Friday, November 21, 2008

Me and My Stuff

Thanksgiving is almost here...I have less than a week to get ready. We will have a house full of people to join us in giving thanks, mostly international friends from our church's ESL program. The cooking starts in a few days, and then it's time to start preparations for Christmas and New Year's. Hospitality is a non stop endeavor.

Today, I organized my pantry, kitchen cupboards and the storage shelves of canned goods in the laundry room to get ready for holiday baking and cooking. I found a few items way beyond their expiration dates, and a few others that had none but had gone bad when I checked for quality. The only way to see if the crackers were still good was to taste them, and unfortunately, there is very little worse than a rancid cracker taste lingering in your mouth. I found a can of pumpkin without it's label, so I opened it to see if it was okay. I wasn't sure, so out it went. The hardest loss was the jar of minced garlic--it was never opened even though it expired a month ago. I opened it to examine the contents, there was a breach in the seal which meant there could be spoilage.

I followed the example of my mom who made sure that the pantry was always stocked, but often had food sitting there unused for 10 years. The same for Grandma. I've cut back on that, but habits die hard. My larder is getting smaller, and even Dennis noticed and suggested that we do some shopping. I think not. In the effort to try to save money, money is wasted if you never use it.

I made a bean soup today using veggies in the fridge that were getting old but still fresh enough to eat as well as some dried herbs in the same condition. It felt good to look at storage and refrigerator spaces not stuffed to the gills. I have been working towards that through out the whole house. It's not something I am used to. I prune and de-clutter only to see that I have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Right now, although I have gotten rid of a lot of clothes in my closet, I have way more skirts than I actually wear. I love skirts. I also love books, and it shows since I have more than I know what to do with. But I gotta ask, why hang onto all this abundance? And don't think I haven't been tempted to buy more skirts, although I have held back from the compulsion. Books, well, I got to work on that...library cards help a lot.

I don't wear the skirts because they aren't practical in Michigan where winter lasts most of the year. And in the off winter months, I'm not dressing up that much because I got out of the habit. I got to the point where I pulled them all out of the closet and asked myself what would help them be wearable. It amounted to tights and boots, and coordinating sweaters. I buy sweaters for wearing with jeans, never give the skirts a thought. The boot factor is that my current dress boots are not made to deal with ice and snow. They are made to look pretty and not much else. I bought them when I lived in non snow places.

How important are the right shoes in Michigan? Last night, we went to the movies and when we were walking out to the car in the parking lot, I was slipping all over the place--when we got to the theater, there was no ice, but after a few hours, the temps fell and I had a dilemma because I chose shoes for looks and comfort, not for weather conditions. Funny, since I wore the appropriate coat and hat and gloves for freezing temperatures.

I am re-reading "God and Your Stuff" by Wesley K. Willmer. It is convicting. In Chapter One, Willmer starts with this:

"While few Christians seem to take seriously what they do with their possessions or stuff, Scripture makes it clear in Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we are all to give an account of our lives to God at the end of our earthly existence. We will be asked about how we used our money and possessions such as:
-Where did it all go?
-What did you spend it on?
-What was accomplished for eternity with all the things God entrusted to you here on earth?

Scripture further points out that God has entrusted us with His possessions as a test while on earth to determine the status of our soul in heaven (see Luke 16:1-9). As a result of this test, God is able to determine our spiritual maturity, and the character or condition of our soul for eternity. These are all serious issues of the Christian life."

Some of the reasons I haven't shifted from non snow dress boots to snow ready dress boots are along the lines of not wanting to spend money on vanity. Wearing pants and jeans to nearly all events like a winter uniform of sorts and giving up feeling feminine while the snow falls and the ice freezes is one of the reasons I have a hard time with winter. It took six years to figure it out. And give myself permission to go ahead and buy the items I want. As long as I understand that it isn't my priority, my reason to live or my purpose.

But it is interesting that it takes thinking about my possessions and my management of them to plan and organize in order to be free of them. Once I get the appropriate boots, then every time I open my closet door I won't be thinking about them and resentful that I haven't worn a skirt since I don't know when. Freedom from preoccupation of material things takes actually thinking about them so that I can stop thinking about them.

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