Sunday, August 28, 2016

Treasures in Our Hearts

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (NIV)  Matthew 6:21

About twenty years ago, my father said to my mother, "I want a truck."  They had a car, they were retired, life was good - but Daddy wanted a truck.  So off they went and he came home with this little Ford Ranger.  It was all my dad wanted and needed, and he was happy.  When it came to a choice of what car to use, Daddy always chose the truck.  He and his pup would go everywhere in that truck - it made him happy.  

When Daddy passed on over 15 years ago, Mom didn't know what to do with the truck, but she kept it.  Maybe it was part out of need.  I'm thinking it was mostly out of memories.  I didn't blame her one bit.  Yet, about a year after I married my true love, over eleven years ago, Mom passed the truck to Juan.  The journey began.  Juan treated this truck as if he had nurtured it himself.  He, as well, would take it places.  It became our family trademark.   Most of the kids used it when they first learned to drive.  It moved many children in and out of dorm rooms.  It even moved one daughter into a couple of apartments.  Not only did Daddy's dog see the inside of that truck, so did our own Duke.  I think Duke loved the truck as much as Juan did.  Over the past eleven years, my husband diligently brought that truck back to life - long after we thought it had seen its last day.

Two weeks ago, it finally happened - the day our family had been dreading.  The "Granny Ranger", the "Put Put", or "Pop-Pop's truck" - the names our Ranger had been fondly known as, just died.  There was no more CPR with this truck.  The day had come.  Tomorrow, the junk yard will come and take it away.  It's time - my poor husband has put more sweat and tears into that truck.  We are all sad to see this truck go.  Each member of our family has a special memory with this truck.  Whether any of us want to admit it or not, this little truck has been a treasure.  No, it isn't fancy and it isn't high in monetary value, but it is a treasure.   I think that was the reason why Juan worked so hard on it - it was a treasure.

I'm sure we all have those things in our lives - the ones that are true treasures.  Maybe a beloved t-shirt of a concert you went to with a friend who has passed on.  Maybe it is your great-grandmother's special pan or your grandfather's favorite tool.  When the day comes for us to retire those treasures, it can be hard.  We hold them in our hands a little longer, reliving the memories over and over.  Sometimes it is very difficult for us to let go.  Yet, we all have to remember something.  Our treasures are not in the "things", our treasures are in our hearts.  

What we really treasure are the memories that were created with those items.  The laughs, the tears, the hopes, the dreams, the good times, and the sorrows - all of them connected to those earthly items.  For many of us, saying goodbye to those earthly treasures may seem like we are saying goodbye to our loved ones - one more time.  Let us remember, though, that the earthly treasures are no more than that - earthly.  The treasures we hold in our hearts is where the true value is.  Things come and go, objects come and go, but the memory of Duke sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, or me riding home from dropping off children at college with tears in my eyes, or me sitting next to my dad in that truck - those memories are tucked deep in my heart.  Those memories aren't going anywhere!!

The next time we find ourselves having to say goodbye to an earthly treasure, may we be reminded that the real treasure is the memory that is sitting in our hearts.  May we hold on to those memories even tighter than the special pan, favorite tool or old pick up truck.  For memories are what can be cherished a lifetime.

"Dearest Lord, thank you for helping us to remember that our true treasures are in our hearts, not in earthly possessions.  May the value that we find be that of scenes that pass through our minds, not value in an item.  It is those treasures, God, that we know we can keep for eternity.  In your name we pray.  Amen!"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tongue Tied

"Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.  . . . Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."  (NIV)  1 Corinthians 14:22, 39-40

It was second semester freshman year in college.  As with most new college students, I was finding the adjustment to be a bit difficult.  Yes, there were the normal anxious moments of meeting new friends and ensuring I would do well with my studies.  Compound that with two very important things that weighed heavily on my mind:  my dad was very sick - in and out of hospitals, and I wanted to ensure my faith, that was a big part of my high school years, would not waiver.  My dad being in and out of hospitals was something that we would learn would be part of his life for the next 20+ years.  I thought I wouldn't have a problem in the "faith" arena because I was going to a Lutheran college.  That should be a "slam dunk" right?  Well . . . .

