Friday, December 7, 2012

A Snapshot of Heaven


I have pictures of family up all over my house; little collages of familiar faces in almost every room. 

If not a collage, a large predominate picture; I even have a picture frame that shows a slide show of those faces. 

People I have known all my life, or have known me all of theirs.  

Many or most of the pictures evoke memories of favorite times together; others are faces that we love to see on a regular basis, so there they are.  

I love my family. I realized yesterday, filling out a survey, that yes, my life does and has revolved around my family for most of my life. These people are important to me. Some might say too important. That I haven’t lived the life I could or might have if I hadn’t been so involved and wrapped up in my family. 
 
But looking at it from the perspective that I look at most things—an eternal one—they are the only thing from this world that I get to take with me to the next one. 

I won’t take what is in my bank account, my house, or what is in it, my car or my clothes, shoot, I’m hoping for a new body that cooperates and works a little better than the one I have here. 

That is why it is important to me that my family—yes all of them—know what the next step is in this life we live. It doesn’t end here…..it goes on, like stepping from one room to another. 

I know the "here" is important, the laughter, the trips, the “family bonding”, as my kids love to call it, but I also know that this is all just a prelude to the actual living that we will all be doing together when we get to heaven. We have had some family moments that have been so wonderful, that right in the midst of them, I have known without a shadow of a doubt that I am getting a glimpse of heaven.  

With the holidays approaching, where we are going to be spending time with our families, and we capture faces for the galleries on our walls, take a minute to stop and breathe it in. Freeze frame it in your mind and give thanks to God for those glimpses into paradise. And remember that the most important family member, Jesus Christ, must be featured prominently in each and every picture, for he will be there in the final portrait. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving......over?


We hold dessert in high regard, especially pie. :)
It is the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving. 

The house is quiet. 

Candles are blown out. The tables that were decorated and laden with food are all cleared off, folded down and pushed back up against the wall. The leftovers are tucked away in the fridge. The piles of dirty dishes are washed and put away.

It’s over. Or is it? 

Thanksgiving should never be over. 

I realized that as I read people’s thankfulness posts, we seem to be thankful for things in the present or in the past, but are we thankful for the unknown future? 

Are we thankful as we walk forward from this day into an unknown where small children battle cancer, the economy is shaky, thousands have just lost their jobs, the world is in turmoil? 

As I face tomorrow, I realize I can be thankful of one very specific thing.
God is there, waiting on me. Everyday when I get out of bed, He is and will be there. HE is the reason I can be thankful. He is the reason I have a future. 

11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. –Jeremiah 29:11 

I may not be “prosperous” or even “safe”, but God’s hopes and the future for me are something I am, and can always be Thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beware.........

"Beware of making a fetish of consistency to your convictions instead of being devoted to God."
                                                                                           --Oswald Chambers My Utmost of His Highest

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jesus Our Living Water


The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.  Ps 19:19

If we are looking, we will find this to be true. 

As I was sitting at the table in the kitchen yesterday, I noticed that the large oak tree in our back yard had lost almost all its leaves; a sign to put out the bird feeders. Then just beyond it, I saw the smaller oak tree that some obliging squirrel planted a few years ago. The color contrast was apparent. The yellowish brown sparseness on the large tree was in stark contrast to the beautiful reds and russets of the smaller tree. Unfortunately, I didn’t rush and get my camera, as I should have, but I did make a mental note. 

Today as I looked again, the large tree is bare save a few leaves still clinging on.  Yet the smaller tree is still covered in leaves; another contrast. 

As I sat there looking at them, I wondered why the difference. Then I realized. ….Water. 

The large tree has suffered through the drought of the past couple of years. It is large enough that it is surviving, but the dryness of the earth, and lack of moisture is apparent in just about everything, including the big trees. 

The smaller tree sits squarely in the middle of a flower bed that received watering everyday this summer when the temperatures soared into the hundreds, day after day. 

Obviously water makes a huge different in the life of plants, and it is necessary to sustain life in humans as well. But the spiritual connotation is what I saw.  And the scripture from Ps 1:3 came to mind.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.

