abundance

abundance

I feel “in between” right now.  There is a quiet voice reinforcing my own thoughts, I don’t want my children to be wrapped up in possessions and achievement and being “good enough”.  Yet, I live in a culture that screams, “Get More!  Be More!  Have More!”.  How do you reconcile that in the day to day?

Sure, you can be content with what you have.  Sure, you can live frugally.  But, to what end?  How do you give generously here in middle America where everything is sterilized and the haves are separated from the have-nots?  You have to weed through applications and bureaucracy and red tape and auto-drafts.

How do you really, really free yourself from the marketing machine that is allowed to run the United States?  That man-made creation…Marketing…has created unmatched prosperity in material possessions–but has it created a poverty of spirit?

I was listening to Tsh and Kat chatting in Episode 8 of The Simple Mom Podcast–they were chatting about their trip to the Phillipines with Compassion International.  They mentioned that in the Phillipines the kids greatest dream is to own a cell phone.  Some of the children they met live in homes accessible only by a boat made of styrafoam.  Yet, because of the infiltration of our junk…their big goal is a cell phone.  And, sadder than sad, we have deepened their poverty by planting a seed of want for something so disconnected from their existence.

I like cute stuff, I like neon and nail polish and fun earrings.  But, how do I reconcile that when others across the world (across town?) have literally next to nothing?

I’m not sure.  I don’t know what to do with it all.  But, I feel my passions shifting ever so slightly.  I feel a little more uncomfortable with excess in my own life.  I am sure this means that God is working on my heart.  That makes me 100% nervous and 100% excited.

How can you tell when something is happening and changing in your heart?  Do you have a “go to” feeling?  I always start feeling a little annoyed at first–like my status quo is being challenged.  I also start to feel like my skin is getting a little too small…so uncomfortable.  I always know that something is happening deep inside when I start to feel that way.

 

40 Comments

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Brooklyn H

    Your posts strike a very good point in me recently. I am struggling with some of the same things it seems and I’m having a hard time working on it in my own head. It hasn’t been that long but sometimes I feel like I’m raising my children in a completely different time period.

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i feel like the world is a completely different place than when i was a kid–and truth be told, that wasn’t very long ago!

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Mandi

    Same! I have felt so convicted about this recently. Caring about my hair and my clothes isn’t bad, for goodness’ sake, but I felt that it was overshadowing things that were really important. I felt like I should be able to start buying things for my home, and was very frustrated that I couldn’t. Then I thought, WOW- I HAVE a home, and I am so blessed. I also think that my preocupation with “cute” has sort of blinded me from really focusing on things that are important- like even connecting and sharing life with people who couldn’t give a crap about cute, who eat casseroles on a daily basis, and who wear mom jeans from 1994. Ha! But seriously, I hadn’t realized how much I separated myself from people in the community just because I was wrapping myself up in what I thought was an ideal way of living. And so… I’m trying to sort through these thoughts and focus more on heart issues. I am feeling that shift. But am having a hard time reconciling it with my life, my friends, and really- my blog!

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      casseroles. :) i’m wondering how much more peace i would feel if i wasn’t concerned with “cute” or “new”.

      and dude, 1984 is practically vintage. ;)

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Nicole J

    What I’ve realized through each learning experience in my life–as uncomfortable as it often is– is that God’s grace is abundant and He is patient with me. Also, when I respond to Him, there is such joy in trusting Him to teach me. I’ll admit that I often try and run away from conviction or learning moments because it goes against my grain. I don’t want to have to deal with it because it’s hard. When convicted/learning, I often feel a ittle annoyed that I’m being bothered by God to learn something about His heart. At the same time, I appreciate the fact that I still get a little bothered–it tells me that I have much to learn about my own self!

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      God is abundantly gracious. That’s for sure. xo.

  • This post really hit home for me. My son has more clothes and toys than our home can really handle. I just want to get rid of it all and maybe get him a few selective wooden/educational toys and just enough clothes (we stay home more often than not, so a “dressier” wardrobe isn’t necessary). Thing is, I’m not the one that has bought him all of his “stuff”. It has primarily been my mother-in-law who “showers” Jim with all of these unnecessary things. How do I deal with situations like this?

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      ElleSee

      It’s hard because grandparents want to give their grandchildren the world! But I have tried hard to let it be known that I’d rather have money for my son’s college education or a trust fund, and have more educational wooden toys, than to have more plastic-y toys than he knows what to do with.

      We haven’t really had an issue yet, but I’ve heard of people actually encouraging their children to choose toys to give away to a child that many not have any — how ever many gifts the child gets for his/her birthday or Christmas, they have to select that many of their other toys to give away. That way they’re also learning to get rid of things that they have played with maybe once, or not at all, in the year since their previous birthday.

