If you can figure out what your purpose is and dedicate your time and effort on achieving it, then you will be a much happier person. As a season kickstarter, Jennifer Ford Berry gives us a teaser of her book, Purpose Over Possessions: Decluttering Your Life So You Can Live on Purpose. She gives an inside scoop on what happened in her life that pushed her to write the book. She also shares some memories from her job as an organizer and how she has impacted people by helping others. Be inspired by Jennifer’s personal purpose by reading her book and listening to her wise words.
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Purpose Over Possessions
Decluttering Your Life So You Can Live On Purpose
I’m so glad you’re sharing this time with me when you could be doing so many other things. I have started a new season here at the 29 Minute Mom and I want to start the show to say a huge thank you to everybody that has written a review for the 29 Minute Mom podcast. For those of you that don’t realize, this is the biggest deal in the world for me. That’s how people find you. It gives me feedback if people are actually listening and what they think about the show. Other than seeing someone face-to-face and them telling me what they think about this podcast, this is the only way I ever know if what I’m doing is working and resonating with my audience. I’m going to take a few seconds at the beginning of every show and read the reviews and give a shout-out to whoever writes them.
The first review comes from Jennifer McDanister and it says, “I’ve been listening to the 29 Minute Mom podcast for a few weeks now. Every time, it’s been exactly what I needed to hear. Jennifer is entertaining, upbeat, motivating and inspiring. Her guests have all been so wonderful. I can’t wait to listen tomorrow.” Thank you, Jennifer, so much. I love your name by the way. I appreciate that and I love it when people say that the content of the episode really connects with their heart. I appreciate you saying that. I’m glad that it’s inspiring you and motivating you. Thanks for writing that review.
The next one is from JDC1991 and it says, “Worth a listen. I love Jennifer’s no-nonsense, yet encouraging approach. As someone who is helping to have a career like hers, I find her extremely informative.” I’m guessing you are considering becoming a professional organizer or something similar. That is awesome that you took the time to write the review and I’m glad you’re getting what you need. I hope this show inspires you to go after your dreams and to make the biggest impact possible out in the world. If you ever need anything, do not hesitate to send me an email. My email is Organize@JenniferFordBerry.com. Thank you for the reviews. Keep them coming. I want to go ahead and get started on our episode.
The Inside Scoop
This is a big one for me. I’ve been working on my newest book and I am so excited to share it with the world. I’m going to give you the inside scoop on why I wrote the book, what happened in my life to provoke me to write the book and I’m going to read the introduction so that you can make a decision whether or not this is a book for you. Here’s the deal. The title of the book is called Purpose Over Possessions: Decluttering Your Life So You Can Live on Purpose. For those of you that may not know, I’ve written several other books in the Organize Now! series that are a step-by-step guide to how to organize literally any area of your life. They were written basically like a handbook for life. If you want to organize your closets or you want to organize your kitchen, your paperwork or your goals, whatever the case may be, it would tell you step one through step whatever how exactly to do it. It would tell you how to keep it that way and keep up with the maintenance.
Anything that’s not serving you is clutter. Click To Tweet
I’ve been writing nonfiction for years. Something completely different happened to me. I was in the middle of an event and I came home and I started to feel God’s prompting for me to go into a different direction with my career. For those of you that don’t know my backstory, I’ve been doing professional organizing for years. I feel like it’s my purpose. I feel like I was given a specific set of skills, passions, traits, personality and all the things that go along with this kind of work. I remember loving to organize since I was about five years old. I’ve always felt like it was my purpose. I realized that my purpose had turned into my calling, meaning that God wanted to get involved and He was happy that I was living my purpose out. I was helping other people. I was doing what I was made to do. He wanted me to take it to another level. When it becomes a calling, it becomes a way to work in partnership with God and also to use it to glorify and grow His kingdom here on Earth. He gave me this idea that I should maybe use my platform for Him. At that time, all things started to shift in my life.
