Monday, May 28, 2007

Journey Through A Summer Storm

Standing at the far end, I survey the lay of the land, noticing the steep cliffs on either side, assessing the dangers, and developing my strategy for passing through this area unscathed. I quickly suck in my stomach, perch on my tippy-toes and begin the journey, slowly sliding sideways, as the gorge is too narrow to pass through head-on. Breathing heavily, I attempt to steady my emotions which are swinging wildly between fear of an avalanche, and the elation of having made it this far. It was a tortuous but necessary journey.

I made it through to the end of the hallway.

The boxes, bags, stacks and stashes on either side are the fruit of our efforts to scale down our possessions. The hallway is crammed full from our morning's engaging in warfare against the guest room. This being the Anything-I-Don't-Want-To-Deal-With-Now-Gets-Put-There room makes it more challenging than any other save the kitchen, otherwise known as the Boy-I-Sure-Love-A-Good-Gadget room, which was attacked yesterday.

Although this process is fraught with emotional turmoil, I can honestly say that I am not sad to see anything go. That is not the emotional upheaval I am experiencing. Owning this stuff costs time, effort and money. I am grieved to finally see just how wasteful our lifestyle has been. How much of Mr. Visionary's back-breaking effort has been wasted making the money to buy all these trifling things? Even the "free" stuff donated by well-meaning friends and family costs plenty. How much of my precious Mommy time has been spent shuffling this stuff from place to place, organizing and reorganizing, picking up and putting away, and how much cuddling and book reading could have been done in the time that was spent? How many hours have I wasted making and implementing chore charts to help us take dominion over all this in order to keep it from taking dominion over us? I can't do exponential math accurately in my head, but I cringe at the estimates at which I am arriving so far.

Like a summer afternoon storm, it started with a smattering of fat drops in the dust, "Maybe we need to get rid of a few things." Moving into a decided drizzle, "Wow, I had no idea we had so much", and onto a substantial shower, "I am ashamed at how much stuff we have", I began repenting. In the drenching downpour I find myself in now, I can hear my own voice echoing in my ears..."There's just not enough time in the day"..."I have too much to do"...

Or maybe I just have too much.

I have been daydreaming throughout this process about how different life could have been had we never owned all these possessions. I am also dreaming about how life will be different without them now. I am asking Father to help me learn this lesson well ~ to know the truth contained in it well enough to not forget, and to experience this conviction deeply enough to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Concerned that I might be taking this too hard, Mr. Visionary spoke encouragingly to me, "It's OK, Sweetheart, don't be so hard on yourself. We know now, and we're not going back there."

I answered with my best attempt at quoting Mr. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice: "You may well warn me against such an evil. Human nature is so prone to fall into it! No...let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough."

Even as the words were coming out, I prayed, "Father, let it not be so! I desire to be changed by this deluge ~ and by your grace I will be."


  1. Thank you for being so real. I struggle with the same things. You've inspired me to attack *again* all the extra stuff that takes my time and energy. Ü

  2. When my mother passed away unexpectedly, I knew her home/garage were crammed full of "important stuff she might need at sometime in her life" that I would have to deal with.
    Some furniture/household goods went to two neighbors whose homes had been severely damaged by a hurricane 12 months prior; the rest was boxed, labeled, and given to a church charity thrift store.
    At the time, I felt tremendous guilt for giving this stuff away as this stuff was so very important to my mother, and I knew she would be furious that I did not take years to sell it at numerous yard sales, etc. (even though I live 800 miles away from her home, and work full time, and have 2 kids/husband/home to take care of).
    But, now I feel really good about it. I think of all those things just sitting there, unused in her home and how they are now being used by people who need them. I know the church made a good deal of money that they use for mission projects. I also think passing things down/hand me downs is the finest in the art of recycling. Fortunately, we continuously purge our home of unnecessary items and our kids won't ever have to face the mountain of stuff that we faced in my mother's house.

  3. Julie,
    I just thought of a book you might like. It came out about 10 years ago. It is called "Your Money or Your Life". It is kind of an easy, fun read. The author (name something like Joe Dominiez) looks at how many hours you have to work to acquire and maintain various items. It calculates, in dollars, what it costs to do just what you described: storing, cleaning, arranging, etc. our possessions. It looks at simplification from a purely financial perspective and how many hours of your life could be freed up by having less material items.

  4. I, too, have found myself struggling with the realization that DH has worked so hard to earn what he does and then we go out and throw it away with stuff. When we started to clean out our household of things that we felt were needing to go based on some new convictions, I felt just like you said.

    "Owning this stuff costs time, effort and money. I am grieved to finally see just how wasteful our lifestyle has been. How much of Mr. Visionary’s back-breaking effort has been wasted making the money to buy all these trifling things?"

    YES!! I wholly agree with all you have said, but this struck me the hardest because it wasn't too long ago that I was realizing the very same thing.

    I have found myself becoming proud that "The only things in this house that we've purchased have been the TV set and the dining room set. Everything else has been given to us by family." And we do have very nice things, but we have significantly more than we need. We've been contemplating loading up the trailer every weekend to take to the dump (or Salvation Army) until we've got the excess taken care of. Then, someday, I hope to tackle the stuff that we don't consider excess. I think that by then, though, we'll have children moving out and starting their own households so maybe I can give it to them... LOL

    I love reading your writing, it is such a joy! Thank you.


  5. oldpathsfamilyfarmMay 29, 2007 at 9:22 AM

    Kelly ~ I'm thrilled that you're inspired! Let us know how it goes, OK?

    Lynne ~ What a great real-life example of dealing with the "stuff". The book sounds good...but would you believe I'm not buying any new books for a while? :)

    Lisa ~ Must be a common theme that Father has His finger on lately. I am anxious to see where this takes us!

  6. I am so jealous for your experience! I did this very thing several years ago and it was one of the most liberating things I ever did. Also, it was the best thing I've ever done for our homeschool. I am now very judicious about what I bring into the house and I'm teaching my children to be the same way. It really does create mor time.

  7. oldpathsfamilyfarmMay 29, 2007 at 3:12 PM

    Oh Sandy! How absolutely encouraging to hear from someone *on the other side* of this ummm...adventure!

  8. I am drowning in toys and kids clothes! Most of the onslaught occurs after family gatherings for Christmas and birthdays. But as parents, we feel the pressure to keep give them things to make sure they don't feel unloved. So silly! They know very well they are loved!
    I too can so relate to feeling like we would like to pare down to the basics. That, and I am inspired by your no television post. I've wanted our television out for years! I'm praying that my husband will agree to this, as he is a basketball and football fan.
    Thanks for sharing your heart and where the Lord is leading you!
    BTW, I really love the looks of your new blog. :)

  9. I read the book from our library. I actually wouldn't recommend buying it because it is something you will just quickly read once and probably not again. A few years ago I gave most of our books to the library...if I want to see one of them I can visit it there!

  10. oldpathsfamilyfarmMay 31, 2007 at 5:08 AM

    Allison ~ I so know what you mean about the drowning! I might post sometime about our journey with toys - it was a tough one. And interestingly enough, I am going through kids clothes today. We usually pare everyone down to three everyday "play" outfits, then a few nicer things for public wear and church. WHAT a difference it has made! Why didn't I do this sooner?

    A note of hope on the TV hubby came from a family of die-hard sports fans...even MIL was a P.E. teacher and former basketball player. If God could change MY hubby's heart about the TV, He can change anyone's. But the key is that it is God that does the changing. :) :) :)
    Lynne ~ Great idea to get it at the library!

    But you know what? After thinking about the book some more, I might actually buy a few copies for certain relatives who are major contributors to the amount of "stuff" that ends up in our home.

  11. I have been contemplating your post and others who have addressed the "decluttering" issue and wondering how I could make it apply to my life...I certainly would like to pare down, but don't know where I would start...
    We do have a lot of clothes given to us, so I pick through what we can use and may be able to use in the near future and get rid of the rest. Being the youngest 5 are boys, it is handy to save things to replace the worn out hand me downs. For myself, I have clothes of all sizes in storage as going through pregnancies and post baby clothes in various seasons numerous times requires me to store them for the next time. Our children don't play with a lot of toys, so we only have a storage box with mega blocks and a few stuffed animals which were gifts, and some toy animals and cardboard books for the littlest ones. We have a lot of shoes (for a family of 12 I guess it adds up), but they get passed down a lot over the years. I have a lot of books around but they do get read. So I just wonder since we make use of what we have if we are really burdened with extra or not? I want to make life simpler, but maybe it is as simple as it can get with a large family. How do you decide what to keep and what to unload?


Before writing your comment, be sure to read the Fine Print!