Practicing for Heaven

I was thinking about heaven a few days ago as I was driving home from an outing.  Hubby was at home, and I was driving along with my thoughts to keep me company.  Suddenly out of the blue heaven popped into my mind.

Thinking about some of the comments and conversations I heard in the past, it seemed as if God put a whole zip file in my mental computer in an instant, and I started un-zipping and unpacking the file in my mind.  I’ve heard comments like, “I believe everyone will go to heaven because God is a God of love.  (Sure He is, but He is so much more than that, and I’m not betting my eternal future on that statement alone!)  “I can’t wait to see the mansion that has been prepared for me.” (I am positive our mansion will be great, but should that really be our main focus?)  And then there is this one. “What are we going to DO all day.  I mean, you can only sing praises for so long before you get tired and want something else to do.”  (REALLY?  Words escape me.  Perhaps some picture heaven as being a place they can do what they want all day as long as they have choir practice first.”  I don’t begin to have all the answers, but my view of heaven is a little different.  God loves us, yes.  And He prepared a way for us to get to heaven, but we need not think you can get there any old way.  There is only one way. Jesus.    Mansion? Great. Streets of gold and gates of pearl? Amazing.  Seeing Jesus and praising God?  Well HALLELUJAH!  Now that’s what I’m talking about.  As for needing something else to do other than praise Him,  God has a plan.  But I really can’t see that plan including us gossiping over the fence with our neighbors or sitting discontentedly in a heavenly corner saying we are bored.

All that was in the first folder in my mental zip file.  Then came this thought.  Practice.  Yes, practice.  Think about it for a moment.  A fine musician spends hours practicing. There are drills and runs to keep fingers nimble and flexible.  There is new music to learn to improve technique.  There are practice sessions to learn and absorb the music until it becomes a natural part of us.  And what about an athlete?  From pro baseball (or football, or soccer or whatever) to T-ball, if we want to get better from week to week we must practice.  The more we practice, the better we become.  Years ago (too many to mention) I worked at a Tastee Freeze  For those of you who don’t recognize the name, it was an ice cream and sandwich fast food dream.  Anyway, one of my jobs was to make an ice cream cone using the soft serve ice cream machine.    The cone had to swirl around and end with a curl on the top.  And it had to weigh an exact amount.  I became pretty good at that, but my first attempts were laughable.  So what did I do?  Practice.  It occurs to me that even though I don’t know exactly all of God’s plan for heaven, I can be practicing now.  I can practice being kind to others.  I can practice being an encourager.  I can practice singing praises.  I can practice worship.  And the more I do these things, the more natural and meaningful they will become.

There was a lot more in the thoughts God gave me that day…far to much to write about in one sitting.  But I have to stop for now.  I need to go out and catch up on a little practice.

Anticipation

Today is such an exciting day!  Hubby and I are having a new refrigerator delivered.  If I could dance on my tiptoes I certainly would.  Now that is a mental picture right there!

Let me back up a minute and explain our joy a bit. I know I get a bit wordy, but you will get to my point if you keep reading.  A year or so ago, our refrigerator, I am sad to say, died.  And it died at a most inconvenient time.  Now I know what you are thinking.  Anytime is a most inconvenient time for a refrigerator to quit.  And you are right, but this came at a time that money was t.i.g.h.t. and then some.  Oh dear, I know what you are thinking again.  “Do you mean to say you waited 2 years to replace your fridge?  You must have gone through a lot of ice for the cooler.”  It wasn’t that bad, truly.

Instead I read and reread the bank statements.  I checked our piggy bank.  I even looked in my secret fabric discretionary fund.  Yes, I have one and that is all you need to know.  Finally I decided we didn’t need a nice big refrigerator with a good amount of space.  After all, there are only two of us at home now.  A smaller fridge should be fine, and it is hundreds of dollars cheaper.  If we tightened our belts, we could afford a refrigerator.  So off to the store hubby went, and before many hours had passed (I don’t call him minute man for nuthin’) I got a call at work to discuss the refrigerator he had picked out. It fit the criteria, which means it could keep things cold and we could pay the price.  The refrigerator was delivered and the old one hauled away.  And that is the beginning of the story.

It didn’t take many weeks for me to realize that the extra cubic feet in the old refrigerator were very important.  On day 2, I banged my head hard as I reached in the refrigerator and forgot to make adjustments for the difference in size.  Then things started falling out.  I would reach for the bowl of leftover spaghetti, and with it would come the container of margarine.  I would push something in on one side of the rack, and something would fall out as things shifted on the other side of the rack.  You get the picture.  If you don’t, it is probably because you have a nice big refrigerator.

