From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out

Nancy Twigg’s From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out is most definitely the best book on simplifying your life from a Christian perspective that I have read. It is an easy read that really helped clarify my perspective in all aspects of my life.

I feel the description on the back cover truly encapsulates the book well, “Is your schedule so full you can barely breathe, much less volunteer for a good cause? Do you spend each day worrying about things you can’t control? Are you tired of facing endless mounds of junk? Cluttered homes, overbooked schedules, and maxed-out credit cards are only symptoms of what’s happening on the inside. As you follow God’s directive to clear out the clutter that complicates your life, you’ll discover the clarity you desire. Isn’t it time?”

I love how she keeps the focus on simplifying first and foremost by addressing the core of our hearts, the root problem. Are we trying to find satisfaction in things? Or through maintaining a busy schedule that we don’t have time to think about our discontentment? It starts with your mind and heart! Simplifying is more than just cleaning out closets, drawers, and boxes of receipts.

The book begins by offering a new definition of clutter: “Anything that complicates your life and prevents you from living in peace as you live out your purpose.” She then follows this up by dissecting Hebrews 12:1-2, and addressing it’s application to inner clarity (simplicity of mind-set, getting rid of counterproductive thoughts that clutter your mind), outer clarity (simplicity of daily life – how you use your time and how you relate to your possessions), and finally financial clarity (simplicity of spending – how you relate to your money).

Hebrews 12:1-2 states, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”

This book is a call to acknowledge honestly what is really holding us back. “Throw it off” as Hebrews describes. Get it out of your lives and thoughts, for even good things can lead to sin, if we become consumed with it and turn it into an idol. Nancy shares, “Even noble pursuits become clutter when they endanger our sanity and leave us with no time to connect with God.” You will encounter struggles in the battle (it is hard to say “no”), but remember to keep fixing your eyes on Jesus! He is our Source! He provides the ability to lay aside the clutter in our life and be set free through Christ Jesus. “Through the toughest times in our spiritual lives, it’s our God-empowered persistence that keeps us moving forward.”

“Our suitcases are filled with all kinds of dead weight: habits we need to give up, attitudes we’ve long since outgrown, and activities and possessions that no longer serve a reasonable purpose.” Are you ready to clean out those suitcases? Then, I strongly encourage you to find a copy of this book, and prayerfully read and journal through it. Nancy provides very thoughtful clutter buster questions at the end of each chapter that will provide you with strategic tools for destroying the clutter in your life. She also provides a wealth of practical tips for diagnosing and attacking the clutter in the inner, outer, and financial areas of life.

I personally have grown a lot in understanding how to simplify my life in the outer realm, but while reading this book, I realized how much I had yet to grow in simplifying my life in the inner realm. The Lord has graciously used this book to help provide so much more inner clarity and purpose that I have ever experienced!

I’m eager to read her other book: Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions! It’s the perfect time of year!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

14 Responses to From Clutter to Clarity: Simplifying Life from the Inside Out

  1. Anna C. November 9, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    I have the same question as Naomi regarding a husband who keeps EVERYTHING. It isn’t just him, he gets it from his mother so it’s just very natural for him. Nothing against his mother, I lover her dearly =) I grew up in a home that was very simple and everything had it’s place. We’ve struggled the last four years of our marriage with all the clutter in our house. We are getting ready to have our first child next year and I can’t stand the thought of having a baby in a messy, unorganized, clutterd home. I’m becoming very stressed and I have noticed my mood changin. We need to do something about this, SOON. Another problem is that he makes very little effort in helping me with large home projects such as organizing a room to make it more efficient. We both work full-time jobs so it is important that we help each other when we have time on the weekends. How do I convince him of the importance of a simplified home and the importance in helping me achieve that?

