Let them be brave.

I remember Sam’s first day of kindergarten, and how I wondered if he would be okay, if he would be scared. I catch my breath when he runs fast down the big hill across from our house. I see moms putting their little kids on the school bus and wonder how they do it.

We live in the age of helicopter moms, of parents who go to great lengths to protect their children from any kind of harm or disappointment whatsoever.

I was reminded this morning of another September morning, fifty-five years ago. I am sure it was a beautiful fall day as nine brave families sent their precious children to high school. These were the first nine African-American students to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. It must have felt as if the whole state was against them. The governor had ordered the National Guard to block them. Angry parents and students in the community had threatened them.

The President of the United States sent the 101st Airborne to protect those nine students as they walked into school that first day. But the 101st couldn’t escort them to class every day, and they were all subject to some sort of verbal and physical abuse, extreme racism and mistreatment by students, teachers and staff. And they kept going back. And their parents kept allowing them to go back.

Can you imagine how it must have felt to be the mom or dad, the grandparent, the sibling of those nine? To wonder every day if they were going to be hurt or tormented. To wonder if it was all worth it. How brave those parents must have been to let their children go. They couldn’t go for them. All they could do was let go… let their children be brave.

What if they had all refused to allow their children to be the first to integrate Arkansas schools? What if all the black families had said no, the danger is too great? But they didn’t. Someone had to be first, someone’s child had to carry the risk in order for the door to finally be opened to all children.

I think about all the ways I get into a tizzy over my children, the things I keep them from or worry about. I can’t imagine watching them be yelled at, spit upon, abused, all so they could go to school.

But I do want my children to be brave; not in a risky way that could unnecessarily cause them or others harm, but in great ways. I want them to be brave in ways that bring glory to God and bring good to other people. I want them to do the scary thing, even if it hurts, if that’s what it takes to bring about God’s will for their lives.

We need to be very careful about trying to protect our children from everything, or we may just succeed.

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{I was inspired to write this morning thanks to today’s The Writer’s Almanac. If you haven’t listened to this show before, I highly recommend it; it’s a wonderful little nugget of American History, literature and poetry & it’s just a few minutes long.}

Where were you?

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.

To think it has been that long makes me feel sad, and old.

I had been eight years old for exactly a month.  I was in the second grade, in Mrs. Neely’s class, but I was in Miss Tripp’s room with several other students.  We had our chairs in a semi-circle around the TV, which of course was sitting on the top of one of those tall rolling carts.  I remember having to look up to see it.

I think every child in America was sitting in front of a television; they were sending a “regular” person, a teacher, into space. She was going to be sending back reports to the school children of America. It was going to be exciting and historic.

I’m sure we were all giddy over the school day coming to a halt so we could watch. We had all seen pictures and video of shuttles launching, but never live. And this was the 80’s, when space shuttle launches were still cool and exciting for us. So there we were, watching the crew wave as they boarded the ship, listening to the countdown, and feeling excitement as the shuttle fired up and lifted off.

And then my generation had our first Kennedy moment; a horrific national tragedy happening right before our eyes. I know there were gasps and tears; we were all hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked, that maybe they had survived. I remember the adult voices on TV changing, but trying to remain brave, hoping themselves that a miracle occurred and that a rescue mission would be taking place in the waters below.

There would be no miracle. I can’t remember much of the rest of the day. I wish I could remember what our teachers said to us, or what Mama said when she picked me up from school. I vaguely remember watching Reagan on TV later that night, but I don’t remember anything he said.  I’m sure the adults just did their best to comfort us through their own grief. That’s what adults do.

These televised tragedies have become very commonplace now; we almost expect to be able to see the events still in progress.  But seeing them more frequently doesn’t make them less tragic, just maybe a little less shocking.

I think every generation has that “where were you?” moment.  I know my mom can tell you in detail where she was sitting when the news broke that Kennedy had been shot. Our grandparents can recall the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, as well as where they were when Japan surrendered.

I would love for my kids to live a life free of “where were you?” moments. But we live in a fallen world, so I know they will face their own.

I am so thankful to know that this life isn’t all there is and that every tragedy, national and private, that we endure will be redeemed in the life to come.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:3-5

So, where were you 25 years ago?

Jubal Early was Here

I took the kids over to our closest battlefield, Monocacy.  I have wanted to go out there since we moved here; it’s just a beautiful, spare landscape.  The day we drove down to DC to tour the White House this farm was just magical, still completely covered in a perfectly fluffy white coating of snow.  I hate that I didn’t take pictures that day, but we were on a tight schedule.

The pictures I posted of the kids yesterday were shot out there as well.  Monocacy is the site of the Confederate’s final attempt to invade the North and take DC.

Anyway, here are some pictures from yesterday. Enjoy!