This went on for some time.  I didn’t give hubby my opinion of the refrigerator.  After all, it wasn’t his fault.  We are committed to not spending more than we have, and he did the best job with what we had.  But recently I heard a crash and a yelp when a jar or something fell out of the refrigerator right on my husband’s foot.  And contents went everywhere.  That was enough for me.  I apologized for insisting we get a smaller fridge.  We would have been better off to use a cooler for a few weeks.  Turns out we had the same opinions but hadn’t voiced them.  However, this not being a post about communication, I won’t go into that now.

About this time, we heard of someone needing a smaller refrigerator.  A dorm size refrigerator would be much too small, but a large fridge would be unnecessary and take up too much space.  The light went on and bells rang.  At least I think they were bells.  My ears ring all the time so it might have been that instead.  Suffice it to say that we would give them our fridge that seemed the right size for them, and we could get a bigger fridge without feeling so guilty.  Checking all our funds again, we came up with an amount we could afford.  We did our research and rehashed what we didn’t like about this fridge that we wanted different with the new one.  Hubby went back to the store, picked out a fridge, and came out to the car to tell me all about it, since I had stayed in the car with our dog.  Back in he went…hubby, not the dog, and paid for the fridge and arranged for delivery.  We made our preparations and cleaned the space for the new refrigerator, preparing for the moment it would arrive.  We were ready!

All that brings you up to today, when I am excitedly wishing I could dance on my toes.  We were given a window of time for our refrigerator to be delivered.  So here I am, sitting in my chair.  I hear a noise and run to the door. Not the truck.  I hear a noise and look out the window. Sigh.  Sitting back in my chair, I turn at every sound.  The neighbor decides to cut their grass.  Really?  Now?  At least 20 vehicles go past our house on what is normally a relatively quiet road at this time of day.  And don’t forget the airplanes.  They could have picked a better time. Peering out the window, peering out the door…honestly I think that last noise was the whisper of butterfly wings but it sure sounds like a delivery truck to me!  I watch.  I wait.  Every fiber of my being is attuned to being ready when that truck turns in the driveway.  Finally my watching and waiting is rewarded and the truck arrives!  This time I think I really do dance on my toes just a bit.

Then in a quiet moment I hear the whisper of butterfly wings again, but my heart knows it is God talking.  In the flash of a heartbeat, I hear Him whisper, “Are you looking for the coming of my Son with the same intensity you have been waiting for this refrigerator, this gift I have given you?  Are you excited?  Do you watch at the window of your heart for Him to appear? Have you made your preparations? Are you ready?”

Do I get so caught up in life that I get more excited over a “thing” than I do the coming of my Lord?  Whew.  Something to think about.

 

Reading, Writing and Parenting

Today I was looking over some of my early attempts at writing.  I’m sure somewhere deep down in my inner being there is a story to be written.  Or maybe I should be thinking along the lines that there is a story to be read…its much easier to read than to write.  Anyway, since I was little, I have loved to write.

Part of that is because of a combination of events early in my life.  I am number 5 of six children.  The first four are a at least 8 years older than me, with the baby being somewhat closer to my age.  My oldest sister left for college about the time I was discovering how to hold a pencil.  My mom encouraged me to write to her.  I wasn’t content to draw a picture and write a word or two.  No, I had to write a whole letter.  I had learned to write my letters, but couldn’t spell worth a hoot (hadn’t started school yet you see) but that didn’t stop me.  Mom and all my older siblings would patiently spell out each word so I could write the letters, one by one.  I really thought the idea that I could put letters down on paper and stick a magic stamp on the envelope that would take that paper to my sister several states away was pretty cool!

Then in third grade I had the most amazing teacher.  All the good things teachers are doing today she was doing waaaaaay back then.  We did experiments and wrote about them in our journal.  We raised butterflies and wrote about them in our journal.  We learned about poetry and wrote our own poetry in our journal.  Wham!  I hooked to poetry like it was industrial strength Velcro!  The beauty and flow of words and rhyme.  The rhythm.  Words drawing pictures and evoking emotion.  Here is one of my 3rd grade originals

In School

In school we have spelling,

And a time for work and play,

And just like at home

I could do my work all day.

 

But do you know what?

Oh, please try to guess.

Well … Glory Be

I think I should have my recess.

Ok, that isn’t really ready for publication, but you get the picture. And I’m sure my mom would have something to say about my willingness to do my work at home all day.  I HATED washing dishes!!! Added to my love of writing was my love of reading.  That got me into trouble more than once when for some reason I couldn’t read and hear at the same time. I still get into trouble for the same thing!

