Are There Bluebonnets in Heaven?

Bluebonnets

As I walked through the garden,

I felt the cool breeze sweep over me.

The many flowers were in full bloom;

The Indian blankets and white poppies dotted the hillside.

I strolled alongside a steady stream and listened.

I listened as the wood thrushes and mockingbirds

Performed their sweet melodious sonnets.

 

As I gazed across the bright blue sky,

And fixed my eyes on the distant trees,

I felt as if I were in a painting;

A magnificent work of art, inspired by God,

And placed on a canvas by a master painter.

I was in complete awe of the immense beauty.

Life sprang forth all around me.

 

As I continued my journey throughout this vast garden,

I heard someone singing a song with words I had heard before.

As I drew closer to the singer’s voice,

There sat my Granny, on a bench, singing “Precious Memories.”

A smile spread across my face,

As I remembered all those times spent with my Granny.

The crafts, the dominoes, and the stories filled these memories.

 

While she continued singing, another voice joined her.

She called for him and he came to sit right beside her with an arrowhead in his hands.

“Look what I found Granny Olene; it’s just for you.”

He turned and looked at me with a bright smile on his face.

It was my Dad, and he continued happily singing with my Granny.

The words to “Precious Memories” became even more significant to me.

Oh, how I will miss the laughs, football games, and late night movies with Dad.

 

Then I saw a gardener, hunched over,

planting bluebonnets;

All the while, singing along with Dad and Granny.

I knelt beside the gardener and asked him, in wonder,

“Are there bluebonnets in heaven?”

He turned to me, with soil on his fingertips and scars in his hands.

He smiled at me and asked, “Do you know the name of this garden?”

“I call it Paradise, and someday, the four of us will sing together.”

 

After the gardener spoke these words,

I awoke that morning,

Joyful at what I just dreamed,

Waiting for the day when I could sing with Dad, Granny, and the gardener.

Until then, I will keep these images and my Precious Memories in my heart,

As I tell the world of this gardener who assured me

That there are bluebonnets in heaven!

 

Originally written on June 21, 2017, the fourth stanza and mentions of Dad were added on February 17, 2020. Dad and Granny Olene, I love you both, with all my heart, beyond description!

Olene Shepherd Stewart: October 13, 1921 ~ June 13, 2017

Ronnie Dean Stewart: October 11, 1966 ~ December 24, 2019

DadandGranny

Dad and his Granny Olene

One Month Without You

PilgrimWitnessDad

Dear Superman,

Well. It’s been one month since you went home to see Jesus. I cannot believe that it’s been an entire month. So much has happened, and yet, it seems like it has been so much shorter than a month. This is all so so difficult as I realize that this is just the first of many and many more months without you. I know you are with me in spirit, but oh what I would give to just have one conversation with you face-to-face. Nevertheless, I still rejoice in knowing that you are celebrating eternity with Christ Jesus. The sights must be amazing. I must admit that I’m a little bit jealous.

One month. So much has taken place in such a short amount of time. We began a new year, celebrated your life with friends too numerous to count, and I started a new semester of seminary. I love this place called Truett. I love this wonderful community. I know you would love them too. I am beyond blessed to have friends to play games and go to the movies with, enjoy Baylor basketball games with, and most importantly, friends whom I can fellowship with as we learn and grow together in Christ.

I am enjoying my new classes so much. I wish I could tell you about all that I am learning and see your smile as I share with you about the Gospels, early church fathers, spiritual disciplines, and the art of preaching. I wish I could read to you the sermons I am preparing. I miss you so much. One of my first assignments for Preaching I is to write a short devotional. I remember discovering one that you gave back in 1994 over Psalm 107:2. I thought I would share what the Lord has taught me through that verse in my devotional as a way of honoring you. You are a major reason I am here at seminary preparing for a life of ministry. I can never thank you enough.

Today may have been one of the most difficult days so far. Has it really been a month? Does this get easier? Everything I do now is done without sharing it with you. Occasionally, I watch those comedians, Rhett and Link, on Good Mythical Morning. I miss laughing at those videos with you. I miss binge-watching The Office with you. I miss our late-night movie nights. Remember when we used to stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning to watch a good movie? You have given me so many wonderful memories. I will cherish them forever.

Dad, as always, thank you for being my best friend and my superhero. Thank you for your life’s example of how to follow and honor Christ by loving others. Until we see each other again, see you later, Superman!

Love,

Joshua


Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV)


God On the Mountain by Lynda Randle

Holy Ground by Tim Pettigo

My first birthday without you

Dadhasmynose2

Dear Superman,

I turned 26 today. Part of me wishes you were here to celebrate with me, but I take comfort and am joyful that you are spending my birthday in the presence of our Savior. You are free of pain and I cannot begin to fathom what you must be seeing right now. I wish I could see some of those sights.

Today has been the hardest since your passing just 6 days ago. Every so often, I wait for you to peek around the corner and wish me a Happy Birthday, but somehow, I know better. I know you are in a much better place and will always be with me in spirit. So why am I so saddened? Why does my heart hurt so much?

I spent most of the day looking at old photos of you. An entire lifetime of your joyful smiles. I also know where I get my goofiness. If didn’t know already, I would surely have figured out by looking at photos of your younger years.

There was mostly laughter and smiles as I was looking at photos of you. Then I came across one of us. I was a toddler and you, I think, were trying to get my nose. You didn’t succeed since I clearly still have one. As I stared at that photo, I saw the love you had for me. I know I brought you joy. You did the same for me.

Oh, Dad. This is all too difficult. Shayla told me the time you told everyone else to gang up on me in our silly string wars. I would give anything to have one more silly string war with you. To laugh with you again. To joke with you again.

