February 8

When I Get to Heaven

The hope of heaven looms for every believer in Christ Jesus. Instead of fearing death, we have something to look forward to. That, in itself, is an exciting part of life. Over the few years I have been alive, I have seem more death than most people at my age. Both set of my grandparents have passed away, a couple beloved uncles, and even friends that I have known have passed away. Death is the hardest thing to deal with in life, but the hope of the eternal makes life bearable. Therefore, I think about heaven a lot. I think about the time when I will be able to face all those loved ones again, of the glory of Jesus Christ, of being perfect once again. However, have you ever stopped to consider about what you would do when you get to heaven?

I was asked this several years ago in a fifth grade class and I have thought about it for the last several years. What would I do when I get to heaven? What do I look forward to most?

Being whole.

What? You don’t want to see Jesus or see loved ones again? Oh, yes I do. In fact, I can’t wait to see the Lord, but one of my yearnings about heaven is to be whole once more. To be able to do the things that I struggle with now. To shake a persons hand without thinking about it. To walk without mentally thinking about it. To run and not feel awkward. To climb walls with the use of both hands. Pretty much, the simple things in life.

What are you looking for in heaven?

February 2

Another Life

My beautiful deep, purple gown with gold threading was ruined again. I stood retching up the last of my dinner in the pots outside the temple. I couldn’t stand this part of the reveling, the part when I remembered how really wretched I still was. I pulled myself up and took in my surroundings, waking up for the first time in 24 hours. The emptiness filled my heart once more.

There must be more to life than this. I shook myself out of the horrible thought. I am a temple priestess to the goddess Diana. I was chosen at a young age to serve Diana. It was an honor. I straightened my dress and grimaced as the smell penetrated my nostrils. I knew that someone else would require my “services” soon.

“There you are.” I cringed as one of my friends sauntered up and smirked at me. “Can’t keep it down, can you?”

“You are much the same way,” I growled at her, backing away from her. I could hear the music and the thumping drums that pounded in my ears, making my blood rush.

“Don’t get so upset.” She cocked her head and glared at me.

I knew I should not have been upset with her. My parents proudly exalted over the news that I would become a priestess. Every young girl wanted to be me. I was envied by the young and the old maidens of the land. However, the niggling doubt of something better wiggled its way into my thoughts. I sighed. “I’m sorry. Today is especially difficult.”

She nodded her understanding and for a second I saw something akin to what I felt before it was covered up by her sharp eyes. and sharper tongue. “You’ll get used to it.” She laughed mirthlessly. “The men adore us and the woman envy us. What more would you want.”

A normal life? Maybe a man that actually loves me. Maybe a life that means something? However, such ideas were useless to have. I pulled out of my thoughts and moved towards the temple with the other priestess. The full moon lighted the pathway. I heard raucous laughter and nearly shuttered. I dreaded these celebrations. The horribleness of humankind was brought out at this point of the reveling.

My new friend screamed with laughter before grabbing more wine to drink herself silly. I moved into the shadows watching the dancing and reveling. I could see the emptiness with clear eyes. I could see the desperation to fill the emptiness. I realized with a start that I needed something else, but what?

I moved through the marketplace at a fast clip. People moved out of the way in reverence of me, but I hardly paid attention to them. Several years had passed since that night when I realized that my life was a sham, but I had never found what I was looking for. The goddess was not able to fulfill my desires and I felt like an empty shell. It was almost hypocritical that I wore these robes, showing the world that I knew that my life meant something when it didn’t. I smiled cynically behind my mask. Tonight I was going to find out about another type of religion, a religion that the Roman empire did not really like very much. I strode towards the temple as my heart pounded with excitement. Tonight would be the full moon again. I would not be missed.

I got  saved. I have never felt lighter in my life. No longer do I feel like an empty shell, walking around with no hope. Saved! Saved! Saved! I walked back to the temple, resolved to leave the place. I shuttered as I smelled the blood, wine and heard the laughter as I neared the temple. I moved up the temple steps with a spring to my step.

“There you are.” My heart dropped as I turned around to face my friend. She smiled cynically. “Don’t you want to join the fun.”

“No.” I said calmly. Moving away from her leering, half-drunk smile. Her blond here shone in the moonlight. It flowed freely down her back. Her made-up eyes and cheeks made her look almost clownish with the paleness of her skin. She once was a beauty, but the world had taken that from her.

“Why not?” She pouted and swallowed more of the numbing liquid. Her eyes were made up, but I could see how lost she was now.

“Because I found Jesus.”

“Jesus?” she balked. “The Jew that was crucified years ago. You are one of them?” She asked incredulously.

“Yes.” I whispered.

