That Sweet By and By

Happily ever after used to be my battle cry.

I was sure I would see Jesus in that sweet by and by.

I couldn’t seem to find my dreams no matter how I tried,

So I began to drown inside the ocean I had cried.

 

Jesus never seemed to tire as He caught each falling tear.

I know He wished I’d let go of my paralyzing fear.

He made sure that the way to Him was always crystal clear,

But I put up my obstacles and would not let Him steer.

 

He bid me trust and promised that He’d never told a lie,

His precious love so much more than simply pie in the sky.

I loved Him more than anything and said that I would try,

But wondered if I had been wrong when I began to die.

 

I gave up the steering wheel and prepared myself to veer.

I let go of everything but decided to stay near.

His sweet loving word of comfort was all my heart could hear.

He showed me miles of faces, and I saw those I held dear.

 

Some were here and some in heaven, but all were filled with cheer,

When they saw I realized their love would always be near.

That sweet by and by is not in the sky; it’s always here.

The love I sought, already bought, by Someone very dear.

On the Way Home:)

On the way home last night, the breathtaking sunset made it difficult for me to drive. The sun was huge and the most brilliant orange I have ever seen. I like to pray when I drive, so I turned off the music and soaked in the silence and the scene God placed before me. I was stilled by His presence and had the sweet feeling I always have when I’m heading home. I had been visiting a friend in the hospital and was in great spirits because his spirits were soaring as his pain was gone. I thanked God for the successful surgery and decided to sing for a while. I love to sing to God when I drive for the same reason I love to sing to Mylah when I rock her to sleep; they both love me and care more about the love expressed than the correct key:)

The sweet message God had for me was that walking in His kingdom is simply coming home. I never thought of it in that way. In fact, I’ve always considered it to be more about leaving home and giving up the security home represents. God made it very clear that home is where my heart is, and my heart is with Him as never before. It has taken me a very long time to come to this place of peace, and I thank God, dear friends, and my family for helping me get here.

Repentance is about turning away from that which takes me away from God and turning toward Him. Turning is the key to walking in God’s kingdom and getting started on the way home. When I come to the place of understanding that I have to choose which way I will go, then I can begin the journey home. Home is where my heart is, and I have found it with my son’s sweet family. I thank God for the amazing home He’s given us and for the Holy Spirit’s help in seeing this journey in a new and beautiful light. The western horizon was on fire with a glorious display last night, and I could hear God bidding me to come home.

Heaven is pie in the sky for many, and I’ve been guilty of thinking of it that way myself. How wonderful to see this journey as a trip home. There’s nothing better than heading home, and that’s true even if I’m returning from a wonderful vacation. There’s something inside me that shifts gears as I turn and go toward the love I know is waiting for me. I love the feeling I get when I’m about four miles from home and know I’m only minutes away.

It’s a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual feeling all in one, and I had it more powerfully last night than ever before in my life as God assured me I was heading in the right direction. The Lord made an amazing day for me yesterday, just as He does every day, but I enjoyed it more because I let go of my plans and went with His. When I caught myself planning, worrying, or getting off track, I quickly got my heart back where it belongs.

I smiled at each stumble and thought, “I’m on my way home!!” God kept me very busy yesterday in ways I didn’t expect, but it was a beautiful busy that involved playing with the girls, enjoying the beauty around me, and some special visits He had in mind. He even included my plans in His, but He saved them for last and wowed me with more than I could have imagined on my own.

There was lot of healing in my path yesterday, but the best part was knowing my heart is in good hands and I’m on my way home. I don’t know if the journey home will take forty minutes or forty years, but I plan to trust God and rejoice and be glad in each day. I feel His presence as never before, and that’s much better than that four mile marker when I’m driving home:)

All I Ever Need to Know

I used to think I had to die to get into God’s kingdom. That’s true when it comes to heaven, but I can walk in His kingdom now. It’s a lesson I first learned four years ago, but I only recently embraced and applied the learning. I’ve walked in a lot of kingdoms, but nothing compares to living, loving, and connecting in His kingdom now. Like Mylah, I’m still a little shaky; but I’m slowly getting my kingdom legs and am anxious to use them. Unlike walking in earthly kingdoms where independence is the key, walking in God’s kingdom requires that I acknowledge my need for help from the Holy Spirit.

Getting my kingdom heart was a painful process that took a while, but God’s lessons in love gave me the confidence I needed to keep going when I didn’t think I would ever be able to love and live as He desires. The lessons in prayer have brought stillness that steadied my heart and my legs:) All the lessons helped me differentiate, and that is not an easy thing to do. I now know who God is, and I know who I am. That’s essential when walking in His kingdom. I want what God wants, and the lessons last week brought perspective and closure in a way that brought me nearer to Him and to those in my path.

