All This Stuff

2014-07-13 04.47.27



Moving is hard. I mean, I knew packing up a nine-person-household would take some doing. I expected it would be physically exhausting, and it is. (Those boxes don’t grow legs and walk themselves onto the truck.) I also knew it would be mentally exhausting, and it is. (I have the perpetual feeling that I’m forgetting about a dozen things each day.) But I was not, am not, prepared for how emotionally drained I feel.

For one thing, I’m in complete denial about leaving friends who are really more like family. Any time a wave of sadness swells, I shove it down to the deal-with-this-later part of my heart. And I focus instead on all the stuff we have to pack, because…Wow. We have a lot of stuff.

It hasn’t been easy to decide what to take and what to leave. And since I’m emotionally compromised these days, I am choosing to take the strangest things. For example, a few days ago while sorting a box of old photos, I came across a dead and dusty cockroach. I thought (for the first time ever) Awwwww. He’s kind of cute. And I thought of how roaches will always remind me of Georgia, got a little misty, and left him in the box. I could’ve just bought that Georgia-shaped cutting board from Bed, Bath and Beyond to remind me of my time in the South, but no. A cockroach it is.

And that, my friends, sums up my state of mind these days. Instead of throwing things away, I’m packing all this stuff that I really don’t need: A single crocheted sock for my Cabbage Patch Kid, a broken sand dollar from my best friend, Luke’s crib bumper, macaroni necklaces, 20 year old valentines from Anna and Philip, a driver’s ed manual from Dad, a pink and while golf hat, letters, love notes, movie ticket stubs and dried, crusty corsages.

In the end I’m left with a pile of stuff that doesn’t really fit in any box. But what bothers me more is this: Why do I feel the need to hang on to all of this? Why can’t I just let it go? (Sing it, Elsa.)

I’ve mulled this over with each box I fill, each trash bag I throw and each trip I make to Goodwill. I finally realized it’s not the “stuff” I’m attached to, it’s what that “stuff” represents. I think what I’m really fighting against is the passage of time, aging, and the knowledge that one day I won’t just leave a house behind. I’ll leave the world itself and everything in it I’ve grown to love.

Further mulling has made me realize that, for the Christian, this shouldn’t be a hard truth to come to terms with. It’s really the best news ever. As Grandma Tiefel would say, “Life is like a trip from New York to Los Angeles. Why would I want to turn around and go all the way back to New York when I’ve made it as far as Salt Lake City?” Or if you don’t like Grandma’s analogy, the Apostle Paul says it quite eloquently, “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Moving forward, growing, changing, and yes, even aging, are all part of the goal we are striving for. Heaven isn’t some consolation prize. It’s something we press toward with eager anticipation. Evidence that time is passing is all around me, especially now as I collect my possessions for packing. But my life’s work should not be centered around saving the stuff I’ve accumulated or collecting more stuff. It shouldn’t be spent bemoaning how fast the kids are growing and how quickly time passes. Instead, my focus should be eternal.

God has gently and graciously brought this truth to my heart. He says, “Do not collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but collect 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)

That’s where I want my heart to be. That’s my truest, most treasured possession. No packing required.



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14 thoughts on “All This Stuff

    1. Hahaa! Some, not all. But I have been brutal when it comes to getting rid of stuff! Goodwill is well stocked now. 🙂

  1. Great thoughts about what is truly important. I would not take a dead or live cockroach anywhere! The longer you live in one place, the more stuff you accumulate. When I used to move every 3-4 years, I had a lot less junk, I think.
    We hate to see the Mayhew family go, but I know God has wonderful plans for you in Minnesota. We can mail Georgia vermin up to you if you want.

    1. Hahaaa! I think I’m good with my one cockroach, Ann, but thanks for the offer to send more if I need it. 🙂 We hate to leave you and Bill and everyone at Zion, too, but also know the Lord has, as you say, wonderful plans to bless us all.

  2. Dearest Debra, your love astoundes me, your faith teaches me, your attachment to a cockroach, well that is just plain crazy! I would take the dog. Love you kiddo! The love and memories of Georgia will always be there no mater what your choices are. Love strength and prayers to all of you!

    1. Hahaa! Yes, it is crazy. I admit it. I hope that when we move and get settled in I start to feel a little “normal” again – whatever that is. 🙂 Thank you for the prayers and love. It means a lot to me!!! <3

  3. Debra,
    Your emotions must be all over the place. I saved all my kids’ school papers, drawings etc. and gave it to them on their 21st birthday. They laughed and said, “Why do I want this junk?” It was I who was holding on to their childhoods. I completely understand the cockroach, but I hope you mean those Georgia flying ones, not the reproducing red little scramblers who can live without their own heads on.

    Soon you will be relocated and settling in. Take a peek at my blog

    1. They really said that?? Wow, I guess I should stop saving my kids’ stuff! And no, I don’t mean the little red ones. Uck! Won’t miss those at all! I stopped by your blog (and love the new look!) but my laptop was being finicky and wouldn’t let me leave a comment. I’ll be back though. 🙂

  4. This kinda reminds me when you left Eau Claire….hope someone was around to check out the contents of the dumpster!! (I still have what’s left of your Smurf sleeping bag — and I still plan to make a blanket out of it for you!!). Love you and so looking forward to having you closer.. xo

    1. We’re being more considerate this time around and not leaving a giant piano in the garage. 🙂 I still feel bad about that! In the midst of all this leaving behind, I’m taking comfort in being closer to you and seeing you more often. Love you!

  5. Oh, I am soooooo looking forward to seeing you and your most precious family on a more regular basis … call me selfish if you want, but I am a mom, and I miss my kids….. All I can do is thank the Lord for letting His will be mine…………………xo

  6. A cockroach? Really? lol I wonder what it means that cockroaches make ME think of Georgia, too? Though I would’ve thrown that bad boy out. You’re just so soft-hearted, Deb. Even for the roaches.

    This post has your heart all over it, and I love it, identify with it. We keep talking about downsizing, and I know it’s coming sometime in the next few years. Even though I look forward to being in a smaller place without stairs (a definite prerequisite), I’m dreading going through our stuff and deciding what stays and what goes. In the end, though, as you pointed out, the most important things are those that are always with us that don’t fit in any box. Memories and love cannot be contained by a little cardboard.

    Here’s hoping your move is as stress-free as possible. Once you’re settled into your new home, you’ll be able to view your time in Georgia through a different perspective. Remember all the lives you’ve touched in a positive way, and know that you’ll be a part of special memories for many. I’m fortunate to count myself among them. God bless!

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