Go. Serve. Love is tickled pink to welcome back Rebecca Skinner, who grew up as a missionary kid in Latin America, where she moved five times in seven years.
As an adult TCK, Rebecca has worked as a professional organizer with Simplified Living Solutions, helping people downsize, pack their belongings, and set up their homes after a move. She has the ability to step into a kitchen for the first time and tell you which drawer the silverware are in.
Rebecca loves casting vision for God’s global mission and enjoys seeing people answer the call to go to the nations. And this week, we’re launching her series on living simply so you can be ready to go wherever and whenever God beckons you.
Grab her uber-practical advice on downsizing to move overseas.
That time my laundry room exploded
“What exploded in the laundry room?!”
“I can’t even see the floor! What is all this stuff?”
“We need to clean up in here.”
I’ve known for the past few weeks that the laundry room was beyond the point of a quick tidy. It was time for an all-out purge. To arms!
Last summer our office/guest room was repurposed to provide one of our twin boys with his own room.
What’s a family to do with masses of office supplies, the printer, two large bookshelves full of books, and my husband’s baseball memorabilia? How do you just absorb the entire contents of a room into the other 700 already-claimed square feet of a house?
We gave away. Boxed. Shifted a bookshelf to the master bedroom. What remained–to the tune of office supplies, gift wrap, and a printer–had landed in the laundry room, which already doubled as kitchen overflow, pet supply storage, and home for donation bins.
I can see the image loading in your head.
Today was a wide-open Saturday and the laundry room was calling my name. I took to task four loads of laundry, four bags of donations, and some creative thinking. And I’m happy to report my holy war against chaos was indeed victorious.
My laundry room purge has me thinking about the many moves I made in my life as a missionary kid–and missionaries’ inevitable purging process as they prepare for life overseas.
Whether you’re on the home stretch of raising support and locking in your plane tickets, or still weighing your options and exploring the specifics of a life committed to God’s global mission: Simplicity is your friend.
I’d like to offer practical tips to simplify your stuff collection, and free you to walk more fully in what God has for you whenever it knocks at your door.
downsizing to move overseas? Set Realistic EXPECTATIONS.
Start simplifying right away: It’s never too early to start cutting back.
Even if getting overseas takes longer than expected, reducing the amount of stuff around you will
- reduce stress,
- prepare you for life overseas with less, and
- save you money.
Expect multiple rounds of purging.
It’s never (ever) once and done. Expect to circle back around with the same spaces and contents two to three times. Or sixteen. Whatever.
Schedule specific days and times on your calendar to make decisions about what to take, store, and purge.
simplifying is physically and emotionally draining.
Consider recruiting a friend to help you with the purging process of downsizing to move overseas. The built-in accountability, clarity of thought, and emotional support of a friend might be just what you need to stay on task and remain hopeful.
Like the rest of moving overseas, some areas will be easy to make decisions on; you’ll quickly see progress. You can also expect other spaces and types of items to be tedious and time-consuming.
It’s good to alternate between quick wins and tough processes. But don’t put off the difficult.
In fact, sometimes it’s best to tackle your Most Dreaded Task at the beginning of a purging day. This way you can start with fresh energy and maximum time to get it done.
Purging is an ongoing process–most likely happening right up to the day you board that 757.
Embrace the inevitable chaos of downsizing to move overseas by clearly labeling a large box or vertical clothes hamper as a donation drop spot in your house. Everyone in your family knows exactly where to put things that they no longer need, use, or love.
Drop these items at your local charity on a weekly basis.
The more you do now, the less you’re scrambling, stressing, and sweating the week-of.
3 categories: take, store, Toss.
3 questions to ask when downsizing to move overseas
- Do you need it there?
- Are there quality options to purchase there? At what cost and accessibility?
- Do you use it regularly?
- Do you love it?
- Do you need it there?
1. Decide what KEEP & TAKE.
As a child growing up on the mission field and moving every two years, a new space always felt settled as soon as the turtle pillow was resting on the back of a chair, the wall clock was chiming, and dining room pictures were hung.
In downsizing to move overseas, you might think you only need to pack essentials and those things you can’t buy overseas. You might think home decorations are frivolous, taking up space needed for more important things in your limited luggage space.
While this is probably true for the vast majority of home décor, it is wise to consider what your family members associate with home, or which items have special meaning.
Choosing a handful home décor items to take with you can have an immediate impact on any space, establishing a sense of normalcy and comfort in the midst of a whirlwind of transitions. It can remind your bodies, This is home.
- Call a family meeting to collectively decide on items that feel like home. Even so, make sure everyone knows to hold their hopes and opinions loosely.
- Start asking others in your host country what you will need and should be thinking about taking with you. Keep a list or spreadsheet; your brain will be taking in endless facts as you move closer to moving.
Now that you know what to keep, your next steps just got simpler. You’re free to donate or give away your other belongings.
2. Decide what KEEP & store.
If you plan to store items in your passport country, what will that include, and who or what will house it for you?
Keep this minimal as you’re downsizing to move overseas. Your taste, season of life, and philosophy of life may drastically change over the next few years. And some of these items don’t empower you toward the good works God has prepared in advance for you (Ephesians 2:10).
These boxes might include baby albums, a few children’s books as mementos, a family Bible, other special home décor, keepsakes, and a recent copy of your computer files on an external hard-drive. Consider, too, photocopies of your social security cards, driver’s licenses, passports, visas, and the fronts and backs of credit cards.
Ask yourself: If we had to immediately leave our host country–maybe for security reasons or a natural disaster–what handful of items would be meaningful to have in storage when we return to our passport country?
Ideally, find storage space with family or friends so you don’t have the added cost of a storage unit.
3: Decide what to donate, give away, or trash.
The “giving away” part of downsizing to move overseas can be straight-up hard. But consider setting before yourself the true reward you’re choosing instead.
Chew on (and maybe memorize) this verse as you’re downsizing to move overseas.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Because as Jim Elliot famously penned, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”