“You are a priestess of Diana.”

“What has she done for me? Nothing.” I pulled at the deep purple robes that marked me as a Priestess. “I have followed this path long enough. I am done.”

My friends eyes changed from incredulous to something sinister. “You’ll be thrown to the lions for this. Diana is angry with you”

I scoffed. “She is just made of wood.”

“No, she is not.” My friend shook her head. “Please, decant or I’ll have to turn you in.

“I’ll not decant.”

It was the last time that I would see my friend, my friend that is just as lost as I had been. As they stripped me of my robes, whipped me, and sent me to the lions, the lost look in her eyes made me pray that one day she would see the light. One day that she would understand.

“Lord Jesus, please show her the way.”

January 19

The Door

The drudgery of cleaning. Of course, I would need to clean again while Jeremy got off the hook again. Sometimes I wish that I could be the “perfect” child like Jeremy. He never had to do anything. I slammed the bucket of water on the ground, effectively sloshing myself with the putrid, grey water.

Great! This looks like it’s going to be a fantastic day. I heard my brother’s peals of laughter in the next room. I grabbed the mop and began wiping at the floor. I felt a draft blowing from somewhere. Did Jeremy forget to close that window again? No, the window was closed. The air was moving a piece of the wallpaper. I looked around to see if my parents were nearby. I was alone. I pulled open the the wallpaper to find myself facing a iron door. Excitement shimmied up my spine. I heard footsteps behind me. I opened the door quickly and closed it. I heard the footsteps come into the room and pause.

“Natalie.” My brother’s whinny voice echoed in the kitchen. “Natalie, where are you?” He must be dumber than I thought. How could he not see the steel door? I heard the fast pace clip of my mom’s heels as she stomped into the kitchen. “Mom, I can’t find Natalie.”

I saw through the crack as my mom surveyed the room. “Stupid girl. She didn’t finish her job.” I felt my fingers curl in disgust. How could my mom not see the door?

Jeremy smirked. “Is Natalie going to get in trouble?”

“Yes, honey. She is going to be in big trouble when she comes back.” Mom patted his head affectionately. “She is just being lazy. I know my little boy would not be that way.”

Jeremy smiled before they exited the room.

I felt my heart pick up a little. I backed up slowly and turned to see a tunnel leading somewhere. Should I see what was out there? I felt along the rough tunnel. It slopped downward into the ground. The damp air smelled musty and old. The walls were slightly damp, but I continued the downward slope. The excitement of the unknown outweighed the fear that I knew I should have. Eventually I came to another door in the wall. The wood looked decayed and old. It barely remained on the hinges that had hinged it to place. I pulled open the door slowly and peered into a room.

“We’ve been expecting you.” I nearly jumped out of my skin. A beautiful woman stood in front of me, smiling. I blinked and tried to dispel any moisture in my eyes. She wore a white robe that nearly shone to my unaccustomed eyes. Her hair was ebony black that contrasted with the stark white robes. Her lips were the reddest that I had ever seen in my life.

“Are you Snow White?” She laughed at the question.

“No, but many people have mistaken me for her.” I pulled back slightly. My ears rang with the laughter, long after she had stopped laughing.

“Why can I see the door, but nobody else can?”

“Natalie, you are not like everyone else. You are special.”

I laughed, “Yeah, every girl wants to hear that.”

“You are not human.” The woman said slowly. “You were born an elf.”

“Next thing you’ll tell me is that Santa Clause is real.”

“Isn’t he?” The girl asked. “Are not myths stories of real people?” I backed slowly up. “Natalie, have you ever wondered why you were different than your family?”

I stopped short. My family had never seen things the way I’ve seen them. “Are you saying that I’m adopted?”

“Yes.”

I sucked in a breath and backed further away. I wasn’t even wanted by my own parents. I felt pain shoot through me from head to foot.

“They wanted to keep you, but…”

“But I wasn’t good enough.” I felt the tears pricking my eyes.

“No!” The girl’s hand shot out to stop me from turning around. “They didn’t want you to grow up in fear. Although we are elves, we are known for our passions of anger.” she grimaced slowly. “We have years to regret the decisions we make.” She gestured at me. “Not many elves have children because of the wish of the mother and father to spare their child of the pain and passion of the world. They wanted to protect you.”

I gestured helplessly behind me. “Well, I had plenty of pain.”

The girl’s deep blue eyes filled with tears. “They regretted it every day.”

“Why didn’t they come and get me then?”

“Because they died.”

My eyes filled with tears. “There was a war…”

I wasn’t listening anymore. I felt the tears blinding my eyes. I don’t know why I cried. Was it anger? or was it regret that I would never meet my real parents? Did it matter that I would live for years and years and years?

