Archives For Heaven

Strength

June 12, 2016 — 1 Comment

Strength

Many people have said to me over the last 4 years, you are so strong, your faith is so strong, your family is so strong. I have tried to explain that I/we are not strong and what strength you see is not us but our deep abiding faith in God.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few years. What makes people think I/we are so strong? 

The Caulk Family It most certainly is not the fact that we are strong! It is not the fact that we don’t share our sadness and grief, it is certainly not the fact that all of us have not been a hot mess throughout our journey of grief the last four years. 

ALL people suffer in life that is a fact. No one escapes the fact that at times life is hard. We are all human and life on earth will never be perfect. 

We could have gone silently into the night and avoided the discussion or we could share openly and remember them. We talk about them publicly and privately, because Mike, Jamie, and Lillian are loved and not a day goes by that we don’t think about them. 

When you raise five kids as Mike use to say, “someone is always having a bad day.” He would say this when we were trying to go somewhere and a have a good family day and one of the children was sad, crying or didn’t want to go.

I have found this is the same way as we walk through our grief. Someone in our family is always having a bad day, no rhythm or reason…just hit with waves of grief. No one sees that day coming but we understand it. We do our best to love each other through it and know that it will pass and tomorrow it will be someone else’s to have a bad day. 

We talk about them because Mike, Jamie,and Lillian are never far from our minds. Contrary to what most people think we want to hear their name’s and hear stories they shared with our loved ones.  In many ways, we have moved on and yet we haven’t. But, I/we have ALL changed. 

As I sit on my deck this cool, Michigan morning I am thinking of each of my children and how out of their pain and grief we have all grown closer to God and grown in our empathy for other people’s suffering. 

For me personally, when I hear stories of Chad, Justina, Jahi my heart breaks for the pain their families endure and I can pray with compassion. I know them and their pain all too well, I see it in their eyes and read it in their posts. 

Our priorities in this life are just NOT the same

We emphasize and weep with those who are suffering and we can’t just scroll through Facebook and causally say, “I will pray for you”. We pray or we don’t say we will.  We understand their pain because we have felt it…experienced it. 

So when folks say, “your family is so strong” I believe what they are really saying is not that we are strong but that we are vulnerable and have tried to share our journey authentically with others and not avoid the conversation of our grief, pain, and faith.  

In this world in which we now live, full of sound bites and social media our family has done our best to not hide in a closet or pretend all is right in our world, all of the time.  I think people identify with that because everyone at one time or the other is going through something. Sometimes it is hard to be vulnerable and lay it all there and yet speaking the truth is many time’s not easy regardless if the conversation is about grief or anything.  

When we lay it all out there for you to read we are being vulnerable, we are sharing who we are, our true selves, our grief, pain, and HOPE. This is who and what we are and forever will be.

We haven’t pretended life is good ALL the time because life on planet Earth is never void of pain for any of us. Yet no one wants to talk about pain or suffering on Social Media and especially not death. We have also shared what we do know and that is that God is good ALL the time even in the midst of our pain and sorrow. 

…even when we question WHY?

God is good and someday we will know, and understand. (Although we are not convinced it will even matter when we get there and are reunited with our loved ones’ forever. 

C S Lewis referred to earth as a Shadowland. A preparation for the reality of what is to come. Where nothing will block the light of the sun/son and we will SEE the real thing…Jesus, Heaven, Earth as it was meant to be. 

“Farewell to Shadowlands” is the title of the last chapter of the book The Last Battle, the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia series.  On the last page, C. S. Lewis writes:

“There was  a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead.  The term is over:  the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended:  this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.  And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. 

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page:  now at last they were beginning chapter one of the Great Story which no one on earth has read:  which goes on forever:  in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

So the Caulk’s are weak, and yet we are strong, but the strength is not from us or what you think you see in our family but comes from the Creator of the Universe who projects His strength through us and in us. Who is STILL changing us and molding us into His image. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. I Corinthians 12:9-10

Mike CaulkI miss you today, Mike and I can’t believe it has been three years.  A normal day that changed us forever. 

You leaving us does not change us for the worst but allowed us to believe more than ever, and long for our true home…out of the Shadowlands where we will be together forever. 

See you soon! We love you for eternity. 

Four Long Years

Today makes four years that my son, Jamie passed on from this earthly life and went home. Home is where God is and where those who believe in Jesus will spend eternity. Heaven is not the default location of where everyone will go, heaven is where we will spend eternity based on our relationship with Jesus while on earth.

