How To Heal A Country

To listen to my reading of this blog posting, click here.  

The celebrations of July 4 often elicit feelings of pride that emphasize what people have accomplished.  People get misty eyed as they sing, “proud to be an American.”  They ask that “God bless America.”  

God has blessed America, in spite of many missteps or actions that have not represented Him well.  

I am thankful to be an American.  

I am thankful to live in a beautiful country where I enjoy the many freedoms we have.  But even as I give thanks, I remember those around the world who do not have those freedoms.  I remember those both inside and outside our borders, who are not free.  

I enjoy being wowed by fireworks celebrations.  But even as I celebrate, I remember there are others around the world, who are hearing similar sounds and are being filled with terror, as they hear the heralds of what will kill and destroy.

I resist pledging allegiance to the flag, an inanimate object, even when it represents the republic.  I am not a public rebel.  So I participate in the pledge.  But my mind and spirit go beyond a red, white and blue cloth.

When I stand and place my hand over my heart, I do so remembering that He Who created my heart also created the hearts of those who some would call our enemies.  

I remember Jesus’ command to pray for our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us.  And I feel sad that we have forgotten that our Creator is Lord and Father of all, even those who do not know our Father yet.  

I pledge allegiance to Jesus and resolve to continue working to fulfill His Mission that we all be one, as we were created to be.

I cringe when I listen to some of the words of our national anthem, and realize what it means.  It is the antithesis of what Jesus commanded.  

In this verse, Frances Scott Key, the writer of The Star Spangled Banner, revels in the blood of all who were lost in war.

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

A home and a country, should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Mr. Key believed in freedom for only some of the people.  Mr. Key was a slave holder and an adamant defender of slavery.  He was horrified that people were even allowed to speak against slavery.

In the same year that Mr. Key wrote about freedom and pride in spilling the blood of the British, he continued to define what freedom meant to him.

Shortly after a race riot in Washington, D.C. when an angry white mob set upon a well-known free black restaurant owner, Key sought to crack down on the free speech of abolitionists he believed were riling things up in the city. Key prosecuted a New York doctor living in Georgetown for possessing abolitionist pamphlets.

In the resulting case, U.S. v. Reuben Crandall, Key made national headlines by asking whether the property rights of slaveholders outweighed the free speech rights of those arguing for slavery’s abolishment. Key hoped to silence abolitionists, who, he charged, wished to “associate and amalgamate with the negro.”

Though Crandall’s offense was nothing more than possessing abolitionist literature, Key felt that abolitionists’ free speech rights were so dangerous that he sought, unsuccessfully, to have Crandall hanged.  This is the man who wrote our national anthem.

In contrast to that, a woman, Katharine Bates wrote “America The Beautiful.”  In contrast to pride of spilling blood in war, “America The Beautiful” is a song of praise for the country God has created.

The first draft of “America the Beautiful” was hastily jotted down in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Later she remembered:

“One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.”

I prefer  “America The Beautiful” because it is a song of praise and reflects the attitude not of pride, but of humility and gratitude to God for what He has created.

“America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law…


“America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.”

Yes, God has blessed the people of this great country and He Himself has promised to “mend our every flaw.”  But before He acts, He calls upon us to act.  He laid out His Plan in 

2 Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, who are called by my name,

will humble themselves,

 pray, 

search for me, 

and turn from their evil ways,

then I will hear their prayer from heaven, 

forgive their sins,

and heal their country.

While God wants us to love our country, He never wants our love for what He created to eclipse our love for Him as our Creator.

So the first thing He wants us to do, is remember He is our Commander and Chief.  He wants us to remember Who He is and who we are.

“If My People, Who are called by My Name.”  We are His.  We cannot misuse His Name by acting in any way other than the way He has taught us to act.

We cannot choose any other way and then ask Him to bless us.

We must “humble ourselves.”  We must lay aside all pride.  We must enter into His Presence with thanksgiving and with praise.  We must settle the matter deep within ourselves that God knows The Plan, not just for ourselves, but for all of His Creation.  He is God.  We are not.

We must “pray.”  We must connect directly with our Commander and Chief, to get our marching orders from Him.  We do not give Him the orders and ask Him to endorse them.  He talks.  We listen.  He sets the course and leads.  We follow.

