Almost eight years ago, we moved an hour away from our familiar and safe into a brand-new house in a brand-new community.

Our home is modest –  it’s not overly large or overly small.

But . . . there is no basement and the land surrounding our home feels small when you add two adults, three children, an 80 pound Labrador Retriever and a cat.

Not having a basement in Indiana is a worry during tornado season and we would love some acreage so our brood of three can run free. Space in which they don’t have to worry about trampling the neighbor’s flowers or being hit by a car. Space that allows for a larger garden and a trampoline and a . . .

We had planned to only stay in our current home for about seven years – but we had not planned on the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

About a year ago, I began to grow restless. I started to focus on what we didn’t have instead of what we did. I became ungrateful and entitled.

My heart was dark and ugly, filled with lies I believed from the world: we deserve a home with more land. We deserve a larger home with a basement. Our closets are too small. There’s no storage. Our garage isn’t large enough. Lord, we’ll use our home for your glory, don’t you know that?

Yes, I know. Twisted. Sister.

What’s even more twisted, people, is that I had been to Ghana just two short years prior. I had seen some abject poverty.

But oh how quickly we forget and how easily it can be to assimilate right back into the land of excess.

And while I had been changed by that trip, I don’t think I had been changed enough.

Six months ago, I was out planting flowers, beautifying the outside of our home and getting excited for the promise of warmer temperatures.

My mind started to go there. I began to wonder if this might be our last summer in our house and I quickly leapt into a dream of where we might move, hopeful of land and basements . . .

That’s when I heard it, clear as day:

“Why would I entrust you with more when you can’t even appreciate what I’ve already entrusted you with?”

I dropped my trowel and sought the solace of a glass of water in the kitchen.

Contentment is a foreign concept in the first world. When we get what we think we want, the finish line moves up to a new level.

The problem is . . . the finish line always moves up – but only if we move it ourselves.

In Chapter Eleven of Rhinestone Jesus, Kristen says, “Stuff doesn’t fill emptiness; it just hides it. When I looked at my life filled with wealth, I only saw poverty in my heart” (p. 172). She later adds ” . . . it’s not really about who is poor and who is rich because poverty and wealth aren’t really about money or things. It comes down to contentment” (p.176)

When I watched the women work in Ghana, I was in awe of how hard they labored, day-in and day-out – much harder than I do. Many of the modern conveniences I take for granted are not available to Ghanaians so they simply don’t know another way to do a chore like laundry. They aren’t unhappy about their lack of a General Electric front-loader  – in fact, if they were given one, they likely wouldn’t have the electricity to use it anyway.

And I admit that before, when I read stuff like this, I grew a little uneasy. Irritated. Feeling as if I was being manipulated to feel guilty for being able to afford modern conveniences.

But now I see that really isn’t the point. As Kristen states on page 180, “It’s not about giving all our money away and living with the poor like Mother Theresa (unless God specifically calls us to do so). It’s about 1) being willing to do just that if God asks, and 2) exchanging our poverty of spirit that is often found in consumerism for abundant joy, which is often discovered in relentless generosity.”

In other words, give. With a generous spirit. With open hands holding loosely. With a pure heart of love for those who are lacking – both economically and spiritually.

chorkor boy with text

I loved Kristen’s suggestions on how to fight against the spirit of consumerism in your own home. She suggests:

1. Turn off the TV. I notice this with my own kids – when they see advertisements, they suddenly want something they didn’t even know existed three seconds prior.

2. Ask questions. Where are the items you’re purchasing come from? Is it made in a sweat-shop where young children are exploited or is it fair-trade?

3. Look for alternatives. I poked around a bit and found – a wonderful selection of fair trade products. I also really like Delicate Fortress and my new favorite, Noonday Collection.

4. Educate yourself and your family. Watch documentaries, read the news, gather information on the Internet . . . When your children see the face behind the products we use and understand that sometimes, children their very own age are making the products they use under deplorable conditions, it makes those new 99 cent t-shirts less appealing. For a complete list of goods produced by child or forced labor, click here.

5. Beware of cheap finds. We all love a sale, don’t we? But if it’s too cheap to believe, it’s probably cost someone something

 In the Western world, we have been given much more than most other people around the globe. What is our responsibility? Let’s reflect on any of the following this week in the comment section:


1. What shopping choices can you make to become a more conscientious consumer?

2. Do you consider yourself rich? What makes you rich?

3. How can you live more generously?

4. Do you feel that your life has to be perfect before God can use you? If so, where did this idea come from?

5. Reflect on anything else from Chapters Eleven and Twelve.

Next week will be our last week . . . Boo!

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