My precious cousin, Jasmine visited. You would be so proud of her and the amazing mom she is to Bryson. I know you loved that sweet boy. He loved you too. I wish I could see your face again light up with joy at Bryson’s cute playfulness.

Dad, I’ll be honest. If it wasn’t for everyone wishing me a Happy Birthday, I might not have remembered today was the day. It’s so different without you. My heart aches without you. And yet, I have hope and peace and joy. You are the reason I have these things. Hope. Peace. Joy.

Among the many photographs, I also came across a letter you wrote to your Grandma Cozy around your first Father’s Day as my Dad. You shared with her a devotional you gave. It’s in your handwriting. Do you mind if I share some of it?

“I had my mother ask my grandmother what I should give my devotional on because I wanted my first devotional to be for her.

Ma Ma quickly replied ‘Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! By their living! By their loving… She also told Mom that I had to find it myself… Psalm 107 verse 2. I found it.

This verse means to me that I need to live a good Christian life so others will see me glorifying Jesus. It also tells me to have a love that is patient and forgiving of others.”

It continues, but I’ll save the rest for me for now. You weren’t with me physically to give me a birthday gift, yet you still gave me one. I will cherish this letter and your words for years to come.

You have inspired me so much in life. Even though you are no longer physically with me, you continue to inspire me. Thank you for this faith you taught me to have in Christ Jesus. I miss you more than words can say. I cannot wait to be reunited with you. It will happen before you know it. As Jessy Dixon would sing, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!” See you later, Superman!

Love,

Joshua


Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,

Whom He has redeemed from the hand

of the enemy.

Psalm 107:2 NKJV

When I Cry

SupermanCrusader

It’s been a while since my last post. I thought I’d share some of my thoughts today. This won’t be a long one, but one I feel important to share.

In my last blog post, I shared with everyone that Dad had recently entered home hospice care as he nears the end of his life here on Earth. When his last day comes, I won’t see that as cancer beating him, but rather him, through the grace of God, beating cancer. When this happens, he will be eternally healed in the presence of a Heavenly Father who watches over each of us. As I am typing this, a YouTube string of videos is playing, and I can hear Jim Hill with the Gaithers singing “What a Day that Will Be.” Let me tell you right now that it will be an awesome day. We’re also listening to Lauren Daigle, MercyMe, and more of the Gaithers.

Since my last post, we are now seeing that he is even closer to entering into the Heavenly Kingdom of God. This journey is a difficult one, and it is one that often leaves me at a loss for words. I have cried more times than I can count. I have had a number of anxiety attacks as I try and cope with this stage of life and a future life without Dad’s physical presence. Notice I said physical presence. He will always be with me in spirit. I have relived, in my mind, so many memories gained over the years. If I thought about them long enough, I could probably write a book containing all of our adventures. Road trips to Arizona and Virginia. Shorter road trips where we decided to take whichever road we felt like taking to see where it leads. Football games. Concerts to see the Gaithers, MercyMe, and Casting Crowns. Looking at Christmas lights. Movies upon movies upon movies. Lighter moments in the midst of him taking me to doctor’s visits and hospital procedures, and more recently, me taking him to appointments, scans, and chemo treatments. We have joked, laughed, cried, teased, and celebrated each other’s company and our shared moments with God.

I recently came across my first study bible given to me years ago. It’s an NIV Bible marketed towards kids. That bible served me for years. There are highlights and writings in the margins letting me know the date of when a pastor preached a sermon on a specific passage in 2005 for example. It also has a sticker page of random stickers, because I was a kid who liked stickers of course. Early on in my life, Dad helped me read the bible and understand some of its most important stories. I credit him more than anyone (plus my grandparents) for instilling in me a faith that has guided me through more trials than I can remember. He is in large part why I am now pursuing ministry and education at Truett Seminary.

A few weeks ago, we gathered around his bed as he told us his goodbyes and that he was ready to go. We sang song after song, but the one that was the most moving was “Because He Lives.” When I played it, he raised his hand to the Heavens. We did the same and he led us in a time of worship. After some time, he told us that maybe God wasn’t ready for him yet. God is with us, even in the midst of these difficult trials. If I ever need a reminder of this, Dad reminds me even when that is not what he is trying to do.

Before I conclude this blog post, I’ll leave you with a song that has meant a lot to us recently. It is a song that Dad loves. Sung by the Gaither Vocal Band, it is titled, “When I Cry.” Here are the lyrics to the chorus (see the video for the full song):

When I cry, You cry
When I hurt, You hurt
When I’ve lost someone
It takes a piece of You, too
And when I fall on my face
You fill me with grace
‘Cause nothin’ breaks Your heart
Or tears You apart
Like when I cry

This song serves as a powerful reminder to me that God understands our emotions, struggles, and pain. He knows exactly what we go through. Our God is so powerful that He created the Heavens and the universe and all of creation. Every. Single. Little. Detail. Yet at the same time, he cares for us so much that when we experience agony, he feels the same and comforts us through the hurt.

On last thing from Scripture. In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul provides the following words (2 Corinthians 1 NIV):

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Know that whatever you may be going through, God is with you. I pray you to know His presence. He is comforting me on this difficult journey. I know that He can bring comfort to you as well.

I praise God that when I cry, He cries with me too. Praise be to our God of comfort!


Gaither Vocal Band. “When I Cry.” Google Play Lyrics. Web. 3 Dec. 2019.


When I Cry by the Gaither Vocal Band

What a Day that Will Be by Jim Hill and the Gaither Homecoming Friends