Notes from the church lady: Take time to clear out life’s clutter

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy”… Psalm 16:11

January is slipping away, or as in the case last Sunday, blowing away.

Wasn’t it just yesterday we were watching the Rose Parade and gearing up for the New Year? Now we are settling into the day-to-day routines while facing problems that are like a small dog nipping at your heels.

Good intentions (or resolutions) are admirable and it is important to do our best, but let’s be sensible…life happens, even to the most determined and organized people we know.

Lurking behind the pantry door in my kitchen is a project I set aside for the month of January. Plans for this project were put into place in my mind as I sat drinking coffee one morning. Now, every time I open the door it is as though the mess is leering behind a mound of paper towels (I found a good sale), and mocking my choice of items for a recipe I never made.

Now January is half over and my pantry is still unrecognizable. Who put that jar of maraschino cherries behind the vegetables? While we are on the subject, how many different kinds of tea does one household need? Does anyone else have these kind of problems?

The only solution for my dilemma is to take everything out of the pantry, examine its contents, throw away those items that are no longer edible, sort everything into categories, and give the pantry a good scrubbing.

Years ago when we were in college (many, many years ago), we had a tiny closet pantry in our apartment and space was extremely limited. I came up with a master list of items I used the most and taped it up on the back of the door along with a pencil tied to a string. Every time I took something out, I would put a check mark next to the item.

On grocery day, it was very easy to see what I needed to purchase for the next week. The plan was not only efficient, but it saved a great deal of money for a young couple on an extremely limited budget. (Can you say beans and macaroni?)

Now, no matter how many times I tried to keep our current pantry clean, about once a year I am faced with a major cleaning and organizing project.

It is no wonder that when little problems crop up, I panic. Instead of having a plan or taking care of what needed done a week, month, year ago, it was lurking in the back and now needs taking care of immediately.

What can we do about a catastrophe like this? First, have a plan, write it down, and then start working on it, bit by bit until it is completed. If you shut the door on it, you will still have to face it at a later time.

Next, get rid of those useless items that clutter up your life. There are millions of wonderful things in the stores, but do you need them all? Are all of your good intentions of things you want or want to do cluttering up your life? This goes for all the commitments you said “yes” to before you thought it through.

I learned this lesson the hard way and now sometimes replace it with “no”. As for the mountain of paper towels, do I really need to purchase that many at once?

Finally, come up with a plan to use those items (especially groceries) before they expire. What about donating those items if you have too many. Come up with a plan and write it down like the list I used to keep to prevent it happening again.

Like that pantry in my kitchen, I realize my life only has so much room. When I fill it too full of even good things it distracts me from the things God called me to do. Like Fibber McGee’s closet (Google it) when filled too full it is bound to come crashing down.

Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at:

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