Thinking About Heaven

Today I was sorting clothes in my room, finishing up the great Seasonal Clothes Exchange, and I was bored, so I decided to listen to something off of Youtube on my phone. I normally don’t do this because I usually have so many interruptions that it’s impossible to really listen to something properly, but the kids had friends over, they were all playing outside, and I decided to chance it. I randomly decided to look for something by Tim Keller. I found an interesting sermon on heaven and settled in to enjoy it. One thing he said really stood out to me. He was saying that heaven is all about God’s presence. That’s the whole thing. Being in God’s presence. He said that people have criticized him for claiming that the only way to heaven is through Jesus, and he pointed out the question, Why would you want to go to heaven if you’re not in love with Jesus? Heaven is all about being with him! 

 

I really had to sit with that thought. If you’re not in love with Jesus, then you’re not going to like heaven. Cause it’s all about him. 

 

A couple weeks ago I was driving to another city in the car, solo road trip. I had a lot of time to just think. I was listening to the Christian radio and the song, “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercyme came on. I love that song. It is essentially just imagining what it will be like when we get to heaven and see Jesus.  I was singing along and wondering myself, what will I do when the time comes? And then I thought about my children. And it was almost a fierce thought. My children must go to heaven too. I don’t know if it could be heaven if my children weren’t there. And I had this realization that if God had created some kind of system where we could barter our way into heaven, I would have unhesitatingly bartered my own soul to make sure my children made it into heaven. I love them that much. And I was thinking these fierce thoughts, and it was like Jesus just whispered, That’s how I feel about you. I wanted you in heaven so much that I came and died on the cross. And it suddenly occurred to me, That’s how Jesus wants us to feel about everybody. He wants us to love everybody with that fierceness that says, They’ve got to be there too!

 

That kind of rocked me back on my heels. I do not feel that way about everyone. Who do I fiercely desire to see in heaven? My husband. My children. Parents, siblings. Some extended family. A couple close friends. But, as far as exchanging my life for theirs if that were possible? Probably just my own children, if I’m honest. And yet, that fierce desire to see other people saved, in relationship with Jesus so that they too will go to heaven, that is what we are called to as Christians. We are called to that kind of deep love. 

 

And all I can do is say, Lord! Change my heart! Give me your heart for these people who surround me, my neighbors that I pass every day. The people of my community, my city, my state, my country. The world. May my heart be changed so that I long for the day when I can be in Jesus’ presence, but at the same time, I can say fiercely, I need these other people to be there with me! 

 

Here’s a link to “I can only Imagine” if you’d like to listen:

I Can Only Imagine by Mercyme

 

Better Late than Never

This past 9-11 was interesting for me.  I suddenly got interested in the events of that day 18 years before.  Yes, every year our country has a day of remembering, and every year I have felt melancholy as people shared different memories from that day. But I did not feel like I was entering into the mourning like my friends were. 

 

When 9-11 happened, I was living in bush Alaska. I had an almost one yr old baby. I was pregnant with my second. I didn’t have a tv. The events of that day seemed very far away. I did not sit in front of the news and watch the events unfold. I just heard about it after the fact, in a tidy little written news article I found on the internet. I also had a very complicated history with the US, having lived in Haiti while the US put that country under a strict embargo. Seeing firsthand the suffering that the Haitians endured because of US politics made me feel very ambiguous about being an American. 

 

When 9-11 happened, I saw it as an outsider. How sad. Those poor people. It was some kind of crazy disaster that was happening far away to people that had no connection to me. 

 

So, this past 9-11, I suddenly felt very curious. I started watching little video clips that people had posted about various aspects of that day. Then I got on Youtube and found where someone had posted an unedited clip of the news, playing straight from 8:30am to 11am on that day. Over a couple days, I sat and watched the whole thing unfold. I cried a lot. Suddenly feeling very connected to the confusion and pain and bewilderment as people watched their country being attacked. I went and found another video that was made a year after, that showed what was happening at the government level during that time. I watched an amazing clip of a fireman who had been in the building when it collapsed and somehow he got out. He gives God all the credit. I watched some footage of different news camera men who had been on the scene, watched their live footage as they lived through the chaos. I watched an amazing little documentary about all the boats that spontaneously gathered to help evacuate Manhattan. And I cried some more, this time at the wonder of people coming together to help each other, uniting.  And then finally, I felt like I had watched enough. 

 

And I wondered. What was that interest all about? I’m still not sure. I do know that I hate mourning. I hate entering into emotional pain. I distance myself from it. It’s not good that I do that. Instead of feeling the emotions, I just shove them down. I used to be pretty purposeful about it too. If something was getting too overwhelming for me to handle, I would literally envision a big walk-in closet. Then I would envision myself going in, taking an empty box, setting the problem into the box, shutting the box, and putting the box on the shelf, and then I’d walk away. 

 

Perhaps God is letting me do some catch up. Let’s open that closet door and start unpacking all those boxes. One at a time. 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 27 Esther Tries out Intermittent Fasting

Hello Internet Friends, hope you all are doing well! I have had an interesting week. This past weekend I finally came to that realization that my life was not going to get “normal” any time soon, the stress was not going to back off and if I was serious about my health, I needed to do something despite circumstances being crazy. I’ve been seeing all kinds of articles about Intermittent Fasting, and so I thought, Hey, that sounds like a good idea! Why not? It seemed to fit with my desire to hit the restart button on my diet plan, so I set a day and went for it. I ate supper and snacked a bit till about 8pm on Sunday night and then I didn’t eat again till Tuesday morning. A thirty-six hour fast. Aside from when I had morning sickness, I have never done that before.

I kept a diary throughout the day. It was kind of a way to keep myself from going crazy. An outlet of sorts. I’m not going to share it with you because basically, it was the same theme throughout the whole day. I’m hungry. I have a headache. This is totally not fair that I still have to grocery shop and cook for 16 other people while I am fasting. And then hit repeat. That was the sum of my diary. Except that by Monday night I was feeling so sick that I couldn’t journal any more. I went to bed around 8pm and every time I woke up in the night, I still felt bad. But, when I woke up Tuesday morning, it had passed. I really didn’t feel very hungry. I was up at 6:30 am and I sat and ate a bowl of blueberries. Then around 9am I started feeling really hungry and so I heated up a plate of leftovers from the amazing supper I had made the night before that I wasn’t able to eat. I thought that the day after fasting I would probably be gorging myself, but really, I didn’t eat. I think I ate less on Tuesday than I usually do. I didn’t feel like snacking and I was feeling full a lot faster.

I’ve been trying to do more research on fasting this week. I was really surprised that I had the discipline to fast. I didn’t think I could do it. And actually, it did get easier as the day went by. I would like to know more about this whole Intermittent Fasting thing. As I research though, I am running into the problem of everyone wanting to charge me money so I can read their “specialized” version of how to lose lots of weight while doing Intermittent Fasting. Uggh. I don’t have any extra money to be spending on this right now. That said, I was really excited today to find an email in my inbox today from a health site that I trust, sharing a link to a session with Dr. Jocker as he explained the “Top 7 Things that Sabotage a Fast”. I clicked on the link to watch this “free webinar”. Free! Yay! I watched about fifteen minutes, it was very fascinating and helpful. And then all my kids ran into the room where I was and there was no way it was going to get quiet enough to watch anything so I hit pause and figured I’d come back to it this evening when I actually had some time alone to watch it. Alas. When I tried to open the site again, my time had run out. I now was supposed to pay money to access the same information. But, hurray for YouTube. I found it over there and watched it, or at least skimmed through it, for free.

Apparently my big mistake in fasting was that I tried to do too much too soon. You’re supposed to work your way up to a longer fast. Start with twelve hours, then fourteen, then sixteen, etc.  I’m learning. I’m glad that I did a longer fast right away though, because I proved to myself that I could actually do it, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

For whatever reason, trying to stick to a separate diet as I take care of my family, and another family that is with us, is just too hard for me. But simply not eating for periods of time seems doable. I’ve dropped two pounds this week. It’s worth trying it out for a while.

So, that’s what I’m going to be doing this week. I’ll let you know how it goes next time.

See you later!