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things

By Michelle Lehnardt

Yesterday, I wrote on my personal blog about my mother’s piano. As religious people, we take the attitude of eschewing worldly things, of treasuring our relationships, not our possessions. And yet, I feel a great spiritual peace in my mother’s gorgeous grand piano (which is now mine). Perhaps a bit foolishly, I offered up my old piano on my blog, not anticipating the rush of interest, the almost passionate desire for a bit of music in our homes. I wish I had a dozen pianos to give away. I was tempted to look through the classifieds and buy another piano just so I wouldn’t have to disappoint so many people.

Most people would agree with me that piano is an instrument of peace and joy in a home, but many other ‘things’ can bring us joy. My last set of scriptures was so worn and marked and marginscribbled that I counted it among my most treasured possessions. My current set doesn’t hold that status for me. They are just scriptures; just tools. Scrambling for top ‘thing’ position (don’t tell them they don’t even make the top ten) are my computer and my camera. I value them primarily for the people they connect me to and the beauty I try to create though them.

Behind the piano, you can see the Christus on a shelf. A few years ago my dad offered to buy me one for my birthday and I declined. At the time I found it a bit offensive that something so holy was being advertised, “Only $99 Each! Must have!” But this summer, when my neighbors presented it to me with a card of condolence at the death of my mother, it brought me to tears. Their love transformed it from an object into a true representation of Christ.

What ‘things’ bring you peace? Where did they come from? What gives a ‘thing’ value?

“God loves material things. He made them!” C. S. Lewis

About Michelle Lehnardt

(Blog Team) I'm the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I'll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal the earth. Founder of buildyourteenager.com, scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

10 thoughts on “things”

  1. What a great topic. I've been thinking a lot lately about how much "stuff" we have that we could really do without. My house needs a major clutter bust. But there are things that are very meaningful to me. You have reminded me of one of them. I have several of the statues that you mentioned. I would not have purchased them myself due to the expense, they were left when my mom passed, and I couldn't give them away. But there another of the statues that was given to me that is very special. It is the one with a grandmother in an armchair reading to her grandchild who is seated on her knee. That came from a group of friends, along with a condolence card, when my sweet mother-in-law passed away. When I look at it, it reminds me not only of her, but of the friends who knew how much we loved her, and they loved us enough to choose a very meaningful gift.

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  2. My 'old' scriptures are something I will always treasure. My grandma gave me my Bible as a baptism present and my parents bought the matching triple. After seeing me through seminary and a mission they were pretty beat up (and marked up), so a few years ago I got 'new' scriptures with my married name on them. They still aren't quite a treasure, but hopefully some day they will be.

    I've always held on to 'stuff' as reminders of special people and times. I have a box of things from my mission, and some of it is fairly understandable and some things are weird, like the stuffed lamb one companion gave me or the collection of Russian candy wrappers from some dear Armenian friends. We finally bought a house and my parents brought over my cedar chest that I've had since high school. Some things in it were completely non-important to me, but other little things were. I've found that if I go through my 'treasures' every few years some things change and others fade away.

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  3. First of all, Michelle, I hope your son feels better soon—I'd love to read his post.

    I would have to say that I love my set of scriptures, as well. I got them right before I left on my mission. They are white, and they don't make white scriptures anymore. My maiden name is engraved on the front. And even though I've been married for over twenty years, and my husband gave me a brand new set of scriptures for Christmas a year and a half ago (with my married name engraved on them!), I can't seem to give my old scriptures up. This, despite the fact that the dog got ahold of my Bible and bit off part of the front cover and the first few pages of Genesis (such a bad, bad dog). I still take the old set to church every week. My well-worn and well-loved scriptures still have notes I made in them as a missionary and all of my favorite scriptures, marked over twenty-five years. Imagine having to re-mark all of those scriptures in a new set! I even have the boutineer that my husband wore on our wedding day pressed and tucked somewhere between Leviticus and Deuteronomy. And I find myself growing fond of the chewed off corner of my Bible. So the new set of blue, silver-edged scriptures sit on my desk, untouched.

    My other favorite thing is much more worldly—my laptop. I call it "my precious." I actually told my children, "After God, your father, and you children, this computer is the thing I love most in this world." My children know that no one is allowed to use my laptop but me, and heaven help the person who so much as looks at it without my permission. I suppose I should work on being less attached to this "thing," but really it's the one thing that I claim as strictly my own.

