About the Author

Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, is a home stager, redesigner and design school drop-out. Her last home (a rental) was featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Cottages & Bungalows, Ladies' Home Journal and in her upcoming design philosphy book, The Nesting Place: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful....

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  1. So beautiful! You’ve perfectly captured the tension so many of us struggle with, particularly creatives. But you nailed it: beauty and warmth and loveliness and HOME has nothing to do with amassing a bunch of stuff we don’t need, even at bargain basement prices. Jesus said our treasures will lead our hearts, even if they’re cheap. I so look forward to your 31-day series. Thank you for guest posting, and thank you for wrestling it out with me and with all of us. XOXO

    • Jen.

      you have no idea how much your words have said to me. really. finally. a normal non-minimalist mom encouraging us to really consider stuff and what we are doing with it. and why. and what that means. I should just rip out this chapter and have it tatooed tattooed ? on my arm.

  2. I JUST LOVED YOUR POST TODAY! Your honesty! I never thought of it this way! I don’t have dirty hoarding, it’s all cute to me. ButI do know too much! I can hardlywait for your followup& your 31 dayscoming up! You reminded meabout this book 7. I must read it!

  3. “I want to create a home to be a place to launch from, a safe place of rest for our family and others so that we can go out and live. ”

    Best sentence about HOME I’ve read in a long time.

    Thanks for writing it!

    Dixie

  4. LOVE, love, love this post!!! Thank you for sharing your heart so openly. I think you speak for so many who are sick of the glut but have compulsive natures that sabotage our good intentions. I constantly feel like I am taking two steps forward,one step back. But your words have inspired me to keep up the good fight of cleansing myself from the unreasonable desire for more. Hopefully we can spur one another. Thank you!

  5. This is awesome, Nester. I love Jen and 7 like crazy (I’ve read it 3x). Last October, I joined up w/you and Emily and everybody and did 31 Days of Purging. It. Was. So. Freeing. And awesome (until day 29 when my 34yo husband had a heart attack. literally.).

    I’ve gotten rid of so, so, so, so much. Some of it is a little extreme (like I only kept ONE pitcher and got rid of most of my books–I LOVE BOOKS), but I haven’t regretted a minute of it. I’m almost “there” now, and it feels so good.

    I love this–“it was stealing away chunks of my time and home and soul and I was tired of it.” Yes, yes, yes. I have time and space for more kingdom work now (and more just breathing in God), and I feel his pleasure.

    Thanks for sharing!

    p.s. You could still buy/re-make stuff and then re-sell it and give $ to Compassion, etc.

  6. I’m in the middle of reading Jen’s book. When you said you must have been smart or stupid to have started the book when you did, I would say the former. I don’t believe there is a stupid time to pick up any book (I’m a bibliophile and a librarian).

    Over the summer my husband started the great basement decluttering experiment. It’s hard for me to part with my ‘treasures,’ and I will tell you that Jen’s experiences, and those of her council are helping me. I have been through boxes of mildewed paper clippings from my school years (scanning in process, followed by recycling). I was thrilled to have found a clipping with my grade school librarian in it–she is a reason I was an academic success. I thank her with every opportunity, but have no idea how to find her.

    Through 7 I am coming to realize that I am made by our creator to be more than the things in this world. I shared 7 with a good friend of mine last night. And you can bet that I’ll be making more progress on my own excessive tendencies as my life moves forward. Thank you for sharing, Ms. Nester–and thank you for the lovely picture of the lilacs–they are my favorites.

  7. Nester, I have been following your blog for three years now. It is amazing that one of my “Home Hero’s” is on the same journey I am on. I have been going through the same process of getting rid of my great finds, things I love that I cannot find a place for, and thrift projects I found on pinterest that are cute and I have no space for. Then to find out that you are doing the same thing is refreshing. You are so articulate, and have put a voice to all of the things I have been thinking and doing for months. I look forward to your 31 days in October.
    “Slowly, slowly I’ve removed. I’ve donated, gifted, sold, thrown away, recycled and given dirty looks to a bunch of stuff, much of it, pretty, bought for a really good price, a steal even. But it was stealing away chunks of my time and home and soul and I was tired of it.” Well said!

