What is the Point of Heaven?

So what’s the point of going to heaven?

I once had a very close friend whom I regularly met up with for coffee. She became like a spiritual mother to me. We went to the movies together, visited the beach, she cooked for me, I cooked for her, we laughed and cried together, shared secrets with one another, swapped books, gossiped, shopped etc. I thought we would be friends for life.

I also thought that I could tell her when I was angry with her. So one day, I expressed my anger in a frustrated text message, I was trying to be honest and I wanted to talk it through. She was so hurt and upset that within 3 months she stopped talking to me altogether. We lost our friendship.

The loss of this relationship has grieved my heart for three years. I’ve apologised, sent text messages, letters and postcards, but to not avail. I struggle in the month of May because it’s the month I lost my mum (RIP) and a year later my spiritual mum who had become one of my closest ever friends.

However, I believe my relationship with this friend will be reconciled in heaven. I believe that she will understand why I was angry, what I was thinking and feeling, and that I never meant to hurt her to the extreme that I apparently did. She will understand the feelings of rejection I have experience since losing her; my regret and sadness.

And I will understand why she did what she did, how she felt, how deeply I wounded her or triggered past wounds from other people. I’ll experience her perspective of the situation and she’ll experience mine. Then we will embrace and cry and let it all go. We will mutually forgive all the hurt, loss and misunderstanding. We will love each other in ways we were not capable of on earth with our limited, selfish minds.

When God says he will wipe all the tears from our eyes, it’s because there WILL be a lot of crying when we get to heaven. We will have conversations with every person we ever came into contact with or influenced to the minutest degree. And even the people we never met who were alive before or after us – we will see the ripple effect of our lives on every other life. We will reconcile every hurt and failing. We will fully understand why our parents seemed distant, why our friends seemed to reject us, why our children seemed to grow up and leave us… We will understand the “other sides” of every story. We will know each other completely, and be experienced fully for who we truly are.

There will be a lot of forgiving in heaven, and all the pain of life will be reviewed through the lens of redemption. All the friends we’ve lost will be gained back – broken relationships healed and restored. Every person who deleted us off facebook and every person we deleted – all together again, like a reunited family.

Heaven is not really about streets of gold and castles in the sky. It’s about relationships. Heaven isn’t blissful because we’re suddenly all wealthy and immortal. Heaven is blissful because there is so much love there. No room for hate. No miscommunication. Pure acceptance of one another. Complete understanding of our pasts.

I want to go to heaven because there will be no more heartache there. No more relational suffering. And now that I understand that that’s what heaven is all about, I live my life knowing that whatever rejections I think I’m experiencing on earth are only temporary.

The division in my family because an Uncle comes out as gay and his brother doesn’t want to communicate with him – that will inevitably come to an end. The facebook friends who have called me a heretic or pressed the block button and pretended they never new me – we will laugh about it in heaven. The experience of separation in relationships, emotionally, spiritually, physically – it will all be done away with in heaven and there will be NO SEPARATION.

Knowing this, frees me to be myself. I can be more honest about my emotions, my sexuality, my theology – because even if I’m hated for these things in this life, everything will be okay on the other side.


Rejection isn’t real.

Love is real.

Hatred can only ever be temporary.

Reconciliation will last forever.

Accusations are weak.

True understanding will only breed acceptance.


“Love always protects

Love always trusts

Love always hopes

Love always perseveres

Love never fails

But where there are prophecies

They will cease…

Where there is knowledge

It will pass away

For we know in part

And we prophecy in part

But when completeness comes

What is in part disappears

For now we see only a poor reflection

As in a mirror

Then we shall see face to face

Now I know in part

Then I shall know fully

Even as I am fully known

And now these three remain:

Faith, hope and love

But the greatest of these is


1 Corinthians 13:7-13


Anzac Day Tribute to my Grandfathers

April 25th 2015

Today is a significant day for Australians. 100 years ago, Aussie troops landed in Gallipoli and sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Today people like my Dad and sister (so proud of you guys!!!) are marching to represent my grandfather George Dempsey who fought in WWII. We remember both world wars with regret, much sadness, and particularly with honour & respect toward our brave ancestors who endured and survived these atrocities.

I also remember today my grandfather Lloyd Chilver whose earthly life ended on this day 10 years ago. He was a Pastor, a father & grandfather, he built the house I grew up in (and my mother before me) he was a farmer & gardener, a traveller and explorer.

I honour both of my grandfathers today for their courage, their commitment to their families, their relationships with God, their masculinity & fatherhood, their hard work and Aussie spirit.

