Saturday, July 18, 2015






Replace "self-actualization and happiness" with "serving God and doing His will."

That's what life is really all about; not "me, me, me" but "Him, Him, Him"

Seriously, why am I not reading all these "anti-materialistic" articles on Christian blogs? We are the ones that are supposed to be focused on things other than stuff, status, and accumulation.

So here it is:

If your focus in life is getting more stuff or increaing your soical standing or standard of living, than you are engaged in idolatry. You are worshiping your stuff.

That's not to say it's wrong to have things or even be rich. I know many people God has blessed with prosperity because they needed those resources to accomplish His will in their lives. My parents for example. They have more often than not been the sole financial support of the churches my dad has pastored. They simply couldn't do that if dad didn't have a secular job that paid REALLY well. So, yeah, they have a nice house and several cars, and most anything they want, but they focus their energy and money on supporting God's work. More often than not extra money and their own property goes to whatever the church needs at the moment. Their "stuff" is a thank you gift from God.

But God doesn't call most to that type of work.

When we have so much stuff we can't do God's will, we have too much stuff. It is interfering with our walk with Him.

That means if our houses are too cluttered for us to be hospitable as the Bible tells us to be, or if we are enslaved to a 9-5'er in order to pay for the mortgage on a house big enough to hold all our junk, we are putting stuff first.

It even means if we are so committed to so many "good" activities that we don't have time to have supper with our own children (that God has intrusted to our care) we are putting our importance ahead of His will ("I am so important I just have to busy every second" vs "Teach God's words to your children every waking moment." Duet 6)

Pray about it and see if God is, in fact, calling you to re-prioritize your life.


  1. Hi, Betty.

    If you need help de-cluttering, you might want to Google for the National Association of Professional Organizers-- they have folks who do this for a living. Professionals have seen it all and can help you figure out the best (and most realistic!) way to move forward towards your goals. :) I have no earthly idea what it will cost, but I *do* know there are some things that are always worth the money. This might be one of 'em. -- David

  2. Thank you. I will be checking them out, though money is too tight to really consider hiring help. They may very well have some free resources I can use. I have/do read a lot of blogs, books and articles that help. I am faced not with just doing what I think God wants me to do with my own home, but now taking care of my mother's stuff. She was a crafter, artist, writer and musician. My dad is none of those (well, writer, yes, but not the kind she was). As a result I have 71 years (and three generations! She inherited my grandma and her sister's stuff!) of left over craft stuff and art supplies to go through and declutter, decide what my kids and I will use, what to offer her friends in the church, what to send to family out of state, and what to just donate to the charity thrift store. It is a daunting task, and one filled with emotion as I look at all the projects she was "going to do someday" but now never will. I won't be able to have someone come in for a day and help. Too much emotion. I'll be chipping at it a couple hours a week when I'm over at my dad's house anyway. Just a bit at a time as I can face it. (He couldn't care less about any of it. He has her paintings to enjoy and doesn't really want anything else :-)

  3. I'm really glad you're decluttering your home. :) You were also very brave to post about the /degree/ of clutter that exists, but look! You did it! The sky didn't fall, and no one's staring at you with /judging eyes/! :)

    Most of all, I'm glad you realize how emotionally tough it will be to deal with your mom's stuff, and that you plan to do only as much work on it as you can tolerate. Self-care is critically important.

    But on that front: may I ask if you're *sure* you should be the point person for dealing with your mom's clutter? It sounds like there's enough of that in your life without adding more -- and if you're considering taking her crafts supplies for projects with your own children, bear in mind that this stuff would be adding to the clutter back home. And it will be freighted with intense emotional significance because it's your mom's.

    To me, it's inconceivable that you'll find anything that is 1) so great that it's worth bringing into a house that's already cluttered; 2) is worth the pain of discovering; and 3) worth the pain of /discarding/ when -- wait, do I need to stop here so you can go "AAAAHHHHHHH!" at the very /thought/ of ever discarding (or even donating!) something that reminds you of your mom? :)

    I guess what I'm saying boils down to this: taking new objects into your house has a *cost* -- it makes the clutter worse -- and I'm not sure that's a cost you should be eager to pay, when you're just beginning to address rhe cluttering.

    Can I ask some related questions? "No" is always an acceptable answe. :)r.

  4. Well, there is no choice but for me to be the one to handle my mom's stuff. We migrated here 15 years ago, my Hubby, kids and I and my parents. All the rest of our family lives out of state. The only other option is to leave the stuff cluttering my dad's house up, where we all have to look at it until....He gets feeble enough to need us to move in with him and I have to make room (he's 76 and very active, but the day will come...)? He dies (and then I still have to deal with it:-P)? Decides to move? Forever? Sigh. Not really a choice. I need to get it over with as soon as I can physically (I live 20 minutes away and homeschool, so I don't really have a lot of time a week) and emotionally. (and left to dad he'd probably just leave it forever, even though it's in his way. He asked me to take care of it. "I don't need all this stuff! If you can use it take it. Or just throw it away!" :).

