Marriage — A Patchwork Quilt

As we celebrate 43 years of marriage on September 25, I have reflected on the journey.

Our life has been like a patchwork quilt, each year being a different square.

Each season was different, some more colorful than others. Some had more regular, recognizable designs. Others, even now in memory, seem random, even chaotic.

Sometimes the stitching between squares (seasons) was a bit weak or imperfect. Threads had to be ripped out and re-sown.

But with each new square, the quilt felt more warm, familiar, comforting. That quilt of our lives became big enough to enfold us.

And now, we have a history. As more and more people have moved to Heaven, the list of those who can remember us as we were long ago is shrinking!

We have had one apartment and two houses. We have lived in the same city our entire marriage.

We have one child, and one grandchild.

We had eight cats (three planned, five unplanned😱)), three rabbits and one hamster. We now have three grandpuppies.

We traveled to various states, Canada and the Bahamas. We both traveled abroad before we met each other. Since we both saw some of the same places, we can still reminisce.

A lot of our memories now are about the times that were challenging. With age, we remember less of those times we failed each other and we remember more of the times we were there for each other.

We both cared for all four of our aging parents in different ways. We held hands at each of their funerals, united in our faith we would see them again.

We delighted in our only child from before her formal arrival through every stage that followed. We tried to be good sports, as she tried her wings and moved further and further away.

But we really rejoice now that she has come home. And she brought us a son in law and a grandson!

There were tough times in our marriage. We had multiple surgeries or illnesses that severely impacted our lives.

There were times when we did not show each other the best of love. In fact, there were moments when we did not even like each other. And we said so, in very graphic terms. But thankfully, those moments did not last long.

We learned how to forgive and try again. Finding the best of our love was worth the temporary pain of words thrown like weapons in the heat of an argument.

We continued to enjoy being physical with each other. But we learned there is much more that can satisfy a body than hormone driven passion. The joy of a good foot rub cannot be overrated!😘

Those who know us still marvel a bit that we even ended up together, much less stayed together for 43 years. We are very different personalities. That being said, it is a given that we can severely get on each other’s nerves!

So how have we stayed together for the long haul? We both keep learning one key lesson from God.

As much as we try to make the other a “mini-me,” we are not made in each other’s image. We are not alike.

We are made in God’s Image. He is still creating us individually. He is fitting us together in The Way He ordains.

Our being together is a part of God’s Plan.

For eight years, we taught nursing together.

We taught three different Sunday School classes together.

We led small groups together.

We published two books together.

We have a You Tube channel where we share Christian teaching.

As different as we are, when we focus together on the assignments God gives us, we find joy, not only in the work, but in each other.

We are not the same people as the ones who made promises back in 1977. We have changed and are still changing. We have found the most important promises are the ones we make to God every day.

God never changes and as long as He continues to mold us together, we will continue to circle the sun together. We love God and we love each other.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

1 John 3:2

We went to Disney World for our honeymoon. It became our favorite “go to” place. One of our favorites was the Illumination fireworks show.

The closing song became our song. I invite you to enjoy it with us. Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/A5EcwM_Q1zY

The Other Side of Death Is Life!

Inspired by the events of September 11, 2001. But dedicated to all those across the world who grieve for those they have lost.

It always intrigued me that Peter, Andrew, James and John, when called by Jesus, at once left their nets and followed Him.  No good byes to the family.  No hanging around to take time to pack.  They left their nets at once and followed Him.

Why would they do that?  Was it their own impulsiveness?  Was it the call of adventure that seemed more appealing than the monotonous life they were living?  Or was it Jesus Himself who drew them in?

I believe it was simply Jesus.  He draws people to Himself with a Love that is a forever kind of Love, coming from the very Center of All God is.  

He calls with The Voice we recognize as familiar, coming from a Place we perhaps once lived and will return to one day.

I believe that it may be for us, as it was for Peter, James, Andrew and John.  We may be in the middle of an ordinary day when we turn around and see Jesus.  He will say, “Follow Me.”

It won’t matter what is going on around us.  It won’t matter who or what we are leaving behind.  We will be drawn into the Source of All The Power in The Universe and enfolded in more Love than we have ever felt.  

