An Old Purse–A New Me!

My sister Jennifer has the gift of organization. She can simplify and beautify anything. Not me. Take our purses, for example. Last week, we went to lunch. I was driving.

“Will you hand me my sunglasses? They’re in my purse.” I cringed.

So much junk, it wouldn’t close. Ahhhhhhh!

“Where are they?” she said.

“They’re there somewhere. Just keep looking.”

My purse was totally out of control. I hated digging through it for my  YMCA pass, my lipstick, a pen–ANYTHING! 

Jennifer dumped out my bulging makeup bag, an empty pack of chewing gum, and a handful of wadded receipts. Her gray leather envelope of a purse lay neatly at her feet.

“How do you get by with such a small purse?”

“Simple. I only carry what I need.”

This idea intrigued me — freeing myself up to only carry what I needed. My shoulders wouldn’t get tired. I wouldn’t get annoyed trying to find my wallet. 

And the word SIMPLE. 

My word for the year. 

Jen said “simple.” 

Perhaps this went deeper than my purse. 

Sometimes I carry thoughts that clutter my peace. I can be too sensitive. Someone says something that hurts my feelings and I hang on to it. 

But could I possibly change? I’d had a messy purse forever. Could I toss unnecessary stuff? And thoughts too?

Maybe a small purse would help me remember to keep life simple.

 I  found a tiny one in the back of my closet.

And said goodbye to my old heavy, burdensome bag.

I got rid of all manner of clutter–cuticle oil, Band-aids, a broken nail file,

And decided to keep only useful things, 

And useful thoughts.

I even found a nifty spot for my YMCA pass. 🙂

The new me! 🙂

With God’s help, daily, I’m being made new!

This song sums it up beautifully, especially the “lay down your burdens” part. If you can’t see the video below, click here.

Do you have a neat purse? I bet so!

Are there any heavy thoughts dragging you down? Lay down your burdens! Let’s get freed up together! 







  1. Julie Gilleand says:

    Julie, Julie, Julie — yet another thing we have in common! I am called The Bag Lady at work because of all the bags I bring in to get through my day. I mean, I don’t even carry a purse anymore. I have BAGS! What are they filled with? I’m sure you can imagine. A wallet, a brush and comb, my fingerless gloves (for cold hands that need to type or text), a baggie full of grocery coupons, a mini-tablet (you know in case I just HAVE to write a story idea or title, or in case I run into a celebrity and need an autograph, lol), pens, a Mp3 player, gum, and on and on. That’s my “carpet bag”, like Mary Poppins and there are lots of things I haven’t listed here in it too! Then there’s my little bag I also carry which could maybe be called a purse. In it, another wallet, my Nook, a phone charger, chapstick, and I don’t know what else! My shoulder DOES hurt! Oh the times I run out of the house without any bag at all — just a debit card, driver’s license and insurance card in my jeans pocket. Oh the freedom! If only I could travel that way all the time. But of course, you never know what you’re going to need while you’re out, right?!

    Art Linkletter used to say the way a woman’s purse looks is how her house looks. In my case, he is dead on! I hold onto things I think I’ll surely need someday. And probably won’t! I think there’s some kind of comfort in being hemmed in like that. A sense of safety. A buffer between me and the harsh world. But really, I know I’m wrong about that. I’ve been looking around my house lately (and often), wishing with all my heart I could simplify and I just know there would be a peace that came with that. I just don’t know where to begin or how to keep up. I have lived with all men in my house for so long. A husband and 3 sons. I used to say a boy could look at a pile of dirt and say “What dirt?” They never see it! They can’t for the life of them see a need to make a bed when you’re going to just get back in it later. I’d always say, “Well you take a bath, don’t you? Even though you’re going to need another one”! Or why eat dinner, when you’re only going to be hungry again tomorrow?”! Yet none of my clever remarks showed them the error of their ways!! Trying to keep up a house when you work full-time is hard enough, but then battling against men and their messiness just feels like a losing battle! I think while I am taking one step forward, they are pushing me 3 steps back. So that all my efforts only keep me from falling further behind than I would otherwise, but my efforts never get me on top of it. So I usually give up. A few years ago I had a brainstorm though. An epiphany! Maybe I can’t take on this mountain of clutter. But what if I threw away (or gave away) 10 things from each room everyday. Would the mountain shrink? And it did! My house literally became clutter free! And people noticed! I’m not sure how it all fell apart again, and I’ve tried so hard to reestablish that habit, to no avail. I guess I need a fresh inspiration. One came to me the other night. What if I work on one pile at a time (and there are many!). Like, throwing away 10 things from that one pile until it is gone and then work on the next. I haven’t started yet, but maybe your blog today is the nudge I need to give it a go!

