Living in the Clutter

When we first walked through the open house (a year ago!), we knew exactly what we wanted to do with the formal dining room: Make it into the playroom. While I love separate dining spaces and long for the day when we can convert it back to its intended use, we are in a season where dinners are held at our cluttered farmhouse table and toys are strewn throughout the dining room.

This is after “cleaning up…”

The dining/playroom is open to the hallway/eating area/main space and also to the sunken living room. This means that, while the toys are mostly contained to the playroom, it’s visible throughout our main living area.

I know this is a messy season and our playroom is the most tangible reflection of our current phase in life. And, when we have company – even for a playdate – I laugh and say, Haha. Why bother cleaning, right?! While inside, I feel my stress levels rising. It’s so messy! Why can’t I just clean after bedtime? How does it get so out of control so quickly?

I read articles about simplifying toy accumulation and how kids don’t really need all this stuff. I think, Great! We’ll just give it all away! And then Bea discovers a “new favorite” or I realize a lot of our toys are ones we’re saving for Elle or I just feel overwhelmed by how much work decluttering would be. So I shove it all in semi-organized bins and try to recognize that this is a short-lived stage.

In her new book, Out of Sorts (which releases next week!) Sarah Bessey talks about our faith in terms of decluttering. We accumulate ideas from childhood and add bits and pieces of theology. Not all are bad, and many are developmentally appropriate for our stage. But, there comes a point in our faith life when we feel out of sorts and need to declutter.

Like our playroom, ideas get put into semi-organized bins and they may or may not be useful or helpful. And, Sarah says, it’s ok to get rid of them. We don’t have to cling to our old theologies or denominations just because we have them. Perhaps it’s time to let go, to declutter, and to sort out what we actually need. And, like our playroom, we could be surprised with what we keep and what goes. It’s not that we get rid of everything, but we begin to sift and sort and reorganize.

12003406_10156153145205046_2413258844448624367_nAnd, what I keep and what you keep may be different. The denomination that feeds my soul and brings me life most likely will be different from your denomination. And that’s ok! Part of the beauty of Christianity and faith and journey is that we are all on it together but we are not all the same. We are in different places and on different paths, but we are all in the process of sorting and finding God through the clutter.

Out of Sorts resonated with my journey for many reasons, but one that speaks to my life right now is that we are all – or have all been – out of sorts and we are all learning to sort, to discover, and to find peace on this journey. Sarah speaks hope and gives permission to be in the place you need to be – whether you’re in the middle of the mess or in a place to declutter.

So, with our playroom, with my theology, with life in general, I’m giving myself permission to live with the clutter and to sort as I can.

Where are you on the journey? In the midst of the clutter or slowly sorting it out?

12011258_10156109094605046_8628146384862283098_nThis post was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts. I have the pleasure of being on her launch team and just finished this book. I’ll write a formal review next week, but in the meantime, if you’ve ever felt “out of sorts” spiritually, check out this book. It releases on November 3 and I think many will connect with Sarah’s message.



I have not been able to bring myself to let Bea paint in our house. She loves the idea of paint – whenever she sees it on one of her little shows, she asks to paint right away. Once, we met friends at a play zone that had a painting and crafts room. I thought I’d be able to give up control, since I would not be the one cleaning up.

I spent the entire 8 minutes that Bea painted hovering with a wet paper towel, trying to intercept spills. She still came home covered in green poster paint. And, miraculously, it all came out in the wash. That experience hasn’t given me confidence to try it at home yet…

Bea's only painting experience
Bea’s only painting experience

The thing is: I’m not a very clean housekeeper. Our floors are clearly those of a toddler-and-dog house; Our furniture always has a layer of dust; Our bathroom mirrors are smudged. I don’t know why painting gets me so nervous.

I feel like motherhood is in a phase of messy. Embrace your mess! Don’t worry about the laundry! Mothering is more important than housekeeping! I fully agree with all of those sentiments and try to keep my interactions and playtime with Bea as my number one priority, before the chores.

But…. They are always at the back of my mind and I’m always thinking, One day, my house will be clean. In this season of messiness and mud and sand, I’m learning to embrace the actuality of the dirt involved in these moments. And, maybe one day, I’ll even embrace some paint.

Linked with Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write for five minutes without editing.

4/29/14 UPDATE: I learned to outsource.