A Simple(r)Life {Starting Over Stuffless}

Each of us at some point in our lives feels pressed to change.  We know when we’ve gained too much weight, bought too much stuff, or said too many words.  We know when we’ve become unintentional; when it seems we are flailing about, running from task to task, event to event.

We know when we need to breathe.

Today, I need to breathe.

Today, Satan is winning.

He is keeping me in a tizzy of tasks when I know the words God has laid on my heart.  When I KNOW what’s important and what’s really not.

So, this…this post?  This is breathing…after spending hours over the past two days deciphering 19 pages that succinctly sum up my marriage and divide our belongings with official words like “thereof” and “hereto.”

divorce paper

Fifteen years neatly divided and defined by 19 pages.

It simply makes me sad.  Regardless of who did what and when and why. Regardless of my theology or commitment to Christ and my marriage.  Regardless of the times we tried.  Regardless of how my heart feels or what my actions have shown.


Reading my name…my children’s names…on official court documents that boil all the love and effort and prayer and sacrifice down to a bulleted list of items and time divided…is simply sad.

After reading the papers and texting back and forth about who gets the toaster and who needs  a pizza cutter, I’ve decided…

Stuff can be a blessing or a curse.

As we’ve divided pictures and pans…sofas and sheets…deep down…I want none of it.  What I want is an intact family focused on our Creator. A family focused on going into all the world – neighborhood or Nicaragua – sharing the work God has done and is doing.  I want to care for the orphans and widows.  I want to rely on Him and not me.  I want a heart sold out to his purposes and commands.

I just want Him.

But, I don’t have “just Him” yet.  Perhaps because I am too busy shuffling eight lamps (who in the heck needs THAT many?), furniture, pictures, and that highly coveted pizza cutter. I am too busy calling to find a storage unit for all the STUFF that I can’t fit in my new home, which is about one-third the size of my current home.

And with each overwhelming decision – because {truly} even deciding who gets the toaster makes me cry – I feel God saying very clearly…

Simplify, Sarah.

Clear the clutter – in your head, heart, and home.

I want off the treadmill of work and worry. And let’s face it – stuff puts us on that treadmill.

So, as I prepare to move this weekend, my heart is HECK BENT on living simpler.  Less stuff…in my head, in my heart, and in my home.

Heavens.  I just need LESS.

Because after you’ve “failed” at what our culture says you should be – failed at the American Dream – the measuring stick is gone.  {I know, I should have never cared about it in the first place.}  After you’ve “failed,” and come to the end of what and who you thought you needed and wanted to be, you get to discover what God has crafted deep down.

So, I am returning to what I have always known – what you already know:  All the stuff in the world won’t fill any need – not a marriage or a child or a new car or new house.

Nothing is enough.

But Him.

I am settling into smaller – and simpler – because I am convicted of consumption.  From furniture to food – I am stopping and saying “how much is enough?”  I’ve been to a third-world country.  I know how they live and how much they live on…while {mostly} still smiling.  I go the homeless shelter weekly.  I know what that’s like {sorta}.  And I am TIRED and SICK and SICK and TIRED of acting like THAT doesn’t matter.  Of justifying how much I have because I live here with a Master’s degree plus 45 and that’s just what we do – what I deserve.


Make no mistake. I want my house to look nice.  I like cute and color. My home is my sanctuary, so I want it to reflect who I am and what I love.  I also want my kids to have a space to call home. A place their weary hearts can rest and feel loved.

So, I will reuse and repaint and refurbish some of the old stuff to look new.

I’ve even made a few purchases. A bird for my room to remind me of my freedom in Him. A globe shower curtain for Hannah and Owen’s bathroom as a reminder to them that God so loved THE WORLD and to go into all THE WORLD.

But, overall, I want to redo what I have – and purge all we don’t use or need.

This time around – we all want a simpler life.  We want to make hats and Honduras trips.  We want to spend our time serving not spending. We want to give up {stuff} to grow closer {to Jesus and one another}.

And, we have an excellent example of the “giving up” to “grow closer” life in our friend, Marla.

Her family of five recently sold their house in Columbus, Ohio, and moved a few miles away to an apartment complex that houses mostly Somali refugees.  Marla, Gabe, and their three girls (Livi, Ava, and Nina) serve these folks through tutoring…and simply living alongside them in community.

My daughter, Hannah, has become close to the Taviano gals and likes to read Marla’s blog.  Recently, Hannah discussed this post with me: My Kids Are Spoiled Rotten. God used this post, the discussion with Hannah,  and witnessing Marla’s life to spark “live simply” in my heart.

Both my kids know I have been feeling the weight of “my kiddos can no longer live as they have” and that’s my fault. Because I am a single mom, I can’t give my kids “the best.”  Poor kids.

Or, maybe it’s rich kids?

Marla’s post resonated with Hannah’s heart.  Something about it said to her, “that’s how life should be.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with offering our kiddos the best, but as I have found myself struggling with what’s next and walking alongside my kids through some very hard days, I can’t help but return to “what’s MOST important” – not what’s wrong or right. Not what culture says is “best,” but what God says is “best.”

