UNEXPECTED TREASURE

During my college days I was as poor as Job’s Turkey.  After High School graduation, I worked for a year for seventy-five cents an hour saving one thousand dollars.  Only then could I think about continuing my education.  With my money safely in the bank, I packed my trunk, boarded a Grey Hound bus, and took off for Waxahachie, Texas site of one of our Bible Colleges.  That was back in the day when college tuition was not extravagantly expensive.  Still, I knew I must work, for my savings would only go so far.

Working on campus meant that my income was automatically applied to my school bill.  I never saw a nickel of it.  I tell you, “I was poor!”

My Mom wrote faithfully each week.  After reading her letters, I stuffed them in my top bureau drawer.  Cleaning out that drawer one day, I found one of her letters that had never been opened.  You can imagine my glee, when upon opening the envelope, I found a crisp five dollar bill tucked between the pages.  I thought I had died and gone to Fort Knox.

You have to understand, in those days, for me, five dollars was a lot of money.  I could walk to the end of Sycamore Avenue to Carl’s Café and buy a full meal including chicken fried steak, salad, vegetables, sweet potato pie and iced tea for sixty cents.  I spent Mama’s five dollars sparingly making it last a long time.  Talk about unexpected treasure!

Irish mythology tells us there is a leprechaun with a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.  Problem is you’ve got to catch that wily little creature before you possess the gold.

Men have been fascinated with the thought of treasure, chasing that proverbial “pot of gold” since time immemorial risking life and limb resorting to thievery and mayhem.

Fort Knox, the US Bullion Depository, which houses 5,000 metric tons of gold worth one hundred billion dollars, maybe the only treasury in history that has not been successfully burgled.  Of course, the twenty-ton door would be a little daunting.

Think of the Pirates, who plied the high seas during the 17th and 18th centuries wreaking havoc, sinking ships, taking lives, disrupting world trade, and making off with rich cargo.

From 1848 – 1852, 300,000 people, from the U.S. and around the world, rushed to California literally searching for the “Pot of Gold.”  There was instant wealth to be had in the twinkling of an eye.  A few did gain great riches, but many returned home having less than they started with.

Then there are those who take their risks in the stock market putting their faith in this or that commodity hoping the Dow Jones will not fail them.

These days salvage companies make a business of searching for sunken ships that were known to carry great riches.

A Spanish Galleon, The San Jose, was sunk, off the Columbian Caribbean coast, by the British Navy in 1708, with what may be the world’s largest sunken treasure—eleven million gold coins and jewels from Spanish controlled colonies.  This treasure is valued at four to seventeen billion dollars.

An American salvage company claims to have found the sunken wreck in the 1980s, and the Columbian government makes the same claim.  You can believe there is an all out war going on over who will gain the spoils.  Though they may profess interest for archeological purposes, treasure hunting is primarily motivated by potential profit.

On a much smaller scale, thousands of people make their way everyday to Casinos, in places like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, hoping to strike it rich, and even more head for the nearest convenience store to buy Scratch Offs and Lottery tickets.

Sadly, on the almost non-existent chance of an instant fortune, many, if not most of these, can ill afford the money, money needed for essentials.

To me the word “treasure” is relative.  It doesn’t always refer to monetary wealth.  Two of my most treasured possessions are my Mother’s needlepoint tapestry of an English Garden, and the little glass dog my Daddy gave me when I was seven.  Mama did the needlework, and the little dog probably didn’t cost more than fifteen cents.  Still, to me, these items are priceless.

Whether you are raising sunken ships, chasing leprechauns, or waiting with bated breath for the lottery drawing, any way you look at it, treasure hunting is a risky business rarely producing the longed for results.

There does exist, however, a “no risk, high dividend” investment possibility for your future, in which everyone is invited to participate.

Consider the “no fail” offer made in Matthew 6:19-21.  “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 your selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

How, in this world, do I lay up treasures in heaven?

I give Christ my heart—committing all that I am and all that I have to Him understanding that every prayer I pray, every dollar I give to His work, every moment I spend in service to Him, every act of obedience, and every word I speak as a witness to His grace are treasures deposited to my account in heaven.

