Choosing Love Over Stuff

I daydreamed of a beautiful old English house, with a flagstone hallway, big comfy sofas, and fine antique oak furniture. I pictured hollyhocks swaying outside the open windows and the scent of roses and lavender wafting in on a summer’s evening—not that I’m much of a gardener.

The dream seemed within my grasp, until I watched international movers advance through my home like locusts, swiftly wrapping every item we owned in cardboard.

It took four months for our possessions to reach us in America. They rattled along the road by truck before being transferred to a container and riding the high seas. They passed through the port of New York City and then arrived at our rental apartment.

Being in your own bed always makes you feel more at ease. Yet, even with all my worldly belongings, my new location felt foreign.

“You’re a woman without a home” is how a pastor’s wife described me one day. I’ve pondered that label for a long time.

I didn’t belong here, where I happened to be living, and I didn’t belong there, where I had been born.

Instead, I learned my heart pined for people more than a place—relaxing and chattering with my mom in her kitchen over a cup of tea. Or laughing with my college friend and her husband over dinner in their townhouse only a few miles away from the Edwardian house with the tiled floor, comfy sofas, and Wisteria hanging over the door which I had within my grasp.

Many of our possessions stayed packed in boxes; heaved into the loft, or stacked in the basement as we moved from one rental residence to another. They stood ignored and forgotten as we invested in more important and valuable assets –  our own family of a daughter and twin sons.

We could have left the Gaggia espresso machine with its incompatible voltage, an antique sewing machine, and my wardrobe of business suits behind in England.

So, in my pondering I’ve discovered I want family and friends to fill my life.

With the ocean like a barrier between us, I’ve learned to not let our differences do the same. Instead, I practice letting go of the things that niggle so I can make the most of the moments we are together.

Say I love you.

And I’ve learned to relish the moments with my husband and children and the fun the five of us have together as a family. God has shown me it more important to say I love you to the ones you cherish rather than wish I had that English garden for my children to run in.

How are you putting the people in your life over the stuff in your space?

  • Rachel,

    People > things always. I have to preach that to myself when one of my kids dings the wood floors or messes up something in the house. But then, there’s life in the house and I’ll take that any day. <3 Loved these sentiments from you!

    • Oh yes, I’ve had those moments as well when I’ve tried to keep my house looking good – mainly to impress other people – which really doesn’t matter.

  • I didn’t realize until I had kids how much more meaningful experiences and time with family are over stuff. My love language used to be more gifts than quality time.
    I love sitting on the deck with my husband!

  • Rachel, this is absolutely beautiful! You make me want to embrace international callings for my children! I, however, tell my kids they can’t live more than 20 miles away from me! I’m half kidding, but I so long to have them close by to share life and life’s moments together. Thank you for your heart and perspective. Above all, I want my children in the midst of God’s will for them, wherever that might take them.

    • I know how you feel, Shauna. Sharing life’s moments together is so important and the nice thing is they feel the same way too, and I believe God does, too.

  • Hi Rachel,
    What a lovely post! I can’t believe I haven’t visited your blog before as your writing is beautiful! (Thanks for stopping by my place earlier 🙂 I love how you share that you need a bigger suitcase and how you wouldn’t trade how you connect with your family now. I admire your adventurous spirit leaving your home in England to move to the states. Thank you for sharing these lovely thoughts!

  • You have really spoken what’s running around in my head and heart these days, Rachel. And I do love a great suitcase! #Grace&Truth

  • Truly one of my fondest memories is a cross country trip we took as a family six years ago: six of us, a tent, sleeping bags, lots of gear, all in a mini-van, and each of us had one backpack for our personal items and clothing. Unbelievably, I found that I had more than I needed, and I loved that life!
    Yes, bring on the suitcase and my dear ones!

  • Rachel,
    Great perspective. I watch, intrigued and dismayed, while new storage facilities continue to crop up all around me. More places for people to store their precious “stuff”. I imagine that once the stuff goes into one of those units, no one comes to visit it? or spend time with it? Your move to the States has given you a great appreciation of what, or who, is really important in our lives. Loving God…loving others….both require time spent. I needed this reminder this morning. Thanks for sharing truth!

  • I am, typically, not a person that is attached to things. But sometimes, I don’t want “my stuff” messed with. I don’t know why. It is silly. It is just stuff. I am more like your article. I need people. I need my people. I really loved this story. It really made me question if there was anything that I am trying to hold onto. So glad I stopped by today. Have a great week, friends!

  • I loved this! Thank you for the encouragement! I too keep my suitcase in constant use with my two out of the nest. At least they’re on the same continent. My daughter is thinking about going to graduate school in the UK. I hope she does – I will be making an extended visit.

  • I totally get this. We have “lived” in England, various European countries, and now in Australia – for as little as a month and as much as 3 years – away from our home country of Canada. The most difficult, and the most rewarding time was the first time we broke away from the comfort of our roots, when we backpacked with our then teenage children through Europe, without any plans. One of the more interesting things that happened was connecting with a couple of families expat families in France and then joining them in their trip to Israel. Finally, after 9 months in Europe, we returned to Canada and realized that we didn’t need anything more than what was in our backpack – and each other. Many relationships made along the way stay with us. Our son now lives in Europe (3 different countries in the past 2 years). He sets up “home” wherever he goes and it always looks a little different and that is okay. Us too. It is true for us that our home is rooted in Christ.

    Love the suitcase quote – and your writing. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Wow, Diane, that sounds like a fantastic and rich experience with your children and the friends you met along the way. And now you’re in Australia!

  • What a richly wise post, Rachel! Thank you! It is truly amazing how much stuff we collect along the way that seems to symbolize “home” for us. My husband and I are both retired now and have been trying to reduce things starting with our professional library (as book lovers…hard to do). Our children are grown, gone, married, and transitioning their oldest children into the college season. They leave hundreds of miles away and we like to see them as often as possible. With their own work schedules, we are the ones who need to travel to accomplish that so we have both learned how to pack lighter and easier for the many road trips we are making. A few things we leaved packed so we can leave on the spur of the moment if we desire. Thanks for this great read today!

  • Interesting how sometimes when our dream isn’t fulfilled, we become much more fulfilled with what is (than even our dream may ever have)!

  • I have always said that as long as I have my people around me, I’m home. It’s not a place. It’s not things. I love this and am grateful that you linked up today on #livefreeThursday!

  • Great post Rachel. I love how you are traveling and being with family. Our daughter moved back close to us last year before she had our new grandson. I can’t imaging our children living away. Both of them and the grandsons are only several miles away and I have the privilege of keeping the boys often at least one day a week and for date nights. Yes they are so much more important than all those things and maybe that’s why I hardly shop anymore except for groceries and treats.

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