How De-Cluttering and Simplifying Can Help You  Become Who God Created You to Be  |  Jenn Baxter

How De-Cluttering and Simplifying Can Help You  Become Who God Created You to Be | Jenn Baxter

We all have it – clutter.  

 It’s the stuff that’s overflowing from our closets, falling out of our cabinets and rendering our attics and garages unusable.  It’s the clothes, books, movies, knick knacks and “things” that tell the stories of our lives.  The stuff that we’re afraid to get rid of and the stuff we’re sure we can’t live without.

It usually accumulates slowly over time, often without us even noticing.  Until one day, we realize we don’t have enough room for all our stuff, so we move into a bigger place.  But then, before we know it, that space becomes filled too… and the cycle goes on and on.

It’s the message that we’re all bombarded with 24 hours a day – buy more, have more, get more.  We’re made to feel like we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest phone or electronic device and we’re told the evidence of our success is based on what our possessions look like and how many of them we have.

But what if all that clutter – all that stuff – is actually standing in the way of you becoming the person that God created you to be?

You may think that sounds a little crazy… after all, it’s just “stuff,” right?

Not necessarily.

First off, clutter tends to happen when we “hoard” stuff.  We continue to buy new things without getting rid of the old and eventually we end up with too much.  That’s why you can barely reach into your closet anymore or your garage looks more like a storage unit than a place to park your car

But instead of getting rid of some of the things we know we don’t use, we hold on to them out of fear or the idea that we might need them at some point.  So in and of itself, clutter is a representation of fear and the attempt to find satisfaction and contentment in “things” rather than in God.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  Luke 16:13

But for me, the most surprising revelation about clutter came when I went through my own de-cluttering and downsizingprocess a couple years ago.

I had never really been into designer labels and didn’t even own an iPhone or iPad, much less need to have the latest version as soon it hit the market.  My clutter seemed to have just accumulated over time without me even realizing it.  So, I wasn’t too concerned about getting rid of a lot of it; I was actually pretty excited.

But what I realized as I went through my “stuff,” was that going through my physical clutter, was actually going to force me to address a lot of emotional and spiritual clutter as well.

See, I, like many people, tended to just push down my feelings and hold them inside.  Part of it was conscious and part of it, I’m sure, was just my body’s natural defensive mechanism to get through all of the stressful events that had taken place.

But either way, I had ended up with a lot of pent-up emotions and unresolved feelings that were beginning to take a toll on my physical well-being.  And as God was beginning to show me, on my spiritual well-being too.

As I began to wade through piles of pictures, mementos, books, letters and even clothing, a whole spectrum of emotions came up, from sadness and anger to happiness and joy.  There were feelings about relationships that had ended, loved ones who had passed away, stages of life that were over and even dreams that never came to be.

Which is why clutter is about so much more than just stuff.

It is a representation of who we’ve been, where we’ve been, who we hoped we’d be, who we thought we could’ve been or should’ve been, things that once were, things that will never be again, and everything in between.

But the cool thing is, that as you actually allow yourself to feel those emotions and really sit in those feelings… as you really let yourself process those things and LET GO of them, the items themselves lose their power over you.

For instance, I had originally held onto many of my mother’s things after she passed away simply because they were hers.  But as I actually went through the grieving process and let myself feel the different emotions and eventually heal, I could then look at many of the items for what they really were – just things.

And the more clutter I got rid of, the freer I felt!  As I began to look at my belongings in a whole new way, God kept the momentum going and began “cleaning me up” in other areas as well.

Following His lead, I began to cut out all the toxins from my diet and the products I use on my body and around my house,and began focusing on using whole, natural products and foods instead.  I stopped using over-the-counter and prescription medications and began looking at my health from a more natural perspective.

And the more I simplified my life… the more I “cleaned up and stripped down”… the more I felt my real self, my authentic self, start to emerge.  I began to hear from God more clearly, I wasn’t as distracted by worldly things and I now had the energy and the focus to follow through on what He was showing me.

It was like the blinders had been pulled off and I could finally see some big secret that was being kept from all of us – that life really is so much simpler than we tend to make it.  That the more we strip down, the more we simplify and get back to basics, in all ways, the easier it becomes to be the person that God created us to be.

