Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Explaining Suicide to A First Grader

I never thought I'd need to talk to my 6 year old about suicide. But on the bus ride home this afternoon, some of the older students told her about a classmate of theirs who is believe to have committed suicide this morning.

So, because I'm not afraid to tell my children the truth about life, we talked about what she heard. I didn't try to distract her from the story, leaving her with unanswered question. Instead, I used the opportunity to talk to her about broken hearts.

A while ago, after the Sandy Hook school shooting, she wanted to know why someone would want to hurt other people and then kill themselves. At that time, I told her about broken hearts and that when you combine a broken heart with a "broken brain" (my overly simplified phrase for mental illness), it leads some people to do bad things, things that hurt others.

Today, I used those same words to describe what happened to Rebecca (I'm not saying she was mentally ill, but if she did commit suicide, she was not thinking clearly). My daughter's bus friends told her Rebecca had been made fun of because she had pale skin and really dark hair. Charlotte thought it was silly to tease someone because of that, and I affirmed this. We do not judge people by their appearance, but rather by how they treat others. In truth, Rebecca was a beautiful young girl with a nice smile and dimples.

Rebecca had been bullied and, according to a comment left on the Ledger article, her parents were working on finding a school environment that would nurture her and protect her. That same commentor shared that some of Rebecca's friends knew she might be thinking about harming herself. Unfortunately, it seems this information came too late because they did not share the texts and screen shots with a trusted adult.

This led to a discussion about what Charlotte ought to do if she hears about someone wanting to hurt themselves or other people. We brainstormed a solution and this is what we came up with:
  • Talk to a trusted adult - parent, teacher, bus driver, anyone who might be able to help the hurting person.
  • Don't worry about upsetting your friend. Their safety is more important than you keeping a secret. This is not a good secret.
  • Love the person. Let them know you will help them and then, follow through on it.
  • Pray for them. Ask God to help them see that they are His child and that He loves them and wants to help them.
I hadn't planned to spend this Tuesday afternoon explaining suicide to my six year old, but I did. She is sad for Rebecca and we prayed for the family and friends she left behind. I can only hope that this lesson will stick with Charlotte and, if needed, she will be able to help a friend one day from making such a tragic choice.

Parents don't be afraid to talk to your kids about the news. Once you have previewed it, let them read the news article for themselves (but not the comments!). Give them an opportunity to ask questions and have an opinion about what happened when hard situations come up. We can't protect them from everything or keep them in a bubble, ignorant of the pain in this world. Let's be prepared to help them process these types of events so they can be world changers, one person at a time.

(Just wanted to add... it hasn't not been confirmed as of me hitting publish that Rebecca did take her own life. I made clear to Charlotte that we still didn't know all of the details, so our conversation was based on what might have happened.)

How do you talk to your kids about hard things?

Ironically, today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you love is thinking of harming themselves, please seek help now! You can FIND HELP. Click here to donate and support TWLOHA's suicide prevention efforts. You cannot be replaced!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary

The righteous who walks in his integrity—
blessed are his children after him! Proverbs 20:7

In honor of this special day for Dad's everywhere, I repeated my Father's Day Interview with Charlotte & Mary.
  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "I love you."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "Giving him hugs and kisses"
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "When I disobey him"
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By telling me really funny jokes"
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "I don't know because I never saw a picture of him."
  6. How old is Daddy? - "How old are you Mommy?" "I'm 35." "Then's Daddy's 35."
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "Really, really, really, really tall. But not as tall as a giant."
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Play with me and work."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "Go to work. Work at home."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Cooking eggs."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Making me sad."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Go to work and be a teacher."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "Nerds.."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "That he makes lots and lots and lots of money."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Any boy in any show. A Duck Dynasty person because he loves Duck Dynasty."
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Ride my new bike."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "We are both in the same family. We both like TV. We both like cooking."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "He's a boy and I'm a girl. He knows more than me and I know less than him."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "Because he tells me and he shows it by making me breakfast."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "That's a hard one. Out with his family."
Charlotte would also like the world to know that he is the best daddy in the whole entire world!

This is how Mary answered the questions.

  1. What is something Daddy always says to you? - "Don't go somewhere all by yourself."
  2. What makes Daddy happy? - "Staying home with his family."
  3. What makes Daddy sad? - "Sad things like hurting somebody"
  4. How does Daddy make you laugh? - "By tickling me and doing this" (she dragged her finger down my arm)
  5. What was Daddy like as a child? - "He was like Hudson and me and Charlotte"
  6. How old is Daddy? - "I don't know actually."
  7. How tall is Daddy? - "65 units"
  8. What is Daddy's favorite thing to do? - "Play on the iPad or do something else that I don't know."
  9. What does Daddy do when you're not around? - "Do things. Eat. Play."
  10. What is Daddy really good at? - "Whistling. I don't know how to whistle."
  11. What is Daddy not very good at? - "Running."
  12. What does Daddy do for his job? - "Work at school and do some things and he might go on the playground."
  13. What is Daddy's favorite food? - "Cereal and milk and pasta and everything else that you cook."
  14. What makes you proud of Daddy? - "Eating."
  15. If Daddy were a cartoon character, who would he be? - "Handy Manny because I want him to be." (Me too Mary!)
  16. What do you and Daddy do together? - "Nothing."
  17. How are you and Daddy the same? - "I don't know."
  18. How are you and Daddy different? - "I don't know."
  19. How do you know Daddy loves you? - "I don't know."
  20. Where is Daddy's favorite place to go? - "I don't know."
Mary would also like the world to know that she doesn't know anything. And you can see that she clearly lost interest in this around question 16. 

