Issues with Stuff

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This year I set aside time to reorganize our life at home. We needed to get rid of what we didn’t need, pretty up some spaces that felt neglected or underused, and create a pleasant place for our family to recharge.

So often we feel the need to simplify or pare down when stuff is taking over our life. Stuff doesn’t matter. Experiences are more important. Family is important. Our relationship with God is important. You can’t take your stuff to heaven. All true. What we have around us every day DOES affect us in this life, but it may impact all of us in different ways. Stuff might be a controversial subject, but not all stuff is bad for us.

My last home was a beautiful 4700 English Tudor fixer upper. And while I loved many things about it, like my remodeled kitchen and original plaster walls and wood work, the house itself caused me anxiety, especially when my husband lost his job. The house was too big for us to maintain. Too expensive for us to heat. Too much work for us to do as unskilled DIY’ers with little time for projects. It was beyond our means and it felt like we were one house repair or cold winter away from financial disaster. Too much stuff we couldn’t keep up with, so we downsized our house and our stuff by half.

Being surrounded by the wrong stuff can zap our time, energy, resources and focus away from what matters. When we have stuff we don’t need, we can get bogged down in reorganizing junk we don’t care about, dusting meaningless trinkets and hiding excess in the garage or under the bed because we might want it someday.

When we obsess over stuff we can’t afford, we spend too much time worrying about how to get what we want in life or being deprived of what we can’t have, and less time on simply caring about others.

Too much of the wrong stuff will stifle our potential and limit our time or energy for service. Less of the wrong stuff can free us up to do more good stuff. Are you still with me? Some people clearly have too much stuff, considering how many in this world have too little.

But does that mean the stuff itself is wrong? Or is it only wrong to surround ourselves with the wrong stuff for the wrong reasons?

The right stuff, stuff with meaning, purpose or intention, stuff we can afford to enjoy or share with others, or stuff that is pleasing or appropriate in our life can energize us. It can refresh us to have the right stuff for the right job for the right life and right reasons. God provides beautiful things for our enjoyment.

Stuff can be good.

Minimal stuff might be some people’s thing, it might be what energizes them and frees them to use their life as God intended, just as a pretty well-kept room alive with the right balance of pattern, color, fresh flowers and piles of well-loved books might be my thing.

If you’ve been addicted to stuff or coveting things you don’t have, less will probably be more for you. We need to know our own heart and deal with our stuff in a way that is pleasing to God.

The beautiful things I enjoy having around me aren’t my “everything” or an idol, but they do serve a good and worthwhile purpose in this season of our life. Having the right stuff puts a spring in my step and brings a smile to my face, but the wrong stuff consumes me.

Most importantly, a good balance of the right stuff doesn’t distract us from what God is doing in or through our life, they are a part of his blessing and plan for us right now. When we have that balance, we feel peace in knowing we are where God wants us for this season and we can be content right there.

I have a really hard time with even the good stuff on Pinterest. I enjoy Pinterest in moderation, but seeing too much stuff on a regular basis drains my own creativity and zaps my energy. Seeing 25 More Ways to Decorate a Pumpkin flashing before my eyes yet again sends me over the edge. I can only handle so much STUFF all the time.

Clearly, I have issues. Too little stuff disappoints my creative eye. Too much stuff I don’t need stifles my creative potential, weighs me down and distracts me. I need a carefully chosen and well-balanced diet of the right stuff, and that is what this year has been about for me. Finding that healthy balance so I can invest myself in stuff that really matters.

Do you have issues with stuff? Do you have too much stuff you don’t want? The wrong stuff? The right stuff? How does stuff energize or drain you? And how does your stuff impact God’s purpose in your life right now, in this season?

How many times did I fit the word stuff into this post? Stuff to ponder.

Join me in my adventures to create a home at The Inspired Room.

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  1. 1

    Oh, thank you for going against the “strictly minimalist” grain with this! It takes some serious brainpower to embrace the complexities here…and you’ve challenged me to look at my bedroom – which feels like it’s always been cluttered – with new eyes :)

    • 2

      Oh yes. I enjoy seeing the happy kind of non-overwhelming clutter. Minimalism clearly isn’t my thing. :-)

    • 3

      I agree…it seems you either have too much or too little. A good balance between the two (a more realistic balance) is what’s needed in every home. Having the right amount of house that you can handle both financially and physically is key, and keeping and obtaining just the things that are either useful, meaningful, or beautiful to you and those who live there is good enough.

  2. 4

    “Having the right stuff puts a spring in my step and brings a smile to my face, but the wrong stuff consumes me.” Oh, how I know this. We’re in the process of purging for a yard sale and just general clean up. I can’t wait to move this wrong “stuff” out of here.

