Clouds in the Sky

On work days, I strive to eat in a half hour and walk for another 30 minutes. It gives me the best kind of lunch break, for me, a gal that loves nature and experiencing all of her senses. I love the feel of the sun and the breeze, the songs of birds, the scent of flowers (and even weeds), the buzz of bee’s, and the sight of the clouds fluffy, yet huge in the sky.

Today, I was half way down our lane when I realized that I was hearing a bit of thunder. My walking pace slowed as I pondered the possibility of rain. Decided that I didn’t mind getting a bit wet, then considered that the sound of thunder meant lighting in these parts. Yet, I saw no streaks of lighting in the sky, so I continued. I prayed to God up in the heaven’s. I said, “Lord, you know I need this walk, if you could keep me safe from lighting I would sure appreciate it….I need to live at least another 10 years if you don’t mind! Then I proceeded to be grateful for the beauty of the day, admiring clouds as I walked.

When I started out, there was a mixture of stormy looking skies and bright blue and fluffy white cloud looking skies. On my way back I noticed that above me, in a path before me was pure blue and fluffy white cloud skies and I could tell the sun was trying to peek out. On each side of me were dark skies and no sight of pure blue beyond in either direction. It was like God had given me a path back home of pure blue, fluffy cloud skies. “Amazing!” I said to the Lord, right out loud. “Bless you and thank you Lord!” I continued thanking the Lord for anything in sight and as I approached home, the sun came out from behind one of those fluffy clouds and shone its light down upon me and everything around me. Now, THAT was cool!

Lesson? Talk to the Lord when you have the chance, you’d be surprised what that can do for you!

PS: For any who may be concerned about my work ethic, and the time it took me to write this, I have some COMP time coming and I planned to use some of it today anyway. Don’t worry, I will keep track of my time! This story just had to be told.

Help Me Rest

I think most of you know that I read – a lot. I enjoy reading fiction where the characters are fascinating, and I enjoy reading self help, and lately a lot of spiritual themed works.

I have read half of the Sensible Shoes series (4 books in all), by Sharon Garlough Brown. The story is about 4 women and their spiritual journey’s. I enjoy the characters and two of the characters have hang ups similar to mine. These books have discussion guides at the end if you are interested in using them for a book club.

So far I have discovered a few things about myself (and God), thanks to the first 2 books that I have read. I have been trying to discern a purpose or a passion for my life from this day forward. I have time to do more good in the world, but struggle with what exactly that is supposed to be. Hannah, one of the characters in the book, learned that this burden can be lifted off of ourselves if we simply realize that God knows us well enough to know what will catch our attention. If he wants us to follow a certain path, He will make that known to us. She states that when we put confidence in our ability to hear God, it places all the burden of responsibility on us. I was constantly trying to discern a message from God. How much better to put our confidence in His ability and desire to speak to us – which allows us to put the burden on Him!

So help me rest in you, Lord. And give me patience to wait and the wisdom to see and hear what you lay before me.

Source: Two Steps Forward: A Story of Persevering in Hope, by Sharon Garlough Brown

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?