After all, it only makes sense.

God didn’t create all of those gadgets and things, we did.

God didn’t create all of those toxic foods and products, we did.

And God doesn’t tell us to keep striving for more, more, more.  We do.

The secret is actually in having less and doing less… so you can live more.

Ready to start simplifying your life?  My new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down & Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back, will help you get on your way!  Check it out now on AmazonBarnes and Noble and my website.  And follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest.

Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print and online publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com.  In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house.  She released her first book, “Tiny Abundance:  My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet” that same year and her new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down & Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back, was released in December 2017.  She also helps others learn to clean up their homes, their bodies and their lives in her e-course collection, “De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.” Watch video devotionals from Jenn Baxter with the FREE RefocusApp 

 

Affiliate disclosure: Womens Bible Cafe is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Priceless Gifts

Priceless Gifts

We all love giving and making a difference.  Spreading Joy is what I love to call it.  The problem is that many of us look at our giving in the wrong fashion.  We look at what we can’t do, don’t have or dwell on the huge things that we may never be able to do.

The Bible is filled with example after example of the Lord giving to us and doing so unapologetically.  Our desires to give big and have a huge impact often cloud our hearts of the impact we are making.  It blinds us to the reality that we can make a difference with little to no resources. We all can give the gifts to others that the Lord so graciously gives to us.

Let’s look at some examples together:

The Gift of Strength – Women are strong. We’ll step in between danger and our children in an instant and think nothing of it. We’ll face monsters that lurk in the dark, giants that terrorize our kids and a million other things that make our children and families feel weak and defeated.  When you strengthen another by lending a hand, agreeing in prayer or simply being their rock in times of deep sorrow and pain, you are giving those people the gift of Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This Psalm goes on to describe the mountains crumbling into the sea and how we can count on the Lord to strengthen us.  You know what it feels like when your world has been shaken to the core and then how wonderful it is when God steps in. During those times when your world is falling apart, a true friend to strengthen you is priceless.

The Gift of Time – God desires to dwell with us, just as he desires us to dwell with him. In this hurry up society where the elderly are pushed aside, kids are sat in front of the TV and there is never enough time for anything anymore, this gift is more valuable than we seem to realize.  I love family gatherings, I love girls’ night out and I love one on one time with my kids.  Give the gift of time, knowing that this gift will always be treasured.

The Gift of Love – Unconditional love is simply amazing. Being loved just for you is a priceless gift that God gives us. Psalm 139 tells us that the Lord knows every single thing about us and yet He chooses to love us anyway. He loves us when we are whiny, bratty, disobedient, fearful, doubtful and even when we run from Him. We KNOW this love from Him and are so grateful for it. Why, then, do we not value it more when we give this gift away? You don’t just love your friends that live in the fanciest of homes, drive the best cars and provide the best dinner parties.  You don’t just love those family members that never cause you grief or always are helpful. You love your family and friends unconditionally and in doing so; you make a huge impact on each of those hearts.

The Gift of Peace – When the tears are flowing, uncertainty and anxiety are bursting from your heart, Jesus steps up and whispers “Peace, be still” and because HE is the Master of the wind, the raging storm must quiet. The peace we have that passes all understanding is because we know that with each trial, God is there with us.  We don’t have to go through things alone.  When we have a friend that will hold our hand as well as touch our heart with kindness as we are going through the valley brings us amazing peace because we are not alone. This gift allows us to take one more step, knowing that it’s truly going to be ok. I pray you use this gift often as you wrap your arms around someone hurting and assure them that “it” will be ok.

The Gift of Prayer – When we pray for others, we are sometimes guilty of thinking “I wish I could do more.” Well, I do that occasionally.  Praying for someone is absolutely the greatest gift ever! I’m boldly going before the throne of grace on their behalf and asking God the Father to find favor with them. I’m going before the One that knows their pain, feels their grief and is right in the midst of their trials.  I’m seeking help from the One that can help when no other can. The gift of prayer is perfect as one size fits all and anyone can do it!  I don’t know about you, but when I wake up to an email or message that says “I’m praying for you” my heart immediately smiles because I was being wrapped in prayer while I slept.  I have a policy that I never break.  My mind is usually running everywhere, so when someone pops into my mind and on my heart, I’ll say a prayer for them.  Knowing that God placed them there for a reason since it was out of the blue.  I do try and contact them to let them know, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out.  Give the gift of prayer, without feeling like you should do more.