  3. 5

    “The right stuff, stuff with meaning, purpose or intention, stuff we can afford to enjoy or share with others, or stuff that is pleasing or appropriate in our life can energize us. It can refresh us to have the right stuff for the right job for the right life and right reasons. God provides beautiful things for our enjoyment. Stuff can be good.”

    i love this melissa. going to use it as a bit of a filter. my view and feelings about stuff is hugely influenced by growing up as an MK.

    knowing how to go without and yet being fearful of without is a tug o’ war i constantly deal with. learning to enjoy good things and being free to live past the just what i need is a struggle. remembering god is abundant and that having abundance in my life is a good thing. not just part of a consumptive culture that i am sometimes fearful of becoming a part of. such a good post for me. thank you for taking the time to write it with excellence!

  4. 6

    Thank you for this post! This topic has been on my mind for a while now. According to my husband, I would be on Hoarders if it wasn’t for him, but I don’t think I’m that bad. :) I just have a hard time throwing or giving away things. I always think I might need or will use them one day. And I hate to throw away things that somebody else might could use. I feel like I’m being wasteful. But on the flip side, it really stresses me out that we pay for a small storage building each month and I couldn’t even tell you most of what was in it. Not to mention our attic is full of wedding gifts that we’ve never used! So I wonder do I really need all of that stuff?
    We are having a yard sale next week to help with our adoption. My plan is to get rid of lots of our stuff and I hope the end result is very freeing!

    • 7

      Good for you! I think having a worthy goal like saving for adoption is very motivating. Stuff can always be replaced someday if you need it! Chances are you’ll enjoy the rewards of getting rid of it much more than the security of keeping it just in case.

      • 8

        After my husband and I lost our jobs and we began to see the bottom of our bank account I started selling my favorite Longaberger Baskets. It was a hard thing to do, but I told myself that when we were “in” the money again and if I really missed a particular basket, I could find it on the secondary market and purchase another one. It lightened my load some when it came to eventually moving out of state, and put food on the table immediately. I think giving myself permission to replace a favorite basket at some later date was important. Have I missed some of the baskets? Yes. But, not enough to look for another to purchase.
        Great write Melissa!

  5. 9

    “We need to know our own heart and deal with our stuff in a way that is pleasing to God.”

    I do think that is the heart of the issue. I love your stuff!

  6. 10

    Ah, stuff….. always a problem here, both the needing and the heaving. With triplets, I’m always in need of more stuff (sometimes honestly, like clothing, and sometimes to preserve sanity, like when a friend gives me a bag of her stuff and there’s only 2 McDonalds trinkets inside. I need a third and at times I’ve been known to drive to the thrift store to get one just so I don’t have to listen to the whine about not having enough stuff.) But I also need to heave more stuff because it piles up furiously. While we were considering a 4th baby, I kept one of everything, just in case. The basement was the holding cell…out of sight, out of mind. Now that we’re sure our family is complete, I’ve been in a heaving mode, but it doesn’t happen overnight and often times just leads to me opening boxes and not accomplishing much as I wander through memories and try to organize by who might need this or I’ll put this in the spring yardsale, etc. The stuff doesn’t seem to leave nearly as quickly as it arrives and many days I just throw up my hands in defeat. One trick I’ve learned that helps me let go of stuff that is sentimental, but clearly no longer useful to us (especially with the kids’ clothing) is to have my camera with me when I do the sorting. If I come across a tshirt or dress that has a special memory, I’ll take a photo of it instead of holding on to it for another year. I have a file on my computer that someday I’ll turn into a photobook that I can flip open when I’m in need of a little stroll down memory lane.

    • 11

      Wow, triplets!

      There are definitely seasons of life that are more challenging for stuff accumulation and bring able to purge! I’d say having triplets would be one of those seasons! Love the camera trick, it really does help us to feel like we are able to keep the memory without needing the object!

    • 12
      Camille says:

      Hi, my husband says I do not de-clutter, I stroll down memory lane. Getting rid of kiddie momentos is so hard! And my kids are grown so now they are in charge of thier own stuff and we still have too much around.

  7. 13

    “Most importantly, a good balance of the right stuff doesn’t distract us from what God is doing in or through our life, they are a part of his blessing and plan for us right now. When we have that balance, we feel peace in knowing we are where God wants us for this season and we can be content right there.”

    This is so true and so well said! Thank you for this post Melissa. So encouraging and so what we should all be thinking about. A challenge for me and I’m sure, other ladies as well.

  8. 15

    Stuff does tend to accumulate. I go through my home every couple of months to either sell or donate what I don’t use or what is causing that cluttered feeling. Too much stuff just messes with my feng shui.

