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What are you holding on to?

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What are you holding on to? {A Time to Clean: 30 Day Challenge} @ AVirtousWoman.org #atimetoclean

A Time to Clean: Day 1

You can read all of the posts in this series here.

Look around you. 

What do you see? No, really, what do you see?

When I see clutter in my house I see Failure. Regret. Discouragement. Shame. 

I see wishes that have not come true and fears I have not let go. I see my life in it’s often overwhelmed state and wish that I wasn’t frozen, unable to make things really change.

I see bad habits and unmade decisions and wrong choices and mistakes I wish I hadn’t made.

This is my life. 

I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky sort of gal. I see the glass half full. Like almost all the time. And yet, there are so many days when I wake up to clutter and a busy schedule and I just wish I could escape reality. The last few years added up to a lot of chaos. And even though my burnout has healed, I’m still left with the aftermath.

Okay, so for instance, I can have the main part of my house pretty much neat – and all it takes is a few busy days to ruin everything. Like, the house is a disaster within 24 hours. I was gone from home nearly everyday for the last two weeks…. 14 times 24 hours… Ugh.

Can anyone else relate? Tell me I’m not alone in this!

The problem is, the house may appear to be clean or neat when someone drops by or comes for dinner… but the truth is, I’m probably hoping no one looks in my closets, goes into the laundry room, or opens my bedroom door or pays attention to the stacks and stacks of books lying around… everywhere.

The truth is – I just have too much stuff. Stuff I don’t really even want. 

So, why have I been holding onto all this stuff that doesn’t add one bit of joy to my life? 

As I hold onto shame, I also hold onto stuff – stuff that tells me I’m not worthy of more than a cluttered, messy life.

As I hold onto regrets, I also hold onto stuff – stuff that tells me I routinely make bad choices – like that pair of jeans that just doesn’t fit right.

As I hold onto bitterness, I also hold onto stuff – stuff that keeps my bedroom from being a sanctuary for my marriage.

As I hold onto bad habits, I also hold onto stuff – stuff that tells me I’ll never be more than my present reality.

Repeat after me.

Today, I choose to let go of past regrets.

Today, I choose to let go of those things in my life that are trapping me under their weight.

Today, I choose to find joy and let go of clutter.

Today, I choose to let go of this world and hang onto God.

I am convinced that having less stuff will mean more joy. I am convinced that simplifying my life will mean less stress. I am convinced that getting rid of the clutter in my heart will lead to less clutter in my house.

Change isn’t easy, but it is possible. And with God ALL things are possible.

What are you holding on to? {A Time to Clean: 30 Day Challenge} @ AVirtousWoman.org #atimetoclean

Today’s Goal

  • Ask God to show you what things you are holding onto that are holding you back from your best life.
  • Pick up a journal and write down your thoughts about what He has shown you or print my free prayer journal.
  • Choose an area in your home you want to tackle. I suggest beginning with one of the main living areas of your home.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away.
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram – use hashtag #atimetoclean {optional}
  • Leave a comment below about what you chose to get rid of.
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow and spend time in prayer. Use your prayer journal. I’ll be waking up around 6:30 am.

On Friday I’ll have a Link Up here, and we’ll be sharing our stories for week #1 on A Virtuous Woman’s Facebook page.

Today I’ll be working on my Sun Room. {Okay, to be honest, I’m gone from home for 14 hours every Monday so my daughter Hannah can ice skate. So I’ll be doing Monday’s challenge on Sunday.}

So, in my Sun Room… well, see, my 23 year old son moved back home a few weeks ago. His bedroom has been changed into a space {sort of} for my husband so, James hasn’t had a bedroom of his own while he’s staying here. Personally, I would love to be able to just give him his room back, but my husband – well, it’s a long story.

Suffice to say, he’s been living in the family room downstairs, but all of his stuff got put into my pretty sun room when he moved back in. It’s been a disaster for about 2 months now. I keep the doors closed. Yeah. That’s one of my bad habits. I see a problem, feel overwhelmed, and just ignore it indefinitely.

