By Reba Phelps
There is absolutely no greater joy in my life than watching my daughters become extremely irritated over my “Sanford & Sonning.”
If you are not aware of this term that I have affectionately coined to describe my behavior, let me explain. Sunday evenings in my neighborhood are literally like Christmas shopping. The garbage truck runs on Monday so that is when everyone brings their “too large to fit in the garbage can” items to the curb to be picked up.
Some locals have already caught on to this and will drive through and pick up the refuse before waste management arrives.
My infatuation with Sanford & Sonning can be traced back to a Wednesday evening a few years ago. I had just picked up my children from church and noticed a man throwing furniture out on the curb. It was also just starting to lightly rain. The furniture looked to be in good repair and perfect. There was a butcher’s block, table and chairs, stools, and book shelves. I did the quick math and realized I could not fit a house full of furniture in a Buick.
I ran home, retrieved the truck, and came back. I told myself and my girls that I was rescuing the pretty furniture from the rain.
This was something that I had never done before and I wasn’t quite sure if there was proper etiquette that had to be followed. I cautiously exited the vehicle and politely asked the owner if he was waiting on someone to pick up these treasures. He laughed and told me it was first come first serve and he was moving out of the neighborhood and didn’t care what came of the unwanted furniture.
This was also the beginning of my children being completely unappreciative of my hobby. They had to help me load it up. Every time a car passed they viciously rolled their eyes and questioned my love for them. I had major plans for this furniture. I was going to refinish it and love it for the rest of my life. It was going to have an amazing new home.
After a few short days the furniture had lost its luster and I sold most of it on Facebook. For a few short seconds I felt slightly guilty about making money off of someone else’s trash. Then it hit me. I was making money off of someone’s else’s trash. Cha-ching!
I would like to say that I have only done that in my neighborhood but truth of the matter is that anything on a curb catches my attention. My favorite thing to find and repurpose is patio furniture. My neighbors and family know that if there is wicker looking lonely on a curb to call me. Text me. Send smoke signals. Find me. I have found that I love helping people make a space on their patio or porch to sit and relax.
They say you become your parents as you get older. I am a true believer of this theory. My mother was a champion garage saler. This lady would come home with a wardrobe for the whole household for roughly two dollars.
I used to be deeply embarrassed that most of our clothing came from garage sales in our elementary and junior high years. Looking back, I know that my parents did the best they could having three children and barely making ends meet. I also believe that it taught us character. We did not have to have every single thing we wanted with a pricey name brand attached to it.
We were taught we were worth more than labels.
With this being said, I tell my girls daily that it is clearly in our DNA to love a bargain and a good garage sale. They can laugh and make fun of mom all they want but their roots will show one day and it will lead them straight to a yard sale or a curb. There is nothing they can do to deny this family gene and I will be humming the Sanford & Son tune while they admit to their new found hobby.
To me, there is just something so utterly special about finding a treasure and rescuing it. Saving it before it has been discarded and headed for a random dumpster only to be demolished like it had never existed. In some cases even repairing the item to its former glory and sending to a new home to bless someone else.
Isn’t this the way God is with us though? Could we imagine what our lives would look like if he only wanted us to come to him in perfect or pristine condition? What if he was only looking for shiny and new without a blemish version? Frankly, I am so relieved that he chooses us while laying on a curbside, broken, chipped paint, missing hinges and waiting to he hauled off to a landfill.
I am personally grateful that God is the champion garage-saler-bargain basement-loves-a-fixer upper- clearance rack- kind of God that he is.
“He will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” – Isaiah 61:3