    • Lindsay November 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

      I would strongly encourage you both to PRAY! and then graciously appealing to him with Scripture. Maybe you could read the book together and pray about how it might apply to your lives. There are some wonderful Scripture passages in the book that might help you as you address these issues. Don’t nag…just let the Lord work. Remember you are his helper. It is part of your service to him to clean up after him. I have learned this the hard way. I used to raz my husband for not picking up his stuff, and it led to contention and lack of peace. It never got me anywhere! After further prayer, I just started joyfully seeing this as an opportunity to serve him. Don’t view it as equal roles in home organizing and such…that is the pit-fall. Whether you work full time or not, your primary domain is the home. Demanding his help will not get you anywhere, but keeping a spirit of humility and submissive can win over any man! I cannot say enough about prayer! This has been an instrument to bring such beautiful change in my husband and his shortcomings. Focus on the positive and encourage him in that! Then be faithful in your part. Always check your heart! Blessings upon you in this pursuit!

      • Carrie June 21, 2010 at 6:21 am #

        Thanks for this great reply, Lindsay… exactly what I needed to read. My husband is particularly messy and he really doesn’t mean to be, that’s just how he has always been. He tries so hard to clean up after himself but my standards are always too high and I wind up getting frustrated and upset at the mess and at home sometimes too. I need to pray pray pray and also see it as a way of serving him. This has been such a struggle as I’m also working full time and just don’t have the time/energy to keep up with all the cleaning/organization I want to do in our home, especially when trying to clean up after him as well. I know it’s my primary responsibility and I see how much I fall short with it… but I recently realized that I still have NO reason to grumble (“Do all things without grumbling or questioning” from Galations… can’t remember the chapter/verse) and also that there is no point in being frustrated at something that you are wishing you could do in order to be less stressed… the frustration only causes more stress! Defeats the purpose completely. I need to pray and do my best in this season to keep our home and to serve my husband with a JOYFUL and peaceful spirit. :) A daily heart-check will be needed, indeed. :)

        • Carrie June 21, 2010 at 6:24 am #

          Oops, I meant to say “I wind up getting frustrated and upset at the mess and at HIM sometimes too”… not “at home”… my bad. :)

  2. amy November 9, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    I’m curious to know how you think about this in light of the natural foods stuff. In other words: moving toward eating the way your family does is anything BUT simplifying for me. I’ve been taking deliberate steps toward whole foods/healthy living for the better part of a year now, and the sheer quantity of information to consider *just on your blog alone* is totally overwhelming. So in my mind, “simplifying” and “learning to eat naturally” seem almost mutually exclusive! How do they fit together for you?

    • Lindsay November 9, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

      Well, I guess it would depend upon if pursuing natural living has caused too much clutter in your life. That would definitely be something you should pray about! It sounds like it just might be too much for you at this time. If so, definitely bag it or just step back and take a bigger look at what are the priorities. What is one important thing you could focus on changing? Take the baby step mindset rather than trying to learn and apply everything at once. For our family, we really pursue simple meals. I plan a monthly menu, shop twice a month, and keep a regular preparatory routine. I don’t necessarily do everything currently that I have shared about on my blog in the past, as there are different seasons of life. Eating naturally is a hobby for me. I love learning new things…but I am always on my guard that if it becomes too overwhelming, I need to step back and re-evaluate. Husbands can be especially useful here!

    • Revae November 10, 2009 at 8:38 am #

      Amy, I completely understand feeling overwhelmed by it all, and I think Lindsay’s advice on keeping in mind your season of life is the first place to start. Maybe it is just not for you right now. But having said that, I remember when I started my health journey years ago now, and I thought – I can make one change at a time. It sounds like you are on your way. You can worry about soaking grains and such later. For now only do what seems obtainable. You can get completely consumed with health and nutrition. But our goal is not be consumed with it, but to use it glorify God in having a healthier more energetic family able to serve him in the good works HE has planned for us beforehand. I spent years learning about nutrition and then moved to the mission field where my knowledge meant absolutely nothing. There were no options to fit my previous lifestyle and for 18 months I had to give it up and trust God that my family would survive. Our little town has developed a bit more and there are finally some options to help. But now I am in a season of life with 3 children (1 is 8 months and nursing) home schooling and ministry, that I rarely get to making my own bread and such. You’ll get it figured out. Give it to God and take your time.

