My Home-Sweet-Home is Out of Control!

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.

Ugly Confessions

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?


  • Kathleen Treharne

    You GO GIRL !!
    I totally relate. A lot of should of and could of stuff piles up along with everyday life . It gets hard to see whats what. Then when your hubby doesn’t agree in what stays and what stuff goes. Well that makes it even more a challenge and interesting. Thank God for Grace and Prayer to get through it all. By you sharing this personal challenge, you are helping a lot of people break free from shame and chaos. Thank you for sharing . It helps me on my journey for making room for more people in my home.When all said and done, the minimal look is the way too go in this house.Less to clean , less to put away. Sounds wonderful. Don’t give up ,keep going and I know it is hard. But God’s strength is bigger than your cluttered home. So you go girl and God Bless.

  • Laurel Hurst

    You’re one step ahead of me again! My mess began to accumulate with a pelvis reconstruction surgery that occurred when I was in grad school and raising four children in a 900 sq. ft. home. In May 2015 our main floor full bath was gutted to the 2x4s for a much needed remodel and left nonfunctioning, and, in January 2017, we stacked the contents of the entire house in our bedroom to replace the flooring throughout our home. Most of that remains in true hoarder style in the room that should be most peaceful.

    Our son visits on military leave in June and we have no place for him to sleep unless this clutter beast is tamed.

  • Deb

    I recently described myself in relation to my clutter as having ian ‘attachment disorder’. I’m attached to things because of memories I associate with them. Thank you for sharing your own struggle with clutter. There is much shame attached to this struggle as well and your transparency has given me (and I dare say many of us) courage to move forward on my own journey to a peaceful home.

  • Kathryn

    Thank you so much for sharing Kimberly. I am very much domestically inclined – I enjoy housework and all things homemaking and do not have hoarder tendencies…..however, I work full time outside of the home and this is the primary reason that our home is not orderly and this burdens me more than I would care to admit. I always desired to be a stay at home wife and mom but this has not been possible. I have had to intentionally let go of my expectations and give myself grace. That being said, I have found that perhaps 3 times a year I will take off a day from work just to focus on my house and let me tell you I will work a 16 hour day – deep cleaning and taking piles of items to Goodwill. I struggle more with the weekly cleaning and have perfectionistic tendencies. One day when I was feeling sorry for myself ( that I had to work outside the home!! I am ashamed that I struggle with that but I do), I felt the Holy Spirit gently impress on my heart that Jesus was born in a barn!! In other words – I need to learn contentment, listen to the still small voice of the spirit and know that some of the clutter is because the people that I love the most in this world live under my roof which means – dirty dishes, piles of laundry, grocery hauls, empty toilet paper rolls, bills to be paid, pants that need buttons replaced, freezers that need defrosting, and the list goes on. I know that so many struggle with staying on top of their homes because life is so very busy and things come up. My prayer is to learn contentment and to roll up my sleeves and work unto the Lord while having a joyful spirit. This takes practice and a truckload of God’s grace. Fly with Fly Lady Kimberly and continue to embrace God’s Grace. Blessings.

  • Ashley

    I can 100% relate to this post. I am a working, married mother of two young children and my house easily turns into a chaotic, cluttered mess. I avoid people coming over because I am embarrassed. Recently God has placed on my heart the importance of creating an orderly home sweet home to minister to my family and friends. I want to be able to open my house up at anytime. The first couple of steps for me is to simplify, declutter, and stop bringing new items into our home. I would love to hear your tips over the next few months on what has helped you create a more organized home. You are motivating me to make this a number one priority! Thank you for sharing.

  • Suzanne Russell

    Thanks for voicing a problem practically every women experiences sooner or later. I was fortunate to have had a “housekeeping mentor” many years ago. It truly changed my perspective on everything-especially the freedom to have people into my home spontaneously. I finally had the flexibility that brought peace and order to our whole family. As I have grown older, I have a larger home and a housekeeper. I rarely do the hard core cleaning, but what I learned all those 30 years ago, has continued to make our home a place to rest, relax and enjoy the company of friends. I am grateful for my home and for the woman who helped me learn how to take care of it.

  • Geneva Kemp

    Oh wow I can so relate to this post.I hope someday I can have a declutterd home that is relaxing for all who enter

  • Barb Lange

    We are renting a dumpster this Friday to declutter… is that bad! But this has been our plan since the winter to do some MAJOR spring cleaning out! Thanks for sharing this Kim!

    BTW, I was at a ladies luncheon yesterday at my church and the topic of “helper” came up. I loved being about to quote from your book, “Fierce Women” (I pulled an excerpt from Focus on the Family!