My only charge from God as a mom and Christ-follower is to raise Christ-followers.

That’s it.

So, as my kids and I begin anew.  As we wipe the slate clean this weekend.  As we hang pictures and spray paint lamps. As we giggle over what we are gaining and cry over what we are losing.

May we live simply.  And simply live.

May we cast off the old and clothe ourselves in the new.

May I take a page from Marla and spoil my kids in a new way.

May we all experience a different sort of Lent, one characterized by giving and slowing.

Because please believe me, friend:  The stuff gets in the way.

And in the meantime, we will give thanks – for all that’s been and all that is to come.  {Excellent advice from Ann}.  Our new life isn’t worse than or better than.  It’s not wrong or right.  It’s just different.

“Only you know the broken cisterns of our choices – our idols, the many things to which we turn to find life somewhere else than in you.  Yet you pursue us, welcome us, love us, and you are changing us.”   Scotty Smith


  1. love you friend..journey through pain brings us to knew places if we allow it, it teaches us truth [maybe] we would have never known otherwise.
    I am so proud of you and am mindful of you EACH day.

  2. As I sit here and read this it breaks my heart!! First I am so sorry about the things that are going on in your life right now. Only God can heal the brokenness that you feel. Second, I want to say how this hits home for me!! Its all just stuff, but like everyone else I also keep consuming more instead of consuming more of Him!!

    • Holly…thanks for kind words…God is the great healer…I look forward to that day. And you’re not alone – we all keep consuming more and more – it’s just too easy. I appreciate your openness. Prayers!

  3. Thank you Sarah for sharing. I opened up to Ecclesiastes myself and am studying “The Teachers” definition of “meaningless”. Simplicity is good. Doing some purging myself. Prayers for you and the family

  4. Jan Morikone says:

    Thank you Sarah. I’ve been in your shoes going through a divorce and this resonates so deeply with me. Now I’m facing a move with my new husband out of a home I don’t want to leave and to a place I don’t want to go and stuff…well, it will have to go. It’s hard but you have made it easier to let it go. Thank you… so very much.

    • I agree, Jan – letting go of stuff – whether it serves as a good or bad reminder is always so hard. It’s like saying…that part of life is gone. Prayers for you as you move and begin again…thanks for sharing.

  5. Bettina Gigliello says:

    Sarah, I am so sorry to hear about your divorce. It is not something I would wish on anyone. I am praying God will grant you peace and comfort. Praying for your whole family during this difficult time. I do know the blessings God has in store for you are beyond your greatest expectations. Your faith is amazing, and you can lean on that. Store up your treasures in heaven and know that what children really need is quite simply to know they are loved. You are a great mom. Sending you much love. Bettina

    • Thanks much, Bettina. I loved reading your story on Kim’s blog. It’s so important that we share our stories. Thanks for the love and encouragement!

  6. Sarah, your story has touched me deeply, my heart goes out to you and your children yet is also inspired and excited for the new venture the Lord is taking you on…. truly the best is yet to come. I can see already that those seeds of faith and love have been planted in your children and will bare fruit . my prayers re with you all, God bless your journey. nd now I am going to give away some stuff …..thank you! 🙂

    • Thanks, Linda! I am glad you’re giving some stuff away…I think we can all give some stuff away and not even notice its absence. Even just a clean out of the basement or garage or bedroom closet usually reveals stuff we forgot we possessed. Thanks for the prayers..and I hope you share about your purge 🙂

  7. I love you guys so much. And I am so, so, so proud of you. Thanking God for this fresh, new, exciting (but really sad and hard) beginning for you. Can’t wait to come visit your new digs!!

    • I love you too! My digs wont be as bare minimum as they probably should be…but baby steps;) Thankful for your friendship and example.

  8. Hi, Sarah – the stuff…it so doesn’t matter. Honestly, when we divorced, I determined that the only thing I would “fight” for was my camera and my children. It all worked out. I think by demonstrating that I really didn’t care, my former H actually cared less, too, and we just didn’t fight about the stuff. Dividing time with the children, scheduling holidays … that was the most painful things. It remains so. I’ll never forget feeling so SICK TO MY STOMACHE as when we had to look at a calendar and label the days. I know how hard this can be and you are in my thoughts and prayers today.

    You’ll love having less to deal with as you begin anew. Brokenness is just the beginning and being empty positions you to be filled. You will marvel at what God places in your lives! I’m rooting for you!~

    • I always love your comments. In so many ways they serve as confirmation to my heart. I am beyond caring about the stuff…no desire to fight about it. But, dividing time and holidays? It stinks. So much. Labeling weekends and days is heart breaking for all of us. Thanks for each thought and prayer – we appreciate them…and especially love “brokenness is just the beginning” – if I am empty then I can be filled. LOVE THAT!

  9. Love you too, friend. I am grateful that you are mindful of me each day…pray that I am always teachable – desiring to walk closer and closer despite the hard.

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