Monday, May 18, 2015

MINIMALISM: How Much Stuff Do We REALLY Need?, and A Praise Report!!

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, 
and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I Timothy 6:6-8

Ever since God gave me the word and acronym for PREPARE as my "One Word for 2015",
we have embarked on a major-declutter-and-downsize-journey.
Not that we hadn't been doing this before somewhat.
It has been on our minds and hearts for a while that we have accumulated too much stuff,
and, on occasion, we have eliminated a lot.
But, our theme for this year has really kept us on a consistent pursuit of "less".
Less stuff.
Less debt.
Less clutter.
Less stress.

We live in a world of "more".
I blame the media and advertisements, mainly.
Because we feel okay and sufficed until we see a commercial advertising the latest, greatest thing.
It plants a seed that wasn't there a moment ago,
and all of a sudden, we become obsessed and feel an urgency to rush out and buy something
we don't need, just so we don't "miss out".

How much stuff do we really need?

Honestly, we have been removing trunk loads from our home...literally.

Normally, we do this by taking our stuff to a consignment store where we have had a selling relationship for the past several years.
Or, we participate in both events of a semi-annual community-wide yard sale each year.
Usually, we end up bringing home boxes of unsold stuff that we end up storing in our garage 
to hold on to "until the next sale".
These remnants clutter our space while we wait six months to go back and try it again.

This spring, we began to prepare for the upcoming sale, as usual.
But, this time God stopped us in our tracks.
Let me explain.

We found out about an upcoming yard sale that some precious friends were having to raise funds for their church youth group.
We tend to be pushover softies when it comes to reaching out to kids, teens, and young people.
If there is a cause closest to our hearts, it is definitely ministering to the little people.
They are the future church.

So, we heard about this soon-to-be yard sale,
and God began to deal with our hearts.
It started out as an idea...just a little simmering thought in the backs of our minds.
Then one day, things took a more serious turn.

I was spending some time in prayer, and God spoke.
Clearly and unmistakably, He said,
"I want you to take every, single thing you were planning to take to the community yard sale
and donate it to the youth group instead."

"Everything, Lord?", I asked, as I mentally took note of some of the stuff in our garage.
Don't get me wrong.
There were no huge money items there.
But, some things that would have probably brought us enough to make a difference in between pay checks....enough to buy a tank of gas or two or maybe three, I would say.

"Everything", He answered.
Just like that.
No room for discussion.

It took me a minute to absorb, then I finished up praying and went and presented His words to Kevin.

Bless his heart, he was immediately all usual.
He is one of the most cheerful givers I have ever known.
And we know that "God loves a cheerful giver."  2 Corinthians 9:7

So, we began to take loads and drop them off, until we had donated every, single thing we had planned to take to our own yard sale.

And it felt GOOD, let me tell you.

"I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak,
and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,
It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Acts 20:35

We feel lighter.
Less encumbered.
And blessed indeed to know that we may have contributed a few dollars to bring a smile to a young one's face somewhere down the line.
So much so that I am actively seeking God's will about where to take several other loads of stuff.
While I have no aversion to donating to Goodwill, I sort of prefer to donate to a local church's endeavors or to individual families who need this stuff.

As we continue our downsizing journey, I am finding myself continually asking,
"How much stuff do we really need?"

How many colanders can I use at one time?
How many glasses does a family of 3 really need?
Do I really need every, single "what-not" on top of our kitchen cupboards?
Do you have any idea how long its been since that stuff has seen a dust cloth?
You don't want to know.

Why am I keeping this stuff?

Granted, there are things that I really love...
things we have collected through the years that bring back happy, peace-filled memories.
Things that mean enough to us to keep.

And that is fine.

But, what about all the other stuff?
Things I can't honestly remember one special memory being attached to,
things I don't even recall where they came from,
things that make me sad or anxious or stressed just by looking at them.

Why am I holding on?

More stuff equals more work....
to keep clean, to keep organized, to keep maintained.

I honestly don't know where it all comes from.