I was notified by some friends of mine that Terri Savelle Foy was talking about me on her podcast. It happens I was a fan of Terri. I was listening to her podcast. I was reading her books. I reached out to Terri and I said, “This is a divine intervention where we’re both promoting each other at the same time.” We’ve never met. She kindly responded back, “Absolutely, I can’t believe this. We need to meet in person.” We met in person a month later at a conference in Toronto called Balance Living, an amazing women’s conference. If you ever get the chance, the most amazing women from all around the world go to this conference. We meet up in Toronto and we have coffee. We talked and she encourages me to pursue ministry. I’ll be very honest with you, which happens an awful lot when you’re presented with a purpose or a calling that you try to talk yourself out of it. That’s what I did. I said, “Who am I to do ministry? I haven’t gone to seminary. I’m not a pastor. I’m not a nun. I’m none of those things.” I’ve since learned that having the heart for God allows you to get into ministry, to use your time, your talents and your effort here on earth to glorify Him and to spread the word of what He wants from us.
I decided to start looking in the Bible. Lo and behold, everything about organization, even time management is right there, black and white from the very beginning of time. He was the God of order. He is the master organizer, the master creator. Nothing I can say was complete without first looking to the word and realizing that it was all there and that He had a plan for each and every one of our lives from the beginning of time before we were even born. I’ve seen that play out in my own life and I’ve seen that play out in so many other people’s lives where we’ve been brought together for me to help them organize their life, their stuff and their time. The real miraculous transformation happens when they get clear and intentional about why they’re living their life the way they are, how they want to live their life, what is the vision for their life, and the stuff that comes into their home should be in like a marriage between the life they want to live and the stuff they have.
It’s a deep process and I’ve been teaching it that way for years and years. I decided that I should share the inside knowledge that I’ve found from working with all these people and also having such a deep faith that I would put it all together in a book. That’s what happened with Purpose Over Possessions. I’m at this conference in Toronto and I’m feeling maybe I should definitely take the next leap and go into this direction. I come back home the following week and I’m brushing my teeth, putting on my makeup, and I’m listening to a podcast by Cynthia Brazelton who was one of the preachers at the conference. I love her style. I love how she spoke. She was talking on the podcast about the power of decision-making and how by literally deciding and making a decision, you show God you’re ready for the next step. Even when you have no idea what you’re doing, even though you have no idea the steps that you need to take or how you’re going to figure it all out, at least you’re saying, “God, I say yes. I’m making a decision to follow this path and I trust you to show me the way.”
Many times, the clutter distracts us from the most important things in life. Click To Tweet
In my bathroom, I decided to say yes to somehow figuring out this whole ministry thing. What does that look like? It’s very different compared to business, which is what I know. Ministry is a whole other path to take. It’s a big learning curve. If you’ve been a person that’s been an entrepreneur and you’ve been in business, it runs a little differently. Number one, the first step is that I had to make sure that God was my partner and nobody else. I said yes to God that day. I proceeded to text my attorney and say, “Do you have any idea how to create a 501(c)(3)?” I have literally no clue what I’m doing. He said, “Call me in 30 minutes.” I said, “Okay.” In 30 minutes, I called him and his name is Mike. He is such a sweet, amazing man. I said, “I want to start a nonprofit ministry. I want to use my platform to help other people follow their own purpose. I want to teach them that life isn’t about stuff.” I’m giving him my whole vision. He says, “Jennifer, I’m going to do all the paperwork for you and all the legalities for free.”
I was in awe. I started crying and I said, “Why?” He said, “Every single day I wake up, I ask God to send me somebody to help. You happen to be that person.” We both know that wasn’t by accident. I believe that came from saying yes and making that decision with God. We proceeded to create a nonprofit and it is now called Jennifer Ford Berry Ministries. We were moving right along. I had no major plan except to get the word out. One of my passions is to team up with nonprofit organizations. Part of the ministry is called Local Give where we combine people that want to get rid of their stuff with the local organizations that need this stuff. Part of the mission of that is the fact that nobody in this world should be going without due to the massive quantities of stuff that are in our homes that we are not using or don’t need or don’t love. There’s a lot to it.
