It started in the fall of 2011 (Yes, I know that was almost six years ago!) when I was overwhelmed by writing Fierce Women. I started letting things go . . . small stuff at first. I left stacks of books (that I was using for quotes or as reference material) lined along my study wall, thinking I might need to refer to them again, but I failed to put them all away. It seemed like a small thing at the time, “I’m the only one who spends any time in my study, and I’ll get to that project later” is how I justified the mess.
I still cleaned the main living areas, but eventually over 2012, my study began to serve as a repository for extra books, bags, and boxes of items that had no home. The clutter grew gradually at first. Then in the winter of 2015, while we worked on Men Who Love Fierce Women, an explosion of clutter began to form. I was working under a deadline while drowning under the weight of a house that was getting out of control. Some of the less-used rooms looked like they could almost be classified as belonging to a “hoarder.”
When your home is out of whack, it can suck the life out of you.
No matter what anyone says about clutter and mess not bothering them, I think the physical disorder of your surroundings negatively wears on your emotions. It can impact your entire family and is an added stress for everyone who lives in the mess. I love having people over and I like having a home that reflects God’s goodness. I shared about that in this post from 2013 with a picture of my kitchen table. But no one wants to visit a home that feels stressful.
My home was so filled with “pretties” that it felt like living in Cracker Barrel on steroids!
Admittedly, I tried to block it all out and tolerate the mess by justifying it with the idea that one day I’ll get to those back-burner cleaning projects. But while I waited for that perfect time to accomplish what was looking more impossible every week, the mess kept growing. And it became more difficult to try to tackle the whole thing, so I settled with keeping what areas clean that I could handle.
Get It On the Calendar!
In February, we set aside some days to work on de-cluttering. February was marked on my calendar as the month to finally get everything back in order. I figured it would take at least a month. And we made a good start. But you know what happens when you start pulling every thing out of every drawer, every closet, every hidden nook . . . unless you’ve got plenty of time to work through it all, it ends up making more of a mess!
The cleaning/de-cluttering month was cut short by a vicious stomach bug that hit both Wagner households. Then March came with the trip to Mexico and other ministry responsibilities. Focus on the Family graciously shared our interview that month and we were overwhelmed by the response. We are still trying to work through all of the correspondence (and comments here on the blog) that need responses.
Everything just kept piling on, and I kept putting my home at the bottom of the pile!
Last month was the European adventure with my mom and the band of girls that we called the “six sojourners.” And when I came home from that trip, I knew I could not go on any further, couldn’t work on writing resources and studies that are much on my heart, couldn’t keep up the pace of 5 posts per week, couldn’t put it off any longer . . . I had to wrestle this wild animal to the ground! I’m determined to de-clutter, simplify, and deep clean until the entire house is DONE!
Tackling the Impossible
So I’ve started again! When I look around and get overwhelmed, I pray, or read a quick word of inspiration from a handy and helpful site like the “Fly Lady” and keep pushing! One thing that has been the biggest help is having a good friend who can relate to what I’m dealing with. We both remember the years that she let no one in her house because it was so totally out of control. It took a flood to force her into de-cluttering, demolishing, and remodeling her home, but today she has a lovely home with an open door to whoever needs it! And she keeps it in order, it’s never gotten out of control again. She comes as much as she can to help me work through the junk and decide what to give away (or just plain throw away!) and to add the moral support and encouragement I need.
We started by walking through the whole house together and I told her my dreams and plans for each room. Then she suggested that we start in the laundry room. That’s not where I would’ve chosen to start, but now I’m glad we did. That’s where I work on a daily basis. I have to go to the laundry room several times a day, plus I had a lot of junk stored in the cabinets and once we pulled those things out, I had room to store things that had no home.
Progress has been slow. But when I get discouraged, I go and stand in that completely clean laundry room, and look at the “before” picture that I took when we started, and it motivates me to keep pushing on (I will not be sharing that pic here, by the way!). In my opinion, this kind of work is the most draining work there is; it’s as bad as packing to move. We’ve been in this house for almost twenty years now, and I’ve let way too much accumulate here! But I can’t put it off any longer!
Reflecting God’s Character and Giving God Glory
Not only do I want to have a clean and orderly home for us to have a pleasant environment to live in, but I want to practice hospitality. I desire for our home to reflect God’s character. He is not chaotic and out of control. He is artistic, everything He creates flows in harmony and in order, and pulsates with beauty. That’s what I desire for our home. I want family and visitors to know that they are valuable enough for me to take the time to provide a clean, comfortable, and inviting environment for them.
SO . . . now you know why I’ve been out of touch lately. I’ve not had time to be online and I’ve neglected the blog a bit. I’m still in the process of getting our home in order, and as a result, I may only be posting a couple times a week. But, I’ll be back (hopefully) in full swing soon . . . and maybe I’ll share some tips on de-cluttering from what I’m learning with this “agonizing” experience!
Anybody else want to confess?
Any hoarders out there who want to join me in this adventure?