About the Author

Dawn Camp shares God’s gift of essential oils in her newest releases My Essential Oil Companion and It All Began in a Garden. She is a photographer, essential oil slinger, Mom to eight and Mimi to five. Dawn enjoys movie nights with her husband and steaming cups of Earl Grey.

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  1. Wow! That’s a tough one. Last year my parents downsized from 4,000 square feet to 1,100 square feet, the ‘stuff’ of my childhood and frowning up felt like it was being ripped from me. I ended up with a lot of ‘stuff’ in my basement that I just couldn’t bear to part with and that’s where it still is. I feel ya. Gonna have to do some serious praying on this one! Thanks so much!!! Have a Blessed Day!

    • Yes, it’s so hard to let go of things that meant a lot to us in our childhood and decide whether they still mean enough to us now to make room to keep them.

  2. This is a hard one for me. My father passed in August and I am trying to clean out the house to get it ready to sell. I am sorting through, what to give to charity-gave a lot to charity already, had 2 yard sales so far, gave things to cousins, throwing out things that are not in good condition, have boxes stored in my garage and basement that I’d like to keep, and I’m not done yet. A lot of these things were from my childhood and college days. Things I forgot about. How can this be so hard when I didn’t even remember these things existed. I keep reminding myself of the things you say above. About what God values. And it’s still so hard. So many memories. At the same time I have decided I should go through my own house and downside. I might get rid of some of the things I have and keep things from my mom and dad. There are duplicates and even triplicates, and a few things from my grandparents too. I keep praying over everything and I know that eventually it will all get done, but it takes so long!
    Thank you for remining me I am not alone in this struggle, it’s a human condition that we all share. Blessings to you.

    • Judy, it takes time and it’s work. Can you believe we donated over 300 boxes to Goodwill? A lot of it was kids’ clothing. With eight children, we kept all the hand-me-downs. Unfortunately, we hadn’t gotten rid of them when there were no more little kids. I hope they’re blessing other families!

    • Judy,

      Praying for you as you do the super hard work of going through all the “things” your parents had. Asking God to give you the strength & discernment to know what should be done with it all. I would keep a few mementos of your parents. Things that remind you of them. May you feel God guiding you every step of the way.

      Blessings 🙂

  3. Ouch! But I love this encouragement to seize opportunities to be generous, warm & welcoming with our stuff. We’re pretty good about our clothes closets if it hasn’t been worn for a year out it goes but the set of china from my mom that I’d use if it fit in the cabinet & doesn’t so it stays boxed up needs to bring joy to someone who has the empty cabinet space! Not moving/ downsizing any time soon but need to clean as if we are! Thank you for this encouragement!

  4. When we settled in our retirement home in the mountains, it was important to me that our empty nest that has launch four adult children, be a welcoming nest for family to gather, hospitality be extended and our legacy of faith passed on. Sorting through years of accumulation of “stuff” has been an exercise in asking “Who would this bless?” for everything from a complete adorable wardrobe for our now deceased doxies to a two dozen cupcake carrier for a young mother to a beautiful Lladro figurine of an anniversary couple waltzing. Some “stuff” has been easy to go straight to the donate pile for a local thrift shop ministering to struggling families, but some have required discernment – whether to keep or whether to toss- there is only so much room! The joy of having held on to reading primers from my mother and father along with those I used when homeschooling my children in the 80’s has delighted both me and my grands as the begin exploring their own reading journey. The squeal when I explain this 1930 book was the book their great grandmother and I read when we were learning to read and the more recent edition if Abelard paper books taught their Mom and two uncles to read. Joy fills my heart as the sound out the three letter words and begin to read so they will soon be able to read Gods word for themselves. Everyday our table is set using my husbands parents good silver and the dish paternal selected by my Mom as a young bride. Our retirement nest is an eclectic collection that connect us to the legacy of our relationship with God, family and friends, this is the context of where our heart is. So while it will never be a carefully curated picture on the cover of House beautiful, our “stuff” from which many or our memories are made are the cairn foundation of a beautiful home! PS Only one remaining storage building to go until our downsizing is finished.

