Mat 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
The older I get the more I dislike STUFF. My definition of STUFF is the endless piles of books, broken gadgets waiting for the day when they can be fixed, old home decorations, toys never played with anymore, and just plain old clutter taking up every available shelf or closet space.
Oh, don't get me wrong about me not wanting anything in my home because I do have my favorites things such as my flute, mementos and old photos of the past, folders of stories I wrote in my teen years - I know, call me sentimental! - and a shelf of books that are my favorites that I have to read every year or two. Yet, in reality, that is not all that much when you see what other STUFF is out there.
I was out today delivering some STUFF to Goodwill and on the way back I spotted a store called STUFF. From what I could see in the windows it looked like more clutter that I would have to one day find a new home for if I dared go inside. Maybe because it is the fact that I know how much time it takes to clean every little knicknack and my time if precious. Maybe it is because we have seven people in the house generating STUFF and it comes in much faster than it goes out. Whatever the reason is, I have come to realize I like a clean, empty-but-lived-in-home, if you know what I mean.
When I was a teenager, people often told me my room looked like a museum. I would proudly smile and show them around the small area packed wall to wall with books, trinkets, bells, and whatever other notions I was collecting at the time. All that has changed now and though I have a few things I like to keep around, it is not even a third of what I use to have in that one room.
We cannot take it with us when we leave this earth. I am sure God has much prettier items in heaven we can use to decorate our mansion with. That being said, I would rather have a heart full of Godly treasures buried deep inside than a house full of clutter and dust. What about you?
As I have mentioned before in some earlier blogs, I have always loved siamese cats. Samantha, Sammy for short, was my first siamese, which I got when I was nineteen years old, and I immediately fell in love with the siamese personality. Most of the time, siamese find one particular person to love and ignore all the rest, which was fine with me because it meant she loved me best. It worked out well, though she learned that if she cried at my window at five in the morning I would let her in to cuddle with me. I did not welcome the early morning waking, but her pawing at my hair and purring contently near my ear always made up for the rude sleep interruption. Sadly, I had to leave Sammy at my parent's house when I moved away to get married, but she adopted my sister as her new favorite person. I believe she does remember who I am and I always get a quick little snuggle with her when I go visit.
You may be wondering what Sammy has to do with the title of this blog, but if it was not for Sammy, I would not have learned a valuable lesson from a sweet little bird named Bartlebea. Some purple finches decided to build a nest on our porch, close by the door, which was close to the area where I would tie Sammy up on a leash to go outside. That is another story in itself, but that particular evening, my dad told me to move her leash farther away from the spot where the nest was. I said I would, but somehow forgot and got busy with other things, only to find out later that Sammy had indeed climbed the post, pulled down the nest and killed a couple of the baby birds. One little one made it and my dad, with a very serious look on his face, handed it to me and informed me it was now my responsibility. I took the ugly, naked baby bird, still in its nest, and put it in a box under a light to keep it warm. I found out what I needed to feed it and every couple of hours I fed that thing some wet cat food, mixed with egg yolk. Using a piece of hay, I stuffed the mush down its throat and watched as he happily ate his meal. Something began to happen as I watched the bird, which I named Bartleby, thinking he was a male bird. His dark eyes would stare at me in trust and his beak would open in anticipation of his tasty meal that sustained his life. Looking into the very soul of the little creature, I began to love him for who he was, ignoring the ugly, wrinkly, naked body that was on the outside. I was all the world to him and if it was not for me, he would starve to death, without anyone else thinking of his well being.
I watched as his feathers grew in and one day I realized he was not a Bartleby, but a Bartlebea. I kept her in my room in a cage and in the mornings when we both awoke and Sammy was not around, I would take her out of the cage and she would actually cuddle with me on the bed, snuggled into my neck with a towel under her. It was those sweetest moments that I will forever cherish.
I ended up bringing her to a bird sanctuary so she could be taught how to fend for herself out in the wild, but those few weeks with the precious bird taught me more than I ever thought possible. First, always listen to your father when he tells you to do something or else something bad will happen. Fathers always know best. Second, she taught that no matter how ugly something or someone may be, they still have a heart that wants to love, trust, and be accepted by those around them. Just as God looks on the heart, we must look at the heart of people and see them as God sees them.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are one of the most breathtaking places that I have been, though I must say that I have not seen many of the famous landmarks that dot the country of the United States. Some day I would love to take a couple of weeks and drive through all the states, stopping to see the sites I have heard so much about. Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont, where I grew up, is another breathtaking place I would recommend people go see if they are ever in the Jeffersonville/Stowe area of Vermont. It is a beautiful place and I often drive through there, when the snows are melted and we can actually make it up the steep mountain, on my way back to see my family.
