Tag Archive | heaven

Christ Is My Reward

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, stream-of-consciousness style, without heavy editing. It’s harder than you think! Let’s see what I come up with today on the prompt “reward.” 

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When our dog was younger, we taught him some basic commands: sit, stay, lie down, come, back off, leave it. Stuff like that. Nothing extraordinary. We added roll over, shake, speak, when he had gotten the others down pat. Each time he obeyed, he would get a reward. In dog training, rewards are key.

In my life with Christ, I’ve had to learn that His love is not a reward that I have to earn. If I learn to obey well, I will receive His favor.

I’m so grateful that’s not how salvation works. He loves me no matter what. My reward comes in eternity from those things in which I’ve invested on earth. I’m not exactly sure what those rewards will look like. Will they be jewels in a crown that I then cast at His feet, signifying that all I did was for His glory? Will I have a bigger mansion than some if I do more for the Lord here on earth?

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Hillsong has a popular worship song that says:

Christ is my reward
And all of my devotion
Now there’s nothing in this world
That could ever satisfy

If, when I get to heaven, I have no crown waiting for me, if I have no jewels that sparkle in the sun, but I have Jesus, that will be enough.

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There’s A Place For Us

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for five minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what we come up with. Today’s prompt is “place.”

In the last month or so, we have been in the process of wondering where our second son is going to live next year for college. We are in the same city as his university, but he has lived on campus his first two years. The university has a housing lottery, however, and this time, his name was not chosen to have on-campus housing in the Fall.

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So, we waited until the second drawing and then when his name still wasn’t picked, we knew we would have to seek another place. He could always come home, but his financial aid covers housing, and the daily drive + parking madness would not be ideal for him. And lo and behold, even University affiliated off-campus housing would be cheaper than the dorm he’s in now.

So on Wednesday he and I set out to tour apartment complexes. Wow, are these places ever nicer than the one I lived in when I was in college.

We settled on one that is affiliated with the university and we signed the lease yesterday. It’s nice to know that he’ll have a place to live near campus in the Fall. Who he will live with is still up in the air.

All this got me thinking about how much comfort we find in having a place to call our own. We know at the end of a long day, or after a vacation, we can come home. Ideally, that place is safe, restful, comfortable, peaceful.

I’m not ignorant enough to believe that everyone’s home is this way. I know there is strife, noise, clutter. And I also know that there are so very many who have no place they can call home at all.

I’m so grateful that, eventually, I will be able to call heaven my home.

No more tears. No more sadness. No more sickness.

Indeed, as the children’s song goes, “Heaven is a wonderful place.”

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A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging—a book review and a giveaway!

Place to Land coverI’m a California girl, but I have lived in Florida for nearly 27 years. My parents are both gone now, and much of my extended family doesn’t live in the state anymore, but I will always consider California “home.”

There’s something about the place of our birth that binds us. It might be just a piece of land, but it holds a piece of our heart. But if that “place” no longer contains the people who meant so much, where do we find “home?”

I worked with an international missions organization for more than 30 years. People came from all over the United States to work at the headquarters. Along the way, many moved overseas to tell people about Jesus. Early on, my husband and I opened our home on holidays to friends who had no family nearby. To this day, we crowd our home with those who fit that category.

In Kate Motaung’s memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging (now available for order from Amazon), she wrestles with the question of home as she lives cross-culturally in South Africa and loses her mom to cancer while she’s overseas. (This is not technically a spoiler as it’s revealed in the very beginning of the book.)

Kate writes with candor about her home life, her parents’ divorce and her father’s remarriage. About forgiveness, about sin, about grief. And about home. Must we be all or nothing to the place we live? Does it matter where we live? If God has called us to service in one place, but all that we love is in another, do we lose? Or do we gain more than we can ever even see?Place to Land

In describing her feelings following her parents’ divorce, Kate writes, “One day, . . . Mom whisked Sarah and me off for a weekend away. When we got back, Dad was gone. The next afternoon, when I came home from school, he was still gone. And the day after that. And the day after that. Every morning that followed, for months, when Mom dropped me off in my second grade classroom, I went straight to the coat closet, tucked myself inside, and cried. Terrified that one day I would get home from school, and, like my dad, Mom would be gone too.”

Your heart will be captured when Kate expresses what losing her mom felt like. You will walk in her shoes as she eloquently describes landing on the foreign soil of South Africa. You will smile as she reveals how she felt when first meeting her husband, Kagiso. And you will weep with her as she lets go of her mom.

Turns out, “home” means much more than a location, and “A Place to Land” captures that truth in a story that you will not want to put down until you’re done.

A-Place-to-Land_3I will be giving away a copy of A Place to Land on April 6th. To enter for a chance to win, just leave a comment about what “home” looks like to you and why you would like to read this special book. I will pick a random winner on April 6th. Don’t miss a chance to be challenged and changed by this beautiful book.

