Heart is where the Home is…….

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I flew in last night from spending a wonderful weekend at my cousin and his wife’s beautiful home in Sonoma, the heart of the wine country. The scenery was breathtaking, just as I remembered it when I was there too long ago at their wedding. More than that it was the faces I hadn’t seen, the greetings, the laughter, the joy of surprising everyone by showing up unexpectedly. The look on the faces of my family as they got out of the car and saw me were worth any amount to get there.

As wonderful as it all was, it was tiring. After the planes, shuttles, and rental cars it’s always good to get home. I have always thought being homeless would be the worst, having no place to belong, no place to get out of the storm, no place to call your own.

Scripture has much to say about home. Jesus had no physical dwelling place on this earth. About Himself he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has no place to lay His head.” He knew His true home was Heaven, and so do we, if we belong to Him.

As I was meditating on the whole concept of home this morning at 2:30 AM when I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking that as believers, we carry “Home” around in the form of the Holy Spirit, who never leaves us. And since Heaven is our real permanent home, and Jesus continually said that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, right here and now, then it logically follows that our “real” home can never be snatched away. It’s here, it’s there it’s everywhere, kind of like the Beatles song of the same name. (Look it up those of you under 50)

As wonderful as it is to have a physical home right here and now, I know that if I lost it today it would be nothing compared to not having that home that never leaves me. there are few promises in Scripture better than the one that says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

Our future home in Heaven is more real than you can imagine. It’s not a figurative idea, it is a concrete place where nothing ever dies or rusts or wears out. While we are bound to this earth,  we are severely limited in what we can see and touch and feel. Our hope is in that better place. And yet Jesus said in many different ways, don’t just wander around dreaming of Heaven, but instead store up treasure there by helping those in need here. Look for opportunities to show God’s great love for humanity by being a conduit for His love yourself.

I guess you could say, we are all like the prodigal son who finally came to his senses and went back home. As wonderful as this world was to him at first, sooner or later it chewed him up and spit him out. He knew where he had to go. To His father’s waiting arms.

And while he expected to be treated like a servant, His Father ended up treating him like a prince. Listen to what the Bible says about how our Heavenly Father views us, friends:

“So he got up and went to His Father, “But while He was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Kind of like the greeting I got from my family as they saw me and gasped and then held out their arms open wide.

That kind of love is our real home. That’s the kind of love the Father’s has for us, and all we have to do is turn to Him and receive Him. That’s our hope. No matter how wonderful this world is, we have a better one coming.

You might feel like you are a long way off from God right now. Maybe it’s been years since you darkened the door of a church. Maybe you never have. But all it involves is one small step toward him, and like the father gazing out the window looking for his son (or daughter) He’s waiting.

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Photos from the home and property of John and Jean Painter………I sincerely hope they don’t mind.

Lent Day 19: I could never capture it all……

San Angelo

How can I ever capture what today was? It was joy, tears, memories, laughter and stories all wrapped up in a wonderful day that I can’t fully capture here. Bobby and I took a walk along the Concho River this morning that runs by the Hotel and got a little snatch of nature while listening to the birds. Elaine, Bobby (Elaine’s brother) and I picked up their cousin Gerry…..after that the laughter just kind of continued throughout the day. I won’t even try to explain it. I don’t think I could fully do it justice, maybe someday I will try for now I am simply played out.

We did end up visiting Mt. Carmel Hermitage Monastery and also Our Lady of Grace Monastery, both courtesy of Gerry Dupree. The day started with own ceremony of bringing Vernon Curtis Dupree back to his homeland and beloved Texas which he loved. It was a privilege to be able to take part in this journey and final stop for him until that final Resurrection Day of the Lord which is our hope.

All in all, it was a day that will live in all of our memories because it was full of some of the very best this life has to offer, a few tears, many memories and much more laughter to hold it all together.

My words are few tonight, I am still full of voices and stories that are far too colorful for me to capture here…………but I leave you with a few words from the vestibule at Our Lady of Grace Monastery:

God of Love, through this Lenten journey, purify my desires to serve you. Free me from an temptations to judge others, to place myself above others. Please let me surrender even my impatience with others, that with your love and your grace, I might be less and less absorbed with myself, and more and more full of the desire to follow you. in laying down my life according to Your purpose.

And thank you Lord, for the dear lady who came graciously out when she saw our car and let me in to see the beautiful church……I felt an immediate kinship.

Thank you Bobby (who walked the stations of the cross with me) and Elaine who drove us miles to get there, and to Gerry for showing us these treasures. I love you all……….

Unwrapping Christmas

Lodi lake

Each year at Christmastime we exchange things………..gifts. Excitement builds as we eagerly present them to those we love in anticipation of their joy in receiving what we have so carefully and thoughtfully chosen.

Just for them.

But I believe, the real unwrapping doesn’t end, until every last memory is opened and reopened once again.

Those that memory leaves behind are what we take out through the years and cherish. Long after each purchased gift is worn out. So today, in the quiet of year’s end. This is what I do. As these I hold dear take their own gifts out as we all hold them up to the Light.

