Lessons Learned in the Process of Downsizing

Letting Go of My Stuff - Grace Fox

Saying yes to God about living on a sailboat means letting go of nearly everything I own. It also means trusting God to provide for our needs in new ways.

Moving onto a sailboat means minimalistic living, so every day I spend several hours sorting personal belongings.

Some things I’ll keep and store for when we return to land living. I haven’t a clue when that will be and don’t want to pay a fortune for storage, so these things are few–like photos and a cedar hope chest my parents gave me.

Some stuff I’m throwing away. I’m taking boxfuls to local thrift stores such as Bibles for Missions or MCC where the proceeds will go to a good cause. We’ll sell our furniture and put those funds toward boat repairs and necessary supplies for living aboard.

It hurts to part with certain things

Some stuff, like the fabric left over from Christmas crafts I made ten years ago, is easy to release. Other things, like books, my silk bridal bouquet, the dresses I wore to my kids’ weddings, and our super-comfortable nearly-new mattress, not so much.

Yesterday I sold my piano. Today I sold our soft tub—the portable hot tub in which my husband and I relax and enjoy conversation. Soon I’ll say goodbye to the doll bed my grandfather built for me when I was a little girl.

I’ll also part with my dining room table and hutch and my favorite leather loveseat recliner—it’s where I enjoy my quiet time and I do a lot of my writing. It’s comfortable, and I can write for hours without my back or neck getting sore. That goodbye will be a tough one.

So will saying bye to our Gold Wing motorcycle. We’ve enjoyed using it as our getaway on days when we needed to escape the pressures of ministry, but we realize that riding motorbikes is risky. There’s no way we could manage on a sailboat if we were to have an accident that left us on crutches. Better safe than sorry.

Letting go of my stuff is freeing in some ways

But it’s also an emotional endeavor. When my heartstrings tug, I console myself with Matthew 6:19-21: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also.”

One by one, my earthly possessions are being stripped away. I feel as though the Lord is testing my heart. How much have I depended on stuff to bring contentment? How much have I relied on material goods to make me happy? How much money have I spent on things I thought I couldn’t live without?

Learning contentment

Saying yes to God about living on a sailboat means letting go of nearly everything I own. It also means learning to be content with little, and trusting God to provide for our needs in new ways.

So many of you have expressed excitement in this venture, and I’m grateful for your enthusiastic support and encouragement. I’m also grateful for your prayers as we continue this transition. The peace I have in the process is proof of your prayers. Wow—how’s that for alliteration?

How about you?

If you had to downsize significantly at this season of your life, what’s one material possession you’d find difficult to part with?

As I mentioned earlier, mine is the leather loveseat.

Know you are loved,


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  1. Hi Grace,
    I would really find it hard to part with my piano. Do you have a good size bathroom on the boat? I’d find it hard to part with a good shower. And this comfortable recliner I’m currently sitting in. I would miss this. I’m not sure our dog would fair well on the boat either so I’d be really sad to have to part with her.
    From another perspective, you are doing your kids a HUGE favour getting rid of ‘stuff’ now as one day it will be their job. So you are blessing them. 🙂

    P.S. Where are you planning on sailing to?

    1. Hi Alison. We have two little bathrooms (key word is “little”). One of them has a shower. I love my morning showers, but I’ll learn to enjoy using the ones at either the marina or the gym after I work out. I had a shower at the marina when we spent a night on the boat last week. It was still dark when I walked up there. Walked back with a towel wrapped around my head. Oh my. Things will change. I will change.

      Re: where we’ll sail. For now we’ll take little day trips only because my husband and I plan to continue with our present ministries until God directs otherwise. When he retires in a few years, then we can choose whether or not we want to sail to somewhere like Mexico. The BC coast has TONS of places to visit, though. It’s like a picture postcard out there.

  2. Your post brought back so many memories of dismantling our home, getting rid of special items, and packing a few others away when we moved to Africa. There’s no denying it: The process hurt. But your verse from Matthew 6 gives us the correct perspective and ends up being really freeing. I do feel for you, Grace, as you go through this process. As you settle into your new home, may God shower you with joys you can’t now anticipate.

  3. We are in the middle of downsizing, so I understand. Deciding what to do with “stuff” that I have had almost 50 years has been a challenge. But in the end it is truly just “stuff.” We have been in this house for almost 12 years and the rule if if it hasn’t been moved or touched, it’s outta here. The emotional part came when I went through the kitchen and all the baking dishes. It defined me for so many years. But it was time to let most of it go. Anything to do with my grandgirlies is also hard. But after doing it, the freedom is wonderful!

    1. You’re right, Gerry–“in the end it is truly just stuff.” I can relate to the kitchen things. I have collected beautiful Polish pottery over the years of doing ministry there. I LOVE drinking coffee from these mugs and eating breakfast from the bowls. So, I’m going to try to take a few of these pieces onto the boat, but if they’re too cumbersome, I’ll take them off and put them into storage. They won’t take up much space. I sold a few odd pieces on the weekend, but my youngest daughter later said, “Mom! You did what? I want to inherit those dishes someday!” I dare not part with them.

      I can relate to anything concerning the grandkids too. I’ll keep a few select games and Lego in storage with easy access so I can fetch them should they come to visit.

  4. Hi Grace, I honestly don’t think I have much I would really hate to get rid of. The only thing I can think of is my iPad. It contains hundreds of ebooks, bibles etc. and a huge stash of photos of my family. It gives me contact with friends and family, so I would not like to get rid of it at all. The fact that it’s small and takes up next to no space makes it doubly valuable to me. Apart from that, I can’t think of anything that would upset me to get rid of. Yes, I enjoy sleeping in a cosy bed, yes I enjoy my recliner chair and well stocked kitchen, but the older I get, the more I realise I have way too much stuff. Much as I would love to move on board a boat, I intend declutting too. Happy days ahead for you, dear Grace. I look forward to hearing all about your coming adventures. May God bless you and Gene richly as you step out into a new way of living.

    1. Good for you, Chris! When your turn comes to declutter, you should do just fine 🙂 Just stuff it all in a box labelled either “give away” or “throw away.” Done! Free!

    2. Chris,
      I thought the same thing… until it was time to actually get rid of our stuff. It was one thing to say I didn’t need any of this stuff, when it was just hanging around taking up space, but it was another to actually get rid of it.
      2 years ago, we moved from a 4 bedroom house into a 1 bedroom apartment. It was definitely harder to let go of things then I expected. We did have a chance to store a few things for free, for which I was very grateful. That being said, we’ve also surprises ourselves with how much more we’ve gotten rid of since moving here.
      Having a small place has certainly meant more time of us as couple, and has made our marriage better. I highly recommend it!

      1. Hi Marsha. Thanks for your comment. I love your perspective on having a small place giving more time for you and your husband as a couple and that it’s made your marriage better. Way to go!

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