Crusty Old Medicine

Confession: whilst cleaning out our supply of medicines, I was MOST excited about finding the oldest expiration date in my pile.  I am not a believer in hard & fast expiration dates onmedicine pile medicines…most of them certainly work past that date. BUT, when purging excess, it’s a good rule of thumb to whittle the initial pile down.

I might also say that medicine doesn’t necessarily “spark joy.”  Obviously my criteria for what to keep here was quite a bit more utilitarian.

The majority of our medicine lives in a cabinet in our master bathroom, and a plastic storage bin.  (Some items like vitamins live in the pantry, and I had a few items in my nightstand.)  My starting pile doesn’t look as big as it really was once everything was out of the containers.

This goes fast, especially when you stick with the expiration date rule.  AND THE OLDEST THING I FOUND WAS FROM 2002.  Like I said…I am not super strict when it comes to expired medicines, but I’m talking about a few months to a year.  Not 14 years.  That’s excessive.  And gross.  And probably crusty.

medicine organizedTo my GREAT delight (but not really surprise anymore) the items I kept fit perfectly in the cabinet in our bathroom and the little plastic bin for the pantry.

I tried to organize by type of medicine, and put things in front that are used more often.

And the big plastic drawer I had filled with stuff is now completely empty and ready to possibly be put to better use in some other space (I’m thinking pet supplies or pantry day).

I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but man.  Once again, I am feeling so thankful and blessed when I reflect on this session.  In a previous post, I mentioned the documentary “Living on One Dollar.”  A group of guys travels to rural Guatemala and attempts to replicate life in a small, rural farming town by living on one dollar per day.  At one point in the Documentary, one of the guys gets very ill and ends up having a nasty little bacteria called Giardia.  He needed antibiotics desperately.  Because of their limited income, he had enough money to travel to the doctor, but not afford the medication. Luckily, they had an emergency fund that they tapped into so he could get his fluids replenished and recover.

Thinking back to that portion of the documentary, I remember feeling so….HEAVY. People in that village probably face difficulties like that on a regular basis. And sitting here now, reflecting on cleaning up our medicine supply, I’m of course painfully aware of how EASY it is for us to have the medicines we need.  And it’s humbling to think about how many people in the world have to suffer through sicknesses for which medicine exists because they cannot afford to get to it or even a doctor in some cases.

Yet, light shines in the darkest places.  Even in this village, among some of the poorest of the poor, the people who live there always place some of their income into a “community fund” and each month, a different family gets to have the whole fund.  There is also one man in the community who has a regular job cleaning rooms at a motel.  He is not rich by any means, but he has a more steady income than the others.  He gives and helps and feeds his neighbors whenever he can.  Talk about selfless.  Oftentimes, it’s a lot easier to be giving when you know what it feels like to be desperately in need.

We are blessed, people.  So blessed.  I am starting to believe that the only comparisons I find blessingsshould ever make are the ones with folks who have less than I do.  For most Americans, that is so very counter-cultural.  We live in a world where we are BOMBARDED with advertisements and everywhere we look, we find the message that we need MORE.  No one talks enough about needing less and yet many of us could CERTAINLY survive (and in MANY cases, THRIVE) with a LOT less.  I’d rather compare myself with a person who has little so that I might continue to be humble and thankful.  So that I might have an opportunity to help that person meet a need, or pray for that person.

It is so easy to get pulled down by the gravity of what others deal with on a daily basis, but I think that’s necessary for us sometimes.  And I think if we could all focus a little less on things we want and focus more on what we can do to help someone else, the world would be a much better, happier place.  I’m as guilty of being selfish and materialistic as the next person.  But it is my intention to walk as far from those things as I can and guard my heart against them.  I can only do it with God’s help.  But He who starts a good work in me will finish it.

Until next time,

S

 

 

Hard Questions

I have already encountered ugly, ugly things in my own heart as I’ve been on this road to simplicity.

I’m not sure anything can really prepare you to confront the ugliest parts of yourself, except for Jesus and faith.  Even for all the instances where I’ve shown a lack of faith (too many to even remember), somehow, faith still lives in me.  Even if I can’t see through the mire of “right now”, I still hold the unwavering truth that “Jesus is in this somewhere.” And the only explanation is Jesus Himself, living in me!