God has been patiently waiting for me to understand and let go of the fear that was keeping me from walking in His kingdom. He knew exactly what I needed and provided it as only He can. I have the tendency to learn the hard way, but I’m hoping to do better in that regard as I listen more carefully to God and worry less about those who take on His role. It’s so sweet when a very long wait is over, and I begin this next leg of the journey filled with joy knowing that the plans God has are much better than anything I can imagine. I have no idea what He has in store, and that is exactly what walking in His kingdom entails. I don’t have a map or an itinerary so please don’t ask me for one. All I know is that I am walking in God’s kingdom now, and that’s all that I ever need to know:)

The Sound of My Own Voice:)

When I talk with a dear friend about what’s on my heart, I am often surprised by the sound of my own voice in an atmosphere of honest communion. As I returned to the week my mama died, I let out some frustration and found that I was hanging on to something I needed to release. I also realized my selfish need for the world of others to stop when mine does. It cannot, and I’m thankful God helped me see that this week. In fact, He made it clear that the world doesn’t ever stop. It brings me to my knees when it spins out of control, and it puts me flat on my face when I try to stop it. When I look up and remember Whose world it is and Whose child I am, I find the balance I need to walk and love in His kingdom here and now.

Yesterday was a fourteen hour day with the girls, and my patience wore thin as Lillyann refused to put away her Kindle, go to the bathroom, and lie down. Poor Mylah was awakened by the music at the end of her movie, so I had two girls awake at nine o’clock. I didn’t lose my temper, thank God, but I did wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just live somewhere else, pop in once in a while with some goodies and a little cooing, and be a different sort of Gigi. I really didn’t like the sound of my own voice in the atmosphere of impatience and knew that I wouldn’t trade living with and loving this sweet little family for anything in this world. Living and loving, like praying, requires a deep connection that is much more than once in a while. It is the forever love in 1 Corinthians 1-13.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or aclanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;  but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.  When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. NASB

I told Lillyann that I couldn’t help her if she didn’t listen and obey. I could hear God in my own voice and had to smile. I am very like little Lillyann when it comes to obeying, and I know that getting her and myself where we need to be is not a simple task. I don’t want to take the easy path when it comes to loving God, Mylah, Lillyann, or anyone else, and I thank God for not taking the easy path when it comes to loving me. Love is not giving in or giving up. It is giving as I’ve never given before. The girls may not understand now, just as I often don’t understand God, but they will when it matters:) I plan to keep listening to God and doing what I know He wants me to do. That’s love, and that’s not always easy, but experiencing love at its truest level is worth whatever God asks me to do. 

I can do my best and love the best way I know how my entire life and be miserable in my failure at love, or I can love the way God loves and find Him in the love I have for myself and for those in my path. There is no self help book or video that explains love any better than the beautiful scripture above. God continues to bring me back to His Word and His way when it comes to loving because He is love and the best teacher ever. With His help, I’m learning:)

Child’s Play:)

Luke 17:18 and Mark 10:15 say the same thing about entering God’s kingdom.

Luke 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” NASB

Those verses have taken on greater meaning for me over the past few weeks as I’ve lived with children in a most beautiful way. I love the sound of little excited voices and delight in the sounds of play whether above or beside me:) I’m surrounded by the sounds of love and laughter and love every moment.

Children live in the moment, and I love that they can be playing full steam one moment and asleep the next. I marvel at their ability to change gears and go from one activity to the next. I decided when I first moved in that my living room would be the home’s loving room and went with an invitational design. It’s not innovative, and nothing really matches, but it’s the perfect room for plopping or playing.

I have my desk for studying, a table for coffee and reading, a table for the girls, a big comfortable couch with lots of soft cushions (Lillyann’s favorite thing about the house:), a great rocker recliner that looks out at the amazing view, an old TV that’s sole purpose is to play Mere’s old Disney VHF movies, and a big clear area in the middle in which to play or exercise. I’m sure a design team from HGTV would shake their heads in dismay, but the girls light up when they come in; and that’s all the approval I need.

My bedroom is a beautiful sanctuary, but I find myself staying and praying in the loving room most of the time. I know when the pool is filled, the room will also be filled with folks coming in and going out. Like Lillyann, I can’t wait to jump in! Every sunny day, she asks if we can put water in pool. I love the sweet optimism and eager excitement of children and know God does too. I pray we will all show the same for Him.

If you aren’t experiencing God’s kingdom here on earth, take some time to play with children. Their wisdom is amazing, and their enthusiasm is contagious. God knew that I was ready for the advanced lessons in love Lillyann and Mylah could teach me, so He set up a very special graduate course for me and even put me on an amazing campus designed to help me get the full effect of those lessons. I feel like a kid every time I think of Him, and that’s a good sign I’m heading in the right direction and walking in His kingdom:)