One solution to a crowded closet is to get rid of clothes. It can be a good option, and likely, we could all make use of de-cluttering techniques where our clothes are concerned.
But sometimes the problem isn’t how much stuff we keep, but where to put it. A place for everything and everything in its place is a great motto, but you have to have someplace to put everything, and that can be tricky.
I have found experimenting with different ways to store clothes can help identify a space where everything can have a home. Fashion and organization experts both recommend hanging clothes in outfits – so the scarf hangs with the pants, shirt, and jacket with which you generally pair it. This idea saves time in the mornings, since less thinking is involved in figuring out what to wear, and it can save space, since you don’t need a separate storage item for hanging clothes, accessories, etc. Another twist on this idea is to fold outfits together, if you have items you don’t hang.
For years I’ve used a similar technique for my youngest children. On laundry day we fold their clothes in outfits before putting them on the shelf. Even a toddler can get an “outfit packet” off of the shelf to bring to you at dressing time. School-aged children benefit from outfits that (1) match, (2) have all the parts available, and (3) are easily accessible. Just think about how much time you could save in the morning by not having to send kids back to the bedroom for pants that match… socks… a long-sleeved shirt (why do they always pick short sleeves when it’s 26 degrees outside?!).
My folding method works better for us than just setting the pieces of outfits in a stack together. When we stack them together they seem to be more “guidelines” than “intentional choices” and everything gets all mixed up on the shelf as they tear the shirt from one outfit to pair with a hidden pair of shorts they found under the mattress…
So here’s how I fold our “outfit packets”:
(I’m going to go through a multi-layered outfit, since it’s the most involved)
Lay the jacket or sweater out, face down on your folding surface, like so:
Lay out the shirt or other under-layer for the top face down on top of the jacket this way:
Fold the pants (or skirt) to fit the width of the shirt between the sleeves, like this:
Add socks (or tights, or leggings and socks) on top of the pants:
Next, fold the bottom half of the layered shirt/jacket/sweater combo up over the pants/skirt/socks/tights combo, as shown here:
If there’s a hood, fold it down over the pants/skirt/socks/tights this way:
Then fold the sleeves across the whole packet, one at a time, to “close” it up. See?
Now flip it over and you have an outfit ready to stack.
Single layer outfits and summer clothes are even easier. For short sleeves, I lay the shirt face down, set the folded shorts between the shoulders, and add socks (if necessary). Then I fold the sleeves over the shorts first, followed by the tail of the shirt up over the shorts (the short sleeves simply aren’t long enough to “close” the packet and end up unfolding when you flip the outfit up so you can see the shirt). You still have a neat packet of clothes, and your child can see the design on the shirt, so they know what they are getting.
Incidentally, these little clothing packets save a lot of space on the shelf or in the drawer. You don’t have to have a separate place for socks, tights, shirts, and pants. While the clothes still have the same mass, folding them together will save space on the shelf, in the drawer, and in the margins of your morning.
It occurred to me recently that there is no promise of ease in the Bible, only of rest. There is a difference between entering his rest as I carry the burden he’s carefully chosen for me, and finding the burden he’s chosen easy to carry. A lighter load is still a load, and it would be foolish to suggest lightness means ease – try holding your arm out to the side for half an hour – even with an empty hand!
Sometimes, in my misunderstanding of rest, I long for ease, and when I don’t find life easy, I give up on entering his rest. So I think the first step to entering God’s rest is to understand His yoke means work for which I was created, and His light burden means rest for my soul that would otherwise be burdened with my sin.
Part of the rest of Jesus is the lighter burden. Yes, we need to wear his yoke and be about His Father’s business, but the burden he asks us to carry is light in comparison to the burden we strap onto our hearts with sin, and rules, and legalism.
Rest begins to look a little different when I realize the things God has called me to do – or to endure – are just the right size burden for my soul. His burden is exactly what I need to carry on a journey to make me fit for heaven. I can only enter his rest when I recognize the burden of sin I strapped to my own back made such a journey, and such fitness, impossible. My idea of rest changes as I see the light and momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17) of this life and compare them to the future glory awaiting me because Jesus carried the crushing weight of my heavy and permanent iniquity.
Sometimes I think I can only truly appreciate the sun after weeks of rain, and the fulness of joy after tasting the bitterness of sorrow. Similarly, I only understand the rest of wearing his yoke and walking under the weight of his light burden when I see it in contrast to the struggle of bearing up under the weight of my sin and shame. I can only enter his rest when I see, really see, what Christ has done for me through his death and resurrection.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of my sin burden being carried by Christ and replaced with a calling better suited for my soul.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of his approval of me being based on Christ’s perfection, rather than my attempts to overcome imperfection.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of God seeing me through the lens of Christ’s obedience, rather than standing in my own condemnation.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of knowing how great is the gap between God and me, and that God provided the only bridge that could span such a gap.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of understanding, even now, he has a hand on the burdens he’s asked me to carry, ensuring they cannot cause me to stumble off his path.
