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Intra Muros

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On the recommendation of my mother, I have been reading Rebecca Ruter Springer’s book Intra Muros. Originally published in 1898, it is a description of a dream/vision of life in heaven experienced by the author when she was in a coma for several weeks. My mom simply described a bit of what the book was about, my imagination was captured, and after ordering it from Amazon, it was on my doorstep in a couple of days. My mom had flown back to her home that morning, and I had a few quiet moments to sit down with a cup of tea and read.

Within  moments, I was in tears. Her descriptions were so beautiful, so beyond anything  I could have imagined….I don’t know if this book is true or not. It doesn’t matter if it was all her imagination. If such things can be imagined by the human mind, think of what He has planned for us!  For as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (II Cor.2.9) I can’t answer to all the theology behind it – no doubt it has its detractors. But if you read it with this scripture in mind, you cannot help but become excited for what is in store.

“And it’s just an impression, this is, of what that is. And everything on earth, the beauty, the sweetness, the beauty of the earth, is nothing else in the world but an answer to a far better than that, that waits us when we leave this world. For everything in earth is just a pattern of that which is in heaven. Everything that’s good, everything that’s righteous, everything that’s beautiful, trees, birds, everything is just a pattern of what’s in heaven. Our own life is just a pattern. It’s just a shadow, and not the real thing. It’s the negative side. It takes death to develop the picture, to put us back in the theophany we come from. Then in the resurrection we come in His likeness, a resurrected body. What a beautiful; not only beautiful, but it is the real solemn truth of God’s eternal Word, that we’ll be like Him.”
57-0420 – The Entombment
Rev. William Marrion Branham
http://table.branham.org

Incidentally, an old friend passed away that day, followed by another dear lady the following day. As sorrowful as I felt for the families who would miss their loved one, I couldn’t help but feel excited for the ones who had left their suffering behind! So, my recommendation is this: If you want to go to heaven, if you know someone you believe is already there, if you know someone who is headed there, or grieve for someone who has left you to go there, read this book. Read this book. Read this book. Read this book.

 

 

 

 

 

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On Marriage

Jonathan and I read and loved this quote by C.S.Lewis the other day, taken from Mere Christianity.

“Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied upon to last in its intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last.

If the old fairytale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?

But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense…love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit, reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.

They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other, even as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else.

“Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity; this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”

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I’ve been thinking about the deception of social media these days. No doubt, blogs, books, and a million words have been written about this already, but I couldn’t resist adding my two cents worth…after all, that’s why I blog a bit!

I read a lengthy post on facebook by a friend today – she was lamenting her loneliness, her longing for a best friend,  the circumstances which kept her from bringing people into her home, and her hurt feelings over all the fun that seemed to be happening in the world without her. It got me started thinking about all I’ve learned in the past few years about friendship. I realize that she may read this – I hope it helps her.

I understand about loneliness. I was raised in a lonely place, with few friends… I didn’t have a close friend my age for years – not until I was well into my 20s.  I moved from a remote place with few opportunities for frienship to an area with many, many more opportunities. I’ve learned that a place with more people can be more lonely. But the most important lesson I have learned is that it is what I make it.

Facebook is a lie. The newsfeed looks like the society page in a Victorian newspaper. Everyone is somewhere doing something fun. Except you. You are at home, on facebook, wishing you were somewhere fun. But the truth is that you do fun things. Most people do as many fun things as they can fit in their life. Most people do about the same amount of fun things. Just looking at everyone’s life at once makes it look so overwhelmingly fun, and the contrast created by all the collective fun makes yours look lonelier.  

