Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Heaven Isn't So Far Away...

It's been about 7 months since my dad passed away. Suddenly. There were no warning signs, no major health problems, nothing to prepare us for the news we heard on September 8, 2010. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my dad and miss him. I have been wanting to blog about him for so long, but there is so much to say that it has been too overwhelming to narrow it down to one post. God's hand in the last years of my dad's life was the most powerful and touching example I have ever seen of God's love and His desire to save every single one of His children. I've journaled in detail the events that God orchestrated in the last years of my dad's life and one day will blog about it.

But for now, I want to talk about the window into heaven that we've been blessed with ever since my dad's departure. For the longest time, I imagined heaven to be a big room with pews where everyone was happily singing liturgical hymns and praising God- for all of eternity. I know I'm supposed to think that this is wonderful and that I couldn't think of doing anything else for an endless amount of years...but to be honest, I was always a little uneasy about this and was afraid (although I know its impossible) that I would be...well, bored in heaven. So when my dad passed, I remember crying to my priest and telling him I was sad just to think that my dad was going to miss out on so many wonderful experiences in this life like watching his grandkids grow up, enjoying his family, going on vacation, even just enjoying his relationship with God and the abundant life that God provides. My priest politely grinned and asked, "You really think all of this is something he's going to choose over his experience in heaven." At that point, I realized I knew nothing about heaven which was why my grief at that point was so great- I felt like I had lost my dad to this mysterious abyss that I knew nothing about. And that's when my obsession with heaven began. I started reading every book I could get my hands on that would give me a glimpse of what heaven really was about. I started to delve into my Church's view on heaven, the saints, and the liturgy- which we believe actually takes us into heaven. Thankfully, after all of this "research", God enlightened me to truly get a glimpse into heaven and my life hasn't been the same since.
I now am passionate about learning more about heaven and telling others about it. In fact, as Christians, I can't believe that most of us know nothing about heaven and yet we continue in our walks, not knowing anything about our final destination. We know that this world is not our home, but wouldn't it make such a big difference if we knew what our true home has to offer us?

I believe that all of us get glimpses of heaven that draw us to a place that we've never been before, but where we are all longing to go. I call it the "God feeling". It is the feeling you get when you are staring at the ocean, not able to see the other side. It is the feeling you get, when you are by yourself at night and you look up into the sky and see the stars and realize how big our world is. It's the sweet and fleeting moments of almost perfect love and fellowship you feel with your family, your kids, and your friends. I believe that this is the Holy Spirit drawing us to our eternal home, giving us hope that our souls will one day find their rest. It is our glimpse of hope in a world that seems hopeless, yet ours is a hope which demands nothing of time or earth, but seeks all in the world to come!
At first I was going to write about all the details I learned about heaven...but I think its a journey that God wants to take each and every one of us on. He gives us the Church,the Bible and His Holy Spirit which all give us amazing glimpses into heaven. I encourage you to take this journey and I guarantee that your perspective on life will completely change...for the better!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Invisible Mother

I absolutely love this piece. I am sharing it from another mom's blog.

Invisible Mothers

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible - The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.

"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'

I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'

I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner,celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'

And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'