On a recent visit to Goodwill, I expanded my normal clothing perusal to investigate household items. While digging through the shelves of others’ discards, I found a higher-quality toaster oven than the one I had at home. To me, this find was a treasure.
There were other toaster ovens, too. And I noticed that no matter the brand, condition, or quality, they were all priced the same. To Goodwill, a toaster oven was a toaster oven. Similarly, coffee makers were priced the same, as were popcorn poppers.
As I mulled that over, I couldn’t help but think that’s how God sees us, too. No matter what we look like, what we’ve been through, or what condition we’re in, He sees us all the same. We’re all people in need of a Savior. And He loves us all the same.
We may feel unlovable or unworthy, but that doesn’t matter in God’s eyes. Our feelings don’t change His love for us. It’s unconditional.
And feelings — and prices — didn’t change my mind about the replacement toaster oven treasure I found. It had a couple of dents, but when I plugged it in at the store, the heating element worked. I purchased the unit and took it home.
Now I just have to clean it up before I start using it. The cool thing about God, though, is He doesn’t have to clean us up before He starts loving us. He already loves us just as we are.
You are a treasure, and you are loved.
Why is that we only appreciate what we have/had when it’s gone?
My husband left recently on a lengthy trip, and I found myself getting sad as his departure date approached. I love that man, and I enjoy our life together. Although excited for him and his rare opportunity, selfishly I wanted him to stay — or to take me with him.
I’ve grown to appreciate what we’ve built over the past 25-plus years. But you know what they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Isn’t it strange that to truly appreciate something or someone we have to lose it? It’s too easy to take things and people for granted when they’re with us all the time. I wish that wasn’t the case.
I want to be more appreciative of what I have when I have it. In reality, I may not have it for very long.
My husband and I were extra nice to each other the day before he left. And I found myself thinking, “What if we treated every day as if one of us was leaving the next?” I think we’d be more appreciative of our time together, more careful of our tones, and more thoughtful about the words we choose.
That’s how I want to be every day — not just with my husband, but in all of my relationships. Each is precious, and I need to value it and the person, and not take them for granted.
I need to listen when my kids share with me about their lives and not be quick to talk about whatever floats into my head. I need to give eye contact. I need to love more deliberately and be willing to sacrifice myself to help others. After all, I’m given rare opportunities each and every day.
I can learn something from each person in my life if I’ll just take the time to do it.
You can do amazing things. Don’t believe me?
Think about Mother Teresa and all of the good she did and the lives she touched, all by giving of herself to serve the poor.
Martin Luther King Jr. is another example. Not only did he lead a Baptist church congregation; he also changed America for the better by fighting for civil rights.
Billy Graham has impacted tens of thousands of lives in his 97 years, and his influence gave him opportunities to meet with multiple presidents of the United States.
That’s not to say you have to be famous to make a difference. In reality, none of those people set out to become celebrities. They just wanted to help people. And in caring for others, they gained attention.
Like Abdul Sattar Edhi, a man who recently passed away and has been referred to as “Pakistan’s Father Teresa.” Until his death, you probably never heard of him. I didn’t.
We each have different spheres of influence. And the people in your sphere need you. They need your kind words, your encouragement, your smile. They need to know you believe in them and are there for them. They need someone in their lives who truly cares about them.
All you have to do to meet those needs is simply be yourself. You have different gifts and talents than someone else in the same sphere of influence. The best way to impact your world is to be true to yourself.
The two words clung to the tip of my tongue, hanging on for dear life. “Why should I be the first to make a move?” my brain screamed. “I didn't do anything wrong.”
But as I took a breath and reluctantly started to soften, those words still hanging on, I had to ask myself what I had done right. Was it worth having the upper hand if it meant a wounded opponent? Had I indeed done something I should apologize for?
I should be sorry for hurting his feelings. I definitely could have been a better listener. I probably shouldn't have interrupted his train of thought.
But part of me also felt wronged. Shouldn't I get an apology? I was hurt, too.
And there we sat. Friends separated by a chasm of pride. Each with too much at stake, guarding our individual mountains as if our very lives depended on it.
But in reality, our lives and livelihood depended on each of us coming down from our mountains and meeting in the middle. A true act of humility. When you have so much to give up, who wants to do that?
I decided to make a move and slowly, ever so slowly, inched my way down my mountain, secretly hoping he'd do the same.
Once I reached the bottom and didn't see him there, I let the momentum continue to carry me. And before I knew it, those two words escaped my mouth, “I'm sorry.”
That was too easy. It should have been much harder. I suddenly felt at ease. Why had I wasted time holding those two simple words captive?
If only I had held so tightly the words that had caused the damage in the first place, I wouldn’t have felt the need to climb that mountain of pride.
Imagine if we all thought of others before ourselves.
In this age of instant gratification, it’s easy to make myself priority number one. After all, I should be happy regardless of how those around me feel, right?
If I don’t like a conversation, I can put on earphones and listen to what I want. If I don’t want to talk to others in the same room, I can do something on my phone and zone them out. If I don’t like the way an event is going, I can leave and go do what I want.
