Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul...

I've thought about heaven.

A lot.

Not just recently but even as a child, I thought about heaven frequently. I was a fearful child. I was scared of everything: monsters in the closet, the thunder outside, the car with the tinted windows driving by...and dying.

I grew up in a Christian home with strong believers as my parents. My dad was slightly over protective. He meant no harm in his warnings, he just wanted us to be aware that there is a sick world out there and although we felt safe we shouldn't be naive. So I feared everything.

I asked the Lord into my heart when I was just four or five. I remember being really emotional about it and asking my dad, through tears, if he would help me pray and ask Jesus into my heart. I remember repeating the words he said, but I don't remember feeling at peace. In fact, I remember asking Jesus into my heart every night for the next 8 years, just in case he hadn't really heard me and I died in my sleep.

I don't know why I was such a morbid child.

Selfishly, I didn't want to die. I loved my parents, I loved my friends and neighbors. This world held all that I knew and could conceive. As a child, anything beyond my front yard was just an unknown.

I knew there was the promise of heaven, but what if God didn't hear my prayer that night. What if He was answering and listening to the requests of so many other people that my prayer got forgotten? Obviously, my theology was not one of great wisdom.

At the age of 13, I attended a Christian summer camp with some friends from church. One night while sitting in front of a wooden cross on a lake with the sun setting in the background. I finally saw God for who He was. I understood what His sacrifice on that cross meant and I believed His promise that "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That evening, I closed my eyes and thanked Jesus for His redemptive sacrifice and asked for His forgiveness for my sins and that He would come into my life forever.

And I never had to ask again.

I won't lie. My life was pretty good. I mean, seriously, I wasn't complaining, and I wouldn't have minded staying on this earth for eternity. Sure, there were bumps in the road and things weren't always perfect, but if this was as much as my struggle would be, then I could just hang out here forever. So although I didn't fear my prayers would float around aimlessly in space never reaching God's ears, I wasn't sure I really was ready to trust the greatness of heaven.

One of my best friends died in a tragic car accident when I was 17. I remember being devastated for him and myself because of all he was missing out on. Every milestone in a teenagers life, never getting to graduate, never going to prom, never getting married or having kids. He must just be completely disappointed in all that he had to give up. I struggled with this for so many months, until exhausted, I just pushed it out of my mind. How could God take such an amazing, faithful kid away from his great life here on earth?

At the age of 21, Nick and I got a phone call that changed our worlds forever. One of Nick's closest friends from childhood, a groomsman in our wedding, and a guy that brought Nick and I together was killed in a plane crash. We instantly fell to our knees in tears when we got the news. Another life taken so prematurely, a beautiful smile we'd never see again.

But this death affected me so much differently. I learned through his family and faith that Peter was the lucky one. He was immediately taken into the throne room of God himself and was caught in His glorious presence. There would be no regret in Peter's mind of what he was leaving behind. All he could see was...God. To be in the very presence of our Savior, there could be nothing more than he would want than to praise and stand in awe of the creator of every breath we'll ever take.

I was taken away by the magnitude of what this meant. I've never viewed death the same, and I never fear for the moment that I leave this earth.

I've been thinking about heaven a lot lately. On February 8th, I watched my mom breathe in for the last time. And as she exhaled, she instantly was in the presence of our Lord.

I feel a deep sense of loss. My heart hurts all the time. There is a hole in my life that can never be filled by another person. My mom was my best friend, one person I could lean on for everything, and although I immensely grieve my loss, I celebrate mom's gain.

A good friend of my mine gave me a book by Randy Alcorn called "Heaven". I have been devouring this book just trying to feel a connection to my mom and what she must be seeing, tasting, and experiencing right now. She is not sad and she is not lamenting what she is missing here. She is with Jesus and He is all she needs.

If you don't have a personal relationship with the Lord, I want to quote a statement in this book that hit me particularly hard. It is a joy to me to know what these sentences mean for me, but brings me to tears when I think about what it means for others. "Earth leads directly into Heaven or directly into Hell, affording a choice between the two. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven." Don't let this life be the best that you ever get...the best is yet to come. Nick and I would love to talk to you about a relationship with Christ and what His sacrifice means for you.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, Yahweh, is the Rock eternal."
Isaiah 26:3,4


PS On the adoption front, we are excited to tell you that we've been approved on our home study! We are so excited to have moved on passed another step of this long process. That's another check on the to do list!

PPS We are up to 23 followers!!! Unbelievable! Remember, if we get to 25 followers, then we will do a drawing for an Ordinary Heroes T-shirt to thank you for your support :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Do I Begin?

I lay in my bed watching the minutes tick by. I call her phone to get her voicemail just to hear her voice again. 11:50 passes...she's been a gone a week already.

I've been stalling to start a post. I don't know how to begin. I don't know what to say since my mom passed away. I don't know if I should do a short, to-the-point memorial or a long tribute to the woman I counted on for everything.

There are so many memories I could share that would help to shed light on who my mom was, but they are so special to me. In my mind, these are so precious. I'm afraid that if I used my limited, human vocabulary that the memory would be cheapened.

So how do I start again and share my deep loss with you?

I've been receiving mass amounts of cards sharing sympathies for our loss. I've never seen such an outpouring of love from those closest to me and from some I don't even know. It's overwhelming, but very comforting.

One card I was given, says "Your mother lives on through you." Those are some big shoes to fill. I am but a pale reflection of the woman that I daily strive to be. My mom was patient...I'm not. My was kind and gentle...I'm a bit of cynic. My mom was not self-seeking...I'm always judging how the situation affects me. She never kept a record of wrong...I am known to hold a grudge or two. She was never easily angered...have you ever seen my temper? Enough said.

Through all the trials she faced her entire life, she always protected the ones she loved, always trusted God, always had hope, and always persevered. Even to the end.

"Love Never Fails," 1 Corinthians 13:8. I could count on my mom for everything.

I wanted to share one more note that Nick and I received from some very dear friends of ours. I cried the moment I read it. My mom lived to be a wife, mother, and grandmother and nothing could be more honoring to her than this:

"We would like to make a donation to your adoption fund in loving memory of Erin's mom. We know she will be rejoicing in Heaven when "Baby K" is brought home. We could think of nothing better to honor her than to help you both raise another one of her grandbabies up to know of her courage, love, and faith in God!"

I miss her every minute.