Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spiritual growth in children

Ian is 4.  He is so cute!  He talks, and talks, and talks.  It doesn't annoy, or bother me because the things he says are so cute and funny.  He says whatever comes in his mind, which often leads into very sporadic stories that don't go together, and don't even make sense!  Still, I love to hear all of the things that are going through his mind.

Last week we were outside playing and he had a lot on his mind.  It caught me off-guard when he told me he had been praying for his friend, Tali. I don't remember what he said he was praying about for her, but it amazed me that a four year old would pray for a friend...on his own...when he thinks about it...and without being told to do so.

Lauren, Franklin, and I went grocery shopping last night.  It takes us 35 minutes to get to the store, so we had plenty of time to talk on the way.  Our conversations were about a wide range of topics.  I love having only a few kids with me at a time because it really gives them a chance to talk to me about anything they want to talk about, without being interrupted.

It was Lauren's conversation last night that caught me off-guard.  She told me that she had been really afraid a few weeks ago when she was home with her grandma and aunt when Roger and I went out of town for a few days.  She said she had become afraid of the dark, and afraid that someone would break into our house, and then she started hearing noises in the night.  You know the feeling, right?  We can really freak ourselves out!  Anyway, she said that she picked up my Kindle and opened it to my Bible app and began to read where I was in the Bible at that time.  She said that she was amazed because the first verse she read really comforted her and showed her that God would protect her.  I have no idea what verse she read, but what an amazing God to show Himself to my little girl just when she needed Him.

My most fervent prayer for my children is that God would show Himself and bring them to Him at a young age, and that they would grow up with a passion for knowing and serving God.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Death never comes at a good time

A few months ago my good friend, Meredith, died at the young age of 45.  It was one day before his 2 month anniversary.  It was a strange twist of events...from chest pains the previous May, which was caused from blood clots, which was found through scans, which also showed a growth at the tail of his pancreas, which led to surgery, which led to more blood clots, which led to another surgery...where he died.

I see his emails that I got just a few days before he died.  I see his text messages, which I cannot bear to delete from my phone.  And I wonder...what if he had never had surgery?  He didn't feel any complications from the mass on his pancreas.  It wasn't cancer.  What if it had been left alone? 

In the days after Meredith died I couldn't help, but think, "This just isn't fair!"  Meredith had waited his entire life to be married.  He did his best to be content with singleness, but he always wanted to get married.  Then, he meets his wife, who had also never been married...and then God takes him.

My mind goes back and forth.  I think it is great that Meredith got to experience marriage.  I had never seen a bigger smile on his face before he met his beautiful wife!  But then I think, "Why only two months, God?!"  And then I think about his wife.  She waited her entire life to get another country...and now she is in the US...alone...

It wasn't a good time for him to die.  He needed to be married longer.  He was so young.

Yesterday I found out that another young friend died.  Stephanie was only 37.  She was married.  She has two little girls.  She was sweet.  She was kind.  If you ask anyone who knew her to tell you what she was like they would say this...she always had a smile on her face.  Even in the last 2 years when she struggled with brain cancer...she smiled.  Wow!  What a way to be remembered?

And still...I don't get it.  When I told my husband about it last night and told him about her young girls he said, "That's really sad.  What a tough time for those girls to lose their mom?"

I had known Stephanie through high school in our church youth group.  We didn't stay in regular contact, but I kept up with her through facebook.  I grieve for her family.  Her husband.  Her two little girls.  Her mom and dad.  Her two sisters.  They know she is in Heaven, but oh how they will miss her.

It wasn't a good time for her to die.  She was a young wife.  A young mom.  She was so young.

As I lay in bed last night thinking about Stephanie, and praying for her family I thought over and over about the timing of death.  Death never comes at a good time.  It is easier to accept for someone who is older.  My grandmother was 97, but it still wasn't a good time because I always thought she would make it to 100.  It is easier for Christians to accept when they believe that the person they have lost is in Heaven.  But, it is still hard.  "To be absent from the body and present with the Lord" is truly a blessing, but I think about how much I miss those who don't live around me, and missing them for the rest of my life if they passed would be devastating.  Goodness, I miss Roger just when he is gone for the day at work!  I cannot imagine missing him the rest of my life.

When a young person dies it is usually more devastating.  We think about the life they will never experience.  We think about their children growing up without them.  Or, if they are a child we think about the fact that they will never have children of their own.  We think about the parents grieving the loss of a child.  Or the husband grieving the loss of his young wife, and thinking about the years he must now face alone.  We think about the siblings who will not be able to pick up the phone just to say hi to a sister.  It makes my heart hurt.

Death is a reality we must all face.  It is one of those questions in life that we will never understand.  The timing will never be good.  Whether they are lost in the womb, or at 100, they will still be missed terribly.

Our days are numbered.  Life is a vapor...and then there is eternity.  I wish I could grasp that concept more fully.  I will have eternity with Meredith and Stephanie, and the babies I have lost, and family that have already passed.  But I still miss them here.  On the other hand...I am happy for them.

It is okay to grieve.  I think everyone needs to really think about that.  I get frustrated when people say...

Heaven gained an angel...
     That just simply isn't true.  People do not become angels.  If they are in Heaven they become worshippers with the angels.

She/he is in a better place...
   That may be true, but it isn't necessarily comforting when someone just needs to grieve for a while.  Let them think about their loved one in Heaven...later.  Let them grieve for now.

All things work together for good...
     Yes, the Bible does say this...but it doesn't feel very good to lose someone.  Again, let them grieve. 

What should you say?
I am so sorry.  I am praying for you.  I love you.  I am here if you want to talk, or cry, or if you just need to sit with someone. 

Our "words of encourgement" typically have the opposite effect.  I have often found that it is best to say the very least.  A hug speaks volumes...without saying a word!

Let.them.grieve...for death never comes at a good time...