    Thanks for sharing this Julie and maybe I’ll send you a picture of my carpet bag!

    Take care and sorry I was absent last week!

    Other Leafy Julie G 🙂

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      “Other Leafy Julie G,” I so commiserate with your aching shoulders! And the house! I am also a bag-lady, except I classily (they don’t like that word!) call them “tote bags.” I LOVE tote bags. I have one w/daffodils, one with pockets for all my craft supplies, a different one for each project on the go, one with puppies all over it, and even a couple with pockets on the outside to put photos in. And the list goes on! And I love them all! I even have one my mother made years ago that’s big enough to hold all my tote bags that are not in use! Such fun…and yeah, such a mess. Bags on the chairs at the table, bags on the sofa, the floor, in the car, left at church or my mom’s…

      So, yeah, I have a tote-trouble! And a house trouble! Besides crafts everywhere and tubs and files and shelves of homeschool supplies and all my writing books and files (on napkins, receipts, church bulletins, etc.), we had 8 years of drama ministry in our home. Pieces of sets, props, and costumes. Tons of materials for making said items – wood, tools, paint, anything “prop-worthy,” 5 sewing machines (none work now), boxes of historical clothing patterns and more. We don’t eat at our table and we push stuff on the floor for company – which we rarely have now.

      My daughter had a dumpster delivered in the fall, it covered my whole yard! We filled it and still have enough to fill a couple more! Like you, I keep trying techniques to rid myself of it – most recently, one box a day. I like the Fly Lady’s 27-fling-boogie! As quick as you can, fill boxes or bags w/27 items – 27 to throw away, 27 to put away, and 27 to give away! Not only helps, but it’s fun! Check her out at! Good luck!

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        Wow Cathy Mayfield! A whole dumpster full?!! I think I need one of those — or two!! I know about the Fly Lady, but didn’t know about the 27 thing. Thanks for the tip!!

        • Cathy Mayfield says:

          Forgot to mention, our house is a 14′ X 70′ trailer w/two rooms “tacked” on! That sheds more light on how big this mess is and in such a small space! But I also didn’t mention the fun we had getting it that way: 25 years of homeschooling 3 daughters w/more joy and fun than we should be allowed; 8 incredible years of our troupe, the WML Players, w/blessings abounding through the people involved (girls sleeping over after practices – 16 one time! – and audience members who told us how their lives were changed through my daughter’s original plays – and so on); and literally hundreds of craft items lovingly made for family and friends and strangers! It’s been tough, but it’s been good! Thank you, Jesus, for giving us a house with elastic walls!

      • Hey Cathy,

        I grinned all over myself reading this. 🙂 I adore it–especially love, “Thank you, Jesus, for giving us a house with elastic walls.” And I’ve heard of the Fly Lady.

        Sounds like you are free–free indeed! And what an incredibly fun and creative home you have!!!!

        I just loved reading this. xoxo

    • Other, Julie. We are on in the same! This makes so much sense to me–why I’ve been carrying around all this stuff. Same reason as you! I guess it gave me some sort of false sense of preparedness–never mind the aching shoulders and how much I hated actually looking inside my purse!

      Can’t wait to see your pic. I’ve noticed you sent it and am catching up on emails this a.m.

      Love, love your thoughts about “purging” (my word) stuff and getting freed up. With you–all the way!!

      Other Julie

  2. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh, Julie, how I needed that song! This past week has been one of the longest, most horrible weeks of my life, second only to the week I sat by my father’s side, waiting for his final breath. And it keeps getting longer.

    However, that aside, the purse!! My husband takes pride in my purse and its overflowing contents. He tells people time and again how we won a scavenger hunt at some retreat because I had it all in my purse! Like you, I’ve try to cut down, only put in what I need. I fail!

    You see, I NEED the lint roller – I have a dog, you have a dog. I NEED the pull-apart scissors – friends use them all the time. I NEED the spork (you know, those spoon-fork gadgets) – what if someone has a salad and nothing to eat it with? I NEED the extra pairs of sunglasses – in case I can’t find my favorite pair (you understand, I’m sure). I NEED the chewing gum my daughter likes, the tiny bottle of safety pins they use at my daughters’ plays, the two little packs of tissues – in case someone else needs them. And so forth.

