Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’

The Lady in Apartment 218

Mom in apron As was her custom each day following work, the lady drove home, checked her mail box, took the elevator to her second floor apartment, and put on her apron to begin her supper meal. While the vegetables were steaming she changed from her work shoes to her walking shoes, poured herself a glass of ice water and sat down to read another chapter from her favorite book. She always seemed to feel more relaxed and refreshed when she followed this accustomed routine after a day of work.

Nightly Routine…
Gaining energy from the steamed vegetable dinner, she placed the pan over to the side of the stove, took off the well-worn apron and laid it across the back of the chair in the living room. She ran a brush through her silver-white hair, and left the apartment for her evening walk. Hers was a simple life, and generally followed this familiar routine. This night however, would not be quite like any night before, and would certainly not be like any ordinary night ever again.

She greeted many friends as she left the building to begin her walk. She seemed to be happy, and to be feeling a great deal of satisfaction with her life just as it was. This had not always been the case with the lady, but because of recent events, she had somehow made peace with those events that could not be changed, and seemed full of confidence about the future. The list on her bulletin board above her sewing machine reflected that confidence in the many projects she had outlined for herself. She had drawn a line through the projects which she had already completed: cut out brown suit, sketch faces on canvas for portrait, sew purse, – and there in the apartment were the cut out pattern pieces waiting to be stitched, the sketch awaiting paint, and the completed designer purse. The other projects were listed, but not yet begun.

Perhaps…perhaps as she began her walk that evening these many projects were on her mind. Glendora last pixShe was always such an industrious lady. She could have been thinking of the cake she took to the sick family down the hall, or of the bread she routinely made for the elderly lady who lived next door. She could have been thinking of the patients she had visited in the hospital the day before or maybe of the events in the chapter from the book she had just been reading. Maybe she was thinking about the home she had always dreamed about. Maybe she thought about her children or her grandchildren, or her husband of nearly forty-eight years.

There is no way to know for sure the thoughts the lady may have entertained as she strolled through the neighborhood. The neighbors of the lady in apartment 218 never again saw her. She never returned to her apartment. She never again spoke with any family member. In fact, she only spoke to about four people the entire evening, and they were strangers. They had never met her before, they knew nothing about her before their brief encounter, and then she was gone, leaving them to ponder only those few moments they had shared.

The invisible door into eternity…
Within just a few hours of the lady leaving the apartment for her walk, she stepped through an invisible door in the universe. No one could see exactly how she did it, they were merely spectators, but they were certain she did indeed step through. She mentioned something to one of the strangers who was standing close by. She said, “I’m in terrible pain . . . but it’s okay, I’m going home tonight”, and then she stepped through the door. One moment she was with them, and then with a sigh, she was gone. The strangers stood by the lady, not completely sure about what they had witnessed. They had seen this happen on numerous occasions, but it was somehow different with this lady. They talked of it at length that night, and again on many occasions since.

Ah, but the lady . . . let us continue her story…

As the lady stepped through the invisible door something wonderful happened. She immediately noticed that the terrible pain in her head had ceased. The pulverized pelvis and leg bones were once again strong, and bearing her weight as she walked. The cuts to her cheek and lips were somehow totally healed. Her arm and hand were pain free, the bruises all Zilpha Pearl for tributegone. Gone was the arthritis that had been her companion for many years. The confusion in her heart at leaving her children and family was changed into understanding. For one moment she had a distant memory of a car crashing into her body as she walked, and then she looked up and saw her mother coming to greet her. The tears that had streamed down her face just moments before were now being wiped away.

She felt comfort, love, compassion, tenderness, and joy unspeakable and full of glory. She realized that she had come to the City to which she had never been before. This beauty surrounding her was that which just a short time ago she had been reading about from her favorite Book. As far as her eyes could see the lady saw only beauty. She saw streets of gold. She saw gates with gems, sparkling in the brightness . . . a brightness comparable to nothing she had ever known. As the lady looked around her new surroundings a wonderful excitement began to fill her with anticipation.

One by one friends she had longed to see, missed terribly, and grieved because of their absence from her life began to come and welcome her Home. Perhaps just for a fleeting moment the lady felt sadness about leaving her family so abruptly, but then she remembered that they too knew the Way and would someday meet her just inside the Middle Eastern gate.

New Sights and Sounds…

Suddenly the lady noticed something else new, which was no great surprise, for all things in the City were new. She was hearing the sound of running water. Ah, yes, the river, the streams of which will make glad the City . . . of course she could hear. Why was she so surprised at this simple event? Her hearing had been restored and for the first time in many years she was able to hear all the everyday sounds. She listened intently for a moment. She heard the leaves fluttering as the breeze blew gently through the tree of life. She heard singing, and laughter, and praising, and then she heard the Voice she had waited sixty-eight years to hear. The Voice that had spoken to her when she was a young girl and had called her to a life of service was a familiar one. This Voice had directed her paths through the many mazes of life, and had often called her back from her willfulness of going her own way. This was not the voice of a stranger. This was the Voice that had said to her in recent years and especially in recent days, “come unto me all ye who are weary, and I will give you rest.” Yes, she recognized this Voice. She turned and as she did she looked into the most blessed face she had ever seen. She saw there in those eyes what she had desired more than anything in her life.