    Some of the craft supplies my dad said to leave at his house for when we are all visiting. Those can be put away neatly and where they won't bother him. I am taking as little as possible to my house. Just what I know will be used, and fairly quickly (i.e. my 5 girls are learning to crochet as part of their art class, so they each picked out the prettiest yarns to take home. The rest will probably go to the thrift store or my sister in law.)

    Homeschooling, though in my opinion the absolute best option, does have it's drawbacks. One is trying to find the balance between having enough stuff for the kids to learn (you can't learn to paint without paints in the house, for example) and having so much stuff you can't do anything. Sigh. Been fighting this one for 20 years (my oldest is 23, youngest is 3) and I go back and forth. It's a toughy. And some of the stuff at mom's was bought for her to teach my kids art and crafts with :-P Some of that will stay there, most will go to my family out of state.

    Mom and I actually discussed this several times over the last year or so. She had begun to declutter herself and let me know what was important to her and that she would never care if I got rid of anything. That helps. It helps too, a video I watched a sort time ago (1 1/2 months or so) where the Organization Expert told a woman "you don't keep something just because your grandma touched it at some time in her life. You only keep what brings specific happy memories." or something like that. My mom made Hubby and me embroidered pillowslips about 5 months ago that are on my bed now. I have her Bible, the Christmas decorations she has made me in years past, and many many other things that bring a smile to my face to see them. I decorate with them or use them regularly. This makes the stuff at her house little more than junk except the bit I can actually use for educational purposes. It's sad she didn't get to all her projects, but that doesn't make them mine. I'll pass them all on to someone who can enjoy actually using them (and the thrift store's job is to find those people!). That is the best way to honor her.

    Ask away :-)

  5. Gosh! Thanks for your patient and thoughtful answer. Seems like I was making some unwarranted assumptions 'bout your attitude towards your mom's things. My apologies. :)

    So! My questions. :) I have a lot! The basic theme of them is that I'd love to get a better sense of day-to-day life in your house, so just tell me about /that/ if you find your eyes glazing over during the next few paragraphs. And as always, please be aware that I'm listenin' with maximum interest and minimum judgment.

    OK, right! The questions at last.

    Who's driving the clutter in your house? That is, do you acquire the items? Does your husband? Both of you? If it's just one, how does the other spouse feel about the stuff?

    How do *you* feel about the stuff? Are you emotionally attached to it? Like, do you find de-cluttering hard because *everything* evokes some emotional response (maybe "I might need that someday!" or "Aw, I remember when [name of child] turned in this math homework...")?

    How do your kids feel about the clutter?

    Can you describe the neatest room in your house? The messiest?

    Where do your children sleep? Where do you sleep? How do you transport your kids if your cars are cluttered up?

    So... yes. I wasn't kidding when I said I had MANY questions. :) -- David

    P.S. If you're feeling interrogated or if the questions otherwise make you feel bad, remember you don't have to answer 'em! Not a single one. :) I wasn't kidding when I said self-care is very important.

  6. What interesting questions :-) I need to work on making my original posts clearer, lol.

    Kind of working backwards:
    The 2 cars that actually run aren't cluttered. It's older ones that have seen better days that I am using for sheds.

    And I was thinking this morning that the cluttered cars, etc, sounds a bit more cluttered than it would be for a "normal" house. We live in a 1400' mobile home; no attic, basement or garage. And whoever designed this house evidently didn't own coats, bed sheets, or brooms because I have exactly three closets; one in each bedroom. So I am trying to make due with NO built in storage.

    1 car actually is a big tool box.
    1 car holds all our camping gear (what would normally be in your garage). And we do go camping.
    1 car holds (or used to before I cleaned it out a month ago) off season and between-kids clothes, what would normally be in your attic. We are finally at the stage where it makes sense to get rid of the between kid clothes and I reduced the winter stuff to one big box.
    1 car holds old school stuff. All right, I need to go through that one and take pictures of the important stuff and toss it all.
    The trailer holds our Christmas decorations, baby stuff that isn't in use (i.e. highchair), craft stuff between uses, and 1 box of keepsakes per person (ok, I admit Hubby and I have more than 1 each. That is on the schedule to be decluttered before the end of the year) This is stuff that most would put in their attic or basement.
    The milk shed has bikes and BBQ stuff, but isn't actually full.
    The other shed has an old dishwasher that I need to list on Craigslist, a heater we want to put in the house (and toss the old one), Animal feed, garden tools, and some other stuff that will be tossed as soon as I make it out there.

    So this isn't quite as unreasonable as it might have sounded at first. It would all easily fit in your average garage or attic. But it is still WAY too much junk and I WILL be thinning it all down as soon as I can.

