The Best News!

We are eternal. Isn’t that the best news?

I buckle the kids in the minivan. I worry if I have enough snacks. I check to make sure I packed the pull-up. Then I remember. I am eternal. EEEEK. In all of these day to day tasks, I stop myself and remember this. Wow. Eternal! 

I have written this post about 3 times now and the one thing that kept circling in my mind was this: we are eternal. I started to focus on this fact and here is what I came to realize: if we truly believe that we are eternal then won’t that change the way we live our lives? Truly believe it. After chewing on it for a while I started to think about how our perspective on life would change if we began to fully believe it. We would start to respect our bodies and our lives as something sacred. We would respect people’s lives and see value in them because we would remember: they are eternal too. Your outlook, as a whole, changes. You don’t get caught up in the temporary thoughts, frustrations and desires of the world. Things that might trip you up or aggravate you get washed out by the focus on eternity. Paul wrote in the book of Colossians (3:2) “Set your mind things above, not on earthly things”. Paul understood this kind of thinking. He was fully focused on the eternal and not the finite. It helped him escape traps of this world that bind us up and keep us from the doing the work that God has to do.

I get caught up in the finite. A lot. There…I said it! But in order to make this post authentic I challenged myself to really put the focus on the infinite. You start reminding yourself about what will truly last, what will end and you see your life focus change. I don’t think we realize how often we are seeking eternity. We try to create it here on earth. We seek the things that give us joy, pleasure, excitement but they aren’t sustainable. The high will always have low. The fun of the party will always have a next day hangover. The trip to the exotic will always come back to reality. The awards you sought after now sit on the shelf collecting dust. The thrill of the gift will end up in a thrift store. The bank account gets larger and so do the problems. You build the big house then have to downsize. But we keep seeking to sustain something that is not sustainable. Eternity is inside all us and that is why we crave it. We want the joy to never end here on earth but it always does. The only way to truly experience the never-ending joy is to know Jesus and what He came to do for us. On that good Friday the curtain was ripped in half and heaven was opened to us…to ALL of us. All we have to do is accept that He did that for us. To acknowledge that we are finite minded, messed up, broken people who get caught up in this world and that Jesus is so much bigger and better than all that we create or mess up.

After we acknowledge that gift of atonement for our lives,  we must start thinking eternally about what we will do with what we know. Will we start living our lives with an eternal purpose or finite purpose? Everything on earth has a beginning and end. I am beginning to think that we are ok with that. That we like there to be an end. Maybe it’s because our finite brain can wrap itself around “the end” but we have a problem wrapping around “the eternal” because it’s impossible to wrap.  It has no end. But that makes us uncomfortable. Oddly, the end is comforting. But once life is begun, it will have no end. Once life is created , eternity starts. Death is not the end nor does it have the final say.  Jesus conquered death for us! He came to give us hope beyond ourselves. Because of Him we will be able to call Heaven our forever home. Forever home. I find it interesting that people build what they call their “forever home” on earth. We can’t call it the forever though because it is like everything else in life: temporary. Seasons change, we grow old, and the house gets sold to someone else. But the one that remains constant is “I Am”. Our God. He is the past, the present, and the future.  He was here before time and He will continue to be throughout all of eternity. Today, and for whatever remainder we have here on earth, I challenge you to start turning your focus to eternity. Decisions that we make, things that we get hung up on, start holding them up to the light of eternity and see what holds water. Will it last? Does it matter in the light of eternity?You were made for a greater purpose and if we start respecting that in ourselves in others, I really believe life as we know it would start to radically change for the best. God’s best.

The I AM knew you before time began and knows what comes next. The I AM created you for eternity. Yes, that person who is getting into the minivan and worried about losing the baby weight 3 years later. YOU are eternal.  And the great I AM stands at the door waiting for us to answer. John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” The Eternal Present.

This Easter, as you are putting on the pearls and ironing the Sunday clothes remember: you are eternal. As you plan the meal and dye the eggs remember: You will be forever. If you find yourself worried about buying things for the Easter baskets remember: Christ paved the way for our eternal destiny. Change your mind to focus on the eternal and see how your perspective on life changes. When the end of your time on earth comes, you will not be disappointed. This is a forever promise. 

 

 

 

 

photo courtesy of Jonathan Burton Photography

 

1,095

Hamilton Family Final (73)

YES! 3 years! We passed this milestone on February 22 and what a great day it was! Seriously, Praise the Lord. He has everything to do with helping us get to this point by providing the opportunities, the support, the friendships, the church, the counseling we needed to make it here. I firmly believe you cannot do this alone. It took a village of people, all placed here by God, to get this family back on track. We owe a lot to our families for their support and continued faith in us. We owe a lot to our friends for their encouragement, for lending an ear and for just being there cheering us on. We owe our mentors for being strong models of Christ’s love and how to live it out in this new life. We owe everything to God for taking these two messed up people and using them for His glory. We don’t deserve it, but He uses us anyway. I often think about what my life would have been like now if my husband had never turned the corner. I am a realist and know that the story doesn’t always turn out this way. Sometimes the addiction wins. I have heard countless stories of loved ones who were defeated by it. I have seen it play out personally with my husband’s father. I hate to see it happen because I now believe addiction can be conquered.

