Earthly Goals and Heavenly Treasures…Dreams, part 1

Welcome  Today is the first part of my two-day discussion of dreams.  No, I’m not talking about those weird dramas that play out in our brains while we make an attempt at a good night’s sleep, though some of mine would make for interesting conversation.  I’m talking about our DREAMS…goals, desires, hopes for the future.  I don’t know about you, but it can be very hard to find a balance between setting our sights on achievements here on earth and remembering to store up our treasures in heaven.  I’m going to share a few thoughts on this today, focusing on Matthew 6, and then will conclude tomorrow with a look at some worldly advice and words from scripture that counter that advice.  I’m so glad you could join me today.

Food For Thought  If we didn’t have some type of goals or aspirations, our lives would be very boring and most of us wouldn’t accomplish a thing!  I believe there is a valid reason that God instills in us a desire to accomplish things and be successful.  This internal drive pushes us to work and provide for our families, be better spouses and parents, experience rich blessings of this world we may not otherwise pursue, and invent the next great help for mankind.  The writer Gary Hardaway once said, “We must dream, because we are made in the image of Him who sees things that are not and wills them to be.”  I had never thought about it this way, but as we are created in God’s image, it includes God’s ability to dream and vision and bring forth what is not into being.  So why is it that I struggle with “dream guilt?”

In several of my daily devotional experiences recently I have been brought to the words in Matthew 6:19-21:

I always consider repetition to be attention-getting.  If God feels the need for me to learn a specific lesson, I will have the words (or imagery or circumstances) brought to my attention on several occasions.  I knew there must be a reason I kept ending up at this passage, but what could it be?  I have never considered myself a lover of money.  Much.  Okay, during this past decade I had found myself comparing what I have to that of others…a lot.  I began to get a little whiny about my automobile, considering my average SUV just that…too average.  I wanted luxury sitting in my driveway.  Never mind the fact that my driveway is full of cracked and broken concrete, usually covered with some combination of leaves, gravel, and mud.  Never mind the fact this luxury vehicle would be sitting in front of a sub-luxury home.  Never mind the fact that just because we can afford the car doesn’t mean we can afford the taxes or insurance!  I drove by the “nice” homes and stared with envy.  I felt pangs of jealousy hit when I would hear about friends and family going on lavish vacations…again.  But then I had a marvelous revelation last Spring as I left my steady and secure job…I would rather be HAPPY and have little than MISERABLE and a little bit rich.  I say little bit because, let’s face it, no teacher is ever going to be RICH!  Honest and truly, I have shifted my mindset almost 180 degrees since that moment.  I am considerably more content with the minimalist mindset.  I came to realize I didn’t really want those things I mentioned above, except maybe the vacations.  I had been brainwashed, of sorts, by the people I spent my time with, their desires became my desires, even though their desires weren’t really my desires.  Catch my drift, here?  In the past few months I thought I had been doing pretty good about avoiding the “earthly treasures.”  Or so I thought!

I think I finally figured out what God was trying to tell me while writing a post for the blog one day.  To be truthful, this blog probably helps me more than it helps any of my readers!  So here’s what I noticed:  I was doing a lot of writing about my desire to move and live in the mountains.  I was using words like long for and obsessed.  I was spending a lot of time looking up real estate options and planning cabin decor.  I talked about this “move” with my husband and daughter almost daily.  And I was beginning to let this desire get me down, making me a more negative person and taking my eyes off of heavenly treasure.  Oh, now I see the lesson!

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with Christians having dreams and goals.  These things make up part of who we are and what we become.  However, I fell victim to the sinful side of dreaming and earthly goals.  When I have a desire that drives me to distraction and leads me away from my service to God and my family, then I am sinning.  I have allowed my focus to truly fall on things of this earth and not on my heavenly home.  Even my writing about the mountains was pulling my focus off my true goal here at faith-family-food.  So can I find a healthy balance between these two areas of my life–earthly goals and heavenly treasures?  I can hope to someday get my mountain home and I can even keep pinning my favorite cabins on Pinterest.  But here’s what I cannot do: I cannot fuss and complain to my husband about not getting there quick enough.  I cannot let my mind get bogged down with negativity, bitterness, anger, or resentment at the fact that I’m not getting exactly what I want, when I want it. (Remember our Action Steps from Monday.)  I cannot let this earthly dream stand in the way of my service to the Lord or what he has planned for me.  I cannot let my desires make me a selfish individual.  I think that’s why God has to remind us about where our treasure truly lies, even if that treasure is something other than money.  In my case, he had to bring me a reminder four or five times.  And I have a feeling I’m not finished with that passage yet!  This is a hard lesson to learn and even harder to apply, but one I know I need to work on in my life.  If I don’t get my attitude and actions over my earthly goals in check, I will lose my opportunity for my heavenly treasures.  That would be devastating!

