Refresh: All That Stuff

My home contains a lot of stuff. A LOT. OF STUFF. Can you relate at all? If you choose not to be minimalist (or minimalist in spirit but not practice), you end up having to find a place for all that stuff. Once your closets are full, or if you don’t have many closets, we often end up looking at cabinets or shelves for the rest. And that is a good option for items we use often, like shelf-stable food or cookie sheets or toiletries. But the option will hurt more than help if it’s not sufficiently organized.

It helps to be able to find what you need AND cut down on visual clutter. Shelving is great because it is easy to access. It can be a problem, though, if it’s just more layers of unknown piles stacking to the ceiling. If what you need is buried, you can’t get it and you are oppressing your brain in the process!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put like items together. Make it easy to see where things are in a split-second glance. Which items are often used together? Plastic food storage containers can be in the section next to the plastic bags for post-dinner clean-up.

Fit the items to the shelf size. Big shelf, big stuff. Push the little things to the smaller shelves. The less you have stacked, the easier it is to put your hand on it when needed. Keep the big, tall books on the taller shelves and the short paperbacks on the more narrow shelves. It will fill the space better and look neat.

Put what you use most where it is easiest to reach. The heavier, less frequently used stuff can go on the very bottom shelf. The lighter items can go on the top shelf. You will see and reach for the middle shelves the most, so save yourself a few inches.

IMG_4225Hide in plain sight. Just as in closets, this is for shelving in a room. Using baskets or bins or banker’s boxes covered in contact paper will help cut down on the clutter in the room. It is there, but you don’t have to look at it until you need it. Using a neutral color for the bins will make the shapes blend into the background — or you can take the opportunity to add a pop of color to the room.

Mix up your shelving. You can use the same set of shelves for books, a few boxes, a vase with flowers, a few picture frames, and toy storage. It looks decorative, just like in catalogs! This will also help relieve some of the pressure to fill the shelf. Keep what you need and is meaningful. If you only need enough books, toys and pictures to fill one shelving unit — excellent. If it eventually expands to two, no problem, but don’t expand just to fill space.

Watch for Whiplash

Full of love for our neighbor, we ask in a difficult time: “How can I help you?”

In an effort to make our husband’s priorities our own priorities, we ask, “What would you like me to get done today?”

Out of love for a good friend, we share, “I’d do anything to help you right now. What can I do?”

These offers of service are a great way to focus on loving our neighbors. We are asking for the best way to do that. Then we can do what helps the most.

And then…

The answer comes.

And then…

It doesn’t quite fit with what we were hoping, or expecting, or desiring to do that day or week. We really wanted to get some baking done that afternoon, but the neighbor asked for an errand run instead of fresh cookies. The hallway closet desperately needed an overhaul, but he wanted some research done and there isn’t time for both between other responsibilities. The help needed is a big inconvenience or a drastic change in the day.

We can prepare our schedules to leave room for service, but our hearts need to be prepared just as much. When the I didn’t really want to do THAT kicks in, we can be ready to immediately speak truth to ourselves. Before we ask, we can be braced for the whiplash that may come.

Don’t get pulled away from what is right so easily. Pray for strength to fight for love before, during, and after. Remind yourself of what you are called to do. Motivate yourself by reflecting on how you have been blessed.

Note: Sometimes we are simply unable to fill a request. Responsibility conflicts happen. The comments above are about the attitude conflicts — when we can do it but just don’t want to. Pray for wisdom to see clearly and know the difference between what can be done and what is a legitimate obstacle.