So as we get closer and closer to adding our seventh little treasure to the family, I've kicked it into high gear around here lately purging and reorganizing and making room for one more person to "fit" into our home.
We moved into our house in 2007 when we had only two kids. Caleb was 3 and Caroline was not quite a year old. Little did we know that we would add 5 kids over the next 5 years and our spacious 3 bedroom home would become a little less spacious.
Now, we by no stretch of the imagination are in need of anything. Especially after spending time in Ethiopia and with the knowledge that half of our children spent the majority of their lives in houses the size of our laundry room with their whole families sharing one bed each night.
Never the less, we were questioned many times about where we would live when people found out we were adopting the first time. I mean, we only have 3 bedrooms after all, so where in the world would we put our new daughters when they got home? We also get the comments, "you must have a huge house (or a lot of money :-)" from a curious shopper or mom on the playground fairly often. Umm....not so much.
But, our cozy 1780 square feet home has everything we need. Rooms to sleep in, rooms to get clean in, rooms to cook and eat in, a school room, a playroom, a family room and a great back yard with a big tree for the kids to play in. Really, more than enough room for our family.
The problem is, we have too much stuff.
We are living a life of excess like the majority of Americans. Even though I try to weed out periodically, stuff just seems to keep accumulating.
Every now and then, I get that little thought in my head that we'll have to move eventually so that everyone (but lets be honest--really so that everything) will fit.
But lucky for me--and my kids (although I think they may be singing a slightly different tune after today's toy room clean out :-). I've been reading a book called "Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker
The premise of the book is that our modern day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence are blurring our view of what a rich, blessed and generous life really should look like if we are truly seeking to live like Jesus.
When we think of the rich, we are usually not thinking of ourselves, but the statistics tell us that if we earn more than $10,000 a year, we are in the top 13% of wage earners in the world. More than $20,000--top 5%.
We are the rich ones and yet the "machine of excess" has made us poor.
Not only that, it has often times resulted in the needy remaining needy, the lonely remaining lonely, the orphans remaining orphans, the sick remaining sick, the hopeless remaining hopeless.....
So many times, our "need" to keep up with our stuff outweighs the true needs of the world around us.
We don't have time or money to help others we tell ourselves. We are too busy or overextended as it is. We have to work a lot to pay for all our stuff after all. Not to mention all the time we spend cleaning our stuff, buying new stuff, organizing our stuff.....
I'm as guilty as anyone as evidence by the amount of stuff we pulled out of our playroom today and the 6 hours we spent sorting, organizing, purging and cleaning.
Eight years ago, we had not one of these items in our home--NOT ONE.
This book is really challenging me to cut out the excess.
It is nothing I haven't felt before. I feel it EVERY time I go to Africa. You look around and the needs are so great. NEEDS--actual needs like food and clean water, basic clothing and shelter, medical care and families.
Things have got to change. If we are to be called followers of Jesus, our lives need to reflect the life he lived.
Excess was not a part of it.
His commands are simple--love God and love people as yourself.
There is no way we would think it is ok for ourselves to be without food, water, clothing, shelter, or the love of a family.
It's just not ok.
I love this quote from Martin Luther King Jr:
"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But the good Samaritan reversed the question, "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
What would happen if we stopped asking, "what would happen to me" and started asking, "what would happen to them?"
There are so many ways to get involved--local shelters, feeding the homeless, neighbors who just need some encouragement, praying for those in need, visiting the orphans and widows in distress, sponsorship, foster care......
To learn more:
Sponsor a child in Haiti at Fond Blanc (via Children's Hopechest)
Sponsor a child in Ethiopia at Trees of Glory (via Children's Hopechest)
Africa Windmill Project (life giving water and sustainable agriculture in Malawi, Africa)
Help Build a School in Ethiopia at Kind Hearts
Children's Hopechest (Sponsorship around the world)
Ordinary Hero (get involved where you are and around the world)
Visiting Orphans (mission trips/orphan support)
Children of the Nations (raising up leaders of tomorrow through orphan care and sponsorship)
Hearing Loss Prevention (Ethiopia) hearing loss education/training/treatment and prevention clinics in Ethiopia
***feel free to comment if you have an organization you would like to add to the list***