Tag Archives: heaven

Song for a Sunday // The Living Years

I was having this Technicolor dream the other morning –  vivid, rich hues (slightly cross-processed) and warm, strong light. The greens were deep, the reds were pure, the grass was soft. The world was right.

*”There’s a light in the window and the table’s set in splendor, some one’s standing by the open door…” – Dottie Rambo

morning at peaceful valley july 2014

In the dream, to my left was a big white house with a wraparound porch. The driveway and street were lined with cars, trunks open, families packing up to leave what had been a loving and happy gathering. All around were my kids and their families. There was much hugging and kissing, so much peace and satisfaction and love flowing like wild water down the mountain in spring. It was going to splash you, love was!

middle st. vrain at peaceful valley july 2014

I was on the front sidewalk playing with Kai, talking to him, singing him songs. Then I actually heard the sound of Rambo’s music coming from the direction of the house, like I would  have heard it from the hi-fi growing up:

*”I can see the family gathered, sweet faces all familiar…”

I asked Malakai, in my dream, “Kai-Kai, wanna dance with me? Let’s dance!” He was wearing a little light-blue suit with a bow tie, barefoot. He wrapped his arms around my neck (he’s only 1 1/2), me on my knees, and I held him tight and we were swaying, laughing.

It was one of those utterly perfect moments.

Inexplicably, in my dream, in this happy, joyous, loving, golden-light space, I looked up while Kai and I were dancing and there was my {Uncle Bill}, smiling at us from across the sidewalk. At the exact moment, I realized my {Aunt Rosie} was on the front porch talking away, hugging people good-bye, passing out travel sandwiches. And then I realized, it wasn’t just Dave and I and our children and theirs, but my parents were there, too and my siblings and nieces and nephews and people I’ve known across the years and loved.

I should mention, specifically, that both my Aunt Rosie (my dad’s older sister) and my Uncle Bill (married to my dad’s younger sister) passed away years ago. So having them so sharply present was this really sweet and surreal moment.

The Rambo’s song was still playing in my ears as I woke up:

*”I can see the crystal river, I must be near forever…”

I must have been near forever, and it was perfect there, in this dream.

kai and amelie july 2014


I am not sure what makes us dream the dreams we do, sometimes; not sure what brings a person or place or thing into such expressive clarity as we sleep. Mulling it over later, I realized it may well have been the result of both missing Kai (he has had a busy summer) and my brother Joe mentioning getting us all together for Thanksgiving this year, a feat of gargantuan proportions, if it could ever, even happen.

silly grands august 2014

But I am also working on the chronicles, the photo books and journals of our family’s lives. I have 33 years worth of pictures and keepsakes I am determined to date and organize. I am in a groove, currently. I pull out a photo box with one child’s name on it and sort them into the years of their living. Then I paste them on to pages with notes about the occasion and in an hour or two, I hold the evidence of one child or another of mine from birth to adulthood and it flies by so fast, my head spins. And yes, I cry sometimes, thinking, “Oh I wish I could have known how fast those fleeting days were going and slowed time down and held that little baby a little longer, cuddled that growing child, kissed those feet, tucked my daughters and son in to bed once more…”

I was a church-busy mommy in the 80s and 90s. And I can tell you that almost nothing else I ever did when my children were young has any meaning, comparatively. I hope that serves as caution to some one who is reading, to some one with babies who are wearing you out. They ARE the Important thing right now (I capitalized Important on purpose). Thirty years later, those grown children are all that matters. And you just hope you instilled what you really meant to instill somehow…

Geez, I didn’t know this was going to be so heavy. Sorry.

Today my parents are celebrating 57 years of marriage. They married at the age of 18 in 1957 and they have made it 57 years. And I can tell you that nothing is as important to them as family, either. They have invested so much of themselves in to churches and people and yet, I know I have a place reserved for me in their hearts. I know my well-being and life take precedence over the busyness of years gone by, God now restoring the years we may have lost along the way.