Buzz LIghtyearOne of my children, Andrew, use to say like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Store, “to infinity and beyond”. That’s a pretty good description of eternity..infinity and beyond.

When you go to funerals it sounds like everyone has gone to heaven. But that is a false supposition and one that can keep people from the good news of Jesus Christ.

C. S. Lewis in his book, The Problem with Pain writes of Hell, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, especially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom, and it has the support of reason.”

Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to LIFE, and only a few find it.”

So heaven is NOT our default location.

What  keeps us out of Heaven is universal: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). God is so holy that he cannot allow sin into his presence: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Because we are sinners, we are not entitled to enter God’s presence. We cannot enter Heaven as we are. Randy Alcorn, Heaven Book

James 4:14 says that we are a mist, a vapor. We do not know what tomorrow brings.

I am sure Jamie did not have a clue his life would end here on earth on October 20, 2011. 

Matthew Henry said in his commentary on James 4:14

What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, Jas. 4:14. God that wisely left us in the dark concerning future events, and even concerning the duration of life itself. We know not what shall be on the morrow; we may know what we intend to do and to be, but a thousand things may happen to prevent us.

We are not sure of life itself since it is but as a vapour, something in appearance, but nothing solid nor certain, easily scattered and gone. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun’s rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour’s being scattered; such is our life: it appears but for a little time, and then vanisheth away; it vanisheth as to this world, but there is a life that will continue in the other world.”

The Good News

The good news is that the price for Adams’ sin and ultimately ours as it was passed down to us from the fall, is that hell does NOT have to be our default destination. When Jesus died on the cross He said, “it is finished”. This simply means the debt has been paid. Finished, done, debt cancelled. In Greek the words, “it is finished” means paid in full.

You may think you have done too many things wrong in your life to be forgiven, but that is simply NOT true. There is no sin or behavior you have done that can’t be forgiven…when you repent and ask.

Repent sounds like a religious word, but it just means to turn in TURN AND GO IN A NEW DIRECTION. There is nothing you can do to work for or earn your salvation. It is a gift. Jesus paid the price, he took on the cross what we deserved and paid for it. God see’s everything anyway so when you ask for forgiveness be real, you can’t hide anything from him.

C. S. Lewis, said, “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.”

You can never resolve your sin by “working on it”. It is all grace. Jesus is absolutely crazy about you, He adores you and when you walk in that truth every day you feel loved and accepted.

St Augustine said, “If we but turn to God, that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

 

How Do I Know I Am Going to Heaven?

Over the years, I have had many people ask me, “how do I know IF I am going to heaven”?

John the Apostle said in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” So yes we CAN know, we don’t have to “hope so”, we can know.

Do you know?

Can you say yes, I am going to spend infinity beyond in heaven?

Today is the day of salvation, if you do not know or are not sure. I Cor 6:2

Today is the day my son went to his eternal home. He has been there four long years for us who miss him so. Yet we KNOW we will see him and Mike and “Lilly Bear” again.

The Solution

Jesus provided the solution to live with him and our loved ones forever.

1) Admit you are a sinner  (1John 1:9)

2) Ask for forgiveness

3) Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior

4) Recognize he came to earth and paid the price and settled the debt. It is finished.

5) Accept that you are forgiven and your sins are forgiven.

Psalm 103:10-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for you;as far as the east is to the west, so far as He removed our sins.

East and West can NOT be measured so they are gone forgotten.

Jamie Caulk This is my post today for you in honor of my son who has gone before me and enjoying LIFE forevermore.

I love you Jamie and miss you SO much, see you soon.

Mom

 

 

 

Death is nothing at all

A Facebook friend, Helene Wilson Easterday shared this on her wall. I loved it and wanted to use it but I am so afraid of violating copyright that I asked her where she got it. She found it and it comes from ‘The King of Terrors’, a sermon on death delivered in St Paul’s Cathedral on Whitsunday 1910, while the body of King Edward VII was lying in state at Westminster, Canon Henry Scott-Holland. (So out of copyright protection.)

Death is nothing at all

I have only slipped away into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other

That we are still

Call me by my old familiar name

Speak to me in the easy way you always used

Put no difference into your tone

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

Laugh as we always laughed

At the little jokes we always enjoyed together

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was

Let it be spoken without effort

Without the ghost of a shadow in it

Life means all that it ever meant

It is the same as it ever was

There is absolute unbroken continuity

What is death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind

Because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you for an interval

Somewhere very near

Just around the corner

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost

One brief moment and all will be as it was before

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

 

Heaven

If you have been following me for a while you know that I have literally read hundreds of books and articles about heaven since the losses I have experienced the last 3 years.