Joe and I went to North Conway, New Hampshire for our honeymoon, which is located in the heart of the White Mountains. When we arrived at Nereledge Inn, we walked into the front room and were greeted by a strange looking grey and white dog that limped over to us. I took a second look and realized it was not a dog, but a wolf!
“Oh, that’s just Pinga,” the lady at the front desk informed us. “Pinga is a wolf, but she won’t hurt you. She is our pet around here.” I watched as Pinga looked at us with her eerie yellow eyes and then limped away, obviously uninterested in the newest guests who were arriving in her home.
It was a few days later when we got to meet another member of her family. We were headed downstairs for our yummy feast of a breakfast that the innkeepers so graciously made for all their guests, but stopped short at the top of the stairs. Having already met Pinga, who was quite large herself, we were very surprised to find an even larger wolf sleeping at the bottom of the stairs. This animal was huge and we were not sure if he would let us come down to the first floor – would he let us eat our breakfast or were we to be his breakfast? Ever so slowly, we crept downstairs to get a closer look at him. He did not budge from his spot on the floor, being very content to sleep the morning away in the dining room. The innkeeper came out and greeted us warmly.
“Did you meet Blake?” She asked. “Blake is Pinga’s brother. They like to visit each other.”
When I knew the wolf was friendly, I grabbed my camera and took a picture of Joe patting him as he slept. Later on that day, we got to enjoy a concert put on by the two as they howled at the sky, which was very eerie to listen to. We were told that wolves do not bark, but only howl. From what I heard that day, I am inclined to believe them. Though the wolves were fun to be around for a week, I do not think I would want any in my home, and frankly, neither would my kitties. :)
Joe with Blake. June 1998
Today's special song is about the wonderful saving power of the blood of Jesus. Without it I would not be where I am today. I was saved around the age of 8 - I can still remember kneeling down by my bed with my parents one night, dressed in my pajamas, and asking the Lord to come live in my heart. It was a good feeling, to know that I was now one of His children and I was going to heaven someday. Even though I do not have lots of baggage to overcome from my past, I am still humbled by His wonderful saving grace and thank Him for loving me so much that He died for me - took my place on that cross and paid for my sins. Thank You, Jesus!
"Thy will be done, dear Father,"
At Aftercare the other day, I took my very highly active group of children outside to play on the playground in hopes they could run off some of their energy. While they were leaping off the swings to see how far they could jump, one of the children glanced up in the big oak tree and noticed a large bird sitting high about their heads. I looked up and saw a red tailed hawk sitting in a high branch just minding his own business. He did not seem to be bothered by the children' noise or by the quick movements they made as they darted around the swings and playscape. Every once in a while he would cock his head to the side and peer down at the youngsters busy in play, watching them with his piercing black eye, only to look away again and preen his feathers.
As I watched him perched there, I wondered what was going through his mind. Did he wonder what the strange 'animals' were that were running all over the place below him, screeching and making other odd sounds? When a child failed to jump off a swing and land on his feet, did he wonder why that 'creature' was rolling around in the dirt? Did it ever cross his mind that one of these might make a good meal for a day, or two, or three? He did not seem to have any cares at all. He was not in a rush to go anywhere, and seemed quite content to sit there and rest. After a little while he must have decided it would be better to move on to a place where much smaller prey resided so he could find something to fill his tummy. With great grace, I watched as he flew out of the tree and sailed over the roof of the nearby house and disappeared. Though he was not an eagle, the beauty and splendor of the bird reminded me of many different verses in the Bible that talk about eagles:
Isaiah 40:31: "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Deut 32:11: "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:"
Job 9:26: "They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey."
Job 39:27: "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?"
Psalm 103:5: "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Proverbs 23:5: "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."
