Pennies from Heaven

I found a penny today, just laying on the ground;
But it’s not just a penny, this little coin I’ve found.
Found pennies come from Heaven, that’s what my Grandpa told me;
He said that angels toss them down-Oh, how I loved that story!”
He said when an Angel misses you, they toss a penny down;
Sometimes just to cheer you up, to make a smile out of your frown.
So don’t pass by that penny, when you’re feeling blue;
it may be a penny from Heaven that an Angel’s tossed to you!

(“Angel’s Pennies,” Author Unknown)

I’m not certain who wrote the little poem above. It was in a letter I received from my mother about four or five years ago. She knows my habit of always picking up stray pennies when I find them on the ground – not for any monetary value, or in the interest of supplemental income of any form, but more out of habit that anything else. Sometimes I find it interesting to see what year it was from, and then reflect back on things that might have been going on that year, or if it was before my time, what things might have been like then.

Some people scoff at me doing this, including one friend who is a germ-a-phobe who chastises me for having such a habit, another who thinks it’s a waste of time unless you’re a coin collector, and yet another materialistic acquaintance who stated to me quite bluntly, “Why on Earth waste time or space on something with obviously no value?” As with most unsolicited negative opinions or advice which is frequently given in an intrusive manner without being requested, I generally ignore them.

But sometimes those pennies DO have value – not mere monetary or material value but something far greater. There is one particular incident that I am still pretty struck by that happened to me not too long ago. It was one of those moments where God reached out to me and touched me with an unexpected moment of joy that was indicative of the “mysterious ways” we almost always seem to attribute to God, and it all happened because of a penny, my habit of picking them up, and that little poem. I liked the poem, but I didn’t read too much into it at the time, although it would make sense later on, as things have a strange way of doing sometimes.

I don’t handle death well at all; it isn’t because I don’t have faith in the idea that death is in reality not the end of consciousness, or because I have any lingering beliefs in a literal Heaven or Hell from some of the legalistic fundamentalist scare tactics I was once exposed to long ago, or because I have any fear of death; I have a saying I quote all the time: “Fear of dying can keep you from truly living.” We never know the day, the time or the hour so I am one of those who believes in the adage of cherish every moment, don’t give too much concern to the reality of our own mortality and sure, exercise caution and keep your sense of risk calculated, but don’t miss out on life, love, or anything else good for the fear of it being over before you want it to be.

I think my occasional sense of discomfort with death lays not in the concept of pondering my own mortality, but that of those I love and care about and the idea of them leaving, or me leaving them behind. As Charlie Brown once said, “I hate goodbyes; I need more helloes.” I don’t think passing away is a permanent goodbye, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult when it happens. That being said, I have been able to make peace with the reality that death is a part of life. And I am certain that the same Loving God that I know on this side is on the other side as well, so I have no doubts about death meaning that we are still not separated from God’s Love, or ultimately, from each other.

Still, even with this mindset – which every once in a while can still present a challenge to me-sometimes the unexpected passing of a friend or loved one can completely blindside you and take you off guard, especially if it is sudden and very unexpected. As it did with me not too long ago.

It had been a difficult few years dealing with more than a few goodbyes, even if they were said to those who I had not been that close with in some time. I had lost one old friend to suicide, another at a tragically young age to heart failure resulting in complications after an organ transplant, as well as several grandparents (one to cancer, one to pneumonia) and a great aunt (also to cancer, although she lived 90 wonderful years, and truly lived a life spent doing nothing but caring for others).

These were loved ones and people I cared a great deal about, but because of either friends moving on with their lives in a different city or the distance by which most of our families are scattered across the country, we did not see each other as frequently. This did not make saying goodbye any easier or create any decrease in the loss suffered or sense of grief, but there was some distance. I did something I knew I should not have done, and did not allow myself to fully grieve, which unfortunately would eventually return to haunt me.