      • Elle See- It is true that grandparents want to give their grandchildren everything they possibly can and I feel, to a point, I should allow my in-laws to do this. I’m having a hard time drawing a line, though. Finding the balance, ya know? I do like your idea about getting rid of toys when he gets new ones. I just wish the quality of the toys he received were higher.. Not so much in being “name brand” but being educational and made from more natural materials. I guess I will just make it a point to buy him these types of toys and slowly weed out the others. Plus, make more of an effort to make my desires known. Thanks for your help! ;)

        • Reply March 28, 2012

          Tiny Twig

          My mother-in-law really appreciates getting our boys gifts that we really want them to have, rather than just silly stuff. So, for Christmas, I send her a list complete with Amazon links. This has helped the gifts we get be ones that we know they’ll use rather than random things. Of course, this is the way she likes to give and it wouldn’t work with everyone. Just a thought. :)

      • Reply March 28, 2012

        Tiny Twig

        my issue is that i want to have REAL people to give the toys to, rather than taking them to Goodwill. but, we just don’t know tons of people or organizations to give them to. maybe that should be on my list to figure out. :)

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i’m needing to go through our stuff again (AGAIN!). somehow our boys gather clothes through the season. i swear i’m not buying them stuff! now, if we had a girl that would be a different story… ;)

  • My husband and I are missionaries of an international organization. Both of us serve at the organization’s US office, preparing communication tools to share with people the needs around the world. I see the disparity in the world every day I’m at work. Not only that, I see it in my local city of Charlotte, NC.

    We take the approach to live as simply as possible, and to position ourselves to be ready to give when we find a need. We give half of our tithe to our church, and we keep the other half liquid, so we can use it to share it wherever the Lord leads us to. Another thing we do is what we call The Mizoram Project:

    Inspired by the women of Mizoram, India, we take $5 a week of our grocery money, and buy non-perishable food items. We then keep them at home, ready to give whenever somebody has a food need. While usually the food comes to our house, awaiting to be distributed, we’ve had opportunity to share the food we bought for the Lord to use minutes after walking out of our grocery store. We started this project last Thanksgiving and it’s been amazing to see how the Lord Jesus has used it for His glory over the past five months.

    My encouragement to you as you see the world around you, and as the Lord breaks your heart to make a difference right where you are, position yourself to be generous! Be prepared. Make it your aim to be ready. Perhaps it’s not with finances or food like my husband and I do, but it might be by volunteering to read picture books to children across town in an after-school program, or serving soup to the homeless, or making friends with the widow next door. As James says, “Pure religion is this: to look after widows and orphans and keeps oneself from being polluted by the world.”

    Alana, I feel compelled to share this with you: talk with your son, and perhaps take him to a place where he can see the children without the things that he has. Then ask him what he thinks he could do about the situation. Teach him that the Lord has blessed him with a lot, and as a result, he has the opportunity to bless many others. Open up his eyes to the needs of the world, and give him the chance to do something now to make a difference.

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i love this. thanks for taking the time to type it all out. :) and i love the practical examples you give.

      “position yourself to be generous”. i love that.

      • I’m a big fan of practical applications. As the old saying goes, “if you’re not apart of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.” I believe that it’s the little things that ultimately make the big difference. You don’t change the world in one single act and then you’re done. Making a difference is a lifestyle that should be rooted in faith, love, mercy and humility.

        Right after I posted my earlier reply, I came across this powerful quote from David Livingstone, missionary pioneer to the African continent, and explorer: “Sympathy is no substitute for action.” Too often I find I do a lot of talking about what should be done, instead of actually putting on my work gloves and jumping in. I hope it challenges you as much as it challenged me!

  • you couldn’t have written this post at a better time. this! all of what you’ve said above is troubling me this very minute, day, week. i’m surrounded with friends that are expanding their homes, or are about to quit their day jobs to stay home, or, or, or… and i have to remind myself to chill out and stop wanting more, more more. and reading your post helped me to realize that just maybe God is working in me right this very minute too. and it got me all excited and ready to listen and hear what He has to say to me. thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      hmmm, wonder if something is moving. so many people feeling the same way. i bet it has always been a struggle for believers, but maybe the scales are tipping?

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Sam

    Deep thoughts, Hayley. It’s hard, daily work for me to find balance in the area of “stuff”. Like everything else, it seems there is no formula (drat!) I’m a minimalist–of sorts– at heart, but I don’t want my kids to think their toys and things are bad or evil or to blame for all problems. I also want to help my kids be “in” the world they are in (public, affluent school) but not “of” it. I want them to be influencers, relevant enough to befriend lots of kids around them but different enought to shine. It takes careful and intentional living for me to walk with God daily and let him guide my every decision regarding how much stuff is appropriate, but at the same not excessive.