    Whenever someone needs something – or me – I want to have it, whether it’s bobby pins, toothpaste, or my time. Sometimes, it’s exhausting, being available for every need for every person.

    But someday, I can see my grandson running up to me and asking, “Grandma, do you have any extra kite string in your purse?!?!” And I will say, “Yes! How else will we get that kite back up in the sky?”

    • LOVE IT, Cathy–and ohhhhh, yes, I do understand! I just got a pair of prescription sunglasses (my first pair) and I got prescription glasses (first pair) and I love all five pairs of readers and my old sunglasses. So, you can imagine.

      Kite string? That’s a new one for me. 🙂

      Gum–that’s something I can’t be without! One of those habits I don’t intend to break.


    • And Cathy–I can’t get enough of this song either. My new favorite song!

  3. Brenda E. Greene says:

    So timely Julie Girl as I just purchased a cross body purse (one you put over your head and it hangs across your body and no stress on my shoulders or back). It’s flat and only holds my small wallet (that has bank card, id, insurance cards and cash), lipstick, and phone. What more do I need?…my bulging purse sits in the back seat…just in case I might need something from there! Working on “separation issues” and leaving it at home!

    Love sister Jennifer’s comment…it’s simple, take just what we need! Great analogy for life too!

    Thank you for your always inspiring words!! Beautiful Sunny day here…makes everything delightful!

    • Brenda, this is a brilliant idea!!!! I never considered bringing along my old purse. Yes! Yes! And I could even move everything into a tote like Cathy–and bring even more essentials–just not carry them with me.

      Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

      Thank you!

  4. Mary says:

    One year, my word for the year was a phrase: “Fly light.” I used it as a reminder not to hold on to old things. I daydreamed about being in a huge hot air balloon, tossing things to the ground as I flew along, sailing so high that I cleared the Alps! (I know, I know, I probably would need a heavy jacket and boots and gloves and a scarf and an oxygen tank for that, but it was a DAYDREAM! No luggage needed!)

    Guess what? I found that I had been holding on to things for security… the old baby stroller… that college textbook that I’ll never read again… those curtains from my first apartment. When I let go, I was given the gift of space and lightness. So I began to think that maybe I had to do the same with some of my old fears or bad habits and anxieties. I needed to let them go, too. It wasn’t easy — it still isn’t — but when I make progress, there’s space for good things to come in. Julie, it’s funny isn’t it? Fear takes up so much room and is so heavy, but love and happiness are so light… and there’s always room for more.

    Now I have to go and find my summer purse. LOL!

    • Mary. This is beautiful, my friend. And what an imagination. I love how God works with each of us so individually in ways we understand.

      I get it. Big time–the fears/anxiety thing. Right now, I’m pretending I’m tossing any hints of fear right over the edge of the hot air balloon!

      Love it! Thank you.

  5. When you wrote, “Sometimes I carry thoughts that clutter my peace. I can be too sensitive. Someone says something that hurts my feelings and I hang on to it”, I thought you were talking about me, Julie! This just happened to me yesterday and I find it so hard to let it go. I am going to take your advice and try to keep only useful thoughts. Thank you for this thought provoking post. I so needed it today!!! xxxooo

    • Thank you, Eileen, for letting me know. Sometimes I hold onto comments, keeping them in my lap–hugging them to me like a small child. Such….what’s the right word? All-consuming behavior?

      Letting go–it’s so very daily, isn’t it?

      Thanks for letting me know you get it.

      Big hugs from GA.

  6. You are too much like me, Jewels! I decided the purse issue needed solving too. I ditched a wallet and my purse has a section for “wallet” stuff. Only I have a credit card case, small. And I slip the cash into a slot in my purse. Laila – no big cumbersome wallet. I put things I might need when I’m out in the glove box of my car, so they don’t clutter my purse.

    Okay, I still have a few unnecessary things in my purse. Hey, I’m a work in progress.

    And we need to have lunch soon. I haven’t seen you in forever!!

    • Ane, you’ve named your wallet, Laila! Oh, how I love it!!!!!! Laughing here.

