The Lord is shining his grace upon our little family wherever we go. With eyes of faith and thankfulness, life can turn from black & white to bold in seconds! On my own, I get stuck seeing in black & white, through Christ his Spirit enables me to see the colorful rainbow of his promises being fulfilled. As I was reading through Josh’s many writings, I stumbled upon a quote of his that speaks of the contrast between us and Jesus, “We are natural born sinners, but He is a supernatural born Savior!” All things that come into our lives—the good, the bad and the beautiful, can be instruments to draw us closer to Christ and glorify Him!
When we moved to Oregon we were stoked to have found a superb rental! Not only are homes hard to come by in the Merlin/Grants Pass area, but the home the Lord provided is part of a 300-acre development that fell through. As a result, we basically have it all almost all to ourselves! The uncompleted development is called Paradise Ranch! It’s truly a foretaste of the paradise we will enjoy in heaven. There are at least three large ponds on the property, some streams, a variety of wildlife including turkeys, deer, and Canadian geese. We found our Christmas tree out on the property as well as many fruit trees that bear fruit in their seasons without anyone really tending to them other than God! At Josh’s memorial service in Merlin, our sweet neighbors Rene & Robynne came and Rene spoke about how he will miss seeing his crazy neighbor out fishing in the rain and snow who just loved his little piece of paradise; but is now truly in paradise.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There are no words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them, he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Psalm 19:1-6
No matter where God has taken us, we have seen the glory of God’s creation. We have only lived in three states and in all three there have been amazing landmarks that scream of God’s creative design! In Arizona, we had the Grand Canyon, powerful monsoon storms, and gorgeous flowers that would bloom in the middle of a cactus! Even where we will be moving to in Palmdale, which is also a desert wilderness, there is beauty. As I drove back and forth between the valleys below, I was in awe of the allure of Vasquez Rocks! I can imagine what physical heaven will be like as I think of all the best of this earth and then add all that the Bible reveals of what it will be like. We can dream about its lush green landscape, the sounds of birds chirping, the sense of serenity, maybe a peaceful breeze, all the things we enjoy plus the tree of life, the river of life and most magnificent—Jesus Christ the Son who will replace the sun and shine light and warmth continuedly. When I look around here I see glimpses of heaven. Yet, what makes heaven the more glorious will be being in the presence of Jesus and seeing him as he truly is and ourselves are we really are. We get a glimpse of this element of heaven, not based on our surroundings, but on yielding our lives to Christ rule and worshiping at his feet.
In this sense, heaven is not far. Not only do we have direct access to God the Father through the ultimate high priest Christ; furthermore, His Spirit dwells in us and through fellowship with each other, we get a glimpse of heaven! One of the most uplifting things for us as Christian should be to be surrounded by Spirit-filled Christians and become one together to extol our Savior. “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:2 We’ve been so blessed by being surrounded by our church family, not just one found in a building; but the bigger Church body. Everywhere we have gone people of different churches have come alongside us to help and encourage us! Even though we will dearly miss our local church family here in Merlin; we will still be all part of Christ’s global church body and one day forever be together in heaven. We’d really like to come back to visit Oregon too!
Nothing is so sobering in life than to be so close to death or watch a loved one die before your eyes! By God’s grace, Josh was a Christ-follower and thus, in now with Jesus in paradise! Therefore, I’m sure we will be reunited in the Father’s heavenly dwelling, as brother and sister, to ultimately praise God for his great faithfulness and love! Josh likely see’s clearer into the Lord’s sovereign and good purposes and his grand scheme in its pure beauty. Maybe he is an excited spectator along with the heavenly host cheering us on and awaiting God’s plans to unfold and be completed—glorifying God and praying, “God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13;20-21
Praise & Prayer Report:
Praise God that he is always good and ever-present in unsteady times! We thank the Lord for his many answers to prayers provisions! Our sleep has improved drastically since we got back from LA. I’m learning a new normal and doing things like making myself tea in the mornings, which is something Josh always did! Also, Merlin Church has been helping to support us while we are here and is planning on covering the costs of the move! Not just that– I was already able to sell all the furniture that needed to go, except our refrigerator and washer/dryer!
(1) Our family, especially Noah and Nathan as they continue to grieve and we transition to LA
(2) Our last days in Oregon to be fruitful and for the move in mid-August
(3) God’s continued peace, grace and strong arm of protection around us
(4) Merlin Church and their search for a new senior pastor