It's Just STUFF


My husband and I are jarred from sleep by the sound of the shelf in the kitchen falling to the floor, braking many of the porcelain dishes and nick-nacks displayed on it.

The alarm would have gone off in a few minutes anyway, so I dress and start cleaning up the mess. As I pick up little broken Delft windmill blades, a Delft-inspired miniature tea set now chipped and missing handles, and Blue china cups and saucers, I think about the journey that my heart has been on these last few years regarding my attachment to stuff.

I think of our house. The first (and only) home that we have owned as a married couple. It was a beautiful old home in the historical district. Well, it wasn't really beautiful when we first bought it - more of a diamond in the rough. Over the years we had worked on it, slowly bringing it back to it's former glory. Carefully choosing textured and floral wallpaper and appropriate paint colors. We had even hired a finishing carpenter to build custom fitted wood all around the bottom half of the dining room, complete with a plate rail across one entire wall. We slowly filled the house with antiques as we finished one room and then another. During the process, my husband had lost his job and in the struggles of finding a new job and regaining our fiscal balance, my husband considered selling the house. I would not hear if it. I loved that house and insisted on keeping it - even if it meant tightening our belts in other areas.

335 Cutler St, Allegan, MI 49010

I clung to that house harder than I clung to the Lord.

A few years ago, GOD changed my heart. We had travelled to my brother-in-law's wedding in the Autumn and I found myself saying out loud to my husband, "I would live here." Little did I know what God had in store for us. About a month or two later, my husband called me from work and asked if I had meant what I said. He had been offered a job here and wanted to check with me before accepting it. Two months later I had a "for sale"" sign on my beautiful house and an antiques dealer going through and buying things out of the home.

I was learning that WHERE I live was not really that important. Putting God first, following His plan, that's what I needed to do. I also started to see that a house should not be more important to me than my husband. I had really put a burden on his shoulders when I insisted on keeping that home.

I get out the broom and start sweeping up small porcelain fragments.
I think of my furniture.

My desk. *Sigh* My big roll-top desk. My husband bought it for me from a coworker while we lived in that big house. It is a modern roll top desk, designed to hold a computer, but I have a sentimental attachment to it because my grandfather had owned one. As a child I loved sitting way back under it or exploring the many tiny drawers and cubbies.

Unfortunately, it is a pain to move, and having moved it a couple of times, my husband started asking me how I would feel about getting rid of it. I am still not keen on the idea, but I am starting to think about it. Right now it houses my big, old, desk-top computer and I am thinking that at some point I will probably have to replace it, maybe with a lap-top - - something less bulky and space consuming. Easier to use. Besides, this big desk is a catch-all for clutter. UGH! It probably won't be long before I will be ready to let go of this cumbersome thing.

I pick up the shelf and examine it for any damage. Strange. None to speak of.
I set it on the dining room table.

Ahh. My dining room table. A lovely antique set - one we kept, though it doesn't really match the "North Woods" look here. Just before we bought the historical home, we were renting a home on the outskirts of town. It was an old house, too. In the attic was a hutch with spindle legs and one glass door in the center. With it was a large serving buffet with two drawers in the middle and little storage cupboards on each end and a matching sideboard. We wondered about these pieces. If the home owner wanted them, why weren't they using them? we wondered. If they don't want them, why haven't they sold them?

One day my husband asked. They had intended to sell them, but did not want to be bothered with it enough to make it a priority. My husband made them a low offer and they accepted! These items would be the first antiques in our new home - but there was still no table. About a year or so later, we were gifted some money so we went searching. How pleased we were to find a good solid table and chairs that matched the set!

I have been unwilling to part with this dining set, so they have moved with us, making it an absolute necessity to have a formal dining room in any home in which we have lived - something that is becoming a challenge these days. I have been stubborn enough to not even consider a home that does not have a place for this furniture.

A few weeks ago, I found myself telling my mom that I would be willing to sell it if I had to, under the condition that it would be replaced by a very strong, very large table that could handle the rigorous demands placed upon it my large family. Oh. And appropriate storage for my beloved china dishes!

Yes. You guessed it.

I LOVE dishes. I've mourned the loss of some of my favorites in various moves. I have kept them in a box, thinking that one day I might make a mosaic or something. The other day my husband was rearranging the storage room to set up a weight bench and the box fell to the floor. He picked it up and opened it, only to discover several beautiful china dishes, broken to pieces. With a sinking feeling, he brought the box to me to confess his deed and apologize. He was a little bit surprised at my reaction.

"That's OK," I said with a smile.
"They were already broken!"

I am sad to throw away these pretty things. I guess I'll go get that box from the store room and put these broken dishes in it too.

I remember reading this story on a blog about putting back together a broken piece of pottery and how it reminded the author of how God puts the pieces of our lives back together when we commit ourselves to Him. I've been thinking about the dishes in that box and wondering if my husband would have me admitted if I glued one back together and set it out on a shelf. Maybe someday I will throw them away, if I never get around to doing something with them.

Until then I'll keep holding on to broken dishes because just thinking about them reminds me that I am a cracked pot - a work in progress - and God is not finished with me yet!  He proves it day after day - - even in the fact that I could calmly clean up the broken pieces of things that I have loved, with this verse running through my mind the whole time:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 

Whispering into my heart. Reminding me deeply, Love people, Use things!


Angela said...

Enjoyed this SO much! I think I needed to read it.

Meghan Carver said...

Wonderfully written! Working on this myself. . .

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