Meanwhile, visit Kate Motaung’s author page here. You can also read the first chapter for free here.

 

 

10 Ways To Know Your Cats Love You

Ha ha ha ha! That’s a good one, isn’t it? Not only are there not 10 ways to know your cats love you, I’m not sure there’s even 1. But I’ve owned more cats than any other animal, so here’s what I’ve experienced in my more than 40 years of having kitty companions.

1. No two are the same, even if they look like it on the outside.

Here are Stella and Luna. They were abandoned and we adopted them in May. TheIMG_1421y are sweet little girls who wreck havoc in the most innocent way possible. Luna tends to cuddle with me more, but Stella has taken to coming in my room and jumping onto my bed and purring and pushing on me until I acknowledge her presence, even at 4 in the morning. Yea. That’s kitty love. Stella vocalizes more, and is the slightly smaller of the 2. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur when I first took her to the vet.She hasn’t had any issues since. Luna is a master lizard hunter and will growl at you if you try to take away her catch.They are virtually identical in looks, but different in personIMG_5206ality. Luna likes to be in or under something at all times. I can almost always tell which is which by what they’re doing. Unless they’re sleeping. Then they’re identical.

 

2. Even one who loves and trusts you can inflict pain.

Before Luna P1030013and Stella, we had Oreo. Oh my, what a big lover he was. He would snuggle up with me every night and curl himself into the curve of my body. He was big and he was rough and tumble102_0829. He loved to lie on his back with his belly bared for all to see. That was his favorite position. But don’t rub that belly or he’d dig those fangs into you in a second! He died unexpectedly 2 years ago yesterday. He was the first cat my kids knew from kittenhood. He was 17 weeks when we got him from a friend whose son wasn’t taking care of him as he should.

3. Even when you care for them their whole life, they’re not always going to act the way you want them to.

The first kitty I had when I moved away from home and started my adult life was a 5-week old little black ball of fluff living in the bushes where her mom was a straIMG_5086y. She fit into the palm of my hand.  Ashley lived to the ripe old age of 18. She was kind of crotchety and would growl at my husband if she was on the bed and he moved in a way she IMG_5085didn’t like. That didn’t go over very well with someone who doesn’t like cats in the first place. But she was my baby, totally devoted to me. She’d been  known to scratch people on a regular basis, but as seen100_0002 in the photo, when she was quite old, she let a toddler be her friend. She loved tuna, windmill cookies, and smoked turkey. Sometimes she would crawl all the way under the covers to the bottom of the bed. I always wondered how she could breath.

4. You never forget your first love.

My very first cat was Meshach, a Maine Coon. I only have very bad printed photos of hIMG_5083er, so forgive the quality. I got her when I was 13 and she passed away after I went away to college for my junior and senior years, about 7 years later. She was my baby, so she was devoted to me. She would sleep right on top of me and was with me all the time. It broke my heart when I learned she had died and I wasn’t there for her. It’s funny that though I very distinctly remember my sweet kitty, I don’t remember the fine details of life with her. But I remember the love. I remember that IMG_5084she would frequently get these sores on the bottoms of her hind legs that we could never figure out. We had to keep them bandaged and she walked funny while the bandages were on. Had Instagram and Facebook been around back then, I’m sure I’d have much more of a chronicle of her life.

So those are my feline friends, Meshach, Ashley, Oreo, Stella and Luna. I miss each one and never go very long before getting another after one passes away. It may be hard to say how they show their love, but somehow we just know they do.

I’d love to hear about your fluffy loves.

 

 

The Gift or the Giver?

What if on Christmas morning that gift that you’ve been longing for is under the tree? What would it be for you? The latest technology? The keys to a new car? That outfit you’ve been admiring in the store window?

What if, when you opened that gift, you said thank you to the giver, but then didn’t acknowledge him the rest of the day? What if, in the days and weeks to follow, whenever you talked to him, you just asked him for more stuff? You wouldn’t have much of a relationship with him, would you?

What if, instead of a gift under the tree, you found that person simply wanting to spend time with you? Would you be satisfied? Would it be enough simply to be with him? After all, you have let him into your life. You’ve told him you love him. If he never gives you the things that you want, but is always there by your side to listen, love and care for you, would that be enough?

I think that’s how I’ve been treating God lately. There are so many needs; not just my own. I have friends who have great concerns that I have promised to pray for. I have one nagging health issue that I really want to go away. So that’s what I’m asking for. But I’m not asking God to simply be with me, to enfold me in His arms and to keep me safe from the attacks of the enemy that would tell me God must not really love me if He keeps letting me experience this trial.

