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  • Debra McInvale

If the Table Could Talk

Our Legacy According to Stuff

Today’s post is #5 in a series on “heritage”. What legacies have we received and what legacies are we leaving behind for those whose lives we touch. In each post, I am sharing family memories that have had a lasting impact on me.]

Oil Painting of Goddard House, Griffin, GA, by Joanne Hibble

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19

Our lives teach by the way we act and speak. Our attitudes reflect our character. And sometimes the things we value most – the material stuff – also tell tales on us.

In Momma’s last months she was ready to “go”, no question about that. She knew without a doubt that she would be with Jesus and Daddy when she died. But she was extremely concerned about her stuff (and her cat). All precious treasures that held her precious memories and her heart.

The massive corner cabinet, made by her ancestor Issac Smith in 1845, is what she held most dear. But then there was the bed that belonged to her great grandmother Charity. It came out of an old hotel in Griffin that once belonged to her great-great grandfather Lucius Goddard. Her hope chest. Oil paintings her mother-in-law painted a century ago. Shelves and shelves of beautiful hand painted china. Boxes of photographs and family letters. Need I go on?

There is way too much stuff in our house as well. I have a definite suspicion that my family labels me a hoarder, although they never mention it to my face.

It doesn’t help that, as an artist, I tend to keep junk too, stuff that normal people would consider trash. But, don’t you know, that junk might someday be used as valuable creative fodder: old bottles, scraps of old jeans and shirts, stray pieces of wood and paper …

When James was a kid and had school projects, our house was the place to be. Never did we have to purchase supplies for that diorama of the town square, the spaceport, posters, costumes for Dress-Up-As-Your-Favorite-Book-Character Day. Oh, maybe fresh glue and new magic markers, but nothing else.

I confess. I kept all my dad’s dress shirts because I couldn’t bear to part with them. Let me tell you, though, its amazing how much fabric there are in XXL shirts! I have already sewn two rag quilts from them and have enough for a dozen more!

I have wondered lately about the old family kitchen table that has been around and cherished for some 66 years. What if it could talk? What tales would it tell on our family? On me? It has certainly seen several lifetimes of us Hibbles and McInvales living and eating and gathering together.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:19-20

Antique quilt from my grandfather's family in Jackson, GA.

What would your stuff – your possessions – say about you?

What we collect (hoard?) or simply want (covet?) in material possessions does say a whole bunch about where we place our values and, by extension, about our character.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

I read an article just this morning about how our children do not want our old stuff! I can’t believe that! Shoot, I was going to give most of our “treasures” to James and his fiancé. But honestly, the older I get, the more I see that stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much as people. People are precious. Stuff is just stuff. And at this point, the stuff is weighing on me.

Sorry, but I’ve got to go now. I have some shoveling to do.

By the way, James adopted Momma’s cat, if you were wondering.

Hugs and blessings,


Lord, I know I need to re-evaluate my values. I really need to do some thinking about what is important to me. Please help me see and remember that people, not possessions, are most precious in Your sight. May I love and serve You by caring for Your people. Amen.



What legacy are you building now by the way you are living your days?

Who are you mentoring by default?



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May 25, 2021

I really enjoyed this, Debra. I know we aren't supposed to be too attached to "things," but some items are very precious to us. Living so far from my family in Oklahoma, I didn't get any of the furniture and big stuff from my mother and grandmothers after their deaths. I'm so glad you have so many memories to cherish through your inheritance of family heirlooms and stuff.

Debra McInvale
Debra McInvale
May 25, 2021
Replying to

You have a beautiful home just the same, things with memories you and Richard have made. I am thankful for the things we have inherited; but what to do with it now as we think about downsizing? A good bit is really "early attic", long used and loved but with no real value except to us. Memories! When our family (dogs included) gets hold of stuff, we add scratches and dents to everything fairly quickly! ❤️

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