Cake in Heaven?

For as much time as we have on earth in comparison to the time we will have in Heaven, isn’t it curious how little time we spend considering Heaven this side of eternity?

I thought about Heaven today at lunch with friends. Elizabeth passed her phone around showing pictures of her grandson’s 1st birthday. The little guy had cake smothered all over his face, chest, and hands; happy as could be. I mean, who wouldn’t want to dive fists into a rich chocolate cake and devour sweet goodness, right?!

Imagine cake in Heaven!

After our meal, the conversation led to talk about Karen’s Dad who passed away a year ago. I wish I’d met the man I’d heard so many great things about. Karen, her mom and sister shared reflections of Gene. Their eyes lit up as they reflected on this godly man they obviously all adored. Suddenly Karen looked at her mom and sister. “Hey. Remember when Lynn called about her crazy dream?”

She shared about a time shortly before Gene passed. “So my friend called and told me she’d dreamt about Dad. In the dream he was at some sort of banquet. There was a lot of food and he was eating, even devouring a big slice of creamy chocolate cake with such delight that he ate with his hands, as if eating cake for the first time. “It was all over his hands and face.”

“Yeh, my Dad loved food, but he wouldn’t eat like that.” The friend called to find out if Gene was okay and was surprised to learn that Gene was in a fierce battle with cancer. As Karen shared the story, Miss Jerri turned to me and whispered, “He really loved food, but at that point he could barely eat a teaspoon of pudding.”

Karen went on, “It makes you wonder what it’s like in Heaven.” She and Deb went on to talk about C.S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce” in which those visiting Heaven could hardly stand on the grass because grass in Heaven was so much more… real than any grass on earth. The things of Heaven have substance over things of earth which are only offer a semblance of things in Heaven.

I recalled the week before when I saw Miss Jerri after church and exchanged hugs. “Hi Miss Jerri! How are you today?” Miss Jerri is a beautiful woman, full of grace and class. She smiled sweetly but with effort. “Well, today is Gene’s one year birthday in Heaven. I really miss him but I’m sure he must be celebrating.”

Oh… my heart ached for this dear woman missing her husband. I squeezed her hand and offered another hug. “I’m sure he is celebrating more than we can imagine.”

Sitting together, hearing the dream and considering Gene’s “1st birthday in Heaven” was a treat. Thinking about C.S. Lewis’ suggestion of Heaven being more REAL and substantial then the world as we know it caught all our attention. It was as if a glimpse of Heaven passed through our little group as a sweet reminder.

Heaven; it’s a place; a place more real than things earth side of eternity.

Do you think about Heaven? What are your thoughts? Are you excited, curious, unsure?

Friend, join me in taking a little time to indulge, as we would, a decadent slice of cake and devour the promises of what lays ahead for us whose home is Heaven.

I love to talk about Heaven, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about it too!

Hearing God

I was looking over journal notes thinking about how we hear God. Below is how I heard Him New Year’s Day 2015.

The cozy little restaurant was practically empty New Year day. Sue, and I were enjoying the warmth of a fire discussing the past and future.

We laughed, reflecting on the ridiculous mistakes we’d made as moms and wives. We shook our heads acknowledging God’s overwhelming grace and goodness despite us.

As we finished our soup, I noticed an older gentlemen seated on the other side of the fireplace. He was by himself. The thought of eating alone on New Year’s day tugged at my heart.

Sue and I continued to talk. The gentleman look our way several times. It wasn’t an intrusive look, but rather one of curiosity; as if he thought he knew us.

Sue began to talk about hearing the voice of God. I was tickled because inwardly, I was trying to hear if the Lord had anything to say about this man on the other side of the flickering flames. I wanted to know his story. Why he was alone?Phonto

“So how do you hear His voice?”, Sue asked.

I struggled to articulate an answer. Words are so inadequate to describe how I hear Him …but I was hearing Him right then!

I would describe it as an overwhelming… stirring:

Sometimes it’s inexplicable assurance; peace in chaos.

Other times, it’s having particular understanding in the absence of knowledge.

Often it’s a relentless nudge to serve someone without understanding why.

It’s both ridiculously simple and highly complicated. Though it may not make sense, it always reveals God’s goodness.

Sue pulled me back to our conversation, “Like… do you hear Him with words?”

Here was a moment in time where two different planes of thought collided in perfect harmony.

I smiled at my friend, “Do you trust me?”

