Spring Cleaning

Cleaning out clutter is about more than “stuff.” So often, we don’t realize how much stuff is accumulating until we decide to clean. The second half of May tends to be when I tackle the piles of stuff because we have a break in activities for a few weeks. This year, I started with my work space/school room. In that process, I threw away many pieces of paper, shredded months’ worth of junk mail, and filed months’ worth of bills and utilities statements. I also organized office supplies and set up an “Ebenezer Space.”

In one of the Wavemakers‘ first virtual events, one of our speakers talked about creating an Ebenezer space. In Hebrew, Ebenezer means “stone of help.” This space holds physical reminders to anchor your focus. Things in this space often hold sentimental value, stirring both comfort and joy. In ancient times, these stones were raised in times of defeat, mourning, or victory as a reminder of God’s Faithfulness in ALL things.

I have more than one area like this but in my work area, I wanted the focus to be the Wavemakers. I gathered many of the gifts from my ministry partners, Christy and Sherril, putting them in one place. These gifts reflect our friendship, some inside jokes, and our mission. 

The next big task included cleaning out the kids’ closets and toys. We bagged up three trash bags of clothes that no longer fit, sold some toys they no longer play with, and donated an additional bagful of odds and ends toys. In this process, we also created more space to play. Even my children have an Ebenezer space with favorite pictures and keepsakes.

Then, I tackled my dresser and closet, which included two trash bags and a diaper box (who knew I still had one of those?) full of clothes that I don’t wear. I’m working on losing weight and getting healthy, so some things were too big. Getting rid of that safety net keeps me focused on my goals. 

The final space is the kitchen which is a work in progress since I still have to use it every day. I’ve made some progress, mainly in the cup/mug cabinet, including taking several glass jars to recycle saving only the “good” ones (mason-type jars with ring lids). 

I share all of this for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t matter WHEN you do your spring cleaning, as long as you make a habit of cleaning out the clutter. This can be once a year, every season, or more often if you create the time. If you’ve never done any kind of cleanout, the first time will be daunting. Take it one room at a time. Secondly, the amount of physical clutter in our space directly impacts our state of mind. If you sit down to work surrounded by piles of papers, trash, and things to do, you will be overwhelmed before you get started. You don’t have to have a spotless house to have a functional, clutter-free home (and mind).

Consider these simple steps

  1. Throw away all of the trash. This may include a paper your child scribbled on three years ago (if it’s really important, take a picture of it first), broken things you will never actually fix, receipts, junk mail, and packaging. 
  2. Create a file system. If you keep a monthly calendar, consider something like this, the file each month in a box like this. I keep my records close by until I do the year’s taxes, then I go through everything again and keep only the essentials. Keep tax files for three to seven years. 
  3. Figure out what works for you! Maybe you are 100% electronic with your records. Always have at least one backup on an external drive. A few years ago, I dropped my external drive. I had some things saved in other places, but a majority of what was on that drive is gone forever. Even the Geek Squad could not recover it.
  4. Clean as you go and do your best not to UNDO what is already finished. My house is all hard floors – which I enjoy, except I loathe sweeping and mopping. I live “at the edge of the desert” with blowing dirt and dust. I often neglect these chores to the point of embarrassment. Since getting the clutter cleared, I’ve been more motivated to do those unpleasant chores (at least in the rooms I’ve finished). 

Find what works for you and your family. I encourage you to create your own Ebenezer space the next time you clean and declutter. What visual reminders anchor you to your purpose?

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