Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday's Thoughts...

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Just some random things that are on my mind today...

I have roughly 12 weeks left to go of this pregnancy, and suddenly I'm thinking of all the things we need to get together before Paxton is born. He will share my uncle's birthday, which is sort of special, my uncle passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly away when I was seven. Paxton will also be the first boy born into my family in over 50 years and he is my 2nd living male blood relative after my dad. {Though I know I have some distant relatives from my mom's side out east, unfortunately I don't know them.} Boys just don't come along very often around these parts.
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Justin's sister ran the Boston Marathon yesterday. Unless you're a hermit, you've probably heard about the horrible bombings. We had a scary half hour or so yesterday...

I had ran into a Savers thrift store on our way home from errands, leaving Justin and the girls in the car. When I came back out Justin gave me this look, the kind that immediately communicates that something terrible has happened.

"There was a bombing--" he started, and I immediately thought, Oh great, what has that foolish little North Korean dictator gone and done? "At the Boston Marathon," he finished. Then I gasped and covered my mouth, "Oh my gosh, is your sister okay?"

Justin had just reminded me that morning that his sister was running it that day. Of course he had called his mom already, but she hadn't heard anything, nor had our other sister-in-law, Rachel, who is close to Katie and was often in touch. Three people dead, Justin read on the news. We reasoned, there are tens of thousands of people there, what are the chances Katie was one who was hurt? Not likely, but still, scary when you just haven't heard from them yet. We knew she had finished the race, but no one had heard from her since.

It's not everyday someone you know, let alone a family member, is on site when a terrorist attack goes down.

Very fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long to get word that she was okay, and apparently leaving Boston post haste (can't blame her). The crazy thing is (though forgive me if the details are slightly off here, most of this has been word of mouth through family, like a game of telephone) she crossed the finish line around 4 hours and 7 minutes. On TV, they keep replaying the moment the first explosion happened, the clock clearly says 4 hours and 9 minutes. She was right there. Her record time, she texted Justin last night, was about a half hour shorter, but yesterday I guess she was running with an injury. Terrorist attack aside, she's a rock star in our eyes.

I feel horribly for all the people who were hurt or had loved ones hurt yesterday. Though I honestly also feel for the runners--including our Katie--because this was supposed to be a moment of glory for them. The Boston Marathon is a big deal, and we know Katie had to jump through hoops to get into the race, which includes qualifying and a lottery system to get in. She's the athlete in the family, the runner, always running! Or biking. Or hiking. Or all three at once.

I just hate that this once-in-a-lifetime moment was stolen from so many people. That they won't always look back fondly on the day they finished the Boston Marathon. And all because of something so senseless, so STUPID and so horrific.

We're still so proud of her accomplishment, though she has many, including a doctorate, and we don't want for a crazy person's incredibly selfish and angry act to take away from this victory. We love you Katie! And we're proud of  you, and of course, just so thankful you're safe and sound.
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So last night when the girls woke up from their nap we had the news on TV, and they kept replaying the explosion. This caught Eisley's attention. I know she's only four, but I also know I'm raising her to live in this world, I don't want to shelter her too much. I decided it might be a good moment to talk about stuff. 

"Eisley, some people were hurt today in Boston. Someone did something very sinful that hurt a lot of people, and Aunt Katie was there but she's okay. We should give thanks to God for that and pray for the people who were hurt," I tried to explain.

"Yeah, but...where's my dog's house?" she replied. The girls are currently obsessed with The Lady and the Tramp movie and she wanted help finding her toy puppy's dog house. Well, shoot.

SO, I guess not every moment turns out to be a teaching opportunity. Apparently she wasn't too concerned about what she saw on the TV. Fair enough.

Still, earlier this month when her fish died, I did find myself having a conversation about death with her. While I know she's a tender hearted 4-year-old, I also want to be honest with her. I'm sure someday she'll understand that fish might not go to heaven when they die, it was an opportunity to talk about death, grace, and Christ.

The Bible has beautiful verses about children and faith, I try to remind myself to trust the Holy Spirit to work in her heart despite how dark of a topic society sees death as.

Lately I've had these things on my mind a lot, and I often question how to share the Gospel with my children. Opportunities like this will come about more frequently as they get older,  and I have to say, I'm just at a loss for words to describe the peace and comfort I get in knowing I can actually explain these things to my children without feeling too sad or worried for the future.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. - 3 John 1:4
Violet is still so little, but Eisley is very responsive to church and prayer and talking about God that it gives me such joy. She memorizes Bible verses thanks to her homeschool curriculum and she repeats them proudly and it makes this mama's heart so glad. More than anything in the world, I want my children to love the Lord.

We are still in the season of Easter, and what happened yesterday was just another reminder of what I can teach my children: that they need not fear death or anything else that can happen on this earth because Christ has defeated death. No other religion offers this sort of freedom and total forgiveness, all you have to do is not throw it away.
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Last month, I was home alone with the girls on a Sunday afternoon when I got a knock at the door and found a young black woman standing on my porch. She handed me a paper and invited me to an Easter service.

I turned the paper over and looked at the fine print, The Watchtower was the publisher. A Jehovah's Witness.

I scolded myself in my head for not staying brushed up on their faith since I had learned so much in my apologetics class my senior year of high school. I said a silent prayer as I greeted her, that I would be given the words to say that needed to be said.