The Gift of Forgiveness – Pain is pain, regardless of who caused it, where it comes from and how deep it cuts to our core, it hurts! There are some that choose to hold a grudge and will simply not let go and they refuse to give the gift of forgiveness.  As long as we are in this earthly body, WE will hurt others.  We will disappoint, discourage and cause pain and have to ask forgiveness of those we cause this hurt to.  Remember that when someone has to ask you to forgive them.  Give this gift freely, without the give and take of reminding and remembering the pain.

The Gift of Courage – Just as Abraham “went” without even knowing where he was going, God supplies us with the courage we need to serve Him.  The Bible is filled with time after time when men faced the unknown, like Abraham or giants, like David.  Knowing what God wants you to do is one thing, but having the courage to step out and DO it that is another thing entirely. When you step up, stand up and lead the way, you may never realize it but you are giving someone else courage to do the same.  Many do not want to stand alone and are fearful so your simple act of leading the way empowers others with the confidence to do the same. Go…boldly so!

The Gift of Compassion – Isaiah 30:18 talks about how the Lord longs to be gracious to us and He will show us compassion! We treasure that with the Lord! Jude says and some having compassion, making a difference.  When you give the gift of compassion you instantly make a difference. Be compassionate, even if you don’t understand what is going on or how someone could have gotten into “that” situation.  Be compassionate with your Pastor, teacher and the other leaders in your church as they have a huge responsibility of making sure that the flock is taken care of.  Be compassionate…period.  Many people are hostel and indifferent to those who are facing hard times. Your gift is received with a grateful heart and will be passed on. Someone will remember this gift and pass it to another that is facing difficulty.

The Gift of Hope – All the resources are gone…. there seems to be no job, no money, no family members that will come to the rescue…no hope.  You see the need, you do what you can to help as well as do what you can to show them other resources and avenues that can be taken.  You give hope that tomorrow will be better, you inspire them to keep going, keep looking and remind them that someone cares. There’s nothing like the gift of hope. Philippians 4:19 BUT my God shall supply all your need according to HIS riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Gift of JOY – Joy is contagious! Don’t you just love being around people that are happy, joyful and that just seem to enjoy each moment of life? I love watching people like this! The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Have you considered what brings God joy? We bring Him joy just by being ourselves. He loves us, adores us and has chosen us. Our praise, prayers and service to HIM brings him joy. Our act of praise and thanksgiving not only help lift our spirits, heal our hearts and bring us closer to the Lord, but it also brings the Lord joy. Our repentance and willingness to be the light he has called us to be brings Him joy.  Our willingness to serve and our complete submission to His will brings Him great joy.  Our faithfulness and faith IN Him brings him joy.  Faith, even when we can’t see the path, even when we are afraid and even when we wonder why would he even choose to use us in the first place….brings him great joy.  Yes, the Joy of the Lord is a priceless gift to give others. Let them see His love, peace, mercy and grace flowing through you.

These are priceless gifts that God gives to us!  Why do we not see the value in them as we give them away to others?

I hope this encourages you to re-think your gift giving, refocus your values on these kinds of gifts and that it reminds you that you are awesome at spreading joy! I hope you’ll remember these gifts as you thinking about giving to others.

One of my goals is to make sure that I’m spreading joy daily and I hope that you’ll make that as your goal as well!

 

Related Articles

50 Ways of Making a Difference without Spending a Penny

Another 50 Ways of Making a Difference

Making a Difference is as Easy as ABC

 

About the Author

Marie Wikle, Spreading Joy Corporation Spreading Joy uses financial gifts to allow people from all walks of life to have some joy come their way.  Marie creates a chain reaction of joy spreading from person to person  as donations of products and/or services positively affect the recipient.  As these gifts are distributed to brighten someone’s day it  motivates them to look for ways to start spreading joy and possibly help them to rise above their circumstances. She is the co-creator of Twitter Nightly Worship, or Tworship, which draws between 100-300 worshipful spirits from social media.