The next thing I knew, I was being enveloped in the loving embrace of the girl. “Don’t cry. I’ll take care of you.”

January 12

An Orphaned Child

“I just feel like it is one of those weeks. You know? Midterms are over and I’m so done with this college experience.” My friend’s face didn’t change. In fact, she looked asleep. I poked her, irritated that she had not heard one word I just said.

“What?” She snapped. I glared at her and she had the grace to look a little sheepish. “Sorry.”

The half apology didn’t help one bit. I felt the frustration bubble inside of me. How can I feel so alone on a college campus? There were at least 2,000 people and nobody was paying attention to me. I knew it would be difficult being away from home, but I didn’t want it to be this difficult.

“Do you want to repeat it?” My friend asked.

“No.” I got up. My family never did this to me. I was near tears. “I just need to be alone.”

I walked out the door and slammed into another girl. “Are you alright?” She asked, not unkindly.

“I’m fine.”

“Your Carly, right?” She seemed not to get the hint that I wanted to be alone.

“Yes,” I say slightly cautious. “And you are?”

“Oh, forgive me.” She giggled. “I’m Sharlene. I noticed you around campus.” She gave me a reassuring smile. “Everything will be just fine.”

I nodded, trying not to show how close to tears I was. I am an adult now and didn’t need to cry. “Thanks.” I whispered, trying to move past her.

She stepped in my way. “Hey, I wondered if you would like to do something for me.”

“What kind of thing?” I asked.

She leaned in. “I know you have certain skills.”

I backed up slightly, befuddled that she would have heard such a thing. Her eyes glistened dangerously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do. ” My heart started to pound. My thoughts went back to the time when my mom had left for the last time. How she never gave home and my Dad was never the same. I shook my head.

“It would kill my Dad. You already got my mom.” Sharlene nodded, but she didn’t look convinced.

“Your mother was famous in our group. My mom always talks about her and what your mother did.” She touched me and I tried to turn away. “Don’t you want to be just like your mother.”

“No, she didn’t stop even after she had us. She should have known better than to answer that call…to leave us.” I turned away anxious to get away from the horrible nightmare.

“Didn’t she teach you?” Sharlene persisted as I practically ran down the hall.

I suddenly stopped and turned back to her. “Yes, but I don’t want any part of what my mom became. She should of at first thought of her family before leaving.” I screamed the last part.

My new friend stared at me from the doorway behind Sharlene. Nobody could understand the terrors that I walked with every single day. The “what ifs” that crept in on me when I laid awake at night. The burning sensation behind my eyes told me I needed to get a grip before someone called the psychiatrist again. Before I had to come up with another lie on why my mom disappeared all those years ago. No, I couldn’t do what my mom did. If only she had survived and had come home. If only she had not answered that phone call…

November 3

5 Things I Learned Going Away to College

One of the most common questions I received when I first announced I decided to go away to college was, “Why in the world would you want to leave your home and state to go to a college?” At the time, I had no answer, but since leaving I have an answer.

  1. I became independent. From buying cleaning supplies to deciding whether or not that dress is worth your hard-earned money makes you learn a lot about yourself. I didn’t have my parents to tell me what to do, when to study, when to be nice or when to be mean. They were gone and I had to make a stand with my own two feet.
  2. I learned a different culture. I was in culture-shock when I first hit Florida soil. The people talked differently, there was less traffic, and the fast food was different. Even the weather had a mind of its own! I felt a stranger in my own country. I learned more about myself through the exposure of a different state than I thought possible. I learned that California is not the center of the universe and that I can appreciate the way other people do things.
  3. I relied on the Lord more. This is a big one. Before leaving home, I was content enough to rely on people around me for the reason I believed what I believed. Coming to Florida and meeting people with different takes on Christianity, has forced myself to study the Word more deeply and realize why I believe what I believe
  4. I was forced outside my comfort zone. I was or still am a very shy and reserved person. Being away from home and in my current job, I am forced to move outside my myself and be more outgoing. I still struggle with shyness, but the Lord has put me in leadership positions and pushed me outside my comfort zone to force me to become more open.
  5. I became my own person. Being away from your family, especially a large family, made grow more as a person and individual. Yes, I had my own character before I left home, but it developed more being away from my family. I am more sure of myself and more confident in who the Lord has made me

Yes, it is difficult to live away from home, but I have learned so much in the two-half years I have been away from home. I sometimes miss the mountains or the food (In-N-Out Burger all the way), but the Lord has taught me so much. I would never trade the memories and the growth that the Lord has given me. I am glad that I said, “I will go Lord, send me!”