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i do like formulas. :) unfortunately, then i want to master the formula–and you’re right, that takes God out of it. thankful that He requires us to walk closely to Him in the tension.

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Kristen

    Oh yes… there you go again, reading my mind. :) Seriously, though, this is my constant internal battle right now– I know it’s the Lord stirring– but what and where do I go from here? I have an incredible distaste for my love of ‘stuff’ and the excess that is oozing all over my life– but what now? I used those same words to a dear friend just yesterday, that my skin feels too tight. All of this to say, I’m right there with you, and I’m praying that the Lord continues to stir us up and that we’ll follow with obedience to whatever it is He says is next.

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      that makes me excited, friend. and i’m glad to know i’m not the only one who feels the “skin too tight” thing. sometimes i wonder… ;)

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Bek

    I’ve just sent out invitations for my son’s first birthday with a note enclosed asking people to donate to a charity on his behalf, or only gift him a book or simple small wooden toy.

    It stems from a feeling of shame when I look around at the mountains and mountains of plastic crappy toys my kids are surrounded by. I almost want to tip it all into a big bag and go find children to give it to who would really appreciate one special toy!

    My emotion which tells me change is coming from the Lord is generally started with a sense of shame, or embarrassment – which is certainly not what he stirs in my heart, but how I first read it. Then I realise it’s actually that niggle of discomfort which pushes me to find a way to change.

    It’s the same way I feel by the end of term when I’m getting grouchy and pushing my kids to hurry here and there and ‘we’re late’ constantly. We need to stop and go slow for a couple of weeks. Find our balance again.

    It’s school holidays here in Aus from next week and I cannot wait to slow down – and have a big old clean out of both our home and our hearts, and start finding a simplicity in our surroundings which will let us seek God first, rather than fisher price!

    Thanks again for another thought provoking post. Clearly the same thing is stirring in many hearts!
    x

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i’m with you, girl. tip it all into a bag and get it out of the house. i hate that the heart in giving isn’t bad–but our children are over-blessed. is that possible?

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Hannah

    I just finished Beth Moore’s Bible Study “Mercy Triumphs” that works through the book of James… and, even though I felt my family and I were turning towards a “have less, do more” mentality, that James sure gave me a kick in the booty!

    Of course, our situation is a “change because you have to” I’d like to teach my kids to live in such away that keeps them from getting in the same cluttered complicated mess their parents are in right now. I love the quote Ashley from After the Nine to Five posted today: http://www.afterninetofive.net/2012/03/change-before-you-have-to/

    “Change before you have to.” Jack Welch

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      perfect. can’t wait to read that post. xo.

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Jenny

    I too have been struggling with this and every time I start to feel like I am moving in the right direction, I am pulled back into wanting more, more, more! My husband and I have been living overseas for 2 years and will be moving back to the US in July. While overseas, we have taken to living more simply than we did in the states, but I am already worried about going back and beginning new habits again. We have already resolved to be strong in living simply, having less, and doing more, but I know it is going to be a bit of a struggle when the sirens of Target and the Gap start calling my name! Thanks for the great post. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one thinking about how to make the shift. :)

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      target is the great money suck/stuff disseminator in my life. :)

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Stefanie

    You are echoing my thoughts & my heart exactly! We are in the same place, & growing more uncomfortable by the day. What’s so exciting to me is that this is when God moves big time. He’s preparing my heart for something new & different, & I don’t know what that is yet but the desire to join Him where He’s working is almost overwhelming. I know He’s working on me when I feel like I don’t fit where I’m at right now. I felt this way when he moved us from IN to NC, & I feel it again. It’s almost as if He’s shaping me into something entirely different from what I was before. The interests that I once had don’t have nearly the hold on me that they once did. I don’t care nearly so much about keeping up with what everyone else has, & my heart breaks in an entirely new way over the things that break His. Excited to see Him move in big ways in both of our lives!:)

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      that makes me really excited, stefanie! i feel the same way, like i’m becoming something i wasn’t. and God does show up big time in those soft places in our lives. xoxoxo.

  • Reply March 27, 2012

    Mandy

    I completely understand this feeling of being discontent with excess in your life. After taking a trip to a children’s home in the Philippines in 2010, my outlook on “things” totally changed. Coming face-to-face with true poverty made me realize how much I can live without. It also made me incredibly thankful for simple things like clean water, electricity, and plumbing that we often take for granted here in the States.
    Thanks for writing this post. I needed to be reminded of these things. :)

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      i hope that i keep bumping up against this discontent. it’s uncomfortable, but important i think.