Don’t kill yourself trying to accumulate the riches of this world.  Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it is safe from moth and rust and burglars.  You may never be rich in worldly goods, but imagine the riches of heaven.

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Momma

Age is just a number, right?  At least, that’s what I have always declared.  I love birthdays, that of mine or anyone else.  Birthdays are a celebration of life and anticipation of another year, no matter what it brings.

I had an attractive friend who cried the whole day on her fortieth birthday.  She looked in the mirror and said, “Blah!  Forty!”  She salted her scrambled eggs with her tears, and wailed, “Forty!” She even wept at the party her friends threw for her.  For Sandy, turning forty was a tragedy.  I wanted to remind her that she was only one day older than yesterday.  I don’t think there is a way to skip from thirty-nine to forty-one.  There is no alternative to becoming forty.  It is forty or nothing.

I have never minded growing older, believing that age has to do with attitude and mind and heart.  However, though I don’t mind being older, I’ve discovered I do mind feeling older.  All of a sudden, my body can no longer keep up with mind, my wishes, and desires.  I am mad!  I feel betrayed!  I had such marvelous plans for this season of life.  Those plans are no longer feasible, at least for the moment.

My Mom was a feisty little thing always on the go.  With a twinkle in her eye and laughter in her voice, she announced that she was going to live to be one hundred.   She didn’t, but the days she did live, she lived with purpose and joy setting an example for those of us who loved her.  I have an image of Mama indelibly stamp on my heart.  She sits on the side of her bed, early in the morning, dressed in her soft pink robe, her white hair mussed from sleep, her Bible open her lap.  What an example!

Mama lived with me the last few months of her life.  She was fragile, but she had a mind of her own.  I tried my best to take good care of her making sure that she was clean and comfortable and had nutritious meals, but if she didn’t want it, she didn’t want it.  She hated oatmeal, sometimes hiding it in a paper towel in her robe pocket.  She detested the handful of pills that were forced upon her each day, and shower water pelting down on her was worse than death.

Finally, her little body just wore out.  When it was clear that she was dying, with broken heart, I reminded her of her promise to live to be one-hundred.  She squeezed my hand and said, “That’s one promise I cannot keep.”

Tomorrow, March 23rd, will have been my Mother’s 118th birthday.  She was born in 1900 to Mary Ballentine and John Fullerton, in Whitewright, Texas.  She was the eighth in a family of nine children.  They named her Maggie Lou.  She would forever detest her name saying, she would rather be called “Doggie.”

After her death, we took Mama home to Arizona and buried her between Daddy and our brother, Henry.  At the end of the service, after family and friends had paid their respects, my four siblings and I stood by the coffin to say our last “good-byes.”

“Happy Birthday, Mama,” Lincoln said tenderly.

It was March 23rd, Mama’s eighty-ninth birthday, and though we sorrowed and the tears flowed, I suspect, for Mama, it was the happiest of birthdays.  No more pills, no more showers, no more oatmeal, and best of all, after a journey spanning almost a century, she was finally home.

So, what do I do?  Do I give up, because my body betrays me?  Do I lie on the sofa all day with novel in hand munching on bonbons?  At the age of eighty-two, I suppose I have the right.

Still, I have never lived like that.  I can’t begin now.  Surely God has a plan for the rest of my days, and He does.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “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 a hope and a future.”

My future may not be as I imagined it, but God, our creator, has not run out of ideas, and His are so much better than mine.

At this point, I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m kind of excited.  I will not be idle.  Will there be rough patches?  I am certain of it!  How will I handle the bad times?

Deuteronomy 33:25 says, “…As your days, so shall your strength be.”

2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

These scriptures assure me God will give me supernatural strength for whatever comes my way, both the good and the bad.  I am weak, but He is strong.

Therefore, I am looking forward to growing older, celebrating more birthdays, and living out God’s good plan with hope for the future.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAMA!

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

DOES GOD TAKE SIDES?

My niece, Paula, was the daughter I never had.  In every issue, I wanted to be on her side.  Even when she was grown and married with her own children, I looked out for her.  I didn’t like it when the kids were sassy or disobedient toward her.

