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Entries in Hoarding (4)

Thursday
Apr202017

Our Stuff vs. God's 'Stuff'

As I entered Pam Farrel's two-day post about downsizing (Part 1; Part 2), I (Dawn) searched my own heart.

"Lord," I said, "Pam wrote, 'You don't own your things; your things own you.' I get that. Does my stuff have me?

"And beyond that, Lord, does YOUR stuff have me?"

It was a strange question that filled my heart that morning, but one I had to answer honestly.

I had already been dealing with the idolatry of things. All the possessions in my home that consumed my time and attention.

The things I bought that were frivilous. Trinkets.

Things that cluttered my home and inhabited my heart.

The truth is, when our lives are cluttered with the things of this world, we may be crowding out the things of God.

So we start weeding out, downsizing, simplifying our homes, our closets, our storage spaces. And that's all good.

It's good to simplify our lives too. It creates freedom. Breathing room.

But I've noticed, when we clear spaces in our homes and heart, something else usually rushes in to fill that space.

I got rid of one "collection" in my home only to replace it with another one. It still wasn't the best use of my financial flow. And soon after I started dealing with my idolatry of food (gluttony), I found another idolatry rushed into the vacuum (pride of self-accomplishment).

The Lord doesn't just want things to be deleted from our lives; He wants to fill our lives with something better.

He wants to fill us with Himself.

I started asking the Lord, "What can I add to my life that will bring you more glory?"

I wanted my "stuff" to be used for God's glory and to bless others as Pam suggested. And I wanted the Lord to fill my home and heart with more of Himself too. I wanted to be a vessel of honor, for His use.

It's not about despising our "stuff"—despising the things of the world. It's about finding our highest delight in the Creator of the world and in His Word, and bearing good fruit for Him (Psalm 1:1-3).

Focusing on God's "stuff" means focusing on the truth of His Word and responding to it in humility, obedience, and God-glorifying service.

That may mean changing our thoughts, especially any lies we believe. We muat be careful how we think, because our lives are shaped by the thoughts of our "heart" (Proverbs 4:23). We must fix our thoughts on those things that will build our lives and glorify the Lord (Philippians 4:8).  We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23).

But most of all, it's following the replacement principle, the dynamic the Bible describes as "put off... put on."

Without the biblical replacement principle—found in Ephesians 4:22-24 and Philippians 3:12-14; 4:8—we may be simply replacing one bad habit with another bad habit, or one idolatry with another idolatry.

We must put off (get rid of) those things that fill our lives that do not please the Lord. We must confess our sins as the Holy Spirit illuminates our heart reveals them to us (Ephesians 1:15-18; 1 John 1:9). Our sins begin in our hearts and work their way outward, so we need to start with the heart.

It's not enough to recognize the fruit of sin; we need to get to the root and yank it out.

For example, overeating was not my root of sin; the gluttony was a result of idolatry in my heart—seeking satisfaction in food rather than the Lord. THAT was the root.

We are renewed in our spirit (sanctified) when we begin to appropriate and apply the Word (John 17:17) and REPLACE our sinful desires, thoughts and attitudes with biblical desires, thoughts and attitudes (1 Timothy 4:7; Romans 6:11-14, 16-19). We allow the Word to train us!

It's not usually an overnight process, but a transformation that happens over time as we yield to the Spirit of God (James 1:21-25).

In that transformation, we put off (eliminate) some things (our sinful stuff), and put on (embrace) other things (God's holy and honorable "stuff").

For example:

But the point is, once we identify our "stuff," we discover God's "stuff"—His absolute truth about our sin—and we embrace it and do whatever we can to make the truth of His Word an active part of our lives (reading, memorization, responding in obedience, etc.). In other words, we surrender our lives to His control.

So... as I am deleting the frivilous and foolishly time-consuming things in my home that clutter and rob me of freedom or joy, I am also asking the Lord to help me delete the things that do not please Him, and REPLACE them with things that delight His heart.

Is this your desire too? Where will you begin to deal with YOUR "stuff"? Where does seeking God's "stuff" begin?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at Crosswalk.com. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Wednesday
Apr192017

Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 2)

In Part One of Pam Farrel's post about downsizing, she shared two important Organization UPGRADE questions she asked when downsizing to prepare to move in to a live-aboard boat. To review:

1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?

2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love.

In PART TWO, Pam shares three more principles. 

Pam continues . . .

3. Do I need it?

You don’t own your things, your things own you. Everything you possess has the ability to possess your time and energyand space in your home.

Look to see if you have duplicates, and give the extra away to a young couple or a student moving into his or her first apartment.

As I began to give away our things, I prayed God would send people to me that I could bless. On just one day, two womenone a young mom with a toddler whose husband left her, and the other a grandmother who had one of her children and five of her grandchildren living with hercame my way.