By looking at the two trees, God gave me a picture of what the living water of His Spirit does in my life.
The large tree had already lost its leaves; the wind had stripped it bare. Yet the smaller tree was still full of leaves. I saw the strength gained by the water to withstand the chill, and the winds, just a little longer than others.  

The large trees leaves were a yellow, and dull brown not the brilliant red and russets of the smaller tree. 
 
Yes the small tree, because it had been watered, was beautiful, and stood out against the rest of the dried up and dying…. 

Yes, both trees will lose all their leaves, but I know that the smaller one will weather better through the harshness of this winter due to the water it has received. 

It served as a reminder to me to keep myself firmly planted by the ‘living water’ of Jesus Christ. For only in him will I remain strong, and able to stand against the world, all the while reflecting the beauty of the ‘living water’ within.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer with Sam

Samuel-2 years old

As you can tell I haven’t been doing a lot of writing. I’ve been spending my days with a two year old—picture whatever might come to mind in regard to little two year old boys, and summertime.

Gearing up for an Easter Egg Hunt

Blowing Bubbles













Since his birthday in April where we celebrated on Easter Sunday, he has learned to hunt Easter Eggs, make bubbles, eat his cereal from the bowl, picking up the bowl to polish off the milk.




He and Lily are full blown play mates. Life becomes more exciting the minute she comes in from outside. Tug of war and tag are two of their favorites with squeals of delight and peals of belly laughter.

We water Grandma’s endless amounts of flowers, and try to handle the yard equipment if possible, testing to see if the mower seat will fit yet, and if we are taller than the weed eater.














He drives his car Aunt Audrey gave him last year for Christmas, sometimes trying new positions--standing and sitting, or just pushing it to see what will work best.


















He shops with Grandma, helping her to decide on a new hat for her trip to Phoenix trying them all on, howbeit upside down.

Of course he plays in the pool, and with the hose. There isn’t a day goes by that we don’t get soaked and go through a couple of outfits. Even with a glass of ice water, drinking from the hose is just more fun.
























He isn’t always on the move. Sometimes, just sometimes, he stands with the wind blowing in his face looking off at the cows in the pasture next door, or the horses, and walks over and feels the grass that comes almost to his shoulders, and ponders. You can see his little wheels turning as he looks up in the sky, and just watches a hawk sail over head.

So that is what Sam has been doing this summer so far, and Grandma is keeping up……….. pretty well. Just thought I’d give you a peek into our days and what I've been doing…………instead of blogging.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Memories

Losing family members to untimely death at an early age seems to bring certain things into sharper focus for you even during childhood.

My Grandmother Horack lost her mother as a small child. Her Dad then moved in with his mother and maiden sister to help him raise his children. My grandmother and my grandfather married and had three children, one, my aunt’s twin brother died at six months of age being born with a hole in his heart, which in those days wasn’t something they were skilled to do anything about. Having lost loved ones throughout her entire life time, especially a child, made my Grandma someone who frequented the cemetery with regularity. She planted flowers on the graves, preferring peonies that would bloom around Memorial Day every year, ensuring that there would always be flowers on the graves, even after she was gone.

As a little girl I remember my Grandma Horack loading my cousin JoAnn and I up in her little 55 Chevy, with jars full of water, stopping by and picking up her friend Gertrude, and heading to the cemetery to “tend” the graves.

We would deadhead the peonies that had bloomed that year giving them a drink, and clean up any weeds or debris that accumulated around the grave stones. While we did this Grandma talked about those people who were buried there, she told and retold the stories of how our ancestors came over on the boat from Europe. How Great-Great Grandmother Somer had decided to wean the baby before the trip thinking it would make things easier, only to have them run out of drinking water on the voyage and her sharing her allotment with the infant.

She shared the struggles they experienced in carving out a life on the prairie. How our Great-Great Grandpa Somer, after coming to America, didn’t find it to his liking and left his wife and children behind returning to Bohemia, thus no grave beside our Great-Great Grandmother. How our Great Grandfather Horack was so poor that when he died they buried him in what they referred to as “potters field”, a section of the cemetery where there are no stones because poor people could afford none. By the time someone could  afford one, no one could remember just exactly where Grandpa-Great was buried. As she would pull a weed or water a plant, or wash the bird droppings off the stones, these stories coupled with the pictures on the walls of her home, or in frames on her dresser made the people real.

