Entering Heaven

I may try in the next days to share why I’ve not been blogging lately! All good things. But for now, I am remembering 4 years ago this week when my grandmother “MaMa” died. All of my other grandparents had died when I was young, and she was the only one to live so long. As she aged, she had what seemed like Alzheimer’s (though I don’t know that it was diagnosed that way).

MaMa was from south Mississippi, and we grew up visiting her every summer. My sister and I often rode the Greyhound bus from Memphis, and she would give my mom a much needed break. I’m sure losing her son (my dad) when he was 27 in a car wreck was something she never got over, but not something she spoke of.

So 4 years ago, I was in Memphis when I learned that she had had a stroke and wasn’t expected to live much longer. I wanted to try to go down to Mississippi and see her, but wasn’t sure if I would make it in time, didn’t think she would be conscious, and didn’t know about leaving my kids to travel alone. But if I could have the opportunity, I wanted to talk to her about Jesus and heaven. She had always been quiet about her faith, so I somehow wished I could encourage her in these things at this time.

When I did decide to go, I got in the car, still unsure of the decision, and began praying about what I was doing because I didn’t have any clear answers, but was just feeling led. After praying, I turned on the radio, and this was the song that was just starting. It said,

“Let it be said of us, While we walked among the living,
Let it be said of us, By the ones we leave behind,
Let it be said of us, That we lived to be a blessing for life.
Let it be said of us, That we gave to reach the dying,
Let it be said of us, By the fruit we leave behind
Let it be said of us, That our legacy is blessing for life.
This day You set life, you set death right before us, This day
Every blessing and curse is a choice now, And we will choose to be a blessing for life.
Let it be said of us, That our hearts belonged to Jesus
Let it be said of us, That we spoke the words of life,
Let it be said of us That our heritage is blessing for life
For your Kingdom, for our children, For the sake of every nation.”

The words as they played were so perfect – go and be a blessing to the dying (my grandmother) and choose a legacy of blessing.

When I arrived at the hospital around noon, my aunt and uncle were there. (My dad was 1 of 3 children — he had had a brother and sister.) When I saw MaMa, she never opened her eyes, and she seemed gone already. I began to wonder why I had come all this way.

I went outside to call my mom, and I was telling her how gross this hospital was and how I knew the Lord did not call me to be “comfortable,” but to obey, but this was hard to be there all day, just sitting and waiting for death. As I was talking, I noticed a car sitting out in front of me waiting, and I peered through the side window and noticed that this lady’s t-shirt said, “Believe in Miracles.” Like a poster board for me, how weird, I’m standing there, second guessing what the Lord would do, and when I saw that, I wondered if that was a reminder!

We found out that my grandmother might live another week or so, even as sick as she was, so everyone made plans to leave that next morning and come back when it was over. I spent the night at my aunt’s house and just prayed that God would guide my steps, even when I didn’t know the ones to take.

At my aunt’s house the next morning, she had a bracelet on her shelf that said, “Expect a Miracle.” Even though I was convinced MaMa would never have another wakeful moment and my faith was failing, there was just a small thread of belief and wondering about those reminders and saying to myself, “keep standing.” But overall, I was ready to go to Memphis and forget about it!

Everyone started getting ready for the day, and I had about decided to drive back to Memphis without stopping by the hospital. My cousin told me I should just run by and say good-bye to her mom (my aunt), and somehow, my sister ended up coming with me.

When we arrived, my aunt had gone home to shower, but my grandmother’s one eye that was not paralyzed was open! I knew this was my time to talk to her. I asked my uncle if I could go over and talk with her or did he or my sister want to. My uncle said they had had times like that earlier in the week, and for me to go ahead, if she could even hear me.

I went over and began talking as though she could hear, see, and understand. I began to quote Scripture, everything I could think of from Psalm 23 to things about heaven. I told her that she didn’t have to be afraid and that Jesus would take her to heaven if she had trusted in Him. As I talked to her, she got her other paralyzed eye open, and she squeezed my hand. Her hand went from being gripped tight to loose in mine, and her forehead and brow began to move and furrow. I can only believe she heard and understood.

My sister would periodically come over and say a word or two about childhood memories and how she loved her. My uncle went in and out of the room. When I would ask him if he wanted to talk, he would say “no” and wanted me to keep talking to her.

Everything about those moments seemed sacred to me. Had my aunt been there, I wouldn’t have had the courage to speak so boldly to my grandmother because I would have been intimidated. God put the right people there at that right moment.