The lady in apartment 218 had finally come Home.The hills

In honor and memory of my Mother  on Mothers Day, 2014
Glendora Faye Singleton Oldham
September 14, 1927 – September 22, 1995

…she taught me to trust God and lift my eyes unto
the hills, from whence comes my help…” 

Thanks, Mom….you did a great job. I miss you.







In the Beginning


In memory of my precious Dad
(February 21, 1926 – March 4, 2002)

In the beginning
Dad fed me
Bathed me
Wiped my face
Changed my clothes

Sat with me until I slept
Chased away my bad dreams
Played music to soothe me
Listened to my heart needs
Held my hand

Breathed his strength into my frightened spirit
Protected me from the big bad bullies
Taught me to trust God in all things
All this – in the beginning.

But today, in the ending
I’m feeding him
Bathing his body
Wiping his face
Changing his clothes

Sitting beside him until he sleeps
Chasing away his bad dreams
Singing his music back into his heart
Listening to his heart needs
Holding his hand

Breathing my strength into his frail and frightened spirit
Reminding him to trust God in all things
All this – in the ending.

The nurse says
“He’s gone.”

I watch his body for any sign of life
I know she’s right,

For today in Dad’s life,
It’s the beginning.

Written by Ritchie D. Hale ©2002

A Soldier Comes Home

        My son is coming home this week from a brief overseas deployment with the Air Force.   His wife and two young sons are beside themselves with joy and anticipation….and I’m right there with them.  As we watch the news each day we realize there are thousands of such reunions happening across the nation as our men and women return from war. 

        There was another homecoming on September 17, 2004 when Brad Weaver, an American Marine, came home from the war.  I don’t know Brad.  I’ve never met him and wouldn’t recognize him if he were standing beside me.  To be honest, I know absolutely nothing about who this man is or what his life is about.  Brad had an amazing group of friends and family who were so overjoyed about his home-coming that they had posted dozens of eye-catching red, white, and blue signs along the highway from the I-75 Richwood, Kentucky exit, miles out into the country to his home.  The day I saw those signs, curiosity got the best of me and I followed those signs to his home. A waiting crowd of family and friends had gathered to give him a proper and grand welcome home.  Tears streaked down my face as I choked back the emotion that had urged me forward to see this place.  According to the signs, Brad was a true red, white, and blue hero- he served his country well, and his home coming had been a joyful reunion day. 

       As I remember the joy and emotion of that day when I saw those signs, and anticipate my sons’ homecoming, I ponder another type of homecoming. 

        Sixteen years ago, September 21, 1995, my mother was welcomed home.  It was not the type of homecoming we associate with joy from our particular viewpoint, but I’m quite sure her perspective was different. She was a loyal, honorable citizen in her duties to her family and friends, and had served her 68 years well. As she lay dying in the OwensboroDavisCountyhospital, pain was relentless on her broken body after being struck by an oncoming car.  She looked one last time at the face of a citizen of this world; a nurse, and said, “I’m in a lot of pain, but it’s okay – I’m going home tonight.”  Her pastor said a prayer, sealed it with an “amen”, and her spirit left.  Her citizenship was instantly transferred from this world to her heavenly home.   What a glad reunion there must have been when she bid her temporary tour of duty here on earth farewell, and made her journey to her eternal Home in heaven. Welcome Home, Mom. 

         To my son and the thousands of men and women in uniform, thank you for your service to America.  And Weaver, thank you for causing me to reflect once again upon the beauty of a true welcome home celebration that we may each anticipate at the end of our journey.

Special Credentials

       Many years ago my husband and I flew into the airport where our son was working ramp.  It was a long walk from where we landed to the lot where his car was parked.  Seeing the pain registered on my face from my weak knee, and the limp, he suddenly changed course.  We stepped through a gate and began crossing the tarmac.  Almost immediately a security guard approached us with questions about our presence in this area.  My son lifted the ID badge that hung around his neck, and without further question, we were given clearance to proceed to our destination. 
       Each time I arrive home via theGainesvilleRegionalAirport, I see the warning sign and think of that day on the tarmac with my son.
       In my son, I had privilege.  In my son, I had passage.  In my son, I had entrance to a secured location.  Apart from him, I would have had none of this.  I walked across the tarmac into “authorized personnel only” areas, totally accepted because of my association with my son.  I had no credentials on my own.  My dependence was totally in him.
       This is the way I will walk into heaven someday; not because of personal credential package.  There is nothing that I can do, or not do; that will gain me entrance in that city of God.  I will come just as every other person – with no privilege apart from walking with the Son.  It is He who will say to God, “it’s okay, she’s with me.”

