Monday, August 04, 2008

Simplify Life Week: Day One

I have been wanting to write this post for quite some time. Back in March, I attended a session of our bi-monthly women's Bible Study at church. Our pastor's wife usually speaks and then we break up into small groups, but at this particular session, our small group leader was sharing in the large group teaching time. What she shared was very meaningful to me and really caused me to do more thinking and praying on it.

With her permission, I will share with you what stood out to me and what happened because of it.

First of all, I was intrigued because her topic was Clean Heart. Well, you know how that has been on my mind and heart a lot this year - so I couldn't wait to hear what she had to say. In fact, I am so glad I made the special effort to get there that morning, because I am thankful God allowed me to be there to hear His words through her.

She shared a great comparison on the passages of Genesis 3:6 and 1 John 2:15-17. In Genesis 3, Eve sees that the fruit from the forbidden tree is, "good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom." Over in 1 John, we are reminded of the things which do not come from God but from the world, "the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does."

Here is the comparison:
* good for food: lust of the flesh
* delight to the eyes: lust of the eyes
* desirable to make one wise: the boastful pride of life

I don't know about you, but I'd never thought about this in this way. It really opened my eyes and made me think about what it might be in my life that Satan is holding out in temptation just as he tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit.

She also shared 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve with his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." NASB

Ok, so now that you know what Scriptures she shared - let me tie this in with simplifying your life and having a clean heart. She shared her very personal experience of trying to simplify and declutter her home. In regards to the things I have in my home - what are my motives for keeping certain things? Is there any foolishness in my home becuase of the things I have? Am I a wise woman who builds my home or a foolish woman who tears it down?

Be willing to call sin what it is: sin. Do not let myself get caught up in saying my house is cluttered because I struggle in this area or have not cleaned out things I should because it is a weakness.

Do the things in our home represent the things of God - the things that will last:

* God
* His Word
* people

Make sure this is the tone of my home and consider then when making purchases in the future as well.

Here is what came in my journal:
Question: Satan holds out things to me to tempt me (other things than fruit from the Garden of Eden). What are these things and do I question/doubt God and accept the desire of these things giving way to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and boastful pride of life?

I processed this with David and he said, "You are more worried about what others think than coveting wisdom as Eve did..." Ouch. Oh, I teared up instantly because you know what? He was exactly right. I was immediately humbled.

My mind was instantly thinking of my closet - as I looked in there I saw things I'm keeping for:
* maybe I will use it someday
* someone will be upset if I get rid of that: guilt
* it is neat and I don't want to get rid of it
* I like what having that says about me - how it looks

Action: Go in and get rid of anything in these categories. Be honest and be willing to have a burden lifted! Consider my motives.

And, from after I worked on my closet:
Dear Lord,
Thank You for speaking to me on the motives I have for keeping certain things. I went through my closet and was able to get rid of a number of things I was keeping with wrong motives. It is very freeing going into my closet now and not dealing with all of those things.

Lord, I would like to as for Your help as I go through the rest of the house and work on the areas I identified on a walk-through yesterday that bother me or need attention.

I am finding as I Spring Clean that I really like our home. And, it is especially inviting when it is tidy - it would be easier to keep tidy if the volume was down. Lord, I know this will not be easy - but I want our home to reflect our hearts and I want both to be free of unhealthy clutter.

Would you please give David and I a unified vision on this and work our Your will in our hearts?
Thank You, Lord.
This was several months ago - and I have not completed all of my projects and in fact, feel like I need to purge a couple of the same areas again! This is an ongoing evolving process. But, these thoughts were extremely meaningful and helpful to me!

Simplify Life ~ Do the things in your home represent a clean heart? Is there anything that needs purging? Ask God and He will guide you in this!


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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, and I look forward your comments this week.

Katy said... I totally loved this post Monica. I totally worry about what others think of me. I don't want to be that way though. And I don't want to hold on to things that I don't necessarily love or need. Thank you for this post! :)

Mary Ann said...

My husband said the same thing to me recently about being more worried about what people think. It did hurt even though I knew it was true.

My "overactive guilt muscle" has had me keeping things that I don't need or use and are taking up a lot of space that could be better utilized otherwise. I somehow feel wasteful and ungrateful not keeping things that were given to me out of love. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I will be praying over these items and seeking God's direction on what to do with them.

I look forward to what else you have to say this week. Simplifying in order to live as God intended for me to live has been on my heart a lot lately.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

I find it amazing when God keeps speaking about the same thing over and over:). In my life He is working on simplifying too:) I've wrote 2 posts about it. Once just last night:)

Thanks for your very helpful imput.

~katie~ said...

Insightful post, Monica ~ thank you! Welcome back! :-)

It just so happens, our bedroom closet is on my "to-do" list (yikes and has been for a while!)

This post gives me much food for thought. Our pastor shared a comparison a while back about decluttering the rooms of our home and decluttering the 'rooms of our heart'. It has stuck with me, and your post brought that fresh to my memory. Thank you!

Psalm 119:36-37

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a great morsel to chew on.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica, I just shared with Aunt Mary in a note this morning that one of the positive things I've noticed in this season of my life is that I care so much less about what other people think of who I am and how I choose to live my life. How I wish I had come to that place much earlier in my life! It is very freeing and simplifies my life! :) Love you, Mom

Angela - Life w/ Two Busy Boys said...

