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Consider the Trade

June 27, 2013

(Today’s blog post is a tiny snapshot from the book I’m working on, “The Best Yes.”)

I remember watching a TV show a couple of years ago where an expert lady was instructing a messy lady about how to get organized. I was fascinated.

I am so prone to be the messy lady.

But I want to be the organized lady.

The organized lady taught her lessons and then decided to help the messy lady implement what they’d just discussed. So, the next scene was the messy lady revealing for all the world to see, her closet.

I could tell from the expression on expert lady’s face, she was pleased for such a dramatic situation. Drama makes for good TV because crazy people like me stay tuned in.

And this closet was crazy.

Kind of like mine was at the time.

The expert lady swirled and twirled about like a fairy godmother commanding the wrong items be taken out and the right items be placed in color coded order. I sat there fascinated by how her expert mind could so clearly see potential in this crazy space and know how to do all that needed to be done to turn it into a dream closet.

The final scene was the big reveal to messy lady.

She “oohed” and “aahed” over the progress made. And though she’d resisted the expert lady during the process of needing to get rid of many things, the final outcome was so worth it.

Then the expert lady made the ex-messy lady hold her hand up and pledge one final thing before the show ended. She repeated these words to the expert, “I promise before adding anything new, I will make space by getting rid of something first.”

A silly show about organizing became a great lesson on considering the trade.

If we refuse to release before we add, we will get overloaded.

Ex-messy lady can’t expect to keep that beautifully redone closet beautiful, if she starts adding more and more to it.

I can’t expect to have room for my best yes opportunities, if I refuse to release the clutter.
In decision making, I must remember: I can't expect to have room for my best yes opportunities if I refuse to release the clutter.
Now, here’s what’s hard. Here’s where the ex-messy lady struggled. And here’s the reason I sat on my couch observing other people getting organized rather than walking into my closet and actually implementing what I was learning.

How do we discern what to call clutter and what to keep?

And obviously, this applies to much more than just my closet.

Gracious. This is where I get tripped up over and over. I second-guess my decisions because the fear of release paralyzes me into never taking the first step.

That purple shirt is great. I like it a lot.

But I haven’t worn it in over a year.

But is that because it was hidden amongst lots of other stuff? Or because I just don’t feel drawn to wear a purple shirt most days?

If I get rid of it and then need it, I’ll just kick myself. I don’t want to have to eventually buy another one when this one is perfectly good. So, maybe I should keep it just in case.

But then maybe I should keep everything just in case.

After all, it wouldn’t be in my closet if I didn’t think it was great when I bought it. Oh, organizing my closet is just too hard.

So, I trade having an organized closet for a purple shirt I’ll probably never wear again.


That’s not a good trade. Ever.

We must get good at considering the trade – and not just for our closet.

Psalm 119:35-37 is a great set of verses to pray as we seek God and consider the best yes choices for our lives:

“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

Let’s talk about this.

Have you ever failed to consider the trade?

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  1. Helen Knaapen

    Hi Lysa,
    I don’t think i’ve ever considered the trade… so I’m looking forward to what you have to say in your new book about this. Lysa, I am so happy that I got a chance to meet you last night at Saddleback Church. God is so good. As my home is in India and I was just visiting my brother these weeks in CA. When my sis-in-law invited me to join her at Saddleback and she mentioned who would be speaking… I was thrilled at the opportunity. Your blog/devotionals have truly been a life line to me in my years living overseas. Thank you! I pray you’ll be able to come speak to the women of my church in the very near future. Blessings, Helen

  2. Cedric

    Hello Lysa,

    Can you believe I’ve failed, like, all over the place? I know many of my best yeses have gone pass tired of waiting for me to consider them. But, I didn’t realize this until just recently.

    You know that God says He disciplines those He loves right? Well, I think, by now, He’s tired of disciplining me. Out of my ignorance, He has been using the rod of correction on me for a very long time.

    I often wondered why I wasn’t being blessed with things I’d been praying years for and others have been receiving. I didn’t realize I was running around the same mountain with my spiritual eyes closed missing my best. But, you know what, my eyes are open now and they are searching for all of the best blessings, ideas, life and His will for me that have been waiting for me for sooooo long.

    Thank you for such a great word.