A walk by the lake with my Dad. Enjoying the nature and the snap of morning’s cold. Talking about this flower another walker guided us to…….and the detail hidden within, and about the God who loves detail, even in a little flower. We never would have found it hidden along the fence from our path. We were turned away at the gate because the nature trail was closed that day. But we found nature anyway, because we were looking.

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All these moments held in the grip of eternity. To be shared by each other, and the Lord. Each and every one I count as jewels……..and as we walked along, it looked like others wanted to do the same. A little table arrangement left behind for someone else to find…….we are all creators.

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Just like our Father…..

This year, as I unwrap Christmas again.

Count some more memories with me won’t you? And then add your own…………

Last year the baby Jesus flickered and went out, and this year the whole scene went dark, so Mom and Dad let one of Lauryn’s spare dolls stand in for Jesus and put a spotlight on the whole scene. My Mom said it was more beautiful than ever.

Everyone I hold most dear together on Christmas Eve, that was my best gift.

Playing rounds of Candy Land with Lauryn and seeing her so excited to see me.

Elaine, Heather and Me at breakfast at Denny’s Christmas morning before we all went our separate ways for the week.

My brother and I baking in the kitchen for the first time ever.

Mom and I bunking together and giggling like teenagers before we went to sleep, then later hearing her whispered prayers when she couldn’t sleep. I heard her say, “Jesus” about 10 times.

The road trip from Arizona to California, where Elaine and I talked all the way and didn’t miss any turns.

And this one is bittersweet, Elaine’s Mom last road trip before she goes into a care home.

The last is what I will hold onto for the coming year…….Mom combining both of her Nativity’s together on the coffee table like one big happy family. And of those, one lamb had a broken leg and one had a missing ear, but they were both still standing. And like those sheep, we all come to Jesus with all of our baggage and missing limbs dragging behind.

We bring them to the stable, and He heals every wound, every heartache, wipes every tear.

Every Christmas brings its own unique challenges and this year was no exception, yet when we have Jesus, we have everything.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Hopeful New Year from my Prayercloset to yours!

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The veil has holes

My walk in the woods

Last night was a very strange night. I cried almost all the way home and didn’t know why. I had a sense of foreboding I couldn’t shake. This school shooting has weighed heavy on my soul. Just too much heartache there for one incident. Too much sorrow for one town to carry. So I thought it was maybe that.

Then I thought about Elaine’s folks. I remembered the times when they were healthier and they would go to church with us. I still remember the day we almost dropped our teeth when her Dad unfolded his wallet and put money in the plate. We have both heard them say many times that “churches are only after your money.” Her Mom was even talking Baptism.

I asked God how it is that somebody can get so close to seeing a better way of life and turning away. To stepping all the way up to the river of life and then turning back around….leaving thirsty. 

Then I remembered how many times I had done just that.

When I came through the door Elaine was teary-eyed as well. “I think Mom’s having a heart attack…..what should I do?” She has been through this with her Mom already years ago. And she knew what to do, she just needed someone else to help her carry the load.

“Nothing,” I said….we do nothing because that’s what she said she wanted.

Her Mom’s own words were: “I don’t want to be cut on anymore.” And I can see why. She has been through cancer twice, including a mastectomy, chemo and radiation, 2 heart attacks, and a triple bypass. As a nurse, she diagnosed herself with Alzheimer’s around 10 years ago.

She is done with treatments. And hospitals.

But when you are the one standing there with life and death hanging in the balance, it’s not that easy. Our first instinct is always to do something. But sometimes the right choice is to let nature and God choose. Giving someone what they have chosen is the hardest thing to do because it’s right.

The reason Elaine knew that there was really something wrong was because her Mom didn’t fight her on anything getting ready for bed, and lately that has been the norm.

She went on to tell me that both cats acted strangely all evening. As if they knew something was wrong. Briggs wouldn’t let her Mom alone, he kept following her to her room and jumping on the bed. She finally had to close the door.

So we watched TV and prayed. Elaine had asked her Mom if when the time came, that she would ask God to take her soul. Her Mom said yes. There was no need for a big theological discussion. She knows where salvation comes from, she was raised on it.

And all the while, I remembered how last Christmas was spent in the hospital with her Mom, alone…and I vowed it would never happen again.

Today when I called at lunch she said they were at Subway and her Mom was eating and felt okay, with no recollection of ever feeling bad.

And today, I am feeling how just thin that veil between life and death can be.  Any one of us could be instantly on the other side, and not necessarily who you might expect.

Love, Dad

—–Original Message—–
From: Lyleret8 Lyleret8@aol.com
To: Lheyd59 Lheyd59@aol.com
Sent: Sat, Sep 1, 2012 8:41 pm
Subject: book

Hi Lori, We worked on the fence today as I told you. The real hard part is done. Ron forgets I am 84. We did bending over all day, I can not do that….I came home and took a shower and relaxed in bed for awhile. I went out on the back deck in the cool breeze and took Merton;s book and you Prayer Closet book to read. I ended up reading your book for an hour and a half. You know I read good books but I was mesmerized by your writing, you write like Thoreau or Kathleen Norris. about nature and life. I can’t tell you how absolutely blown away by your talent. I Love you, Dad.

