Intro 2 "Lessons in Wisdom"
“…Do not forsake your mother's teaching;
Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head.”
As I said in the last chapter, the Lord wanted me to sit down and during a meal, take time to share some foundational wisdom with my girls. I began by explaining that so much of what we ALL have stored out of sight, like in our drawers and closets, are things we simply don’t use or need. And the things we even consider giving away are often damaged and not worthy to be given to any poor soul!
In addition, I also explained that we also greatly overestimate the value of our things and feel we either need to #1) “make a buck” (which means make some money for those of you who outside the U.S. and are not familiar with that term) and sell them to a consignment shop or in a yard sale, or #2) we hold on to it until we can think of who could benefit from each thing, but really it just creates clutter and is buried in a drawer, cupboard, closet or even in a giveaway bag that sits there—never used by anyone, or #3) we simply hoard our things, forgetting that everything we have is His and if we’re not using it, we need to ask Him what to do with it.
The bulk of what most of us own, I am convinced, are things that could bless someone else, but we choose instead to hoard it, withholding what could bless someone. I also asked my daughters to look up and mark these verses in their Bibles, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor [or friend], ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you” (Proverbs 3:27-28). “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want” (Proverbs 11:24).
Hoarding is now considered a sickness, but of course like Erin says about most newly labeled illnesses, it’s simply sin—like the sin of selfishness. That is why I have come to look at these things hidden in our drawers and closets like the talents Jesus talked about that the one unfaithful servant buried that made Him so angry. Let’s read it together:
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:14-30).
We usually think of the talents in this verse to be our abilities or special God-given gifts that we could use as a volunteer or just helping our neighbor, but don’t.
We sometimes apply the hidden talent’s verse to when we bury and hoard the money that could flow in our lives if we weren’t so selfish or fearful and chose instead to bless the church, a ministry or people in need with an offering. But what I am talking about in this chapter are the actual things that we save and bury because we think we may need them for ourselves (or as I also thought, to save them for someone else who may want these things that are old and outdated “someday”). No more. Beginning that very day, my children and I vowed to let go of everything that could bless others: our time, our love, and also the things in our home we didn’t need or use. And this also includes any money that I don’t need this instant (all the silver and gold is His anyway, therefore, any money I need is right there, all I need to do is give when He tells me to give and use it His way as He leads me), which is why we also will not sell anything either.
Hey, this is amazing, I just remembered that I got a little note attached to a very sizable donation from a church member who said that she was saving the money she sent to me for when her husband came home so that when things went wrong, she could “save the day.” She said she’d instead realized that she was not her husband’s savior! Her restored marriage testimony just was mailed to me too, and I typed it and submitted it to RMI!
With the foundational plan laid out and all of us in agreement, I began to work with my youngest daughter as we tackled her drawers, then dove into the shared closet. Together, all three of us, removed each item from the closet and put it into one of the four containers. There were often temptations on the girls’ part to find something and want to take it to a brother (who had been looking for something) or neighbor friend (who they thought would like it), or even to just put it in another room or just outside the door. But I stopped them and explained that this is a common pitfall of most people and why they fail and never succeed in deep cleaning again. You must use #3 the “put away” container and resist leaving the room. You must resist this and every temptation of distraction in order to finish the course of action or you will end up with a greater mess than you began with. Though some people would tell you to be sure that you choose a time or day to carve out enough time to tackle a job like this (I would have said the same thing about a year ago), I will now tell you that when the Spirit moves you it is the right time, even when your head reasons that you should do it later at a more opportune time.
Once again, in agreement, and also resisting temptations to leave the room, very soon, with all of us working together, we filled a #2 give away bag, which I closed and put it just outside the door being careful not to block the room’s entrance. Each item of clothing that was on a hanger, we looked at and made a quick question asking the Lord, “Do I need this?” and then laid it neatly on the bed if we were supposed to keep it, or took it off the hanger and put it in one of the bags when He prompted us to give it away.
The greatest blessing ended up not being the end result of the clean room or what we were able to bless others with. This task turned out to be such a great learning experience for my girls: not just to be good “keepers of the home,” but also spiritually: to learn to hear and respond to the Lord. They experienced how to speak to the Lord, rather than to ask themselves, and then respond to His promptings. They also were excited when they would see how He would draw their attention to a tear or stain on a garment that needed to be thrown away, or He would give them instant wisdom that it no longer was their style; therefore, they would never wear it. Sometimes He prompted them to try it on quickly to see if it still fit.
