Jeep Wranglers, dump dates, and stuff

Dan and I enjoy a ‘dump date’ from time to time. We load up the small trailer hitched to the back of the Jeep, make Chai lattes, and sail away to the dump. It’s partly the idea of having the full attention of the one I love—seat-belted in, hollering over the noise of the ‘97 Wrangler with its top down, sipping Chai from thermoses.

But it’s more than that. And if I had to put a finger on it, I’d say it has to do with sorting and clearing out unwanted stuff. I tend toward being a de-clutterer, toward paring down if we haven’t used it or worn it or taken it off the closet shelf in five years.

Don’t get me wrong. Dan and I have a house full of stuff that has either been handed down to us, purchased at a junk store and repurposed, or handcrafted as a gift. Dan’s grandmother’s old trunk. My grandmother’s Singer treadle sewing machine. Bookshelves crafted from an old glass-fronted door still sporting its doorknob. A rescued farmhouse screen door that now serves as the entry to our pantry. A family room full of plump, extra-comfortable, secondhand furniture.

We have stuff. But I like our stuff to be useful. I like it to add to the beauty of the space.

Boneyard … or junkyard?

Dan has a boneyard at the side of his shop, arranged so we can reach the back gate to walk the trail behind our house.

The four-wheeler will never see a dirt trail again …

… and the two trailers will never again haul anything in their current conditions.

Oh, and the little fiberglass boat will never go fishing again. The fluffy white stuff camouflages the fact that there are ten very flat tires in this boneyard. Except for the beauty of the snow, there is nothing lovely out here. And it’s no longer useful.

“So, what’s the difference between a boneyard and a junkyard?” I asked my husband. Dan had to think about that for a moment. “A ‘business’ junkyard would be a gathering of junk from several people for recycling,” he said. “And a boneyard would be accumulation from one individual. It all has deep, meaningful value. Memories. To use someday. I won’t have to go buy metal or parts. I can build a spaceship out there. Or something.”

What’s the point?

So here’s the point: All of us have stuff that needs to be decluttered from our lives, stuff we need to take to the dump. Regret and shame. A dysfunctional upbringing. Loneliness and sadness. A sense of hopelessness. And none of it is serving us well. So, get rid of it. All of it.

Also, most of us have dreams that were once alive, but now it’s too late, we’ve failed too often, we’ve lost too much and now the dream is impossible.

But what if new purpose could be found? What if that thing you believe to be ruined, out-of-style, no longer of value, or that thing you’ve always wanted to do—what if it could be reshaped into something else just as purposeful?

I don’t think God puts us in a boneyard once we’re shattered so that someday (maybe) he’ll use a part or a piece off our broken-down chassis.

I think he sees so much potential in us—even when we break down, or won’t start, or grow old, even if we’ve failed at a thing or two, even if cancer or a divorce waylaid our original plans.

We may need to set in a boneyard until we’re healed and repaired—allowing God to take as long as he wants with the repurposing process—but I think he knows our potential and delights in what more we can be, beyond what we are today.

I’m beginning to recognize the value in Dan’s boneyard (although I’ve yet to see him start building his spaceship). God doesn’t dispose of us when we’re worn out, when we’re damaged by rejection or trauma, when we’re heart-broken. Because there’s potential for a new story written about repurposing our losses and failures in a way we could never have imagined.

What needs to be removed from your life that you were never designed to lug around with you? Anxiety or fear? Guilt? Anger?

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to new believers in the ancient church at Philippi. This snippet from Philippians 4:6-7 always speaks to me:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

What do you need to present to God and allow him to repurpose? Broken dreams or a failed business? Being let go from a job or a place of ministry that you loved? Release all your worries and concerns to him and let him know you’re open for refurbishing.

Decluttering has its place, but some things we view as ruined, or past its “use by” date can be transformed into a thing of new beauty and effectiveness.

Side note:

When we were in Alaska last summer, we came upon an epic boneyard. It was in the town of Hope, which is quite a pretty little town situated on the banks of Resurrection Creek, so don’t judge the town by this photo.

Dan and I were out on a walk, exploring around town and beyond when we happened upon this boneyard. Dan stood and gazed in awe and wonder. I had a hard time peeling him away from the crime scene.

I will (reluctantly) admit that our boneyard looks somewhat better than the one outside the town of Hope. But I bet the one in Alaska is now, as I write this, a picturesque hunk of fluffy white junk!


What if you could be vulnerable?


If given the choice


  1. Nancy Darst

    I love this – and the idea of a ‘boneyard’ and Dan’s definitions (Can’t wait to see that spaceship :D)
    We are currently in the process of searching for parts for our old Zenith refrigerator (ordered a part today from a place in Georgia (Thank Goodness for their boneyard!). Fingers crossed it works.

    • Marlys Lawry

      Or you could checked Dan’s boneyard, Nancy! You never know what’s out there!

  2. Allison

    Marlys, Thank you for this reminder, “Decluttering has its place, but some things we view as ruined, or past its “use by” date can be transformed into a thing of new beauty and effectiveness.” God has amazing ways of turning our brokenness into beauty. Thank you again for the reminder.

  3. Sharon Brorson

    Thank you Marlys. You always inspire me and I sure enjoyed the boneyard vs junkyard explanation and Dan’s view on both.
    Last fall Bob and I emptied our garage attic of all the boxes of “stuff”. Some went to the landfill and a car load was donated. But I am enjoying 2 unique and vintage picture frames of my Mom’s. I cleaned them up and took out the old photos/artwork and installed some photo’s and artwork we had saved for the future. Well…this winter we have fun art on our walls. Yeah…for not tossing out the old stuff…sometimes.

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