I guess technically considering it’s JULY I’m too late, but “Summer Cleaning” just doesn’t have the same wring to it. Every year as a kid my mom would go on a week long Spring Cleaning Rampage. I’d be give and long list of things to clean that I never before even thought to clean like: dust the top of all the doors, the air vents, each individual blind ect… During one such week one of my chores was to dust the empty wine rack on top of the refrigerator. I stood on a chair and to my disgust found remnants of Pytheous, our family pet snake. Well, he was our family pet snake up until he escaped one night. I was lying in bed when I heard Mom scream at the top of her lungs, “JOOOOON!!!” What’s happening? I peeked out of my room. “The snake is loose. Go back to bed, ” she ordered. I didn’t know whether to shut my door or keep it open. What if it’s under my bed!?! It’d be every child’s worst nightmare come TRUE! A half hour later the dog barked obsessively starring at the wine rack. After Dad untangled Pytheous Mom gave him an ultimatum, “It’s either me or the snake.” The snake stayed in the garage for a week until my dad could make up his mind.
I don’t expect to find any snake remnants during my Spring (Summer) Cleaning, but I know there is a lot of “stuff” lurking in my basement. I have been wrestling with the verse “To whom much is given much will be required” Luke 12:48. My husband Steve and I have been blessed with “much.” Unlike my husband, generosity has never been my go to response. My parents were generous people in many ways but they also taught me that if I wanted something I had to work hard for it. At the age of 11 I got a paper route and spent my hard earned money on toys for myself. In Junior High at the beginning of the school year I was given 2 new pairs of pants and 3 new shirts for the school year. Clothing for the rest of the year was kept on a “halvsies” system (if Mom liked the item she would pay half. Maybe). At age 16 I bought my own car and paid for gas and car insurance, which I earned from working at Arby’s. My parents were great about teaching me the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work, but with it I (I did, not my parents) attached the mentality that was mine was MINE. My husband is the opposite. He’d give you the pineapple shirt off his back if I’d let him, which I won’t because he looks too handsome in it!
Currently our basement is full-filling my hoarding instincts. After having 3 children within 4 years apparently I feared that we wouldn’t be able to afford clothes and that they’d run around naked. To prevent that I stock piled second hand clothes. They’re all organized in color coded totes, but still. I figured since I got the clothes used I would be able to resell them and get my money back, but pile after pile God has nudged me to GIVE away to people who I knew that had a need. Not gonna lie- it hurts. I literally cried when I gave away my maternity clothes. It felt like I was giving away my future children. I guess I’m one of those sentimental freaks. I have memories attached to those clothes! But I’m learning it’s better to bless someone else with them than to take up space. Take a picture and move on! Plus, if I clean out the basement we will have a naturally 10 degrees cooler place to hangout in the Summer. No more sweaty babies dripping down my legs. Bonus!
As I look around the basement I see my old microwave from college and an unused Keurig. I missed the nostalgic gurgle sound of the old school coffee pot. A year ago my little-sister-type-friend Megan, graduated high school and moved out of state to intern for Child Evangelism Fellowship. I knew both of those items would have blessed her. Why did I not give them to her!?! I purposefully forgot. I thought I could sell them and make some cash. They were even given to me as gifts. So greedy! Now I’m stuck with guilt and two extra appliances to look at. I apologized to my friend and promised that if they sell I will give the money to her mission. It’s interesting when I’m working on one of my sins how much more keen I am to notice it in others and how much more it disgusts me. When I see greed in others especially someone who has more than me I have to remind myself to not be stingy with grace because God is working on them too.
The “much” that we’ve been given also includes toys. With three little kids every
birthday and Christmas comes a new batch. I was so overwhelmed with cleaning up toys that I started putting them in bins to be rotated. Some of the bins just happen to get rotated out to Goodwill (or to a friend). The kids never noticed up until this week. I got Ben’s train out to play with and he asked for the train table . . . that I gave to another little boy. Oh dear. He cried and cried. Don’t feel too bad for him- he has THREE wooden train sets … just no more table to put them on (it took up too much space). #WorstMomEver! Then a day later, Amelia saw a puppy purse at the store and she remembered that she used to have one. She cried and cried. #WorstMomEverX2!!
Not that long ago I razzed my mom that when we moved when I was 5-years-old some of my toys did not make the move. I named them off: my Barbie house, my anatomically correct female baby doll (LOL) and my Raggedy Ann doll. Oh how the tables have turned (train tables to be precise). After this incident it occurred to me that while God was working on me being a more generous person I could teach my children likewise. Instead of giving away their old toys without them knowing I will encourage them to make the decision to give them to someone else who might need it more than them. It’s important that they understand that God loves a cheerful giver and that we can never out give God. Everything that I own belongs to God anyways. We shall see how this goes. How easy is it for you to be giving??
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Dear God, Thank you for giving me so much. Help me to be the kind of generous person you want me to be. Help me to find a godly balance between saving and giving. Show me specifically what and to whom You want me to give.