Monday, January 31, 2011

Making the Cut

If you haven't noticed the USA is a land flowing with milk and honey.  I know there is an economic crisis and all, but seriously almost every single American is rich by world standards. (I don't want to get off on another subject here so I'm saving an entire blog to show this, but for now let me just give you one statistic: If your income is $25,000 you are wealthier than approximately 90% of the world's population.  That's right, if you make $25,000 a year you are in the top 10% of wealthiest people in the world!)  There is so much stuff available to buy here in the US.  We have been blessed beyond measure with material wealth and material goods.  I think that the majority of North Americans are drowning in their stuff.  We spend so much time, energy and money just managing our things.  Moving them around, maintaining them, organizing them, cleaning them, weeding through them and getting rid of some of them because we all just have too much.

Since our family is only in the USA for approximately one year, we realize that even though there are so many things available to buy and even though many of them are available for such a good price, we still shouldn't buy too much. Why?  Because in just a few short months we will be packing our suitcases for our journey back to Bolivia and there is a limit on how many things we can take with us.  A very restricted limit imposed by the airlines and even by the country of Bolivia.  We can only carry two suitcases each and the suitcases can not be overweight (over 50 lbs.).  Knowing this I evaluate each purchase I make by a few criteria:  How much does this item weigh?  Will it make the cut of the small number of things that can fit into my suitcases?  Does it justify buying it if I have to leave it behind?  Even though we are celebrating our birthdays and we celebrated Christmas here in the States, we really have to watch every gift we purchase.  Is it small enough, light enough, and valuable enough to us to justify buying it and hauling it back to Bolivia?  One more consideration we have to give is will it fit in our cozy little apartment in Cochabamba.  Again we have a very limited amount of space in which to put all the things we are taking back with us once we get it home.  Is there a place to put it in our apartment?  Just to give you an idea of what this means let me give you an example.  When we had all of our bags packed to come to the States from Bolivia (and we were only bring about one bag each) we had to put them on the balcony because there was no room for all of our full suitcases in the apartment.  It is as I said cozy with 11 people living there in a small space. 

As I pondered the enormous task of taking back things that we will be wanting and needing for the next four or so years, I realize more and more I literally weigh each purchase carefully.  If it is not something that will be used up before we go back to Bolivia (i.e. cookie dough, good chocolate, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, flowers, Diet Dr. Pepper, Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos, candles) then I have to decide do I REALLY want this?  Do I want enough to buy it and cart it back to our little apartment?  Do I love it enough to leave something else behind in order to carry it?  There are somethings that for sure fall into this category: my new(er) laptop, our camera, pecans, makeup, our Kindles, Bath and Body Works stuff, Yankee Candles, many of my clothes, new sheets, some soft blankets, a dog tazer, good towels, computer software for homeschool, medicines, vitamins, Lip Smackers, a label maker, a sharp kitchen knife, Tupperware, a really big non-stick skillet, and good walking shoes...just to name a few).  Others just won't make the cut (many school books, a Crockpot, heavy tools, new pots and pans, lots of our clothes, our Christmas decorations, magazines, photo albums, my china dishes, toys (the kids get to carry one backpack each of whatever they want to haul in it), heavy coats and many other things.

All of this weighing and decision making of every item I buy has been good for me.  It makes me truly consider how much I want something and how perfect it is for me.  Do these shoes rub my little toe sometimes?  They're out.  Are these the absolute most comfortable flannel sheets I've ever felt?  They're in.  Is this jacket not really my color?  It's out.  Do I want something to remind me of our time at Walt Disney World?  The refrigerator magnets are in.  How often will I really use this cookbook?  It's out.  Do I want to remember the smells of fall at 'home'?  The pumpkin candles are in.  Everything I value as worth fitting in my bag has to be special to me:  It makes me look skinnier (clothes); I could walk for miles in them (shoes); I can't get this in Cochabamba (pecans);  It reminds me of 'home' (home decor items).  Will it be a special treat to my friends there?  (I'm not telling this's gotta be a surprise)  When I get down to the actual packing even more will get weeded out.  Only the best of the best will make the journey with me.  The space is just too precious to take stuff that is just so-so.

All this evaluating of stuff got me to thinking.  I am being so vigilant in preparing for our journey back to Bolivia because even though I am here in the States now, it is no longer my home.  It is only my temporary home.  My home for this year.  A place where I am for a short while not permanently.  A place that I am enjoying and loving, but I know that one day soon my time here will be over.  This reminded me that as a Christian, this world is not my home.  It is only a place where I am for a short while.  My temporary home.  It's a place that I know and love, but I realize that I will not be here forever.  One day in the not too distant future my time here will be over.  The only things I can take with me from this place are eternal things.  Matthew chapter 6 tells us Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  I need to be just as vigilant about what I am packing in this life.  What is it that will actually make the cut into the next one?  In talking about what we do with our lives here on this earth Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3 "Anyone who builds on that foundation (Jesus) may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.  If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames."    Am I packing this life with things that will be burned up when I stand in front of the Great Judge or am I packing it full of precious things that will stand?   What things are worth collecting here in this life?  What is worth investing my time, money and energy in? 

As I evaluate my suitcase space I look at what I can fit in that's worth taking and what I should leave out because as wonderful as it may be (Diet Dr. Pepper) I just can't justify the weight of taking it with me.  I believe I should be even more watchful as I appraise what I fit in my life on this earth.  Just because it's good doesn't mean that I have space for it or that I should include it in my life.  I should only put in the best of the best.  I should save my time and money for things of eternal value.  That's what I should be packing in my life.