      I know–we haven’t seen each other in so long. And you’re one of those beautiful friends. Time and distance doesn’t affect our friendship. Not in the least.

      Love you dearly.

  7. Your “tiny one in the back of the closet” is the size I have. Not too big, not too little. Just right for the everyday stuff. But I have to tell you…I went shopping one day looking for a BIGGER purse. I have seen so many people with these monstrous shoulder bags and I envied them. I wondered why I didn’t have a large purse stuffed with so many things? Maybe I should carry more, maybe I don’t have enough, maybe there’s something I’m missing by not being like them? Oh, the pull and draw of peer pressure and wanting to be like others.

    But you know what? I’m not that big-tote person. I’m just not. I’m not a teeny tiny wallet purse person either. I’m an in-between. And I love me and the purse person I am. Welcome to the world of less shoulder aches, more room next to you in a restaurant cause your big bag isn’t taking up the space of a whole person, and to: simplicity! Hugs!

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, B.J. into this new world of in-between purses.

      It wouldn’t matter how cute a big bag I carried, I’d manage to fill it up with strange things. :/

      I’m smiling imagining you trying to be a big bag person and then not caving to peer pressure! Love it. Love you.

  8. Oh Julie, yet another confirmation that we’re sisters! My purse–like the rest of my organizational life–is a mess. Can you imagine how messy we would be if we shared living space?

    And thank you, too, for the reminder to de-clutter my thoughts as well. I tend to over-evaluate and relive conversations, wondering if my comments were taken as intended, wondering if I might have said too much or too little, or berating myself for how I handled a situation. I’m trying to learn what’s done is done and unless I see that my heart was wrong, I try to drop (AKA declutter) it from my mind. Thx!

    • Vonda, one time my sis and I roomed together on a trip. I drove her absolutely nuts. I remember she said, “Is it really that difficult to just keep your clothes neatly folded in your suitcase? Do you have to toss them around everywhere?”

      I didn’t even know I was doing it. :/

      Ohhhhh, boy, I do that too–over-evaluate and relive conversations–wonder if I said the right thing, or what did she mean by saying……

      All so exhausting, isn’t it.

      Love you dearly.

  9. Oh Julie- I loved this post- and that song is my favorite right now! We sang it in church Sunday and I just cried! You liberated me from shame- 🙂 I am a messy purse-disorganized wanna be organized gal.Clutter seems to multiply – in my purse, my brain- my house. I purge and three days later- I swear it walked back in to taunt me. lol Thanks for encouraging me to stay on course- simplify and throw out those burdens! hugs and blessings

    • Cindy–we are one in the same person!!!

      And even though my purse annoyed the heck out of me, I just kept on carrying it around, despising it…thinking there was no other way.

      Ohhhh, this song. I can’t get enough of it.


  10. Julie! Sweetness. When we made a move to the Dallas area about six years ago, my husband encouraged me to start using a tiny purse. I always keep just the basic necessities … and I drape it over my shoulder … around my body … making it hard for someone to snatch it! 🙂 If they snatch it, they’ll be snatching me. And I can’t imagine going back to my big purse again. Yeah, I miss having my brush … but I manage fine without it. Oh, and thoughts … I could go on and on … on and on! 🙂 xoxo

    • Shelli, I just don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier–get FREED up! 🙂

      Wo-hoooooooooooooooo! Next time I come to Dallas, I’m calling you. We’ll go shopping together–skip through the mall amazed at how light our burdens are. 🙂

  11. marci says:

    You hit a cord with your confession about your purse. I have to confess, I , like Cathy, have switched to Totes. And I do have a number of them. Enough that I hang them on skirt hangers That started back in the days I was a librarian and totes were very handy. ,, Wow, what an eye opener- that the state of a purse/ bag, can mirror our homes, and our spiritual lives. A new insight. Something to think about. Now I need to dump my bag and ‘start over’ . I can so relate to the things written here. I relate to Cathy’s thoughts, and Other Leafy Julie, and wanted to say, ‘Me too!”
    I use to say, my bag was my families survival kit,.. if we were standed on an island, I had everything we needed.. Well, maybe I don’t carry quite that much now, but when I pick up my tote, it is heavy, and the dublicates. 2-3 travel kleenexs.. yes I related to that one. Some times, I will just put some money, and my keys in my pocket– maybe my cell ph. and shop. It sure makes things a lot lighter– and simpler, and makes me think– all these things in my bag, what are the chances I will need any of them while shopping? What can I minimize it down to? Money, list with pencil, maybe one sm tissue, and cell phone. I also know I need to travel with less when we make out of town trips. And I have though when having the burden of unloading when we got home– how much of this did we use? Very little of what I took. I need to rethink — Simply— what can we get by with, what do we really need? You have given me some good things to think about and the timing is right. I have been pondering the clutter in my several areas.. I try to save too much. I will begin with dumping my bag, and evaluating the things in it, and let that perhaps be a step into the other places in my life, house, but also the burden of carrying around ‘thoughts’ that I need to let go of too,
    Thanks again dear Julie, and thanks to all who wrote here. It is nice to know we are not alone in our struggles. How wonderful to have a support group as this one has been for me.

