Last night, my sweet hubby bought me a bookshelf for the family room, and BONUS: he even put it together for me right away! As soon as I saw the box, I called my twin sons into action. “Fellas, will you follow me around and help me collect my books?” They didn’t ask (mercifully!), they just followed. First, guest room: empty every drawer in the chest, mirror dresser and night stands. (Now when you come to visit, you’ll have a place to put your clothes while you stay!). Next, my room – no need to empty the entire chest, just the bottom two drawers (now I have more room for clothes – nah, I’d rather have books!). “Mom, are we done yet? It’s a lot already.” No, not quite yet, let’s go to my closet next, and then I have this small-ish pile next to the sofa in the formal living room – you couldn’t see it because it was kind of tucked in between the sofa and the bookshelf which is already living there. Ty rolls his eyes a little bit (he’s even more organized than I am generally, and would never cram something into a corner). Jake, however, cheerily offers, “Yeah, mom, I understand tucking things in corners! In my room, I – “… Stop right there, bud – this is NOT the same kind of thing that has been going on in your room! I’m rambling – let me get back to my new bookshelf!
Of course, a new bookshelf required careful thought. I had to empty all current bookshelves and reorganize. I also had to reacquaint myself with these friends who had been tucked places for all these years – oh, THERE you are, Charlie Shedd! Welcome back to the outside world, Margaret Runbeck! It’s been too long, Corrie Ten Boom! Oh, Bruce Wilkinson, my old friend, how are you? Have to consider – who lives in the family room? Who lives in the formal living room? Do we categorize by author (yes) or by subject (yes, but only if I have several authors on the same subject) or by genre (this is more complicated than I had anticipated, but I am LOVING the dilemma!). Naturally I couldn’t simply put everyone on a shelf immediately – I needed to read a chapter from each one, remember a few treasured words. As I removed the books from their places, and began to open a few covers, I discovered more than an old favorite character or truth or phrase or friend. I had more than published words to treasure this morning – much more.
I had forgotten doing this until they started falling out, but for years I had been sticking little notes in between my books. (Lately, I have been putting these little bits of love in a photo box to savor later). A thank you note from a student fell out first – oh my goodness, she was in kindergarten when she wrote this and now she’s a freshman in high school! Next, a letter from my grandmother- she passed away several years ago and I cried at the treasure her words were, and I laughed at the stories she had shared that day. A note from my mom – she wrote it after the first ministry event I hosted some 18 years ago. A picture fell out of another book – the twins were pulling baby sis in the Radio Flyer wagon – remember the one with the wooden rails on the sides? Oh my goodness – a letter of encouragement from a woman in ministry I had looked up to so very much, especially in those first years when I needed so very much…. My parents’ wedding picture – wow, they were young! The little treasures kept peeking out, oh my goodness, so many, and I laughed and I cried and I remembered and I smiled and I felt as if I had discovered lots of little secrets and my heart was full and I loved the quiet, surrounded by love and books and words and comfort.
I thought about the photo box with my most recent love notes and memories, and looked at the pictures and notes surrounding me on the floor. Nah, these wouldn’t go into that box. I organized my books on the new shelves, admired the arrangements, then carefully tucked the notes and cards and pictures in between the books again.
2 Corinthians 4:7 doesn’t really apply here, I know that, but I can’t seem to get it out of my mind: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels”. THIS treasure. This TREASURE. I like the idea of opening up, unpacking, and finding something altogether unexpected – and altogether blessed. Isn’t that what happens with the Lord? Every time we open His word, every time we open ourselves to His spirit, every time we strive to hear His voice, we find “this treasure” that the “excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”. It’s what I learned from my bookshelf today, from all these books that had been packed away for so long, each with a little “plus” inside. How very simple, how very sweet.
What a treasure 🙂
God is so kind and generous! With prayers that you find Him so today,