Tag Archives: #DaSHbookdates

Our Year of Living Minimally – January Update

Well, we survived the first month of our “Buy (Almost) Nothing Year,” and it wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated!  All of the decluttering and simplifying we did over the Christmas holiday really paved the way for initial success with our audacious goal.  In the past, I would get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our kitchen, both random utensils and a decent amount of non-perishable food, so much so that I was discouraged from cooking.  However, by ridding ourselves of the excess, cooking is a much more pleasant endeavor … and it doesn’t hurt that David doesn’t mind doing the dishes.  🙂

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Friday Night Fettuccine

As I mentioned before, my biggest apprehension going into this year was our no eating out rule (excepting book dates and travel).  That first Friday night at home it was a little sad not to head out together for our weekly Amigos date, but it’s since become the new normal.  We’ve decided to make Fridays “Italian Night” complete with either homemade pizza or a pasta creation.  It’s also been great having leftovers to carry us through the weekend.

Since we’re a bit behind in our reading, going into the month it looked as though we might not eat out at all the entire month of January.  However, the school needed to send us to Singapore for a visa run, which meant we had no choice but to eat away from home.  🙂  We thoroughly enjoyed our rogan josh and chicken tikka masala in Little India.  And Clementine is a huge fan of the mango lassi!  We were thankful for the little “splurge” and I am newly motivated to try out some Indian recipes in the not so distant future.

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Enjoying our Little India “splurge”

We did do a little Orchard Road shopping for Clementine while in Singapore, although all under our “approved” guidelines.  Her grandparents gave her some money for Christmas we had yet to spend, so we got her a Grimm rainbow, which she’s loved.  Since potty training is in our imminent future, we also got her a potty seat … (pray for us now).

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Loving her Christmas present

One thing I did notice on our trip was the lure of Starbucks.  At the airport I mentioned to David how on any other trip we’d be grabbing our triple caramel macchiatos (easy on the syrup) before boarding the plane.  I was proud of us for drinking homemade coffee in the car on the way there.  I hadn’t missed it much, but walking around Singapore where there was a Starbucks every few meters it seemed, I was suddenly very aware that I hadn’t had a takeout coffee in awhile and how nice it would be to get one.  It’s crazy how much our surroundings influence us!  I am so thankful that I don’t see a Starbucks on a daily basis or really any other “tempting” shops.  (See photo above for the “We Miss You!” email I received from them the other day …)

While we didn’t finish Anna Karenina (our December book) this month, we went ahead and read January’s The Underground Railroad since a digital copy recently became available from the library (and was going away at the end of the month).   Even though we live overseas, we still have access to three Dallas area libraries, and more often than not we are able to find the books we’re wanting to read.  There’s even an option to “recommend” the library purchase certain digital titles, and a few times they’ve actually stocked David’s requests.  All that to say, if you haven’t looked into your local library’s digital titles, you are potentially missing out on a goldmine of convenient and free reading.

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January #DaSHbookdate

In addition to our unforeseen Singapore trip, we actually got a book date in this month as well.  Because eating out has become a treat and not the norm, we have appreciated it so much more.**  We really savored each meal, taking no bite for granted.  However, now that eating at home is the norm, we appreciate those meals more as well.  We’re eating more healthily both in content and quantity, and we’re spending less money.  It’s still very early in our year long experiment, but we are happy to see some rhythms emerge and notice positive change.

So that’s the update at one month in.  I realized after the last post that I hadn’t gotten much into the “why” of our decision and had planned to use this month to cover that more fully.  However, I’m going to leave that one to David.  This year is the culmination of ideas and promptings spread over the course of several years, so much so that “the why” deserves its own post.  Plus, David spoke in chapel this month over the spiritual discipline of simplicity, and I know he’ll express our heart much better than I could.  So … stay tuned.  🙂

** I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a fantastic resource we stumbled upon this month that has further shaped our thinking about consumerism and its pitfalls.  The whole blog is worth checking out, but this post in particular really helped put our eating out habits into perspective.

2016 – An Illustrated Year in Review (Top 10 Edition)

In roughly chronological order, here are the top 10 highlights from our 2016:

1) Visiting the US for the first time in (almost for Sarah, over for David) two years

We were blessed to make it home twice in 2016, both for the Christmas holidays (2015-2016) and over our summer break.  We loved introducing Clementine to her extended family and reuniting with old friends. Other than time with family and friends, we probably enjoyed food the most.

