Friday, April 13, 2018

Gone To The Place That's Best

It has been three years since I posted in this blog, but Duane is never far from my mind, even though today it's fifteen years since he left us.  Friends talk about things that remind them of their departed loved ones, and about receiving messages from them through things like red cardinals or butterflies.  For me, the most poignant reminder is the song by Normal Greenbaum,”Spirit in the Sky.”  It's a song that Duane really liked, and maybe “poignant” isn’t the right word, since that means “evoking a keen sense of sadness or regret.”  But one of the synonyms is “touching.”  This song touches me in my heart.  It makes me think of him.

At least one time when “Spirit in the Sky” came on the radio, Mike changed the station.  I guess for him, it is a mournful, miserable, distressing reminder.  But recently I told him that when it comes on, for me, it’s Duane saying, “Hi Mom, I’m well, I’m happy, I’m fulfilled - remember, I’m in the place that’s best.”  So Mike doesn’t change the station any more.  I am thankful. I listen to every word with him in mind. 

Spirit in the Sky, Norman Greenbaum

When I die and
They lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place
That's the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go
When I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place
That's the best
Prepare yourself
You know it's a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When you die
You're gonna go to
The spirit in the sky
Gonna go to the spirit in the sky
That's where you're gonna go
When you die
When you die and
They lay you to rest
You're gonna go to
The place that's the best
Never been a sinner
He never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that
When I die
He's gonna set me up
With the spirit in the sky
Set me up with
The spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna
Go when I die
When I die and they
Lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place
That's the best
I'm gonna go to the place
That's the best
I'm gonna go to the place
That's the best

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Although these lyrics that I found include the words "Never been a sinner, He never sinned," the actual words in that one verse said, “Never been a sinner, I never sinned... I got a friend in Jesus.”  I used to think that was the one thing that really wasn’t “doctrinally sound” in the song (not that it was ever intended to be a “Christian” song).  But God recently gave me a different outlook, a new thought, on that statement.  Once we have believed in Jesus and trusted Him for our salvation because of His death, burial and resurrection in our place, received that free gift, then Father God actually looks at us “through the blood of Jesus.”  He sees us just as if we had never sinned.  He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.  In Christ, it is just as if “I’ve never been a sinner, never sinned... I got a friend in Jesus.”  We should really let that soak in.  He sees us as perfect once we have repented of our sins.  So now I can listen to that song, every word of it, as a message from Duane.

And to Duane, I'd like to tell him that I’m still sorry that I didn’t play Spirit in the Sky at his funeral.  I know it’s the song he would have chosen.  But at least I put a line from it on his bench.  Right across the front of it are engraved the words, "When I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that's the best."

Duane, I’m so glad I know you had prepared yourself, and you had a friend in Jesus.  You didn’t die; you’re more alive than ever.  As Billy Graham would say, you just changed your address.  You went to the place that's best.  

Farther than from a sunrise to a sunset—
    that’s how far you’ve removed our guilt from us.
Psalm 103:12, The Passion Translation

"...for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God.  Yet through his powerful declaration of acquittal, God freely gives away his righteousness.  His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin!
Romans 3:23-24, TPT

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Glimpse Beyond the Veil

There is much more to reality than what we experience with our five senses. The world that we see, touch, smell, hear and taste is merely a shadow of the real world.  The unseen realm is what will last forever.  The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:18.

In my post dated 4/13/2011, I wrote about the day of the accident that took Duane from us, and how, because I believe that nothing is too difficult for God (and I do mean nothing), I and some dear friends from my church prayed that God would allow him to come back to us.  You can go back and read the two posts I wrote that day if you want to understand why I did that.  I hope you will.

The last paragraph I wrote in the second post says, "Obviously, our prayers weren't answered the way we wanted them to be, but you will be surprised at what I learned a couple weeks later.  Things were happening in the unseen realm, and God gave someone a peek."  I really thought I had written what I meant by that at a later date. But I didn't, so now, I think it's time to tell "the rest of the story."  

After Duane passed, I gave a little leaflet that my sister helped me create to everyone who had sent a sympathy card, visited, in any way shown love and support to us, and also mailed it to many of Duane's friends.  In it, I included some of Duane's drawings and a message that included the request that people share "Duane stories" with me because I wanted to know him the way others knew him.  I did receive many great stories from both friends and relatives.  Among the responses was this letter from one of my friends who who was part of the group who prayed with me for Duane to be resurrected:

Dearest Donna,

     Thank you for sharing a part of your son with me.  I put his drawings in a frame; they will always remind me of our Father's love and grace that He pours out on us all.

