Sunday, May 28, 2017

Don't Touch My Stuff

Don't Touch My Stuff

I walked into our house one day at noon, only to find a small TV sitting in the middle of the dining room. One of our leather-cased slide projectors was on the floor of the living area. In our bedroom, a jewelry box had been dumped out on the bed.
You may have immediately thought they were robbed, but on the day of the event, I couldn't grasp that idea. First, I called my husband to see if he'd been home. When he said, "No," I called the police. 

They were checking out the house and making a report when he arrived. They felt I had startled the robber and showed me where someone had entered through a small back window.

We were called in once, to check on stolen items that had been recovered. The amount of stuff in the police storage area boggled my mind, but none of it was ours. We missed our 35mm camera, college and high school rings and some other jewelry which we never replaced. But nothing could have made Jesus' words in Matthew more meaningful.

A "Heads Up"
He said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21, NKJV).

The place of our affection is often referred to as our heart. We tend to use the word "love" quite loosely when it comes to things. If we really "like" something, we tend to say we "love" it.

Jesus was not saying we couldn't have things to enjoy. His was a warning regarding attachment and priorities. Two guys who call themselves "The Minimalists" put it this way: "Real wealth, security and contentment come not from trinkets we amass, but from how we spend the one life we've been given."

Life By Choice
We can live as simply or as lavishly as we want, but Solomon said, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" (Proverbs 4:23, NLT). Go ahead and enjoy what you have but don't hold on too tightly.

Life is more satisfying when shared, and that includes our talents as well as our "stuff." I admire the wealthy who are willing to part with high-dollar collections to benefit charitable organizations. But I also admire those with few worldly goods who freely share what they have with others in need.

The story of Robin Hood who stole from the rich to help the poor sounded good till I was the one stolen from. It was a great reminder to monitor my heart, and still is. 

Instead of thinking don't touch my stuff, I became more aware of the need to say, "Here, let me share it."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Relish Routines

Relish Routines

 Life is full of routines. It doesn't matter if you're at home, school or work. Think about it. How is your life kept running by regular routines?

For example, oil changes are routine but they improve a car's engine performance. Regular brushing of teeth results in healthier dental checkups. The daily routine of getting to a job on time builds credibility and avoids reprimands.

Routines are procedures that don't vary. I understand, like most people, that they are necessities in life. When I was an office worker, my routine included set hours to arrive, leave, take breaks and eat lunch. 

Let's Have Fun

That didn't keep me from adding variety by taking a different route to work, running errands sometimes on my way home, or eating out now and then instead of packing a lunch. By the way, why do you think someone started the "casual Fridays" dress routine?

Anyone who knows me well knows I appreciate the old saying, "Variety is the spice of life." My husband understood my desire for variety early in our marriage. 

If I got inspired to spice up a meal with a new recipe, he agreed he would eat it. But I agreed that if he didn't like it, I wouldn't make it again. That routine has worked well for over fifty years.

Am I the only one who doesn't relish routines? Think of "relish" and your first thought may be mustard for hot dogs, or ketchup for hamburgers. They add flavor or enjoyment to our food. Used in that way, relish is a noun. But it's also an exciting verb.

Relishing routines requires looking at mundane everyday tasks with a certain delight. Yes, they must be done, but it's our choice how we handle them. In fact, if we consider them in a positive way, we might see the tangible rewards to be reaped by doing them.

Routines are Natural

I might struggle with my daily routines, but I'm thankful for those God placed in nature. For example, sunrise opens my day and sunset slows me down in the evening.

Farmer and gardeners deal with the routines of seed time and harvest. Generations have dealt with the seasonal challenges of winter, springtime, summer and fall. 

These natural routines were promised by God in Genesis 8:22 (NIV). There's plenty of room for variety within them, but the choice is up to us.

Just because routines are a part of life doesn't mean we can't take a breather now and then. Sometimes change is simply a pause that refreshes. But the bottom line is that life will be sweeter if we relish routines, instead of avoiding them.

If your daily routines seem boring, just spice them up with your own personal relish.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Beauty and Expectations

The first thing I appreciate about hummingbirds is their artistic beauty. Their beautiful colors have made them popular decorations on clothing, indoor paintings and outdoor yard art. I once enjoyed a hummingbird rainbow catcher in my kitchen window.

I admired these beautiful birds for years, until one day I observed them from my office. I did not have a hummingbird feeder, but saw them flitting about. I was fascinated as I noticed that every time one tried to eat at a certain spot, another would dive bomb in and scare him away.

I had seen hummingbirds many times, flitting their wings at a sugar feeder outside someone’s window. But I had never seen this aggressive behavior.

One day a group of us ladies went to lunch out by a lake. The restaurant had hummingbird feeders placed in front of their windows. Once again, I noticed the birds’ aggressiveness. When I expressed my amazement one of the ladies said, “Oh, yes. They’re very territorial.” Another lady in the group agreed.

I must say my unbridled enthusiasm for these colorful birds became somewhat abated. It seems silly to be disappointed by such a tiny creature, but I had judged them by their beauty. Now I was challenged to judge them by their actions.

Power on Wings
The aerodynamic capabilities of these magnificent creatures influenced designers of hovercraft. Whenever I observe a helicopter flying overhead, I think it’s awesome. When I think of the life-saving capabilities of these aircrafts in disaster and war, I am grateful. But, sorry to say, the little bird’s charm was gone.

My high expectations of beauty were dashed. Their colorful bodies were admirable, but that did not make up for their hidden urge toward aggression. In this case, seeing was believing and I changed my opinion. If judged outwardly, they were beautiful. If judged by behavior, they were not.

It reminded me of a simple scripture in John 7:24: “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” It’s no secret that people tend to judge each other first by appearance. If we don’t know the person, what other criteria do we have?

But if we’re smart, we’ll withhold judgment until we’ve had time to observe them in action. If I’ve learned anything from hummingbirds, it’s that outward beauty can be deceiving.

In people, we need to look a little deeper for character traits, speech habits, a sense of fairness and wisdom. Hummingbirds aren’t the only ones who are territorial. Human beings show this trait when they choose to win by intimidation.

To intimidate means to “make timid.” No matter how beautiful or handsome the person might be, intimidation is an aggressiveness that causes you to withdraw from acting or speaking your own convictions or thoughts. Sometimes it’s overt, and sometimes it’s covert, but either way it’s power in action.

Beauty we will always have with us, but let’s balance our expectations by judging from the inside out.