Archive | November 2012

Is It Time Yet?

The clock tower of Big Ben at dusk. The north ...

The clock tower of Big Ben at dusk. The north end of the Houses of Parliament London, with The London Eye in the backgound.

Father God,

How my heart aches for Your children entangled in crashed cars or jet liners, in rapes, murders ~ and that’s just today’s report. It never ends! How Your heart must ache for all the hurting people You have created since the beginning of time. It seems like we live in Sodom again. Perhaps somewhere, a modern Noah is preaching while building an ark.

Is it time yet?

It reminds me of the oft heard question from my children: “Daddy, are we there yet?” Children are always impatient and wiggly, eager to be about the business of exploring new places. They can barely wait for the motor to shut off before they escape their confinement to play. We tire of hearing the same old question, but they never tire of asking it:

“Are we there yet?”

The adult version of that question has been on my mind since a few years ago when suddenly and tragically we were burying a child long before his three score and ten years were up. Now, the only question on my mind is: Oh God, is it time to come home yet? Is England’s Big Ben about to bong out the midnight hour? Is the steeple clock in Amsterdam ready to chime for the last time?

I don’t need to ask if You are ready. You’ve been ready for thousands of years. But . . . You are so patient, so unwilling for any of Your children to miss out on eternity.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O Lord and we adore You as the One who is over all things. And finally, is it time? Yippee!

Get out of bed, children! Wake up! Put your faces in the sunlight. God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is no longer wrapped in darkness. God is rising on us ~ His sunrise glory breaks over us. Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you: our sons are coming from great distances; our tiny daughters are being carried by their nannies.

When we see them coming, we’ll smile ~ big smiles! Our hearts will swell and burst with happiness and joy! He who has testified that He is coming, will come! Please come soon, Lord Jesus.  (1 Chronicles 29:11, Isaiah 60:1, Revelation 22:20, paraphrased)

~from Shattered by Suicideby Gracie Thompson

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I was zoned out in my happy place. I couldn’t travel far; I was confined to a dental chair. Not my favorite place. It’s not personal. I like my dentist alright. He’s friendly and kind, but he still carries a needle and I hate having my gums stuck. Ouch! In fact, I hate to have my teeth worked on, period. Even cleanings! This was worse. I was having crown work done. Ugh. So I elected to pay for a little nitrous oxide to get me through. Stop laughing!

Did the gas always make me this woosey? I remember on previous occasions becoming one with the chair without digging my fingernails into the leather upholstery, but did it always make me this, ah, stoned? I forget. But it did today. I felt the dreaded stick, but I no longer cared. I was in my happy place and very close to a nap, of all things. (I know. Snoring would be embarrassing.)

Even though I was nearly out, I could hear every word exchanged between the dentist and hygienist, and clear as crystal. I was even multitasking in my brain. All kinds of words were floating through my head. If I had been at my computer, I could have pulled out a half dozen blogs with little effort; ideas were crisscrossing in rapid-fire succession.

Aw, shucks. Some sense came into my mind. Seems like I remembered a phrase from a class long ago, “hearing is the last sense to go”. I get it. People who are near death can still hear, not that it matters much at that point. On the other hand, I would live to write about my dental experience. Would it be anything of value?

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8, NIV?

Perhaps one could gain spiritual insight after reading the reminder from scripture. We may fade into oblivion, but the enemy never does. He is always on the lookout for ways to snare us into making wrong choices leading us away from the safety of God’s presence. A little nitrous oxide may seem a minor thing in a controlled environment, but I choose to be on high alert the rest of the time.

Heavenly romance

God's Favor

God’s Favor (Photo credit: Nastassia Davis [www.nastassiadavis.com])

The heart-cry of every soul is for intimacy with God. For this we were created and for this we were rescued from sin and death. In Ephesians, Paul lets us in on a little secret: We’ve been more than noticed. God has pursued us from farther than space and longer ago than time. Our romance is far more ancient than the story of Helen of Troy. God has had us in mind since before the Foundations of the World. He loved us before the beginning of time, has come for us, and now calls us to journey toward Him, with Him, for the consummation of our love.

