Tag Archives: heart tuggings

all is beautiful

Yesterday my doctor told me, “You are such a good boy mom. I can’t imagine you as anything else!”

I’m sorry, was it when two of my boys were literally jumping over and under the acupuncture table chasing each other? Or when she was asking them about their poop, and they erupted into a continuous bout of laughter and saying the word poop?

But you know what, it was then. I rolled with it. I told them to be respectful and squeezed their arm a little (maybe a lot) to show I meant business. And I laughed a little with them too.  I can do this boy thing, and do it quite well if I must say.

Dr. Miravone’s words sealed something up in my heart. Several years ago now, God did do a lot in my heart about the path my life has taken. I haven’t thought about it much since then, but recently it has come back up for me a little bit. The thought that I have lost at some game. That I am missing something because I don’t have a daughter too. The world is so good at making you feel like you come up short in anything and everything.

Like one of my favorite bands, Gungor, says: “All is beautiful. I can see the grace in it all.” Last night I had dinner with a new friend, with whom on paper we look completely different. One of us has kids, one doesn’t. One has a high power career, one doesn’t. But you know what is the same? Our souls that crave connection and crave being loved and celebrated. All is beautiful. The single. The married. The parents. The gay. The straight. The one gender families. The mixed gender families. The Muslim. The Buddhist. The Christian.

I think the world is magical. I appreciate science and facts, but magic and feelings trump that for me.  Which is why my husband and I are such a good balance- he is very sciency and show-me-the-study-behind-this-ish. Which I think both are important. But I think you need to find your inner magic at times.

I think the people that I am surrounded by are beautiful. And I embrace our differences, in fact, I’m learning how needed our differences are! It is a beautiful painting of masterpieces, each bringing their own special magic to the world. My story is special. My emotional-boy mom-magical-balance me out husband- save all the animals and trees-story. And it is beautiful. I see the grace in it all.

coming home

A black hole is a geometrically defined region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—including particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it.

For several months now I have felt like I’m in the wilderness.  Just wandering around tangled up emotionally and spiritually.  It’s been lonely and scary, and it feels kind of like a black hole.

But it’s been beautiful.  I’m on a journey through this wilderness, and along the way I’m shedding things I no longer need.   I’ve been holding things so tightly because they’re all I’ve ever known and it scares me to let them go.  But when I finally do, I feel lighter and freer and it gives me courage to shed the next thing weighing me down.

I no longer feel alone in my black hole.  I feel God with me. And even though I’m still in the black hole, it is good.  And I know it will be okay. I’m coming home.

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Brave

When we were first married, one day I decided I wanted to paint the walls red. I gathered the paint and brush, and no joke, did three strokes of paint and decided I was sick of painting. Our wall stayed there with just three strokes of bright red paint for the whole 3 years we lived in that house.

I’m infamous for starting projects and never finishing. Why is that? I am an idea woman, you tell me something to dream up and I’m your girl. But following through is a whole different beast. The work is HARD. You have to keep going after the initial excitement of the new thing wears off. And you have to be careful and fix mistakes. Things I’m not totally crazy about.

I want change, I just don’t want to do the whole process leading up to change. It would be so much easier if I could just take my magic wand and zap! Healthy body. Zap! Positive attitude. Zap! Rehabbed house.

But I’m finding that in that process, the hard process of change, that the magic happens. The slow, but true, transformation of my soul, mind, and body is beautiful when I stop and look back where it has come from. And where it is continuing to go.

I can get so hung up on the fact that I haven’t arrived yet, or become all I want to be. I get frustrated that every little thing still scares me and makes me anxious. But you know what? Being afraid of something, but doing it anyway- that is courage. That I don’t give up and keep going even though it scares me? That is bravery.

So be brave, my friends. I don’t think there is some magical moment where you have it all figured out and feel like you have no more growth to do. You just swing with the pendulum of highs and lows in life and you just keep going. Even it’s just one baby step forward, or one more stroke of red paint, you just keep going.

1,000 years

Here I am again. Back to sending off a kindergartener, one of my boys who will never be home all day with me again. Perhaps you remember this post from 3 years ago…

I really, really, really didn’t think I would be emotional this time, and honestly I’m not (well, mostly:) ). However, I decided to go in and look at Elliott after he went to sleep on Kindergarten Eve like I did with Trevor. All these images of him flooded my memory like that Father of the Bride scene (which, by the way, my dad swears he still sees when he looks at my sisters and me. :) ) I remember when Elliott was three and I would say, “you’re my boy Elliott!” and he would reply, “you’re my girl Mommy!” I thought about all the times when he all out punches and attacks Michael when he pretends to “get” me. Elliott is my defender, my Knight in shining armor, my true little superhero. He’s passionate, which when he is angry means he is my little ticking time bomb. But I love that about Elliott, and I know God will shape that passion into great things for his future.