I think it has to do with exposing the lies of the enemy which is what I try to do here. If you have never read the book Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis then read it! It is life changing when we realize that there is a spiritual battle going on that we can’t see with our eyes but experience in our everyday lives. When the enemy has control over us we have a tendency to believe that things just happen to us…that there is no plan or force behind it, orchestrating. But when you see things from a spiritual perspective you understand that we get tripped up for specific reasons. A few weeks ago my husband and I watched the movie Flight. (Disclaimer: this is an R rated movie and there is nudity, language, drug use throughout). It was a tough movie. Intense. But you could see the battle going on within Denzel Washingtons character. He wanted to do the right thing. He didn’t want to have a problem. He denied it heavily at the beginning of the movie. At one point, for 9 days leading up to his trial, he remained sober. The day before the trial he goes to stay in a hotel room and they even place a security guard in front of his room to protect him from any outside influences or from himself. In the early morning hours after tossing and turning most of the night he hears a tapping noise. He investigates and finds that the door to the adjoining room is open. Guess what is in the adjoining room? Yep, a stocked bar. The enemy wins again. I am one of those people who believe things like this are not just coincidence. I think they are designed for us to fall flat on our face…especially when we are on the right path. My husband and I have experienced this A LOT within the 1095 days. But we know to expect it and we know to expect it when we are being beaten down by life. When we get incredibly stressed out. When we are tired. When we feel anxious. When things don’t work out like we want them to. Even when the first signs of Spring show up (this is a different story). We expect temptation. And that is how you keep yourself safe. I have realized now that part of the reason I write this blog is not just to give perspective but also to expose the lies that I let myself believe, so people might identify themselves as well. I do it by being specific with details, thoughts, or habits. If you read the blog and can find yourself in anything I am saying them you know what I am talking about….and that’s why I do it. That is why I will keep on doing it. Shortly after you have identified yourself though you will find yourself convincing yourself that its not true or that your circumstances are different. And so the lie will continue. It is subtle but as the song says “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away.” I don’t want to be right about it, but I have been through too much to know that I am not wrong. Don’t believe the lie.

So here we are at 1095 days later and I am eternally grateful to God that He gave us a second chance at this. He has blessed us with a healthy, vivacious, opinionated, loving daughter. He has blessed us with a warm home, two cars that work (most of the time), two jobs, childcare and the means to support it all. He has blessed us with family and friends. And most of all, He has blessed us with a story to tell that might change the direction of someone else’s life. If we aren’t here to help one another, then really…what are we here for?

One personal side note: To my husband, I am incredibly inspired by you and changed forever by our circumstances. I am humbled by your humility and willingness to continue to share your story openly. I am so thankful that our daughter (and son) will know you, if God allows it. I am so thankful that their story is forever altered by your determination and faithfully seeking Gods plan for our lives. I am encouraged daily by your resolve. I am blessed when you talk about your weaknesses or moments of doubt…it reminds me you are still working on yourself as I need to be. You have a heart with eternity stamped on it and I am thrilled to know that I am included in that game plan. All my love. bpp.

Home

A friend of mine from high school sent me a sweet note of encouragement about the blog and told me I was amazing and that she had always known I was. I appreciated the words but I don’t feel amazing. I think I feel average at best. More importantly though it took me back to those days of high school and thinking about who I was then and who I am now. I started to reflect on how I got here and how long it took me to get back to the person I started out wanting to be. Not a particularly special or popular person but a person of deep faith.

I think about my daughter (and son on the way) and what they will be like when they are teenagers. It is an almost paralyzing thought because you want so much for them not to make the same mistakes you did. To stay on the straight path. We want that because we know how painful it is when you go off that path. How much those lessons can cost you and everyone around you. But then I have to stop myself and remind myself of one very important fact. You can’t control what they do or the choices they make, but you can lay a foundation so that when they stray far from the path they WILL be able to find their way HOME. Not our physical home, but the blessed spiritual home: back in the arms of a merciful Savior.

What I have been through has lead me right back to where I started but I am not the same person. The faith I have now is deeper and more real because I have experienced so much heartache and yet every time I have cried out for God to pull me out He has. Every time I prayed for some relief He would give it, every time I asked for some sign that He was there He gave it, every time I needed anything He gave it…EVERY time. It didn’t always come immediately or in a way that I had imagined but it was always perfect and beyond my scope of how things should be. With this deep faith though and the story that has become the testimony of my husband and myself comes big responsibilities like sharing your story. I remember meeting with our church counselor (who helped us out tremendously making huge life transitions with my husband being recovered, moving to our new hometown and starting over in our professional lives) and after hearing our story she quickly said, “I have a feeling God is preparing you both for something big”. I liked the sound of it and then thought eh…I can see that…but not right now. I just need to get a job and get us out from my parents home! Obviously, My focus really wasn’t on the big picture, it was moment to moment. My parents had a second home up here so we were living there until we had both feet on the ground. I am proud to say (with God’s grace and help) we went from zero in the bank and essentially being homeless to both finding work and moving to our own place in 8 months! It was an absolute miracle. I thank my parents for giving us the opportunity for a fresh start. I know they didn’t want to but they did it anyway. I will be forever grateful to them for that gift.

I will also be forever grateful to them for laying that firm foundation of faith in me. For encouraging me, for talking about faith and showing me how to live a life with faith, for being obedient and teaching myself and others my whole life about what a relationship with Jesus looks like. My mom especially has shown me that you may be led to do things out of your comfort zone like giving testimony. When I was growing up she was heavily involved in Christian Women’s Club. Countless times she had to be obedient and talk in front of people which is not something she loved to do, but she knew her story would be relevant to someone there. And it was. People have come up to me and told me about how my mother was such an example to them and how much hearing her story has meant. How proud I was when I heard that! If anything, it made me think about the legacy you leave behind. That is really all you can give your children that will last. The legacy of being someone who is obedient and does what they are called to do.

Mom, you made your imprint on my life and now as a parent myself I am so thankful that you showed me how to get back home and I hope I can do the same for my own children.

Hamilton Family Final (60)