It is a beautiful day in Wisconsin – finally!

There is nothing like a sunny breezy day.  Going for a walk this evening was pure pleasure.  I even did some singing!  Definitely got my steps in 🙂

Tonight I want to share another concept from the book, “Imagine Heaven.”

Jesus used an agricultural metaphor to teach this:  “Wake up and look around.  the fields are already ripe for harvest.  The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life.  What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!”  (John 4:35-36 NLT, italics mine).  Helping people find faith and grow spiritually might get you mocked or persecuted in the short run, but it will one day bring you great, great joy!

When we take the time to help others find Jesus – he will reward us!  When you help others spiritually, no one may even notice, but God cares!

Source:  Imagine Heaven, by John Burke (a New York Times Bestseller!).

 

 

LOVE – How is it measured?

Last week I worked only two days out of five – one day was admittedly a vacation day (I spent it cleaning a house that our family wants to rent out).  The other two days I spent taking my dad to doctor appointments.

His regular doctor is telling me that it is time to let dad rest. It is no longer wise to keep encouraging him to walk and exercise each day. If he prefers a wheel chair to his walker, it is time for me to accept it.

She said it more kindly than the way I am saying it. I have a tendency to state things as they are.  Perhaps I could be described as blunt.

What really had me crying in the doctors office however wasn’t necessarily that piece of information. It was when they gave me the depression scale and told me I could help dad with it.  I read it to him and became increasingly upset as he continued to circle the statements as true. Things like, “I feel down much of the time.” The killer for me was when he circled yes to, “I feel like I am letting my family down.”  I said, “Dad, how could you be letting us down? Why would you feel that way?”

And of course like all the other times I ask a question, he either isn’t hearing me, or he cannot answer. My dad is as hard of hearing as any human being can be.  He wears hearing aids that don’t do much. The audio department in the clinic says these are the best kind of hearing aids for my dad, but really, it is amazing what he cannot hear.  Amazing and depressing.

So, the biggest thing that I have gotten from reading, “Imagine Heaven” by John Burke is this:  Life on earth is all about love.  The more we can love others the closer we are to fulfilling our purpose here on earth.

It is easy to love family (for me anyway). And I would imagine that we are meant to make a difference for those that we come in contact with during our every day lives.

But I have seen others love more. I have seen others give so much that I can’t imagine how they have anything left.  How do they do that? How do they find the energy? If I don’t have that kind of energy, is that OK?

Is it possible that I am no different than these others?  That perhaps they cry easily too?  That perhaps they are just as worn out as I am?

Check out Revelation 21:4; “The earth will change. There will be no fear, no hatred, and no hunger or pain. Only love” Quote from page 171 of “Imagine Heaven.”

Ready for your research project?  Google Akiane’s paintings of “The Prince of Peace” and “Father Forgive Me.”  Akiane’s story is in the book, “Imagine Heaven.”

That’s it for now.

Imagining Heaven to help us with life’s trials

It has been a difficult week. The Bothne House where my dad has been living comfortably for over a year flooded in Coon Valley, WI this past week. All the residents were evacuated in the middle of the night, and I found out the next morning that my father had been taken to Vernon Memorial hospital in Viroqua and that he was safe. That is #1 right? He is safe.

I found myself back at square one however.  A need to find a new assisted living facility that can provide his needs, yet give him the freedom he needs to live his own life.  That is what assisted living facilities give our loved ones.

These last few days after the flood have been full of all the same self doubt thoughts that I went through in 2015 when we first found out that dad could no longer live on his own.  Do I bring him home to live with me?  Do we sell our house and purchase one that will “work” when dad is under our roof?  This old house wasn’t built right.  One bedroom and one bathroom on the ground level (dad can no longer navigate steps). There are tons of painful reasons why we continue to choose to place dad in assisted living.  Perhaps the biggest reason is his stubbornness. He listens to strangers and accepts their care, letting his children care for him seems to be something else entirely.  Assisted Living also gives him a social life, even though he claims he does not need one.  We all need other people.

In spite of the crazy busyness of the last few days, I have found a few minutes to read (as always), and I am still in the middle of “Imagine Heaven.” John Burke has certainly opened my eyes to the joy we will eventually feel when we join Jesus in heaven.  He wrote:

There is something wired into us that we all long for, something we crave, and yet every human experience leaves us still searching.  As U2 sings, “But I haven’t found what I’m looking for.”  All our longings point toward Heaven, and those who have had Near Death Experiences say it’s more real and far more beautiful than we can imagine.”