I have stopped buying unnecessary stuff...for the most part.
It has to really, really call to me or catch my eye before I will put it in the cart and bring it home.

I'm sort of taking this mindset....
if we can't eat it, wear it, use it, or don't need it,
why buy it?

We have been so abundantly blessed...
to the point that we have excess in so many areas of our lives and home.
And excess is heavy.
Especially, when there are cold and homeless people who could use our enormous stash of blankets.
And there are shivering children who would surely appreciate Zachary's outgrown, 
but-still-in-great-condition winter coats.
And there is a struggling, young, newly-married couple who could use our extra set of silverware that is stashed in a seldom-opened drawer.

Sure, I am all for selling things to bring in some extra cash.
But, it is also such a blessing to GIVE it away.
You just have to try it to see how good it feels.

More and more I am being compellingly and increasingly drawn to a simpler life.
I think the trendy word for this right now is "minimalism".

I am a definitively, staunchly anti-trend, anti-fad,
anti-"jump-on-the-bandwagon-just-because- everyone-else-is-doing-it" kind of gal.
I have no interest in popular opinion.
So, I don't pay much attention to the latest, greatest craze,
nor do I chase after living my life to please other people.
I could never describe to you how good it feels to have finally stopped doing that
or how much freedom and liberation it has brought to my life
to reduce trying to please everyone 
to trying to please One.
What a relief!

I don't set out to follow the masses,
but I have been seeing the word "minimalist" popping up in different places.
The word itself called to me, so I began googling it to find out just exactly what it means.
It turns out that there are a lot of other people being led to do the same thing we are doing.
I guess I just didn't know what to call it or that what we are doing is so "trendy"!

The more I read about living a minimalist lifestyle,
the more I realize why I am so drawn to it.

The One I try so hard to please is the ultimate Example of minimalistically walking through life
unencumbered with the things that are not eternal.

And I get it.
That's it!!!!!
This is why I am drawn to this.
Because my sights are being increasingly and pressingly drawn to Him...
to what is going to outlast this life down here on earth....
to focusing on only those things which are eternally lasting.

Jesus Christ's whole life was about fulfilling His earthly mission while here
so He could return to His Father in Heaven for eternity.

Shouldn't this be our mission, too?

Jesus didn't focus on accumulating "stuff" down here,
because He knew this life is temporary.
It is fleeting.
It will not last.
Jesus focused on leaving behind a trail of Godly footprints that every, single one of us
can trace and drop our feet into.

Jesus prayed all night.
He ministered all day.
He didn't have closets full of clothing.
He had what He needed, and that was enough.
His earthly occupation was a carpenter; yet, He didn't even own a home.
"And a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, Master, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."
Matthew 8:19,20

Jesus lived His life down here on earth with just the minimum amount
of temporal "things" needed to survive.
Acquiring "things" held no interest for Him.
He was free to pick up at any given moment.
He was continually available to GO and to heal and deliver and fulfill His Divine mission and calling.
He created this world, yet, nothing in it was weighing Him down or enslaving Him to it.
He owed nothing.
He ate when He needed to, not just for something to do.
He ate to live, He didn't live to eat.
He walked everywhere He went.
He traveled light.
He knew He would only be here for a little while.

If video doesn't load, click here.

I love the way He is leading us into this area of discipleship.
It is a beautiful journey, that is setting us more free with each new step.

I encourage you to think about starting your own quest for a simpler life with less "stuff".
There are so many who are less fortunate and who actually need the excess and overflow.

Having too much stuff weighs us down.
It encumbers us.
It distracts us.
It holds us captive and imprisons us.
It impedes spiritual progress.
But, the saddest thing of all...
it keeps us from fulfilling the God-given reason we are here.

