Trash or a Treasure?

She was crouched down, low to the ground, her index finger and thumb made her own set of human tweezers as she searched through the pile on the dirty concrete floor. Her hair hung from her head as she carefully examined the small areas where paper clippings and other craft supplies had fallen to the ground. She was a tiny but very determined “treasure hunter.”

Earlier we had completed a craft project that included gluing little round gem stones on top of a hand painted box. The young people in the program were allowed to select 7 gems each. (I can’t really remember the number each child could grab) We brought plastic bags from America full of craft gem stones…ruby-red, sapphire-blue, emerald-green, topaz-yellow and clear ones glistened like diamonds. They loved these special gems. Even the boys in the group were excited about this craft project and topping the box with colorful eye-catching gems was the icing on the cake so to speak.

Let me give a bit of the back story. We were in Guatemala City working along side a ministry called Potter’s House. The staff at Potter’s House tirelessly love and serve these kids whom they refer to as “TREASURES.” We were volunteers who provided/staffed a time away at CAMP for some children from the community. It was an amazing experience!

So I was about to sweep the floor as it was clean up time and we would soon be headed outside for games. That’s when I saw her, this precious small black eyed beauty low to the ground. She smiled as she saved a few fallen gems from being thrown into the trash and carefully placed them securely in her dusty cupped hand.

I held a dustpan in my left hand, ready to seep up the trash with the right when I heard in my spirit, she’s My treasure and she is looking for treasure too. Let me ask, do you know what a treasure you are? God got my attention that day in Guatemala as I heard him ask the question.

So I’ll ask you the same thing-Do you know what a treasure you are?

I read an article, years ago that stated we are doing people a disservice telling them that they are special. I couldn’t disagree more. I believe God made people on purpose for a purpose and He sees each one of us as His very own masterpiece- His TREASURE.

While at “CAMP” that summer in Guatemala each child got their photograph taken so that it could be glued inside the lid of the craft treasure box when opened. My hope is even today those children remember they are truly treasures. I really have no idea exactly what those kids lives are like.

I have no idea what your life is like either. I don’t know whether you think of yourself as TRASH or TREASURE. But it doesn’t matter what you think, it matters what God says. He says you are a masterpiece. His poem, his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.

I agree with God.

Say these things aloud…declare them. Allow your ears to hear what your mouth is proclaiming. This can unlock something inside you. It may also unlock and open something else…perhaps you’ll see your face, like the small glued photo, inside on the lid of God’s treasure box, filled with real gems.

Come on, let it out. Let me hear you, now!

  • I am a special treasure, one the world needs to see on display.
  • I shine like the stars in the universe as I hold out the light of life.
  • I am an unstoppable force– God’s power is in me.
  • I have been made on purpose for a purpose!
  • I am God’s masterpiece!

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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Guatemala City Dump- most of the children live nearby and their parents work there.
Treasures each one!

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https://www.amazon.com/Lily-Pads-Life-Stories-Display/dp/153366434X#immersive-view_1514758188298
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https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-deal/id1448869614?mt=2
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What Robs Your Joy?

I received a text which read,  “Hey there, are you super busy?”

I shot back … “Nope! I’m home. I can call you as I take a walk soon. Or call me when you’re free.”

I didn’t hear from her so I decided to call her as I tied my shoe laces and headed out on my daily walk.

“Hello,” She cheerfully answered.

I asked. “Hey, what’s up friend?”

“Aw, thanks for calling me. I just needed someone to listen and I thought, I’ll call Rachel.

She filled me in on ALL the things that had blasted her already that morning:

  • Financial stressors
  • Parental dilemmas
  • Career questions
  • A health concern
  • Potential problems with a pet
  • A packed schedule

Here’s the kicker… All of these things came on the heels of recent information which caused an earthquake in her family’s life. I mean an earthquake of seismic proportions. Hard news to swallow and painfully difficult steps to walk through had plopped into her lap just a week prior.

I listened while she explained what was goin’ on.  I heard her giggle from time to time as she explained her situation. She maintained clarity and an awareness of her situation. She verbally processed, “I know this is a mixture of just normal life junk and the enemy attacks. But I’m thinking, ‘do you KNOW how big my God is?‘ Oh, the devil is not going to win.”

She did not whine. She simply assessed and moved forward.  As I gathered info, I realized none of this was allowed to rob her joy.

She paused after she had explained in some detail all the traumatic stuff she was dealing with and handling. So I chimed in…”Let me ask you this, do you even know what an overcomer you are? Seriously, think of all that’s been thrown at you! None of it has robbed you of your joy. I’m sorry to laugh, but it’s laughable, right? You are amazing friend, Christ is strengthening you in the middle of the mess.”

I reminded her of one of my favorite quotes, “You know what Graham Cooke says, ‘If you are in Christ so are all your circumstances.'”