Then, during a very stressful time, and one day totally without warning, the oldest of my two cats, Marilyn, (whom I had and spent nearly every day with for nearly twelve years – she was with me during some of the happiest and unhappiest times of my life, and loved me the same through all of it) fell very ill. She was very overweight for a cat, and that made her a bit lethargic in general at times, but other than that was just as affectionate and seemingly happy as she could be, up until one morning when she wasn’t eating, did not seem to want to be touched, and just seemed like there was something very wrong. After thousands spent at the vet, including close to $6,000 having her in Intensive Care at an animal Urgent Care Hospital, she tragically passed away due to renal failure, liver failure, and heart failure.

I was completely devastated and inconsolable at first when she passed away. My partners, my family who had been on the phone with me during the whole time long distance and the one or two friends I had who understood did their best to get me through it; even my other cat, Leepy, (who she had acted as a “mother cat” to since he was a kitten) and who was dealing with his own sense of loss were all there for me. But I was still having a terrible time with the grief; not only was I mourning her, and her constant daily presence in my life for so many years, but I was also mourning all of the others who I had said goodbye to in recent years but had not had as much time with.

There was the obvious aspect of loss – seeing the places in the house she used to sit now empty, seeing the other cat looking around for his long time companion, and just the overall feeling of an empty place, a heart shaped hole where a pet that was loved and cared about very much resided.

To further complicate matters and prolong the grieving process, I was dealing with a severe sense of guilt over her passing earlier than I feel she should have. She was 14 and I had hoped she would live for much longer, being an indoor cat and well taken care of. I had no idea that her being such a fat and happy cat would eventually lead to the health problems that took her so early.

My mind kept running in negative, self defeating, panicked, anxiety ridden and fear soaked circles: Did I do enough? If I had gotten her to see a vet sooner, or done something to help her lose weight, or maybe looked for early warning signs more closely, could I have done anything to prevent it? Was she eating too much because she was depressed and did I somehow cause that? Did she suffer because I had her in Intensive Care and on life support for the last few hours of her life rather than choose euthanasia as some were pushing me to do? Does she know how much she was loved and is missed? Is my other cat okay? Do I need to be watching his health more closely?

I ended up having to take a few sick days off of work due to the stress, grief and emotional trauma the whole experience put me through (and not being able to handle the tremendous stress levels I was already under at work on top of that). Those who are not pet owners often do not understand the sense of attachment and bonds of unconditional love people can develop with their pets, to the point that losing one, especially suddenly, can seem almost as drastic as one losing a child, spouse, partner or a member of the family. The unconditional love one experiences from having a pet is one of the greatest joys I have found in life, and having that suddenly gone in a heartbeat was quite devastating. It hit me really hard, and it was some of the deepest emotional pain I had experienced in years; she had been with me through so much, and she was gone.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “I thought the theme of this article had something do with joy or being joyful.” It does. There is a silver lining to the clouds I am referring to while reminiscing. Quite often when we are hardest hit with the trials of this crazy mysterious trip called life, God uses that as a window to let us know that we are loved and cared about, and there is every reason to be joyful about that fact. It is merely our responsibility to keep an open heart and mind, as well as open eyes to be able to see it, even when those eyes are sometimes clouded over with sadness or filled with tears.

I finally got myself together enough to get back on track, and got back to my daily routine of hitting the gym and then heading off to work. I found myself working out that day and really getting out some of the negative emotions out, trying to at least put the anger I was feeling to some good use. I was going through all of the “stages” at one time; denial, anger, bargaining (actually, I didn’t really do that one; the God of Love I know and believe in is not One that “bargains” or deals in “bartering”), depression and acceptance. I finally ended up stuck in a place somewhere between a deep sense of loss and depression and a reluctant acceptance of the situation, knowing that there were loved ones, as well as another cat that needed me. I would vacillate in between fits of tears and trying to recompose my strength. But there was such a tremendous (feeling of) and severe longing in my heart for a sense of peace so that I could at least move on and be there for those who needed me.