John Burke uses scripture and the stories of hundreds of people who have experienced Near Death Experiences to help us imagine heaven.  He says:

How did hundreds of people – doctors, airline pilots, bank presidents, tenured professors – who din’t need to make up wild stories to make money (and would lose professional credibility doing so), come to describe an amazingly similar place?

I believe he has a point. He also says, “The verses in Hebrews  suggest that God created Earth in the image of Heaven, just as he created mankind in his image.”

Jesus’s disciple, John  had a vision of Heaven (recorded in Revelation).  Check it out in your bible. (Revelation 21:10 – 12, 19, 23). John Burke says:

I used to think the descriptions in Revelation were purely metaphorical. While I still think much is symbolic, when so many people with Near Death Experiences (even blind ones) describe the same supernatural beauty John described, you have to wonder! If it’s true, imagine how awesome, how intriguingly beautiful, how much like earth Heaven will feel, and yet so much more alive, all of it vibrant, colorful, infused with the very light and life of God permeating everything.

This book is definitely a good read. And reading it gives me hope for the future, my future and my dad’s, right at a time when I need it the most.

Have you wondered what Heaven could be like?

I am reading some fascinating stories about Near Death Experiences in a New York Times Bestseller right now that has been out on the market since 2015.  The book is called, “Imagine Heaven” by John Burke.  John has researched the many books that have been written about Near Death Experiences.  John explains that in writing his book he has mostly “chosen the testimonies of professors, medical doctors, wealthy professionals, or children, who don’t seem to have anything to gain by such amazing stories.”

Captain Dale Black, author of Flight to Heaven says,

Imagine Heaven is a comprehensive compilation of inspiring life-after-death experiences – grounded in the author’s solid Bible teaching.  Extensively researched yet enjoyable to read, John Burke’s book is a must-read for those wanting a thorough understanding of Heaven.

He uses the stories he has researched and scripture to explain his thoughts and help us imagine heaven.  For example, he says,

“Maybe the reason we never feel fully satisfied in this life is because we were created for the life to come.  As Paul said, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:18, 22).  What if this life is merely a birth canal into true Life?  Imagine – to live again, forever young, but with wisdom too?

Burke uses many stories to help us imagine heaven and not surprisingly there is a lot of reference to the power of love.  For example:

Gary Wood, who died in the car accident (mentioned earlier in the book), said, “A radiant, beautiful light came from Him.  When He looked at me, His eyes pierced me, they went all the way through me.  Just pure love….His words came as the same sound as the water flowing over Niagara Falls….’Tell people they are special and unique, each one.  God made every one of His children to have a divine purpose, which only they can accomplish in the earth.'”

Don Piper who wrote the book, “90 Minutes in Heaven:  A True Story of Death and Life” after he was crushed by an 18-wheeler and pronounced dead for 90 minutes, wrote the forward for “Imagine Heaven.”  He prays that many will “read this balanced, relevant, and penetrating analysis of the Bible’s report of Heaven and these stories of the fortunate few who have experienced Heaven during a temporary separation from earth, and will embrace the utterly urgent need to prepare for their own entrance into eternity.”

Are you prepared for life after death?

What brings you joy?

Someone asked me what lifts my heart this morning.  I took a few seconds to really think about it.  I had done some listening to Christian music on the way in to work, and when I choose to sing along, it usually lifts my spirits considerably.  So my response to my co-worker was, “Well, I guess I find joy in singing some good Christian Music.”  A student walked in then and our conversation ended.

How often do you listen to Christian Music?  Do you need something to lift your spirits at times?  I printed out the lyrics to some of my favorite songs, like “I can only Imagine,” by MercyMe and What Faith Can Do, by Kutless. This way, I can glance at the words and sing at the top of my lungs while I am driving.

Have you sung the lyrics for “What Faith Can Do?  Do try it some time….what an uplifting and beautiful song.
What Faith Can Do, by Kutless – Lyrics

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don’t have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That’s what faith can do

Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

 

Source:  Internet, For non-commercial use only, Data From: LyricFind

Home Maintenance and Inspiration

Yesterday we painted the walls in our bedroom.  I needed a new look.  I realized some time ago that I have always chosen neutral colors when painting in our home (my husband is the construction guy, and I am the painter).  Neutral colors because that is what “they” advise.  “They” being those who write about home improvement issues.