We ARE only here for a little while.
What if we don't allow enough time to fulfill the mission God placed us on earth to fulfill?
What if we live our whole lives in pursuit of earthly goods,
and one day, we wake up and realize we have run out of time?
What if the tasks we are supposed to complete are never pursued or even begun?
What if we leave this world never having lived out what we were put here to do?
What if we were brought to the Kingdom "for such a time as this",
and we are so focused on keeping up with the Joneses that our mission is aborted?
What if our mountains of "stuff" have us so chained to this earth
that we can't break loose to mind God's call?
Have we become blinded to the reality that one day, all of this will pass away?

Jesus said,
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, 
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

More and more I am feeling the call to lay aside the things that bind us to earth
in order to more fully focus on the eternal.

I feel an urgency that Jesus is coming soon, and we are literally running out of time
to do what He has called us and placed us here to do.

I end this post with one of Mom's favorite quotes...
I have heard her say this so often through the years...

"Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last."
(Author Unknown)

I couldn't agree more.

To read Eleven Decluttering & Organizing Tips, click here!!!

For those who have been praying for my niece, Victoria, I have wonderful news!
Your prayers have been answered, and she is doing very well.
There was NO CANCER, praise God!
They removed half of her thyroid, along with nodules and a goiter,
but everything was benign.
She is recovering at home and would still appreciate prayers,
but we are all very thankful that God has been so faithful.
The outcome could have been much different.
God is SO good!
Thank you so very much for every prayer you have prayed.

Please don't forget to pray for Baby Obed, as his surgery is today.
I will try to add an update in a future post after I hear from his Daddy, Travis.


  1. I have been led to simplify in my life also. We moved 3 times in less than 2 years...that got rid of a lot of things! Our landlady was not able to pay her mortgage due to health problems so even though we were paying rent, we still ended up with an eviction we did lose quite a bit. Things I still miss almost 3 years later. But we are happier now than we have been in a long time.

    1. Wow, that is a good way to de-clutter, huh? When moving, we have no choice sometimes. A boss I had once used to tell me that the best way to de-clutter is to pretend you are going on a long-distance, one-way move and ask yourself just what you would really take. I am so sorry you lost things you really loved and miss. That is so sad. God bless you and comfort you and keep you always near His heart. So happy to have "met" you today!!

    2. What a great story - and a great way to give! To unburden ourselves of "stuff" and be more concerned with giving. It's a simple concept, just not so easy to let go sometimes. I don't want to live my whole life in pursuit of earthly goods and wake up one day to realize I've wasted it, either. Thanks for the reminder. Such truth.

    3. Thank you, Ruthie! So happy you stopped by...I hopped over to your blog...what a blessing! Thankful to make your acquaintance. God bless you. :)

  2. Go for it sister! We found our lives much simpler with much less! More to be thankful for, less to worry about!

    1. I LOVE that saying, "More to be thankful for, less to worry about!" Oh, that is wonderful! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving encouragement behind. So happy to "meet" you. God bless you!

  3. Hi Cheryl! First of all, let me tell you how happy I am that your niece is doing so well!! What a load off your heart, and her family too. God is so good...

    I love the idea of simplifying. God certainly made it 'simple' for you, didn't He? Just donate everything. Then you do them a favor, and yourself as well. No more carting home unsold boxes. He thinks of everything!
    I have been going through clothing these last weeks. I was able to lose weight, and now it's time to thin out my closet, and donate those old clothes, and the ones that don't fit anymore. Why hang on to them when someone else can use them??

    Great message today!

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers for Victoria! Yes, praise the dear Lord, all is well there. :) I know what you mean...I have way too many clothes, even after donating so much. Thank you for your sweet visit, Ceil. Much love to you. :)

  4. i loved reading your thoughts on this! A few years ago I did a "no spend" month plus I donated 100 items and at that moment I realized how much unnecessary stuff I have accumulated. I'm back on a giant debt repayment journey and as I am actively not buying things, it's making me realize how much clutter I have because I haven't always been actively not buying things. It's crazy how having clutter in our lives is often a reflection of clutter in our hearts, you know?!

