When I heard the news mid-day on Friday, I'm not going to lie, all I wanted to do was go pick up my 3 kids at elementary school, interrupt their school day, pull them out, and tuck them safely under my wings at home.
I rebuked those feelings of fear and reminded myself over and over that God did not give us a spirit of fear.
Still it was a long afternoon until 3:15 finally arrived. I got to the school early, which I never do, typically timing it to exactly arrive as they are let out. I glanced around at the other parents waiting and wondered if they felt it too, that our kids were soon going to walk out of that elementary school, but for too many parents in Connecticut, that wasn't the case. They didn't get the privilege of picking their children up from school on Friday, nor will they ever again.
The children did come out and I got to hug my kindergartener and my 2nd grader and my 4th grader and it didn't matter if they stayed "on green" that day or how they did on their spelling test or if they ate their lunch or if they got their coat dirty or lost it completely. All that mattered was that they were alive! And I could hold their precious faces in my hands and tell them how happy I was to see them.
We came home and had snack. They knew nothing about the tragedy that had occurred at an elementary school while they were at elementary school. But, we read our family advent verse for the day and it was from Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25. It's a verse I've always loved because it reminds me that no matter how bad things are, there will be happy ending one day. We are promised that Jesus is still alive and He is coming back to this earth!
I reminded my children of all the really terrible things that happened to Job and yet he clung to the hope of that verse, the knowledge that His Redeemer lives and will in the end stand upon the earth!
Then over the weekend we talked a lot about being the light in this world.
Which I think is so important to remember in times where darkness seems so thick. Each day every one of us has the ability to make choices about things we can do to push back the darkness. The question is will we do them? Will our children?
We never let our children watch the news, not out of a desire to shelter our children from the hard aspects of the world (we did take 2 of our children to Ethiopia and we send them to public school) but out of a desire to protect them from the media spin and hype surrounding tragedies.
Finally, we told them without too many details about what had happened in Connecticut, wanting them to hear it from us rather than another kid at school.
My 7 year old did ask if something like that could happen at their school and as a parent that is such a hard question because I don't want my kids to be afraid, but as much as I want to easily, confidently say, "Of course not!" I can't because that is not the truth.
I could, however, assure them that these things are really rare, that their elementary school is literally right across from the police station, and that their principal and teachers work really hard to keep them safe at school. I am so thankful to be able to send them to a school where I know our principal would absolutely put himself in the line of fire to save my kids and the teachers also love the kids in that way.
At night after the kids had gone to bed my husband and I watched some of the news coverage over the internet. When I saw the faces of some of the victims, it was like being punched in the stomach. Such innocent babies! Such horrifying circumstances!
My heart and prayers are with their families, their town, our country.
With my own family, with myself, I'm focusing on what we can do to shine the light of Jesus in this world.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5
As I volunteered in the library at our local elementary school this morning I was reminded of one of the many reasons why I do send my kids to school even if it means allowing them out from my safety net. As we wrapped up craft time a few kids were misbehaving, the librarian and I were trying to contain the behavior and also clean up. I didn't even notice my own kindergarten son diligently helping to clean up until his teacher walked in to get the kids and praised him for being quiet and helping. I was so proud and told him so later. "You were the light this morning, Buddy! You could have made a choice to misbehave with some of the other boys, but you didn't join in with them, and in fact you did the opposite and you were a helper cleaning up the craft things!"
I just heard on the news that someone from California called the general store in Newtown, Conn. and payed for a free cup of coffee for the entire town today. Everyone that came in got a free cup and there was a sign that said it was donated by a man in California. Oh how much I love that! Light in the darkness!
Sure, it is a small thing considering the enormous pain they are experiencing but it's caring and acting out of love for other people! In that light it's huge and exactly what this world needs more of!