When I was about four, my grandmother took me to church with her. I remember walking up to the building as everyone entered. You had to park on the lot below the church. On the outside, it seemed enormous. The doors were so big, and wide I hadn’t ever seen a house with doors that big anywhere else. It was modern in a 1960s sheek way. The roofline was slanted. There was a big round window. It didn’t look like what my imagination conjured up as a church. It was not the typical white building with a cross on top. And it was missing a big ol’ church bell.
I remember feeling like I didn’t belong because everyone seemed to know everyone there. I could hear their hellos and see their head nods at one another. But my grandmother had taken my hand in hers, and I felt safe. As people entered, they dipped their hands in little dishes of water and dabbed it on themselves. In front of us, there were more big doors. As we entered those doors, I stared at all the shiny, caramel pews. Off to the side I noticed another room. It had a big window. It seemed to house all the mothers, children and babies.
“Why do they have a separate room for the children?” I asked her. I was worried that I would have to go stand in that room.
“They have the babies in there if they cry, so they don’t disrupt mass.” She answered me.
We walked in, and everyone started kneeling before they entered the pews. They made gestures with their hands over their faces and chest, and then they proceeded to sit down. My grandparents did this every night when they said grace at the dinner table. I remember thinking, do I do this, too? Do I have to know how to do this to sit down? Will everyone know I don’t belong?
I knelt, but didn’t make the hand gestures. Then followed my grandmother into the pews. I wasn’t sure about this place. It was too quiet. A little too shiny. And why was the place where God stood so far up at the front?
But then, I looked up.
On the wall was a cross. Hanging from it was a man.
I should have been scared because the man looked sad and hurt. His head hung down at his chest. But I knew this man. Everything about him felt familiar. I knew the energy of this man. This man felt like God. The God that didn’t stand way out in front of everyone, but right next to them. And up really close. The God that whispered and whirled behind the spirits that spoke to me. This man felt like home. I immediately liked him.
I started to worry about him. I didn’t want him to hurt. I didn’t like the way his head hung down on his chest.
While I was thinking this, right before my eyes he looked up. He came to life! He looked up at me. He smiled, and winked. I smiled back. My four-year-old brain did not doubt for one minute that this man had somehow come to life, smiled, and winked at me. His smile and playfulness let me know I was right where I was supposed to be, and he was just fine. I immediately settled into the pew. I was no longer worried or scared.
After the service, which included a lot of kneeling, peace be with yous, and more kneeling and chants that I didn’t know the words to, I asked my grandmother about the man on the wall. She said, “Oh, that’s Jesus.”
“Oh,” I said. I knew a little about Jesus. I knew that he was God’s son. My mom read stories from the Children’s Bible to me before bed sometimes. My four-year-old heart burst with pride that day. Jesus was my friend, and he liked me. Church felt like a place where I could find Jesus and we could be friends.
Then, as time went on, that memory became something I convinced myself I imagined. Jesus doesn’t talk to four-year-old girls. Jesus doesn’t smile in church, and he most certainly would never wink! Oh, the blasphemy!
So, I laughed at myself for imagining such a thing.
And as time passed, I started wondering what was wrong with me. Why did I hear voices? Why did I see things, people that other people didn’t see? Why did I know when someone was sick? Why did I know when someone was going to die? How was it possible that I saw ghosts everywhere? How was it possible they could talk to me? Why did all this happen, and why had God made me so broken? Certainly, Jesus couldn’t like me very much. Certainly, I wasn’t the type of girl who would get into heaven.
I spent years in self-doubt. I spent years denying what I felt, what I saw. I spent years in hiding.
And then something miraculous happened. A nine-year-old little spirit boy, named Matthew, whose name just happens to mean gift from God, started visiting me. He would wave and smile. He would run around my son as he played. He would pop-up out of the clear blue in the front seat of my car and say, “Hi.” And he would give me the same dream, over and over, for weeks. Waking me up and then waving and smiling at me. He never let up. Until one day he said, “I need you to talk to my mom.” And finally, I caved. I couldn’t say no to his nine-year-old face. Seeing Matthew had made me feel like maybe Jesus does smile and wink. Maybe, I wasn’t crazy after all.
So I found a way to talk to his parents.
It wasn’t easy. It took a long time for me to believe what I was seeing was real. It took decades. And in that session, with Matthew’s parents, it took minutes that felt like hours to settle and just start sharing what a little spirit boy wanted me to share.
Even after that meeting, I was afraid.
What happened couldn’t have been real. This doesn’t happen to regular people. This isn’t something I can talk about. This will ruin the reputation I have built for myself. This will ruin my family. I need to stay quiet, the voice in my brain would admonish me. And even though I helped, Matthew was still in heaven. Why do little boys have to die?
So, I trapped my feelings, my gift, deep down inside myself. But Matthew kept showing up. He didn’t care that I wanted to hide. He wanted to talk to his family. He said he was alive, healthy and happy. Finally, one day he said, “This is what you are meant to do. You can’t change it. You need to tell people.”
And I listened. I knew it would change everything. Even though I still wanted to play small, I knew this was how I was made. I knew deep down I wasn’t broken. Instead, I had been fearfully and wonderfully made, exactly this way, on and with purpose.
So, I told people. I still didn’t tell everyone. I still made excuses. I still do sometimes.
