Big Q: If you had to declutter your home or life, what would be the toughest area to tackle?


Spring cleaning has us thinking about Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the current trend to simplify our lives.

The problem is not so much a room as it is all my books, which are in nearly every room in my house—on shelves and tables, in cabinets, in piles on the floor. Most I have read and may want to read again. Some I bought to teach me how to do something, like quilting, whenever I can find the time. Some I started to read but had to stop to read that new library book. All are friends I don’t want to say goodbye to.

Donna Badame
Schaumburg, Illinois

Definitely the basement. Between parents who have downsized and children about to head out on their own, you could say we have accumulated a considerable amount of clutter. I don’t really consider myself a hoarder, but I have a very hard time throwing anything away. Many items hold sentimental value for me. The back room of the basement is full of my father’s and grandfather’s tools—like a band saw, drill-press, lathe, and jointer. I may never use them but I could never throw them away.

Kevin Gotberg
Grandville, Michigan

My bedroom closet. Mixed in with my everyday clothes, I have clothes that were given to me that are not my style, but I adore the people who gave them to me. I also have fat clothes that no longer fit but remind me of a time I don’t want to go back to. Plus clothes that are too small, but I hope to fit into someday.

When I think about it, I feel like the clutter is due to my need for meaningful relationships. Getting rid of the clutter means letting go of my past fears and pressing into the things I really want to pursue. As it turns out, the first decluttering I need to do is really inside of me.

Dawn Jones 
Bolingbrook, Illinois

The current biggest challenge I have is “decluttering” my memory! Specifically when I leave one room to get something in another room, I can’t remember what I was looking for, so I have to go back into the first room in an attempt to remember what I was intending to do in the second room! I am open to suggestions to improve in this area.

Dean Lundgren
East Falmouth, Massachusetts

The closet under my stairs. Interestingly, we did a huge downsize two years ago, selling our home of twenty-five years and moving into a townhome. This helped with the simplifying, but amazingly, I am cluttered again.

Debbie Goff
Bartlett, Illinois

I appreciate Marie Kondo’s invitation to express thankfulness—to the shoes that have carried me through the day, for the coat that has kept me warm, to our home that protects us, and so on. Even saying thanks to items I elect not to store in our house any longer. Most important, says Kondo, it is not my job to “tidy” another person’s belongings. My husband liked that part of her book.

Nancy Dahlstrom
South Bend, Indiana

My library. I no longer have my old textbooks and papers. I’ve gotten rid of the books I know I won’t read or won’t read again. But I still have a room full of books and continue to buy more. So many books, so little room.

Donna Peterson
Hutchinson, Minnesota

My Facebook friends list. Though the political season can be a great motivator.

Anonymous response (for obvious

As a young mom, I had visions of Pinterest-worthy scrapbooks of our children’s art, school essays, handwritten notes, and mementos that capture every moment of their lives. Instead, I’m left with plastic accordion folders and shoeboxes stuffed to overflowing, which I’ve carted overseas to two countries. But how to choose what to keep and throw away? I keep telling myself, “One day…” but only with faint determination. My next vision is figuring out how to collect our kids’ texts, Instagram photos, and Facebook chats—an overstuffed hard drive seems
less daunting, right?

Grace Shim
Chiang Mai, Thailand

I was fortunate enough to inherit my grandfather’s theological library while I was in college, and I have collected several thousand volumes of biblical and theological resources in print editions over nearly thirty years of pastoral ministry. They now dominate two rooms in my house. I have also collected an equal number of electronic reference volumes. I buy several new books each month. While many volumes should be in the “read once, give away” category, I find it difficult to muster the resolve to part with them—yet.

At age fifty-five, I believe there’s a lot of my ministry left to resource from this library, or so I hope. Having a son and daughter-in-law who just graduated from seminary gives me a glimmer of who might inherit my legacy; knowing when to release them (even incrementally) is where my practical challenge lies. I am a disciplined reader, yet when the time comes to downsize our home for the upcoming empty nester years, I think a great struggle is in the wings. Pray for me!

Howard Burgoyne
Cromwell, Connecticut

Photo albums—from back in the dark ages of film. I have many photos that mean much to only me.

Liz Jensen
Venice, Florida

I am an avid reader and the books I have at home are the ones that have impacted me, that I want to share with others, that are significant to me. But that is still about 500 titles.

Diane Adams
International Falls, Minnesota

I’ve moved three times since 2012. You’d think by now I’d have pared down to just what is needed, and yet, I have not. My dad’s old art supplies, boxes of old Bible studies I did years ago, a bin full of gift bags, more artwork to hang than there is wall space, not to mention that aero-pilates machine! Between the basement store room and the so-called guest room, it would be hard to choose which to tackle first. Both are full of memories.

Daphne DeMaris
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Organized chaos” is one of my favorite terms. Sometimes it’s how
I describe my life, at other times how I affectionately describe the spaces around me. My home office has folders, binders, books, and boxes that not been viewed in forever. I have papers dating back to elementary school (just in case my future kids want to see them one day). I have trinkets, cards, deflated balloons, receipts, bags—after all, what
measure of love would I have if I threw away my twenty-first birthday card from my parents? The IRS may audit me, so I’d better keep all those old receipts (never mind that they are faded and disorganized). I’m moving soon, so I’d better figure something out!

Rachel Sands
Atlanta, Georgia

Books! It feels like I’m throwing knowledge away! I just can’t let it go!

Geila Rajaee
Canton, Michigan


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