I imagine the things we see at that moment will be so amazing that we may feel we need the tongues of angels to tell us what we have seen.  At that moment, we will know we are seeing Glory!

Those who are left on earth do not get the same view.  As we see someone transitioning into their new body, any number of emotions can attempt to overtake us. 

Even if we see death as a new beginning for our loved ones, it feels like an ending for us, who grieve.  Life will not be the same for us ever again.

It is difficult enough to deal with our feelings about death when we have one person die or even just a few. 

However, events such as September 11, 2001, jar us to our core.  It brings to mind how quickly life can change, how little we really control, even on an “ordinary” day, and how life can seem very unfair.

However, in spite of the many questions we cannot answer, we can answer the most important one. 

What happened to those who heard The Voice they recognized that morning?  Where did those people go who responded to “Follow Me?”  

After the events of September 11, 2001, I wrote a song in memory of those who some say were lost that day. 

However, I believe, instead, they were found!  Jesus was there and the report of His Followers would have been quite different from what the news reports said on that day.

The following song is copyrighted by me, but feel free to share it with whomever you think could receive comfort from it.  I will share the music at a future time.  Please credit me as the writer, if quoted separately from this blog.

I’m With Jesus!

© 2001 Carolyn Priester Jones 

Lyrics and Music

(Introduction)

I was working on that morning.

My cup of coffee was half gone.

Suddenly, I felt a gentle breeze.

I turned around to see …

And to my surprise, it was Jesus!

He was standing there with me!

(Chorus)

Jesus!

Standing there with me!

Jesus!

Plain as He could be!

Jesus!

He told me not to fear!

He said,

“Follow Me.  We’re leavin’ here!”

Others might have been calling,

But I heard only Him.

There might have been other noise.

I’m not sure what might have been.

I just knew …

(Chorus)

It was Jesus!

And there was no pain!

Me and Jesus!

We walked and talked again!

Jesus!

He showed The Way to me!

And we walked right through that stormy sea!

In a world I left behind,

the headlines might have read

That all of us had perished …

that all of us were dead.

But they were have been so wrong

‘cause I’m more alive than then!

I walk the streets of Glory,

and I walk here with my Friend!

(Chorus)

I’m with Jesus!

What a Glorious Sight!

I KNOW Jesus!

And everything’s so right.

I HEAR Jesus!

like I never did before!

I’ve had JOY since

we walked through Life’s door!

Very truly I tell you,

whoever obeys My Word

will never see death.

John 8:51 (NIV)

Forever Friends

I met Claudia at a writing workshop. She later introduced me to her friends, Joan and Deb. When I first got to know them in a group, I was intrigued.

Claudia, Joan and Deb were each wonderfully creative, intelligent thinkers and life long learners. But they were not cookie cutter alike. Their personalities were different, but together they were a delightful one.

They could disagree on a fine point and freely express their opinions to each other without the others getting offended. They each were willing to consider another point of view without surrendering their own beliefs.

They were loving and compassionate. Each of us had experienced the pain of difficult relationships. Some challenges came through family, some through friends, some through jobs, but all of us had been down and almost out at some point.

But time and time again, I watched them set aside their own pain and heartache to care for the rest of us.

They were concrete and abstract at the same time. They saw the world in its sometimes dark hues, but were also able to see another world that transcended this one.

We were writers and story tellers. We did not have our theology all locked up neatly in a box. We had to say often, “I don’t know. I don’t understand. I’m still thinking about that.” We were all seekers.

We let our wondering flow out of our pens onto paper. Often as we shared, one person’s thoughts would trigger another’s and together we put new pieces of life’s puzzle together.

They were painters. I was a photographer. Together we mined the essence of God’s World within us and without and moved gently into each other’s space and time.

We were singers, not professional ones, but people moved by The Spirit. Together we sang and even danced. We prayed. When the girls came to visit, our house would reverberate with Joy even after they left.

They were more social and extroverted than I. They loved to get together over good food or go for a swim together, while I hung back. But they accepted me anyway and in hearing about their adventures, I was drawn into their world with them.

They were faithful to each other in all times and seasons. They were friends for life. While we all took breaks sometime to reclaim our own space, we always came back to regroup. We were like the waves of the ocean, going out for awhile to collect treasures, but always bringing something back to shore.

