Category Archives: neighborhood

Broadening my horizons


This week I decided to make myself available to the people who attend my church. I just put out a Facebook message to all of them (It’s easy…because we’re in a “group”) letting them know that I would be available this week to help them out if they needed it.

I have a to do list as usual for any given week…but I knew most of the stuff I’m doing is not life and death stuff.  I thought an offer to babysit, or do yard work or help someone clean, etc. might be something that was a real encouragement to the people I am trying to live in community with at my church.

It helps that our preacher has been preaching about community and doing life together. That’s where the idea got planted.

It also helps that right now I’m putting together a sermon from 1 Thess 2: 1-10 and one of the verses in that section says “We not only shared the gospel with you but our very lives.” Got me to thinking…I share a lot of gospel time with these people…but not much of my “very life” time.

This is what happened.

A couple who doesn’t have transportation needed a ride to their doctor appointment and to the local Wic office. I had just met this couple on Sunday. So…today we road around together and got to know each other a bit. It was fascinating because they are from a different culture. India. To hear their story of coming to American and about their family and plans for the future was really a great way to get to know them better. In one afternoon I became friends with them in what would’ve taken me easily several weeks if not months to acquire with church alone.

I learned about arranged marriages and about U.S. citizenship and other various issues.

Real people. Cute baby. Me given an opportunity to help. It cost me nothing. But today I shared my very life with them.

It occurred to me on Sunday when our Pastor spoke that I need to listen to the Holy Spirit guide me each week when we gather and see if He is bringing any need to my attention that I might be able to help fill. A great perk of being on sabbatical is the freedom I have to help someone else. I’m not feeling like I’ve got to wring every moment out of this summer and an afternoon given to someone else is a major inconvenience. Instead…it was very interesting/rewarding.

I have to wonder how many weeks/months/years have gone by when I would’ve never dreamed of putting out my time and services without first seeing a need. When I would’ve felt that kind of freedom to give with no strings attached, just a desire to be a blessing.

I don’t want to make more of it than it was. It was a car ride, some time, some conversation. Nothing huge. But today I blessed a couple from India and made them feel loved and cared for. Living in a town this far from home is a big deal. They commented to me how much their family and friends are amazed at the kindness of “strangers” here in our church and town. Just yesterday their neighbor gave them a stroller.

If I was in a foreign place with a new little baby I would see God as people gave me practical help. I believe that’s what they’re seeing. And they even told me how lovely of a singer I am 🙂

I hope this freedom to bless others will continue. Not a forced thing or through a program…just through flexibility and availability.

Freedom from stuff.


I’m in the process of cleaning out my house in a big way.

I’ve always been a person to pitch stuff so it’s not like I’m a hoarder, but even then stuff accumulates, especially when you have a basement to put it in!

I’m going room by room this year in my house and literally getting rid of stuff in ways that I’ve never done before. If it hasn’t been used in the past year, it’s gone. Hanging on to very few things even sentimentally.

This is what I’ve found so far…

1. Stuff stored in a basement gets nasty anyway. Dirty, water damaged somewhat, fades,  and even if there was some value tied to it, while storing it, it loses value quickly. Case in point…I paid a fortune a few years back to get carpet squares for my basement. They were lovely for about six months…after which I had to lift them up and dry out my basement so many times I lost track of putting them back down and didn’t even bother anymore. They literally were in piles around my basement. I had easily close to 70, 24 x24 squares of carpet, good quality. Looked nice when I first put them down. Sold half of them for $10 today and still have half a stack sitting in front of my house with a “free” sign on it just to clear them out. My girls and I never want to move another carpet square in our lives! Some of the squares still look good and they’re still usable, but after sitting in a basement for as long as they have, they definitely need to be cleaned and probably a few thrown out. Talk about a low return for an investment!

2. Kids toys…my kids are like all kids and had far too many. One Little Pony or Brat or Barbie doll tends to lead to thirty more it seems. Today I sold boxes of that kind of stuff cheap. And I still have more to sell next week. Amazing to me to see how much money went into those items over the years for birthdays and Christmas gifts. A prime example of money wasted if you ask me. And my kids are probably on the low end of that kind of stuff…I bet most every kid in America has the same kind of stockpile. Ridiculous waste. We as parents buy one and then think our kids need every other type of the same toy so their set is complete. No more.

