Hope, Keeping it Real

Glimpses of Heaven on Earth

I think I need to give into the fact that this is the current situation and it would make sense that when I write it would be fertile ground for sharing pieces of hope and encouragement just as much as any other set of difficult circumstances. 

If I told you about how many times in the last 72 hours I saw and felt God at work in the most amazing, profound and stunning ways you would literally just be blown away. I do want to summarize and share some pieces of that in hopes that you would see Him today in a whole new light and be reminded, perhaps, of how big He is and maybe, like myself, have kind of put Him in a limited box or space from time to time. That makes me sick to my stomach, but after these few days I can see how I have done that before, again, still and even now. 

Do you know that dying is hard work? I never really thought of that but watching it happen and how our bodies literally are either in fight or flight at all times is just amazing. We are created so intricately, so purely attached and sewn together by His hand that it is just almost too much. Watching someone inching closer to reaching for Jesus’ outstretched hand and her body say, not, not yet, is the most beautiful and awful experience all at once.  As crazy as this all seems and sounds, there are people surrounding me during this time that have witnessed pieces of all of these things for themselves. Yes, there are days and nights when I am not sure if I am dreaming or delusional but I tell you what I think that God actually has given me a clear vision of some pretty fantastic things. 

Watching a person fight like hell, watching how our body responds when it starts to die and yet goes into a place of fighting to hang on is so fascinating. Fight or flight. Hold on and let go. All at the same time. There it is again. The both/and. 

Yesterday I know that I saw a glimpse of heaven, and that my mom saw a vision of the after. Not maybe the afterlife, although that picture was definitely shared with her but the after for her children and specifically for me. .

Our day started in a quiet space. I was up really early as sleep is just hard to come by at the moment. I had some nice classical church hymns playing and the blinds drawn. The princess suite (the area created for my mom to rest) was very peaceful and serene. While mom was struggling to utter more than one word sentences, struggling to feed herself (she still tries and then we take over for her) and all of this is happening, she starts to cry. When I asked her if she was sad she said yes. I asked her if she wanted to talk about what was making her sad. She said yes and proceeded to tell me she was going to miss me.

Now, about that time, we had some visitors coming to the door to see us and while my bestie went to find them outside and bring them in I was able to say all of the things I wanted my mom to hear before she couldn’t respond at all. She might be unresponsive at some point (we know it is coming) and although she may be able to hear us, I guess I just needed to know by seeing her face and whatever response she could give that she had in fact heard me.I told her I loved her and that we were sad to see her go, but it was much harder to watch her suffer and that I knew that Jesus was waiting for her. So we cried together and then one of my other dear friends and his wife came in right as I had turned the volume down on the sound system. 

For awhile, we sat and talked about heaven and how awesome it was going to be. We visited and chatted and mom was still emotional, so I asked her if she wanted to line dance. She laughed. I changed the music to the kind of music she enjoyed and we listened to songs by Don Williams, Merle Haggard, etc. and a little sing along ensued. Stop right there. Maybe you are thinking that we have lost our minds, but I am telling you that humor and laughter is good and healthy as long as you counter that with feeling the emotions on the opposite ends of the spectrum and are not using humor as an avoidance tactic. I have experienced just about every emotion and feeling we could possibly know in hour-by-hour increments, minute-by-minute increments for quite some time now, so I am celebrating with the sense of humor, sarcasm and wit that runs deeply in this family.

As our visit started to wind down, after a whole lot of sharing faith, hope, experience and worship, I asked my friends to pray with me over my mom. And so there the 4 of us stood and we praised God and we shared our pleas for complete healing and a peaceful transition.

Do you know that I had thought about or dreamed about calling those very same people to come visit and pray with me? Do you know that I had not uttered a word about that and my person took it upon herself to call them for me and I had no idea. When she told me that they were coming out, I was stunned and there may have been more snot-crying. She thought I was upset, and I said, “No, you don’t understand. I either dreamed it or thought about it but I had already planned to call them because I had already seen us standing around mom just talking with our friend Jesus.” He knew what was going to happen and He had already shown me. She heard Him and she knew what I needed. That’s what love does. That’s how God works. 

