Treasure in Heaven

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By Tamara Shimozono

I had an epiphany this morning: not only am I married to a researcher – interpretation: single-minded, obsessive focus – but a researcher raised by his Japanese-American mother. Betty is the epitome of graciousness who embodies the Christian virtue of putting others first. Like most depression-era people, including my own parents, she is a thrifty minimalist who often scoffs at how much stuff her grandchildren “need” to survive. Then, there is the other, deeper level of understanding: realizing that she was a child of the post-Pearl Harbor internment. Her father was a prosperous, hard-working farmer in central California. After her family was moved  into internment camps, squatters took over the house and farm. Neighbors stole the home furnishings. Nothing was ever returned to them. Penniless, Frank Fukuda succumbed to suicidal post-internment depression. His first wife (Betty’s mother) had died shortly after Betty’s birth. His oldest daughter died of illness. After the government interned the Japanese-Americans, Frank’s second wife returned, with her mother, to Japan because post-war life in America was too hard for her. Through all that, Betty still thrived, graduating with top academic honors from UCLA with a degree in biochemistry.

To survive with a mother, to watch your own government steal all of your life’s belongings, to watch your father become mentally and physically ill, I imagine my mother-in-law truly had to internalize the truth of Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where you treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Betty’s treasure was in heaven. She did not parent her children to put much worth into pretty homes, stylish clothing, or other externals. She preached character, taught her children how to stand alone in a crowd, encourage them to learn and think and, above all, pursue Christ. She taught them how to forgive  and let go. She knew that people would die, houses can be stolen, health can turn bad, governments can change. When all that is gone, where do you anchor? Betty taught her children to anchor to the character of Jesus and His unfailing love and unyielding hope.

Understanding that this part of who my husband is… somehow it helps. I still get aggravated when dishes aren’t washed, the doorknob falls off, weeds are more numerous than grass blades, the paint is peeling and the trash is not dumped. But, understanding some of the “why” somehow helps me cut him some slack. When times get tough and emotions get high, Mark knows where to anchor our family. That anchor is better than a clean, perfectly maintained house, any day.

Knowing is Seeing

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By Melissa Creger Kennedy

And the songwriting returns……such beauty comes out of hard seasons. These past few months have been rather difficult. But, God is good and faithful. These seasons are part of the journey. Walking out this life is not always tip-toeing through the tulips. Sometimes we are dragging our screaming, aching selves through narrow passages, up steep hills, through seemingly hopeless valleys. But, God is there in those places, too. As Psalm 139 tells us, even the darkness is light to Him. There is nowhere I can go that He is not. And I have found that to be true these past months. Being known and loved by God–with all my weaknesses, all my failures, all my issues–brings peace and stability in times of tumult. I don’t know everything; in fact, the longer I walk with The Lord, the more I realize that I know next to nothing. This journey is to know Him. And to know Him, I must see Him as He really is. Not through the filters of my heart or the preset ideas in my mind, but in truth. I’ve heard it said that the degree to which our view of God is distorted is the same degree to which we are distorted. I believe it is true. I could sit here and ask God to fix everything wrong with me. That would invite condemnation that, frankly, I just don’t need. But, if I sit and ask Him to show me who He really is, that changes me. He doesn’t condemn me. He sees me through the rose-colored glasses of His Son’s blood. Who He truly is brings light, life, peace and hope for us, and He is a constant source of all those things. Like a photographer focuses the camera lens on the subject to capture the perfect light, the perfect angle, the perfect scene, so are we. We are focusing on His perfect light, seeing Him from the perfect angle, peering into His perfection from the place where we are right now. I don’t need understanding of Him whose ways are past finding out. We can glimpse or we can gaze. But, the more we see, the more we want to know. Yes, I can know Him in truth. I can also know Him from experience. Walking with God through the hard seasons, challenges, and hurts strengthens our character, but also solidifies our faith in His. Keep looking. Keep walking.

A Ship of Safety

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By Colleen Jackson

This word began with a vision of ships on an ocean in a raging storm…all but one anchored, and near the shore of a rocky…uninhabited…small island….(there is a place like this off of Oahu Hawaii on the way to the north shore)..being bounced around…much wind, thunder and lighting and very gloomy, but not totally dark….and one ship very far out to sea….with a spot light shining down on it…waters were  much calmer…but the storm was evidently all around…just no rain or wind in the area of this one ship….illuminated for all to see…yet it looked just like all the other ships.

Then the word came:

While on this earth you will live amongst the enemy and his plots to destroy and harm you…do not seek refuge in the places common to man or your flesh….My place is safe and will be located in places you would not feel to go in your flesh.

Come to me now…learn my voice…train your ear to hear me so that in your day of calamity or trials or danger you will know my voice and be prepared to let me lead you to your safe place…Draw near to me now while there is still time…

The waves are crashing on the rocks…do not go close to see what others are drawing near to…stay at sea with me…where I am…where it is calm and peaceful and you will not be sucked into the churning waters…Do not focus on the storms around you that man reports on and gets consumed with…But train your eyes to stay focused on me and train your ears to hear my voice…I will keep you safe and lead you…Not just for safety of yourself..but to have you available to tend to those who have fallen prey to the enemy….to be a light to lead to salvation…in ME alone…for those who do not know ME…