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    BL

    Thanks for posting this! It is indeed very exciting when you can see God leading you in a particular direction. We definitely struggle with consumerism and excess but have incorporated some practices into our lifestyle that remind us to keep giving, and to give well beyond a tithe to our church. We’re certainly wealthy compared to the rest of the world, but here in the US, we fall in the lower-middle income range. However, we will write big checks (for us, that’s $1k or more) in response to natural disasters or other needs. This won’t work for everyone, but we go ahead and do it, adjusting our spending accordingly. We sponsor 3 kids through charities. Birthdays for our own 3 kids are simple. We do not buy gifts at Christmas within our immediate family, but our kids pick out animals from the World Vision catalog to give in honor of grandparents and close relatives. We don’t buy much “stuff” if anything during Christmas. Prayer also keeps these things in our thoughts and actions. Every night, our kids pray for those who don’t have houses and those who are enslaved. But, I am certainly wishy washy and easily derailed! I think the hardest thing is explaining to the grandparents how giving is related to following Jesus. (They tend to think of money as security–I do, too sometimes–but not as strongly as before.) Of course they want what’s “best” for us–bigger house, nicer car, great schools/neighborhood, saving for college (we don’t do this). Sure I want those things, too, but at the same time, these desires are tempered a bit when I think of how God desires for us to use his blessings.

    • Reply March 28, 2012

      Tiny Twig

      do you see a big difference based on generation? i wonder if the eras we grow up in change our attitude towards money/giving/consumerism.

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    Renee

    I get uncomfortable and a little peed off when those challenges and changes happen. I try to give back as much as I can and it is not always in monetary form either. I assist the public every day, Mon – Fri, so I feel good most days. Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Day!

  • Reply March 28, 2012

    Bridget

    Down scaling is a popular idea these days. It’s understandable, given the economic climate. After a season of excessive conspicuous consumption, the pendulum is swinging the other way, which is probably a good thing.

    However, this is sometimes wrongly fused with the idea that it is somehow unjust that some have more than others. Everyone should hold their possessions with an open hand. It’s not how much we have, but how importantly it figures in our lives. My husband was a missionary in a Third World country, and the people, though impoverished, were very much conspicuous consumers in spirit.

    Contentment is being comfortable with what you have — whether that happens to be a lot or a little.

    • Reply March 29, 2012

      Kristen

      Bridget- you said exactly what I’m seeing in my own heart– it’s not so much the ‘having’ that is wrong— it’s the hold that the ‘having’ has on my heart. Yes, to hold it all with open hands… my prayer as of late. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply March 29, 2012

    Mrs Amber Apple

    interesting topic!
    being stretched is never comfortable. i personally hate it- James says to count it all joy, but honestly i’m not too peppy when i feel uncomfortable! usually when God is speaking to me, i like to ignore it the best i can to avoid any discomfort. like a child hiding in broad daylight, covering her eyes and thinking, “if i can’t see Him, He can’t see me” haha

    yes, that is my initial reaction which i’m sure He gets a good long laugh :)

  • Reply March 29, 2012

    Kaylen Boomer

    I feel this way a lot – like God is working on me. and it IS always uncomfortable bc it requires change.
    Recently, God put in my heart to sponsor a little boy from Ethiopia with Compassion International. I knew we could afford it but it was hard bc I also knew there was no going back, we would be his sponsors until he turned 18. God, as he does, persisted. So I let my 5 year old pick the country and child – he picked ABC-Thiopia (as he calls it) and I narrowed down to 5 year old boys like him but he insisted on a 3 year old, not a 5 year old. I let him choose nonetheless, so a 3 year old it was!
    Later we received a letter from the pastor of our adopted boy and in it he had explained our boy wasn’t supposed to be on the list anymore, he should have been removed bc his Mother had stopped attending the church. Instead of notifying us to select another child, he instead walked to her home to try to get her to come back. Come to find out she had left the church bc non-Christians were harassing them and as a single Mom she was scared and felt like God must not really exist or love them. When he told her that her child was sponsored, she fell to her knees and insisted that God must really love them. They now regularly attend church again…and our boy (Surafel) now receives 3 healthy meals a day, gets to go to school, has medical care and knows he is loved by us and God.
    And when MY 5 year old boy receives letters and pictures from the boy he chose, his face lights up in a way that a new toy never could.

  • Reply March 30, 2012

    Maggie

    I am so thankful that God is patient when I can be so, so slow to change. I’m sure he has been calling us to lead a life of simplicity much longer than I am aware of and I am so blessed that he still continues to call us and help us. I am very are that all these things that we are blessed with are temporary and will be left behind one day. Over the past couple of years I have lost both my parents and my sister and I were left to clean out their house and a lifetime of stuff. That has a major impact on how you look at stuff and what is really important. Since then, I am working harder towards only having things that I love and or use in our house. And God is patient and kind and mostly gentle when I am totally off tract, which happens more often than I like to admit. He gently guides me back.

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