Fortunately for Bruce, we haven't lost interest in him!

And if you think Mary was uncooperative, all Hudson wanted to do was pound on the keyboard!

 Happy Father's Day Bruce!

You can read the 2012 Father's Day Interview too!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Why we honor the name of Hudson Taylor



In 1832, James and Amelia Taylor prayed, “Dear God, if you should give us a son, grant that he may work for you in China.” With that simple prayer, the story of Hudson Taylor began. And although his parents did not tell Hudson about that prayer until decades later, God put China into Hudson’s heart and gave Hudson the faith to believe that God answers prayer.

Hudson Taylor was raised in a Christian home, but faith was a struggle for many years. Hudson wanted to be a Christian; he tried to be a Christian. Time and again, however, he felt he failed in Christianity. He failed so much he eventually gave up, believing he was simply incapable of faith. Then, one day, Hudson found himself so bored he decided to read a gospel tract he found lying around. He knew it would contain a short story, which would help him pass the time, and he planned to ignore the spiritual aspects. But, when he read Jesus’ words, “It is finished,” said on the cross, Hudson paused and pondered. He later wrote, “Then came the thought, ‘If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?’ And with this dawned the joyful conviction, as light was flashed into my soul by the Holy Spirit, that there was nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Saviour and His salvation, to praise Him forevermore.” That day, Hudson Taylor discovered the reason he had failed so many times was because he was trying by his own effort. Hudson realized the gospel of Jesus is based on faith in Jesus’ finished work, and that realization became the foundation of Hudson’s life and ministry.

It was not long before Hudson felt God calling him to China. Knowing the difficulties he would face in missions, he determined to build his faith in God, for he knew God would be his only assurance. So, as a young medical student, he determined to live as modestly as possible and to depend on God for his daily needs. He gave away almost all his possessions, ate a diet of mostly oatmeal and rice, and rented an inexpensive room in a poor part of London. He soon found, “The less I spent on myself and the more I gave away, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.” And during this time, he determined to never ask anyone for payment or financial help, not even his own employer. Many times he found himself without money or food, often after giving away his last temporal resources. He depended on God, and in all his years, God never let him down. Hudson prayed, and it was never long before Hudson had whatever he needed.   

In 1853, Hudson left England to serve with the Chinese Evangelization Society. Within months of arriving in China, Hudson broke with missionary custom by wearing Chinese clothing. He sought to identify with the Chinese, build relationships with them, and distinguish the Christian faith from the British culture. He further divided with his fellow missionaries by his desire to go beyond the five large Treaty Ports—cities where British missionaries were legally welcome. Hudson wanted to see missionaries bring the gospel to every part of China.

Hudson’s tumultuous relationship with the Chinese Evangelization Society ended in 1857 when he discovered they were borrowing money to pay their missionaries. Hudson resigned, and although he had no source of income, he believed God would provide for him. Continuing the manner he began in England, he committed to never ask anyone for money and never give any indication of his financial need; instead, he would speak to God alone for all his needs.

Hudson Taylor served until 1861 when he became very ill and needed to return to England. He used his convalescence in England to continue a project of translating the New Testament into Chinese, and he travelled and spoke to encourage British Christians to sacrifice for the evangelization of China. He challenged British believers to consider their spiritual wealth and security in light of the hundreds of millions of Chinese people who never heard the name of Jesus. Continuing his dependence of God, he refused to allow any church he visited to collect money for his ministry. Instead, he wanted people to leave church having given nothing to missions, for if they had thrown some change into a collection plate, their consciences might be absolved from any further thoughts about China. Hudson wanted Christians to leave church having given nothing so that God could work in their hearts to do whatever he would have them do.

The time in England, pleading the case of China’s multitudes, led to the next major work in Hudson’s life. He concluded that a new missionary agency was needed for the specific purpose of bringing the gospel into the unreached parts of China. On June 25, 1865, Hudson Taylor prayed that God would send him 24 missionaries—two for each unreached Chinese province and two for Mongolia. The prayer was audacious. It would increase the total number of missionaries in China by 25 percent. But, as always, God provided, and the China Inland Mission (CIM) was born. Hudson returned to China in 1866 with the first group of CIM missionaries.