It also taught them to let go of what they really didn’t need. This is a tremendous lesson in itself. All of us want to hold on and hoard when we need to let go: we won’t let go of people in our lives, our money, our things, or even our obsessions that we know are wrong (because they take away time and devotion to the Lord). Another point I would like to make, if I had done this task myself, without including my children, they would have missed this spiritual lesson, and also, they would have missed making the choice to give or throw away things, but that is not all. Never make the mistake of going through other people’s things without them so they do not become bitter or resentful when they later find something isn’t there (that you gave away or threw away). This is especially true for your husband whether he lives with you or even if he does not.
If you are not living with someone (husband or a grown child), just gather up all their things and put them in boxes to give to them. You can kindly offer to help this moved-out family member go through their boxes, but make sure that they somehow get their things into their possession.
When my ex-husband was gone the first time, I hung onto any possession of his as an idol. Imagine. I just could not let go; hence, I had much pain that continued throughout his absence. Had I had enough of the Lord and His love, I would have been able to let go with my heart. This goes for women whose son or daughter (or even mother or father) is gone, for whatever reason: moved away, ran away, or even died through natural causes or suddenly taken from you. We need to let go so that God can fill that void, the void that we fill with things. It is like a tumor that is inside our hearts, it has to be removed for it to heal.
Let me jump in here with a short story. Almost six months ago my sister was about to adopt her first baby. She had waited for this miracle for years, but right on the brink, the birth mother chose to keep her baby. My sister was understandably devastated. After I took a lot of time comforting her, I sought the Lord for His wisdom when one day I was convinced she would harm herself. When she begged me to help her, what came out of my mouth was just as shocking to me as it was to her. I told her that she needed to contact the birth mother and bless her with all the baby items she had purchased and gotten as gifts, that these were for that baby, and that God would bless her through it. As far as I know she never took my advice; and unfortunately, she hasn’t spoken to me since. But this I do know, she is still hurting horribly and has been filling her life with more things, while the baby things gather dust.
Where to store?
Now back to things you have that you are storing for family who are not living with you: if they won’t or can’t get their things, simply ask the Lord where you are to store them. Don’t assume you need to keep them. When you get a thought, or picture in your mind, or hear a word, then simply obey it. Don’t worry that you may be wrong, He can fix it later; just walk out what you believe He is saying to you or showing you. This is the first step to hearing from the Lord.
Oh, one more benefit of having the person with you when you sort things to give or throw away, if they don’t invest in the process, they will not keep it that way! As a mother, these are “train up a child” lessons that are normally not taught any more. You may have not learned them yourself, but that makes learning together even more fun!
Once we had the closet, dresser and under the bed completely emptied, then I asked my youngest daughter to vacuum the room and closet, while the other daughter followed behind and wiped off the closet shelf and wiped out each dresser drawer. Like my girls, you will be amazed at how you feel when everything is clean!! Then the process began to get even better. We then began hanging the clothes back into their very clean closet, clothes we’d laid on the bed, along with a few items in #4 store away (what goes back in that dresser, or closet that you just cleared out; just not under the bed). We then did the same with what went into their dresser.
And as before, I encouraged them to speak and ask the Lord to help them know what to do as they picked up each item—asking Him to give them wisdom, reminding them of the verse, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him” (James 1:5 AMP).
Amazingly, within the span of just a few hours, while we spent time together laughing, talking and singing, we finally walked out, turned and stood at the door of their beautiful new room! And the blessings didn’t stop then either…
Over the course of one week, just before my children headed up to their dad’s wedding, the Lord had us conquer so many rooms in our home!! Wow, it was so amazingly freeing!! One room that I never thought of—the bathroom—God had us do too! Like before, through a series of events (when I couldn’t find the ear medicine for my son who had water in his ear), I immediately received an anointing that hit me.
As before, I asked my daughters to join me, beginning by removing everything from the bathroom into large buckets (and I mean everything). Oh my, what a wonderful Husband I have and awesome Father to my children. He knew how much this bathroom needed cleaning since there had been three girls sharing that space for almost a year! And He added another facet to organizing this space, and that was: sorting “like-things” together. This was something the Lord led me to do while we were throwing most of our empty containers away.
On our kitchen table He led us to sit together then group “like items” together: hair items (shampoo, brushes, rubber hair ties); oral hygiene items (toothbrushes, mouthwash, floss, whitening products); face items (make-up, cleaners, etc.); body items (razors, lotions); girl things (as my girls refer to their monthly time); and first aid (bandages, alcohol, antibiotic ointment). And to keep the youngest daughter busy (she tends to wonder off), I had her standing at the sink, washing the plastic containers that help organize the drawers. If organizing “like-items” is not the way your drawers, closets/wardrobes, and cupboards are sorted, then this is how you organize them. Ask Him to be sure.
