Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Legacy

I had intended to post a long time ago about my father -in-law's funeral: how over 500 people attended, how every. single. person that spoke of him said the same thing, that he had changed their lives, that he always listened, that he always loved. That he was genuine and authentic. That he loved his Lord, loved his wife, and loved his children and there wasn't much more he needed. I've been a part of the Hillman family since I was 16 years old, but most of my life has been spent away from my in-laws. When I look at Mark as a man, as a husband, and as a father, I see Russ's legacy--not only in Mark, but in his siblings' lives as well. They are people that follow the Lord faithfully, that have no pretentions, and put their families first. I have spent a lot of time thinking about where I put my time and energy, how much time I spend trying to make an impression on others, and what exactly is my focus in life. I imagine we all spend some time in our lives wondering what our "legacy" will be. I don't know if Russ ever thought about that, but his memory is living on in the lives he touched throughout his life and ministry.

Mark's dad, however, could NOT throw anything away. EVER. It might have been something he felt attached to for sentimental reasons, or something that might come in handy some day, or maybe it seemed just wasteful to toss something you didn't really need, but no one else seemed to need it, either. The end result was a double garage that was stuffed full of...stuff. Bowling trophies from his army days. His Boy Scout uniforms. Annual planners. Copies of programs, bulletins, and handouts from events. Things from desk drawers. Scrapbooks of cards. It was all neatly stacked and neatly labeled, end of several days of sorting and tossing, we still didn't have a clear idea of why it all got saved. What we did realize was that what we have taken away from Russ's life are the memories and stories of a father and grandfather. Those can be stored in your heart and that never seems to run out of room!

Living overseas, we have very little compared to most of our friends. Our home doesn't have great storage, plus the shopping opportunities (think Target) are limited. I buy approximately 300 pounds of stuff per year--I know this because I haul it all back from the States every summer. That's it--a massive Target run and clothes for the year. Twice a year I round up whatever we aren't using and whatever doesn't fit and off it goes to the charity store. Even then, I can't believe how things do pile up (especially in places where our housekeeper tucks things when she doesn't know where to put them and we find the stashes). Sometimes I wonder what we'll have to pass down to the kids...our have a storage locker here in the States (our goal is to get rid of everything in it next summer except photos, the Thomas set, and a couple other items from the kids' childhood) but then I realize that most of whatever we have is enough. A small box of trinkets from each kid's childhood. Enough.

Too much stuff is too much stuff--literally and figuratively. Look at your house and garage. What do you have that you REALLY need? How much do you keep because you might need it someday or it was a good deal or....fill in the blank. Wouldn't life be lighter, feel cleaner, if you had less of what is all around your house?

We'll return to China with another 500 pounds of stuff, and I suppose there's some of it that we really don't need, but I did say NO to a LOT of stuff the kids said they really NEEDED. Being blessed with the ability to have so much doesn't mean we really need to much!