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Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy


Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Sunday, February 11, 2018

40 Days to a Cleaner House and a Cleaner Heart

Two years ago, I discovered the #40bagsin40days Lenten project by White House Black Shutters – at the time, we were moving, and I had no idea we would end up in our own white house with black shutters. But, the project was an eye-opening experience for me.

Just one of the spaces I plan to declutter

Why During Lent?


That’s a good question. To be fair, I can’t give you a sophisticated theological answer. I did not grow up practicing lent. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I knew people who gave things up for lent. Since then, I have heard of people giving up all sorts of things – alcohol, dessert, social media, etc. And, I think that is a wonderful practice. Lent is a time when Christians prepare their hearts for Good Friday and Easter – it is a time to reflect on what Jesus did on the cross. Traditionally, Lent involves prayer, confession, fasting, and almsgiving (charity).

So Why Declutter?


We live in a time when we have almost-instant access to everything we want. I live in a time when my groceries and my wine is delivered, and I just wait two days for anything I order from Amazon to arrive in a nice brown box. It has become increasingly easy to never have to “do without.” And, as a Christian, I could do well to remember that my life’s purpose isn’t about acquiring more stuff – it’s about loving others.

And, I’m not one of those people who thinks “stuff” is wrong or sinful. Heck, I buy all the books because I am “supporting the art.” But, I have the luxury to do so. Like so many of my friends, the ability to have it all leads to overstuffed homes and overstuffed lives. And, when our homes and lives are messy, our hearts can start to feel a little cluttered too.

So, two years ago, I did the #40bagsin40days, and it was wonderful. I did not focus on filling whole bags. I focused on decluttering little areas at a time. Because I wanted the practice to serve as a reminder of the Lenten season, I did use the time to pray and thank God for all I have and ask forgiveness for the times I choose “stuff” over loving people. I turned on worship music for however long it took to clear the assigned space that day. I used the time to examine my heart – and my spending habits. And, I tried to give away more than I threw away.

I did not change overnight. It did not make me want to give all my stuff away and live as a missionary. But, that time did help me draw closer to God and allow God to teach me some things. And, I believe that was just because I was intentional about using the time to not simply clean house, but to also clean heart. This year, I am doing it again, and I encourage you to try it alongside me!

Some Basic Rules:

  • Lent runs from Valentine’s Day (Ash Wednesday) to Easter
  • The 40 Days includes a day off each week. I take Sundays off. Rest is holy, y’all.
  • When clearing the clutter, ask yourself when the last time you used something was and then move it to the “giveaway” pile. Do I really need 24 cheap plastic cups? Probably not.
  •  Leave the bigger projects for the days when you have more time (or help).
  • Use the helpful printables White House Black Shutter created.
  • Use a pencil when making your plan.
  • And, give yourself some grace when you need to use the eraser.

To give you an idea, here is my plan for 2018:

  1. February 14: Junk Drawer
  2. February 15: Tupperware Cabinet
  3. February 16: Spice Cabinet
  4. February 17: Laundry Room
  5. February 19: Pantry
  6. February 20: Kitchen Drawers
  7. February 21: Fridge
  8. February 22: Living Room End Tables
  9. February 23: Upper Kitchen Cabinets
  10. February 24: Garage
  11. February 26: Playroom
  12. February 27: Bookshelves
  13. February 28: Coat Closet
  14. March 1: Mugs/Glasses
  15. March 2: Bedroom Side Tables
  16. March 3: Bedroom Closet
  17. March 5: Bedroom Dresser
  18. March 6: Office Area
  19. March 7: Cars
  20. March 8: Guest Room
  21. March 9: Kid’s Bathroom
  22. March 10: Master Bedroom Closet
  23. March 12: Cleaning Supply Storage
  24. March 13: Costume Trunk
  25. March 14: Sunroom
  26. March 15: China Cabinet Storage
  27. March 16: Master Bath Cabinets
  28.  March 17: Son’s Bedroom
  29.  March 19: Linen Closet
  30. March 20: Purse/Wallet
  31. March 21: Medicine Cabinet
  32. March 22: Makeup Bags
  33. March 23: Jewelry Box
  34. March 24: Daughter’s Bedroom
  35. March 26: Hall Storage Closet
  36. March 27: Outside
  37. March 28: Craft Storage
  38. March 29: Email/Phone Clean Up
  39. March 30: Outdoor Food Storage/Freezer
  40. March 31: Drop Off Donations


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