One day her little daughter said to me, “Aunt Faye, you are always on Mama’s side.”

I didn’t know it was so obvious, but she was right.

We all need an ally.

I remember when I first heard that word, “ally.”  It was during the Second World War, and I was in the third grade.  Even eight-year-olds knew that a terrible conflict was raging in our world.  I was especially aware because I had three big brothers fighting overseas.

My teacher explained to us that our country, The United States of America, had some help fighting the war.  We were not alone.  There were other countries, on our side.  We needed their help to win. Those countries were our allies and we were theirs.  We were a team.

I also remember VE Day, Victory in Europe, and VJ Day, Victory in Japan.  The dark days of war were over.  There was rejoicing in the streets.  We won with our allies.

We all face dark and worrisome times in everyday life.  You may, even now, be confronting a desperate situation.  You feel like you are standing alone—there is no ally in sight.  These past few months have been some of the most difficult of my life, and they are not yet over.  I have dealt with legal problems for which I had no preparation—I have made decisions for which I was ill-equipped.  At times I have felt utterly alone knowing that there was not another human being who really knew what was going on, and yet I had an ALLY.

I HAD AN ALLY!  I turned to Psalm 124.

Psalm 124 is a song of praise written by King David in celebration of his triumphal return to Jerusalem after his son Absalom tried to usurp the throne.

In Psalm 124:1-3, David said, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say. If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us…they would have swallowed us up alive;”

In the year 1582, this psalm was sung on a remarkable occasion in Edinburgh, Scotland. A Scottish preacher had been wrongfully accused and imprisoned by enemies of the Gospel.  On the day John Durie was set free, he was met outside the prison and welcomed by two hundred of his friends.  The number increased until he found himself thronged by a company of two thousand, who began to sing, as they marched up High Street.  The words of the old song rang out as they solemnly sang, in four parts, all joining in the well-known tune and psalm—“Now Israel may say, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”

As they sang, they were deeply moved, and so were all who heard.  It is said that the man who was chiefly responsible for the preacher’s wrongful imprisonment, was more alarmed by the song and the sight of the marching believers than anything he had ever seen in Scotland.

So!  Does the Lord take sides?  Absolutely!  He was on John Durie’s side and He is on your side.  HE IS YOUR ALLY!

If you are one of His, God the Father is on your side.  He loves you. You belong to Him.  You are as dear to Him as the apple of his eye.  In turbulent times, He is your peace.  In trials, He is your strong arm.  He supplies your needs, keeps you by His power, and saves you from your enemies.  You have nothing to fear from any quarter.

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”  But He is.  There are no “ifs, ands, or buts about it.  He is on our side.

David ends this psalm by saying in verse 8, “Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

He has not fashioned a few little things alone, but out of nothing and with the aid of nothing, He made all that now is.  All heaven and the whole earth are the works of His hands.  If He can do all this, surely He can care for me.  As long as I can see heaven and earth I will not be afraid.  My present help and future hope is in the name of the Lord.

Remember, HE IS YOUR ALLY, and…

 

The sun will come out tomorrow!

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Thomas Wolf said, “You can’t go home again.”  In fact he wrote a whole book about it.  I must confess I have not read the book but I believe I understand, in essence, what he is saying.  He is saying, “You cannot recreate the memories of your past.  You can almost always return to the place, but eventually, you can never return to home—the actuality.  It is gone as gone can be.”

Yet, I did go home last week.  I packed my car and drove to Northern California— where I lived and worked for more than forty years.  I was anxious to see my “forever” friends—to hug them and laugh and eat with them.   I enjoyed the familiarity of the church events, but I have been gone for seven years, and things are not really the same.  I did not drive past the apartment, where I had lived for eighteen years, or the house where Cecil lived for so long before we married.  Maybe California is not my home after all.

Then I remembered how, when I lived in California, I used to go “home” to Arizona for Christmas and other special days.  I was raised there, and for a while, my Mom was still there.

One day, my sister asked, “Why do you call Arizona home?  You have lived somewhere else far longer than you ever lived here.”