Once the sorting was all done and plastic containers washed so everything could be returned to their container, together we scrubbed and polished the bathroom—which is so much easier when it is empty—viola, it actually looked like a new home again! Then I had each of the girls take the personal brand of shampoo they each used and put it into the shower. Next, I asked each of the girls to gather their personal items and choose one of each of the four drawers. Then since there were drawers left over, we gathered all the electrically powered items (hair driers, hot curlers, and straightening irons) for the closest drawer next to the outlet and put the girl things (as my girls refer to their monthly time), discreetly in the bottom drawer.
Back in the kitchen, we gathered the rest of the items and put them in their groups on the bathroom selves (according to where they fit; based on their height) and LABELED each shelf. Wow, yes, this was “over the top” organization—all because He did it!! We labeled the inside edge of each drawer, too, so I could easily open to see who was not keeping her drawer clean and organized.
This, dear mothers, is something I’d encourage you to do daily: walk through your house “looking well to the ways of your household” and give each room, drawer and closet a quick look so that your children keep it clean. Then soon, you can do a follow-up task just once a week of just checking on everything, and then, soon, just once a month! Personally, I like walking through with my cup of coffee just before everyone wakes up or is just stirring, so I can also dole out kisses to newly opened eyes!
At first, I thought of the follow-up as just another “chore” that I didn’t have time for. However, once I set it up as an office notification on my phone, I found that while following up, I experienced the same THRILL I got when we first got it done!! And as I said, with coffee in hand, and doling out morning kisses to waking children, it became something I looked forward to!
Ah, but what about those things that you do find that are out of place in their drawers or closets?
Well, at first, I just took care of it: folded it, put it where it belonged. In other words, it was I who took care of it. Until the Lord convicted me that this was the lazy way. So instead, I just left it and asked the children to fix their mess, as I watched, and you know what? That’s the only way to rid someone of a bad habit— not fix it yourself—but to lovingly ask the person to do it. If you clean or fix something, it won’t create a permanent change because there is no consequence. And something else…
The Lord began teaching me, as I have sought Him recently for training my children (since I am gone so much of the time), that unless I also add work to whatever they didn’t do, we are the ones with the burden, not where the burden should lie, on them. This is new to my child training, and it is working beautifully since this was wisdom from God.
What the Lord led me to do (when I finally got tired of re-doing and re-cleaning) was to pull those items out of the drawers or closets and then ask whomever to put them back neatly or where it belonged. Also, I know when you have more than one child sharing a room it is sometimes difficult to know who is doing the dirty stuff with some items left around, but that’s when you can call upon the Lord to direct you. He needs to be at the center of everything if we are to live a life of peace and ease! And should you make a mistake, and ask the wrong person, then you can claim double. Isaiah 40:2, “Speak kindly . . . And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD'S hand DOUBLE for all her sins.” And teach the principle to the person who was made to do something unjust, citing Isaiah 61:7-8, “Instead of your shame you will have a DOUBLE portion, and instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a DOUBLE portion in their land, everlasting joy will be theirs. For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery . . . And I will faithfully give them their recompense and make an everlasting covenant with them.”
Oh, one part I forgot, not only should you take a moment to rejoice in what He has done, but you’ll also need to take care of those containers. Be sure to immediately tie up and throw away your trash. Put the bags of give-away right into the trunk of your car or somewhere you know will ensure it gets out of your home and into the hands of a charitable institution (the one HE brings to mind; and never second guess the Holy Spirit if you want to hear from God). The rule is, “Never leave containers in the room or it will be a magnet for more things to gather there or worse, someone will look through and take things out!”
IN and OUT Rule
Use the IN and OUT rule to keep each room you’ve just de-cluttered now clutter free: “one in, one out; two in, two out” when you buy anything. This simply means: if you buy two shirts, give two shirts away. If you buy a pair of shoes, give one pair of shoes away. This rule will keep you from hoarding or cluttering your home again.
Our homes should be a haven that it easy to keep clean and organized; however, apart from Him we can do nothing as John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
If these two chapters have sparked a desire to change your life, please don’t roll up your sleeves and get to work. Instead, take a moment and simply talk to the Lord about your desires—then leave your desire with Him each and every time it comes to mind. Then suddenly, He will move and give you the desires of your heart along with the anointing—giving you a clean, clutter free, organized home while blessing others with the things you simply don’t need, and if you have children, a way to train them to always and forever rely on Him!
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Author of RMI's Abundant Life Series
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