    1. Wow, that sounds like a wonderful idea, Stephanie! I love the donating of 100 items idea, and the no spend month. Yes, you are so right, clutter in our lives is often a reflection of clutter in our hearts....this is SO true. Sometimes we don't realize that until we start peeling off layers and we come to understand that there are underlying issues that have contributed to our outward clutter. Such a good thought! Thank you so much for your sweet visit and for sharing your experience and testimony here. God bless you. :)

  5. Love this post! Great inspiration and motivation. We like to donate our unneeded items to Salvation Army. Many blessings to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! I so appreciate your sweet visit. I agree...the Salvation Army is a wonderful place to donate. When we dissembled our clothing ministry a few years ago, they were the place we chose to donate all of the stuff we had left. It blessed us to know that we may have helped to bless others. Many blessings to you, too!! :)

  6. Great article. We really don't "need" as much as we think we do. I have been giving things away for a while. It feels so good to free yourself of the excess. I started when a friend was talking about the burden of going through and getting rid of her mother's things after she was gone. I do not want my daughters to have that burden, so I am getting rid of it before my time comes.

    1. Oh, Becky! You are SO right. When my dear Mom died, it was SO hard to go through all of her stuff. I can't even begin to explain how much it hurt. And, because of her apartment lease, we had to do in there and do it the very next day after she died. It was horrible. But, God saw us through. I think it is incredibly thoughtful and kind of you to do this ahead of time, so your girls won't have to. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving sweet encouragement behind. :) God bless you!

  7. Living simply brings with it so many blessings and such an opportunity for inner peace. Thank you for writing such a lovely post.

    1. Yes, it surely does, Bethany! Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving such sweet comments. God bless you!

  8. "Jesus didn't focus on accumulating "stuff" down here,
    because He knew this life is temporary."

    That line really hit me. How can we carry His namesake and not act in accordance? Painful question to ponder sincerely...

    Over the years I've managed to knit together a pretty complicated lifestyle, seeking to own the desires of my heart and my Father allowed it... When the recession hit I realized just how complex my life was and the things I sought to own ultimately owned me... My perspective will never be the same... I still struggle with this, but I don't believe like I ever will again.

    The hardest lessons leave a lasting impression... and a bit of wisdom...

    Great post and needed reminder to all of us I do believe. Funny how the voice of God rings through in your words, sister... you are appreciated.

    1. I could never say how much I appreciate your encouragement and support and comments, brother. I loved what you said about "the things I sought to own ultimately owned me." Isn't that the truth? Sometimes, it is like God sends a wake-up call, and we stop and wonder if it is really worth it? I read a quote once that said, "Is the thing you are pursuing worth what it is costing you?" Good question. Thank you so much for your words and visit here. God bless you richly.

  9. Replies
    1. LOVE this, Shandra! Yes, God help us to reach this goal! Thank you so much for stopping by...God bless you. :)

  10. I tried on a dress to wear to church on Sunday, and over my head was as far as it went. I took another look and there are a number of dresses the same size and they are taking up space. We have a New Hope Center, and also Salvation Army where we often take our extra stuff. I love the idea of helping the youth with their yard sale. God does have a sense of humor. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with us here at Tell me a Story. Praise God Vicki is cancer free. My husband goes in tomorrow for a surgery of a growth on his neck. The biopsy came back cancer - - Doctor said probably skin cancer usually removal will take care of it.

    1. Oh, Hazel! I am SO sorry to hear this about your husband. I will be praying and trusting this is something very simple. I know how you feel about trying on clothes that I have "outgrown". Like you said, they are only taking up space, and there is no sense in holding on to things we don't need and can't use. I love the Salvation Army, too....they have such a wonderful mission, and I love to support anything Christian. God bless you abundantly for your support, encouragement, and friendship. Am looking to hear great news about your husband. :)

  11. I constantly have a box on the go of things to give away. It seems like as fast as I give stuff away we get more, but I keep getting rid of stuff. Maybe one day I'll be ahead. We're moving soon, and I'm hoping to get rid of a lot of stuff while packing. We just don't need it all. You're right - it weighs us down.

