Declutter your home and heart for the new year

Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti
Ray treating hand injury of little girl in Haiti

My husband Ray has been to Haiti on mission trips about 5 times, to help our pastor friends Jay and Linda Threadgill of Fishers of Men Ministries International, including after the 7.0m earthquake in 2010 when he set up a medical clinic treating 200 to 300 injured and ill patients a day.

On his third trip there, I went with him. My heart hurt for the poor people of Haiti, and I learned many things there. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the trash problem. The trash is an ongoing nightmare for the people living there, with garbage filling the streets. On seemingly every corner, I saw garbage several feet high and wide and was horrified.

Pigs in Haiti trash Image source:
Pigs in Haiti trash
Image source:×768.jpg

I couldn’t stop talking about it to the point where Ray’s friend Shawn made a running bet with Ray that Ray had to pay him $1.00 for every time I talked about the trash. I was unaware of the bet, but began noticing after awhile that Ray would groan every time I mentioned it and Shawn would start laughing. After awhile, Ray owed him so much money that he had to stop the bet! They finally told me about it, and I told Shawn to give Ray his money back or give it to pastor Jay for the people of Haiti.

Once dubbed “The Pearl of the Antilles” in the 1950’s, Haiti has few landfills or dumpsters, and there’s nowhere to dispose of the garbage. Many people have to climb over it or wade through it to get anywhere!

The trash problem results in:

  • Mice, rats, roaches, and mosquitoes to  increase, and disease to spread.
  • The horrible smell and awful appearance are destroying the economy and are leading to a severe decrease in tourism, which could help lift the poor country out of aid dependency.
  • A toxic environment. Decaying waste produces methane gas, which when inhaled can lead to serious long-term lung, heart and brain defects.
palm tree
palm tree
Image source:

One night as Shawn, Ray and I sat on a patio, surrounded by luscious emerald-green palm trees and it began to gently rain as we drank small bottles of cold Coke®, I sighed with contentment, thinking, “We are in Haiti! HAITI!” It was surreal and like an exciting adventure. Then suddenly, I saw a big mouse running across a nearby power line and wanted to go home!

The trash and the rodents mar the idyllic tropical beauty of the land. It’s the same in our lives.  At the end of each year, I intentionally “take out the trash” to declutter my home and my heart.

Here’s a few of the things I do to “declutter” physically and spiritually, which might help you, too. 

My office clutter
My office clutter

Last night I pulled everything out of my office closet to organize, declutter, and throw things away. When I posted this above picture on Facebook, some of the amusing responses from my friends were:

  • “Oh my, is that all you have? My paper tiger is huge!”
  • “I’m doing the samething. Paper mountain for me.”
  • “Me, too!”
  • “My husband and I cleaned out several boxes in the basement. I found an old journal from the 1980’s.”
  • “I have so much paper stuff it’s not even funny!”
  • “I’m doing the same. I love organizing and purging!”
  • “I just had a white peppermint mocha. Yummo!” (I had mentioned drinking a cappuccino while doing my pile!”

It seems I’m in good company here. What about you?


This time of year, one of my best friends is the shredder. The one I bought  (pictured above) is from Walmart, and I think it cost me about $30. I use it all the time. One reason I shred personal papers is for protection against identity theft. (Nineteen people become victims of identity theft every minute, with $15 billion stolen from 13.1 million U.S. consumers in 2015.)


Last night I went through the folders in my black file cabinet, pictured above. (I have a small one; that helps tame the paper tiger!). If there are any papers that I believe I will not need, I toss and shred them.

This is the part where it gets sticky. So many people are afraid to throw away papers (or other belongings) because “I might need this one day.” Do you really need it? That is the question. You will not need 3 copies of the same medical bill!  You don’t need papers from every place you’ve ever worked in your life. If you’re an author or speaker, you don’t need to keep copies of every single speaking presentation or old manuscripts. Purge!


Next, I organize the papers into various, colored folders. Write a short label for the contents of the folder, such as:

  • Present bills
  • Past due bills
  • Personal joint checking account
  • Business checking account
  • Paid off bills
  • Student loans

Your folders may have different labels. Since I am a published author and do research for my books, I also have a few folders for topics that I’m studying and writing about, such as:

Woman under mountain of papers

The key is to not let the paper tiger get out of control. Remember, your goal here is to get your office, desk, closet, or whatever space you’re working in organized, neat, and clean to prepare for the coming year. A study by Princeton University found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

You decide on what to keep and what to throw away and shred. There’s such a feeling of accomplishment and lightness when you are finished! You can breathe easier.

Another good idea is to buy a fireproof, waterproof safe to keep all your important family documents in, such as:

  • Copies of each family member’s birth certificates;
  • Copies of each family member’s driver’s license;
  • Family members’ passports;
  • Rent agreement or mortgage papers;
  • Copies of your car insurance papers;
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance papers;
  • Retirement papers;
  • Bank information papers;
  • Spare keys to house, cars, safes, etc.
  • Any other papers that would be irreplaceable if lost or destroyed.

You can also get a safe at your local community bank to store these for you at a cost. I advise making copies of everything first.