 

Unmanageable God (Jonah Week 6)

In the sixth and final week of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer we are hit with possibly the hardest idea for a Christian to absorb, and that is our behavior when things do not go as we had hoped or planned. As Priscilla noted, we plan things out and just ask God for His blessing on it. We feel that what we want to do for God should be good enough. One of the main reasons for this is personal comfort. We do not like to do things that make us uncomfortable, so we seek out things that are within that realm, even though they may not be what God has called us to do. When things do not go our way, we get angry and throw a fit.   God often likes to get us out of our box because then, His glory can really be seen. When we do things that are beyond us, it is not us; it’s God. We need to stop throwing fits and be happy that He has chosen lowly, sinful to use in this world for His plan and His glory.

Things are going to happen in life that we do not like. We may hurt, or we may feel like we are missing out. We may never know this side of Heaven as to why God allows some of these things to occur. We can only cry out to Him and trust that He has our best interests at heart, because He really does. God loves you, and wants you to be happy. The thing is, He is the one that knows what will truly be best for us in the end. We just need to trust His divine plan. No matter what happens, God is still on the throne. He always has been, and always will be. I loved this quote from Priscilla concerning the ending of her prayers, “Do what I’ve asked you to do, or do something better.” I pray that becomes your heart and prayer as well. Trust God in all things, not just the things you want. He will work all things for His good (Romans 8:28). He will do grand things with a woman yielded to God.

Prayer Requests

We’re updating the prayer wall for the next study. Feel welcome to post a prayer request at any time, just contact us.

Priscilla Shirer Quotes

  • You can’t play games with God and expect to win.
  • The only way we can be slow to anger is if God’s Spirit is compelling us in that direction.
  • Be willing to agree with God about what you find hiding in your heart.
  • Like the eye of a storm, peace prevails in God’s presence, even when chaos ensues all around.

This Week’s Scripture Verses-NASB

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Romans 11:33

Final Lesson

  • Listen to the Session Seven Audio (optional)
  • Listen to the Session Seven Video (optional)

Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like

  1. What marks the difference between having head knowledge of God and heart knowledge of God? (page 136)
  2. If you were sharing your own Jonah story of your life, what represents the plant God placed in your life? (page 139) Has God ever taken away something you enjoyed in your life? (page 143)
  3. Why is it important to see our own needs in the lives of those we are helping? (page 141)
  4. Why do you think the enemy tries to disguise hardship as a punishment from God? (page 144)
  5. Share your favorite lesson learned from this study.

Laying Down My Life,

Shannon

Into the World (Jonah Week 5)

Week five of Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer is certainly one that makes us think. It should make us prayerfully take a look at our own lives to see if we are obeying God, even in the seemingly small things. As I watched the video and worked through the material, I felt God pressing on me the urgency of this message. God does not look for perfect people that can handle things on their own. If that was the case, we would all be in big trouble. God looks for people who are willing to be obedient in both the large and small things. When God has someone who is obedient, He works supernaturally to do great miracles! It is God’s grace and power that should be seen in a situation, not ours.

God allows us to be in seemingly impossible circumstances facing impossible challenges. Not because He wants to hurt us or watch us fail. It is the opposite. He wants to use our weakness and our messes for His glory! Isn’t that an incredible thought? That Divine Interruption you are facing; God will use it. His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). All He asks is that you are obedient. When other people see God’s power in us and through us, it is an amazing testimony of God. I pray this week that you will seek God and ask for His help so that His power will be made perfect in your weakness. Let your life be a living testimony!

Note: These Carol Kent books, mentioned by Priscilla Shirer in the audio/video session, are highly recommended:

A New Kind of Normal (currently on sale $8.00 at Amazon!)

When I Lay My Issac Down

Prayer Requests

We welcome any prayer needs from the group and ask that you will print a copy of the prayers, place them, in your workbook and pray for these women. If you have a prayer request for our prayer wall, please click here.

