"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Two become one


In so many ways, in remarriage and stepfamily life this phrase is true. Two lives becoming "one flesh", two sets of unrelated siblings becoming one lot of "our kids", two single-parent families learning the best way to feel like one new and different type of family, two cars lining up in a one-car driveway, two toothbrushes in one tiny bathroom cupboard, two households worth of "stuff" squeezing into one. It's a challenge!

Combining households
When we combined our households we inevitably had a whole lot of "double-ups". One evening in our first year, I decided to tackle several boxes of kitchen utensils that were waiting to be sorted and housed in the kitchen cupboards and drawers of what was now my home. I counted, and we had........

6 sets of tongs
3 spaghetti servers
7 large serving spoons
4 soup ladles
7 egg lifters
8 spatulas, and.........wait for it.......
15 wooden spoons!

We combined our lives and our "stuff". We're still working on it. Even now, over 5 years later, we're still sorting, culling, selling, giving away, simplifying. In short, saying "goodbye" to many of our way-too-many things. Sometimes it's a wrench. Sometimes it's a joke. Like the 2 pianos, 6 couches, 14 dining chairs and 16 throw cushions we started out with. It's been a slow process, but we're getting there.

To throw or to keep?
I'm a sorter and a thrower. My husband is a keeper (yes, he's a KEEPER, but he also keeps things). A lot of my "stuff" had to go into storage for the first year or so, because with all of my husband's "stuff" already in the house there was little room for mine. In fact, some of mine is still in storage. I found I could live without it, but I wasn't necessarily ready to let it go. Yet. Some of it I missed, and I wanted it back. We made room for it. Our house is quite small, but we also housed (at the time) 5 (and then 4, and then 3), and it was already a full house in more ways than one when I arrived on the scene. So it's been necessary for both of us to reconsider the things we've acquired over the years, and the wisdom of hanging on to them.

And then we started renovating.............. (but that's another story)!

Those little differences
My husband is a "one day I might use that..........." kind of guy. I'm more of a "haven't used that in a year, time for it to go" kind of gal. I get a great deal of satisfaction from turfing excess, packing bags for the thrift shop, recycling what can be reused, and dropping the rest in the bin. We have what are fondly known as "bring out your dead" (sorry for the Monty Python reference) hard waste collections twice a year, where our local council will pick up and remove large household rubbish items that are left on the verge. My husband and I both LOVE these collections, but for completely opposite reasons! For me it's because I love to put stuff OUT to be collected (LOTS of stuff), and then get joy from seeing that someone from the neighbourhood (or further afield - I think some people actually make a living from this) has come along and taken it before the council guys get to it. As they say "One person's trash is another person's treasure"!! It makes me feel good to know that my discards are going somewhere they will be needed and used, and not just ending up as landfill.

On the other hand, my husband's love of hard waste collections comes from his happy history of finding "treasure" in other people's trash. Yes, he was one of those neighbours who would spot something useful on somebody else's verge! So it's a different experience for him, because it's hard for him to see something as "trash" in the first place, but rather as something that might actually be useful. One day. When he finally gets around to building that boat........ or that windsurfer.......... or turning that piece of wood into something beautiful.......... and that piece............. and that piece too............ I love his creative heart, but it does sometimes get in the way of the sorting, culling, and giving-away process.

Letting go and trusting
And so we continue to reduce our accumulation of "stuff" to a more manageable level. We have less in storage. We both want to live more simply. But yes, it's a scary thing too. For me, mainly because of my history as one who was "left", and had to start again, with no idea whether I would survive financially. So making those decisions - your bed or mine? your table or mine? your washing machine or mine? your house or mine? - means that now there's only one bed, one table, one washing machine, one house. And it has sometimes brought up niggling fears for me when we talk about combining stuff, only having one, getting rid of things that I've held onto all these years, that I've maybe held too tightly, clutching them as my assurance that I would be okay - what if I totally unexpectedly need that again one day??

Richard has a much longer and stronger history of God's financial provision in his life, and I love his confidence. I'm learning to trust the One who brought us together and is the glue that keeps us together and sustains us. In the end it's not about our "stuff". After all, we can't take it with us.

Anyone want to buy a piano??

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