I've watched Pam Farrel in some tough patches of life, and her choices were good and godly—worth emulating. Most recently, Pam downsized drastically, and in the process learned important lessons. I asked her to share some of those lessons in this two-part Organization UPGRADE post.
"What is truly important in life?" Pam asks.
"Each day we live the legacy we want to leave. In a world overstuffed with things, it is the memories attached to those things that carry the real value."
As I (Dawn) am getting older, I have to agree with Pam's insight. Life is not about "the stuff."
Pam continues . . .
You need much, much, much less than you think you do. I know. Trust me, I KNOW!
We recently moved—not just a normal move from house to house. No, we moved radically.
We downsized 90% of our belongings and we are moving on to a live-aboard boat!
We have been helping care for aging parents, and their health has declined to a place they need help more often, and help closer to them.
We also launched our children into their lives, so we no longer needed our large home and office. We travel over 200 days a year to speak at men’s, women’s and couples’ conferences often on marriage and family, and most recently, on our books 7 Simple skills for Every Woman and 7 Simple Skills for Every Man. (Some of the principles in those resources helped us make those tough decisions when we simplified our own lives.)
The overall principle, at the heart of all decisions, was these verses:
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
While owning possessions is not wrong or evil when they serve God and do not replace Him in our hearts, I wanted a heavenly vantage point to my choices.
I prayed, asking God to put my heart where His heart was as I made each choice.
On the practical side, many people have asked how I made the decisions of what to keep and what to toss, give or sell.
Here are the first two of five questions I asked myself—the other three will be posted in Part 2—and maybe these will help you as you spring clean, downsize or make the move to live more simply.
1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?
If the item was not it in good shape, I either recycled, tossed it in the trash or gave it away to a charity that helps train others to work by teaching them to fix household items.
2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love?
A decade ago, I traveled to speak for the military in Germany. I stayed with a seasoned military wife, and in her modest home were beautiful treasures from around the world, but very few superfluous items.
Every closet, drawer and cupboard was efficiently organized.
I complimented her and asked how she decided what to move each time Uncle Sam called.
Her answer was, “I hold it up and ask, 'Do you love it?' If I don’t love it—if it doesn’t bring me joy, or someone in my family joy—I tell myself, If I released that, it might bring someone else joy."
For me, moving into a boat, I had to limit how much I could “love."
One of my sons offered some free storage space, as did the in-laws we were caring for, but neither storage space was very large. We calculated the cost of storage (or moving) and discovered it is often MUCH less expensive to release items—even if it meant buying later.
While I love and appreciate every gift given to me over my thirty years of speaking, as I surveyed my trinkets, decorations and books, I realized God could upcycle many of these things for MORE ministry if I would be willing to release them.
- So I packed up four or five boxes of small goodies AWANA kids could “buy” as they memorized verses.
- I gave each member of each of my small groups, leadership teams and networking groups one of my mugs and asked them to pray for me as they drank from it.
- In Seasoned Sisters, my ministry to women over 40, our mascot is a FROG (Fully Rely On God) and over the years many people have given me frogs of all shapes and sizes, so I gave each Seasoned Sister a frog so she would know I am praying for her even when I might be miles apart.
Walk through your house today.
What do you have that could be released and UPCYCLED today to bless someone?
(Continued in PART TWO)
Pam Farrel is author of 45 books including her newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. Pam gains most delight in time shared with people she loves, her husband (and co-author), Bill and her three sons and three daughters in law and 4 young grandchildren, who soon will all be vacationing on the boat which will be moored in Southern California. She also loves prayer walks on the beach with those women she mentors, other writers and her many cherished friends. www.Love-wise.com