In recent times, there was no getting together. We each had health challenges, even before the pandemic. It was a hard time for all of us, but especially after Deb became very ill.

Having survived cancer miraculously multiple times, she was struck again. She once again waged a courageous battle, but ultimately she had to relinquish the outside life she enjoyed so much and go to a nursing home.

She spent her last days in semi or frank isolation. But her friends never gave up on her nor did she on us. Texting became a way of communicating. Everyone shared updates, encouragements, and yes, even a little prodding not to give up.

I treasure the exchanges because they reflected the lives shared. There was shared writings, paintings, philosophy, fears, wondering, and yes, still joy in the midst of intense suffering.

Claudia and Joan did the concrete things like coordinating Deb’s care, sending gifts into the nursing home, assuring Deb would get food she liked, installing a bird feeder outside the window, phoning or visiting through the window.

Having a series of health problems myself, my primary contribution was to pray and try to stay up with the text conversations.

We all hoped for Deb’s recovery. In one of the most poignant last texts, Joan texted Deb she was going to wash her window so she could see the birds and outside world clearer.

I like to think Deb got the message and looked out, but the world she saw was beyond the wonders of earth. I like to believe perhaps she took flight through that window her friend opened for her in love.

Claudia, Joan and Deb taught me so much about life and love. I cannot remember Deb without remembering the circle of friendship that surrounded her and gave her strength.

I am so thankful they included me in the circle and thankful to continue the journey here with Claudia and Joan. Even though we all remain apart physically, we are still together in Spirit.

Tonight I will sing and dance and pray and thank God for His Gift of friends.

A friend loves at all times.

Proverbs 17:17

The Fountain of Youth

(All Names except Shirley changed in the following true story to protect privacy)

Written in memory of my dear friend, Shirley Wallace

My friend Carol had been “helping” with a Sunday School class. She was going to be out of town. She asked if we could “help” while she was gone.

She was not specific and we did not ask. We were willing to do what we could and it was just for a couple of Sundays … or so we thought.

The Lord had other plans.

We arrived in the chapel where class was held. An elderly woman was sorting out the new quarterly Sunday School books. We learned her name was Shirley. She was courteous, but obviously more dedicated to the task at hand than social pleasantries.

She told Jay where to “go get the podium from the pulpit” and told him specifically what pew to place it in. When he almost put it in another pew, she corrected him.

She said, “Put it there. It’s got to be close enough for Dan to hear. And Sarah, she does not see so good. She’ll go to sleep if she can’t see the teacher.”

When Jay got the right pew, but walked in a little too far, Shirley said, “No, closer to the aisle. Chris and Suzy come. She can’t get out of her wheelchair. So she has to sit in the aisle where she can see and hear.”

She then turned to me and said, “Do you sing?”

I thought she was asking if I could participate in group singing. I said yes. She then said, matter of factly, “Good. You’ll lead the singing.”

She directed Jay where to find a microphone for me. I was a little panicked because it had been a long time since I had done any public singing. I was frantically trying to figure out what I might sing.

But there was no need. Shirley continued, “We always begin with ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,’ just the chorus. We hold the verses for special occasions.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew that song well. I had grown up in The Lord, but I had had a special time of commitment during a revival service at my hometown church when I was a teenager. The revival preacher had us sing that song (with verses) every night for a week.

However, relief was short lived, as another elderly lady swept through the door. It turned out she was the substitute pianist for the day. She immediately went to her post at the piano.

Shirley said, “You’ll have to check with Sue about what we are singing today.”

Sue was already flipping through pages in a hymnal. I went up to the piano, which was located at the front of the chapel.

I never learned the reason why the class met at the back of the chapel. We learned from the git go not to question long established traditions.

Sue informed me what hymns we would be singing that day. Fortunately they were old standards. I thought once again I had been saved.

I returned to my seat as the class members began to arrive. It turned out all were on the far side of their 80s and beyond. Sandra, who was later identified as the Vice President of the class (Shirley was the President), very sweetly welcomed us.

My husband and I were in our 60s. Sandra said, “It’s so nice to have young people in our class!” Jay and I looked at each other and realized we had found the fountain of youth. Hang out with people who are older than you are!

Shirley began class precisely at the appointed hour, not one minute before and not one minute afterwards. She called out the first hymn number and introduced me as their new song leader.