Landmarks on the Journey Home

            As I drove home from work yesterday, I was feeling such exhaustion that I could barely endure the thought of the miles that still stretched before.  “Home” almost seemed elusive. The 22 mile commute was something I had been doing for more than a year.  Usually it was enjoyable, but today, I just wanted to be home.  As I began to notice landmarks along the way, it helped me focus on how close I was to my destination.  There was the man sitting on his painted horse, just as he does every afternoon at this hour.  (I never have figured out why he does this unless it is to watch the sunset, or train his horse to stand quietly or perhaps to bring attention to his Horse Riding School)  Now I am passing the mighty Oak Tree that finally succumbed to the constant battering winds and has fallen into the pond where now the ducks swim in and out of the branches.  Oh and there on the left is the Cross Brand Cowboy Church sign.  I’m getting close to home and feeling invigorated with renewed energy.  I’m almost there.  This reverie reminded me of a day in August, 2005 when I was taking my three-year-old grandson, Connor home from a visit.  He had spent three days with his Papa and me, and now we had begun the 2 ½ hour journey.

            As we began to get closer to his home, he began to fidget with restlessness.  “I’m ready to see my Mommy,” he said.  “Nonna, May I use your phone and call her?”

            Listening to his conversation with his mom, I detected that his mom was asking for landmarks.  He’d say, “Nonna, what can we see now?”  I’d answer, “Burger King.”  He would relay this to his mom.  She apparently was telling him what to look for next.  As we called off one then another, and another, he became more and more excited

            “Nonna, how much further?”

            “Tell your mommy we just passed the Wal-Mart store.”

            “Nonna, Nonna, it’s just two minutes till I see my mommy!”

            By this time I wasn’t needed in the conversation.  It was all about what he and his mom were discussing.  I simply was along for the ride.

            “Mommy, we just turned on our street!”

            “Mommy, we’re at the top of the hill!”

            “Mommy, are you watching for me?  Hurry, we’re coming down the hill!”

            I glanced into the rear view mirror and saw Connor practically dancing in his infant seat.

            “Mommy, I see you!  I see you!  I see you!”

            There she stood beside the driveway with her phone pressed to her ear.  She was still talking to him as she opened the van door and embraced him.  Her son had come home!

            As I reflected upon this beautiful reunion of my daughter with her son, I recalled the words of composer, Dick Baker, “longing, longing for Jesus.  I have a longing in my heart for Him.  Just to be near Him, to feel His presence, I have a longing in my heart for Him.”

            This journey we call life, will someday conclude.  I’m sure there will be milestones and landmarks along the way, but I know the precious sight I just experienced will keep me focused on the journey’s end.  Jesus will talk me Home to his welcoming embrace.

Missing Mom

August 11, 2011 Thoughts of My Mom

This evening as we were driving across town, my husband and I both called attention to each other regarding the brilliant pinks etched with gold lace as the sun painted on the canvas of the horizon.  For just a few moments my emotions were raw as I recalled the evening of September 25, 1995 – the day we buried my mother. That evening we had taken my dad back over to the graveside before making the long journey home.  As we drove away, the sunset was extraordinarily brilliant.  From the back seat we heard Dad begin to sing,

“Beyond the sunset, oh blissful morning
When with our Savior heaven is begun
Earth’s toil is ending oh glorious dawning
Beyond the sunset when day is done”

Tonight, once again I watch God’s majestic artistry of various shades of pinks, crimson, and gold etchings around the royal purple clouds, and I ponder about the place where Mom now lives.  She is there, beyond the sunset.  There, beyond the ever darkening shadows of nightfall that creeps steadfastly across the horizon of the living.  There, taking in His presence.  Moments ago I tried to sing, “if we could see beyond the clouds as God sees…” – but my voice was constricted – emotion choked my words.  As I have watched the ever-changing sky, victory and triumphant joy have flooded my heart. God brought to mind a different melody, and with freedom and victory I sing in my heart, “O the blessed contemplation, when with trouble here I sigh; I’ve a home beyond the river, That I’ll enter by and by.

Sermon in Shoes

Obion County Marching Band, Troy, Tennessee

Sermon in Shoes – 1994

     The Obion County High School Marching Band was wearing their new uniforms for the first time. On their home field, they were marching a special show, exclusively for the parents. It was Friday night, one week before they would march for the state finals.

     As the show drew to a conclusion the band was given a standing ovation by the cheering, exultant crowd of parents and friends.  As the band turned and began marching off the field, we were able to see the 30 or so pair of empty shoes left behind by the seniors. They had decided to leave behind a part of themselves to live on forever at their alma mater. 

     One senior, Jamie, could not have known that this would be his final band show, his last march, his last day on earth.  He died in a tragic car accident the next morning.

      Six months later when I attended a band banquet, one of the students mentioned the night they left their shoes on the field.  As I reflected upon the events of that tragic weekend, I contemplated the brevity of life.  None of us knows when we will have marched our final show on this earth. 

     Lord, help me as I journey through life to walk in such a way as to be pleasing to You.  Help me to encourage those who walk beside me, and to leave behind steady footprints for those who follow.  May my life be a sermon in shoes that will testify of the love of Jesus, and radiate a joy and kindness that can only come from You. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: