Two things I appreciated on a new level this week: a) my husband will never abandon his “be prepared” motto from Boy Scouts, and b) I have a new motivation to de-clutter.

It turns out that I have a tad bit of a hoarding issue. At least it is selective. I think it has to do with the idea that I work full time out of the house. What am I hoarding? Pretty much every craft our daughter has made in 4 years of her life. And clothes that no longer fit her, because if somebody special gave them to her, how I can really let go of them? And because I am a huge fan of frugality, I definitely have about 12 pairs of hand me down jeans, in the next two sizes up, for her. I ‘m kind of a strange duck in that way: I’ll hesitate to stock up on toilet paper and toothpaste, but my pre-k kid has jeans from now through the third grade.

I am more aware of this after having recently gutted our daughter’s closet. Insert ‘always be prepared’ hubby here. Truly, it is a blessing that my husband is wired towards emergency preparedness. Personally, on a good day, I’m doing well to manage “regular life preparedness,” so the fact that he enjoys preparing for the “what ifs” is helpful. We just had extra smoke detectors installed, a stock pile of canned foods and drinking water, and when severe weather hits, he has our weather radio cranking. This week, it was so sad to hear the news of people losing lives to tornados. It was very sobering. One story that stuck with me was a woman clutching her baby who said “I didn’t know it would be this bad…” Which left me thinking, if I know it could be bad, and I do nothing, particularly after seeing the devastating effects, what does that say about me?

Thus, the new motivation to de-clutter. With my husband’s encouragement and the distinct blaring of the weather radio, I attacked our daughter’s closet – which is the only space in our home with interior-only walls and thus THE place to go incase of severe weather. And my husband doesn’t play. Its not like a “go stand in the closet” type thing. We needed space for all four of us, shoes for each, water for each, a flashlight, and a mattress to put over our heads.

I literally took myself, a box of garbage bags, and a new mantra. Picking up every item and every article, I asked myself if I would rather hold onto stuff and risk not having a safe place for my kids, or do what I could to have a safe place, and share the stuff. It turns out stuff, even the really sweet dress from one of my sisters, is easier to part with in the backdrop of life or death.

As parents it is easy to focus on provision for our children. This week I learned the power of subtraction. And that’s how we were left rejoicing in an empty closet.