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Audience of One

I was at a writers' conference last weekend. What an incredible experience! You might be thinking B O R I N G, in fact I know you are! But I had a fantastic time networking with other writers, bloggers, authors, editors, publishers, and agents. Not to mention, some inspiring speakers.

My brain is on overload from all I learned and want to share with you. Every message I heard impacted me in some way. I decided I would focus on one of the keynote speakers whose message resonated with me. Especially this week…

His name is Don Piper; he wrote the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. I hadn’t been interested in picking up that book before. I thought it was another fluffy experience about going to the light and what his perspective of Heaven was. After his message, I not only bought the book, I had him autograph it. He is an amazing man who has overcome so much, both physically and emotionally. I highly recommend looking up his talk on YouTube and reading his book.

There are so many pieces to his story, but I am going to focus on what hit me. Hard. He spoke of the beauty when approaching the gates of heaven. He spoke of the angels and the feeling of perfect peace and love he experienced.

He shared that there was a group of people welcoming him and he knew them all. There were family and friends. All those he loved that had gone before him. All the people who had been a part of his spiritual journey here on earth. My mind whirled with, "Who would I see when I am the one walking to the gate?" He turned that around quickly though, and challenged us with this question, "Who do YOU want to welcome into the gates of Heaven?"

Pretty powerful words, aren't they? I have always known I will see the ones I love that have died. I have imagined what it will be like to see my little brother, my grand baby that I did not get to hold, and the many other family members I love and miss. Who else will be waiting for me? Sunday school teachers, different ministers and speakers, like I heard this weekend. The name of my third grade Sunday school teacher came to mind. When I try to wrap my head around all of those that were part of my spiritual walk in this life, I could not even begin to name them all! It brought that song to mind, “Thank you for Giving to the Lord” by Ray Boltz.

We were challenged at the closing keynote, as writers, to keep passing on the message of God's love and redemption. You never know who you are going to impact. It got me thinking, "Isn't that so true?" It doesn't apply only to writing. I think there are many divine appointments we have all had, that we are not even aware of. We have no idea the impact we might have made on someone. How it may have affected someone else’s relationship with Jesus. We need to be aware and make sure they are not missed. After all, that is why we are here in the first place.

If God gives you something to talk about, I suggest you follow His instructions. Sharing my painful secret was not anything I ever planned on doing, but I did. The doors that have opened since I started talking are opening wider and wider each day. I continue to be amazed by the people He connects me to. Many, many divine appointments! I described it recently as a big puzzle and he keeps putting the pieces in place. I think when the puzzle is done someday I will be called home. That is when I will get to be a heavenly greeter.

It also made me realize (again,) it’s not about me. In the beginning of my recovery it WAS about me, absolutely. I needed to be saved before I could save anyone else. As a Christian, I am often in the thought process of trying to be the best example of Jesus I can be. Then it hit me, it’s not about getting me there, I know I am saved. It’s about getting others there! I want to greet a lot of people at the gate!

I believe Don’s message was timely for me. My faith has always brought me peace and comfort when I think of those I love that have died. It still hurts though. This weekend will be the 22nd anniversary of my little brother's death. It's hard to beliegve that it’s been 22 years! In my mind, he will always be a tall, handsome 24-year-old with a mullet.

I will never quit missing him, but when I think of the joy that is described to us about eternal life, I am happy for him. I am sad for the sister-in-law I never got to do life with and those nieces and nephews that would have been a joy in our lives. Who am I kidding??? He would probably still be a bachelor with lots of toys!

I do know that he does not have any regrets that he didn't get to do any of those things. Any pain or regret is reserved for us left here for a while longer. October 8 is a day we will never forget and our entire family misses him terribly. We try hard to remember there is a party in Heaven again, celebrating his heavenly birthday.

It also make me wonder, “Who was there to greet Steve?”

When Steve was killed, our children were little and Craig and I were at a loss as to how to share with them what happened. We honestly just could not handle it emotionally and they were upset enough as it was. Our minister came over just to talk to them (bless you Pastor Jim!). He told them, "We all have a special room in Heaven that Jesus was getting ready for us. When it’s ready, he turns the light on and you can go in. So today was the day that Steve’s light came on."

I love that and think of that every time I hear someone has passed away.

His light was on and the greeters were at the door. I love that.

The parting words at the conclusion of the conference were this: write for an audience of one.

So whatever you speak, write, or sing, if you are doing it for Him, the greatest author of all, the words will end up in the presence of whomever needs to hear them. Then, get ready to join the welcoming committee.

Peace for your weekend,


I dreamed I went to heaven And you were there with me; We walked upon the streets of gold Beside the crystal sea. We heard the angels singing Then someone called your name. We turned and saw a young man running And he was smiling as he came.

And he said, "Friend you may not know me now." And then he said, "But wait, You used to teach my Sunday School When I was only eight. And every week you would say a prayer Before the class would start. And one day when you said that prayer, I asked Jesus in my heart."

Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave.

Then another man stood before you And said, "Remember the time A missionary came to your church And his pictures made you cry. You didn't have much money, But you gave it anyway. Jesus took the gift you gave And that's why I'm here today."

Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave.

One by one they came Far as the eye could see. Each life somehow touched By your generosity. Little things that you had done, Sacrifices made, Unnoticed on the earth In heaven, now proclaimed.

And I know up in heaven You're not supposed to cry But I am almost sure There were tears in your eyes. As Jesus took your hand And you stood before the Lord. He said, "My child, look around you. Great is your reward."

Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave.

Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave.

-Ray Boltz


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