THE WRITINGS OF RUTH MARTIN
The Preacher's Wife

Pack Rats!

I guess I'm just a pack-rat at heart. I just don't seem to be able to throw things away.

I have been looking for something that I wanted to use in preparing this column ...not just any old thing; I KNEW this particular item was put carefully away because I didn't want to lose it. I can see it in my mind's eye. I know I have it..SOMEWHERE. Put carefully away is right. Now I can't find it anywhere. Oh, it'll show up one day when I don't especially need it. In a way, I know where it is, only not exactly. You see, I have so many similar items, just like this one, that I want to keep and they fill all the spare space where I keep things. I checked the drawers in both bedside tables, the dresser drawers, the boxes I "keep"things in. I checked the big envelopes I file things in. I looked under the mirror tray on my dresser. In short, I've looked everywhere and still can't find it.

But while I was looking, I found lots of interesting things I'm saving. Things I don't want to lose. Things I just can't throw way. Important things. A love-note from my granddaughter I found hidden in my jewelry box many years ago. She had drawn my picture and written,"I love you, Granny" . She was about seven years old then..she just graduated from college this summer. I can't throw that note away. I found one of the last letters my mother wrote to me before she died.Nothing of great importance is in it, but looking at her familiar handwriting, I can almost hear her speaking. I can't throw that away. I found lots of beautiful greeting cards from my family..birthday cards, Christmas and Thanksgiving cards, Mother's Day cards, Anniversary cards. Each one has a personal note written there, full of love . I can't throw those away. Books and magazines are impossible to discard.

I find church bulletins , programs of special events, ticket stubs. Each one reminds me of something special that happened on that date. Sometimes it's a newspaper clipping, or a handwritten note slipped to me at church. Sometimes t's a rough first draft of a poem I was writing. I found notes from strangers thanking me for "being there" for them in a little gift shop in Gatlinburg, Tennessee called The Preacher's Wife. I find bows from corsages.

I found gift cards that had been attached to a bouquet of roses, or spring flowers, personal gifts..notes from my husband that say "I love you." I can't throw those away.

There are dozens of things like these. Every time I start to "clean house" and discard "stuff", I start looking at them ---again. And I can't throw them away. To un-enlightened eyes these things are just junk and someday other hands may carelessly toss them in the trash. But not me. I can't throw them away. They represent people and times and places that were important to me , things that memories are built upon. And those memories are precious to me. So, I guess I'll just have to buy more storage boxes and envelopes. See, I just found this pressed flower and oh, yes, I remember when it was .......

Are you smiling? Does this strike a familiar chord? I admit I go overboard but there is some value in keeping these Snips and Bits of Yesterday. All the memories are not sweet.

Sometimes an object will stir up old feelings of pain, disappointment, anger, fear, grief, loneliness. Some of the feelings should have been released long ago , dealt with and put in proper perspective. Do YOU have "baggage" like this that you keep holding onto? Things undealt with, still not settled.? Forgiveness not granted? Nor asked? Attitudes that keep you from moving ahead?

I remember an unusual statement about King Saul on his coronation day. The Bible says , "when they sought him, he could not be found." They inquired of the Lord where he, Saul, was and , "the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff." (1 Sam. 10:21-22) Don't let's be like Saul, hiding stubbornly or fearfully among the remains and stuff of the past . Are we afraid that, if we kiss the past goodbye and lay it to rest, that there will be nothing in the future that will be worth finding, worth attaining, worth living for?

Ah, the God of Yesterday is the God of Today and Tomorrow. He has wonderful things waiting for us Today and all of our Tomorrows. He has a big shining bow tied on the gift of LIFE ABUNDANT..but it isn't hidden in the stuff of Yesterday, whatever it might have been.

So, I'll probably keep saving little precious things, but I know--I KNOW..what they are; sweet tokens of the past, but they are not weights upon my spirit that hold me from living in God's Today. I thank Him for the joys and the memories and eagerly reach for His hand to lead me through the Tomorrows yet ahead.

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all rights.ruthmartin.2-05-04

WRITINGS OF RUTH MARTIN

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