We struggled this week with a fair share of trials. Tuesday morning I bent over to pick up the empty water pitcher after watering the tree, and something spazzed out in my back. It was incredibly frustrating--I wasn't doing anything heroic, simply cleaning up the living room. Yet that one movement completely threw off all my plans. Caring for the children immediately became a chore for which much creativity was required. For example, when putting Kenna down for her nap in the pack-n-play, Charis climbed inside, then I handed the baby to her and she carefully laid Kenna down, then crawled out. The kids were great to help me when I would call for someone to pick something up or do a chore, but a complete lack of structure made for some more difficulties as squabbles occurred far more frequently than they would have had I been able to keep to our school schedule.
It's Saturday morning, and I'm just now starting to feel a little more normal. For example, it doesn't hurt to breathe! Unfortunately, we are now also battling sickness. Kenna has had a runny nose and slight fever for the past couple of days, and last night Arden had a temperature of almost 103. Ted has a sore throat and congestion as well. Sickness and holiday plans aren't a good mix.
But, lest this sound like a whine fest, I must say that in all honestly, the frustrations of the pain and sickness from this week pale when I think about more important things. Life, for example.
After years of doctor's appointments to monitor an enlarged aorta, followed by what seemed to be a successful surgery, the B family was beginning to hope that 7-year-old Elisha's health problems would soon be a thing of the past. The B's are one of the missionary families that we love and support, so the children and Ted and I had been following the reports of Elisha's surgery and aftermath diligently, praying every morning for him and for his family as they were separated. Elisha and his mom had flown back to Seattle when complications set in, while his dad and brothers and sisters remained in Alaska.
Yesterday morning I read with great sorrow that Elisha went home to be with Jesus Thursday afternoon. Knowing that he is in heaven is indeed comforting, but I couldn't help but weep with a mother's heart. Brian and Laurie are no strangers to sorrow, as their firstborn 5-year-old boy died suddenly nearly 13 years ago. Now they bid a second son goodbye, having only had 7 short years with him here on earth...the same amount of time we have had with our own sweet Charis.
I cried and held my children extra long as I hugged them that morning. I worried about how to tell them the news. Just two days before Tobin asked innocently, "Mommy, why is your back still hurting even though we've been praying for God to help it feel better?" We had a good discussion about how God's answers to our prayers are not always what we think they will be. I expected the children to ask why Elisha died even though we prayed for God to make him better.
You know what? They didn't ask. Instead, as we prayed around the breakfast table yesterday morning, Arden said, "Thank you, God, that Elisha is in heaven with Jesus." The news of Elisha's death didn't shatter my children's faith. Instead, they rejoiced that he is with Jesus with a perfect body.
My children's acceptance of what the world would deem bad news encourages my own faith this season. I've been wondering if, as parents, we're passing along the most important aspects of the Christmas season, wondering if my children will ever learn to get along instead of selfishly putting their own interests ahead of others'. Hearing their prayers for the B family's peace and comfort brings comfort to my own heart. They know Who brings true life and peace, and it's not a fat man in a red suit.
Lord Jesus, may the faith of a child grow in us this day and every day, until we see your face in heaven.