Growing Through Tragedies

Last night I woke up to blaring sirens.  When I opened my eyes, I realized that I could actually see the lights from my bedroom window.  It turned out that a house about a half a block away was on fire.  As I sat up in my bed and watched the firefighters work to put the fire out, I was reminded of another tragedy that occurred almost three months ago that took the lives of two boys that would’ve turned two less than a month later.  Their house, only three down from mine, caught on fire in broad daylight two days before Christmas.  Since my mom and I were the first ones on the scene, we saw and heard more than everyone but the firefighters.  I will never be able to forget the screams of the mother whose children were still inside her burning house.  Nearly 30 minutes later, we watched as the firefighters pulled out a lifeless little body, followed by another a few minutes later.  Two lives were taken much too early on that tragic day, but I believe that even though I may not have been directly involved, God still put me there to experience those events for a reason.

Unfortunately, all too often I think we get comfortable where we are and can easily lose our fire for God.  Yesterday on the radio, Chip Ingram from Living on the Edge was talking about how because God loves us so much, he will put things in our lives that may seem harsh to protect us from ourselves.  Only God knows what we will do in the future if our situation does not change.  Just like Chip said, God will let things in our life that will likely hurt us and nearly break us as a way of telling us that something needs to change.  I also think that the tragedy doesn’t have to directly affect us for it to bring us to our knees, just like the fire I watched claim two innocent lives.  That day broke my heart for the families involved, but it also made me realize that that could’ve just as easily been me or my family or someone else I cared about.

I’m not saying God is out to hurt us.  The opposite is true – He is out to love us and protect us.  But I am saying God will let things that will hurt us into our lives to help us grow.

A God-centered life is not an easy life.  Life will never be easy for long, but a God-centered life is also truly rewarding if we choose to live it because of the unconditional love He will always provide.  So let’s choose to look past the tragedy and the hurt and know that God has more in store for all of us.  Let’s see the light.

(If you want to listen to Chip Ingram’s entire broadcast, copy and paste this link: http://livingontheedge.org/broadcasts/player?bid=75e7e1d3-7a6e-4445-8828-a7587323237a#.UynR3PSwIzM )

*I began writing this post in March and am just now finishing it, so please forgive the incorrect dates.

This, I Believe

Children deserve a place, regardless of ability, to laugh, love, be loved, and grow. This, I believe.

For the past eight months, I have worked with young toddlers in a daycare on campus. Each semester, some new kiddos are brought into our classroom so we see a constant sea of new faces. This semester, two of the new kids have disabilities. One little girl has Down Syndrome, who I will call Krista, and the other little girl will likely be diagnosed with Autism, who I will call Bella. Before working with these two girls, I had never had the chance to interact with children with disabilities before on any level so it was incredibly new for me.

When the semester began, Bella often played on her own and didn’t make eye contact even when my eyes were right there for her to look at. Getting her attention, much less holding it, and figuring out what she wanted when she wasn’t happy was difficult and that became frustrating to me, until I started singing to her. Bella loves to sing and be sung to. As soon as I start singing, she looks into my eyes and the biggest grin comes across her face even if she was crying just a second before. Knowing that she struggles with this, it melts my heart every single time. I sing song after song to Bella, and she continues to look at me, with a grin from ear to ear, and we love the power of song together.

Now, a month and a half later, Bella will tell me what sound an animal makes when I prompt her, use simple sign language, and even occasionally make eye contact with me even when I’m not singing. I have seen the progress that Bella has made in such a short amount of time, and it warms my heart to know I played a part in it. My experience with Bella has shown me that if I actively choose to laugh with and love every child that is in my classroom, then I can make a positive difference in a child’s life someday or maybe even today.

All of the toddlers that I work with hold an incredibly special place in my heart and have shown me what it really means to love someone like they are my own. All of these kiddos deserve the world, and I believe that through showing them it’s okay to laugh, love, be loved, and grow with me that it’s at their fingertips.