Seeing that today is my birthday, I am thankful for the 37 years that God has given me on this earth, to enjoy His beauty of creation and see His marvelous works. Each birthday reminds me that I am growing older, but His promises of strength and rest are scattered all through the Bible. He will renew my strength if I only wait on Him. I am truly grateful for the moment I had outside to reflect on that beautiful hawk and take a moment to see the world as the hawk did. He had no cares so neither should I. I will find rest and peace if I sit in the safety of the vines - which is Jesus. He will take care of it all.
Hannah had a sweetheart. His name was Elkanah and he loved his wife very much. Elkanah showed his wife great love and was sensitive to her needs. He knew she wanted children. He saw her look longingly at his second wife's little ones and his heart must have broke. "Dearest Hannah," he must have said, "I know how much you desire children, but let me help you through this! I treat you so much better than ten sons would! Please eat, my sweet, and don't let your heart be so sad!"
He could have put her down and taunted her as the other wife did. It was a shame for a married woman not to have children. It was as if God had cursed her because she could not bear children. Yet Elkanah loved her even more. Hannah did not nag or whine to him about not giving her children. She took her burden to the Lord and poured out her heart to Him in prayer. God saw her need, heard her heart's cry, and poured down His blessings on her. A short time later - nine months maybe? - Hannah held her answer in her arms. When it was time to take their once a year trip to worship, Hannah told her husband she would not go until little Samuel had been weaned and she could fulfill her part of the bargain she had made to God. Elkanah lovingly agreed and let her stay home until the proper time. No nagging or arguing. A simple trust...a deep, abiding love was clearly seen between the two and God blessed them.
It is the little things that bless each other; it is the sacrifice and giving up of oneself for the other that makes love so special. And whether you do something special for your loved one today or not, make sure you thank the One Who brought you together and allow Him to work in your relationship for it will only bring you closer to each other.
Songs and poems have been a huge part of my life. Over the years I must have learned thousands of praise songs, uplifting my Lord and Savior, as well as comforting my heart when it felt sad and lonely. It is my desire to share some of these songs with you and though I may not explain why they are particularly special to me, read the words and let them minister to your heart in their own way and may you be blessed.
For Those Tears I Died
You said You'd come and share all my sorrows.
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows.
I came so close to sending you away,
But just like You promised, You came here to stay,
I just had to pray.
And Jesus said, "Come, to the waters. Stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied.
I felt ev'ry tear drop when in darkness you cried;
And I strove to remind you, that for those tears I died."
Your goodness so great I can't understand,
And, dear Lord, I know that all this was planned;
I know You're here now, and always will be,
Your love loosed my chains and in You I'm free;
But Jesus, why me?
Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul,
I know that without You I'd never be whole,
Saviour, You've opened all the right doors,
And I thank You and praise You from earth's humble shore,
Take me I'm Yours.
I have had a lot of pen pals in my lifetime, a couple of whom have become very close friends of mine. A lot of the other gals I wrote to simply stopped writing, or moved on in life, but I still have most of their old letters in a shoebox in my closet. It is always interesting to go back and read the youthful experiences and I cannot help but smile at the innocence of our conversations.
Today, I was pondering this as I thought about one penpal in particular. She was only a year older than me and was introduced by a missionary to Israel, though the missionary could not go by that title. She was an English teacher who taught in the Jewish schools and as their teacher, she was able to teach them about Jesus, the great Messiah. Many of the children got saved, unbeknownst to their parents and hard times followed shortly after. My friend was one of those converts. We began writing when I was around fifteen years old and we still correspond to this day.
We got to know each other through many letters, which took over two weeks to reach the recipient. I learned what life was like on the other side of the world and followed her through the unknowns of having to hide her belief in Jesus from her family or else they might have disowned her. I read letters of her experiences of enduring the unsettled feeling of wondering whether or not war was going to start any day, and having to hide in bomb shelters from the threatening missiles that were being sent over from the neighboring country. I followed as her mother and siblings got saved and heard miraculous stories of God' protection over them. For years all I had to go by were the letters and pictures she sent and even though I had never personally seen her face to face, I knew she was a real person and I loved her dearly. I believe it was the end of 2005 when I finally got to meet her and what a joyous time that was.