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2) Continuing on a minimalism journey

I wrote about this one extensively in the last post, so I won’t say much about it here.  I’ll just share a quote that pretty much sums up our feelings toward this pursuit: “Owning less is merely a means to an end, it is not the end itself.  Minimalism removes the physical distractions so my greatest priorities can be elevated.  It allows my life to be defined by eternal, lasting pursuits, not the temporal possessions contained in my home.”  – Joshua Becker

3) Participating in Bible Study Fellowship

In the fall of 2015 I (Sarah) joined the Jakarta chapter of Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  We studied the book of Revelation, and while the reading and homework commitment was significant, I was glad to have an outside the home outlet for community and spiritual growth.  I carpooled with our pastor’s wife and usually ate lunch with her and a few friends afterwards. My small group consisted of women from Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, India, Venezuela, Norway, and the US.  What a privilege it was to study Scripture alongside these women, knowing that many others were studying the same book all over the world.

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4) Teaching Sunday school and hosting a small group

David and I have taught youth Sunday school for almost three years now, but Clementine’s birth has certainly changed the way that works.  As she’s gotten older and more active/vocal, David has taken the lead in teaching, while I care for Clementine.  We miss teaching together but know this is only for a season.  We also began hosting a small group in our home that thankfully allows us to study together without the distraction of childcare.  (We meet just after C’s bedtime.)

5) JD’s visit and subsequent move to Jakarta

Over the Chinese New Year holiday my cousin, who was teaching in Taiwan at the time, came to visit us.  We were able to visit a small island just north of Java, and we tried to convince JD to come teach in Jakarta the next year.  He wasn’t really interested at first until our small group friends came over for dinner and made a more convincing argument, apparently. 😉

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6) David turning 30

He finally made it!  Considering I turned 30 two days before we got married, I’ve been waiting the entire span of our marriage for him to catch up.  We had a great day celebrating all the things that make him wonderful, complete with 30 letters from family and friends and 30 reasons I was glad he was born.

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7) Clementine learning to walk

Or better yet, Clementine’s development in general.  She turned one and then nine days later took her first steps.  While we had heard some “mamamama” and “dadadada” babbling for the past few months, her official first word coincided with our summer visit to David’s parents house.  Upon meeting Cato, Clementine excitedly exclaimed, “Dawg, dawg, dawg, dawg!”  It’s still her favorite animal, although her vocabulary has expanded to include a few more (thanks to Dear Zoo).

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8) Sarah returning to work

When we made the decision for me to stay home after Clementine’s birth, we committed to at least one year and would discuss future plans as the time came.  As the 2016-2017 school year approached, we decided that I would again stay home for at least one more year.  However, one of the principals approached David late in the spring asking if we’d be willing to consider my coming back to work part time (teaching two English classes, grades 11 and 12).  Our initial thought was no, but after praying and discussing with the school further what that might look like practically, we felt confident moving forward.  This year has very much been the best of both worlds for me.  I love that I still get to spend so much time with Clementine and yet also have an outlet for creative work.  We were able to extend the arrangement for another year, so our family is looking forward to our time here in 2017 and beyond.

9) Sarah (re)learning to drive a manual transmission … in Jakarta traffic

We got our car just before Clementine was born, and while most people in Jakarta hire drivers to tote them around in Jakarta traffic, we’ve been lucky that David is willing to brave it himself.  However, my returning to work has necessitated that I take on a bit of that responsibility as well.  My first car was a standard (that lacked reverse, but that’s a story for another day), so I wasn’t learning from square one.  It had been many years, however, and driving here can just be scary, y’all.  It’s worked well for us, and I am fairly comfortable/confident with the 1-2 km stretch I drive each day.

10) Book Club and #DaSHbookdates

I would split this in two, but I’m a sucker for top 10 lists.  A friend started a book club at the end of last spring, and it has been such a blast to read and discuss alongside some really smart women.  In 2016 we read All the Light We Cannot See, State of Wonder, The Alchemist, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, and Call the Midwife.  This November marked three years of book dates for David and me.  These continue to be such a nourishment to our marriage; I only wish we’d been doing them from the start!  2016’s books were Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Princess Bride, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Bell Jar, Bleak House, The World According to Garp (A couple friend book date … a first for us!), No Country for Old Men, Persepolis, Ethan Frome, It, East of Eden, and Anna Karenina (still working on this one …).

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We have richly experienced the goodness of God in 2016 and hope and pray the same for your 2017!