She looked at me puzzled. Clearly she did, but I hadn’t answered her question.

“Come with me.” We left our table and went to the other side of the brick wall housing the fire. I introduced us to the gentleman, wishing him a Happy New Year.

It was a little awkward to start, but we were soon in a conversation that was unmistakably meant to be. God’s presence was undeniable.

Luis shared his story. He was heartsick to have never pursued the love of his life. When he did, it was too late. Now he was still single in his 70s. He told of his passion for trains and traveling; more dreams he hadn’t pursued.

We talked about dreams and how God breathes fresh life in dreams when we least expect it. The more he spoke, the more Luis was convinced it wasn’t too late to pursue his dreams of train travel. It was fun to watch his countenance change.

We sat and listened, then we prayed for one another and the new year that lay ahead.

Afterwards, Luis eyes were wet, “I was watching you earlier. You look a lot like the young woman I used to know. You spoke with an excitement that I’d long forgotten.”

He wiped his eyes, cleared his throat, “It caused me to pray.”

He cleared his throat again. “I was praying when you both came over.”

We all just sat for a moment silently appreciating how the Lord gets our attention.

I love what Jesus said in John 10:27 (NIV)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Yes. I believe we can hear from God!

What about you?  You probably hear Him more than you realize. Sometimes we hear him and simply don’t recognize it’s Him.

Take time and see if you recognize His.

The scriptures tell us we hear by God’s Word;

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17 NASB

Get alone, get in the Word -and listen!

 

In Due Season

Horse Play

In due season …in due time?!  Ahh! ‘Wait‘ is such a “four letter word”!

Maybe you can you relate?

I have to cool my jets though when I hear something like what Joshua Harris (Author “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”) says, “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”

It’s so true. Sometimes we catch vision of what we’re called to do or be. But, our vision and our will aren’t always in sync with our preparedness.

And God’s timing is always perfect.

Don’t dismiss your dreams and ‘bigger’ purpose with doubt just because it’s not the right time. Stay the course, keep your eyes fixed on the Source -Jesus, and do what you’re called to do today with a vision to tomorrow.

***

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

For there is a time and a way for everything. Although man’s trouble lies heavy on him. Ecc 8:6

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecc 3:1

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for IN DUE SEASON we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Leap the Wall!

“By my God I can leap over a wall.” Psalm18:29. 20150515_180657-1

That sounds great, but when you’re facing a wall of brick and mortar it’s far more natural to think you should turn and go another way. Leap over a wall? Seriously -who does that?

What walls do you face? Is it a challenging relationship or a physical set back?

Maybe you’re like me taking steps of faith, exploring new territory and finding one obstacle after another.

It’s tempting to interpret challenges as indications that you’re on the wrong path -or maybe you just aren’t cut out for the call you thought you were.

After choosing to walk out a dream I continue to be surprised when everything doesn’t just ‘fall into place’.

We moved from the plains of Texas to the mountains of Colorado, to begin our own business as a Senior Relocation Specialists. There’s licenses and certificates, accounts and systems to engage in before we can even start.

We’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last month, having said goodbye to the comfort of our big beautiful house till our rental is available. We’re no longer surrounded by the community we’ve known as family. And there’s been an endless stream of rain, flooding and the hailstorm of a life time along with threats of tornadoes. Who know there could be tornados in the mountains?

Through my complaining, I occasionally I loose by breath. I have to remember; we’re at a higher elevation.

So it is with dreams. Sometimes you have to stop talking so much, adjust and acclimate. You have to keep your bearings and remember what’s really going on. Transition takes time.

When all you see is the walls that surround you, it’s time to look up to Christ.

When I chose to take my view off of me and back on Jesus, the words of Oswald Chamber on  The Habit of Rising to the Occasion lifted off the pages and spoke to me.

…that you may know what is the hope of His calling… —Ephesians 1:18

Remember that you have been saved so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in your body (see 2 Corinthians 4:10). Direct the total energy of your powers so that you may achieve everything your election as a child of God provides; rise every time to whatever occasion may come your way.

God is the Master Designer, and He allows adversities into your life to see if you can jump over them properly— “By my God I can leap over a wall” Psalm 18:29. God will never shield you from the requirements of being His son or daughter. 

1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you….” Rise to the occasion— do what the trial demands of you. It does not matter how much it hurts as long as it gives God the opportunity to manifest the life of Jesus in your body.

May God not find complaints in us anymore, but spiritual vitality— a readiness to face anything He brings our way.