So, today, my sun room was cleaned and decluttered. Here’s the finished result: {sorry, I didn’t think to take a before picture!} I’ll try to remember that for later in the week.

A Time to Clean: 30 Day Challenge on AVirtuousWoman.org is all about letting go of those things in our lives that are keeping us from living with joy! Join me!

It’s not perfect. James’ stuff is still in the room. But instead of being strewn from one end of the room to the other, it’s now in a mostly neat pile in the corner.

A Time to Clean: 30 Day Challenge on AVirtuousWoman.org is all about letting go of those things in our lives that are keeping us from living with joy! Join me!

Could it be better? Definitely. I’m not going to stress over it right now.

This pile of magazines? Gone. 

A Time to Clean: 30 Day Challenge on AVirtuousWoman.org is all about letting go of those things in our lives that are keeping us from living with joy! Join me!

Today my day started off good. By mid morning, we got a phone call from Mr. Cooper {a.k.a The Mountain Man} who keeps our horses telling us that the horses had gotten out and were missing. Threw a total wrench in my day. I spent two hours over the mountain finding horses and mending fences in the frosty {icy} cold and in the melting snow.

Just know that when you make a decision to change for the better… Satan will let the horses out. He doesn’t want you to be encouraged. Just the opposite. He wants you to feel defeated before you even get really started. SO, if this happens to you, be encouraged. Say, {aloud even} “Satan, get thee behind me. You have no place here. Jesus will have the victory over my life.”

P.S. My husband is a pastor and we live in a very poverty stricken area – in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, in one of the poorest counties in the country. We run a community center where we give away food, clothes, and household items to people in need twice a week. We don’t require proof of income. We simply give stuff away.

If you would like to donate, you can send boxes to:

Appalachian Community Center

C/O Melissa Ringstaff

P.O. Box 1020, Harlan, KY 40831

Or, if you’d like to donate and ship through UPS:

Appalachian Community Center

C/o Melissa Ringstaff

594 Ivy Hill, Harlan, KY 40831

What are you tackling today?