Each had lost a home in a fire so they needed ANYTHING extra I was willing to part with. Giving away my furniture and household items to these precious women brought me joy!

Another day, one of my friends who works with international students at a Christian University, shared about a pastor’s family coming from Africa with several children, and they each only had one small bag. I was able to give them furniture and eight bags of clothes, cleaning products, personal care items and almost an entire kitchen full of gadgets and dishes.

It was an honor to have this courageous pastor and family eat off my humble plate.  

4. Could I replace it in a fire?

My next door neighbor lost nearly everything she owned in a forest fire. And my friend, Carole Lewis, author of Give God A Year, lost her home and all its belongings in a hurricane.

Prayer-walking with these godly women gave me first-hand experience of what really was missed when all had been lost.

  • They each shared that nearly ALL furniture and household items are easily replaced.
  • But the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments made by your son in second grade, or your marked-up Bibles and filled-in journals are irreplaceable.

5. Is it an heirloom or an item that validates a godly heritage?

It is likely you are much more attached to many of the things concerning your children (that you have been saving) than they are!

I found my daughters-in-law were more interested in the contents of the bins I had safeguarded for years than my sons. And when it came down to selecting and taking items to their homes, they each took only about a third of what I had saved.

What stood out to me the most is that our society gives WAY TOO MANY PARTICIPANT TROPHIES!

I took photos of many items of memorabilia, then gave these away to charities.

The things that were cherished and soaked with meaning, like family photo albums and videos, Bibles, family china and crystal, or art people had been inspired to create from the messages we taughtthese were the cherished and valued pieces of our legacy.

Ask yourself, "Can I give NOW to those I love, rather than wait until after my death?"

By giving legacy items now, your words and prayers can accompany the gifts—creating yet another cherished memory.

Need, replacement and legacywhich of these factors will affect what you cherish and keep or what you release to bless others.

DON'T WAIT. Do it today.

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. Learn more about Pam at www.Love-wise.com.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 1)

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

Tuesday
Feb182014

The Things Challenge

When I saw a motivating article by Kathi Lipp about about cutting back on clutter in 2014, I knew I had to have her share an Upgrade Your Organization post.

“I feel like I’m drowning in stuff!”

Oh yeah … I’ve been there. And I know a lot of women who are going down for the third time, overtaken by their affluence—all their "stuff." But we can all simplify, pare down, make wiser purchases, get our things in order and, in the process, glorify God. It’s part of the “whatever” found in Colossians 3:17.

Kathi has some good advice to help us know what to keep and what to eliminate.

She continues …

"Drowning in stuff." This is a sentiment I hear over and over again when I talk to women about their homes. And there has been a lot of talking going on in my corner of the web since we launched the 2014 Things Challenge where we ask readers to get rid of 2014 things in 2014.

The challenge part? Not having too much stuff—it’s deciding what’s worth keeping and what’s worth living without.

“Clutter is postponed decision making,” says Barbara Hemphill of The Paper Tiger Institute.

Many people want to hang on to items that they no longer need or love, but never deal with the reasoning behind their choices.

If you fall into this large category, it might be because you have memories attached to that item or you think you might use it in the future.

When you are unsure of what to do, it feels easier to keep everything and avoid making a difficult decision that might save space or mental energy. You can end up with a whole room full of “Things I Might Need to Save.”

Want to avoid being continually buried in a pile of “But I might need it some day!”? Here are four tips to guide you in the decision making process:

1. If you love it and use it, KEEP IT.

This one is easy. If you have sweet memories that you enjoy thinking about when you use the object and you actually use it, this is an item that you will want to save.

That pasta maker that you have used once since you got married? (And even then, you got mad the whole time because the noodles turned into mush?) You get rid of it, which brings us to the second tip:

2. If you don’t love it and don’t use it, TRASH IT.

Although this seems to be the easiest category to deal with, it is sometimes that hardest. Let’s talk about the potholder your aunt gave you. You never use it, and you don’t want to, but you feel guilty giving it away? Ask yourself if it makes your space a happier place to be. If not, you can just let it go.

3. If you don’t love it, but use it, WAIT.

Ask yourself, why you are still using it? Is it something that you are just using until you get something that you like better? Maybe the one you would like is one that is too expensive right now. Have a goal in mind to replace it, and when you do, give this one away!

4. If you don’t use it, but love it, GRAB A FRIEND TO HELP.

It helps to have someone to process why you love something and if it is something that you will really love down the line. Memories can be strong reasons to save things, but if you do not even have the space to display them properly, you are not honoring the memories because the items get smashed, trashed and put aside.

These tips will help to get rid of your things you do not want, but save the ones that really make you happy.

What are some creative ways you use to display things you love?

Kathi Lipp is the author of eight books including The Husband Project, The Get Yourself Organized Project, and Praying God’s Word for Your Life, and she speaks at conferences across the US. Find out more at kathilipp.com.