As a mother of six kids, one of the questions I am asked most often is… “How do you DO it?!”
What I interpret them to be really asking is “How on earth can you stay sane while you make an umpteenth million peanut butter and jelly? How do you handle the grocery shopping, the bills, the kids school, etc. etc?” The list goes on and on! It’s a really good question.
The answer however is a very simple one… I PURGE REGULARLY. What is purging? And how does it give you peace in chaos? It’s kind of like going to the bathroom for your house! I know, I know you probably expected me to say, “I found Jesus” which I have, however how many Christian’s do you know that open their closets to have an ironing board hit them on their head? How many Holy Ghost – Spirit Filled parents do you know that open their mini-van car door to have McDonald’s wrappers fall out onto the sidewalk? Life creates trash and stuff, and for whatever reason we human beings seem determined to save it all for later!
How do you give your house a laxative in order to keep it functioning regularly? Here is how I do it:
1. I have made Home Depot, Uhaul, Sharpee, Goodwill, and Hefty my best friends. The Home Depot and Uhaul both sell boxes that you can buy for storing seasonal items that you don’t regularly use. Broaden your scope beyond just “Christmas” storage and begin thinking in terms of winter/spring/summer/fall. Use plastic bins in damp areas for papers, but cardboard is cheapest and just as good. Clothes, sheets, blankets, pillows, and décor can all hit your storage or garage! I choose to buy boxes because you are guaranteed a clean writing surface, and all uniform sizes, which means they are easy to stack. Just yesterday I bought six small size boxes from The Home Depot at .69 cents apiece. Add to that some packing tape and a Sharpee and you are in purge/storage heaven!
Uhaul sells boxes too, however they sell theirs in flats (bundles). These can be less expensive when you consider the each price and you can return the ones that you do not use for a refund.
Remember when you are going through your things that the Goodwill or Discovery Thrift Shops are right around the corner! When I am “purging” I equip myself with a garbage sack in my left hand for donations, a garbage sack in my right hand for trash, and in front of me in nice and brand new condition is my box “for tomorrow”.
2. Be reasonable. Understand that you have so much STUFF because you BUY A LOT OF STUFF. We are a consumer society, and in being such we have to realize that there must be a limit to our “collections”, there HAS to be! I collect aprons (among other things), but my apron collection has to have a dedicated home, or it isn’t a collection it’s a hoard! It is better to collect something in small amounts and store what isn’t absolutely necessary, than to have it all piled up in your closet that you dread even walking by! Image with me if you take ALL YOUR STUFF everything from your garage and all your closets that you need or want to keep, and go put it on the front lawn… does it all fit? If you stacked it all on top of each other and side-to-side, you probably could make it happen. Now stand back and look at your “legacy” does it seem like a bit much? YES! I’m sure! You would probably gag at the sheer amount of it!
Next, imagine however with me taking all that STUFF Grandma’s china, your clothes, your daughter’s drawings and pick up the lawn décor and place it in the middle of a football field… can you breathe better? Does it fit now? Of course! The sheer size of the stadium would indicate that you had room to spare! You see, I’m not trying to get you to loosen your death grip from your prized possessions, I am trying to get you to pare down your life to about 30% of your active stuff, and begin treating your home like that football stadium. If you have a full to over flowing metaphorical front lawn – you’ve got too much “active” stuff!
In the blogtoon I have drawn, you can see that there is chaos everywhere around you. It is in “My expert opinion” that you shouldn’t have to LIVE in a cacophony of stuff. In the winter you probably won’t need your sun-tea maker, and in the summer you can probably do without the tea cozies. Find some storage in the garage, pay for offsite storage, move to a bigger location or boy – donate some stuff!
The reality is that if the Dr comes to you and tells you that you are ill, while you are in the process of believing God for your recovery you DON’T need to trip over a cat toy on your way to the bathroom. When the kids are acting crazy and tattling on each other, the last thing you want to do is send them to a room with beds that are never made and cobwebs on the ceiling. When you are out getting honked at in traffic, you ABSOLUTELY don’t want to feel last moths fast-food trash peering at you from the rear view mirror egging you to do something rash. And when your roof needs repair, you are going to want to be able to invite the repair-man into the house for a glass of water (and to do the repairs if necessary) instead of drawing all the curtains and standing outside!
Life takes stuff, but let’s not let our stuff take us. Plan, prioritize and work at cleaning up your home FOR YOU. Bring to your house a balance that suggests that the world outside might be going nutso- but you can have peace of mind in your spirit and your home!
(PS. This wholehearted life blog applies to your email accounts too… justsayin!)
Here are some encouraging scriptures to get you started:
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” Matt 6:19 MSG
“I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” John 14:27 MSG