Archives For Heaven

It’s October 2012. I sit by my mother’s side, my chair squeezed between her bed and the bathroom of a cramped hospital space. While a nurse administers meds, my gaze drifts to the wide window and its panoramic view of our small city and the blue Catskills beyond. A white church steeple rises tall and straight above the trees, now brilliant with fall color. Quite a contrast to this drab, antiseptic place.

Complications of COPD, a small blood clot, and other ailments have brought my 83-year-old mother to the hospital. (This will be repeated three or four times in the next few months.) She doesn’t do well here. She is disoriented and unsure. Her eyes search for the familiar photos that cover her walls at the nursing home. She jumps at every noise.

After the nurse leaves, I take out my book. I’ve been reading to my mom, and this month we’re working our way through Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.

In spite of her increasing dementia and the distraction of these strange surroundings, Mom is really tuned in. I can tell because when I come to a Scripture or Bible story, I stop in the middle of the section. I wait. Soon, in a feeble voice, my mom finishes the verse. She knows the words by heart.

I love that Todd Burpo backs up everything he shares about his son Colton’s experience with Scriptural truth. But Mom and I are eager for the details on Heaven itself. As we read, Colton’s experience amazes us. His vision gives us chills.

Heaven Is for Real mom to resize

At one point in his journey, Colton learns about a painful part of his parents’ lives that he had not been around for. My voice trembles as I read how this comes about. Tears slide down my mother’s cheeks.

What Colton learns reminds us that God redeems every pain and sorrow. Even though He takes away, what He gives in return rises exceeding abundantly beyond what we can ask or think.

This comforts my mother because she is poised on the threshold between earth and Heaven. This comforts me because ours has been a difficult mother/daughter relationship.

More often than not we butted heads. We didn’t just rub each other the wrong way. At times we scraped raw and bruised each other. I expected more than she could give. I blamed her that she could not be what I needed her to be.

But this book brings home to us that Heaven holds the cure for all life’s ugliness. And how seeing Jesus is the answer to all our dreams. (Click to Tweet)

As the months pass, I grow increasingly grateful for that shared experience. Mom’s mind retreats more and more into her dementia. She no longer responds when I read. She begins to fail more quickly—with one short rally for a Christmas visit from my out-of-town sisters.

Halfway through January 2013, the nursing home suggest we contact hospice. Just hearing the word freezes the breath in my lungs. Who knew hospice would take the form of a burly young man, who would pray over my mom during every visit.

By February, my sister and I spend every moment we can with Mom. We feed her and attempt to comfort her and give her our last messages. When she stops responding, we simply watch over her.

Death torments her brittle, little body like a beast ravaging some poor creature in its mighty jaws. He’s a relentless enemy. He does his best to make us think he will win this battle.

But he’s too late. Even though we’ve never been there, we know—just as surely as Colton does—that Heaven is for real.

We know that God has conquered death, trampled it under His heel. Now death is simply the last foe a Christian fights before the blessed home-going and the joy that lasts forever in the land where he is not allowed. (Click to Tweet)

On February 7, 2013, Mom breaks free of him, and God takes her home.

Yes, I believe Heaven is for real. I believe my mom awaits me there. I know she forgives me—that I could not always be what she wanted me to be.

And I bet Mom thinks it’s cool that now she knows what Colton knows.

Plus more.

I love that the last thing Mom & I bonded over was a book—especially one about Heaven. This little book has been such an ambassador for Christ! I pray for seeds to be sown whenever I see it in a store display. If you’re skeptical about the book, here are some facts that should put your mind at rest. 
  • The total focus of Colton’s experience is on the risen Christ.
  • Colton and Todd emphasize that there’s one way to Heaven: through the saving work of Christ.
  • Colton’s experience leaves him with an evangelistic fervor.
  • The Gospel is clearly explained through the story.
  • The book is filled with pertinent Scriptures.
  • The Burpo’s experience also highlights the power of prayer, forgiveness, and love.
You can pick up Heaven Is for Real at this link. You can connect with the authors at this link.
Thanks for reading my story, friends! Please know that I pray for each one who leaves a comment. Blessings!

Bonus pic. (Yes, that’s me at age 7 or so in the striped shirt and slicked back hair!)

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Here’s the list of the top 5 Books that Made Me Love Heaven! Continue Reading…

“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.” C. S. Lewis

“Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven.” Randy Alcorn

blog post 222Pick #2 in my 5 Books to Help You Love Heaven countdown is Randy Alcorn’s Heaven. In his book, Randy points out that instead of shying away from the topic of Heaven, we are to pursue it—because God tells us to. See His command in Colossians 3:1, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Randy Alcorn writes that the Greek words ‘set your hearts on’ denote man’s general philosophical search or quest” and shares a few other places the word or phrase is used: Continue Reading…

The Screwtape Letters“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death. I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” ~C. S. Lewis~

Some of my favorite and most vibrant Christians fixed their eyes on Heaven, set out to pursuit it, and never looked back. Let’s soak in their influence and learn to love Heaven with them! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my top five picks from their books. Coming in at number 4 is The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

The Screwtape Letters is a series of letters from a master tempter named Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape shares his advice, garnered from centuries of tempting humans, on how Wormwood can either keep his “patient” from becoming a Christian or steal his joy and keep him far from Christ once he does.

Screwtape inhabits a topsy-turvy world, where he calls God the Enemy and refers to Satan as Our Father Below. But this unique viewpoint makes The Screwtape Letters one of C. S. Lewis’s most creative and powerful works. Looking at Christians from the tempter’s point of view opened my eyes to my own sins, hypocrisies, and compromises. 

Consider these gems of wisdom from Screwtape . . .

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

“A woman means by Unselfishness chiefly taking trouble for others; a man means not giving trouble to others…thus, while the woman thinks of doing good offices and the man of respecting other people’s rights, each sex, without any obvious unreason, can and does regard the other as radically selfish.”

 “All you then have to do is keep out of his mind the question ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’”

And I love Screwtape’s description of a Christian’s first moments in Heaven. Here’s a little taste of that section . . .

“He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they [heavenly beings] would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’

All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered. He saw not only Them; he saw Him [Jesus]. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a man . . .”

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Are you beginning to see why The Screwtape Letters is one of my students’ favorite books?  You can purchase your own special illustrated copy for $3.99 at this link.

Focus on the Family also did a fantastic job transforming The Screwtape Letters into Radio Theatre. Check it out here!

Here’s another link you might be interested in: A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Enjoy!

What about you, friends?

  • Do you think about Heaven much?
  • Are you curious to know how our lives will be there?
  • Is there someone special you look forward to reuniting with one day?
  • What’s your favorite verse about Heaven?
  • What non-fiction book or novel changed your perspective on spiritual journey in a big way?
Please know that, though I may not respond right away, I eventually visit the blogs of all who leave comments. And whenever I see your names here, I always, always pray for you! Blessings!
Read about my number 5 pick, Safely Home here.

This week I’m linking up with Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Soli Deo Gloria, The Better Mom, Covered in Grace, Rachelwojo, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays, Raising Arrows, A Mama’s Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Just Write, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tell Me About It Tuesday, Tuesdays Unwrapped, Teaching What Is Good, Mom’s Library, Tuesday Tips, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, God Bumps, Wednesday Walkabout, Think Outside the Blog, Word-filled Wednesday, Thankful Homemaker, Wisdom Wednesday, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Thursday Favorite Things,Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Legacy Leaver, Thoughtful Thursday, Life in the Comments, Almost Friday Thursday Blog Hop, Favorite Things, Faith-filled Friday, Friday @Homemaker by Choice, Just for Fun Friday, Fellowship Friday, Womanhood with Purpose, Weekend Whatever, and Heart Reflected.

safely home with logo“Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” ~Colossians 3:1~

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” ~C. S. Lewis~ (Click here to tweet this.)

“Soon you will read in the newspapers that I am dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. I will be more alive than ever before.” ~D. L. Moody~  (Click here to tweet this.)

As you spend time with God’s children—either through “real life” friendships, the bloggy world, or memoirs and stories—have you noticed that the godliest saints seem to share one all-encompassing focus?

The most vibrant Christians fix their eyes on Heaven, set out in pursuit of it, and never look back.
(Click here to tweet this.)
Over the next few weeks, let’s learn to love Heaven with them!

In five posts, I’ll be sharing my top picks written by a few of these folks. Coming in at number 5 in my countdown is Randy Alcorn’s novel Safely Home. Safely Home tells the story of two college friends who reconnect after twenty years. American businessman Ben Fielding is living life apart from God in style and comfort. Chinese house pastor Li Quan is living for Christ under intense persecution.

The explosive happenings when they come together—though born in the imagination of author Randy Alcorn—altered my view of how life on earth figures into the eternal battle between God and Satan. And the beautiful portrayal of a modern-day martyr, the humble and delightful Li Quan, moved me deeply.

The novel begins with three heavenly warriors watching events that involve their earthly descendents. As the action plays out, these watchers give us perspective on and add poignancy to the story. In one scene, Li Quan shares with Ben a bit about his rebellious years and his regret that his father did not live to see him follow Christ.

“‘Baba’s favorite hymn was Heaven Is My Home. He used to sing it over and over again. When I got older, sometimes I would cover my ears because I did not want to heart it.’

Safely Home quote resizedLi Quan sang softly in Mandarin:

Heaven is my home.
Earth is a desert drear.

Heaven is my home.

Danger and sorrow stand

Round me on every hand.

Heaven is my fatherland.

Heaven is my home.

‘It’s beautiful,’ said Ben.

‘But my father’s foolish son would not sing it with him. And now it is too late.’

******Another voice, in another place, said, ‘Even now I sing it with you, my son. And we will sing it together again. Satan lies to you. It is not too late.'”

What a sweet reminder that the ones we love (if they are in Christ) are only gone from us for a time and remain fully alive and aware as they eagerly await our reunion!

The theme of the book might be found in another scene set in Heaven. After watching a martyr die, the archangel is chafing at the bit to rescue God’s children and set all wrongs right. He asks why they must wait so long. The King of Heaven shares this insight, “[My children] do not understand that I am not only at work here, preparing a place for them, but I am at work there, preparing them for that place.”

So have I convinced you this is a story worth reading? You can purchase Safely Home at this link. You can connect with author Randy Alcorn on his website or Facebook page.

What about you, friends?

  • Do you think about Heaven much?
  • Are you curious to know how our lives will be there?
  • Is there someone special you look forward to reuniting with one day?
  • What’s your favorite verse about Heaven?
  • What non-fiction book or novel changed your perspective on life in a big way?
Please know that, though I may not respond right away, I eventually visit the blogs of all who leave comments. And whenever I see your names here, I always, always pray for you! Blessings!

This week I’m linking up with Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Soli Deo Gloria, The Better Mom, Covered in Grace, Rachelwojo, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays, Raising Arrows, A Mama’s Story, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Just Write, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Tell Me About It Tuesday, Tuesdays Unwrapped, Teaching What Is Good, Mom’s Library, Tuesday Tips, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, God Bumps, Wednesday Walkabout, Think Outside the Blog, Word-filled Wednesday, Thankful Homemaker, Wisdom Wednesday, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Thursday Favorite Things,Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Legacy Leaver, Thoughtful Thursday, Life in the Comments, Almost Friday Thursday Blog Hop, Favorite Things, Faith-filled Friday, Friday @Homemaker by Choice, Just for Fun Friday, Fellowship Friday, Womanhood with Purpose, Weekend Whatever, and Heart Reflected.