Priscilla Shirer Quotes

  • Evangelism is not something we do, it is a way to live.
  • I’ve become used to God’s allowing me to be outmatched. It seems that this is His way: putting regular people in circumstances that are beyond their own capabilities.
  • Your Father has enough GRACE to sustain, keep and use you.
  • He paves a pathway to victory as long as we simply walk in obedience.
  • My insecurities don’t absolve me of responsibility.

This Week’s Scripture Verses-NASB

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matt 28:19 (The Great Commission)

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Cor 12:9

The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut 31:8

and he said, “Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 2 Chron 20:15

For Next Week

  • Read Week Six, pages 129-150 in the workbook
  • Listen to the Session Six Audio (optional)
  • OR…Listen to the Session Six Video (optional)

Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like

  1. On page 107, you listed some ways you can make disciples as you go about your daily routine. What can you intentionally do during the day to make disciples?
  2. As you consider your own group of Ninevites, what challenges or difficulties do you face? (page 110)
  3. What are your concerns about sharing God’s word with others? (page 119)
  4. On page 120, Priscilla created a list of scripture verses for ministering to others. What verses do you use in similar situations?

Laying Down My Life,

Shannon

Second Chances (Jonah Week 4)

Week four in Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer, closely follows on the heels of last week’s study where we looked at the messes we make when we stray from God’s plan, and how He can use it for His glory. While God loves us no matter what, His desire for us is obedience. Sometimes that means doing something we do not want to do, other times it means waiting for His timing. Neither is easy, and we often seek to take matters into our own hands, much like Jonah did. We often end up with the same result. While we may not be swallowed by a fish, we end up in situations that are not good for us, and God rescues us. He still wants us to be obedient and do what He has called us to do. Before we can do that though, our hearts must be transformed and we must be willing to obey. Once we are, God will send us out on the path He has called us to. We will not be going alone, but with the Holy Spirit. Nothing we face is too great or difficult because He is empowering us. We should never do things on our own, but through the power of the Holy Spirit so God alone gets the glory. I do not want people looking at what I have done. I want them to stand back from something and say, “Wow! Look what God has done! ” He alone!

When we choose to meander on our own paths, and seek out our own ways, God is not finished with us. He will be there waiting when we are ready to come back and do what He has asked. He will offer his never-ending grace and forgiveness. Just be ready to be obedient, as that is what He truly wants. Instead of writing more for you to read, I really feel the Lord is asking us to spend some extra time searching our hearts for areas of disobedience. If you find some, go to Him in prayer. He is waiting to take you in His arms, clean up the scrapes and bruises, and set you back on the journey He has called you to. If you know He is calling you to something, spend time in prayer and commit to it. He loves you unconditionally and more than you can imagine. Go to Him, and embrace your Divine Intervention.

In audio session four, Priscilla recommends reading the book by Iris Blue. The book is called Iris: Trophy of Grace.

Prayer Requests

Please pray for clarity on how to reach the Ninevites, the people God wants you to serve. We welcome any prayer needs from the group and ask that you will print a copy of the prayers, place them, in your workbook and pray for these women. If you have a prayer request for our prayer wall, please click here.

Priscilla Shirer Quotes

  • Only after we’ve been squeezed by God can we be poured out. (from audio session four)
  • The bible bulges with account after merciful account of individuals who’d blown it and yet were offered the clemency that only a compassionate God like ours could give.
  • Our second chance brings us full circle to the place where we have to chose full obedience.
  • God gave the Spirit to the disciples as an internal compass to help them find their way.
  • Obedience necessitates self-denial.

This Week’s Scripture Verses-NASB

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. John 16:7

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

For Next Week

  • Read Week Five, pages 105-125 in the workbook
  • Listen to the Session Five Audio (optional)
  • OR…Listen to the Session Five Video (optional)

Group Discussion- Answer one question or as many as you like

  1. Do you see God actively searching for you, or hiding from you? Why? (page 89)
  2. What keeps you from moving forward in obedience to God? (page 92)
  3. Are you currently at Joppa, the place of decision and the crossroad of obedience? (page 93)
  4. Have you ever tried to compensate for your rebellion with God? What did you do to make amends? (page 99-100)

On page 89 Priscilla asks you to write a letter of your second chance story. If you’d like to share it here with the group, email us and we’ll post it for you.

Laying Down My Life,

Shannon