De-Cluttering your Soul—the Secret to Peace and Rest

My Home Town

There is something uniquely good about January 1. It marks a new year, a new beginning, a new possibility. It also marks, for me, the reentry into simplicity. I don’t know if there is a more satisfying feeling for me during the year than when we put all of our Christmas things away, the decorations, the remnant of cookies, the clutter. We did that in my home, today. I have also been revisiting an article that I rework every January 1, as it is a pattern I seem to keep needing to learn.

Every year for the past few years, I have pondered and written about de-cluttering my soul. I hope you will be blessed by these thoughts. I am pulling away for a few days, once again, to see what needs to stay and what needs to be cut. I am sending Sarah off to Oxford tomorrow and Nathan back to Hollywood and then we will get back to normal. And so I am deliciously excited to take time alone to get back to my soul.

I love the celebration of life and the traditions and the fun and the beauty of special times spent with my children, husband and friends. But, there is something deeply satisfying to me about getting it all put away and getting back to normal.

Perhaps it is because my normal responsibilities of caring for my family’s needs demand so much of me—cooking nutritious meals, organizing our schedules, cleaning and organizing on a daily basis, homeschooling and add to that ministry—these are enough, but holidays put on that extra load. Routines go by the wayside and so the clutter and demolishing of the house, slowly takes over.

I am not a person gifted in handling details—too much mail, too many catalogues, too many emails, too many options, too many things. The more there is, the more I become responsible for, the more work there is to be done, and so, the more anxious I become. Same with activities. The more I commit to, the more I say yes, the more I have to drive, the more my house gets into a mess, and the more anxious I become, the more hurried we feel, and the more weary I become. When I am not at peace, nothing in our home is at peace.

We can all see how too much clutter and too many piles causes us to feel overwhelmed with life. Consequently, slowly, I have learned to declutter as often as I can—throw away unnecessary stuff. Clay is really the master at this. He helps me get rid of things, organize things and put away things. Yesterday, he decluttered our pantry—threw away chip bags that held little but took up space, cleared out empty water bottles, bad, junky Christmas candy that had been given to us, but would never eaten; baskets that had fallen off of their nails, groceries that had never been put in their place. Now, if someone came into my pantry, they would mistakenly think that I am an organized person. (Thank goodness for Clay!) It made me feel good just to open the door and to see that all was manageable again.

But, I have also come to realize that my brain and heart can be the same way—cluttered with worries, responsibilities, duties, children’s future, finances, time constraints, expectations, disappointments, critical attitudes, resentment. All of these added together, can tend to create soul piles and mind clutter. If I don’t take the time to sort the piles of mind clutter, my spirit becomes a mess and my heart becomes overwhelmed and weary.

It is what awakened me at 4:00 a.m. this morning-soul clutter and worry. It is another reason I like January. It gives me an opportunity to make a new plan, to simplify the mind messes and to start off a whole new year well. In the same way that throwing away stuff and clearing out closets brings me relief, even more, soul and mind cleaning and decluttering brings me rest.

So, as I begin a new year, and head into my conference season, a very busy time for our family, I resolve to deal with my soul-clutter, so that I may have strength to face each day in peace. I come to the place where I know I will find the help that I need. I come to my Father and ask Him to help me, His child, to show me how to make get rid of the junk that is unnecessary, and to help me clean out and organize my soul.

He speaks to me gently.

It was in writing my new book, Dancing with My Father, that I have learned so much about finding joy–and peace. In Him, with Him, by Him all the moments of my busy day. His voice leads me to what I long for–but I must get rid of all that causes me to fret, worry, criticize, control. There is a way….

“In quietness and rest shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
You need to come to me and give me all those things that are weighing on your heart. Resolve to seek rest and peace.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

I listed all of my issues this morning in my journal (and there seem to be multitudes of clutter piles in my soul–worries, attitudes, bitterness, weariness, fear, sin and a few more!) These are issues that will suck me dry and my energy dry if I do not notice them in order to clean out my soul!

The Lord prompted, “List all of your issues, give them over to me, don’t hold on to them. I am capable of taking them from you and being responsible so that you will not be weary or carry what you are not capable of carrying.