Out of the ministry came this book where I decided to share everything I’ve learned about how stuff can be tamed in our life, how we can recognize the clutter. You’ve heard me say it before. Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be physical, emotional, mental, relationship, spiritual clutter. It can be anything. The point is if it’s not serving us, it’s clutter. Many times, the clutter distracts us from the most important things in life. If you haven’t ever experienced this, think back the last time you wanted to wake up early and spend devotional time with God and you got sidetracked with the dirty dishes in the sink or the clothes that had to be put in the laundry or the text messaging that was coming through. It happens all the time. That’s because every single thing we own or bring into our life costs us some STEM: Space, Time, Energy, Money. I call that STEM. We have to be careful about what kind of stuff we allow into our life because we don’t want to exhaust all of our precious space, time, energy and money.
There won’t be anything left for your purpose. There won’t be any being left to give to other people. That’s not what God intended for us. There’s a reason why we’re all coming into this world empty-handed and leaving empty-handed because nobody’s going to remember you for how many pairs of shoes you had or how many cars are in the driveway. They’re going to remember you for how you made them feel, what you did for them, how you gave back, how you made a difference in their life. When you live that life, when you’ve gotten to the other side like many of my clients have, like I have, where stuff is not controlling our lives, where clutter is not making us a slave, then you really live on purpose and you live with intentionality. It is the most empowering, the best place to live in life. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s not a quick fix. It’s a difference in how you think. It’s a difference in how you act. It’s powerful. It’s something that I want everybody to know and experience.
You are going to be remembered for how you made others feel and how you gave back and made a difference in their life. Click To Tweet
That’s why I wrote the book. The book has ten chapters in it. They all start with a P. It’s called the ten P principles. Everything from possibility to purpose, possessions, how to prepare, how to plan your time, how to practice stewardship, my favorite, how to part with clutter, how to practice privileged giving, how to provide hospitality and how to partner with God. It follows up with discussion questions that can be used for a Bible study or a book club. That is powerful in itself because I’m a firm believer that when you want to make a major lifestyle change, you need accountability. A big reason why most people hire professional organizers is because they need that accountability. They don’t want to talk about living a certain way. They don’t want to talk about getting organized or talk about setting goals and seeing them through. They want to actually do it. They want to make a change. Accountability is a very strong factor in that. It’s something that I’ve seen work time and time again.
The Ten P Principles
I want to go ahead and read you some of the introduction because I know there are so many books out there. I don’t know how many of you are avid readers like me and love a new book. I believe that the right book comes across your path at the right time. Many times, if somebody’s talking about it or you see it, you pick it up and it resonates with you, or if you hear about it and it touches your heart, then that’s a book that you need to read. I want you to know some of this to see if this might be the book for you. Here we go.
It says, “Do you feel overwhelmed because of everything that you need to get done in a day? Are you exhausted from trying to take care of all the stuff that you have accumulated in your life? Do you lack fulfillment? Do you feel stuck? If so, you are not alone. I’ve met hundreds of people like you over the years and I’m here to tell you that there is another way, a better way to go through this life. If you are finding that you have less and less time and energy to spend on the things you enjoyed doing, chances are you need to make a change. God did not create you so that you could work to gain more possessions and then be a slave to them. He does not want you to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. He wants you to have abundance and joy, peace and love. Our society has been told over and over that more possessions or better possessions will make us happier, healthier or more successful and it’s simply not true, but we continue to work trying to prove that it will work. We spend the majority of our life working so that we can earn money. Then we use the majority of that money to pay for a home and continuously fill it with stuff that is supposed to improve our lives in some way but leaves us still feeling empty.