I am so blessed that I still have both of parents here.  I mean, I am going to be 55 soon – and I still have mom and dad. How fortunate is that???


So, this song, The Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics, is the one I wanted to share on this beautiful Sunday. Because life gets busy. Life goes fast. I know when you’re young, you think there is so much more left ahead, and there is, but time doesn’t just fly these days. Time careens at breakneck speed, faster and faster and out of sight before you can get your bearings.

So, I look around and these are my living years. And they’re yours. And I have things to share and tell the people I love. I have conversations I don’t want to let slip by. I want my people to know I love them, even if and especially when we are not seeing eye to eye.

I want to spend my vitality on my children and theirs (thanks to Staci Eldredge for that terminology) and the people God has placed in my path ~ friends who have become family. I want to love and honor my parents for all I am worth because my perspective has been enlarged and as time slips away, so, too, do the demands I once wanted to impose relationally in my more self-absorbed youth.

The Living Years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

When else can we do these things? We can only do them now, in the days we have.

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4.14 nlt

“…people are like the grass.
    Their beauty fades as quickly
    as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”  Isaiah 40.6-8 nlt

*Dottie Rambo song lyrics, I’ve Never Been this Homesick Before

Amy Jo Journeying Toward Heaven on the Sacred Romance

Yikeronis!  In April, four friends: Heather, Candi, Amy Jo and me, set out to read and write our responses to the now-classic The Sacred Romance-Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.  We were going great guns for a time, but life and stuff jumped right in front of our momentum and we have never quite finished…yet.  I published my thoughts to Chapter 12 about 2 months ago (see here).  There is really just Chapter 12 and the epilogue left (wow!  I LOVED the epilogue!), but, by golly, we are GOING to finish!   Hopefully before the holidays…

Chapter Twelve: Coming Home

From the infamous, crazy artistic, wildly creative and sensitive Amy Jo:

“Our hearts cannot live without hope… Our courage for the journey so often falters because we’ve lost our hope of heaven-the consummation of our Love Story.” (p. 178)

 “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” (C.S. Lewis, p. 180)

Ah… temporal ennui… my old “friend,” my frequent companion, my gift, my curse.

I, as Jeanie did, grew up with a heaven-focused crowd. I even had a lapel pin on the corkboard in my childhood bedroom that read “Perhaps Today.” Fittingly, it helped hold up a little poster that read (and yes, I’m typing this from memory):

“This world is not my home, although it seems to be. My home is with my God, in the place He’s made for me. He’s coming back real soon-the signs are very clear. So when the trumpet sounds, I’ll be out of here!”

Cute, huh? I liked it. But there is always the danger of being “so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.” This is a balance I struggle with because (contrary to popular belief) I do NOT always love life. I wrestle OFTEN with my “calling,” whatever that may be. I wonder ALWAYS what I’m supposed to be doing with my time here on earth. I do know however, that I am to love God and love people, using the gifts and personality God was pleased to give me. Here, let me quote for you the personal “Mission Statement” I wrote for myself in 2007:

“I want my life to be characterized-most of all-by love for God and love for people. Therefore I will seek to do so in as many ways as I can imagine and am able. Never will I allow myself to become embittered by what sorrows and perceived injustices I may experience in my journey through life. I vow to strive always to see, imitate, manufacture, and praise God for beauty. I always want to confidently protect and promote truth and light. I want to be proud of how I conduct myself in any given situation. When others spend time with me, I want them to leave feeling refreshed, invigorated, inspired, loved, and valued. I want to bring out the best in those around me. When God looks at me, I want Him to say, “She is mine. She knows me and loves me. I am pleased by her.”

