The Things We Keep


Halfway through January, I’m still renewing {my word for 2015} the decor around my home. I don’t want to call it decluttering exactly, because it's more like streamlining and rearranging what I already have. 

But as I'm renewing, I'm finding that the things I thought I couldn't live without, aren't really missed once they're gone. And when I decide to part with them, I suddenly see them with fresh eyes and wonder why I even had them at all.

I wonder if you feel the same way about your stuff?

I feel as if I’ve been actually streamlining for the past year, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea. If you were to visit my house, you'd probably think I still have plenty of things displayed. I've heard the comments. 

"You sure have a lot to look at."
"You certainly don't need to shop for anything else."
"You have so many little things around, I feel like I'm going to break something."



From the time I had my very own place, I've treasured my things, remembering where I got it, who I was with, and what memory it sparked. Although I’ve moved numerous times since then which forced me to scrap rather than pack, I’ve still managed to maintain a fair amount of stuff. It’s organized and neat, but there’s a lot of it.

I feel like I have these treasuring tendencies because my family {except for my mother} doesn't treasure. My live-in-the-moment grandmother threw away everything. To her, vintage meant garbage, and she liked everything new. 

I remember asking her where all her keepsakes were from years gone by, and she laughed and said why would she ever need that old junk? 



My other grandmother died when my dad was a small child and he says my grandfather threw everything away that belonged to his mother so he wouldn’t be reminded of her.

So since I came from such an unsentimental family of trashers, I became a saver. 

I’ve always dreamed about discovering an attic full of treasures, or a trunk filled with vintage clothing, or a desk with a diary from long ago locked inside.



But last year for the first time, I was inspired to streamline. I replaced lamps, swapped out mirrors, and rearranged pictures on my walls. I got rid of some furniture that freed up empty space and I resisted the urge to fill it back up. I packed up boxes of dishes I never used and empty frames waiting for pictures.

I asked my sister to tell me what should go since she hauls away my cast-offs to a resale shop that supports my niece and nephew’s school {which gives me extra motivation to donate}. 

She told me I have too many figurine lamps, too many candles, and pointed out an angel candleholder she particularly disliked.



I told her I liked that angel candleholder and was keeping him, but in my rearranging, I accidentally knocked him over, breaking his wing and arm. 

I thought I would feel sorry to lose him but minutes after his untimely demise, I felt a strange sense of relief that now I had a valid reason to discard him as I packed up his pieces and carried him {gently} to the trash. 

When I texted my sister the news that he was gone, she sent back an {inappropriate and insincere} emoticon of a smiling, happy angel to celebrate my loss.




But in all this renewing, I think I'm discovering that I’m the one being refurbished, not my house. 

When my nephew broke a favorite glass that was part of a set of fashion drinking glasses and handed the pieces to me so contrite and apologetic, I immediately realized I didn't care about the glass. All of my self-imposed structure and order and rules about where things belonged was actually just selfishness. 

I don't want to value order and stuff and trinkets over the people in my life. 

It was painful at first to give stuff away, but it got a lot easier as I realized I didn’t miss them nearly as much as I thought I would, and instead of regretting what was gone, I found that many times I didn't even remember it. 

And this gives me hope.

Because I can be different than I thought I could be and realize that adjustments and transformations are possible, and heading in a new direction is needed, and things not looking like I imagined them are still very good.




So I let my niece and nephew eat their McDonald’s happy meals {with plenty of ketchup} while sitting on my white couch. 

I don’t mind if my niece spreads papers across my desk and writes in my notebooks and colors on my printer paper while she pretends she's a grown-up working at an office. 

I’m glad my nephew can flop on my couch to read a book and toss around my throw pillows and walk through my house leaving wet flipflop prints.

Those are the memories I want to keep instead of the things that don't matter. And I guess an angel had to lose its wings to prove it to me.

Is there something that can look different than you imagined it? Are there things that could be changed that could end up stretching you?




I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista. Click the images for more from my blogging friends!





Comments

  1. Stopping by from Coffee For Your Heart. Oh how freeing purging can be. Lovely home and lovely lessons that you are learning.:) I'm inspired to start streamlining today!

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    1. Hi Katie,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate your visit and I do love the good feelings purging brings! :)

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  2. I do love streamlining and rearranging, Valerie! Once I get going it's the best way to truly appreciate what I do have. Seeing our loved stuff in new settings is a real breath of fresh air.

