All posts tagged HEAVEN

A Tribute to My Mama

As most of you know, my mother passed from here into eternity on March 22, 2016. This is the tribute I wrote and read at her funeral:

Proverbs 31:10 states, “An excellent woman, who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

Today I’ll share with you some jewels that our excellent mother shared with not only her own family but a host of people whom she served.

Faithfulness is the first gem our mom passed on to us. Proverbs 31:11 says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.” 

When you talk about Pauline, you’ve got to talk about Ray—they came as a pair. They lived together, worked together, and played together. They not only loved each other, most days they liked each other.

As a teenager, or even as adult when I’d criticize Dad for one thing or another, she always stood up for him and encouraged me to think the best. “Your father is a good man,” she’d say.

And somehow I’d believe her. And she was correct.

The last several years of Dad’s life were difficult, to say the least, but Mom faithfully served him through it all. I’d try to get her to go out with me, but usually she’d say, “I don’t want to leave your father.”

Those who observed our family thought that Mom, or “Warden Wert,” ran the show. But those who really knew us knew the truth—Ray ran the show the show and Pauline did her best to hang on.

And Paula, Paulette, and I are hanging on to Mom’s faithfulness.

The next gem Mom passed on to us is caring. Whenever she visited people or people visited her, she always asked about them individually, remembering the details like the names of their children or parents.

Even in her last days—when thoughts remained difficult to grasp and harder for her to speak, she asked about her children and grandchildren. When they hurt, she hurt.

When word was posted on Facebook about Mom’s promotion to glory countless women who’d been under Mom’s guidance as they grew up said how much mom loved them and made them feel special. For a woman that would stand out in a crowd, had a minimum amount of education, and never signed an autograph, her life made a difference. 

I had the privilege of having my parents live in my home as their health declined. One of my fondest memories of both my parents was the morning devotions at our dining room table. They read a short scripture and an accompanying illustration. Then they pulled out their prayer list. The “list” was extensive and detailed. My children often commented on how many people were on the list—they knew each of them by name and when there were answers.

Both mom and dad cared enough to pray. I’m grateful for that.

The last gem we received from our mother was the gem of encouragement. She believed people could be better than they were and not only told them, she expected it.

I think this is what my children will miss the most. When they came home, Grandma was always there and ready to talk or just listen. I’ll probably never know some of the many words of encouragement that went on in her room.

Mom didn’t mince words. She asked the really hard questions everyone else was afraid to ask. Recently, my son came to visit. Knowing we’d been praying especially for him over the last several weeks and months she asked, “How are you, Micah?”

He hesitated for a moment, “I’m okay Grandma.”

Lying in her bed, she straightened herself up so she could look him in the eye. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Mom encouraged me not only by her life, but also by her death.

The last several months, Mom slept perhaps 18 hours a day. I’d go into her room to check on her after her naps and check on her. Sometimes I’d tell her of my very busy day, or complain about something that had gone wrong. Then I’d ask her how her day had been.

As she lay in her bed, after being bathed and changed and fed—eyes half closed she’d say, “Good.”

The Bible says in Psalms 90 to “Teach us to number our days so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

I learned a lot from her.

I’d like to end with 2 short stories.

The first was when my father was still alive. Although he couldn’t walk, they’d travel up the block each evening from our house in Florida. Dad in his wheelchair, mom hobbling along with her cane.

One day as I pushed my father and mom ambled ahead of us, Dad motioned for me to bend listen to him.

“There goes the most beautiful woman in the world.” Then he pointed to my mama.

The other story happened about a week before she died. During the cool North Carolina evenings, we’d hoist mom into the chair in our living room in front of our wood stove. On that particular night, I read from the Salvation Army publication the War Cry and then I pulled out the hymnal.

She’d had a few good days in a row and we began to sing.

“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”

She threw back her head and sang along with every word—not in her low, gravely, old-person voice, but on tune with a young fresh sound.

“That’ll be good won’t it Mom?”

She smiled and said, “Yes it will.”

That night as I prayed, I told the Lord that if he wanted to take my mama in her sleep, this would be a good night.

He didn’t. He allowed her to hold on a while so that I held my sweet mama in my arms and whispered in her ear how much we loved her and what a difference she’d made in our lives as she passed from here into eternity.

I began with Scripture, and I’ll end with it.