This email was sent to me by my Dad. And surely he could not have been talking about me, but about someone else…….I teared up when I got it, because I realized again how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by people who have sent me things like that my entire life. Not because I am so great, but because they are…..I don’t mind telling you, it made my night.

There is no price we can ever put on the value of good words. And because it was done for me, now I make a habit of doing it too. I never leave my Mom and Dad’s without leaving something under their pillow to find after I leave. And I leave notes around the house where I know Elaine will find them too. She had many words thrown at her growing up, but many were not good. Most were negative.

Edifying words have the power to convince someone they can really do anything they set their mind to do. But negative words have the power to demoralize and destroy. Sometimes those words make someone set out to try even harder to succeed, but all too often they leave a wake of destruction.

Some people spend all their lives recovering from the sting those words leave behind.

God loves it when we give out good words…….He knows their incredible ability to heal, to mend, to uplift.

And that person who has been on your mind? It’s time to write them a note or email . It may come just in time.

And then leave one for God too, even though He already knows what you are going to say…….

And if you have ever thought about setting your blog to print, I would encourage you to do so. It makes a wonderful gift for someone you love. Sure, they can get on the computer and read it, but there is something about being able to hold your words in their hands. Like having a bit of you with them.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

I called my Mom because I wanted to speak with this special girl, but she said they had just left for the pool.
I had been thinking about hearing her voice all day….And I thought of her swimming and how she loves it, and I could just see them in my mind at the pool. And my eyes swam tears…….”She’s ten, she’s ten, she’s ten,” was the refrain that wouldn’t let go. How did she get to be ten?
She is not actually, but she will be in a couple of months. This must be how parents feel. How do they do it? Their hearts must ache with an overflow of love continually. Well, good parents anyway. How do they let go? Maybe it is a really good thing I never had kids. I would have been one of those obsessive parents who follow their kids to school and on the bus. And I can imagine me, standing in the driveway crying buckets…….waving a hankie when they pull out of the driveway and leave for college.
I have a hard time leaving my cats with strangers.
But there she is. And all at once we turned around and she was so tall. Wearing size 10 dresses and impossibly big shoes. When did it happen, and how many moments did I miss in all these years? Silly me, thinking she was still 6 or 7, I tried to pick her up when her feet were burning on the hot cement and almost dropped her. She laughed. Bless her, she has my sick sense of humor.
Is this how God feels about us? After all, every life is sacred, every life is eternal. I know He grieves and misses us when we are away. I know that at the end of a life spent without Him, He aches for what could have been. I know it.
Watch out for her God. I know she has Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa, but sometimes they might miss something.
But you never do. Thank you.

A bus filled with blessing

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:3

She had almost forgotten about the application she had filled out for the bus driving position……almost but not quite. She was sitting by the computer when the phone lit up with an incoming call. The phone is turned all the way down so her Mom won’t run and answer it. In the past she had agreed to things over the phone “Oh, yes, you can come and service the air conditioner….” It has happened before.

It was the Apache Junction school district calling. She couldn’t believe her ears when he said, “How soon can you come in and see us?” For years, every now and then we would pass a bus and I would hear her say, “I would love to do that.”

For the past year and a half, her Mom has been her full time job, and it has been hard, especially for someone who has worked all their life.

So she went, and of course they loved her. Especially when they found out about her driving experience. They wanted her so badly they even pulled strings to get her in the August session of training.

And the schedule is such that she can come home between routes to check on her Mom……..and, it’s only just around the corner!

“This,” she said, “Is the first job that I have felt in a long time that is from God.”

I have waited for this, I have prayed for this…..for my dear friend who lives her whole life for others.

Whose hands are still partially numb from her last project for someone else.

Last night we sat at a restaurant as pictures came through my phone……there were two completed Mr. Potato heads, one my brother did and one my niece did. I smiled as I read the texts. “Sometimes, you just have to take time out to play Mr. Potato head with your girl,” he says.

As I scroll through, the phone rings in my hand and it’s my Mom.

“I was just having a glass of wine and thinking of you,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing,” she said, and she laughed. “Well,” I said, “I happen to think it’s a good thing, since I am having one too.” And we laughed together and she told me about her day. And I told her about Elaine’s new job…..

She whooped and hollered over the phone………”Oh, that is so great! She is just right for that job.”

Later I get a text from my brother. My Mom must have told him…..”CONGRATULATIONS to Elaine, Wooooooohooooooo. Bus driver for kids? Perfect. I am so happy.”

This, I think, is what it’s all about.

Rejoicing with those who rejoice. And I think of what a cornucopia is life. Some days so full of hardship you just want to sit in a corner and never come out, and then, blessings so rich that all you can do is lift your hands skyward.

Praise God from who all blessings flow.