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bringing God to the forefront of our daily lives.

Christmas Uncluttered – Day 25

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25

What a journey! December 1 – December 25 has been an eye opening journey for our family. As you know, we started a project on December 1 where each family member gives away one item on December 1, two items on December 2 and so on until Christmas Day when we each gave away 25 items. Our total? 325 items each and 1,625 items collected as a family to give away.

photo 3Along this journey and during this season, I thought many times about Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem. Mary pregnant, I’m sure uncomfortable, and Joseph concerned about protecting her along the way. Remembering that their journey was much more difficult than our simple project continually encouraged me to keep going – to finish what I had started with our family.

Many times I had to remind my family to put their items in the “give away” box (which has now become a “give away” ROOM!) but as time went on, they all seemed to be more and more motivated to get it done. Either to stop my nagging or I would like to think they, like me, were encouraged to clear their parts of our house and begin the New Year uncluttered.

Throughout the journey, each of my kids started giving away each other’s items and even items they knew they would need in the future. Some trades were made and negotiations to allow trash to be counted as an item. At that point, I agreed to count trash and allow trades in order to keep everyone participating. Our dog even participated by taking the same two stuffed animals from the pile day after day. I took this as his negotiation to keep these two items for himself which we now call his “babies.”

Even though our “give away” project is complete, the journey is not yet over as there are several drawers and rooms that we haven’t even gone through. This project has motivated us to finish what we started and go through everything. We will continue adding items to the “give away” room until we are done. I hope this will happen within the next week so that we can actually “give away” all that we have collected.

We can’t tell that we’ve given away anything and definitely aren’t suffering with less. The kid’s rooms are cleaner than I have seen them in a long time! They are glad they participated but one said, “I won’t be able to do this again next year because I won’t have enough stuff.” I think that’s a great thing (and his room is now really bare) but am hoping we can do some version of this each year – or better yet, let’s not excessively spend and accumulate things we think we need but really don’t. It’s comforting to know that we can live with less and convicting to see the excess we have accumulated and thought we needed but in reality didn’t.

God has clearly provided and I know will continue to provide for our family, beyond measure.

Happy New Year!

Paige

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Christmas Uncluttered Day 9 & 10

And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Clearly I missed you all on days 9 & 10 BUT our family did not miss adding items to the “give away” box. With the busy schedules and events of the Christmas season, I found myself exhausted. My daughter and I fell asleep watching TV together on day 9 (can’t blog with my eyes shut.) and after a full day of work and kid activities on day 10, I thought it in everyone’s best interest to wait and write to you this morning.

We have now added 330 items to our “give away” pile! The pile is growing so tall and wide that it has literally taken over the kitchen. Although already overwhelming, my goal is to organize and move it to the laundry room (this weekend) so that we at least don’t continue to fall over it.

Only 10 days in and we are exhausted. My family is exhausted hearing from the “Donation Nazi” (me), I am exhausted reminding them to put their items in the box, and we are all growing weary every time we look at the rapidly expanding pile staring us in the face every time we walk through the kitchen.

As we were driving home from school this week, the kids calculated how many items we would give away by Christmas Day and were shocked at the thought of it (of course, I already knew the final count and had to laugh at their facial expressions). “We will have nothing left!” My response? “Exactly! Isn’t that awesome?”

No matter how exhausting this journey is, I know that it’s for good. There are other families out there who have nothing and will be so grateful to receive our “give away” items. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, they are going to receive brand new items. You know, the ones that have never been opened, are still in the box, still have the tag, or were only used one time.

I hope I’m not alone in this life of excess. I pray you too will join us on this journey if you haven’t already. It’s challenging but we will not grow weary in doing good.

Merry Christmas,

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 8

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Today I’m dragging from lack of enthusiasm with our family project. I found myself going to each family member’s room and asking for their items for the “give away” box. Clearly they’re over Christmas Uncluttered. I was even referred to as the “Donation Nazi” (but they all still participated and slowly added their items to the “give away” box).