  9. 16

    Melissa – I really enjoyed this post. It is true, finding that balance is so important. When we renovated two years ago, I made the decision to not bring anything back in that I didn’t love or didn’t have a specific purpose. I believe having the “right stuff” around you really can be a blessings – as long as it is kept in perspective. Thanks for sharing your views on it.

  10. 18

    I am so thankful for this post!

    Especially this part–
    ‘When we obsess over stuff we can’t afford, we spend too much time worrying about how to get what we want in life or being deprived of what we can’t have, and less time on simply caring about others.”

    I have (and am!) battled/battling having too much stuff, wanting too much stuff, working hard to obtain stuff and spending that hard earned money on stuff I didn’t need or couldn’t afford. This is an ongoing issue that I keep trying to chip away at–I am so thankful for the Lord’s patience as he changes my attitude toward material things. I LOVE beautiful things and LOVE to be creative, however that lends itself to holding onto too many things. I am learning–SLOWLY–to pick and choose the things that bring me and my family joy, or that can be used in ministry. Status, fear, security (or any other reason), is not my motivation for obtaining things anymore. I try to be vigilant about my motives and if they are wrong, the Holy Spirit speaks to me. I’m not perfect at it, but I am growing. Your post helps me to keep this perspective and I am so thankful you wrote this!

    With much thankfulness and love,
    Kasey McFarland

    • 19

      It is sometimes a lifelong battle to understand ourselves, to learn to honor God with what He provides, and to find contentment right where He has us! Thank you for sharing what God’s been doing in your life and how you are growing! So encouraging!

  11. 20

    What you wrote about “stuff” was a refreshing perspective on how we can bring beautiful objects, music, books, etc., into our living spaces and maintain the balance of not overdoing it – it was especially helpful for me to read that beauty in our home environment can help us in our relationship with God, because I struggle with this all the time –

    I have a very modest lifestyle in comparison with most Americans, and yet I agonize when I see blogs written by women who travel to third-world countries and photograph the way in which the people there live. I was especially affected by a blogger who was standing in a discount store, holding up kitchen towels which she thought she would like to buy – and then she flashed-back on her visit to an incredibly impoverished country, and was thinking about how they didn’t even have enough money for these towels – and so she reconsidered this modest purchase – and reading something like this, although it is important that someone put these things “out there”, can really make me feel guilty. It is a constant struggle for me to feel I have maintained that balance between bringing beauty into my life which brings me closer to God, and the very real feeling I have which tells me that anything extra which I have should be given to those who are more needy.

    Does anyone else have a deep struggle with this?

    Janet

    • 21

      Yes, Janet I struggle with this. Maybe you are like me who desires to help everyone. God will speak to your heart about what to keep and what to give away, etc. We cannot save all the hungry and abused but we can save one or at least some. I get over-whelmed with all the ministries I could give to when the Lord spoke to my heart to pick a ministry for each month of the year, if only 10 or 20 dollars. We support one Compassion child also, but I give to Operation Christmas Child in November and Gospel for Asia in December and not support a ministry rescuing girls from sex trafficking in India. I am becoming a better steward of my money by making my own detergent and home care products. Do not let the devil heap guilt on you because it confuses us. Simply do what you can, when you can and live for God’s Glory. Blessings in Christ, Shelley

      • 22

        Shelley,

        Thank you so much for your response – I liked what you wrote about God leading us about what to keep and what to give away. Also, I agree that feeling guilty is confusing. I’m grateful for your support in encouraging me to give this up to God -
        Blessings, Janet

        • 23

          You are very welcome Janet. We all struggle with some kind of issue. I know that I am in good health I deal with it better than when I am not or very tired – that is when the devil comes a roaring. Some times when I think I’m failing I realize as Paul said to persevere and I do and give God the glory when I get through that valley. If you would like to link to my blog, I have shared many of my struggles in these areas. Blessings and stand firm in your FAITH, even when you don’t “feel” like it. http://myheartseekshim.blogspot.com

    • 24

      Janet,

      Oh yes, there is definitely a struggle to live here in relative excess and yet know how others live with so much poverty around the world.

      I think we pray for how God wants us to respond to needs both around the world and in our neighborhood and be obedient to that. Being a generous giver of your own time and resources to others is important and it acknowledges all God has provided for us.

      Everyone is called to serve and sacrifice. Some people feel God leads them to give up everything and live with next to nothing too and yet that is not something God expects or asks everyone to do.

      We are all called to give sacrificially and generously, but our gifts and service will look different in each of our lives just as our own blessings might look different from our neighbors. God provides in unique ways and we just need to be good stewards of what He provides.