Think of the great strength inside of her. In the midst of the battle, she’s not being taken out. Wow! She is strong!

Let me turn a corner here…let’s consider some things about joy.

  • Joy is found in His presence
  • Because God is with us and we set him before us always – we will make it – we will not be shaken

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more. Psalm 16:11

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but how you were facing it is more important than what you are facing.

Our response to our problem is more important than our problem. My prayer is that you would be surrounded and God would be the shield around you and the lifter of your head. And in that place of utter peace, nothing would rob your joy.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Remain, abide, stay in Him. Because in His presence there is fullness of joy! And the JOY of the Lord is your strength.

I’m rooting for you the same way I supported my friend the other day. You’ve got this! Because God’s got this and He’s with you.

 

 

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https://www.amazon.com/Lily-Pads-Life-Stories-Display/dp/153366434X#immersive-view_1514758188298

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https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-real-deal/id1448869614?mt=2

A Good Recipe of Intentionality, Vulnerability, Longevity and the X Factor!

I recently experienced time with my “Cabin Family. ”  Once a year, sometimes twice, we carve out time for this treasured week up north in Minnesota. We are just four families, but the group has grown over the twenty years as some of our children have married, others are dating and some now have children.

These folks are the ones I call, “Lifers” you know the ones you are sure will be with you for a life time. In my book Lily PadsStories of God on Display, I write a chapter on relationships/friendship and it talked about a phrase which impacted me. “People come into your life for a reason a season or a lifetime.” Yep! These are some of my “lifers.” As I returned home I was both reflective and thankful for these relationships and the support system they have been for me.

I told my cousin one of the main things that has held this group together is the love of God and His son Jesus. He’s been the central figure and the “X factor.”

“And He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

Yes, for sure Christ is our glue! He is why our friendships formed in the first place and He is what has held us together through all the good and bad seasons.

I posted a few photos on social media and later I had a conversation with my cousin. I told her, other than the Jesus factor, a few things have had to be present as well. These are: intentionality, vulnerability and longevity.

She and I often talk for long conversations about anything and everything. Seriously, no stone unturned…so as we dialogued about having a support system, I knew the “cabin family” fit into the description.

She said, “I looked up some definitions and was thinking about things along this line.” I later asked, “Hey, send me some of what we talked about and I’ll include it in my next blog, I’ll be sure to mention you?”

“Rachel, I don’t need you to mention me or my blog, Who I Am!  Just use whatever you want.”

My cousin Annie, is an incredible woman with many giftings, one being administrative abilities and a heart to “get-er-done!” So…

Not too long after, I received an email. I’ll include it here:

I’m just going to type out what’s going through my head and heart. It’s just based on what Holy Spirit walked through with me this morning.

I was thinking about the support systems that people may or may not have surrounding them. A support system is a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support. In going further into the word “network,” it is a group of interconnected people. With that in mind, interconnected means that ALL parts are linked or connected.
 
After processing through the basic definitions, I drew the conclusion that for anyone to have a support system, the connection must go in both directions. Any healthy relationship is not a one way street and there must be relationship at the foundation of a support system. It needs to be intentional and it needs to stand the test of time, in order for the affect of a support system to withstand the purpose behind it.

Additionally, a support system needs to be both word and deed. If someone is only talking support, it will just create lip service. If they are only walking something out, but not speaking into your life, it will begin to look like control.

Depending on what your journey looks like and who you have in your corner, your support system may look very different from that of others.

Some people may need that friend that they can reach out to on occasion, while other people may need those that are willing to hold you up while you walk through the toughest parts of life.

As a friend, we have the obligation to not only learn what others need, but how to best support them. Everyone’s needs are as individual as they are. Always try to be the friend to others, that you would want to have present in your life.

Rach, Feel free to do your thing…😉😘

This year, at the cabin, I was asked to do a devotional with our group. Our friend Scott said, “Will you share something again this year? Speak on whatever’s on your heart.”

I talked about building/sustaining a culture of honor. I would be remiss not to mention that honoring the person who is in front of you is a huge way to honor God in whose image they are made. I believe this also is an ingredient in the “Cabin Family” special recipe. I believe honor will have to be another topic for another post, but know this, I honor each of the people you see in these photos not for what they do, but for who they are.

I thank God for all of my family and friends, but I wanted to highlight this particular support system. “The Cabin Family” through intentionality, vulnerability, longevity and, of course, the X factor, I have much to treasure here… it’s a good recipe!

photo credit for all above photos Janelle Elise Photography.  janelleelise.com

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My cousin, Annie was my guest interviewed on episode 15 of “the real deal” listen to her story here:

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Read about the chapter I mentioned in Lily Pads:

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Invite me to speak.

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