Church at college consisted of going to a small chapel on Sunday nights with a wonderful chaplain that understood college students and all we were thinking.  Chaplain was a great man and he assisted in not only continuing my faith during those years, but growing it!   There was a group of students on campus, though, that didn't attend our small Sunday worship, but who were strong believers.  This group of students were known around campus for "talking in tongues".  I had heard about this, but had never seen it.  I remembered how very much it scared me, on so many different levels.  
  • Why would they want to talk in tongues - nobody could understand them?
  • Where did this come from?
  • How come they could do it and I couldn't?
  • Were they better Christians than I was?
  • Did my sins that Jesus die for catch up with me?
Yes, all those questions and so many more flooded my mind.  The whole situation had me "tongue tied" and I just wanted to come home.  I remember calling my mom, asking her lots of questions, and she suggested that I speak with our long-time Pastor.  The call was made and my fears were calmed.  He brought up the passages that I read this morning - sharing that those who speak in tongues can sometimes assist the 'unbelievers' to believe.  For us believers, we needed to continue to walk tall and prophesy the good news to those who are ready to listen.  My heart stood still - and a sense of peace washed over me.  It was going to be okay - I was a believer and Jesus still loved me.

It's hard to believe that a memory so strong could be jolted by reading a few Bible passages.  Yet, those feelings of insecurity were so real when something happened that I didn't understand.  Have you ever been there?  Have you had a moment when your values or beliefs were rocked by moments of uncertainty?  Did you find it as unsettling as I did?  I believe that happens to us when values we hold so dear to us are challenged, questioned, or even not understood (as when those people spoke in tongues).  Those moments of being unsettled can be tricky to navigate through.  We can find ourselves on paths that take us down dark places.

My friend, remember this - Jesus loves us and continually watches over us.  When you find yourselves in these moments, go to the place where all our fears can be calmed, all our anxious moments can be peaceful and all our insecurities can be settled.  Go to the Rock of our salvation for answers.  This can be done by steeping yourself in favorite Bible passages, having coffee with a dear friend, or calling on that wonderful Pastor who can guide you back to your path - the path Jesus has carved out just for you.  There is much in this world today that can bring us uncertainty - whether it is the circumstances around us or people talking in tongues long ago.  Either way, find comfort in the eternal comforter - Jesus.  His will can be my will - as long as I follow.

"Jesus, there are times when our core values and beliefs can be shaken by people or circumstances around us.  Help us, especially at those times, to be guided by those in our lives who can bring us back to those values, bring us the peace you so richly want for us, Jesus.  Help us to stay on your path and not be frightened, but stand up, stand firm, and gain peace.  Thank you for those you give us to help us through these journeys.  In your name we pray.  Amen!"

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not Good Enough

"I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."  (NIV)  Psalm 139:14

It was one of those weeks this week.  Every day seemed to point out my failures.  Whether it was work or home, projects or family, it didn't seem to matter.  As each day unfolded, I seemed to see my faults bolder and bolder.  I kept finding the things that I didn't do right.  It wasn't that any person said a word to me or shared that I was a horrible person, it just FELT like that.  Maybe it was the pit in my stomach.  Maybe it was the thoughts floating through my head an night.  Maybe it was me looking in the mirror.  All I know was that every new day found me discouraged about situations.  I had that "Not Good Enough" feeling.

I have had this feeling before, probably far too often.  In a world where "I want" everything to go right, where "I want" perfection, where "I want" everyone to be happy, I can let myself down.  I am not let down by others, I am let down by myself.  I find myself constantly asking me, "What can I do better?  How can I change all this?  What needs to be different and how can I influence that change?"  In my quest to better understand that complete perfection only comes from God, I sometimes fall back into trying to get there myself.  When my thoughts go to that place, I begin feeling as if I lack what I need for success - success as a wife, mother, daughter, and co-worker.  

Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever found yourself wondering whether you were "good enough"?  I know how you feel - and it can be exhausting.  When we drive ourselves to this quest of perfection, we become no good to anyone, especially ourselves.  We work so hard that we lose sight of so many things that are going well.  When I am in this state of mind, I can only see what I am not doing and can't seem to see anything that I am doing.  I look at only the imperfections of what is around me.  