      • 25

        Melissa,

        Thank you for your response. I think that when I observe other people “giving up everything and living on next to nothing”, I am concerned that God wants me to live this way – and in a strange way, it would be easier than trying to discern how much is “OK” and how much is “too much” -

        Again, discernment is called for – and I guess the fact that this issue concerns us at all shows that our intent is good, and that we will sense God’s leading in this area -

        Blessings, Janet

      • 26

        I give generously, but where I struggle is giving sacrificially. I don’t feel that I am really sacrificing anything to give/do what I do. Maybe I am but would like some of your thoughts on this. Blessings.

        • 27

          Shelley,

          I feel that I have given (and still give) generously of my time, but the “stuff” issue seems so much more complicated. I come from a religious background where saints like Francis of Assisi roam around the streets living on nothing, and proclaiming, “Give it ALL away!” – or Mother Teresa is making statements like, “Give until it hurts”. In listening to these voices from my heritage, and others like them, I become so worried about how I should be living and how much I should be giving away that I become immobilized. This is not healthy – even Francis told his men (and presumably, St. Clare) that not all individuals were called to the life he led.

          And then there is the very real feeling I experience when I read the blogs of women who have traveled to impoverished countries, and the joy the people there experience in just being presented with the simplest of gifts – something which an American child might have disdain for. Not to mention the incredible squalor these children and their parents must live in. I know I can’t save everybody, but I feel that the contrast between how they live and how I live (and again, I have a modest lifestyle by American standards) – convicts me again and again.

          Is there no easy answer to this – or is the problem that there IS an easy answer, and it is so simple that we don’t see it? – Janet

  12. 28

    Oh my, how the Lord has been speaking to my heart about stuff & simplifying my life and home. Even at age 60, I want to get rid of the wrong stuff but keep the right stuff such as pics of my family all around – I smile when as the digital frame continues to bring the faces of 5 grandchildren up along with family heirloom photos. This post was encouraging to me that not all stuff is bad and sometimes there are things you need to keep even though you may use them occasionally. Thank you and God Bless your ministry.

    • 29

      I forgot to mention that there is a great book we did a Ladies Bible Study on last fall: UNstuff: Making Room in Your Life for What Really Matters by Hayley DiMarco. There were a lot of “ouches” in the book but we were blessed by it greatly.

  13. 31

    Many thanks for tackling this issue. I have always held on to too much stuff. Now my stuff is causing anxiety and just all around stress. Trying to find a Saturday to tackle it always leads to something else that needs to be done. Instead of looking at the big picture, I’m going to try tackling just one area in need of a good clean-out and start there. I know how much better I’ll feel once it’s done! You’ve encouraged me to start! Which is a good thing! lol Blessings to you~

  14. 33

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on stuff. We moved 12 years ago. We couldn’t let go of stuff when we acquired new decor, furniture or clothes. Items went into our attic and basement. After 8 years we could barely walk through those rooms. Four years ago I began, slowly at first. A blouse, a book, a few magazines would go. It took 2 years to get my husband and 2 of our kids on board. One of our boys has never had an issue with stuff and is the perfect person to help when I waffle. Isn’t it better to give something away, to a thrift store, where the person who needs it can find it and buy it, and the thrift store usually has a purpose that I agree with.

  15. 34

    What a timely post! I am presenting at our Ladies Retreat this weekend on Lot’s Wife. her heart and eyes where on the wrong things. This post has given me a direction to pursue as we apply what we learn from her to our own lives. Thank you!

  16. 35
    Serving overseas says:

    We are returning home after serving 3.5 years in a developing country. We sold everything and it felt good, but now I am worrying about what we will need, what we can do without, keeping up with our friends, and just surviving in America after living with so little. I know God will supply our every need, I just confuse the needs and wants.

  17. 36

    A lot of stuff to consider!! I think I am similar to you in that I like to have a certain amount of stuff about to satisfy the creative side but too much is just stifling. I recognise within myself a tendency to be a bit impulsive when deciding to bring something new home. So we invented a few rules. We love collecting old furniture and stuff (really is a handy word) but won’t buy anything that doesn’t serve a purpose in our home. The purpose is allowed to be decorative but it must have a place it can go already and not create a cluttered feel.

    Growing up we didn’t have a lot and so we saved everything. It was hard learning not to do that anymore but has brought such freedom. I well remember the achievement of no longer needing a cupboard after I realised I really didn’t need the stuff in it and cleared it all out. Amazing!

    Thank you for your honest look at this :o )

    • 37

      I removed some cabinets in my kitchen recently and people wondered what I would do with all my stuff! So, I just got rid of the stuff and all has been fine :-)

  18. 38

    I have issues with people and companies that promote doing with less then in the same blog advertise stuff to buy, buy, buy. E.g., Jen Hatamaker’s 7 was followed with Daysprings advertisements.

