Where is Your Treasure?

A big part of recalibrating my life is simplifying. It seems that we are very good at accumulating. Year-after year we purchase or acquire more things, and we add more activities to our calendars, saying yes to people along the way.

Moving Mom has been a huge amount of work. Through the years she collected a menagerie of things, and has put her treasures in a box to save for someday-maybe. You know, “I may need this…” or “I would like to read this but there isn’t time now.” So now, there are stacks of boxes with items from years ago, and it seems there may be unknown treasure in each one.

Do you have those kind of boxes too? The ones with things that seemed too-precious to get rid of at the time, so it ended up on a stack with other boxes.

Christmas is nearing, and many are bustling about buying gifts, more jewelry, more appliances, more technology, more toys, and the list goes on. I have to confess, with all the chaos of moving Mom, any shopping for Christmas has been left for another day.

I come home from hunting for another “treasure” Mom knows is somewhere in a box that she definitely wants to keep and begin looking around my house only wanting to get rid of things. I don’t have much desire to go out and buy more stuff. Our stuff may initially seem like a treasure but in time becomes a burden. The cleaning, sorting, reorganizing; it all takes time. So, I ask, where is your treasure?

I want my house, my calendar, and life itself all to be lighter. I am realizing how easily I can be pulled off track, distracted by this want, or that desire. Oh, it may just be a passing whim, but somehow I accumulate stuff to satisfy it, and then as time passes the desire is replaced with a new desire and it starts all over again. It becomes a vicious circle of greed.

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there  will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants our hearts. He is God’s Christmas gift to us, and He truly is to be treasured above all. All of life needs to flow out of life with Him. And life with Him is about the “easy yoke” and “the unforced rhythms of grace”(Matthew 11:28-30).

This month I am gleaning from the book of Luke, a chapter a day. Jesus’ life was about what came out of His time with His Heavenly Father and that abiding. It was not rushed or hurried. He focused on loving others, spending time with others, enjoying meals together, talking with, teaching, and healing. He developed relationships, and touched lives.

Simplifying life means narrowing my focus and intention to the essential. The track of recalibrating life by simplifying means getting rid of the unnecessary and focusing on the important and for me I want to focus on treasuring Christ and what is important to Him. Holding less tightly to things and all that makes you crazy-busy.

This month, as Christmas fast approaches, I have not had time to shop feverishly for lists of gifts. But I have been trying to set aside a few hours, here and there, to spend with those I care about. All too often in the past I have gotten caught up in the shopping and decorating craziness. This year I have not had time nor energy. But I am going to bake 20 big fat gingerbread men for putting together plates of Christmas cookies for gifts at church. I will attend a women’s Christmas gathering at the church a part of my extended family attends in order to spend a few hours with them. I plan to go to a Christmas sing-along at my church. I am going to take time to make some cinnamon dough ornaments to enjoy the relaxation and the smells. And I also will make a simple dinner for a few guests we want to have over through the holiday season. My husband and I already have had special  moments of time together, grabbing lunch, sitting in a favorite coffee shop, helping a neighbor, and watching a movie. We are continue to make choices for quiet. Choices, focus, intention. I can’t do it all, but I can do some things. I still will need to buy a few gifts to wrap, but it will be much different then in the past. As I said the treasures we pack away, soon become burdens, but the memories we pack in our hearts can be treasured forever. We can help boost our memories by taking a photo, or making a journal entry about the special time. These are always fu. to look back on.

I started a small “recalibrate life” journal where I am just recording those special quiet, precious moments where it isn’t all about the hustling and bustling, but instead about the breathing deeply and enjoying.

And as I walk around the house, looking in a closet, glancing at a bookshelf, I am constantly evaluating each items necessity. The boxes that are accumulating in my garage are boxes for Salvation Army, not storage.

I don’t want my “treasures” accumulated in boxes on shelves in my basement and garage. I want what I treasure to be about loving, creating, playing, finding joy, celebrating, breathing; and I want it all to be slow. Not frantic and rushed, not overwhelming and exhausting. I want quiet moments where I share time with others in focusing on mutual interests. I want it all to center around and flow out of my love for Jesus and His great love for me.