We cannot follow if we do not know where He is going.  We must “search for Him.”  He assures us He can be found, but there may be some training exercises for us to instantly recognize His Voice and immediately obey.

If we are going to walk in His Way, we must give up any other way.  God does not call us evil.  But some of the ways we have chosen may only lead to evil.  We must give up “our evil ways.”  

We must not be tempted to consider the evil ways of others and whether their evil ways are more evil than ours.  This is a matter between each of us and God.

If we do these things consistently, God promises He will hear us.  He will forgive us.  He will remove any barrier that our sins put in the way.

When God’s People, Who are called by His Name, do these things, He will, not only heal us individually, He will also heal our country.

When we return to complete trust in God, as a people, all of whom deserve freedom, we can live out the truth of being “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“I pray that all of these people continue to have unity in the way that You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.  I pray that they may be united with Us so that the world will believe that You have sent Me.”

John 17:21

You Are Home!

For today’s blog posting, I invite you to take an imaginary trip with me.  If you read all the way through, however, you will find that it is not all imagination.

It is part of my series on why you do not need to fear death.

Think of living in your dream house.  You may already live there or hope to live there one day.

You get such joy out of being there that the thought of ever having to leave it makes you very sad.

The house is getting old.  Parts of it seem beyond repair.  You hate the thought, but you fear the day will come when the house will be condemned and you will be evicted.

You are not sure what you will do then.  You doubt you will ever have a house like this one again.

But one day, when you think all is lost, there is a knocking sound coming from one of the rooms you had closed off.

You open the door.  To your shock, there is a man standing there.  He looks familiar, but you are not sure who He is.

You are about to demand He get out of your house before you call the police.  But then He says your name.    

Something about the way He says your name feels warm and reassuring.

You are puzzled.  Who is He?

He seems very comfortable in your house.  Before you can question Him, He asks, “Do you have anything to eat?”

Could a simple beggar be so bold?  Is He more than a beggar?  A robber, a rapist, a murderer, a crazy person?

You ask Him Who He is.  He simply says your name again, smiles and says, “I know you and you know Me.  Don’t worry.  It will come to you.”

In spite of your usual caution, you bring out what you have in the kitchen.  He offers to cook.  You let Him.

You have the best meal you have ever had.  It is like a banquet for two.  

You sit and talk forever.  He seems to know you, including some of the things you thought no one knew.

You don’t really like anyone knowing you this well.  Is blackmail His game?  Is that why He is here?

But no, that is not it.  You catch a reflection of yourself in His Eyes, and are surprised to see Love, not condemnation.  

You don’t understand how you can feel safe with someone who knows you so well.  Just when you get ready to ask Him how He knows, He introduces something new.

He asks you to show Him around your house.  You do.  It’s strange.  Even before you go into each room, He seems to know what is in it.

He touches the peeling paint on the walls.  It not only stops peeling, but somehow the color becomes more vivid than it was when your house was first built.

By now, you know He is no ordinary human.  You are not frightened.  In fact, you feel more peaceful than you can remember.

You feel bold enough to ask, “How do you know so much about my house?”

He smiles.  “My Father built it.  And We live here with you.”

Before you can even process what’s happening, He adds, “My Father’s House has many rooms.  There are quite a few you have not even seen yet.”

You quickly reply, “Well, I know all the rooms in this house.”

He reaches past you and knocks on the wall.  “Do you know this one?”

“That’s not a room.  That’s a wall.”

He smiles.  “Not anymore.”

And in an instant, the wall disappears.  You follow Him into a much larger room, resplendent with light.

All you have loved and believed you have lost are there.  They have been there all along waiting for the day you would walk through that door.

You see, you have always been at home.  

Your earthly body was put together to be a dwelling place of The Holy Spirit.  Your body is God’s House.

Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, Whom you received from God, lives in you.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

God built His House for you to live with Him.  He carefully designed every part.  God does not do “cookie cutter houses.”  He assured no other house would be exactly the same as yours.

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Your Works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:13-14

Your house did not stay the same. God constantly remodeled it.  He took away parts you did not need as you outgrew them.  He added what you needed for the next stage of life as you grew.

Your house got larger and larger.  All the while God was preparing the additional rooms He would reveal to you one day.

You were created living in The House of The Lord.  You live there now with Him.  You do not have to invite Him in from the outside.  He has always been on the inside with you, even when you did not recognize Him.