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80 Comments

  1. Today I'm going to tackle the living room. I have to travel 100 miles to get parts for a car. So it's going to be quick. Me and a friend of mine clean out our stuff and give it away as a outdoor yard sale at church parking lot. Everything is free.
    1. We also do a community garden. Where I give away all food for free. But thank you for this website it has helped so much.
      1. Thank you Melissa. You know Jesus never did anything for himself. He always helped others. We each have our own role in this.
  2. Melissa, I know this is really specific, but what do you do with old magazines? I have so many of them (my mother-in-law passes hers on to me after she finishes them), and they pile up before I can look through them. I'm looking forward to your series. This is a "hot topic" for me right now, and I'd love to gain some momentum and success in de-cluttering my home! Hugs..amanda
    1. Hi Amanda! Any question is fine! Magazines can be donated to a local hospital waiting room, our local Good Will sells old magazines for like $0.25. If you have a women's shelter, they might take them. If they are really old though, you may just want to pitch them in the trash. :)
  3. Thank you for doing this "blog". Are there certain items that you are in need of right now? I would love to send some items. Clothes? Books? Kitchen items? I'm off to work on the dining room!
    1. Sarah, we give away clothes, household items, bedding, and food and will take donations of any of those things. However if you want to know what we could use the most? Household items are the hardest to come by. And food. :) But anything is a blessing! Thanks for asking!
  4. Melissa, you are definitely not alone. My husband and I are youth pastors at our church, he is a gospel rapper, I am Sunday school teacher, we are parents of 7, and have full time jobs. So busy is an understatement. I can clean up and then I event or weekend will throw me all off schedule and the clutter is back. My biggest problem area is our bedroom, so that is what I will be working on this week. Before and after pics to come.
    1. Thank you, Tabitha! The last few years have been really tough for us all around. I went through a severe burnout because of a number of reasons, but I'm feeling so much better now - mentally, physically, and spiritually! It's so easy to accumulate and get overwhelmed. Less stuff means less stuff to clean.... At least that's what I tell myself! I'm glad you're in the trenches with me! :)
  5. I really need this right now. Thank you for all you do in your ministry. I just had surgery a week ago today , so I'm limited on what I can do for six weeks, but with God's help I'm going to do the best I can.
    1. Susan, be sure you don't over do it! Take your time and if it takes you more than six weeks to get through the series - that's OKAY! Do your best and let God do the rest. ;) Let me know how it goes!
  6. I am totally starting this challenge... just today. I know I am three days behind... which i will take advantage of the weekend. :) The very moment I chose to declare I will start Monday, I haven't felt good, one of our main computers went down, home school got put on hold, my teens have been all out of sorts... I guess because there is a wrench in their regular structured schedule too...? And I have been running all over the place for little things that don't mean a whole lot to me, but for others, and well... I have yet to begin this challenge. Satan truly has let the horses out here as well. ;) But today i am beginning. I am excited to finally declutter my Spiritual life and my physical life as well. I look forward at looking into the matters of my heart that reflects everything I do and allow in my life and that leaves me feeling so vulnerable already with what you have spoken about above: "Shame, Regret, Bitterness, Bad Habits." I can not even begin to tell you just how much of what you said is me. I'm so happy I am NOT the only one out here in this big ol'world that feels this way. It feels good that already that you can relate to me and it makes it that much more real. So thank you. Well... off to begin my day... please pray for me... the battle ground in my mind is an ugly one.
    1. Diana, you brought tears to my eyes. We're in this together! And it's NEVER to late to make change for the better. Satan wants us to feel discouraged so we give up, but GOD will have the victory this time! I am praying for you!
  7. This is an excellent post (thanks for sharing the link on Learn to Blog)... I'm learning to declutter - I just moved. I did quite a bit BEFORE we moved and I'm doing more now as I unpack and get situated!
  8. My mom passed away in January and I have been hoarding all her stuff in my bedroom - The Lord has given me the courage to donate her clothes etc. to JAM (an organisation in South Africa which feeds the poor). I feel relieved and lighter. I got divorced four years ago and my home has become so cluttered as I deal with the pain divorce brings. I am slowly decluttering - throwing broken items away, and giving clothing, shoes, toys etc to the poor. I have still got a long way to go before I can say my home is clutter free but I will carry on with the Lords help.!
    1. Hi Maureen, you've had a lot to deal with over the last few years. It takes time to heal, and I believe you will have victory over clutter in your life. God bless you. Be sure to check in and let me know how things are going. I'm praying for you!
