lessons from milwaukee, wisconsin.

I recently went on a mission trip with Next Step Ministries in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a week-long trip, and it went a little something like this:

  • Thirty-something adults and teens packed into fifteen-passenger vans.
  • 11-ish hours in said vans, with non-stop road trip music.
  • 10 very loud and energetic 20-somethings leading us in worship, service to others, and everything in between
  • All of us sleeping like sardines on inflatable mattresses
  • Lighting candles and crying because we all loved each other

So now that you have some sort of picture, I’m gonna list the things I learned.

  • Even introverts need a little social interaction
  • Language barriers — although complicated — are easily overcome with proper training
  • Everyone has something, so check on your friends
  • Music is my main ingredient for life
  • You’re not always gonna agree with everybody, but you can find something to love about everybody
  • 1 hour spent in silence with 1 person can teach you more about them than 1,000 hours spent in constant noise and motion
  • Emotions don’t show up for me easily, and that’s something I need to dissect
  • Confidence comes from within NO MATTER WHAT

So that’s it, just a short list for y’all today. Next week, expect something about going back to high school . . . for the last time!

minimalism update.

I talked about minimalism a bit ago and why I made some changes, so I think it’s time I cover it again!

Christmas and birthdays have come and gone, so I’ve ended up with a lot of stuff. Which is okay, because people are very thoughtful to consider me and be generous with gifts. I’m very thankful that there are people in my life who are so giving.

That being said, the things I have recieved are valuable to me. At first I panicked, thinking I was a “bad minimalist” by accepting gifts, but that’s not the case at all! When something adds value to your life, it’s not bad minimalism. It’s a purposeful use of space. It’s a positive addition to the things you own.

We moved recently, and unexpectedly, but I found that doing so helped me get rid of a lot of unwanted, non-useful junk. I had furniture in my room that was never used. I had loads of craft supplies that I never touched. I had yearbooks and artwork and a stencil set and a lamp and just… so many things I never needed in the first place. Things I kept because I simply could.

When we moved, I left about half of the things I owned behind, only keeping the stuff that really mattered. My precious (perhaps obsessive?) notebook and pen collection, camera equipment, books, mugs, clothes I liked. Souvenirs that were special to me.

You see, what I’ve learned from minimalism is that you get better at discerning what adds value over time. You start to value what you own more, and you use those things more because you do value them. And if you slip up and buy something stupid you don’t need or even want in the first place, you get better at knowing how to find it a new home and let it go.

Traveling is so much easier! I used to go on trips and bring a huge bag or even two, put all this stuff in it, not use half of it, and come home with more than I left with. Now, I take the same small suitcase with only one section for clothes, zip it up no problem, with room for a souvenir or two that I’ll actually use. Unless I don’t plan to spend! And that’s okay! I find that I enjoy going to the mall or farmer’s market or a festival without buying anything. Saving money is a lot easier when you’re consciously trying to reduce your material goods, especially when you don’t take money with you everywhere you go!

Also, life is so much richer without so much stuff. What I mean is that I’m not so much focused on what I have, but what I am doing. And that is the most precious value of all: the value of spending one’s time.

Comment one object you own that you value and tell me why.

– rachel ❤