“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” ~ Hosea 10:12
I am all about the purge. No one needs twenty-five mixing bowls, three sets of china and forty kitchen gadgets! You may be the world’s greatest cook. You may have a half dozen kids and need to prepare a dinner that feeds said army. You may voluntarily cook dinner for different church functions, family gatherings, etc. on a weekly basis. But you still don’t need everything that you have. None of us do.
Which is why I’m all about the purge. To help eliminate the clutter from our home, I keep give away boxes or bags in several inconspicuous places. One sister stopped by yesterday and left with a bag full. Another sister has a box of items I’m collecting for her in a piece of furniture in the front room. (Since the third sister says she’s purging too, no bag for her.) I keep a bag ready for clothes to take to my favorite consignment store, and I’ve always got a box for Goodwill donations. Let’s not forget the eBay box in the closet. Just because I don’t need something doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t or wouldn’t use it.
I haven’t always been this way though. I remember the days in my not-so-distant past when I thought I needed to keep everything. I justified my obsession with a few common excuses.
“I spent a lot of money on these dishes.”
“This was my mom’s book before she died.”
“I remember my grandmother using this cookie cutter.”
“My sister bought me this angel as a gift.”
These excuses justified my behavior and proved that I absolutely had to keep everything. Wrong! Letting go of certain items freed us from clutter, disorganization, stress, strain, so many things!
But today’s post isn’t about cutting out the clutter. It’s about using the things that you keep. If an item is special to you or reminds you of someone you love, it is okay to keep the item provided that you have a plan for it. The item does you no good and brings you no enjoyment if it is being stored in a closet for “safekeeping”. But if you find a way to use the item, then you will enjoy it.
Let me give you a few examples from our home.
Grandma Smith’s Jars: My husband’s grandmother died a number of years ago. My husband asked for her canning jars. A strange request. At the time we didn’t can, and he certainly didn’t/doesn’t cook. Yet, Chris remembers his grandma’s garden. He remembers swiping an onion or tomato and eating them straight out of the garden. He remembers how his grandma canned everything. He remembers that every time you were in her home, she offered to feed you. Hospitality was a great part of who she was, and for Chris the jars are a treasured reminder of her and her hospitable home. I use some of the jars for food but I found a way to let Chris enjoy his memory of his beloved grandma every day by using one of the jars as a soap dispenser in our bathroom.
Grandma Stacy’s Bowl: Several years ago, I stopped by my mother-in-law’s house. She had something for me. It was an old mixing bowl that belonged to her Grandma Stacy. My husband doesn’t have the wonderful memories of Grandma Stacy that his mother has but that bowl is priceless to me. It meant that I was a part of Sharon’s family, that I was a daughter that she wanted to pass along a piece of family history to. I wasn’t just an in-law to be dealt with because she had no other choice, but I was important to her. I love my in-laws very much and the bowl is a reminder that the love is reciprocated. The bowl resides in the fridge and holds our eggs.
Chris’s Green Pitcher: Several years ago, I participated in a secret sister exchange at church. One Saturday morning, I decided to do a little browsing to find some unique gifts for my friend. Chris loves to shop, so he tagged along. We went to an antique store, a store of homemade craft items, several florists. We had a wonderful time! In one of the stores, I saw this green pitcher that I really liked. It didn’t match my secret sister’s tastes at all, but boy, did it hit my hot button! Not one to deviate from the mission at hand, I refused to buy myself the pitcher. I had limited funds and I was determined that they were going to be spent on my secret sister. While I made my purchase, my husband disappeared to the restroom. I left the store and waited outside on the sidewalk. When Chris joined me, he carried a bag. In it was my green pitcher. How I love the man that spoils me and surprises me! I remember his love, and I remember the special day we had together meandering through stores looking for the “right” item. The pitcher now sits next to the stove and holds my spoons, spatulas, whisks and other cooking utensils.
These are just a few examples from our life, but I hope it gets you thinking. What stored item(s) could you be enjoying? What memory is attached to it? How can you find a way to bring this item into your daily life? How can you use what you keep?