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Awakened Abruptly

God woke me up from a sound sleep to remind me of His marvelous and overflowing grace in my life.

Several years ago I worked at a Christian conference center. Part of my job responsibility was to meet with prospective clients, to generate and coordinate new events for the conference center.

During this time, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with Barbara, the beautiful and gracious wife of the conference center’s president. Her smile and contagious love for life made it easy for us to become quick friends. Our friendship led to taking a “work” trip together after Barbara convinced her husband (my boss) that she should be my travel companion, partially for safety reasons. He agreed, after recalling my solo trip to Colorado, where a bear had given me quite a scare!

Blue Ridge Mountains

Our friendship and desire to glean expert advice for developing quality events led us to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. After a few delightful days sightseeing…including the Biltmore, we headed to our destination, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Ashville, NC. Here we spent hours viewing the beautiful facilities and attending a seminar session on prayer. Drawing so close to God in this setting, Barbara and I also opened our hearts to each other in the quietness of our room. Girls just seem to know how to go deep when all the makeup is washed away and the PJs are on.

The Cove

Prior to our trip, I learned that Barbara had been dealing with some major health issues. She had undergone two liver transplants two years prior to us meeting.

After exchanging some thoughts from our earlier prayer session, our conversation quickly turned to our love for Jesus and for our families. We discussed the importance of living out our faith passionately and with solid convictions based on God’s Word, so our children would desire this same kind of love for Jesus in their lives. We laughed and cried together the entire week, which ended way too soon.

Shortly after we returned home, Barbara became very ill and soon after went home to be with her LORD and Savior. I was deeply saddened, and at the same time so grateful to have had the opportunity to become friends with a woman who lived out such a vibrant faith, demonstrating genuine love for others and the grace of God.

God is still using our abbreviated friendship to remind me of God’s amazing grace in my life. As I alluded to in the beginning of this testimony, I was awakened abruptly the other morning from a deep sleep. I rarely recall much of my dreams, but this time it was so specific, and I knew it had special meaning for me.

My time spent with Barbara, especially during our trip, was vividly revisited during my dream. Awakening with some urgency, I began to recall more details of our time spent together. Barbara and I were very close in age, in fact, we were born just two days apart. We will both celebrate our birthdays in August. Barbara in Heaven, and me still here on earth. The following is what I believe God wants me to receive from my recent dream.

Life is short during our time on earth. The Bible says, we are like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Barbara was 46 when she passed away, leaving behind a loving family, including two children. She shared with me during our PJ hours her desire to see her children grow up, marry, and have their own children, etc., but she knew in her heart this may not happen. I believe that even though Barbara’s desire didn’t come to fruition on earth, my heart tells me that all is well with her soul, and that the vibrant Christ-filled life she lived before her children is continuing to live on through their lives.

As I quickly approach my 62nd birthday, I am once again reminded of the marvelous and overflowing grace God has shown me throughout my life. I praise Him for giving me the breath of life, for physical healing, giving me a loving and faithful husband for over forty four years, three amazing adult children, six grandchildren, a life of much love expressed through friends and family, and the desire to live for Jesus in a chaotic world.

I don’t know how many more years I will live on earth, but whatever remains, my desire is to be daily awakened by God’s grace, and to extend this grace to those around me.

I don’t deserve all that God has done for me, and I don’t understand why some lives are much shorter than others. Like Barbara, my mother passed away before she got to see me grow up, marry, and have children. I didn’t like this, but I have made the choice to accept God’s sovereign will in and for my life. Someday it will all make sense when Jesus comes to take me home. I’ll be so excited to see my mom and Barbara, along with so many other loved ones who placed their trust in Jesus.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Building A Legacy of Faith

  • Discuss with your children the reality of life and death. (Do so with age appropriate thoughtfulness.)

Share the birth story of your child. Retell the events surrounding their birth (who was there, what kind of day it was, the feelings of love you experienced while holding them for the first time, etc.). Take this opportunity to reinforce your unconditional love for them.

Read the following Scripture with your child, emphasizing that God created them, loves them unconditionally, and that He has a special plan for their life.

