Posted by: donnatallman | November 16, 2011

Sorting it Out

Give away, throw away, or keep?

That is the question. That is the only question I’ve been asking myself for weeks now.

Give away, throw away, or keep?

We are moving – out of state, which means we’ll be getting rid of a lot more than if it was just a cross-town move. I think this is move number twenty or so since I got married, and well beyond thirty throughout my lifetime since I grew up an Air Force Brat and moved every two years.

So, how do you know? How do you know what to give away, throw away, or keep?

You sort.

Item by item, piece by blessed piece goes through the microscope of analysis. Everything is evaluated in light of its potential heritage, current liability or future benefit. It has become a cleansing ritual for me really. Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of the things I don’t want, don’t like, or don’t need anymore. It’s actually freeing in its own exhausting way…

Three fanny packs hanging in the closet. Seriously? Three of them! Where did these things even come from, and how did they find their way into my closet? I can’t imagine anyone would have spent money on them.

Give away.

Here’s a floor lamp, but not just any floor lamp. Circa 1972. Ugly black. It lists to the left no matter how hard I try to yank it to the right. There are three lamps attached but only one works, and there is a short in the wiring.

Pitch. Pitch with gusto!

Oh! The bear I bought at the James Taylor concert last year. What was I thinking? Why on earth did I get this and not a cd? I have all of his cds already; I wanted something different.

Do I really want to drag this bear all the way across the country? Yes! I love James Taylor.

Okay, I can’t live without JT. Pack.

Day after day, week after endless week, the process reruns over and over until I’m left with the sum total of my life in boxes.

“Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NASB)

There’s more to moving than sorting “things.” The things will all burn one day anyway. No, the biggest challenge for me in every move is to know which relationships, life lessons, and character traits I should bring into my future.

Paul said to hold fast to that which is good.


Let go of that which is not good.

It’s a push/pull, give/take experience. If I hold fast to that which is good, I must let go of the things that are bad.

Okay, so let’s give this a go:

Wisdom – give away

Shame – throw away

Boldness – keep

Oh, this is more fun than packing! Here’s another set:

Time – give away

Expectations of others – throw away

Confidence – keep!

You try it. What do you need to give away, throw away, or keep?

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Philippians 3:13  (NASB)

Forgetting what lies behind. In order to embrace the future God has for me, I have to forget (or disregard) what lies behind. Anything that hinders forward momentum in my life has to go.


Failure, shame, poor decisions, and negative people can prevent me from embracing God’s future for me. That’s easy to see, but good things can also hinder His work in my life.

If I move across the country hanging onto all the great things God did in my life in Oregon and focus only on the past, I will be useless in my new assignment. “Forgetting the past” involves holding onto what is good while ardently pursuing the new things God sets in front of me. It’s a paradox to be sure.

Holding fast while letting go.

This past weekend I went out to the coast with my writer’s group for one last hurrah before I move. While we were there, we did an exercise that helped me focus on the paradox of holding fast while letting go. Each of us wrote down the things we wanted to retain in the coming year on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side, we listed all the things we wanted purged from our lives. Then we ripped the paper in half and burned the things we wanted to get rid of.

For me, it was a visible expression of Paul’s encouragement to forget what lies behind while reaching forward to what lies ahead.

Give away, throw away, or keep?  You don’t have to move to start sorting.

Hey, I’ve got three fanny packs to give away.  Any takers?

And here’s an old Brownie pin, circa 1966. Cue music. “Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold…”

©Copyright, 2011 by Donna Tallman.



  1. fun read Donna!

  2. Will be curious to see how many boxes you fit life into. It took 44 for the move to GA. As I reminisce about the retreat you did at the coast, I look forward to hearing about ‘your’ new beginnings and adventures.

    • At the moment we’re north of 100 and south of 130 in the box count. Yikes! I still haven’t even packed the kitchen yet. There’s a goal…keep it under 150 boxes.

  3. Where are you moving too? I know exactly what you mean about the letting go it was so hard when I was packing to go to Nevada, yet I found it so freeing it became fun. It turned out God closed the door there and is keeping us in French Camp, CA. and gave Bob a better job. We are looking forward to the adventure here and where God is taking us. Let us know what we can pray for, for you all. Love Rusti

    • So you stayed. I think I’ll need the rest of that story. Will catch up with you on that one. Finding new adventures where you are…keep me posted on those!

  4. Here’s praying my contact info made it into the ‘keeper’ pile:)))) As a fellow mover I feel your pain, and your excitement! Our basement COMPLETELY flooded one year ago and after the shock wore off it turned into the ultimate blessing as it forced us to purge, yet again, the stacks of stuff we somehow found it impossible to purge 3 years prior when we first moved in. One way or another God keeps finding ways to jolt the ones he loves into seeing their lives in fresh ways. Enjoy your twenty-something ‘second chance!’ Purge spelled backward is f-r-e-e-d-o-m!!!!!


  5. Keep the Brownie pin for the memories of old friends and a childhood in Spain. Fit everything to be moved into 150 boxes? Only you could do that!

  6. One of the things I truly cherish about you; you make life lessons out of nuisances. Is it moving, or a chance to cleanse garbage, spirit and air! However, three fanny packs? That’s impressive.

  7. Ahhh…so true. You aren’t dead, but do I still get the chick flicks? Oh. Right. You may need them. MISS YOU!!!

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