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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

How Hearing Him Leads Us to More

By Holly J. Compton

Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Holly's Story

“If the Lord asked you to sell all your things and move to another country, would you do it?” my husband Alex asked me one Sunday night.

“No way!” I practically yelled in reply.

Alex simply rolled over and went to sleep. He said nothing more. Why on earth would he ask me that, I wondered. I decided not to ask and turned the other direction in bed and went to sleep.

For the next three nights, the Lord began waking me up about 2:00 a.m., and He started talking to me for about two hours each night. Although perturbed about the sleep disruption, I listened intently and felt my heart twinge with conviction when the Holy Spirit spoke these words ever so clearly:

If you go, you will always go; if you stay, you will always stay.

After the third night, I very calmly said to Alex, “Babe, we’re moving to Peru.”

“Do what, now?” he said, although he didn’t sound surprised in the least.

“God’s been waking me up for the last three nights and talking to me about it. We’re supposed to move to Peru, and I’m going to teach English.”

I waited for a wow-reply of some kind, but it never came. Instead, he said, “Oh, yeah, I already know. God told me Sunday morning. I told God He had to tell you word-for-word what He told me if it were really Him speaking. You do realize that we’d have to sell all our stuff first, right?”

“Let’s not talk about that yet, please,” I replied.

From that day forward, we had our work cut out for us to prepare to move in September of 2007. That gave us 16 months to humbly raise enough money for the move, while eliminating all non-essential property we had accumulated up until then.

Non-essential. What really is "essential"?

Up until then, I had my American mentality in full swing: always needing more, adding more, craving more, expecting more. That’s what comes with the house, the white picket fence, the 2.5 children and a dog, right? “More” is what fills all the space in between.

Now God was asking me to change my point of view:

Less, Holly, He would say.

Less, Lord? How do I want “less”? I prayed.

Give Me your “more” thoughts, and I will do the rest.

“More” was a thought process that I had never questioned, but it was a mentality quickly recognizable by looking around my home at the things I kept, the things I couldn’t throw away, the things I clung to instead of letting go. “More” was how I walked into every store, and my eyes and hands would always find it.

Kirkland’s is one of my favorite places to shop. I walked in one day, just like I would on any regular afternoon. I slowly walked around the displays of various home furnishings as my eyes widened with anticipation. Suddenly, I came upon a uniquely shaped vase and picked it up.

This would look great on my living room shelf, I thought.

Less, Holly. Not more. Less.

What, God?! But I want this, Lord. It’s pretty.

Essential, Holly?

No, Lord, not essential. I just…always want...

I Am your More.

Yes, Father. You are the More I truly need. The Essential, More.

One year later, Alex and I were in the final week of our downsized apartment lease. We moved all the non-essential items into a living room corner, dotted with small yellow price tags for the community yard sale our church was hosting – the one event I had been dreading the most.

That week I also came down with mononucleosis; I did nothing but sleep and eat and sleep some more. I was told to quarantine for at least a full week. That meant I could not go to the yard sale and Alex would have to manage our booth alone.

This was a mercy, Holly, not a punishment.

I don’t understand, Lord. Why could I not be there?

Your “more” was walking away. I saved you from having to watch.

Thank you, Father. You are good. You are much More.

Alex came home with a cup stuffed with about $250 cash. It was sad to me that all our “more” was reduced to so much less. But I was so grateful to the Lord that I did not have to see it happen. Our wedding gifts, birthday or anniversary gifts deemed non-essential—our treasures—had now become someone else’s treasures. My “more” became their “more,” and “less” was now my essential.

While I was grappling with this new reality, God brought me to a Bible verse in a translation that gave my old mindset a refresh on what it really meant to be fully obedient:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it… God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you,” (Romans 12:1-2, MSG).

My ordinary life had succumbed to God’s altar as He prepared me for a life of less. A heart of contentment with a mind satisfied and comfortable with more or less is what He wanted from us. This would be just the beginning of our developing journey.

The next day we put our personal mementos in bins in my mother-in-law’s attic and moved into a friend’s extra bedroom for our last four months stateside. Now even the essentials were out of the way. My new Essential had moved in.


The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.

Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive each new essay in your inbox, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a FREE download of a Prayer Planning Worksheet, a resource to help you prepare your heart to listen for His voice in prayer.

New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!

Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.


About Holly

Holly J. Compton has been married to her husband Alex since 2005. She is the mother of three children and lives in Houston, Texas.

She and Alex run a nonprofit missions organization, Amor Real Ministries, which owns and operates Pat’s Place, a home for victims of domestic violence in Lima, Peru, the country that has most held their heart for over 19 years. She has taught publically in various countries for more than 30 years in missions since the age of 14.

Holly has a Bachelor's degree in English Writing & Literature and is currently working on her Master of Ministry at Grace School of Theology. You can find Holly at her website or on Instagram.


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