Memorial Day wasn’t the only day of the year we went to the cemetery.  In the summer when the weather was especially hot, and we hadn’t had enough rain, we would load up and take water out to the cemetery to water the flowers that she had planted earlier in the year. Tending the graves was a responsibility that she didn’t take lightly. Passing on the history of those people was something that brought her joy. She would tell stories of my dad, as we tended his grave, and talk about my grandpa. However, I noticed she spoke little of Paul, my aunt’s twin; that was too deep a wound to remember. But I always noticed that she would prepare a special bouquet for baby Paul's grave on Memorial Day.

These were not sad times, quite the contrary, these were wonderful times. It brought Grandma and her friend great joy to reminisce about the days gone by when sorrows of losing loved ones were frequent enough that death was just a part of life that you wove into the everyday tapestry, adding the dark colors to offset the light ones.

After Grandma died, my mother and I continued to go to the cemetery. As a young girl I would ride my bike the mile outside of town to the cemetery, checking the graves, breaking off the dead heads of the peonies as grandma had taught me. I would pull a weed, and knock the bird droppings off the stones remembering the stories she had told over and over.

When Roger and I go to the Ozarks to visit Roger’s brother, we always stop by the cemetery where Roger’s parents are buried. Roger’s mother was cremated, and we planted a tree over her ashes, so we check on the tree to see if it is still alive....it is. When we were first married Roger thought I was kind of strange for wanting to go home for Memorial Day. He didn’t get it. He does now.

I think the tradition of tending to the dead, and their graves are something we learned from the Bible when the women returned to Jesus’ tomb to anoint His body. Care was given to the dead, a sign of respect, regard for their memory. The joy that comes in visiting the cemetery is the constant reminder that your loved ones aren’t really there. Grandma knew this, but she also knew that by taking us there, she was teaching us respect for our ancestors, and regard for their memory. She was instilling in us a sense of family that she knew would continue on down through the generations.

I learned a lot going to the cemetery with my Grandmother. I learned that remembering the dead can be something pleasant. It can bring you comfort. It reminds you of the ones that have gone before you and battled through. It teaches that death is a part of life, not the end, but a part. It brings you strength. It brings you comfort. It gives you roots and wings. I think Grandma knew this, and that is why she started us young. A foundation of family, living or departed, is never a bad thing.

A repost from Nestin' and Restin

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Easter Anniversary*

This weekend, Easter weekend, is the anniversary of my “salvation”. It was the Easter of my Jr. year in High School at a Lay Witness Mission at our church that the culmination of years of spiritual experiences came together for me to understand how much God loved me, and how much I loved him back, and that I wanted Him to change my life.
You see, my daddy died when I was only 7 years old. When I meet little 7 year old girls these days I am struck by how small they are, and how MUCH they love, depend on and idolize their dad’s. I’m sure I was no different.
I do remember when Daddy died that the people who came to our home to help with food, and anything else during those days immediately following his death were friends from church, neighbors and family. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Your Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus”. He had gone somewhere else, oh yes, his body was in that box, but the part that made him my daddy was now in heaven, it had gone on ahead of me to heaven, somewhere that I was assured over and over that I could go too. Being seven years old, I believed every word of it. I began listening more intently when people talked about heaven, God and Jesus. I wanted to know more about where my Dad had gone, and who he was with, and what all that entailed.
As I grew and continued to be raised in the church, learning Bible stories in Sunday school class and participating in Christmas programs and Easter Cantata’s the true meaning of “life after death” began to solidify in my mind.
I remember at my baptism and subsequent membership into the Methodist church when I was 12 years on another Palm Sunday, I cried as I knelt at the altar and the preacher baptized me out of the baptismal fount that had a plaque on it in memory of my Dad. I understood the concept of washing and cleansing from the sins we commit, and what Jesus had done on the cross for me. The reality of a relationship with Him was beginning to make sense. By the time the Lay Witness Mission was planned for Palm Sunday of my Jr. Year of high school, and I had reached that age of impatience and growing tired of waiting on God to show me if all this “religious stuff” was really true, God knew I was ripe for the picking.
Joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the old hymn says, was mine. I hadn’t known anything like it, and I told everyone I knew; I still do when I get the chance.
So you see I view life as other followers and believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the assurances and promises that were given to me as a small child. Heaven is a place, Jesus is there, the ones I love who have died before me are there, and someday, I will be there too.
Very similar to the early Christians, the hope in life after death became a reality with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The assurance that they would be reunited with him in heaven, the teacher they loved and adored, plus their brothers and sisters in that belief, was a reality for them.
Celebrating Easter every year is the marking of not only the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but my birth as one of His followers. It’s a duel celebration, twice the “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!”