But mostly I tell everyone now. Mostly, I embrace who I am and how I work. And most importantly, now I know that Jesus smiles in church. Jesus shows up and smiles at four-year-old girls so they will feel like they belong. Jesus winks and smiles to validate that deep down, we do know what God feels like. Jesus shows up for everyone. We don’t always see him because we are too busy dismissing him. We are too quick to say that it isn’t real. That can’t be true. But he shows up anyway.
It’s true. That’s why I am sharing all this. It’s true and real and possible. There is a heaven. Our souls live on. Our loved ones, and ghosts in general, they want us to know they are cheering us on, loving us, and waiting to reunite with us. They want us to know they are alive, healthy, and happy.
So, I know you may not believe me. I know that this might make some people think I am crazy, but I don’t care. Jesus likes me. Jesus thinks I belong here, and he is glad that I am sharing what I know with you because frankly, he likes you, too.
So what is heaven like, really? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions…
What is available to us in heaven?
Heaven is filled with possibilities. If we live our lives well, and by that, I mean to treat ourselves and others to the best of our ability, then we have lots of options for what happens in heaven. I like to call it a menu of services because souls show me that they have options and choices based on what they accrued during their human lifetime. One soul literally showed me a menu and that they were choosing items off it. Hence, menu of services. Why not take them literally? Maybe it’s really like that.
I know I am going to open a can of worms here, but we can’t buy this menu of services. Not with money. Not with tithing. Nope.
We can only achieve choices for a wonderful heavenly life through action. Love is action and so we must be active in being kind, helpful, respectful, and living the life we are meant to live. So some of you out there angry and spewing hate in 2020, well you need to shape up! Period. Or no soup for you!
What do I mean when I am talking about accruing things off the menu of services? When I talk about accrual, I am talking about how we earn additional heavenly privileges by being the best version of ourselves. First, and foremost, we need to treat others as we would want to be treated. That is truly the golden rule and incredibly important. Also, we need to say yes to our passions. When we say yes to our passions and our hearts, we find our purpose. And if we live out our purpose and we do it while being good to ourselves and others, then we accrue these heavenly options.
When we help others in need, we accrue. When we use our manners, we accrue. When we are faithful, we accrue. Not blind faith where we leave others out and cast damnation and judgement. The kind of faith where we love God and the earth and all of the creatures we inhabit this space with. When we do all this we accrue. When we keep boundaries that protect ourselves from harm, we accrue.
So what can you do with the “points” you accrue? You get to order up choices and amenities off the menu of services. Seriously, it is like you get Motel 6 accommodations versus Ritz accommodations. Want to be a size six? No problem. Want to be a blonde? No problem. Were you happiest at 26? Then bam…you are forever 26. Want to travel the world? Done. Want to live your next life without as much pain? Check. What to choose the way your heaven looks? Check. You can live in a house or spend your days in a forest. You can visit any place in the world or never leave your old town. Want to meet up with your entire family and all live together in heaven? Done. Want to work in the nursery and cuddle babies in heaven? Sure thing. It is all up to you and what your soul most desires.
When we get to heaven, where do we live?
In heaven, technically you live there. However, say that you pass away before your spouse, and you really want to stay close to your spouse on earth. You were married for forty-five years, after all. So you can still live in your old house. Now, that doesn’t mean a soul is stuck or unhappy or not in heaven. Heaven surrounds and encapsulates the same space earth exists in, so a soul can be here and in heaven at the same time. Or you can recreate the place where you are happiest in heaven and live there. Or maybe you want to live outdoors. Or maybe you are happy being a soul and a soul lives in the universe, not in a traditional house. So you just exist. There are so many options. You can even live in a different time. Souls can walk down memory lane literally and live and exist in a different time period. Souls in heaven can truly relive happy memories from their past lives.
What do souls do in heaven?
There are plenty of possible answers to this question. Each soul is unique. Each life is unique. Both of these things determine what a soul might do to entertain themselves in heaven.
Some treat heaven like retirement and finally rest and recover from the busy life or handwork that they endured on earth. They take trips. They visit places they always wanted to see. They sit by the ocean or lounge in their backyards on their favorite lawn chair. Others need to keep busy. For these souls, there is an endless amount of things to do in heaven.
There are jobs in heaven. Souls can work in nurseries where baby souls are created and nursed until they are delivered to a womb. There are spirit guides who watch over humans on earth and try to keep those humans on the right track. We do have free will as humans, and we can take a million different paths in life. Still, there are specific experiences our souls are supposed to have in a lifetime. So there are souls in heaven, guides if you will, that try and help lead us to those experiences in the least painful possible ways.
Some souls help new souls transition into their new life in heaven. Some are warriors who help in battles here on earth. Others are peacekeepers and send peace and tranquil energy down to earth. Some work with souls in heaven as counselors and run the heavenly twelve-step atonement program. Others work to become angels. Some just like to be and are involved in what is going on with their families here on earth.
One of the favorite things that I love to see is when souls show me how prayers reach heaven. It is literally like mail coming in through a post office. They catch the prayers you send. Then they answer them or they split them with other heavenly loved ones and they get to work seeing what they can do to help answer your prayers. Or not answer them; because maybe what is best for everyone. Either way, they get working to take care of those prayers. Of course, God has the final say in all things, but your heavenly loved ones can advocate on your behalf. It truly is a group effort.
To be continued…