Home

I’m going home this weekend.

One would think that after nearly 24 years, “home” for me would be West Palm Beach, Florida.  I moved here in 1988.  Established a life.  Bought my own place to live.  And at the end of every day, I walk up the stairs, turn the key in my front door and breathe a sigh of relief that I’m home.

But when I say I’m going “home”, it means the place I really long for.  The place where my family waits for me, where they know me – my heart, my joys, my dreams, my challenges.  It’s the place I can sink into and be completely myself.

So after all these years, why would a red house on Rathbun Road in a small town in New Jersey still be “home”?  Does it really come down to “Home is where the heart is”?

I think the answer is yes. And for more reasons than the obvious.

Here’s what author Randy Alcorn says in his book, “Heaven”:

Do you recall a time when you were away from your earthly home and desperately missed it? Maybe you were off at college or in the military or traveling extensively overseas or needed to move because of a job.  Do you remember how your heart ached for home?  That’s how we should feel about Heaven.  We are a displaced people, longing for home.

I’ve been thinking more about heaven lately.  Reading about it.  Talking about it.  Wondering what it’s like and what those who have gone before us are experiencing.  And longing for it a little more than I used to. 

And when that plane touches down in New Jersey this weekend and I find myself smiling like I always do at that moment, I need to be reminded of what it is I’m really longing for.

Home is where my heart is.

 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:1

You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Psalm 90:1

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:13

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.           John 14:23

Brave

Some people might not consider it an act of bravery to walk into the local home improvement store with a ziplock bag filled with sink parts.

But for me, it was.

The kitchen faucet had been dripping for some time.  Now the drips had turned to full on running water.  I had to keep sticking my head in the scary place under the sink to turn the water on and off.   Dad had given me a temporary solution a few months ago and promised to fix it when he came to visit.  But God had other plans for him.

I’m not the kind of single woman who loves fixing things myself.  I don’t take on the challenge with excitement.  It’s usually with a sense of dread, and hovering nearby is self-pity and questions about why that verse in Genesis doesn’t say “it is not good that woman should be alone”.

But sometimes, we have to do the brave things.  The hard things.  And sometimes just doing those things– or even having the bravery to try those things makes us realize that we’re actually going to be OK. 

There are situations that require much more bravery than fixing a sink.  Life is hard.  Life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned or expected or dreamed about.  There are situations that require us to just pray, take a deep breath and stick our heads in the scary places.

And God uses those moments to remind us of His love and His provision and His care.  We’re going to be OK.  All my sink needed was a tiny little 29¢ washer.  And I smile every time I turn on the water now.

Be brave, my friends. 

 

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.      Joshua 1:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29

 

 

Laughter

Sometimes, it’s OK to laugh at funerals. 

I know that sounds weird.  Some people would take offense.  Some people have never been to a funeral where mixed in with the grief and sadness are occasional moments of joy.  And laughter.

We laughed at the enormous spray of lovely flowers strategically set in a place of honor at the funeral home.  Flowers for “Beloved Uncle Jerry”.   Dad’s name wasn’t Jerry.  As the funeral director hastily whisked the flowers away, we hoped that whoever Uncle Jerry was, he had them in time for his service.

And we laughed when we asked if the funeral home had any thumbtacks for us to use on our photo memory boards.  They said they did, and handed us a beautiful cut-crystal bowl filled with a wide array of brightly colored pushpins. We promptly named the bowl “The Candy Dish of Danger” and laughed every time we went to grab a handful of tacks.

We laughed at the stories of Dad’s fishing adventures and boyhood antics as they were told by family members at the memorial service.  We think Dad would have laughed, too.  He loved a good story.

Of course losing Dad so unexpectedly wasn’t fun.  But our family loves to laugh, and God gave us – and continues to give us – moments that make us smile, moments that remind us of the hope we have within us, moments that remind us that He is still good, and still in the business of joy.

Christian funerals should be different.  We know where Dad is today.  We know we’ll see him again. And we know that God is watching over those of us left behind.   

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.            (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NLT)

Yes, we grieve.  But sometimes a good laugh and a big smile remind us that we indeed have…hope.

 

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. Psalm 5:11

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

 

Through (2)

Back on January 18th, I wrote about the Andrae Crouch song “Through it All”.  I wrote about how the word “through” means “in at one end, side or surface and out at the other”.  I wrote about how we were going through a crisis with my Dad, but that we were trusting God to bring us through to the other side.

I had no way of knowing that 5 days later, the other side for Dad would be heaven.

There’s always something in me that wonders what goes through God’s mind as He watches us, knowing that another – maybe even a bigger test of faith is right around the corner.  But as I wonder, I also know that He’s preparing us.  If we trust Him in one unknown, we will be stronger when we face the next one.

I’ve learned that God will bring me through, no matter what the unknown is, no matter how crushing or devastating or sad.  I can’t always expect that “through” means what I want on the other side.  “Through” always means what God wants on the other side. 

There is another verse to “Through it All” that I didn’t quote on January 18th.  But it seems particularly appropriate now.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
There’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
That my trials come to only make me strong.

In this situation, in every situation, God has indeed given our family blessed consolation.  This trial has made us stronger in spite of the tears and sorrows. 

So I hope you don’t mind if I take some liberties with a few of the words…

Through it all,
through it all,
We’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
We’ve learned to trust in God.

Through it all,
through it all,
We’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

 
Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy. Colossians 1:11

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13