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. “ Psalm 37:7

Focus on resting in me—sit in my lap, so to speak, rest in my arms. Let me carry you. I love you.. Wait for my timing. Don’t force things or beg me to hurry up. I am in control.

“Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2

Give me your attention and get control of your spirit. Be quiet. Be still. Recognize my sovereignty and transcendence. Remember what Jesus said, “Our Father who art in heaven, holy is your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus modeled his understanding that my will is what you need to rest in. I am in heaven and I see all things—the future, the past, your children, your relationships, –all your clutter. Give them to me. Quiet your soul and rest in my strength and power.

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this receives me.” Matthew 18:3-5

Come to me as a child—even as your children, in their innocence and sweetness of heart, know that you will care for them and meet their needs because you are a loving parent who cares for them, so I am your Father who will take care of you. Leave the burdens to your father and take your rightful place as a child. Humble yourself and trust me. Enjoy me. Delight in the beautiful moments of this day. Notice the little miracles. Live as an unfettered child. Accept your little and big children and receive them as a gift from me, and your will indeed receive me inot your midst.

“ … a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I Peter 3:4

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about so many things. But really one is needed and Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10 41-42

Don’t worry and fret and stew and stir up unnecessary dust. Choose simplicity—just one thing I require—that you give it all to me and love me. I will take over. Even as I gave and provided a Sabbath in which all of my children should have rest from their work, so I want you to live in my Sabbath rest for your soul. Rest from your striving and labor. Take time for naps, for pleasure, for joy. This day you have to receive as a gift–I can’t promise what tomorrow will hold. But today you can love, give peace, speak kind and wise words, dance in your soul with my secret pleasure that comes from knowing that I love you.Simplify your life, don’t make choices that will complicate or add unnecessary pressure or cause you to sin or grumble. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” as Paul said.

So, as I yielded my lists into God’s hands and decluttered my troubled soul, I left feeling that even as my house has been coming to order, after we cleaned and straightened it yesterday, now my soul is moving in the direction of order.

Rest, rest, rest—in quietness and rest will be your strength every day, every year, until you see me face to face. I love you, my sweet girl. Don’t forget that I am with you each moment of today.
Your doting and loving Father.


May all of you dear friends indeed have a happy and fulfilling new year with your days filled with the blessing of His company! Thanks for so many who have taken the time to write. Each note, Christmas card, picture, email and comment has given me strength and joy. I am sorry I have not responded to each of you as you really mean so much to me and keep me going.I appreciate your words of life so much! Keep writing me as I love to hear from you.

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  1. says

    What a great post! I am so glad I found your blog. I look forward to seeing you in February in Texas!!
    ~Julie Jones (Kourtney Hartsock’s friend~remember me?)
    Tell Sarah Hi for me!
    : )

  2. Jennifer says

    So glad to hear that I am not the only one who enjoys putting Christmas away. I feel funny saying it, that it might lead someone to think that I don’t love the Christmas season because I do!!! I, like you, thrive when I get those opportunities to re-organize and turn the chaos into calm (at least for a few hours).
    I look forward to sitting under your encouragement in Anaheim. What a great joy it was to see you decided to return. It is what keeps me going until the summertime homeschooling conference.
    Blessings to the Clarksons, Jennifer

  3. Elizabeth says

    Hi Sally,
    Thank you for the great post, it was very encouraging to me.
    Also, I am really looking forward to the new edition of Seasons of a Mother’s Heart, glad to read that is coming!
    Finally, I am in NC… it seems like most of your conferences are to the west. Is there any possibility of a conference for East Coast moms in the future? :)

  4. sharon reiss says

    Thanks, Sally!
    I feel just the same way about January–decluttering is so freeing, soul and material things. It’s a great reminder! Thanks for letting your sensitive spirit be balm to others!

  5. says

    Hi Sally :) What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing your heart and the wonderful Scripture verses. I will be praying with you as you conference over these next two months, especially for wisdom and joy and peace and restful times. Love to you and a very happy new year, Q

  6. Ruby says

    Sally, your post was just what I needed today! We had a full, fun, but somewhat stressful holiday “vacation.” Due to a few weeks of sickness, I had little time to prepare for Christmas (we got our tree the week of Christmas!), and it hit me like a ton of bricks. We had a great time with family & friends, but the house was in total disarray for weeks! I really noticed the toll it took on the peace of our home, but I knew that more than just the physical clutter was bothering me…my spirit has been in a place of unrest for a while now. Reading your post helped me to remember that I can & should take the time to start fresh spiritually. I wish I could be at one of the conferences, as I feel this has been one of the hardest years for me with homeschooling & raising my four children under 8 years old, but with a nursing baby it’s just not happening this year! I pray that the conferences will be a successful & encouraging time for all, and I thank you for sharing your life with the rest of us.