Never content, Hudson continued asking God for missionaries. In 1881, Hudson prayed for 70 more, and he received 76. In 1886, he asked God for another 100. Within a year, he had added 102.  When Hudson died in 1905, CIM counted 825 foreign missionaries, plus hundreds of native Chinese ministers, none of whom ever asked anyone for financial support. Missionaries brought their needs to God and trusted God to provide.

Despite the success of CIM, Hudson Taylor was not always popular. Unlike other agencies, CIM allowed unmarried women to serve as missionaries, and women were sent to all parts of China. Further, contrary to Europe’s theological ethnocentrism, Hudson prayed for the day when China’s church would be led by Chinese believers. Hudson Taylor declared the native Chinese ministers to be CIM’s “most important department.” He continued, “They are becoming more efficient as well as more numerous, and the hope for China lies doubtless in them. I look on foreign missionaries as the scaffolding round a rising building; the sooner it can be dispensed with the better.”

Many in England also criticized Hudson Taylor as insensitive to the political and commercial interests of the British. After CIM missionaries, including Hudson, were attacked during the Yangzhou riot of 1868, the British Parliament debated whether missionary activities in China’s interior were in England’s best interest. Hudson, of course, was most concerned about the eternal interests of the Chinese. So, he and CIM continued, despite the dangers.

Taylor once wrote, “China is not to be won for Christ by quiet, ease-loving men and women.... The stamp of men and women we need is such as will put Jesus, China, souls, first and foremost in everything and at every time—even life itself must be secondary.” And this was not hyperbole; during the Boxer Rebellion, CIM lost more missionaries than any other agency. Dozens of CIM missionaries, even their children, and many native believers, were tortured to death and their bodies mutilated. One CIM missionary wrote, “Alas, only a very few of my beloved fellow missionaries in the province of Shanxi escaped the blood-stained hands of the Boxers.” But, Hudson and CIM continued to serve and to show the love of Christ. When the British military defeated the Rebellion, the Chinese were forced to pay compensation to any British who suffered loss. But, Taylor and CIM refused compensation, choosing instead to demonstrate the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.”  During his lifetime, he suffered diseases, beatings, arrests, the burning of his house, seizing of his property, and the deaths of family members. He was willing to suffer, even to the point of death, because to him, even the worst death was nothing to fear. He wrote, “To be absent from the body! To be present with the Lord! To be free from sin! And this is the end of the worst that man’s malice can ever bring upon us!”

More than fifteen decades after Hudson Taylor first entered China, CIM still operates in East Asia and has pioneered many missions strategies that are now commonplace throughout the world. But, Hudson Taylor’s greatest legacy is his testimony to God’s sovereignty over all things and to God’s personal attention to the needs of his people. Hudson Taylor lived by faith and relied on God’s provision.

While we are not specifically praying that our Hudson will serve Christ in China, we are praying he will have the faith to follow Christ anywhere and to trust God in every circumstance. We pray that his name will become a legacy reminding us and him that God is our provider and sustainer, and that because Christ’s work is finished, there is nothing in the world to be done but to fall down on one’s knees, and accepting this Savior and His salvation, to praise Him forevermore.

Bruce & Jennifer

---------

You might also be interested in:

"Why we honor the name of Charlotte Moon"

"Why we honor the name of Mary Mitchell"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adoptions & Airplanes: A Different Kind of Baby Shower

Banner courtesy of Dearie Designs
I'm not much of a party person. I'm awful at planning menus and creating awesome decorations. Just ask the last friend who was on the receiving end of my baby shower planning. She was a good sport about it, but really, she deserved better. Now, I have a chance to redeem myself. But without the need for cute Pinterest inspired decorations and gourmet food. Which is totally my style!
Photo Courtesy of Emily Rose Portraits

My friends, Craig and Karissa, are in the process of adding two children to their family through adoption. In fact, they just found out today that they finally have a date to go and pick up the two little boys who have been in their hearts for nearly a year. You can catch up with their adoption journey at this link from Karissa's blog, The Acting Mom.

Photo Courtesy of Emily Rose Portraits
Since it is an international adoption of two boys who are not newborns, the traditional baby shower is not really an option. So, Karissa agreed to let me try something different. You may now consider this blog post your official invitation to "Adoptions & Airplanes," an online baby shower to raise money for the plane tickets this growing family will need to buy to bring their two heart-grown Ugandan boys home.

Craig and Karissa will be leaving in about 14 days to fly half-way around the world and meet "Big" and "Little," as their two sons are affectionately known. The cost for both of them to travel by plane is about $4,000. While this is not the largest portion of their expenses, it is a need that must be met quickly so they can travel to Uganda and then home again with their sons.

I hope you will drop by this unique Adoptions & Airplanes baby shower. Make an official RSVP for the party and invite others to participate via this Facebook event - Adoptions & Airplanes.

To participate in the baby shower, use the Paypal button below and be sure to put "Adoptions & Airplanes" in the notes section.