Not only does this stuff provide less and less joy as time goes on, but we can also start to resent it. Why is that? Everything we bring in our life costs us some amount of space, time, energy, money or all of the above. If you don’t believe me, look around your home and take note of the different tasks required for each item you own. Look at how much space you give up and how much money you’re spending just on maintenance, then ask yourself if these things still make you happy. I guarantee some do, but most don’t. This belief that stuff will make us happy has never been more prevalent than it is now. We live in a world where we are constantly viewing images of other people’s lives and possessions. It’s hard not to play the comparison game when you see a photo of someone next to their brand-new car while wearing a gorgeous Chanel dress and Jimmy Choo stilettos. Maybe they are wearing a dress from Target and a pair of Steve Madden’s, but the material things in the photo aren’t what matters at all. It is how that photograph makes you feel about yourself.
True joy comes from giving, serving, and loving. Click To Tweet
Maybe you see that picture and you imagine how much happier you would be if you had that car. It may even ignite a fire in you to work harder this week so that you can start saving for a car just like that. Maybe a year later. You have worked hard enough to afford that very same vehicle. The day you finally sit in the driver’s seat, you know you have reached a higher level of success in the world’s eye. You can hardly wait to show off the car to all of your friends and it works for a while. That car brings you joy but how long does it last? A month, a year, five years? Sooner or later, that joy will dissipate and you’ll be left dreaming of the next more elaborate vehicle and on and on the cycle goes. The same scenario could be used to describe your feelings about your clothes, your furniture, even your home. You can spend your life trying to fill a void by accumulating stuff, but I can promise you that eventually, things will still leave you wanting more because you don’t need more material things.
What you need is more meaning, more fun, more experiences, and more purpose. True wealth does not come from anything you can buy in this world. It comes directly from God’s blessing and favor. True joy comes from giving, serving and loving. True contentment comes from knowing that you are using your gifts and talents every single day to make this world a better place in some way that only you can do. True fulfillment comes from living out the specific purpose God has for you. I want you to realize right now that you have a purpose assigned to your life, a divine God-given purpose that has nothing to do with what you own. This purpose is perfectly matched to your gifts, skills, and personality. It was what God had in mind for your life before you were even born. If you can figure out what your purpose is and start spending more time and effort on that and less on your stuff, you will be a much happier person.
I can only imagine how different this world would be if more of us were committed to living out our unique purpose in alignment with God’s will. If you pick up this book, I have to guess that you are wondering what it looks like to choose your purpose over your possessions in the type of world we live in now. I can tell you what it is, a lifestyle choice, one that is filled with intention and free of clutter. As a professional organizer for almost two decades, I’ve been in hundreds of homes. I’ve arrived at beautiful immaculate homes full of every possession you can imagine only to meet another person to answer the door and begins to explain how overwhelmed they are. They’re usually exhausted from trying to maintain all of their belongings and they think that if I can organize it all for them, life will be so much better.
Getting Organized And Helping Women
To a certain extent, this is true. An organized home will make you happier, give you an energy boost and save you lots of time and trust me, I love providing that service. In fact, I’ve written three other books called Organized Now! that provides step-by-step plans to get every area of your life and your home organized, but each time we begin the process of getting organized, most people realize there is a more profound process going on inside their spirit. The process of letting go of that which does not serve us is very empowering and liberating. Getting organized forces us to face each of the items we have brought into our homes. It makes us realize how much stuff we actually have and how much of the stuff we do not need or use. Somewhere in the process, people begin to realize that what they truly want is more freedom, more contentment, more time for things they love to do and more space to breathe.
I love helping people get their closets and cabinets organized, but what I love even more is teaching people how to live with intention and purpose. Intention can help you define what is important. Purpose gives you a reason to stick with the process. When you have both of these, it is easier to remove everything that does not belong. I have a gift for seeing the potential in people and space. I’ve used the principles taught in this book to help transform hundreds of lives, including my own. I have lived out my journey of choosing purpose over possessions over the past two decades. As an organized person, I love a good plan and to be blatantly honest, I like to be in control. My original plan, including moving to South Florida from Western New York for college so I could obtain a business degree and it would enable me to work in Corporate America and make a lot of money. Life in Palm Beach County was an eye-opener for this small-town girl. I was living “the dream,” floating on a yacht, riding in fancy sports cars and meeting wealthy celebrities. It certainly appeared that stuff could make people very happy.