There is something bittersweet about Kindergarten. Elliott is an old five- he turns six in a couple weeks, so he and I both have been ready for Kindergarten for a while now. :) But as excited as we both are, there’s still a heart wrenching ache knowing that this is it. He never again will be home with me all day every day. I nurtured him, prepared him, taught him, and helped him grow for nearly six years, and now I send him off with a piece of me.

I am so thankful for the three souls I have been given to nurture. And in all honesty, I find that THEY nurture MY soul. They have made me less selfish. They have made me learn to embrace God’s plan for life instead of my own. They have taught me that life is designed to move along, not stand still, but to run with joy in each new step.

Whenever the song, A Thousand Years, comes on I tell the boys, “This is my song to you! I have loved you for 1,000 years!” To which Trevor replies, “Mom, you haven’t lived 1,000 years.” :)

But it’s true. The love I have for them gives me even just a glimpse of God’s great love for me. It feels like there was no beginning to it and there will be no end.

So here’s to you my Elliott, my kindergartener, my middle medium boy- may you know God’s love deeply and convey His love to others. May you be a light on a lamp stand, and the salt of the earth bringing out the God flavors of this world.

I have loved you for 1,000 years and will love you for 1,000 more. :)

 

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P.S.  These videos might be the death of me someday.  Two computers, 1,000 cables, and my blog host helping me with server issues later- video is up. This is where my stubborn determinedness comes in handy! Plus, it means so much to Christina who kept asking me when I’d have a video made.  Just kidding, I love the finished product too :)

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answer

Oh, “thefacebook.com”.  (haha, Tyler…)

How fickle I am with you.  I love you and your skill at keeping me up to date on what people are cooking in their crockpots and what they are washing their floors with, but I hate you for the competitive spirit you grow within me that I try so desperately to snuff out.

I love you for showing me pictures of my long lost friends, but I hate you for making me feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses.

I could go on.

But, in all seriousness, I like when I find serious and thoughtful questions posted by my friends. Larry, who I respect greatly, posted this question and I _seriously_ thought about it for hours and hours because I wanted to answer it just right.  Answer it just exactly how my heart really felt, but yet was so hard to put into words.

“What do you wish someone told you about being a parent?”

Oh my.

I knew I would love my child.  I knew being a parent would be ‘great’.  I knew that it would be sad when they left home forever.

But I didn’t know how deep my love for my child would actually be.  How my whole heart would ache for them to be strong, healthy, and happy.  How I would willingly sacrifice my whole self in any way possible to help them.  That I would conquer all my fears so that they would feel safe and secure.

I didn’t know that I would check to see if my sleeping newborn was still breathing multiple times a night.  Then still keep checking when he turned 1…and 7.  I didn’t know that I could jump out of bed to the smallest cry to soothe him, while only going on 1 hour of sleep myself.

I didn’t know just how unchanging my love would be for him. I would be spit on, hit by, yelled at, told NO by, talked disrespectfully to, and told I wasn’t their friend.  I would be cuddled with, slimily kissed, and told they loved me to the moon and back.  And the same hands that pushed me away, would reach up for me saying, “Mama, hold me?” and my love would grow even deeper.

I didn’t know that I would take on all their passions as my own, fighting in their corner, ready to “mother bear” anyone that tried to mess with them.  How I would launch into attack mode when anyone or anything tried to snuff out their Joy.

I didn’t know that my favorite Willow House hurricane would get shattered and my nicest Express shirt would get cut during their “art” project cutting phase, and that I would just think: “Eh, I’ll just go to Goodwill and find something new.”

I didn’t’ know that I would never _feel_ like I great Mom, that I would constantly be praying for God to grow me and keep enabling me to choose humility and extend grace.  That I would reach for every parenting book (albeit, not usually finishing them all) and research each new parenting craze.

But most heart wrenching yet heart thrilling to me: I didn’t know how desperately I would want them to know and love the Lord and bring Him glory in all that they do.  How I would regularly cry out to God to draw them to Himself and to meet them right where they are.  How I would pray that the Lord would enable me to hold them with open hands to Him and trust that He is sovereign, all the while knowing most of their growth will come from pain.

