From Clutter to Compassion

From Clutter to CompassionIt hits me every spring.  The bug to clean out the stuff in my house and my life.  I start reading minimalism blogs and lusting after the pictures of peaceful living spaces.  Then I look around my house and see a whole lot of unnecessary junk.  I don’t know how we accumulate so much.

One such blog post I read talked about their journey to minimalism by removing the same number of things from their house as the number of the current year.  So in 2015, they will remove 2015 items from their house.  I’m always intrigued by such audacious challenges.

I mentioned the challenge out loud and my kids got this nervous look in their eyes.  They told me I was crazy, but I can see this being an extremely easy challenge to complete.  They know me.  I go on cleaning binges every few months.  Sometimes they help and other times they hide.  The verdict is still out on this one.

I cleaned out my closet and started weeding out my books.  I probably have close to 500 items pulled out already.  I figure if I can get my kids to go through their clothes and books, we can hit 2015 items in two days.

Having too much is overwhelming.  There’s too much to clean, organize and store.  It’s way to easy to make a mess and way too hard to pick it up.  We don’t live extravagantly by any means but we really have more than we can adequately appreciate.

Yesterday, I made a quick run to the store to pick up a few grocery items we had run out of.  Milk and cereal.  Staples in our house.  As an impulse buy, I picked up a large bag of M&Ms to share with the kids.

When we were leaving the parking lot, I saw a man with a cardboard sign standing at the traffic light.  His hair was gray and long and it mingled with his long beard.  I’ve never stopped to give money to beggars before, but I had $3 tucked in the door of my car.  The change from the $25 I had just spent on chocolate marshmallow cereal and M&Ms.

I recently read in the Bible where God told his people to be generous to the poor.  Not to deal harshly or be tightfisted with them.  God promised a blessing to those who gave freely to people in need.  (Deut. 15:7-11)

I rolled my window down as I pulled up next to the man.  I held out the bills to him.  He stepped off the curb to reach for the money and his eyes met mine.  He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was humbled and ashamed to be standing there.  There was sadness and long stories in those eyes.  All I could say was, “God bless you” before I drove through the intersection.

When I pulled up to the man at the traffic light, I had my blessing in mind.  But as I drove away, my mind was frantically challenging me.  What did this man think of me?  Here I was, driving my paid for car, leaving a store where I had just impulsed on M&Ms, handing him $3 and driving off to visit a friend to laugh and complain about our hard lives.

Of course, he didn’t know what I bought or where I was going, but I did.  He didn’t know that I had just been complaining about having too much, while everything he owned was in the knapsack at his feet.  I had worried aloud about the cost of groceries, yet I had enough money to buy candy.

I feel like my cleaning binge has just become a crusade.  I wish I had gotten that man’s name.  I’d name it after him.  I wish I had given him the M&Ms or bought him a meal.  His simple existence made my abundance look vulgar.  I wish I didn’t have so much useless stuff.

I’m getting rid of it.  All the useless, boxed up accumulations of trivial, meaningless junk.  I probably will never be a minimalist.  I love books too much to let them go.  But if I can empty out enough stuff from my life, maybe I’ll have more room in my heart.  Maybe I’ll fill it up with things that matter like compassion and love in action.


What experiences have you had that drastically changed your perspective and put you on a crusade of love and compassion?  Comment here.

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You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Values

money, broke, valuable, value, price, poor, honesty, class, love

money, broke, valuable, value, price, poor, honesty, class, loveMoney is tied to every aspect of our lives. You can barely do anything, go anywhere, or achieve any success without there being some monetary involvement.  Even our relationships, education, and health are tangled up with money issues.  It’s one of those things that you hate to need but need to have.

I’ve had plenty of money woes.  I know what it’s like to empty every pocket and coin purse just to buy a gallon of milk or a bottle of laundry detergent.  I told you the story of how we’ve had job loss and foreclosure and how we learned from our mistakes.  We finally learned what money was about and how to make it behave, or really, how to make ourselves behave.

You’re not broken.

I remember sitting in our tiny apartment, early in our marriage, feeling sorry for myself.  We were barely getting by.  We had no money for food.  My husband was trying to work and go to school, we had a baby to care for and had just moved to a town where we didn’t know anyone.

I felt broke.  I felt destitute and alone.  I looked around my apartment and realized that I had started acting broke and destitute.  I had stopped cleaning house.  Laundry was piled up.  Dishes were overtaking the sink.  I didn’t care what I looked like or what our apartment looked like.

I realized then, that just because we didn’t have any money was no reason to act or look poor.  Cleaning my house didn’t cost anything and neither did putting on nice clothes.  Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you have to act poor.

What I’ve found out is, although money is necessary, it does not make or break us.  People use the term “broke” to mean they are out of money.  But, in truth, having no money doesn’t mean you are broken.

You are valuable.

There are so many things in our lives that make us valuable and add value to us that money cannot buy.

You can’t buy self-respect.  You have to start by first valuing yourself.  You are here for a reason.  You have purpose.  You are needed.  You’re worth the time and investment.

You can’t buy manners.  Acting classy has nothing to do with the amount of money you have in the bank.  Behave well.  Speak well.  Be kind and courteous.

You can’t buy integrity.  Honesty is valued among people more than any other asset.  When you can be trusted with words, feelings, and expectations, then you will be trusted with money.  Never let down on your integrity.  It affects everything else.

You can’t buy love.  You cannot put a monetary value on the relationships you have with people.  If your relationships are based entirely on money, you are very poor.  We need people to lift us up, encourage us, and cheer for us.  You need to be that support for others too.  You can add value to someone’s life just by being an encouragement to them.

The next time you are having money issues or are feeling poor, think of how many valuable things you have in your life that you can’t buy with money.  Then you will see how rich you really are.  And you’ll find that you have plenty to share with people around you.

You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy. – Garth Brooks

What brings the most value to your life?  How can you increase the value of your life?  How can you share your values with others?  Share with me in the comments.



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