It’s quarter to 8 in the morning.  I should be spending time reading my Bible and praying right now while the house is still quiet, but I made the mistake of looking up the search string “Help organizing someone else’s clutter”.

Ha!   There are people in my life who would laugh and ask why I’m looking for help organizing someone else’s clutter!  Trust me.  If I lived alone, I would be organized more often than not!

Here’s an interesting blog post on the subject of other peoples’ stuff: 10 ways to manage someone else’s clutter

One of my huge organization projects is to pare down any excess clothing.  One of the major contributors to chaos in this house is excess clothing.  I never, EVER thought I’d be able to say that.

My Mom did the best she could with the resources she had in terms of making sure we had clothes to wear.  I wore the same couple of pairs of jeans all week and my clothes were yesterday’s fashions more often than not.  I rarely asked for anything in junior high and high school because I knew my parents didn’t have the money.  What often happened when I did ask for things is that my jeans would become so worn out or my hair would get so out of control that I’d suddenly recognize that something needed to be done, and I’d panic.

“Mom, I need a new pair of jeans!”

“Mom, I need a hair cut.  My hair looks sooo awful!!”

My Mom would assess the situation and usually I was right.  My jeans were falling apart (beyond what was acceptable!) or my hair was beyond looking nice – we’re not talking keeping up with trends here; we’re talking basic grooming gone awry.   She’d scrape up what money she had and we’d go shopping for deals.  Because I was often too distracted to keep track of the state of myself and failed to plan ahead, we usually ended up paying full price for things.

Fast forward to my adulthood.  I now have kids who need to be fed and clothed, and try as we might, The Sgt and I have struggled financially for years, so the clothing thing continued to be an issue until about 5 years ago.  I trusted God to meet our needs, and He always did.  The kids always had suitable clothes, and they were usually hand-me-downs.  I’m okay with hand-me-downs.  The only problem is that you can’t plan very well if you have to rely on someone else’s kid outgrowing their clothes and giving them to you!  Sooo, I would leave it in God’s hands when I didn’t have the money to go out and buy new clothes. God always provided right when we had a need!

For a while, I tended to hoard clothing, but by the time it fit my youngest, it was the wrong season.  My older two boys could share clothes, and the middle child could wear most of his brother’s hand-me-downs, but my youngest was a season ahead of his older brothers,  so most of the time, their clothes didn’t work for him.  That was frustrating, but during that time, I felt convicted that it was wrong to hang on to so much excess – and there was a lot of excess with the hand-me-downs that were too big – so I kept a size or two of up-and-coming clothes and donated the rest.  I figured that God would not bless a stingy spirit, and why not give someone else a chance to wear those unused clothes before they went out of style?  God had provided before and He would do it again. And He always did.  Friends or family members would pass along their kids’ outgrown coats just as my kids needed them.  I can remember thinking several different times that I didn’t know where the money was going to come from to buy the boys coats for winter, and then a couple of weeks later, someone would hand me a big bag of clothes that didn’t fit their kids.  Sure enough!  There would be coats in the bag!  So I would get rid of anything that my kids could not wear within the next year (to the best of my knowledge) and wait on the Lord to provide what was needed after that.

Gosh, that really sounds pathetic, but it wasn’t, really!  It takes more time to type it out than the time it took to think about it when it was happening!

Five years ago, a friend tipped me off to thrift stores.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I knew about thrift stores, but my previous couple of experiences had been that the thrift stores were still out to make a pretty penny and they charged more than garage sale prices and their stuff was junk.  My friend told me about how to plan my thrift store trips around their sales.  (“Thrift stores have sales?!”)  What a difference a shopping strategy can make!

I thank God for that “chance” conversation with my friend!  I have never had much luck finding decent clothes for at garage sales, and buying them a fully stocked wardrobe brand new ain’t gonna happen.  I was resigned to buying everything new as the need arose or waiting on God to provide hand-me-downs, but because of that conversation, I have been able to outfit my husband, my kids, and myself for a fraction of the cost of buying the stuff new.   They are boys and boys are rough on clothes, but we have been able to keep them stocked in pants, which seem to be the first to go, and their wardrobes can look somewhat fresh with far less expense.

Anyway, ever since that time, we have had an abundance of clothing.  Wow!  What a blessing!  I still cannot believe I’m saying that!  Thank You, God, for the abundance!  But now it’s time to be better stewards of our blessings and to make sure someone else can wear whatever is excess and still in good shape.

Last weekend, a couple of the boys and I did a ton of laundry and laid out all of their pants and t-shirts and had them pick a specific amount of each to keep.  I had to buy pants for those two for a long mission trip, so I got them pants from thrift stores.  I was shocked to discover that one of them had 14 pairs of pants?!?!?!

See, when you have too many clothes, it is impossible to keep up with them all.  There’s no reason on earth that one 16 year old boy should have 14 pairs of pants, and he didn’t even remember that he had them!  What good is it to have all of this stuff if you never use it and don’t even know you have it?  No wonder the laundry is never done!!  We now have several bags to go to various places and the boys know what the have and where it is.

Last time, I shared my proposed clothing list. This morning, I found several other lists.  Isn’t that funny?  I think God wanted me to do what works for our family.  I have never been able to find lists before this morning, but now that I’m doing what God has laid on my heart for our household, I’m finally using the right search string or something:

From “Living on a Dime”: How Many Clothes Should We Have?

From “Notes from the Frugal Trenches”: Just how many items of clothing do we need?

From “Se7en: The life and times of a homeschooling mom of se7en +1”: Project Simplify: The Closet…  (I LOVE her attitude!  “Always in my head is: if it doesn’t fit someone else could be wearing it. ”  Amen, sister!)

Well, off I go to do what I started out to do and then to cull more clothes!

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