Once today’s effort was complete, we stood around the overwhelming pile of items while complaints were shot at me about how this project is taking over the kitchen! I proceeded to let everyone know that I would move it to the laundry room before the weekend. Wouldn’t you know, the response was, “How can you do that, the laundry room already looks like this?”

This journey is so eye opening! We want so many things and then when we have them they become distracting, in our way, and causing affliction in our lives. Call me what you wish but I’m certain if we are joyful in our hope of God, patient in affliction from others, and faithful in our prayer life, God will take care of it.

I’m so grateful for Christ’s love and protection.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 7

We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:2(b)-5

Ok, I admit it, this journey of a Christmas Uncluttered is definitely developing perseverance for me. I know our God of hope will pull our family through this journey as he has done many times before. Those who know me can tell you that I’m a ‘getter done’ type of person. If this activity were up to me, I’d shovel the whole house into the driveway and call it a day. BUT I feel that this family activity is better spent as a journey, especially during the season of Christmas.

Our “give away” items have spilled out of the box and onto the floor of our kitchen. We are exploring and discussing outdated items such as flip phones (no offense to those of you who still have one) and trading each other, all while the dog keeps finding his own treasures in the “give away” box and running through the house with them. As I walk through the house picking up stray items, I find myself wanting to fall to the floor and pitch a two-year old fit but I will choose to forego that and instead make a plan B.

Each day I will pray for God to teach me through this journey – perseverance, character, and hope. And along the way, no matter how frustrating, I will boast in the hope of the glory of God!

Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Blessings, Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 6

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

The “give away” box is already stuffed and overflowing! And my husband is already warning me that this activity is going to take over the kitchen. Clearly I need to find a new storage spot for our give away items. I thought about taking a picture for you but it’s really embarrassing yet quite humbling to see the excess that we have accumulated (I will post a picture eventually), especially when our family has now designated 140 items to give away in just one week!

On one hand, I am so proud of my family for participating in this Christmas activity with me. On the other hand, every where I turn I continue to see excess in our home. The majority of what we have given away is clothes but there are still clothes spilling out of every room – clothes to wash, clothes to fold, clothes to hang up, clothes to go to the dry cleaners, clothes to give away and more. Just seeing all of these clothes is exhausting but I am so thankful that God calls us to go to him for rest for our souls when we are burdened. I keep telling myself that this activity of giving this Christmas season is a good thing! And when it seems overwhelming, I know it is short lived and I am comforted by God along the way.

I hope you too are able to lean into God when you feel overwhelmed or burdened.

Merry Christmas!
Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 5

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Today, our cleaning of rooms and putting items in the “give-away box was rather uneventful. Everyone seemed to have a full day of activities so our morning started early. One of my three teens stayed home to do homework and continue cleaning out his room. Although he has a bit to go, amazingly, all of his desk drawers are cleaned out and his give-away pile is growing. The anticipation of having an uncluttered and clean house is so rewarding.

As we mop, wash, fold and clean our house, I am reminded that Christmas is a time to also prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of the Christ child. We sweep out the corners of our hearts, cleaning up the clutter, to make space for God’s hope, peace, joy, love and presence.

Tomorrow is a new day, and one day closer to the anticipated celebration of Jesus’ birth. And tomorrow everyone owes double to the “give away” box (we will see how that turns out)!

I hope you too are experiencing the opportunity to clean house and your hearts in anticipation of the Christ child.

Merry Christmas!
Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 4

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Everyone in our family continues to place items in the “give away” box each day and each day they are more interested in putting items in the box (and some wanting to put more in the box than is requested for the day). In fact, two of our three teens have begun the long process of cleaning their rooms and starting a pile of items to give away each day. I’ve never seen so many clothes!

I started Christmas shopping today and found myself struggling with conviction as it was difficult to make sense of giving away our possessions yet replacing them with new things. Are we defeating the purpose?