  19. 39

    I really appreciated reading your perspective. It seems so much is about letting it go, which is definitely a good thing, but I agree that having the “right” stuff is very inspiring. After 15 years of complaining about my kitchen, I recently decided to embrace it and work with what I’ve got and quit dreaming about what will probably never be. Now that I’ve accepted the status quo I am suddenly finding just the perfect rug, or curtains, or whatever that are allowing me to fall in love with the room as it is. In my case some new stuff is just the ticket! (That said, we are also preparing a very large load of belongings to go to auction

  20. 40

    I love this piece! I have “stuff” issues too! I’m not a hoarder, but definitely not a minimalist. My biggest problem is with obsessing over having the stuff organized perfectly and that takes me far from God and into dangerous waters.

    I too get stressed by Pinterest! How I loved hearing you admit that. I’d rather just pick a few great crafts or recipes and actually make them….Pinning, for me, takes away from doing… And I’d rather be doing :)

  21. 43

    We have just moved and much of our stuff is still in boxes. What I miss the most is the stuff on my walls. They are blank and I miss the colorful reminders and photos that need to be on them, bringing them to life. Maybe I’ll get to that this weekend:)

    Jessie

  22. 44

    I love this. Because stuff — like money — isn’t inherently wrong. It’s just what we do with it and how we treat it. You have a lovely perspective on it all!

    • 45

      That’s right, thanks Laura!

    • 46
      Melissa McIntyre says:

      not trying to be ugly, but I feel a lot of people get this wrong… the *love* of money (and stuff) is the root of all evil or “inherently wrong”. stuff and money are just things, it’s our attitude toward them that is inherently right or wrong. just my two cents and something that i know many people struggle to understand.

  23. 47

    What do you think about keeping stuff from the past? Is this the not so good stuff? I was married and then divorced before I was a christian. Ive held onto a pot vase I bought at the grand canyon on honeymoon and a statue my ex husband gave me. They are arty pieces I like and were expensive at the time. But I wonder if god thinks I should still have them. Any views?

    • 48
      Beth Williams says:

      Lou,

      It is ok to keep a few items from the past. You had some good memories of your marriage. If they are artsy & pretty up a room then keep them.

      God is not mad at us for keeping a few things or even wanting some things. Just don’t make things or stuff your priority.

      God Bless!

    • 49

      God gives us free will and creativity to enjoy things like art, if they have positive memories and don’t cause you to stumble or become distracted from God’s will in any way, then I say keep them!

    • 50

      Lou, I think keeping things from the past can bring a smile to your face and bring in a little sunshine. However, maybe it would help if you think through your feelings about these items from your previous marriage. You may want to ask yourself a few questions. Do they always bring a smile? Do they give you pause and regrets of “if only?” Have you re-married? Would you like to move on? You mentioned they were quite expensive. I think it can be difficult to give away or sell something that had cost a lot of money. My experience is my mom had 2 very expensive crystal lamps which she gave to me. I enjoyed them but came to realize (as I thought through it) I didn’t enjoy having them in my home as they were given to her by someone who has caused extreme pain and hardship for our whole family and those lamps reminded me of this. I sold them on Craig’s list for a pittance. It was very freeing for me.

  24. 51
    Beth Williams says:

    I used to dream of “having/owning” things & then I would be happy. The older I get the more I realize things are not the stuff of life. It is experiences, friends, God, etc.

    Now I find myself giving away a lot of items on a bi/tri-monthly basis. I go through my clothes & other items & see what I don’t use or need anymore. That goes to some charity for someone less fortunate. I feel like less is more for me and my hubby. Just the basics and a few extras is fine for me!

  25. 52

    If I’m not mistaken, God Himself employed and Holy-Spirit filled two very creative fellows to head up decorating and designing some “stuff” for His tabernacle! :) But seriously, not only did each item in the tabernacle (and later the temple) serve a distinct purpose, it was also beautiful and deeply meaningful/symbolic.

    In our materialistic, pinterest-perfect world, however, it’s so important for us to be sensitive in this area, and to bring our love or desire for stuff under His headship.

    • 53

      God is the master designer, for sure. We are made in His image to enjoy beautiful things just like He does! And with the right sensitivity to others and a heart for God’s leading, combined with a generous spirit for those around us, I agree we can enjoy things He has created or provided for us.

