Thursday, August 02, 2007


As I am dealing with all sorts of things concerning my mother’s business and preparing to empty her house of all ‘things’, I am struck with the truth I find in the following statement: “You cannot take anything with you when you die.”

I find that the sorts of things I want to keep are perhaps the most meaningless of all the ‘stuff’ they had. Going through her books (and when I say going through her books I mean books by the hundreds- and I am NOT exaggerating) I found a book that her and I read when I was only 13 years old. It was a book by Dr. Dobson for young boys and parents to read together. I absolutely HATED reading that book. Today I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the donation box headed to the local Adult Literacy Council. It is kind of funny when you think about it.

I found a letter that I had written my mother on her first day of teaching. She had laminated it and put herself a note at the bottom so that she could remember when I gave it to her. It is only a laminated sheet of paper with a note that would mean nothing to everyone else on the planet but me. How worthless is something like that?

Every book I picked up today had to be flipped through. I don’t know what I was looking for? I was just looking, looking for all that worthless ‘stuff’ that has no real value. I snatched up the smallest piece of paper and turned over every bookmark in search of anything meaningful. Some books were only saved simply because I discovered on some of their pages notes or thoughts of my mother’s; for some reason, even though I may never read them again, I could not throw them away.

I find it so odd because all of these things have no monetary value. Who would pay for a laminated note from a child to his mother? All these things however are valuable to me, but not to anyone else. So many people waist so much time earning money and buying ‘things’, they don’t realize, and if they do realize they forget, that none of these things will ever leave this earth.

I am going through my parent’s things, and there is SO much, but the only things that matter to me seem to be the smallest most insignificant items. Why?

I am thankful that my parents where not the type of people who spent their lives trying to keep ahead in the rat race of life. They did not stay away from our home working long hours to provide us with expensive, empty, and meaningless things. Of course, they had to learn that lesson, just like everyone else.

Shortly after my parents were married they moved to Florida. It was at that time that they had my sister, Michelle. My father was given an opportunity to go to another state and make three times the amount of money he was making in Florida. Seeing an opportunity to provide his family with ‘more’ he took the job. For three months he lived in another state sending money home and calling often. Three months after moving back to Florida, my sister died suddenly in her sleep. She was only six months old, and my father only knew her for three.

It was at that time that my mother said he made her a promise. He told her that he would do everything he could to provide for his family, but he would never leave her or their children in order that they would have ‘more’. He kept his promise. My brother and I never had everything we wanted, and we certainly never had everything everyone else did, but we did have everything we needed. Perhaps the thing we needed most was both of our parents and we had them, always.

‘Stuff’ and ‘Things’ get in the way for so many people. Far too many people have the most ridiculous amount of extravagant stuff and not enough laminated sheets of paper with hand written notes.

This next week we will be moving lots of ‘stuff’! I am going to keep myself offline as much as possible to allow myself every opportunity to be working during my free time. If you wonder where I am- I haven’t fallen off the end of the earth, not yet anyway- I’m just dealing with stuff!


Lynn said...

Take your time with the 'stuff' and be ever thankful for each and every piece of 'worthless' sheets of paper you find.

Gene Holley, Jr. said...

This is an awesome post and so true. Thanks for the reminder. We love you.

Billy and Michelle said...

I love this post Bro Joseph. We are keeping you and the boys in our prayers.

Mandy said...

Wow Joseph, this was wonderful! I have had many thoughts along these line concerning couple getting multiple job trying to get more and better "stuff". You said it beautifully, it sounds like you have a Sunday School lesson in the making. You are an awesome person doing an awesome job at all the things you are involved with!!!

Isom said...

Thanks for the post. Just yesterday I was thinking poor Breann just doesn't have much girly toys, and thinking of all the neat ones they have out now days. Even in this thought I stopped my self to think it doesn't really matter if she has a lot of toys cause in the end it will surely just help her to understand how to do without some things and learn what it is to not have everything she wants. This will be a greater lesson to her than me running out trying to keep her stocked up on all the cool things. Thanks again!

Roxana said...

Super post Joseph!
I will remember to pray for you often this week as you clean up and go through all of these memories. My bro and sis and I always tell our parents, "I get ----when you die, but I can wait a long time" I can't imagine what it will be like to actualy have to go through it all.

Tammy Bryant said...

Bro. Joseph--

As I sit here and read this post I just become teary eyed and melancholy. Oh, how I love to read your take on life, it so reminds me of someone very dear and special to me. Yes, you have figured it out - your mom!

You keep having those special moments about insignificant things & sharing and we will keep getting fat from the depth of your words.

You are AWESOME!!!

Karla said...

WOW! I sit here with tears in my eyes as I read this post. I know all the feelings you are having right now. I completely understand the concept of a "worthless" piece of paper or a book with a little side note in it. One of my most precious possessions is several recipes of my moms (especially homemade ice cream) and my dad's chili recipe that were written in their handwriting. These may be worthless to someone else, but they are priceless to me. Thanks for sharing your heart - and know that we do understand. Love you!!

Keith and Carla said...

Great post and SO true! I, like the others, am sitting here with tears. You guys have been in our prayers.

I am thankful that my Dad chose the same route that your dad did. He had the opportunity to make double what he did, but chose to stay with his family instead. Our parents have given us a whole lot more than "things!"

Linda Elms said...

WOW!!! I along with Karla understnad all the special feelings toward those insiginificant things of your parents. I LOVE having anything they wrote on. I am thankful for parents that saw the "gold" in simplicity! Today (Aug. 5) marked 6 years that Mother has been gone, and I can definitely say, "God has been good to me! He has helped me and kept me through the dark, lonely hours." You are in our prayers. Take your time "remembering". These are precious times in your life.

Ashley said...

Your words are so touching. I think it takes us a while to realize how important the 'meaningless' stuff are. My eyes filled with tears as I read the post. However, now days I cry about everything. LOL!

JulieK said...

Wow words soooo true! I sit hear like others wiping my eyes. Just today i was cleaning out a few things and ran across a card my mother in law gave us this past anivsary. I could not bring myself to throw it away. I also tucked away a few other treasures of my childrens today in the bucket of memories! We are praying for you this week I know it is rough. It is still so fresh for us each time we go home. Try to enjoy the memories they are our greatest treasure!