But store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)
I know I’m not supposed to start a letter with an apology, especially in a blog that supposed to be encouraging and uplifting. Maybe it will be by the time I’m finished.
As our vacation was drawing to a close, a classmate of mine tagged me in Facebook to a fire. As I sat in the hotel, I watched a live feed of a structure engulfed in flames.
To most of the onlookers it was a building. To me, my brother and sister, our children and cousins, it was our childhood home in Vandergrift filled, no loaded in every square inch, with memories.
Old memories of my own childhood with mom, dad, Nani, Nana, Marion and Carl were expanded to include our husbands and wife, then our little kiddos, then our children as adults. On one very special day Thorin proposed to Kayte right there in the kitchen surrounded by weepy eyed loved ones.
There were five bedrooms, one converted to a play room, where cousins played and fought until we were called to the kids’ table at Nana’s Sunday dinner – pasta of course.
With a variety of relatives within walking distance, there were always, always visitors. In the backyard, between the house and garage, was a vegetable garden where Dad produced and generously shared the biggest best tomatoes in town.
In our early years, the downstairs housed a grocery store that Nani started so that mom would not have to work for anybody. He was very protective of his only daughter who we lovingly dubbed, the Italian Princess.
So many random thoughts come to mind, both happy and sad, or just nostalgic –
Carl and Timmy dangling G.I. Joe from the back porch; playing jacks with Carole; Marion and I and our California cousins putting on shows; our own kids scaring each other with stories of Jack the Pirate who lived in the attic; the flashlight Easter egg hunt in the empty storeroom.
If you don’t share some of these memories, you’ve probably left me by now anyway, but if you’re still here be comforted.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away.
Buildings may evaporate , memories may dim, but one thing, the most important thing, remains – love.
Love never runs out– and on, and on, and on, and on, it goes.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
I recently viewed a video of Baby Dan massacring his 1st birthday cake. I’m sure that he’s not fed much sugar, but it only takes a little nibble to compel him to go back for more.
By allowing ourselves to surrender to God, the same thing happens. Once we see his goodness and start to understand His character and how He works, we get hooked…and it keeps getting sweeter.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the Truth. 3John 1:4 ͞
Walking in the Truth͟ to me means knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and attempting to live a life pleasing to Him.
To me, it would further mean that all precious eleven children/grandchildren (so far) would be spending eternity with us.
It would also point toward success in this world because they would be fulfilling God’s special plan for each of their lives.
God loves each of them so much more than I do (and that’s saying a lot), and He knows much better than I do what is best for each of them.
Could there be any greater joy?
It is finished. (John 19:30)
The most uplifting words ever. Sounds simple, but they are loaded. Many people, including me, believed that we had to earn our way to heaven. We try so hard to be righteous or worthy, but always fall short.
Sometimes we compare ourselves with others—“I’m not as bad as her,” or “I could never be as holy as him.” But all our virtuousness, good works, or lack thereof, will not determine our eternity. It is simply a gift of grace so that no one can boast since no one is deserving.
We can rest assured though because the fine (penalty, ransom, reparation, restitution) has been paid. Romans 10:9 affirms, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
As a wise, old bible scholar often repeats, “salvation equals faith plus nothing.”
“…when He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down…” He had finished His work. It is complete. Fulfilled. Finished. And that’s the Good News.
Even if your brother wrongs you seven times a day, and seven times asks forgiveness, you must forgive him. Luke 17:4
I think the adage “Forgive and Forget” is untrue. Forgiveness is complicated. What if we truly desire to forgive, but are still experiencing the attached emotions—anger, hurt, etc.?
We can choose to forgive, but we need help, spiritual help, with the emotional part. We may never actually forget the incident, but we can experience resolution and peace following forgiveness.
The ancient wise person who said, “To err is human, but to forgive is divine” had it right.
God created mankind in His own image…
There is an educational concept called self-fulfilling prophecy. It is defined as an expectation that affects behavior and causes that expectation to be fulfilled. If we continually tell a child that he is lazy, or a hard-worker, or mean, or kind, in each case he will gladly oblige. We need to set high expectations for ourselves and others. If we are made in the image of God, we are only limited by ourselves. And God, well, He isn’t even limited by reality.
…in the image of God, He created them. Gen 1:27
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This verse certainly applies to children, and I use it often when writing a word of encouragement on a graduation card. But I’m so glad that this verse has no expiration date. God has plans for our future until we take our last breath in this world, and the exciting part is that He has plans for us beyond that. Our value and usefulness extends into eternity…and that defines hope.