This morning I heard someone on K-Love radio station talking about how she had lost 74 pounds by simply letting go and letting God lead. I use the word simply knowing that it is a loaded word, for there is nothing simple about trusting someone much less God to lead us to a desired end. She talked about how she would take a moment and pray for guidance when eating out at a restaurant to make the right food choice which would help her reach her health goals. She paused and thought about what she was doing and trusted that the Spirit would help her.
As she did this more and more about food choices, she found it slipping into all aspects of her life. Whenever she needs to make a decision, she pauses and prays for guidance. Wow. If only, everyone would do this, think of the ramifications for the world. Letting the Spirit lead us in all our decisions might have widespread changes amongst peoples. I am not naïve to think we can get everyone on board with such a plan. However, I do believe we can begin with one person at a time.
Taking a moment before we take action to center ourself and remember who we are spiritually can make a difference in our daily life. Many of us like to start the day with prayer and meditation to connect with Spirit. Some of us like to pray in short bursts throughout the day. Others like to end the day with centering prayer and devotions. There is no right way to connect with Spirit. The key is to listen to what Spirit is telling us during these times of devotions and trust what we are hearing. If we can let go and let the Spirit lead us, changes for the better are promised to us.
This past week my husband and I were on vacation in Florida. We hoped to get away from the rainy weather in Wisconsin. We did find the Florida sun on most days, however, we also found a couple of much needed rainy days followed us there. April showers are indeed required everywhere to bring May flowers.
Before we left on vacation, a chance one minute interview on the television news, lead me to a reunion with a person who was very important to me in my teens. The interview was with her father, a WW II purple heart recipient, living at the Veteran’s home in Union Grove, Wisconsin. My husband and I went to see Henry the next day.
There were a group of us neighborhood kids who took ballroom and modern dance lessons from Henry for a couple of years at the YWCA and then at his own downtown studio as teens. He had two daughters who were our ages and we became good friends but lost touch as the years passed. Now suddenly, an opportunity presented itself for us to reconnect. And, reconnect we did. Not only did we visit with Henry who at 94 still enjoyed talking about those days of long ago, but we reconnected with one of his daughters before leaving on vacation.
Our little reunion was important because while in Florida, we connected with another member of this small neighborhood group, Bob and his wife Carol. After years of trying to locate him, we found him on facebook several years ago and saw him last year while in Florida too.
Why do I tell you of these connections? It is never to late to nurture a relationship, new or old. Relationships are precious interactions with others. They need conscious effort to maintain. Those friendships we choose to develop and nurture are ones that last a lifetime, both now and in the life to come. If we want to make certain that those we love are with us through eternity, we need to nurture those relationships on our earthly journey.
When I wrote Blessed Assurance Through Visions and Dreams, one of my objectives was to give voice to all those who have similar experiences. This past weekend I attended a Writer’s Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. I met many authors and many creative writers in the midst of becoming authors. Among these, I talked to those who also had spiritual experiences similar to mine.
There were those who often felt the presence of loved ones who had passed. They had what I call visitations from beyond. There were those who had dreams of those that were deceased. In these dreams, messages were brought. In all cases, these writers were happy to know that someone had put these experiences in print. I was happy to know that one of my objectives in writing this book was being met. I was giving voice to those who were afraid to talk about such things as death and beyond.
When I was 25, my mother who was 52, was dying from breast cancer. But, we were not to speak of it. We were to be optimistic and talk of a future that did not exist. In my heart, I knew she was dying; yet, out of respect for her wishes I kept silent. It was the elephant in the room. As she went through each new surgery or round of radiation or chemo, we still did not talk of death. We never got to say the important things on our mind. We didn’t get to talk about the mundane things, like the family recipe for cornbread or how to cook Thanksgiving dinner. We didn’t get to talk about her fears, if she had any, about death. We didn’t get to talk about her beliefs about heaven and beyond.
There was so much that was left unsaid between us. The time for sharing secrets, wisdom and laughs had passed as she slipped away. I was robbed of even her last few breaths as the call came too late for me to get to her the morning of her death.
So, my encouraging word for you today, my friends, is this. Do not delay in having conversations with your loved ones about their beliefs about death and beyond. Know what they think. Know what they want. Share life to the fullest, leave nothing unsaid. You never know when it might be the last time you will see them.
Why do I believe that God welcomes all to heaven? Quite simply, because the God that I worship and praise is a gracious and loving God, one that cares for everyone’s eternal spirit. I believe like many philosophers and theologians before me that there are layers or steps in heaven. Once we arrive there is still work for us to do, lessons to be learned.
Depending on the lessons we have learned in this lifetime, we will arrive in heaven on one of these tiers leading us ultimately to one with God. I base this belief not only on reading other theologians’ work, but on experience in my family. For example, there have been members of my family that have not lived the Christian life, yet they have appeared to me in my dreams after they have died and become spirit. One was a self-avowed atheist who appeared to my father the week that he died. Surely she would not have gone to heaven, she was a non-believer. Yet, her spirit survived.
The first two years after my mother died, she visited me often in my dreams and brought me messages from beyond. Than one night she popped in to my dream and said good-bye, that it was time for her to move forward, to learn new lessons. That same night she visited my oldest brother and his wife, who she never met, with a similar message. This visit reinforced for me that indeed there are layers in heaven and lessons to still learn once we get there. When I need my mom, I pray to God for her to visit me and she usually comes. So, she is still watching over me, but from a little farther away.
Since we still have opportunities to grow once we leave this physical world, I strongly believe that we all get to go to heaven. We just may have never starting places once we get there. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.
Is there life after death? People have been debating this issue since the beginning of time. Theologians, philosophers, astronomers, physicians, scientists to the common folk have all weighed in on this topic. Often, they come to the same conclusion – there is some part of us that appears to live beyond us at the time of physical death – they just arrive at this conclusion in different ways.
Some people need hard proof that there is life after death. They find comfort in the many books that are being written right now about near death experiences. Reading about a person who has been clinically dead and yet can describe all that is happening to them during an out of body experience is validating to us that part of us is alive outside of our body. They further describe a personal experience of going to heaven which has elements of others near death experiences. We all want to believe heaven exists. We want to believe there is life after death.
Some people believe there is life after death based on their faith tradition. Whatever their religious tradition has taught about a life after death, they simply trust the teachings as a matter of faith. For others, it is a combination of the above that forms their belief system. It is that way for me. My faith founded in the Christian religion along with the writings of near death experiences and my own experiences in dreams convince me that there is life after death.
It is my family members that I have had the strongest relationships during this life, that appear in my dreams to bring me messages about the living. When they appear, it is very special. They only come when they have a message for me. I do not routinely dream about them. Or, they come when I pray and ask God specifically for one of them to visit me when I need them. For example, if I really need a mother touch, I will ask for my Mom to hold me that night and God has graciously allowed that to happen. It is because of these visits in dream that I am confident there is life after death otherwise my deceased family members would not appear to me.
With nearly 30 years of dream history behind me, the single most learning has been the importance of strong relationships in this life. Earthly life is relatively short compared to eternal life. No one knows how long we will be on this earth, so we need to make the most of each day. The messages I have received over the years all have to do with relationships. There is no time to live with grudges, anger, regrets…there is time to live with love and mutual respect.
Instead of living like this is the first day of the rest of your life…. Live like this is your last day.