It's a new year and it's time to get brutal with the excess stuff that's overflowing the garage and house. I've decided that it's time to look at the things we own with two questions in mind.....
Will we use it in Nicaragua? and
Will it fit in a suitcase?
Now of course, since we currently live in Ohio, I won't be getting rid of our winter clothes just yet. And since we'll most likely be here for at least another year, we'll be keeping the majority of the furniture.
However, there are plenty of other things that need to find new homes and plenty of things that have no use whatsoever.
It would be nice to not have to strategically park the van between the bikes, lawnmowers and the weight bench. And how refreshing would it be to walk in the mudroom and it not look like the washer & dryer exploded all over the place.
I've organized and reorganized, put in shelves, baskets and storage containers to keep the areas cleaned. But no matter the system the result is always the same. Clean and organized quickly becomes organized chaos which ultimately becomes just chaos.
It's time to simplify and get rid of those things that are just taking up space and not being used. Let the downsizing begin!!
November is a month where we take time to specifically thank God for everything that he has blessed us with. As a family we will take time each night to add a leaf to our thankful tree. It's great to see the tree fill up with all of the things that we have to be thankful for. We've been doing this for a few years and it's really fun to see the leaves from the past years.
As I continue my "Journey to Less", I will be embracing gratefulness by being content with what I already have and limit my spending on non-essentials. I will choose 10 clothing items and those will be the only items that I wear for the month of November. I'm not including jackets or shoes in that list because with crazy Ohio weather you never know what you will need. The 10 items will need to include sleeping clothes, church clothes & everyday clothes.
This will be tough but there are many families in other countries who only have 1 or 2 outfits each. We are spoiled in America with full closets and still complain about having nothing to wear. I want to be different. That's why I'm doing this challenge. I don't want discontentment to steal my joy.
So many times I buy things because I think it will satisfy a need or a desire. And most times, it does not. So this month, I will also be limiting spending on anything that is not a necessity. There are so many little things that I purchase throughout a week that are nothing but a waste of money. I tell myself that it's only a dollar or two. It's no big deal. But the truth is that $1 can provide clean water for someone in Africa for an entire year!! Two dollars is how much some families live on each day.
Instead of spending the money on unnecessary items for myself, I'll focus on others. I'll look for ways each day to take what I would spend on fast food or hot chocolate or a thrift store treasure and use it to bless someone else instead.
I'm looking forward to seeing God continue to work in my heart as I start this second month of my Journey to Less.
Over the past two weeks, I have sorted, purged, and sorted some more. So far I have a large bag of shoes to donate. I have a large bag of school supplies and small toys all ready to fill our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas child!! The mountains of magazines have been sorted and reduced to just a few.
The clothes have been sorted and the amount to be given away is ridiculous. It was enough to fill 6 giant Ikea bags!!! Some have already been given to friends, the rest will go to families in Oneida, KY.
With only a week left in the month of October, I need to sort the kitchen and get rid of those gadgets that are taking up space and not really being used. I also plan to go through my many stacks of books and reduce them to just a few of my favorites.
This month has helped me look at the items in my home differently. A spirit of contentment is beginning to take root and it is so refreshing.
For the first week of October, I have focused on giving away clothing and shoes. I cleaned out the the kids dressers and closets and came away with three giant Ikea bags overflowing with clothes!!! WOW!! I was able to pass along an entire bag of those to a family at our church who has three girls!! Another bag went to another friend at church whose son is outgrowing everything!! I also cleaned out my own closet & dresser and filled 2 more Ikea bags with clothes and shoes!! All of the remaining clothing will be taken down to the people of Appalachia in December.
I didn't count but I'm sure we have removed well over 300 items of clothing from our dressers and closets. And our dressers and closets are still full!! With the weather getting colder and pulling out the winter clothes, I may need to sort through the clothing one more time before the end of the month. But for the next couple of weeks, I'll be focusing on reducing the rest of our possessions.
I begin my journey to less by reducing the amount of possessions that fill my home and my garage. The goal will be to give away 10 items per day over the next 31 days. That's 310 items removed from the Carlson house. Getting started will be very easy but as the month progresses I'm sure it will get a bit more challenging.
For the first week I'm focusing on reducing the amount of clothing we each have in our closets. I could easily spend the whole month getting rid of clothing but I know there are other areas of excess that need to be addressed. So the rest of the month will involve everything else except clothing.
Last November, when my husband lost his job, we began a new journey. It hasn't been easy but it has diefinely been a blessing to our family. It has been a long 10 months of trusting God and seeing Him provide every need and many extra blessings. There have been times of struggle, stress and doubt. We have seen God do miraculous things in our lives. Like Job says in Job 42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. We feel God's presence on our family and are excited to continue to follow His leading to abundant living.
God has been challenging me to remove those things in my life that take away from His plan for me...for my family. The things that get in the way of my daily connection with God. The things that keep our family from serving others. The things that keep me from living a life centered on Christ. The things that take my focus off of my purpose for being here. The busy things in life that always seem so urgent. Thanks to the inspiration of the book "7:An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess", I saw many areas in my life that needed changed. Jen Hatmaker talked about 3 questions that a pastor challenged her to ask:
1. What in my life, if taken away, would alter my value or identity?
2. What causes an unhealthy change of attitude, personality, or focus when “it” becomes threatened?
3. What is the thing outside of God that you put everything else on hold for?
When I asked myself those questions, it convicted me of my own self-centeredness. I see many things in my life that take up my time and resources but have no eternal value. I've decided to put my own spin on "7" and begin my own "Journey to Less".
Over the next 10 months I will focus on 10 areas. I will reduce the junk and get down to the necessities in those areas. Of course these aren't the only areas that need renovating but this is where I'll start. This is not something I'm doing for God. I'm doing this to make more room for God and his commands to completely take over my daily life choices. So the 10 areas will be:
- Computer/ Video Games
Some months will involve the entire family and some months will be more about me and my need for change. Some months we will give things up, other months we will limit our choices in that area. The purpose for this challenge is to remove things from my life that keep me from abundant living. I want to be so in tune with God's calling on my life that when He speaks I will immediately say "Here am I Lord, send me". As a busy mother, wife, church volunteer, part-time employee who is entering full-time ministry with my husband, there are many great opportunities that come along that can be wrong for me. Sometimes it's hard to know when to say "No". I'm praying that during the next few months, I will continue to draw closer to God and that He will reveal to me where I am to serve. My ultimate goal is to daily live out the lyrics from one of my favorite worship songs....All I Have is Christ:
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.
I don't want parenting to be my life. I don't want running a household to be my life. And as much as I love fooball, I don't want that to be my life. I don't want entertainment and having fun to be my life. I want Jesus to be my life!!!
What about you? Do you want Jesus to be your life? What's distracting you from the abundant life in Christ?