Saturday, July 10, 2021

Worse Things

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV)

I sit in the silence of a darkened dining room. Little houses leave few places to escape to. I can hear the crickets outside; they have started their nightly serenade. My husband is watching television too loudly in our room, but tonight it does not bother me. There is peace in my heart, and so there is peace in my home.

This was not the scene last night when I fell exhausted into bed.

About 1pm I was at the mall with my husband, returning something we had bought, when I noticed I had missed a call from my boss, the church pastor.  It was Friday, my day off, but I had planned to work from home to make up for the day off I had taken Thursday.  However, my husband and I needed a break from stifling humidity that has been plaguing us, and so we headed to the mall for our errand and a bite to eat.

I returned the phone call quickly to discover that our church office had been broken into and "ransacked." The word was repeated at least a dozen times yesterday.  There was no other way to describe it.  Drawers opened.  Paper everywhere.  Items misplaced.  Ransacked.

We left the mall and headed to the church office, where we looked in surprise at the situation.  The police were called as well as a locksmith, and shortly thereafter the members we had received now-stolen tithe checks from that week.  The good news, the first we would discover, was there had only been two checks, and one was from my own family.  We would also soon discover that although they stole our master key ring, they had not taken our back up key ring which had copies of almost all of them.  The police arrived shortly, even sending their forensic unit to take fingerprints.  And the first locksmith we called was able to come almost immediately to begin the arduos process of changing a lot of locks.

But the whole situation was unsettling.  Our pastor described the feeling of being "violated" because trinkets were stolen off his desk that, though of little monetary value, had high sentimental value.  It reminded me of a similar experience we had last October.  You can read about it here: WHO STOLE MY KIT KATS AND FAITH IN HUMANITY?  We did the best we could to put the pieces together, and decided the rest could wait.  We left frustrated and frazzled.

A few hours later, after watching some television with my husband, I stumbled to my bed, so tired that I left my phone in the livingroom.  I wanted nothing to tempt me to stay awake.

The next morning I awoke to a string of missed texts.  Just after I fell into my bed, our pastor's daughter had been in a dangerous situation while out with some friends.  The Pastor had texted the leadership team to ask for prayers as he and his wife tried to find out what was happening.  Of course, by the time I read the string of texts, the situation had been resolved for nearly 12 hours.  But all the same, I sat there with tears in my eyes this morning, thinking of the far greater loss I would have felt if events had turned out differently. It put the entire previous day in perspective.

There are worse things than stolen money.

There are worse things than broken posessions.

There are worse things than trespassed property.

Far worse things, indeed.

Friday, July 9, 2021

FMF: Summer

Hands that don’t want to work make you poor.
But hands that work hard bring wealth to you.
A child who gathers crops in summer is wise.
But a child who sleeps at harvest time brings shame.
(Proverbs 10:4-5, NIRV)


"What do you plan to do this summer?" she asked me.

"As little as possible," I told her with a laugh.

And it was true. After a semester of working two part time jobs and taking a near-full load of classes, I needed a little time to rest and prepare for the fall. For many of us, not just students, Summer is the time we cherish most because we are able to do just that.

However, in agriculutural societies, like the one in which the Biblical writer of Proverbs lived, summer was a time of work. You can only gather crops when the crops are ready. They don't wait for you to want to work, and so your schedule revolves around the harvest's schedule.

There's a line from a hymn I sometimes find myself singing: "Bringing in the sheaves, // Bringing in the sheaves, // We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves."

(Sheaves, in case you do not know, are bundles of grain. I had to look it up too.)

In my spiritual life, there are some things that can only happen at certain times. Perhaps I will never encounter another person or have the same opportunity to extend God's grace in a situation.

As God's children, it is wise to work when the harvest is available.

The only question that remains is will we rejoice as we bring in the sheaves?



* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
* * *

Friday, July 2, 2021

FMF: Deserve

“All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?”
(2 Samuel 19:28, NIV)


Years after David had taken begun his rule over God's people, he thought back to his friend, Jonathan, whose father, Saul, was the king.   Jonathan and Saul had both died in battle, and it appeared that their entire lineage was now dead too.

One day David found himself thinking of his old friend, and he asked his servant if anyone was still alive in their family so that he could should them God's kindness (2 Samuel 9:3).

This, in and of itself, is convicting to me.  Too often, I limit my willingness to love people to when it is convenient for me.  David, however, went searching for someone to love in the same way God had loved him.  Eventually he found Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth had lost his ability to walk when a caretaker dropped him in the same siege that had killed Jonathan and Saul. When Mephibosheth was brought before David, he did not condemn him, but rather restore him.  He gave him land, status, and most importantly, acceptance.  We read that Mephibosheth ate at David's table forever.

