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Freedom from Stuff: <br>5 Tips to Restore Order

by | Dec 1, 2008 | Organization | 44 comments

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I am finally peeking my head back into blogland as I write this! Greetings! I took a couple of days off to focus on my upcoming move (in case you missed the news, we are moving to Washington next month to start a church).

I’ve really been dragging my feet on crawling into cupboards, basements and attics to start packing the boxes, but the Thanksgiving holiday weekend provided the opportunity to dive in (after getting my fill of pie and Charlie Brown shows with my son). I couldn’t put it off any longer, the dreaded process of packing has begun.

While many of you are enjoying creating and preparing for Christmas, I am seeing my life flash before me! Oh, friends, there is nothing like packing up your home to bring a flood of emotions…photos of kids when they were younger, report cards, awards, holiday memories…so many wonderful reminders of days gone by! Where does all the time go?

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As I am going through the moving process yet again (this is our sixth move since we’ve been married), I am once again reevaluating all that is important in life. It isn’t the random stuff that matters to me.

I think one of the reasons I have been paralyzed at the thought of packing is because of the “stuff” I would have to go through, sort, label, decide what to keep, what to give away and what to do with it all in a new home. And we aren’t even pack rats! Where to begin?? The thought of bringing “stuff” with me to my new home weighs me down. So if we don’t need it or use it regularly, it isn’t coming with us.

While we still have that nesting desire and always will (some things will never change!)), we are getting real about who we are, where we want to spend our time, what our limitations are and what kind of life we WANT to lead moving forward. I think we know ourselves so much better now than ever before.

We can find freedom from “stuff” because a rewarding life isn’t about the kind of house we have or the things we will have in it.

There are many unknowns right now about our move (specifically the minor detail of where we will sleep after the first of the year–still working on that!), but one thing I know for sure this holiday and moving season…this time of reflection is an opportunity for us to refine our focus and rid ourselves from the stuff that holds us back from being who we want to be.


  • If you feel overwhelmed, set aside a block of time to get life back into order and balance.
  • Focus on your most dreaded task first. Once you dive in, it won’t seem so bad.
  • Look at things in your home objectively. Are they adding something of important value or are they just one more thing to dust, store or organize?
  • Not sure where to begin de-cluttering? Try removing half of the items from a cupboard, shelf or closet and step back to look. Be prepared to be amazed at how energized you’ll feel!
  • Remember there are many people so less fortunate that would be blessed by what we give away.

Stay tuned for a giveaway, more holiday inspiration and soap opera updates on where my U-Haul will end up in January! How exciting is that? Yeah, I thought so.

What? You want to enter a giveaway right now? Ok. I aim to please.

  • Head on over to Blissfully Domestic for a great giveaway, just in time for holiday gift giving!
  • Or to Cushions & Umbrella’s blog for the 5 Big Tall Christmas Wishes to Change the World Contest (grand prize is a gorgeous one of a kind quality teak Sunbrella fabric market umbrella!!!)

Psst...Have you seen all the amazing links from our Friday Holiday Linkies? So inspiring! I {heart} you all! I’m enjoying Christmas through all of your blogs!

Other posts on routines & organization:

4 Simple Homemaking Routines

3 Things You Need To Know About Getting Organized

photos: Country Living


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    Oh my dear, this is not the best time of year to be hit with moving but I know you must be excited about what God is leading you to do! I will be praying for you this season. I can relate to what you are saying about stuff. Seems no matter how much I get rid of something else needs to be weeded out. I have tried looking at my home with an eye toward what I would do if I had to move. Would I want to take all this junk with me!? Whether we are moving or not, it is a good way to get real about what you want to keep and what needs to go!

    Kathys inspiring blog post..First Sunday of Advent~Hope

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    Perfect timing! As the holidays are near, I find myself having to clean and organize as I decorate. I did take the time to go through the boxes and boxes of old christmas decorations that we don’t use any more. I think I threw away 9 plastic storage containers of junk.

    Terri Steffess inspiring blog post..Some Favorite Ornaments

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    Thanks for the tips. I used to be a packrat and then I started having to move quite often. That will definitely change your attitude about “things”!