  3. Stephanie W

    I’m not sure I’ve actually considered the trade much. I can definitely relate to watching Clean House dozens of times thinking yeah that’s what I need…somebody to come in and help me make the hard choices and leave me with a beautifully redecorated home to manage…looking forward to your new book Lysa!!

  4. Jacque Watkins

    Oh yes I’ve considered the trade in those moments when you have to say no to even a good thing to make room for a God-thing He brings along. The hardest part is facing the fear of saying goodbye to that purple shirt that is perfectly wonderful and satisfying to make room for a blue shirt with some bling…and oh my word! How out of my comfort zone is bling! But I’m learning that without the trade, a mess is exactly where I’ll be!

    It was so wonderful to meet you last night. I am following hard after Him and cheering you on as you lead women to do the same! With much love to you sweet Lysa..

    • Monique

      God’s direction (trade) will always bring some bling….. Well said.

  5. Jo

    Reading Unglued now; it is so helpful! Thanks

  6. Laura Townsend

    God, help me recognize the purple shirts in my life today!! Then help me choose to trade them for the better thing you have for me! Thanks, Lysa. Looking forward to meeting you next month at She Speaks.

  7. Marlise Lyners

    I struggle with this so much. Getting rid of the clutter, useless things. And our God is a god of order. Perfect order and we must be like our Dad. If my closet looks like that, messy…imagine my life. Time to get up, unclutter. Take care.

  8. kathy

    Hi Lysa

    i was reading todays blog on ” our weakness becoming our strengths” this was so encorageing for me i would love to share my story with you.

    i will make it short but sweet.
    i am blessed with a.d.d. as an adult and so often i view this as a problem in my life because i always ask questions and get into new things all the time without completing the first project. well, i have come to a place of accepting my self and allowing myself to be coached by a profesional, during the years of loneness and depression i was alway thinking of how i could use my weaknesses to be my strengths in my home and as a mom to a teen daughter. well, it happened one day i was listening to my teen chat about her life in school in grade 11 and how she wants to accomplish in her life and then i saw all the years of been a mom in my creative ways pay off what i showed her and who i was to her is who she is able to be today, not my weaknesses but my strengths, it was not the things i taught her to become it was who i was inside as her mom that shaped her personallity to be the women of God. that was my little story about changing my weaknesses into strengths.

    thank you for allowing me to share my story and thank you so much for reminding me of the power we have to change our weaknesses to become strengths to glorify the Lord the One who gives us the willpower to move one step at a time, not all at once but one step at a time.

    Gods richest blessings on you and your team.

  9. Anne Peterson


    Appreciated the post. Sometimes considering the trade is easier than others. If the pain of a messy closet and spending hours finding what you’re looking for is great enough someone eventually will choose to weed out things. But sometimes they sit on a scale and there isn’t a big difference. And the less the difference, the harder it is to choose. At least for me.

  10. Karla Saffer

    Within the last month, I have just become acquainted with you, Lysa. Your gift God has given you of leading women in His word and ways is a blessed one. Thank you!! Todays post resonates with me in so many ways. Its almost as if God is saying ” I have so much planned for you if you will trust me and let go of what you think you need and allow me to provide exactly what you need.” Discernment and wisdom to identify these “things” comes from the power of His Spirit and knowledge of His word—as I am learning with the help of your guidance. You deserve every kudos, genuine complement and blessing that comes back to you because of what you are doing. Indeed, He is good.

    • Dawn

      What a blessing your post was to me. It spoke directly to my heart.

  11. Juli

    I’m in that situation now. When you have too much on your plate, but everything you’re doing is good, it’s hard to let go. I had to let go to make room for another ministry God put on my heart. It was a tough decision, but a good one. I’m so grateful for His direction….and helping me let go.

  12. LP

    Oh Lysa, thank you… thank you for sharing your heart and being so real. The struggle you record is exactly my perpetual struggle…seeing where I want to be, should be, and letting go of what is, what was, thinking that it may be again. Yet, having experienced that first step of letting go brings such release, joy, and freedom it is any wonder why I should continue to wrestle with that first question, that first step of letting go and making room to appreciate what I couldn’t see or what is really more important. We need His Holy Spirit everyday, thank you Jesus! And thank you Lysa for opening your messy closet for us to peak in 🙂 God bless!

