“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34
I’ve spent the last several months plowing through many drawers, boxes, and shelves trying to determine which items can be tossed and which are “treasures” I want to keep. As a result, I have discovered many fond memories associated with these treasures.
One of the most important treasure groups were pictures of, cards received from, and items created by my family. Margaret, my companion for 59 years, and I met as students attending George Fox College (now University). Soon after graduation, I received a letter inviting me to a two-year all-expense-paid sojourn in southern California and Korea. During my absence, Margaret and I communicated frequently. With no vacation time, I proposed to Margaret by mail, and we announced our engagement by proxy. Nothing like choosing Yearly Meeting Sunday to help publicize the event! Now, looking through our wedding book, I see the letter of proposal I sent to Margaret and a letter from her detailing the various comments of people as they noticed her flowers, and then the ring. She continued teaching English at George Fox while I completed my term of service and returned to Oregon. The pictures brought back many memories of special events as well as the beauties of God’s handiwork we observed as we traveled throughout all fifty of our United States and a few foreign countries.
It took a while for me to read through the letters, cards, and personal items our son and granddaughter created for us. However, it took longer to review the many pictures we snapped throughout the years. Maintaining communication with our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter, using modern digital inventions, is a highlight of my day. Are you surprised to know I finally learned how to text? I also discovered that taking pictures with my smartphone is much easier than using a box camera or an 8mm movie camera with a bar of extremely bright lights. Editing some of the old movies, which I have transferred to DVDs, then sharing them with family and friends is a source of entertainment and joy.
While at George Fox College, Margaret and I felt a call to work with young people in the public school environment. As a classroom teacher and basketball coach, I found it necessary to develop creative ways to integrate my faith with the learning process, as it was not appropriate for me to “preach” to my students. I tried to portray God’s love in other ways. My objective was to always have an atmosphere of openness and availability so that students would feel free to not only talk about mathematics or basketball but also about what was going on in their lives. I emphasized to my students that they should treat each person with dignity and respect. My goal and commitment was to seek God’s guidance as I attempted to meet the daily challenges of encouraging and assisting my students as they developed their skills both in the classroom and on the basketball court. I appreciated reading once again the letters of encouragement from our former students as well as the words of admonition from some of their parents. I still maintain contact with several of these students and treasure their letters and visits. One student occasionally dropped by to visit and share about his family. One day when he stopped by, I had something else planned, so I cut the visit short. That was the last time he stopped by. Although this incident still brings sadness to my heart, God has used it to teach me that people are much more important than things and schedules.Other treasures found in my sorting were letters and cards from the many friends who have crossed our paths during 30 years in the Kelso School System and 44 years worshiping at the Rose Valley Friends Church. After moving to Friendsview in 1998, we have been blessed by some more great friends at Newberg Friends Church, George Fox University, Northwest Yearly Meeting, and Friendsview. I am thankful for the encouragement and compassion of each one of them.
Margaret loved books, especially murder mysteries, so I have a large collection on my book shelves. After 30 years of teaching mathematics, which required deliberate reading of “word” problems, I did not develop the necessary skills and interest to become an avid reader. But these books have become new found treasures. Catherine Marshall’s A Man Called Peter and To Live Again have been encouraging and challenging. My personal experiences paralleled many of the same ones Mrs. Marshall encountered. As I read these books, I learned that a person of her faith sometimes had difficulty with situations similar to mine, but as I read further, it became evident that she would first pray about the situation and then turn it over to God. The praying part is quite easy for me, but sometimes I find it a challenge to then trust God to work everything out according to his plan.
These treasures which I have encountered with my sorting project have brought back many fond memories, but Matthew 6:20 encourages us to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” The treasures we have collected here on earth are enjoyable, but I pray that each of us will someday enjoy the ultimate treasure of eternal life.