Mom always wanted me to write, which eventually led me to start this blog in the first place.  It’s ok that I don’t have hundreds of people following the blog.  I just love to write, although sometimes I forget to allow myself time to do so.  But now I have started something new that melds my love of writing and my love of reading together.  Recently I started reviewing books.  I was invited by Barbour Publishing to join their Review Crew.  Aha!  They will send me a book to read and review if I so choose.  Perfect.  Now I can say, “But dear, I need to read this book for my review.”  Hubby loves me and is happy I am getting a free book to read.  I am happy to have a new book to read and I even get to “voice” my opinion. Shame I wasn’t invited back in my school days.  It would have saved a lot of misunderstanding with my mom.  I remember one time….well, never mind that.  You don’t want to know, I’m sure.

Now don’t worry, I don’t plan to review every single book here, but this recent book is too good to pass  without a comment.  The book is a parenting book by Dan Seaborn, entitled Parenting with Grace and Truth.   I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  Those of you who know me personally know our children are grown and have children of their own.  That didn’t stop me from gaining a few tips starting from the first chapter.  Several times I picked up my pen to take notes. The suggestions given are good ones, backed up with scripture, examples and real life experiences and application.  And the language is easy to understand.  Mr. Seaborn doesn’t just say, “This is what you must do!”  He shows you how to develop your own life rules by looking at character traits that are important to you.  Parenting is hard work, and he understands that and gives encouragement.  He even covers parenting through a crisis and parenting blended families.

After reading this book, I feel I can recommend it to anyone who has any contact with children.  Whether you are a parent, hope to be a parent, or know someone about to be a parent this book is a great read.  Are you a pastor, a teacher, work in children’s ministry or operate a day care? This book is helpful.  Or in my case, are you a grandparent who wants be a good role model for grandchildren?  Then this book is for you.  Yes, at the bottom of this I have to tell you that I was given this book*, but I was not required to review it, especially here on this blog.  If you want to see my official review, it is on Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes and Noble. But here, I just want to share with family and friends a book I think is very helpful.

Now all this talking about early writing has caused me to want to pick up my pen and paper.  Gotta go!  I have a story to write!

*I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

 

 

 

Top of the Morning!

I haven’t accomplished a single thing today.  Stumbling from my bed, I made it as far as the recliner in the living room where my sweet hubby had a cup of coffee waiting. Three hours later, half of it is still sitting here on a TV tray next to my chair.  Certainly I have things that need to be done today.  It’s too wet to garden, but there is laundry I’m sure, as well as some de-cluttering that desperately needs to be completed. I could write to a friend (wouldn’t they be surprised), crochet (I tried but kept putting it back down), beat my friend Connie in an internet game (I’m not really all that competitive), sewing (I have started our Christmas projects- just in case our children or grandchildren read this and wonder)…the opportunities are endless.

Instead I made the mistake of looking outside my window.  I have a hummingbird feeder, as you know, but I also have some finch feeders.  And a regular feeder.  At first there were about 4 yellow finches.  Suddenly there were 18 finches hanging on the sock feeders munching and crunching to their little hearts desire. Sometimes they paired off in couples.  A time or two, all the ladies came to partake and when they left to go shopping or whatever it is lady finches do, the men came along to catch up on the latest finchy gossip and share stories of their accomplishments. Along with the yellow finches there were some red house finches.  Below the feeders were the mourning doves, Mr. and Mrs.,  feasting on the thistle and seeds that dropped to the ground.  Every once in a while Mr. would catch Mrs. Dove looking his way, and he puffed and preened for her benefit.

We still have a few dry leaves under the feeders and I noticed they seemed to be moving without the benefit of a breeze.  Looking closer, I noticed there were sparrows dancing through the leaves enjoying a lite snack. Suddenly everyone took flight, and here comes the black bird.  Okay, so I don’t know much about bird identification.  If it would work, I would just say yellow bird, red bird, black bird, brown bird.  We even had a white egret one day, but that is another story.

All that to say there is a lot of activity outside my window and I am too mesmerized to leave my spot.  The hummingbird only visited briefly a time or two. I think he is shy and doesn’t like crowds of birds much bigger than he.  Keeping track of how many birds were at the feeders at any one time is keeping me quite busy, thank you very much.  The little stinkers tend to shift around and make me lose count. Right now there are 14 assorted finches…make that 15, 2 doves, 3 sparrows and…no, I don’t see a partridge in a pear tree but I keep looking.  There is another bird that comes to visit the regular feeder, and I just can’t identify him. For now, he is called the Mystery Bird.  I’ve looked on some websites but I can’t come to a firm decision.  Maybe you can help me?  Here he is.