     Donna, I did not have a chance to interact much with Duane when he was with us.  The different times I saw him at Acts 1:8 church, things like adventure, creativity, uniqueness would come to mind and the awe and wonder of what he might reveal of our God.

     I will admit, I did take a place of caution, but only because in my own life I have learned it is wisdom to advance in caution, receiving that which is good and leaving in God's hands what is bad or unknown.

     Duane was a powerful explorer, pushing forward, pushing aside the lies and falsehoods.  I always had a sense of respect for what he carried within him, but I also had a sense our Father had a heavy hand on him.

     Then the day came when we were informed that he was in an accident.  I was in Church.  My spirit was so heavy; I wanted to be where he was.  I did not know what to do until Faith came over to me and whispered, "I am going to the hospital.  Do you want to go?"  I looked in my heart, and there was no choice; I knew we were to be there.

     When I walked into the room and saw Duane and his family all around him, all I could feel was God's Presence.  I never prayed for the dead to be raised, but at this time, it seemed to be the most natural thing to do, like breathing.  I did not know what to pray, so I just started to pray in tongues.  (Note for readers: This is one way to do what the Bible calls "praying in the Spirit.")  Oh, God, the love gripped my heart.  I could feel my spirit melt in the fire of the Holy Spirit's presence, and love all around me and inside.

     Now, Donna, what I am going to tell you next is my experience with Duane in prayer.

     As I prayed, I was in the outer court of the temple.  Duane was not sure what was going on, but knew he was the center of attention and did not want to be.  He was like in a ball trying to hide.  I was in Christ, yet off to one side watching.  Duane was crying.  I could sense his spirit saying, "What's wrong?"  He was afraid.  Jesus came closer to him and put His hand on Duane and assured him everything was under control.  (Psalm 18:17, He delivered me from my strong enemy, and those who hated me, for they were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.)  Duane looked, and could see that you, his father, family and friends were in the heart of the Father, and as he looked, I kept hearing Jesus encouraging him to see it all and not to be afraid to see it and receive it all.  All was his to share with the Father.

     Duane began to raise up.  Life became stronger and stronger in him and there came a point when he looked at us praying for him, and when he looked back at Jesus, who with just a look told Duane the choice was his.  However, he was assured that his mother and father would be all right.  It was safe to stay, that all was truly in God's hands.  (Psalm 17:15, As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied in Your likeness.)  Duane knew beyond all doubt, Donna, that you and his family and friends would be where he was and all was well in eternity.  He was where we all want to be and his death on earth would serve the purpose of the Almighty God in touching many lives.

     Duane stood and took Jesus by the hand (at this point, words lack the ability to describe the awesome beauty and power I saw take place, but I will try.  Holy Spirit, help me.)

     Donna, I saw your son become so, so beautiful, my heart overflows and my eyes tear even now when I think about it.  It was like he broke open and a being stepped out that would put the stars to shame on a clear night.  The creativity of his presence honored Father God.  Jesus was so proud of your son.  It tore my heart realizing how much we lost, yet challenged me even more to seek Christ in others with a greater passion.

     Jesus took His Bride (the Bible calls true followers of Jesus Christ corporately "The Bride of Christ" ... together, they all make up His Bride) and I know they were going to the Father in a way I could not yet go, but my God, the love and joy I felt in heaven!

     After that, I could not pray any more for Duane to rise from the dead, because as far as I was concerned, he had, he is, he now had a greater life than we can imagine.  This was all new to me and overwhelming.  Pastor Susan asked me to share my prayers with you, for I believe what I experienced was meant to be shared with you, because in a way, it is yours to have and to hold.

     (P.S.  John 16:7, Nevertheless I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I depart, I will send Him to you.)

                                                       In the Love of Christ Jesus,
                          (I have not asked permission to share the name here)

This is the only picture I could find to symbolize Duane walking away with Jesus, but from the way my friend described what she saw, he looked much more glorious than this, in his new heavenly body.

So you see, our prayers for resurrection were not answered that day because Duane was given a choice.  Jesus showed him with but a glance that the choice was his, but assured him that we would be all right, and that it was safe for him to stay there and leave everything in God's hands.  Duane knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his family and friends would all join him there, and that all was well.  And so he did resurrect, to his new life, his new being, with Jesus and his Father in Heaven.