I don’t ask for a lot when I pray, as I am already grateful for so much. Most of the prayer I engage in is centered in a place of gratitude and visualizing God’s Love surrounding everyone in their own times of need. But this particular day I felt the need to ask for guidance myself, for either some type of answer within, or some way of finding peace about the situation. I needed my faith in the idea that those loved ones who had passed on were at peace, in whatever form that was, and that the cat I had just lost knew how much she was missed and loved. Just the act of feeling grateful for the time that we had together, knowing how much I had loved her, and seeking comfort in my faith helped.

Later the same day, as I made the journey to the office, I arrived to discover as if the Universe were somehow conspiring to compound my stress, grief, anger and frustration, someone had taken my parking space and I had to park in an area of the parking garage that I normally didn’t have to park in, although in the end I ended up being very glad that it happened. I steeled myself for a busy and stressful day at work, taking a deep breath, and trying to calm myself, stepped out of the car.

Sitting on the ground in this space that I had never parked in was a single penny, and out of habit, I picked it up. I looked at the year and I froze and for a second, thought I must be seeing things. The year of this particular penny was 1996.

I can’t recall the last time I ever found one from that particular year, but it held a definite and profound sense of significance to me. For starters, Easter of 1996 was the first time I attended church after many years away, attending a non-denominational Sunrise service. That very same day was when Marilyn, the cat who had just passed away had come into my life, as well as the same year my other cat, Leepy, joined our family as a newborn kitten “rescued” from another home.

Even more importantly, that was also the year of my making peace with God after long years of fear and doubt, suffering through a very negative, legalistic and fearful perception of God, and finding my own peace with a God of Love who Loves and accepts me just as I am, bisexuality and all. That was the year I joined and had my Confirmation into an open and affirming Christian church and a new and wonderful spiritual beginning and journey of discovery began to take place for me. It was a year when the fear began to be stripped away and a false and terrifying idea of God was replaced by a healthy and loving one and was the beginning of a time of amazing spiritual growth as I found myself, found my path and peace with God, and began a new journey.

I had these thoughts as I had to work all day and somehow this carried me through the terrible things I had been feeling. Even more interesting was what happened when I arrived home that evening.

I told my girlfriend, who was as broken up about losing Marilyn as I was, what had happened with the penny. That was when she made the comment that reminded me about the poem: “Didn’t your Mom send you a poem about finding pennies and it meaning something?” The little poem had stayed in one my desk drawers reserved for personal cards and letters in my home office (yes, even in the e-mail age, I still value snail mail!) since about two weeks after the time I received it. I had all but forgotten about it, and went to what I call the “mail drawer,” filled with cards and letters from family and friends and pulled it out and read it. Then I was reminded of something that I deep down have always known to be true: God does move in mysterious ways, and sometimes the smallest thing that might be of little or no significance to someone else will be touching to us in a major way.

Now, do I think that someone “tossed a penny from Heaven” in the literal sense? No, no more than I take the wonderful parables or allegories in the Bible as literal. But akin to the same fashion in which a parable or story from the Bible can help us to find our spiritual center, locate the bearings of our faith, or assist in restoring hope as we endure challenging times, this event had the same type of effect on me.

Many would consider this a huge coincidence, but being one of those of the “everything for a reason” school of philosophical thought, I just can’t see it that way. Even if assuming for a moment that it had merely been coincidence, the key factor was how I felt guided and motivated to interpret it. My heart knows that my interpretation and understanding of my finding that penny was somehow an odd, indirect yet direct answer to the longing and prayer I had been feeling.

Shortly thereafter, I was able to begin the healing process from the loss I felt. Did the tears, or the pain go away immediately? No. Although thoughts of mourning were edged out by good memories I had of those I had lost. Even through all of the tears I cried during that time – tears not only for the passing of one of my pets but for all of the loved ones I had said goodbye to in recent years, I was filled with an extreme sense of joy and gratitude for being able to feel, love and care so deeply, even when it hurt so badly.

