Not-so-extreme makeover

I don't know about anyone else, but during General Conference there are always several talks that hit me right between the eyes. One of the between-eyes-hitting talks was from Elder Gary E. Stevenson during the Sunday afternoon session. He was talking about the temple, and the relationship and similarities that should exist between the temple and our homes, which are also meant to be sacred places.

He issued this challenge:

Recently, in a stake conference, all present were invited by the visiting authority, Elder Glen Jenson, an Area Seventy, to take a virtual tour of their homes using their spiritual eyes. I would like to invite each of you to do this also. Wherever your home may be and whatever its configuration, the application of eternal gospel principles within its walls is universal. Let’s begin. Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? That concludes our tour. Perhaps you, as I, found a few spots that need some “home improvement”—hopefully not an “extreme home makeover.”

Whether our living space is large or small, humble or extravagant, there is a place for each of these gospel priorities in each of our homes.

I started thinking about my apartment, and about how I feel when I'm there, or about how people might feel when they come over. (I mean, other than the awkward feeling they might get when GH and I start making out right in front of them.) Here are some things I thought about:

1. Right now we have no pictures of the Savior on the walls. This is kind of lame of us.

2. We have a watercolor of the Logan Temple that someone gave us as a wedding gift, but I would like to print and hang one of the pictures Ed took of the temple during our wedding.

3. We have no wedding pictures printed or displayed yet.

4. I read my scriptures while Benjamin Linus stares down at me--creepily. He is also the last thing I see before I fall asleep. It's a lucky thing Jack Bauer is there too, over on the bookshelf.

5. The first thing I see when I walk into my apartment is a pile of boxes to be dealt with--items that need to be taken to DI, an Amazon order that needs to be returned, recycling that needs to be taken to the recycling bin at my work, papers that need to be shredded. In fact, there are a LOT of "need to be dealt withs" in my apartment. Pictures leaning against walls waiting to be hung, clothes waiting to be put away, laundry waiting to be done, letters waiting to be mailed, a big ol' Tupperware bin of GH's stuff that we haven't gone through since we moved in.

What I'm starting to realize is that the thing that is probably affecting me more than the lack of temple pictures and the excess of Ben pictures (and yes, one is excessive) is the clutter. Specifically, the clutter that nags me by its very presence and reminds me that there are things hanging over my head.

So. On Saturday, GH and I cleaned our apartment, or at least the visible-to-guests portion (baby steps). I hauled DI bags out to my car and even hung up the two framed pictures that I've been meaning to hang up in the dining nook for the last 8 months. Now I keep finding myself staring at the dining nook in admiration. It is my new favorite spot now that it's not surrounded by things like bags of stuff to be recycled. It is still, sadly, a wood laminate nook when you consider the table, chairs, and pantry/laundry room doors. It's the brown corner. Of course, I've also been meaning to get a nice bright tablecloth to counteract the Laminate Curse for the last 8 months. I thought I'd found a nice white clearanced tablecloth on Saturday at Bed, Bath & Beyond that would solve everything. The opened tablecloth looked like the crappiest polyester temple dress fabric ever. It went right back in the bag, and the tablecloth hunt continues. Will likely end up buying fabric and attempting my first tablecloth hemming project. Maybe something cute like this one by Amy Butler:

Point is, it was amazing how much of a difference clearing a few things out made. I suddenly wanted to spend lots more time in that spot because it was so neat and nice and uncluttered and there was nothing in it that made me feel guilty. So I need to start there, I think. And with a Jesus picture.

Did anybody else come to any realizations during your "virtual tour"?


Mrs. Clark said... [reply]

Ha! One of the few talks that did not make me feel guilty. We have a couple of temple pictures on the wall--one is a great antique-looking etching of the Salt Lake Temple we got at the museum store across the street from it for, like, $2. Of course, the custom frame cost a lot more than that. The other is a line drawing, kind of like an architect's drawing, of the Nauvoo temple, and we also have a little framed arched thing which has the "Holiness to the Lord, etc." as it is done on the Salt Lake temple.