See, here’s the thing.  My love fails.  Yet, it is one of the deepest loves I know, the love I have for my sons. God’s love is unfailing.  For this beautiful relationship between a parent and child to even give us a glimpse of God’s perfect love for us makes me love Him, revere Him, and be overwhelmingly humbled by His faithfulness to me all the more.

Thank you, Larry. ;)

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despair

I have so many joyful post titles lately. ;)

Last week when I first heard the news break of this story, I responded as most people- in shock and utter dismay of the evil in this world.  I started crying hysterically as it sunk in- that this REALLY happened, and not far from my home.

That was a week ago and I still feel completely distraught by it.  Even to the point where I was unable to fall asleep for several hours last night, replaying in my head this young boy’s cries to spare his life and that he loved his mom, to please not do this.  I’d go back and forth between heart-wrench- mode and angry- revenge- mode where I envisioned myself in the neighboring house hearing the cries, and breaking into the house and attacking the mother and saving the young children from their brutal death.

This tragedy has me despaired, my heart cut to the core.

Maybe its because I have a 7 year old son.  I know his joy and his creativity and unbridled passion for the simple things in life.  This is the first year I see he is starting to figure out the hardships in the real world, and at the end of the day he finds refuge in me, his mom, who he knows would do anything to defend and protect him.  He finds comfort in knowing he has a loving, safe and secure family that loves him and supports him and that hovers over him in danger.

Maybe its because I am a mom.  My mother’s heart would give anything for my sons- anything they needed.  I feel defeated, beaten, drained, frustrated, and overwhelmed with the rest of them, but at the end of my hardest days as a mom, I would still lay down my life for one of my sons in a heartbeat.

But probably it is because of the reality of the presence of evil in this world. Murder, fallen economy, broken families, innocent bloodshed, war, sex trafficking, poverty, kidnapping, political corruption, starvation, disease, natural disasters, death.

But, my GOD is GOOD.

I feel like a lot of the time, I put God in a box.  I  start to think He thinks like I do, and is in control of my own little world.  But more than ever this year I am experiencing God’s power and might and how He is SO much BIGGER than me and my own worldview. I love how this commentary (on Genesis 6) says it:

“How great is God’s grace and patience with people, in Noah’s time and now!  Why does God not crush the ‘fool’ who denies His reality (Psalm 14:1)? Why does God wait patiently for the person who ignores Christ’s suffering and death to deliver him from sins of emptiness, and says he has no time for Him or His word? Christ said that the first and all-important commandment is to love God with all your heart, strength, and mind, and the second, to love your neighbor (Matthew 22: 37-39) The universal sins of continued, blatant indifference to God, of hate and murder, of sexual immorality, all demand God’s judgement.  Surely God should immediately act in His authority and justice by wiping out such personal ingratitude to Him that pollutes His world today.  Yet, God waits in grace, giving men, women, and children and opportunity to repent, or turn from their indifference, to believe in Him.  Have you pushed God to the margins of your life?  This is an illusion.  God is central in everything and will fulfill everything He has said.” (Bible Study Fellowship, Study of Genesis)

This was the charge given to a National Geographic photographer- “Celebrate what is right with the world, rather than wallow what is wrong with it.” (Thanks, Scott Hodge)

I find great purpose is that statement! The world is pretty terrible right now, but there are so many things that represent goodness and beauty! Michael’s devotion to me, Trevor’s passion in creating art, Elliott’s joy and loyalty, Simon’s decision to obey when he is told no :), my friend that builds me up and encourages me when I feel like I’m going to explode, the laughter between my children and their friends, the colorful sunset, a steaming hot cup of coffee (1st or 8th of the day…), a warm fire in a quiet napping house, whole, healthy foods to eat, a smile from a stranger, and the beautiful autumn trees.

I already feel better.  Something I learned a few years ago was that FEAR cannot co-exist with THANKFULNESS.  Now when I think of the two precious lives taken last week, I thank God that He is in control, and I am not.  He is good when the world is evil.  He loves those two children more completely and wholly than I can imagine and is making all things new.

So I am going to do as Christ said and love God with my whole heart and live a life of love.  With His power in me, I can breathe life, joy, and love into the broken world around me and reflect His glory and Hope for humanity.

