Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lessons in a Messy Garage

by Barbara Early

Every now and then, life sends us the perfect illustration for a Scripture verse.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Mat 6:19-21

What event amplified this verse to me? Our much needed cleaning of the garage.

It felt good to be outside--for part of the time--making progress on this long-neglected task. We made many trips to the road and met a few people who stopped by and claimed some of the more salvageable material we threw out. And it certainly feels good to have a clean garage, sore muscles aside.

One thing that was rather sad, though, is the loss of some things that were at one time valuable--things that had been set aside in the garage for a time, and then forgotten.

There was a blanket that a friend crocheted for me, that had been put into the car for a picnic, and then set on a shelf. The mice had found it (we live in the country), and turned it into nesting material. There were a number of old toys--Frisbees, deflated balls, etc-- the mice also found their way into. (I hope the enterprising folk who picked them up clean them well.) My grandfather’s old croquet set…sigh. It had spent time under a leaky roof, and the wooden mallets were warped. They don’t make them that way anymore. Not that I can recall the last time we played croquet. And a few gardening tools that had been left on the concrete floor had rusted.

I’d hate to put a cash value to the “treasures” we hauled out to the road, things that were no longer useful to us, or through neglect were no longer serviceable. And trust me, there’s more where that came from. (This was only one step in our plan to declutter our house and lives. Wait until we get to the basement.)

Like many Americans, we just have too many things.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have and enjoy possessions--and to thank God for them. He’s the giver of all good things, after all. But heaping up so much unneeded stuff that it rusts, corrodes, and falls apart?

Or even if you do keep all the “stuff” maintained, there’s something sad when you’re too tired to enjoy it. (This, by the way, keeps me from drooling over real estate with more than two bathrooms.)

But more importantly, keeping our eyes on temporal things will keep us from focusing on eternal things--on laying up treasures in heaven.

A few years back, when I was teaching Christian school, I often had the reverse problem. I spent so much time each day away from my home in service. And on bad days, when I questioned if it were all worth it, I often cranked an old cassette (yes, ok, it was more than a few years back), and listened to this song on the tape player.

Store It Up Above

Jesus told about a man whose barns were full as they could be
He planned to tear them down and build some more
Oh he laughed unto himself and thought he’d live a life of ease
But he died and left what he was working for.

I’m gonna to store it up above
In the glory of His love
Where the troubles of this world
Will fade away.
I’m gonna keep it up with Him
Till I reach my journey’s end.
I’m gonna store my wealth with Jesus
Till that day.

So don’t store your richness here on earth where moth and rust decay,
Where thieves break and steal them for their own.
For true wealth is not made up of things whatever men man say.
Store your richness up in God’s eternal home.

It helped to think--even when things didn’t turn out the way I hoped--that God had my work and kept it safe with Him.

Q. What can you store in heaven this week?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book format from White Rose Publishing in December 2011. You can learn more about her writing on her personal blog: or see what's for dinner on her recipe blog:


  1. I'm in full house cleaning mode right now. I'm going for clean and sparse. It feels great and finally I have stuff for the church garage sale in June!

    I've put all my clothes in the living room to sort. I do a closet 'switch' from winter to summer and I'm in the between stage. I'm not a clothes horse. I buy 1-2 new things a year plus jeans, etc, from Salvation Army. But this is really amazing and sad to look at HOW MUCH I have. (I have a box of slips. Yes. Slips. I haven't worn a dress in, uh, a long time, but I can't seem to part with my slips- full, half, multiple lengths and colors...yikes)

    Barb, you've encouraged me to think about a conscious effort to see that I store up the right stuff instead. Wonderfully illustrated! Sorry about the croquet set.

  2. Don't even talk to me about clothes. I've been going through my closet too. Or closets, I should say, a little at a time.

    You know what they say about keeping things that are too small in your closet for motivation? It's working opposite for me. I took out everything that didn't fit, and my closet is so lean, I'm working hard now to "earn" my clothes back.

    And yeah, the croquet set was sad. But I remember a quote from one of those organizational shows--Stuff is not the same as memories. The memories of our backyard croquet matches will endure, even when the set is gone.

  3. We just cleaned out and put new furniture in daughter's room yesterday.

    I always feel like the time I spend with my kids is the best spent time. Especially now that they're getting to an age that they're busy most of the time.

  4. Dina, a very good use of time! And one might argue (quite effectively)that spending time with your kids is service to God, since He's the one who entrusted them to your care.

    As a recent empty nester, I say enjoy while you can.

  5. Here's a question. I organized some photos and GASP threw some out (no one cares about 24 photos of zoo animals or a Disney world parade...

    But I have a huge box of just negatives. Is there any sense in hanging on to them?

  6. I'm trying to find the energy to clean closets and the spare room. Unfortunately I'd rather be writing. It does seem like whenever I make progress on the closet cleaning, something happens to side track me and then things get clogged up all over again. :-(

  7. Great post! I'm dealing with all of my clutter...just not very well, I'm afraid. I definitely have too much stuff.

    Thanks for the perspective.

  8. LOL. You can tell I have an earlier bedtime. Sorry to miss the comments.

    Deb, I guess we keep negatives because they're small, and easier to store than sort through.

    Suzie--that's my battle too. And unfortunately my garage cleaning has left me with an injured knee that's keeping me on the couch while my house seemingly falls apart around me.

    And thanks, Susanne. Hang in there. There is something delightfully liberating about decluttering.

  9. Great post, Barb. Too much stuff. Yep. And I can relate to the mice... they're in the tack room and made a nest beneath the horn of a new saddle where it sat on a wooden horse. Of course it was a perfect spot for a nest, but did they have to use the sherpa lining of the saddle too?

    Deb, re the old negatives, it depends on what they are and how valuable the photos taken from them. I put all my negatives in a negative file which is an album with plastic pages - one page per film. That was fine pre-digital.

    But now that I can scan my photos on my computer, I don't need the negatives any more. Except that somehow I've misplaced some of my photos and the negatives are the only proof they existed. I can make more as long as I have either the photo or the negative. Because of that, I'm keeping hold of my negative file. However, I don't keep it in the house with my photos. It's in an outbuilding with some other things. That way, if something happens to our house - fire, tornado, etc, I still have my photos in one form or another.

    But then, I'm a photo freak. :D


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