    • Carrie June 21, 2010 at 6:34 am #

      This is over 8 months after your comment, but I wanted to say that I have experienced first hand how pursuing a more natural and healthier lifestyle can become too much clutter in your life and there are definitely wise and unwise ways of going about it (obviously)…

      The last 6 months or so, since I started reading this blog and many others, I have tried to incorporate SO many new ideas, methods, and routines into our lives that it really has gotten in the way of my husband and I’s relationship to each other, to God, and to others. I was so excited to learn and implement all the changes (also other things like budgeting, organizing, decorating, getting out of debt, you name it) and thought that it would be better and easier if I just did it all as soon as possible. I figured why keep doing things wrong when I can do them right and do it right away! But I can’t even keep up with myself! Not to mention our budget (which is a new concept to us!) has gone WAY over with all the new gadgets and bulk foods I’ve been buying. I know it is all an investment and will eventually be worth it (at least financially), but not in the sense that it was the wisest way of going about it at the time.

      I’ve learned that we must always keep our focus on the main thing- is what we’re doing bringing us and others closer to God and bringing HIM glory (mainly) and us joy (secondly)? or is it causing more stress, conflict, discord, unrest, etc in our hearts and in our lives? Everything new can be somewhat stressful, but I’m really learning now that I need to be more prayerful and wise and patient with myself and God in all these “good for us” things that we think we should incorporate. I’m hoping and praying that from now on (literally just realized this the last day or two) that I can step back and refocus on God and go from there. :)

      I’m so thankful for this blog and the great commenters that help me along the way!

  3. Sarah M November 9, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    great review–this is definitely where I am–doing something every weekend since Sept 1st for other people. Not that this is a bad thing, but when it becomes an obligation rather than a joy–it turns sour. Although I have abotu 3 more weekends that I am committed to, after that I have planned to par down my schedule to nil and just relax! It is a *VERY* hard thing to say no, until you’ve had lots of practice :) It is just very easy to get right into that old habit of saying *yes* to everyone all over again, too.
    Sounds like a great read & thanks for posting teh scripture verses in your post.
    Sarah M

  4. Naomi November 9, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    I really enjoy reading your blog by the way! I am nowhere near implementing things that seem to come naturally for you, but I like thinking that someday I will..haha. I am interested in this book about de-cluttering your life. There are some things in my inner life that I need to de-clutter. I was wandering though, what you do when your husband is cluttered? My husband keeps everything and we have piles of stuff everywhere and we have a small house too. It is very difficult to get him to throw anything away or even give it away. It is hard to live simply and de-cluttered when your husband is not. Just wandering what your thoughts were on this issue. Thanks!

  5. Revae November 9, 2009 at 8:31 am #

    I purchased this book months ago as we moved our growing family into a smaller more affordable home. We experienced a down-size that freed us up to breathe again. I still move around my small 2 bedroom 1 bath house thinking this house is too small to be this complicated to keep up with. So I begin to toss things again.
    That addresses the outer simplicity, but my Husband and I were challenged to revisit the inner simplicity again this weekend when a fellow missionary couple serving in our town had to leave the field in order to restore their marriage. It was a sad realization that we need to be focused on only the things God has called us to. There are many “good” things, as Lindsay said, we can be involved in but if we are failing at our foremost ministry of our home, we have done nothing for the Kingdom.

  6. alexis November 9, 2009 at 7:25 am #

    Thanks for the resource…nice to see an organizational book written from a Christian perspective!

  7. Melanie November 9, 2009 at 4:27 am #

    Thanks for posting this review. I’m almost done with Michael Pollan’s *In Defense of Food*, so this one’s going to be next on my list. We have a lot of clutter…not so much in commitments, but in “stuff” in our home and definitely spiritually…I’ve been battling a bad attitude lately, and I’m sure that plays a huge part. Thanks:)

  8. klutzymama November 9, 2009 at 3:53 am #

    I read this book a few months ago and it was probably the best book I have ever read on controlling your physical as well as internal clutter. It changed the way I look at my life, for sure.