“This is the story of a girl, who brought a pumpkin across the whole world.”

“Really wife? You’re bringing the pumpkin?”

“How am I supposed to decorate for fall without it?” She defended, rearranging the plastic monstrosity that was taking up a sizable chunk of the suit case.

“It’s too big,” I countered.

At this point our 3-year old, Archer, walks in the room. “What do you think, Archer?” I asked him. “Should we bring the pumpkin to Japan?”

Archer looked at me and brightened. “Oh, yea,” he said. “I already packed mine.”

“You packed a pumpkin?” I asked skeptically, wondering if Kristen had bribed him somehow.

“Yea,” he said again and walked over to his wheely bag. After unzipping it he rummaged around for a moment and, sure enough, pulled out a smaller, yet just as decorative plastic pumpkin.

“You packed a pumpkin,” I repeated incredulously.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Needless to say I lost the pumpkin battle. But there have been many similar conversations in the time since we’ve started trying to fit our entire lives into six large bags. When we step back and look at it, it seems like an impossible task; reducing what was a family in a fully furnished, four bedroom house into a family moving across the world with what they can carry on their backs. How do we decide what fraction of our worldly possessions are the most important and deserve to fly over the ocean with us, and then figure out what to do with the rest?

I’ve been brushing up on my math lately, in preparation for my teaching assignment, so lets see if we can calculate it, shall we?

Each of us are allotted 2 suitcases, each a maximum of 50lbs. 1 carry on, 20lbs. and a personal item, such as a backpack, which will carry most of the products we need to survive the trip itself. So each of us gets a grand total of 120lbs of our possessions to bring with us to our new life.

50+50+20=120

Lets estimate roughly and say you can fit about 100 items in each suit case and 30 in the personal item. That give each of us approximately 230 items to bring with us, or 690 as a family unit. (Since Mia doesn’t get bags.)

100+100+30×3=690

That seems like a lot doesn’t it? We should have no problem bringing everything we want, that’s almost 700 items.

Except the average American family has about 300,000 items in their home.

So of our 300,000 items, we get 690. (And Mia, being a baby, already takes up a good deal of that.)

690/300,000=.0023 or .23%

So there you have it, our material possessions are being reduced by 99.77%.

When you look at it this way, assuming your eyes haven’t glazed over from all the numbers, it’s a pretty daunting task. So the question is; “What are the most important .23% of our possessions?”

Well, what would you pack? Currently my bag contains clothing items, a collection of tablets for use in my classroom, and several bags of board game pieces. (Which have been disassembled and the actual boxes left behind for space constraints.)

Does that say something about me? I feel like it’s one of those old idioms; “You can tell a lot about a man by what he puts in the two suitcases he’s going to start a new life with.”

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not renouncing our materialistic ways and becoming minimalist hermits for God’s glory. It would be a noble endeavor, but I don’t think that’s what God has called us to. There is a nearly fully furnished house and working vehicle waiting for us in Japan. We will function much the same way we do here, just in a different language.

But this process has put a new light on what God has called us to do. He has asked us to show people in another world how much He loves them. And the truth is, we really don’t need a lot of possessions to do it.

M.S.

Romans & Rain

The summer rains have begun. They’ve been rolling in late afternoon just at the perfect time to grab a book and a cup of tea.

Hah! That was before children. Now we just run outside right before it starts, feel the wind on our noses and bare feet, hear the thunder, and smell the thick salty air- heavy with the coming downpour… then run back inside to watch through the window.

It’s raining now as I read Romans, and though I don’t have my afternoon tea, I do have three of my favorite people surrounding me, fast asleep. The littlest one with her little baby snores. 😍

I find myself in Romans 15 tonight. Yet another reminder to keep battling selfishness:

Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:2

It reminded me of Japan and why we’re going. I’ve had to remind myself more than once lately that we are going there to build His Kingdom, not our own. Matthew has been good at reminding me of that too. Before we had a family, I would have strapped on my backpack, thrown some things in a suitcase and hit the road!

But now, I often find myself torn between trusting God and providing stability for my children through (probably too extensive) preparations. It’s a fine line that I have been walking on lately. But then comes the verse that has captured my heart on this stormy night:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

And there you have it. That is my prayer. I am praying that verse guides Matthew and I so that we can be filled with all joy and peace as we believe so that we may overflow with hope. Hope for our children in this transition. And mostly hope for the Japanese people. I pray that our hope overflows and the Japanese people we meet can’t help but notice a genuine hope in the Lord. Because that is something I feel we could all use a whole lot more of- hope, joy, and peace.

Turn to the God of hope and He’ll fill you up.

Will you join me in this prayer?

Honor the Lord with your possessions: 1 month to go!

“Honor the Lord with your possessions…” Proverbs 3:9a

We’ve been sorting through our things for months now. And now that we’re one month out- we still have so much stuff. It’s overwhelming how much stuff we own.


It reminds me of the first time I returned home after a mission trip to a very poor country.
These people had nothing, they were lucky if they had a tin roof over their heads and 3 of 4 walls enclosed around them.


It was heartbreaking. It was sobering.

Yet those people were the most generous and kind people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They had nothing and yet they offered it all to me when I came to visit. Suddenly their nothing seemed like everything and I had the hardest time accepting it, until I saw how hurt they were at my hesitation to take them up on their kindness. So I gladly received- filled up more by their excited smiles then the food offered to me.

I remember coming home to America. I opened the door to my room. And I just sat down and cried. I had so much. So much. And yet I had nothing. God worked hard in my heart that year.

So now, in the midst of packing up everything we own into 6 suitcases- I’ve come across a very timely verse:

“Honor the Lord with your possessions.” -Proverbs 3:9a

What timing. Thank You Lord! Because just trying to divide needs over wants was not working for me.


Now I can ask myself as I sort through my possessions:


Does this honor the Lord?

Can I bring Him glory through this?

Is this something that I can use with my gifts to aid the body of Christ?

Am I building His Kingdom with this, or my own?

Thanks for the listen and the prayers, friends. 1 month to go!