But what if we stopped running from discomfort and embraced it? What if we thought about how we would feel if the situation were reversed and we found ourselves watching others disengage? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see others put their phones down to make me a priority.
Do I do that when given the chance? Do I give others that courtesy?
You are important. Whether others send that message to you or not, you truly are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And you are valuable. And you know what else? You could add a lot to a conversation if you give yourself a chance.
Why are we afraid to be uncomfortable? It’s only when we get that way that we truly grow. How about instead of running from that feeling, we welcome it? Sure, it’s easier said than done. But there’s probably a lesson in there for us.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” — Proverbs 25:11
Have you ever said something you wished you could take back? I know I have, more times than I’d like to admit. It’s easy to spout off without thinking. But it’s not wise and actually can be quite harmful. Think about how someone’s careless words made you feel.
That old nursery rhyme we learned growing up about words never hurting is exactly that: a nursery rhyme. It’s a myth. That fact has been proven over and over again, as evidenced by the bullying problem many are facing today. In reality, our words have the power to build up or to tear down.
According to the biblical book of Proverbs, our words can:
Or they can:
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to use my words for good. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a good thing to strive for.
Other Proverbs discuss how those who guard their tongues stay out of trouble. I think Thumper’s mom in the movie “Bambi” had a good, although grammatically incorrect, mantra: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all” — in person or on social media.
You have choices in the words you speak. Please select them wisely.
Have you ever watched a sunset? I mean seriously watched the sun get lower and lower on the horizon and then slip below it? You might think the sky would suddenly turn dark when that happens — but it doesn’t. The after effects of the sun continue to linger, keeping the sky bright.
As I watched this phenomenon while on vacation, I was reminded of my sisters. After the death of my older sister to breast cancer, my dad saw two rockets give off a beautiful bright light as they sped out of Earth’s atmosphere. He said he felt God telling him that although He took Sharon, her afterglow would burn brighter than her short 32 years.
We’ve seen that come to fruition in the lives of her children and now four grandchildren she never got to meet, as well as in others who were touched by her life. And that glow will undoubtedly continue.
When my younger sister Gayle was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dad remembered he had seen two rockets. Gayle’s radiance is still shining brightly, too, in her children and in others she impacted in her 34 years.
That made me wonder what kind of afterglow I’m leaving. Am I making a difference for good? I sure hope so. I know there are times I can do better. Perhaps each sunset I see from now on will remind me to do my best and to give my all in all circumstances. Because I want to leave a bright afterglow, too.
Despite our me-first society, people are still volunteering to help others. Why? Because it’s rewarding. I feel an extra spring in my step after doing something for others. Especially when I don’t do it for their gratitude but simply because it’s the right thing to do.
If I serve others begrudgingly, thinking about the sacrifice I’m making, my focus remains on myself. And I usually end up miserable. But when I truly think of others and put them above myself — not looking for their appreciation — the payoff is huge.
Have you ever encountered someone who prided himself or herself on making you happy? How did it make you feel? When we truly die to ourselves to please others, it not only does something for that person — it does something in us. When someone serves me willingly and cheerfully, it makes me want to pay it forward and do the same for someone else.
Maybe this me-first idea isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Does anyone really feel fulfilled when seeking only the good of himself or herself? I know when I do that, I miss out on a lot of other opportunities to bless those around me.
News flash: There is only one you. And that’s not a bad thing. You are the only one with your specific DNA. Sure, you might have similarities with others, but there are definite differences. You are the only one with your complete set of gifts and talents. And you are needed to fill a role. Will you do it?
Rather than focusing on your negative characteristics, why not concentrate on the positives? What are you really good at? What is your passion? What gets you excited? My guess is there’s a reason certain things pump you up: because you’re designed to carry out a special assignment in that area. Will you do it?
In junior high, my P.E. teacher had my class write down goals we wanted to accomplish in our lives. One of the things I wrote down was writing a book, a task I recently completed.
Although the book isn’t published yet, I had the passion to accomplish that assignment, if you will, way back then — and that passion never left me. Distractions came along and sidetracked me from completing it for a time, but they didn’t keep me down. The passion never went away.
Your passion likely won’t either. It’s patiently waiting for you to carry it out. Will you do it?
Oh no, I did it again. Said something I shouldn’t have and wished I could take back. I tried to reach for the words and shove them back into my mouth. But it was too late. The damage had been done, as evidenced by the look of hurt on the hearer’s face. If only I could have stopped the words before they escaped my lips.
Since that hadn’t happened, I was left with a decision: continue the onslaught or mend the hurt. Tough choice sometimes. I opted for the latter. But in order to do that, I first had to let go of my anger.
Sadly, it took hours for me to work up the courage and humility to confess my fault and seek forgiveness. Yet it only took a minute — if that — to cause the pain.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Similarly, it can take a minute to forgive, or it can take hours — and sometimes days and years — to let go of pain and the right to be right and to release the offender. The odd thing about harboring anger is it only hurts us — not the source of our anger.
If I’d only taken a minute to think before I opened my mouth in the first place, my words likely would have landed much differently on the hearer’s ears.
Thankfully, I have another chance to choose my words wisely and to make an impact for good.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"