  26. 54

    This message is so timely, Melissa. Just yesterday I decided I’m going to tell my husband I want to go through everything we have over the next 8 months and downsize to a goal of ” half.” I have been disabled for several years now and because of several factors some of our own mistakes and others we had no control over we have nearly lost everything twice…everything but the stuff. We put several things in storage, the first time, thinking when we are on our feet again and have another home, we will use our stuff. When that next time came around we moved into a small fixer-upper, took on the care of my husbands terminally ill mother, I had two more surgeries and consequently our stuff remained in boxes in the garage. We lost my husband’s father, his mother, my father all within 8 months and financial disaster hit again (all within a two year period). We moved all the already packed boxes plus what we were using went into boxes and off we went to a rental. We have been renting for 4 years now, I’ve had 2 more surgeries but the last surgery, which I thought was going to be the easiest of all, has turned into a year and a half recovery (had to have a bone removed from my left wrist). I’m just now able to use it without too much pain so now is the time, I feel, to go through the stuff. Just the thought of downsizing our things gives me a boost in my spirit, like a weight is going to be lifted off my shoulders. By ridding ourselves of the not so nice things, we’ll have room for some of the beautiful things I have not seen in over 10 years…Woohoo! Now I just need to get up the courage to tell my husband of my upcoming 8 month plan…lol! Thank you again, Melissa! You are a true encourager!

    • 55

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear you are making room for the pretty things. That is going to boost your spirits and definitely lift the weight off your shoulders. You’ve been through a lot, you deserve to see some pretties!

  27. 56

    I am a definite stuff-keeper. We grew up without much, and my mother raised three children on her own by saving and using and re-using everything, so that’s all I’ve ever known. However, I have collected a lot of stuff over the years, and not everything can be re-used. Some of it just needs to get recycled! We moved last year and while our new house was being built, all of our stuff was stored in a tractor trailer on our property (in the country). Unfortunately, my husband forgot to put any kind of mice traps in the trailer before closing it up for a few months. Everything I’ve pulled out so far has been ruined or severely damaged by mice. What I’ve learned (the hard way) is that because the few “important” things that were worth keeping were packed away with all the other stuff, they got lost in the shuffle and will likely now be ruined as well. If I’d had only those few things to begin with, they would not have been stuffed into a big trailer, only to be destroyed. This was a good reminder to me of the verse that says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust {and mice!} destroy…” A good lesson. And STILL I struggle with stuff. Thanks, Melissa, for reminding me that I’m not alone in this, though, which is how I so often feel.

  28. 58
    Sharon Schultz says:

    Melissa – I really related to your comment about “Pinterest” – lots of great ideas, but I feel overwhelmed and anxious when I view it as it is just too much “stuff” for my brain. I am not a minimalist, but a lot of “stuff” makes me anxious – and saying that…I still have too much “stuff” and not enough closets for sure. The big issue with stuff for me is CLUTTER!!!

    • 59

      I hear ya! In fact, I’m involved with a new blog where I’ll be writing for a company on ORGANIZATION and CLUTTER! It is challenging me to get my act together now that I’m writing about it so much :-) . This year has been therapeutic for me in dealing with my STUFF and I hope I can help others deal with theirs too, without going to the other extreme of having no stuff (although that is a great way to deal with it, I do like pretties!).

  29. 60
    Brooke Burger says:

    My issue is that whereas I would readily give a lot of “Stuff” away or have a garage sale, my hubby (as did my dad) alwasy save “stuff” for a rainy day. Needless-to-say, we have a garage, house, and storage unit full of stuff. Many times I just get disheatened trying to figure out what to do. Until my hubby (who I have love dearly for 26 years) changes, I will have “stuff”.

  30. 61

    I don’t have issues with ALL stuff, just clothes. But I am finding ways to share with others what I have way too much of. I have been forced to downsize my wardrobe, and it feels surprisingly freeing and good! I need a simple home to feel at ease and rest without feeling like I have to clean up all of the time, so I guess there is just a balance that each person needs to find in order to be at peace and not be consumed with STUFF!

  31. 62

    I’m no minimalist either – AND I thoroughly appreciate the balanced approach & advice & perspective you articulate here. I feel like I’m in good company as I read your post, the comments here, and your gracious responses.

  32. 63

    I am in the process of decluttering. For some of us, we want that warm lived in look but have never been good with the whole “vignette” scene. I am just now beginning to understand that a few larger statement pieces can give the warmth I crave without the clutter that I don’t. Maybe you could address that issue?

  33. 64

    Hi Melissa, what an incredible article. Hits me right in the heart. I love blogging, but seem to be overwhelmed too at all the pictures and the need to be more..do more…have more…
    I too have been thinking too much on this and feel the need to downsize so to speak…with the clutter. We have a very large home…farmhouse…and changing for the seasons is joyous and a great deal of work.
    Thank you for the insight and the tips…I’m actually going to save this file in my document file…I think I need to read it several more times.
    Blessings,
    Debbie

  34. 65

    Stuff stresses me out. I can look at other people’s homes with lots of “clutter” and see the beauty but in my house, it would drag me down.

