What sparks real joy (clearing the clutter of our homes & hearts)

I don’t know if it’s the Marie Kondo craze or just the fresh start feeling of a new year, but I feel the need to out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new everything in my house! It seems like everyone I know is on this bandwagon, but between saving our home budget for a someday downpayment and now having registered for almost every item in this house over 5 years ago… I’ve outgrown a lot of our decor. To be honest with you, our home is full of a lot of stuff that isn’t truly my very favorite stuff. Sooo are my only 2 options: get rid of everything orrr accept less joy?! I know I’m being extreme and let me say, I’m a HUGE fan of Tidying Up (I binge watched the whole show in like, 2 days!) I’m all about the simplifying kick everybody is on and just the act of organizing is strangely therapeutic to me – Jordan likes to call it my “organizational high.” ha! – but what happens when we clean and tidy and thank all the items that have served us well and then it turns out that very few of the things we own actually “spark“ any joy?

I told someone the other day that I wanted to sell all my belongings and start completely over! Not exactly realistic and maybe even bordering on ungrateful. Isn’t it funny how quickly our perspective can turn from contentment to complacency? All month I’ve watched the instagram stories of women redecorating their homes and buying every bin and label maker Target carries in the name of simplifying and somewhere along the way I went from inspired to envious. I accidentally got caught up in this whole trend of expecting my possessions to make me happy and then, surprise, I started feeling pretty unhappy with the luxuries we’re blessed with because they weren’t the right ones. Hello, conviction. Over the last couple days I’ve been reminded that things, no matter how on trend they are, don’t actually bring joy. They might bring (temporary) happiness, BUT

I’m after a joy defined as gladness not based on circumstance. I want to live joyfully and cultivate a home full of joy whether its decorated with the latest styles or not. I’m talking about the joy of the Lord!

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I’m pretty sure theres a happy medium – a way we can make Marie proud and get our hearts back on track! So I’m changing my home and heart approach with a few easy steps! 

Here’s how:

PRACTICING GRATITUDE

I’m on a budget here! As I said before, this reality has been bumming me out lately. So first things first, I need an attitude adjustment! I’m working on catching my thoughts in a lie and turning it around before it spirals. One tactic for this – When I start to think, “Oh my gosh will we ever be able to afford the house of my dreams?” I counteract it with the opposite truth and turn it into an opportunity to thank God for what we do have, “Wow God, thank you for providing this home for us to rent and live in (which was an amazing and specific answer to a past prayer, by the way) that meets our needs and blesses us beyond just our finances!” There is power in turning a complaint into a praise!

Start with the discipline and the feelings will follow!

You know how they say that the physical act of smiling, even when you don’t feel happy, can actually make you feel happier? I’m doing this with my words! Out loud. Everyday! There is an alarm set for 12:01 pm on my phone labeled “grateful home” and when it goes off, I think of something I love about this home of ours and speak it out. To Jordan or to Finnley; I’m going to tell them what I’m grateful for and I’m confident that attitude will be contagious. I’m calling it my “grateful home” challenge. Maybe you need to set your own “grateful home” challenge alarm?! Or maybe it needs to say, “grateful body,” “grateful spouse,” “grateful mama”… Whatever area of your heart needs a little gratitude shift – start with the discipline and the feelings will follow.

One last thing! Take control of your space and take care of what you have. If you’re overwhelmed by the task of keeping all your belongings tidy, maybe you do need less. If your home is constantly overtaken by a million toys, maybe you can minimize the amount your kids have. If you aren’t finding the time to maintain your space and keep it clean, chances are you wont feel relaxed and joyful in it no matter if you are the most talented interior designer in the world! This concept was unnecessarily stressful for me when I first started staying home with our Finn. I found time management challenging and was consistently disappointed with myself for “failing” to meet my own unrealistic expectations. Here’s a few tools that really helped me with this!

These great reads by Emily Ley (click for sources to purchase!):

These Instagram accounts are full of helpful (and DOABLE) organization challenges + schedules:

(just give the picture a click to check out the accounts!)

PRACTICAL SIMPLIFYING

Now that we’ve realigned our hearts, let’s stop dwelling on what we “can’t” do (or as we like to phrase it: what we’re choosing not to prioritize and put our money towards right now) and focus on what we can do!

We’ll use the kitchen as an example. This week I simplified our kitchen and shared a little bit about it in my insta-stories. My main goal wasn’t to totally get rid of everything that doesn’t bring me joy because I’m not about to replace all that! There were a few things I chose to let go of, but mostly I aimed to remove some of those things from sight so that the only things I look at everyday are things I really like to see.

There were a few questions I asked myself to help me accomplish this:

1 – Do I enjoy looking at this in my kitchen space?

No: (& don’t even need it… why do I even still have this?!) Donate!

No: (but it’s a need & not really practical to replace right now) Store in covered space! 

Decluttering is what it’s really about. Simplifying the visible spaces so that what you do have out are things make the room happy for you. Less is more! I’d rather have a few things decorating my living room that create a feeling of comfortability and inspiration than a bunch of stuff I’m indifferent towards! Plus, Scandinavian style minimalism is so in right now… so let’s just say it’s what we were aiming for! 😉

Yes: Leave it out! Maybe you can move it to a new spot or display it in a fresh way with other things you already own. Sometimes giving new life to old items is just as effective as completely discarding them for new. 

2 – Do I need this/do I need as many of this item as I have?

No: Donate all or the duplicates I don’t love.

Yes: (but don’t love the look) Hide that baby. 

Yes: (and it still matches my current style well) Leave it and let it shine!

3 – (optional) What are some minor updates I can make that will have the biggest impact?

Maybe it’s one item that enhances another or a group of items. Maybe it’s a focal point in your space that would make a big difference in the overall feel. Maybe you just triage your wants and decide to make your most wanted purchase instead of all of them!

When we got married I was in a teal phase. A ton of stuff we bought and registered for was teal. So here’s how I dealt with those teal items I’m no longer excited about:

Don’t Need: Accessories. A bunch of them were teal. Measuring cups I had displayed on the counter, spoon rests, decorations… Some things I decided were unnecessary to keep around altogether. Some I still like or are sentimental, they just don’t match my current desired theme, so I decided to put away in a cupboard for now. For duplicate things, I kept another I had and got rid of the teal because I was confident I wasn’t going to wish I had it again soon.

Still Need, but don’t love seeing: One of the coolest gifts we got was a really nice dutch oven pot. I don’t use it that often, but I know it’s valuable and it likely won’t be a priority for me to spend money replacing it any time soon, so that now lives in the cupboard instead of on the stove.

Impactful (& practical) replacement choice: Our teapot. It was blue and for a while I tried storing it in the cupboard, but it’s something that is used often enough, it just wasn’t practical. That got replaced for a very reasonable price (actually it was a Christmas gift!!) and it’s honestly made me wonder why I didn’t just make that change months ago! Sometimes a little goes a long ways!

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Tea Kettle from Amazon

That’s it! Surprisingly, removing things from view that didn’t add to the look I desired for our kitchen did wonders to changing my perspective of it without even adding anything new! I did end up replacing a couple things that I thought would have a large impact and I’m very happy with the difference my purchases of less than $40 made (below with sources)! 

Whether you chose to take away or add anything to your home or not, this is the most important thing I’ll say, it’s okay if everything you own doesn’t bring you joy. In fact, I’d say you are normal and in the vast majority if you hang onto your tried and true plastic cutting boards even though Pinterest makes the beautiful marble and wood boards look WAY more joyful. Sometimes we own things because they were given to us or we chose them over another because it was a wise financial decision. There’s a difference between being selective with purchases to maximize the enjoyment of our space and being discontent with God’s provision in our lives because we don’t LOVE our material possessions floor to ceiling. The Joy of the Lord is our strength!” (Psalm 28:7) Not the joy of our closets! 😉 And you know what really matters? The food we’re blessed with and the meals prepared for friends in this kitchen. The conversations with my love that have happened while we make dinner in this kitchen. The sink baths we’ve given and the memories our family has made in this kitchen – THAT’S what sparks my joy! 

What truly sparks joy in you? Think on that this week and maybe when you’re feeling discontent with your dining room you can stop those feelings in their tracks and instead give thanks for fellowship that has happened with your people around the table!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm 126)

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Happy simplifying from this very serious baby and me! 😉 

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