  8. Absolutely perfection. Have just recently sold or given away or sold a plethora of “stuff” that I had great plans for, but just not the time. They were doing just what you said – sucking life and time from me and my family. From the things that matter. I am bringing in now only what matters, what I can truly accomplish something with, and mostly, what we need. And that ain’t much. Thank you for putting into words.

  9. Loved your post! The “Possessions” chapter got me good in 7 as well! I completely relate to your statement “the idea of maybe needing something tangled me up.” I am trying much harder now to give up the need to cover every possible outcome. It’s quite freeing…!

  10. Oh, Nester… this is one of my biggest struggles. I love bargain shopping and decorating and I have tried to become more intentional about what I buy- but man, it’s hard. I’m looking forward to your 31 day series, I need some support on this topic.

    I’ve been thinking I’m going to try to do the 31 days series myself but it kinda scares the heck outta me. That’s a lot of days to write in a row, but a great challenge nonetheless.

    Great post! 🙂

  11. I feel very caught between so many things I’ve been handed down from my grandmother, my children’s things and all of my things (in a tiny-for-six-people house). I start to sort and attempt a Goodwill pile, but rarely get much accomplished.

    Now, to read this from The Nester…it’s like it gave me the ok to separate from these things.

    Thank you.

  12. You have captured so precisely what so many of us struggle with. Praying for you as you work through this. Please do the same for us as so often I feel defeated…

  13. “I feel very caught between so many things I’ve been handed down from my grandmother, my children’s things and all of my things (in a tiny-for-six-people house). I start to sort and attempt a Goodwill pile, but rarely get much accomplished.”
    The article and the above posting both sum up what I am living. I can’t seem to part with my in-law’s and my parent’s items, and my son’s things from his childhood, not to mention all the stuff my husband and I have accumulated. We want to downsize and I am holding us prisoner by my inability to get rid of stuff. I watch the hoarding show with fear in my heart.

  14. What an inspiring post! I feel like your gift of finding great deals and transforming them and creating a beautiful, welcoming home would be perfect for something like Dwell with Dignity, too.

    Looking forward to reading the 31 day series!

  15. Now I cannot wait for your 31 days series. This will be my favorite. I’ve been following your blog for years and it’s so interesting how we get to watch you and your home go through transformations.

  16. Wow! I loved this post and I am looking forward to your 31 days. I am an artsy gal and could relate so well. Reading 7 has helped me find an outlet from all the shake-ups from a trip to Africa. God is so good. My kids have recently jumped in to help now too! I am so glad to not be doing this alone. 🙂

  17. I am so with you on this journey, girl. Thanks for sharing your honest words. I’m planning on doing ’31 Days of Living With Less’ in October. It’s gonna stretch me for sure but I am looking forward to putting the idea of ‘living with less’ into some more concrete steps.. We’ll see how it goes:) Looking forward to your 31 Day series too of course!!

  18. “I want to create a home to be a place to launch from, a safe place of rest for our family and others so that we can go out and live. A place to learn to take a risk and be creative. Those things really don’t have much to do with buying a lot of useless stuff.”

    THIS. I grew up in a family who had zilch and I was taught that “stuff” is what made you successful, so I have spent my entire adult life moving and filling my homes with garbage. But now that I’ve been living simply for the last six months, I realize that none of that stuff really matters. I live in a home where we laugh and where we are creative and where there’s love and serious talks and fellowship and small group on Thursday nights and accountability and — as I crazily quit my safe, stable, high paying job — where risks are made. I’d trade all of my stuff for more of those awesome things.

  19. Yes, there is that tension, the push/pull toward less accumlation, even as we read each other’s blogs and ‘ohh’ and ‘ahh’ over each other’s creative juices on display for all the world to see.

    I can’t help but believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking deep into our souls about all we’ve allowed to occupy our minds, our reading, our writing.

    And our collecting. Our stuff. Our junk.

    He has something richer, deeper, better for us. Even as we care for our homes …

  20. Beautifully and authentically shared Nester. Tension and working it through with Him and all of us :: HUGE gift. I can’t wait to see what October brings. XO

  21. ooohhhhh, this one’s gonna be GOOD.
    excited to read along.
    proud of you.
    because you know what? i think you’re wrong about your calling. i think your calling is glorifying God in all you do. home dec, crafts, whatevs. and that’s what you’re doing. and that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. and i am loving it.

  22. Oh my — loving it! The tension of a calling. I think we all feel that some. I minister on the streets and then come home to my nice beautiful neighborhood home. It makes me feel guilty. Love your transparency! Looking forward to October.

  23. Beautifully written! God is speaking loudly to many of us on this very subject. My husband and I are spending 2012 de-cluttering (still more to do, but making good progress) and preparing to downsize to a smaller home. As Randy Alcorn says in The Treasure Principle, we’re sending our treasures ahead! Looking forward to your 31 day series!

  24. Yesterday I took 4 boxes of stuff to the Thrift Store & went in to look around! But the exciting part was I left without a single purchase! There was not a single item that I needed!!!! That is an accomplishment for me!

  25. I think that is an internal struggle for many women. We want our homes, wardrobes, things to be pretty and stylish and well cared for, but something’s gotta give 🙂 We’ve been trying to pare down our possessions as well. Living as a family of 6 in a 1000 sq. ft townhouse has helped a lot.

    I’ll be joining in the 31 Days in October this year with 31 Days of Busy Bags & Quiet Time Activities. Quite a perfect topic for this busy mom of 4 kiddos under the age of 6 🙂

  26. I’m downsizing, simplifying and it is a process. The more I delete, the freer I feel. Take another look around and decide “I don’t need that either”. And the cycle begins again. Thank goodness there are soooo many places a person can take things for others to use.

  27. I’ve read this twice and then had to post this blog on my pinterest page under “worth pondering.” I’ve retired and spent the last 2 year repurposing and collecting and have fallen in love with our home all over again…but it so easily goes too far…

  28. I struggle with this same tension, the same apparent contradiction. I am (almost) an architect, so professionally I try to convince people to spend money on big beautiful building filled with lovely things 🙂 I really believe, like you, that this passion for creating beauty was given me by my Creator – yet I run into the same struggle when I consider folks like those you met in Tanzania. For me, I think God might be directing me to use my design skills to help non-profits around the world serve communities in need. But why does it matter if these communities have beautiful places if they desperately need food? Or clean water? And then add in my impulse to make my own home beautiful and collect beautiful things and my head becomes a muddled mess! I look forward to your 31 days – and I shall now go read 7 🙂

  29. So touched by your words. I have been feeling “different” about “things” lately…ever since I started a blog about design and decor! I have been reading your blog for a while now and am always relating to your thoughts and feelings about all this “stuff”. Thanks for putting into words what alot of us are feeling and giving us a place to feel support for these feelings. Looking forward to your 31 days series.

  30. Girl, you know I have loved every one of your 31 days series. I am so excited for this one. I’ve got a cute hoard too. {Why does “hoard” used as a noun slay me every time?}

    Thanks for being honest. Really, thank you. It’s easy to want to tie it all up in a bow and pretend we have resolution on an issue when truthfully, we’re just somewhere on the journey.

  31. I can really relate to this … really! I am slowly taking thing into the garage and that’s where I am stuck. see, some of the things were cheap from garage sales but some of the stuff cost me a LOT. and I’m stuck at .. do I give it away? sell it for pennies at a garage sale? both give me a headache to think about. so I have done nothing yet. advice??

  32. You have worded what has been welling up in my heart and I could not find the words. I didn’t even know what “it” was. Just an example: I’ve been thinking about Christmas and the only thing that comes to mind is this “why spend money to buy a gift for someone who has all they need and buys what they want any way. What are our needs and what can we do without?” Does that make sense? For awhile I’ve wondered what’s going on with me because our family goes overboard with Christmas. I want the holiday to be great and fun but I just can’t get past the thought of buying useless gifts. It’s just not a joy to do that. I hope I’m not the only one thinking this.

  33. Girl, I’ve been pursuing the same goal: “I’m determined to be intentional about what I bring into my home.” Looking forward to joining you in that 31 day challenge :). Ever since reading “Organized Simplicity” I went on a 10 day organize binge to cut out the useless and “ugly.” Ive made my piles of give, sell, toss after going through my house, and Ive even blogged about it (http://thehomemakerspost.com/2012/08/29/10-day-challenge-organize-my-home-from-corner-to-corner-day-1/ ) I havent quite accomplished my goal of only having useful and beautiful items in our house…I need to slowly work on the beautiful part in particular. Hopefully this 31 day challenge will help further wean out, and add intentional items to our home.

  34. What an inspiring post, Nester. I can relate to EVERYTHING you’ve said! I am also a life-long decorating lover (and a blogger), and face the same struggles when it comes to balancing my craving for beauty / creativity with my desire to keep things simple. One thing I’ve noticed since having kids is that the annoyances that steal happiness from my day are almost always connected to having too much ‘stuff’ (too many toys to tidy, too much clothes to wash, too much Tupperware spilling out of the drawers, and on it goes!) I’m really looking forward to your 31 Days Series!! ~Kerri

  35. Ahhh! Are you reading my mind? This has been the theme echoing in my life for the last several weeks. It all started when my 19 year old announced that he was moving out at the end of September to feel more independent. He has been a huge help to me and my husband as we are managing a now 9 month old. I thought of all the things that he does that we will now have to figure out how to do in addition to our responsibilities. I thought of all the clutter and stuff neatly tucked into places that would explode with items if they were messed with too much. I started searching for helps to get my stuff in order and I am now on my way. It’s a slow, tedious, and sometimes painful process but I am loving it. Thank you for being willing to share your process with us. I plan to link up and share a little glimpse of mine.

  36. oh man, i need this so much! i was so frustrated today because i cannot find either one of my awesome but under-used baby carriers for a beach trip. how does one lose a brand new ergo in a small house? too much stuff. i love your words but i mostly love how you pointed me straight to the gospel and what jesus said on it. i truly want my heart to line up with his.

  37. while i have loved & followed you for years, i really fell hard for you when you went to africa. i can completely relate with this post in its entirety ( except i am on my 3rd bag)…(and i\’m praying/waiting/hoping to go to africa) but i began downsizing all the stuff in our home a few years ago too. it was consuming me. even if just the upkeep of all the stuff. i have a large family & we all love our stuff & we all attach meaning to our possessions too….so , it hasn\’t been an overnight change that i would love to say i\’ve completed. still a work in progress. still a change in my heart. i love this side of you nester & love that you open up and share it. xoxo

  38. It is interesting how many are feeling similar pulls to downsize. I think God is working in our generation!

    While living in a less-than-desirable rental house for 2 years, I’ve been learning a lot about coveting and contentment, and yet how fickle I am. One day, I’m ready to clean out my house, and the next I’m wanting a new area rug! Ugh. But God knows this … our flesh is weak, and we just have to keep going back to the cross to repent.

    I’m just starting “7” … just finished the first two chapters. Good stuff.

  39. I struggle with this too because my passion is creating beautiful surroundings and I too crave beauty. I often fight with myself about whether I’m being frivolous, but in the end, it’s not “stuff” I want, but the creative process that I love and having a haven in our home. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to create a more meaningful space, not just beautiful. Anyhow, I could go on and on. Look forward to your series. I think I will join you in 31 days (although I’m scared) with the topic of FOCUS.

  40. Great post. I m super excited to read your 31 days series as you will be speaking to my heart. I will be attending the Becoming conference and can ‘t wait to hear you in person.

  41. I started reading that book a few months ago and it was so convicting. I need to restart it and finish it. I am looking forward to your 31 days series.

  42. I have been waiting for your official announcement on your 31 Days series because I’ve watched you accumulate photos on Pinterest lately. 😉 Simplify and what it all means. I have had a heart jolt this year, back in the spring, and now I feel so torn in different directions on what is “right”. I feel physically hot and cold when I start talking about it because it can get so confusing. I am a creative spirit with Interior Design as my background both in schooling and in career and now that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 5 years, I’m ready to do something to help with income from the home. Problem is? I can’t seem to find the “right” thing I want to do. I could go on for hours on this topic and I wish I could just sit down and speak to you about this. I like to sew and create, but every time I think of something I would love to make and sell for a little bit of extra cash….I remind myself that it’s something that isn’t a NEED for people to buy so why would I want to create something that is considered “stuff”????? Or this one: I would love to back to Interior Designing or party planning (my passion on the side) but then when I get down to the nitty gritty of it….is it necessary at all? And doesn’t a lot of it seem wasteful? I am truly having a hard time sorting all of these thoughts out in my heart and my head. *sigh* We are currently selling our large beloved home on a whim and getting a simpler-lifestyle-home because of this new change in me. It is a big step, but one I feel is necessary. This is going to take some time and I will LOVE to read your series to see if I can find some answers there even. 🙂 EXCITED!

  43. OK. SO. I still have not had the courage to open up 7.

    But I have thought several times to myself, I’m going to email Nester and ask her this question–this question that you are beginning to answer in this post!

    I’m not a decorator. I don’t have that cute-pick-up-an-old-ashtray-at-goodwill-and-turn-it-into-a-christmas-decoration gene in my body. But I want my home to be a haven, a place that makes my family comfortable and inspired. I want it to reflect our family.

    But I really struggle with spending $300 on a rug. Or even $50 on a lamp. I don’t know how to balance that. I literally get locked down thinking of furnishing and decorating a whole room. BUT at the same time, I feel like maybe our empty-walled home isn’t much of a home b/c it seems like we’re just squatting in this house and not making it a HOME.

    (Aren’t you glad I *didn’t* email you?!)

    I’m going back to re-read this post and I can’t wait to hear your 31 Days!
    a

    • THIS, amanda, is a great question.

      do we put things on our walls? must they only be second hand? or inexpensive? is it wrong to spend 2 hours creating art ourselves that we love? is it wrong to buy a piece of art for $300?

      I think those are all great questions, one’s I’ve had myself.

      and I don’t really have an answer, I don’t think there are yes or no, right or wrongs but, I do have thoughts. This is great fodder for 31 days! Thank you!

      also, don’t worry about cracking open 7. It is SO gracious. and hilarious. there are no lists to check off. no “shoulds or musts” it’s a book that makes you think about why you do what you do and trusts God with personally leading you with the rest.

  44. One of my favorite books. I’m so glad it’s making the rounds. When I first read it, I was up all night for a week clearing out our closets–stuff I might want when I lose my baby weight, etc. Projects I might have time for when things slow down…(haha) I still have so much that I need to think through and clear out of my family’s life, but it’s a process of layers. The second and third time through, even the stuff that seemed precious last time just seems like junk that’s cluttering my head space. I cannot wait to go through your 31 days. I’ve loved watching your gradual shift to less already–especially that time you discovered the beauty of an empty table. Me too.
    Oh, and I met Jen at the Catalyst Dallas Conference. I told her the book wrecked my life. And she seemed pleased.
    Anna

  45. […] I continually evaluate what works and what doesn’t. I watched the slow melting of My Somewhat Organized, Nearly Cute Hoard And I’ve been wondering what it would be like to clear our my house a little longer than my […]

  46. I know I’m late to this party, but had to comment. You have tapped into and articulated beautifully the exact struggle I’ve been wrestling through. It has kept me from blogging much, although I believe I need to blog. Let’s just say it’s a joy and relief to find you. Thank you for expressing your heart so honestly!