Previews of Heaven

We’re talking about moving . . . Almost eighteen years we’ve lived in this place. It was a miracle when we came here. We’d been stuffed into a tiny little house that was overflowing with children and business. God put us on this perfect piece of property with a warehouse-type structure already attached to the house. We just had to finish it. (The original owners had started adding that part of the building — as a good project to do with their boys — at the same time we had started our business fifty miles away.) God provided the means to rent and then buy this home that’s seen so much of our family’s history.

The place is filled with memories.

We’re talking about moving because we’ve driven an hour each way to church for the past eighteen years (I know — it sounds crazy — but it’s worth it), and this would cut the commute down to ten minutes.

We’re talking about moving because we’d be on my daddy’s property, and we’d be helping our son and his family before the tables turn and they help us finish out the rest of our lives.

We’re talking about moving, and I know it’s a good idea . . . but I’m already dreading the possibility of driving down our long gravel driveway one last time.

It may sound silly, but one of the things I’m most sad about leaving behind, if we move, is a bunch of plants. We’ve planted a lot of stuff on these seven acres, and the property feels like a scrapbook full of memories.

  • The pink dogwood that the kids gave me for Mother’s Day several years ago
  • The black walnut tree that Daniel started from the huge old tree up the road — the road we always took evening walks on with the family
  • The dense stand of crocosmia that made it into so many farmer’s market bouquets — those buckets of flowers that required unearthly wake-up times on summer Saturdays, but gave me lots of time with my hard-working kids.
  • The daffodils that I wait for each spring – ones that Joseph and John planted all along the driveway and more that Joseph dug from the pastures to plant under the flowering cherries and birches in our little grove.
  • Joseph’s pie cherry tree with fruit that glows like jewels when the early summer sun shines through them. Joseph earned that tree after finishing a special project out of Plants Grown Up. Now he is a plant grown up.
  • Bethany’s almond tree with an assortment of special farm animals buried around it.
  • The willows along the creek, planted by our eldest, the boy who was patient enough and selfless enough to plant trees for the next generation of children to enjoy.
  • The purple-flowered tree, so sweetly given to me by a friend because she knew it would bloom every fall, right at the time of year when both my parents died within ten days of each other.
  • And . . . the Cecil Brunner rose bush. I can see it in all its glory as I sit here and write. We planted it in the little courtyard between the house and the office, and now it fills my view out the kitchen window with its fragrant pale pink buds. It’s always looked like a place where all the little creatures in Brambly Hedge (one of favorite read alouds to calm children during middle-of-the-night asthma attacks) should have their weddings and picnics — tiny little buds unfolding into full-petaled blossoms.

Those little buds have decorated many years of June birthday cakes (they’re early this year). They were gathered for tiny bouquets and stuffed into little nosegays that the girls sold at the local farmer’s market. They formed the backdrop for a dress-up birthday tea with Johanna and her friends. That must have been at least a dozen years ago. Those girls have all grown up. One of them is my daughter-in-law now.

There was the year that John’s oldest sister took our clippers to it. We were sure she’d killed my favorite rose bush. I thought of that bush many times as I made the choice to discipline my children when I would have preferred to just overlook something to keep the “peace”. That pruning was just what our rose bush had needed, and it came back with a glorious showing in the spring.

We watched the rose bush out the window as Johanna’s wedding day approached. Would any blossoms survive until the day? She wanted them in her hair and in her bouquet. We found some that were similar at a farmer’s market, but they weren’t the same. Then her great-aunt, 125 miles away, showed up on the wedding day with two or three last blooms from her bush to tuck into the bouquet.

All this sappy-sounding nostalgia of mine started last week when I took my oldest granddaughter out to show her the rose bush — because it was her mama’s favorite. I was delighted; she loved the roses almost as much as her mama does. She loved the clippers even more. We picked a bouquet, and then I turned the clippers over to her, trying to remain calm as the barely-four-year-old daughter of my daughter happily snipped away at buds without leaving any stems on them.

I thought about heaven and how God gives us little glimpses of it here on earth. So many memories. So many riches. I thought about how fast time passes and about how there will be no passing of time in eternity. I will one day walk away from this house, these flowers, this land, and know that it has never been my real home. That home is still waiting, and I will give Him thanks for His gracious previews.

