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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Regarding Trash and Treasure

As my boys walked down the hallway, their towheads inclined conspiratorially towards each other, I leaned closer from my position behind them to hear what they were saying.

Corban looped his arm around Micah's neck and pulled him closer.

"Micah," he whispered. "If you have anything really special that Mama thinks is trash, you might want to hide it in your dresser."

I smothered a laugh as we rounded the corner into their bedroom. So they weren't buying the claim that I wanted to rearrange their room just to make the most of their space! Yes, this Mama purges her house frequently. Clutter doesn't stand a chance.

And I'm continually amazed that it still finds its way in! No matter how often I clear my desk, papers and baby books and school books and cd's still manage to fill the space nearly the moment I've finished. Drawers in my kitchen collect odd twist ties and clothespins and toothpicks, seemingly by magic!

And that leads us to my sons' room.

Oh, it is a purging Mama's nightmare!
Little boys = legos.
Little boys = tinker toys.
Little boys = Playmobil knights.
Little boys = Lincoln Logs = Cowboys and Indians.

In other words, little boys = clutter.

I am getting better at accepting this fact. Really, I am! But I am definitely not content to let it get out of hand, so once every two months or so, you will find me as general of the troops, kneeling by bins of soldiers and matchbox cars, dumping and tossing and categorizing. The boys get excited with the process, exclaiming how nice the room is looking before we've hardly begun.

This month, we had a whole box of trash to pitch and a couple of larger toys to give away. Toys that only last purge-fest were held in the tight grip of a little boy's hand, his eyes begging me to reconsider. Somehow I knew he would be able to let it go at the next session, and so he was.

After we gazed in satisfaction at the room, sharing high-fives, I released them to play outside while I vacuumed. And curiosity got the better of me.

Would you like to hear what I found in their dresser drawers?

1 broken camera.
7 "gold" treasure coins.
1 handmade treasure map. Of Mexico.
2 knights, housed in a dirty, holey sock.
5 rocks
1 empty Carcassonne expansion box, now holding pictures of Daddy from high school.

Treasures. That my little boys thought I would view as trash. (I probably would have - at the very least, I would have given the knights a more merciful death - trapped in dirty socks? Ew!)

Now lost in thought, I quietly replaced their treasures in the drawer.

Purging is good for the home, and so good for the heart as well. Our Savior's home. It is wise to examine the contents regularly, and to decipher between what is trash and what is treasure; to take the time to ask, what is taking up vauable space that could better house a more noble characteristic? Better yet - What is disguising the good in my life?

[Jesus said,] "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
In my haste to release those things that are deemed trash in my life, I pray for the wisdom to distinguish it from the treasure.

Let go of laziness, but don't forget to hold onto the part of me that will drop what I'm doing to lay on the floor and read a book with my children.

Let go of the irritation that arises when I'm feeling moody, but don't forget to share with my husband how I'm feeling.

Let go of the obsessive part of my nature regarding housecleaning, but don't forget that order and schedule play a key role in my family's well-being.

Let go of my worry when I think about the near future, but don't forget to meet my Father in prayer over the situation.

The treasures in the midst of the trash are worth holding on to, even though they may not look it - I think I will keep them when next I purge my heart.

And now a distinguished place to store my treasure is in order - perhaps the place of honor in a little boy's underwear drawer, alongside some stinky knights and a map?

Yes, I think that will do very nicely.

You are always welcome at my little place - A Path Made Straight

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Blogger Christine said...

Oh, our boys would get along so well...

I have so much to purge from my life and heart and I should let my children help decide what should go, as I often help them. They would say to rid myself of the frowns, the harsh words, the impatience...

Wonderful post, Elise.

July 6, 2007 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Papa said...

Dearest Daughter:
In your own inimitable way, you restate for us the awesomeness of God's call of "putting to death the deeds of the flesh" (Rom. 8:13). How very like our children we are - calling something a treasure that is really trash in the Eyes of the One Who Calls us. Yet He treats us with the gentleness and thoughtfulness that you exemplify with your boys - firmly yet lovingly leading them through the process until they are ready to let go - repent - throw away. And they feel the release and the freshness that comes!

How Great a Father we have! You can teach them the steps of dealing with sin, and of growing in holiness - the sanctification process - because He has been leading you down the same road. Keep leading them! Keep following Him!

Love, Papa

July 6, 2007 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I love those little boys' treasures. They warm my heart! My little girls keep little treasure boxes filled with things they think are treasures: beads, feathers, odd assortment of outdoor things. Those are real treasures.
Yes, purging it all is a balance.

July 7, 2007 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Sherry said...

Your thoughts were a Blessing. My kids are grown and I miss those little ones. Your discription of the event made me smile and makes me remember my own packrat son and daughter too. Photograph every minute. Then you'll have more to purge later but those photo's will be treasures that I think will Bless you later. Thanks for your post it did Bless me.

July 7, 2007 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

Elise - what a beautiful reflection on trash and treasure. When our son was little we had those periodical times of purging the trash (now he does it himself :)).
You are right, we sometimes have to purge the trash in our hearts, but also hold on to the treasures we have collected along the way.

Be blessed today and always.

July 7, 2007 at 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Lynn said...


This post tugged at my heart. I remember my little guy who is now almost 25 and the crazy stuff he would drag in.

This post was a dilight to read and cheered my heart. Thank you.

July 7, 2007 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Great post, really enjoyed it.

July 7, 2007 at 6:12 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Beautifully written! And a great lesson for another Mom with little boys! Thank you!

July 10, 2007 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

this was wonderful....

i think our boys must be cut from the same cloth..:))


July 13, 2007 at 7:52 PM  

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