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Entries in Spring Cleaning (4)


Does Your Soul Need a Spring Cleaning?

I love Letitia Suk's intentionality. "Tish" goes right to the heart of matters and designs ways to make wise choices. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she offers a fresh take on "spring cleaning."

Just about all the magazines on the impulse rack by the check-out these days are targeted to get me in the clean-up and organize mode: aka "spring cleaning,'" Letitia says, “But I’m thinking 'Does my soul need a spring cleaning?'" 

When spring came, I (Dawn) used to dread spring cleaning. No fun. As I've matured, I realize what a blessing a cleaning "restart" can be. And Letitia asks an interesting question. Maybe my behavior shows I need a "restart" too.

Letitia continues . . .

Each magazine at the check-out features some sort of cover tease on a new technique to refresh my entire home, or my kitchen, or just my closet. I usually derive enough inspiration from the cover without ever buying the magazine!

My mom had the same intention for me, maybe fueled by the magazines of her time. I can easily call up vivid memories of the annual pulling all my bedroom furniture out into the hallway and going after the windows and floor boards. The best part of the day was the final rearranging of furniture for the new season.

When it was my turn to be the mom, we spent the first day of spring break surrounded by buckets and rags followed by pizza for lunch and fun the rest of the week. A disagreeable chore still talked about but with laughter now.

The kids are gone now, the house stays cleaner by itself or I occasionally hire some help with the big tasks.

The longing for “spring cleaning” still shows up though.

In this season of my life, the clutter of my soul shouts louder than the disarray in my closet.

After a long Midwest winter, I am ready for something new. A similar, but distinct version of the fresh start of the new year. Time to clear out the winter crud and plant some new seeds.

In my backyard garden yes, but in my soul first. For me this process needs an actual time and place.

If you are feeling that longing too, try this:

1. Get out of the house.

On your way out, grab a notebook if you are a paper-girl or have an electronic-something to record your plans.

A personal retreat is ideal, but a coffee shop can work just fine too.

2. Turn off your phone notifications and ask God to help you focus on your soul-cleaning.

A scary but effective prayer is right out of the Psalms:

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

Usually He points out something!

Over the winter, our souls can get dirty, cobwebby, cluttered with stuff that needs to go.

3. Once you’ve identified what needs to go, hand it over.

Like digging up weeds before planting seedlings.

  • Too much internet or TV?
  • Not enough intentionality to the day to day?
  • More worrying than praying?

You usually already know what your gotta-go areas are. Picture the water of life wiping your soul clean after you go after the dirt.

4. Rearrange your inner life like your home by looking for fresh things to add and putting some items away for now.

  • Can you rearrange or drop some of your optional commitments?
  • Change up your winter readings for something new?
  • Do your weekends need more fun instead of more work?
  • How’s The concept of Sabbath going for you?

5. Once again invite God to help you keep your soul clean.

“Create in me a clean heart” (Psalm 53:10).

Done! Like your freshly cleaned kitchen floor, your soul won’t stay spotless for long but some “clean as you go” methods will likely keep the new sense of order in place.

When can you schedule your spring soul cleaning?

Letitia (Tish) Suk invites women to create an intentional life centered in Jesus. She is a blogger and author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat and Rhythms of Renewal. Tish is a speaker, personal retreat guide and life coach in the Chicago area. For more information about Letitia Suk, visit her webpage.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of Ben White at Unsplash.


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


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.


10 Easy Tips to 'Spring Clean' Your Home

Marcia Ramsland, a Life Organizing Coach, is offering a coaching course this month to help people declutter their homes. She graciously agreed to share 10 helpful UPGRADE Your Home tips.

“Need a winter boost and it’s not quite spring? You can create the freshness of a spring cleaning inside your heart and home,” Marcia said, “by taking some decisive action.”

I love the spring cleaning concept. I always have. But that doesn’t mean I like spring cleaning. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a plan.

Marcia continues …

This could be any day at your home just by lacing up your gym shoes and stepping up the pace. Just look around you. Would any of these 10 Tips spruce up your home?

1. Vacuum your home and let some fresh breezes in. The whole house – and your outlook -will begin to take shape and look fresher.

2. Wash your bedding and change your blankets. Get rid of musty and dusty.

3. Put away winter coats, boots, and mittens, cleaning as you go through the front and back closets by the entrances.

4. Wash the windows to clear out winter gray that blocks your view. (Average 5-10 minutes per window).

5. Clear away piles by recycling newspapers, catalogs and newspapers that may have accumulated over the winter.

6. Sweep out the garage and wash the cars. Vacuum, wax, and change the oil in your car to get ready for spring and summer trips.

7. Clean up your desktop for a fresh start at work, too. No need to live with left over paperwork from the winter. Get it done, filed, and cleared up to get outside with the longer sunny days approaching.

8. Clean your closet by seasonally changing clothes and bringing out spring attire. Wash, iron, and mend before your clothes get put away. Giveaway clothes you didn’t wear and don’t like.

9. Shop for something new to wear for spring. When you feel better about how you look, people notice and even treat you better!

10. Clean out the refrigerator and make a fresh food meal of what’s in season. A social event or picnic can be a delightful celebration that you’ve finished your Spring Cleaning early!

These 10 Action Steps remind me of what was once said about a wise woman in the Bible and how she handled her home:

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down” (Proverbs 14:1).

I challenge my audiences and YOU to be a “Wise Woman” and build your home and family life by taking charge of the state of your home.

Whether you decide to thoroughly clean on a weekday or a weekend, don’t wait for a sunny day. Any day can be “Spring Cleaning Day.”

Which two steps would make the biggest difference in your home right now? You can do it—starting today!

Marcia Ramsland, a Life Organizing Coach, International Speaker, and Best-Selling Author, is committed to helping women break through barriers to simplify and succeed in life. She is well known as the “Organizing Pro” and nationally appears in Better Homes and Garden, Woman’s Day, Real Simple magazines, the Wall Street Journal and Martha Stewart radio.   

Beginning March 20, Marcia is offering a special 4-Week Coaching Course for busy women“Simplify Your Space: A Room by Room DeCluttering Action Plan at Home!” Register at