  5. Thank you for the reminder that ‘stuff’ is earthly treasure, and that we will have to let go of all of it some day when we go to our real home with God. Even knowing that, letting go is hard. It helps to remember, as you struggle with whether or not to keep something, that you can bless someone else by giving things away. My church family has learned to ask me if I have something they need before they make a purchase. Many times I do, and this blesses both of us. I have hoarding disorder and have been in therapy for over a year with a Christian counselor and letting go is a blessing to me. ‘Stuff’ can weigh down your soul.

  6. This is so good, Dawn! I struggle with stuff for a variety of reasons, but that struggle keeps me in bondage to clutter (what it *really* is!) and I don’t have room – physically or mentally to be hospitable and more focused on relationships than stuff. I hate that the stuff occupies so much mental space just as much as physical. I have gone through bouts of purging, but I’m feeling even more compelled to make that a bigger priority this year. I don’t want to live the burdened life of a stuff manager anymore.

    My dad and his friend used to buy old cars and fix them up to eventually sell. They would find terrific cars that someone would have in their backyard that they would never sell – for some sentimental reason – but they wouldn’t fix it or drive it, either. So it just deteriorated when someone could actually have enjoyed it. I want to think about my stuff that way. Am I enjoying this? If not, I need to let it go and bless someone else with its enjoyment. And in the process, I gain mental and physical breathing room and peace.

    • Dianne, I once heard a speaker say, “Clutter is postponed decisions.” I try to look at it that way: if I can’t decide where to put the thing, maybe I don’t actually have a home for it and it doesn’t belong here. It’s hard sometimes. So good to hear from you, friend!

  7. Oh how your post spoke to me today. I have been ready to go through everything in our home and remove everything that doesn’t give me joy. It is extremely difficult to do when one is married to their complete opposite who carries things in faster than I can carry them out.

    • Opening boxes and finding things that I hadn’t seen (or missed) in over 15 years was pretty sobering. (I do wish I could find my college diploma, though!)

  8. Wow! This really speaks to my own heart for stuff! We have moved numerous times across many states and we keep moving all of this stuff that is just really collecting dust! We are about to make yet another move to a smaller home and I have been looking around to see what I can get rid of. Thank you for inspiring me to really look at what I am keeping and why I am keeping it!
    Now to convince my husband that we really don’t need the many crystal wine glasses we have, especially because we don’t even drink wine! Lol!

    • Kimberly, it’s easier to get rid of stuff before you move it, but at some point you may run out of time and have to finish it after the move. We donated tons of stuff and even filled a dumpster!

  9. Thank you, Dawn! You’ve given me thoughts to ponder and maybe you are a call to action. We’ll see.

  10. It’s as if you’ve been recording events in our home over the last few weeks. We, too, downsized in December, to a house with no basement, and two fewer bedrooms. The move was exhuasting, but almost as exhausting is the pouring through boxes of STUFF. Things I moved from my mother’s home 10 years ago when she died. Things I have been moving from three homes ago that just weigh me down. Things our children left (and they don’t want, but I don’t have the heart to get rid of.) My OneWord this year is #purge. I am learning to let go of the stuff one box at a time, knowing that the emotional energy that is freed will be able to be spent on things that will last. Before we made this purchase, my husband and I decided we wanted our home to be a blessing to others (and while we’ve pretty much lived that over the years, we said it out loud this time.) Thanks for the confirmation of your post – it gives me motivation and determination to continue weeding and looking for opportunities to be a blessing 🙂

  11. Perfect timing! I sent away many bags and boxes of stuff to Vietnam Vets this morning. Your wonderful article is just the impetus I need as I climb up into our attic to try and purge as much as possible. I’ve held on to so many items from grandparents, parents, son and need to just LET GO!!! It’s very difficult, but I’ll keep Matthew 6: 221-21 as well as your excellent words in the forefront of my mind. Thank you so very much for your encouragement and wisdom!!!

    • Susan, you are so welcome! It sounds like you’re well on your way. It feels really good to let go of the stuff that’s no longer serving a purpose.

  12. the talk of moving makes me so nervous. I am a sentimental saver. I know I need to let “stuff” go. BUT. that’s the problem – but what do I do with it? but seriously, what do I do with it now?
    I have thought – my poor daughter, when I die she is going through all of it. and I can see her now rolling her eyes!

