Friday, May 8, 2009

A Peek Into Heaven

What I'm about to say is just an idea...I'm not saying this is fact because who really knows, but if heaven is truly how the bible describes then it helps me to live as a pilgrim in this world and let go of little things that really, in the scheme of eternity are not important (like painting my trailer before we move in). A dear woman in our church named Gloria Edwards went to heaven this past Saturday. This is the fact part. She was battling cancer and knew in the past month that her fight would soon be ending. Billy visited with her a few weeks ago. It seems the visit was encouraging for both of them. I just couldn't go. I kind of reasoned in my head that Billy was going for both of us. I wanted to say goodbye but just didn't want anything to do with death. Kind of ironic isn't it, because I wish deperately I could've said goodbye to Alaina. Anyway, Billy asked her questions like "Do you have any regrets looking back on your life? Are you scared?" etc. Then he asked her to do something....

"Could you find Alaina, this is what she looks like :) and hug her for me?" Gloria's response: "Nothing would thrill me more! He told Gloria about things that were special "Daddy things."

Gloria- "I'm going to find that little girl and we are going to have tea parties together!" She never met Alaina this side of heaven.

Again, I don't know if this is what it's like and it may sound corny to you, but I can dream, right? This is just not really something most people sit around and think about...unless you're longing for the place more everyday. I know it's wonderful.... and Billy and I said we wish we could "peek in" to see what she's see the brokeness of this fallen world made perfect and "right" again. Can she really be dancing with the King?

It's a beautiful thought isn't it...and to think it's even better than I imagine, now THAT gives me hope.

I had decided to go to Gloria's funeral but changed my mind at the last minute. I was in a "funk" that day...went to the strawberry patch with Elley and didn't want to make small talk with any of the other moms...didn't really want to talk to or even smile at anyone and I didn't care if I just stood there by myself. On the way home, I knew, I'm NOT going to a funeral today. Not today. I just can't. It's too familiar. It's OK not to go. Billy did go and he cried the whole time. It was REALLY hard. I don't have to tell you all the reasons why. You can imagine.

We've had some really great conversations about the purpose of life. It's a constant struggle thinking "Our life is just not going to be as good now that Alaina is gone." I mean, our life can still be good but not AS good. But I think this is a worldly way of thinking. If the purpose of life is to glorify God by knowing him and enjoying him forever, then he is fulfilling his GOOD purpose and plan for our lives. I can truly believe the verse that says "ALL things work togehter for the good of those who love him." I don't have to believe that all things are good, but he works it out FOR our good. There's a difference. Make sense? If life is about becoming like him, then He's using this in our life in a way we never imagined. Now yes, he could use anything to make us like Jesus, but it seems that he often uses the really painful, the heartbreaking, to accomplish his plan. It's a mystery that I don't understand and don't like but one that I will accept. I know I've said that before but it's something I preach to myself. And that's nothing of me, it's all a work of his grace. If it were up to me I think I would dwell in a state of hopelessness a lot of the time.

But I hope in his word- John 17:3 "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

1 Thessalonians4:13-18

"Brothers, we do not want to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."

One of my favorite worship songs, we sang it at Alaina's funeral. "There is a day, that all creations waiting for, a day of freedom and liberation from the earth. And on that day He will come to meet his bride, for we will see him and in an instant we'll be changed....We will meet him in the air, and we will be like him for we will see him as he is, oh yeah...then all hurt and pain will cease and we'll be with him forever and in his presence we will live, oh yeah, oh yeah!"

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Shea said...

Oh, sweet Hope. You have such a way of looking at things. I admire your strength, your times of weakness and your faithful wisdom. I admire your determination to live but would imagine that your perception of death has changed so much since last July. Elizabeth Edwards was on Oprah yesterday and she said something that made me think of you. Oprah asked if she was afraid of dying and she said that ones view of death changes drastically when they've buried a child in the ground.

I am in awe of your determination to make each day count now for you, Billy, Elley, Holden and Mary Helen. You have so much life left in you. You have so many hearts left to touch. Thank you for always sharing your heart with us. I'm drawn closer to God each time I read your sweet words. ALWAYS praying for you. Love, Shea

On a lighter note. YOU MUST share pictures of your trailer. I gotta see!

Amy said...