 

 

 

dark

You know those days where your dogs dig up the backyard, but its so early in the morning that its too dark for you to see they did and when you let them inside all your white carpet gets covered in mud?  Or when you arrive home after a Target trip and realize they charged you twice for something, so you get in the car to head back to have it fixed only to back over the scooters your kids left in the driveway (while pedestrians happen to be crossing your sidewalk)?  Or when you’re upstairs with five children and you come downstairs to find your dog has burst through the screen door and bitten someone? Or when your job is draining you more than it once did? Or when your toddler hangs on your legs and cries while you make dinner?  Or when your friends leave you out?  Or when you clean up the kitchen for the thousandth time in one hour?  Or when you try all day to be a better helpmate to your spouse but fail miserably with one nasty remark?  Or when you forget all FIVE pre-story steps before telling the children’s story at BSF?  Or when someone runs a red light and hits your car with children in it (disturbing nap time besides)?  Or when that surprise bill comes in just as you thought you were all caught up? Or when your child decides to cut up their bedsheets and bedskirt with scissors and write all over things in his room with permanent marker?

I say all this (half) jokingly- I know others have much harder trials to walk through than me.  But I do believe life is hard for everyone is some way.  When everything just seems so overwhelming and you sit and stare at the wall trying to hold back tears (like I am currently).

My heart feels dark and gloomy.

But I KNOW God is faithful, and is the same and unchanging- regardless if I’m having a bad day or a good day.

I am studying Genesis this year, and even in just a couple months I have learned so much.  In Genesis 1 (creation of the world) the Hebrew word for God is Elohim- it describes God’s power and authority.  But in chapter 2 (creation of man) the Hebrew word used is Yahweh Elohim- it describes God as a person and His personal revelation of Himself to humanity.   I LOVE this.  Though I’m in such a gloomy season in my  heart and emotions right now, my faith is stronger than ever, and I yearn to know Him more deeply each day.  “Satisfaction and joy must be found in our Creator and His purpose for our lives.” (P.S…..All of this was from Bible Study Fellowship, study of Genesis)

So, I trust Yahweh Elohim, Lord God.  I know that not every day is going to be ideal. But I know the Lord never leaves me to do it on my own.

 

Stacy Leigh Lisi

I know I say this whole song and dance every time, but, Stacy is my mom’s college roommate Cindy’s (lovingly known as Cinne Binne) daughter.  So we have -actually- been friends since the womb.  And she just got married, to a great guy, Andrew Lisi.  So now her name rhymes. :)

Stacy is one of those friends that you can go a whole year without seeing (or even talking to  because of both of your phone phobias), but pick up right where you left off when you see each other again.  Like no time or distance ever separated you.

I have so many fun memories with Stacy it is hard to even count.  When we were 3 & 4 years old we decided it would be a good idea to paint my Grandpa Al’s work van.  It was dark brown so obviously we thought it would be best to use white shoe polish.  And once I even convinced her to get IN the van with me and I pulled the gear shift down and we started rolling down the driveway.

Also that year we made a guest appearance in my dad’s and her mom’s musical show at the retirement home.  We cried and pouted because we wanted the dress up clothes the other one was wearing while singing Ain’t We Sweet, though we were being anything but sweet.

At age 9 & 10 we started going downstate together.  Downstate was one of the coolest Daddy/Daughter activities in the Birkeneder family.  When you turned 10 you got to go with Dad and Grandpa (and any other poor male soul of our relatives that wanted to go once us girls started going) to the Illinois High School Boys’ Basketball Tournaments in Campaign (later Peoria).  Being the eldest in our families, Stacy and I were the first girls to go on this all male weekend.  I think we forever changed “downstate”.  Instead of watching the games, we bought nachos, then ice cream, then hot dogs, then Pepsi, then cotton candy, then threw up all over the taxi.  We would drag Dad & Grandpa Al to the nearby mall to take pictures in the overpriced photo booth while sporting our huge gaudy basketball earrings. We spent all our money from the winning pools (don’t tell our moms or anyone else for that matter that we were underage gamblers) buying stickers from the sticker machine at Pizza Hut (smartly thinking we would sell them for profit when we got home).  And then we fought with each other and cried when one would win a pool and the other wouldn’t. One year we fell madly (seriously, it was obsessive) in love with one of the high school players- Alfredo Jimenez from Maine West.  We even stalked out where he would be after the game to get his autograph while we hysterically sobbed.

When we were 10 & 11 we started spending some of our summers at Camp Timberlee in Wisconsin.  We carefully shopped for matching outfits for every day of the week, including our denim ruffle shorts and side ponytails.  We would always room together and never leave each other sides and make sure everyone in the cabin knew WE were best friends so they wouldn’t infringe upon us.  In the middle of the night we would crawl into our bunks together and worry that we were blind because we couldn’t see anything, and nervously search for a flashlight just to make sure.

