In-Home Garage Sale


I had a garage sale this weekend. In my room. With my 5 children. You know that pile of stuff I had ‘picked up’ for them over the past month? Well, I told them they could buy back anything they wanted. One dollar per item. They made some interesting picks, especially the smalls. I wouldn’t have saved it, but that’s their business. Of course they could only buy as much as they had money for – which made the picking all that more difficult. But I think it turned out the way it should have in the end.


As you can imagine there was still a lot of stuff left over after the picking was done. So I shifted and sorted and this is what I came up with:

I had 1 tub of garbage. This was all the things that had no business in my home or anyone else’s. Torn clothes, broken toys, doodled on papers, worthless stuff – it was trash, rubbish, waste.

Then I had a second tub of items to donate. Nicer clothes that my kids won’t wear, toys that they obviously don’t care about (and neither do I). And – BONUS – the donation truck came yesterday – excellent timing.

The third tub was a spur of the moment decision on my part. There were things that the kids didn’t care about, but I did. And I could not bring myself to throw them away or donate them because I had paid good money for them and we might need them again. Or better yet, they might ask for them. Oh, then what would I do? I would feel compelled to buy it for them AGAIN. Things like: Hats for costumes, Hawaiian lays for a luau, a game, and a bucket of legos. I have no idea why the Legos weren’t important to someone. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, when you have soooo much of something what’s one more bucket full? And they’re right, who would care? This bin, I will put away in a storage closet for now.

The forth contained clothing items that don’t fit anyone right now, so I will keep them for hand-me-downs later. Fair enough!

I’m thankful to have my room back! It looks so nice and clean.

But this whole process was harder than I thought it would be. It was really hard to get rid of stuff I had paid money for. I felt guilty for having so much extra. I felt guilty for buying it. I felt guilty for not teaching my children to take better care of their things.

In the end I realized I needed to no only purge our home of the excess, but more importantly I need to make a shift in my thinking and my habits.

This will be the hardest part because this way of thinking is pervasive in our culture. Everyone is doing it. We are almost wired this way. Work so we can get the next thing. Things will make us happy. Having an organized, perfect home will make us happy and peaceful.

But it isn’t working for me. It doesn’t bring me peace and rest. I’m more frustrated and frazzled because of all the stuff and even when I organize it to death, it’s still a time consuming job to keep it that way.

To change my habits and way of thinking would be a massive shift. And I’m not even sure what exactly that means right now.

So, for now, I will continue to rid my home of the excess and ponder ways to keep the “stuff” from coming into our home in the first place. Some of this may be my purchasing habits, and some is not.

How Much is Enough?

A few months ago I decided to launch an all out attack on the clutter in our home. I was sick and tired, sick AND tired I said, of the junk that gets left laying around day after day. Here is a sneak peek at the bigs room after they left for school one day. By the way, this is a typical day.


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These pictures are for real. I did not toss their room.

So my plan was to grab a garbage bag and put everything in it that they left laying around. I told them their rooms were to be clean before going to school, and their other assigned areas were to be done before going to bed. Good plan right?

I figured I would collect a bunch of stuff for the first few days while they tested to see if I was “serious”. But then they would begin to need some of their things back. Either they would have nothing to wear or nothing to do. And I would feel bad for them, not to mention responsible for their library book that was for sure going to be in there. So I would allow them to buy back the stuff they wanted if they had the money. $1 per item. Sounds even better, right? They are going to learn some responsibility for their things for sure. I’m a good mommy!


Well, the joke’s on me! Instead, of more responsible kids, I ended up with a pile of junk in my room for over a month. The first week the bigs needed a few of their favorite clothes, but after that no one has needed anything out of here, so it just keeps piling up.

Obviously we have too much stuff!

I figure I spend about 1/3 of my day picking up, cleaning, organizing, moving, and sorting stuff instead of visiting with neighbors, playing with my kiddos, or relaxing myself.