A few other things I do at the end of the year to declutter and prepare for the new year:

  • Go through my closets and drawers. A good rule of thumb for giving away, selling, or throwing away an item is if you haven’t used it for a whole year (some say 6 months). Just think of how you’re making room for cute new clothes! 😀 The leggings from 3 years ago won’t make you this winter’s fashionista! Then again, I don’t care about that personally; I wear what I like and is comfortable. Just make sure that your clothes still fit, are still in good shape (not torn, buttons missing, badly faded, etc.), you feel attractive in them, and they’re suitable for the current season.
  • Deep clean my house and decorate it prettily. This includes those once a year jobs like dusting ceiling fans (or dusting in general! Just kidding!), cleaning out your fridge, freezer, oven, and/or dishwasher. You can run vinegar and water through your dishwasher while it’s empty to clean it. Go through each room of your home. Does it look clean, organized, warm and inviting? Is the decor a reflection of your personal style and taste? If not, it may be time to toss some things and decorate to reflect you more.  A woman’s home is her nest, and I think we should love where we live!
  • Knock down spider webs in the corners of every room, and in each closet and cabinet. This is a job I often leave to my husband Ray as I’m afraid of spiders! Spiders love to come inside your house during the colder months. They are not my furry little friends!
  • Check and replace light bulbs in each light or lamp and batteries in the smoke alarms. I usually do the light bulbs, and I ask Ray to check the smoke alarms since he used to be a fire chief and fireman. Smoke alarms save lives, and reduce fire deaths and injuries. The batteries should be checked once a month and the smoke alarm every 10 years. 
  • Check your car’s oil, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, tires, headlights and brake lights, and overall well-being (again, this is where I need Ray’s help!) You also might need a tune-up. Make sure your trunk has jumping cables, a spare tire, a flashlight, a blanket (this might be kept in the back seat in the event of breaking down during cold weather, plus snacks and water.)
  • Create an emergency kit for disasters for your home. (This is on my goals list!)
  • Clean out the garage.  Sweep, knock down spider webs, and organize it. Make sure your car(s) fit in there! Throw away any empty cans of charcoal fluid, car oil, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, Windex or other cleaners, etc. 


Last and definitely not least, I declutter my heart to prepare for the new year.  Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.”–Proverbs 4:23, NIV

I ask God to search my heart for any unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger, rage, malice, jealousy, envy, worry, fear, stress, or anything that displeases Him. I don’t want to carry those things with me into the new year.  I want a clean and pure heart, and to run unencumbered into 2017!

Take out the trash! Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any sin, anyone you need to forgive (including God or yourself), any unnecessary weight (such as stress, fear or anxiety) that will keep you from fulfilling your purpose walking in authority and in peace this year.

couple holding hands
couple holding hands

Examine your relationships with people this year: your marriage, your children, your parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your friends, your business peers or co-workers, your boss, your neighbors. Is the relationship good and close? Is there tension or unforgiveness between you, and if so, why?  

Remember the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a  different result. If you do what you always did in this relationship–hold a grudge, blame, act snarky, criticize, withhold affection, ignore, take him or her for granted–you’ll get the same tired strife or distance!

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 (Berean Study Bible): “If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.” You might not be able to reconcile with everybody, but do your part and let God deal with the rest. When you prioritize a relationship and let the person know you sincerely care and humbly approach him or her (including apologies when necessary), it can work miracles.

Love is the greatest miracle of all. I’m asking God to give me more of a heart of unconditional, agape love for Him and others this coming year.

At other times, for the sake of your own emotional and mental health, you may need to set firm boundaries in relationships to protect yourself or those you love. You can forgive someone, but that doesn’t mean allowing others to abuse or mistreat you.

studying the Bible
studying the Bible

The most important relationship of all for the coming year is between you and God. Is there any “trash” between you and Him—known sin? Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you anything hindering your intimacy with Him. Walk in obedience this coming year and you will experience His many blessings that He longs to bestow on you.

“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.”–2 Corinthians 9:8, The Message

Are you ready to get rid of the trash, and declutter your home and heart? Don’t put it off. We have 3 more days before the end of this year! Let’s prepare for 2017 and make it your and my best year ever!

Image source:
Happy New Year 2017
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***Do you want to draw closer to God in the coming year? Check out my eBook on prayer at Amazon, Walking With God.


Declutter and Organize for 2015

Beth Jones, January 2015
Beth Jones, January 2015

Do you need to get organized and declutter for 2015?

This weekend I’ve been on an organizational roll! FEELS SO GOOD!

I went through my email inbox the last several months, finally finishing up this week with filing or deleting emails. I had 1000’s in there; what a relief to get the emails down to ZERO. My goal is to keep it at that or as few emails as possible in my inbox. I’m also unsubscribing to lists that aren’t serving my priorities this year; my time and yours is precious. Michael Hyatt has a great post on staying on top of your email here.


I bought a new address book and transferred addresses and phone numbers to the new one. Recently I asked our daughter Leah to find an address for me in my book, and she said, “This is a mess, mom!” Addresses were crossed out 3 or 4 times, so I bought a new one to fill out and use. I recorded our checking account numbers and ATM/Debit/Credit card numbers for safekeeping. 