Finally, the nurse came in and said they were going to give her a bath and we should leave for a few minutes. As we exited the room, the thought came so clearly, “say anything else because this may be her last conscious moment.” I leaned down close in her ear and whispered, “I love you.” With that, I followed my uncle and sister out of the room. It seemed within seconds of getting out of the room that the light above the door began flashing on and off. People started running in and out, but didn’t say anything to us. We waited on what we thought was the bath, but also had a funny feeling. My aunt arrived, and we waited.

They finally came out and said she was gone. She had died the moment after we left the room. We all went back in, and there we stood, my aunt, my uncle, and my sister and me (representing my father). We hugged and cried. She was truly gone; there was no life there.

What a blessing to be the one to stand beside her and walk her as far as a human could walk, to say Scripture and pray and say the last words of “I love you.” God gave me everything I asked for and more, even though I didn’t deserve it. I praise Him for that, for these memories this week, for the many other ways He acted that I wouldn’t even have time to detail here. He was so gracious and merciful and revealed His presence so clearly. Thank you, Lord!

Happy Mother’s Day

Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

This is my mom with my son last Easter in Memphis. The verse above applies to her! I’m thankful to have a mom who fears the Lord and who has always been an example to me of living a life devoted to Him. She is full of compassion and love for others, selflessness about herself, and always seeking to direct people to the Lord, their source of hope, and His truth.

My mom has not had the easiest of lives, but she has a fruitful and joyful life lived in the Lord. When I was 2 months old, my father died in a car wreck. My mom was 25 years old, a young widow with two daughters. She moved back to Memphis, her hometown.

3 years later, my mom lost her mother to cancer. She did get to see her mother come to a saving faith in Christ 2 weeks before she died! When I was 7, my mom’s father died. We adored him. When I was in college, her sister and only sibling died. I’ve always thought it must have been hard to lose those closest to you in such a short span of time and still while relatively young.

This last year, my mom lost her second husband suddenly, only about 2 weeks after losing a dear friend. She’s still figuring out life with his absence.

In all these losses, her confidence in the Lord has never been shaken. She is grounded in the Bible and trusts the Lord for each day, and He has always provided. There are so many stories of His faithfulness to her and to us through the years.

Through God’s grace, faithfulness, and provision for us, we never lacked a thing. My sister and I both attended a Christian school for 13 years that gave us a solid foundation and stability. I have no idea how that worked out precisely, but I am grateful. We always attended the same church where I was baptized, married the preacher’s son, and had my children dedicated to the Lord.

While her life is a story of God’s faithfulness, on this Mother’s Day weekend, I want to thank her for choosing to follow Him, for her consistency and the choices she made that brought us stability and a solid home life. It could not have been easy to do that alone, to have to go to work each day, to be a single mom, but she did it with grace, without complaint, with joy.

Thank you, Lord, for my precious mom!

Sharing a Poem

My daughter loves to write poetry. I thought I would share one (below) that I found today.

We celebrated at dinner because it was 10 years ago today that she was discharged from the hospital after a 3 month stay. Thank you, Lord, for sparing her life and teaching her heart about You!

bringing baby home

meeting brother finally!
History repeated itself for Granddaddy whose own daughter was a micropreemie, too.
The Ways
Through the woods,
the rust train track,
Through the brush
in the looming black!
What do you see,
your companion and you?
All is total darkness
The nighttime on through.
The howls of the animals,
No moon or stars tonight.
No visible guidence over all the paths,
No visible sign of any light.
Is there a ditch just up ahead?
A boulder headed down?
No! We must keep going.
Sh! don’t make a sound.
Why are the woods so deadly dangerous?
Why is the sky so painfully black?
Where are we now, where are we?
(And I’m aching for a snack! 🙂 )
How would we know if we feel
A shiver or quake of eyes
Belonging to some woodsy-animal
Who may catch us by surprise?
Keep on going, though the obstacles.
Go the fierce deep miles on!
Don’t lay down to take a rest.
Don’t even begin to yawn.
You’re going to find it some time,
Because you believe that it’s true!
You were brave enough to start the journey,
Even over how the people mocked you!
If you just keep pressing forward,
And bravely don’t turn back,
You’ll be safe the whole way through,
Even though it’s a scary black.
You are in Virtuous hands, you know!
And they will hold you straight!
You will be able to go forward
If you believe…before it’s too late.
But you must believe before the morning,
Because when the time is near and the breeze
Is rough, you would have lost your only chance
To find the place with ease.
If you reached the place and did not trust,
You would be scarred and smashed.
And if you did not trust, you see,
The destination would now be trashed.
But if you did believe, you would
Reach the place all well and good, too.
And the place in which you’d find
Would be prepared for you.
Which way are you to choose?
Hurry! There’s not much time more!
And if you choose the worse way,
Your body will be sore.
If you choose the right way and trust Jesus,
You will see there is a light
That leads you down to Heaven’s gates
Where God is shining bright.
God may bring you through hard things
To lead you more to Himself and prayer.
But even through all these hard times,
He’ll bless you if you trust Him — layer after layer.
PSALM 105:1
Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Summer Lessons

I’m finally remembering to do my summer wrap up post on how the Lord revealed Himself so mercifully to me during challenging times.