The very best is by author, Randy Alcorn called HEAVEN.

I love how Amazon tells you when you purchased a book. I bought this on November 2nd, 2011. That was 12 days after Jamie died and 12 days before Lillian died.

Twelve in the Bible means completion, I will write more of my thoughts on this later. Coincidence ? There are none.

Heaven Book by Randy AlcornReading Randy Alcorn’s book as one of the first gave me a good foundation for reading all the other one’s because it is a theology of heaven.

This poem by Canon Henry Scott-Holland in written in 1910 confirms what I have learned in my studies on heaven.

The parting  of our loved ones is not the end of our relationships, only an interruption.

Continuity

Randy Alcorn in his book heaven writes a lot about continuity. He states:

“By observing the resurrected Christ, we learn not only about resurrected bodies but also about resurrected relationships. Christ communicates with his disciples and shows his love to them as a group and as individuals. He instructs them and entrusts a task to them (Acts 1:4-8). If you study his interactions with Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), Thomas (20:24-29), and Peter (21:15-22), you will see how similar they are to his interactions with these same people before he died.

The fact that Jesus picked up his relationships where they’d left off is a foretaste of our own lives after we are resurrected. We will experience continuity between our current lives and our resurrected lives, with the same memories and relational histories.

Once we understand that Christ’s resurrection is the prototype for the resurrection of mankind and the earth, we realize that Scripture has given us an interpretive precedent for approaching passages concerning human resurrection and life on the New Earth.”

Alcorn, Randy (2004-10-01). Heaven (Alcorn, Randy) (Kindle Locations, 1500, 2238-2239). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition. (txt emphasis mine)

If you buy Randy’s book, for no other reason buy it for his research on the doctrine of continuity.

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

I love this! My family and I have talked many times about the questions we have concerning Jamie’s accident, his declaration of brain death and what he heard while we were in the hospital room. We have asked each other hundreds of questions about each of them and their unexpected deaths.

I have questions about my husband’s last moments when he had a heart attack in his classroom. Was it quick? Was he having chest pains? Why did God take Lilly Bear one month after the devastating loss of my son? So many unanswered questions we ALL have.

The verse in the poem states, we will laugh at the trouble of parting. This is similar to the conclusion my family and I have come to that we just won’t care. We will be so happy to be together again and to see it all from our Father’s  loving perspective.

Death is nothing at all poem

Reading about heaven and life on the New Earth helps me deal with my grief more than anything I do.

Death, like birth, is only a transformation, another birth.
When we die we shall change our state, that is all.
And with faith in God, it is as easy and natural as going to sleep here and waking up there.

From – Journal Of A Soul – Death Is The Future For Everyone, Pope John XXIII

Happy Birthday Mike, your first in heaven.

Mike and Missy Caulk

Dear Mike,

I am sitting here this morning with a heavy heart thinking about and missing you on what would have been your 65th birthday.Yesterday when I went on a listing appointment, your voice popped on through the blue tooth connected in my car.  It was from Jamie’s funeral and you were talking about how much Jamie loved animals and how mean Dixie Mae is. I laughed as it was so funny and so typical of you to make people laugh at such a solemn moment.

Then I gulped.

It all came back as you said, “I’m next, no more cutting lines”.

But you weren’t next.

Lilly Bear was next and only a month later.

Then at her Celebration of Life service you again said, “I am next, no more cutting line.”

And you were.

Now you are at your true home with Jamie, and Lillian and the rest of our family that has gone on before us. Do you celebrate your earth birthday in heaven or the day you went home? Silly question for us on earth, huh? But, we will honor you today as we did for the 35 years we were married. I’m baking a cake…your favorite…german chocolate.

I am starting to really understand what the Apostle Paul said in Phil 1:23-24 when he said, “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Desire to depart and be with Christ is far better?

Desire in the Greek means a longing, an insatiable lust.

Depart in Greek means to break camp, fold up the tent, pull in the anchor.

Far better in Greek means much, much better, more useful and profitable.

Caulk Family 1998I am quite sure before you and Jamie and Lilly Bear went home that I did not have a longing or insatiable lust to go home. Nor was I ready to break up camp and see dying in Christ as far better or more profitable.

No heaven was just a destination, some place up there, I was going upon my death…nothing I longed or lusted for. Definitely nothing that caused me to want to pull up my tent here for and most definitely nothing I saw as far better.