True.  I had lived in Arizona the first twenty-eight years of my life.  Since then I have wandered the world.  During my years as an evangelist, I had no place to call home.  I just stayed wherever.  Being the nest builder that I am and making attachments easily, I believe I could have been happy almost anywhere.

Now, I live in Arizona again, but did I really come home?

My California friends said, “When are you coming back home?  We miss you.  You belong here.”

My Arizona friends said, “Why go to California?  You have everything you need here.”

Then there is Europe where I lived for years.  I had a lovely home, wonderful friends, and challenging work that made my heart glad.  My memories of that time are marvelous, and there is a huge longing in my heart to return there one more time.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.”

That’s true, I guess, but though I have strong attachments to the various places I have lived, and life in those places has contributed to who I am, neither Arizona, nor California or Europe is really home to me.

Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD) is credited with coining the phrase “Home is where the heart is.”  He was a Roman naval commander who spent his life leaving for extended periods of time.  He yearned for a place he wanted to return to.

Many have tried to define the word “Home.”

It is a place where you feel in control and properly oriented in space and time.

Home is where one is most emotionally attached.

Home is a place that is predictable and secure.

Robert Frost said, “Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

However, whatever home is, I have decided it is not a place out there that you can return to.  It is something inside me—something I carry around with me.  It has much to do with the condition of my heart.

We used to sing and old song that said—

“This world is not my home.

I’m just passing through.

My treasures are laid up

Somewhere beyond the blue…

And I can’t feel at home

In this world anymore.”

 

In John 14:2-3, Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and…I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am you may be also.”

Again, in Colossians 3:2-4, we are told to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth…for your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, you will appear with Him in glory.”

I don’t think I will ever feel really at home anywhere until I am at home with Him in glory.  He is my heart.  He is my home.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

EVEN THE LITTLE THINGS

I lost my Driver’s License.  Actually, I didn’t lose it.  I knew where it was.  I had driven up to the bank drive through window to cash a check.  Knowing that I would need my ID, I took the license from my wallet and immediately dropped it between my seat and the consol.  I tried desperately to retrieve it, but I couldn’t even see it, and there was no way to get my fat little fist into the narrow opening.  So I drove around to the front of the bank and went inside.

Since I knew the manager, I was sure there would be no problem.  I assumed a sad little face and explained my predicament to the Teller producing every scrap of identification that I had.  I was told that none would suffice, and the manager was not there.  The Teller was “very sorry,” but she could not cash my check.  To put it mildly, I was annoyed and a bit concerned about driving without a license.  I was afraid a patrolman wouldn’t accept “The dog ate my homework” excuse.

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On Sunday, a friend of mine was able to retrieve the license and return it to me.  Saturday morning I returned to the bank drive through.  With license and check in hand, I was prepared for business only to be told that the window was closed.  I gave up!

Laying the check and license in the passenger’s seat along with a stack of envelopes ready for mailing, I chased down the mailman, grabbed the stack of envelopes, jumped out of the car and left them with him.   When I arrived at the grocery store, I reached over for my license intending to put it back in my wallet, only to find that it was gone.  I looked everywhere.  I knew what had happened.  In my haste, I had picked it up with the letters and left it with the mailman.

“O, God, please help me,” I cried.  “I’ve had enough!”

This was such a trivial thing compared to Cancer, the Mid-East Crisis, and Terror Attacks, and yet it was sort of the last straw in a difficult week.

I am reminded of the Arabian anecdote told of a camel whose owner loaded the beast of burden with as much straw as possible.  Not satisfied with the staggering load he had put on the camel, the owner added just one last piece of straw and the camel collapsed.

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It’s those little things, seemingly insignificant things that accumulate.  The baby has a runny nose, the dog tracked mud into the house, the washing machine is making a funny noise, the telephone is ringing, you’re out of milk and the car won’t start.  The pile grows higher and higher.

It is the cumulative effect of small actions that sometimes brings us to the brink of despair.  Sadly, we hesitate to bring these small, insignificant matters to our Father.  After all, people are dying.  The economy is struggling.  Our country is in the middle of a nasty election year.  God has more than enough to take care of.

