As you are wrapping up the toys you purchased for your kids this Christmas, did you ever stop to think that you might not even get to see them open their gifts? These are the type of things running through my head this week in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary. Today is the first day back to school, and a particularly tough one for parents across America who are hugging just a little bit longer before waving goodbye to their kids as they get on the bus.
Do you ever sit down with your Bible and flip through it, waiting to see if a verse speaks to you? On Friday night I was only able to dedicate a short time in the Word but the one that leaped off the page for me was Ecclesiastes 9:12.
"Moreover, no man knows when his hour will
come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them." -Ecc 9:12
Not a particularly comforting verse...I was hoping for something about justice and punishment for evil, or another reminder that these little angels are with Jesus. Instead, what spoke to me was a reminder that none of us, not even the most innocent and defenseless, are guaranteed our next breath. Sobering to say the least. But I didn't take it as a warning to live in fear of what may come, but rather a reminder to treasure each moment and not take anything for granted.
So what can we do in response to a horrific event such as this? What can WE do, no matter how close or far we live from Newtown, CT? How can every one of us make the memory of these children live on, long after each victim is laid to rest and the news coverage fades?
We can gain some perspective. And see our lives and roles as moms through a new lens every day.
Perspective is the one common thing that I make it a point to gain from every personal tragedy in my own life.
When we get dragged down by the hard and mundane parts of motherhood, we can remember...we still HAVE our babies. We can take the not-so-fun parts of parenthood as reminders of how lucky we are to be experiencing them at all.
Little 6 year old Charlotte's mom will never again be up all night changing sheets while she is sick with the flu.
Seven year old Daniel's mom will never have to scrub stains out another pair of his dress pants.
Little 6 year old Olivia's mom will never receive a report that she talks too much in class.
Josephine Gay, age 7, won't ever get into trouble for giving herself a haircut on school picture day.
The mother of six year old Ana won't have another opportunity to break up a fight between her and her brother.
Six year old Dylan's mom will never get the chance to clean up his spilled milk again.
The mother of 6 year old Madeleine won't have the pleasure of picking up her Barbie accessories scattered across the floor again.
Catherine, 6 years old, will never get in trouble for playing in the sandbox in her brand new dress.
Seven year old Chase's mom won't ever get to scold him for running in the house again.
Six year old Jesse's mom will never hurt her foot stepping on his plastic army guys.
Little James, 6 years old, will never get in trouble for throwing a ball in the house and breaking a family heirloom.
Seven year old Grace will never spill her grape juice on the new, white carpet.
Six year old Emilie's mom won't get the chance to scold her for coloring on the walls.
Six year old Jack's mom won't ever get to remind him not to leave his bike lying in the driveway again.
The mother of 6 year old Noah will never have to tell her little monkey to stop jumping on the bed for the millionth time.
6 year old Caroline will not reach the age of arguing with her mom over what is appropriate for her prom dress.
Six year old Jessica will never again have to be told to share with her little brothers.
Six year old Avielle will never get to back her dad's car into the mailbox as a newly licensed driver.
The mother of 6 year old Benjamin Wheeler will never spend a night waiting up for her teenager who is out past his curfew.
And the mother of 6 year old Allison won't have the opportunity to tell her to eat her vegetables one more time.
Perspective is a big one that can really change your life. We can strive to appreciate the moments we have with our children...EVERY moment. And while I know that every mom needs to vent now and then to keep her cool (myself most definitely included), we can learn to think twice before complaining. We can make sure we are surrounded by the right audience when we need to vent, remembering just how painful it may be for a mom who has lost a child to hear us complain about our potty training woes. We can raise our children with the morals and character that are essential to understanding the value and sanctity of life. We can raise awareness and do what we know is right for our mentally ill children, no matter how hard it may be. And we can thank our teachers & principals, so many of whom love our kids enough to lay down their own lives for their protection.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." -1 John 3:16
We can teach our children to remember the heroes and not the villains, and to look for the positive in every situation...as Mr. Rodgers' mother told him to "look for the helpers." But most importantly, we can pray for the grieving families and friends of these lives cut short, because "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." -James 5:16
Hug your little ones close this Christmas, Mommas, and pray for those who cannot. May 2013 be a year of new perspective and life's moments lived to their fullest for you and your families!