Trying to make sense of all this

Grieving Angel via flickr
Grieving Angel via flickr

Heartbroken
Angry
Sad
Frustrated
Furious
Outraged
Confused
Afraid
Grateful
Fearful
Worried
Dumbfounded
Vengeful
Infuriated
Hateful
Heartbroken

Heartbroken

Heartbroken

If you’re like me, these words only scratch the surface of the wide range of emotions experienced in the wake of today’s tragedy.

No. Tragedy doesn’t feel like the right word. It isn’t strong enough. But it’s the best I can come up with. So it’ll have to do. And in the wake of this horrible tragedy (there’s that word again), I have a few thoughts to share. Not because I think I have anything profound to say. In fact, I think I have very little to say that’s of any value. But I also feel like I need to get these things out because…well…I just need to get them out. I pray you’ll forgive me if what I say isn’t all that refined or profound. It might not even be coherent.

We need Jesus

I have a friend who says that events like today help solidify her belief that there is no God. I certainly understand that. When you look at how broken things are and how utterly unexplainable something like this is, then I can see why you might conclude that God either doesn’t care or He doesn’t exist. I get it. I really do.

I just disagree.

The world sure feels like it’s spiraling out of control. People are broken. We’re surrounded by darkness. As a society, it feels like we’re on this bus that’s speeding towards a brick wall and we’re showing no sign of slowing down at all. I don’t think this means that there is no God or that He doesn’t care. I firmly believe this shows that the world needs a Savior. The healing, life-changing power of Jesus Christ is what this world needs.

I’m not talking about a political rule. I’m not talking about some establishment of a worldwide neo-Constantinian Christendom. I don’t think that’s the answer. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a gun control issue. It isn’t even a morality issue. It’s a Jesus issue.

I’m talking about a world where the Holy Spirit guides the hearts of women and men and children and the darkness is pushed back by the light. I know this won’t happen this side of the New Heaven and New Earth. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pursue that, fighting against the enemy every step of the way.

Now more than ever, the world needs a Savior. The world has a Savior. We just need to show Him to everyone.

This is why we have Christmas

Christmas isn’t about Christmas trees. It isn’t about getting together with family. It isn’t about the cookies or the candy or even the presents.

Christmas is about a world that was dark and full of broken people. Christmas is about God wrapping Himself in flesh and piercing the darkness with the light of His love as displayed in the life and ministry of Jesus. And because of that we have hope. Because of that we know there will one day be peace. Not just an absence of fighting and violence (which would be awesome), but real, true, lasting PEACE.

 Why didn’t God stop this?

I don’t know.

I really don’t.

I can’t explain why this happened, other than the fact there’s real evil and bad things happen to good people.

But here’s two thoughts that have continued to resonate in my heart and soul this afternoon and evening…

  1. When the world was falling down around King Jehoshaphat, he prayed this prayer:

    “God, we don’t know what to do. But our eyes are on You.”
    – 2 Chronicles 20:12b

    This should be our prayer every day. Especially in the midst of tragedies like today’s.

  2. I had the honor of preaching in Santa Claus, Indiana, recently. In one of the messages I shared, I said this while discussing the night that Jesus was arrested:

    The short answer is ‘Yes.’ God is in control. Why do things like this happen? I have no idea. I just…I really don’t know. I can’t claim to know because I’m not God. But here’s what I do know. God is right there, picking up the pieces alongside of us when things spiral out of control and the world feels completely dark. The Gospel of Luke gives a few more details from this story. In it, he mentions that after telling Peter to stop, Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed it. In the midst of creation’s darkest hours, Jesus was there. He was there picking up the pieces and healing someone who was part of a group that was about to kill him. God was in control then and He’s in control of things now. And He’s the One working towards bringing healing towards our broken world and our broken hearts.

A few random thoughts

  • Did I hug my kids tighter today? Of course I did. You hugged yours tighter today, too. All of us were reminded to hug our kids every day. Don’t take them for granted. We cannot take them for granted. Ever.
  • Can we be real for a moment? If I believe that Jesus died for all humanity because He “so loved the world,” then that means that the shooter is a soul that’s precious to Jesus. Jesus died for him, even though he did something monstrous and horrendous and subhuman. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a part of me that kind of likes the thought that he’s receiving punishment right now. The other part of me is disgusted with that part part of me that’s happy with this. Does that make sense? Love is supposed to win. I’m supposed to be celebrating grace. But sometimes it’s just so stinkin’ hard. Because I really don’t want to celebrate grace right now. I had a similar struggle when bin Laden was killed. Yes. I want to have my cake and eat it, too.
  • Kaitlin Roig needs to be a household name. She is a hero in the truest sense of the word. I don’t care if anyone remembers the murderer’s name. Everyone should know hers!
  • I remember when it felt like Ronald Reagan spoke directly to me after the Challenger disaster. I think President Obama did something similar today. I don’t give a lick about your political leanings. Put them aside and listen to him.