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you please remove from my heart and mind any desires that are not from You.  Help me keep my focus on heavenly treasures.  Do not allow my earthly goals to become priority over serving You or Your kingdom.  Continue to teach me Your ways so that I can have a healthy balance between earthly goals and heavenly treasures.  I ask that my eyes and ears be open and alert to Your teachings and the lessons I need to learn and apply.  In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Today’s Scripture  While the advice of Matthew 6:19-21 is critical to our lives and we must apply it, I want to share this verse from Psalms that offers a reminder that God expects us to dream and have desires.

Today’s Recipe  My “little” girl has a birthday in a few days!  She is quite a treasure!  She is full of loving spirit, kindness, humor, and spunk.  A few of her favorite things include building with Lego’s, animals of ALL kinds, dragons and mythological creatures, video games, and science.  In science, she likes to do kitchen experiments and study about living things and ecology.  She also enjoys geological studies with rocks and minerals.  She has quite the specimen collection, thanks to her grandmother who shares her love for rocks.  Some of her most prized pieces are geodes, both collected and purchased.  So for her birthday cake this year, I decided to make her a geode cake.  I saw a YouTube video for this a year or so ago.  I thought, how simple is that!  Oh, the curse of the perfect YouTube videos and Pinterest pins!  How often have we said, “Mine doesn’t look like theirs”?  Apparently I’m supposed to use rock candy to make the geode, which makes sense, but I could not find this item anywhere!  I know how to make crystal rock candy at home but just wasn’t into it, so I improvised with colored crystal sugar.  This is more coarse than sanding sugar and comes in so many different colors.

I’m going to share her cake with you today, even though it’s not her birthday yet.  It’s kind of like that spider web cake I made back in October…it just didn’t come out like I had hoped or expected.  But you know what?  She LOVED it, SERIOUSLY!  I told her on our walk home from school that I had made her birthday cake, but I was going to make her guess what it was.  She took off the cake cover and exclaimed, “Oh, the most beautiful, sparkly rock ever!”  She was especially pleased with the chocolate rocks used as accents.  Yes, they taste like M&M’s but look like rocks.

A close up look at the largest break in the geode cake.

Geode Rock Cake

2 9-inch round cake layers (I used Betty Crocker Delights Super Moist Dark Chocolate Cake Mix, because it’s her favorite, prepared according to package directions)

2 containers vanilla frosting (I used Duncan Hines Whipped Fluffy White icing because there’s more per container if it’s whipped-frugal!)

Coarse crystal sugar (I used Amethyst, Ruby, Silver, Turquoise, and Diamond from Sunny Side Up Bakery; products available at Hobby Lobby)

1 bag Chocolate Rocks (also available at Hobby Lobby or other baking/craft supply stores)

After baking and cooling cake layers, place first layer on cake plate.  Frost a thin layer of icing and then place second layer on top.  Cut out a chunk of the cake and set aside (snack time!)  Frost the top, sides, and in the cut section of cake with vanilla icing. (In hindsight, I probably could have tinted the frosting gray to look even more rock-like.)

In your geode “cut” begin layering purple sugar.  This is a messy job–sugar will go everywhere and your hands will be tinted when you finish!  I used one of my frosting spatulas to push the sugar into the icing to get it to stick into the icing.  It took several passes as the sugar wants to just run down and pile up in the middle.  I went back and added the blue, silver and red sugars repeating the same process.

I made a second smaller geode cut on the back side of the cake and repeated the same process with the sugars.

Using the chocolate rocks, add border around the bottom edge of the cake and fill in around the geode cuts and partially up the sides of the cake.

Add some silver and diamond sugar on the top and sides of your cake.

Yep.  I agree that this type of cake would not be everyone’s cup of tea…my kid’s unique that way.  But it made her happy and that’s the main thing!  Again, if I could do it over again, I’d tint my frosting gray for more of a rock hue and I’m sure crystal rock candy gives a more proper texture to the geode cuts.  But when in doubt, improvise!

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