I was able to get my bearings back after that, at least enough to break out of the shock I had been in and be more fully present for those who needed me. I took Leepy to the vet for a full checkup, and got the good news that although he was probably a bit depressed from losing his long time companion, and stressed from the sudden change, he was as physically as healthy as he could be and pronounced as one of the “oldest kittens they had ever seen” due to his generally chipper and playful nature. I was able to remember Marilyn with fond memories of the good times she brought into our lives rather than grieve constantly. And someday, I’m sure when the time is right, we will find another cat to come and share our home; no new pet can ever “replace” a lost one, but there are always new opportunities for the unconditional love and joy pets can bring into our lives.

I was also able to have a greater sense of peace about the idea of death and loved ones passing on. I began to develop a more intense sense of understanding that it is not so much the amount of time we have with those we love, but the very gift of our being blessed with their presence in our lives at all. To worry endlessly about what we would do without that person, or pet, or circumstance in our lives or when the time will come to say goodbye is to miss out on the joy of loving and being loved entirely. As I said – the fear of dying – whether it’s us or someone close to us can often prevent us from wholly living. Just the time we have with those we love – be it a person or a pet – is a source of joy that can never be lost, or taken from us. The love and the memories last forever, even when we outgrow our physical bodies and move on to whatever is next. And it is far better to be able to love deeply, feel deeply, and mourn deeply when we lose a loved one or pet than to not be able to feel love at all.

I have never forgotten about the penny. After I read the poem, I briefly considered placing it next to the urn and little memorial we had done for Marilyn, but instead, I taped the penny to that poem and decided to keep it out on the desk as a constant reminder of how we are never forgotten and how I firmly believe we are all unconditionally loved and looked out for, especially in our times of greatest need and how God can bring joy when we feel it impossible.

Although the events immediately preceding the time when I found that penny were the antithesis of being an experience of joy, the feelings which that small event renewed were profound, to say the least. Having my faith in God’s Love and in the mysterious ways that God sometimes seem to work in strengthened brought a tremendous amount of joy into my heart.

So even though it arose from a time of tragedy, I have come to refer to all of those little unexpected moments of joy in life as “pennies from heaven.” They don’t necessarily have to be specific things, or events-but merely moments when we feel a deep sense of awareness of our connection to the Divine, however that may manifest itself, in whatever mysterious way. If we think back for a moment, I feel certain all of us can recall specific moments like this; moments of joy, moments of happiness when we feel a deep sense of connection to God, when we feel unconditionally loved by something far Greater than anything else, when we feel a sense of Oneness rather than one of isolation and separation. These are the storehouse of good feelings that we can revisit and utilize when we need to seek refuge from the trials and tribulations of life, when we feel sadness, or loss, or a sense of hopelessness which can come at times.

And what should we do with all of these moments, these “pennies from heaven,” if you will? I find a few answers which hold meaning for me in the following verses:

Matthew 6:20-21: “Store up for yourself 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.”

Taking into consideration the teaching of Jesus that Heaven is within (Luke 17:21), and knowing that in His teaching He does not seem to refer to Heaven as a physical “place” where we keep any type of “material” treasures, but rather a state of being where we feel closeness to God and peace, this has a new meaning to me. The things which are of the most value-the moments of joy in our lives, the memories of good times, loved ones, love, moments of accomplishment, realization, spiritual awakening and awareness, inner peace, confidence, clarity, faith, and hope. These are the true “treasures” that I feel He is referring to in this verse and what we should always place the highest value upon, above anything and everything else or anything material we could have.

Even if people attempted to, there is no way that these things can ever be taken from us; they cannot be consumed by the flames of a fire, swept away in a hurricane, washed away with a flood, stolen by someone else, eroded by the elements, or lost in an accident. They are timeless, ageless and indestructible.