He has blessed us with the love of family and friends, with talents for creating, with reasons for celebrating, and with time to play, maybe that means building a snowman with a child, making dough ornaments with a friend, just for fun, or playing cribbage with a neighbor. Time spent together is a wonderful gift to give and it is a beautiful demonstration of love. I want my heart to be filled with Christ’s love and then I want to share that love moment-by-moment.

So, once again, I ask you where is your treasure? Is it in a box somewhere? Or in a relationship in which you celebrate special moments? Is it about love or greed? Our motives are hard to determine at times, but being intentional in how you think about “treasures” may help. I know it has helped me.

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Finding Quiet and Learning to Play

Quiet…

Stillness…

Peace…

Rest…

Breathe.

Such beautiful words to our busy striving hearts. We can read through this list, but when do you experience these in your life? We often are not able to find time to rest until we finally flop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

I’m a type A personality and I like to keep busy. I have a never-ending list of things I feel I should do and an even longer list of things I want to do. I have stressed myself out with my lists of what I want to accomplish to the point of raising my blood pressure and getting hives. The ridiculous thing about this is that none of the things on my lists of to-dos are of earth-shattering in importance. The world will not come to an end if I do not get them completed. When you’re constant striving begins to affect your health, you start to take it a little more seriously. You begin to make some changes. That is what it took for Shauna Niequist also. She describes in her book, Present over Perfect, how the pressure she was under affected her physically and how she kept going for quite a while at the same pace ignoring the symptoms in her body. She kept going until she couldn’t anymore.

Her realization that something needed to change led her to find out what was pushing her to keep going. She found her deeper need to know God’s love for her as she searched her heart. She began to learn about God’s love in ways she previously had not understood bringing her to realize she could stop striving. 

When we take to heart the reality of God’s love for us and His presence with us:

  • We realize that in Him we have what we need and then we really can slow down.
  • We learn to take time to talk with Him and learn more about what really matters to Him.
  • We begin to choose to do what matters to Him.
  • He gives us the soul-satisfaction that we search for.

I’ll be honest, I struggle with feeling the need to strive, I wrestle with seeking approval. And I search for ways to get love by doing. But I am improving. I am learning to choose moment’s of rest, explore ways to enjoy quiet, and find places in my days to breathe deeply. I am learning more and more about God’s love for me. It is something that we as believers should never stop learning about.

What about you? How do you find quiet?

Some of my favorite ways are

  • going for a walk
  • sitting on a beach early in the morning
  • whispering a prayer to the Lord
  • cutting vegetables for homemade soup
  • listening to baroque music
  • writing in my journal
  • watching creatures play in nature

None of these take a lot of time, yet each one quiets my heart and nurtures my soul.

Beyond finding quiet, Shauna Niequist also talks about learning to play. Some may think it sounds silly. And when we weigh the possibility against all we have to do it may seem impossible. But it is so important to our health and happiness. The Lord gave us so much on the beautiful earth to enjoy.

Growing into adulthood often squelches out the playfulness of our hearts. We take on responsibilities, jobs, family, expenses, and we can lose our whimsical spirits. When you take time to watch young children enjoy a game, giggle while splashing in a pool, or jumping up and down on a trampoline, you see the positive effect of play. Play can bring delight to our hearts and as we play together we show love and attention in ways we miss in our busyness.

We can say we are too tired or that we don’t have time for quiet and play, but I think that when we take time to do something relaxing and fun it nourishes us in unexplainable ways, We may be energized by taking time for either one of these. I believe that we may even find ourselves able to do a better job at the tasks that fill our to-do lists. Also, we may find that our spirits are lifted in gifting ourselves with a little stillness or a few moments of time to play.

It seems to me that if Jesus were walking the earth today, we may find Him playing with a group of children in a neighborhood backyard or going fishing and catching a nap under the shade of a tree. It could be that we would see Him sitting on a beach sipping lemonade or possibly enjoying a picnic at a park. Jesus took the time to enjoy people around Him and He took time to get away alone, especially to refresh His soul with His Father.

So, how will you find quiet today? How will you engage in play? Will you honor the Giver-of-Life by choosing something life-giving? If this seems too hard because of the structure of your life right now, talk to the Lord and ask Him to show you where you can have a space for quiet and play. He cares about you as His created child and He will show you out of His love for you.