REJOICE! HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!!

*from the archives

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Culture Shock or Technologically Challenged?

“Technologically challenged” is a term my children use to describe their father. It is the only area that I can think of right off hand where Roger IS challenged. He is adept and quick to pick up almost any and everything he tries to do, but even I have to admit that when it comes to technology, Rog is challenged……but only because he chooses to be.

He sees no need for most of the technology that we use these days. He HAS a cell phone, but has no numbers stored in it—they are recorded in his own memory. He is not embarrassed by this either; in fact he prefers it this way.
He realizes that the internet (via the computer) has it’s perks to look for equipment and material information he might need, but as long as he has me to actually sit down in front of the machine, punch the keys, move the mouse, and print off anything he finds pertinent, he is satisfied with the relevance of it. In actuality, he prefers just picking up the phone, and asking questions.

This is why when our children were considering what to get Dad for Christmas, and a Kindle was mentioned, we all shuddered at the possibility of what that would entail—in training.
Roger is a voracious reader. He wants a stack of books on his bedside table as much as he wants baked goods on the counter in the kitchen—trust me THAT is a MUST. Audrey and Nic were right in knowing that a Kindle would be perfect for a reader such as Roger.

The purchase was made, and it was presented. All eyes were on him when he opened the box. He grinned, and reacted just like his mother did when we presented her with her first microwave oven for she and Dicks 40th wedding anniversary—she grinned and looked at me and said, “I guess I will have to learn how to use one of these.”; which she did, every single day.

Audrey sat with Dad and showed him the buttons, explaining it in a language she hoped he would understand. That week while she was home, she helped, and explained, and we were sure he had it.

He is currently reading the three books I bought him for Christmas before I knew what the kids’ gift would be. The Kindle is on the bed side table. Don’t think he doesn’t like it, but Rog just simply doesn’t understand this “technology thing” enough yet to see all the pluses this can bring into his realm of entertainment; he hasn’t realized all the perks of the Kindle yet. He doesn’t realize that he can carry several books with him at once. He can play games, and do puzzles. We are talking a whole different culture for him.

This whole thing has made me realize that you don’t have to go to another county to experience another culture. There are lots of different cultures out there to be experienced right from your own armchair; some of them not the best. We extol the virtues of other cultures so much sometimes that we forget to extol the virtues of our own.

Moving into a new culture, learning the language, the customs, can be an exhausting thing, and not a little intimidating. But when it is necessary, and vital, we are able to do it. But it is nice to know that is some ways, we still have a choice as to wade in or not.

As we were watching “Lark Rise to Candleford“ last week, there was a line in the movie that struck a chord with me and I couldn’t help but look over at my husband. When our eyes met, we both grinned.

“It takes courage to move with the times, Alf.”

“What I’ve been taught sir, is that sometimes it takes courage to stand still.”

Roger and I are definitely modern and up to date in more ways than we would like sometimes, and we have never been ones to get too excited about “new and improved”. But the longer we tread the sod on this earth, we realize that sometimes there is a restfulness to letting the culture around us continue to develop while we stand still……..and rest.

So as I curl up with MY new Kindle I will rest in the knowledge that being culturally astute is a choice.