Proverbs 31:28-31 states:

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her. Many woman have done excellently but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Are You a Wise Guy?

My unique father used to use the term “Wise Guy” in a derogatory manner when he referred to me. A conversation would go something like this:

Dad: “Are you wearing that to school again?”

Me: “Yes.” I’d say in my lofty teenage-girl-voice.

Dad: “So you’re wearing overalls so you can be different like all the rest of the kids?”

Me: “Whatever you say, Dad.”

Dad: “Don’t be a wise guy,” he’d say as I slinked out the back door for school  dressed in my jean overalls for the fifth day in a row.

As I look back on it, I think he was the wise guy.

Really.

The older I get, the less I know, and the more I  realize how much my parents knew. They were wise.

Something else my dad used to say was, “Sometimes, people get dumber by degrees. They might have a PhD, or an MBA, or an MSW, but they don’t necessarily have a J-O-B.

I used to think he was talking about the book in the Bible. I think I’d graduated from college and had a J-O-B before I understood he meant occupation.

I want to be wise. I wouldn’t mind being knowledgeable, but my desire is wisdom.

So when my pastor, David Brady decided to preach through the book of Proverbs, I got excited. I figured it would be something like Become Wise in Ten Easy Lessons. 

He began with an unexpected question, “Do you fear God?”

From that thought-provoking question he took us to several references in the Bible, beginning with Proverbs 1:7,

“Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge.” (NLT)

True wisdom begins with fearing God. It’s like the foundation of the house. No foundation–no house.

We definitely don’t see much in the news or on TV about fearing God. If anything, they make fun of it. Most try to separate fear from God. My pastor said, “Separating fear from God is like taking the word butterfly and separating the syllables. In other words, flying butter.

I’ve never seen that.

Many people who say they believe the Bible say God is love and there’s no need to fear Him. Kind of like a big, heavenly, Santa Claus.

That’s not what the Bible says. His Word, both the New and Old Testament emphasize fearing and loving God.

When I honestly questioned myself, I knew I feared God. I know one day I’ll give an account of my life, but it seems so far off, and this world seems so real. Often, I fear man more than I fear God. But I don’t want to. I want to be a truly wise guy.

What about you? Do you fear God?

Come along with me as I blog through Proverbs and maybe we can share a cup of coffee together and become wise.

Although it might take more than ten easy lessons.

And the first lesson is fear God, not man.

Are you with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is My Mouthwash

Recently, while reading through the Psalms, I noticed the reoccurring phrase of how man is just a vapor, a fleeting breath.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had bad breath. Serious. Bad. Breath.

It made me wonder what kind of breath I’d be if my life’s breath could be smelled and rated on say a 1-10 scale. Or for that matter, if all our lives could be rated on our life’s breath, maybe like the Olympics–cards would be held up with 7.5, 8.1, 6.3… (Of course the Russians would always be lowest.)

Some would say my cards would be high and my heavenly breath good because of caregiving or other good works, but I know better. I know my hidden thoughts and insidious pride.

I’ve thought about life’s breath a lot lately. One of my new friends in North Carolina died Friday. Her death came both suddenly and quickly. One day she was at church, and over the next few weeks, she went from the hospital to home to Hospice to heaven.

I miss her.

She wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. A rather ordinary-looking, middle 70-ish woman who of course drove a Buick.

She was the first to greet us in our new church. Each week I could count on her pleasant smile and kind words. She always asked about my bed-bound mom or how farming was going with us. Or how my son was doing in Florida.

But it never stopped at just words. Her actions backed up her strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

She called almost every week to check on Mom and update the prayer list. One evening, on a particularly difficult night for me, she corralled chickens and even helped me make a gallon of salsa for an event I attended.

There were other acts of kindness that I am not allowed to discuss because those were her terms. If she did something for us, Tom and I couldn’t tell anyone.

She had fresh breath. It was made fresh by Jesus.

Mine, too.

Our human effort smells foul to God. Isaiah stated that all our best works are like filthy rags. A negative number on the vapor/breath scale.

Yet, by Christ’s atoning work, he makes our life-breath clean. Pure. Acceptable to God.

I’ll miss my friend, but I’m not sorry she’s gone. She’s breathing heavenly air. Air I long to breathe one day.

Fresh. Eternal. Jesus-filled.

But for now, I’ve got to think about my breath here. Do I smell like heaven, or do people move away?

What about you?

 

 

Finding Our Family

“Basically, we are on a quest to find our family,” my husband told his Sunday School class.

That phrase stuck with me.

Our job as believers, isn’t to attend church and put on programs or even to have fellowship. Our job, is to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” ESV

That is our message. We aren’t responsible if people believe or do not believe–that’s the Spirit’s part. Our part is to share.

In the past, I sure have complicated the message. I got side-tracked. When I look back at it, I believe it’s spiritual warfare. Scripture says Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. He loves nothing more than for Christians to have committees and spend their time bickering over carpet color and concentrating on who’s going to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

I know, because I’ve been there. Or what about when I complain about my circumstances when they are AMAZING. I mean, I know where I’m headed when I die, my life is hidden in Christ. I have the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word to guide me. I can work. I can worship. I can love. I can serve.

So I’m on this planet to tell others the good news. A message of grace–God’s unmerited favor. He sent His Son to earth to pay the penalty for my sins.

So I proudly lift up the name of Jesus. My Savior. My Lord. My King.

So I’m sharing it with you. Because who knows, maybe we’re family.

And speaking of family. Our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world because they name the name of Christ. Beheadings, crucifixions, and rapes are all part of the persecution that my family is enduring because they love Jesus more than they love this life.

Remember them. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to give you a burden for them. Send them money. That’s what I call my IIH stock. Investing in heaven.

It pays eternal dividends. And when we get to heaven, we’ll meet the rest of our family.

Seasonal Worship

Light peeked through the fake wood blinds. Breakfast finished, Mom cleaned up. The dishes miraculously made it into the dishwasher. Time to worship.

I scooted the lift chair toward Mom’s hospital bed. Two speakers were stuffed under the bedside table which held my computer.

“Okay, Mom, are you ready?” I looked into her 94-year-old eyes. Once clear and bright, now red and watery. She nodded.

I clicked the button to connect via the Internet with http://www.lakesidechapel.com The congregation I attended in Florida for over 25 years. The worship leader began with To God Be The Glory. One of my favorites by Fanny Crosby. Next was And Can It Be. I belted them out with my out-of-practice-alto-pretending-to-be-soprano voice. Mom piped in occasionally with her once-strong-soprano-turned-salty-bass voice. Together, we sounded heavenly–at least to God.

Why? Because the Lord knew our hearts. We worshiped. From Mom in her bed to me tucked into her lift chair, our spirits soared with songs of praise to God Almighty. The Lord knows Mom can’t go to service anymore. So we stay home. And He’s okay with that.

Since we moved to the foothills of North Carolina, I’ve been able to experience the seasons again. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them while in Florida until I moved to our farm.

The changing seasons remind me of my life. There was the Bratty Kid Season (Tom would argue that I still visit that season). Then I had the Try Not To Get Kicked Out Of Asbury College Season, followed by the Marriage and Can’t Wait For The Kids To Grow Up Season. Then the dreaded Teenager Season intermingled with the Caregiving Season.

I’m still in the caregiving season. Dad’s caregiving season ended about seven years ago. And although I knew the end was near, his passage to heaven surprised me. Same with my childhood and college days and parenting days. One day they were there, the next day they were gone.

The truth about seasons is you can’t make them stay. One moves on to the next since the timing is from God. Same with our lives. This season with my mother seems so long sometimes. Hard. For me and for her.

I don’t want to rush through this time. I’m older and I pray a bit wiser, so I want to take this one slow. I don’t want to have regrets of complaining or impatience of moving to another time without enjoying the time I have now.

We listened to my Florida pastor. I even jotted a few notes. We prayed when he prayed.

“Your pastor did a good job,” mom said after I clicked out of the site.

Tom arrived home and we cradled our lunches on our laps as we prepared to say the blessing.

“How was your day of worship, Tom?”

“Good. How about yours.”

“Great!”

Mom smiled and so did I.

I’d like to share another song we sang during the worship time taken from the book of Job. Because you can worship right now. No matter where you are or what season it is.

VERSE 1
Who has held the oceans in His hands?

Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

CHORUS
Behold our God seated on His throne

Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

VERSE 2
Who has given counsel to the Lord?

Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

VERSE 3
Who has felt the nails upon His hands

Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

TAG
Men: You will reign forever!

Women: Let Your glory fill the earth