- What to keep?
- What do we throw out?
- What are the things that are truly important?
- Why have we hung on to some of the things we have hung onto? Those are questions that come to mind this morning. I am sitting in a room with half-filled moving boxes and small stacks of miscellaneous stuff - old phone charging cords, books, pictures, and nick-knacks.
Sunday morning I woke up early. As I scrolled through the paltry choices of Sunday morning television shows, my attention was captured by a show called "Hoarding: Buried Alive." I have to say I feel more like the chronic hoarders featured there. We have stuff - lots of it. Not as much as we had before our garage sale three weeks ago and numerous trips to GoodWill, Plateau Outreach and Enumclaw Recycling. But we have a bunch of stuff. It could be worse I suppose. I talked with a friend yesterday. She and her husband are moving to a different house - downsizing considerably - after living in a spacious home in the country for 39 years.
Some of our stuff has vital uses. Some, sentimental or aesthetic value. Some of this stuff makes us wonder why we have hung onto it for so long. We even have found boxes of stuff that hadn't been opened since we moved from Las Cruces, 15 1/2 years ago. Each pile triggers a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Its really difficult to cull through the things that are truly important, the things that are nice but unnecessary and the things that just need to be sold, given away or tossed.
Coinciding with this "downsizing of inventory" comes a few very important, life-changes. Judy retires this June after 15 years in the Enumclaw School District (12+ in Las Cruces). Her last day is June 12. On June 15 there will be a large BUDGET rental truck in our driveway - the largest they have. And we will load it up with the help of our daughters (and hopefully a few able bodies) then drive our worldly belongings to Arizona.
The last time we did this, we were leaving Las Cruces. And if it wasn't bad enough having to sort through, box up and decide on what to take, I stood in front of a moving church bus and was run over. For 28 days, I lay in traction in an ICU unit of Memorial Medical Center - stripped of everything; clothes, dignity, health, future, everything. Then it was another 10 weeks of hospitalization - a remarkably short stint considering what Doctors had told us about the prospects of my surviving surgeries to repair a spinal cord injury and re-align and set a crushed pelvis and hip.
I had lots of time to think. While not always lucid (morphine dulls pain as well as thought) I thought alot about what I really valued; what remained when everything was stripped away. Here's what I realized with all clarity and depth: I had Christ. The Lord had never left me. He was there with me on the pavement of the church parking lot as well as in the ICU and rehab hospital rooms. He was there when people visited and when I was all alone. Christ was my present help and comfort when I was in pain or when I was discouraged. He was there the day I first was propped up in bed and when I took my first faltering steps as I attempted to learn to walk again. When life was reduced to the basics of life and death - survival - Christ was there.
So was my family. My wife Judy (who co-authored our book) was there everyday even as she kept her full time job as an administrator with the Las Cruces Public School. Kresta came all the way from Oregon to spend time with me. Melissa, although in the throes of graduation and wedding-planning was with me a lot. My sisters both came. My aging mother even came once I was in the rehab hospital. We had wheelchair races. Again, I realized that had everything else been stripped away I had the strength, prayers and support of a family.
And then there were friends. Lots of them. Sometimes the stream of visitors was too tiring and I had to shut the door. But I knew they were there - supporting Judy and the girls, praying, offering to clean, cook, do yard work; whatever. And it wasn't just friends in Las Cruces, friends from Denver, Renton, from around the US and even the world; friends we hadn't even met yet were there for me - for us.
What to hang on to? That is the question we are wrestling with again now. And while we hope we won't be confronted with so stark a choice as before, we are realizing that so much of what we hang on to is just stuff.
So what do we really want to hang on to as we transition? Fond memories of 15+ years in Enumclaw at Calvary, in the community, at Southwood Magic Strings....so many great memories. And friends, so many friends. that we have made. Can't imagine leaving them behind but somehow we know that - a Michael W Smith used to sing - "a friend's a friend forever or what's the friendship for?
Our mission partnerships in Africa. John and Thenny Mpanga. Chimwemwe. George Banda. Rachel Kasanya. The Teicherts and Witherows in South Africa. All those precious children at Healing Place School and all those pastors who labor fruitfully for Christ under conditions that are so spartan - even less than basic. We will hang on to those relationships wherever we go.
Family - always important. Not always easy as we are separated by distance and busy schedules. Perhaps being retired will free us to spend more time with daughters. sons-in law and grandsons. We can't wait for this phase of life.
And of course Christ. We have no idea where we will land as far as church, ministry or involvement in our retirement. For now we have found a wonderful church in north Tacoma/Federal Way where we will continue when we are in the area during the summer months. But during the winter - ??? Who knows. We look forward to the adventure of connecting with a new church, a new ministry, new friends,. But most of all, we know that wherever we are, wherever we go - Christ is our constant companion.
So, now, its back to stuff; sorting, throwing; giving away.
Anybody want a 36" 1998 state of the art TV? It only ways about 500 pounds.