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Dear Cousin,

 

The New Year makes its way into the hills, sending the old year limping on its way. The thought of a brand new year brings encouraging hope of fresh beginnings, and putting the old year behind us. There is no use dwelling on past failures, old hurts, or lost opportunities. We can only learn a lesson from these things, and forge onward. The lull between Christmas and New Year's finds a lot of folks, including me, putting away clutter accumulated during the holidays and sorting out and rearranging paperwork, cabinets, and bookcases. There is a lot of junk to be discarded, and a lot of controversy as to what constitutes junk and what doesn't.

I guess I am what could be classified as a packrat, but I prefer the label "saver." There's too much sentimentality in my makeup, I know, a trait that seems to be passed down to grandson Reuben. It's so hard to turn loose of things that bring back sweet memories of the past, and the question of where to store these objects becomes harder as the years go by. There are a lot of magazine articles that suggest ways of reducing clutter, and keeping a well-ordered house. These articles are fascinating. One hint that I recently read suggested keeping a child's artwork, school papers, and clippings from the school newspaper in a large mailing envelope. When the envelope is full, you simply mail it to Grandma.

If my 22 grandkids send me manila envelopes stuffed with their school doings, it might simplify their mother's housekeeping but it sure wouldn't help mine. You know I wouldn't be able to toss any of it. There was another suggestion to put your beloved articles to practical use. "Use a lovely evening bag as a candy dish." In the first place, I don't own a lovely evening bag — do you think an old toboggan would do as well?

The home interior decorator who thought that one up must have been the same person who brought up the idea of leaning a hoe, rake, etc. in the corner of the living room for a country look. Well, we've had a country look for years. Sometimes the corner of the living room is decorated with a sack of grass seed ("I'm going to move that — I don't want it to get damp!") or guns, game bags, camouflage outfits and hunting boots. I don't think we'll ever qualify for "Home and Garden." I will have to confess that our dining room table is always littered with my folders, reference books and assorted paperwork. Shucks, that is different — that is my workplace.

My sister Susie can make short work of clutter. Even as a kid, she knew exactly what to do. One time she cleaned my house when my own children were small. She picked up everything that was lying loose — books, toys, shoes, clean clothes, dirty clothes — and piled them in the baby bed. Then she covered the whole mess with a lovely quilt. It looked fine, except Criss couldn't find his work shoes and the baby didn't have anywhere to sleep. Every family needs a sister Susie — it keeps a person on their toes.

The first day of a brand new year is a good day to sort out the mental clutter that crowds our minds. Sometimes we hang on to a lot of useless baggage that does nothing but slow us down. Forgiveness is a big factor in clearing out mental garbage that needs to be discarded. The person who holds back forgiveness is the one who suffers most. It will eat like a canker, and turn the injured one into an unhappy, bitter person. There are some things that are impossible to forgive in a human sense. That is where the love of God comes into play. When we are in that situation, then we can pray to God to give us his forgiveness, that we may extend it to someone else. God's forgiveness goes much further than our forgiveness ever could.

This works — I know. The apostle Paul stressed in Philippians 3:13, "But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before." There are outside forces that we cannot control, but there are many things in our power that we can. One is forgetting and putting behind the hurtful happenings of yesterday, and forging ahead, living each day pleasing unto the Lord.

 

love,

Cousin Alyce Faye


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