Jesus demands, in Matthew 6:19-21, that his disciples give their full allegiance and devotion to God (“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”) rather than to the accumulation of wealth (treasures on earth). He gives three reasons for this admonition: (1) material things offer no security, since they are themselves susceptible to destruction. (2) the quality of personal character (the heart) is determined by the object of commitment and devotion (3) the attempt to divide allegiance between God and money is doomed to failure; it can lead only to self-deception and the despising of God.

Christmas is already becoming more meaningful as I consider Jesus’ demands to give all of ourselves and consider – the treasures stored up on earth vs. treasurers stored in heaven.

I pray you too are experiencing a meaningful Christmas and remembering our eternal treasured.!

Blessings,

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 3

The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly. Proverbs 16:13

The joy of parenting – especially when we see the fruits of our labor! Day 3 was a day of honesty in more than one way from the same teen in our family. Not that others in our family aren’t honest but today was a special day. This morning, on the way to school, he humbly and honestly admits (without my prompting), that he forgot to put his items in the “give away” box last night but will make sure he gets them into the box after school. Gotta love it! How many times have we talked to our kids about the importance of honesty (and many other important character traits critical for excelling in life)? Just like the king, we parents are pleased with words of honesty. And what a blessing to witness when one of our kids “get it.”

Then tonight, as I was searching for my Christmas Uncluttered items, I found myself struggling to depart with a few sentimental accessories. Luckily my humble and honest teen was standing next to me and provided a gentle and honest “No, you shouldn’t wear that…,” followed by a silent look on his face of “…ever!” Before thinking about these items further, I quickly pushed them deep down into the bottom of the “give away” box so that I wouldn’t see them and be tempted to pull them back out. It’s only Day 3 and I’m already a bit anxious to say the least! If I’m sentimental and struggling to give away three items, how will I give away 325? Maybe today’s scripture should have been “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’m sure I will recall this verse often in order to get through the next 21 days.

I hope you too experience the fruits of parenting and the humble honesty our kids can bring us. Join our family on this journey to a Christmas Uncluttered! Clearly we are beginning to receive as much as we give.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 2

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

Hmm, Day 2 was interesting. Items are starting to show up in the “give away” box that one person doesn’t want and another person says, “Wait, I might want that!” What?!? Now we want to trade? On top of that, big brother is trying to donate little sister’s toys! I, on the other hand, am a purger by nature and find myself in need of giving all of my 325 items away today. Waiting, and only giving the correct number of items each day, is helping me to wait with anticipation and remember the reason for the season, the coming of the Christ child.

Just like the captive people of Israel who were permitted to return to their country, we too have been held captive my material possessions. But this family activity is giving our family the opportunity to talk, laugh and play together more often which is showing the great things God has done and is doing for us.

If you are joining us on this journey, I hope you too are experiencing the same.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 1

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

Well, I would say day one of Christmas Uncluttered was a successful start to giving. Each family member (minus one who was more concerned about getting Instragram fixed on an iPhone) gladly placed his/her first item in our “give away” box. We have begun small but I’m hoping we will get more serious as the reason for the season draws near. So far we have a shirt, a pair of shoes, a baby toy, a lava lamp (We actually have more than one), and everyone’s favorite – a Justin Bieber scarf (guess he is now a “has been” in our household)!

My husband and I had a good laugh talking about day one items placed in the “give away” box. After all, it’s been way too long for us to have a baby toy in the house!  Let me clarify, one part of a baby toy. On a bright note, it’s still usable if you’re creative. I think it’s been used as a pencil holder for 18 years! I mean look at it –

photo 1 photo 2

This treasure could be used for snacks or drinks, as a cookie cutter for your Christmas gingerbread house, a stencil in your next art project and much more! I might have to rethink giving it away (just kidding – it’s going, going, gone).

Day two items are already hitting the “give away” box. More on that tomorrow! I’m so excited to hear from those who are already joining us on our journey to a Christmas Uncluttered. Won’t you join us too?

Merry Christmas!

Paige

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