Breaking Out of the Holding Pattern (an update on living fully)

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I once wrote about being in a literal holding pattern, and how life can feel stuck sometimes. You know, when the same ‘ol scenery comes around again and again it’s easy to put aspects of life on hold until circumstances change. For the first couple of years in the Shoebox I held back on certain things until I decided to be intentional about living fully in the “here and now”. Since then, I’ve been wildly blessed by breaking out of the holding pattern. 

Having friends over to our home. Reaching out to meet neighbors. Doing projects that would enhance our flow of living. Baking goodies that we enjoy. Taking the recyclables to a center instead of simply sending them to a landfill. These are the areas which I had essentially placed on the shelf for those first few years in the Shoebox. Two years later we have surely grown to embrace, in our own way, these aspects of full living. The blessings of living fully—out of the holding pattern—are abundant!


 Inviting Guests to the Shoebox

 I used to think that this apartment is too small for any company. Maybe I was a little embarrassed at the obvious signs that we really live here—our bed in plain sight, my clothes hanging out in the open, bags and coats hanging on the wall like a terrible over-sized decoration. Shortly after writing the holding pattern post, I met one of our neighbors who has a son close to Red’s age. I invited her over for coffee. The boys played loudly around us, we stepped over toys and one of us may have perched on the edge of the bed and we clicked. Now, several coffee-and-play mornings later, she is one of my dearest friends and biggest blessings from opening the ratty Shoebox door wide to friends. By inviting a neighbor into our daily mess, I gained a friend who embraced me—us—and our mess. There’s serious beauty and blessing in that.

It’s not like we have wild dinner parties here or anything, but every once in awhile a very close couple might be invited over for a casual dinner. Often I’ll have a friend and her children over for coffee. Our setup may not be ideal, but everyone has always been very gracious with what we have to offer. Freeing myself up to use the space we have for connecting has enriched my heart with closer friendships and also teaches my children about sharing our home (and toys!) with others.

The result is that WE have been blessed by those who grace the Shoebox with their presence. Truly.


Recycling in the Shoebox

 We started recycling household goods a couple years ago. Remember in our town we must pay extra for a curbside recycling service, something we aren’t willing to do. We researched the most convenient city recycling center and the items it accepted. Then we bought another trash can bin to serve as our recycling receptacle and placed it next to the kitchen trash. We’ve carved out a system that works for us. The bin fills up quickly; after a few days it is overflowing with yogurt containers and etc. etc. Caveman takes the recycling and drops it off after work, and we start over.

Recycling may take a little more effort on our part but it is an easy step, I now realize, to add in our journey to live with a smaller footprint. Now that much of the larger items (such as milk jugs, paper towel rolls and food boxes) are recycled, our amount of landfill trash is slashed in half. I love that!


What are YOU putting on hold for this season?

When I think back to the first year in the Shoebox when I was waiting, waiting, to leave before really starting to have friends over or recycle goods, I shiver to think how many blessings we could have missed. What are YOU putting on hold for this season? Is there a really solid reason to wait, or will you take the plunge and start living fully even if the circumstances don’t seem ideal?


Jump in, friend! Break out of that holding pattern and choose one thing to start doing, or learning, or even praying about NOW. What’s yours? Comment below!

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  • Patti
    September 11, 2014

    I am new to your blog, having found you through a link on Becoming Minimalist. You have a wonderful site, full of incredible wisdom.

    I don’t live in a “shoebox,” but in an average 1,900 sq. ft. house. My home is nothing fancy, but it is clean, organized, and open to visitors. I long ago realized that having people over wasn’t about impressing them, or even about entertaining them, it was about sharing my heart and home with them. I have become comfortable surrounding my table with folding chairs and serving meals on mis-matched china patterns and paper plates. It’s all about the heart!

    We don’t have family nearby, so the holidays can be lonely. We’ve taken to finding other family-less people from church or work and inviting them over for a Christmas Eve dinner. Last year, we had 14, and even though the dining room was so crowded you could barely move, it was a total joy to extend love and friendship to so many people.

    Thank you for your beautiful, insightful article.


    • Evelyn
      September 12, 2014

      Hello Patti! I’m so glad you’re here. So entertaining really is about the spirit, not the Pinterest-perfect layout, huh? Whew! 😉 It sounds like you’ve learned the art of entertaining well with warmth and grace even to a lot of people. Thank you for commenting!

  • Haley
    September 11, 2014

    We live in a one bedroom apartment and I have been putting off a lot of things until we find a house (hopefully in the next 6 months). This past week I’ve really realized that I should be utilizing this time to really go through all of our stuff and see what we need and what we don’t need and organize our stuff BEFORE we move into a larger place. The going is slow, but I’m being intentional with my time instead of waving off projects until we’re in a home.

    • Evelyn
      September 12, 2014

      Haley, that is a GREAT task to do now! I also find myself thinking that I should be doing that for when we move too, whenever that will be. If we can sort through what we want to keep and stay organized NOW, think how much easier moving day will be! 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  • Jo
    September 11, 2014

    I accidentally “liked” this on Instagram because I was trying to click to read it (because I don’t understand Instagram

  • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom
    September 23, 2014

    I used to be fearful of having people over to my home. As I read this post I began to consider where this fear could have possibly come from. I used to blame the size of my home… it’s “not built for entertaining” but I think I was saying this to satisfy my own discomforts. I think I was fearful because inviting people into my home was saying I’m all in… that I’m making myself vulnerable and open to our relationship. What an epiphany!

    Now I have something that I know I need to pray about!

    Thanks for sharing and for sparking these thoughts in me.

    Wishing you a lovely day.

    • Evelyn
      September 23, 2014

      Glad to hear your heart was spoken to! 🙂 I guess that letting someone into your home is vulnerability and openness whether your home is large or small, so I guess this is a journey for all of us. 🙂 Thanks for commenting Jennifer!

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