I rode Violet (my bike) to the library one sunny morning last week... after 3 1/2 weeks with the same reading material on the trip I was excited to look through the shelves and bring home some new inspiration. My first stop (as always) was the New Nonfiction shelf...
There I found a book called Unstuff: Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters. I turned it over to read the back and the author photo caught my eye... turns out I went to college with the guy from this husband/wife writing team. Intrigued, I threw the book in my basket.
I read the book in a couple of days... it's a good read - perhaps a bit more for the Christian who's being introduced to the idea of over consumption as sin - but still full of good principles.
I came away from the book with a challenge for my family: Every day for the month of August, each member of the family has to find ten things to get rid of. There are boxes set up in the kitchen labeled 'Trash', 'Sell' and 'Give Away' to receive the cast offs. In September, we'll have a garage sale to get rid of all the 'Sell' stuff - the money raised will go toward a special project we're excited about with COTN - construction of a new on-site guest house for teams like ours... and we'll make one huge donation to our favorite thrift store of the leftovers when it's all said and done.
Now, if you haven't already done the math, there are five people in my family... 31 days in August. That's 1550 things we're going to get rid of. I'm ashamed to say that I imagine it probably won't begin to make a dent in the excess we've brought into this house. I know for certain I could probably go the whole month at ten things a day and not even begin to get into the things that would be 'hard' for me to part with. I have that much junk stored in my basement storage room... sad, but true. I think the kids have some concerns that they may end up having to part with 'favorite' stuff... I'd actually welcome the challenge of really struggling with what to give away... perhaps it will take another month of the challenge for me to reach that point, but I'm up for it.
It's a start. A good way to focus our energy upon our return from our trip... a totally do-able approach to cleaning out stuff that's been sitting un-used for an embarrassingly long time - and using the opportunity to bless others in the process... Frankly, after seeing how little most people live on in Sierra Leone, I know we can eliminate a TON.
Maybe you'd like to join us... I know you won't regret it. The truth is, with our consumeristic mentality, most of us have SO much much more than we need. Join us in paring back, clearing out... and in the process, maybe you'll find some extra space in your heart for those less fortunate than you are...