simplify

This past weekend, Dennis and I started cleaning our garage; actually, it’s a large storage shed. The garage was converted into a playroom equipped with a Ping-Pong table and foosball machine for our growing clan of teenagers over 15 years ago. Since we had to have a place for the lawn mower, bikes, and all the other garage items, we built a nice shed, which I determined would be called the cottage. I made it cute on the outside with some old windows, shutters, and a window box. But the inside is pure garage. No paint with stuff stored in the rafters, under the stairs, and in every corner — nearly to the ceiling in places. All the things we didn’t need or the kids didn’t want anymore went out back.

And now that the kids are gone, it’s time to de-clutter. To simplify. To purge. To lighten the load on the floor boards lest the cottage cave in the middle!

Some of the decisions have been easy. Some junk is clearly junk, and it went in the trash bag or directly to the fire pit where it was quickly consumed in the fire we had going. But some of it is not so easy. After digging through a stack of boxes and things, we came to a wooden box Dennis built at least 25 years ago. The box was our makeshift crib that we took when we traveled across country. It served a dual purpose as storage while in the car and at night as the baby’s sleeping space. It was about the size of a drawer with a sturdy foam mattress we’d made and handles on the ends for carrying.

But now what do we do with the box? We reminisced about the portable crib we’d made and which kids had slept in it and where. But who needs it now? Would any of the kids want it? Doubtful. But we didn’t have the heart at the moment to throw it on the fire. So it’s leaning against an outside wall, waiting for its fate.

In church on Sunday, our pastor talked about the temptation in middle age to grow soft, settled, and too comfortable. Our cottage is definitely settling in the middle, and Dennis and I are soft when it comes to reducing some of our clutter. Our cottage is a picture of much of American life. It looks great on the outside, but the inside needs a lot of work.

As a middle-age woman, an empty nester, I’m committed not to growing soft and stodgy with a life cluttered with unnecessary baggage that keeps me from living the life God has for me. One of my favorite verses in Hebrews.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Hebrews 12:1

As we continue to work on cleaning our cottage of unnecessary clutter, I’m reminded to do the same with my life.