    The kids all have their own beds. We built a couple of triple bunks (which was fun:-) so they would all fit. No one child owns very much stuff, but when you add 9 children (2 adult-children, 3 teens, 1 pre-teen, 2 kids, and a toddler) it adds up. They each have their own shelves and parts of the closets. That's 11 people in 1400 square feet. Plus a big dog, a cat, and miscellaneous other pets that function as science projects (i.e. a gecko).

    They don't actually care about the clutter one way or another as long as I don't get stressed trying to clean the house. I feel crowded and see things out of place and get a bit unreasonable sometimes. Thinning the possessions down (toddler toys, decorations, school stuff, etc) has made a big difference there. I already don't feel like the house is closing in on me anymore. And I know I still have a long way to go. I can't wait!

    Hubby and I are the worst by far, and I'm probably worse than he is. Most of his stuff is keepsakes and projects he planned to do and never got around to. And he has recently reduced some of the keepsakes. Suddenly, neither of us cares that much about them, but it takes time to go through it all.

    I do have way too much sentimental stuff. If the kids would just quit growing up so fast maybe I wouldn't feel the need to hold onto their childhoods! Half my kids are taller than I am! Sheesh. They should still be toddlers one and all!

    1. (google limits the length of replies, and I am long winded...)
      And the house itself isn't like "Hoarders" or "How Clean is Your House." It's mostly neat and even organized (I can find most anything I need), just too full. Too many people with their basic stuff.

      and that homeschooling :-P math books plus answers keys for each kid, grammar books plus keys for each kid, History books... you get the idea. Then add in the piano and guitars, recorders and cornet for music, paints, paper, yarn, tools, etc for art... Are you feeling crowded yet?

      The neatest room would be my bathroom? Not enough room for much stuff and since we can only use one shower at a time anyway (water heater is too small) everyone uses my bath (the bigger, nicer one). This is good for me because than only one needs regular cleaning :-) (the sink and toilet in the other gets used, of course).

      Next would probably be my bedroom. I work hard to keep it as uncluttered as possible, but it's not easy. Hubby is 6'3" and the only bed he can actually sleep in without his feet hanging off the end is a California King. Makes the room smaller than it is. But basically it stays neat with a couple of straightening ups per day.

      I do feel a bit of a panic coming on. Hubby and I have realized for a couple of years that my parents would eventually need us to live with them and take care of them (their house is bigger so it makes more sense for us to move there than the other way around). Now that mom is gone, dad is kind of enjoying learning to cook, do laundry, etc. It's amusing to watch, actually. He is sharing the recipes he's discovered with anyone who will listen :-) And he is strong and active (works on his property with his backhoe, fixes his own cars, runs to minister meetings, etc) but I could see in his eyes last night (Bible study- he's our pastor) that the loneliness is already getting to him. Does this mean he'll want us there soon just so he doesn't have to eat alone? Don't know. But if it does, it means trying to squeeze all my junk in with his junk and what's left of mom's stuff (he was the neat-nick of the two, so as long as we don't talk about his garage or work area out side, his stuff actually isn't that bad, lol)

      The whole "Simple" idea really strikes a cord with me and the blogs on the subject that I am reading are helping those "sentimentals" be viewed in their proper perspective. Sentimentals are definitely the biggest problem, next to school stuff and things that are between kids but that I can't afford to replace (such as the math answer key one kid used last year and another will use next year. At $35 each, times all the kids still doing math, I need to store them between uses. Times that by all the subjects we cover, plus the clothes that are in the same category, sigh. I am moving to electronics on more of the school stuff which cuts a lot of this down, and as teh kids hit their adult size there are less and less clothes to "wait for the next one to come up").

      Add to all this a feeling of even bigger changes coming where stuff will just be in the way...

      So all in all, I need the encouragement to keep going, though I don't really have a choice, lol. We are probably pretty average Americans as far as junk goes, but we SO need to be less. Much, much less.

      Like, I need to be able to pack and move if I need to at a moments notice, not take months to go through things.

  7. I am, of course, 100% happy to /give/ you that encouragement -- and support! On that note, you did a GREAT JOB (yes! All-caps-worthy!) with your dad's kitchen.

    And even on days when you're feeling like AAAHHH IT WILL TAKE MONTHS TO GO THROUGH ALL THIS STUFF, remember that *you'll still get it done* so long as you do a little bit each day!

    Plus, once you START to do work, it's easier to keep going . :) Many a time I've been like, "UGH FINE OKAY I WILL DEAL WITH THE DISHES. But only for eight minutes! NO MORE.", and behold! Eight minutes later the dishes are dealt with, *and* I've started cleaning up the counter, so maybe I should give myself ANOTHER eight for that... :)

    Here ends the day's encouragement. TL;DR -- you can do it! I believe in you! Piece by piece, you'll get rid of it all! But if you come across any pom-poms, definitely save those so I can wave them for you. :) (I'll take a pass on the cheerleader skirt, though. Not with MY thighs, sister. ;D ) -- David


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