I looked at Jay. This was supposed to be a two week help session. He shrugged his shoulders.

Everyone looked at me expectantly. I turned and waited for Sue to begin playing the piano. She stared back in equal expectation.

We seemed to be at a stand still. Finally Shirley said, “You have to wave at her to start.”

I was very puzzled, but in our short encounter, I had already learned to just do what Shirley said. I turned and waved at Sue.

It was like starting a race. Sue smiled, fingers hit the ivories and it felt like we were off to the races. Sue played all hymns at a speed that would have equaled the minute waltz played in 30 seconds.

Since I had been an accompanist myself, I had learned to follow the timing of the singer. Not so with Sue.

It turned out she had a hearing impairment, and hearing what was said or sang in the back of the chapel was impossible for her to hear at the front of the chapel. When she played, she was in her own world. Everyone else had to keep up.

After the first hymn, I felt like I was going to need oxygen to make it to the next one.

But when I looked out at class members, it was like a preview of Heaven. All were worshipping in their own ways and the light streaming through the chapel windows gave a glow to every face.

They were not old. They were not impaired or handicapped in any way. They were united in love and friendship and The Glory of God.

When Shirley said, “We’ll see you next Sunday,” Jay and I did not even need to discuss it. We knew we had found a home.

And so we had. We stayed with that wonderful family for several years. We stayed and walked many of them as far as we could go toward their Heavenly Home.

There are more stories to tell about Shirley and the group she led with such Love and Joy. I have no doubt those who arrived Home before she did welcomed her last week with open arms.

And they were able to turn their eyes upon Jesus and look full in His Wonderful Face!

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate The Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His Image with ever-increasing Glory which comes from The Lord, Who is The Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Healing The World

The world is in a mess right now. Enough things have happened to cause us to feel powerless.

Even those with the strongest faith have wondered aloud why God is not “fixing things, restoring, healing.”

Perhaps the answer is — He is waiting on us to act. In 2 Chronicles, He gave very specific instructions about what we needed to do first before He would act.

My husband and I have prayed about the myriad of things that have happened to our world and to us personally in 2020. We have waited for God’s Answer.

His Answer resulted in our latest video series on Healing The World. It is on our You Tube channel, Knowing The One, Carolyn Priester Jones.

Here is the link to the latest video.

https://youtu.be/zSJ0sINr2o0

We do encourage you to watch the first one as well. While each video can be watched separately, each fits together with the previous one.

We are taking a little of God’s Words at a time in order to fully absorb The Message.

We would be delighted if you feel led to share the videos. And of course, we would also like to invite you to subscribe to our channel.

Reflections on Motherhood

I remember the wonder of having a new life growing inside me … that first soft flutter unlike anything I had ever felt before.

I remember the kicks that came later, a preview of the person who throughout life would use different ways to get my attention.

I remember when I first held her in my arms, counted little fingers and toes and said over and over again, “This is my daughter.”

I remember cheering every milestone. I remember the first time she walked. I always imagined she would walk to me. But instead, when she heard her Dad’s voice in the other end of the house, she walked all the way past me and kept walking until she got to him.

It was a strange feeling to realize this little person who had become such a part of me could leave me.

And of course, there were times when I had to leave her. I saw the little face, nose pressed up to the KinderCare window, as I drove away to work … and cried all the way.

As she grew, she had adventures. She was fearless, always ready to take on any challenge. She proved early she was her own person and not a copy of anyone else.

She played by the rules of our house, schools and society, but she was not above making some new rules of her own. Even as we shook our heads, we were secretly applauding.

We were best buddies for many years. As she grew, we often went on car rides and talked. I called it our chat room.

And then came the day she got her driver’s license and I saw her drive away without me. This time I was the one with nose pressed up against the window.

And then came college. Fortunately she went to a college only three hours away, so trips home were doable. We looked forward to her being back in the nest for even a weekend, but the times in between called for a life adjustment.

I realized how much of our lives had centered around her and her activities. We were happy we had participated in giving her roots, but now we had to learn how to let her stretch her wings without hindering her.

After college, she advanced steadily in new careers. Those careers took her geographically further and further away. Of necessity, visits with each became further apart too.