The first ugly thing that I had to confront in myself on this journey was a very real desire for wealth and earthly possessions.  A new car, a bigger house, more this, more that.  I am

2015 acura MDX
Photo Credit: pohankaacura.com

ashamed of myself, I truly am.  The thing is, though, I always felt uncomfortable about it, even before I could really admit that something was wrong. I was defensive if I read something that hinted I wasn’t on the right track.  I found ways to legitimize what I wanted.  And I know I still fall into this thinking from time to time!

 

But at some point, I admitted I was uncomfortable with myself and a profound change took place.  I read Andy Stanley’s book “How to Be Rich” in which he discusses that by the WORLD’S standards, most every American IS
How to Be RichALREADY RICH.  “Rich” doesn’t just mean Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg.  It means you and me.  (You can find a link to the book on my Suggested Reading page.) The thing is, it never FEELS like that because in our culture, the normal way of life is to “climb the ladder” and make more to get more.  On to the next!  Bigger and better!  Think about all the publications and advertisements that exist just to make sure you know that you DON’T quite have it ALL just yet.  You still need this, that or the other thing.  It’s quite normal to start making more, then immediately adjust to that increase by spending more as well.  In fact, that’s pretty hard NOT to do for most of us.

Then, I learned during a sermon at our church about a website where you can enter your salary and see how your income and/or wealth compares with the rest of the world.  My Husband’s salary alone was among the highest incomes of the world’s population.  That day in church, our pastor also told us that most Christians spend more on pet food than they do giving.  He also talked about how so many of us live beyond our means thanks to the magic of CREDIT CARDS, and challenged us to think about how much we have that we don’t need, as well as how much we COULD give if it weren’t for the debt we’d racked up. Maybe we don’t need a plan to get out of debt as much as we need to re-evaluate our lifestyles.  Ouch.

The Lord was giving me a heavy dose of reality and perspective. Thinking in global terms shook me out of what felt like a half-awake stupidity.  OF COURSE there was more to life than calculating how much MORE money we’d need to get the stuff we wanted.  Now I wasn’t sitting around thinking about what I DIDN’T have–I was marveling at what I DID have and how it was truly far beyond what I had originally believed.   Compared to the WORLD, we have over-the-top, without a doubt, unquestionably MORE THAN ENOUGH.

De-cluttering led me to disbelief at how much I still had. Beginning to tidy up and journaling my experiences here has brought intense gratitude and appreciation for the items that we own.  In fact, the more I really think and study in global terms, the more over-the-top our American way of life seems.

My husband and I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Living on One Dollar.”  It chronicles a group of guys who traveled to rural Guatemala and attempted to live there amongliving on one dollar the people on one dollar per day.  When the documentary was over, I was silent for a moment as I reflected on just how stark a difference there was between that rural, farm community life and my own life.  We had gone to COSTCO that day, for crying out loud!  It is sobering to think yours or my “typical” American life is something that is so very very foreign to so many.

How materially blessed we Americans are leads to hard questions.  Why was I born in America, while someone else was born in a place like rural Guatemala, fighting to survive on an average of one dollar a day?  Should I feel guilty for what we have?  What am I going to do with the knowledge that there are people surviving with SO MUCH LESS than I have?  Do we pack up and go on mission trips?  Do we sell all our possessions, get that tiny house and go full minimalist after all?  IS IT BAD TO WANT THINGS?

These are undoubtedly difficult questions, most of which I cannot answer.  What I do

gods purpose
Photo taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

know is that Jesus is somewhere to be found in each and every one of them.  I know that some of these questions have led me right here, sitting on the floor in my bedroom typing this blog post. One of my favorite things about God is that He’s always working; always leading.  He knows what’s around the bend, and the bend after that.  There is purpose, even when we can’t see it or comprehend it.  So again, I’m saying: choose to be grateful today, and keep your eyes and ears open for the Lord.  Read a new book. Watch a documentary.  If you never have, think about how you live vs. how the world lives.  I mean REALLY think about it.   You may have to look at something a little ugly on a page or a screen (and maybe in the mirror), but it will begin change you in the best possible ways.

Much love,

S