    Bookcases full of books don’t count as clutter to me. For beauty I focus on the furniture, the rug, the lighting and a few pieces of art on the walls.

    Little Homestead in the Valley

  35. 66

    I found the topic today to be very interesting and timely. I am currently purging for a number of reasons. After the passing of my in-laws, mother and step-mother, I am the only local sibling to shoulder the responsibility of disposing of their belongings. Very distressing, time consuming, and frustrating. One never disposed of anything in her lifetime. Still facing what my father will have: one who has clung to belongings thinking someone will pay him for them!! The market is glutted with stuff because of the aging of us baby boomers and people rethinking their priorities. I have felt this whole process very selfish on the part of my family and interesting that my parents did not want their parents’ things but could not understand why their children do not want their clutter!!

    As with Ruth, I am also disabled so I have already begun purging my own belongings so as to leave as little as I can for my own daughters to deal with. The older I get, the more “stuff” drains the life out of me including other peoples’ stuff!! Pinterest is not an issue for me, if anything, it is my anytime craft fair where I can admire others work without going to a fair and buying things I don’t need. It also helps me to take time to see if I want to make something as well as eliminating some magazines and books I would buy.

    Thank you for the timely discussion. I do believe most of our children’s generation are not packing stuff away! Could us baby boomers have drowned them? LOL

  36. 67
    Deborah Waddell says:

    Just from this one page, I have been given so many good ideas to think about to ‘unclutter’. As a photographer, genealogist, mom, grand & greatgrandmom, I’ve collected a lot of precious memory things that can become clutter. And like you, I don’t want to be overcome by all the wonderful & tempting blogs, so even though I may glance at several, I only subscribe to 3, each on different subjects.
    One thing that I really was struck by was the opening picture of the platters on the wall. I’ve been collecting unusual white platters & dishes for a long time, but no one gets to enjoy them in my china cabinet. Seeing that picture has inspired me to go one step further. Since mine are pretty old, I think I’ll xerox some of my favorite old pictures, laminate & cut them to the shape of the center of the plate and double stick tape them to the center of the plates & hang them on the wall. That way I can enjoy the pictures, but pass on the actual photographs to my kids. No wonder you call your site ” The Inspired Room”! You’ve certainly inspired me. Gotta run. I’m gonna get started on those platters . . .

  37. 68

    Thank you for sharing this, Melissa. It’s just the reminder I needed today! I’m overloaded with stuff and beginning to simplify and clear it out. My husband retired a month ago and we want our ‘stuff’ to serve us well but not clutter up our whole life. We recently needed to completely clear out two rooms so our daughter and her four children could move into a safe place for awhile. They are in the process of moving into their own home again and we are beginning to repaint and redo the two rooms they shared with us. Believe me, when it comes down to it – our family was much more important than the stuff in those rooms. Instead of putting it all back the way it was, I’m carefully evaluating everything and the end result will be something pleasing, but simple. And I will – in the end – be relaxed and happy about it all!
    ~Adrienne~

  38. 69

    Melissa a beautifully articulated post. I agree Having the wrong stuff for the wrong reason is the core issue to a problem with STUFF!!
    I think you hit the nail on the head. Perspective and priorities is always key!!
    Great post,
    Kathysue

  39. 70

    Melissa, this was my favorite blog post of the week. I put the link to this post on my sidebar, others need to read this!
    Kathysue

  40. 71

    Hi Melissa,
    I REALLLLLLY struggle with this issue. In fact, I tend to gravitate towards minimalism because I don’t know how to manage what I have. I pride myself on being organized and yet my space is so disorganized. I have pieces from my travels that are hiding in boxes and trunks and put away because I don’t know how to display them. I like what you say about having the right kind of stuff, maybe I just haven’t figured that out yet. I appreciate the ‘new’ idea (to me) that having ‘stuff’ is okay, A more moderate approach instead of so extreme. Thank you.

  41. 72
    Melanie says:

    Most recently (due to a job assignment for my husband) we are living for the next couple of years in a fully furnished 700 sq foot apartment and I miss my stuff! It helps make a house a home. But I must say, I have enjoyed living simplistically these past 9 months and plan to “clean” house when I return, keeping only the items I love. I know that stuff can’t make me happy, but creating a home that is personal is important . . . and that usually means there’s a lot of stuff. I’ve bought 2 pillow covers, 3 lamps, 2 small rugs, 2 throws, house plants, and flower pots since arriving here. And it would be more stuff if I could hang items on the wall!

  42. 73

    The bible says it is O.K. to prosper. It is one of the ways we are able to help others. It looks like you have achieved a nice balance. I mean, it’s not like a person is a hoarder just because they have nice things. I think you should definitely have things in your home that make you happy and are pleasing to the eye. It’s what makes a home, a home. I am so tired of listening to minimalist extremists. I think some of these people must have had very unhappy childhoods.

