In Heaven

photo (95)We made the sad decision to put our dog, Speedy, down today.  After watching him deteriorate for the past few months, we knew it was time.  His hair was falling out, his skin was en-flamed, his legs shook, and he whimpered at night in an effort to get comfortable.  Speedy was 15 & 1/2 years old, and the last of what I call our “fur baby family before we had a human family”.

I could write so much about what I have learned through loving my dogs and cats. Dogs are especially unique in their love for their human companions, and I believe that they are a special kind of gift to this world.  They keep our secrets, comfort our sadness, and protect us with vicious loyalty.  If only we could treat each other the way our dogs do, perhaps there would be less gossip, less grief, and less victimization in the world.

This morning, I gathered our children and explained to them that when they returned home this evening, Speedy would no longer be living with us, and that we felt it was time for him to be put down so that he would not suffer anymore.  Both paused for a moment, and then spoke some wise words to me:

“Speedy will be in Heaven with Cleo and Baby Kitty now.”

“His skin will get better, and his hair will grow back.”

“God will take care of Speedy.”

After listening to them process their impending loss, I realized that their words brought great comfort to me.  It was a difficult day, but the vision of Heaven that the kids put in my mind infused my thoughts.

In Heaven, there will be great joy, and the grandest of reunions.  In Heaven, sickness and frailness, and all of the things that make us physically and emotionally ill, will be gone.  In Heaven, we will rejoice with our Heavenly Father.

Today was one of remembrance of the sweet little puppy that bounced his way into our lives.  It was one of commemoration about the many years he greeted us at the door, slept next to my feet, and gave us moments of laughter.  I was also reminded that the years may seem long, but time with each other, truly is short.

It was also a day of a grand envisioning of what Heaven will be like, and of the blessed assurance of Eternal life.

Thank you, Lord, for gifting me with Your wisdom and promises through the soft-spoken words of my children.

Heavenly Permanence

For my last post in recognition and celebration of National Adoption Month, I wanted to write something so bold, fresh, and new that everyone would want to become a foster and adoptive parent.  I wanted to try to list every well-known person (alive or deceased) who has either been adopted or who has adopted children.  I considered writing about persons in Scripture who were considered to be adopted, or at least, raised by persons other than their biological parents

I realized, though, that none of this compares to the incredible and profound blessing of our adoption by our Heavenly Father.  Through the sacrifice of His son and our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have been given an Eternal inheritance, and the promise of His love and His care.  We are sealed  by His grace.

The word permanency comes up often in child welfare.  Permanency refers to the goal of achieving something permanent in children’s lives.  I like to refer to it as the final place a child gets to call home.  We talk about the goals to attain permanency for children in the system all of the time.  Well, with the Lord, the goal has already been met and achieved!

Our permanency is in Heaven!  Now, isn’t that something to celebrate!!

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18

Kelly

Kelly

Gosh, this was a hard post to write.  I stopped, stared at the image of my cousin above, typed a little, and deleted a lot before finally deciding on how to write about her.  My cousin has been gone now for quite some time.  This week marks the 16th anniversary of her death.  It was an extremely painful experience to lose a best friend and someone who I essentially grew up with.

Most of my friends and co-workers do not even know.  It is not that I have forgotten about her…I just cannot “go there” very often.  I am extremely blessed with amazing friends, but there will always be that space that only Kelly filled.  The vast majority of my early life memories involve her.  Cousins really do become children’s first friends.

She was only 23-years-old; yet, had many sorrows and troubles.  Addictions and sadness plagued her, even though, there was a tremendous amount of sweetness, tenderness, and love buried underneath all of the dirt of life.  She battled addictions for several years and though she wanted to live a full, healthy life, I think that the struggles she had were just too great for her.  So much life has happened since hers ended, but she is never really too far from my thoughts.

My last words to her, while she was conscious, were “baby steps, Kelly, baby steps.” I was trying to get her to slow down with her eagerness to get out of the hospital.  I knew she needed to just put one foot in front of the other and that starting a new, healthier life would be much more difficult than she probably imagined.  “Baby steps”….I regretted those words.  If I had known those words were my last to her, I would not have chosen them.

Moments before her death, I ran to the chapel at the hospital and pleaded with the Lord.  I was not an active Christian at the time and had a lot of confusion, but I still believed in a Heavenly Father who heard our cries.

“Lord, please God, I will do anything. Please let Kelly live.  Please God….she needs a miracle.”  

These words stumbled off of my clumsy lips that were quivering and drenched with tears.  My broken and trembling body laid over the back of the pew.  My hands were clasped together and I was reaching out to the cross before me.  I was alone in the chapel begging….it was just me and God.  It was me bargaining for Him to deliver a miracle to my near lifeless best friend.