Love God. Love people. Hug your kids. Do good. I said it before and I’ll say it again. This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a gun control issue. Those are just surface issues, in reality. This is a heart issue. So let’s push back the darkness by allowing the Light to shine even brighter through us.

Beauty From Ashes – a guest post from @mommie_Jen

Although some of the memories have faded, and time has healed the wounds, it was a moment that will forever be with me. In bed, asleep, but tormented by grief and thoughts. Unable to think. To pray. To breathe, it seemed.

We were on our quest to have a baby. And I was newly pregnant. Or rather, I had been newly pregnant. And now, suddenly, I wasn’t. I was cried out, talked out, prayed out, and worn out. I remember praying without words, but rather with feelings. In my sleep, where the dreams expressed my heart, I could just be.

And I saw with new eyes. I saw Him. The one that had breathed life into creation, the one that had formed this tiny person who’s heartbeat of life was now gone. I saw where I was. And really, it’s something that can’t sufficiently be put into words. I was with Him, and so was the daughter I had.

And so began the healing process and the next nearly a decade of waiting. We decided against any more fertility treatments. There’s more to the story, but there would be 2 more losses and a clear nudging from the Holy Spirit that said to wait. We decided to adopt “someday” but were led into the wilderness of waiting.

The decade of my 20’s sped by quickly. I worked full time in a medical office and helped with the youth at church. Every so often, I would explore adoption, but the “wait” was still spoken to my heart. Difficult as it was, it was a season of trust. I didn’t know if we would ever have children and we started to think about life without the possibility. Somehow, though, just as clearly as I had heard the “wait”, I knew that I would be a parent in my 30’s. And so the decade trucked on.

We were out to dinner one night when it happened. And by it, I mean it was as if the skies opened, angels sang, and God once again spoke to my heart.

Now. Go. Go now. This is the time.

Before our dinner was over, the plan was set in place. We were scared out of our minds. It was daunting. Overwhelming.

50 weeks later, I somberly watched the Ethiopian ground below me disappear with my new son. The next year of adjustment would be a difficult one for all of us. And as we attached, it became clear to me. The waiting wasn’t for a baby, any baby. It was for him.

Two beautiful boys playing in Lake Erie

Postscript

Now I am a crazy busy first year homeschooling mom to two little boys that are 5 and 3, loving this slightly crazy season of raising little boys!

**Thanks, Jenny, for this amazing post!  Everyone’s welcome to follow Jenny on twitter at @mommie_Jen. – Matt**

“We just watched all those people die!”

I was at home.

It was Tuesday morning and I was taking my time getting to the office. Aiden, one year old at the time, was sitting at the table, finishing up his breakfast. Christy, pregnant with Alyson, was in the bedroom and I thought she was asleep.

When the Today Show returned from break, I heard Matt Lauer say something about a live shot of the World Trade Center and how a plane had crashed into it.

I gasped.

I thought it was hardly audible, but apparently it wasn’t. Christy came bursting out of the bedroom asking, “What? What happened?”

Like many people, I just thought it was some type of small, private plane. But the image of the gaping hole with smoke billowing out of it was haunting. Then the news began to trickle out. This was no small, private plane. It was an airliner.

Was it some freak accident? A horrible coincidence? I tried to convince myself that this was anything but the elephant in the room.

I turned away for a moment and let Aiden out of his high chair. I heard Christy gasp and then a voice on the Today Show say that a second plane had just hit the Tower.

I joined so many people around the country and watched in shock as we watched the smoke pour out of the World Trade Center, desperately hoping that the first-responders would be able to rescue as many people as possible.

Then the unthinkable happened. The first building fell. And the second. All that remained in the skyline was a pillar of dust and smoke.

I was speechless.

Christy finally managed to say, “We just watched all of those people die!”

No, I reassured her. Surely they got everyone that they could out of those buildings. Initial guesstimates were that tens of thousands of people could have perished in the terrorist attacks that day. Horrifying.

My heart was full of pain, anger, and disbelief. The world was in chaos. Two more planes had gone down. How many more? We sat in the Living Room, wondering what else was going to happen. And why didn’t they get more of those people out of the towers? Why did they have to park the ambulances so close to Ground Zero?

I felt so powerless.

Then something happened that I will never, ever forget. Aiden came running into our room. In the midst of all of this chaos and terror, he was screeching with joy as he pushed his corn-popper toy. I wanted to grab him, hold him, and say to him, “Aiden, don’t you realize what’s going on here? Don’t you know what’s happening?” But I didn’t. I knew he wouldn’t understand.

In the midst of all of this chaos, fear, and anger, I watched joy and innocence as my boy ran through the house with his corn-popper with such glee.

And I wished I could have that innocence again.

What about you? Where were you? What’s your story?

1 Year Ago Today…

Praying for the Chapman family today as they continue to navigate through life in the shadow of the heartbreaking tragedy that happened on May 21 of last year. 

Words still escape me as to why things like this happen. But in spite of my inability to understand why God would allow such a thing to occur, I do know where He was. He was right there in the midst of it and picking up the pieces – just as He has done time and time again.

