Home is where the heart is

Romans 2:4

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

I’ve often been critical of the Israelites in their rebellion towards God. But this week, I realized: I’m just like them.

Our family is on a journey to the land God promised. The battle has been brutal. The number of casualties continues to rise; and another idol just perished in my life.

We’ve made eight offers on six houses in Polk County, FL. Yes. That’s correct. 8 offers. 6 houses; 2 of which we made 2 different offers on. On Monday, one of them was accepted on our dream home- a Spanish style hacienda in Haines City. Fully remodeled on half an acre of land, complete with courtyards accessible from every room, an outdoor fountain, and swimming pool! Our realtor had fought a good fight on our behalf. We had prayed, and prayed and prayed some more. Beating out the competition with cash offers and higher escalation clauses, the owners felt compassion for our situation and accepted our offer, after we agreed to their high-risk counter.

Once the contract was signed, I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I told my husband my concerns. He agreed with my assessment, but both of us continued to wrestle…not understanding why God would allow us to win, yet feel so defeated!? The next blow came when we showed our kids the photos of “our” house. Their reaction was not what we expected. Instead, their words were an exact confirmation of the warning signs I just voiced to my man a few minutes earlier, behind closed doors. Since it was nearly midnight, we decided we needed to sleep on it. Sleep didn’t come. At 4:30a, I shot out of bed when I heard the Word: 

Psalm 106:13-15

13 They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
15 And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

Ungrateful for the manna God continues to provide us in this wilderness season, I had been whining for quail! Hidden in the dark recesses of my heart, I was secretly longing for the comforts of my home in Egypt. I believed I had suffered enough in this barren wasteland- losing my mother & moving in with my father. “I’m done!” I repeatedly told Him. So, He gave me what I asked for: a beautiful home. Because, after all, home is where my heart is. Did you catch that, friend? HOME is where my heart is. 

What my Father won’t do to rescue me from the bonds of slavery. What He won’t do to deliver me from the control of Pharaoh. What He won’t do to prove His love for me. He longs for my reciprocated affection. He wants a deep, intimate relationship with me. He wants my heart. My whole heart. He is a righteous, jealous God. So, as every good father does, He disciplines those He loves so that they will repent and return to Him. I gotta tell ya, friend, this spanking was painful. I still feel the sting, but I also feel incredibly loved and grateful that He intervened before we lost more than our reputation. 

We called our realtor Tuesday morning to deliver the news and to apologize for our rebellion that impacted her- as well as the owner, selling agent and other buyers. She was gracious and continues to intervene, naturally and supernaturally on our behalf in this crazy market. 

God’s promise for our family still stands. He has called us to be a part of a covenant community in Lakeland, FL. He will provide the right home, at the right price, at the right time. It may not be our dream home, but it will be a house of prayer. It will be a place where the hungry are fed and the filthy are washed with the Word. It’s what He said. His Word will not return void. He is faithful. He is just. He is worthy to be praised in the wilderness, for  

He is my Promised Land. 

He is my home.

Reality

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 12-14

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die…

12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.

(My mom went home to Jesus on April 21, 2021. My dad, sister and I were with her at home as she released her spirit into His hands.)

I’m a realist, as was my mother, and her mother before me. Not a pessimist; A REALIST! A realist (my definition) sees things as they are (without dismissing or denying the anguish of living in a world that is dying), while simultaneously seeing things as they will be.

Death came to us all in the garden when we failed to trust the Lord. But, hallelujah, that is not the end of the story! The death of body and soul would one day be redeemed in another garden, when the Son of Man wrestled through the reality of suffering a brutal death so that in Him, we might live. 

Love was the motivation of His heart. 

Love was the motivation of His Fathers heart. 

Love was the motivation of His Spirit that would dwell in the hearts of men, bringing comfort to our present reality- and hope for our future. 

The reality is…

I will never hear my mother’s voice again, never hear her call my name, never feel the warmth of her embrace, never taste the favorite foods she would prepare on birthdays, holidays or just because.

The reality is…

I will never discuss passages of Scripture with her that perplexed and puzzled us, never passionately debate current issues in the body of Christ, never argue about the everyday things of life we were strongly opinionated about.