I have a friend who lives in Southern California and whose home is directly affected by the wildfires which have been burning out of control, and I was talking with them just the other day in light of the evacuations that have been going on as people find their homes in danger and are forced to leave and take whatever they can. They were very upset, but said that as long as they had loved ones and pets to safety, that although it would be heartbreaking, that they could deal with whatever else happened. I thought about how I would deal with such a situation, having to evacuate in a time of natural disaster, and I agreed-even if I only had time to get my loved ones and pets to safety, and nothing else-as much as it would hurt to see all that I have go up in smoke, “things” can be replaced and the memories of whatever sense of joy was obtained from possessing them, if that was a source of happiness, can never be taken away. I would be aware that the things that really matter more than anything could never, ever be destroyed at all by any external force.

I have talked to people who have been through situations where they lost all of their material possessions due to some natural disaster, and many have responded the same way; in the end, although there may have been a loss of material possessions and “stuff,” they were grateful that they and their loved ones were alive and well and that no one could ever take those memories and things away from them. In fact, some even said that they gained a greater appreciation for the things that truly do matter the most of all in life and that no amount of money or material possessions cold ever begin to take the place of.

Thankfully, it is not necessary for any of us to experience such a loss, or any loss at all in order to get our bearings and grasp a clearer understanding of what should be of greatest importance in our lives and what it is that truly holds the most value. We can begin at any time to reevaluate what it is which is most important to us, and really rediscover what things bring us the most joy, the most happiness, the greatest and deepest sense of being Loved and cared for by God. We can begin to take an inventory – one which is not of physical items but things which always transcend any multitude of things of material value – of all of the things we treasure, all of the real sources and inspirations of joy in our life.

And while I am on the topic of moments of joy, and moments which are meant to carry us through the difficult times, I want to touch briefly on what it is that makes us feel joyful, and why I feel that God brings us these blessings, often in great abundance, if we slow down, reflect and stop to think about it.

I feel there is a definite reason why God wants us to be able to connect with those feelings which create and inspire joy within us, in both good times and bad. If we are joyful, we have the capacity and capability to let joy flow from God through us to others. I believe that we are called to be messengers of joy to others, just as I feel we are called to let God’s Love flow through us to others. Like begets like, and joy begets joy, just as fear begets more fear and negativity begets more negativity. Joyful people make more joyful people, fearful and unhappy people make more unhappy, scared people and fear creates negativity. Maybe people will criticize me for being so overly optimistic about God’s Intentions, but I think God would much prefer joyful, happy people celebrating, praying and giving thanks than those who come to God from a place of fear, distress, and sadness. Although I know God does not discriminate at all, I feel that coming to God from a place of happiness is one of the best ways we can begin to develop a healthy intimate spiritual relationship and be of more assistance in the things I feel God would want us to embody in this world.

If we are called to be, as Jesus said, the “Light of the World” (Matthew 5:13), the “Salt of the Earth” (Matthew 5:14) and bring more of God’s Love and the good news of it being offered freely and abundantly to others, what better way could there be to do so than by sharing about our own moments of personal good news, and sharing about the good things God has inspired or brought into our lives? What better testimony of our faith could there be beyond our expressing such intense joy and gratitude over all of the blessings in our life, and showing that gratitude by passing that same joy along to and inspiring it in others? What better way of inspiring hope to those who might be experiencing times of hurt, pain and sorrow than sharing with them how it was that God helped us through similar times, circumstances and situations? To me, the strongest indication of a person who is at peace with and feels a deep sense of Oneness with God is one who identifies God as the primary source, the Ultimate Source of anything which inspires joy, peace, love and happiness.

While some things are truly universal in their capability and ability to inspire joy in all or most individuals, the exact definition of what parameters will bring joy to someone on an individual basis will vary and are often as unique as each and every one of us. Whatever your personal source of joy is, whatever feelings, moments or memories inspire it is something only you and God can know and work out together. Find the way to have that joy in a manner which is harmful or hurtful to no one, and in a way which lets it overflow into the lives of others, let it be your constant prayer to do so, and the blessings have a way of multiplying tenfold more often than not.