  7. says

    Loved this so much. Thank you for sharing your heart on such a transparent and genuine level. Please be encouraged by how valuable so many regard your ministry. Looking forward to the Dallas conference.

  8. Donna says

    Sally – I loved your blog! We are actually still out of town visiting with relatives – I still have a whole house to un-decorate! It sounds so nice to already have it done. I can’t wait to get there – rest sounds wonderful! I am a “Martha” trying to become a “Mary”. I tend to overcommit and stay too busy – but I know the quiet time and devotional time is so important. I went to the christian bookstore today and bought a new devotional for this year. I am so excited! This is a new year! I am ready to listen to the Lord and rest in his Word. My prayer is that I will devote each morning to Him first, not even worrying about that first chore! Thanks again!

  9. Pam Graves says

    Hi Sally,
    Thanks for your encouragement. How I long for you and your family to visit the SouthEast regularly. Having you in Alpharetta, Georgia last year was wonderful. You all are prayed for regularly. Pressing ahead because you have made a mark on my life…
    Single homeschool mom of five, Pam

  10. says

    Love your insights and bibical wisdom! I am enjoying “the Mission of Motherhood” (a Chrismas gift from my husband) thoroughly, and finding that I am highlighting and underlining almost every other sentence! Loving it, and praying for God to speak His will for my family’s life into my heart.

  11. Kris says

    What a blessing to come across a disciple using such a lovely gift from God for the uplifting of us all, you are truely a faithful servant.
    I trust you are speaking with a true gifting from God, I will be faithfully reading.
    Blessings and protection on all you do.

  12. amy says

    Sally, I too, enjoy decluttering in January. I worry about my relationship with the Lord and have never really considered that this is clutter in my soul. I will try to make soul decluttering a priority this year.

  13. Ann says

    Oh Sally,
    How your words provide comfort! I, too, woke up at 4 a.m. with my soul in a state of disarray. I have the same sense that I need both peace and a place to put all my clutter. Thank you for reminding me that our Father’s lap is always open. (I also love putting Christmas away — the house feels fresh and open with so much less stuff in every corner.)
    Happiest of New Years to you and yours!
    Love & blessings.

  14. Sarah says

    I too very much enjoyed this post, just as I do all of them. Your writing is anointed for us to here as mothers and children of God. I has sat down to de clutter my soul this morning, because it was my first chance, since the whirlwind, while the whole house was sleeping this morning, to have the peace and quiet to calm my spirit before the Lord. Thank you for being so willing to share your walk with Him and your heart with us all. I always feel like I have sat down to cup of tea with a sweet friend when I read your blog. Also thank you for praying with me about one of my children at the Apologia conference in Baltimore last year. What an encouragement!

  15. says

    Yes, clutter may seem like an inevitable problem, but if you want to be more productive and more fulfilled, it is time to walk the talk towards taking control and living a clutter-free life.

  16. Helen Waters says

    I have been praying for a family Theme and verse for 2011. After reading your article I think 1 Peter 3:4 is the one. I can’t wait to talk to my husband and family about it. Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. This is exactly what I needed to read before the new year!
    With joy and gratitude,

  17. dorothy says

    Oh, Sally. There is such wisdom in this post. Thank you for the encouragement to clear out and declutter my mind and heart, but especially to do this by giving it over and trusting the Lord to take care of it all for me. Happy New Year, Sally!

  18. Kim says

    I need to let go of worry and stress about my wounded marriage. Recently discovered my husband had an affair – this fills my mind till there is no room for anything else. I needed to hear the scriptures about quietly waiting for the Lord.