From the moment my husband planned our Europe trip, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to leave the children, I was anxious to travel overseas, and I am quite simply a homebody. I am a creature of habit and routine, and travel has always caused upheaval for me to leave my comfort zone. There are only a few exceptions, such as Florida, the Smokies, going to the lake, family camp, or other trips with my family. Nonetheless, I felt like it was the right decision to go, and I was encouraged to do so by many friends and family members.

Several times a week in the weeks prior to the trip, I would wake up in the night with an anxious heart, confess it to the Lord, acknowledge that this fear was not from Him, pray, quote Scripture, and return to sleep. Oftentimes, I would even wake up and scream out from crazy confusion in my sleep!

As the trip grew closer, my feelings of nervousness grew, the stress even manifesting itself in physical ways, but my decision to go was also certain. I would not back out. I was waiting to be surprised by how magnificent a trip it would be and to surely discover that my fears were unwarranted; somehow I expected to find out that maybe I would be a world traveler and be excited to plan future trips! I was also sort of waiting to be blessed for my “obedience” to go, if I’m honest!

No matter how much I had prayed about it during those weeks, there didn’t seem to be any kind of confirming word from the Lord speaking directly to my concerns. I just held on to what I knew was truth as found in the Bible, and I kept on in prayer, waiting for Him to help me. He did. There were nights I was comforted, nights I was blessed by reciting Scripture, and His presence was real. But I really wanted specific insight into how to handle this trip, and I didn’t have that.

Until the day before I left. June 13th. I love that about God. There is purpose in the waiting of learning to trust and obey Him, to believe Him even when we can’t see or know the outcome. And at the right time, He just provides exactly what is needed.

I was down in Memphis dropping off my children, planning to fly back to Chicago that afternoon to then fly the following day to Europe. It was a Sunday, and we did not make it to church. My mom’s friend called and said she wanted to bring by the CD of the sermon that she had just heard. It was by Reggie Sessions, pastor at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis. I’d never heard him before, but this was an excellent message from I Samuel 18, I believe. He talked about the slavery of living in our kingdom, the freedom of getting out of the way, and what we find at the end of the line.

In looking at the life of Saul, he described that it is when we live to protect our kingdom that we are bitter, jealous, resentful, angry — “it takes away our humanity,” he said, and we become a shell of a human being. We’re trying to be God and the center of our universes, and we’re bad at it. We want to be free, but we’re addicted to our kingdom.

He then talked about how we need to get out of the way. He looked at the life of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who surrendered to David’s kingship. He got off the throne and didn’t demand his rights. He laid his life into David’s hand, and gave David his sword, belt and bow.

Reggie described how we are at war with God, but we must surrender. We are fighting against Jesus the King and don’t want to surrender control of our lives. To stand down and be broken is the only way to liberation and peace of mind.

At the end of the line, there is nothing left to hide and no more attempts to control the world. This is where there is peace and joy. He described THE Person (Jesus) who got off His throne for us, who came to give us abundant life. When we surrender and go to the end of the line, “we get our true humanity back.” At the end of the line, it’s not loss, but gain.

What I found so convicting in the message was the description of one trying to control her life. Reggie said, “Some of you are too afraid to leave Memphis and all the things you love to go on a vacation.” It was funny how there were perfect quotes throughout the sermon that were completely accurate to my situation.

Later in the day, I was sitting in the Memphis airport delayed on my flight to Chicago. I began to pray and got out my journal to write my thoughts. They centered on the faithfulness of God: “Lord, You have been faithful!” I wrote a couple of paragraphs on His faithfulness and accompanying verses, then wrote, “You are asking me to do something so outside of my comfort zone, but I thank you for speaking to me, and I pray You will show me Yourself and reveal Yourself to me all along the way, just like You did with the sermon this morning.”

As I sat there, praying and listening, I wrote down what was on my heart: “Just take the next step. One step at a time. Wait on Me. Trust Me.

When I finally boarded the plane to Chicago a short time later, I opened up a book my mom had given me. It was The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas. I’d never opened it before; it was a completely new book to me.

I opened the first page, and it said, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” (I Thess. 5:24) He then writes, “If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself…. You will be restored to your true humanity.

Not only did the book begin by talking about the very contents of my prayer moments before — God’s faithfulness and my call to trust Him and take the next step — but it also re-affirmed the words in the sermon from Reggie — in so doing, you will be restored to your true humanity!