    Danaes inspiring blog post..Greatest Gift

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    Over the weekend, I had to divvy up the Christmas ornaments and many of the paintings that hung upon the walls. There are many gaps. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I also know that with six moves under your belt, you have a lot of valuable experience. Besides, thrifting is fun and, if you should go overboard, you can always re-create. Melissa, you could make a box under the bridge home; I’m convinced of it. Now God isn’t going to allow that to happen so we’ll all just keep praying your new home in and your current home out. Gentle hugs…

    Vees inspiring blog post..How Long ‘Til Christmas?

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    I find getting my “head” organized is the first thing I need to do before tackling any sort of big project. I can’t imagine moving during the Holidays! But you have an exciting new life to focus on, that helps!

    Jinxs inspiring blog post..North Pole Memories

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    I could have written this post myself! We too have moved numerous times in our married life and each time the house got bigger and we collected more “stuff”. I am not a pack rat and am very organized but it still just happens. We have thought about building a smaller house in the next few years but when I think about having to move I am instantly overwhelmed by the thought of having to deal with all the “stuff”. I am taking small steps towards recovery…really thinking about everything that comes into the house and editing what is already in the house. Best of luck with your upcoming move…I have also done the moving at Christmas thing too!

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    I’m so thankful for families who answer the call of God! My husband’s parents are the pastors of our church. We work in the ministry with them and couldn’t be happier!

    We moved to a new house (in the same area) last year. I totally agree with one of your tips; clean out half of every closet and drawer. I did that when we moved and it helped SO MUCH. It was hard, but I don’t even miss the things we sold in our yard sale.

    Blessings on your move,

    Laryssa @ Heaven In The Homes inspiring blog post..Clean and Green: Part 1

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    Great minds think alike! My post today is about preparing your kitchen for holiday entertaining.

    My prayer for you is that you will be granted to wisdom to hold what’s dear to you and have a smooth successful move.

    Laura Ingalls Gunns inspiring blog post..Are you ready for holiday entertaining?

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    Oh Melissa, I so can relate to what you are going through. In our early years of marriage we moved A LOT!!! We rented for quite a few years and our lease was always up at the end of November….one year I can remember moving our Christmas tree fully decorated in the back of a pick-up truck. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. I also can relate to the “stuff”. That is what I just went through several months ago. I used to have Shabby Chic decor and it was cluttering my home and my life so I had a huge sale and refocused and I have a much simpler decor now but I LOVE IT!! Sorry didn’t mean to ramble but your post was great today and I just had to respond!!

    P.S. God knows exactly where you are going to land…..HE is in control!!

    LeAnns inspiring blog post..Seven random things about me……

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    Hi Melissa, we moved last year (one of many moves) and my husband was amazed at all the stuff I kept putting out for pick up for charity … there is something about having to move all the ‘stuff’ that makes you look at it differently! Especially stored stuff. Why did I have all those things in boxes in the garage??? It is very freeing, and I’ve found the key – it’s simply starting! And once in our new place, I only brought stuff in that I knew where I was going to put it, so it took several months to go thru the boxes in the garage. For the most part I decided what’s the point in storing things I’m not using? If my husband read this he’d laugh because I still have boxes in the garage, but at least I know what is in each box. I went thru all the Christmas bins during the summer before we moved, and gave away all the things I didn’t like any longer, that was such a blessing when it came time to decorate for the holidays in the new house. I really enjoy the beautiful photos you share on this blog, thank you for all the beauty! …. Violet

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    Oh boy howdy! I can soooooo relate to what you are going through. It is quite a process and purging through the superfluous minutia can be a bit daunting indeed…a task I seem to do at least twice a year. My theory is this: if you haven’t used it, touched it or worn it in a year then it gets donated to charity or put in a garage sale. Of course, this doesn’t abide for the personal tid bits of our children’s or family. Is Mr. Winston helping out at all? I bet he, at least, stands back and supervises – that of which dogs are very good at doing.

    Please remember to breath and, most importantly, don’t wear yourself out.

    love to you,

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    Oh Melissa, I could have written this blog post myself. I know what it’s like going through the years of tidbits and heirlooms. Patience and your family will get you through, believe me!