I'd like to share with you what we all need to know.  On those days we all need to remember one driving factor - God Made US!!  Look at the world around us.  Look at the beauty and majesty of our mountains.  Look at the wonder of the birds and the fish.  Look at each flower and tree.  Let's face some facts - God doesn't make anything less than incredible.  With that simple fact, we know the truth that comes with that - God made you and me more than good enough.  He made us in His vision and in His light.  God's creation in you and in me gives us the gifts that we need in this earthly life.  God is good - He is good ALL THE TIME.  He isn't just good to some people and He isn't just good in some situations.  He is good to all and His is good all the time.  You have been wonderfully made in His sight.  

Knowing that helps me to get out of the "not good enough" mode and into the "more than good enough" mode.  God has given me all the I need in order to succeed each and every day.  I need to cherish all the wonderful things He has given me and revel in the fact that He has made me with everything I need to succeed.  More importantly, He has made YOU with everything that YOU need to succeed.  That is something to not only smile about, but to celebrate.  The verse for today helps me to remember God's goodness and blessings for my life.  I pray that it does the same for you.  God only makes the best - and YOU are the best!!

"Dearest Lord, there are days when the trials of this earthly life can weigh heavy on us.  Those thoughts can lead us to believe we are not good enough to deal with the situations we are given.  Help us to always know, God, that YOU have created us.  You have given us more than enough to deal with what is on our plates.  May we come to you in prayer on those days, and may you reveal to us the wonder of us as your creations - and to know that we are more than good enough.  We are your children.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen"

Sunday, August 7, 2016


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!"  2nd Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

Before I go any further with this post - Mom is doing well.  Now, let's start the story.  My mother calls me a few weeks ago and says, "Something is not right, I'm not feeling well."  As you would suspect, into the car I go and get over to Mom's house.  Her heart was racing, not something that should happen after her heart surgery a few years ago.  We quickly called the cardiologist and before we knew it, she was admitted.  Over the next few days, Mom was attended to by many wonderful health care professionals, helping her to "flip" her heart back to a regular heartbeat.  I'm sure many of you have heard, or maybe have even experienced "AFIB", when your have a very erratic heartbeat.  A variety of procedures can be performed.  The least evasive is to take medicine through an IV in hopes that it "flips or converts".  I am happy to say that Mom's heart flipped and she is on her way to her old self!  Praise the Lord.

As I was sitting in the hospital, waiting for Mom's heart to flip, it helped me to reflect on our passage for today.  We wanted the old heartbeat to go away and wanted the new one to come.  How many times have I behaved so improperly that all I wanted was to have the old behind me and to begin anew?  How many times have trials and tribulations come across my path and all I wanted was for it all to be over with and for new situations to start?  How many times have I said things that not only the person I was speaking to didn't appreciate, but neither did God or I appreciate them either?  

I have had many circumstances when I know that I needed a greater dose of God in my life to help the "old me" go away and have Him create a "new me".  A "new me" that lives the life God wants me to.  A "new me" that focuses on God and His creation, not my selfish ways.  A "new me" that had His purpose and His words in my mind and on my tongue.  There is only one way I can receive the "new me".  I need to get deep into God's word.  God can restart my soul when it needs to be flipped.  When I need an attitude adjustment or need a new focus - away from the things of this earthly life, God can do that for me.  Through prayer and holding onto His word, I am assured that a new creation is coming - and I know it will be something wonderful.

Do you need to be "flipped"?  Is it time for a "new me" or a "new start"?  There is only one that can give you all that - and so much more.  Spend time in God's word.  Pick up a prayer book, a hymnal, a Christian CD, or may I even suggest the #1 best seller of all time, The Bible. Let the words jump off the song or pages and let them sink into your heart.  God can restart your soul as simply as you letting Him in.

"Heavenly Father, as you are well aware, sometimes we need a restart to our faith.  Maybe our focus or our actions have taken us away and we become irregular in our faith.  Help to flip us back to you Jesus.  Pierce our hearts with the knowledge that you are always there, waiting for us to flip back to YOU!  Thank you for patiently waiting for us to dive deeper into you.  Praise and glory to you, Jesus.  Amen."

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.