Apr 27, 2017 Yet Another Powerful Illustration

This is my favorite illustration to use at internments, probably because internments are usually outdoors and this is an outdoor illustration.  So, it goes like this.

“Once upon a time, not long ago, a dragonfly laid her clutch of eggs on a branch on the bottom of a lake.  Not to long after that, the eggs hatched and hundreds of little nymphs were happily crawling along the lake bed.  They ate, they slept, and they eliminated food.  And that’s all they did, but that’s all they knew, and so they were content.  Except…. Every so often one of their number would inexplicably and without explanation climb up a lilly pad stem and never be seen again.  This became the main topic of conversation among the nymphs.  They discussed this endlessly – why their siblings climbed and what happened to them.  Were they dead, in another world, or something else.  Well, this led a small group of siblings who spent their days together to make a pledge to each other.  The pledge was that if any of their group ever got the urge to climb they would tell the other group members about it and more importantly, if they were able, they would come back and tell the others where they had gone.

Sure enough, not long after this one of this group did indeed get the urge to climb, in middle of the night, and he found it so strong he couldn’t stop and wake up his pledge mates to tell them about it.  And so he climbed  –  all night.  By morning he was exhausted, but he had made it to the top of the stem and so he was able to flip over onto a lilly pad to rest his exhausted little body.  And he slept all day and all night.  During that time, his body split, so when he awoke the second morning he climbed out of his old exoskeleton and to his astonishment discovered not only that HE had changed – his body had elongated and strengthened and he had WINGS.  But his environment had changed too.  Instead of the bottom of a lake, where it was always cold and dark, he looked around and was stunned to see sky and clouds and hills with green trees and a lake with beautiful rythmic blue waves and so many other wonderful new sights he  scarce could take it in.   And so while he sat there marveling at his new life he decided to try his new wings, and sure enough he could not only fly but fly forward and backward, and fly at great speeds and great heights, so he could explore his new home more completely.  And every new turn uncovered another amazing truth about his new home.

And so he was zipping around,  trying to see as much as he could, when all the sudden he remembered his pledge to his group of siblings still on the bottom of the lake.  He immediately dove to the water, but to his surprise he bounced right off.   And so he flew a little higher and faster but again he bounced off.  He tried all afternoon in many different ways to fly into he water and to the bottom of he pond so he could tell his siblings about this amazing place, but unfortunately finally realized it was impossible.  As much as he wanted to tell them, he realized his siblings would just have to find out on their own.”

And so it is with our loved ones   They are even now discovering new realities, new joys and excitement about their new home.   So we don’t have to mourn for them, just look forward to when we, too, have the joy of joining them on life’s greatest adventure.   Heaven.

Found a Treasure 2/21/2017

I was catching up on a website I’ve subscribed to for years but don’t get to read every day.  It’s a sight that normally sends a clean joke a day, most of which make me smile but some I keep for future use in sermons or to tell my nine year old son.  Once in a while they send a serious post, which is what I found today one dealing with death and grieving which I found so compelling I’m posting it here, with all credit to the author Heather Kallus.  Enjoy…

BYE FOR NOW
By Heather Spears Kallus

Goodbye seems so final – seven letters in a row,
“Bye for now” feels better – this I do know.

When parting ways from this earth or simply for the day,
Bye for now is comforting – that I must say.

Bye for now provides a chance to meet again somehow,
To give or get another hug – that time, it will allow.

Bye for now offers hope to all the ones we love,
That simple phrase might be a gift directly from above.

Days can feel oh so long, but years are short indeed,
Ask anyone who’s lost a love – “Just one more day,” we plead.

All the memories in our hearts, tucked away, we keep,
Special ones leave a mark, one that’s surely deep.

So, let’s not say goodbye.  Let’s change the way we part,
Let’s say, “Bye for now.”  It’s softer on the heart.

Whether it is in a text, long e-mail, or note,
Let it be remembered – bye for now is what we wrote.

Or when our time on earth has met its final date,
It’s bye for now, not goodbye – see you at The Gate!

Blog link:
http://sipsofsunshine.blogspot.com/2016/10/bye-for-now.html

Copyright 2016 Heather Spears Kallus. Permission is granted to send this to others, but not for commercial purposes.

A POWERFUL ILLUSTRATION 2/16/17

I was skimming a sermon illustration website for any new illustrations of heaven, and boy, I found a powerful one.  It’s a quote by the famous Christian author/pastor J. I. Packer about heaven, a beautiful thought:

“Hearts on earth say in the course of a joyful experience, ‘I don’t want this ever to end.’ But it invariably does. The hearts in heaven say, ‘I want this to go on forever.’ And it will. There can be no better news than this.”