  13. Lynn Cowell

    When I don’t consider the trade those who pay dearly for the benefit others receive is my family. Stressed and overwhelmed I turn mean. I have to apply this!

    • Gayle

      Wow Im sitting here crying reading this and what you wrote is so true for me sadly… Thank you for putting it so succintly. Trying to allign myself with God thinking.

  14. Lorraine Furtner

    Do you have a hidden camera installed in my life? 🙂 Seriously, this applies in every way to my life right now– the closet, the mental clutter of being mid-life and choosing whether to finish that degree or not, and those choices between what I want to do and what I ought to do. So glad you posted this! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m juggling so much right now and I just found out that my mother has breast cancer. Please pray for my mom, Janet, that she will make a full recovery! And pray for me that I will have discernment in all areas of my life. You have no idea what a blessing you Proverbs 31 women are to me!

    • coleen

      Lorraine, I completly understand where you are at.
      I recently left a career I thought I would be in forever. For months, I knew it was the right choice because of the tug God had on my heart to let go, to move on, and to focus on my family. The problem is- I am a doer. And just as I thought I knew what I was going to be doing after I left my job, I found out I wasn’t. I have been struggling to figure out what my next steps are. I think you are there as well.
      I am going to try to wait. Try being the operative word-lol. And I am going to take care of what I can, my family. I am making sure I have my quiet time with God so I can hear his promptings. And I am going to clear the clutter in front of me which is my home and some of my family dysfunction. This is the best I can do for where I am right now. I will wait on God’s clear voice while I take care of what I can do.
      I want you to know I am praying for you. I am praying for your mom, and that you are able to get closer to her as she goes through this time of healing in her life. And I pray that you hear from God what your next steps should be.
      He is there holding your hand, trust in that.

  15. Katy

    I am so excited for this book! I have been struggling with my inability to say no since I was a teenager, and now that I have three kids I have definitely become better at it, but very rarely seek God’s word as the key to considering the trade. Recently, I have begun to de-clutter our home using the “one in, two out” rule, and I like the idea of applying that to what I do, not just what I have. Thank you, Lysa! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

  16. Esther

    It would be an understatement to say that I am excited about this book! 🙂
    What a great tidbit!

  17. Jessica

    This is funny b/c I actually have a purple shirt I’ve done this exact same thing with. So timely! Can’t wait to read this book!!!

  18. Deb

    Oh yeah… started years ago to get organized & came to the realization (through books & others’ advice) part of organizing is getting rid of “stuff”! God began a work in me, gently opening my hands to let go of what I clung to & being a steward rather than an owner. Now, I regularly go through & declutter – which frees me to serve in other ways that are needful. It’s been such a stress reliever to not have things holding onto me!

  19. Kim Hawkins

    I’ve always lived in small places and it’s a trade I’ve learned to live with. In fact, I prefer it. We now live in a 5th wheel camper home and if something comes in, something MUST go out. Lysa, I love the Scripture reference you tied to this practice.

  20. Traci Petersen

    Lysa, I have just finished your book “Made to Crave” and love your writing style! This post really hit home.

    Being one of those “messy people,” I have looked for ways to get that organized closet. Honestly, having someone come in and do it for me doesn’t work–I’ve tried.

    I have found encouragement and direction at to take steps to get my life organized, and this site gives advice similar to yours. I can become my own “expert” by making the hard decisions to sacrifice the better in order to make room for the best.

    Yes, my closet still looks a bit cluttered–it’s better than before, though. Flylady says “progress, not perfection.” I’m trying to apply it with a broader brush now.

    I’m not volunteering for everything now–others need the joy of finding a place to give their time, learn new skills, and find joy in their gifting.

    I don’t sign my kids up for every class that comes down the line–they get to figure out how to fill their time with creative play. “I’m bored” is rarely heard now!

    I’m not where I should be, but I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father that I’m not where I was!

    Thanks for sharing your gift of stringing words together to encourage others–how wonderful it must be to be able to use your gifting for the healing of the Body! God is doing great things in and through you, and I am grateful to be a recipient!

  21. Dianne

    The Best “YES” Choices…….these verses came at the perfect time as I am considering a job change and possibly a change of churches. But there are alot of people to consider and I take these decisions seriously. Being sensitive to others but yet, is God calling me to move on? Praying for direction.