We do not have a picture of the savior anywhere but in my daughter's former room. I am uncomfortable putting stuff like that in the public rooms. I would be willing to hang something like Minerva Teichert's Second Coming picture somewhere, as it is truly art. I prefer art to illustrations, which are most of what is out there. I would put a small Christus statue in a public space. I dislike tacky "impact prints" (color photos, they were all over the place in the 80s) of the temples or the Christus. I saw one of those mounted on wood with a clock in it. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Kind of like the fake Laban's sword or the liahona you can get at Deseret Book. What are people doing with those, displaying them on the coffee table in the living room? On the desk in the study? Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the LDS population. Call me a snob if you like!

Anyway, loved the talk. I think it's important to make the home a place of calm and order. I enjoy looking at my orderly living room, and sitting there peacefully reading with my GH. (I am assuming this means Good Husband.)

Desmama said... [reply]

Isn't it interesting how you do want to spend more time in a spot that's been spruced up a bit? I just did the same thing with our study. Now, I love going in there and reading or planning my week. It is indeed my new favorite spot.

P.S. Do your tablecloth hemming at my house so I can do some too. I'd love to hunt down some of her fabric (I found a store that sells it here in L****) and do the same thing.

Bridget said... [reply]

I didn't think of that GC talk when I was doing it, but I blogged about de-cluttering today, too. It really does make a difference.

Also, I noticed you said you brought the bags of DI stuff out to your car. Let us know when you actually drop it off. I personally have had bags of DI stuff sitting in my trunk for MONTHS.

Z's Wife said... [reply]

My husband isn't LDS, but I am. He believes in a great deal of the things that we do less the Temple/Joseph Smith/BOM part. So, although I don't know how he'd feel about a picture of a Temple just yet, I know he wouldn't object Jesus. Because frankly, who would? I need to get Jesus up on the walls because our gigantic black and white of the twin towers in our living room isn't exactly the warmth and comfort we need. Am I right?

emandtrev said... [reply]

I really enjoyed that particular talk. My main objective is to get rid of the clutter in our bedroom, find a better place for the (yes, more of it) clutter that is on top of our kitchen cabinets, and clean out a bunch of stuff for the DI or otherwise. My good friend's husband took a great picture of the temple where we were sealed. I was talking with him before Conference about getting a large print made, but now I really feel motivated to do it.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Mrs. Clark, your temple pics sound cool. My mom has a Minerva Teichert print of Christ up and it really is gorgeous. And you were so close on the GH translation--it's actually "Gentleman Husband." :-)

Desmama, it's a date! I'm sure my stuff has a much better chance of turning out if you're there to help me.

Bridget, yeah, we're going on 4 days of the DI stuff being in my car. Go me!

Z's wife, I think you may just have a point there about the twin towers not doing a whole lot to inspire peace. Just my thought.

Emandtrev, good luck getting your print made, it sounds cool!

Giggles said... [reply]

As I thought of that talk, I couldn't remember if I had two or three pictures of the temple up in my house. It's currently three, all ones I took myself (I like showing off my growing photography talents) and currently all three are of the Salt Lake temple, different angles on the East spires.

When I was on my mission there was a man in one area who carved wooden saints for the Catholic churches. I took him the picture of Christ with the children and he carved me an 8x10 wood plaque of that picture. That has hung in a central place in my home since.

I could use a good purging of the stuff that's been in storage for so long I should really just get rid of it though.

Maree said... [reply]

Um, that talk couldn't have been spoken directly to YOU, because he was talking to ME. We moved in mid-January, and it still looks like a hurricane hit. That one hit me like a spear between the eyes. Maybe the contention would drop off if we had less confusion and more order. At least the scriptures were already unpacked and in a prominent place! Now if I could get some pictures up on the walls....and get some of the clutter out..... feels like an extreme home makeover!

Anonymous said... [reply]

The picture you posted of Jesus is my very favorite one.