  19. says

    Good morning Sally,
    This was an encouragement to me this morning. I also enjoy the relative simplicity of cleaning and organizing after the special lights, color, and decorations of the Christmas season. It’s time for some soul de-clutter as well. So thankful that the Lord always stands ready to receive us into His welcoming arms…draw near to the Lord, and He will draw near to you. Now, off to tackle a pile of dishes!

  20. says

    I’m so glad to know there’s a club for women who love to take down Christmas decorations! My family protests loudly every year when I begin :)

    I think this is the first year I fully realized how much work making Christmas meaningful for my family is–I am tired! Thank you for this wonderful post; I’m reading it with journal and Bible in hand, ready to copy down this wisdom and remember it throughout the year.

    Blessings on your family as you prepare for conference season!!

  21. says

    Beautiful post, Sally! It fits perfectly with the post I wrote today about my One Word for the year – LESS. Thank you for sharing your heart. I will be bookmarking this to refer to in the future. I so need to hear this on a regular basis.


  22. says

    This year’s holiday looked nothing like normal for our family and it hardly seems possible that a new year is here. I so appreciate your wisdom and the reminders from God’s Word in this post. This was the first year I recall being thrilled to get everything “Christmas” packed up and put away. But in the struggle to find order and cope with life, getting back to slightly “normal” sure feels hopeful!

    Many blessings to your family in the new year!

  23. says

    I loved this post as it reminds me to take care of the soul clutter (what a great phrase) while putting away the “old” and putting on the “new” for the coming year. I usually take down the holiday decor on Jan 1 while watching the parade and football games. My men are often out hunting and that leaves me alone to work in peace. You remind me that I need the same solitude with the Lord.

    I love the clean look of the rooms and the light feel that results from taking all the holiday paraphernalia out of a relatively small space. Bright decor that seemed so delightful four weeks ago becomes clutter after a time – difficult to live with. You have reminded me that it is time to evaluate what extra things have cluttered up the small spaces of my time and my heart. Activities and ideas that seemed so wonderful when they first emerged now seem overwhelming to the limits of physical and emotional energy. What a delight to start the year with a lightness of heart and spirit as well.

    God bless you. I look forward to the Mom Heart conference this spring.

  24. Shelly Roy says

    Sally, Thank you SO much for bringing my mind into focus! Heading to my journal now to quiet my mind and soul and leave my many soul dragging worries and cares with my Abba.
    May God richly bless you today as you rest in Him.

  25. says

    Beautiful post, Sally! It fits perfectly with the post I wrote today about my One Word for the year – LESS. Thank you for sharing your heart. I will be bookmarking this to refer to in the future. I so need to hear this on a regular basis. Blessings, Dianne

  26. says

    This post was like a balm to my soul today. Thank you for sharing these deep, intimate things the Lord has spoken to you. May He bless you and keep you in His restful arms.

  27. says

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading what you have to say. On more than one occasion I have said a little prayer in my heart that when I pulled up your blog that it would be something that would help me deep down in my heart with the issues I’m dealing with. I really feel blessed by your wisdom and what you feel inspired to talk about. Thank you so much.

    I don’t homeschool my kids. If I came to one of your conferences would it be more applicable to me if I did? Please let me know.

    Hope you have great new year!!

  28. Claudine says

    What a powerful word! Thank you so much. Reading this was so refreshing and encouraging. It really spoke to me and made my day! Blessings from Canada.

  29. says

    Sally, this is the BEST POST for a new year! So many of us need this message. Thank you, too, for the wonderful picture of Pike’s Peak. We no longer live in your area, but sure do miss those wonderful views from your vantage point.

  30. says

    This was an uplifting post that I really needed today. My family is going through a lot of uncertainty right now and I need daily reminders like these to keep my focus on the One who is really in control. Thank you!

  31. says

    Thank you, Thank you for these words, Mrs. Clarkson. Towards the end of 2011, I knew that the theme for my year 2012 was “Be STILL. And KNOW. that HE is God.” This post has given me so many thoughts to continue on in that theme, as well as wonderful cross-references to get me started stilling my soul and learning to know the heart of God for me. You are a great encouragement, and I bless you with strength and rest and joy for your 2012!

  32. says

    I deal with people everyday who are trying to declutter their homes. The emotional attachment they have to these items are unbelievable! But when you talk to them, these items represent unresolved issues in their life…

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