I sorted through papers in my black file folder box – important documents, bills that have been paid off, bills that are due, speaking presentations and teachings, pictures from magazines as visual aids for speaking/writing, manuscripts for my books, etc. Each of these are in a separate, labeled, colored file folder. You can buy these inexpensively at Walmart.


I shredded a whole bunch of papers from my files. I love the shredder; it’s a great way to tame the paper tiger. One great book I recommend for organization is Organize Now!: A Week-by -Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life by Jennifer Ford Berry.

Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry

 I put all the critically important documents in the floral tote below  – copies of our marriage certificate, birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, insurance benefits, passports, etc. This week I’m planning to buy a fireproof-waterproof box to put them in. I also made copies of these to go into the black file folder box.


My goals this week are to clean out the fridge (that’s where all the tupperware has disappeared to – uneaten leftovers!) and to clean the stove…major but necessary jobs.  In the next few weeks, I’ll also be going through cabinets and drawers to declutter and organize more.

I love each new year because it gives you a fresh start. I love decluttering and organizing for the new year. It gives me such relief and freedom. It makes room for the new and exciting. It lets you breathe and declutters your mind and soul as well.

Are you decluttering and organizing for the new year?

What do you need to declutter, organize, give away, sell, or throw away to make room for the new in 2015? Share your comments and tips below.

“Own less, do less, and say no.” – Geoffrey Godbey


My work space and tools

Ultimate Blog Challenge

Today is Day 18 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The suggested topic for blogging is what goes great with your product or service ~ a list of what works with what you do. I thought I’d blog about my work space and tools I use that may help you as a speaker, writer, and/or coach.

Work Space

First, my humble work space. Yes, that is a black card table I’m using as my desk. Eventually I may get a new desk.

But I am THRILLED because I finally have my own room for an office. The 2 black bookshelves I bought from Walmart were the perfect size for my office. They required a little assembly. 

My office desk
My office desk
My new office
My new office

I’m a Hello Kitty fan, and I found some Hello Kitty decorations for my desk. The crystal rose is a precious Mother’s Day gift that I love from our daughter Leah.

Hello Kitty decorations
Hello Kitty decorations

I like fresh flowers on my desk, like these which my friend Liz blessed me with for my birthday.

fresh flowers
fresh flowers

I found 2 black bookshelves for my books and decorated them with little things I love. What are some of your fave decorations for your office?

  • a Curious George given to me by Florence Littauer at UpperClass professional speakers’ training in Connecticut;
  • a “Wish upon a star” ceramic knick-knack container;
  • a yellow “B” paper weight given to me by our daughter Heather;
  • a “Hello Kitty” photo holder, that has pics of my precious friends Shelley Valasek, Kimberly Ehlers, and Kimberly Weber;
  • a pink stone that was a gift from my friend Liz Zacharias;
  • A Maine lighthouse souvenir when I was a flight attendant and flew to Maine for a fun weekend trip;
  • a little unicorn;
  • a gecko lizard knickknack, from the short time I lived in Florida (they were everywhere!);
  • a Florida tiny coffee cup with a green alligator holding onto it;
  • some sand from a beach that my friend Shelley visited, thinking of me (I love the ocean).

Here is a picture of God the Potter and a woman as the clay (Isaiah 64:8), and an ocean picture painted by our daughter Leah

The Potter & The Clay (Isaiah 64:8) and Ocean picture
The Potter & The Clay (Isaiah 64:8) and Ocean picture

My husband Ray bought me this cute chocolate pic. (He knows my heart!)

Chocolate pic
Chocolate pic

I found this baby blue pic and love what it says. Are you using your voice?

bold voice pic
bold voice pic


This year is flying by and 2015 is around the bend. Today I bought a Vision Publishing 2015 desk calendar for booking speaking engagements and for my daily to-do’s. 

It is pretty and has cheerful yellow daisies on the front cover. I love it because it’s compact enough to carry in my purple sketchy dot Thirty-One Gifts purse/tote that I ordered this week.

It is divided into planning sections:

  • Year
  • Month
  • Week
  • Tasks
  • Projects
  • Info (address book)
  • Shopping

It has task lists and a small section for a menu item on each date page, and includes encouraging scriptures and quotes, such as “God’s faithfulness means that God will always do what He said and fulfill what He has promised.”

Vision Publishers planner/calendar
Vision Publishers planner/calenar

A tool I use frequently for online speaking at my webinars and for coaching clients is a headset with a mic. This frees up my hands for the chat room or to surf the net while talking.

 I’ve tried different brands of headsets, and have found the inexpensive Logitech ones at Walmart work great. Eventually I’d love to buy the Snowball blue mic.

Logitech headset
Logitech headset

I often use Skype to save on long distance charges, along with Free Conference Call for my webinars and virtual trainings, as well as for coaching clients.

I love a small shredder to tame the paper tiger. This one by was under $30.


This is where I work each day and are some of the tools I use. I like an atmosphere filled with things I love. 

What does your office look like? What are some of your most helpful office tools? Leave your comments below.