He ends taking our perspective higher:

We are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. Once we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine with which to feed and nourish others.

This is a daily deal.

What are the walls you face? What does Jesus say about them? What does He say about you? Are you in agreement with Him?

Today is a new day. Take the opportunity for Christ to be apparent in your life as you look to Him and choose to leap the walls!

Step into Your Dream

Are you a risk taker?  Do you like to venture out without a plan or agenda?

Not me.  I like security.  I want to know what the plan is.  Even as a runner, I want to know what route to take, how far I will be going and what the conditions are.

I’ve found that where plans are concerned, God has a sense of humor.

A year ago during a time of earnestly seeking Him for direction of my future I had a vivid dream.  It was about my church and my relationship to it.  Our church is a huge part of our family’s life.  It was deeply personal, so I wrote it down.

The dream stirred in me an expectation that something new and fresh was awaiting.  I have revisited the dream many times over the last year.  A year later, almost to the day, I was telling the dream to a friend when it hit me that I had missed one very obvious point.  In fact, I’d missed the main point of the dream.

First, a little about me and my people -our church:

I LOVE our church. It has been our family for the past 18 years.  It’s the people we do life with.    This is our home and our people.  It’s where we have grown as individuals.

It’s also where I happen to “work”.  I love the people I work with.  My role on staff has caused me grow in knowledge, understanding and care for others. I could not have asked for a better opportunity than I have lived the last 2 decades.

So… the dream.

I was in the company of my people.  Many good, Godly things were happening.  For some unexplainable reason I was compelled to leave.  I was perplexed.  Why leave?  These are my people, great things were happening.

I began to suffocate as I delayed.    It didn’t make sense.  I resisted, not knowing why or where I was to go.

Finally, out of desperation, I surrendered and stepped out.  At once, my lungs filled with fresh air.  I looked around me, and my vision sharpened.  I saw things in color. I realized I hadn’t seen color in a while.  Everything around me was fresh and new.  There were things I had lost sight of.   I understood it was not about the place itself, but I myself had come to a state of familiarity and ambiguity.

Then, immediately beside me, I found a carpet like apparatus floating inches about the ground.  Something like an Aladdin carpet (for lack of better wording, I’ll refer to it as the wing of faith).  Curious, I stepped onto the wing. It was a strange sensation, but so exciting!  Right way, I found that anywhere I set my vision, I went. I set out for the ocean, ready to explore the places I longed to go.  com.tinilab.afterphotowatchyourstep - Copy

Freedom.  Mobility.  Adventure.  I was no longer stagnant.

However, I realized that I needed to use caution where I set my sights, for I soon encountered dangerous places and people.  Not acknowledging the inner caution, I stepped off the wing onto the shore to feel the water on the sand.  I didn’t heed the signs.  Darkness came quickly with a stifling stillness.

Without warning, the tide quickly pulled me down and out.  I flung about gasping for air, no match for the great pull of the sea.  I’d lost sight of all but the dark water swallowing me.  In desperation, and on the verge of drowning, I let out a wordless cry.  The silent wing was at once there extracting me out.  I set my feet once again on the safety of faith.

Seeking wisdom, I returned to the point at which I first set out.

Upon returning, I found my husband, who was ready to set out as well.  Momentarily tempted to go back into the comfortable place; we resisted.  We understood we had entered a season of journey.  Direction was revealed outside -in the light of clarity.

We united, committing ourselves to the journey.  We spent a short time becoming familiar with this “faith”.  At this point, faith took on a different form.  We each had a packet.  Later, I recognized it to be the word of God.

Holding on to our packets, we could hold nothing else.

We set out, this time soaring far above the comfort of the land.  No longer could I step off and walk on my own.  As we continued upward it was increasingly more difficult to maintain our vision of where we thought we ought to go.

It was as if the packets were the driving force, directing our course. Despite all our unanswered questions, there was absolute peace and fantastic joy, freedom and mobility.  We knew we were on the correct path.  High above the land we continued, tightly holding on to the Word nestled at our chests.  We were swept into the jet stream.  It was then I understood; this was about the journey far more than the destination.

A loud beeping interrupted this amazing journey.  My alarm.  No! I willed myself back into the dream, to no avail.

I would like to say the dream ended with a disclosure of where we were to go, or even why.  For a whole year, I have done nothing.

I revisited the dream numerous times over the last year. In a year of many changes, reflecting on the dream brought me comfort.

