Friday, December 28, 2012

9 years

My Dearest Abigail,

Its hard to believe that you are 9 years old today. I sometimes reminisce on your toddler years and feel like they were just yesterday. You were my little toe-headed, blue-eyed bundle of energy with an insatiable thirst for exploring the world around you. You walked early, talked early, and seemed to get stuck in every little place imaginable. I just chuckle when remembering the many times I had to pull and yank your stuck appendages out of chairs, trees, and any other small space you thought you could fit into. 

I am so thankful for the young lady you are becoming. You have such a God-honoring and joyous heart, and it makes me so happy to see you developing into such a beautiful person on the inside and outside. Your inner beauty and desire to please and honor God will direct your happiness and contentment as you grow older. 

My precious girl, your intelligence amazes me every day. You have always been so incredibly bright, but I have seen your knowledge take off at warp speed this year. I find it fascinating that you can remember so many facts and figures in that little head of yours. I have always said that your brain is indeed like a huge sponge, soaking up as much knowledge as you can at all times. Reading quite well for the past few years, you have found that you are actually enjoying reading this year. You often read for pleasure now instead of as a chore or homework. It pleases my heart to peek into your room and see you curled up with a book on your bed. 

But my favorite part of your attitude and personality is your compassion. You are perhaps the most compassionate child I know. You have a giving heart and are constantly trying to please those around you. Before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, you closed your eyes for a couple of seconds and made a wish. When I inquired as to what you wished for, you sheepishly confessed that you wished that Nathan would not have mitochondrial disease anymore. Always thinking about others above yourself, your wish did not surprise me, but it did touch my heart. Your compassion is one that we all need to emulate. 

You are a loyal friend and trust-worthy in so many ways. You love unconditionally. You smile and laugh often. You are just such a joy to be around. And I love you with all my heart, my sweet Abby. Happy 9th Birthday, sweet pea. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Newtown, CT

I had sat down to eat lunch and check facebook during the first lull of that busy Friday morning when I first read of the devastating news of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Grief stricken and in a state of disbelief, I sat in front of the TV screen trying to comprehend the magnitude and heartache of what had happened...just like thousands of other Americans at that time.

I left early to pick the girls up from school and just sat in the parking lot. I was so anxious to put my arms around both of them and just have them under my watchful eye again. I couldn't help but imagine myself in the tragic situation that was happening in Connecticut. What if it was our elementary school? Our children? Our friends? Our teachers? What if that was our community?

People were already talking about trying to not expose your children to the horrific news of the day. "Protect their innocence" was one quote that I saw several times. I understand the thoughts behind such statements, as we do not wish to create fear in our children who are not familiar with the atrocities of our world. Nor do we want to unwillingly expose them to the heartache that death is not only reserved for the old and feeble.

Sadly, my girls are very familiar with the fact that some children do not live to adulthood. So many of our little friends afflicted with mitochondrial disease have passed away the past few years, and we all have learned to live with the silent daily reminder that the future of children born with this genetic disease is very uncertain. The poignant questions they have asked about their brother and our little friends who have died have provoked intensely emotional conversations that have bonded us together like nothing else and caused these two precious girls to mature in a way I had never imagined.

After picking my girls up from school Friday afternoon and hugging them for much longer than they ever anticipated, we sat down together as I explained what we knew had transpired that morning when we all were going about our normal schedules. I respect those who want to shelter their children from such tragedy, but in knowing the emotional level my girls can handle at this point in their lives, I wanted to be the one to tell them of the news of this act of utter and complete evil that had horribly broken the lives of so many families.

It was a precious but solemn time of communion with my 2 oldest children while explaining the unimaginable events of that day and answering any questions they had. I wanted to make sure they knew that we needed to be in constant prayer for the families who lost children, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, and wives during this terrible time...just like I stress to them the importance of praying for the families who have lost their children to mitochondrial disease when our little friends die. And just as I expected from past experiences of ending these difficult conversations with my precious girls, Abby departed to a place where she could spend some time to herself and think, and Emma stayed directly by my side so she could ask more questions to understand the situation better and be able to seek the comfort of touch she needed by being directly by my side.

Tucked tightly in my arms, Emma and I talked about this terrible situation a bit before she instantly sat up and locked her compassionate eyes with my own. With tear-rimmed eyes and trembling lips, she uttered something that will stay with me forever: "God can make good come out of this."

God can make good come out of this.

It was the emotional utterings of someone who was the exact same age as most of the children murdered on that horrifying day that spoke volumes to my soul...a 6 year old child with the spiritual maturity to minister to her own mother.

I trust that God is hearing the cries of an entire nation and holding these dear families up during this unfathomably heartbreaking time in their lives. I pray that he is holding each one of them up in his arms.  And I also pray that this disaster brings our families and our nation closer to Him. Come Quickly, Lord Jesus.

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