  22. Teresa Glenn

    I love the closet story! That is exactly what I do. Thank you for: “How do we discern what to call clutter and what to keep?” for a larger life application – like writing. Also, the scripture you shared is helpful. God bless you!

  23. Becky

    Love this post…a wise friend gave me a great truth. I’ve tried to apply…When I say “yes” to one thing, I am saying “no” to something else.
    If I say yes to remodeling my laundry room, I say no to buying the latest trendy clothes for fall, or perhaps going on that mission trip. For me, it clears the water quickly.
    I’ve got some shirts that need to Go!

  24. Lelia Chealey

    Wow, you’re still teaching me Lysa after 6 years. 😉 I have a closet and other life areas where I need to consider the trade to be the consistent Yes-to-God woman I desire to be. Writing is one area that will benefit from some obedient trading. Thank you! xo

  25. Molly

    Your timing and God’s of course is amazing. We are moving this weekend. I just took 5 bags of clothes out of the closet! I’m clearing my closet, house, and life of the clutter.

  26. Jen

    WOW. My closet is messy, and I’m am always battling the “purple shirt” dilemma. (So, did you keep the purple shirt???) I AM paralyzed by this very issue in all areas of my life!! you struck a cord with me today, and big cord. My life is full of clutter. Oh, this is a painful lesson. Talk more about this Lysa!

  27. Christine Marie

    I have considered the trade but in my case I have so carefully reserved my “yeses” that I have missed out on a lot of, what I now feel, God was trying to use to stretch me. Early on into motherhood the overwhelming stress of working, getting kids to school, church activities, etc. made it hard to say yes to anything. I also will admit there were many examples of Mom’s all around me that tried to do it “all” and it was obvious that it “all” wasn’t going so well. I know there has to be a balance but I really struggle with knowing when to say yes and when to say, no thank you…looking forward to reading more!

  28. Beth

    I know this is a totally different story, but when I read this devotion Luke 10 came to mind, the verses about Jesus telling Martha that she was upset about many things, but that only few things were needed, well, really only one. We may have many things that are cluttering up our lives, but God is wanting us to trade that clutter in for the few things that He has in mind for us. And as he said about Mary, she chose what was better! Saying Yes to God, sitting as His feet and listening to His plans for your life is always better!
    Just thought I would share my random thoughts, not sure if they make sense to anyone else but they make sense to me! 🙂

    • Donna

      and me! I love Luke 10 and that story because I’m Martha. I can totally understand her frustration:“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.” 🙂
      I must make a conscious daily effort to be more like Mary, and to rest at the feet of Jesus and listen for his direction, and guidance and most of all to bask in is love. I so love how he loves me. It changes everything.

    • Dawn

      I needed to hear the Mary and Martha story. I’ve been so down on myself lately..wishing I was better at organizing etc. I know it’s imp to clean out our stuff but this reminded me that sitting at HIS FEET first is even so much better. Thank you!

  29. Linda

    I have never considered that. After recently re-doing all of my closets and hearing your words of wisdom I now see how that works and how the Lord has actually done that in my life. I have been holding onto a friendship that is way past over, as the Lord has given me 3 new friendships. Hmm, I know see how He gives/blesses past what I need to give up to Him. Thank you Lysa, looking forward to your new book as I see how it is already helping me and applying to my life. Praying Blessings on you and your ministry!

  30. Amy

    I’m slowly reading Made to Crave and the Made to Crave devotional book and this blog post immediately made me think of that. Do I consider the trade I make when I overeat/eat the wrongs things and what it does to me physically. This morning I read the devo section about being overweight physically and underweight spiritually. Do I consider the trade I make by looking to food to fill me instead of God? No one can serve two masters.

  31. Katie Call

    It is so hard to get rid fo the clutter but it so worth while to have it cleaned out.

  32. Connie Krueger

    I could SO relate to the “head conversation” about the purple shirt. That is exactly what I say to myself! I just wish I could get past that part and I could probably be successful at letting go of the old, for the new. *sigh*

  33. Marilyn

    Get on board with a great consignment shop and go through your closet at the beginning of every season and anything that you have not worn within the past year sell it. I tend to be an impulse shopper – I may not even need whatever it is that I am buying! I have been struggling for years to break this cycle. When I find something that I really like I tend to buy two of the same! I try to buy black or neutral ( beige, off- white) colors to extend the possibilities of mixing & matching. I learned to stick with the solid colors. If the fit and fabric and feel and washability vs having to dry clean the purple shirt is all a “yes” then it is a keeper-

  34. Sally Carlson

    Lysa–this blog is like you wrote my thoughts! I have struggled with this for a long time. Sometime I blame my upbringing (my mom was a hoarder), say I’m just sentimental or frugal, but know that it is clutter that keeps me captive. No, I have never considered the trade but will try to do this now–with God’s help. Thank you for being so transparent and speaking truth into our lives.