Realizing that we didn't have any good pictures of Him in our home, this past year I gave that as an answer to my m-i-l when she asked what I wanted for Christmas. I pointed out that exact picture ($2 at the distribution center). Not only is it a beautiful picture, it's the Jesus I picture in my head (if that counts for anything), and it's the picture that was hanging in our buildings from when I was really little, but it also matches the colors in our home. Basically, that one wins on every level imho.

She did indeed get us a print of Jesus for Christmas. Course, in perfect m-i-l style, however, it was a completely different print. The one she chose we called either "hippie J" or "creepy J" because it depicts Him with a scraggly goatee and the eyes follow you across the room. So not what one needs when thinking of the Savior.

She did choose a lovely frame and matting style, and both go great with the $2 red-robed print we got to swap out for creepy J.

Anyway, great post. Three cheers for getting rid of clutter!

[word verification: endevowl
That picture of Hay-zeus was the endevowl that is holy.]

Anonymous said... [reply]

Ya. That talk. The three minutes that I heard conference because my kids were miraculously silent for the part about the tour and the admonishment to make home like a temple. My mind showed me all the evidence of my neglect and I knew that I was being spoken too. Also, I remembered other talks about this subject. About how we should be conscious of a temple feeling while dealing with kids (possibly the hardest part for me). It hit home very hard I can tell you. And so true. Home should be calm and lovely not stressful.

Stan Marsh said... [reply]

Hello Nem. Speaking of General Conference, during one of the talks I thought of you, when Margaret S. Lifferth (an aside, why do mormons place such importance on the middle initial?) quoth the following: "Reverence includes turning off our cell phones and BlackBerry devices. Texting or reading e-mails in a Church meeting is not only irreverent, it is distracting and signals a lack of respect for those around us."

Vindication of a long held belief much? :) I largely can embrace this notion, however I personally reserve the right to text whoever I want during a Church meeting if the person running the meeting is shouting false doctrine and personal opinion in such a way that the Spirit has no chance of being present. The church contains many, many weirdos. Often said weirdos give lessons. I can be respectful by not beating their vile opinions out of them on the spot and politely correcting where appropriate, but asking me not to text my friends to make fun of them to help me endure is a step too far. :)

Audra said... [reply]

Despite what you remember about the Leo DiCaprio posters and all the other mess I had hanging up in college... now I hang hardly anything on the wall unless I love love love it! So... I was having a hard time findng a Christ picture I loved enough to put on the wall. Ok... that sounds worse than it is! I suppose like Mrs. Clark, I did not want to put something up unless it artistically spoke to me in some way. Then I found this:


We were in the process of adoption from Ethiopia. I figured I would look into it when I got back and had some money to spend on it... then my mom bought a HUGE Glicee (or however you spell it) for me for Christmas. It is the first thing you see when you come into my house. The problem is it is hanging over a dresser/table that seems to catch everything as you come into the door... so right now it has stacks on papers, bills, and 3 boxes piled up beside it. And a few Easter baskets. You have inspired me to take baby steps and to at least clean up my dresser! But as far as my whole house... ummm... that is going to take awhile. Maybe when 2 babies get out of the drag everything out and throw it on the floor stage... sigh.

AmandaStretch said... [reply]

I really liked this talk too, as I know I have some improvement to make in this area. The art on my walls is good. I have pictures of at least two temples and one of Christ, and I have the Proclamation and The Living Christ framed and hung. For me, like you, it was mostly the clutter. It's out of hand right now because everyone in my house moved out, and I'm soon to follow. Even before that, it's rarely been great. I'm moving into my OWN little tiny efficiency next week, and I'm SUPER excited to purge a lot of stuff I have now and then really, really get everything to a place I get to organize from scratch and not around people who already live there. And then, because it's SO tiny, keep it clean to keep it as open as possible. Can't wait!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Giggles, yeah. I hear you on the storage thing. This is why I'm tempted to just take GH's green bin directly to DI. Because hi, if he hasn't needed anything out of it in 8 months . . . and there's a bin of mine under the bed that probably fits into the same category.