Regardless of what some legalistic minded Christians would have or prefer everyone to believe, while the exact nature of everything which God wants can remain a mystery at times, I do firmly believe that God wants us to be happy and feel joy, and that is something that we should never, ever for a moment feel a shred of guilt about feeling. God is the Source of all our moments of joy.

Christ Himself brought us this good news when He said that He came that we “might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10) and I feel that He was saying that we are to do so through hearing, applying, and living what He came to teach us. Somehow over time His True Message – that we have abundant life from finding God within our hearts and allowing God’s Love to be expressed through us by being loving, compassionate, forgiving, caring and respectful of all of the rest of God’s children has unfortunately been perverted and mired over time with human fear which insists that God demands martyrdom and suffering in order that we be obedient and reverent. But to me, one of the greatest “sins,” if you will, which we can commit, is denying ourselves the joy that God freely wants to give us, or not allowing ourselves to recognize that anything which brings us an unbridled sense of joy, hope, or love is a gift from God and not merely something we created ourselves.

I am so often reminded of all of the things which I treasure most; sure, there are my relationships, my family, my friends, and my pets and the things which bring smiles and other positive emotional responses. It can be something as simple as the feeling I get when sharing a tender moment with a loved one or a friend confiding in me for support, Holidays spent with family, or a cat curled up asleep and purring contentedly in my lap to illustrate a feeling of being loved and cared for. But there are many other profound moments which have brought me joy that I always think of during the tough times, or just when I feel I need to be reminded of the fact that I am never alone, none of us are, and God is constantly there for us, no matter who we are or if we have allowed the clouds of fear and doubt to temporarily obscure our knowledge of that.

I still recall the joy that I felt when I came to a full realization that the frightening things I had been told about God by so many which kept me from feeling and being fully alive and being who I am were the product of fear, and were not the case. I recall the joy in coming out as bisexual and fully accepting and loving every aspect of the person who God Created me to be, even if my sexual orientation or sexuality differed from the “norm” that it is in fact normal and natural for who I was made to be, and that I should feel joyful and not ashamed or guilty about it. It was merely my responsibility to live the truth of who I am in a way which is loving and respectful of all others. The joy that came in knowing that what I really needed to do was overcome my fears, and rejoice in and be able to express and love who I am as I am rather than try to repress or change or deny who it is that God Made me to be.

I recall little things and moments when I was made more fully aware of how God accepted me as I am, be it something as simple as reading the comments of someone online or just and overall feeling that washed over me, or seeing a rainbow in the sky when I was feeling down. And I recall the joy of finding a special girl and a special guy who understand and accept my bisexuality due their being bisexual as well and the unorthodox but committed and caring relationship I have with both of them, the love we feel and share, and the joy of our finding others who share similar experiences and do not allow the judgment of others who may not understand to prevent us from embracing the knowledge that however different we may be, we are loved and accepted by God and are meant to share the peace we have found with other bisexual persons who may be searching, or feeling alone, or in need of support and the awareness that God is there for them as well.

I think of wonderful memories and experiences in life which made me feel more alive. I recall cherished moments with friends and loved ones, past and present. Even if they are no longer a part of my life because we have somehow lost touch or chosen a different path in life, or if they have passed on into whatever awaits after this experience of life and consciousness, nothing can ever tarnish or take away the beautiful memories I may have of our times together.

I think of the joy in discovering that although there are many Universal thoughts and ideas about God, there is also the wonderful diversity in faith and belief so that all of us – even with our different ways of thinking and believing -can find the path which makes us feel the closest to God and live the life we were Created and intended to live and fulfill the individual and special purposes which God in Infinite Wisdom has for us. I think of the joy in knowing that no matter what fears might prompt some to condemn the LGBT Community as unworthy of God’s blessing, that the perfect Love, God’s Love, casts out all fear and calls us to understand that no one will ever be condemned by God for merely being who they are, or for any reason at all, for that matter.