    Oh, Dawn, you are creating stress in my life right now! 🙂

    • I feel pretty sure my daughter would rather just set my house on fire than go through anything. I am a sentimental saver of all the things, while she has become very minimalist. This thought keeps me going as I enter my third year of trying to make a serious dent in my mess.

    • Suzy, I had to laugh when I read your comment about stress. I’ve been there lately! Is there someone else in your family who might want some of the stuff? Who else could be blessed by it?

    • Suzy, a professional declutterer suggested that you take pictures of a sentimental item, and write the story that goes with it, and then let the item go. Keep the picture and the story in a binder, so you can share the story with your children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren, and still have space to live your life.
      If an item is not meaningful enough to go to the trouble of taking a picture and recording its story, it is probably not meaningful enough to be taking up space in your home.

  13. Oh my. Purging my mother’s house continues after her death 2 years ago. (Long story.) While everyone else was at home and able to clean closets, my husband and I were continuing to work since we are in healthcare and considered essential. Still no break for us. So many of my days off have been filled with trying to deal with sorting, or asking hubby to fix things that come with owning two homes…youngest daughter plans to try to live in grandma’s house since sis and her husband got their start there and have moved on to their own place.

    My issue is my mother was always the one who did the purging and sorting and organizing. It was just easier for her to do it and for me to let her. Mix in a husband who is a borderline hoarder, and I have a perfect storm. Things get toted back to our house that I can’t part with…and in we go. Mom had dementia her last couple of years (well probably longer than that but I failed to recognize it.) She stopped purging and started hanging on to things, especially clothing. And that has been the hardest part. She was an excellent seamstress, but as she began losing weight, she started seeing darts into the back of things so they would “fit better”…and now most of her things are not usable for anyone else, because they won’t fit anyone. I have had to throw out a lot of blouses as I realized they had hung so long the material was no longer good—they literally pulled apart if you tugged on them at all.
    Boxes of sewing thread…yeah, that stuff doesn’t last either. Went to mend something in the sewing machine and the thread keep breaking because it had rotted.
    *sigh* I am nearly ready to just throw a match on it all!

    • Shauna, we took tons to Goodwill and even got a dumpster. Keep working steadily and don’t give up. It sounds like there’s a lot that’s obviously past being useable/useful, so that should help.

    • Contact a costume rental company for older clothing donations or they misplay you for them. That is how I have gotten rid of many things.

  14. Dawn, isn’t God’s timing always right? Your post showed up as I’m reading “Decluttering At The Speed of Life,” which I know is no accident. I’ve been studying the Biblical concept of hospitality for about a year, and I love how this post fits into that concept so well. Getting rid of things is so hard for me. My mother and daughter both believe that “sentimental value” is an oxymoron, and neither of them wants to save anything. I end up feeling like it’s up to me to preserve our family’s heritage, when in reality I am the only one who cares about it at all. Trying to identify a few items I can use and apply Susan’s question (Who will this bless?) to the rest of it. Whenever I’m asked if I want something to remember someone who has passed I always ask for a few well-loved kitchen utensils. They aren’t fancy, but every time I mash potatoes with the potato masher Granddaddy hand made for my MawMaw I feel connected to them. I’ll be looking for other ways to use what I can, and purge what I can’t. Looking forward to following your “stuff” journey!

    • I love the comment about sentimental value! 🙂 Remembering people through useful things like kitchen utensils is brilliant. I sure wish I had my grandmother’s big cast-iron skillet!

  15. Dawn, thank you for the extra push. I was born in the house I am still in. I have been trying to depart from a lot of stuff and using stuff. Now I feel like I can move on and make the house really feel like my own.

    • Shirley, I can only imagine how much family history surrounds you. You will see your ancestors someday and they won’t care what you did with their stuff, but I imagine making your house feel like your own will feel amazing.

  16. Oh my … so many things I need to “share” with others! I’ve got so many more shoes, suits, dishes, art, furniture to let go. Jesus help me .. yes I do not need these.

  17. i am with you 100% i struggle with hoarding and have tried to rid my home of clutter the more i take out the more came in

    • Lisa, it might be helpful to decide if you buy another of a certain thing, you’ll get rid of something you already own in that category (shoes, purses, etc.).