Who am I, really? The answer to that question is found in the answer to another: What is God’s heart toward me, or, how do I affect Him? If God is the Pursuer, the Ageless Romancer, the Lover, than there has to be a beloved, one who is the pursued. This is our role in the story. We are the pursued.

In the end, all we’ve every really wanted is to be loved. “Love comes from God,” writes John (1 John 4:7). We don’t have to get God to love us by doing something right ~ even loving Him. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Someone has noticed. Someone has taken the initiative. There is nothing we need to do to keep it up, because His love for us is not based on what we’ve done, but who we are: His beloved. “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me” (Song of Solomon 7:10).

~The Sacred Romance, John Eldredge

We Couldn’t Bear to Lose Him

I share this pain with you, fellow journeyers, because I know I’m not alone in my feelings and I don’t want you to think you are alone. This is an excerpt from my book.

Dear Lord,

I feel You urging me to write about feelings I’d rather keep hidden ~ memories from a most painful time that remain embedded in my heart like barbed arrows. I have pushed this conversation deep down into the darkest part of my soul ~ hoping to never have to deal with it again, but You are persistent ~ and You know my heart better than I do.

If I could roll back time and begin about a week before our son’s tragic and untimely death, I’d come to a few days of vacation he had off from work. He decided to come home and spend them with us. Of course we were elated. He usually spent a quick weekend once in a while, so it would be wonderful to have some extra time with him. He planned a golf game and other things family and friends enjoyed doing together, but something was off.

How he was really doing was always on my mind and I was eager to see him and check him out for myself. How could I help him? He was seeing a professional so that was encouraging, I thought. Did the golf game cheer him up? He seemed to have a good time, at least that is what I was told. But later my son and I had a private talk and he poured out words of heartache between sobs that wracked his body. I rubbed his back, hugged him and tried to console him.

Our private conversation naturally weighed heavily on my mind and heart after he returned home. There was nagging fear ~ deep in my mother-gut. I sat down to share the details with my husband. He listened to my worry about our son’s pain and my quandary as to whether or not we should push into his life to try to help him. After all, he was a grown man with rights to his own life and privacy. I expected to hear an echo to my fears, but we thought differently as parents often do. He did not seem worried and tried to put me at ease.

We had plans to see our son and celebrate his birthday the following weekend. Perhaps we could talk further with him then. Unbeknownst to us, he would be dead before the weekend. I’ve had to stop and cry my heart out as I write this. The deep ache of remorse is still there, wounding me and the “why” questions linger.

Why was I “pushed” to write about this, God? Was I to write it down so I could hurt all over again? There are no answers to my endless questions so what’s the point of recording it in black and white? How can there be any benefit to come from this agony?

Dear Daughter,

My arms are wrapped around you as you type and I will hold you while you sob. My tears mingle with yours. I miss him too!

Remember My friend, Lazarus? I was moved to tears then too, even though I knew I was going to wake him up within minutes. Since My time frame is different from yours, I will tell you that it will seem only like a few minutes since your son’s death before I will be waking him up again! My dear daughter, your grief is temporary. This world is temporary. Death and the enemy are temporary. I am NOT temporary so hold on to Me!

You and your family loved your son so much and I know that. And your love is just the beginning of My great love for him. I took him to save him ~ there was no other way. He had suffered many years since childhood from taunts and threats by the enemy; things he neither understood nor knew how to put into words. It would not have been long and the enemy would have pushed him over the edge and far away from eternity so I stepped in.

I knew how much his death would crush all of you who love him, but try to understand that I had to let him take a rest to save him for eternity.

Dad and I talked often about his struggle. We knew the enemy was closing in for the kill . . . it was time. This is how Dad put it: “Son, we have delayed as long as we dare. We must move quickly before the enemy strikes a death blow. We can’t bear to lose him for all eternity, so let’s snatch him away from Satan now and save him forever. He’s Our boy!”

I know you are in agony, precious daughter. I am too. But remember that Satan does not have the last word here . . . I do! I AM the Author and the Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2) and the Victor over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).

So weep when you need to while your precious son sleeps and I will always be there to comfort you. Put your hope in eternity where I AM . .. and where your son will be .  . . all brand new and ready to live forever when I return.

Love,

Jesus

But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who swell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.  Isaiah 26: 19

 

from ~ Shattered by Suicide

I Am Not Alone, by Natalie Grant on YouTube

When Joni thinks of heaven, conclusion

When I think of heaven, I think of a time when I will be welcomed home. I remember when I was on my feet what a cozy, wonderful feeling is was to come home after hockey practice. How pleasant to hear the familiar clanging of bells against our back door as I swung it open. Inside awaited the sights, sounds, and smells of warmth and love. Mom would greet me with a wide smile as she dished out food into big bowls ready to be set on the table. I’d throw down my sweat suit and hockey stick, bound into the den and greet Daddy. He’d turn from his desk, taking off his glasses; then he’d give me a big “hi” and ask me how practice was. For Christians, heaven will be like that. We will be reunited with family and friends who will sweep us into warm embraces. Our kind, heavenly Father will greet us with open, loving arms. King Jesus, our Elder Brother, will give us a royal welcome too. We won’t feel strange or insecure. We will feel like we are home . . . for we will be home. Jesus said it is a place prepared for us.

We’ll have new bodies and new minds! I myself will be able to run to friends and embrace them for the first time. I will lift my new hands before the hierarchy of heaven ~ shouting to everyone within earshot, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive blessings and honor. For He freed me from the clutches of sin and death and now He has freed my body as well!” (Revelation 5:12)

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  Revelation 22:20

Earth from Space

Earth from Space 

When Joni thinks of heaven, part 2

But suffering does more than make us want to go to heaven. It prepares us to meet God when we get there. Just think for a moment. Suppose you had never in your life known any physical pain. How could you at all appreciate the scarred hands with which Christ will greet you? What if no one had ever hurt you deeply? How could you adequately express your gratefulness when you approach the throne of the Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3)? If you had never been embarrassed, if you had never felt ashamed, you could never begin to know just how much He loved you when He took your shameful sins and made them His.

 

Don’t you see? When we meet Him face-to-face, our suffering will have given us at least a tiny taste of what He went through to purchase our redemption. We will appreciate Him so much more. And our loyalty in those sufferings will give us something to offer Him in return. For what proof could we bring of our love and faithfulness if this life had left us totally unscarred? What shame would we feel if our Christianity had cost us nothing? Suffering prepares us to meet God.

* Planet *

* Planet *

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5

 

The thing that will make heaven heavenly will be the change God will make inside us. Can you imagine what it will be like to never again have the desire to sin? To never again feel guilty? Or depressed? Or upset? We will know the wonderful harmony of not only being in paradise, but also of having hearts that are able to enjoy it.

 

To be continued ~ from Joni and Friends

 

 

 

 

When Joni thinks of heaven, part 1

B1509-58: Chandra Examines A Quadrillion-volt ...

B1509-58: Chandra Examines A Quadrillion-volt Pulsar (A neutron star located about 19,000 light years away in the constellation Circinus.) (Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution)

“I thought about our life here on earth and what the Bible says about it. ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14). I glanced about the cabin of the plane. Flight attendants serving refreshments. Businessmen with their Wall Street Journals. Mothers and babies. Tourists with tennis rackets.

 

It doesn’t seem like a mist that quickly vanishes. I thought to myself. We really don’t believe it’s all going to end, do we? If God hadn’t told us differently, we’d all think this parade of life would go on forever.

 

But it will end. This life is not forever.

 

It’s hard to think about heaven when it seems so far away. Besides, we’ve got to die in order to get there. Who wants to think about that! And so God give us a little help in getting our minds on the hereafter.

 

That’s just what God did for me when He sent a broken neck my way. The dark despair which followed wasn’t much fun. But it sure did make what the Bible says about heaven come alive. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ll be fantastically more excited and ready for it than if I were on my feet. You see, suffering gets us ready for heaven.

 

How does it get us ready? It makes us want to go there. Broken necks, broken homes, broken hearts ~ these things crush our illusions that earth can ‘keep its promises’. When we come to know that the hopes we cherished will never come true, that our dead loved one is gone from this life forever, that we will never be as pretty, popular, successful, or famous as we had once imagined, it lifts our sights. It moves our eyes from this world, which God knows could never satisfy us anyway, and sets them on the life to come. Heaven becomes our passion.”

 

To be continued ~ from Joni and Friends

 

Furry thief

Charlotte

Maybe you have “house guests” who are thieves too. I mean the four-legged variety who push the envelope on house rules. Since they are permanent “guests”, they think the rules don’t apply. Huh.

One of our three house guests has a hankering for any small, easily removed item that does not belong to him. In other words, he steals. He’s a thief and cannot be rehabilitated.

If it’s not the little knobs on the base of the toilet, it’s the cap on my facial brush and if it is not the cap on my facial brush, it’s the collar stays in my husband’s dress shirts. I lay something down, turn around for just a minute, turn back and . . . where did it go?

I have chased him around, looking into every cat hideout to find my lost stuff. He’s Mr. Cool. He looks at me quizzically as if to say, “What’s up? I can assure you that whatever you are searching for has nothing to do with me. I am a purr-fect house guest.”

 

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10

 

Quiet . . . for now

Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. Ezekiel 37:13

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him.  Revelation 1:7

It was a beautiful fall day to take a walk and why not change the bouquets of flowers on my son’s grave too? Pull out the bright, sunflowers that look like they can go another season, dump the water out of the vase and stick in another bouquet of dark shades of red with some light blue flowers for contrast. One thing I can still do for my son is make up bouquets from silk flowers, tape them at the bottom and then add them to my growing collection to change out every season. I pause to remember . . . and turn away with a tear.

Usually when we I take these moments, I am alone; just me and God. But today the parking lot was full. There was a service about ready to start in one of the mausoleums. Family and friends were gathering and chatting in little groups. I moved my car to the end of the lot hoping to get out of the way since I planned to stay longer and take a walk.

There’s Apostle Street, Cross Street, and a lot of other appropriate-names streets as I walked along. Our son is on Prayer Street. Appropriate. Cemeteries are sad places. White flags are everywhere; a reminder that there are always more new graves under a blanket of straw where grass seedlings are kept warm until they it poke their little heads up through the straw to make a pretty green carpet to walk on. I pause to read other names. It’s a habit. Sometimes I find one I know. There is something about reading the names of the deceased and also family names of those who have planned ahead and will be buried there when their time comes. Each has a story; a beginning full of life until a sad ending. That’s life as we know it.

The heavy equipment used to dig the holes, is discreetly parked out back. Soon it will be used again. Someone else will be said “goodbye” to by family and friends. It’s a pattern we have had to accept ever since our first parents, Adam and Eve, bet on the snake and lost.

But there’s hope! Soon this cemetery and all the others around the globe, will be very active, noisy places. Jesus is calling His children awake and I don’t imagine it will be quiet that day! I probably won’t be doing flower changes either and no need! But if I’m alive I’d love to run to the cemetery to watch my beloved son come back to life! I can hardly imagine how it will be! But I can hardly wait!

One company’s promise soon to be eternally cancelled:

“Forever Legacy, Our Guarantee is Eternal and Perpetual.

Our Eternal Mausoleums are an assurance to you that your investment

in your legacy is protected, even in the next millennium. Forever Legacy

has created a true legacy, one we guarantee now, and eternally.””

mausoleum

mausoleum

DRAFT – More stitches . . . ever traveled this way before? re-pub

After I turned my back on God, He should have cut up my tapestry and burned it. But He didn’t. Instead, He paused from His stitching, stroked His beard as if in deep thought and willed that I hear His soft voice speak to me deep in my heart,

 

“Dear Child,

 

My way may be full of trouble and sorrow, but it is also full of hope. And best of all, it leads to eternity. I miss hearing from you. It has been months since we last talked and I miss hearing your sweet voice. I know you are searching for Me, but you are looking in all the wrong places. I am not in the lies, gold, fancy clothes or earthly mansions. You are being hoodwinked by the enemy who knows you get trapped in this stuff. I long for you to see that he does not really love you. He’s a con artist and too self-absorbed to love anyone for real.

 

I am stitching your tapestry with all the beauty I can incorporate into it, but in heaven where I am, there is beauty beyond your wildest imagination. I can’t wait to show you everything . . . but above all, I can’t wait to give you a huge bear hug and welcome you home where you belong.

 

Love,

 

Your Heavenly Daddy

 

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

The Earth