In addition to this vision, another friend shared with me on Mother's Day a year or two after the accident, that when he heard what happened, he had a vision of Duane dancing, twirling about, in a field of yellow flowers, shouting, "I'm free, I'm free, I'm totally free!"

Duane was a burden-bearer.  I believe that with all my heart.  He loved people unconditionally, and when they hurt, he hurt.  He always wanted to make them smile, make them laugh, make life better for them if there was any way he could.  Many of his friends have told me their stories which testify of that. Now, Duane was free, free of all his burdens, and somehow, some way, Father God would use his death to this life to continue to touch many lives.  I pray that many will be encouraged by his story to seek a relationship with our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, so that they will all be assured of their place in heaven too.

"For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway
from a world where dreams and adventures shrink,
to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand."
~ Randy Alcorn, Heaven

Monday, April 28, 2014

"This Is The Week That I Died" ~ Jesus

For The Joy Set Before Him, He Endured the Agony
He Became The First Fruits... the First of Many To Be Resurrected

By Duane David DuBois

When I wrote the last post “Eleven Years,” I noted that this year was the first year since 2003 that Palm Sunday fell on April 13, and I wasn’t sure if there was any significance to that.  Later that afternoon, I realized that the day might have been a lot different if it hadn’t been Palm Sunday on April 13, 2003.  The support of my spiritual family as well as my natural family is what helped us all survive the coming days.

Because it was Palm Sunday, my friends were in church that morning.  After I had called Pastor Dennis, it was easy for him to get the news of the accident to all of them at once.  If you read the post that I wrote about “that day,” you know that I had just returned from a conference where I had heard testimonies of miracles, and that my faith was high, and I truly believed that this was a test… that the devil was the entity behind this accident and that if we would pray for resurrection, we might see a miracle.  After all, it was Palm Sunday, and Resurrection Day (Easter) was coming!  And there had been documented cases of people returning from the dead just recently.  So when I called Pastor Dennis, right after having returned from the accident scene where I was told that Duane “didn’t make it,” I asked him to gather anyone who would be willing to join me at the hospital to pray for a miracle.  They did.  We did.  But I later learned that Duane made a choice to stay with Jesus that day.  When given a choice, who wouldn’t?  You can read all about that in previous posts.

I want to focus on what the Lord did for me this year. 

I had anticipated that perhaps this year all the memories would come flooding back and it would be more difficult than previous years, just because of it being the first April 13 Palm Sunday since 2003.  But to the contrary, God used it to bring me full circle, I guess you could say.  During worship that morning, someone sang a beautiful spontaneous song.  I wish I had written down all the words.  It was the Lord singing to us about what this week really is, this week called “Passion Week.”  Through that song, Jesus said, “This is the week that I gave myself for you.”  Those words went deep into me, and I wrote them down… and then these words flowed through my pen: “This year, the Lord changed this week back to the proper focus for once and for all.” 

This year, on April 13, 2014, the Lord pointed me back to the real meaning of this week, this week that begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Easter.  It was as if He said right to me, “This is the week that I died.”  His words through the song continued, “I did it for you.  There is no way you can do it for yourself.  No one can do it for you.  I did it, says the Lord.  You laid me in a tomb, you dressed me in burial cloths, you rolled the stone in place and sealed it.  Most of you do not have the faith to believe what comes next, even though I told you… and that is where you should wait until I rise next Sunday.”  We were then told that as we wait for the next week, we should read the last chapter of one of the gospels, and ponder it.  I did.  I not only read the end of all four gospels, the accounts of the crucifixion and the resurrection in the words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but I also studied the week from the aspect of the Jewish calendar, which is what Jesus would have followed.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey that day, it was to fulfill a prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”   We call it “Palm Sunday,” but for Jesus, it was the time when the Jewish people went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover.  He knew when He rode into Jerusalem that, that very week, He would give His life upon a cross and would literally become God’s Passover Lamb.  Simply put, because of what Jesus did that week, I know that my sins are all forgiven, all my diseases are healed, and I have eternal life.  I know my God as my Father and I know that I will be resurrected too, unless I live to see the Second Coming of Jesus; in that case, I will receive my glorified body without having to go through death and resurrection.