Entering his rest is directly tied to grace.
Entering his rest is directly tied to the grace of Christ crucified.
Relationships are the key to exposing a fallen world to God’s love. And the only way I can reveal God’s love to a fallen world is if I’ve experienced God’s love deeply enough myself to change my heart. It is only when my heart desires to know God and make him known, that I can begin to live in wisdom in my relationships.
Wisdom is “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere” (James 3:17).
Do my relationships reveal wisdom? Do I engage with God and others purely or with hidden motives and disguised emotion? Could my relationships be described as peaceable or are they riddled with rivalry or retreat? Am I open to reason or do I insist on my own way? Am I full of mercy and good works or do I manipulate, punish, and withhold affection? Am I impartial, pursuing grace with the fervor of Christ, or do I favor my own opinion or bow to fear of man as I evaluate matters of justice? Am I sincere, knowing my own heart and representing what I find there with accuracy and integrity, submitting it to the scrutiny of scripture rather than hiding my sinfulness in a white-washed tomb?
It occurs to me the beginning of a right relationship with God is to understand myself (the depravity of my sin, the abject poverty of my soul, my need for forgiveness, my only hope in his grace) and Him (his perfect holiness, his rightful wrath, his absolute justice, his supplied mercy, and his abundant grace).
In the same way, the beginning of right relationships with others is to understand myself (my emotions, my motives, my idols, my sinful attitudes, my position of forgiveness, my responsibility to offer grace) and others (their suffering, their emotions, the deep waters of their hearts, their circumstances, their need for forgiveness, their incredible value as an image-bearer of God).
I’m not sure we usually think of relationships in these kinds of terms.
As Christians we profess to believe God created us for relationship – with him and with others. We sing songs about being known by our love. Yet the greatest accusation against us – and sadly, the one that holds the greatest truth – is that we. are. not. known. for. our. love.
If we polled the population in the United States, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Israel… would non-believers describe Christians by our love?
Integrity? Yes, often.
But, love? I’m afraid not. At least, not universally.
We are commanded to love others as Christ has loved us, and to be known for it.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Scripture does not leave us wondering what it means to love others as Christ loved us. The Bible is full of wisdom about how to live in our relationships. Romans 12:9-20 says,
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
And Titus 2:8 carries it further, helping us to understand how important it is to live in love as much as we teach of love.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Do we do that?
You know, “Christian” is a recognized name of a group of people, but that name is defined by individuals experiencing individuals. And these individual experiences with us have significant repercussions. As individuals interact with us individually, they are establish their definition of the group.
They will either recognize us for our love, as in the case of Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint, who returned to the tribe of people who had murdered their husband and brother, to offer not only their forgiveness, but also to love them into the the kingdom of God. (Read more about that here.) An entire tribe of people was reconciled to God as these women lived out of Jeremiah 31:3. As the Aucas experienced individuals (Elisabeth and Rachel), they understood the group (Christians) to be love.
The alternative is that others will reject our hypocrisy, as in the case of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was stopped from entering a Christian church in Calcutta, India, because of the color of his skin. As Gandhi experienced an individual (the usher) at the door that day, he understood the group (Christians) to be hypocrites. As a result of that church’s forbidden practice of favoritism (James 2:9-10), Gandhi assessed Christians as a whole. Ghandi declared, “I’d be a Christian if it were not for the Christians!” and “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Ouch!
Individuals matter. Relationships matter.
How we, as individuals, love each other declares to a watching world who Christ is. For better or for worse, he has married His name to our actions. Do you get that? Christ is known by our actions.
Maybe it’s time we took relationships seriously. Maybe it’s time we learn to love others as Christ has loved us.
“My closet is just too big for all my stuff!” said no woman ever.
More often we look into our closets and feel like the walls are closing in, right? Which may present the perfect solution for tight space in the closet.
One thing we’ve done to create space in tight quarters is to make use of the walls in the closet. Just inside the door of my closet, on either side actually, we have hooks hanging. My husband uses one hook for jeans he wants to re-wear and his belts. I use one for my pjs (and a sweatshirt during the winter).