Something needs to change. I would like a less cluttered life. I would like to not always be in a rush. I would like to spend time with friends and kids and husband without the nagging in my head that there is a list of things to be done and I could be doing them NOW. I just want to be free to be social, the way God made me.

But I believe, without a doubt, this is not the way God wants me to spend my time.

I ran across this a few months ago and was really struck by it. While I digest this and come up with a new and improved “plan” see what you think:


Image source: click on the image to read

Getting My Home Back – Step 2

This is the third post in this series. If you are jumping in right now, go back and read My Home is Out of Control and Getting My Home Back Step 1. It will make much more sense if you do!

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OK, on with getting my home back… With my focus secure on God I am more calm and I can think much more clearly. Now it’s time to get some tangible ideas to help me do the work of getting my home back in control.


So, the next thing I do is consult my personal board of directors. This is a team of friends that I call on when I need some advise or guidance. I will give more details on how, and why, I constructed this personal board of directors in another post.

For this situation I went to three people on “the board”. The first, and most important, was the husband. He is always good at putting things in perspective for me and encouraging me. But, he also does this job with me on a daily basis and I needed him to know how I was feeling and we needed to work on a “plan” together. Even if I am the one with the children all day, I need him to have my back on this stuff. So at our Sunday evening “meeting” we discussed the demands on my time, the expectations people had of me and areas of frustration in the home. It was a really good talk and it got us on the same page.

The next one is a good friend that I can always count on to give me solid advise on just about anything. But she is particularly good with organizing thoughts and schedules and making sure I give myself grace – a beautiful combination, really. The third one is a seasoned mother who has all sorts of good ideas and will always lift me up in my struggles. So I knew in picking these three that I would come out equipped and supported!


From these three “meetings” I came away with a plan of attack:

1. Make a list of issues that need to be addresses. List out all of the things that are out of control. All of them. Get them out and on paper so you can sort through them.

2. Pick the one that bothers you the most. That was easy: for me it is disrespect. I aplore disrespect. Don’t disrespect me, our home or the things in it. It makes my head steam when someone puts me down, sasses me, blames me for their problems, doesn’t do what I have asked them to do and on and on. I realized that many things on my list fell under this category, so I decided it was a non-negotiable. There needed to be some consequences for any disrespectful act.

3. Assign consequences to your non-negotiable behaviors. I used my long list of grievances (number 1 above)  and then put a consequence next to all the the ones that were disrespectful behaviors. I am only dealing with those for now. So, about half of my list has consequences assigned. This list is private, I do not share it with the children. But, it helps me to discipline on the fly. If I don’t do this, as soon as one child sasses me, I blubber and flubber around not knowing what to say. But if I have predetermined what I will do, it is easier for me to take appropriate, and less emotional action in the moment. I shared these with the husband only. The kids, well they get to find out as we go!! And my consequences are always as creative as possible. For instance, if you drag your feet, throw a fit and slobber all over yourself when we are trying to get out the door making us 5 minutes late for our destination, you get to sit around my kitchen with me for 5 minutes waiting to go outside and play with the kids on the street when we get home.

4. Take care of yourself. The best way to explain what I mean here is to tell you a story. The other night the bigs were fighting in their room after lights-out time. They were yelling and things were crashing down on the floor. It was getting late and I was having to continually go up to their room to deal with their nonsense. I was irritated and tired. I didn’t get to relax the way I like to in the evening at all. I went straight from mediating their fights to getting in bed and going to sleep.

Not a rejuvenating evening at all.

So the next morning, I woke them up and then went down to get breakfast and lunches prepared as usual. And that is when I got my brilliant idea. Now, my kids have never bought their lunch at school, not because I won’t let them, but because they DO NOT want to. They insists on not buying lunch at school because the lines are long and it cuts into their recess time.

Ahhh, perfect!

