Earthly Treasures

by Karen Emberlin

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)

For fifteen months my husband and I lived in a suburban neighborhood in the comfort of a three bedroom home with a finished basement, double car garage, and attic.

We were normal.  In other words, like most Americans, our home was “filled” with all of the “stuff” we had collected over forty-eight years of marriage. Even after moving several times during those years, we always took our “stuff” with us, sure we would eventually need it.

Things changed! Once I lost my husband, that “stuff” we thought was so valuable no longer seemed valuable, and I realized the only real value it ever had was because it was “ours”.  What good would that do me now?

Overnight all of my “stuff” became a real burden.

The unexpected loss had my relatives and me scratching our heads–where would I go?  And what would I  do with all these things?

First I relocated to another state to be with our daughter and family. With no room for a house full of my stuff, my daughter asked me to downsize. And I did–from a three bedroom house to the twenty-two foot trailer I used to move to Florida.

cargo-trailer-600In order to reduce my treasure to what fit in that twenty-two foot trailer, I sorted. I don’t remember where it all ended up, but I was always happy when someone I knew took an item I may have had a hard time letting go of.  At least I knew where its new home would be!

As my son and I pulled away from my home, I thought about the trailer we were towing behind us. My husband  had bought it a few years earlier for  a “local” move, so we could take our time. I had always thought it to be in the way. “Let’s  sell it,” I’d say.  “Naw,” he’d say, ‘Someday we might need it!”

In God’s perfect plan, He knew I’d be the one who would need it. That trailer “housed” my treasures for a whole year.

While living with less at my daughter’s home. I discovered how comfortable with just a very small amount of my belongings around me.

But God wasn’t done pruning my earthly treasures.

A few months ago I moved yet again–this time over a thousand miles away, to a community with an even smaller space to fit my belongings.  Faced again with the decisions of getting my “stuff” there, I began again the process of sorting and deciding what was really important, this time placing my “stuff’ in a 5×8 Uhaul trailer.


From a house to a twenty-two footer to a 5×8 trailer–God’s forcing me to adjust my definition of success.

It was not easy to “let go” of things that I once thought were so important, especially some of the things that my husband enjoyed so much (like the cargo trailer)!

However, as I made those choices, I was reminded that my husband left this world with none of our “stuff”, and I too will leave without it. He has so much more in his heavenly home than we ever had here!!

Yes, I miss my husband so much, and I want to be comfortable and have some of the things we enjoyed together near me.  I have been able to do that.  Best of all, I have a heart full of memories, and I love that I do not ever have to “give up”!

I realize that by not having the burden of moving, storing, or caring for so many things, I am freeing myself to be all I can for the Lord and can prepare myself for the plans He has for me.

He promises to give me hope and a future (even without my husband). I want to be ready to follow wherever He takes me, and am excited to see what is next!

Lord, I pray that you will be with all of us on this journey who are finding it difficult to give up “earthly treasures”. Help us to find contentment in You and to store up “heavenly treasures” that will be waiting for us when we get to our home with You.


13 replies
  1. natrina ward
    natrina ward says:

    Our father is awesome and i pray for the family everyday time will heal gone but never forgotten he will always be with you Karen emberlin may god continue to bless you along your way in the name of jesus we pray AMEN

  2. Linda
    Linda says:

    Oh how your post touched me today. I am in the process of selling my home and moving into a condo (a much smaller dwelling) after 44 years of marriage to a wonderful guy who passed away 11 months ago. We, too, collected a lot of “stuff” which I am sorting through presently. It’s not an easy task, but I know God is with me all the way and will guide me through each day. God bless you all.

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      My prayers will be with you as you go thru the process of sorting, moving and downsizing. Many days when I thought I couldn’t go on the song “Be Strong In The Lord” kept going thru my mind – He did give me the strength I needed and I know He will do the same for you. Blessings, My Friend!

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    Thanks, Ladies, for your comments!

    I am so happy if I can encourage you to “think” about the “stuff” we all have collected and then be able to sort it out if your situation requires that type of action. It is not an easy process – sometimes it was very painful and emotional for me. However, it was also a “cleansing” process and helped me to separate the past and the future. With God’s help, you can hang on the the memories you and your husband created with all that “stuff” and He will give you the strength to move forward. Blessings to all of you!

  4. Janna Morrison
    Janna Morrison says:


    Thank you! I’m doing this now and trying to explain it to a six year old gets tough some days. To be honest, it’s tough for this 42 year old some days. Hearing about your journey confirms with my spirit what The Lord continues speak to me. It’s just stuff. Everything of eternal value is produced within us. These are the things that we will gladly carry into eternity and lay at the feet of our Lord. Blessings to you!

    In Christ,


  5. RoseMary
    RoseMary says:

    I did the same thing, I gave a lot away and realized I could live without all of that “stuff”. God showed me that He will provide for me. I still have a lot of my husband’s things. I now reframe from buying or getting anything. God is so good and showed me He is my treasure!

  6. Calli
    Calli says:

    Karen, A needed nudge, thank you! Spring has arrived and with it a need to start going thru a woodshed, a barn, a garage, all areas that are packed with memories and “stuff”, to the point of freezing me where I currently am. In order for me to move forward, I need to do some cleaning out and reorganizing, to make that “stuff” work for me. If it doesn’t, then it needs to go. Blessing to you.

  7. Dawn McCordic
    Dawn McCordic says:

    Great post!! It is one I can resonate with very well. I haven’t been able to downsize yet because of the boys, but this summer I still plan on having a large garage sale!! It’s a start. Your journey was affirming and encouraging. I know it won’t be easy, but ‘stuff’ can own us, instead of us owning it.

  8. Terri O.
    Terri O. says:

    Beautiful post! I have been thinking a lot about these things lately as I try to make decisions about downsizing when I move at some point. Thank you for sharing how God is working in your life!

  9. Liz Anne Wright
    Liz Anne Wright says:

    Lovely, Karen!

    As I consider all my stuff here and lightening this load, I am encouraged by the grace through which you have undertaken all these changes.

    • Vicki
      Vicki says:

      Finally! Someone thinks like I do about how unimportant some of the stuff became. When I had to leave our home (similar to yours) I to don’t even remember where it all went I got stuff all over panhandle of Florida ..haha..eleven moves later I can get my stuff in my car! Sometimes I get to missing something and when I remember what happened to it or what I think what happened I just get so sad. I don’t know why God has “weaned” me of all the stuff, but I trust Him and He knows what I have need of.

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