And when I read the end of those four gospels, I was reminded that my job now is to continue the work of Jesus, which was to destroy the works of the devil.  The devil came to steal, kill and destroy and Jesus came to bring good news to the suffering and afflicted, to comfort the brokenhearted, to announce liberty to captives, and to open the eyes of the blind.  He came to tell those who mourn that the time of God’s favor to them has come, and the day of his wrath to their enemies.  He came to give beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. These are all the things Jesus came to do, and then He went back to His Father in Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell those who believed in Jesus and now we exist for one reason only, and that is to continue His works.  What are those works?  I just listed them, from Isaiah 61.  And, in Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 10:8, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”

Jesus really is risen from the grave, He really is alive, He really did tell me, tell all His followers, to occupy, to continue His work, until He comes again.  Yes, April 13 will always be the day we remember that Duane left us and entered Heaven, but now my main focus will be what Jesus said it should be.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are hurting people everywhere.  Maybe you are one of them.  There is Good News. 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him."

John 3:16-18, The Message

Have you been introduced to Him yet?  Let me introduce you.  Come, put your hand in His and follow Him.  He will give you rest.  He will give you peace.  He will give you joy.  And most of all, He will love you, unconditionally, just as you are.

"Follow Me" ~ Bruce Marchiano as Jesus

If you already know Him, make sure you make the main thing, the main thing.  Life is too short to get sidetracked.  Oh, and don't go pointing your finger and telling people what's wrong about them or about what they are doing.  They probably already know that.  Love them and introduce them to Jesus!  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Eleven Years

Duane and a Few of His Drawings

Today, it has been eleven years since Duane’s earthly life ended and he took Jesus by the hand and went into the presence of Father God.  On that Palm Sunday, I and other members of our church called “Acts 1:8” prayed that he would rise from the dead and return to this earthly life, but instead, he truly rose into a greater life than we here can yet imagine.  It began a life where his creativity now honors Father God.  This is the first year since 2003 that Palm Sunday fell on April 13.  I don't know if there is any significance to that, but now, eleven years later, I am still receiving tributes to Duane from his friends.  Some tributes are shared directly with me and some are placed on his Facebook page, Friends of Duane David DuBois.

I want to share some of these tributes with you.  One was in the form of an email from Nicole, one a Facebook message from Amanda, and two were poems written when I asked for memories, thoughts or other contributions on his last birthday in January.  Jamie DuMond wrote one and Stefany Nicole wrote the other.  First, I share the poems.

"Too Soon" by Jamie DuMond

To the greatest man I knew
The good die young
God always has a plan
Here we stand
Missing you
Stronger for knowing you
We've been through hell
You helped us through
We fight on
Someday we will meet again
I remember the day I heard
Another angel was getting his wings
Lost a lot that day
Lost a lot the years that followed
Ups and downs
Still you help push me through
Its been too long
Since I've been around
Missed so much
Wishing you were still here
Because of it all I am a better man
Your ways made me better
For that I thank you
We miss you, bud, we love you
You'll always be with us
In our hearts, our thoughts and souls
Guiding us, watching out for us
Till then
I'm gonna sit right here on your stone bench and drink a beer
This one's for you.


“I Thought About You Today” by Stefany Nichole

I thought about you today.
I thought about your smile, the way you laughed.
You were an amazing person in every single way.
So caring, so true.
There is never a day that passes without me missing you.
I know some day I will see you again.
Until that day comes,
My heart and memory are where I'll keep you, my friend.


Nicole shared with me in an email that, even after eleven years, she still keeps Duane’s picture in her room, and says “Good morning” to him every morning and “Good night” every night.  It makes me proud to realize that Duane made such an impact on people that he is still so much missed.  I think one of Duane's characteristics that made him so endeared to so many was the way he accepted and loved everyone, regardless of their age, color, physical characteristics, religion or any other aspect about the outside of them.  He was as comfortable being friends with adults as with young children or his peers.  He really wanted to be accepted the same way by others.  Remember how he liked to wear gothic style clothes, and those weird contact lenses?

Amanda shared this story with me in a Facebook message conversation I was having with her recently:  "When I first started going to Acts 1:8, Duane, Patrick and I sat together in the back. It might have been my first or second time. I will never forget he had his lip ring in, wearing a backwards hat and T-shirt of a band. I asked him about what did the other people say about how he dressed in church. I will NEVER EVER forget his answer, 'Amanda, I know they don't think I dress appropriate for church, but it's not what I wear that makes me a Christian. It's what is in my heart and that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior. Don't be afraid to wear what you want, you know what is in your heart.'  That has stuck with me for the last 12 yrs."  