  9. Oh my Melissa, what a challenge you have bestowed upon me, but I will follow through. I am very clear on the ...I see a problem, feel overwhelmed, and just ignore it indefinitely......problem. I have suffered with this for so long and it is time to DECLUTTER in order for the better me to shine through. I will be starting tomorrow. I am a teacher.....so I will declutter at school before I leave and at home once I get here....double decluttering :-) Thanks so much...I have started a journal and prepared myself for tommorrow... I will be back tomorrow with details :-) Thanks & God Bless You+ 0;-) Tomika
  10. I'm getting a weeks late start on this but will catch up as much as possible. I'm looking forward to being freer of "stuff" and their weight on my soul / mind.
  11. Ah! De-cluttering. It is like music to my ears. I would love to take on this challenge. I find it very easy to throw things out. My husband on the other hand always sees potential in what an item can become. How does one find balance between what to keep and what to throw out? I still want to respect the fact that personalities differ, but I feel our home has way too much clutter. Any advice will be great.
  12. What a timely post! We've been talking about strongholds in our lives in the bible study I'm facilitating. Boy, do I have a few! ;) I totally understand what you are saying about clutter... It has slowly crept up on me for a few years due to health problems I've had and then my mother moved in with us and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Looking around at the clutter causes me to start thinking about what a failure I am as a wife & mom. Why can't I just get it together? This is something that I struggle with constantly & I feel so overwhelmed I don't know where to start! With God's help I will break through these strongholds & give myself grace to get it done a little at a time. Thank you for this post! It helps to know I'm not alone in this struggle.
  13. Just found your website, it could have come at a better time. Yes, why am I holding on to clutter? Things must change and for the better. Satan tried his hardest to derail my 1st day of this challenge...having my 9 year old stay home from school w/a fever. But she was feeling better and helped me by tackling the "toy" room. She parted with many of her toddler toys she seen in 4 years (they had been in storage due to military moves). A couple of boxes are going to be donated and a couple of bags ended up in the trash.
    1. Hi Christina! I'm so glad you're joining the challenge! Don't get discouraged. Not everyday will go perfectly, but everyday you can see an improvement - however small! God is going to do a great work! God bless you!
  14. Day 1: I chose my bedroom because it is mymy sanctuary and I'm needing one more and more these days. I'm blessed to have come across your page. God always knows what we need and provides the path!
  15. I am several weeks late, but I will still do DAY 1 today! This is so helpful! I moved out of my parents house into my own apartment almost a year ago, I shoved a lot of stuff in my storage, both at the apartment and my parents, as well as any closets at the new place, from the beginning, and I have been putting a lot of it off simply by closing the door and not dealing with it. Time to de-clutter and get rid of all those jeans "I'll fit into again one day!" Thanks so much.
  16. I came across your site on Pinterest! Have read several posts this morning and love this challenge. I know I'm very behind but I'm jumping in! Thank you for the encouragement and allowing The Lord to work in us through you!
  17. I have completed Day 1. I simply cleaned off a ledge that had been accumulating junk. I was able to toss out half a bag of junk. I am amazed at how empowering it was to finally tackle that area! I chose to get rid of a few toys (my kids have WAY too many), and a few things that I don't find beautiful or serve no purpose. There were a few of my toddler's clothes from when he was a baby. I chose a few of my favorite ones, and donated the rest. I created a bin for the baby keepsakes, and placed it in my son's closet. My husband is amazed as well. Thank you so much. I prayed before starting this evening, and I must say, my husband and I had a most amazing time connecting tonight (which it feels like we rarely connect.)
  18. Tacked an area that I didn't think was that bad; boy was I wrong! I actually purged more from here than the previous days' area. It's an area in the middle of the stairway. Has a diaper changing table and a 9cubby cubicle. I filled one bag to donate, a box of trash, and 4 broken down diaper boxes. I thought it looked okay before, but now it looks AMAZING!
  19. I forgot part of the challenge was to share my story. There really is too much to share, but I believe I may be a pack rat because my parents divorced when I was 6. My brothers and I went into separate foster homes. My alcoholic father drank away what little money he did have, so our entire belongings that were sitting In a storage unit was auctioned off. So I have nothing from my childhood. I feel that may be why I hold onto everything. NOT ANYMORE, it's time to let go, purge, clean my house and the lives of my children. They don't need to be swallowed up my baggage.
  20. Thank you so much! I found you on pinterest and are en the first blog I am actually fallowing. Iactual signed up the end of Nov., but got busy with the holidays so a feesh start to a new year this is the perfect way to inspier the decluter process. Looking forward to a much tidier home. Happy New Year! ZsaZsa