  43. 74

    Hi Melissa,
    As I read the article, I was glad to hear balance. I also, read the comments, and feel I would say pretty much the same as everyone before me.
    Remembering that God has made everything beautiful, like us. And that John 10:10 states that Jesus came so we could have the abundent life. Yet, He calls us to have balance….too much of anything (except we can never have to much God) isn’t good for us.
    I know for me, our family doesn’t have cable, for watching too much HGTV made me discontent. But that is ME, not anyone else. I also have only allowed myself 1 magazine purchase since there is so much available on the internet.
    The following words are a good reminder for all of us…..”The right stuff, stuff with meaning, purpose or intention, stuff we can afford to enjoy or share with others, or stuff that is pleasing or appropriate in our life can energize us. It can refresh us to have the right stuff for the right job for the right life and right reasons. God provides beautiful things for our enjoyment. Stuff can be good.” and “When we obsess over stuff we can’t afford, we spend too much time worrying about how to get what we want in life or being deprived of what we can’t have, and less time on simply caring about others.”
    Thank you for sharing your heart, and reminding us about keeping our lives balanced.

  44. 75
    Anonymous says:

    I, too, used to struggle with finding peace in obtaining more stuff. And how it fits in with my relationship with God. Just like everything else in my life, it needs to be in moderation and be modest. Do the things i want speak to others about my wealth? I knew a pastor who liked to replace his old car with one in a similar color and model so people wouldnt notice his newer car. Thats modest. Now whenever i see a pretty piece, i can appreciate it and move on ,realizing I can’t own every pretty piece I see. We have been married 36 yrs. and our home is decorated with many sentimental pieces. Framed prints, lamps, throws, candlestick holders,etc. from family members , trips,childhood homes,are throughout our home. At this stage of life we have decluttered our garage and basement so only useful stuff is stored. I used to look at decorating blogs and be envious of certain decorations. But I now have realized that I am surrounded by beautiful things that remind me of a special time, occasion, or person. I only shop at Homesense for gifts for others. My house doesn’t have room for things that have no sentimental value. I do have 3 tote boxes filled with pretty, sentimental things that I have decluttered and I’m working up the courage to donate them to a church sale.

  45. 76

    In my season of life I am definitely being challenged to live with less, to weed out some of the clutter and make more purposeful purchases. I have done well with the spaces that show and feel good about having less. I have cleaned through the closets and cupboards and rid them of some excess but have far to go…it’s always those hidden spaces isn’t it? Speaks to the spiritual as well…

  46. 77

    Thank you for your post Melissa-I wish I’d read this last week! I’ve been snuggled on the couch this weekend recovering from a minor surgery and I spent most of my time on Pinterest. Yikes! I didn’t even keep track of how many things/places I “pinned” but the hours ticked by. Perhaps I could have been reading or writing or getting ahead in my bible study… (I did get some pretty inspiration and tips to try so it wasn’t a total waste of time.)
    I’m looking forward to some productive days soon purging in the garage and posting items to sell on our local Craig’s List. Thanks for affirming that some items in our home bring us joy but to remember balance and what would be honoring to God.

  47. 78

    I agree that a carefully edited collection of stuff is wonderful… but the problem is that it’s a slippery slope. Once you start keeping because “wouldn’t this look lovely?” or “could never part with that” it can easily become an issue of overcrowding for people who don’t have that mind for editing (like I used to be). It’s important to separate memories from stuff sometime in order to make room in our lives for making new memories.

  48. 79

    I agree that a carefully edited collection of stuff is wonderful… but the problem is that it’s a slippery slope. Once you start keeping because “wouldn’t this look lovely?” or “could never part with that” it can easily become an issue of overcrowding for people who don’t have that mind for editing (like I used to be). It’s important to separate memories from stuff sometime in order to make room in our lives for making new memories.

  49. 80

    I was wondering how u would handle this. I like to do crafted but my life is so busy w school 2 kids & hubby that I don’t have a lot of time for crafts. I have a lot of crafty stuff but don’t know where to put it or what to do with it all. If it is out of my site I forget about it till weeks or months later but if I leave it on my kitchen counter it is just cluddering up space. What do I do?

  50. 81

    I am currently dealing with “digging” through my mother’s home after she moved out to an assisted living facility. She has been unable and unwilling to get rid of anything for many years, including much clutter inherited from other family members. I am sad for the years she was buried under piles of stuff without being able to enjoy and share her home due to the clutter. With the experience of clearing her house, I am encouraged to get rid of clutter in my own home, but it is not easy. I appreciate your reminder that we want our homes to reflect the lovely and the meaningful, not just to warehouse stuff.

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