Wednesday, November 3, 2010

...their beloved soldier...

Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer

The years since I wrote the post below have brought much to this precious family.  Births, graduations, and all the many celebrations that come with belonging to such a large family. But, as the days and weeks and years pass, the ache for what could have been, for one more day, never subsides.  November 11th is Rememberance Day in Canada.  On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour we stop and remember.  As a child I sat in the packed school gymnasium while decorated soldiers spoke of sacrifice.  What did that mean to a child? I would stop wherever I was at 11:00am while everything paused for a moment in and I would follow along, quieting my thoughts, fidgeting with the poppy pinned to my coat.  Yet, until I observed the sacrifice in the face of a grieving loved one I could never truly internalize the cost.  Never before could I picture the mommies and daddies who drop to the ground in devastation, as a uniformed man stands solemnly in their kitchen.  Nor could I imagine the ache that each Christmas or birthday party will always bring - an empty seat and a void.  Freedom costs...  much more than even the lives of our young soldiers.  It costs the very souls of many left behind.  Those who live on cloaked in the weight of the loss.  They will never forget - and we must always remember.

We heard the awful news last night on the way home from AWANAS. The girls told us that their friends’ brother had died in Afghanistan. Immediately my heart sank as I thought of this young man whom we had not seen for a long time. He had been a soldier for a few years now.

When I got home I looked up the news station on the Internet to see if there were any more details about him. The top story Canadian soldier dies in accident in Afghanistan. Reading that was almost surreal because I could picture the young man they were talking about. I have sat at the family’s long dinner table after church with his whole family – all thirteen brothers and sisters, a mom and a dad … and always a few guests. I remembered the new pictures hanging on the wall as you come in the door of their home. Portraits of the whole family together: a snapshot of how they have all grown together through the years. The later pictures show an ever enlarging bunch as many of the kids have married and brought children of their own into the fold.

My heart broke as I thought of them. For the media: those who watch the news or read the papers he will be another soldier killed in Afghanistan. A headline too soon forgotten, but for the family, he is a beloved son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. He is a face that will be missing from family pictures and a warm soul that will never sit at their table again.

My prayers and tears are with them as they begin to say goodbye to a precious piece that makes them who they are.

...they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed...He guided them to their haven.
Psalms 107:28-30

Monday, October 18, 2010

What do you SEE?

How good are you at SEEing things?  Especially things that have not come to pass yet.  I love to read about inventors - people who SEE even when that vision is not yet tangible.  SEE-ing in ministry helps motivate me to persevere, to put aside my insecurities and ambitions and press on.  I just read Mary Beth Chapman's book "Choosing to SEE" about the tragic death of their five year old daughter and how the simple word "SEE"  became a choice for them every day.  Even now, when things are tough and heartbreaking and even when hope abound they make the choice to SEE.

This month our children are learning about INITIAVE - SEEing what needs to be done and doing it.  We are studying the story of Nehemiah how he chose to SEE not just the visible crumbling wall but the unseen finished work.   Nehemiah chose to SEE, and then to plan and act.  And as he moved forward doing what needed to be done, others were inspired to follow. They will learn that when we do our part God shows up and does what only HE can do.   For some it might appear to be a story about a building project but God knew it was so much more and this quote  brings it all into perspective for me...

"Ezra reads the scroll, and God's word becomes more important to them than it had ever been before, because they actually witnessed and saw what God did.   And there was an entire generation of children who had lived in a broken down city and as a result of SEEing what God did through Nehemiah and their parents and the adults of that generation, believed in God, in a way they had never believed in Him before.  Nehemiah taught an entire generation to SEE things in a way they had never seen."

That's a challenge for me - and a vision I want to hold tight to.  When we, as leaders, see what needs to be done and do it God can speak into our children and youth in ways we can only imagine... and do what only God can do.  Can you SEE it?!