  21. It is 1:50am and I just thank God for bringing this website into my heart. It is so true what you said about the clutter comming from our hearts. It's funny how we do not realize how much hurt we hold on to and how eventually it starts to show in other areas of our lives. I came to realize about two years ago how my past had been keeping me prisoner and had turned me into a hoarder. I come from an ugly past of being physically/mentally abused by my mother and sexually abused by my mother's boyfriend and other family members from the age of two until about twelve. I guess the worst of it was for my mother to never believe me and always take the other person's side. It got to a point where about eight years ago, that she disowned me as her daughter and hasn't spoken to me since. I am fourty years old now and my past has caused so many issues with me being able to trust people or even letting them come close in our lives. I am a single mother of a fifteen year old autistic son and a twelve year old daughter who has many medical conditions which cause us be back and forth between home and the hospital. I get no support from either of their fathers so I do it all alone. I do attend church regularly and hold several positions in the church as well as doing other things like feeding the needy and helping the homeless to God be the glory but I still feel alone and frustrated with my home and all the clutter. I see us having slipped spiritually due to all the things we have gone threw at our previous two churches. Its crazy how I went to church looking for salvation and healing and wound up being hurt by those who call themselves sons and daughters of God. I was at the first church for about five years, until I was accused falsely by the Pastors wife of something I did not do. Then I prayed and God moved us to the second church for seven years. I opened up to these Pastors over time, only to have my heart torn out,thrown to the ground and stomped on. We really hurt. I TRUSTED them. My children were being picked on and just so many other things which led to our spiritual weakness. God has then taken us out of that place and moved us into a new church home where we have been at for a year now. It has been so hard especially for my children to get back spiritually where we used to be. We have been hurt so deeply that it is so hard to get close to anyone. I mean we really love God and I continue to declare my family and I will serve the Lord God all the days of our lives and honestly some days are better than others but I just keep on walking by faith and not by sight. I try to work on the house a little at a time (when I'm not homeschooling my daughter or in the hospital with her) and I just ask God to continue to heal all the broken places. About two weeks ago I did accomplish completely cleaning of all the clutter from my basement. With no exaggeration, there were about 50 trash bags full of things that people left in my house when they lived here, clothes and other things that we're just being stored. My basement now only has two crates of paperwork and an old washer which is about to go too. It was such a relief to see all those musty things go and the trash men were also happy because they were blessed with twenty-five dollars. My next mission is my children's bedrooms. It feels so good to be free from the chains of hording and I thank God that threw true life testimonies we are able to reach out to others who are in need and are harshly being judged when all they need is someone to lift their hands like they did for Moses when he became weak from the battle. God bless everyone. I stand in a global prayer for everyone who is struggling with anything right now and declare renewed strength,wisdom and healing in Jesus name. Amen.
  22. I know this is a old post, I'm just getting to it. I agree with all but asking Satan to get behind me! Paul said stand firm! All your armor is on your front! Don't turn your back to Satan nor tell him to get behind. That is you vulnerable spot.
  23. I know this is an older post, but I'm trying to change my lifestyle, and that of my family to one that is less materialistic. I found you through Pinterest and enjoyed every word in this post. How you were able to tie clutter items to adverse emotions is genius. What are we telling ourselves by holding onto things, let alone things that may bring us down subliminally. In addition, I needed the words "Satan, get thee behind me," today...many times. In fact, I said an AOL (Amen Out Loud) when I read it. But then I kept reading and saw that you are in Harlan, KY. What?! That's where I was born. I'm across the country now, but what a small world. Bless you and the work you do.
    1. Hi Amy! It's nice to meet you - neat that you were born here in Harlan. It is a small world indeed! So glad you found the post helpful. Satan finds endless ways to bind us, but Jesus sets us free!
  24. Wow, Thanks for this. I have been wondering about all of the stumbling blocks trying to distract me from my goals. Seems obvious now! This changes everything. Thank you for sharing this.
  25. Hie Melissa I am glad i stumbled into your website and its like you are talking to me. My 2 bedroomed cottage is such a mess. Laundry is spilling for my 2 boys,me and hubby laundry buskets and the kitchen overflowing from dirty dishes. I work in a transport all male dominated environment as a superviser so by the time i get home, i just want to breastfeed my 18 month baby and sleep. I promise myself that i will try to clean the kitchen and our small dining when i get home. I need God's grace to carry me through this.
  26. I am just coming across this blog. #excited I guess I will be taking the challenge alone but I will post a couple of updates.