    1. I know what you mean. Seems the same thing here. I think we have to really be intentional about it all and keep following through as far as passing the stuff along as soon as a box or bag is full. It is a continual process in this "land of excess". God help us to be faithful stewards, including blessing others who have less. Thank you for your visit and comments, Jennifer. So happy you stopped by. God bless you! :)

  12. Yes, the simple is the best. There are lots of things to be enjoyed about than material things and giving is one of them.
    When I was yong and very poor, it made me very happy when someone gives us used clothes.
    So, now I do give away my clothes to others who will be very thankful to have them.
    This post is a great reminder!

    1. I know what you mean. I was raised poor, also, and those "hand-me-downs" were always appreciated. I never cared about whether clothes were new or used, and I still don't. I love finding nice, gently-worn clothing at thrift stores and yard sales! It is such a joy to find something that fits and is modest. Thank you so much for your sweet visit, Joy. God bless you! :)

  13. You are speaking to a pack-rat here, and I am rightly convicted. Do you know that I still have unpacked boxes of *stuff* from our move almost 3 years ago?? My biggest problem is that I get very sentimentally attached to things, and it's hard to let go. A couple of summers ago, we got evacuated for a wildfire that came dangerously close to our home. When we drove off in two cars full of what we considered important, I had to think about our earthly possessions. I would be devastated if we lost everything. Which is OK in a way - our things help mark the journey of our lives. But, the greater lesson for me was really facing what matters in life - family and the treasures we have laid up in heaven. And, of course, the greatest treasure of all - eternal LIFE!

    Thanks for this post, Cheryl. I needed to think about this again.


    1. Oh, my! I know how you feel, dear friend. I go to give something away or sell it, then I start thinking of so many memories attached to it, and I end up keeping it!! I am trying real hard to realize that all of this is temporary, and I just need to focus on the eternal more. God help us all. I am so sorry you had that scare with the fire evacuation...I am sure that would make a person stop and think and ask themselves what really is important. I think the main thing I would even care about is our pictures and home videos...things like that that cannot be replaced. I trust God will always protect those things and keep them safe for all of us. Thank you so much for your sweet visits. :)

  14. I recently had to reduce my entire home down to a few suitcases of clothes and a box of books. It was difficult because I love books and probably had over 500 of them. They were the hardest thing to let go so I decided to start with them first. In the midst of packing up my books one of my favorite cousins died. I thought about him and the fact that he probably had many favorite things that he held on to. However, they were no longer of any value to him sentimental or otherwise. The only thing that had value to him was the treasure he had laid up in heaven... This made my whole packing process so much easier. Starting over with very little stuff made me decide to be careful not to accumulate so much stuff again. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh, Bernadine! That must have been SO difficult for you. Bless your heart. I am sure the lessons you learned by such a huge downsize will stay with you forever. And I am SO sorry about the loss of your favorite cousin. God bless you and comfort your grieving heart. It is so difficult to lose those we love, and yes, it surely puts things in their proper perspective, doesn't it? Nothing has ever driven home the reality of my own mortality to me more than to stand by both of my parents and tell them good-bye, as they crossed over to the other side. I know you lost your dear Mom, too, so you surely know how this feels. God bless you, dear friend. You have such a sweet, precious spirit. So happy to know you. :)

  15. I appreciate your beautiful thoughts and, even more, your example. The world says 'more, more' but somehow we get less life as we believe the more message. You described your 'excess' after giving - may God continue to bless your faithfulness and I needed to read about your example! Joining you from Tell His Story.

    1. Thank you so much, Sandra! Your words are such a precious encouragement to me! I feel like we have such a long way to seems that, even though we have unloaded so much stuff, we have only just begun to really scratch the surface. It will take some time, but, by God's grace and help, we will get there. :) So thankful to have "met" you today!! God bless you. :)

  16. I absolutely enjoyed this! God has been working on my heart when it comes to something very similar- this post has given me the kick in the behind that I needed! God's funny that way. Thanks for a beautiful post!