When we were in our teens we shared a profound love for all things Hanson and JTT .  We convinced ourselves we were marrying one of them and lovingly agreed upon who got which one (Stacy: Zac and Me: Taylor…Jonathan Taylor Thomas dropped out of the running when Hanson came along).  We decided the best way possible to make this dream a reality would be to form an all girl band ourselves.  So we reigned in our sisters and we became: Purple Daizee.  We co-wrote many one hit wonders and videotaped ourselves singing/dancing to them in the basement so we could send our videos to the Hanson brothers.  Making them fall in love with us, of course.

Stacy and I laugh about all these episodes and more whenever we get together. But there’s a distinct, life altering memory I have with Stacy that I don’t even know if she recalls.

My freshman year in college was rough. We had just moved to Texas and even more life shattering than that to me was that Michael and I broke up.  I started a new life in Texas, a double life.  I was good at playing the part of “good Jenni” when I needed to, but with my new friends I partied.  Hard.  And I got myself stuck in a web of alcohol, drugs, and sex.

At the end of the summer, right before I was going to start my sophomore year, Stacy came to visit.  She was getting ready to start her freshman year at University of Illinois.  While Stacy was there I tried to hide my “bad Jenni” side, though I’m sure she knew.  She met all my friends and was incredibly gracious to them all.  She was relevant, but unchanging and never wavered from who she was in Christ.  She was real.  When I was with Stacy that week, I felt my old self start to emerge…my real self that I had shoved away that year. I remember feeling God awake my soul again.

Stacy’s flight left early one morning before I was awake, but she left me a note on my pillow.  I remember finding it and getting up to read it before it was even light out.  In it she thanked me for spending time with her, told me she was thankful for our friendship, and that she was praying for me and all that God would do through me that year.  I broke down and cried.  I laid on the floor and just cried and cried.

God had been working in my heart that whole year, but He used Stacy in a major way to bring His prodigal daughter back.  She was the vessel that saved me from a life of destruction and despair.  I firmly believe God used Stacy to redirect my life.  She was loyal, faithful, loving, and gracious.  She didn’t judge me or correct me, she just loved me and prayed for me.  I will never forget what she did for me that summer.

And actually, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gotten back together with Michael that year, married him that next summer, had 3 beautiful boys years later.  So Stace, you’re the reason my family exists. :)

I have a love/hate relationship with the journey we are all on in life.  I love the mystery of God and the excitement of seeking Him and joy in knowing Him.  Obviously life has some rough places, a lot of mine have been self inflicting, but I’m thankful for a God who redeems.  He is faithful, loving, and gracious and waits for me.  Thank you Stacy Leigh Lisi for being such a beautiful living example of Christ.

Clouds

The Great Scott Hodge says: “Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.”

I have to agree.

Recently I was gifted a [rare] day of relaxation-at the spa-with no children. :)  I was so excited for the time of pampering, but if I’m going to be honest, most of all a day free from whining, tattle telling, and baby butt wiping.  I arrived at the spa the minute it opened and stayed to closing.  I brought my journal and Bible and was eager to soak up some time alone and time with God.  I climbed into the pool and stared up at the sky and something unfamiliar happened- it was still and quiet. It felt odd!

This is what I journaled:   “I’m sitting here in the pool- there is no splashing, no whining- no one needing my help… This is how it will be 20 years from now…to forever.   Don’t wish these hard stages away.  They are temporary.”  I sat and pondered that for a while.  So often (very often) I rush through the day just to check things off my list.  How often do I talk with my children, not just talk at them?  How often do I think “if only they were a few years older, then ____ would be so much easier”….(hello grocery shopping and fine dining!)

It was convicting.  I was so thankful for my time away to be rejuvenated, but God helped me appreciate the chaotic little voices in my normal day to day life much more.  This stage of life is hard, and I don’t want to pretend that it is not, but I AM going to be more intentional about being present in the chaos- not five steps ahead in the future.

