Heaven on Earth

“Surrounded by Your Glory, What will my heart Feel? Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still?” (Mercy Me)

I’ve always loved singing Mercy Me’s song, “I Can Only Imagine.”  The song’s gentle melodies flow into powerful praise. Singing this a couple days ago, with spring finally here, I suddenly became aware of a new perspective: I  am  surrounded by God’s glory here on earth. I have been awed by golden sunsets and stilled by the vastness of the ocean. I’ve and danced with joy in the light of the full moon and fallen to my knees in the forest, breathig the breath of the earth.

It sounds a bit pagan doesn’t it? Yet, I am a Christian who loves Creation- like Saint Francis who praised brother sun and sister moon and preached to the birds and tamed a wolf with love- a bridge if you will, for those of us who love the earth and love Jesus, for those who see and feel God in nature.

If we are to honor God, we are called to care for, respect and nurture all of God’s Creation.

Pearly gates and streets of gold have never excited me. When I imagine meeting Jesus, I imagine a natural setting. Jesus lived outdoors much of the time. He spent a lot of time in simple dwellings close to the earth.  Jesus went alone into the wilderness to be close to God, to restore his spirit.  Heaven, for me, will hopefully be full of wonderful wilderness.  We can imagine heaven, and we can open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to heaven on earth

Creek w david and dogs

What do you imagine heaven to be like?

When or where have you experienced heaven on earth?

 

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Find The Purpose.

joannaoftheforest:

This is the theme of our memoir, Perfect Timing. Our lives are full of evidence. David and I came to the same place and time to plant a seed in our youth. It was no accident that we had to go on separate journeys over a period of 39 years to become ready to meet again, to be ready to travel and learn and grow together when the time was right. Never give up hope. Miracles are in the making!

Originally posted on Doug Does Life:

purpose

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The Holiness of Old Dogs

Originally posted on The Beggar's Bakery:

By:  Jana Greene

There is something holy about old dogs.  I can’t quote scripture to prove it, but I can see the sacredness in the eyes of my old dog, Emmie.  And I know God sees it in her too, that He placed it there.

I’m finding that God often places the holy and pure things where we least expect them.  I know that He uses my dog to make me a better person, to teach me things.

Emmie has been a good and faithful friend to me for more than fourteen years.  A Golden Retriever (with a bit of Chow-Chow) she never knew the first thing about retrieving. But being kind and loving, joyful and true?  She knows everything about that.

When I call to her, she comes to me – even though she is old and creaky probably has a million good doggie reasons why she would rather not.  She might be…

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Be Yourself and Sing from Your Heart

It was a bit outside my comfort zone to sing  “Never Would Have Made it.” At least when I tried to sing it like Marvin Sapp. After all, I am still a white chick. But I’d asked the men at the Rescue Mission of Cape Fear, if they had any song requests for next time David and I led Wednesday night chapel, and one of them took me up on it and asked for the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OQYv5NnFDQ

So for the next couple weeks, I studied Pastor Marvin Sapp singing on You Tube with his powerful gospel energy. I attempted feebly to play some guitar chords to go with it. My limited ability to strum a few basic chords was not up for the  jazzy gospel notes I heard on You Tube’s guitar versions. It just wasn’t working for me. But I liked the song itself. It moved me in a good way, because the words rang true.  I never would’ve made it throught the darkness without God’s son carrying me, sometimes dragging me kicking and screaming. Cartoon about footprintes

So I decided to sing the song a cappella after the scripture discussion Wednesday night about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. As I started to sing, I felt myself being pulled into the song. Sometimes when this happens, I forget my place, especially when I’m playing guitar too. But this time, it flowed just fine. I snapped my fingers gently on one hand like I’d rehearsed it.  My other hand moved to my heart, as I sang in my own simple white-hippie-church lady way. My body swayed back and forth of it’s own accord.

The men of the mission have always been polite and patient with my choice of songs. As usual, they humbled me with their enthusiastic applause. The man who had requested the song gave me a warm broad smile and thanked me for singing it.  I think they appreciate my effort as much as anything else. They knew I was singing from my heart.

I realized that I’m showing them how it’s ok to try something new, in a safe place, even if it’s outside your comfort zone, even if it might not be as good or the same as how somebody else would do it. I have come to feel safe enough to stretch myself in the company of this diverse group of men who have come to the Rescue  Mission seeking shelter.  And I have been blessed with new songs to sing.

To learn more about the Rescue Mission of the Cape Fear, and the men who stay there, see my interviews in Wilmington Faith and Values:

http://wilmingtonfavs.com/2014/01/10/men-mission-big-als-story/

The Love that Remains

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My saudade was buried in my subconscious, only occasionally flitting out for brief and distant moments until I got back to work. But my soul mate thought of me, especially when he flew south, way up high in the distance.  Did his saudade touch my subconscious? In all that time it must have. There must have been those faint smiles coming out of nowhere. For 39 years, I was preparing for his arrival without even knowing it, except somewhere deep in my soul. “The love that remains” can be very quiet. But it was there….waiting for the right time to soar higher than I could have ever imagined.

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Confesssions of an Imperfect Vegetarian: Singing is Better than Eating Meat

chicken on the farm

Ever since 1970, when I heard Melanie Safka sing, “I don’t eat animals, cause I love em you see. I don’t eat animals, and they don’t eat me,” I’ve wanted to be a vegetarian.

I got good at it  when I was in college, after reading an article by a hunter challenging people who are against hunting to stop eating meat. I did better after reading quotes by Isaac Bashevis Singer comparing factory farms to Nazi concentration camps, a realistic comparison considering the severity of misery inflicted. Watching videos of baby chicks being de-beaked or ground up alive, always works for a while. I’ve actually gotten better over the years at not eating chicken.

For almost 30 years, I’ve had no problem abstaining from mammal flesh, feeling a kinship with animals who feed their babies with milk from their bodies, like I did. But I’ve struggled with fish and chicken. Most of the time, I’ve been imperfect in my quest.

Except for Lent. During Lent,  the 40 days that start with Ash Wednesday and finish up with Easter, I am stronger.  For 40 days, I  know I can do what my spirit tells me is right for me. I can be an honest vegetarian-no chicken and no fish. During Lent, I have the strength to stretch myself, with God’s help, to have more days of being vegan-no animal products at all.  With so many alternatives available these days, it’s not too much of a sacrifice considering what Jesus did for us. So, I approach Lent with a sense of confidence that grows stronger each year.

Lent

Lent doesn’t have to be about giving something up. It can be about adding something good to your life. Like singing more.

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At the Church of the Good Shepherd, we are working on a song for lent called: “You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord.” It’s about God saying, “I will raise you up on eagle’s wings,bear you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.”  It gives my soul goose bumps.  This is what I joined  choir for: that feeling of accomplishment when you start to “get” a song you love- when it starts to come together with the voices of friends.  It’s a natural high, a power that comes from divine love.

So this year, I will add daily singing to my Lenten practice. It’s good for the soul. I’ll sing for God and for Jesus and for the animals. Cause I love ‘em you see.