Proper Packing


My first real job was at a local grocery store. I babysat for a few years prior, but as soon as my 16th birthday rolled around, I was putting applications in anywhere and everywhere within a 10 mile radius. Working at the grocery store, my main jobs were counting cans (long before the machines were around), getting carts (without the aid of those handy little cart cars), and packing groceries (my favorite part).  

I don’t want to brag, but I excelled at packing. I think it stemmed from my love of puzzles, or my addiction to Tetris, I’m not completely sure, but I looked forward to going to work. I’ve actually told Jim that if we are ever in need of some extra cash, I would love to do that job again.

My favorite part about packing is putting everything where it belongs. There is an order. There are unwritten rules to follow. Anyone who has ever gotten groceries knows what doesn’t belong at the bottom of the bag…eggs and bread, right? What should never be mixed with other items? Raw meat and cleaning products. These are the basic rules, and yet,often, I get home and find my grocery bags have been completely thrown together.

(Confession: I use self-checkout all the time…mainly because I don’t trust the amateur packers).

I was thinking about my life in the past year and taking inventory of what changes needed to be made. (I highly recommend spending more time trying to improve your own life, instead of trying to change other people, it really doesn’t work). As I thought about where my time was being spent, I thought about my days at the grocery store.

The Bible talks about building our homes on rock, a firm foundation…like putting canned goods on the bottom of the bag.

I have had to bag and rebag some things in my life, probably more times than I’d like to admit. I have not taken the proper care, always, in putting things where they belong.

My foundation needs to be the Lord. Time talking to Him, worshipping Him and reading His Word. When I put family and friends down as my foundation, something will get crushed or broken, often someone’s feelings or spirit, and mainly because I’ve put them in the wrong place. Also, if I try to mix a little of the world with a little of Jesus, almost always, the world contaminates everything.

I can almost picture myself unpacking things, laying them all on the table, and then repacking, creating a strong foundation first, and from there putting everything else in its place.

It’s a process I do often, whenever I feel like something is out of order. It’s a process I’ve gotten good at, to my shame, because I do it so often. It’s a process, I guess, like working out our salvation. We are saved by the blood of Jesus, when we accept Him as our Savior, but we walk this road of faith, often letting go of things that don’t enhance our spiritual life, while adding things that do.

I will continue to pack and repack when I feel the need. God is so gracious to me. It’s like He just waits until I realize that I’ve put something in the wrong place, and then He helps me repack it properly again. Never pushing me, never angry with my inability to get it right every time, just loving me, in my humanity, like a good Father.

Bet you’ll look at your grocery bag a little differently today!

Proper Packing



I was nauseous, every day, all day. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I had all sorts of tests done, but nothing came back with anything conclusive. It wasn’t entirely new. I had been nauseous on and off since early childhood, but this was worse than usual. Sometime in 2002, they finally decided that it was time to take a look inside. I went with my mom to the hospital for a pretty standard scope. They checked me in, prepped me, and as I was being wheeled back into the OR, a nurse came running up to us.

“Stop! She can’t go into surgery. She is positive.”

I remember sitting up on the gurney saying, “Positive for what?” I knew I had something wrong with me and they finally found it, thankfully before I had to have surgery.

“Mrs. Achatz, you’re pregnant.”

As they sent me back to the room my mom was waiting in, my mind swarmed with thoughts and fears and questions. Grace was almost four. There had only been one pregnancy since Grace and that little one didn’t live. I had decided after that loss, that I wasn’t meant to have more than one, and I had come to terms with it.

But there I lay, processing the words they had told me. Another baby? Another chance? Another possible loss? Another goodbye?

I went home and got on my knees. I confessed my fears, my failures, my inability to trust in something good, and I handed the little life inside of me over to the Lord. Something I have done countless times in the last 14 years.

Evelyn Mae, my princess, was diagnosed with a heart condition last month. One that causes her heart to race, which causes her breathing to be labored, which can’t continue without causing damage. So tomorrow is surgery.

Ironically enough, when the doctor told us, I sat there with many of the same fears racing through my head. Not this one, Lord. Not this time. It’s only been a year. I can’t take another loss. And to be completely honest, those thoughts haven’t dissipated. I would love to tell you all, that after that appointment I came home, fell to my knees and confessed my fears and my failures to the Lord, surrendering my right to her life once again, but I didn’t. I, the great debater, told God that this wasn’t going to work. I have split my time between denial, anger and fear.

I have wrestled with the Lord this past year. I haven’t been very willing to surrender her. I have often felt like maybe I could protect her better. Maybe her safety should be left up to me. All incredibly unrealistic, I know, but my thoughts nonetheless.

So I’m sitting here writing this on her 14th birthday, preparing my heart for her heart procedure. We will head to the hospital at 7:00 AM. If you think of it, pray for her. Pray that the surgery accomplishes what it’s intended to accomplish. Pray for peace. Pray for wisdom. Pray for her heart. And if you can, pray for us. Pray for peace. Pray for wisdom. Pray for our hearts.

Right now though, I am going to put down this pen and paper and I am going to do something that I used to be so good at doing. Something I began doing when I found out about my little miracle and I continued to do until last January, when I realized that surrender wasn’t going to always go my way.

I am going to give her back again. Her life, her safety, her heart, is the safest in the hands of God. Whatever that looks like, whatever her future holds, her name is engraved on those mighty hands, and that is where she belongs.