Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Do you know how at certain times it seems everywhere you look you're getting the same message, but it seems random?

Like, it's Spring (or so the calendar would have us believe - it's 40 degrees and raining), and so the days are longer and I have a little more energy in the evening to do some Spring Cleaning. I haven't gotten into the whole "clear out the house" weekend yet, but I feel it coming on.

Then there's this website I recently discovered www.freecycle.com where people offer up stuff actually worth something for free or ask for stuff they want that someone else might be willing to get rid of for free. A huge trading network - very no-nonsense - "this is what I want/have, here's when it can be picked up, etc." Once you get past the crowded inbox, it's great. We've gotten a free ceiling fan and given several toys, stationary, hangars, etc. away. It reminds me of the WWII era of "we're all in this together" and beats the heck out of storing it all for a dreaded weekend long garage sale that will yield $200 on a good day.

Then I'm reading this book (well seven actually, but this particular book is) about making room for life. In fact, that's the title "Making Room for Life". Someone gave it to me today and I read the first five chapters on my lunch hour (quick read). The author, a pastor, was talking about being in Israel and seeing the Bedoin families in their tents in the desert and feeling sorry for them until he learned they are the least stressed, happiest, longest-living people in the country. And guess what? They don't own anything they couldn't pick up and carry at the end of the day.

I got seven e-mails in the past two days looking for donations. All worthy causes, from cancer research, to clean water in Africa to a local family whose house burned down.

I'm thinking the message is we have so much stuff! I look around and I can't possibly maintain all the things in this home. And I regularly give a bunch of it away. Which makes me think I'm still accumulating more than I think I am.

Now some of this is part of the territory of being a mom with three kids. Even in this wonderful age of technology a lot of paper comes home from school. The mail is ridiculous. We fill a ginormous recycling bin EVERY WEEK with paper and plastic. And I know, my sentimentality is partly to blame, but I'm parting with more and more all the time. I now understand the minimalist approach my mom has that I used to make fun of.

I open my fridge and freezer (and fridge/freezer in the garage) and I have more choices than 2/3 of the worlds' population. But I still run to the store four times a week because I'm "out of everything"!

How did I grow to value so much stuff as necessary?

I remember before Caitlin was born, I was thrown (count 'em) five separate baby showers. Through the generosity of others, her room was wall-to-wall Classic Winnie the Pooh. I'll never forget the first time my mother walked into that nursery stunned and shaking her head. She said "when you were born, there was a crib and a picture of Bambi on the wall". I don't think my sister even had the crib - she probably slept in a drawer like all the other baby boomers.

I read a book awhile ago called "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. It talks a lot about how you can tell what you value most by looking at your checkbook and calendar. Then it offers a biblical perspective on storing up the kind of treasure that doesn't perish (see the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:19-20).

I find that the inventory in my house is saying a lot about the stuff in my heart.

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