Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Cleaning Out

Last fall, we moved. But we moved in a rush, to a smaller house that was given to us by my hubby's grandfather. We had a lot of work to do on the old one, so were in no rush to sell. We took what we needed right away...and then the bad weather closed in. It was not a good winter to move, and every weekend when it might have been possible, it was either snowing, raining, icing, our help was out of town, or there were more pressing repairs to be made to, say, automobiles.

So 9 months later, we're finally getting to work--and on a tight schedule.
A few boxes of books. Just a few.
Many more to come...

As the one who will not be patching walls and rewiring, hanging new doors or plumbing, I'm on clean-out detail. And oh. My. Gracious.

When we moved back to Cumberland from Annapolis, Xoe was only 3 months old--she's now 8.5. I was only a year and a half out of college. Now we're planning our 10 year reunion. When we moved, I'd shoved a lot of clothes into a portion of a closet that's hard to reach and unseen, and totally forgot about them. I just went through them last week and had to laugh. The wedding dress, okay. But seriously? That dress from high school? And that one from middle school? I still had that?? Why in the world did I still have that???

I discovered the amazing mess of items that the kids managed to lose under the bunk bed and behind the dresser in their room. I re-learned how few books you can really fit in a box. I found an insurance policy from our first apartment back in 2001. I scrubbed out a pretty-darn-gross fridge with nothing but elbow grease, cold water, and Windex. And I marveled at how much junk we'd accumulated--things that seemed so important at some point, but which I now threw out with no compunction.

And I wonder...what else in my life--in my emotional, spiritual, unseen life--is like that? How much do I cling to when I need to let it go? How much is begging for a good spring cleaning, a purging, a blank slate, but is still gunked up because I don't have the time or energy or strength to let it go?

Then there are the things we're looking for. For months, Xoe has been wondering where her little Ty hippo was. We verified it wasn't among the toys brought over. So every time we went to the other house, Xoe looked for Humba. We checked all the likely places. The toy box. Under the bed. Under the couch. Downstairs.


She was starting to get upset about it. When I went on my own to do some cleaning on Tuesday, the first words from her mouth afterward were, "Did you find my hippo?"

My hutch, now filled with
all my china. =)

Yesterday, we checked more places. Xoe sighed. We gave up and worked on other things--like moving my cabinet that would hold all my china, which had already been boxed and brought to the new house and now sat in the kitchen, taking up a quarter of my floor space. David and I (both sick) hefted the thing--and we hear Xoe call out, "There she is!"

She'd fallen, inexplicably, behind the cabinet. The last place we ever would have looked for her, there she was.

I was struck by the life lesson there too. That so many times we search and search for something. We work so hard for what we want, in the ways that seem logical. And we fail. Or at least falter. We never seem to attain that thing we're reaching for.

So eventually we move on to other tasks. The ones that aren't exactly what we want, but which are more important. And it's there, in doing what we need to do, that we find that Thing. The one we'd been looking for. God knew all along what we needed to do to get us there, and once we gave up on following our own way--our so-called logic--we get where we need to go.

I've got a lot of packing and sorting, tossing out and selling ahead of me yet. No doubt I'll have a lot more moments of "Why in the world did we keep this??" But maybe I'll have some more realizations too. Some more opportunities to learn.
Humba the Hippo - home at last

And maybe we'll find some more treasures along the way.


  1. So glad Humba is home. You words hit home too. We do hold on to so much junk, emotionally and spiritually speaking, that would be best cleaned out of our lives.What better time than now to clean it out.

  2. These life lessons are yet another treasure you found. Good stuff. ;)

  3. My mom is 82 and lived in her house for 46 years. Moving to assisted living so I have the unenviable task of cleaning out a 2200 sq ft house of my loving pack-rat mom. Brother comes in late July to help. It is amazing how much "stuff" we collect and don't even notice. I found $1500 in cash stuffed in drawers, bags, envelopes and the clothes hamper. All will go toward expenses for her but sad she had so much stashed away.

  4. Aww ... finding an old friend like Humba the Hippo is always special!

  5. I loved your second revelation, on doing what needs to be done and in the process discovering what you'd been hoping to find. So often I am frustrated at the lack of concentrated time available to my writing. Seems like I am always having to prepare a message or a lesson for a Bible study, putting off manuscript work. I assume that it is an interruption of my writing at first, but inevitably, in my study for what I am teaching, a truth pops out that is exactly what I need to write. Then my complaining to the Lord turns to thanksgiving and wonder at how he had me study the exact thing that would develop what I am writing.

    I'll think of Zoe's hippo the next time that happens.

  6. So true! I had a light blue hippo at a baby shower My 34 yo daughter still has it
    God bless u

  7. Good post! I'm glad she found her hippo. :)

  8. Tough work ahead, but it should be done. That is a responsibility that one can't just skimp from. Our house tends to demand overhaul at most times, and most often than not, the best we can do is to manage it enough to give it that impression of cleanliness and freshness, a lot of which can be achieved by means of cleaning, of course.

    Weston Adams @ Leonard Brush & Chemical

  9. So very true. Good thoughts. :)

    Good luck in all go your cleaning and organizing! It's a lot of work.