So instead of rushing around getting lunches made that morning I grabbed $5 from each of the bigs “piggy banks” and left them for them on the counter where I usually put their lunch boxes. Then I grabbed some cereal, put it on the table and made myself a cup of hot tea. I sat at the table with my feet up and had a wonderful conversation with the kiddos. We talked about all sorts of things, plus we helped the bigs work out some of their issues. I have to tell you, I had a great breakfast. It was relaxing and enjoyable.

Then it was time to go to school and the bigs went to grab their lunch boxes. WHAT?

“Where are our lunches?”

“You forgot to pack them!”

“Mom, what have you been doing?”

“What are we going to do?”

I kindly pointed to their $5 bills sitting on the counter and said, “This is so sad. I didn’t have the energy to make them for you this morning since I was up last night dealing with your fighting. I knew you would understand so I took the money from your banks this morning so you can buy your own lunches and I could have a break. Hopefully I will get more rest tonight. Enjoy your day.”

Then I sent them out the door. That night the house was much more restful.

I gave them loving, logical consequences while taking care myself at the same time. It’s a win-win, isn’t it!

5. Call on reinforcements to help you stay the course. This part is the hardest for me. As time goes on I find myself getting lazy and letting go of my non-negotiables. Not following through with consequences. Only to get back to the same place of utter frustration. That’s why this step is solo important. I am going to call on my board to help me stay on track. When I have a bad day, I’m going to text one of them and tell them where I let things slide. I know the ones I have chosen will be incredibly supportive and encouraging. And that is all it takes for me – someone who understands, can see things clearly when I can’t and loves me no matter how messed up my home may be.

This is a great start to getting my home back in order. Once I have done these things the other stuff on my list seems less important somehow. But there are still some things I know I need to address for the sake of my children so we will come back to them.

My House Is Out Of Control


Last night I wanted to hide under my covers and never, ever come out again. Last night I was working on a post and accidentally sent it out WAY before I intended to. I meant to keep that to myself until I had the answers to my problems all neatly wrapped up. I wanted to present my amazing solutions to you in a beautiful package with a satin bow on it. I wanted you to think I had it all together. But instead, you got to see me in the midst of my struggle, with no answers, a spinning head, and emotions flying all over the place. The wheels were coming off.

But as one of my mentors said to me last night after receiving said post, “everything happens for a reason.”

And so it does…

So, I have decided to share this trying time with you while I’m going through it instead of afterwards when I have all the answers and my feelings are back in their proper place and I’m not an emotional mess.

Buckle up, my friends, this is going to be real, vulnerable stuff. Here is goes.


I am embarrassed to admit that the little people I brought into this world, that are half my size, have seized control of my home.

It has been in the works for a while now, but I think it came to a head the other night.

I asked them to do their chores, and then I had to tell them again, and again because they were goofing off instead of getting on it. Finally I had enough and told them to go upstairs and get ready for bed, please.


On my way up, I ran by the mud room “just to see” – yep, shoes everywhere. Passing through the kitchen there were toys and food and clothes all over the place. Getting a little flushed I went into the front hallway grabbing clothes, blankets and lovies as I went along. Upon reaching the stairs I tripped over a toy suitcase that I had asked them to put in the basement. More clothes, toys and whatnot greeted me on my way up the stairs.

Once I reached the second floor I was getting warm under the collar. I went into the smalls room to check on their progress – none. I pulled out some jammies and asked them to put them on and brush their teeth.

I went to move some laundry around and cool down.


Next I visited the smalls bathroom hoping to see some action in there and found number 4 brushing her teeth (yea) while standing in a drawer…noooo.

I began to heat up again as I searched for the stepstool that belongs in their bathroom and is “never to be taken out.” When I couldn’t find it anywhere I went back to the smalls room and found #5 – still buck naked.

I’m getting warmer. While uttering a mild threat to #5, a piercing scream came from the bigs room. I ran down there to see who had been decapitated.

