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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Hope of Heaven

Every time I have a baby, which seems to be a pretty regular event around here, my whole schedule seems to be dumped upside down and in some ways my life is turned on its head. I have read a ton of books on making your baby sleep all night and live on a perfect schedule, but it seems the problem is my baby hasn't read a single one of those books!   So it is easy to feel that my time alone with God and my spiritual life regresses with every child!

I feel such a struggle here. Even when I get up early it seems the little people wake up even earlier,  and I am often frustrated because I can't get much time alone with the Lord.   Doesn't it to seem like there should be a bargain here? That if I get up early to spend time with God surely he would make all those little people sleep just a little while longer? But it doesn't work that way! At least not on this earth…  I'm sitting on my porch this morning watch the pink ribbon of sunrise ripple across the clouds in the sky and sipping my cup of steaming coffee.   At least for a few minutes I am alone... Well except for Makiah's little cat with the black mustache nipping at my toes when I'm not petting him with my foot.  I admit I'm getting irritated with this little cat. Can't I have a few minutes where nobody wants something from me?  And I wonder if we lived out in the country instead of in a bustling neighborhood if maybe I would feel that it was easier to be alone... Easier to escape for a few minutes.  But it is so wonderful to be close to friends and neighbors to hear the sounds of laughter…

And then my imagination wanders to heaven.

And I feel like in heaven I won't have to choose. Now I'm not saying that I know what heaven will be like.  But Just imagine for a minute a place where there is no frustration and the constraints of time do not exist.  There would be plenty of time for love and laughter and friends and family, but also it would be easy to suddenly be alone with The Lord when we need to be.  That might be a scary thought for you sanguine-life-of-the-party people, but for phlegmatic melancholies like me who have our batteries recharged by being alone it sounds, well, quite heavenly!

I imagine myself on top of a beautiful mountain looking at a gorgeous blue mountain range with something like the brilliant colors of the sunrise in the background, and I am getting time alone with Jesus. But what if it it had only taken me an instant to get there and I was not afraid of being on the mountain and was not uncomfortable in anyway.   And I could be immersed in a sense of peace and  his presence! Oh what amazing joys await us in heaven! Things I can't even begin to imagine here!  And there will not be an end.  There will be no breathless rushing because we will have eternity.

I feel encouraged about what I think of as  my wake  up call, or what I used to call "the love call" before Makiah died.  The baby is almost one, things are evening out around here a little bit, and I'm beginning to wake up with that sense that I need to get up and spend time with the Lord more.  The frustration I feel when it seems like I am surrounded by little people who want to squeeze every ounce of alone time out of me begins to dissipate.  Maybe that wake up call is more about training in obedience rather than the amount of actual time I get to spend with the Lord.  If I think that the success of my day and my spirituality depends on how much time I get alone with the Lord, doesn't that mean I'm putting him in a box?  Isn't God big enough to put into me what I need in a few minutes just as well as in 30 minutes or an hour?   My salvation does not hinge on my performance. Nor does living in abundant life depend on my ability to control my circumstances.  I am  justified based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and finding my identity in Him.  Inner transformation is not something that is necessarily  bound by space or time. But it is bound by obedience.  We are a new creation in Christ and our spirit is immediately transformed when we put our faith in Jesus. However our mind is transformed little by little as we obey him more and more.  Isn't there a verse that says God loves obedience more than sacrifice?  What is God calling you to do today? It won't be the same for all of us because we are unique. And it won't be the same thing today that it was last year or the same thing that it will be for you next year.  And the bigness of it is not what is important. It may be a teeny tiny thing.  What is important is that we hear His voice speaking to our hearts and we follow him.

I would love to tell you that I sat on the porch in the cool crisp air and wrote this blog in peace… in truth I was interrupted at least a half a dozen times by little people wanting a hug, yogurt, or to tell me all the breakfast foods that we are out of that I need to put on my grocery list!  I take a deep breath in and out and breath in the Hope. Faith is the evidence of things Hoped for…. This morning I am full of the hope of heaven. The hope of a place where there is no more pain or suffering, no more tears, no more failure, and no more frustration.   Our time here is so short. It is just a window, just the preface of the story that is to come.

And my heart feels a little bit lighter. I hope yours does as well!

"But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice..."  I Samuel 15:22

"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."  Psalm 16:11

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday Makiah!

Sweet Makiah,

It’s your birthday, Baby.  I hope you are still four up there in heaven, but you would have been nine here today.  Alena wanted to make you a chocolate cake, and I happened to have a Dora butterfly topper so it just seemed all perfect.  I can still see your blonde hair sticking up around that headband, your little legs in purple striped leggings, standing in the kitchen chair and licking your first beater. You would have loved the mess of chocolate mustaches your sisters made today!  

Mommy and Makiah baking

While your cake was baking, we sat on the  back porch and painted our toes pink for you... even little Eliana Bree!              Abby traced her feet with chalk and drew you a butterfly.  Mommy turned on the sprinkler and told the girls how much you loved to laugh and have fun.  It didn’t take two seconds for the littles to strip down to, well, not much and fill the yard 
with crazy laughter.  We had a picnic with your cake and then did a water slide on the swing set.  I hope God let you hear them sing happy birthday to you… and maybe even see them splash down that slide and glide through the muddy puddle at the bottom!  It reminded me of when the hurricane came through and you and Daddy played for hours in the water pooled across the street.  My girls all love the mud!

Then we cleaned up and went out to eat some good french fries because they were your favorite.  And I read to the girls about heaven and eternal life.  I remembered one day when we were swinging in the yard, and you started talking about Jesus coming in the clouds.  Then you asked me about heaven.  I sang a song to you that I had learned when I was little about how heaven is a wonderful place (anybody remember Salty the Singing Songbook??).   Now our conversations about heaven seem so ironic.  I was trying to teach you.  Oh, what wonderful things you could teach me now!

I miss you, sweet Makiah!  Abby talked today about when you come back from heaven, she will give you the flowers she picked for you.  We looked at your pictures,  and Maddie Grace talked tonight at bedtime prayers about you and our beach trips.  Mommy is teaching your sisters about you, and about Jesus, and I even showed them pictures you drew of our family with the twins in my belly.  One day we will be together sweet little one.  I will dream of the day when I can hold you tight and hear you all laugh together.  Until then, I trust Jesus to tell you happy birthday for me, Makiah!

Love all ways always,

Makiah with her Daddy after the hurricane

Makiah having messy, water fun