Thursday, January 17, 2008

Filling the dumpster

We recently purchased a chest of drawers for my son. He was in desperate need, as the secondhand set we bought 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. Actually, the only items we've bought 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. 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 furniture items like chairs and cedar chests, as well as precious items like a Roseville vase and the not-quite-so-precious like an orange plastic colander. Almost 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 of my husband’s memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve center around her table. While I will never come close to matching his grandmother’s 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.

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.

But mostly it was junk deserving of the dumpster. A lot of junk, I might add. We spent the better part of the day tossing objects great and small into 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.

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 most cases, now thrown 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, that she had asked 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, reminding me this world is not all there is, and the material things I sometimes strive after with such obsession will ultimately end up in a dumpster headed for the landfill.

And I must ask myself: Am I storing up treasures in heaven, or merely filling the dumpster?

May I set my heart on things eternal, seeking after Jesus, the true Treasure of this life. And the next. For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

*Originally posted August, 2007


  1. Lisa, I am so thankful that this is not all there is! It reminds me of the verse that says "If in this life only I have hope in Christ, I am of all men most miserable." I am so thankful that, if we are His, have everyreason to be hopeful. I can't even wrap my little brain around what we have awaiting us. Thanks for the reminder!


  2. So, so true. I experienced this when we moved my mom up here several years after my dad's death. As folks who had lived through the depression, they were pack rats and savers - recyclers before it was in vogue!! It was unbelievable the stuff we emptied out of that house. It definitely made me re-evaluate what I keep.

    Interestingly, even the things she had kept from our childhood were only briefly interesting; who in their 40's really needs all their report cards from elementary school?!

    And even as lovely as all these scrapbooks are that people pour themselves into. . . . they, too, are just chaff that the wind will blow away.

  3. My pastor is doing a series on "renewing your mind" and he recently talked about how our mind is filled with so much junk we need a dumpster to empty it. He said some of us have 20 lbs of junk "up there" that we carry around with us instead of letting the Lord renew the old, we hang on to it. thanks for bringing that back to my mind!

  4. Awesome thoughts. Great reminder! Thanks!

  5. What a great illustration you have given us on the truly important things in life.

  6. Thank you for the reminder of where my treasure is to be. I need these type of reminders to pass on to my children as they like to hold on to things. This is a family trait that needs to be changed.

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  7. Lisa, What a great visual reminder of keeping our treasure in heaven. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Beautiful Post!

    Miss Sandy

  9. This was a great post. It is so true. Our treasure is not here on this earth. What a wonderful blessing to have been able to keep precious heirlooms with the family. I love old pieces and the memories they hold.

  10. Can I just say that I totally expected this to be in Lysa's announcement today?! Great practical illustration with incredible spiritual insight.

    You are blessed with a gift. Don't ever let your blog be "Lisa Stopped Writing". :-)