Only in Heaven

Watching a 19 Kids and Counting episode with my children gave me an opportunity I wasn’t expecting.

I had DVR’d a special program about all the Duggar births in the last decade. Jackson absolutely loves babies, so he was enthralled by the newborns. Baby after baby made his or her entrance into the world, and both my kids paid special attention to the details, asking me questions about how they were born and what they were like when they were that small. It was fun to share their beginning stories with them again.

One of the last stories on the recording showed the heartbreak the family went through during Michelle’s last pregnancy. During their ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby, they discovered there was no heartbeat and the baby had died.

Through my tears, I looked over to make sure Jackson was okay. He has such a sensitive heart, and he had buried his body in the couch cushions while watching with a look of shock and sadness across his face. Lauren turned to me, and asked me why I was crying. So, I paused the show and tried to explain what had happened, and that sometimes babies go to heaven before they are born.

This orchid plant was given to me by a dear friend after one of my miscarriages. It almost always blooms around the time of year that one of the babies we lost went to Heaven. God continues to encourage and bring peace year after year through this beautiful plant.

This orchid plant was given to me by a dear friend after one of my miscarriages. It almost always blooms around the time of year that one of the babies we lost went to Heaven. God continues to encourage and bring peace year after year through this beautiful plant.

After answering a few more of their questions, instead of starting the show again, I made the decision to share with them about the babies I had lost. I told them that after having Jackson, we had two babies who died in the womb before we had Lauren.

I didn’t know how they’d react, and it took them a few moments to respond. At first they didn’t believe it. Surely, that couldn’t have happened to our family. I’ve gone through that denial before, too. We talked about the two babies who were now in heaven, and they wanted so badly to know if the babies were girls or boys. They just wondered if they should look for a sister or a brother, or both, when they got to Heaven. I told them God would help them to know, and we would all be together some day with Jesus.

The thought that they would meet new siblings in Heaven delighted Lauren. She smiled as she thought about it. But, Jackson was overwhelmed. He was feeling grief that those babies had died. I held him as we cried together for awhile.

It’s been seven years since our family grew in Heaven, and it always surprises me how the losses sneak up on me. But sharing their lives with the children God has given me to raise here has brought a new healing to my heart. We are all looking forward to reuniting our entire family in Heaven, and enjoying eternity with Jesus together.

Journey to the Manger: Anna

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

As my family continues our Journey to the Manger, we stopped by the Temple and met an old woman named Anna.

At the age of 84, God gave Anna a beautiful gift. Anna had lived in the Temple for decades. She became a widow seven years into her marriage, and spent every waking moment in the Temple from that point, pouring out her heart to the Lord, worshiping Him, and declaring His praises. Out of such a deep intimacy with her Heavenly Father came great sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. She learned how to pay attention to God’s movement.

Anna

Anna

So, when a new mother and father entered the Temple one day, cradling their infant son, Anna was ready and waiting for God to speak, like she did every day. This time Anna heard the God of the Universe cry out and coo from by Mary’s loving arms. This elderly lady, so close to Heaven, beheld Heaven’s promise and joy with her own eyes. Right away she broke out in praise and began to witness to everyone around that this child would redeem them all!

Anna spent so much time with God, she was quick to feel His presence and respond. She paid attention. For most of us around the celebration of Christ’s birth, our focus is much less trained. Too often we succumb to the Christmas crazy, running from one store to the next for the perfect gifts, squeezing in parties and school programs and church musicals and family gatherings. We become too busy to receive God’s greatest gift: the presence of His Son.

Today, we put our focus to the test. My husband and kids put their game faces on as I revealed a tray of objects, and they began intensely scanning the items for the next minute. Then, they worked together to recall from memory as many of the items as they could. They impressively remembered 20 out of 26! Jackson explained that he just needed to close his eyes to see the tray and remember what it held.

Maybe the same memory device could also be used in our spiritual lives. We need to spend more time with our eyes closed in prayer to sear God’s promises on our hearts. Anna spent years and years meditating on God’s Word and willingly serving Him. When the time came, Anna was ready to experience the joy of Christ.

This Christmas, that’s what we need most: Jesus.

 

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.