3. Stuff requires storage containers so it takes on extra cost. I was amazed at how many storage containers I was selling today right along with the stuff. Again…when you have to buy oodles of storage containers it’s a pretty good clue it’s time to get rid of stuff!

4. People will buy the strangest things and most anything. I had a guy today who came by, admitted that he already had far too much stuff and he proceeded to purchase a box of cords from me that had gone to various things over the years. Mind you…none of the things that the cords went to were in the box…but he purchased the cords anyway. I didn’t charge him much…and honestly, I almost felt bad to add to his stuff. I can just imagine what it must look like.

5. I don’t care for yard sales. I don’t enjoy going to them. I don’t enjoy running them…but I have to admit, my parents were right when they said that you will get to visit with your neighbors if you have a yard sale. Today I met a neighbor I’ve never met before even though we’ve lived across the street from each other for 7 years! I had a set of four chairs that matched hers perfectly and she had been wanting to add more to her set so she was thrilled! It was a blessing that my old stuff sitting in a basement, untouched or used could be a treasure to someone in my neighborhood 🙂

Today we made close to $200. I’m sure it could’ve been more if I was a wheeler and dealer, but my stuff was priced to go. Not only did I make the cash…but now my basement is half empty! Love, love love that I can see floor space wide open and that if water comes in, I don’t have to move a single blessed thing! And today I had several conversations with people that I don’t normally have…that’s a good thing. Several people today left my house with a smile and the joy of getting a great deal on some treasure they desired. Yeah! Better them than me 🙂

Next week it’s on to the other side of my basement and another yard sale next weekend. Most of the profits are going to my daughter Lydia’s savings account. She’s 14 and already saving up to adopt a child someday. I’m thankful that my junk would help her in that endeavor.

Several people commented to me today about their own stuff and how it’s overwhelming them. Sometimes I think we find ourselves so bogged down in it we don’t know where to begin. There are definitely far better minimalist blogs out there and simple living blogs…but one thing I’m learning is to just take one drawer, one closet, one room, one area and work on that area. Over time…it will make a huge difference as you move from one section to another.

Freedom is my biggest pursuit right now. Started with taking a sabbatical…but it’s fast becoming about getting rid of major amounts of stuff as well.



Books…neighborhood libraries and purging :)


Today I got a message from a friend who is looking for children’s library book donations. This is her lovely idea…she and her husband are going to create a neighborhood library I believe right in their front yard. What a great idea! I think she came up with the idea with the help of a website and pinterest…but I’m still very impressed 🙂

I love books. As my kids were growing up I always made sure that they had good books to read. Sometimes they read them, sometimes not, but if you ever are at my house you’ll quickly pick up on the fact that I am a book lover. Some of the books over the years I got rid of or donated. But most of their childhood books I’ve kept, anticipating the day when my grandkids will come to my house “Gram’s house” and be excited to pick out a book to read that used to belong to their mom. Ok…it’s kind of idealistic, but I really do have a wall of shelves in my living room with these type of books on it.

In all of my purging letting go of books has been my hardest thing to do. Does anybody else feel this way? I know I can have a zillion on my nook and save space…but I just love holding the book in my hand and I write in my books…they become quite personal to me. I also am kind of a vacation library for any family coming through. Often when I have family stay they leave with some books to read off of my shelves. 🙂

Today though…when I got my friend’s message I knew it was time to go through and donate some great kids books to help my friend start her neighborhood library. I have no idea if she was expecting any one person to donate over 60 books…but I went through tonight and easily pulled that many from my shelves. Could probably donate more if she has room and interest.

I’m so fascinated at the thought of children coming to a house on their own block, in their own neighborhood to borrow and read books. I guess it fascinates me because when I was growing up the town library was pretty much in my backyard, just across our fence. I easily went to the library a few times every week if not daily. Nancy Drew…Judy Bloom books…Little House on the Prairie…on and on. Such great series of books.

So…I’ve purged and for a great cause. Once again, I’m reminded that purging not only is good for me but it can also be a blessing to others.

Such a great idea! A great way to interact with neighbors and provide something that will improve everybody’s life and so easy for those of us who have books to donate to. In fact…if you have children’s books or teen books that you would like to donate I would be happy to pass them on to my friend. I’m sure she doesn’t want hundreds…but who knows. Maybe the idea will take off and start up in other parts of Alton. That would be awesome!

I’m finding that no matter how much I purge, I always have plenty left for me and my own family. Funny how that works.