    And I am filled with gratitude once again for the blessings of home ...

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    1. Linda,
      I think our posts today were along the same line -- loved reading your thoughts too!

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  3. I am working on a serious declutter of our home- (we have a bit of clutter!! :) It is hard to stay motivated though- as i get one area done its almost as if two more get undone- But I have felt that it is time to give more things away to make room for my present life- (three bags to go after cleaning out my closet! :) Feeling God urging me to attach to Him, not my stuff! Thanks so much for this beautiful post today!

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    1. Susie,
      It sounds like you are making great progress and I love the idea of making room for your present life -- what a lovely way to word it!

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  4. What an absolutely wonderful post. I laughed out loud reading it (in a public place),then teared up a few lines later. I love the idea of treasuring people more than order and belongings. What a beautiful and poignant reminder.
    Christy

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    1. Christy,
      You are such a wonderful cheerleader of this blog you helped me birth! And I'm so grateful for your words!

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  5. Visiting from Bobbie's place. I lost my love of "things" after my Mom passed away a few years ago. Don't get me wrong, I still like my pretty china plates, but it just isn't on my "must have" list anymore! Love your perspective on this! Thanks so much for the reminder that the people in our lives are so much more important than our stuff!

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    1. Ellen,
      Thanks for visiting! I like how your perspective has changed throughout your journey, making room for a fresh mindset shows how you embrace growth!

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  6. Releasing the old to make more space -- that resonates with me in my life, in my house, and in my spirit. I find that from time to time I need to make sure I'm releasing the unnecessary so that Jesus has enough space in my life. Thank you for your post. The way you write is very captivating!
    Jenni @ http://genuflected.com/

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    1. Hi Jenni,
      Thanks so much for reading! And I love the idea of making room in my spirit for God to have more space -- so appreciate your words!

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  7. So thoughtful! And encouraging... I too love "things" but don't want to be chained by them... Thank you for sharing your heart.

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    1. Hi Kelly,
      Thanks for stopping by … yes, giving things a balanced attachment is something I'll always be working on. So grateful for your encouragement!

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  8. I have a hard time letting go of things that have sentimental value to me. What a beautiful thought of valuing people more than things. That's a brave thing to do to let them eat on your white couch. :) Thank you for sharing this, Valerie.

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      Yes, I make sure they have plenty of napkins! :)

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  9. Lovely lovely thoughts Miss Valerie. ♥ I'm struggling with the strangling of clutter because I too am a little too sentimental... But people are far more valuable than stuff. I remember when I moved in and everything I brought with me had a place with room to spare... Seven years later, I think I have some reevaluating to do...!

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    1. Heather,
      I think you and I are collectors of vintage and that helps to make us sentimental -- just as long as we can keep the clutter in check, right?! Happy to hear from you, friend!

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  10. Not much makes me feel better than a big bag of stuff to donate. It is freeing to me, but at the same time makes me angry. Why did I think I needed it so badly when I obviously didn't?
    I think changing things up every so often is great. It makes you appreciate things you may not even really notice anymore!

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    1. Sarah,
      You and me both! I like to think that I'm passing my things on for a little love somewhere else, right? And yes, I'd like to put more thought into what I choose to determine if I really need it!

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  11. My mom was a saver—really a hoarder—and my dad was a trasher. And judging by the state of the garage when my wife and I cleaned it out five years ago, my mom won in a blowout! But among all the junk we cleared out, we found a handful of wonderful things—photo albums, old letters,etc—that could have easily been lost if my dad had his way and "brought in the bulldozer." He really appreciated what we did. It helped him preserve more of the best memories he had with my mom and got him through his grief. God bless you, and thank you for sharing your own valuable memories.

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    1. Hi David,
      What a treasure to find the old photos and letters of your parents! I've always dreamed of finding something forgotten in an old trunk or pressed between the pages of a book. Thanks so much for visiting and I appreciate your comment!

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  12. Thank you for linking up. Yes, sometimes things do look different. Thank you for helping us to see outside of our status quo. Cheering you on from the Purposeful Faith Cheerleading linkup!

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    1. Thanks Kelly! Love linking up with you and your fellow cheerleaders!

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