Too Much Stuff: Journey to Simplicity Week 3

Give away seven things per day for the next 30 days.

That’s the decision Jen Hatmaker made in month three of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

Of all the times in my life I could be reading this book, I happen to be reading it while packing to move.  Obviously, I have no excuse not to sort and give as I pack.

Easy, right?

Ummm….no.  Sure, I can give away the clothes that are too small for Hannah or too big for me.  Sigh.  That’s not sacrifice.  That’s helpful.  They’re just in my way.

Can I give away other things?  Things I don’t really need, but don’t want to give away?

As I pack, I keep thinking, “Where did I get all this stuff? Do I really need all this stuff?”

Don’t get me wrong; I am not auditioning for Hoarders. I love to throw and give away, but only on my terms.

It’s hard.  I am a justifier.  I think this:  “But, what if in a few years I decide to wear these shoes when my others are worn out?  What if I decide to redo a room in purple and regret giving away this vase?  You know, in a few years?”

See?  I can justify keeping any item with this line of thinking.  Then, I read this:

“Static has always surrounded the Christian life; so much threatens to distract us from the main point.  People have always preferred details and complications and rules, but when Jesus was pressed, He said (Jen translation), ‘Love God and love people.  That’s pretty much it.””

Could this stuff be part of the  “static” in my life?  Indeed, what is distracting me from the main point:  Love God, love others?

Oh, the distraction list is long.  It’s ugly.  So embarrassing that I am not even sharing it here.

As I look at the convicting list, I feel God speaking through Jen’s book:  “The gospel will die in the toxic soil of self.”

Yes, yes it will.  [Insert big dose of conviction here.]

Why, oh why, am I keeping these clothes, these books, extra dishes, etc.?  What’s the need?  The lure?

My care group is reading The Gospel by J.D. Greear and today’s chapter focused on this part of Greear’s Gospel Prayer:  “Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”

His presence and His approval are all I need for everlasting joy.  I don’t need all this stuff.

I find it ironic that I’m struggling with this when my daughter understands it so well.  She’ll be 12 on Thursday, and her birthday party was last Friday.  She sent this letter in the invitation to her party:

Dear Friend,

        A couple of months ago I started reading a book called Kisses from Katie.  It is about an 18-year-old girl who is a missionary in Uganda and has adopted 14 children. She was sad when she saw that many of the children there could not go to school because they couldn’t afford it.  They could barely afford a daily meal. So she started Amazima ministries (Amazima means “the truth”) in hopes that she could help hundreds of children have clean water, food, a doctor, and an education. So this year instead of getting gifts for my birthday, I would like to help those children too. Instead of bringing a gift, please bring a donation for the kids Katie’s helping.  It would be cool to bring $12 because I’m turning 12!



Hannah knows she needs nothing.  She understands clothing and feeding Ugandan children is more important than her receiving another game, movie, electronics device, or shirt.

Her needs are met; she wanted to meet someone else’s needs.

As her mom, I am proud of her decision.  She’s raised over $250 for Amazima.

But, today, I went on Amazon and ordered her four books she’s been wanting.  I didn’t honor her wish to donate to her cause.  Geez, I just wanted her to have some presents!

Why?  I spent $40 on books.  Why not $40 to Ugandan children?  The children who have captivated my child’s heart?

Because culture says sweet little girls turning 12 deserve birthday presents.  (Lame, lame, lame! I am so lame!)  My daughter makes a radical choice, and I don’t even honor it because I want my child to have things.

I was reminded of Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Hannah gets this.  Her 12th birthday stored up treasures in heaven, not on earth.  Wow.

What about you?  Where are you storing up treasures?  Are you (like me) following cultural norms and expectations when buying?  Or, have you (like Hannah) realized you have enough and that it’s time to stop the consumerism cycle and give?

I know it’s not this simple.  I know there’s a shaky line somewhere between giving and keeping (although I have no idea where that prosperity vs poverty line is!)

My prayer is to find that line in my heart, so I can become more like Him.


  1. Marla Taviano says:

    Oh, wow. Hannah’s story is amazing. What a beautiful heart!! Thanks for sharing that, friend!

  2. Thanks Sarah! I feel your angst. It’s so easy to give away the things we accumulated that really don’t mean anything to us anymore. I am stuck in the justifying stage many days also. Love your heart!

    • Thanks, Carla! I am the QUEEN of justification…food, possessions – doesn’t matter the topic – I can justify its presence in my life. I see God beginning to move in my life thanks to this study though:)

  3. Wow! I too say I am trying to thin my material possessions out and make more of less. However, when it comes to my son, I find myself buying him everything I think he needs. Some of these things are good things like books, clothes, shoes, but I read Hannah’s letter and know that I am not teaching him to store up his treasures in Heaven. Thanks for the reminder and I know God has big things in store for your sweet daughter.

    • Thanks, Nicole. My daughter never asked for an iPhone. Sure, I knew she would love to have one; all her friends have one. Yet, she NEVER asked. Guess what I bought her for Christmas? An iphone! She was overjoyed and so very thankful, but she said to me, “I would have never asked for something so expensive.” I find myself buying what i THINK she NEEDS. And, her heart says Kmart clothes are fine. Checking the book out at the library is fine. Giving all her clothes to little girls at our church is fine. I think I may eventually change her if I keep it up. EVentually, she will desire or even demand these things if I keep telling her she needs them…so I am praying to stop this train;) Thanks for your encouragement!

  4. what a heart Hannah has. guess what – she didn’t just magically wake up with it. i’m sure somewhere along the way she learned it from someone very important to her. don’t be so hard on yourself (or more than is constructive) because chances are the little girl learned it from watching her mommy.

    (remember the “just say no” commercial where the dad finds his son smoking pot? father: “who taught you how do to do this? son: you alright?! i learned it by watching you.” so like that. only good instead of bad. :P)


  1. […] mail and found an envelope addressed to Hannah.  Inside there was a check for Amazima Ministries (you can read more about Hannah’s heart for this organization here), a picture of Cambodia with a note on the back, Cambodian money, and a picture of Marla Taviano […]

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