Friday, January 29, 2010

Cleaning Out…Everything!!!

It’s funny how every once in a while all of the stars in the universe will align and point right at whatever it is God wants us to be focusing on. For me, right now, I’m feeling called to be more organized. I’m one of those weird people (forgive me, if you’re in the same boat, but people think we’re weird) who craves…no, NEEDS, organization and order in my life. When it’s lacking, I don’t function well. It’s like, no matter what’s going on, I can’t truly focus because there are so many things left UNDONE in the background of my mind. Ever felt like that?

Life has been in fast-forward around here for the past couple of years, for various reasons. It seems like one day I woke up and looked around and realized…I’m not living in survival mode any more. I can slow down and FOCUS on what needs to be done and then—you guessed it—get it done! So that’s where I’ve been for the past month or so. We started the day after Christmas in our office/playroom, and once we got that done, it felt so good, we made a master list and kept on trucking. I’ve posted on my blog about a couple of different projects, but there’s one I’ve been hiding. Because I’m embarrassed. And maybe a little ashamed.

If you’ve visited my blog before, you know that we live in a small house. A very, very small house. But we moved here from a larger house, with more rooms. Where, you ask, did that furniture go? Ah, good question. You see, we have…gasp!...a storage unit. Like all things, it started out as a positive, as we were able to move things a few boxes at a time over the year it took us to finish remodeling our house, sell it, find a house here, and move. It was great to be able to move for real on the big day in just one big truck…and we didn’t dare stop to count how many truckloads and trailers we’d already hauled to storage. You see where this is going, right? Over the past few years, we’ve inherited some things that we want to keep but don’t have room for. So we put them in storage. We had a second child, so we had to move things around a bit. Where’d we put the extra stuff? Say it with me: in storage! We’ve added to our keepsakes, our Christmas decorations…heck, sometimes when we find something and don’t know what it is we just haul it off to storage to deal with it later.

And it finally caught up with us. Last winter, we went to storage and found a very large rattlesnake skin. Yikes! Thank goodness we didn’t find the snake, but we didn’t dare dig around in there very much. Then came warm weather, but life got in the way…and then it was Christmas time again and when my husband went to get our Christmas tubs he came home just…disgusted. It was time to face it. So we blocked off a couple of Saturday mornings, called in a babysitter, loaded up the truck with trash bags and labels and brooms and hand sanitizer, and we went in. Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture. But I can tell you—this place was stacked to the CEILING with junk. We couldn’t walk in—we had to pile stuff out to even get in a few feet. Forget getting to anything in the back! That first Saturday, we hauled off a truckload of stuff to recycle or donate or trash. So that’s one. And we were here…look, I can see the walls and ceiling!

A week later, we hauled off another entire load to donate and ANOTHER entire load to recycle (old boxes…were you wondering? We needed to get stuff out of cardboard boxes, so we moved a lot to plastic tubs and reorganized as we went.)

And then, this past weekend, we went back to finish. It’s funny—things I thought I couldn’t live without were so easy to part with. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to let some things go. Heck, a year ago I wasn’t even almost interested in getting my storage ducks in a row. But this was hanging over our heads for too long…every time James and I would talk about starting a home project, it would always come back to, but we shouldn’t start anything until we take care of storage. It was embarrassing to know that we had so much STUFF cluttering up our storage and our lives. Not that all of the stuff was/is bad…but we weren’t honoring that stuff or being good stewards by leaving it there in old cardboard boxes to be damaged or age too quickly. And then there’s the whole, you know, stacks and stacks of stuff we didn’t want to deal with so we—literally—threw it into the storage unit. Ugh. It’s hard to think about, hard to admit. But we did it, we slogged through it all and pretty much finished. We still have 2 boxes to go through, but all in all, I’m still in shock that we could go out there now and have a picnic on the floor. It’s a major improvement to even see the floor, sadly! Another truck load of stuff hauled away later, and here it is…

It’s not completely finished—the stuff in the middle still needs to come home and be sorted out here and some of it will find a new home, but look at the difference! I’m proud of what we accomplished. It wasn’t all that hard, and it wasn’t horribly time consuming. We just had to set our minds and hearts to do what God was telling us to do all along. I can’t tell you how much better I feel having this huge item crossed off my perpetual to-do list—I feel like, finally, that part of my mind is freed up to focus on other things! Like, hmm, life with my kids!

Here’s the thing, for me: on the surface, I seem pretty organized. Of course I don’t have it all together, but I try really hard. But for every cabinet that I am embarrassed to open in front of a girlfriend and every closet I won’t open when family comes to visit…those things cause shame and they take away my joy. Shame is a pretty strong word, I know, but anything that separates me from my God or my loved ones is shameful. Every day as I work toward my goal of getting my life—seen and unseen—in line with where God wants me to be, I count each straight drawer and every organized cabinet and every clean closet as a victory. Like the plaque on my back door says, “it’s the little things in life that make living so grand!”

Thanks to our friend Kristi from Adventures of MommyGirl is guest posting again! Be sure to pop over to her site and say hi!

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