Kinda like Heaven

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My brother and I with Thunder, circa 1965 or so……

There used to be a row of houses on the next block over from where I lived. We knew every family that lived there very well. The houses were owned by the adjacent hospital but I never knew that.  About 10 or 15 years ago now, one by one all the current occupants moved out and the houses themselves were physically moved to a neighboring town.

Growing up, I spent hours inside every one of those houses. Some of them many, many hours. Starting from left to right, there were the Meier’s, then the Matsumoto’s, (whose kids were almost part of the family since my Mom watched Rhonda and Jeff when their Mom went to work.) Next to them were the Merry’s, then the Dillon’s. It was quite a spectacle to watch those houses be readied for a move.

I was reminded of all this yesterday when I took Mom to the store and saw Harriet and Sam Matsumoto. Sam has cancer now, on chemo. I can remember when he used to drive Rhonda and I to school sometimes, he would turn on the vents and stuff would fly out.

I was thinking of those houses, those people, this morning at 3:00 AM when I couldn’t sleep. In my memory I see every house, every family. I remember the night our dog got hit by a car and we mourned the loss sitting in Rhonda’s room. I remember the day I was swimming in the back yard of the Meier’s when the Dollinger boy came with a boa wrapped around his neck. I remember Todd Dillon running home when he cracked his chin in our driveway. So many memories.

I was thinking that in those days I could have knocked on any one of those doors and would have been welcomed. Offered a cooky or ice-cream bar. I would have listened and respected those parents like my own.

It struck me that must be a little of what Heaven is like. Being able to knock on any door and be welcomed. Now it seems few neighbors know each other. My folks just about have to flag the younger people down to talk to them before the garage swallows them up in the evenings. It’s sad.

I am not in John Lennon’s camp, even though I loved the Beatles back in the day.  I love to imagine Heaven because for me it’s just as real as this world, more real in fact. The Bible says in Heaven we will be fully known.

No worries about money, no mortgage, no war, no death, no homelessness, no crime, no pain or sadness. No loneliness or heartache for what might have been. No disease or any kind.

And God will wipe every tear. That sounds pretty darn good to me right now. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of good still left in this world, and much to celebrate. But I don’t think anyone would argue that it needs some redeeming right about now.

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him…….1 Corinthians 2:9

Sacred Moments

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In the light of all that is happening in Texas, I sit here in the quiet; I realize again that the Sacred comes many times in the ordinariness of the start of the day.

I see the flooded homes, see the panicked people and animals clinging to each other and it doesn’t seem real. Too terrible to watch and yet I owe it to them to not turn away.

It’s the first communion-like pour of the steaming cup.  The old faithful senior cat who has been through so much with us, resting on his post after his breakfast. If I lost everything in this Motorhome and had him safe in a carrier I could be okay.

I see the two dogs in the row-boat, and them trying to save the horses, and I see 5 cats shivering in a basket with 4 strong heroes carrying them to safety.

David Nevue’s peace floats through this little space we call home this morning and I am praying for the flooded people, and thankful that someone I care about is safe in the other little room playing with her phone, I hear a video and it’s comforting. And that my family is too across town. This is the sacred part:

It’s in these little moments before the day starts to crash through my brain and everything starts all over again that I feel that just maybe everything really will be okay because He said it will. 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Be with them all Father. Bring your comfort to the shelters and the roads and the rooftops where people are hunkered down, waiting for rescue, for the next step. I pray for all the organizations going over to help, all the individuals and groups taking boats and supplies and love. May your grace wrap itself around them all. Amen

And be with us too, Father, because some of us have disasters right here.

A new day has dawned, and as long as we have Him, we have hope.

The Way Home

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“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home” Matsuo Basho

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie

“The beauty of inviting Jesus into our heart and life means we carry Him with us into every circumstance of our lives, essentially He becomes our home wherever home is. Knowing Jesus is returning to our original home.” Me

It was hot out and I had been cooped up since I got home, moldering in my cave/chair with a book and my phone. Finally I had to take a break from the inside and step outside. You know how when you’ve been in a building for too long and you go out and it feels a bit like Narnia just to be out? I used to feel like that at work. We had no windows to look out. I would go out and feed the sparrows in the patio and reset my compass.