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,
[a]
God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you
 (Psalm 139:13-18).     

Our children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and all life is to be cherished and lived for the glory of God.                                                      

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:12).

  • Teach your children to read the Bible so that they can follow and live God’s plan for their lives.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).  

Suggested Resource:

Teaching Children About Heaven: Answering Your Child’s Questions by Randy Alcorn  https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/24/teaching-children-about-heaven-answering-your-chil/

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2019 8: 38 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Eternal Life, Faith in Jesus

 

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Joy in Death?

God’s Word…Life and Truth

A Merry Christmas

A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.

Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.

Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.

Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.

I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.

He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.

There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 2: 46 pm - in Christmas

 

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Life is but a Vapor

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

 “Ella Volunteer Homeless ShelterIt certainly adds weight to the scripture’s characterization, life is like a vapor.” This is the response I received  from a friend after notifying him of a mutual friend’s tragic death. It made me pause, then reflect upon my life. Have I been wasting much precious time with things that don’t really matter? Yes, I’ll be honest, I have spent way too many moments with worry, over thinking, harboring ill-thoughts toward others, spending money I don’t have on things I don’t need (or at times, even like), trying to figure out the end results, and so on.

Our most recent losses:

  • A friend, who was a loving father, grandfather, and faithful Christian.

  • Our friend’s son who died from cancer this past year. At the same time, she made the difficult decision to place her husband* into a nursing home.

    * Charlie, a dear man, who led many souls to Jesus, including my husband. Charlie selflessly visited the lonely and forgotten at nursing care facilities and homes for the disabled. Now, as his life draws near, he is the one in need of love and care. His dear wife Marilyn provides this for him, during her daily and tiring visits.

These most recent losses fill me with deep sorrow and thoughtfulness, as I ponder my own impending death; when God chooses to take me to my “forever” home.

Our oldest daughter and her husband recently moved into their new home, which took nearly a year to build. Jennifer recently told me that she didn’t mind all the extra effort and resources they poured into their new house, because it will be their “forever” home. I like that!  We, who call ourselves Christians, should have the same outlook, as we plan and co-labor with Christ, building the Kingdom of God, our forever home.

I recommit my life to wholly living for Christ and His Church. Help me, God, to prioritize my life according to Your will and purpose in my life.

TRAINING CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO EMBRACE LIFE WITH A SENSE OF GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS, AND AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS, MAY BE CHALLENGING TO MOST AMERICAN CHRISTIANS.

Let’s not only prepare our children for academic excellence, playing sports, and securing a good-paying job, but let’s help them realize their life’s purpose:  To use their gifts and talents for the glory of God.  

I recently spent a day volunteering at a homeless shelter with our oldest granddaughter. It was a very rewarding experience. My prayer is to have more of these kinds of opportunities with all my grandchildren…to serve others in the name of Jesus.

It’s important to teach our children (age-appropriate) about death. I’ll never forget when our now 10-year-old granddaughter began asking me this question, “How does Jesus take people to heaven when they die?” After trying to explain, Ella profoundly stated, “I know, Jesus carries people to heaven with balloons.” Since then, when a loved one passes away, we release balloons. When Jesus takes me home to heaven, I hope to have a large bouquet of rainbow-colored balloons released on a warm summer day.

Similarly, our 5-year-old grandson recently said goodbye to one of his pet ducks that was born with a birth defect. Jack named him Donald and was quite attached to this little white-feathered creation. Jack is beginning to realize there is a time to be born and a time to die. His parents took this opportunity to explain death and eternity to Jack. They also had a burial for Donald and placed a little wooden cross on his grave.

Having experienced the death of both of my parents by age 7, I fully understand the importance of talking to children about death, and eternal life. 

I came across this article from Scripture Union: Talking with your children about Death… Issues to think about.

Based on and adapted from: Children and Grieving (SU) J Goodall 1995

http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/Families/Parents/Talkingabout/Death/1200.id

Celebration Ideas for Grandparents Day, Sept. 7.

http://www.grandparentingwithapurpose.com/2014/07/celebration-ideas-for-grandparents-day-sept-7/

 

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