Hope I loved this post!!! It made me laugh and cry all at the same time. When you talked about Alaina dancing I immediately thought of her little red slippers that you talked about at Christmas. And then to hear Billy's request of Gloria - I could almost see his face as he ask. Oh my heart hurts for you as it is fresh and raw again in a very different way but still the same.
JK came to see us last week and we were talking about some things we are struggling with and I said "I know that all the struggles are designed to make me more like Jesus" His response was life giving to me and I want to share it. He of course agreed that they do serve that purpose but he said "over the last 2 years i have learned that the ultimate purpose of those struggles and our life is not so much to be like Jesus but to BE WITH Jesus - here and now. What He wants is to be with us - in an intimate loving relationship. The fruit of that is the conformation and the becoming like Jesus. But first and foremost He just wants us!!!" Hearing that just made me want more of Him!!!!
Last night I was reading the story in the garden and the point in which God walked with Adam and Eve - their evening stroll :)- Can you see Alaina taking her DADDY's hand and enjoying the most beautiful stroll ever in her pretty red shoes. This really is a beautiful post - I just love it!!! So sorry my comment is soo long but I got swept up in the moment!!!

Anonymous said...

hope, ilove checking in with you each night when everything is quiet in my house. i'm still praying. this post reminded me to tell you that if you haven't read The Shack you really should. It's a beautiful picture of the Trinity brought down on our level. And it gives us a peek into heaven.
I hope you have a sweet mother's day, sweet hope.
Remember I love you and Jesus does too.
Love Mrs. Cowan

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

i love this "peek into heaven", hope, and love amy's comments too. i, too, want to live like a pilgrim in this world. honestly, i often dont. still, when i read about yours and billy's desire to be with her, i can't breath. is that normal? i do feel that though i was shaken by the sadness of you loosing alaina when i went to her funeral, i was also brought closer to jesus' side that day. i felt a longing for heaven that i have never felt before and wanted to shout "jesus, come quickly!" if only we could see a glimpse of heaven, the true reality, how different we would be! how much would we love god and others?! i love that billy shared with gloria and am glad that she got to know alaina through his stories. as much as billy loved her and longs to love on her, we know that her heavenly father is loving all over her now, with a relationship that is true and pure and full of fun and joy! perhaps a little girl's beautiful relationship with her daddy on earth is a picture of what is to come for us in heaven. i hope so. thank you for encouraging me yet again. i continue to pray for you, especially the words of songs i love. i prayed "make something beautiful" for you yesterday by laura story. your life is a beautiful story that points us all to him!

Lindsey said...

hope, i love to read the things you write. i get really sad and cry but then i am filled with hope and encouragement because you remind me of WHO GOD IS. i'm glad that gloria and alaina are having tea parties together. love you and continue to think about you and pray for you.
***saw you won darby's contest. you know girls love to mimic a good breastfeeding session. congrats!

Katie said...

hi hope, i am an old friend of billy's from back in the day when he was at troy and i was a middle schooler that he discipled at disciple now, troy, alabama. my dad is the chancellor of troy university and billy has always held a special place in my family's heart.

i spent an hour the other night when my husband and 1 year old were asleep reading back through your blog and to say that i was heartbroken for you is inaccurate. the storm you have weathered this past year is gut wrenching, but through it all you and your husband have kept your eye on our Father and held tight to His promises. you are to be admired and in my prayers you are constantly now that i know your story.

your alaina is a beautiful girl. and if her heavenly beauty is ANYTHING what it was here on earth, then she is one supermodel up there! she has a precious light about her and you can tell from the photos that she knew she was a loved little girl.

god bless you all and please tell billy katie (hawkins) beall from troy said hi. we live in hawaii now and life is good. i have often wondered what happened to good ole billy and i am thrilled to see he landed him a great wife with amazing kids.

in Him,

Anonymous said...

Dear Hope, I'm sure that Alaina is having sweet and fun tea parties with Gloria. But, in my way of thinking, I'm sure she's been having them all along with the other mothers, daddys, grandmothers and little girls there. The way I envision heaven is that we will all be the true family that God has always intended. Within the realm of the pure and perfect love of our Father and Savior, there will be no strangers. Only all of us together glorifying God and feeling this pure love for Him and each other. I can't wait to experience this myself and sit down with Alaina at one of her tea parties!

April Brown said...

My emotions are so raw after reading your post. My heart can't really grasp the realness of Gloria and Billy's conversation...she is in heaven with your Alaina. At the thought of Gloria being able to tell Alaina of your love for her makes my heart break with grief and leap with joy all at the same time.

