Heart song

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

It started in 1989. A couple of months after I finished grad school, I moved to Atlanta and found a ground floor apartment with big rooms…that scared almost everyone I met…except me. I KNOW it scared them because–without exception–I was encouraged to move as soon as anyone came to see me for the first time. This was especially true of the people who had lived in the area for awhile. (I actually had dates that refused to come back because of where I lived!–but those were “faint of heart” and apparently, it was God’s way of weeding them out! HA!)

What “THEY” knew: drug deals were going down at the front of the complex. All. The. Time.

What “I” knew: it fit my budget, was close to my closest office, and I was finally on my own. It was heaven–even without any furniture and no TV. Starting out, I had a bed (mattress on the floor), a new job, a radio, my books, a place to cook meals, and freedom to make my own decisions. I set about making a home and a life on my own…or so I believed.

What God knew: there was a plan to bless me really big. It would just take a bit to unfold.

Because I was raised to live with a healthy respect for cleanliness, because it was an old apartment that had housed people I did not know, AND because I worked for doctors, I scoured every single inch of that apartment. Cleaning supplies were my number one priority and biggest budget item that first month. I didn’t have much, but it was going to be clean, so there was absolutely NO surface that escaped my obsession. (That’s important to know because of what happened later.)

I had been there almost two years and had settled in nicely. I found a church home right next door to the complex, friends who ‘braved’ (Read that as PRAYED HEARTILY–and most likely, OUT LOUD!–AS THEY DROVE QUICKLY THROUGH!) the front part and came to visit, work that was both interesting and challenging, and a host of children who greeted me every day when I came home. They came running at top speed as soon as they spied my truck turning in and I often had to ask them to wait a moment while I put my stuff down. THEN, they turned in their “reports.” I knew if anyone had come by, stopped at my door, whether or not they went on to another door (and if so, which ones), what they looked like, what they drove, how long they stayed, and if they had been there before. A state of the art security force…all for the price of a big bowl of candy and a round of hugs and questions about their day, as well. The back part of the complex where I lived, you see, was made up of families and they had adopted me as one of their own.

I had a large and loving personal family, a great church family, a wonderful work family, and now, an apartment complex family. God was showing out in the love department, but He hadn’t sent me anyone to do life with yet. I was content to wait, but I was praying about it. I even went so far as to write down exactly what I wanted Him to send me…in detail, because, you know…some things you just need to spell out…even before God. (grin)

As the wait became longer, I wondered if He was really listening and, one evening, after some pretty intensive prayer–about a lot of things, not just that–I walked into my bathroom and reached for something in the medicine cabinet. As I pulled it forward, my hand caught something else, as well.IMG_20180618_075914480_LL

Something I had never seen before.

Something small and shiny.

Something gold, but kind of sticky…like it might have been back there a LONG time…and then…There. was. another. one.

It was a pair of VERY small gold heart earrings. Covered in dust.

I had had no recent visitors. I checked with those who had been there to see if they were missing a set. I had never owned a pair like them, had never even SEEN a pair like them, and I had absolutely NO idea where they could have come from…because I had SCOURED that place from day 1 and kept it clean from then onward.

It made absolutely no sense, but somehow, I knew that GOD had sent me those earrings just to let me know that He actually was listening. Instead of feeling like it was a bit creepy, I felt absolutely loved and cared for. I cleaned them up and wore them for years. Every time I did so, someone would comment on them–even as small as they were–and I would get to share my story. Actually, I was sharing God’s story.

You know the one? The one where He loves each of us SO MUCH that there’s nothing He won’t do to get our attention and nothing He saved back when He sent His Son to die for us. That’s the one. If you’re not familiar with it, go back and read this paragraph again. He loves you…really, really big…so much so that He sent His Son to save you in whatever high and mighty or backwards backwater place you find yourself today. He came to save you from your sin so that He could spend eternity with YOU and you could spend it–and today!–with Him.

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Those heart earrings were just the start of it for me. To this day, God still sends me hearts on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes they’re shaped like rocks as I walk to the mailbox (like the one I found last week–see the picture!–or the ones I found ON MY PORCH at my Mississippi house!) or near a mountain stream. In fact, I have an old white platter where I have started piling those heart rocks as a reminder that HE is personal and very, very present in my life.

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Sometimes, the hearts show up as flowers like this one that’s blooming right this minute along my back walkway…kind of like He had me bloom at the back of a really old apartment complex all those years ago.

No matter what form they take, each time I see one, I smile really big and tell God “THANK YOU!” for listening, for being near, for having a plan, and for just being God. Of course, I am looking for the hearts. Don’t miss that! I’m looking for the hearts He sends because I’m also looking for HIM to show up every day and yet I sometimes wonder just how many hearts I’ve missed because I forgot to pay attention over the years.