    Found you at the Women Helping Women Link Up!

    1. Yes, He has a way of reinforcing lessons He is teaching us, doesn't He? He is an awesome God Who cares about every detail of our lives. So thankful for your sweet visit, Lorey. God bless you!

  17. My husband and I have been discussing this topic recently!
    We live in a small house and we feel like we don't have a lot of least we didn't have much until we became parents! We didn't get as much stuff for our little girl as we've seen other parents get, but we still have baby clothes, blankets, toys, etc. that we need to store (we hope to be blessed with additional children so we'll need these things). We're trying to figure out where to put it all. Should we build a shed? Should we get rid of other things we have so we can use existing space? This is what we are working through.
    Your post really affirms our belief that simple is the way to go!

    1. It was so nice to see you today, Shannon!! What a blessing to see that you had stopped by. I need to come by your place, as it has been too long. I completely understand your dilemma about what to keep and what to let go of. It is a hard thing to decide, especially if you are planning on having more littles. God bless you and give you wisdom...He knows the future and what you will need! :)

  18. Good thoughts and challenges.... it is so easy to hold on to stuff... to avoid dealing with it, because we "might" need it sometime.... or want it... and more. It is freeing to take stock, sort, purge and live with less. It is a process. :) Great news about the no cancer! I hope you have a wonderful day. :)

    1. I know...sometimes I hesitate because I am concerned we will need it later. That is always a concern, because some things are hard to come by. I hope you have a wonderful day, too! Praying for you. ;)

  19. Replies
    1. God bless you, Laura. So happy you stopped by! ;)

  20. Thank you very much for this Cheryl. This topic has been so heavy on my heart lately. I see our excess. And I am not happy with it. We had a garage sale last weekend and it was truly exciting dragging item after item out of the house and watching it walk away with others. Then all that was left went right into the van and to a local charity that we love to help. I am already looking through things working on my next load of charitable contributions. My problem is I can be a hoarder. Not like you see on tv...I hate clutter...but behind the scenes....I think it is a gene passed down from my grandma Duncan! Thank you for the reminder to keep on.

    1. Oh, I can so relate to that good feeling of seeing the excess walking away and knowing it is going to bless someone else! I have clutter, too, but I know what you mean about holding on to stuff. I get so sentimental about things for the silliest reasons! I am trying to be more objective, but it is a long process with me. One step at a time is the only way we can ever hope to do this! So thankful for your sweet visit, Desiree. :) God bless you in your de-cluttering and simplifying efforts!!

  21. Oh Cheryl, what a great post and great points. We hang onto so much stuff, when really how much do we need. Thank you for sharing your heart and what God is doing in your life with us at Good Morning Mondays, it is always a blessing for me when you stop by. Love you xxxx

    1. Thank you so very much, Terri! Your precious words bring so much comfort and encouragement to me always. Thank you for always being such a loving support and inspiration. I love you, too, dear, sweet friend. :)

  22. I too feel led to giveaway and have less. I too feel there is not much time left and Jesus will be back! Thank you for sharing this sister in the Lord! Subscribed to your blog today :-)

    1. Oh, that is wonderful, Suzie! I am so thankful for your sweet visit and encouragement. God bless you abundantly! :)

  23. This was so beautifully written, Cheryl! I love your writing style, but even more important is the message you brought out. I wholeheartedly agree, and having less of a pull to material things is something God has worked with me on as well. Blessings to you in your journey! I shared a link to this on my Facebook page because a lot of people could benefit from reading this.

    1. Thank you so very much for your sweet words and visit, Brianna! It is such a dear blessing to know that you stopped by! So very grateful to you for sharing this post! God bless you abundantly. I am so thankful to know you, and I enjoy your blog more than I could ever say. :)

  24. So glad to hear about Victoria! May God seal her body from cancer forever by the power of the blood of Jesus!
    Great article my friend!

    1. Thank you, dear Laura! God bless you abundantly for your kind words here. :)