  18. What a telling post. It will resonate with so many readers here. Yes I do think oh can’t let that go it was my ……..
    however my big issue is in my craft room/ dumping area. It’s a small room by rammed full of what most would say is crap. I think when I look at it “well I might need it some day “ I’ve been I. This house 2 1/2 years and hardly touched. I go and buy what I need for a project so realistically I could get rid of most of it. I’d love people’s thoughts please.

    • Tracy, maybe you could try to come up with projects that specifically use the supplies you have on hand, and if you can’t come up with any, pass them along to a newbie crafter.

  19. Such a timely post, Dawn, on the dawn of a New Year. It’s often a time of renewed dreams, of casting out the old and welcoming in the new. And surely stuff can stuff our lives! Ask me how I know! 🙂 I have had vertigo since June, so it’s been hard to do much of anything about my stuff. But I hope to be able to go through some boxes (a lot of them) lurking in the basement. Just knowing they’re there weighs me down mentally & emotionally. I love how you differentiated between stuff and sentiment. Those things that you treasured, you brought out of storage and used them, reminding you of your descendants. That’s an honoring act. But I think we all must do this from time to time (or maybe for the first time) and weigh priorities. What is treasure? What is trash? Then, act accordingly. I love this quote by Henry David Thoreau, from Walden: “I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust.” He made priorities. We must realize that the stuff we collect takes time and attention. Is that what we want our minds to focus on? Author/speaker Elisabeth Elliot sometimes spoke about all our stuff. And she sang the words to this little ditty, to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.” It makes a point!

    Too Much Stuff
    Words by Janet L. Janzen
    To the tune of “Three Blind Mice”

    Too much stuff, too much stuff.
    More than enough, more than enough.
    It’s out of the closets and filling our space,
    It’s growing and spilling all over the place,
    We’re tripping all over a terrible case of
    Too much stuff.

    Too much stuff, too much stuff.
    More than enough, more than enough.
    The piles are staring us in the face,
    They multiply at an alarming pace,
    And soon we’ll be buried without a trace in
    Too much stuff.

    Too much stuff, too much stuff.
    More than enough, more than enough.
    It isn’t easy to run the race
    With all of this stuff slowing down the pace,
    I think that I need some additional grace for
    Too much stuff.

    Blessings and Happy New Year, Dawn,
    Lynn

  20. Dawn.

    This world “hoards” so much stuff. That’s why we see a ton of Self-storage places all over. We feel we need to keep all these items. Trouble is one day we will die & then who will get to have or use them? In the mean time so many people could be helped. I constantly clean out my wardrobe of items I don’t wear, like, or fit anymore. Given some blankets away wanting to keep others warm. Thinking about going over boxes & stuff in basement to see if there’s anything else we can throw out or give away. My biggest problem lies in kitchen equipment. Can’t seem to part with some items even though we haven’t used them in a long time. Perhaps one day I will give it to others to enjoy.

    Blessings 🙂

    • Oh, my word! I had company Friday night and we realized I have an excessive amount of kitchen equipment. I got rid of some before we moved, but this is an area I need to tackle.

  21. A few years ago, I recognized this sort of thing also! I began giving things away to appropriate homes, such as my Barbie “collection” to a family with two girls! And I no longer sew, so I’ve shipped boxes of very usable items off to folks who can use them! And I have those dishes, that we now use! It’s so refreshing & gives a sense of release!

  22. Thank you for your insightfulness. I too have way too many treasures taking up valuable space in my home. Will you be writing more on this subject?

  23. Love this! My Word for this year is “Simplify”, so this really hits home. Had an idea based off an idea a friend told me years ago to do with our 5 kids art pieces and projects we had no room for in our tiny 1700′ ranch (with no basement or attic mind you!). What if instead of keeping them and boxing them away, we took pictures of those precious memories of our loved ones things or our own memories and put them in a photo journal and shared them in story albums? (You can make on snapfish or Walgreens). Of course that takes some time & creates more books (which I also love hard copies of & have a ton of! Curse of a fellow writer I guess!) But the pictures will keep & stories cam be easily voice texted on a phone. Just a thought! Love to all my fellow Simplifiers in Process!