks for seeing us that way. It means the world.
But I don’t feel brave. I feel free. Free of all that stuff. Things stuffed in drawers, stuffed under beds, stuffed in attics, stuffed in closets. Stuffed.
But here’s the bottom line, guys.
We still have stuff.
It just doesn’t have us anymore.