We were thankful that wherever she went, we stayed in contact through phone calls, and other benefits of the electronic age.

With FaceTime, we could show her what was blooming in the back yard, or how a remodeling project was coming along. One Mother’s Day, she took us on a ride on The Roosevelt Island tram over New York!

Her work took her and her husband to places far away. We continued as a long distance family through phone calls, texts, and FaceTime.

We first met our grandson remotely. We were thankful God had provided ways for us to continue to share life as a family.

As wonderful as it has been to share life in any way, even long distance, we did long for things that can only be done in person. It’s much better to hug a real live person than a computer screen.

So we were elated when our daughter and son in law gave us the news they were moving to a location near us. Dreams do come true!

They are here! We praise God from Whom All Blessings continue to flow!

And we are happy to update the picture our daughter gave us a couple of years ago.

Friends To The End … And New Beginning

We live on a court with ten other families. It is a microcosm of Norman Rockwell’s America.

Children ride bikes and scooters and run most everywhere they go. They climb trees and do sidewalk art. Adults shoot baskets on the basketball goal. Pets are known by name and loved by all.

Neighbors call out to each other, “Hi neighbor!” Conversations are held from deck to deck, porch to porch, or from lawn chairs in a circle in each other’s yards.

Everyone watches out for each other. People notice when garage doors are left open, cars are out of place or children are about to do something not parentally approved.

There have been births here on the court. Children grew up here and now bring their children back here to visit grandparents.

There have been marriages and divorces.

Some people have moved away and others have come. The connections made here continue long after the moving vans have pulled out of sight. The “new people” quickly become new friends.

There has been much sharing, but also secrets known only behind closed doors. People are willing to share the lives they choose to share. People respect the boundaries and do not pry into what others choose to leave covered.

While great joys have been celebrated here, so has great suffering been endured. Illness, injuries, stressful family relations, broken hearts … this court has seen them all.

But this week there was something new and unwelcome that crept into our midst … grief … a grief so intense it had to be shared. Mary, a resident of the court since its beginning, died.

Her death was not unexpected. She had fought a long and courageous battle with cancer. Her arrival in Heaven must have filled the streets with shouts of joy and welcome.

But the certainty of her joy was not enough for her beloved husband of 41 years. He was inconsolable. He summed it up well when he said, ”She won. I lost.”

As he retreated into his house with his family, his grief was palpable even through the walls to the neighbors outside.

As before, everyone respected his right to privately grieve. Words or food or other expressions of sympathy seemed empty. Taking flowers to a meeting at a funeral home did not feel right.

And then from the group of neighbors, there came an idea. Mary had loved flowers. Many remembered her sitting by the mailbox planting flowers. She loved sunflowers.

Tonight some of our neighbors put a sunflower on every mailbox on the court with extra flowers on her mailbox.

Several drew and colored a large heart with her name in the center. It was in the middle of the court.

Her husband came out and stood in awe, as he was surrounded by flowers and loving neighbors, who stood back and let him take it all in.

While he stood at the heart in tears, he heard not empty words. He felt the shared grief of his friends.

He understood we were saying, “We can’t fix the pain, but we are here. We remember Mary. Whether a long or short time with her, her life touched us all. And so does yours.”

Tomorrow the court will be busy again with the sounds of lives that will continue to unfold. It is forecasted to rain, so likely the heart will fade into the pavement.

When we get the mail, we will smile at the flowers that will be there for now. And we will likely take a moment to reflect on how fragile life is and how important it is to do it together.

Somewhere Out There …

My brother went to college when I started to school. Each night when my mother and I shared prayers, we would always pray for him.

And then my mother would say, “Let’s throw him a kiss good night.” We would turn in the direction of Clemson and throw him kisses. I always believed somehow they were delivered.

Many years later, I watched the move, “An American Tale” with our daughter. I loved the touching song, “Somewhere Out There”

It became my theme song, as she went off to college and beyond.

College, law school and career took our daughter to many different places. Wherever she went, I was comforted through the distance by the thought we were sleeping under the same big sky.

After my parents were promoted to Heaven, I counted them among “the great cloud of witnesses” who watched over me. One night, as I looked at a blanket of stars in the heavens and a blanket of snow on earth, I felt really connected.

I went out on our deck and wrote, “I love you with all my heart” in the snow. I think they got my message. The twinkling of the stars looked like winks from above.

Recently I had a friend who was very ill, isolated in the hospital. We kept our friendship going through texts. I sang to her, sent her You Tube videos of her requested songs, and took her on video tours outside where she could see and hear God’s World.

Now that she has joined the great cloud of witnesses, I will continue to sing for her and listen for the songs she sends back from God’s Throne. We will still be connected.

The COVID pandemic has separated many physically. We long for each other, realizing how much we took for granted. Being able to see a smile, feel a hug, or share a kiss are treasures lost for now.

But perhaps we are being called to a higher level of communication, a higher level of intimacy with both God and each other.

We are being called to look beyond the physical and communicate with each other heart to heart.

I invite you to watch a scene from “An American Tale.” This little mouse, like most of us, just wants to find his way home.

Take a few moments and think of those who are somewhere out there. Send them love. I am sure God will deliver it. He is Love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:7

.

.

We are being called to look beyond the physical and communicate with each other heart to heart.

Sing Unto The Lord A New Song!

A friend was recently promoted to Heaven. Her name is Mary.

I first met Mary 26 years ago. She, her husband and daughter were having a house built in the same new subdivision where my husband, daughter and I were building. We became neighbors and friends. Both of our daughters were named Jennifer.

Interestingly, we discovered we had lived in the same subdivision before we moved, but we had never met each other.

We shared life together for the past 26 years. We watched our little court change around us, with people moving away and new people coming in. We faced the highs and lows of life together.

We adjusted to our Jennifers leaving the nest. We survived personal battles, learning the delicate steps of when to sweep in with support and when to back off and leave room for private battles.

The world around us changed, but our friendship never did. Even on days when we did not talk, it was a comfort to know we were there. We were a family.

My husband and I had one of the first houses on the court. Before the roof was put on, I sat on the floor of what would become the master bedroom and prayed for all who would come to this place one day.

As people arrived, even in later years, I would wink and say, “I prayed for you.” In recent years, as a part of my nightly routine, I began praying for each person (and animal) who lived on the court.

When I shared this with Mary, she said, “Oh that gives me so much comfort.” Several years ago, Mary was diagnosed with cancer. She had a long battle, enduring surgeries and grueling treatments.

She told me when she looked out her window at night and saw the light on in my room, she knew I was praying. She said it was like a lighthouse.

As her battles with cancer intensified, I also began singing hymns from my room. I would look directly from my window towards her house and sing.

I believed my songs were being carried by The Holy Spirit to her. When I shared this with her, she confirmed she had felt an increase of peace and joy during those times. It gave me joy to sing each night and to know she was on the other end receiving.

Mary’s physical body continued to deteriorate, but her spirit remained strong. In the new COVID world, she had to remain isolated, so we became regular text partners.

When she was down, I would remind her I was praying and singing. As my husband and I also went through a series of health challenges, she was on the other end, sending texts of encouragement to me.

In recent weeks, she had to enter an extended time of isolation in the hospital. She was not allowed even to have her devoted husband at her side. Other than hospital staff, she was humanly alone.

However, she was never separated from her Heavenly Father nor was I. I continued to pray and sing. By now I knew, as did she, that wherever she was, she would receive the songs and prayers by The Power of The Holy Spirit.

When Jay and I began doing You Tube videos, I included a song The Lord gave me. I composed it under His Direction and sang it. Mary really liked it.

https://youtu.be/3xBmvLXPPUU

She played it during one of her early chemo sessions. Another patient heard it and asked what she was listening to. Mary ended up sharing the song with the whole group. It was so exciting to both of us to see how God used the song to comfort others and let them know how close He is.

Recently when she was isolated in the hospital, she texted me and asked me to resend her the link. She said she really needed it. I was happy to share it again.

She later texted me and said, “I hear the sweet choir of an angel sending me love and strength.”

She had not heard me humanly, but in her spirit, she heard what God sent her. It was not just my voice alone. He brought a whole choir!

We continued to text. One night, to my great delight, I received a text from her. She said, “I’m singing to you tonight!” I felt a rush of Joy as I received!

As her stay in the hospital was extended, one day, I felt The Lord’s Nudge to do something new. Instead of telling her I was singing, I realized I could sing by audio attachment to a text. So I did.

She was excited as was I. I am not a professional singer, but I put my heart into my songs. And so we began a new heart to heart connection.

I asked her to send me a list of her favorite hymns. And then I sang. She thought of old songs she remembered from years ago. I found them on You Tube and sent them to her.

Last week when I was out on the deck and heard the birds singing, it seemed they were singing for Mary. I videoed our back yard, so she could enjoy the green grass, the horse pasture and flower beds … and hear the birds singing. She was delighted.

When her daughter called to relay the news that her Mom had been promoted, I was not surprised, but felt very sad.

Mary was my friend. Mary was family. Mary was a heart and soul connection. I will continue to sing for her because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God can carry His Music anywhere in the universe.

And I would not be surprised at all to hear new songs coming from the thrones of Heaven. I will know who sent them.

“Let The Heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad!”

Psalm 96:11

P.S. We have been waiting eagerly for our lilies to bloom. They all had promising buds, but for some reason, blooming wasn’t happening.

The night Mary was promoted, when we looked, there was just the tiniest sliver of a promising bloom. When we got up the next morning, the one closest to our front door had bloomed.

What a beautiful bouquet from God to celebrate the Homecoming of one of His Beautiful Daughters!

The Cure

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These are times that try our very souls.  Those of us who love planning, organizing, covering all possible scenarios in advance and avoiding pitfalls never saw this coming.

Earthquakes, floods, fires, nuclear explosions … yes, we fretted about them all.  Which country would try to do the other in first … yes, we thought about that too.

But a bug that would cripple the whole world, bring death and terror in a whole new way?

Something that would drive us away from our worldly pleasures and send us inside for an unknown period of time?

Something that would even close the doors of our churches?  Something that would separate us from our loved ones, not in death, but in life?  No, we did not see that coming.

But perhaps what we also did not understand is that we were created for such a time as this.  Does God cause disease and suffering?  No.

Does He allow it?  Yes.  Read Job and you will discover satan brought the misery.  But you will also see God allowed it.

Suffering comes not to torture, but to test.  Suffering comes not so God can see what we are made of.  He already knows!

Suffering comes to refine us and let us know what we are made of and Who made us.  When all the things that have covered over who we truly are are stripped away, we see who we were made to be.

God had a Plan for us before we were born.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Jeremiah 1:5

He knew exactly what talents He put inside us.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10

He knew exactly when He would send us to earth.  He knows exactly how long our assignment will last.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16

Why are we here now?  Because God ordained that we be here at this unprecedented time in history.  Every experience we have had in life has trained us for what we will do now.

God has called us.  He is calling us now to grow up fully into who He created us to be.

But now, thus says The Lord, Who created you, and He Who formed you,

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

Many began the season of Lent choosing what they would give up to demonstrate their understanding of sacrifice.  Many vowed to do good in The Name of Jesus.

Many even volunteered to walk the road to Calvary, envisioning snacking on the way on chocolate bunnies and having fun hiding Easter eggs.  Many looked forward to dressing in Easter finery and singing the Hallelujah chorus on Easter.

But we did not foresee what walking with Jesus would involve.  We thought we would be spectators and cut out if things got too close to us.

But this Lenten season is different.  We are being called into true sacrifice.  We are being called into freedom from fear and doubt.  We are being called into a level of compassion beyond that of which we thought we were capable.

Jesus is asking if we really believe He can and will heal.

Jesus is asking whether we will betray Him or deny Him. He is asking if we will turn and run or follow Him wherever God leads.

Jesus is asking us to watch and pray that we not fall into temptation.

Jesus is asking us to forgive others when they think they know what they are doing but they don’t.  He is asking us to receive His forgiveness for the same.

Jesus is commanding us to love God and love one another, as He has and is loving us.

Jesus is asking us if we truly believe He is with us always.  He is asking if we are ready to follow Him all the way to Eternity.

Yes, if you are here, you are here because God planned it.  You were brought here to be who He created you to be for such a time as this.

May we be able to say with Jesus,

“I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave Me to do.”

John 17:4

I invite you to listen to this powerful song and ask God what He wants you to do now in such a time as this.

https://youtu.be/YmYOQ8h4wsM