He wants you to know He is there.  He knocks on doors obscured to you by the clutter in your life.  He wants to show you that your house is bigger than you know.

And one day, as in this story, Jesus will come to you and reveal a new door to a large family room.  He will Himself personally escort you there. 

I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”

John 14:3

You are not getting kicked out of your old house.  You are getting a fresh remodel with additions.

David said it well.

Surely Your Goodness and Love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in The House of The Lord forever.”

Psalm 23:6

Rejoice!  You live in The House of The Lord with The Lord now and so shall you forever!  

http://youtu.be/TvThHk-wMRk

Freedom From Fear Of Death

How do you feel about dying?  It is said, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

For many of us, that seems to be true.  Much of our life is devoted to staying on earth.  We invest in various ways to try to live longer.

We diet, exercise and take vitamins.  We allow ourselves to be poked, prodded and our insides examined in case we need to fight off some intruder, who might seek to remove us from earth.

Should we become ill, we sign on for tortuous treatments to try to stay on earth even a few months longer.

The desire to stay on earth is the basis of every war.  People kill other people in an effort to save their own lives or the lives of others. 

Satan nailed it when he said to God, “Skin for skin!  A man will give all he has for his own life.” (Job 2:4)

Why is it so difficult for us to give up our earth life?  

Could it be because we are just not exactly sure what comes next?  Can we really live without this earth body?

We don’t remember a life without the body we now have.  But have we always had this body?  No!

You do not have the same body as you did when you were a child.  You do not even have the same body as you did last year this time.

Researchers have found the body’s cells largely replace themselves every 7 to 10 years. 

In other words, old cells mostly die and are replaced by new ones during this time span. The cell renewal process happens more quickly in certain parts of the body, but head-to-toe rejuvenation can take up to a decade or so.

This process was created by God.  It happens seamlessly and silently.  We need not fear how many skin cells we will lose today.  We need not fear losing fingernails, toenails or hair.  As soon as we relinquish them, God provides more.

Not only does God replace, He sometimes gives something better, something far more glorious than before.  The caterpillar, once confined to the ground, emerges from its cocoon, beautiful and able to fly.

Jesus emerged from the tomb, able to walk through walls or simply appear, seemingly out of no where.  He was able to rise into the clouds.

Jesus was the living example of how life in a human body is a series of changes.  Jesus showed us that death does not kill us.  We surrender what we will no longer need.  We receive with Joy bodies perfectly suited for our new life.

Jesus did all He did right out in the open.  He did it so we would not fear death.  If you have ever been a slave to the fear of death, know this.  Jesus came so you don’t have to be afraid.

Paul shared this about Jesus.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His Death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”  

Hebrews 2:14-15

The real you will never die.  You will shed an earthly body that no longer fits you.  And God will give you a new body that fits you perfectly.  You will continue to live. 

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’

“How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 

“When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.

“But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body. 

“Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 

“There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 

“The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”

1 Corinthians 15:35-44

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’”

1 Corinthians 15:54

Live every moment of your assignment to earth.  Enjoy it.  But do not be afraid … do not resist … the day when Jesus comes and tells you, “Your new body is ready.”

What will our new body look like?  Something more glorious than we can even imagine.

“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

Would you rather hang on to a decaying earth body or surrender it to be made like Jesus?

“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, 

“according to His Power that is at work within us, 

“to Him be Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

The Secret To A Happy Marriage

6D06A110-A968-41B1-83DD-8DED263F2E22My husband and I have been married for forty years.  Many who see us comment on what a great Love Story we are.  

They want to know the secret of our happy marriage.  I will share it with you.  We are not always happy.

Please read this blog post all the way through to get the “secret.”

Sometimes we are a resounding gong.

Sometimes we are a clanging cymbal.  

Sometimes we think we are pretty smart and we have faith for everyone and everything else but us.

Sometimes we will go to any lengths to do good deeds for others, but we neglect to give even little kindnesses to each other.

Sometimes we are not patient.  

Sometimes we are not kind.

Sometimes we envy.  We want the kind of relationship we think others have.

We boast about what hot stuff we are and wonder why the other isn’t fully aware of what a great deal they got in us.  We are proud and arrogant.

We don’t always honor each other.  We tolerate each other.  And when we can’t master tolerance, we yell at each other. We slam doors.  

Frequently we want our own way.