  35. Jill Beran

    Great words Lysa! Looking forward to your next book! This makes me think of the times I have considered the trade and obeyed God’s leading…His way is best. One story instantly comes to mind…it was shortly after your time at Rise and Shine in Iowa. You had prayed that God would mess with us…He did. He put on my heart that it was time to cut back and confirmed His leading through a visual with my daughter. I’d just trimmed her bangs and was thinking about how I could see her better and God whispered to my heart, “Jill if you’d cut back things in your life…you’d see Me better too.” He led me away from much so I could say yes to Him…I truly considered the trade without even knowing what I was doing, but from that experience I can say it’s worth it!!

    Thanks for bringing this to mind…think He needs to mess with me again and perhaps it’s time for another trim.

    So grateful for how God always speaks to me through you my friend!! Blessings on your day!!

  36. Missy

    Lysa, whatever this book is? It’s written FOR ME! I can already tell. I have “the purple shirt” dilemma every stinkin’ time I open my closet. And promise myself to organize it. Right after I look at the pair of Hot Pink Pumps I told myself I’d surely one day. But haven’t. Sigh…

    The trade is a tricky kind of thing that I still struggle with making complete sense out of. Sometimes, the trade is a heart issue for a tangible task. Other times, it seems like it’s a time stealer versus a spirit encouragement – and that just seems like something I shouldn’t HAVE to trade, but in all reality, do have to. And the trades sometimes come at me much too quickly, or in clusters, so that I wonder if it’s worth making any trades at all. (Cue the closet scenario again!)

    I can’t wait to read more about how you discern these sorts of trades!

  37. Anne

    As someone facing (and fearing) an upcoming job relocation to a city that does not have my old friends, nearness to family, or even the beach like my current city does, I confess that I don’t know what God has planned. I long for a life full of blessing, including a mate and a family. Is my white-knuckle grip on my current life justified when I have prayed so long for God to tweak my circumstances and give me these things? Is my current city a purple shirt?

  38. Hope @ The Flourishing Tree

    Oh, Lysa — how many “purple shirts” do I have in my closet and in my life? Your message hit home for me, and not just because of the state of my closet and my home office. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  39. Cindy Burkepile

    One more Yes!

  40. Karen

    I think you took a quick tour of my thoughts as your wrote this, because the purple shirt, hmmm….I think is the one in my closet!
    I don’t know that I really thought of the trade off and what I am missing ~ God’s best for me. Thank you for the insight! I really am looking forward to this study!

  41. Jessica Zimmer

    One More Yes!

  42. Lupe Munoz

    “One More Yes”

  43. Sondra

    One more yes! No space in my existence, I am cluttered.

  44. Kiza Francis

    “One More Yes”

  45. Jami H

    One more yes. :). I love to say yes to thing! My problem is letting go of others. Just like the purple shirt, I may still need something and I am afraid to let things go. I am looking at my life and considering what should be gone so something new can happen? I am excited about this study.

  46. Wendy B

    One more YES

  47. Grace

    I am going through this process now. I am letting go of all the stuff in my life to make room for me. I was forced to make this decision when I thought I might lose my home. It resets your priorities. I am making the right trade more for me and God in my home.

  48. Susan Klabou

    Dear Lysa
    I thought I would find a way to let you know how much I am enjoying your book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God and I found this web page. Colour co-ordination is a great way to organise a closet. God made me do it and it works a treat. I wish you every blessing and thank you for writing the book I am reading.
    With kind regards.
    Susan Klabou

  49. Julie Jackson

    I needed to read this. I just close my eyes to problems and pray they take care of themselves es. I end up with larger problems torn relationships hurt feelings and no peace. I am going to take a step of faith remove this person from my life. Regain peace in my home and in my life. Even though we have been together along time I need to clean my closet. Thanks

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