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  4. I come from a family of hoarders, so I have way too many "precious" possessions. But I would have to say that one of my very favorites is my "nice notes" binder. When I got my YW in excellence award, my YW president got my family, teachers, and friends to write letters about why they loved me and were proud of me. Since then I have saved every other sweet note that someone has left me. Whenever I have a rough day or start to doubt myself, I pull out that binder and weep to think that people I respect so much could think so highly of me. It is fabulous and I recommend the project to everyone!

    Another thing I love – the tangle of pipe cleaners my little brother made for me as an "art project." I even wrote a blog post about it. It helps me feel connected to that sweet little boy at home and rejoice in the beautiful process of growth.

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  5. Oh, I like this post! Because I LOVE things that have special meaning. One thing that means a lot to me is a box my sister gave me that plays "You've Got a Friend" when you open it. On the lid of the box is a collage of pictures of us together at all ages.

    Another time, she gave me a picture with a frame made up of rolled pages, printed in different fonts and colors, with a picture of her sneaking into my bed when we were about 2 and 8, I'd guess. She is "reading" to me in the photo. Also inside the frame, she added the following poem she wrote especially for the gift: "Two lines of one couplet/same rhythm, same rhyme/Sisters, bound in love/through the pages of time." How cool is that?

    Other favorites are a box one of my sons gave me where he wrote a looong poem, both touching and funny, alluding to various things that were placed inside the box. The poem, of course, was on top.

    My husband gives me wonderful little hearts and other sweet tokens, too, all of which are dear to me. And I have a couple of notes from him that take my breath away.

    Finally, my nephew, when attending Berklee School of Music, went to considerable trouble to get me an autograph of James Taylor (my favorite artist), which he gave to me in a really cool frame for Christmas.

    I could go on and on…many of the things would mean little to anyone else, but they mean a lot to me.

    =)

    PS. I have my mother's diamond ring, which is extremely valuable (unlike my other treasures), but the value isn't what makes it important to me. I love it because every time I look at it on my hand, I see hers.

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  6. I adore having furniture from my grandma's house in my home. I have to give up the table and chairs soon and it's killing me. I think of her all the time because of these things.

    And I just bought a new set of scriptures because I can't really hold mind without them flopping out of my hands and onto the floor. So far, I have only used the new ones once. I love my scriptures, with red marker from my daughter, love notes from my son, and years and years of my heart and soul written and circled and highlighted.

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  7. I have a picture of me as an adorable 3 year old standing next to my great grandmother. I don't remember the photo being taken, or the situation, but I know that she loved me and made it possible for me to be accepted by my family.

    I have a turtle cookie jar that is a family heirloom in spite (because of?) it's ugliness, though I don't use it for cookies.

    I have my Nan's piano, and have hauled it up and down the east coast of Australia. The thing weighs a literal tonne, but it's worth it's weight in gold to me.

    Basically, my things are about love. I keep emails from people I love, books I love, display photos of people I love – I surround myself with love made physical.

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  8. For me, it's my journals.

    When I graduated from college, I went home for a few weeks. After the right job offer came through, I packed my possessions in a couple boxes and asked my parents to ship them to my new city. The shipment got lost and, out of whatever was in those boxes, it was the journals that I mourned. (The boxes turned up soon. I'm fine now, thanks.)

    When Greyhound lost my luggage once, I cried over the journal in that suitcase. (Was reunited with the suitcase. I'm fine now, thanks.)

    When I think of tornadoes, fires, fleeing in the night from bad things, it's the journals I worry about.

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  9. I think the one thing in our entire house that holds a lot of meaning for me is my grandfather's old Stetson hat. It just sits in it's ancient hat box, and we rarely even get it out to look at it, but having it is somehow important to me.

    It ties me to a heritage I didn't know well enough, a heritage I benefited from without having to do anything. It ties me to my name, my personality, my testimony. That hat means that I came from somewhere, and the man that wore that hat made sacrifices that ultimately blessed my own life.

    He had no idea, I'm sure – do any of us? Do we really think about how our choices affect yet unborn great great grandchildren? And yet, when I hold that hat, I feel connected to his choices because I've been so blessed by them in so many many ways.

    I think I'm going to go get it out now and run my fingers along its sides and remember. This was a beautiful reminder of how things can bless me.

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