Writing all of this has reminded me of the verse I started out with today:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

This wasn’t just written for us, you know. It also characterizes our God. WE are His treasure and where WE are, there HIS HEART will be also!

If that doesn’t help you look for Him today, I’m not sure what will, so I hope you’re looking…and I hope your heart has a home with Him.

Grace and Peace!

 

 

 

 

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Making a list and checking it…

I’m not a worrier by nature, so it surprised me more than a bit to wake really early the other morning with an anxious feeling about some of what is going on in our lives right now.

I know God is in control. I also know that I’m not and–like most anxieties?–mine seemed to stem from that. (grin) In all truth, I don’t want to be in control of everything…just the parts about which I have questions! (bigger grin!)

Anyway! I woke up early with all of these questions and concerns running through my brain, so I did the only thing I knew I could control about them. I prayed…and then I opened up my Bible.

God led me to several different verses that He’s shown me over the years about HIM being the One in control (as a reminder, I’m sure!) and then to two verses I’d written on note cards for a teaching opportunity earlier this year.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  Genesis 15:1 (NKJV)

Did you see the connection in those verses? HE is the reward! When we seek Him, we GET Him! That’s huge!! It ought to make us really excited and more determined than ever to seek Him every day–whether we’re anxious or not!

As I thought about this, I started making a list of what I KNOW about God and who He is–things I’ve personally seen Him do/be  in my life. I grabbed a simple 2-column steno pad all lined and easy to fill…

What I KNOW about God: Holy, Righteous, Perfect in every way, Loving/Loves Me, Gracious, Kind, Patient, Saving, Comforting, Doesn’t always reveal plans ahead, Provider…

You know what? I got stumped about half-way down the first column. I mean my mind went completely BLANK and I thought, “REALLY, Becky?! This is the best you can do?!” So, I stopped and prayed, “God, this is really pitiful! BUT, if I only knew THIS about You, then that’s enough. It’s still enough to trust You with this–enough to trust You with everything.” And then…more came to mind…and then more.

Soon, there were 2 filled columns and still more favorite things to write down about God, so I went back to the first column and started to fill in the empty spaces on the lines. Every time I got stumped again, I’d pray again. I started looking through the Psalms–not to copy David’s lists, but because I know David really knew God and we all feel more comfortable knowing we aren’t the only ones to feel things like fear, glory, anger, and peace with God. I didn’t find anything “new” there, just reminders of how my life has been a lot like David’s…and yours.

Pretty soon, there were only a few small blank spaces left on the page, but there weren’t any left on my heart. I was in full out praise mode…and oddly enough, ready to rest again.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Are you struggling with decisions, details, disasters or just holiday angst today? (grin) Start making your own list and see what happens. I’d love to see those! Feel free to share them with me! What made your list?

“People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.” (The Message interpretation)

Following the star

I usually change the artwork in our house around to match my mood or the season.  At Christmas, I took down the painting over the mantle and cleared off all the extras to make room for the Nativity set.  I hung the star-shaped lid of a box over the manger.  It was a bit larger than the scale of the nativity set, but I thought it kind of fit since I think the original Christmas star was pretty spectacular in size, as well.

This past Monday, I de-Christmased our house.  Actually, as a follower of Christ, my house will never be truly de-Christmased, but I took down all of the seasonal decorations and packed them away until next year.  I took my time and rested in between the collecting and the protective repacking of treasured items.

The Nativity set is usually the first thing I put out and the last thing I put away because it is the focus of the season.  This week, I packed it all carefully away; each piece in their individual plastic bags and placed carefully in the hollowed out Styrofoam holder before moving the box, once more, out to the storage area.  Christmas was officially over.  I proceeded to the next item on my to-do list.

It wasn’t until I sat down late Monday night that I realized I had left the star in place.

It looks very stark against the dark bricks with no figures below to provide context.

The more I look at it, the more I like it.  I’ve decided to leave it up for a few more days as a reminder of all the ways God chooses to speak to us, all the ways He directs our paths and leads us to the places where we can find Him.  Unexpected directionals leading us along unexpected paths to unexpected places where we find the One who came for us.

I think that’s the part that’s sticking with me most:  all the “unexpecteds” are on our side…never on His.  He’s always had a plan.  The ways He gets our attention will vary because He created each of us individually…no carbon copies here.

Yes, the star will stay in place for a bit longer…a  reminder to look for Him even in the unexpected places of this new year…some of them right out in the open if only we have eyes to see.