I was met by my the feline comedy duo who zigzagged across my path vying for attention. They followed me to the feeding station and then I was surprised by a dash of pink behind the shrubbery. My Aunt informed me they called these lilies naked ladies. (Come to find out, Elaine has been watering it)

I have come to realize in this place we have carved out here, that you can have a little piece of domesticity and it can feel like home, even when you are between homes. I sat with a glass of wine as I watched the cats roll in their own little piece of heaven and felt peace settle around my shoulders. I breathed deep…….it was a welcome feeling and I felt gratitude fall around me as I  aimed my camera and clicked away.

When you know who Home is and that every step you take is leading back to Him, you can rest assured that all will be well wherever you land. Basho was somewhat right, the journey can be home when you know where you’ll end up.

And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. Jesus…….John 14:3

Peace be with your weekend friends………enjoy your journey.

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Morning prayer attempt

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I would not suggest inviting the cat (or in this case cats) to your prayer time. They insist on taking God’s place as first billing. This morning I walked down juggling heater canister, coffee and treat down to the prayer closet by the river. Mrs. Weigum was waiting for me and I held the gate open for her as usual. Since moving here, she and her brother have attached themselves to us since the neighbor is hardly ever home. She waits for prayer time because that means lap time.

I settled in and hardly had a chance to say, “Oh Jesus thank you for the miracle of this new day and I invite you into it……” When from my lap came a hiss and a primordial growl. Brother had followed us down there and she was extremely offended that he was invading her space. She slapped at him when he got too close.

He tried to jump into the prayer cabinet and I hastily closed the door. Then he investigated every surface in there and insisted on jumping into the little sink and then the window sill. (Whoever said cats were independent were never around any cat I’ve ever had). And these aren’t even mine.

After all the ruckus I gave up on praying or reading my devotional. I was too busy playing referee.

As I turned the heater off and blew out my candle, the sun was peeking through the trees and the birds were heralding the new day so I lifted the cover off the Adirondack chair and Weigumina and I sat there and watched as God lifted His curtain on another day. And a beautiful one it promises to be.

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A fish jumped nearby and her head swiveled in that direction and then a crane launched itself from a tree across the river. I love watching how they fly with their long legs straight out. They have started their morning cacophony up in the trees across the way. We call them “the cluckers.”

I guess you could say I had my prayer time. It’s not always about the words we say, but the gratitude that fills our hearts when we thank Him for the new day and where it comes from.

Thank you Jesus.

 

 

 

Looking Up in 2017

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Hope in Me, and you will be protected from depression and self-pity. Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to Heaven. The more you cling to this cord, the more I bear the weight of your burdens; thus you are lightened. Heaviness is not of My Kingdom. Cling to hope, and My rays of Light will reach you through the darkness.” Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

As Jesus and His disciples were walking by the temple one day, one of them remarked on how beautiful it was. I can see Jesus glancing at it, maybe nodding in agreement, then saying (Message version) “All this you’re admiring so much–the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble.” Then He goes on to explain just how bad things will get before He comes back and sets everything to rights. At first glance that might seem like a real joy-killer, but then He says at the end of Luke 21, “Look up, for your redemption draws near.”

It’s easy to despair looking at the events of the world around us. And I’m only thinking of the things that happened this past week! It’s easy to forget how to look at the world through the lens of  wonder, filtering out all the anxiety and dread about what will happen next. But Jesus doesn’t just tell us to buck up, or think beautiful thoughts. He points us to Himself. He is our ultimate hope and the hope of the world.

Sometimes He reminds us of this in the simplest of ways. The other morning I took a walk down by the river and the neighbor cat decided to tag along. I watched as she sprang ahead, leaping with a wild joy as she chased blowing leaves. She high-stepped it, and shaking her feet at the wet grass she almost tripped me by running across my feet. I have to admit, I got caught up in her playfulness.

Why do we humans complicate everything so much? Why do we eat ourselves up with worry? On Friday night I lamented that I was worried about finding a new stop on my route. My wise friend said, “You’re not driving it today.” Then I said something else and she repeated, “You’re not driving it tomorrow either, or Sunday.” I was robbing my moments of peace which I do repeatedly.

As I continued my walk, camera in hand, I got several cute shots of the cat comedienne. I laughed and caught the wonder again through my camera lens. I looked up at the sky peeking through the trees. I need to do more of this, I thought. I walked back up and then smiled all over again when I downloaded the pictures to the computer.