I wouldn’t be who I am without these two patriarchs of the family! Their spirits live on in me. I inherited some of their perseverance, ingenuity & zeal for God as well as my Grandad’s nose and my Popa’s long legs!

I love you both George Dempsey & Lloyd Chilver



A Tribute to My Dad

I admire my dad because he is hardworking. He persists through monotonous jobs. He was the breadwinner in our family for a long time. And even though he often told us “we have no money,” we were never without food or a roof over our heads.

He took the family on holidays every single year – actually a couple of times (not most holidays but some) – he worked so that mum could take us on holidays by herself or with a friend. I’m pretty sure all four kids loved family holidays, although there was one trip where Dad lost control of a 4 wheel motorbike on a farm and drove through a barbed-wire fence, cutting his throat! That was terrifying for all of us and no doubt very painful for dad. We are so lucky you are still here!!

My dad’s an early riser, up before the crack of dawn, reading his bible and praying. Every day of my life without fail he has done this – I even remember the one time he forgot to bring his bible on a weekend trip and was very upset to miss his daily reading plan. Despite the fact that I sometimes judged this to be a strict religious habit, I wouldn’t be who I am if my dad hadn’t “religiously” spent time in worship.

My dad could out-quote every Christian I knew when I was a kid and my current Pastor is the only person that I think might be able to out-quote him now. I watched my dad and I modelled him. I read my bible most days throughout my teen years. I memorised tonnes of scriptures. Now I can find the reference to most verses as fast as he can. I learned from the best.

I admire my dad’s spirituality a hell of a lot, despite any theological differences. It was my dad who first suggested to me “Once saved always saved.” And when I was still learning to memorise verses he was the one I would turn to and ask “where is the verse that says…” I love the fact that my dad prays for me every day. And I love the way he loves God for himself.

I love the way he loves his family – not perfectly, but he was always there at school functions, training my brothers’ football teams, and driving me to piano lessons. My dad did his best to be present and I never doubted that he was proud of me. My fondest memory was the time he called out in front of the whole school auditorium “that’s my girl” when I played piano at a concert.

My dad is my hero and though we don’t hear much in churches these days about fathers being the “head” of the family, I have always known that I could turn to my dad if I were in need, even though I often act like I’m totally independent! I look forward to having my dad walk me down the aisle and hand that authority over to my husband. And even then, I will never forget where and who I come from.


<3 <3 <3

A Tribute to My Mum

5th May 2014

It’s been three years today since Mum passed away and the waves of grief have adapted over the years. The first year was incredibly difficult. I think I cried nearly every Thursday on the way to work, because she died on a Thursday. The second year I experienced a lot of change in my personal life and felt very lonely. The third year has been this odd mixture of aching over some of the things she is missing–like watching me fall in love–and desiring to be Mum’s legacy in this world. So I have been pondering the question: would my mum be proud of me?

I once asked her that question when I was about thirteen, because truthfully, I wasn’t sure. I said it in the car on the way home from a school concert where I had just sung and played on piano, a song I had written. I really needed to hear it that day. I nearly cried when she said yes–it was a relief. I wanted to feel her pride.

Now that I am in my thirties, I no longer need the approval or pride of my parents, but it is still nice to have. I sat my dad down a couple of years ago and asked him if he would forgive me if I had sex before I was married. I wasn’t asking for his permission or approval, I was actually daring myself to be honest with him about where I was at: that I was lonely and tired of being single and living a celibate life. But when he said yes (he would forgive me) it was liberating for me. It actually gave me the grace–the freedom–to choose NOT to have sex at that point in time.

I also told my Dad when I became a universalist. He doesn’t have the same belief system and we disagree on our interpretation of the Bible, but he doesn’t love me any less or have a problem with me, as far as I am aware. If he did have a problem with me, or does in the future, it would be his problem and it wouldn’t be for lack of my being honest with him about who I am and what I believe. I would never stop loving him or pursuing a relationship with him, but any disapproval would not change my beliefs.

So I have thought about what it would be like if Mum were here and she knew that I was a universalist–if she read my facebook statuses and saw my determination to write books and verbalise what I believe. My mum read my novel “Victori Song” before it was published and she compared it to a series we had both recently read, and told me she thought my writing was more interesting! That was high praise coming from my mother to me. If you knew my mum the way I did, you would know that she tended to be more of an under-exaggerator than an over-exaggerator. This wasn’t a biased encouragement, she was being genuine.

