15 Ways to Simplify the Stuff

simplicityAt the beginning of 2013, I felt like the crazy train was about to de-rail (I have since realized that yes, in fact, I was/am the co-conductor of this crazy train and I can {and actually do need to} pump the brakes, for goodness sake) and God put on my heart a theme for our year. I know some people choose a word for the year or a verse which typically stresses me out because it’s so confining and final, so I typically re-eval my mission statement, set some goals and go for the gusto. But this past year He seemed to whisper over me “No & Slow”. 2013 would be a year, as Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling, “to slow down your pace of life for a time…” Or as a wise mentor told me, “a time to enjoy the hidden seasons of life…the seasons of battening down the hatches and raising young children.” It would be a year to slow down and to say NO.

No to the clutter. No to excess stuff. No to even the priority of relationships outside of family. No to a lot of things. And the more I’ve “exercised my no” the more I’ve seen my “YES” re-inflated with joy, energy and ambition. I feel like my house, my kids, my life, my soul are all finding room to breathe.

As far as the STUFF goes…

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Have you seen or read Tsh’s book, “Organized Simplicity”? It’s incredible. So is her blog.  Her writing took me by the hand and walked me through de-cluttering each and every inch of our 1200 sq ft home in Columbia. SO awesome. Now that we are in our home in Mississippi, I cringe at the thought of our extra 500 square feet of, may I say *glorious*, space getting filled. I want room to breathe! I want room for people. I want drawers that are empty and closets that aren’t bursting with clothes. Clothes that within 24 hours will be crumpled in a pile in front of my laundry machine needing to be washed and mended (not to mention that by the time I get around to washing and mending, they will be out of style.) I want a pantry (okay, I don’t actually have a pantry per say, but I’ve got a some cabinets!) that is filled with wisdom, thoughtfulness, hospitality and stewardship, not impulse or fear of being without. I want LESS PAPERWORK. Where.do.all.these.papers.come.from.anyway????

More than anything, I want my kids to know that they don’t need STUFF. They need Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, Jesus can use stuff to point back to Himself, but  when we have so much, it stifles our craving need for Him. So I’ve tried to drastically reduce, sell, get rid of, give away and stop the stuff. And it’s creating so much more room to breathe.

photo (9)Feeling the need to breathe? Especially as the truckload of Holiday fun is about to be dumped into your house? Here are a few of the practical things that have helped us to say “no” and go “slow” (at least a little bit slower) this year. These may not be for you. And yes, you will see all these in my 2014 goal list AGAIN, but, little-by-little we are trying to say NO so we can be filled with a joyful YES:

  1. Read Tsh’s book and follow her simple steps to organized simplicity!! (We borrowed from the library to save $ and to not add more to our shelves…though this one is a keeper in my opinion.)
  2. Had a *serious* garage sale. As in painfully serious. We got rid of all holiday decor except Christmas and Easter, got rid of anything we hadn’t worn or used in a year, quit holding on to those linens that maybe we would use if we ever had a giant sleepover and those toys that maybe our 7th child would want to play with…I have a small problem with futuristic hoarding.
  3. Canceled all our magazines. Even Garden & Gun. Even Country Living. Sniffle. But seriously, we saved $25 and about 100 pounds of paper. Tons of the articles are online if I get desperate and they all can be checked out of the library if I really want to read them.
  4. Called and cancel the junk mail.
  5. Unsubscribed to all junk or spam emails. I did this almost every day for the entire year, but I think it has really helped me limit the junk?
  6. Deleted the apps. Any app that I don’t use or that leads me to spend money or bring more crap into the home hadt to go. For me that was Luvocracy, Zappos, etc. Haven’t missed them. Still have Amazon, but am letting things sit in the cart for much longer these days. (Thanks to the Messersmiths for this idea! You go Zulilly drop-out!)
  7. Had someone else do my grocery shopping…only what’s on the list for the meals that I’ve planned! Joel’s sister lived with us for 6 months and I noticed a serious tightening of the grocery budget when she would shop…because she only got what was on the list. You can do the same thing by asking a college girl to run your errands for you and pay a small rate. It’s still cheaper than that amazing-in-the-moment-junk-in-the-closet-later find from the dollar spot that get thrown into the cart when I go! And it’s more hours for me to be doing something else .
  8. Committed to an empty car. I allowed one box of “what if we got stranded on the road in Utah in -12 degree weather” box in the back of the car and a few snacks in the console, but otherwise, no junk left in the car. This helped my kids be a tad bit more responsible for keeping a space clean and it kept me from schlepping around a ton of Chick-fil-a lemonade cups.
  9. Gave stuff away. I tried to come up with something each month that we could give to someone, maybe a doll to a friend’s child or some books to college students. Why let the stuff sit on the shelves when it could be blessing someone else?
  10. Boxed up the toys. Okay, talk about transforming nap turned room time…Cat, the precious girl who designed my blog recommended I box up all EG’s toys into 7 shoebox-sized bins, label one for each day of the week and give her a new bin each day during room time. GIRL LOVES THIS because she feels like I am giving her a special privilege and she’s forgotten about those toys almost each week! A.m.a.z.i.n.g. success with this one.
  11. Paired down the kitchen: spices, cups, sets of silverware. Edit.Edit.Edit.
  12. Got.rid.of.the.wok.people…If we didn’t use it in the first 6 years of our marriage it ain’t gonna be used in the next 6.
  13. Committed to always having a “get rid of” pile going.
  14. Stopped thrifting for a year. Yes, it’s a fun hobby, but I realized I was mostly enjoying the adrenaline rush of the hunt…and I already have 14 turquoise mason jars…do I really need 1 more?
  15. Read Tsh’s book again and follow her simple steps to organized simplicity!!

Perhaps in 2014 I can release my costume box? I don’t really know if I can, but we shall see.

614But how can you get rid of American flag boxers? Wink. Wink.

This post is part of my “Following Him & Loving Them” blog re-launch series.

One thought on “15 Ways to Simplify the Stuff”

  1. ::gasp!:: Even Garden & Gun??

    That and the wok cracked me up. These are helpful, especially the idea that our No can enable a resounding, joyful Yes!

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