on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Freedom from Stuff

This is the second in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

HE SAID… by Malcolm Lewis Marler

“It must be hard to leave such a beautiful place,” one friend recently wrote on my Facebook page.  “My prayers are with you.  Are you ok?”

Mary and I recently signed the papers to sell our house on Smith Lake in North Alabama. Hopefully we will close towards the end of June,.

This was my dream house that I built nine years ago.  I love the water.  The one-hour daily commute each way to work was worth it.

And then I fell in love with Mary Sullivan six months later.  She and Brendan and Kiki moved here from North Carolina and my house became our home.

I have enjoyed hundreds of sunsets, flowers, wildlife, and people that we shared in this place.  Mary and I have led spiritual retreats here.  We have broken bread around the table with family, old and new friends, and we have shared a glass of wine or iced tea on the deck.

And now we have sold this house with the furniture. Yep, everything.  We will take our clothes and a few other personal items, but more about that later. This life giving seed took root in a series I wrote over a year ago called my “Simplicity Journey.”

The impending freedom from all of the “things” that have “owned me” is life giving. We won’t have a mortgage or the responsibility to take care of so much stuff.  We hope to live more simply, faithfully, and generously.

Letting go of stuff allows many new dreams to flourish from unexpected places.  It is a wonderful new adventure.

This freedom is new for me. I am excited, my step is quicker, and my creative energy is flowing.  I don’t know where this is going to lead us. And I can’t wait to find out.

So my good friend, the answer to your question is, “No, it is not hard leaving this place.  Not at all.  Really.  The time is right.  It’s a different phase of my life.  I’m learning that home is not confined to a structure.  Life is about relationships.”

Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life?  Tell us about it.

Peace be with you.







  1. Janet Griffin

    I have heard God is in the coincidences. I am sure God is speaking to me through your journey and reflection. I woke up this morning after dealing again with some grief at selling our place on the lake and your words were not only comforting but inspiring. I look forward to sharing your journey. ” Faith is not needing to know what happens next.”…and you are a great example of that. My hopes and prayers are with you both.

  2. Malcolm

    Thank you Janet, I think you are right that God is in what many of us call the coincidences of life. In regards to your grief about selling your place on the lake, I can understand that and it’s pretty normal anytime we are letting go of something that we have enjoyed with others.

    For me, the main thing that has helped is that I had no idea what was going to happen in my life when I first built this house 9 years ago. I couldn’t have imagined I would meet Mary, get married, have two incredible stepkids, and be blessed with the family I had dreamed of.

    And so now, I am trying to learn that there is a great new adventure, more meaningful than I can possibly imagine at this time, and it is just around the corner if I will be open to it.

    Peace and hugs to you my faithful reading friend,

  3. kathy thomson

    Malcolm and Mary Bea, I’m so happy for you both and a bit envious of whoever bought your beautiful lake home. Janet’s response to your blog touched me, because I still literally grieve the family home we sold 4 years ago (long story behind it). Her response makes me feel more normal for “grieving” a home and also I realize that it is time to let go of the grief and move on.
    I love your entries, am glad for the his and her column, please keep em coming!

  4. Shannon

    Congratulations on selling your home!! When I read that you are selling it with all of the contents included, I felt tearful–tearful in a good way! I struggle with having a basement full of ‘stuff’ that I know is not truly important. If it can be called stuff, I don’t know that the Lord would tell me it’s necessary to hang on to it ‘just in case.’ You called it “freedom” and I am endeavoring towards it! It is my prayer that all of those who suffered the loss of their things in the tornado will have a similar experience of greatfulness for having what matters–their lives and health–while also coping with the grief of loss. Thanks for sharing, Malcolm and Mary.

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