Groundhog Day: My Nephew

Part 5 in the Groundhog Day Series where I try to answer the question: If you were forced to re-live a single day for the rest of your life, what day would you pick?

Answer #5: June 8, 2005

June 8, 2005 changed my life forever.

June 8, 2005 was one of the most painful days of my life.

There’s so much I could say about that day, but in the end, I think it’s best to just say that even with all of the heartache and pain, I’d gladly choose to re-live that day…just to be able to hold my nephew for a few more minutes…just to show him (and his mom and dad) how much he was loved…how much he is still loved.

Of course, re-living that day over and over would mean that I wouldn’t have sung Happy Birthday to Caedmon last night. And wouldn’t have heard him say “Do it again!” after we sang it.

Of course, there’s a lesson here about living in the past, but I’ll save that for one final ‘Groundhog Day’ post.

In the meantime, I think I’ll sit back and cherish the small amount of time that Jaron was with us.

The eternal God is our refuge. And underneath us are His everlasting arms.
~ Deuteronomy 33:27

“Hug your kids every day…”

Right before Sunday school this past Sunday morning, a friend of mine walked into the church building and mentioned there were several police cars and other first-responders right around the corner. All of us wondered: What’s going on?

Since I wasn’t teaching a Sunday school class that morning, I walked down the block to see if I could find out a little more information. Sure enough – there were at least three Sheriff’s cars and an EMT parked on the street with their lights still flashing. I knew I couldn’t just walk right up and ask what was going on because…well…no one would tell me anything, anyway. But I feared the worst. Two houses on that street are very close to each other. The vehicles were spread out along the street, so I couldn’t figure out an exact location. I froze as I realized that there are small children in both houses. Our kids have played in both of their yards.

Oh, I hope nothing happened to any of them.

Shortly after the worship service, I found out. A seven month-old boy died in his sleep the night before. How utterly devastating! What do you do? What do you say to a family that just experienced such an unspeakable, unthinkable tragedy?

My heart breaks every time I drive by their house. I’ve tried to be there for them as much as I can. Took them food yesterday. Went to the funeral today. They asked if the kids could come over this evening to play with the baby’s older (preschool age) brother and cousins. So we went over there this evening. Of course, now they begin the seemingly impossible task of carrying on. I get this sense that we need to be there with them, too. That we need to come alongside this aching family and somehow help them navigate this.

That’s what neighbors do, right?

They offer to watch the kids for a while.

They provide a shoulder to cry on when things are too overwhelming.

They help provide shelter in a world that’s crashing down all around.

Isn’t that the neighbor Jesus was talking about in the Parable of the Good Samaritan? And yes, that sounds like it’s going to get a little messy.

This week, I’ve been hugging my kids a little tighter each morning as they board the bus. Mrs. Wheeler’s voice has been ringing in my ears the last few days: “Hug your kids every day. Even when they’re big enough that they don’t want you to anymore.”

Horribly Sad News

Praying for the Chapman family.

This song has been going through my head since I heard the news late last night. I’m sure it’s going through a lot of people’s heads now.

How unbelievably sad.

After hearing about it, I just sat by Alyson and watched her sleep.

A Sad Day

Kevin and I are driving down to Evansville early tomorrow morning. Another former member of our Scout Troop. And like Adam before him, Jimmy was the son of a Scout Dad and died at entirely too young of an age.

I’ve known about his dad for years. I’ve even sat in on his Sunday School class when we’ve been in town. He helped me through some rough times back when I was trying to figure out what to do with my life by connecting me with people who could help me straighten things out. He was on the fishing trip to Missouri that Dad, Kevin, and I went on. That trip helped deepen my appreciation for him.

Although I know I’ll see people I haven’t seen in a long time, I’m not exactly looking forward to tomorrow.

Vote for Zach

Borrowed from Dr. Street

Please go here to vote for Zach Hunter for CNN’s Hero. Zach, who is a 15 year old abolitionist, stands to win $25,000 to apply toward his work called “Loose Change 2 Loosen Chains”.

Zach has been an abolitionist since he was 12. He is the author of a book on abolition for young people and a spokesman for several abolitionist groups.

You can vote as often as you like but must do so before 11/12/07.

Again, vote for Zach right here! It’s quick. It’s simple and it’s a good, good thing.

(x-posted on

)

Quick Update

This Journal has become quite a multimedia experience over the past few weeks, with all of the video and photo postings. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There’s so much I’ve wanted to post, but most of it has to do with IU basketball and football and – to be honest, I’m tired of talking about it right now. I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it. This isn’t a sports blog, although sports do tend to take it over from time to time. Sorry about that. Real updates will be coming…sometime. The next few weeks will be rather crazy at church. We have the Trunk or Treat coming soon and our Homecoming Service is the following Sunday (y’all are invited…even in Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee! Can you really let distance be an excuse? I didn’t think so), a lot of my energies are being spent on getting things ready – which is a very good thing. Oh yeah, the kids are on Fall Break this week, so I’m trying to spend as much time with them as I can, too.

This post is way too long. It was just supposed to be a quick update. Click here to read the rest of my ramblings