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Hear what Paul has to say in I Corinthians 10:13. (The Message)  “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

In Psalm 103:14, (The Message) David said, “He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

God knows exactly who you are and just how much you can bear.  He will not allow that last straw to be piled upon you.

Matthew 10:29 – 31 tells us “Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

            Now, here’s the rest of the story!  Returning to the car after grocery shopping, I opened the door and there, stuck in the mechanism that controls the trunk and the gasoline tank, was my errant Driver’s License.  I had picked it up with the mail and dropped it, in the car, before giving the letters to the postman.

Such a little thing!  Such a wonderful little thing!  I shouted for joy thanking God for His goodness.  Can you believe that a Driver’s license has kept me singing all week?  Of course, it’s not the license.  Rather, it is the graphic reminder that God really does care about even the little things.

He cares to the LAST DETAIL.  I Love it!!!

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

           

 

Things Thought Impossible

I was born with the wanderlust. I inherited it from my father. He never saw much of this world, but when he became restless, we just moved across town. In fact, we lived in seven different rentals, in the same small town, between my second birthday and kindergarten.

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We always paid the rent, so we weren’t running from the landlord. I have seen a lot of the world and yet, at the age of eighty, I still long to fly away to some distant land to see new faces and experience new places.

 

 

When I was four-years-old, my father decided to move the family to Colorado. Someone told me it snows there, and Colorado was colored pink on the map, so I put it all together and decided that the Colorado Mountains were covered with pink snow. I was excited.

The day came when the seven of us, mama, daddy and five kids, piled into our 1934 Buick and started across the Arizona desert towing a large four-wheeled trailer filled with our early poverty belongings. For some inexplicable reason, my father chose the month of August for this family adventure. In 1939, there was no such thing as air conditioning in an automobile, but not a one of us died from heat exhaustion.

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Zipping along through the burning desert, at 40 miles per hour, we made good time until we turned north toward the mountains. Yarnell Hill was our first challenge. To my father’s dismay, the Buick balked unable to pull the weight and make the uphill grade. Again and again, he tried to no avail.

Finally, daddy decided that he would off-load part of the weight, take the rest to the summit and come back for another load. Part of what he off- loaded was My Mother, my sisters, and me. The boys would be his helpers. We have a picture of my twelve-year-old sister standing in the skinny shade of a saguaro cactus.

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My Dad has been gone for many years, but I can still feel his frustration, disappointment and sense of failure as he tried time and again to find a way to get his family to Colorado. At the end of the day, hot, tired, dirty and disheartened, we turned around and headed back to Wickenburg.

 

There we found a place to camp for the night. Daddy went to a nearby grocery store coming back with supper – bread, bologna and a big bucket of ice water. Setting the icy water down by the car running board, where I rested my four-year-old self, my father turned to other chores, and I lifted my poor tired, dirty, disappointed little toes and plunged them into that deliciously frigid bucket. To this day, I cannot remember the consequences of my precipitous action, but there had to be some compensation for the loss of pink snow, right?

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The next morning our tired and wiser family headed back to the valley where my parents were at home for more than fifty years. The mountains defeated us. Had we conquered the first rise, which was not much of a mountain at all, I wonder what we would have done when we reached the Rockies.

Years ago we sang a little chorus:

“Got any rivers you think are uncrossable.

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through.

God specializes in things thought impossible.

And He can do what no other power can do.”

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Mountains often defeat us. Too frequently we are faced with insurmountable problems to which there is no discernible solution. Like my father, we exhaust ourselves trying to get over, around or through the problem. 2500 years ago, a man named Zerubbabel faced just such a mountain.

After seventy years in captivity, he led 50,000 Israelites back to Jerusalem, where they anticipated rebuilding the temple and their treasured city. He was no doubt discouraged when he saw the extent of the work, his feeble resources, and the formidable opposition. This was a mountain he could not cross.

In Zechariah 4:6 – 7 we read: “…This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” I like the way the Message says it. “So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you are nothing but a molehill.” You may be facing an unscalable mountain today. Remember, it is not by your efforts, but by the power of the Spirit of God. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with Him, that mountain is nothing but a molehill. He can do what no other power can do.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW