This summer we are busy planning for a wedding in our backyard. One of my God-daughters was looking for a simple farm venue to marry the love of her life. When I looked at places they were considering, I invited them to cater the event in our backyard. The bride and groom graciously accepted.
My God-daughter and her mom have been here a few times already to help us plant some colorful annuals for a striking display at the end of August. I don’t know many brides would be content with a tent, an old barn and a backyard that you had to weed and plant yourself before you walked down a grassy aisle in your wedding dress. But she seems quite delighted. I received an invitation to the wedding just the other day. It was decorated with a mason jar and fireflies. The bride is quite happy with a simple celebration that highlights the finer details of life; love, faith and family.
From August until November, we have four weddings to attend, including the one in our backyard. Four weddings means four bridal showers. This means I have to go shopping, one of my least favorite things to do.
When we got married 27 years ago, we didn’t have a bridal registry. I’m not sure why; maybe because I was from Connecticut, my husband was from Illinois and we were getting married in Ohio. It didn’t matter. We really didn’t know or care about what we needed as long as we had each other. But I am sure grateful that others cared. We received plenty of gifts, some of which I am still using today.
Bridal registries are helpful, especially if you want to spare the busy engaged couple the time of having to return gifts they didn’t want or need or the duplicate gift. I remember one shower I went to where a bride received four crock pots. While I am an avid crock pot user, even I don’t need four crock pots!
I chuckle as I peruse the registries for wedding and baby showers. The couple that lists monogrammed, color-coordinated towel sets probably does not foresee a future where just having a clean towel hanging on the shower will be more of a priority than the monogram. The new parents who have to have the matching teddy bear crib bumpers, blankets and sheets most likely doesn’t realize that their newborn baby will be happiest sleeping on their chests.
While some of the things we ask and search for are necessary, most of them we can do without. When we are planning out our perfect lives, our perspective on what is essential seems to fit just right. Then life happens and our perspective begins to change, or we spend our time, money and energy ensuring that our lives fit our perfect laid out plans.
“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
This scripture says it all. What and who we treasure, where we spend our resources of time and money, reveal something about the core of who we are and where we place our heart.
I can honestly say, that since I was a teenager, my relationship with the Lord has been my greatest treasure and where I find my heart. Time for prayer and reflection is the first priority of my day and the final surrender as I am drifting off to sleep. However, I learned early on, the decisions I make in between rising and going to bed are what really define who I am and how I live out the greatest treasure of my heart.
I can have peaceful prayer times and journal some profound reflections. However, when I have to face a sink full of dishes or scramble to get my daughter out the door for an early morning appointment, that’s when I see whether my treasure is being shared or buried so deep even I struggle to find it. You see, my family doesn’t really care what great insights I had in my prayer time. They would just like me to be nice when I greet them in the morning.
It is not a hard stretch to comprehend that where we spend our time and our money also defines who and what we treasure and so reveals our heart. My mom always says, “Money won’t make you happy.” I used to readily agree. However, since I have experienced some tough economic losses over the years, my response to that comment changed. I now reply, “Well neither does poverty.” I have stopped apologizing for making money. I want to make more money so that I can easily provide for my family and freely give away money to those who are in need. Spending our time and resources working for money doesn’t define who are, but it can and should enhance our commitment to provide for our greatest treasures: faith and family and those in need.
My husband and I married right out of college, so we didn’t have the money to go away on a cool honeymoon. We stayed at a friend’s lovely house in Vermont and we had a great time. But, if I had known how hard it would be to go away or how difficult life would get, I would have taken that time and the money to fly to some warm destination and enjoy a carefree week away with my spouse. At the time, I thought those kind of trips don’t matter. Now I realize they can enhance our ability to treasure the greatest gifts around us.
Where is your treasure? If you are unsure of an answer, start with how you spend your time. Do you spend most of your time at work, beyond the boundaries of an eight- to 10-hour day? Does work consume your thoughts and/or your smart phone interrupt face to face conversations with the people in your life? Does entertainment define your down time or is there time for a walk alone or with a family member or friend? Where do you spend your hard-earned money after the bills are paid? Do you spend your resources on new and improved models of this or that toy? Do you provide well for your family and give some to those in need?
Whatever or whoever has our treasures — our time, our attention and our money — will also have our heart. For wherever your treasure lies, there you will find your heart.
Eileen Benthal has a B.A. in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a writer, speaker and wellness coach at 40DaysToFocus.com and NOFO Wellness Center. She works with clients locally and around the U.S. who are excited about balancing their health in body, mind and spirit.
Eileen and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, 16-year-old Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org andfacebook.com/40DaysToFocus.