How about you?  What are you packing in your life that will make the journey with you into the next?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Last year here in the DC area they were pounded with tons of snow.  In fact at right about this time one year ago there were 30 inches of snow on the ground outside of the window that I am looking out right now.  At that time I was in Bolivia enjoying our 85 degree sunny weather.  As I saw all the pictures of cars and porches and doghouses covered in snow posted by friends I admit that I felt twinges of envy.  I love living in Cochabamba.  It is my home now, but we have pretty much the same weather year round in the daytime (about the only way you can tell the different seasons is the night time temperatures vary a little more).  It gets up into the 80s in the daytime unless it’s rainy season and it’s just a little cooler as long as the clouds last, but the next day it will back into the 80s again.  Hot Christmases were one of my biggest adjustments to make in Cochabamba.  We get sunburned on Christmas.  I know many Northern Virginians got their fill of snow last year and want a year ‘off’ with no blizzards, but I say BRING IT ON!!!  Bring on the blizzard.  I want snow.  Lots of it.  Tons of it.  I want the kind of storm where we can’t get out of our long winding driveway.  The kind where we are snowed in.  The kind where we have snowball fights, build snowmen and snow forts and then go inside and drink hot chocolate.  I want to enjoy one BIG blizzard during our time in the States.  I want it to be a memory I carry back to Bolivia with me.  I want to remember the freezing fingers of kids on my back and face.  Their red noses so cold that they are numb.  I want to remember snow angels and kids dressed up in so many layers they look like ticks about to pop.  The weather channel says it is supposed to snow tomorrow, here’s hoping it’s a good one!  I’ve got my hot chocolate ready just in case.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Last night our family was talking about the value of paintings.  Joe mentioned to the kids that he remembers a long time ago when the Kimball Art Museum in Ft. Worth purchased a Van Gogh and that they paid more for it than any of their previous exhibits.  Numbers in the millions of dollars for paintings baffled our kids, so one finally spoke up and said "WHAT is the picture of?".  She was thinking what on earth could someone have painted that could be worth so much money.  I told her that it's not what is in the picture but WHO painted it makes it so valuable.  It was painted by a master artist.

Then God spoke to me once again about the value of people.  People are valuable just because God made them and we should treat them as such.  But do we?  Do we treat people as the masterpieces that they are?  It doesn't matter what they've done with their lives or their 'quality of life'.  They are precious just because they were made by God in His image.  They have additional value because of the price that He paid for them...the blood of His only Son.  It doesn't matter that they don't have a job, or a house.  It doesn't matter that they are still in their mother's belly.  It doesn't matter that they are old or feeble.  It doesn't matter that they don't have the same political views as me.  It doesn't matter that their belief system infuriates me.  It doesn't matter that they color on my walls and mess up my desk and aren't conscientious about cleaning up after themselves. 

People are valuable to God.  He made us and then he bought us with the most precious commodity there is.  Himself.  He didn't wait for us to try and do something to prove our value or to straighten up our lives.  He loved us when we were unlovable.  He brought us back to Himself when we wanted nothing to do with Him.  Do I demonstrate that love of who God that loved us when we hated Him or do I portray the selfish kind of love who wants people to act a certain way before I will bless them with my love and acceptance?

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5:6-8)

I love to go to yard sales and hearing stories of people who bought something at a yard sale for a quarter that ended up being a work of art worth millions of dollars excites me.  Have you ever heard a story of someone who found a painting in their attic and took it to an appraiser and they discover it's worth a fortune.  What if you discovered a masterpiece by Van Gogh in your attic?  The real deal.  How would you treat it?  We we are daily surrounded masterpieces.  We live with them, work with them, encounter them on the street and in our neighborhood.  Works of God...the Greatest Master of all.  How do we treat the works of art that He has created?  People are so much more valuable than anything created by man.   They were created by God.  Imagine that.  A masterpiece by God made to have a relationship with Him. 

For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  (Ephesians 2:10)

I pray that I will see people for the great works of art that they are.  That I will see that God is not finished with any of us, but He made us and is working in and on all of us.  We are all still in process.  He is molding and making us into His image.  Give me eyes to see the value of God's masterpieces and to treat them as worth His precious blood.  May I treat humanity with the respect that they deserve.  May I treat each masterpiece, each person, as priceless.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Can't Get Enough

In no particular order here are things that a girl just can’t have too many of….

Lip Smackers…every size, shape, color and taste…including one in every pocket, purse, bedside table drawer, bathroom drawer, desk drawer, kitchen drawer, coat pocket, cup holder in the car…

Friends…real ones…ones you can call on to talk you down off the ledge, rejoice with, or help you bury the body without questioning you about it until afterward (just kidding), but most importantly those who encourage you on your journey with the Lord

Good smells including perfumes, lotions, room sprays, diffusers, and candles


Moments alone


Sincere compliments from those who love her

Hot baths

Bath and Body Works Lotions (see above under good smells)

Reasons to celebrate

Flavors of diet soda and tea

Christmas decorations

Pictures of loved ones


Days in the company of her family

Nights alone with her honey

Romantic songs on her ipod


Intimate moments….with God, with her hubby, with her children, with her family, with her friends

Hours spent in amazement at the awesomeness of God

Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups

Colors of fingernail polish

Good recipes

Times truly worshiping God with other believers

People who read her blog

Feel free to comment and add your own.  I know I’ve left out plenty.

New Years' Resolution

I really don't do New Year Resolutions, but I really am going to try and update my blog at least twice a week.  Keep me accountable....if there is anyone out there still reading my blog that is.....and we'll see how it goes.