What do I really want, the Giver or the gifts He might give? Do I want heaven because of what it means to be there? No more tears, no more pain, streets of gold. Or do I long for heaven because it means perfect communion with God?

Today I am singing along: “All I want for Christmas is You.” Won’t you join me?

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photo credit: thedigestonline.com

Five Things That Make Me Think, “Really?”

upside-down-eagle_1842013iThere are so many upside down and backwards things happening in America these days, I don’t know what bothers me more; the fact that sinners keep sinning, or the fact that I’m bothered by that. If I want things to run smoothly, I’m just going to have to wait for heaven. Meanwhile, I thought I’d just vent a little bit about those things that just make me shake my head.

1. “The pro-choice” movement  justifies their stance that a baby in utero is not human–unless it’s wanted by its mother. There’s a man in Florida right now accused of murder for tricking his girlfriend into taking the abortion pill (misoprostol) causing her to lose their 6-week-old fetus to miscarriage. Had she gone to a doctor or a Planned Parenthood location and gotten the same drug and taken it willingly and knowingly–with or without the father’s knowledge–it would have been deemed her choice. The father basically does the same thing–wants to get rid of the “contents of the uterus” that he helped put there–but because the mother wanted it, the father is accused of murder. That’s patently ridiculous.

2. The IRS is involved with health care. What in the world have they got to do with health care? And why are they being allowed to do the things they’re doing? Again, ridiculous to the point of incredulity.

3. The present administration thinks that it’s OK to invoke this sequestration thing to supposedly reduce spending while still spending into the billions if not trillions of dollars. I have no words for the futility of their thinking.

4. The president calls a former basketball player congratulating him on “coming out” yet sends not one official, in office, serving politician to the funeral for Margaret Thatcher. I’m sorry, Mr. President, but your priorities, in my opinion, are screwed up.

5. People turn a deaf ear to the hypocrisy of our leaders. And I’m not pointing fingers at just one political party. I used to be a very trusting person, but years of hearing rhetoric spouted has made me very suspicious of anything any politician says. It appears that anyone will say anything to get people to vote for them. Power corrupts. That is an age-old truth.

Oh, how I long for heaven. And how I pray for our country and our leaders. God have mercy on us all.

What would you add to this list? What are some times you think people are just downright crazy and blind to think the way they do? I’d love to hear your respectful opinions. No personal bashing or name calling allowed.

 

Once Upon a Time

Last night, Morgan and I started watching the first season of the television show “Once Upon a Time.” The basic premise is that a black curse was cast upon all the inhabitants off a fairytale land wherein lived all the characters about which we grew up reading: Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, Gepetto. Jiminy Cricket, etc. The main characters are Snow White and Prince Charming, who were the impetus for the curse from the evil queen in the first place. This curse threw everyone into this alternate, horrible world (ours), into a little town in Maine, where no one knows who they really are or remembers their past. If you ask them, it’s all kind of a blur.

There is one boy there, Henry, who knows that there is a curse, and he’s figured out who most everyone is. He was adopted as a newborn by the mayor of “Storybrooke,” who is actually the Evil Queen. It seems as though she knows who she is, but not entirely. In the fairytale world, Henry is the grandson of Snow White and Prince Charming, because their daughter–Henry’s birth mother, Emma–was saved from the curse by being hidden in an enchanted tree. But I don’t think his adoptive mother knows that. It was foretold by the evil Rumplestiltskin that Emma would be the only one to break the curse. She would, on her 28th birthday, come back and save them.

Which is what is happening in the series.

What struck me about this show is the spiritual parallels it draws. Whether these are intentional by the creators and writers of the show, I don’t know; but they are obvious to me.

We live in a world under a curse

We have no hope here; our only hope lies in the place we were meant to be

The evil one is constantly trying to thwart our efforts to break his stronghold

We don’t really know who we are until we find our identity in Christ

As followers of Jesus, our job is to help people discover their true identities–children of the King

Figuring out what is true and what is not can be difficult sometimes

We can change the world and lift the curse

Good always wins

We haven’t yet learned why the Evil Queen (Regina, in the town of Storybrooke) hated Snow White so much. She said she took something from her that was very important, but they haven’t yet–as of episode 5 of the first season–revealed what that something is. Unless I missed it, which is entirely possible.

Hope is very important. Henry, when asked by his psychologist (the Jiminy Cricket character, whom he sees because Regina wants this whole “town under a curse and she’s the evil queen” thing to be counseled out of his brain) why it’s so important that his theory about the curse is true, said “because this can’t be all there is.”

You’re right, Henry: This isn’t all there is.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-3, New International Version.)

Thankful today for:

624. a retreat for the men in my  household

625. girl time

626. just the outer bands of a hurricane affecting us

627. sleeping in

628. a day with no agenda

629. pumpkin puree