God wants to restore us as well.  Like Mephibosheth, life has left us broken, but God wants to be kind to us. Allow yourself to be carried to God's table today.



* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
* * *

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Life Cycles and Stages

A few weeks ago I returned late from a dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday. Apparently it was birthday night at the restaurant because, as we discovered over the course of the night, most of the tables on the patio were celebrating a birthday. As we were seated, the table closest to us commented that they were celebrating a birthday as well. At their table, Robin was turning 65; at our's, Ana was turning 40. As we each turned back to our respective tables, one of our new friends at the table next to us commented that she wished she was 40 again.

Really? I thought.  Hadn't our table just been talking about divorces, diseases, and problems with children - all a result of this moment in our lives.  Yet, at 65 this woman wished she were 40 again?

The evening passed and we had a pleasant evening.  The meal was finished, the tab was paid, and as we made our way out of the restaurant, the scene changed.  We saw a group of girls, maybe in their mid-twenties.  My friends and I looked at each other, and there was an understanding: it would be easy to wish we were them again.  Remember the thrill of wondering where life would take you?  The energy to stay out late and get up the next morning unphased?  The carefree moments when you could do what you wanted because you reported to no one else?

And then almost as quickly: Remember not having enough money for rent?  Being mistreated in a relationship?  Desiring the respect your age made hard to earn?

In writing about developing mature love, the apostle Paul wrote:
"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11, NASB)
Similarly, we must learn to put former days behind us.  Have you ever met someone who was desperately hanging on to their youth? It always makes me sad to think they are missing out on what is happening in their life because they are attempting to gain something they'll never have again.

I hope that when I'm 65, I enjoy being 65. So, I must begin that practice now.  I appreciate that I'm 39, at least for a few more days, because this is where God has me.


* * *
Dear Reader,
This post was written several weeks ago and fell between the cracks.  I was reluctant to post it, having just written about slowing down as I approached 40. Two posts in a row about turning 40?  I promise I am not obsessed, as I thought you may consider me.  Instead, I choose to own it.  I am almost 40, and these are things I'm thinking about these days.  It is what it is.  So I hope, friend, that you will bear with me as I learn to let go of being 30-something and embrace being 40-something.
-Amie

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Slow, Still, Wait.

A few years ago my family started taking vacations. Though we had been married almost fifteen years, it was not until that point in our relationship that we had the desire, finances, and ability to align our schedules to take a significant trip together. Since then, we've been all over the United States and twice to Canada. I love to see landmarks and experience once in a lifetime moments.

We've also been working on capturing these moments with photos. I don't want to be that mom who takes pictures of everything their child does (you know that parent, right?), but I don't fully trust myself to remember it all. As I type these words, I look to the corner of my living room where many of these photos are hung.  My mind goes back to those moments when...
My son lost his tooth at a baseball game.
My family got free ice cream.
My son ordered strange food at a restaurant.
We toured a battleship.
My husband and I ate at a restaurant with a fantastic view.
Dee Strange-Gordon picked my son out of the crowd to give a baseball.
Both times my sons pretended to be chased by a dinosaur.

As I approach forty (ten days, and counting), I find myself slowing down.  Not slowing down as if my battery was running out of juice - though that's certainly happening more - but as if I don't want to run through life as fast.  Perhaps that's what happens when you realize it's possible you have fewer years in front of you than behind you.

I mentioned to a friend this week my reluctance to turn forty.  He reminded me that I may want to reconsider my stance; turning forty, after all, is better than the alternative. Point taken.

Yet even in my slowing, I find it hard to be patient. I remind myself that some things just take time. Patience is a work of the Spirit in me (read: here). When Jesus told His disciples to wait, they started asking Him what He had planned (read: here). The disciples weren't the only ones to struggle, think Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Aaron, and all the Isreaelites in the desert for that fact.

Instead, I seek to live in patience.  To worry less about what is happening around me, and to allow my paitence be a holy act of commitment to God. I will wait.  I will be still.  I will not be upset. I will not allow sin to win.  As the psalmist wrote:

Be still and wait patiently for the Lord to act.
Don’t be upset when other people succeed.
Don’t be upset when they carry out their evil plans.
Turn away from anger and don’t give in to wrath.
Don’t be upset, because that only leads to evil.
(Psalm 37:7-8, NIRV)