Great post. Just this sunday our pastor preached on how our lives should be built on a foundation of Christ but how we often will put 'shotty" materials upon that foundation. He challenged us to think of whether or not we were living our lives as the foundation we should have it built upon. Your message really tied in that not only our actions should reflect Jesus as a foundation but that our homes as well. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Monica for the simplify theme. I need such encouragement in this area. I have to much *stuff* and i believe it not only clutters my home but my heart too. Hanging on to things for some of the same reasons you mentioned; maybe i will use it someday, or the guilt factor of giving away something someone gave me..... The list goes on. People are whats important not things, this is where i need to put my focus and honor the Lord with the relationships and cut the clutter. This post so hits home with me. Thank you-tammyp

Amy said...

It is so hard to get rid of things, but I feel more in love with the stuff that I have if I can make the space to enjoy it. I really need to work on this and work on not worrying about what everyone else thinks about my stuff. This will be a great lesson for me!

Anonymous said...

I missed you Monica! So glad you are back...and to a day of rest too!
I wasn't there the day M. spoke on this topic. I am sorry I missed it, but I see I need to get a CD of the session. Thank you for sharing.
Boy oh boy...I have a lot of work to do. I'm working on the heart issues right now, but very soon it will transfer to the house issues.
Hope to see you soon.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...


Something to think about and work on!!

I'm enjoying your blog!

Laura of Harvest Lane

Stephanie said...

This topic has been so heavy on my heart also. There is so much I have that I don't need. I am totally ready to do an overhaul in this area, through God's grace!

Thanks for this encouraging and motivating post!

Lee said...

I missed your posts Monica. You just wrote a very personal devotional for us that lived life right out in front of us.
And I needed that.
I need to REALLY take a hard look at simplifying.
Thank you for being the vessel today. Blessings on your day.

Wanita said...

Wonderful post, Monica. It's difficult to simplify, but so rewarding when we do it ~ especially when we do it because God has spoken to our hearts and reminded us that He should be our focus, not our posessions.

Quirky Cottage Owners said...

Shedding the layers is an on-going process. You made me smile when you said that you needed to purge in some of the same areas again. As hard as I try to live a simple life I find that clutter creeps in while I'm unaware.
Examining motives -- thanks for the reminder -- I need to do that.
Thank you, Monica, for being willing to be so transparent -- it helps all of us.

Paula said...

Thank you for sharing what the Lord has been teaching you. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post. I heard Nancy Lee Demoss today on the radio and I only caught the last minute of the program but I think she's talking about some of this on her program this week too...about any foolishness we are having or causing in our homes or to those in our lives.

Looking forward to tomororw!

Glad you got home safely. Our little getaway was last weekend and the girls were pretty good! We were in the van a lot!

Anonymous said...

PS from Mom: Isn't the photo on this post one you took when you were here (lunch in the park)?? :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Monica. I, too, am more concerned with what others think than the Lord would have me be. I am in the process (as you say, ongoing) of decluttering our home in order to simplify our lives, make home more comfortable, and have more time for building family relationships. I will keep your words in mind as I go about my decluttering. One of the most helpful things for me is to think about the fact that if I am keeping something that I really don't need or care about - I am keeping someone else from being blessed by it who has a need.


Bella @ Lil Daisies said...

Beautifully written Monica. I have been "purging" through this same issue in my own life for the past 10 months or so. (I had my third baby about 8 months ago). The Lord has been really working in my heart too. I was encouraged to read about your journey. God is, VERY good!

Linda said...

Oh, your writing is SO true! :)

We've just moved house two weeks ago and eventhough our new house is the same size as the old one.. we're missing a LOT of built-in closets.

And I don't want to just go out and buy more closets to put stuff in. Now, this is WAY easier said than done..

I have a few problem areas which leave me with much stuff.... I have a mom who loves to buy gifts.. and not one at a time, but multiple! I'm guessing about 3 items every week..

And then I'm that kinda person who goes through 'phases' a lot. Well.. I used to be, especially as a teen.. And I'm still holding on to a few items from every phase.. just, you know.. to show the grandkids.. *lol*

But this move has been (and still is!!!!!) a journey for me to just be bold and throw stuff out. I've filled up bags and bags of stuff and threw or gave them away.. and you know what.. not ONE time I have felt sorry because I lost something.. It's strange how much pain it can cause to get rid of things.. but it never hurts once it's actually gone....

Greetings from the netherlands! :D

Carrie said...

Monica ~ I discovered your blog awhile back! I LOVE visiting you! You are one of my favorites! I couldn't wait for you to return from your trip so that I could learn more about simplifying my life! I think it's great that you are being obedient to God and sharing what you have learned all over blog land! You are precious and so inspiring! Can't wait to visit you tomorrow! God bless!~

Wendi said...

Great post Monica! I too have issues with what others think of me. I am working on it, but it is hard.

Elise said...

Oh dear...Clutter is one of my husband and my battles. I just have so much stuff that it overtakes the whole house. Its really ridiculous and I was reminded on someone's blog who said something about how she pouts when she doesn't get a new pretty. I don't want my children to think that I indulge myself or to think its okay to. Whew, some bad habits to pray about for sure.
P.S. What about things that you don't necessarily use everyday? You know, the seasonally decorative things??

Lauren said...

Wow, some great thoughts here...

Anonymous said...


I am very much enjoying reading your series on simplifying....I have been REALLY struggling with this for years now.IT seems i cant get a hold of getting the clutter out of my house.Anyways i wanted to ask you a question.Would you please explain.You state that we shouldnt excuse it by saying "I have a weakness" ,etc and that we should call it what it is..sin.Would you mind explaining to me how it is sin,in your opinion?I am just curious.I dont really understand.I am not in disagreement..i have just never thought of it this way....thanks much