One night I was telling a friend about the dream.  When I finished, my friend Vickie tilted her head, raised her eyebrows pleasantly, and matter-of-factly asked, “Oh.  So you mean you didn’t know what to do or where to go until you stepped out, huh?”.

In that instant, it was as if the entire dream crystalized within me.

Faith invites you to step out from the gray fog of familiarity and ambiguity before you can see clearly and proceed on the journey of faith.  Only after you take that first step do you gain clarity and direction to take further steps.  You must take initial steps to gain vision.  Faith is the vehicle by which you otherwise cannot go.

Even as I write, it sounds risky to step out unto unfamiliar territory.  I want a plan.  A specific place to go to; a role to fulfill, a means to get there.  Or …I can choose to trust in God and recognize that to date; every place He has led me, I would not have gone on my own left to my own logic and reasoning.

Planning and preparation are good, but sometimes we are called to step outside of all that we have known to embrace that which we are called to.  A good season must end before a better one begins.

In due season, you just know that it’s time, and it’s right.  For me, the time is now, and to hesitate is to suffocate and miss the invitation to the journey by faith thru surrender and obedience.

I am being stretched.   It’s one thing to experience this these truths in a dream, but quite another to walk in out.

Abraham was called from a land that he and his family had prospered in to an unknown land by an unnamed God whom he couldn’t see or audibly hear.  On the journey, they settled for a season in Haran, a place of abundance where He prospered greatly.  Surely he was tempted to remain in that good place.

By faith he picked up his family and pursued God’s call to further follow Him to the place he did not know that God would show him.

What about you?  In what ways are you taking steps of faith?  Have you become stagnant like me?  Are you hungry enough to take a bold step?  What does that look like for you?

What was the last thing God put on your heart to do, and have you done it?  Is there a business or ministry you are called to serve in or even start?  Do you have a skill or talent that is not being utilized? Have you withheld forgiveness?  Maybe there’s someone you know, whom you need to reach out too.

Be bold!  The Word says, “and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

Don’t get stuck in safety and comfort. Go explore something new.  Nothing ventured truly is nothing gained.  Do something todayAnything, just do something.

Leave a comment.  I’d love to hear what God is stirring in you!!

Never too late!

Ever feel like you missed your big opportunities or lost dreams somewhere along the way?  Does it seem like everyone ELSE is in the race, on course, and you haven’t even made it to START?  I know how you feel!!

I ran a race several years back that changed my perspective on “late starts”.

Every Thanksgiving, the YMCA of Dallas puts on an annual Turkey Trot in the heart of downtown.  It’s 35,000 participants includes runners, walkers and dogs.

Turkey_Trot_logo

I trained to run the Turkey Trot with a best ever race pace.  For months, I worked harder than I had yet, preparing to take my minutes per mile to a new level.

Thanksgiving day came, and I was ready!  However, somehow both Brad and I had miscalculated by half an hour.  We arrived after everyone had started.  I mean everyone; 8 mile runners, 3 mile runners, 3 mile walkers and 3 mile walkers with short legged wienie dogs.

I couldn’t believe it.  This was MY RACE, and I missed the start.  Perplexed, I looked at my husband.  There was no way I was going home without a race.  I secured the timing chip on my shoe, kissed him and took off; the very last.  I weaved and sidestepped, careful not to step on any pooches (or their poop!).  The back of the race was so s – l – o – w.  It was such a picture of life and our dreams!

That day it didn’t matter that I was at the back.  In fact, it ended up being THE most inspiring race I ever ran.  There was no one faster than me that had not already started way ahead of me.  No one passed me, and I continously passed others the entire race.  I wouldn’t recommend running a race that way. But, despite the poop and side step delays, I kicked some serious asphalt that day (and ran my best race pace ever).  runningshoes

Likewise, when you are called to a specific dream, don’t let time or setbacks keep you from going for it.  The course and the obstacles you encounter may be different than you expect, but obstacles are there anyway, so just determine to run the race you are called to and don’t hold anything back!

I’m 46 and only beginning to recognize my unique calling.  It’s not easy, but I’m having an absolute blast!   Like my race, it’s not about when you start or what others are doing in their race.  Just get in yours!  Then, go full throttle, using all that life has trained you with, and go for it.

It’s never too late.  The truth is, your race starts long before you even get to the start line.  Sometimes, that which sets you back, may just be what gives you the edge you didn’t even expect you needed.