I can’t think of many times I’ve had the thought that “I wish this would never end.”  I remember thinking that every time I’d come home on leave from the Navy, for I was still single and lived across the country from my family, loved ones and friends.  I remember thinking it on my wedding day, especially at the reception.   I remember thinking it multiple times on my honeymoon.   I remember thinking it during a cross country drive with my new wife.  And I remember thinking it on a Saturday morning when my wife worked and I had the joy of watching my month old daughter.  I’m sure there were other times as well, but those are the ones I remember distinctly.  And it’s so true.  All those times were times of great delight, where my heart was full and bursting with joy.  And it’ll be like that every moment in heaven.  It’s hard to imagine here on earth where every experience like that ends, but it’s absolutely true and one more reason to focus on what we or our loved ones gain when we go to heaven instead of how much we lose.       Ed

The waiting game 2/15/17

Boy, there is a surprising amount of waiting in book publishing.  First, you wait for the publisher to get the book error free so they can publish it.  In my case that took almost six months.  Then, you wait until it is published, and out in print, and available to the public.  Then, in my case, you wait until the metrics come out, which is every three months, so at this point it is two months three weeks since my publishing date so I have to wait another week to see how many copies of the book have sold and to get any residuals for it.  That’s a LOT of waiting.   But if the book helps as many people as I hope it will, it will be well worth the wait

11/25/2016 Checking In

Just to add something so you know I’m still active on here.  It’s the day after thanksgiving. The book is available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, as I’ve said before.  I find myself checking christian book.com and lifeway.com daily to see if it’s made it to either of those sites, also stopping into our local Barnes and Noble to see if it’s on their shelf yet (it isn’t).   So I have not idea if it’s sold one, or one hundred, or any amount yet.  My publisher told me recently (they reveal these details as we go) that they issue checks three months after, so since the book was released in October I probably won’t get a check or a count on # books sold until the end of January.  It’s excruciating to wait, but what else can you do?  It’s in God’s hands, totally out of mine, so I just let Him “worry” about it so I don’t have to.  If you have bought and read the book, would you please comment, good or bad, here?  You can still be the first!

11/3/2016 Another Publishing Update

Just in case anyone’s interested, I just got my final copy of the book, reviewed it, and approved it for publishing.  So, according to my publisher, the book should be available electronically any day now and the physical book in a week or two.  Yeah!!!  Oh my gosh, I just went on Amazon and they have the kindle version available for $4.99.  I can’t believe it – you know how when you wait for something with great intensity you can hardly believe when it happens  like getting married, or having a child, or….   Something similar here – I know it was coming, but now that it’s here I’m so excited I can barely sit still.

 

10/12/2016 Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday I got one of my best birthday gifts ever – certainly one of the most unique.  I hadn’t heard from the publisher of my book for two weeks – it was just kind of in limbo, then yesterday I got the final edit and was able to approve it for print.  So, hopefully this time it will come out perfect and will be available to the public – where it can again hopefully  begin to help people struggling with end of life – possibly as soon as the end of the week, electronically, then next week in book form.  Yeah!  Praise God.

October 3, 2016 Paul’s Death Mathmatics

 

 

The apostle Paul is known for being long-winded, both in his preaching (Acts 20:7-12) and in his writing (with what we would consider long, run-on sentences, for example Romans 1;17-20).  But Paul summarizes for us his view of death (and the theme of my book) in four words, four words that are often overlooked in preaching and study.  In one of the most famous of Paul’s declarations, he says in Philippians 1:21:  “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”  We often hear sermons about the first four words, “to live is Christ,” and rightfully so, because it is about how we live our Christian lives here and now.  But the last four words, “to die is gain,” are often then overlooked, but they contain a powerful truth for the Christian facing death or who has a loved one facing death.  For Paul, DEATH = GAIN.  Not loss, although there is loss, and not grief, though there is grief.  No, according to these four short words of Paul, for the Christian the most important truth we know about death is that death = gain.  And so the purpose of my book follows closely this truth, that the more we know about just how much we or our loved one gains through death the more we can focus on that and hopefully the less we focus on what we lose temporarily.  For what we gain through death is far greater than what we lose in this world.  Yes, it’s hard to imagine a joy or love greater than that of our earthly families, but in heaven we gain so much there is no need for family to bring us joy.   We have the infinite love of God shining on us constantly, plus the intimacy of our heavenly family.  So as we or a loved one faces death, let’s keep this truth of Paul’s front and center:  Death = Gain!

 

Toto and the Comfort of Heaven

Sep 15, 2016

My goal in this book is similar to what Dorothy’s dog Toto in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” did when he pulled back the curtain on the Wizard, near the end of the movie.  Before he did so the main characters were scared and anxious, mainly because of the unknown nature of the Wizard.  But once Toto pulled back the curtain and the characters could see what was happening behind it, they were no longer afraid.  That’s what I’m trying to do in this little book.  To pull back, at least a little bit, the curtain on the mystery of death and the beyond so we can face our own or a loved one’s death with less fear and anxiety.