Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Faith Shall Be My Eyes

Heaven has been on my mind a lot lately. I have three friends who are all observing the anniversary of their mother's early death. Two, not related, each lost their mamas 20 years ago. I knew one of the mama's. The other one I did not. I also have a friend in the UK who lost her mum 10 years ago. I can't pretend to know how it feels. I have not lost a parent. My Dad has struggled with poor health pretty much all of my life. Considering the fact that I'm pushing that mark between 30 and 40 (notice I just didn't really want to type out the actual numbers:), that means he's been struggling for a long time. It's still not the same.

I may have said this on here before. I can't remember. Other than salvation itself, one of my favorite "perks" of following Jesus is the knowledge that our loved ones who also know Him will join us in eternity. That's such a comforting thought.

Please, know that I am in no way downplaying the hurt and sadness of missing someone you love while you remain here on earth and they have gone before. I'm sure it's a pain that's there for the rest of your earthly days. I think it took 10 years before I finally quit picking up the phone to let Grandma Katie know some piece of interesting news. Literally. I picked up the phone, dialed a couple numbers, and then realized she probably wasn't going to answer. Missing a parent would be more far more acute, I'm sure.

I'm going to share a very personal dream I had when Grandma died. For a few days we had all been spending time together waiting for the funeral. There was an extra day of calling hours as we waited, in part to allow time for a family member to return from another country. As some of the cousins reminisced, we speculated about whether she could see or hear us. The night before her funeral, I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. Grandma Katie was talking to me. I could see her face as clearly as I had my whole life. I asked her about the questions we had considered. She said that it wasn't all the time, but if she really focused in, she could see and hear whatever we were doing. It was clear that she wasn't omnipresent as God is. She could only focus on one at a time. Her final words in the dream were the most profound. She gave me one of her wide grins that lit her entire face and said, "but I can reeeeally hear you singin'!" You see, Grandma loved to sing and to hear her family sing. She would slide from alto to soprano and back again. Often she wasn't exactly on key, but she let it rip! Of course that's what she would focus on if she had the ability. Often when I sing, especially when it's about Heaven, I smile with a tear knowing that she's listening. Granted....this was a dream. I feel, though, that it was also a gift. When I shared it with my other grandparents, my Grandma Eichorn quickly agreed it was a word from the Lord. I tend to agree. I said, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Without any searching on my part, two forms of media have really struck me this last week. One a poem, the other a song. If you at all have time after reading this long post, listen to the song, but also walk away pondering the poem. It's true that Heaven will be a joy that we can't imagine. As the poem points out, though, we aren't there yet. We can long for it, but I've been very challenged this week with the fact that while we long for the peace and freedom from heartache that is Heaven, we still have work to be done here.

Here's the song. The poem is below.

Breathless Tales
I would rather
clutch my invitation
and wait my turn
in party clothes
prim, proper
safe and clean.

But a pulsing hand
keeps driving me
over peaks
and spidered brambles.
So, I’ll pant
up to the pearled knocker
and full of tales.
by Janet Chester Bly

Sunday, September 14, 2008


A couple days ago I decided to go for a bike ride after work. It was one of those days that had been long and tiring. I didn't really feel like riding, but knew it would be good. After 9 hours on your feet, sometimes exercise of a different form, makes your tired legs feel better. I didn't really have much time, but I put a few books in my backpack to return at the library and set off.

Usually when I ride I take my iPod along. I did the same this time, but decided that I didn't feel like using it. You know those days when your senses just seem to be heightened? We've all had times like that. Last Wednesday was one of them for me. It seemed like my eyes, ears, and nose could barely keep up with everything they were taking in.

As I leave the complex where I live, there is a group of kids that are always playing outside. They were there, just like clockwork, laughing, shouting, cheering, mocking, singing, all of the things that kids do with each other on a late summer evening when they're soaking up the last of the warm weather.

Down the block there was a man pushing a lawn mower. There are few smells I like more than fresh-cut grass.

A block further, I found a father and son laughing as they rode their bikes in the other direction. It's not very often that one sees a father and teenage son just spending time together, but it's refreshing to see.

On the way to the library there's a 4-way stop that's a bit annoying to get through. There's a shortcut through a school parking lot, that I like to use. I still have to cross the same busy road, but there is traffic from only 2 directions rather than 4. So there I stood, straddling my bike, waiting for the traffic to clear. After I waited a couple minutes, a big white truck on a lift kit with a roaring muffler rolled to a stop in front of me. The diesel fuel was noxious and the muffler grumbled so loud it was hard to hear myself think. He sat there in the middle of the road like he was turning into the school parking lot. I moved over to be sure I didn't get run over and waited. There was no oncoming traffick, but still he didn't turn. I looked up to see if his turn signal was on and finally looked up at the cab. He was waiving for me to go. Here I had been thinking he was paying little attention, only to realize that he had stopped a line of traffick to let me through. A night in shining white armor?

As I cut behind the grocery store, the odor of the newly sealed asphalt was so strong it nearly burned my eyes. I'm pretty sure the gummy tar left some residue on my tires as I squished across the parking lot.

Just as I was thinking about the variety of things that I had smelled in just a short ride, I nearly spilled my graham crackers (that's a polite term for losing your lunch, for those of you that don't know my cousin Mary:) as I rode past a wall of dumpsters. Go figure. I'm sure a grocery store can work up a pretty good stink when they throw out expired wares.

The next thing I smelled was high on my list of favorites. Books. Old books. New books. Used books. My nose is happy every time I walk into the library. The only thing better is Barnes and Noble where they combine 2 favorites, books and coffee.

On the way home, there were some leaves blowing across the road. I don't know why. Fall has not fallen. Few leaves have even turned. Maybe they were there just for me and my olfactory delight. If they would have been burning, I would have had to slow down to take it in longer. Stop and smell the roses.......stop and smell the burning leaves.

Finally, I got home, put my bike away and headed out again for a take-out hawaiian pizza at B. Antonio's. (Our church's school was having a fund-raiser, so I had to do my part:) Mmmmmmm.....what better way to top off the afternoon than with ham, pineapple, bacon, and cheese?

Sometimes all it takes is the simple things to take your mind off a less than perfect day. God knew what he was doing when he gave us multiple senses. I tend to use them without consideing their value. Every once in a while, it's good to be reminded.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I could use your help praying for several people I know. Some of the situations are pretty sensitive. Some would just feel conspicuous if they were mentioned by name. Let it suffice to say, I can quickly list off unneccessary drama, illness, marriages in need of Divine Intervention, parents hurting terribly for their adult children, big decisions to be made, and people just plain hurting. The list is a mile long and probably none of us need to walk a mile to find the same situations in or near each of our own lives. Some days are easier than others. Some days you just need to let people know you could use your help. Today it's not so much me that needs the help but lots of people I care about. So......thanks in advance.

Psalm 59:16-17
16 But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
17 O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.