I've been praying for you this week with Mother's Day coming up. I'll be praying for you tomorrow, too!


Jawan said...


I know you get lots of people who share their stories and recommend readings, so I'll keep this brief. Abraham and Molly Piper (John Piper's son) lost their little girl last year, too. Molly has written a beautiful post on her blog today that I thought you would find encouraging. Here's the link:

Mitch and I think of you often.

JJMERKEL said...

Hope, I just want to say that I think that is a beautiful story about Billy and Gloria. I am imagining them having a tea party together.

I will be thinking and saying a prayer for you tomorrow. Happy Mothers day my friend.

Shane, LaJuan, Jocelyn and Gabrielle said...

You encourage me so much, Hope...seriously, thank you for opening up your heart....all of it...for us to see. I know we don't talk...really ever...but I think about you guys so much and pray for ya'll. The Lord has used and continues to use your journey through this 'dark valley' to encourage me, to stretch my faith, to point me to the ONLY ONE who can truly give us hope...we love you guys

Shea said...

Happy Mothers Day to you today, Hope. You are on my mind today, as always, and in my prayers. Much love.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I don't know ya'll, I ran across your blog from a friend of mine's. But Hope, I have sat here tonight reading page after page of your posts crying my eyes out. I feel like I know your family! You are an amazing mother and an amazing Christian. Your life is a testimony to everyone around you. I'm in love with your sweet family just from reading this. I know that's so stalkerish, but just thought I'd say I'm praying for ya'll!

Anonymous said...

Dear Hope,

Although I don't know you personally, I regularly read your blog. I used to feel like a "stalker", but no longer. It's so clear that God is using you to reach so many people, that I know longer feel strange about it. I'm so thankful for your openness and honesty. Through your words, I can see a glimpse of heaven in a new way. I can feel wrapped in the arms of my saviour on days when I've fallen. I can feel empathy and concern for a sister in Christ (you) as I read your heart-wrenching words. Like others have said, I sometimes feel as if I've been punched in the stomach as I feel only a tiny fraction of your grief. I cannot imagine how much more painful it is for you. There are no Hallmark words that can make it better. All I can say is that I'm praying for you. I'm praying that God will meet you today where you are.

Thank you, Hope. I have learned so much from you. As a mother, I no longer sweat the small stuff. I have learned to let go of trivial things. I think of you often and pray for your family. I've become more trusting in my Savior and I am striving to view things more from an eternal perspective than a wordly one.

I'm sorry to be so wordy. I mainly just wanted you to know that I hope you continue to share so openly. You are helping so many others. I also wanted you to know that I often lift you up in prayer.

And last, but not least, thank you for sharing Alaina with us. I love to see the pictures of her chocolate covered face. I love to see her squealing in delight. What a fun, fun-loving, beautiful child! I feel like I knew her. And if I make it to heaven before you, I will give her a huge hug for you.

Misty said...

Hi. I was directed to your blog by Katie Beall, she went to high school with my husband. I too have lost a child and wanted to express my thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Someone shared the following poem with me after the death of my daughter and I found it touching and helpful. I wanted to take a moment to share it with you.

A Mother
I thought of you and closed my eyes
and prayed to God today. I asked what makes a Mother and I know I heard God say
A mother has a baby, this we know is true but God can you be a Mother when your baby is not with you?

Yes you can, he replied with confidence in his voice.
I give many women babies, when the leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime and others for the day, And some I send to feel your womb but there's no need to stay.

I just don't understand this God, I want my baby here.
He took a deep breath and cleared his throat and then I saw a tear.
I wish I could show you what your child is doing today. If you could see your child smile with other
children and say....

"We go to Earth to learn our leassons of love,and life and fear.
My Mommy loved me oh so much
I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have Mom who had so much love for me,
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My Mommy set me free. I miss my Mommy oh so much, but I visit her each day when she goes to sleep, on her pillow's where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, and whisper in her ear. Mommy don't be sad today I'm your baby and I'm here.

So you see my dear sweet one, your child is okay. Your baby is here in my home and this is where they'll stay.
they'll wait for you with me until your lesson's through.
And on that day that you come home she'll be at the gates for you.

So now you see what makes a Mother.
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of right from the very start.
Though some of earth may not realize until their time is done.
Remember all the love you have and know that you are a special Mom!