Maree, ouch! An actual spear?

Anon, bwah hahaha. I think I know the picture you're thinking of and yeah, I don't love it either. GH and I actually picked up the $1 edition of this one and now I just need to get a frame. Check back in 6 months to see how THAT'S going.

Anon, yeah. I mean, I don't know how it's possible to ALWAYS have your home be peaceful and clean and nonstressful, on account of there are other humans in it, but I guess we just do the best we can.

Stan, I was crowing with glee over that talk. Until I started thinking more about it and about the kind of respect I'M showing to speakers and fellow worshippers when I spend so much time noticing what THEY'RE doing that's disrespectful. So then there were three fingers pointing back at me. Sigh . . .

Audra, are you saying that your Don Quixote by Picasso is gone too? Sad . . . :-) But I do love the picture you have up now.

Amandastretch, if you're anything like me you'll get rid of absolute truck loads of stuff and will STILL find that you have extra clutter in your new tiny place. Good luck with the great purge! Peter Walsh's book "It's All Too Much" really helped me when I was packing up my stuff last spring, and I think it's probably time to read it again!

BEFore said... [reply]

Sams Club (we only have so many choices here) actually prints a pretty decent 30"x20" photo. We did a "6MP" image and it turned out very nice although if you stick your nose up to it you can see some pixelization. And some stores actually carry frames that size so you don't have to pay for custom framing. :)

megs said... [reply]

I don't know if I can compete with these uber long comments that everyone made :)

But i wanted to say that I heard that talk too!! And while I live in an apartment with 5 other girls and it is totally ghetto I feel like I have a little leeway.... but my parents house is amazing!!! Everything that they said my parents had! Go parents!!!

Also, Benjamin Linus staring down at you??? Do you have bad dreams because of that?!!? :)

Caitlin said... [reply]

Nemesis, great post! I love decluttering and purging my junk as well. Also, my friend and I both thought of you during Elder L. Tom Perry's General Conference talk on Sunday afternoon when he told the story about the little sheep stuck on the rocks in Provo Canyon. We need to know if your heart exploded in your chest as ours did upon hearing that precious story?

Heidi said... [reply]

I agree with Mrs. Clark. I really don't like it when I walk into a house and all I see is church stuff. I mean I love the Proclamation to the Family and I hold it close to my heart but it seeing it displayed all over just doesn't work for me.
I do believe that your house should be filled with things you love. Art speaks so much about who a person is and without being religious at all it CAN bring the Spirit into your home without screaming Mormon.
With that being said, if you have lots of church stuff on your walls and it brings the Spirit into your home-go for it! That talk was about loving and caring for our homes and making them a haven away from the world. I know that after a long day at work I just want to be somewhere I can feel relaxed and welcomed.
Now does anyone have suggestions for how to get my clothes all over my room to hang themselves up!

Heidi said... [reply]

By the way Nemesis I have just recently started reading your blog and its great, thumbs up to you!

daltongirl said... [reply]

You cut me deep just now. Sakhmet and I gave you a lovely foil picture of the Logan Temple for your wedding. Framed even. I didn't say anything when we were there and it wasn't prominently displayed, but this is too much--to say you don't even HAVE one?

Neat and orderly was what got me. I'm trying.

I have that picture of Jesus--also framed. Am trying to get rid of it (this does NOT mean I'm trying to get rid of Jesus). Do you want it? I know how much you honor the art I give you.

coolmom said... [reply]

The only one thing I'd want to hide if the Savior came to our home are those Alaska pictures in our bathroom. Even though they are by a famous artist. And people say I am crazy. I should get your brother to paint little bikini tops on those ladies.

Shawn 2.0 said... [reply]

"Of course, I've also been meaning to get a nice bright tablecloth to counteract the Laminate Curse for the last 8 months."

Man, I totally read this as the LAMANITE Curse for a second, and realized that I have, indeed, been in Utah a little too long.

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