This quote by Frederick Buechner kind of sums up my thoughts today:

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and the pain of it, no less than the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments and life itself is grace. Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

I plan on re-doubling my efforts to keep looking up during the course of the coming year. I plan to remember how to live in wonder at the world around me, and letting Jesus be my filter. I will fail sometimes, of that I have no doubt. But sometimes I will succeed.

Of perfect storms and sparrows

Since I started in this new area at work, I have unvolunteered myself for a couple of things I really had no business volunteering for in the first place. I know me right now. Several things in my life right now are stressing me out big time. When I started counting them all I realized it would be even more amazing if I weren’t stressed.

Today started off strange right off the get-go. The person I left at my station last night had transformed herself into a cactus. She focused her prickly laser-like vehemence on me as soon as I came in. It seems I left one thing undone which she proceeded to turn into her own personal very big deal. She left a nasty gram in bold print on my computer, detailing everything that happened as a result of my little mistake. The mistake by the way, that could have easily been corrected in about 5 minutes if she had chosen to respond in a different way.

I felt bad for her co-worker, who is a very nice lady.  She was rolling her eyes behind “the talking cactus.” Then later, I was scolded for not showing up to lead stretches yesterday afternoon. That was my fault, it was my turn. Not only that, I was told that my stretch leading was not adequate. I needed to hold them for 20 seconds each and include more of a variety. So I marched over and took myself off that list too.

Sometimes we disappoint people, ourselves, God. It can’t be helped. I have learned some things through this, though. That if you are stressed to begin with, don’t raise your hand up in the air and volunteer for more.

Sometimes you have to take care of you.

Sometimes you just have to “check out”

After the stretching incident I went outside for a few minutes to regroup and play my “Words with friends.” It helped.While I was out there, I studied a little brown sparrow on the wall. I meditated on that little guy.

I noticed all the variant shades of brown. There must have been 20 that I could see. He was really a work of art. Then I remember what Jesus said about sparrows…..how they are valued by the Father. Noticed, counted. And how not one of them falls to the ground without Him knowing.

And He values you and me even more, much more, the Bible says.

I breathe deep. I start over. And now I will say a prayer for the counterpart that will come in tonight. I will be kind. Because I know there must be a reason why she acts as she does.

I also know that despite all the conditions in my life right now that are threatening to create that Perfect Storm? I have resources, I have people in my life who help me, support me, love me. And some have none of those things.

And writing about it really, really helps.

And most of all? I know the One who specializes in calming stormy seas.

Will there be horses in Heaven?

There is one prayer I have had that was never answered…..From my earliest memory, from the time I actually believed there was a God and that I could pray to Him I prayed that one morning I would wake up and there would be a horse in the front yard. From the time I first saw one, I was instantly in awe. I held them in reverence that was almost godlike.

It started with the pony rides. I didn’t care about anything else at the carnival, if there were ponies going around a ring I was there. My Dad would shell out the two bits. And in Yosemite there was what I would classify as a deluxe pony ride. We got to ride on a track, all around the stables….oh they were pure wonder. Which one would I get? I didn’t care, to me they were all as magical as unicorns.

We used to camp in old Camp 7……and just on the border ran the horse trail. My favorite part of the day was when they would come through. I can still hear my Dad announce, “Here come the horses!”

Oh, I would hear the footfall of those wondrous creatures as they walked through the carpet of dry pine needles that fell across the trail. The sound of them, blowing and breathing and neighing. I would stand stock still as we watched every last one pass.

And when finally the day came that I myself could go……….I was on top of the world. I was taller than anything. My big gentle brown quarter horse with a butt as big as a house was my new best friend. I could have cried as I bent down to hug his neck as he carried me into a place I had never been before, but only dreamed of.

Then, as what happens so often, we grow up and put away our dreams and convince ourselves those joys may be for someone else, but not for us.

And still, as I see them, even now. I remember that magic. And I wonder, will there be horses in Heaven? I think that if God created animals in the first place, he must want them there.

The Bible says He will be riding in on a white horse, after all.

Maybe I will be riding with Him? Maybe we all will…….

I am posting this today because sometimes just remembering something magical is miracle enough.  the joy of living, the joy of memory carries us through.

And it’s all a gift from God.

Joining in with these wonderful folks today just because I want to, not because this post necessarily has anything to do with promises or counting blessings. But then again, maybe it has everything to do with it!