As I read this book, it absolutely amazed me that it spoke so directly to my current situation. As Ian Thomas developed life in the wilderness versus walking in abundance with Christ each day, he even wrote: “Do you still consider that you have the right to choose where you will spend your vacation? You do not have that right! Except in the wilderness!”

Over and over, the book spoke to my specific situation, and while I had waited for the Lord to speak to me, He so mercifully met me in such a powerful way.

The following day, June 14th, in traveling to Europe, I just did what He had shown me: take the next step. All I need to think about is the next step… not be worried about what is beyond it. So I would stand in the line to check my bags. All I need to do is check the bags. Then I would figure out boarding, and take that step. And the trip became just a series of steps wherein I could trust Him with each one.

When I was threatened to be overcome with fear, I could just remember He was with me, He is faithful, He would take me through this step, I could trust Him.

I hope I will hang on to these lessons as I go forward in my life. There were so many other things over the remainder of the summer, but these things really stick out to me. He is all we need, and He is more than enough. It is right to let Him be on the throne, to let Him guide us in each successive step, to believe Him for those moments and trust His sovereignty. He is faithful; He is good. I praise You, Lord!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (ESV)

Faithfulness and Friends


I love seeing God’s faithfulness in the smaller details of our lives. When I flew down to Memphis for the funeral this summer, I realized I had nothing appropriate to wear to a funeral. I had a picture in my mind of what I would want — just a plain, basic black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted. As I considered where I might find it, Talbots was the only store I could think of that might have it. I dreaded spending the money for a dress.

I mentioned to a couple of family members that I would have to go out and get a dress. The next day, the day of the burial, my cousin walked up and said to me, “We’re bringing your dress over after this.” “What did she mean?” I wondered. “We have a dress we think will work,” she explained.

They walked in the house later and handed me a plain black dress, sleeveless, knee length, fitted, with a Talbot’s tag and my exact size on the label, exactly as I had pictured! What a blessing from the Lord! The very dress I imagined, I now had without spending a dime!

The morning of the funeral, my sister and I ran out to grab a couple of things we needed, one being shoes to wear with the dress. We ran in Dillard’s, and they had the perfect pair of black heels for $90! No, couldn’t do it, but I also didn’t want to drive around the city or shop.

My sister wanted to run in Target and suggested I glance at their shoes. We found shoes there identical to the ones at Dillard’s — leather black heels — exactly the same, except these were $25! I was so excited for this provision. I scanned all the boxes only to find they did not have my size. We asked for help; she looked in the back, found nothing, and printed a list of other stores. I was so disappointed. I knew I did not want to be out shopping and circling the city for every Target to find these shoes.

I left the aisle and went to another one and started to pray. I felt like the Lord had led us to these shoes and was making a provision for me. He knew our needs and that we did not want to be out shopping. I knew He was able to supply me with those shoes and meet that need. I asked Him to do so and wanted the faith to believe He would. I knew those shoes weren’t there, but I knew He could make it so they were.

I finished praying and went back to the shoe aisle to find my shoes. I began lifting shoes out of each and every box, no matter what size it said, and comparing sizes with the sizes listed on the box. And there I found my shoes in a 6 1/2 box! I was so thankful to the Lord for giving me exactly what I needed.

It also made me wonder about something: what do I not have because I have not asked? It’s not that God is just sitting there waiting to give me whatever I ask for; I understand that. But I so easily could have exited the Target store without asking or believing Him to do a thing. I could have traveled to more Targets until I found something, and maybe never known that He could have done this for me. What do I not have because I have not asked? I want to pray for faith to believe Him more.

One other sweet provision during this time were my friends. I have 3 friends whom I have known almost since birth; we all went to school together, graduated together. They all 3 live out of the state or country, 2 very far away. In God’s perfect timing, 2 were in town (or close enough to drive) at the time of the funeral, and my 3rd friend changed her day and drove over from Arkansas.

I really thought it wasn’t a big deal if they couldn’t make it — would never have even thought about it — but it was so dear to my heart that they all came! When I was standing in the receiving line at the church and looked up and saw the 3 of them together, I just burst into tears. How could we all have been apart for so long and all be standing together at one time? And how special it was to me that they would come to be with us on this occasion, that this mattered to them.

One of them commented to me later, “We think this is what heaven’s going to be like when we are reunited with so many.” I think she’s right. So thankful for lifelong friends. I don’t know how common it is to have these kinds of friendships, but I cherish them all greatly. I praise the Lord for His perfect provisions in my life, from the most significant one of rescuing me from my sins and giving me salvation through Christ, to all the little details of life. Thank you, Lord.