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Nope, just fighting over who was going to put their laundry away – that has been sitting there for 3 DAYS.

Now I’m getting hot. I tell them to go to bed. I pass by the smalls room and put them in bed (one without clothes and screaming). Then I look to see where #3 is.

Nowhere to be found. I am fuming. Blazing mad. He is not in his room, or bathroom (the only two places he should be at this time).

I rush downstairs telling myself (and maybe even saying it out loud) “if he is on a computer I am going to scream”.

I screamed.

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So I asked him, in a loud voice, to go up to bed immediately.

I took all of the computers to an undisclosed location and cooled off in my room for a spell. All the while #5 was screaming for me to put her jammies on her.

I’m tired, and defeated. I feel like I am losing the fight. The fight for me, my home, my position and respect. The little people have taken over everything.

They control the kitchen, the office, the yard, their rooms, my room, the bathroom, the basement, the living room, and worst of all my mood.


So, I sit here, frustrated and dejected wondering how to get some control back.

I’m not looking for total dominance here. I just want a home that is respectful of the people and things in it. I don’t need a perfect house, I realize that is absurd, but I do want people to do their part in keeping our home safe and comfortable for all of us.

The reason that night was such a breaking point for me wasn’t because it was worse than other nights or because the behavior was so egregious; it was because I’m tired of it and my mind was spinning as to why this was happening. It was telling me I have no control, I have let things go and I can never get it back. It is all my fault. I’m not good enough to do this job well.

These are lies. It isn’t my fault. It is our humanity. We all want things our way. Number 5 wants to be in charge of her jammie choice, #1 and #2 don’t want to put their clothes away and #3 wants to play computer games 24/7 and I want it clean, quiet and to be obeyed.


But God has given me these 5 beautiful kids to raise. And while I may think it is too much for me, He promises to give me the strength to do it.

And so I will. This week I will ask for his strength as I do the job He has given me. I will ask for His loving voice as I guide these 5 unwilling participants through some re-direction. I will ask for Him to show me the joy in my days that will undoubtedly be trying.

And I know He will be faithful, because He always is.

Come back tomorrow to see how I get started. This should be good, right?

One side of my brain is telling me I am going to fail miserably and things will be back here in a few days. But the other side of my brain is telling me to have faith, God will show up. He always shows up when I search for Him.

Challenge #12 – You


In light of this being Easter weekend I am taking a break from my cleaning spree to focus on more meaningful stuff.

This weekend I want to focus on cleaning out my heart.

It’s easy to be all consumed with daily activities, schedules and chores and let the more important, deeper, stuff take a back seat. But I was challenged this week that If I want to really be a good mom I need to spend time working on me.

I have said this before, but I struggle with perfectionism.

I want to be awesome. But I know in my heart that I am not. And still I work hard to convince others that I am. I tell you what I want you to know about me. I show you what I want you to see. All in hopes that if you believe it, I will be able to believe it too. And I can construct a really beautiful picture of myself sometimes. A lot of us can, right?

What I was challenged with this week is the irony of this.

I know my life isn’t perfect no matter what I tell or show you. I hurt others, I don’t do my dishes after every meal, my decorating skills are only so-so, I yell at my kids, I yell at myself, I can be unkind, I gossip, I lie… and I could go on and on. My list of failures is lengthy and I beat myself up for it.

But God doesn’t. Through his son Jesus’ sacrifice He gives me grace when I don’t want to do the dishes. He gives me unconditional love when I don’t love myself. He gives me redemption for my lying.  He accepts the REAL me.

And if He does, why don’t I? It seems ungrateful.

So today, I challenge all of us to look inside and clean out a small corner of your heart that you know has some dirt in it.


For me, I am going to be totally honest with you and myself.  I wish my Easter eggs looked like this.

egg3But instead they look like this. It’s the best we could do. They are, gulp, beautifully imperfect Easter eggs. And I accept them.

Happy Easter everyone!