At this stage in my life I feel like I NEED my home to reflect who I am…and I want to feel comfort and joy in my color choices.  It wasn’t easy choosing colors.  Luckily things like the color of the carpet kept me from getting too wild with my choices.  Now looking at the finished results, I have to say that I am quite pleased.  Three of the walls are “Spiced Ginger” – a Dutch Boy brand color (if you want to look that up),  and the fourth wall is “Lava Flow.”  So, imagine the color of lava flow.  Yes, I know!  It is pretty bright….but guess what?  I love it!  And it compliments the work of art that I purchased for that wall some time ago.

So, given inspiration, I have chosen colors that we both like.  I did pray on the way to Menards, our local home and building store, because I knew the colors I was looking at were out there a ways and I knew they would not compliment our blue grey carpet in that room, which the hubby says is not old enough to replace.  I even found a bedspread and matching shams at Shopko, on sale!  I took my little paint color strips in with me to make sure.  That bedspread has my paint colors in it, PLUS the colors in the carpet and curtains….so Walla!  It is a miracle (or prayers answered), however you want to look at it.  The picture I shared includes all colors – cool huh?  Still some work to do of course – the work is never done.

Oh, and the living room is next.  That will happen this fall.  I get to throw out the couch that has been shedding little black flecks of vinyl all over the place….UGGHHH!  Yes this has tried my patience.  Needing inspiration to be patient!

Thoughts on leading a passionate life

IMG_2925I attended a conference in Arizona recently for work.  The key note speaker was Greg Levoy.  I thought I would share some of what he spoke about that day.  Exact quotes will have quote marks around them.

“Passion breeds passion and disinterest breeds disinterest.  If we lack passion in our own lives, our other relationships will be denied that energy – our partnerships, friendships, communities, classrooms and corporations.”

Isn’t that heavy? Or should I use the word, deep.  Read that again.

He says we all struggle.  We all have a desire for passion, but need a sense of control – a sense of security.  He says we deal with the tug of war between passion and security all the time.  They fight each other! Security tends to win.

How to stay passionate about your life, you ask?  Greg’s advice is, “Get up in the morning – go out and stay active!  That is how you stay passionate about your life!”

Other quotes from Greg Levoy that will give you cause to think.

“Passion comes & goes”

“Life is capable of knocking the stuffing out of people!”

“A sense of adventure is important!”

Check out his most recent book which has  become quite popular.  Vital Signs:  Discovering & Sustaining Your Passion for Life, By Greg Levoy

Source:  Keynote speaker, Greg Levoy at the NCDA conference in Phoenix, AZ – June, 2018

Thank God that there is a God, for what would we do without Him!

Living life on this earth isn’t easy.  I think we can all agree to that.  So having someone to turn to when things get tough is huge for me.  Yes, we can rely on friends and family to help, but human beings have only so much to give before they have to pull back and take care of themselves in order to continue to give.

So, who can we turn to when things get really tough?  Who do you give your pain too?  Who listens and never gets tired of listening?  When our burdens get more than we can carry, who do we turn them over to?  Jesus, that’s who.  And having a relationship with Him sure helps you to turn to Him faster when things get tough.

I used to think, “Have a relationship with Jesus?  What do you mean by that?  I have always believed, is that what you mean?”

To find out the answers to those questions, I did a LOT of Christian reading.

Not every book or video touches your soul.  You need to find the right speaker/author.  So, I encourage everyone out there to do a bit of research.  Give a few authors/speakers a try.  Here are a few to check out:

  • Jan Karon
  • Sarah Young
  • Stormie Omartian
  • Karen Kingsbury
  • Richard Paul Evans
  • Joseph Girzone
  • Rick Warren
  • Matthew Kelly
  • Joyce Meyers
  • Norman Vincent Peale
  • Max Lucado
  • And The Bible of course

Thank you God, thank you Jesus, thank you Holy Spirit.  I thank you, I praise you.  I am grateful for your time and attention.  I couldn’t have continued without your love and support.

Just two examples of life’s struggles:

Spring, 2015 my dad became ill and ended up in assisted living.  If you have ever had a parent who has had to go through this, you know how painful it is for the family, how time consuming it can be.

Fall of 2016, that last back injury was almost more than I could handle.  Thanks Lord for your healing power.  It has taken over a year to heal and in many ways I am still healing….but am now physically healthier than I have been in a long time.

Then on top of all that, I have had friends and family members struggling with cancer.

Can you get through life’s struggles without Him?  I can’t.