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Monday, March 16, 2009

My Story Monday--The Rest of the Story

This is the rest of this story, not the rest of this story.

You all know of, or at least you can see by my lack of posting, my absence from this here blog last week. Let me tell you what started my ferocity in ridding my life of unnecessary clutter; but first let me tell you some of my background so you'll understand my freakish nature a little better.

Let me explain how I grew up. I lived with both my parents until I was six. I lived in a single-parent home with my mom and brother until I was twelve. The summer I was twelve my mother remarried.

I had lived in the same house during all of this. The same small house. The house that was perfect for a family with little kids. The house that was all a single mom and her two tweens needed. The house that became incredibly overcrowded overnight when a "strange" new stepdad moved in with all his stuff.

With this new relationship and new family came new rules and new stresses. I didn't really know all that was going on in my mom's marriage but I did know there were things that were not right. All was not as it should be.

I was told that our small house, in the neighborhood I loved among the friends I loved, was only a temporary living arrangement. Our new father figure was going to move us out that "bad" neighborhood and into one far better. In fact, our new life with him would be better than anything we had ever experienced. We were going to become members of a new country club in new and far better town.

I was slightly devastated but totally excited. Who doesn't want to hang out at the country club? Swimming all day, food on demand, cute tennis outfits. Every girl would envy me! I had grand notions dancing in my head that my life would suddenly become charmed. It would be all I'd ever dreamed it could be.

I tried to tolerate the tight living space and clutter that came with someone moving in and living like they were staying temporarily on a daily basis. We never really cleaned out closets, rearranged furniture or made space for our new family member. After all, living in the old, small house was supposed to be temporary.

Because no time was made and no money was spent for organizing, decluttering and cleaning our tiny house, it was virtually impossible to manage it, clean it or maintain it. Suddenly my mother whose house was filled with fun, food and friends shut down. My mother, herself, who was formally fun and friendly shut down. Again, I didn't know what was going on; I just knew it wasn't right.

I was being told over and over that our life was great but my eyes would betray my mom's insistence.

I still tried to invite my friends over because I was used to having others in our home all the time. I remember having a friend over who commented that our house was filthy because her clothes became soiled by dust while laying on the floor in my room. I was mortified, embarrassed, humiliated. After that day, I became selective in who I invited home. I wanted to make sure their life was equal to or less than mine. I wanted to judge thier home first. It became a rule I would silently live by for many, many years to come.

At the end of ninth grade I tried out for drill team. It had been a wonderful year. I had friends I was close to, had been elected a class officer and student council delegate and was enrolled in honors classes.

I made drill team and was thrilled. That night when I went home to tell my mom, they congratulated me by telling me we would be moving away before school started the following year. I was crushed.

Although I was devastated and begged to live with my grandparents for awhile and finish at my old high school, eventually my mom's reasoning won out. She kept telling me how great it would be. My hopes were high.

We moved. We moved into a much larger house in an upscale community in a ritzy section of a town close by. I started my new high school. Long story short, our organizational challenges followed us. My friends' homes were organized, uncluttered and functional. Ours was not.

By my senior year, I never invited people over; I always went to their houses. After I left home, developers began building in the fields behind our home and rats began making appearances.

Let me stop here and say that my mom is not that same woman she once was. She is not the same person she was even this time last year. She is healthy and whole. She has a thriving ministry. She is living clutter free in her home and in her heart. She is a tremendous Godly woman, mentor and example for any woman who follows hard after God.

When I left home, I over compensated for the lack of housekeeping I had previously experienced. My dorm room was immaculate. Each apartment was spotless. I moved lots, minimizing and organizing each time. I got married and kept a perfect house. Others would even comment on it. It gave me such joy to receive this compliment. Although I didn't know it at the time, my house was ruling me.

I've now had four children and gone back to work while living in the same house we had prior to children. Imagine the accumulation.

Remember last fall when my maid quit? I freaked. I was terrified of waking up and seeing that my life had led me to a spot I never wanted to go. I was frustrated, overwhelmed and tired. So very tired. Almost, but not quite, defeated. I did get my house manageable after that and developed a plan. But, I felt swallowed up by our stuff. I felt myself suffocated by our walls. I became discontent inside my home.

