Winter at TImber Butte Homestead

Nancy spring cleans her gardening room

Our friend Nathan lends a hand mucking out the barn

This years manure is next years compost

Fixing pipes that didn’t survive the winters freeze

Winter is not only a confining time but a difficult time to keep things tidy. Winter has a beauty of its own; there is no doubt about it. But, living in snow country has the tendency of being confining and conducive to the buildup of clutter both in the house and barn.  With warmth and lengthening of spring days the time of dormancy lifts and not only brings renewed life to the land, but in a special way to our human spirits as well.  As doors and windows fling open allowing the freshness of the new season to enter in we become simultaneously ready to get out in the fresh air.

Spring has a special way of motivating and energizing us to reorganize and clean things up.  Every year it offers us a new beginning; it’s a time to prepare the garden for another growing season, turning over the rows and setting up irrigation line for easy maintenance. It is a time to prepare the green house for fragile plants not yet ready for early planting due to erratic climate changes. It is a time to muck out the barn and mound up a winter’s accumulation of manure in preparation for next year’s compost. It’s also a time to fix broken pipes that had become casualties of the subzero winter temperatures because they had been inadequately drained in the previous fall.  Spring is a time to reorganize and prepare for the animals on the homestead; time to feed the bees and let the chickens out of their coup so they can free range once again.

Spring cleaning is liberating to the soul.  There is something wonderful about ridding oneself of the chronic buildup of unneeded clutter.  After years of living out this spring cleaning scenario I’ve realized that it must be a common characteristic of our human natures to accumulate unneeded stuff. Unused possessions have a mysterious way of filling our closet shelves, cluttering drawers, being stuffed under beds and in the once spacious places of garages and barns. I’m speaking of the things that we once believed we needed, but soon cease to have any real functional value. Cleaning out the clutter not only takes deliberate effort but the honesty to admit we really don’t need a lot of extra stuff.  Simplicity is a gift once it is achieved, but it is a gift that requires a deliberate choice and effort to go after it.

A number of years ago I wrote a book entitled, Small Footprint, Big Handprint – How to live simply and love extravagantly.  It was based on a series I taught which I called, The Biblical Pursuit of a More Simplified Life.  The book and teaching were a challenge for folks to downsize their lives for the sake of upsizing their impact on the world around them. It spoke of a mega spring cleaning of their personal lives, not just for the sake of simplicity, but for the sake of effectiveness in the lives of others.  It illuminated the fact that far too often our possessions own us more than we own them.  It showed how things in our lives can encumber us with physical, emotional and even spiritual debt.  God’s intent is that we would not be in bondage from the things of this world but be free and in fact, “free indeed” [John 8:36]. It is in freedom that we then have the liberty to become the people God originally intended us to be I don’t want to over spiritualize this “spring cleaning” thing, but I do believe that the reason it feels so wonderful when we choose to do it is because it is a physical picture of a more important spiritual reality.  In our heart of hearts we want to be free from the things that encumber us.  Life has a way of stuffing away the destructive clutter of memories that are unedifying and even painful. These memories start to override God’s goodness and His greater purpose for our lives. They encumber our minds and hearts causing us to lose the freedom we were created to have.  That’s why Jesus said in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  It is God’s heart and intention that we experience real freedom.  His provision of Jesus provides the greatest spring cleaning of all – the cleansing of our souls.