What My Mom and Oprah Have in Common

What My Mom and Oprah Have in Common

My mom and Oprah have something in common.  My mom loved collecting stuff. She loved the hunt – the cheaper the better.  And, she collected in volume.
When she passed away she owned over 200 ceramic birds.  Most of them were beautiful.  But some were just plain ugly and looked like they were painted by a second grader (not that I’m putting down second grade painting, mind you).  Sometimes, having one bird of one style was not enough for my mom.  When I finally had a chance to sort through her things and do an inventory, I discovered that she had eight (count ‘em, eight) of the exact same red bird.  It was a pretty red bird, but who for heaven’s sake needs eight of them?  Apparently, my mom.
And yesterday, I made the Oprah connection.  While I was at my daughter’s voice lesson, I picked up Oprah’s “O” magazine (someday, I too will have a magazine and it shall be named “C”).  It turns out that Oprah collects stuff too – albeit on a higher level than my mom did.  I was drawn to her back page column “What I Know for Sure.”  Oprah is, among things, sure of herself.  Oprah was having a hard time parting with her  - and I know most of you have this same problem so that’s why I’m sharing it - hand-carved bathtub made from a solid piece of green onyx.  She was being “forced” to get rid of it because, of course, it did not go with her bathroom remodel.
My mom loved her birds and Oprah loved her bathtub.  My mom never did much thinking about what all her stuff represented to her – but Oprah has.  What I love about Oprah is her honesty: “[The bathtub] represented wealth…and it made me feel special.”  In many ways, the birds represented wealth to my mom too.  She never had much money growing up so when she saw a ceramic bird, and because she had money in the bank, she would buy it.  Simply because she could.  Mom did indeed feel special too – everyone one who came to visit would ooh and ah over the birds.  Much like I would guess people who saw Oprah’s tub would do as well.
There’s nothing wrong with having "stuff" but when stuff begins to be the object of why we exist and what defines our self-worth – then it has overshadowed the Good News of Easter.  When it blocks our ability to be generous with our money, or our time, or our talent then we have failed to listen to Jesus when He said,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6: 19-21, NRSV).
You are wealthy – not because of your stuff – but in spite of it.  You are special – not because of your stuff – but because the Lord of Life whispers in your ear each and every day that you are loved unconditionally.  I hope my mom discovered that at some point, and I hope Oprah does too.  And if you, dear reader, still don’t believe it, here’s Gungor telling you…

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. And yes, she is surrounded by her mother's birds. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.