    Much Love

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    I feel for you moving during the holidays is not easy. But a few things I found to help me look forward to the moves, was I get to clean out my house; if you stay in one place to long we end up with lots of stuff so its always been a great way to declutter. It might be hard to leave good friend, but I’m always amaze oh what great new people I meet that I would have never know if we did not move and I learned so much from so many different people in different places, I kind of miss moving for that reason, I don’t miss the packing and all the stress that comes with that. But best of luck to you ,my husband is from Washington (spokane side) and he like living there. Just think of all the wonderful people you are going to touch and they will be come better people because they know you and all your talents.

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    Oh, I can certainly sympathize, Melissa. In our first 25 years of marriage we moved 19 times. Yikes. It’s a wonderful way to keep possessions pared down.
    Like another commenter, I admire the Shabby Chic look, but it’s too cluttered to live with everyday. So I enjoy looking at the pictures in magazines and on the net, but I’m much happier with a simpler home decor.
    I love all the homes you feature on your blog. They are elegant and clean-lined.
    Blessings on you as you sort, pack and celebrate!


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    Thanks for the article, my home is in need of a de-clutter at the moment as we seem to be accumulating more things by the day as my daughter is bringing home projects from school on a daily basis.

    Good luck with the move, I kind of enjoy the sorting and packing process as it allows me to weed out what I no longer need or care for. However it’s is a bit tedious and like you I’d rather be decorating for Christmas! :)

    Happy Holidays!

    Liz@VioletPosys inspiring blog post..First Tree 2008

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    Great post! Do you have a separate blog where you share family news? My husband has been a pastor too, so I personally know the adventures of following God. He will be faithful to you, even when you don’t see of feel Him. Your children will get to experience His faithfulness at each step. Will you be afilliated with a specific church, support network?

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    I think I may be a vagabond. I love moving! I have never been someone who has tons of “stuff”. And because I change my decorating stlye often, most of the “stuff” I have came from the thrift store or flea market. So whenever I am in a cleansing mood I take most of that stuff to the thrift store, donate it then sit back and decide the next direction to go in.

    I hope you find your new home soon! That will definately make you feel more settled. I look forward to hearing about your adventure.

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    Like you said moving is a great way to look at your life and decide what really is important. Sounds like you have that covered- and what adventure!
    I think your tips are great for everyone- even if they aren’t moving.
    Good luck with everything- Can’t wait to hear more- :}

    teresas inspiring blog post.."Your Tax dollars at Work"

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    You can do it! We finished our move last night at 6:43pm. By finished, I am mean we, and our stuff, are moved to the new house. We have walkways through each room, but I am happy to have the kitchen unpacked and running. I am a fan of for purging the stuff, but have also learned that some stuff, like the stuff we are made of, is good stuff. Our moving story can be found here… We are tired, but we are happy.


    Kellys inspiring blog post..I am thankful for…

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    great post–lately i’ve been agonizing over what to get rid of because we are surrounded by stuff that we don’t have room for. i just don’t always know what to get rid of and then there’s the guilt of giving things away that were gifts i don’t like.

    aubreys inspiring blog post..Prepare Yourself For a L-O-N-G One

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    I can’t imagine taking on the challenge of moving during the holidays. Years ago, when I moved from California to Pennsylvania, I made the huge mistake of packing nearly everthing. Oh boy, that was so wrong! You are a wise woman to edit now! Good luck!

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    Oh Melisssa I know what you are going through. I’ve been posting in my blog about my upcoming move for months now…I think one of the titles was “STUFF” .. and you are sure right about memories coming forth as we go through EVERYTHING!

    God bless your move and ministry up in Washington State!!

    karens inspiring blog post..Come on In!

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    Keep at it–there’s not much else you can do! Oh, wait! There is…take a hop over to my blog, we were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and I posted about it…put up your tired feet and read awhile!

    Taras inspiring blog post..We were in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade!

