Thursday, August 02, 2007

The dumpster

We recently purchased a chest of drawers for my son. He was in desperate need, as the secondhand set we bought for $35 seven or eight years ago had finally reached the breaking point. Literally, in the case of the lowest drawer.

Purchasing furniture is something we've done only rarely. Pretty much the only items we've actually purchased new, aside from the chest of drawers already mentioned, are our bedroom set, our sofa and love seat, and the "wicker" set on the back porch. Our kitchen table we bought secondhand, but nearly every other item in our home was given to us by parents and grandparents. Even mattresses and box springs. Yes, we consider ourselves blessed.

My husband's grandmother was especially generous to us, giving us chairs and cedar chests, precious items like a Roseville vase and the not-quite-so-precious like an orange plastic colander. I think nearly every room in our house contains some item of her generosity, for which we will always be grateful.

Upon her death nearly three years ago, we received her dining room table, chairs, hutch and buffet, a legacy we cherish. Many memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve of my husband's growing up years are contained in this table. While I will never come close to matching her culinary skill, I am grateful to have this physical reminder of her legacy of love and family.

Several months after her death, we rented a Uhaul to bring the dining set to our house. At that point, most of her earthly possessions had been divided, and my husband's father was left with the responsibility of emptying the house of the remaining items in order to ready it for sale. A dumpster had been hauled in to the backyard for convenient disposal.

In my nature as my mother's true daughter, I rummaged through what remained on a scavenger hunt of sorts. We discovered some Bibles, one belonging to my husband's great-grandmother containing the occasional childish scribble of his grandmother's name marked by her age. Evidently she enjoyed seeing her own name written out!

Mostly it was junk, deserving of the dumpster. I did pick up a few items other than the Bibles but everything else we threw in the dumpster. I can't tell you what fun my boys had hurling items over the edge and listening for the accompanying crash or shatter, as the case may be.

As I thought to myself then, and continue to ponder today: isn't that just like life? Isn't that what the things of this world ultimately come to: a dumpster in the backyard? These were items my husband's grandmother had cherished and kept for years, decades in some cases, now hurled into a dumpster and headed for a landfill.

She was a godly woman, my husband's grandmother, and she knew her true treasure did not lie in this world. In fact, the last time we saw her alive she told my husband she was ready to die. In fact, she had told the Lord to go ahead and take her Home. I am quite certain she gave no thought for the things of this world in her desire for the next.

That dumpster serves as an important visual. This world is not all there is and too often the things we strive after with such obsession will ultimately end up in a landfill.

Am I storing up treasures in heaven, or merely filling the dumpster?


  1. We've benefited from godly, generous family members ourselves. I love the pieces I have that came from my grandmother.

    Thanks for writing this dumpster has been filling up lately.

  2. I, too, have a few pieces of furniture that belonged to my beloved grandparents and I treasure them. You really hit the nail on the head with the part about the dumpster. We should all have a dumpster in our front yard to get rid of "stuff" that we don't need or gets in our way.
    Of course, God is always ready and willing to help us dump any "stuff" that might hinder our walk with him. Praise Him!
    Thanks for a great post.

  3. it broke my heart when we cleaned out my great-grandparents house. It made me realize how important it is for us to give meaning to our stuff and not vice versa.

    Glad you had a good trip! :))


  4. great challenge - and you're right - too much of what we strive for, what we work for will end up "dumpstered." Thanks for the reminder to spend time doing what matters most.

  5. What a picture. Thanks for this visual.

  6. Much of our stuff is from Dears parents and second hand stores. (antiques, wink, wink) We do have some bought new for us stuff, too. Boy we have filled several dumpsters over the last few years and this post rings so true. I keep saying we've got to get rid of a lot of this stuff now so the kids don't have to get 2 dumpsters to get rid of our stuff and speak ill of our bad habits...
    "This world is not my home I'm just a passin through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue" Blessings...

  7. My boys would have loved throwing that stuff in too. Good picture. I like how you take real life things and make a spiritual lesson out of them (like the soccer!) My mind thinks that way too.

  8. If you really, really need to strain something, that orange colander becomes more of a blessing, though . . . :)