In addition, it is an extremely fulfilling gift to be able to share the joy of God’s Unconditional Love and Acceptance with ALL others – regardless of sexual orientation or belief. When I discuss my faith with another, I never do so with the intent to try and change them or make them think as I do, but with the intent that they see that honestly seeking God has brought me joy, peace, a deep sense of being loved, and happiness, and perhaps something I say will enable them to find some happiness and joy of their own.

Not only is it good for us to experience and feel joy and share it with others through unexpected moments that come to us, or the loves and passions and relationships in our lives which already exist, it is also perfectly okay for us to desire more joy in our lives and act accordingly to allow it to flow into our lives. I have never been a huge fan of the saying, “Be careful what you pray for” but rather prefer, “Be joyful in what you pray for.” That being said, when we desire certain things in our lives and wish to achieve certain goals or aspirations, I feel it is so important to consider how it is we would feel upon those things taking place, ensure that what it is that we may be desiring is something which will bring happiness to all concerned, and be able to pursue whatever dreams God has instilled within us with passion, and rejoice when we are able to realize them. The point I am making is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you wanting more joy in your life. God can provide more than enough to go around for everyone with no one having to do without. It is, however, our responsibility to select things which carry the potential for joy to all concerned, and not only ourselves or our own.

And one of the most dramatic moments of joy can come from the true understanding and realization of what Jesus brought us: the understanding that God is Love, and encourages and guides us to follow one simple directive which will only serve to promote and create more joy in the world: to show out thanks to God and our Love for God by being loving to one another. Although it seems so simple, that one teaching is so complete and inclusive, and never loses its value. Call it the ultimate “penny from heaven,” if you will – one that is so much more than that, and is beyond any semblance of value but perhaps the Greatest and most valuable gift of all that God has ever blessed humankind with.

God is not concerned with anything we do save for how we treat one another, and that we are doing everything in way which hurtful to none and as helpful to as many as possible – and that we are able to spread as much joy, hope love and faith to others as possible as a natural result of that process. It can at times be a very heavy requirement for us to embrace the teachings to return anger with forgiveness and be loving when others are not treating us as we would have hoped, and the Golden Rule is not the easiest to follow all the time the trials life can sometimes present, but we have all the help and guidance we could ever ask for through our faith and in the teachings of Christ.

And always, always remember to keep an eye out for, collect, and cherish those moments, those little “pennies from heaven” which God showers onto us, to get you through the challenging times and bring more joy and awareness all of the time. Look for the unexpected moments of joy, hope and love everywhere in the everyday and during the good and bad times and be open, ready and grateful when they do arrive. Any feeling you have which brings a sense of joy to you, and especially one which you can share with another, is indicative of being one of the treasures you can store in Heaven.

It is often when we find ourselves hit hardest with the mysteries and trials of life that God uses this time as a window to remind us of how much we are cared for, but these pennies can be found at anytime. There exists the possibility of a wonderful and revolutionary concept and method of transforming our thought regarding why we find them: that God wants us to be joyful to inspire more joy in others. Even in the midst of our most challenging times, we can store up those treasures God blesses us with within, to help us through and guide others in need through the storm.

So be filled with gratitude for moments when you experienced a full awareness of God’s Love, be it through the kind words or special moments you share with loved ones, family members, friends or even pets, through unexpected yet desired blessings that suddenly manifest themselves in your life, or through something as simple as a memory that makes you smile. For these treasures, these “pennies from heaven,” these unexpected moments of pure unbridled joy, are of infinitely more value than any monetary or material treasure could ever begin to be worth. They are meant for us to treasure during the rains of life, and remind us time and time again of just how much we are in fact loved and cared for by the Eternal Loving God, if only we open our hearts and minds and allow our eyes to be open to it. And they carry even more meaning and value and develop an even greater worth when we are able to invest them in God’s work by passing them on to others, and as a result bringing the joy God has blessed us with into the lives of others in need of joy, and hope as well.