Eternity in our hearts

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you’ve achieved some, but haven’t found the satisfaction you expected. Like the child on Christmas afternoon, he bursts into anger over some small thing, bewildered by the disappointment the eagerly awaited day has produced. Goals are good things. Trying is important. But nothing really, completely satisfies.

CS Lewis Mere Christianity
Made for another world

In a few days, I will mark six months since I walked with my mother to the door of death. And the strange heaviness, though not my constant companion as it was the first months, has still attacked me at random moments – entering the grocery store and seeing something I should buy for her – opening my cabinet and finding her measuring cup – planning a day trip and wondering if she’d enjoy the ride – hearing something delightful from a grandchild and anticipating sharing it with her.

Mom on Pensacola Beach sand dune
Mom on Pensacola Beach sand dune

A few nights ago I had a dream. Occasionally I have dreams that are vivid, clear and more real than being awake. This was one of those.

I was standing by a large body of water and called out, “Who wants to hear what I’ve been writing?” My mother swam towards me and climbed out of the water, full of life as she was the last time we played in the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola Beach. She wave and replied, “I want to hear it, Janie-girl!” and climbed out.

As she drew closer, she grew weaker, and by the time I helped her onto a lounge chair she had shriveled into an invalid. I covered her with thick blankets to quell her shaking. Between chattering teeth, she encouraged me to begin reading Listen the Wind, the historical novel I am putting the finishing touches on, and she had edited for grammar and spelling errors when her mind was still sharp. As I started to read, we were on higher ground, looking out over the water, and she was in a hospital bed, growing weaker.

A sweet, clueless nurse, brought her food. Mom shook her head and turned toward the water and the bright sun as it moved toward the horizon. The nurse kept offering smaller bits, encouraging Mom to eat and gain her strength.

Bartholomew sunset by J H Thompson
Bartholomew sunset

When the smallest piece, a little brown biscuit was offered, Mom pushed it away and whispered to me, “Don’t you see what really matters?”

Then I saw what she was so concentrated on in the splendor of the sun glowing over the water,
calling her to eternity.

Bird in clouds by Jack H Thompson
Bird in clouds

And she was gone.

I awoke in the early morning light, tears streaming down my face, with profound peace. I knew that my mother, who most of my life hadn’t understood me (we were very different personalities) deeply loved me and valued my writing.

In my dream, I felt as if she had shared a measure of eternity with me, to encourage me in my journey.

The sense of eternity stayed with me, carried me through the day.

I no longer wish I had another chance to hug her or bring her ice cream or talk with her. She has reached her goal —

the goal we are all yearning for, whether we know it or not.

We all have eternity etched in our hearts.

So, if you don’t achieve all your goals, or complete what you have planned, or even if you do, and it doesn’t satisfy, you can rest assured that it was meant to be.

You were created for so much more.

Eternity on golden clouds photo by J H Thompson
Eternity on golden clouds

Let’s chat:

Have you had an experience that gave you a larger perspective on your life?

What would encourage you right now?

Choose life

For years I had the same dream, increasing in intensity as the years went by.

I’m walking towards a small lake on a beautiful sunny day. The shore is lined with bright green grass and colorful flowers, the water flat and tranquil. I step onto a dock, which turns into a wooden bridge across the lake. I feel compelled to go forward. But when I near the middle of the lake, the wind abruptly builds, gusting against me. Heavy clouds rush to block the sun, turning the day to twilight. The once tranquil water is churning and dark, white caps on building waves. I want to turn back, but feel pushed on. As the storm howls around me, I realize the center section of the bridge is out, broken and falling into the water. I know that very soon, I’ll fall into the dark water and die.

I’d wake up with my heart pounding, and a terrible sense of dread that would hang over me the next day.

When I turned twenty-five, I had two wonderful daughters and a house in the nice part of town. I’d done all the things that were supposed to bring the Great American Dream, but I was slowly dying inside. Whenever I wasn’t with the girls, I was crying.

One day, after dropping the girls at school, I stopped the car, leaned on the steering wheel and cried, “Oh God, I can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore.”

Suddenly, though I was fully awake, the lake dream started, again.

As the waves began to break over the bridge, I shrunk in terror. Just at the point when I expected to die and usually woke up, since I was awake, this time I knew I really would die.

Then I heard a voice, calling to me across the water. I looked up and saw Jesus. (I don’t know how I knew it was him. I just knew.)

Standing on the far shore, he called my name and offered me his hand. When I ignored the waves and looked into his eyes, I felt called by his love and reached out in return. As I did, I was instantly on the far shore, surrounded by his love, with a peaceful lake behind me, green grass and bright flowers around me, the sun shining and birds singing. Most of all, I knew I was safe. And I knew I was loved.

I never had that dream again.

That moment was another step in the long journey toward wholeness and healing. When I responded and reached for his hand, I choose life.

…I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself …   Deut 30:19-20  The Message

What choice have you made?

Lavish gift-giving

manger scene
I had a dream, so real that it felt something like what I imagine Joseph experienced when the angel told him about the baby Mary was carrying. In the dream, God said we would have a son, and we were to name him Jeremiah.

Not long after the dream, I began having serious “female problems.” My gynecologist ordered an ultrasound, which revealed massive ovarian cysts and endometrial tumors. He said there was no way I could get pregnant. So certain the dream was real, I went for a second opinion. That doctor said not only could I not get pregnant, but if, somehow, I should conceive, with the pregnancy hormones the tumors would grow faster than the child, causing his death, or severe deformities. I rushed out of his office in tears, and cried for hours.

Finally I surrendered and scheduled the hysterectomy.

The day before surgery, I went in for routine pre-surgical blood work. The next morning, the nurse called.

“Don’t come to the hospital. You’re not having a hysterectomy. You’re having a baby.”

I was ecstatic, but, recalling the doctor’s warnings, fearful at the same time. At the end of the first month I began to cramp and spot. The doc said I was probably losing the baby, to just go to bed. A crowd from church arrived and prayed. Within two days I was fine, and back on my feet.

At twenty-two weeks I went for my first in-office ultrasound, a brand new gadget at that time.

Instead of all my fears, there was a beautifully formed little boy with ten fingers and ten toes, all a-wiggle, and a four-chambered heart, beating regularly. No cysts! No tumors!

The rest of the pregnancy was normal. When our boy was born, I couldn’t stand to name him after Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. (Silly me, as if a name could change God’s design for him. You’d think after those miracles I would be obedient!)

More than twenty years later, my youngest daughter (YD) and her family decided to adopt, to do their part in saving one child from a life of poverty, neglect and/or abuse. When the call came that a five-week-old boy needed a home in two days, they had to make a quick decision and arrange work schedules. YD was still recovering from hospitalization with a serious kidney infection, and their lives were already stretched to the limit with work schedules and their two children. I admired their hearts, but didn’t think it was the right time.

Nevertheless, when they left for another state to get him, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on adoption, cross-cultural adoption and bonding issues. I read about the children who refused to allow their adoptive parents to give them the love they yearned for, how they would back into a hug, never trust, never let go of some little rag they had brought with them, rather than receive from the parents trying so hard to give them what they really needed.

While I read, I felt God whispering to my heart.

“This is how you’ve been. All the years of struggle, wondering why you haven’t made progress, or why I haven’t changed your circumstances, you’ve been trying to do it yourself. And the times you have come to me, you’ve only backed into my arms.”

I learned that adoption is expensive, and marveled at their faith to borrow money to pay the fees, facing sacrifice for a year or two to pay it back.

God whispered, “I counted the cost, and paid with the life of my Son, so that I could make you my child. Will you let me love you?”

When I considered the choice my daughter and her family were making, purely out of the love of their hearts, with absolutely nothing to do with what the child would bring, I again felt God speaking.

“That is a small glimpse of my love. I love you because I AM LOVE. You cannot earn it, and you cannot lose it.”

Early in the afternoon, YD called to tell me the birth mother was on her way with the baby. “She only asked for one thing.” I waited. “That we keep his first name.”

“What is it?” I asked.


We had our Jeremiah, after all.

Now certain that God was in this, tears coursed down my checks. My heart swelled with love for the child I’d have to wait several more weeks to meet.

When they came home, as my daughter put him in my arms he began to fuss. “Jeremiah,” I whispered.

He turned and looked in my eyes, drew in a deep breath and let it out with a sigh. He snuggled against me with a look that said, “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you?”
Grammi and Jeremiah

Talk about love at first sight!

Jeremiah is three now, with dimples that could charm the spots off a leopard and a smile that lights up a room.

And when I hug him, I am reminded of the God who loves me, just because it’s His nature to love. Who had been trying to love on me for years, and I wouldn’t really let him. Who paid a high price to adopt me into His family, even when I was pushing Him away.

So I light the candles on our Advent wreath and move the statues of Mary and Joseph and the donkey closer to our little manger. The child whose birth we are preparing to celebrate made it possible for his Father to adopt me into his family.

I sigh and snuggle into my Lord, so glad I’ve finally run, arms wide open, into His warm embrace.

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1: 4-6 (MSG)

Won’t you come?