  27. Hi Melissa, I divinely "stumbled" upon on your blog through pinterest. As I browsed through your blog, I read your post about your testimony. My heart skipped a few beats. Your encouragement that "Your life is NOT the epitome of your mistake" spoke volumes for me. I too, was a young mother out of wedlock. It took buckets of God's grace, and reassurance that I could move past my mistakes. As I continue to walk with God, I continue to find freedom in my identity as His daughter, and the plans He has for my life. Thank you so much for your willingness to share your heart with us. I also decided to take part in the A Time to Clean challenge. Ever since my husband, and I had our second child, I have struggled with managing our home. I work outside of the home, and it has been a serious struggle to manage the ever growing mounds of "stuff". Our loving heavenly Father has helped me to recognize that we don't need half of the things we end up keeping in our home. While He has lovingly given me this wisdom, I have struggled with initiating an action plan! My immobility to move towards a clutter-free heart, and a clutter free home ends today! Again, with God's grace, guidance, and strength, and the A Time to Clean challenge, I purpose to declutter my home; one bag at a time, one day a time. Thank you again for your willingness to share what God places on your heart through this blog. It has been such a timely source of encouragement. Take care, Tatiana
  28. I chose to tackle the WORST room in my house, my bedroom. I am such a messy unorganized person, that at times I can't walk across the room without dodging clutter. I have piles and piles of stuff. Today I got rid of 3 bags of trash and 1 bag of stuff to give away. I am a sentimental person by nature and tend to hold on to too much. My husband died last year at age 43, so many things that were his I am having trouble parting with. Thanks for these instructions, for the first time in my life zi think I might be able to declutter!
  29. Hi Melissa! I am so glad I stumbled upon your website today. Actually God has been soo good. He has been leading me since yesterday morning and I have been up to 2am last night and He is continuing to be soo present in my life. I complained to God that He has been quiet since we broke out for our 1 month holiday from intense Bible study. He obviously heard from cries. :) Anyway, I am going to print out your 10 Virtues. And I am here in this section of your blog cos I have 4 boxes, a cupboard of books, a shelf of notes and a basement to clear out of business-related stuff. I am obviously reluctant, cos I am meticulous and I am always thinking "hmm, I may need that later." And so casting out stuff is not easy for me. But I will try to in this month. Ok I am rambling... all this and I just wanted to say I will enjoy reading your blogs in the coming weeks.:) May you live out His purpose in you with love, faith, trust and deep joy in this temporal world till we meet Him in His glorious majestic Heavens! --- Lily
  30. Hello Melissa, This series will be a big blessing for my family, i cant wait to get started. i dont see the option of a pdf download .
  31. I know you are so busy, but I am going to start this challenge and post each day so that I can stay accountable. Hope that is ok!! Today I went into my 12 tear old son's room and went through ine large bin and one large laundry basket. I knew that this area in his room had not been touched in years. I was able to get rid of a lot of garbage and recycling AND I filled a grocery bag and a half full of costumes, books and other things my son has grown out of. He also let me fill the bin back up with all his stuffed animals! So far, so good. Praise God!
  32. Thank you for this series. I need to do this . God wrote all the days of our lives in his book before we were borne and I know there is more joy in the things he wrote than is in my days. Any way Thank you for your encouraging website and this 30 day challenge.. I am pretty excited because I have been trying to do this for quite a while with no lasting changes.
    1. I too am just finding this challenge. It's an answer to prayer for me!! I hope to see your updates as you finish the challenge!!
  33. Our father love us so. He is good. I started yesterday before I read this challenge. Reading your reasons and the deeper meaning such as failure is really a great way to see deeper than the frustration. When I look around I have been seeing and feeling hopeless, defeated, timidness, overwhelmed with not enough hours in a day, incapable of dealing with multiple personalities and their needs (my kids and husband). Those are lies from the devil.. My Father is the truth and light, he is sufficient , he is enough, he supplies ALL our needs. I am excited for the outcome.
  34. Good morning. I forgot to take a pic of what I started with, but I will give you a gist. (2) 13 Gal. Kitchen Trashbags full of Rubbermaid Plastic containers that we will hopefully sell at a yard sale to help fund our Emergency Fund. (Just finished Financial Peace University 3/28/17) (2) Brown Bags - full of cheap plastic containers (Recycled) (1) Brown Bags - 1/2 full of glass containers I was thinking of reusing. (Recycled) I am purging the plastic, due to I am fearful of what it might leach into my family's food. We will be completing the 3rd Phase of The Maker's Diet this Sunday. I heard about Proverbs 31 Woman at church (Lexington Baptist Temple) and I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to find out more. I believe the Holy Spirit has led me to FPU and The Maker's Diet. Which seems to be steps towards being a Virtuous Woman. I did an internet search for "A Virtuous Woman" and it led me to this blog. Thank you for choosing this topic for your ministry.

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