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  • Lea Hartline

Transforming Chaos into Calm: My Journey to a Christ-Centered Home

Looking for order in a sea of chaos

I've always had a tendency for a cluttered living space. After the loss of Robert, my home became more than just messy—it became a chaotic clutter zone. As I grappled with figuring out my identity without him, I found myself accumulating books, notebooks, and even pets (who are definitely staying, by the way). I'm embarking on a transformative journey to create a Christ-centered home that radiates peace instead of chaos. It's time to shift the focus from clutter to God because what I truly want—and need—is a sanctuary of serenity.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

The Clutter Trap: How My Book Hoarding Turned Into a Search for Wholeness

The Clutter Trap: How My Book Hoarding Turned Into a Search for Wholeness

Over the past couple of years since losing Robert, my home has become a haven for books—most unread. It wasn't until I stumbled upon a wake-up call from "The Real Raw Outlaw," a blogger I follow, that I realized my habit was more than just collecting; it was cluttering my life.

You know the feeling—you stand in front of an overflowing pantry or fridge, paralyzed by choice, and end up ordering takeout. Or you scan a jam-packed closet and still feel like you have "nothing to wear," so you buy another pair of black shoes. For me, it was an endless cycle of accumulating books, notebooks, washi tape, and stickers.

The more I had, the less I could find what I needed, leading to more unnecessary purchases. I was using clutter to fill the void left by Robert, unaware that a disordered home was setting the stage for a disordered life.

The Aha Moment: How Budgeting and Decluttering Rekindled My Faith

How Budgeting and Decluttering Rekindled My Faith

Initially, I began following Magan's blog, known as "The Real Raw Outlaw," merely as a show of support for her new venture. She's a client, after all. I assumed her advice wouldn't apply to me; we were in completely different life stages, especially since my kids are all grown up. But surprisingly, her down-to-earth insights on budgeting became a lifeline for me.

In the days when Robert was around, making financial missteps didn't feel like a big deal. A new paycheck would arrive every Thursday, and I'd breathe easy. But his absence changed everything; I had to hustle like never before to keep a roof overhead. I reached a point where poor money management nearly cost me that roof.

Paying closer attention to Magan's wisdom made me reevaluate more than just my finances. I started meal planning and budgeting for groceries, which led me to a startling realization: clutter was undermining my financial and spiritual well-being. The dozens of devotionals, notebooks, and journals scattered around my home meant I was continuously buying new ones.

The true eye-opener? All this clutter wasn't just damaging my budget but keeping me from quality time with God and my faith community. I'd spend the workweek striving to earn enough to cover my budget—and all those "extra" purchases like new books or meals out. By the time Sunday arrived, I'd convinced myself that staying home to "clean the house" was a must. But let's be honest—I never actually cleaned. Instead, I would rest or sleep, surrounded by the disarray that had become my life.

Taking the First Steps: My Journey Toward a Clutter-Free, Christ-Centered Home

Little Library, Painting your house and grocery shopping

When clearing out clutter, sometimes the first step is the hardest. For me, it began with addressing my overgrown book collection. I've started to donate them to little libraries scattered around town parks. These are the cute boxes where you can "take a book, leave a book," and I love the community spirit behind it. I plan to renew my library card to enjoy reading without adding to my collection.

Sorting through my closet was an emotional ordeal, especially regarding Robert's clothes. It took me over two years to reach the point where I felt ready to part with them. But that's not the only closet change; I've also sifted through my wardrobe, being honest about what I'll wear.

About my four dining tables—yes, you read that right. I've decided to part ways with two of them, freeing up much-needed space in my sunroom. The backstory on how I ended up with so many is a saga for another time, but suffice it to say, they're not serving me anymore.

My focus on home improvement continued beyond decluttering. I've picked up a $15 gallon of mistinted paint and revamped my half-bath. The laundry room is next on the list. These seem like small tasks, but they're essential to making my home more harmonious.

Shifting to the topic of grocery shopping might seem like a stretch, but here's the connection: being intentional about meal planning has indirectly helped clear mental clutter, leading to a more organized home. My new budget-friendly shopping habits are just another piece of the puzzle of achieving a balanced life.

While I'm just getting started, I already feel these changes' benefits. Friends and family are visiting in October, and I'm eager to welcome them into a less cluttered, more serene home. I want my space to be so inviting that if someone from church dropped by unannounced, all I'd have to do is place the dogs in the sunroom.

And so, the journey begins. I'm all ears if you've been through something similar or have tips to share. Let's join this new chapter together, focusing on what truly matters.

Links to follow Magan, The Real Raw Outlaw! Blog:

Do you have a favorite blogger who has helped influence you on your journey. Be sure to share with in your comments or on either of my social media pages. Facebook

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

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