Thank you, Jamie and Stefany, for writing your poems in honor of Duane.  Thank you, Nicole, for keeping in touch with me.  When I communicate with you or any of Duane's friends, I feel in touch with him as well.  And thank you, Amanda, for sharing that story with me.  I was so very happy to learn about the influence that Duane had on you in accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  There's nothing more important than that.  That is fruit that remains for eternity.

I knew, as Duane knew, that not everyone approved of his outward appearance.  But he had it right.  God Himself looks not on our outward appearance, but at what is inside of each and every one of us.  

Eternal One (God, to Samuel when Samuel was trying to determine which man God had chosen as King):  Take no notice of his looks or his height. He is not the one, for the Eternal One does not pay attention to what humans value.  Humans only care about the external appearance,
but the Eternal considers the inner character.

1 Samuel 16:7, The Voice

A couple days ago, I found a poster that I really liked and shared it on my Facebook wall.  It said, "At the end of the day, the only questions I will ask myself are.... Did I love enough?  Did I laugh enough?  Did I make a difference?" Based on what his friends tell me, Duane could have answered "Yes" to all three questions.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Eternal Life

Ten years.  A decade since we've looked into your eyes, heard your voice, felt your touch.  Ten years.  And yet you live on in our memories, in our thoughts, through our love.  You live on in the ways that knowing you changed us forever, just by the influence you had on us.  We talk about you with words like "kind," "sweet," "unforgettable," "awesome," "caring," "honest," "truthful, "quite the pistol!"

One of the words most often used when talking about you is "funny."  How you loved to make people laugh, and so many of our memories involve laughter. 

There's the memory of you singing "Rubber Ducky" at an audition for a school play and cracking everyone up.  And then the laughter at your acting debut as Monroe Dunwoody in "Clockwork."  What a riot you were!

You loved being out with your friends, and playing pool at Lakewood Lodge.  How you must have laughed when someone besides you left with a chalked blue nose!

You laughed with everyone.... your brothers....

....and your life-long buddy Scott.....

....well, everywhere you went, you spread laughter....

Thanks, Duane, for all the joy and laugh-filled memories you gave us... you were good medicine.  :-)

"A joyful heart is good medicine..."  Proverbs 17:22a
But ten years is just a "blink of the eye" in view of eternity.  So even better than all those good memories is the sure knowledge that you live on in that Place that is even more real than this one.  It's just the other side of that thin veil that separates Heaven and earth, and if we believe, we will see you again.  We have the word of the One Who never lies on that.
"I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
~  Jesus in John 5:24

Friday, April 13, 2012

Changing my thoughts to dancing....

This morning, I'll go pick up a bouquet of crazy daisies to put by "the tree." 

I woke up earlier this morning than I usually do.  Wished I could have gone back to sleep, but the memories from nine years ago are too fresh.  Why don't they fade, just a little?  Nine years.  But it seems like yesterday.

Well, not really.  Today, I can think about what I'm thinking about, and change it.  Back then, I couldn't change my thoughts.  I was living them. 

Life is a "new normal" now.  That happens after a while.  It can take longer than you thought.  Life never goes back to "normal."  Normal thoughts today might have included seeing Duane and another daughter-in-law and more grandchildren than we have.  Instead, that thought I just had brings to mind Kenny Chesney's song, "Who You'd Be Today."

OK.  That's enough.  No profound thoughts or lessons today - except the one that I just made.  I can change what I'm thinking about.  Guess I'll go make coffee.  And, Duane, I'll look and listen for signs of your presence today.  After all, remember that conversation we had right outside the window where I'm sitting?  Heaven isn't that far away.  I wonder what that sunset last night looked like from your perspective.  And I wonder what you're doing today.  Maybe you'll be smiling at my crazy daisies.  Or (just thought of another song, "Fields of Grace" by Big Daddy Weave) maybe you'll be dancing with Father God in a whole field of them!  Cool!  Now I'm dancin' too!

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Colossians 3:2, New Living Translation

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Elvis, Mike or Duane?

Today is Mike's birthday and it's also Michelle's birthday.

Michelle posted this picture of the two of them on Facebook.

I said, "Oh, my!  That's the best Elvis-look photo

of Mike that I've seen!"


Jason said,

"Sorry. Not Elvis. That's Duane with dark hair."

What do YOU think?

I think maybe both!