Instead of wallowing in my sin, I prayed. I asked God to help me regain my focus and find contentment outside of my circumstances. I asked Him for time to refeather my nest.

This is how He answered me, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:31-33

I responded by maintaining my home but putting all other organizational challenges on the back burner and simply seeking my God's presence each day. Boy, did He bless it! He showed up, spoke to my heart and gave me a ton of new bloggy friends.

I had a good rhythm to my life. Then two nasty bugs made their appearance in my house. We were completely out of commission for almost four weeks. By the time everyone was back in action and I was ready to tackle our messy quarters, we began to smell something. Ugh! I frantically tore up the rooms in the house where the odor was strongest. I even ventured up in the attic but stopped before I started snooping...What on earth would I do if I found it?!?

I called the exterminator, who couldn't find it but determined it was inside our air conditioner ducts. I called the air conditioner guy, who promptly showed up, found the dead vermin in the attic, cleaned it up and announced it was not his job. But ever so kindly loaned us his ozone-creating-odor-removing machine.

By the time he'd left I had a foolproof plan for minimizing and rat-proofing my home. I started last weekend. What seemed like an impossible task is getting easier by the day. I have two cupboards, one closet and the pantry left. Then we'll move on to windows, painting and the yard. I also realized I feel like this every spring. Winter keeps me bundled up, storing up, shoving under because it's not as fun to air out when it's dreary weather. Spring helps me get a move on; sunlight energizes me.

I realized in doing this overhaul how necessary it is that we know what's in every cupboard, every closet, every drawer. I realized that every room has an unmistakable function and everything competing with that purpose needs to be purged. God talked to me about my heart. He changed me. He set me free from more of my stuff. He revealed more of my destiny.

He reiterated that where I've come from is not where I'm going. I needed to hear that again.

"Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you." Galatians 5:1


Joyful said...

WOW..what motivation! You have made me want to hop out of bed and start cleaning!..and it's not even 6:30am yet! :o)

Over the past two weeks, spending every day, all day at the hospital, my house has become...well...a 'little' messy ;o) I find I come home and I'm so emotionally and mentally drained I can't do anything. I need to be infused with energy. This morning you have encouraged me to just 'start', even if it's not anything big. I'm sure getting something accomplished will help me feel better.

Thanks for all your love, prayers and encouragement.
Love ya,

Melanie Dorsey said...

This was a very encouraging post. Thanks for brave honesty and a good word this morning!

B His Girl said...

Lisa, thanks for sharing the rest. Sometimes our stuff is overwhelming. I have been going through my ministry files and papers, trying to be organized. I had collected stuff I don't need. It felt so good to create some order in the house. Now to the next room. It is spring!

Rose Ann Coffey said...

God is still teaching me that our hearts are like rooms in our house. Each room in our house is functional for a purpose. Each dimension of our heart (social, cognitive, emotional, physical, spiritual) also needs to be functional to fulfill the purpose God has created us for. You have captured with words the emotions of our life. May we all move towards freedom to function as God intended us. Seek first His Kingdom. Amen.

Laura said...


Your transparency make me love you! I had some of these same issues growing up. After my parents divorced, my mom went from a stay at home mom to one who had to work like crazy to make ends meet. She also had a new man in her life to keep her distracted. We never had rats, but we had cockroaches! I cringe even now remembering it.

Aren't we all just doing the best we can? God knows we are broken. That's why He sent us Jesus.

You are so precious.

Kathryn, Michael and Alex said...

Lord, please set us free from the clutter, both in our homes and our hearts!!
Thank you for sharing, so good.

Edie said...

Lisa, God sent me over here to read this. I really need to go pray now about all of the messages He was speaking to me in this post. Maybe I need to print this out. :)

I'm with you about wanting to get cleaned up and cleaned out when Spring hits and the weather is nice. Last week's rain made me feel blech!

Thanks for the motivational talk! God bless!!

His Girl said...

we have some major things in common. wow. what a blessing this post was. you can't know.