 

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8 Comments

  1. Dear Pam, you are right to think of heaven, our permanent home. And on earth, God has determined the times and places where we will live (Acts 17:26). You can be sure that there will be blessing where He is taking you! “Jesus is no man’s debtor,” says Sinclair Ferguson, and in fifteen moves, I have found that to be completely, infallibly true. Now we are moving overseas to a place where we cannot even bring clippings of plants — all the more opportunity for Him to bless us where He places us, and to be Himself our Complete Satisfaction. Happy planting in your new home!

  2. When we moved from Virginia to Oregon last year, I left the house my parents bought when I was two, and that my husband and I had bought from them when we were newlyweds. We, too, had planted things, buried animals, brought home newborn babies, and hosted untold numbers of times of fellowship with family and friends. Driving away from that house was hard, but we knew we were following God’s direction as we headed west, and He has blessed us abundantly as we have obeyed Him! (Also, we’d love to have land out your way, so perhaps when your home is on the market, we could check it out!)

  3. What a beautiful post!
    I understand what you mean. I am originally from CT. We moved to KY for my husband’s job. We lived in a rental community, but it had the most beautiful flowers and plants and meticulous groundskeepers…better than anything I could have done.
    Then we moved from KY to WA 12 years ago. When we bought our current home, it was October, so little did I know the great big gnarled wisteria growing in our front yard would yield abundant beautiful purple flowers…my favorite color. It was such a wonderful surprise, and it gives me joy whenever I look at it because the Lord knew how much it would mean to me. Definitely a preview of heaven!
    He will have the same surprises waiting for you in your new home!

  4. Oh Pam, what a lovely post. I also have precious memories of a Cecil B rose my grandparents planted on their homestead 60+ years ago. It covered their shed wall, over ten foot high and probably 10 or 15 feet wide and so very, very thick. Many summers breathing in the heavy scent of the roses, bouquets and crowns from the roses Grandma would let us pick. When I was grown I asked my grandma to help me start cuttings from her rose bush which she did and I started at my parents but my parents ended up divorcing when I was just getting married. Things were ugly and stressful and I forgot about Grandma’s roses. Grandma Lettie kept a few of the cuttings for me though and she took them to my mom’s home when she could no longer live on her own. When I visited my mom last fall she presented me with a Cecil B from Grandma’s house that she had kept for me. It won’t live outside in Montana; it is simply too cold but it is blooming in my house and I just wrote a note to my mom and Grandma with all the memories that this lovely little rose brings. Thank you for sharing your memories too. God gives us such precious memories. When I think of heaven I think of all of those memories and precious family and friends and even special things like the flowers we loved here in our new home 🙂 Thank you for the reminder; we are just on a pilgrimage — such glorious things await!!!

  5. This touched my heart. My 31 year old daughter with special needs just went to her eternal home a month ago. As each new flower blooms this spring I see all the beauty in each petal and color and know that her eyes are seeing so much more beauty than I can ever imagine. This world is not our home. I can’t wait to be reunited with her and for the first time gaze my eyes on Jesus.

  6. I love hearing your stories! There’s something about flowers and memories that go together.
    Kristin, I’ll get your email address into a file and let you know when we really do this!
    Andrea, your story is amazing, and a good reminder that I need to get some cuttings going from our rose — one to take along, one for Johanna, and several for me to kill along the way, knowing my history of keeping things in pots alive. 🙁 Maybe we can do the same with some of the other plants as well.

  7. Well…you made me cry….so blessed to have shared many of those memories and flowers with you….your son and his wife have two pie cherry trees ready to plant at their house–did you know that!!! 😀

  8. Pam, When we moved from our home, the house that Grandpa Turner “built” it was a deeply emotional time for me. I was raised in that house and had raised my little family there too. Then one day I drove past it and saw it had been torn down and through my tears the Lord reminded me that the grass withers and the flowers fade but HIS word remains forever. The did not tear down the precious memories and joy we had there. And one of the great blessings was when we moved were contracted with the purchaser that we could take many of our special plans and flowers with us! So outside our family room window is my grandmother’s Chinese tree peony…such a blessing to see it producing even more blooms every year!
    May GOD comfort you as He moves you forward.
    I love you my dear friend.
    Teresa