My Home, Colorado Springs, (Monument is my town!)
Clutter drives me crazy--piles here, too many cards, papers, toys, gadgets, dishes out of place in the cupboard, messy car from all the traveling to and from activities, laundry, and the piles grow and have baby piles and I find myself overwhelmed from the sheer amount of things in my life. And so I de-clutter and throw away and clean out and sort so that there emerges some order in my life.
And so it also is with my soul. I gather piles in my soul--sin, bad attitudes, disappointment, busyness, guilt, tension, fear, hurriedness instead of peace---and in order to get back to a place of beauty, simplicity and rest, I have to de-clutter my own soul.
Many of you who have followed my blog for years, know that each January, I spend a couple of days in to evaluate my life anew. And each year, I find a different puzzle--issues, pressures, commitments I have made that need to be cancelled. Every year for the past few years, I have pondered and written about de-cluttering my soul. I am pulling away for a few days, once again, to see what needs to stay and what needs to be cut. And so here for you today are some thoughts on what that looks like in a practical way. I hope you will be blessed as you read!
I am putting two more children on the plane to go back home in the next couple of days. In the next three months, I have 3 national mom's conferences that we will host, a book deadline, 3 blogs a week, and an international trip to train and inspire leaders in their personal life and ministry. And my first wedding of my children. So, 2014promises to be as taxing as the years when I first wrote about the concept of de-cluttering our soul. Every year is potentially overwhelming.
Yet, there is something uniquely good about January 1. It marks a new year, a new beginning, a new possibility. It also marks, for me, the reentry into simplicity. I don’t know if there is a more satisfying feeling for me during the year than when we put all of our Christmas things away, the decorations, the remnant of cookies, the clutter. We did that in my home, today. I love the celebration of life and the traditions and the fun and the beauty of special times spent with my children, husband and friends. But, there is something deeply satisfying to me about getting it all put away and getting back to normal.
Perhaps it is because my normal responsibilities of caring for my family’s needs demand so much of me—talking, talking, and then again talking to another child in the wee hours, cooking nutritious meals and holiday treats, organizing our schedules, cleaning and schedules blow to the wind on a daily basis, add to that ministry, (speaking, writing books and blogs in moments tucked around my family life)—these are enough, but holidays put on that extra load. Routines go by the wayside and so the clutter and demolishing of the house, slowly takes over.
I am not a person gifted in handling details—too much mail, too many catalogues, too many emails, too many options, too many things.
The more there is, the more I become responsible for, the more work there is to be done, and so, the more anxious I become.
Same with activities. The more I commit to, the more I say yes, the more I have to drive, the more my house gets into a mess, and the more anxious I become, the more hurried we feel, and the more weary I become. When I am not at peace, nothing in our home is at peace.
We can all see how too much clutter and too many piles causes us to feel overwhelmed with life.
Consequently, slowly, I have learned to declutter as often as I can—throw away unnecessary stuff.
Clay is really the master at this. He helps me get rid of things, organize things and put away things. Yesterday, he decluttered our pantry—threw away chip bags that held little but took up space, cleared out empty water bottles, bad, junky Christmas candy that had been given to us, but would never eaten; baskets that had fallen off of their nails, groceries that had never been put in their place. Now, if someone came into my pantry, they would mistakenly think that I am an organized person. (Thank goodness for Clay!) It made me feel good just to open the door and to see that all was manageable again.
But, I have also come to realize that my soul, heart and brain can be the same way---cluttered with worries, responsibilities, duties, children’s future, finances, time constraints, expectations, disappointments, critical attitudes, resentment.
All of these added together, can tend to create soul piles and mind clutter. If I don’t take the time to sort the piles of mind clutter, my spirit becomes a mess and my heart becomes overwhelmed and weary.
Lately, I have been feeling that I have used up all the space in my brain and I don't even have time to think about God.
It is what awakened me at 4:00 a.m. this morning-soul clutter and worry. It is another reason I like January. It gives me an opportunity to make a new plan, to simplify the mind messes and to start off a whole new year well. In the same way that throwing away stuff and clearing out closets brings me relief, even more,
soul and mind cleaning and decluttering brings me rest.
So, as I begin a new year, and head into my conference season, a very busy time for our family, I resolve to deal with my soul-clutter, so that I may have strength to face each day in peace. I come to the place where I know I will find the help that I need. I come to my Father and ask Him to help me, His child, to show me how to make get rid of the junk that is unnecessary, and to help me clean out and organize my soul.
He speaks to me gently.
It was in writing my book, Dancing with My Father, that I have learned so much about finding joy--and peace.
When I wrote Desperate, I sought to put my finger on those things that make me feel desperate, breathless, dark and deal with them.
In Him, with Him, by Him all the moments of my busy day. His voice leads me to what I long for--but I must get rid of all that causes me to fret, worry, criticize, control. There is a way....
“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 You need to come to me and give me all those things that are weighing on your heart. Resolve to seek rest and peace.
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
I listed all of my issues this morning in my journal (and there seem to be multitudes of clutter piles in my soul--worries, attitudes, bitterness, weariness, fear, sin and a few more!) These are issues that will suck me dry and my energy dry if I do not notice them in order to clean out my soul!
The Lord prompted, "List all of your issues, give them over to Me, don’t hold on to them. I am capable of taking them from you and being responsible so that you will not be weary or carry what you are not capable of carrying."
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. “ Psalm 37:7
Focus on resting in Me—sit in My lap, so to speak, rest in My arms. Let Me carry you. I love you.. Wait for My timing. Don’t force things or beg Me to hurry up. I am in control.
“Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2
Give Me your attention and get control of your spirit. Be quiet. Be still. Recognize My sovereignty and transcendence. Remember what Jesus said, “Our Father who art in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus modeled His understanding that My will is what you need to rest in. I am in heaven and I see all things—the future, the past, your children, your relationships, --all your clutter. Give them to Me. Quiet your soul and rest in My strength and power.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this receives me.” Matthew 18:3-5
Come to Me as a child—even as your children, in their innocence and sweetness of heart, know that you will care for them and meet their needs because you are a loving parent who cares for them, so I am your Father who will take care of you. Leave the burdens to your Father and take your rightful place as a child. Humble yourself and trust Me. Enjoy Me. Delight in the beautiful moments of this day. Notice the little miracles. Live as an unfettered child. Accept your little and big children and receive them as a gift from Me, and you will indeed receive me into your midst.
“ ... a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I Peter 3:4
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about so many things. But really one is needed and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10 41-42
Don’t worry and fret and stew and stir up unnecessary dust. Choose simplicity—just one thing I require—that you give it all to Me and love Me. I will take over. Even as I gave and provided a Sabbath in which all of my children should have rest from their work, so I want you to live in My Sabbath rest for your soul. Rest from your striving and labor. Take time for naps, for pleasure, for joy. This day you have to receive as a gift--I can't promise what tomorrow will hold. But today you can love, give peace, speak kind and wise words, dance in your soul with My secret pleasure that comes from knowing that I love you. Simplify your life, don’t make choices that will complicate or add unnecessary pressure or cause you to sin or grumble. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” as Paul said.
So, as I yielded my lists into God’s hands and decluttered my troubled soul, I left feeling that even as my house has been coming to order, after we cleaned and straightened it yesterday, now my soul is moving in the direction of order.
Rest, rest, rest—in quietness and rest will be your strength every day, every year, until you see me face to face. I love you, my sweet girl. Don’t forget that I am with you each moment of today. Your doting and loving Father.
And so, my prayers and blessings and well wishes are with you and your loved ones as you begin a new year, filled with limitless possibilities of God's love, light, redemption and joy.