Shortly after graduation, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina because of the booming job market. There, I made it to Corporate America and had the paycheck I always wanted, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled. Then plans shifted drastically. I was standing in the newsroom at Clear Channel radio where I worked on that unforgettable day, September 11th, 2001. By then, I had married my high school sweetheart Josh and was pregnant with our first child. As we all watched those planes crash into the World Trade Center, I was horrified. I remember thinking I did not want to waste another minute in life. A few months later, I was laid off from that job due to cutbacks. I was an unemployed new mom. I knew I wanted to do more with my life. Sure, I still wanted to make money and have nice things, but I also wanted to wake up every morning and do something that mattered. I had been volunteering in a transitional house for abused women in my neighborhood. Speaking with those broken women each week was the toughest thing I’d ever done, but I could see potential in them and I desperately wanted them to believe there was a greater plan for their lives.
Nothing fulfilled me more than those Wednesday night meetings. That experience made me realize I love helping other women. Strolling through a bookstore one day, I picked up a book called Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow. I’ll be honest at first, I laughed thinking, “How am I going to do what I love and still make money?” I love helping women, but I had no clue how that would earn me a paycheck. Throughout the book, the author kept saying, “What are you passionate about?” I had to answer all of these questions about myself. Each time I was honest with myself about my passion, the word organizing and helping women kept coming to the forefront of my mind. That was something that got me excited.
My earliest memories included organizing. I organize my grandmother’s jewelry every time I was there. I organized my bedroom continuously. I loved every aspect of organizing, improving space, sorting, implementing categories and most of all, the peace and joy I felt after I completed the work. This passion was something that was placed inside of me long before I was born. I just hadn’t realized it yet. The only thing that was stopping me from pursuing a career in organizing was the fact that I didn’t think I could make enough money doing it. At the time, I only knew about two other professional organizers, Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh. I looked up to both of these people because they had made a career out of something I love to do. They were the pioneers of our industry. They were helping people organize long before HTV and Pinterest. Finally, I took a leap of faith and started organizing professionally.
I want to say that I am going to record another episode that finishes out the introduction and also tells a little bit more about the backstory of writing this book. I want to encourage anybody that if it spoke to you and you feel a prompting or maybe it’s something that you have been feeling for a long time, that there’s more for you out of this life, that there is a specific purpose for you, I want you to take a minute, reach out and email me or grab the book or hit me up on social media and say, “That spoke to me.” I want to make sure that you’re not discouraged and you don’t think that this is a promise for certain people. It’s a promise for all of us. We were all sent here with a specific purpose and assignment directly from God. Once you learn how to embrace it and once you learn what’s stopping you, which is all forms of clutter and you take a chance, you say yes and you make that decision, your life will start to feel real.
You’re living and you’re not going through the motion. You’re not on the hamster wheel. You’re being your most true, authentic self. I hope that is the message that you take away. I hope that you are all out there somewhere in the world reading, nodding and saying, “Yes, thank you. This is what I needed to hear.” If you are, then it was worth every second that it took me to write the book. It was worth every second away from doing other things, staring at my computer screen, sitting in coffee shops. Writing a book is a long process. I should probably do an episode about writing a book. If you need to hear that information, make sure you send me a review and let me know. I’d be happy to do it. I hope you’re all having a wonderful day. God bless you. I’ll be back again soon with another episode here on the 29 Minute Mom. Take care.
- Purpose Over Possessions: Decluttering Your Life So You Can Live on Purpose
- Organize Now!
- Terri Savelle Foy
- Balance Living
- Jennifer Ford Berry Ministries
- Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow
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