    God Bless,

    • Marci’a–what a joy to discover something I’ve been struggling with (a heavy purse) makes sense to you all. This is why I write!

      And I love how you said we’re a Support Group. Isn’t that so like God? He brings people together in unlikely ways to strengthen us.

      I’ve always had that same “desert island thing” going on in my head. But the truth is, I don’t use everything I felt so determined to carry.

      Simple. Simple. Simple.

      Such a blessing. You understand.


  12. I treasure coming here to read on Wednesdays. The sheer depth of the comments you get is so touching to read, and inspiring, and full of wisdom. I find I have to clean through my purse, often. The bigger ones truly become a catch-all for everyone’s things, it seems- and then heavens yes, its a mess. Isn’t it wonderful when we re-discover “simplicity” and our ability to choose it at times? How you so profoundly tied this to laying down our burdens, is pure gold to me.

    The song is beautiful, too. It reminds me of NEEDTOBREATHE’S song, Lay’em down.

    Love and blessings to you~

    • Vicky, that Need to Breathe, Lay ’em down song? I tear up every single time I hear it.

      I know–I’m so blown away by the wisdom in this group. To me, it feels just like we’ve gathered together for a porch party. No judging. Just love and acceptance

      Your friendship is so precious to me. I’m praying for you.

  13. Patricia Martin says:

    My purses used to be stuffed full, too, Julie, but I have always looked at it this way: this purse is just filled with a lot of good memories and who knows when I might need some of this stuff? I love the color of your purse, springy and tangy.((: I am starting to feel better and reading your blog cheers me up!
    Patricia ((:

    • Patricia, so glad you’re feeling better! And you’re almost done with this semester, right? Praying for you–for your studying–for your grades. Can’t wait to hear how well you did. 🙂

      Thanks for the compliments on my old/new purse. My daughter Katie helped me pick it out before a flight. I’d forgotten I had it. But not now! 🙂 It’s my new BFF.

      Love your thoughts on carrying around your memories~~~~~beautiful. Just beautiful.

  14. Shelley Elaine says:

    Julie, WHAT a great analogy! I alternate between my little, simple purses and my huge “carry all” bags…much like my thinking!!! Now, every time I change purses, I will be reminded to simplify my thoughts-because I, too, tend to hold onto past hurts! Think I might even change purses (and simplify) some things TODAY! Julie, you’re the best! L❤️️VE!!!

    • Ohhh, Shelley. It makes me have happy tears to know others feel the same way I do about the seemingly small things (get it? small–as in purse) 🙂

      Keeping it Simple today.

      Thanks, my friend. Your comments make me smile.

      XOXOXOXOXO Y’all are the best!! My readers! My friends!

  15. I don’t know. For some reason I just can’t seem to relate to this particular post. Now if it had been about a toolbox… lol

    • Chuck, you’re gonna have to stretch a little bit here. Use your imagination. 🙂

      Seriously, I wondered if men would be able to relate. A FB friend said he immediately thought of his messy briefcase.

      Thanks for letting me know you at least read it!

  16. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi again Julie,
    I wanted to ask if you would please pray (and your loved ones) for Maddy, because it looks like she will still need to have back surgery this summer. ))): I hope you are having a great weekend!!((:
    Patricia xo

  17. Life is more beautiful simplified indeed. Excuse me while I clean up my clutter in my own purse. 😛
    Happy Monday!

    • I’m smiling, Lux! Thanks for letting me know you understand. And that your purse is…well, I understand!

  18. Patricia Martin says:

    Thank you,Julie!! xox


  1. […] Forgive me, Lord. Help me keep it simple.  […]

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