But when you and Jamie and Lilly departed for home, Christa, Matthew,Andrew-David and I do long for that day when we will all be together again. Why do we have to learn what you told us in your Word the hard way?

We know your death’s are just a temporary interruption and not the sad end of our relationships. We haven’t lost you because we know where you are. Thank you for cheering us on in that great cloud of witnesses.

Paul continued on by saying  until it is our time, it is profitable to be here and to accomplish the purposes God has for us on earth.

Mike and MissyMike, I don’t understand how God is using us here through our great suffering to show His glory but somehow He is.

Thank you Mike for being a mentor to so many here and most of all your family. Your love and grace to all of us helped make us who we are.

My biggest regret was not thanking you and appreciating all the little things you did for me/us here on earth.

I’m learning now that it was the little things you did that make me miss you the most. I get so overwhelmed with all those little things that you simply took in stride. I hope you know now how very much you are missed and loved.

I hold on to scriptures that let’s me know God is Sovereign, that He knew the number of our days before we were even born. That your death, like Jamie and Lillian’s were precious in His sight.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

We’ll see you soon!

I love you,

We love you,

Happy Birthday!

Missy

What Does It Mean to Go Home?

November 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

What does it mean to go home?

starnes bar b queI’ve been pondering this for the last few days, as I have been at home in Paducah, Ky visiting family. I was born here, grew up here and lived here until I went away to college. I moved back for a few years after I graduated from University of Kentucky, while working as a school social worker in the McCracken County school system.

For the most part I have been gone 35 years. And yet…

When I come to Paducah, I still feel “home”.

As I drive down the familiar streets, memories flood my mind. I drive by a house that I spent the night in with my girlfriends, where we had sorority initiation, restaurants we ate at, schools I walked home from,houses we TP’d, and various other childhood and teenage memories of things I did growing up in Paducah.

Now if I wasn’t here in Paducah for Thanksgiving I doubt those memories would be popping up in my head as I drive around. The smells of Bar-B-Que…yummy. Everything that reminds me of a place I still call home.

The bible teaches that for Christians heaven is our home

the home I grew up in How can heaven be our home when we have never been there?

I know that when I travel, as much as I enjoy my time away from home, I’ve often said “this is a beautiful place but it doesn’t “feel” like home.” Or when I finally arrive back at my home say, “I am so thankful to be back home.”

I believe I do this because home is a place that is familiar. Home brings up memories of family, friends, gatherings, streets, houses…everything that is familiar. Jesus said heaven is our home, that means just as our physical homes on earth are familiar so will our heavenly home when we get there.

Currently I am in the process of updating some things in my home to… maybe or maybe not sell. Regardless, of what I am doing to redecorate…it is not the redecorating that will change the feeling of comfort I get when I walk in the door and sigh knowing I am home.

The first thing I always do whether I have been at the office for a few hours or a trip is get comfortable, I take off my clothes and put on “comfy clothes.”Home is a place I relax, feel comfortable and at peace. It is where I want to be.

Since the departing of Jamie, “Lilly Bear” and Mike I rarely want to go anywhere. I like being at home. I feel comfortable there, at peace.

earth is a shadowland If heaven is called our true home, and life on earth is a dot along a long line of eternity then heaven must have the same characteristic’s we associate with here on earth with home.

C.S. Lewis called earth a Shadowland. I love to picture Planet Earth like that…a Shadowland.  A shadow is nothing more than a reflection of the true reality.

Randy Alcorn, (my favorite author on the subject of heaven) said,

Home as a term for heaven is not simply a metaphor.It describes an actual, physical place —a place built by our bridegroom, a place we’ll share with loved ones, a place of fond familiarity and comfort and refuge, a place of marvelous smells and tastes, fine food and great conversation, of contemplation and interaction and expressing the gifts and passions God’s given us.

Heaven is a place not a spiritual realm we can’t relate too. Heaven is our home with all the love,feelings and smells we think about when we reflect on our earthly homes. Jesus said, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Our home’s and heaven are both places that are familiar, and comfortable.

Although we don’t know or understand everything about where we will live and spend eternity, Jesus left us too many examples of things we can know about our eternal home.

Sometimes it is hard to grasp where we will live I’ll admit that. But we know that Heaven is a place where we will be with those we loved on earth plus multitudes of people from every nation, tongue and tribe that we called according to his plan and purpose.

2 Cor. 5:1-8

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Heaven will be familiar just like Paducah is familiar. It is our living hope

We will know we are home.