Friday, December 9, 2011

Treasures in Heaven - The Teacup Story

Matthew 6:20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal...”

“Treasures in Heaven” is the title of this entry, but it should really be “The Teacup Story.” When I was a little girl, I would visit my grandma who did not own a television at the time. Finding things to do there could be a bit of a challenge, but being the creative and resourceful kid that I was, I would use her drapery hooks to create interesting centerpieces, or played dress-up with her outdated hats and dresses... then I’d move on to study and admire her small teacup collection. There was one in particular that captured my attention. It was yellow and white, with fancy gold trim, and had legs which would nestle into its matching saucer. I never considered the actually cost of this teacup, but was enamored with its beauty, as well as the story that went along with it – as it was a very precious heirloom.

Catching my curious gaze, Grandma would point out the beautiful teacup and say, “Do you see that cup over there? That is a very special cup. My great-great Grandma gave this cup to my Grandma when she got married. Then she gave me the cup when I got married. And some day, I will give this cup to you.” As time progressed, I grew up, I got married, we had kids, we moved away – but whenever we came back, we would always make sure we visited Grandma. It was after her second husband had passed away, and we were there for a visit that I remembered she had a lovely teacup collection. I went to point out the unique cup to my daughter, when I noticed that it was missing. “Oh,” Grandma said, “I hope I didn’t do anything wrong.” She bit her lower lip, and looked like her heart sank a bit.

Apparently my step-grandpa’s granddaughter had helped her out with something and in order to thank her, Grandma told her that she could pick anything she wanted from her china cabinet. I reassured Grandma that it was fine, but deep down I was very hurt. This was one of the very few heirlooms in this family, and now it had gone to another. It took a while for me to deal with this oversight, but I had to realize that it was just a teacup. It was hers to give to whomever she wished - and it was just a teacup. What would I do? Set it somewhere behind glass and look at it every so often? I didn’t need that to remember my grandma’s kindness, generosity, joyful spirit and what a faithful prayer-warrior she was. That is the heritage that she passed down to me that I will cherish and remember. This is what is valuable in life. And one day I’ll see her in heaven, with no sorrows – and an existence that will far outweigh any heirloom of any worth.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Believing the Best

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...”

Because we are all quirky in so many different ways, in order to get along, we must learn to look past all of that and choose to love each other ANYWAY. True love is not based on feelings - true love is a choice. It is also not a reaction – it is an action. Wait, am I talking about love again? I think, before we can truly forgive or look past each other’s unique tendencies, we have to truly love...

My husband has been very patient with me when it comes to all of my interesting traits - and I with him. Of course we all do things that are annoying, so I attempt to label this category as “amusing.” This simulates an ongoing “forgiving” attitude where you look past certain things, and not let them get to you.

Another level of forgiveness is “believing the best” of someone, which is more important than you think. Miscommunication is so common. It is so easy to react before getting to the truth of the matter. If someone says to you, “I do this” but “this” is not a good thing. Ask them, “Did you mean to say...?” Chances are they were THINKING “I do NOT do this” but forgot that little word “not.” So easy to do! Or you hear a piece of gossip about how someone spoke out against you. It’s just best to go to that person and ask them directly if they actually really said that. This can avoid so much grief.

We know that none of us are perfect. We know that we all make mistakes. But should we not think that, for the most part, people are sincerely trying to do the right thing. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and an opportunity to explain themselves. And if it was their “error,” give them a chance to apologize for it and/or correct it. Why blow it out of proportion so that reconciliation is made more difficult? Would we not rather have more friends than enemies?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Living in Freedom

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

1 Corinthians 3:10 “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.”

Romans 12:3 “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

There are so many verses I could use to support the reasons for my gratitude to God regarding my freedom in Christ. Yes, I love that God loves me, no matter how quirky I am! But I am so much in awe just knowing that God has forgiven me: past, present and future. God knows that I’m going to make mistakes; and as a Christian, He has already forgiven me for the mistakes that I will still make in the future. This is a freedom – I do not have to worry... about anything. Although I always want to be STRIVING to be perfect, I do not have to worry about HAVING to be perfect.

With this thought, one take-away is this: I am not here to judge others. To be more Christ-like, I must be exercising grace. I must realize that other people will make mistakes too, and when they hurt me, I need to forgive - just as I would hope they would forgive me when I mess up or hurt them.

Another take-away, especially as a mother whose children have become adults - I need to let go. Of course I don’t want to see them hurting or making crazy decisions, but it is their lives. I have done what I could while they were growing up. And even though I want to protect them, it would be wrong of me to try to control what they do. As God gives me freedom, I need to give that same freedom to others. I can only control my actions – and besides, I have enough difficulty with THAT. So daily, I must lean on God’s grace to build on that – in my own life. Through this, hopefully I can be a living example of what God’s grace can accomplish, and just how liberating that can be.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feelings of Inadequacy

2 Samuel 24:10 “Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.’”

Acts 13:22 “...He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.’”

There are days when I feel so inadequate and unworthy. I could supply an endless number of stories where I have done the dorkiest things and wonder – how do people put up with me? I can barely stand myself sometimes. I suppose we all have those experiences. And somehow knowing THAT can help me get through the day.

Of course, knowing that God loves me is all I really need, but that human component in me still does that “misery-loves-company” thing. Maybe this is why God included various details found in a lot of the Old Testament stories. Most of these men and women of God did some pretty crazy things, and yet, God still loved them and used them to help build His kingdom. Many of them are in Jesus’ genealogy.

God’s patience is tremendous, when you really thing about how much He has to watch and “put up with.” He is not only doing that with me and you, but EVERYBODY. I always have to shake my head when someone says something like, “Well, your mom is now up in heaven looking down on you.” And I’m thinking, “I hope NOT!” I know she isn’t, and I wouldn’t want her to be. Mind you, hypothetically if she was - I’m sure I’d amuse her at times, and even “do her proud,” but there’d be all those other times I’d be causing her to slap her forehead with disappointment, wondering “What is she thinking???” No, it’s enough that God is watching... He is all-knowing, as well as all-powerful – at least I can depend on God to help me out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Time Management

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.”

Time is such a funny thing. Even with the best intentions, it can get away from us. Or we can choose to abuse, neglect or squander various opportunities as they present themselves. We rarely recognize time as being a precious commodity – a resource that needs to be valued and respected. Like money, we need to budget wisely, because there are only so many hours in a day.

Of course, there is a need for “me-time.” The question is just how much of that should I allow myself? And just how selfish is this “me-time?” Obviously, studying the Bible should be part of that schedule, but is there a point at which it stops being constructive? Now I must be honest, I occasionally struggle with squeezing this activity into my itinerary. But I do remember a time when I was determined to read through the entire Bible as quickly as possible, but I soon realized that it should not be done to the extent of neglecting my responsibilities!

“Everything in moderation,” was one of my mom’s favorite mottos, which is very useful and has stuck with me. I just need to remind myself of this. Prioritizing is also a very helpful tool. But most importantly, I need to continuously ask God to help manage my time effectively; since every second, does in fact, belong to Him.