The reality is…

I am mourning the loss of the one who carried and delivered me into this life, the one who devoted her days to training me in the way I SHOULD go (which, for many years was quite a challenge for her with this strong willed little girl!).

The reality is…

I am processing the pain by writing about a woman who was a sinner saved by grace- just like me. My mother was human, prone to failure and mistakes- just like me. She carried the scars of past choices- just like me. Yet, she shared them with her daughters and “daughters” in the Spirit, so that we might gain wisdom through her experiences. My mom deserves to be honored for her life and legacy of family, but she will not be worshipped or made into a saint. At least, not by me. She would tell you, as I would, that there is only ONE man who deserves to be worshipped: Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

The reality is…

I am remembering the tumultuous relationship between my mother and I when I was young. In my childishness and rebellion, I falsely accused and condemned her for several of the issues in my life. I am so grateful that in recent decades, the Spirit illuminated areas of darkness in my soul, revealing the lies I believed. Through much prayer and ministry, JESUS not only redeemed me to Himself, He also redeemed the mother-daughter relationship I so desperately yearned for. Nothing was hidden between us. Everything was brought into the light of His glorious presence. And although the reality of some of our experiences resulted in much heartache and grief, I am so thankful to now live in the reality of brokenness, while simultaneously living in the freedom we have in Christ. Our hope was that future generations would reap the blessings of our obedience to forgive, as we have been forgiven. God has honored that request, and confirmed His promise through a dream he gave my mom a few days before she passed (you can read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2021/04/19/go-on-to-glory/ )

The reality also is…

I know that whatever God does is final. Death is final. I will no longer see my mother face to face. BUT, eternal life is also final! One day, I WILL SEE JESUS face to face. I will join my mother- my sister in Christ, along with the great cloud of witnesses and all the living creatures that surround His throne. And together, we will worship Him for all eternity, crying “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”

This is my reality.

Is it yours?

Go on to Glory

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

For years, it’s been our mothers favorite phrase. When her heart was filled to overflowing, enjoying time with her husband, girls, boys (our husbands) and grandchildren, she’d announce, “oh, I can just go on to glory!” We’d laugh and roll our eyes and remind her that she was too young and it wasn’t her time…

Yesterday, I received a call from my dad and sister that mom had taken a turn for the worse. Since March, she has been enduring: 

  • Pain
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Questions
  • Testing
  • Side effects from meds
  • Confusion
  • Swelling
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Decreasing platelet counts
  • Enlarged spleen

Currently, there are no answers from the experts. They don’t know why her health is rapidly declining. They can’t explain what’s going on.

They can’t.

But God can.

In route from FL to NC yesterday (we were house hunting all weekend), I spoke briefly with mom. She wanted to share a dream she had with me. Although her speech was slurred and broken, my soul received the fullness of her encounter with the Lord. In the dream, she was going to the crystal city. I wasn’t going with her; it wasn’t time for me. Instead, I was going to a new city with my family. In that place, God would give me everything she had wanted from Him. He told her that everything was going to be ok… 

I’ve been a dreamer for more than a decade. It’s one of the primary ways the Lord speaks to me- giving direction, correction and heavenly perspective for the future. And He did it again yesterday. God promised a generational blessing through a dream!

What a gift in this season. 

What perfect timing. 

On Easter Sunday, after mom was discharged from the hospital a second time, the Bullard Pack came by for a visit. She was sleeping in her bed. When I sat down and took hold of her hand, I heard the Spirit say, “she’s dying….”

“Mom, it’s Jodie” I whispered.

She opened her eyes.

I smiled.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.

She mumbled, “oh….it’s so good to see you. I just wanted to die. But I’ll keep fighting.”

“It’s ok, mom. You can go on to glory if you want…but selfishly, I want more time with you.”

She smiled.

I wept.

Tears ran down her face.

Then there was silence.

And unexplainable peace.

I did the same late last night when I arrived at the hospital.

“Mom, it’s Jodie.” I whispered

She opened her eyes.

I smiled.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.

“You can go on to glory when it’s time….” I said.

“Yep. I’m READY. But I wanna go home and see all of you one last time.”

Then there was silence.

And unexplainable peace.

Mom is coming home with hospice today, as she requested. We don’t know when she will go on to glory, but we know the One who holds the keys to death and the grave… and at the appointed time, He will call her home- for eternity.