And when we don’t get our own way, we get mad.

We forgive, but we seldom forget.  When we do something that crosses the line in a way that is similar to sins of the past, you better believe we bring it up.  We have a book of past screw ups to which we can refer in a minute.

We always think our truth is The Truth.  We highly value our truth and will do anything possible to make sure the other understands the truth.

We usually protect our own turf and if the other is on the right side, we will protect them too.

Even though there have been a million reasons to trust each other, we don’t.  We are sometimes suspicious of each other’s motives.  We are not sure we have each other’s backs.  

We sometimes lose hope for us.  We think we had a good run, but maybe it is time to call it quits.  There are too few years left to keep investing in a lost cause.

BUT … when we come to the end of ourselves, we find The Author of Love … The One Who created both of us for each other.

We find God, The One Who brought us together and molded and fashioned us into one with Him.

We find God Who made our hearts beat as one.  And when that heartbeat becomes a little irregular or is on the verge of breaking, He steadies us.

He comforts us.  When we whine that the other hurt us, He reminds us of Jesus’ Words to those who hurt Him.

God tells us to forgive, not because we want to, not because we deserve it, but because He said to.  

God then forgives us and tells us, “Let’s go over this one more time.  This is what Love looks like.”

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient.

“Love is kind. 

“It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 

“It does not dishonor others.

“It is not self-seeking.

“It is not easily angered.

“It keeps no record of wrongs. 

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

“It always protects.

“It always trusts.

“It always hopes, always perseveres.

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 

“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 

“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 

“But the greatest of these is Love.”

1 Corinthians 13

And so we repent before God.  We ask His Forgiveness.

We ask each other’s forgiveness.

We act in obedience to God.  We love because He said to.  We love even when we don’t feel it at first.  We try again.

We trust God.  We have faith in Him to do all He has promised to do through us.  We know He has a Plan for each of us, but also a Plan for us.

We claim the US in JEsUS.

We hope in Him.

We love Him.  

We receive His Love for us.  

And His Love fills up all the empty places and we love each other.  

And one year follows another, each one divinely bonding us more and more into Love.  It is a good Love, a solid Love because it is rooted in The Ultimate Love.

 

We Are The Stars!

Have you ever wondered why you are here on earth?  You are a part of God’s Magnificent Plan for His Universe.

He carefully created you, packed you with all you would need for your assignment on earth, and then launched you at exactly the time He intended for you to be here.

You will remain on earth until your assignment is complete.  Your choices may affect the quality of life you have here, but not the time of your entrance and exit.

As David the Psalmist said, “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

Your life here is not just about you.  It is also about all the people whose lives will be touched by you.

You have been shaped by people whose lives were influenced by others before them.  

You have been influenced by books you have read, music you have heard, and many other things left as mementos from people you never met in person.

In the same way, you will influence not only those you are with now, but also those who they will influence now and on into the future.

We often forget we are a part of a long line of people stretching back to the very first humans on earth.  That line will continue after we leave earth.  

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”      1 John 3:1

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His Household built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone.

“In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 

“And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:19-22

God explained it all to Abraham when He took him out star watching.    Abraham did not believe he could father a child with his wife.  But God had Plans for Abraham and the son God would bring into the world through Him.

God had Plans for each and every one who would follow.  Read God’s Words to Abraham and claim them as your own.  God has Plans for you and all He will touch through you.

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”  Genesis 22:17

Take your place of destiny to carry His Light and be The Light.

“I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My Name The Father will give you.”  John 15:16

https://youtu.be/G8Bs2o-3D-M

A3EB0816-6250-4160-894C-5261B83CEE8D

Clouds — Both Sides Now!

I love clouds. God used clouds to connect directly with His people.

The cloud by day guided Moses’ people on their way to The Promised Land.

God spoke from the cloud, introducing Jesus.
“Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a Voice came from the cloud: “This is My Son, Whom I love. Listen to Him!”
Mark 9:7

Jesus exited earth in His Bodily Form into the clouds.
“After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.”
Acts 1:9

We are promised that there is a great cloud of witnesses, who are watching over us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

Jesus will be revealed again to everyone, coming in the clouds.
“They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”
Matthew 24:30

And we will join in the celebration in the clouds!

“For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

“After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Clouds prompt us to remember God’s Faithfulness and to anticipate The Joy of being with Him forever!

135BD156-0D4E-4E3D-A89C-180DC394BA5C

Beyond The Sunset

In the fall of 1997, my parents were in a car accident.  My mother spent a couple of months in the hospital, never able to return to her earthly home. 

My husband and I had planned to go on a cruise to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary.  We were going to cancel it. 

However, my mother was insistent that we go.  In fact, she was so insistent she told everyone from family to friends to her doctor that we “had to go on that cruise.”

As Mother’s condition continued to deteriorate I was doubtful it was the right thing. However, she continued to insist. When I asked her doctor, he said, “It seems pretty important to her. Maybe she wants you to go and take pictures to add to both your memories.”

So, on October 12, 1997, my husband and I set out on our maiden voyage.

It was described by some of the seasoned cruise staff as the worst turbulence they had experienced in years of sailing. 

As soon as we left port, the ship began to toss and turn and tilt from side to side.  Everyone held on to anything they could find in an effort to regain stability.

Finally, we decided we might fare better if we went up on deck and tried to visually equilibrate with the horizon.  It seemed to work. 

As we stared into the heavens, the sea seemed calm.  In fact, it was no different, but our focus was different.

Now that God had our attention, He outdid Himself with artistry. 

He painted one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen.  We spent some time on deck, just admiring His Work before we went back inside to attempt supper.  My husband took a picture of me with the sun going down behind me.  

Later that evening, we received the call that my mother had passed into Glory earlier.  I was stunned.  At that time, my only comfort was that I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I was where she wanted me to be.  But I did not know why.

 Weeks later, God revealed the first clue.  My nephew had been present at the hospital at the time of my mother’s death.  He had been asked to step out of my mother’s room for the nurses to care for her.  He had done so. 

Before the nurses came in, my mother quietly left for Glory.  He was concerned that had he remained, she might have remained.

I assured him that my mother, being the lady she was, would never have left while he was there.  She would have considered it rude! 

And besides, I wrote him,  I believed God’s Glory came and filled her room. It was a private, intimate moment, just for God and my mother to share.

I stopped in mid-sentence and thought, “Wow Lord, it must have been been wonderful to see Your Glory!”  At that moment, I heard Him say in my spirit, “You did.  Your Mother and I arranged it!”

Suddenly I thought of the sunset.  I asked my husband when he had taken that picture.  He replied that it was easy to remember, since it was just before we went inside for supper.  The sunset occurred at the very time of my mother’s death!

I now knew with absolute certainty that I had been sent to that place in time to have a front row seat to His Glory!  But God had more to reveal.

 

While I was reflecting on the wonder of the time of the sunset, God brought to mind a memory from the past. 

As I was studying the pictures of the sunset … for just a moment, I moved back in time to high school.  In my English class, we received points for every poem we memorized.  Mother loved poetry and eagerly helped me select poems to memorize.

We both searched through books of poetry.  As I remembered, it seemed I could still hear her voice, her words spoken with enthusiasm. 

“Why don’t you memorize this one?  I just love this one.  It’s got such a good message.  It would be a good one to remember always.”

So I memorized “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson … without knowing that God had planted seeds… and that many years from that moment, those seeds would sprout into a beautiful sunset on a turbulent ocean, within moments of my Mother’s ascension into Glory.

God allowed me to remember that poem with a new understanding.

Sunset and evening star,

and one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crossed the bar.

The bar is that point in the water when the currents are stirred up the most by the force of the waters from the sea and the movement from closer the land colliding.  We had indeed been present at the crossing of the bar!  God and my mother arranged it.

“A person may plan his own journey, but The Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

“Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning!” Psalm 30:5

When the sun sets in one place, it rises in another.  And now you know why I love the beauty of sunsets!

D5E19106-0170-4D59-A257-EAE2B1957877

I Could Never Forget You!

My parents lived a happy, independent life into their nineties.  One day on the way back from the grocery store, a car hit them.  My mother was never able to go home again.

I spent a remarkable week with her when she was in the hospital.  It was remarkable because, even in the midst of intense suffering, she refused to let satan gain even an inch.

She lay in bed and prayed for every family member by name, invoking God’s richest blessings on each of us.  She prayed for the doctors, nurses and anyone who worked in that hospital.  She raised her hands to The Lord and just praised Him for the wonderful life she had had.  She sang hymns of praise through her pain.