Not even 2 hours after what felt like maybe close to some final hours with the condition mom was in, to the time she started one of her comfort meds and I am sitting there watching my mom who could not communicate well, feed herself, or walk/bathe/clothe/toilet herself and had tremors so bad it rattled every hard surface she touched able to communicate with more than one word responses, feed herself, walk with her walker, toilet herself and even partially re-dress herself and her tremors were gone. For me, that was a brief glimpse of the complete healing waiting on the other side. She will be able to do all these things and more. Also, I am not even sure that clothes are an optional or mandatory thing in Heaven so who knows if that even matters. 

We had a couple of what are we seeing here? Her time is coming closer and faster than we thought.I thought maybe we were being punked in the worst kind of way. Then we see a temporary comeback and then we slide further into another territory that is similar to where the whole thing started. For my mom, last night, we were in a cabin in Montana. She was so agitated and worried and restless which, if you don’t know, is part of the pre-dying phase, and it made the entire night really difficult to manage. But at least we were in a cabin in Montana.

 As the night/morning wore on and I literally lost count of how many times we got out of bed and to the chair and back, something else happened that I had also seen or dreamed, and had shared with people. 

While we were in that cabin in Montana, mom was worried about something and I literally met her there, and we talked about it and I assured her that everything was okay, the cabin had already been taken care of and that she had nothing to think about but resting and enjoying it. I asked her if it would help if I climbed into bed with her and just rubbed her arm. She said yes, and so I did. I climbed into that bed and did what God had shown me was already going to happen. 

I am even more sure of who He is. Dying is a birth story into the next life. And so, these different ebbs and flows in the process are much like false alarms in the labor process until when God says it is time, the baby comes. We wait with anticipation and all possible emotions in the meantime as a new baby comes into the world, and the fight or flight instinct is very present there as well. 

This is just a little snippet of a beautifully painful and joyful glimpse of leaving this earth, graduating into Heaven and all of the pieces of heaven on earth mixed in to boot. 

Trust Him. Trust that He does know our every thought and need. Trust that He can see what we cannot see and sometimes, He shares a glimpse of what’s coming. Thank you Jesus!

Hope, Keeping it Real

Never Too Late

I have not been able to prioritize writing over the last few months. Oh, I have had a lot on my mind and a lot to say, but this was never really meant to be a personal journal type of blog that only contained my recent season and current experience in the first place. So I did not write, and if I am honest, probably mostly because this was not how I intended to utilize this platform, but apparently God has a better idea of what is going on and needs to happen. 

Honestly, I kept hearing God telling me that He never wastes a hurt and that someone else may hear a piece of the story that will unlock a prison, release a chain or give them hope anyway. I ignored it, and the brutally honest truth is that I was having a hard time seeing the joy in the middle of this hellish experience. It’s in there, joy has always been there because He is there and here and everywhere; I just didn’t know how to find that piece for a bit. 

And then…..

Backstory and a quick one: My mother has finally come to terms with the fact that we are not going to win this battle and agreed to start hospice care. All of that was not in a pretty little bow, but we got there. It officially started a few days ago, and I have to tell you that I feel like the cavalry has arrived. It has, I tell you. The letdown of the adrenaline and pure grit that I have been operating on for the last several months is overwhelming in the best kind of way. Just a few days into this, and not all the moving pieces in place and I feel like a ton of bricks just got dropped on me emotionally, but the physical weight has also been left. It is odd and beautiful. It is sad and joyous. It is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Just another both/and scenario. 

Jesus told us this in so many ways, and it hit me hard in the last 24 hours that He has and is still with and for me. Just as He is with and for you through any and every.little.thing. Seriously, how do we become so unaware of that? The scripture puts it right out there plain as day. 

