Mini-Vans and Other “Stuff”

It was a blustery cold January day, too cold to do anything but stay indoors, when I watched Lee Iacocca on the Phil Donahue show. He was introducing a brand new vehicle, a mini-van that was marketed as the Plymouth Voyager and the Dodge Caravan. I announced, “I want one of those – as soon as possible!” As the mother of three sons and the owner of a picture framing business, I saw that this particular vehicle was made for me. It was far more functional than the small station wagon I was driving when I had to carry children and supplies at the same time. I did get a Voyager shortly after that, and replaced it with newer versions through the years. At one point, parking lots were full of mini-vans of all brands and colors. It was a brilliant design that met the needs of many families and individuals.
 
We still see mini-vans in parking lots, but their popularity has been replaced by compact crossover SUVs such as the CR-V, Rav4, Escape and others. When I go to the rec center in the morning, the parking lot is full of these vehicles, with a few pick-up trucks, larger SUV’s and just a few sedans. Aging bodies with tricky knees find it easier to get in and out of higher vehicles, the driver’s viewpoint is higher than low riders, and they get better mileage than the mini-vans did – with the ability to carry most of what we need to carry. While some people still buy vehicles for image purposes, most of us consider what we need to do most of the time, and buy a vehicle that allows us to do that with ease and affordability.
Sometimes, fads and savvy advertising seduce us into buying things that don’t really meet our needs or make life easier. Who among us hasn’t been tempted to buy a George Foreman grill, a rice cooker, a panini press, a hot dog cooker, an instant pot, a ninja processor, or an air fryer? I considered buying a counter top oven/toaster, since there are only two of us much of the time, but realized I didn’t want to give up the counter space it would occupy. I’m intrigued by the companies that guarantee their organic cotton sheets will ensure that we’ll get better rest and sleep every night once we buy a $240.00 set. If it were only so simple!
 
If the things that tempt us were limited to gadgets, tools, vehicles, and other “stuff,” the only things we’re likely to lose are money, storage space and simplicity. But sometimes, we are tempted by ideas or opportunities that seem right, but often turn into life-denying, life-destroying attitudes and actions. Scammers regularly find persons willing to exchange personal identification for the promise of money that never arrives. “Scientific information” assures us that masks are/aren’t effective in limiting the spread of viruses, or that cures for what ails us are readily available that in earlier days would have been labeled “snake oil.” (Masks and shields have been protecting health care workers, carpenters, factory workers and people in other countries for years. Why would they suddenly stop being effective?) Even more dangerous are ideas that excuse corrupt behavior, reject decency and use scare tactics to make us think those who are different from us in one way or another are deadly enemies. Too often, we give less thought to the effect of these ideas than we do to the kind of vehicle we will drive, or the ways in which we will carry out every day tasks.
 
I’m glad that I knew what kind of vehicle I needed, and hope that it will last through the rest of my driving career. I’m glad I didn’t buy that countertop oven, and that I rid myself of some other “must have” items that we seldom, if ever, used. But I’m even more glad when I recognize that I’ve considered carefully before buying into an idea that is dangerous, destructive or life denying. I pray that I will always take time to consider before buying.
 
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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