If she were still alive and had the exact same personality right now, it is possible she would be uncomfortable with my boldness. I think that she would worry about me–about how criticism was going to hurt me and how that might reflect on her and our whole family may be hurt. I think there would be times she would think I was going too far, and times when she would scold my name “Elissa!” for discussing topics like sexuality on facebook.

But here’s the funny thing. Because my mother has passed away, and is now in a state of wholeness, love and eternal bliss–all of that worry and concern over my brazenness, and all of that habitual religious-shame around human sexuality–is gone. When I picture my mum in the afterlife, she is more proud of me now than she ever would or could have been as a fallible human mother.

In fact, the memory of my mum is what so often spurs me on. Because I know she would have been afraid to say the things that I say. She was concerned about people’s judgements of her and of me. She backed down from a lot of conflict. And I feel her reminding me that I am going to do bigger and better things than she did.

She changed a lot toward the end of her life. She learned about the grace of God and she started to live it out, share it with her friends, and accept God’s approval over and above the approval or disapproval of people. She grew in bravery and boldness. And her memory encourages me every day to do the same.

“Don’t be afraid Elissa. Don’t be like me. Let go of the approval of others. Fight for what you believe in. Stand up and open your mouth. I’m so proud of you for continuing something I was only able to dip my feet into. You’re going to swim the wide ocean of it. You are my legacy.”

Someone indicated to me recently that I may have been speaking ill of the dead–like it’s rude of me to admit that my mum wasn’t perfect and we didn’t have a perfect relationship. I’m not trying to taint anyone else’s perception of my mother, but I can only speak from my own experience of her. The reason I want to share my perception of her, is to help other people accept their own imperfect mothers.

My mum was a good mum. She cooked, she cleaned, she provided for us and met our needs, she invested in music lessons and a good education. But there were times in my childhood that I wasn’t convinced my mum was proud of me. My family didn’t get into the habit of saying “I love you” on a regular basis until I was a teenager. Now we say it all the time, but we had to learn to say it. I also could have benefited from more hugs than I felt I received in my younger years. That’s some of my tainted perspective of my family and particularly my mum. But I accept and forgive all of this. I have no problem talking about it, and no hard feelings toward my parents. My perspective is just that: it’s my perspective. I give myself permission to be honest about my experiences and perspectives.

No one knows my mother the way that I do. No one got to see and experience her the way that I did. And I was blessed to be one of the closest people in her life when she died. Only my dad was arguably closer. He and I took shifts looking after her. He was the one who got up in the middle of the night–every night–to boil milk for her to drink. He took her to the appointments she asked him to be at. He washed all of her clothes, sheets, towels and took over more household chores.

But I was there too. I was living with Mum and Dad from the time she was diagnosed until the day she died. I was fortunate enough to only work casual hours and was able to spend a lot of time at home with her. I had a baby monitor in my room so that she could call out to me. I cooked her food, I shopped for her groceries, I did the never-ending dishes. I drove her to the vast majority of her appointments. I sat with her through chemotherapy, Vitamin C injections, in waiting rooms and hospital rooms. I massaged her feet with essential oils, at least as many times as a mother rubs oil on nappy rash for her multiple children. I made freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices regularly for years.

I experienced role reversal and became my mother’s mum. I gave back to her the parenting she had given to me, just as imperfectly. I was resentful, I was tired, I was grieving, I was stressed…but I did it anyway, like she did before me. No one was there when my mum admitted to me that she didn’t think she had hugged me enough as a child, and she said she was sorry–that was an amazing moment. And I was one of very few who witnessed her crying about her life, her past regrets and resentments. I was able to observe, firsthand, how she blossomed through listening to Joseph Prince sermons on television. I heard her speak of the grace of God in a new way and experience a new level of freedom.

I held her hand two days before she died when she was in agony because her morphine drip was leaking. And all I could say–through my distraught tears–was that I was sorry it hurt and that the nurse was on her way to our house…I’ll never forget that.

Maybe some of you think that my mum wouldn’t be proud of who I am today. But I feel confident that her resurrected self is for me and not against me. When I speak, I speak on her behalf–things she might have said if she’d lived long enough to come to the same conclusions as I have. And things she never said because she was too scared. The memory of her fear inspires me. I am determined to be stronger than she was. I will overcome some of the things that she wasn’t able to. I will advance and take hold of the things she started toward–like any good daughter would.

Thank you, Mum, for being exactly who you were. I am exactly who I am in light of who I perceived you to be. I will do even greater things than you did, just as Jesus says that those who come after him will do much more. You were perfectly imperfect and I love you.