I do not know who wrote it, but I keep it hangning near my desk to remind me every day how lucky I as to have had the 10 months I had with my Princess Angel Butterfly!!

Anonymous said...

Hope, My name is Zeda Graham Roberts from Gilbertown, Al. We have never met, but my husband(Jerry) and I know your father(he is a wonderful person). I have followed you blog ever since you lost you precious daughter. Your posts are so very uplifting to me. I know that you are hurting so bad but you are so strong in your faith. Your post " A Peek Into Heaven" made me think about a book I read "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young. This father did have a peek into Heaven. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your precious family daily. Your family is beautiful.

Good luck on your new home in the country. It looks so beautiful and peaceful.

Love, Zeda G. Roberts

nan said...

Wow-- I love the thoughts and have been thinking of yall a lot love you and cant wait to catch up. I too want to see the,

Anonymous said...

hope, i'm checking in on you guys. just wanted you to know that i am still praying for comfort for you, for strength and for peace. Believe that God can provide. He is Able, He is enough, His love is sufficient. He wants you to be happy. I pray you will have a beautiful week in His presence. Remember Jesus loves you and I do too.
Mrs. Cowan

Aimee said...


I am thinking of you today and I am picturing our girls sitting on Jesus' lap together. Oh, how happy they are.

Love you.

Anonymous said...

Hope, sorry I haven't checked in with you lately, but we are on vacation and i haven't had internet service. The first thing I did as soon as I got it was to log in to "check" on you. I want you to know that you have been in my prayers even if I didn't write you a note. You are often on my mind and always in my prayers Hope. I pray tonight for you to have rest and peace in your Heavenly Father, but also for you to have fun and laughter with your earthly family. Remember Jesus loves you and I do too.
MRs. Cowan

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

i was reading a fiction novel and again my thoughts turned to you. i stopped and prayed for your comfort, joy, and peace. and that God would give you a "peek" of his immense love for you, and for alaina too. here's the quote i read (the author lost her sweet son): "i fancy my ardent, eager little boy as having some such employments in his new and happy home as he had here. I see him loving Him who took children in His arms and blessed them with all the warmth of which his nature is capable, and as perhaps employed as one of those messengers whom God sends forth as His ministers. For I cannot think of those active feet, those busy hands as always quiet. Ah, my darling, that I could look upon you for a moment, a single moment, and catch one of your radiant smiles, just one!" oh, that God would give you a peek of heaven! i suppose we could no longer stand being here if given even a peek! i can't imagine how much you miss alaina, but i do continue to pray for you. only the amazing love that would compel God to send His Son to the cross for you could possibly sustain you through such loss! and so i will keep praying! i hope He meets you where you are right now!
love ya!

Anonymous said...

here's hoping you have a giggle today.
jesus loves you and I do too.
mrs. cowan

Darby said...

Hey Hope!
I hope you and your family enjoyed a nice long weekend. A few weeks ago you entered a contest on my blog... about the girls sitting by the rug and you WON. I haven't heard from you... so I thought I'd drop you a note to see if you were still interested in the coffee mugs! Email me if you get a chance...

John Hunt said...

Thanks so much, Hope. What a reminder of REAL life and REAL hope. We appreciate you sharing your heart.

Anonymous said...

i pray you have a good weekend. God is able to deliver you and comfort you. Lean on him.
I love you and Jesus does too.
Mrs. Cowan

Kristin said...

Hope... I've been absent from blogland, but you and yours have not been absent from my thoughts. We've been lifting you up. I'm caught up now... so much is going on in your world! Yay for the country!! :)

We love y'all. Continuing to pray. This picture of Alaina still takes my breath away. So, so beautiful.

Becky said...

Dear Billy & Hope,
Y'all have been on my mind alot lately. I will be praying for you in the days ahead.
With much love,

Anonymous said...

hope, wasn't today just beautiful? just had to check in and tell you that as I praise Him and thank Him for the beauty of His world tonight, I will not forget to ask His blessings on your sweet family. How's the double-wide going?
I love you and Jesus does too.
Mrs. Cowan

Amy said...

hope I had you on my mind tonight. Still praying for you!!!!

Anonymous said...

just letting you know that i found myself praying for you today.
don't know if you needed it or i did, but i sent one up for you.
remember that i love you and jesus does too.
have a wonderful weekend.
mrs. cowan