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. - Luke 21:15

We talked for two hours while my girls trashed the house inside. Our conversation was beautifully respectful and friendly. I actually really liked her and talking to her. (Though I was horribly ill prepared.)

As a stay at home mother, I am thankful for every opportunity I am given to share the Gospel of Christ. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I don't have such opportunities to feel as if I'm doing anything important very often, though I have to remind myself that my children give me an opportunity every day. (I think Satan must love to see me feel useless.) In this way, stay at home mothers are missionaries in their own home.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that their works contribute to their salvation (among many other things that are not Biblical). In fact, she was no doubt out there that Sunday delivering pamphlets because she was taught that her salvation depended on it. They have a very strict set of rules to live by, and even then, since they believe that only 144,000 are saved, they never really have certainty that they are saved. It's all a risk. How sad.

At one point, she asked me, "What if your children stopped showing you love? What if they never hugged or embraced you again?" She was trying to get me to admit that I needed to do something to prove my faith to God.

I told her that would make me sad, but it wouldn't change anything important. That seemed to surprised her. Besides, if my children only hugged me and showed me love because they had to, then it really wouldn't mean anything to me. I want them to do those things only because they want to, not because their salvation depends on it.

I told her that I believe that any true "good works" are fruits of the spirit. The Bible gives us a good analogy to work with. An apple tree doesn't rely on it's apples to survive, but the apples are a sign that it is alive, it's just a natural occurrence that comes with the tree's life. The Bible refers to truly good things (love, patience, gentleness, etc.) as fruits, and I believe the wording is thoughtful and meaningful. I told her I had peace, knowing that I didn't need to do anything, but that Christ had already done it for me. In this way, I am so free! Talking with her really made me realize how free I am. The way she explained salvation to me, she sounded so bonded. Nothing is required of me, any fruits I might produce are an added bonus and not mine to take credit for. They grow, not because I am a tree, but because the Water of Life sustains me as a tree.

She still wasn't willing to acknowledge that such a gift of salvation could be free. I told her my version of Christianity in a nutshell--this is corny, but it's how I describe it sometimes--as if we are all stuck on an island where everyone is sick and diseased (by sin) but we are promised a way off the island, a cure, there is a lifeboat coming, big enough to take EVERY single one of us away, captained by someone who is not diseased but immune to sin (Christ), simply because we are loved, not because we did anything to deserve it. So we are given a ticket (faith) to board, which we cannot hand to ourselves, but it is handed to us. We can, however, throw the ticket away and say it's not worth anything, we can say that this guy over here named Buddha or Muhammad or Joseph Smith says he has a boat coming too, but those people have no credibility--and they're diseased too, so why should we listen to them?--and they want you to do things for them. I know, it's a lame analogy compared to the literal GOSPEL, but it gets across my point about faith: it's free, you can't give it to yourself, but you can reject it. If you lost your ticket and threw it away in a moment of weakness, you can have another. In the meantime, if you need to reach the captain He will accept your SOS (prayer) and respond, with your best interests at heart to be sure. When that lifeboat finally comes to shore, all you need is your FREE ticket to board. Your disease will be cured. Once and for all. When that happens, nothing that happened on the diseased island will matter any more. You'll be free because of Christ! The one person who was not diseased, God's Son, was worthy and able for us, and He comes back for us because He loves us. Not because you did anything to deserve or earn salvation. Hold on to your ticket. It is good and valid, even when we act in ways that clearly make us undeserving of the free ticket.

My whole point is, though this world can be terrifying for a mother (as yesterday proved just once again), these moments have drastically highlighted the blessing of the freedom my children and I have in Christ. The death talk with children is not at all depressing when I can explain to them that Christ defeated death and better things are yet to come:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. - Revelation 21:4
I can't imagine raising children without Christ.

That's what is on my mind these days...


4 comments:

  1. I'm SO looking forward to meeting my first grandson!
    And I am so relieved that Katie survived the bombing with all limbs intact, but I can't imagine experiencing something like that without some *emotional* scars left in it's wake. Very sobering, indeed.
    I'll just say AMEN to your last few paragraphs. "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." (I Thessalonians 4:13)
    (As an aside, I remember being a mom of small children when Mr. Hooper died on Sesame Street,and that segment where they're trying to explain to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper is not coming back had me bawling my eyes out. It's hard to talk to children, and big yellow childlike birds, about death, because it is so unnatural. It wasn't intended to be this way.)
    I just had a personal epiphany. You know how I have such a hard time with Goodbyes? It just occurred to me that in a way, every Goodbye is like a little death, or at least a small prelude of the Big Goodbye to come.
    Anyway, thanks for this post--some goods news and some food for thought.
    Love you
    ~Mom

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    1. Thanks mom :)

      I don't remember that Sesame Street but you've told me about it before. I fear for children who are too sheltered when it comes to death.

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  2. Heather, this was such a thoughtful, insightful, and wisdom-filled post. This world is scary, and I really have to limit what I expose myself to or I find that my anxiety and depression really flares up. But I'm so thankful that this world is only temporary. I eagerly await Christ's return and, in the meantime, I too am very thankful for His grace and the freedom I have in Him. I think it's wonderful that you were able to chat with the Jehovah Witness woman. God's Word never returns void so no matter how unprepared you were, know that God will use it! Glad to hear that your SIL is unharmed.

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    1. So true, Amber. And I have a lot of anxiety too over what I read in the news and the hear about on TV. What a world...

      Thanks so much for the kind comment :)

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