Treasures of Our Hearts

A grandfather I know was talking recently about encouraging his grandson to memorize poems. He wasn’t sure which poem he would next choose to send to him. That got me to thinking about my own childhood.

My father invested in a wonderful set of Childcraft books that I still have today. The first volume was full of relatively simple rhymes, such as you would read to the very young. Then, the next volume had more complex poems, and the third was filled with fairy tales. I loved those books and still have them. They’re a treasury of warm memories for me.

Today on the radio I heard a reflection from the daughter of a man who died with Alzheimer’s. She spoke of how he was always “there” for his children, and as he tucked them into bed and helped them drift off to slumberland, he would cover their faces with soft tiny kisses. What a sweet memory to have!

Treasure your memories. They are filled with love.

The Power of Anger

Anger destroys…in so many ways. When you keep it bottled up inside, it explodes in places it never should. When you speak your mind quickly, you sometimes say things that you regret. Most of all, anger eats away at your insides. It chews. It gnaws. It irritates. It causes you to eventually close yourself off to those closest to you, and to the rest of the world.

This past weekend I had a sample of this kind of debilitating anger thrown in my face. Although I could understand the other side of the argument, this bout of anger left no room for understanding another’s actions or feelings. It was hurtful. It created as much distress, as that which was at its source.

Through a period of reflection, through hurt, and fortified by some recent good examples, I decided not to reciprocate. The end result for me felt better than letting all of those negative feelings out just to strike back. Yes, I had done something thoughtlessly. Yes, it had caused hurt. But it had happened without intent. The backlash that was directed at me was intentional – and hurtful. I’m glad I chose the path I did.

I urge you that, when you are angry, THINK about it first. Don’t strike back, just in order to cause more pain. Of course, that is the human reaction. But TRY to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to be compassionate and proactive in your response. You’ll feel better if you do.

Learning Faith

Do you ever find yourself asking why something happened? I wonder why it is that we have such a need to figure things out, instead of simply accepting them.

I do happen to believe that everything happens for a reason. However, I am also learning that things happen in “God’s time,” and not mine.

It is interesting to look back upon one’s life. Often, looking backwards from the present day helps to put things in perspective. If I had never worked _____, I would never have been open to _____ some years later. If I had never met one particular person, my life might never have taken the path it is on right now. And yet, we seem to feel compelled to figure out the reason for every little thing that happens to shift our course. We want answers. Sometimes there are connections and answers to help us make it through life’s daily struggles. Other times there appear to be no explanations.

Did you ever have a “feeling” that you just had to do something, and then did it? But then what? That is where I often come up short. I begin second guessing my decisions. I wonder if I have really “heard” correctly? I wonder if I will get confirmation that I did the right thing? Recently I heard someone say that faith is just doing it. Oh, but that is hard!

I’m thinking, though, that there is a second part to that. Not only is faith believing it, and doing it. I believe it is also being thankful for whatever comes our way. When we are blessed and when we give thanks, we experience peace and healing that is beyond our understanding. Go ahead…give it a try. Feel it, hear it, act on it, and then give thanks. You will be glad you did!

Silver Linings

Yes, Virginia, good things CAN and DO happen behind prison walls! Granted, we don’t hear about them often enough, but yes, they do happen and continue to happen.

An incarcerated friend of mine recently told me about a group of men with whom he meets for their own bible study. That, in itself, is a very nice thing. But they go one step further. They take up a collection when they meet…for new inmates who have nothing. One man was lucky enough to have two tvs. Recently, he gave one of them to a new prisoner for four months until he gets settled.

They also get together to celebrate birthdays. They pool the treats they have purchased from their store orders and make feasts for all of them to share.

A group downstate periodically puts out requests for items like batting and thread – because there is a group of prisoners who make quilts, bags, stuffed hearts and bears for children of prisoners who attend the One Day with God Camp.

Bible studies and religious services within prisons are open to approved volunteers. To attend these is a rewarding experience for all. The prisoners are committed, aware of needs of family and friends, as well as of world events. They request prayers for needs that are outside of themselves. They have learned to care about others, and they express themselves well and without embarrassment. Their words are inspirational to me!

Volunteers write letters to prisoners, and also respond with prayer to prayer requests they submit. To know that they are not forgotten means the world to these men and women.

The Prison Creative Arts Program in Michigan annually exhibits both artwork and literary endeavors of prisoners. There is amazing talent inside those walls!

Yes, Virginia, good things are happening in there. I pray for the TRIUMPH of GOOD over the EVIL that still exists within.