She tenderly expressed love to everyone.  Most touching was hearing her say to my father, “Horace, God has been so good to us throughout our entire life.  How could we do anything but trust Him now?”

She held his hands and said, “God made you for me and me for you.  And He will take care of us.  God will take care of you.  He will.  I know He will.”  

The day I was to return home (I lived in another state), Mother was a little confused because of an electrolyte imbalance.  Just before I had to leave, the doctor came in.  He asked the usual questions to determine her mental status.  He asked her if she knew her name, where she was, etc.

Then he pointed to me and said, “Do you know who she is?”  My mother smiled the smile I loved so much — the one that seemed to just open the floodgates of Love.  And then she said,  “Of course, I know her.”

She grabbed my hand, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Carolyn, I could never forget you.  I love you so much.”  And then she fell asleep.

That was the last time I saw my mother in her earthly body.  Her Benediction is a Gift I treasure.  She is a part of me and her continued love as a member of that “great cloud of witnesses” sustains me every day.

I can never forget her.  I love her so very much.

Love one another, as I have loved you … John 13:34

F71817E5-A7FA-498A-8A82-BA625E852177

Packing Your Bag In Advance

F71817E5-A7FA-498A-8A82-BA625E852177My mother always straightened up the house before she left it.  She said, “One day you will not be able to come home, and your house will be as you left it.  What do you want others to find?”

She approached her spiritual life in the same way.  She memorized scripture and poetry with “good messages.”  She said she prayed that she “would always have her good mind.” 

She added, “Your mind is like a chest of drawers.  You control what you put in there today.  But one day someone else may open those drawers.  All they will find is what you put there.  Put good things in your mind and in your spirit.”

Mother taught a Sunday School class for years.  When she was old, she had difficulty reading.  She told the class she thought she needed to give it up to someone else.  However, the ladies of the class would not hear of it. 

They said she had so much spiritual insight and Words of God’s Truth, they could not do without her teaching.  They read the lesson to her to see what she would say.  The ladies of the class said she had so much of God packed inside of her, that it just overflowed to them.

The day did come when Mother walked out of her house for the last time.  She and my father were in an automobile accident.  She spent the remaining months of her life in a hospital.  There were times when she appeared confused, due to her condition and medication.

But when that “chest of drawers” of her spirit was opened, beautiful things poured out.  She prayed and praised God for her life.  She remembered and called Daddy, Richard and me by name. She remembered all our spouses, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends, and on and on.  She prayed for each individually.

Her chest was a treasure chest filled to overflowing with all those good things she had put there in advance of the time they would be found.

What is in your spiritual chest?  When it is laid open for all to see, what will be found there?

I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

Neither Do I Condemn You!

F71817E5-A7FA-498A-8A82-BA625E852177I was a well behaved child and teenager.  While some of my friends were rebelling, I “colored within the lines” well.  However, later in life, after some difficult times, I set out to reinvent myself.  I must say God is a much better Creator than I.  The “me’s” I tried to create were total flops.  

I praise Him, not only for restoring my life, but for renewing it when I surrendered to His Loving Creation of the “me” He intended all along. At some point when I was searching for my way “back home,” I talked to Mother about a “friend” who had committed all kinds of sins.  I told her that my “friend” really wanted to make a turn around, but was afraid that she could never make anything right again.  I asked Mother what I should tell my friend.

She looked at me with all the Love in The Universe.  I saw a few tears fall before she hastily mopped them up with her apron.  She came and put her arms around me.  She just held me for a long few moments.

I felt forgiveness coursing through my body.  She then stepped back and looked at me directly.  In that moment I knew she knew it was not my friend.  It was me.  I wondered what she was about to say.

She said, very tenderly, “You are right to tell your friend to ask God’s Forgiveness.  But tell her she must be sure to accept His Forgiveness.  Tell your friend she needs to thank God that He will forgive her.  Tell your friend she needs to forgive herself.  And tell your friend that she is free now.  Tell her to walk free.”

And just as quickly, she asked me what I would like for supper.  From time to time after that, she would ask me, “How is your friend?”

I told her my friend was doing much better.  She said, “That’s good.  I pray for your friend.”  She never asked me what my friend’s name was, as she usually did when she was going to pray for someone.  She knew.

My Mother showed The Pure Love of Jesus.  She did not condemn.  She loved.   

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11