In the back of our closet we have a double rod for hanging clothes. I hung a towel rod from Ikea behind the clothes on the top row and added curved hooks to hold all of my necklaces. It’s completely hidden when shirts are hanging, but they can be pushed aside so I can select an accessory for an outfit. Each necklace hangs on its own hook, so nothing gets tangled. The hooks and rod cost a whopping $6 (Bygel Rail $2.99 + Bygel S-Hooks $0.99/10-pack). I bought three packages of the S-hooks and have a few hooks empty for future purchases. 🙂 The nice thing about this rail, in addition to the price, is that it measures 21 ¾ ” long x 1 ¾ ” deep x 2 ” high. Which means it really can fit in the space between the shirt sleeves or pant legs and the wall without interfering with the hanging clothes.
Our boys’ closet is a tricky space. the closet is 5 feet deep, but only 3 feet wide. The long narrow space works well with deep shelves at the back to hold their folding clothes, and a small space in which they can stand to dress. However, after hanging floor to ceiling shelves (so each of the five boys who share this closet could have one shelf, 36″ wide by 20″ deep), there was no space for hanging clothes. Again, I looked to the walls. I hung boards from the hardware store with inexpensive robe hooks at two levels down both sides of the closet. In this way we have 24 hooks that can hold robes and pjs, running clothes, baseball caps, or clothes on hangers. Since our boys don’t wear a lot of dress clothes or clothes that require ironing, most of their clothes can fold on their shelves, rather than hanging, but they do use the hooks for hangers with khaki pants or dress shirts, etc.
Another idea I’ve heard, but not used yet simply because we have enough space without it, is hanging hooks over the door of the closet (inside!) for hats, scarves, and other outerwear that is used infrequently (unless you are tall).
Our closet has a bifold door, but if you have a hinged door, you can consider the door a fourth wall and make use of door space as well. There is the standard array of over-the-door hooks, shoe holders, purse organizers, and jewelry racks, but you could also mount your own hooks for more tailored storage. If we had a hinged door, I’d hang my scarf sorter on it – with a mirror for cycling through the options as I dress (usually to arrive at the same exact combinations I always wear – lol).
So what about you? If you are stretched for storage in the closet, maybe a quick look at the walls would open up some creative options without sacrificing another storage option or eliminating “stuff” (which is another good option, of course, if your closets are bursting at the seams!)
When I was a little girl I loved playing outdoors in and under the trees. One house had this awesome Mimosa tree.
That Mimosa tree had branches low enough to the ground that with a little stretching I could climb the tree. I’d scramble up the branches like a little monkey and then lay on one, as high as I dared to go, and watch the clouds.
In Texas the sky is blue and open and full of white, puffy clouds. I’d lay on one of those branches, entranced by the cloud formations and cooled by the shade of higher branches and a gentle breeze. Of course, there was one problem with climbing the tree. I was (am) afraid of heights. Inevitably, when it was time to go down, I was paralyzed with fear.
So, one of my siblings would run inside to get Daddy.
Usually Daddy would stand at the bottom of the tree and give me instructions on how to get back down. Usually I would sit at the top of the tree and cling to the trunk with my eyes closed tight. Which meant usually Daddy would end up climbing the tree to get me. With his strong hands on the tree and his arms around me, my muscles relaxed enough to release my full-body grip on the tree trunk. We’d climb down the tree together.
Resting in Jesus is the same thing. Resting in Jesus doesn’t change the circumstances. Jesus doesn’t always come and lift us down out of our tree. Usually he meets us where we and navigates us to solid ground.
Rest comes as we trust in Jesus, listen to his word, and cling to his presence instead of the very thing holding us in the difficult place.
Sometimes I live life like that little girl up in the tree. I think I have to control the outcome by clinging to what seems solid. I get worn out trying to provide for myself, to protect myself, to ensure I have the things I think I need. And at the top of this tree, I can’t see the way to all I really want is only possible if I let go of the trunk and follow my Father’s instructions.
The thing is, I am called to obedience, not outcomes. When I start trying to control outcomes, I get tired. Trying to carry God’s burden, instead of the light one he’s assigned to me, is exhausting. Rest comes by trusting in Jesus and trusting in God’s ways, even when they require me to let go of my own ways; especially when they require me to let go of my own ways.
There is a lot of rest to be found in trusting God’s ways. There is a lot of weariness to be found in trusting my ways.
There is rest when I submit to his pattern for rest woven into creation. I find rest when I trust him that there is enough time in 16 hours to accomplish what he’s called me to do in 24. When I forfeit sleep so I can “unwind” and watch a movie, read a book, or spend some time on a hobby, I decide my way is better than his way, and I get tired.
There is rest when I trust him that six days of work, not seven, are enough to supply what I need. When I forfeit the sabbath by using the seventh day as an extra day to catch up on laundry, groceries, or to get ahead on work for the coming week, I get tired. When I forfeit worship with his people to catch up on the sleep I missed all week, I grow weary.
The question becomes: Will I trust God enough to find true rest for my weariness?