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    Ach ~ I KNOW just what you mean about STUFF! Moving out is touch work, but the moving in and NESTING is great fun. I have always loved finding the exactly just right location for my old things in a new space, establishing “home” wherever I am right now. In fact… I think I’ll go do a bit of nesting myself! Blessings ~

    Eileen Terwilligers inspiring blog post..Yes, I Did Shop ~

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    Life has its natural progression, and I agree it gets sweeter as time goes on. I’ve moved many times in my life, but I love where I am right this minute. You remain in my prayers.

    Beverlys inspiring blog post..Christmas At Our Home – Day One

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    Thanks for sharing those wonderful tips…I’ve got some re-org to do myself :-) I hope you can get packed up and moved okay…I know it is daunting, I dislike moving too! Happy day to you!

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    OH I am so excited to see what God is going to be doing this next few months!! I can so understand how you are feeling. WE packed up to move last year to start a new ministry. I had lived in the same town all my life and unfortunately am a pack rat!!. but God was so good and provided us that wonderful big old house to fill with all my pack ratness (is that a word!!??) My advantage was that we still had a house and business to sell and so made lots of trips back so we were able to make lots of loads instead of getting it all in a u-haul!!!! Would love to hear how you feel God is leading you to start this church and what ideas He is giving you to entice those who would not normally walk into a church. Will it be more like a house church setting?


    mary (megardengal)s inspiring blog post..And the winners of the giveaway are———–

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    You are amazing! What a terrific post. God is smiling down you as you so perfectly put it about “stuff.” I have not moved much or at all since I have been married, but I am starting to know the life of a wife in the ministry. Keep your chin up and I commend you on so bravely following Gods will for your family. I love your blog so much. If I was closer I would come help you pack that stuff up! :)

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    I’ve moved 17 times in my adult life. I know how hard it is, and each move get’s harder. The only constant was knowing that we were in God’s will. I now live in Washington, so am wondering where you are starting your new Church. I live in Olympia, and am wondering if you might not be coming close to here. My husband and I would visit and see where the Lord leads from there, if you are close.


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    Wow, Melissa. I knew you were moving, but not why. What an adventure God is sending you on. We’ve moved 11 times in our 28 years of marriage and in there also planted a church. So many commenters have said what I’ve thought. I thought I’d add one more thing. Just think of all the people God has for you to love and to love you back in Washington! Lots of eternal blessings are ahead.

    Karen Bs inspiring blog post..Luke 2

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    i’m so glad to read your posts as we are going through the same thing (but with 7 kids, the youngest being a 3yo–it’s impossible to get a house ready to sell with a 3yo in the house and all the big kids gone to school) and you make it sound like such an adventure. this will be our 6th move in 13 years, but the first without the assistance of movers (and the longest-at 1100 miles).

    keep the updates coming—and know you are blessing others in the (hard) process-

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    I’m afraid this is a ‘me too’ comment on Getting Rid Of Stuff , but it is heartfelt… I look forward to following your journey of Getting Rid Of Stuff. With the wish that it will inspire me.

    We aren’t moving, but we still have too much ‘stuff.’ And though I have good intentions, I never seem to get far in my quest to get rid of it. -sigh-


    Tessas inspiring blog post..The geese are going over… But to where…?

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    We moved in December when our boys were little, what a zoo!
    I went to get a tree and the lot was closing down, they gave me the last tree and it was ugly! But we threw everything on it and still had a very Merry Christmas.
    Oh, and welcome to Washington!

    tamis inspiring blog post..Not a Home Tour Kind of Day

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    It’s hard to pack up and move, but I like how it forces us to go through our things and streamline! I’ll be praying that all goes well and that you find a new place soon.

    I need to go ahead and work on this in my own house now even though I’m not moving!

    Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolatess inspiring blog post..Tea for Two-sday ~ Finding Tea Gifts

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    What an exciting and scary time!

    As for the decluttering, you’re right that it is such a great feeling! Last year on a message board I had a thread where I led the “Great Destash of ’08”. It was so nice to go through room by room, cupboard by cupboard, and just get rid of excess stuff.

    God bless you! I know this has to be a stressful time.

    PamperingBekis inspiring blog post..So sweet!

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    So enjoy the Mr. Linky Friday posts- it is so much fun seeing what others are doing and making new freinds! How is the packing going?


    mary (megardengal)s inspiring blog post..A few Christmas Vignettes


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