John 13:7-You don’t understand now what I am doing, but later you will understand.

Yesterday, I heard my mom talking to an old friend that practices a different religion than I do. They were talking about the rapture. For me, that means ‘second coming’ and so when the friend told my mom that they did not believe that was true and that it really wasn’t in the Bible anyway I about lost my mind. I heard mom say that it was in the Bible, it was in Revelations. (Super proud and wonderful moment there.) The friend says, “We think that the book of Revelations is mostly symbolic.” Okay, well duh. The friend says, “Jesus did not say it anyway.” My heart broke for this friend and it broke my heart even worse knowing that my mom may be tempted to believe that. The truth is, that Jesus tells us throughout the Bible that He is coming again, and that if we have given our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior we will see Him face to face. There was further conversation between the two about heaven, hell and purgatory and I was annoyed, somewhat triggered, and told my mom after they hung up that it was really cool that she knew what Jesus said through Revelations and that it was, in fact, throughout the Bible that He was and is going to return. I left it at that. 

At 2:30 this morning, it hit me. I was thinking, planning, not sleeping and figuring out how to utilize the team that God has placed around me to support me and our family during this time, and it hit me that my mom was not feeling at peace about things as to where she will graduate when this time is over with. How heartbreaking. Maybe somewhat normal to not be sure, but still heartbreaking.

 I know that she was saved when she was 7 or 8 years old. I have written proof of that in my possession and I know that we don’t earn that salvation and I truly don’t believe you can lose that. Once you are a YES girl, you are a Jesus girl. Period. 

And I was prompted again to help bring her peace, and when I caught on to what He was asking me and how He was reminding me that despite the trouble, He has overcome. Despite the short season of suffering and pain, there is a pain-free, unfathomable perfect home in Heaven waiting. I must have asked Him the question, “What do you want me to do here?” And with a big, fat heavenly, straight from God answer He told me. Help bring her peace. Honor her, and help her to understand. I think I know what He wants me to do, and He has provided me the words and wisdom; the people, and the opportunity to provide her assurance and peace that she will be meeting Jesus face-to-face and in her heart of hearts she knows the truth, and the truth will set her free. She has already asked so many things that would go against what the religion she follows is absolutely against and for me, there is no more real picture than knowing Jesus and the truth deep, deep in her heart. That brings me peace!

In a step of obedience, to be an instrument in the peace process, I made the phone call to a dear friend and brother. Before I even uttered the words that I was about to ask him, he said yes. I am not even kidding. As soon as I am able to have a conversation with her about how I sense that she is unsettled about what will happen when she graduates, where she is going and whether she has truly been saved or not I will. And then, I can make that phone call and that friend will come. He will stand in the gap, answer the questions, and help me to bring some peace and assurance that PRAISE GOD she will be seeing Jesus and she will be completely healed when that day comes. I am also at peace knowing we may not get that opportunity, but I am confident and at peace enough for her. She gets to meet Jesus soon.

All of this to tell us this: there is hope, there is a purpose to every painful circumstance and experience and there is a Jesus that is alive and well working on our behalf in the middle of absolutely everything who will continue to draw us back to Him again and again and again. We are called to be His hands and feet, serving others as He would do, and helping them know peace right up until the very end. While our family manages the balance of heartbreak and hope, I pray that you will find peace, make peace or choose to renew your relationship with His peace. It’s never too late to be used by God. 

And friends, there is so much more that I am realizing and experiencing about community, faith, heartache, hope and all the things in between. The unreal phone calls and conversations, the willingness of dear friends to pray with and for me; to laugh and snot cry; to mourn and celebrate; to listen to me swing from all in Jesus girl to all sorts of anxious and slightly inappropriate Jesus girl; has been an incredibly treasured gift. All unknown to me at various points, but never unknown to Him. 

Wishing you peace today and always and the courage to do the next right, hard, nearly impossible thing that He asks of you.