I kept looking at the sky at the clouds and watched them move (I HAD TIME TO WATCH THE CLOUDS MOVE- perhaps I was overly zealous with my newly found “me” time) :) and I pondered them.  And I noticed, clouds don’t just collide, they absorb each other.  So I thought about that more…How do I let God absorb me or where do I collide with Him?  How do I let Michael absorb me? My kids?  My ministry?  I wrote: “Yes, I need to replenish myself with time alone with God, food and sleep.  But other than that, I need to be willing to sacrifice myself wherever there is a selfish desire- I need to give myself away. ”

I still am going to seek time away from Michael and my children, still going to watch Netflix at night and still share with my girlfriends how the mundane wife/mother duties make me want to punch someone at times.  But, this cherished time by myself gave me new perspective.  This stage is hard, but every stage is hard and every season is a new opportunity for growth and to know my God in a deeper way. I’m going to try and pay attention to the small moments each day, and be less focused on the bullet points that get me to the next milestone.

Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.

New

Oh man, I’ve let a lot of time slide on here.  Here’s a quick summary of the past half a year:

-Simon turned one (and what a cute christmas cookie/hot chocolate themed party he had)

-Michael started to shave his head.

-The tooth fairy came to visit (and sometimes forgot to come to visit) several times in one month.

-my sweet nephew, little Cayden, (if that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.  The kid is 6 months old and 25 lbs) was born.  My sister Christina and I have very realistic hopes of him forming a band with my boys somewhat along the lines of The Jonas Brothers.  Or at the very least their own super Glee club.

-we hosted our 4th annual Birkeneder Brunch on Christmas Eve

-the boys helped Grandma Lanie tell her traditional story of the 3 kings and their gifts to Jesus

-the boys obsession with building forts started

-I lost 20 lbs.  Albeit, most of it was due to having meningitis.  But if I can put any positive spin on that wretched disease I will, so therefore I’m thankful for the weight-loss plan.  And that having it may have saved my close friend’s mom’s life.  (Her story: http://copelandcraziness.blogspot.com/2012/03/hope.html )

-our good friends from Texas came to visit and our boys were smitten

-Grandpa Bob came to visit

-the boys got all spiffed out for Easter

-we regularly practiced for our own glee club. (see reference above)

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-we were given an awesome Bible book.    If you’re looking for a good Bible summary book for children look no further.  The Jesus Storybook Bible is awesome. A friend of ours gave this to us a while back and we started reading it to the boys every so often.  I love it! Each story is a part of God’s rescue plan- each character pointing towards the Great Rescuer.  I’m not kidding, I don’t think I ended a single chapter without my eyes (and heart) welling up with tears of joy as we imparted these truths of God’s love for them into our children’s hearts. The stories came to life to me (the adult!) through this children’s version.  And the boys love reading it!  Each story is a piece of the Great Rescue- and being so into good guys/bad guys, sword fights and battles-the setup is very appealing to them.

Tonight we finished the final chapter, and this page struck me:

(from Revelation)  “I see a sparkling city shimmering in the sky: glittering, glowing- coming down!

From heaven.  And from the sky.  Heaven is coming down to earth!

God’s city is beautiful.  Walls of topaz, jasper, sapphire.  Wide streets paved with gold. Gleaming pearl gates that are never locked shut. 

Where is the sun?  Where is the moon?  They aren’t needed anymore.  God is all the Light people need.  No more darkness!  No more night!

And the King says, “Look!  God and his children are together again.  No more running away.  Or hiding.  No more crying or being lonely or afraid.  No more being sick or dying.  Because all those things are gone.  Yes, they’re gone forever.  Everything sad has come unture.  And see- I have wiped away every tear from every eye!’

And then a deep, beautiful voice that sounded like thunder in the sky says, “Look, I am making everything new!”

You know the part in movies where there’s a big crescendo of music and the good guy wins and everyone celebrates and your whole soul just cheers while watching it?  I told Michael recently that I think that is what heaven is like all the time.  Always that sense of victory, that everything is finally as it should be.

When I read this to my children my heart swelled and tears filled my eyes and hope engulfed me.  Whenever I have those moments, they’re my God moments.  Its like the Lord is washing over me and I sense His presence and I trust Him.  I don’t really understand heaven and I certainly don’t understand the mysteries of God, the infinite Creator.  But I do trust Him and believe Him to be faithful to do what He says He will do.  And each time I have one of these “moments”- where my while body gets goosebumps and my soul feels inexplicably overwhelmed- its a tangible reminder to me of His presence.

I love how this book ends.

“And he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.

‘I’m on my way’, said Jesus. ‘I’ll be there soon!’

John came to the end of his book.  But he didn’t write ‘The End’. Because, of course, that’s how stories finish. (and this one’s not over yet.)

So instead , he wrote: ‘Come quickly, Jesus!’

Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying…