Thursday, February 11, 2010

Make the 40 Bags Challenge Work for You

My Bible study group has decided to undertake the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge to declutter for Lent. You can read the previous post I wrote about it here and see how the lesson for that week tied in perfectly, urging us to detach ourselves from material possessions and store up our treasures in heaven.

For me, I got a big nudge when Hubs noted we were growing out of our perfectly fine and large enough house. We live far better than most of the world, and the real rub was realizing that by my hanging onto these things that other people could be using, I am depriving them. (See my mittens comment in the above link. Though it only came out to be three extra pair of mittens...)

One thing upon which my entire study group agreed was that we each needed to make adjustments for our family. Those who worked full time should not come home and ignore their family for the sake of decluttering! We also wanted to avoid too much work on Sunday, which is supposed to be a day of rest but for many, is anything but that. We also agreed that any size "bag" would be deemed appropriate. Finally, we noted that it was up to each person as to what they did with their bags.

If people had the storage space, they could hang onto their items until the annual rummage sale fundraiser. I also sent out an e-mail with the hours our local Catholic Social Services thrift store is open, contact information regarding our local Freecycle and Sell-It-Here groups (we don't really have Craigslist around here), and I also included info for our local domestic violence shelter. Our tiny local thrift store accepts donations at all times, as we discussed at our meeting. I'm also trying to get creative, for example since my spotted kitty came from a Humane Society, I'm taking two bags of towels to the local one (and a bag of rugs if they want them).

Already, I have compiled more than 30 bags of stuff. Some are plastic shopping bag sized, some are paper grocery bag sized, some are garbage bag sized, and one will be even bigger when we get rid of our old entertainment center. I also need to admit that so far, I've barely felt pinched about the stuff I'm giving away. Some of it was given to us by people we love, and I am having to take a page from The Tightwad Gazette (I think?) and remind myself that because I'm giving away something that was given to me, it doesn't mean that I love the giver any less. More importantly, though, I know that I'm just getting rid of the "fluff" and once that is done, I need to challenge myself to really detach and get rid of things I truly don't need - and that other people can use.

I have also been mulling over something else I want to do for Lent, but I've not yet sat down and pulled it all together. I still haven't finished my New Year's Resolutions (there's a reason I have a category called Mid Year Resolutions instead...), and they mainly involve tightening up my household schedule and being much more proactive. I think my family deserves better along those lines than what I've been giving them. I've been thinking lately that if Jesus were a member of my household, what would I do differently? Because He is here...

To see what others are doing to draw closer to our Lord during Lent, visit Kitchen Stewardship's What Are You Doing For Lent? carnival.

9 comments:

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

"...the real rub was realizing that by my hanging onto these things that other people could be using, I am depriving them." YEAH, THAT!

I love coming out of my closet with a large trash bag FULL of clothes I no longer need. We just went through every last piece of clothing our children have owned since they were newborn and boxed them all according to sizes. Right now we only have them for "just in case" but one day they'll make someone a very nice wardrobe. LOL

The real problem I run into with de-cluttering is that once I get into it, I don't want to be bothered every 5 minutes. I'll find myself knee-deep in my sorting piles and then Brighton needs help going potty and just as soon as I get back to my work, Brandon needs help -- something only mommy can fix, naturally. LOL So I have to remind myself to go in baby steps.

Speaking of de-cluttering, I absolutely LOOOOVED reading The House that Cleans Itself almost two years ago. Mind you, I didn't finish her entire system, but I did enough to really find it useful. I think it might help me to follow through with her whole routine while in the process of collecting my 40 bags!

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Since we're preparing for a move AND I am seeking simplicity this Lent, I, too, am working to purge my life of clutter- both the physical kind that will end up in bags as well as the spiritual kind that distracts me from having a personal relationship with God.

Here's to a fruitful Lent! God bless.

Zimms Zoo said...

I have found this very interesting. Since we don't celebrate Lent I have also found this educational. (I hope that doesn't sound bad because it isn't)
(being raised baptist)

But I can totally relate to giving away the fluff and things that I don't need but don't want to part with. I see all these great projects being done with discarded clothes and want to them, but then I think well so-and-so could really use these and they are still on good shape. So I pack them up and argue with myself on whether I should keep them or not. Oh the vicious cycle. I have finally come to terms with blessing someone else with them if I can first.

Because we live in 1100 sq ft with the 6 kiddos and now grandma, de-cluttering is essential. Can you come do my house next? Or could we do 40 days of Organization? One drawer, one cabinet, one closet at a time?

As always I love your posts!

Colleen Duggan | Writer said...

I always feel great when I de-clutter! I hope you purge leads to days of peace and surrender during your Lenten journey!

Anonymous said...

Netta, I'm excited to say that the Moulton house will be 40 bags or boxes lighter by easter as well--Tim is on board, i've started getting rid of some already in advance, for the known days we'll be out of town.

I decided that it wasn't size or volume of the box and bag, but that the contents, if tagged and sold in a thrift store, should net at least 25 bucks. Also going to take them to appropriate random places, including friends, daycare, and various charity sites.

Looking forward to lent now!

Stacey said...

I also need to admit that so far, I've barely felt pinched about the stuff I'm giving away. Some of it was given to us by people we love, and I am having to take a page from The Tightwad Gazette (I think?) and remind myself that because I'm giving away something that was given to me, it doesn't mean that I love the giver any less.

That's one of the biggest reasons I hang on to thing! And the drawings, oh the drawings, that Isabel gives me! There are piles. My mom is a worse packrat than me, and in reading her self-help books on the subject, they always coach us to hang on to the love, not the thing. And that's what we really need to do in this, is to hold on to what's important (God and other people) and get rid of our attachment to material stuff. Now for the actually doing it...

A little different take that I'm doing on this: I'm going to have a garage sale at the end, and use the money to pay off a little debt. It's not exactly giving to charity, but I have to say that garage sales seem to be the fastest way to distribute your goods to people who need them (I accept all offers) and most the charities in this area don't take used items. That whole being financially stable/responsible thing is high on my priority list. Good stewardship and all.

JoEllen said...

I found out about this challenge from a cousin who is participating. What a great idea! After someone gets rid of a bag a day for two or three weeks, it becomes a habit! All participants will really be cleaning up! I am a Professional Organizer and have posted your site on my facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/organizing4u) to challenge others.
Thanks for the idea!
JoEllen

Kitchen Stewardship said...

Lenetta,
I soooo need to do this, as soon as I get all my stuff back from "setting" our house! ;) 30 bags already, and Lent hasn't even started yet! You rock, girl, I'm not surprised. :)
Katie

Alicia said...

i found your blog via the "what im doing for Lent" carnival on kitchenstewardship.com. I'm glad I did! I am also aiming to get rid of at least 5 trash bags of stuff this Lent. I try to do this every year so I dont end up growing out of my home. lol. Also, the television show "Clean Sweep" and even "Hoarders" have really helped me to understand the thinking behind "keeping stuff" and helps me keep my pile down.