The authors of The Sacred Romance call us to dream of heaven, imagining wildly about what heaven will offer our heart of hearts-beyond the clouds, fat white cherubs, harps, and boringness that has become so cliché in our culture. “If faith and love hang on hope, if a life without hope is as Paul says ‘to be pitied’ (1 Cor. 15:19), then shouldn’t we devote ourselves to recovering a vision for the end of our story in as vivid colors as our imagination can conceive?” (p.180)  The authors urge us to consider these in our imaginings: intimacy, beauty, adventure, and arrival. I will highlight my favorite parts of each section.

On Intimacy:There we shall receive our new name, known only to our Lover, which He shall give to us on a white stone (Rev. 2.17)… To tell the name is to seal the success-to say, ‘In thee also I am well pleased.” (p.183) How my heart longs to hear these words from my God! (See above Mission Statement.)

On Beauty: “So it goes with all things on earth: The beauty that so captures our heart and is so fleeting draws us toward the eternal reality.” (p.186) (See above Mission Statement.)

On Adventure: “We will worship God in heaven, meaning all of life will finally be worship, not round after round of ‘Amazing Grace’.” (p. 188) YAY! “Part of the adventure will be to explore the wonders of the new heaven and new earth, the most breathtaking of which will be God Himself. We will have all eternity to explore the mysteries of God, and not just explore, but celebrate and share with one another.” (p. 189)

On Arrival: “One day soon we will round a bend in the road and our dreams will come true. We really will live happily ever after. The long years in exile will be swept away in the joyful tears of our arrival home. Every day when we rise, we can tell ourselves, My journey today will bring me closer to home; it may be just around the bend. All we long for we shall have; all we long to be, we will be. All that has hurt us so deeply-the dragons and nits, the Arrows and our false lovers, and Satan himself-they will all be swept away. And then real life begins.” (p.193)

In closing my review of this chapter on heaven, I’d like to just put out a challenge to those of you who love music-try making a “Heaven Playlist” on your ipod or computer… or even just using pen and paper. There are SO many songs out there referencing heaven; so many songs out there produced out of-I am convinced-the calling of the Sacred Romance. Perhaps in creating / listening to your “Heaven Playlist” you will hear the call of our Romancer-and just MAYBE you will begin to break free from our “modern” boring ideas of heaven.  Here are a few I’d recommend to get you started:

  • “What Do I Know?” by Sara Groves, from Conversations
  • “My Deliverer” and “That Where I Am, There You…” by Rich Mullins, from The Jesus Record
  • “I Can Hear the Angels Singing” by David Crowder Band, from B Collision
  • “The Third Heaven” by Carmen, from Addicted to Jesus
  • “Un Lugar Celestial” (A Heavenly Place) by Jaci Velasquez, from Heavenly Place

Thanks, Amy Jo.  LOVE you!…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Learn to be more imaginative about heaven.  I CAN only imagine…

pictured: Amy Jo created the prayer and worship interactives for Heaven Fest this past summer.

Chapter 12: No Place Like Home – Just Jeanie today…

These are the observations both deep and lighthearted from The Sacred Romance – Drawing Closer to the Heart of God (by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge) among a few friends.   We are drawing to a close here as we begin to think towards heaven – a very important part of the story God is writing for us.   We hope you’ll let us know what you are thinking, too…

Posts by the other book-bloggers to follow.

Chapter Twelve: Coming Home


Jeanie on Chapter 12:   Besides the Epilogue, this is it-the final chapter in this now-classic book by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis.   I was sort of resisting this chapter for two reasons.   One,  the book  has been so impactful that I don’t want it to end, and two, I knew we were going to focus on heaven.

Page 179: “If…we believe that this life is our best shot at happiness, if this is as good as it gets, we will live as desperate, demanding and eventually   despairing men and women.   We will place on this world a burden it was never intended to bear…”

You may be wondering, What?   A Christian who doesn’t want to talk about heaven?   Well, kind of.   It isn’t that I don’t want to or that I don’t hope to go there someday.   But  I grew up in Christianity that seemed very focused on escape – let’s get out of here and get to heaven as quickly as we can, seemed the metality.   People would gut-sing songs with lyrics like “This old life is filled trouble…trials and sorrow fill the ‘morrow, but someday soon, I’ll take my flight…some morning I will leave it all behind.”   They would belt out these words as if they were hoping God would just transport them right to heaven if they sang loud enough.   Yes, I grew up among Chrsitians who lived their lives in a beam-me-up-God, PLEASE! metality.

So, I have swung the direction of figuring out how to live in the here and now as a Christian.   I think there is a good scriptural basis for this, “On earth, as it is in heaven.”   The Word of God as a whole is filled with wisdom to get us through this life.

But I also know I have discounted, at times, the beauty of what awaits.   I have wondered about heaven.   Fully aware that it is not going to be a bunch of little cherubs on clouds with harps popping grapes into their mouths, I still have wondered: what will it be?   And it has been hard to fathom, for I am very practical and boxed in and linear at times.   I admit I have read John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ (The Book of the Revelation) and quickly glossed over his attempts to describe the indescribable.   In so doing, I know I have missed what may be.

Quoting C.S. Lewis on page 180, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Though it is full of theological inconsistencies and truly ‘just a story,’ the movie “What Dreams May Come”  was one person’s attempt to comprehend what might be.   The tag “After life there is more.   The end is just the beginning” certainly capsulizes what most of us believe.   In the movie, the man dies and finds out there is a heaven that was more than he could have imagined.   Surprisingly, for a movie, it was beautiful and fantastical and colorful.   How do you communicate that?

Eugene Peterson, the  interpreter of The Message, piqued my interest in introducing Revelation:

“The Bible ends with a flourish: vision and song, doom and deliverance, terror and triumph.   the rush of color and sound, image and energy leaves us reeling…we find ourselves in the multidimensional act of Christian worship…John’s Revelation is not easy reading,   Besides being a pastor, John is a poet, fond of metaphor and symbol, image and allusion, passionate in his desire to bring us into the presence of Jesus believing and adoring…the demands he makes on our intelligence and imagination are well-rewarded…for our worship of God {when we receive the Revelation] will almost certainly deepen in in urgency and joy.”

So, in The Sacred Romance, we arrive at the topic of heaven and though I’ve sometimes neglected it, I am open.   Let’s talk heaven.

Quoting Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft from Everything You Wanted to Know about Heaven (pages 180-181):   “Our pictures of heaven simply do not move us; they are not moving pictures…Our pictures of Heaven are dull, platitudinous and syrupy; therefore, so is our faith, our hope, and our love of Heaven…Dullness, not doubt, is the strongest enemy of of faith…”

The author, in reflecting on 1 Cor. 2.9 (“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him”) reminds us “we cannot outdream God.”

He goes on to quote theologians and philosophers trying to make sense of what we cannot fully understand, like John the revelator, who tried to explain in words what we don’t yet have words for, “…it was like jasper…the streets were like…glass like crystal…” etc.

Reading these things, I could see how lifeless my imagination of a future with God, and seeing Him and being like Him will be.   I have read of the worship of heaven and, with my great love of worship have just envisioned myself some where in the crowd, far away from Him, unnoticed.   I have secretly wondered how that could be heaven.

But as I pondered the possibilities, after reading this chapter, it seemed God gave me a glimpse: me, as a 10-year old girl on a tire swing, just having moved “far away” from family and friends and church and all I had ever known, but in those lonely times, with lush, green Iowa grass beneath my feet and a corn field and streams round about, I would sing the songs of heaven – sing to Father.   The melodies came easily and His Presence soothed my fears and lonliness and it was just Him and me.   God reminded me that He has already been giving me glimpses to keep me on the path.   I am pretty sure in heaven, I will have my own tire swing on grassy meadows and there’ll be no crowds between us….

What can you tell me about heaven?   I want to know more…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: Today I am closer than yesterday to where “real life begins.”


1723 York Street

About once a year  I dream of my childhood home – at least one of them.   We moved quite a bit, so there were many “homes.”   But there is “the one.”   It is the one I lived in from the summer of 1965 through  early September  1970.   It was my parent’s first home purchase so it was a big deal.   It is the one that was only 4 blocks from Wallace Elementary, where I attended school from Kindergarten through 4th grades.   It was just 4 blocks from Grandma’s house and a couple of blocks from my cousin Diana, who would drop by and “pick me up” on her way to school.  

I loved that house.   There is no explanation for the value I place on it except maybe: It was green grass and having a best friend just across the alley and lilacs and long summer days.   It was a rusty old swingset on which I spent hours singing my heart out to the heavens.   It was neighbors who paid us nickels and quarters for rocks and shells we took door-to-door, us thinking we were giving them a real bargain,  kind people knowingly supporting our adventure, divining we really just needed some penny candy money for the corner grocer 5 blocks away.   It was neighborhood relays with homemade ribbons and paper drives and screen doors that slammed musically to the cricket’s songs as we ran to capture lightening bugs for jewelry.   It was innocence and family, it was friends and church.   It was my mom on the piano teaching us to sing gospel for all we were worth.   It was the safe place.

Several times over the years I have been moved to send Christmas greetings to the current inhabitants of the house at 1723 York Street in Des Moines, Iowa wishing them all the joy and love and peace I experienced there.   They have never replied and for all I know there are restraining orders on file concerning me.

So, occasionally I dream about it and have googled the address from time to time.   Last week  I did so and was overwhelmed and delighted to see that “my house,” my place of nostalgic extravagance, was up for sale.   My parents bought it for $12,000 in ’65 and sold it for $17,000 in ’70.   It is listed at $110,000 now, which seems an amazing bargain for such a magical childhood palace.  

There it was.   My 1723 York Street house!   I have actually always daydreamed about owning it now.   And there it was on a real estate site – with pictures!   And even though the colors are different (the woodwork is painted now), it has not changed much at all.   It seems smaller.   It’s old (built in 1913).   The old-fashioned 3-car garage with swing-open doors is long gone, replaced by a nice new 2 car version with an overhead like everyone else.   But it is my house, my home, my street.   That is my grass and enclosed side porch (lots of Barbie time there).   My trees are gone, as is the sidewalk that once went straight from the front stairs to the public walkway.   But it is my house, my home, my street.

The other day, I went “thrifting” with the girls and made 2 totally fruitless purchases, except that they gave me something tangible to remember those years there.   I got an over-sized, burnt-orange Haeger pottery ash tray just like my grandma used to have in her house (there are slots for at least 9 cigarettes!).   So 1960s!   And, I got an old black, rotary, wall phone by Bell – one exactly like the one that hung in our kitchen at 1723 York Street when my phone number was 266-7121.   These are worthless artifacts except to look at and recall a time and place and the innocent girl who skipped and romped through it.


I am somewhat war-damaged now.   Time has taken it’s toll on the body.   Circumstances have wreaked havoc on the heart.   The innocence has been lost and lost again, but finds repair and healing in the heart of the Father.   I can’t help but believe that my address in heaven will be 1723 York Street, for I am that same girl yet, beneath this outer crust, but there, I will never grow old.

Forgive my indulgent reminiscing…Jeanie

NOTE TO READERS:   Two days after I “found” it, the listing (www.dsmhomes.com)  seems to have been removed, which I can only assume means it sold.   I think finding it was a gift from God to help me update my dreams…

pictured: the house at 1723 York Street in Des Moines as it currently looks and the dining room; a couple of shots of the kitchen at the York Street house; the York Street living room – it’s windows are it’s true glory; the old Bell phone and Haeger ashtray I just got while “thrifting” with the girls; the girls in Olde Town Arvada; a cute bakery sign in Olde Town.