But those people have work days, have mundane days, have bad days,  have Mondays just like the rest of the world. But they rarely post about those things…because who wants to read about being stuck in traffic again or someone’s really bad day (unless it’s funny)? So, we only see (in most cases) the collective good, not the collective bad. Otherwise facebook would be overwhelmingly depressive!( Maybe it would make us feel better about our day if everyone posted the reality of their bad days!) So, the constant newsfeed of fun is a deception. It is not a true representation of everyone’s lives. It’s only a tiny snapshot of one  good moment. So, if you’re having a day when you’re feeling  a little down, feeling solitary, or needing a friend, don’t turn to facebook. It will make you feel worse. Turn to a real person. Call someone you haven’t done something with in a while, and see if they’d like to have lunch. Or just chat on the phone a little while. Or do something nice for someone else – nothing will make you feel better than turning your focus outward.

Next, a word about best friends. Most of  us long for a best friend (although there are a few personality types that seem to not need them)…Henry Adams said, “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, three are hardly possible.”  Soooo true!  One of the favorite lessons I  have learned is that life is cyclical. You will go through cycles with friends. There are so many people that I have been close to over the years that I am not close to now…many people come into your life for a season. Very few are going to be around for the duration! Geography, life changes, personal changes – these all affect our friendships! I have learned to be very grateful in the moment for friends – and not to cling too tightly to them – or take it for granted that we will always be close! I treasure the memories I have with all those I have been close to…I have moments of nostalgia when I remember the comfort of those friendships…but I cannot turn the clock back or change the circumstances that cause us to not be close today…it’s just life! I nurture my friendships and don’t let them go lightly. It saddens me when I see a friendship going through a change, but in most cases, I am powerless to change the forces at work. I am totally grateful for the friendships that have remained strong through the years – but I could probably count them on one hand….

Another word: don’t put all your friendship eggs into one basket. I realize that we are busy people and we don’t have tons of time, but make sure you nurture people. Not just one person. Hedge your friendship bets. Trust me – if you are that needy, you may be overwhelming for an unsuspecting potential friend.

 I feel like these epiphanies took me a while. Well into my 30s, to be honest. Which brings me to another point. If you are living far away from your family, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to expect someone to fill that void. That is an unfair burden to place on someone who already has their own family. If serendipity brings someone into your life that you feel that close to, that is a tremendous blessing – but don’t turn that blessing into an expectation. Things may change! ( see above paragraph) When I learned to stop expecting people to be family to me, I was able to really nurture some friendships that have turned into an almost-family relationship. But I would never demand that from them…which brings me to my next point…

You must be a friend. You must take responsibility for  your own loneliness. If you want to go for lunch with friends, call someone. Otherwise, you may grow old waiting for the phone to ring (besides, no one really wants to go to lunch with an Eyore). If you want to go shopping, make some calls and take someone shopping. BE THE FRIEND. Take the initiative. I read once that there are 2 kinds of people – hosts and guests. If you want to have friends, learn to be the host. You don’t have to open your home if circumstances are not favorable, but you can invite friends to go for coffee, shopping, lunch, dinner, anywhere! There are times when you don’t feel like taking the initiative, but it’s what you may have to do if you want to have some friends. Staying at home and moping will not get you any friends. Get out there. Invite. There have been many times when I’ve invited someone to do something, and they have never reciprocated. That’s okay. That’s the chance you take. Some people are not hosts, remember? Some people already have very complete social circles and may not be looking for new friends. Make a few attempts, and move on to someone else. You’ll strike gold eventually! Many people are not meant to be anything more than acquaintances in your life.

Remember not to judge a book by its cover. One of the best friends I have ever had (and I hope she reads this) was someone whom I looked at and thought, “There’s no chance she needs a friend. She seems to live the life of a social butterfly.”  It has been one of the most cherished friendships of my life, and all because I took a chance and started to cultivate it even though it looked as though it wouldn’t get off the ground. I have learned to pray, “God, bring into my life the people You want me to be close to….show me whom to approach…help me not to get caught up in my idea of who looks like they might be the right friend for me…”

These revelations have been transformational. I don’t know if just reading these will be enough. You have to really REALIZE and BELIEVE them yourself….but if you can, it will change your life for the better. You will still have lonely moments. It’s the human condition, right? My family is still 800-3000 miles away. I still have days when I’m lonely for that kind of companionship. We all have days when we feel a little blue and everything looks bleak, including our social calendar. But those days just need to be weathered. The next day will be better. Be the friend. It works, I promise. And stop believing the facebook lie that everyone’s friendships are better than yours!

 

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Sacrifice

Been thinking about sacrifice a lot these days. I work on an obstetrical unit, and see a lot of new moms and babies. While I don’t want to come across as judgmental, what I see far too often worries me greatly. Many of these new moms are so focused on themselves that they cannot make the earliest sacrifices for the new child they have brought into the world…sacrifices like just holding it when it wants to be held, or feeding it when it needs/wants to be fed. Most won’t make it through the first day of breastfeeding – the discomfort, the work of learning, all these things require too much of them, and they refuse to make the sacrifices necessary…what kind of a future will these kids have?

When you are a wife and mother, most days, you are making constant sacrifices… giving up what what you would like to do for what needs to be done. I walked into a patient’s room tonight, an older lady, who had brought two books to the hospital for her stay that would be less than twenty-four hours. We got to talking about reading, and she asked if I liked to read. “Yes,” I replied, very wistfully, “but I don’t have the time for it right now.” Fact is, I do have a book in my bag, but it’s one my daughter wants to read, and I need to read it to approve it for her…even the book I brought to read is a sacrifice of my oh-so-precious and rare reading time.

I would love to go to a Christian concert in our area two nights from now. But I don’t have great options for babysitting, and right now with root canals for the daughter, tuition, and homeschooling books to pay for, the splurge is just more than I can justify….another sacrifice.

School starts in a few weeks, and I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it a little. I thoroughly enjoy homeschooling my children, but the pace is frantic with a baby, homeschooling, church, and work. I love having a bit of time during the summer to  spend time with the kids and accomplish some housework without having 17 other demands on every second. Not sure what can be done about it – the only answer is the passage of time.

The point is, I’ve realized that I’m in the years of sacrifice. My sleep, my time, my body, my money – these things are all up for grabs. And there are multiple hands grabbing….. yet would I trade it? Nope.

The way I see it, it’s just a phase. I refuse to mourn the loss of these things…they will all come back to me in time. One day I will have time to read, full nights of sleep, and ready money.  But I won’t mourn the changes that bring me those things when they come, either…..

For what is my alternative? Great nights sleep means no sweet baby babbling in his crib early in the morning, or no sleepy boy coming to me with his bad dreams. Time to read means no kids to read to anymore, no books to approve to ensure that my teenage daughter’s mind is filled with mostly good things…for someone my age to have the time to do all the things they would like to do – that means they have no PEOPLE demanding their time.

So, I’m enjoying it….and on the days that feel a little more sacrificial than is comfortable, I try to relish the small pleasures – a good cup of coffee, a few quiet moments at work to look at photos of places I’d like to go one day, while realizing that putting in my years of sacrifice now will pay off in great rewards in the years to come…and the pastimes I anticipate having more time to enjoy will feel more rich for the waiting…

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Big Daddy Weave – Love Come to Life

Ok. This is one of the best albums ever. I can’t get sick of it. I’ve tried. It’s really worth listening to over and over again.

The Only Name(Yours Will Be) (words and lyrics by Benji Cowart)  is my newest anthem.

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Back again?

Took what was a long sabbatical from the blog – probably had to do something with a pregnancy which seemed to drive every thought from my head. Baby is now just about one year old, and lately I’ve been thinking, “I should write a blog post about that!” So, think I’ll try my hand at it again. Bear with me – I may be more than a little rusty…

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Toxic Baby

http://www.ted.com/talks/tyrone_hayes_penelope_jagessar_chaffer_the_toxic_baby.html

Watched this talk on TED.com the other day. This has implications on so many levels… I’m not going to rattle on endlessly about all the things I was thinking about as I watched this talk, I’m just going to tell you to watch it and think about it. Needless to say, my baby will be drinking from BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.

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