Mystery Bird

In retrospect, I realize that for 3 hours the TV has been on and tuned to political news and views and I don’t even know what they are saying.  My pulse is steady, my nerves are calm,  and my blood pressure is great. I’ve been able to marvel at the complexities and wonder of God’s creation.

Like I said, I have accomplished a lot today!

A Day in the Life of…

Did you ever have a day that was just hilarious?  I mean a day when the “Can you believe this?” and the “I can’t believe that?” and the “Well I never!” just seem to collide?  That was today.  It wasn’t bad. Actually it was good…just strange.  And sometimes when life gets a bit strange you just have to chuckle.

Today was a little like that.  That can be a good thing.  Sometimes I take me too seriously and I need to  acknowledge the humor in life around me.

It all started when the alarm went off.  I. Did. Not. Want. To. Get. Up.  (I always wanted to write a sentence like that and now I have.  It appears at least once in every book I read.  And it appears in many blogs I read.  I feel better now.) Anyway, back to the phone alarm.  It wouldn’t stop.  I tapped it.  I slid the icon. I shook the phone. Finally the thing got tired and stopped playing annoying notes in my ear. My glasses that I ALWAYS hang on a certain peg were not there.  I guess now I have to say always except for this once.

After breakfast I worked on a quilt for a while.  It was a riveting experience. Or should I say a rippiting experience as I ripped out a few lines of quilting that were not acceptable.  Could I find my super special purple seam ripper? No.  I had to use my old one and it got the job done…but it wasn’t purple.  I was able to fix my mistake on the quilt for one of my daughter-in-laws, but more about that another time.  Can’t reveal the quilts until Christmas.

Then hub and I decided to have a competition with a computer game.  It was on my device but not his, so I tried to download it.  It was free…thats good, right?  Couldn’t remember my Google password.  Couldn’t remember my internet password.  Couldn’t remember my username.  Really Nana?  Enough already. Time to put this away before frustration sets in.

I decided a nap was in order since obviously something, probably tiredness, was affecting my memory. About the time I crawled into my nice comfy bed a rain shower created the perfect ambiance for napping. Sigh.  Happy sigh.  Ahhhhhhh. Then the phone went off with a chirp I wasn’t used to hearing.  I had forgotten to turn down my phone.  And just like that the nice, calming lullaby of rain was over. Bummer.  I can’t believe that.

After finally getting a short nap, a little conversation time with hub was in order. And the phone rang.  It was my doctor so I figured I had better answer.  After a short conversation, I decided to go online and check things out.  Right.  I couldn’t remember my user name.  I couldn’t remember my password.  Sound familiar?  My last try I got the username and a security question came up…about my dog.  Wait!  I don’t have a dog!!! Worried that I might have stumbled on the initial part of someone else account and not wanting them to find they were locked out of their account I gave up.  I’ll get that straight another day. Can you believe this?

After all this, I decided I might as well go to my afternoon work a bit early and pick up my new pills on the way.  No one would know I was there early so I could probably get a few things done that I’ve been needing to get caught up on.  The over the counter pills were on sale!  Now that is great- I like it when things are on sale.  My day was looking up.

A quick trip to WaWa brightened my day even further. National Coffee Day and I didn’t even know!  I could have dressed up or something to celebrate.  With my free coffee in hand, I headed to the car and continued on to work.

Settling comfortably at my desk, I decided to look at my new pills. Might I just interject here that settling comfortably is a master effort?  I have one of those desk chairs on wheels that threatens to dump you in the floor. At some point I rearranged the room so I have a cabinet within a reasonable distance of my desk so my chair can only roll so far.  Visitors to my room love watching me try to sit down.  Oh dear, I went down another rabbit trail, where was I?  Oh yes, the pills.  Now these pills aren’t anything earth shattering, just a supplement that I evidently need.  Opening the bottle, I had to chuckle.  The pills filled exactly one-third of the bottle.  Yes, the correct number of pills were there, but they were MUCH smaller than I anticipated given the size of the bottle.  I guess its like a bag of chips that has a big bag for a smaller amount of chips.  Maybe the pills need space to keep them from…something.  Like a good consumer, I read the label before I took a pill.  Most of my pills say drink a whole glass of water or don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes.  Not these pills.  The directions say, “Take with choice of any meal.”  Wow, I’ve never had pills with directions like that before!  The possibilities are endless.   How about with steak and potatoes?  I know, I know…how about stuffed french toast with blueberries or maybe shrimp scampi?  This can be good.  Wait.  Any meal? Do you suppose they mean with breakfast, lunch or dinner and not menu choice? Well I never!  Don’t even tell me.  I don’t want you to burst my bubble.