The Treasure We’re Giving Away (without even knowing it)

Do you know what TV show fascinates me? It isn’t the Real Housewives or one of those Survivor spin-offs. It’s The Antiques Roadshow.

I know, I know. There’s no drama on this little hour of British television. But I’m amazed at these treasures passed down from generations past, with owners who aren’t even aware of their value. It makes me wonder if there are treasures sitting around in my own home (or attic), waiting to be discovered.

A couple of weeks ago my parents visited and since they always bring gifts, I went through my kids’ endless pile of toys. I remarked that we needed to make another trip to the local charity store. Except the store I was speaking of isn’t really all that charitable.

“That guy’s made a fortune because people just give their stuff away,” my Dad said, referring to the owner.

He talked about how employees of this store found antiques worth large sums of money. The owners didn’t know what they had, and now someone else is making a profit.

The discussion made me ask myself- what am I giving away that I should be guarding? Are there things that I should be treasuring instead of throwing away?

Except my mind didn’t go to the material stuff. It went to the matters of the heart.

I give away my time scrolling through Facebook, looking at pictures of other people’s memories when I could be making my own.

I give away my hope, looking to others to affirm me when there’s only One who can give me the validation I need.

I give away money, looking to fashion trends to give me a fleeting thrill.

When we take an honest look at our lives, we often find we give our hearts away for fulfillment that quickly fades. We can run around in endless circles chasing the next validation or high and then wonder why we constantly feel depleted.

If we dig into God’s word, it doesn’t tell us to give our hearts away. It tells us to guard them.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

God knows our ADD nature. He knows we need reminders to keep our steps aligned and our eyes fixed on the Author of our hope.

So why do we need to guard our heart? Shouldn’t we keep it open and listen to it like the popular 80’s song suggests?

Yes and no. Guarding our heart doesn’t mean living in fear, cutting ourselves off from relationships, adventures and the abundant life God wants for us.

Guarding our heart means aligning it with God’s Word, letting our decisions flow from the wisdom he freely gives us.

Guarding our heart means letting his love affirm us, not the fleeting things of this world.

Each of us has a treasure worth far more than anything discovered on an antique roadshow or a charity store. Let’s not give it away like yesterday’s garbage.

Let’s guard it, knowing its value. Let’s treat it like the gem it is.

 

You Brought Me Here Why? {Anchored Souls Series}

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Today we welcome my sweet friend Bethany McIlrath to the blog. Bethany’s heart to seek the Lord in the midst of life’s struggles shines through her writing. She encourages me to look for his hand at work even when his plans are different from mine, and to keep trusting in the middle of chaos and heartache. Please give her a warm welcome today as she shares a story I know will inspire your heart.

You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex.

Singing paperwork, we discovered they changed the lease from what we original signed. Shrugging, the woman said “well, yes, it’s more expensive than you agreed to. But you just moved across the country. What can you do?” The deceit stung.

Our lease was cancelled. Tired of waiting, my prayer was “Lord, you brought us here. Why??”

In a new state, 24 hours distant from home, we drove to a storage unit. My in-laws helped us move all our stuff into a 6 foot cement hole. On that October day, the first snowfall drifted down. We stayed with a friend for a whole homeless week, searching frantically.

We waited.

The Lord provided a place to live within a chaotic week. But not a good job for me. We waited through church challenges, friendlessness, and open opposition at my part time job.

My prayer?

“Lord you brought us here. Why?”

abby-photo

I wasn’t ungrateful. I’ve lived much worse.

But never had the Lord so clearly made a way where there was no way, only to bring me to something I couldn’t make sense of.

Exodus became more personal to me. We’d just left a harder chapter of life. We’d just faced promise after promise of newness, waiting until the Lord said “go.” He parted some unbelievable waters for us and led us through on dry land.

When we arrived, the land stayed metaphorically dry and literally frozen. Life felt parched and biting.

I spent much of my time grumbling like the Israelites in the desert: “now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death” (Exodus 16:3.)

God, in fact, had different purposes.

Since our Minnesota wilderness waiting season, the Lord has reminded me of the “whys” I was too discontent to notice then.

It was in our waiting we learned firsthand about how God gives peace when our circumstances are intimidating. We’ll never forget how He parted the way and the assurance we had, even as I grumbled, that He was with us and leading us.

We learned an awful lot about prayer. Our marriage grew immensely while knowing no one but each other. We met amazing people.

While in Minnesota, we were blessed by the Lord’s provision through miraculous financing, too-coincidental of timing, unexpected gifts, and even the car we are driving today. My husband and I had time with his best friend we never would have if we didn’t live close.

I also learned about the blessing of loneliness. I learned what it is to wake up to mundane circumstances and immediately turn to the Lord. It was in Minnesota God taught me to write my first manuscript and challenged me to read His whole Word for the first time.

It was there I began to make memories with the Lord. It was there I learned the sound of His voice.

I still pray that prayer though- just a little revised.

“Lord, you brought us here. You know why.”

I pray it even when our circumstances seem settled.

Because I know while we’re waiting on God, He’s always both bringing us out and drawing us in.


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A grateful recipient of salvation and hope in Christ, Bethany McIlrath can’t keep from writing His praise. She loves joining with others ii testifying about the Lord. Her reflections on God’s Word and character can be found at First and Second Blog and on Twitter or Facebook.

Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Purpose

When Comparison Steals Your Purpose

The morning was full of potential. I got up on time, didn’t check social media, and made the kids breakfast.

Then, after dropping my son off at the bus stop, I checked my email. And everything went downhill.

The intent of the message was positive. My reaction to it was not.

This successful blogger wanted to let me in on all of the secrets to success. And I’m sure deep down somewhere that I craved this knowledge.

But what I saw? The numbers. How many readers visited her site. How much income she brought in each month. It was though these stats represented some invisible gate-keeper and I was stuck on the outside, pushing a door that wouldn’t budge.

Comparison turns our vision into opposition. It turns our joy into jealousy.

As I sat there that Tuesday morning basking in self-pity, and knew I needed an attitude adjustment. And do you know what’s beautiful about asking God to change your attitude?

He always answers.

Sometimes he asks us to take a good long look at ourselves. Other times he sends a word of encouragement through a friend or family member. But he never fails to deliver.

Will you continue reading with me today? I’m sharing what God showed me about small beginnings over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

When You Feel Like You’re Missing the Party

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I could not stop looking at the other table.

I tried to focus on my eating my meal and made eye contact with the women around me. We talked about our writing experience, what drew us to the conference and our hometowns. But every few minutes, my eyes would drift back to the table parked directly in front of the stage.

Filled with authors, speakers and book contracts, I was certain this circle was the place to be.

What were they talking about? What was the source of their laughter?

A seat there would make me content, wouldn’t it? My mind filled with images like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, convinced there was a golden ticket just out of my grasp and I had to get my hands on it. Wonders beyond my wildest imagination waited behind closed doors.

My mind was so preoccupied with crazy assumptions that I almost missed the woman sitting across the table from me.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing the rest of the story over at PurposefulFaith.com today. Click here to join us.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.