This is the same way that our relationship works with the Lord. We get introduced to Him through someone speaking of Him, like that missionary, and that sets us on a whole new journey of life by reading the written letters to us called the Bible. Though we do not see Him face to face, we learn of Him through the written word and get to see mental images portrayed in the Scriptures. We believe in Him simply because He is, with a childlike faith, not having to see Him to believe, but trusting that the letters on the pages before us are true. His love is deep inside the words and we look beyond what we can see , to the days when we will get to see His face, feel His nailed scarred hands, and put our hand into His side. All the years of waiting will be over and we will not need His letters anymore because we will get to see Him as He is. We will hear His voice and see Him face to face and what a joyous
Siamese kittens are always born pure white. Pinky Pie was no different than any other sweet little newborn siamese, though he was much smaller than his sisters. As he lay in the nest cuddled up to his mama, all I could see was his bright pink nose and ears sticking out of his thin fur, hence the name Pinky. There was a fourth kitten born that was slightly smaller than Pinky, but he did not make it passed the first couple of days. We were very sad to have to say goodbye to the little thing and felt sorry for our loss, but poured our attention onto the healthier ones of the litter.
A couple weeks went by and I watched as the two stronger girls forced their way to mama so they could eat, but Pinky did not seem to have the strength to fight for some milk. He seemed to grow weaker before my eyes and one day his mama moved him out of the nest. The first time I found him in the middle of the room, I thought that maybe he had strayed too far from the nest and could not find his way back. I gently laid him inside the closet near his sisters and helped him latch on to eat for a bit. Later on, I found him once again in the middle of the room, and once again I put him back. It was not long before I had to start searching for him around the room and would find him cuddled in a corner under the bed trying to keep warm. My heart began to break as I began to suspect that Kia was moving him away from the other kittens. Were we going to lose little Pinky as well? My suspicions were confirmed one morning when I watched Kia carry him out of the nest, lick his head once, and dart back inside the closet. Mama cats have a way of knowing when one of their kittens is not well and do not want them to endanger the other strong ones. If the pitiful guy was going to survive, I would need to intervene on his behalf.
I placed Pinky into a laundry basket with a warm blanket and hurried to the store to get some kitten formula. With much persistence and determination, I began feeding him with a dropper, one drop at a time. Kia often came by to see what I was doing and after licking Pinky's head a few times, would leave, satisfied that I was doing all I could to help her little boy.
The vet did not give me much hope that Pinky would survive, but he gave me a little tube of high protein food to see if we could put some fat on his bones. With tears in my eyes, I offered the kitten some of the brown goop on my finger and to my surprise, he licked it all up. My hope was restored - he just might make it through this!
A few days of this and gradually he began to put on some weight. I still fed him milk from the dropper and he lived in the basket during the day and cuddled with me at night. I can remember how loudly he purred one evening after I had fed him as he cuddled close to my heart. I had become his life saver and he viewed me as his mama now.
My emotions were a mess. One day I felt he would make it and on other days I felt like it was useless to continue trying to keep him alive. All the time and effort put into the kitten might be for naught! That is how I felt the morning I heard him walking around the room, crying sorrowfully. I got up and found him going around in circles. It looked like he was chasing his tail, but it was like his eyes could not focus and could not go straight forward. I picked him up and tried to get him to stop. He was making me dizzy! I prayed desperately, asking the Lord to help me know what to do. Was this the end? It did not look good at all! Later on that day he seemed to snap out of it and once again he almost seemed fine. He romped and frolicked with his sisters, getting into mischief under the cabinets. Watching him, I knew I could not sell him. Maybe we could give him away, but after all the time I had invested in him, I had grown to love him dearly. Besides, how can you give a cat, that had a parasite damage his brain, away to anyone anyway? Joe made the final decision one evening and cheers could be heard around the house as he happily told them Pinky was going to always be one of the famiy.
Today, Pinky is still a well loved cat in our home. Yes, he is quite different: he has no coordination, is clutsy, and often is as dumb as a doornail, but he is beautiful and as sweet as can be. He loves with his whole being, grateful for his chance at life. He shows his love by showering us with kisses and licks our necks until they hurt. His mama, Kia, is often annoyed by the fact that her son is still here and every night at 10:00 we can hear them racing down the hallway - Kia hissing madly, and Pinky slamming into the walls and doors as he tries to catch her, but they only add to the charm of our household. :) I love all three of our kitties and anyone who walks through our doors would have to agree that we have the happiest, friendliest cats in the world.