Soon after, this I heard my name and turned around.  In the doorway, my aunt stood there shaking her head with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“She’s gone”

….silence.

….numbness.

I got up and nearly ran right into a lady wearing a white jumpsuit.  I remember her brown hair for some reason, but I do not remember her face and did not know she was even in the room.  She said to me, “I heard you pray and wanted to let you know that your cousin is going to be okay.  It is all-Saints day.”  She hugged me and I walked out of the chapel.  I was not Catholic (still am not), so I really did not know what she meant, but something about my encounter with her felt good.

Several months after my cousin’s death, I prayed that God would allow me to see Kelly one more time so that I would know she was okay.  My prayer was answered in a dream.  We were driving around in a car listening to music just like old times when she was breathing Earthly air.  No words were spoken, but I could “hear” her say “I’m okay Caroline.  I’m okay.”  There she sat glowing in all white with that beautiful smile on her face.  There was great peace in the car and I remember not wanting the ride to come to an end.  I woke up and even though it pained me to realize she was gone, I just knew that she was at peace and with the Lord.  I have not dreamed of her since then, but that is okay.

I believe the Lord did grant her the miracle I so pleaded for on that fateful day.  You see, Kelly had been rendered unconscious just a week or two prior to her death.  She miraculously came to, asked for forgiveness, recommitted her faith in the Lord, told her family and friends that she loved them, laughed, hugged, and then passed away.  That was her miracle.

I too was touched by a miracle on the day Kelly died.  My aunt who ran into the chapel to let me know Kelly passed away does not remember the lady in the white jumpsuit.  She told me there was no one else in the chapel with me when she came in.  In other words, I believe my miracle on that day was an encounter with an angel telling me that my sweet cousin was going to be okay even though she would be leaving the Earth.

Kelly never had the opportunity to become a mom, graduate from college, start a career, own a personal computer, use a smart phone, or travel to some far off exotic place.  She did not get to stand next to me at my wedding, attend my adoption hearings, and watch how my story of infertility unfolded.  I know she would have been so in love with my babies and would have cherished them as much as I do.  I believe a part of her will always be with me during all of the moments I share with my children.

I look forward with great anticipation and joy at the reunion I will have with her in Heaven.  I look forward to breathing in the same celestial air that she is breathing and to shine with her in the glory of the Lord.  But, for now, I will continue to hold her in that quiet space that belongs only to her.  I will continue to think of her every time I see tulips and daisies.  And, I will continue to rejoice in the miracles that occurred during that week when Kelly danced her way into Heaven.

Love You, Kelly

Dance before His Throne

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the girl I was before my hysterectomy. My surgery was not just another one chalked up in the history of who I am. It was a life-changing event. It was something that tarnished my rose-colored glasses view of the world.

I had not been a stranger to the hospital or illnesses before. At age two, I underwent an emergency appendectomy. At age seven, intestinal adhesions caused a blockage calling for another emergency surgery. But, the hysterectomy was a far more intense and dire experience.

This surgery affected everyone around me. It was not just about recovery. It was more than that. It was a game changer. My parent’s lives were instantly changed by it. My life, of course, was too.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed life. There was still laughter, new experiences, and friendships. But, after the surgery, sadness stowed itself away in me unbeknownst to many people.

Prior to this surgery, I was a dancer. By the time I was eleven, I had danced for eight years.  I danced competitively and dreamt of performing on Broadway. My ultimate goal was to be a choreographer. However, something changed in me following the surgery. My body did not move the same way. It took more effort. My muscles had been emaciated from the infection and, to be honest, my spirit had been dampened by it as well.

Within a few years after my recovery, I quit dancing. I don’t know why really. My dance teacher told me many years later that she believed if the surgery would have never happened, I could have been a professional dancer. She too thought that it changed my body’s ability to move and nearly wiped me clean of the strength I once had.

So, here I am now at age forty still thinking of the days I danced. I’ve decided to write a poem to the little girl I once was whose dreams of dancing went to the wayside. I know that when my walk on this Earth has ended, I will be dancing before the Lord.

Dance away, little dancer. Dance before His throne. Dance for all the pain you have once known.

No longer taste the salt in your tears. Feel the movement taking away all of your fears.

Dance your life into a story, and let it be all for His glory.

Point your toes with every ounce of grace. See the expression of love on His face.

Dance away, little dancer. The one who longed to know the answer.

The answer to why that fateful time came.  The longing for a life that would never be the same.

Your life interrupted with no fault of your own. In a single moment, your life’s tapestry was sewn.

Welcome home, little dancer. For now, you know the answer.

His love is your melody. Dance your praise for eternity.

You’ve danced your life into a story. And, it all has been for His glory.