My Dream House

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If I were to have a dream house, one that could be a place the both represents me and one that I would enjoy, it would be as follows:

1 big office for me with a map of the world on the wall, a big globe on a table, room for my books on bookshelves, a desk big enough for my computer and to study at, and of course a VERY comfortable chair for me and some chairs for guests.

1 room for entertainment with a big screen TV, a nice sound system, many comfy recliners, a small fridge for refreshments, and some game tables.

1 kitchen where someone else cooks for me because I am a terrible cook.

2 pools, one indoors for the winter and one outdoors for the summer

A big deck outside for barbecues

A large living room with many comfy chairs for conversation

A nice Master bedroom

Several Guest bedrooms

Okay, so that will not happen in this life. At least I don’t foresee it happening.

BUT

My real dream house, or home, is the one Jesus talked about in John 14 when he told the disciples:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

This life is temporary and anything we have in this life is temporary. Even the nicest homes in this life will be gone someday. But the home Jesus is preparing for those who believe in him will be eternal and I am sure will BLOW our minds. We cannot fathom how awesome the home is.

An interesting aspect of the culture Jesus was speaking to was that when a man and woman were engaged, the father of the groom would add a room onto the house. When the room was ready, the father would tell the son it was time to bring his bride home. SO when Jesus spoke the words- “In my father’s house are many rooms” and I will come to take to where I am” it would have been a very clear meaning to his disciples.

Yes, it has been 2,000 years, BUT God doesn’t forget us or his promises. When the time is right in God’s eyes, he will say to Jesus, Go get my children, and Jesus will come for us. This post is not about the various views regarding it. This is only an encouragement that one day Jesus will come for us.

A song I love is midnight cry. It is about the moment when God the Father says to Jesus, “Go get my children.” I hope that day comes soon. Today would be great. 🙂 I love this video of the song being sung in a church. Hope you have a blessed weekend and remember that day is getting closer. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Passing Through Hoping to Bring People Along

When I teach my classes and they ask me how old I am, my age is on a sliding scale. Whatever the age of my youngest student is, that is my age for that class. For example, in one of my evenings classes I have two young women who are 19 years old, so I say I am 19 too.

Here is a picture of me at the zoo.

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I tell my students I color my hair white to look like a teacher and this is a picture of me in disguise.

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For some reason my students don’t seem to believe me. 🙂

Whatever I look like in this life doesn’t really matter. This life is temporary. Our bodies in this world are ones that will get old and eventually die of something. If this life and how we look is all we have to go on, it is depressing.

But there is much more than this life. I love the way Paul teaches about it in 2 Corinthians chapter 4:

“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I have a certain milestone birthday coming up and it has me thinking about the fact that this life is so short, but there is so much more in store for us in heaven. We are promised resurrection bodies because of what Jesus did for us. We are all foreigners and strangers looking forward to a heavenly home like Hebrews 11 talks about.

Yes this life is short and is nothing compared to what can be in our eternal future if we come to Jesus. But this life is important to me in the sense that I want other people to enjoy that resurrection body too. As I get older and have battled autoimmune, I think more about what Paul said about absent from the body, home with the Lord but that being here means more fruitful ministry. There are days I wish Jesus would take me home to heaven, but there are refugees and immigrants who need help, need to hear about Jesus, and need someone to pray for them.

So I am just passing through in this life and hoping to bring people with me to that heavenly home.

I just hope the resurrection body for me will be more like the first picture not the second one. 🙂

Brazil Gave Me My Best Friend When I Was A Child.

Maybe writing about being attacked by a dog yesterday made me think about my best friend when I was a child. Her name was Taffy. It was because of Brazil that I had my best friend Taffy.

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Taffy was a golden retriever, not the one in the picture above, and she was my best friend. It was because of a friend’s family moving to Brazil for his father to be a medical missionary that Taffy became part of my family. They couldn’t take Taffy with them, so the plan was for me to have some sleep overs with my friend from 3rd grade, Steve, so Taffy could get to know someone in my family.

The result was that Taffy followed me around the house when I was home. She slept in my bedroom, I brushed her, took her for walks, and fed her. We were inseparable when I was home. If I called her name, she came to me even if she was playing with my siblings.

Taffy was part of God’s grace for a boy in a crazy family life. I am not sure if dogs go to heaven, but if they do, I want to see Taffy.

During my last trip to Brazil, I spent time with my students or other professors on the weekends. Two of my students had a golden retriever named Maya. They thought it was a bit crazy when I asked to go with them to the park in Rio do Sul on a Saturday morning to help them walk their dog.

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I shared with them the reason why. When I heard they had a golden retriever, I just had to walk with them in the park. It seemed so fitting to walk and play with a golden retriever in the country that was the reason I had my best friend as a child.

It was a small life comes full circle kind of moment for me. When I meet Brazilians, I always seem to have an instant connection of friendship. I have several Brazilian friends on facebook and all I have to do is post something about Brazil and I will get at least 50 likes.

I am so grateful that God led me to teach English and meet people from all over the world. Brazil planted the seed of interest in other cultures a long time ago when I was child. The reason is that because of Brazil, I had my best friend as a child.

 

3 Day Quote Challenge Day 1- Music Mondays- I Can Only Imagine Sung by Aliyah Moulden on The Voice

Wow I woke up and found that while I was sleeping, I had already had my best day for views and visitors and ALSO that I have been nominated for the 3 Day Quote Challenge by Amy Blount in her blog A New Life.  You can click on her name in blue to visit her great blog where she shares about her life overcoming difficulties with her faith and being a mom. I enjoy reading her posts and think you will too. The 3 Day Quote Challenge is for a blogger to write a post 3 days in a row using a quote that means something to them.

So for my first quote in the 3 day quote challenge I would like to share one from Billy Graham one of my heroes of the Christian faith. “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” I try to have this perspective on life and after having been through 2 health crises in my life the reality that God has a far better home waiting for me gives me the desire to live for him in this life. This also leads me to one of my all time favorite songs for Music Monday I Can Only Imagine.

I Can Only Imagine was written by Bart Millard and originally recorded by Mercy Me. Aliyah Moulden sang it on the show The Voice in May 2017. Her father died when she was in infant, so it is no stretch to think that as she sang, she might of thought of her dad being in heaven. I love the song whether it is the Mercy Me recording or a cover by someone else because the song reminds me that this is much more beyond this life. As someone who has had one serious health crisis 20 years ago and another one not quite as serious more recently, the realization that there is so much more waiting for us in heaven is a blessing I cannot adequately describe in words.

 It is Monday which means one of my favorite TV shows will be on this evening. I love watching The Voice but perhaps for a different reason than most. Yes, I enjoy the singing and watching the performers, but the thing I love most about the show is seeing the coaches, musicians themselves, mentor the performers on the show.

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I think I should mention that I am not a country music fan. It just simply hasn’t been a genre I have enjoyed, not that I have anything against it. So Blake Shelton is a singer whose music I have never listened to unless he performs on The Voice and I have never bought any of his CDs or downloaded his songs from iTunes. However, I am impressed with how he cares for singers on his team, mentors them, and is all in for them. The connection he has with each of them is obvious. As a result, I often find myself voting for people on his team.

So I hope you have a blessed Monday and that maybe this video helps you along on a Monday. God Bless and thanks for reading my blog 🙂

For the 3 Day Quote Challenge I would like to nominate Ana who has the blog Beauty Beyond Bones where she shares about how her faith helped overcome eating disorder and also about her life. I have learned a lot from her blog and think you would enjoy it too.

Home? Where is it?

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So many songs heard about home, so many friends talked about home, where is home? Searching for home, tried different places, different groups, different people, searching for home.

Home as a child was a house with no comfort, no real sense of belonging, no feeling of fitting in. A house that was full of uncertainty, anxiety, dread.

Ran away from there as a teen, but did not think it was running away from home because there was a house not a home.

Bounced around from apartment to apartment but did not feel they were home even though had them to myself.

Home? Where is it?

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Learned about the one who loves us enough to die for us. Learned we can call God father. Then learned Jesus taught that if we follow him that he and the father will make their home with us. What? Why do they want to make a home with me? Don’t they know me? Of course they do and they want to be with me. Don’t completely understand but have peace for the first time.

Free at last to explore and find home wherever I went because Jesus and the Father are with me wherever I go. Home is in Brazil. Home is in Romania. Home is at church. Home is when I visit diverse people. Home is everywhere I go because everywhere I go Jesus and the Father are with me, but home is not a place. Home is belonging. Home is love, laughter, shared life, memories.

Homes are in many places and with many people for me until my journey here ends and then I will finally and forever be home. Home in heaven with Jesus and the Father. We journey in this life as pilgrims searching for what ultimately can only be found in heaven with Jesus and the Father- Our Eternal Home.

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Surprise Reunion Reminded Me There Will Be Reunions in Heaven/Remembering My Father

Each year the 3rd Monday in April marks an anniversary that most of us would not want to have and each year at this time I tend to get a bit down and reflective. In fact, I haven’t been able to write the short story yet that I usually post on Tuesdays for my other blog, encounterswiththeancients.com, because my creative side gets stymied when I get down. I think part of why I get bogged down with this is that it was mostly me with my father in his final days. Yes I helped him to be in contact with my siblings, but there are many parts of his final days I have never shared. I carry them with me in my memories and there they will stay. I want my siblings to be free of it. But a surprise blessing today reminded me that reunions do happen.

Last week I shared about seeing the movie I Can Only Imagine and the memories it evoked for me of my father and how God worked a miracle for me to be able to help him find peace with God in the final year of his life- Forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God.

It was the third Thursday of April 2009 that the decision was made for my father to be placed under hospice care. He deteriorated quickly and by the next day, Friday, it looked like it would be very soon for him to pass away. I was able to use my cell phone on speaker for him to hear and speak with my older brother and younger brother living in other states. On Saturday he rebounded, but on Sunday he started to decline again.

Throughout my life with Jesus, when there was something Jesus wanted to show me, many times a song would be in my spirit. There was a song in a musical at my home church on Palms Sunday that year and one of the songs was Life Goes On about the truth that for those who believe in Jesus life does go on for eternity.

On the Monday morning my father died, God woke me up with that song in my spirit and I knew what it meant. I got up and got ready then I drove to his nursing home. While I was driving there, they called me on my cell phone to tell to get there as soon as I could. When I arrived, he was comatose and not responsive. I sat down and read from 1 Corinthians 15 to him as he was dying. His last breathe was while I was reading the part about the seed that falls into the ground. Only a few days later did it dawn on me how fitting it was for him to die at that moment because he loved rose gardening. But his story does not end there. He is in heaven now.

This afternoon I had a surprise reunion with my friends Isis and Eduardo from Brazil. They came to the U.S. to take their daughter to Disney World and decided to come to Lincoln to see old friends. They contacted me and we met for coffee this afternoon. I met their almost 4 year old daughter Julia. It was a wonderful reunion with precious friends with hugs and shared memories. The kind of reunion that puts a smile on your face.

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When I came home, I sat down and it dawned on me what had happened. God blessed me with the surprise reunion and reminded me there will be wonderful reunions in heaven. One day I will see my father again and there won’t be labels like alcoholic. Only two souls enjoying heaven because of God’s grace in Jesus. There will be many other reunions in heaven.

This isn’t Music Monday, but I want to share the song with you that was in the musical at my church- Life Goes On.

 

Jesus Appearing to Mary Magdalene Gives Me Hope

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When I think about the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, the one that gives me the most hope is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. That might sound strange coming from a man, but for me it is not a man/woman thing. It is an outcast being honored thing.

The first person to do something is the one we remember. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Most people would be able to say Neil Armstrong. Who was the second? think, scratch our heads- Buzz Aldrin was but his name does not come so readily if at all. Who was the first President of the U.S.? That should be easy- George Washington. Who was the second? Wait not a history buff!!!  answer John Adams.

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I know Paul wrote that Jesus appeared first to Peter, but that is easily explained. In those days only men could testify in court. Sad but true. When we read one of the time Jesus fed thousands it says- The number was about 5,000 men besides women and children. They only counted the men UGH. Furthermore, Paul was focusing on the apostles in 1st Corinthians and concludes with himself.

However, the first PERSON Jesus appeared to was Mary Magdalene. We know Jesus delivered her from seven evil spirits but we don’t really know anything else about her before Jesus came into her life. However, it is safe to conclude that she would have been an outcast of some kind. After Jesus delivered her, she was welcomed into the group even hanging out with Mary the mother of Jesus.

Jesus did NOTHING by ACCIDENT. Every act was intentional on his part. He could have chosen to appear first to anyone he chose, but he chose to appear to Mary Magdalene. This gives me hope because I identify with her more than the apostles. The reason is because my life before Jesus I was an outcast. I was the alcoholic’s son. I was the teen who got into trouble acting out in reaction to an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother. I was the cold-hearted salesman in my twenties. When I first started going to church and trying to pray to Jesus, my prayers would start with something like- “Lord I am a jerk”

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Jesus appeared first to his follower who was the lowliest before Jesus and when he said her name after his resurrection, she recognized him. It would like if today he appeared to someone, it would be the person who is an alcoholic, a person who struggles with depression/anxiety, a person who struggles with an eating disorder, a person who- you can fill in the blank. He gave her the job of going to tell the men. There is a message in that. I hope to meet Mary Magdalene in heaven and learn more about her. For now, I just feel blessed and filled with hope that Jesus cares for the lowliest people like me and can turn our lives around.

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Rooms

In thinking about rooms in my life and what rooms mean, I wonder what rooms come to mind for my readers. When I think of rooms, to be honest, some rooms evoke pleasant wonderful memories, but some rooms I would prefer to forget and leave millions of miles behind me even though they are etched in my mind.

There was a room that as a child was a place full of dread. It was the room I learned to feel I was less than human. It was the room where I was berated and the room where sleep could be cruelly interrupted by a drunken fist. It was a room that led to me never feeling I really belonged anywhere and would always be less than.

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There were many rooms after that but none that felt like home. Never a room that felt settled for me. Never a room where peace resided until one day, in a room, the light of the world welcomed me.

It was a room in a friend’s house. He had a visitor that day, a young woman. In that room, she told me that God loves me. God loves me? What? I am garbage waiting to be hauled way. God loves me? That room led me to a journey of discovery.

As time went on I learned about the Upper Room where Jesus told his followers one evening before he was crucified that he longed for that time to share the first Lord’s supper with them. That room had great meaning for people like me. Jesus longed for me to know him and to join him too just like his disciples.

I learned about how Jesus taught his disciples that in his father’s house there are many places and that if he goes, it is better for them because if he goes, he will prepare a room for them

Jesus drew me into his presence in a special secret room for me. It was a prayer room in a church that was filled with his presence and where he taught me that I am not garbage. In that room, I learned how he felt about many things. It was so wonderful that I never wanted to leave that room, but he wanted me to leave that room so I could help others to know about the rooms in his father’s house.

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But some rooms after that were again rooms I dreaded where doctors told me things like my liver and heart were not working well until they found the cause that a pill each day would keep me healthy.

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All of these rooms led me to the room that is so special to me. It is a room that has connected me to the world, a room at my church. In that room people from numerous countries have come for help with English and many have heard about how Jesus wants all to have a room in his father’s house in heaven. Many have come to believe in Jesus in that room. Much laughter has occurred in that room and also some tears. Shared life among diverse cultures has happened in that room. It is this room that I am most fond of in all of my life. This room feels like my home away from home until I reach my final homeroom in The Father’s house thanks to Jesus.

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But those doctors’ rooms came back last year as I went from doctor to doctor to find out once again that I had another autoimmune problem. Such rooms made my blood pressure go up.

Then after finding out I have Celiacs, I had to become gluten free. After that the foggy brain went away and I began to write again. The creative side of me reawakened by the light of the world and another room has become a home away from home as I write.

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The question I try to ask each day is this- Is there room in my heart for Jesus?

What room is special to you? Or is there a room that Jesus can help you overcome as he did me?

Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.

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So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?

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If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

Celebrating Freedom- A Karen Refugee and Yazidi Refugees- Their First 4th of July

In my morning Newcomer Refugee class, I currently have a student from Burma, one of The Karen People, and some Yazidi students. They all came here as refugees seeking freedom and safety. Yesterday we talked about the 4th of July and what it means. They all understood the word Freedom.

For my Karen student, freedom means not worrying about the military dictatorship that took over Burma which caused her parents to flee to a refugee camp in Thailand. My student was born in the refugee camp and has never seen her native homeland.

For my Yazidi students, freedom means being safe from the murderous criminals who were committing genocide. It also means they are free to practice their religion without being oppressed or discriminated against.

Freedom is so precious and yet taken for granted by us Americans. We do not have to worry about government troops or police coming into our churches to arrest us, not yet anyway. We are free to practice our faith or to not practice any faith. We do not have people with weapons pointed at us telling us what we must be.

I appreciate my freedom here in America. There is another freedom I look forward to even more than the freedom I have here. It is the freedom from the effects of sin in this world. For now my citizenship is U.S. citizenship. The day will come that either I die or Jesus comes back for us that I will more fully realize what the bible says- “but our citizenship is in heaven.” Only by God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven. I do not deserve it.

As I help refugees and immigrants here in my hometown, I am constantly mindful that I have dual citizenship- U.S. and heavenly. My desire is to help my newcomer friends with their new lives here in America. My desire is to also show them the love of God, whether it be in ways such as joining them for a meal, listening to them, or teaching them English. I realize that each day I can help them in a much bigger way that is not seen. I can pray for them. I can pray for them because in God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven and with that comes the birth right to talk to God anytime.