Christen Young

My life, my story. My life for His glory.

Month: August 2013

Mother of the Year…Or Not.

            Pre-Meltdown Decker
Yesterday, my four year old, Decker, and I enjoyed a quiet, breakfast meeting at the local Library’s cafe.  I met for prayer and Bible study with my bestie, Heidi, while Decker sat in a comfy chair and watched Netflix movies on my old phone.  He was so well behaved and quiet that at one point I had to check to make sure that he was still even there. (Don’t worry, he was just sitting behind Heidi and since I am short he was hidden.)  At the end of the meeting, he lovingly kissed me and asked politely if we could go into the library.  Feeling like the world’s most amazing mom, I marveled at his good behavior as we have been working really hard to help shape him and guide his typically strong will.

We walked to the children’s area where I browsed books and he flitted from place to place, climbing on playthings, picking books, and watching other kids play.  He picked some books to read with me while we were there, and we sat side by side snuggling as we read.  Then, it was time to go, and I enforced the three book take home limit that he knew about from the start.  However, when it came time to take only three books, he was less than happy.  When I say less than happy, I really mean that he growled, yelled, and like a tiny terrorist; started giving demands.  He then threw off his shoes and told me that he was running away forever.  Like the USA, I don’t negotiate with terrorists, so instead I firmly ordered that he come with me or face punishment. Instead, he ran off angrily and when I searched for him he ran, laughing, expecting me to try to chase him in a cat and mouse game through the book aisles.  This was not my first rodeo, so instead I gathered his shoes and books and walked slowly toward the checkout desk. I walked purposely and looked forward, pretending to ignore him, yet watching him in the glass which mirrored him following far behind me, issuing more threatening demands.  Normally I am a fan of immediate punishment and have been known to put my children in time out in the middle of wherever we are, or whatever store we are in.  However, knowing Decker, this was not my best move as it would escalate into a full blown tantrum in the middle of the quiet library, so it would be better to discipline in the privacy of our home.  Not only that, but if he ran I would have to give chase throughout the entire library and more chaos would ensue.  He followed me to the checkout desk, but then ran off screaming and hid in the back of the library behind a chair.  I finished checking out and calmly walked to the back of the library where a young man looked stunned to have a child hiding behind his chair.  I smiled at him and gingerly scooped up Decker (who is way to big for me to hold considering my issue with pain, but I had no other choice).  Decker struggled to escape, but I ignored him and walked on.  Then came the tricky part. I had to get my books and his drink out of the book basket while not letting go of him.  I put him down and held his hand, not letting him go.  He screamed to be let go as I continued to ignore him, scooped up the books, then quietly asked him to hold his drink.  He grabbed his drink and threatened that if I didn’t let him go he would dump it all over the floor.  Reprimanding him, I put my books down, snatched the drink and looked for the closest trash can.  As everyone in the library was now watching us, a sweet woman asked if she could help me carry my books and stuff, so that I could grab him and walk out to the car.  There was no judgement in her voice, just a true, loving desire to help.  I asked her to throw away the drink, thanked her profusely and then calmly carried a screaming Decker and everything else out to the car.  I silently strapped him, as he roared and threatened, into his seat and trying to get a reaction from me, he declared that he would unbuckle his seat belt as we drove away.  I told him, still calmly, exactly what his punishment would be if he did that and he immediately halted his attempt. When he settled down a little bit, I explained that when we got home, he would receive punishment for his numerous offenses and listed exactly what each one was and why it was not acceptable.  
Once home, he continued his tirade, but this time it was as he sat in “time out”. I had talked to him about each of his offenses and exactly why he was receiving the consequences of his actions–he understood, but that didn’t mean he was happy about it and tried every excuse to worm his way out of his punishment.  I had to stay strong and consistent though, so I maintained his consequence and walked away from him while replaying the whole situation in my head.  I love that Decker is strong willed…I know, not many parents would say that, but it is true.  I know that when shaped by the Lord, his strong will can be used for God’s glory.  It can help him to stand firm in his faith and not waver, however, without discipline, without shaping from the Lord, it leads to sin.  I critically examined my actions in the situation.  Should I have punished him immediately, chased after him, left the books there, done something different? My mom always quotes a friend who says that “God gives us each one strong willed child to keep us humble.”  Was this my lesson for the day, humility?  I sought the Lord, praying that He would give me wisdom, that He would shape Decker.  In the end, Decker calmed down, repented of his actions, and truly asked forgiveness. We hugged, kissed, and snuggled then finished the day without any other issues. I am sure that other parents will criticize my choices or actions, yet I know that I remained calm, consistent, and I don’t answer to the crowd of onlookers–I answer to the Lord. Is discipline something that I enjoy doing? No, not even slightly, but I know that the outcome for sin is severe if I don’t. Romans 6:23 ESV “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Just as I have to answer to the Lord for my actions and face His discipline and consequences for me, if I love my children then I have to discipline them in accordance with the Lord and His will.  Just as “the Lord disciplines those He loves”, I will continue to show my love to my children through appropriate discipline as the Bible commands.
Hebrew 12:5-11 ESV “…’My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises ever son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seems best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

Ryan’s Heavenly Birthday

Ryan and his wife Sheila
Today I woke up early, rolled over, and came face to face with my youngest son, Decker, who had climbed into bed with me.  He grinned and did something silly to make me laugh and I thought about how blessed I was to enjoy that little moment with him, then in an instant, it hit me as it does at some point every day…Ryan is gone. Today is his first heavenly birthday, as it has been exactly one year since he was killed while serving in Afghanistan.  Memories of last year on this day came washing over me as tears rolled down my cheeks.  

Easily the worst day of my life, the day that I heard about Ryan’s death, I was at a Christian conference for moms.  I don’t want to repeat the whole story, sufficed to say that I fell apart and as my sister teased, was “that girl” literally sobbing aloud although surrounded by strangers–then finding great comfort in the arms and prayers of my friends.  That day was spent mostly weeping; sharing stories about Ryan and telling others of the amazing man he is and was; and even at one point after a drink in his honor, being slightly intoxicated while witnessing to our waiter about the urgency there is to give your life to Christ.  I cried everywhere I went and missed out on most of the convention, as was understandable. After talking to my mom, who assured me that I should finish the trip, I decided to stay for the remaining day of the convention.  Not wanting to be sobbing through the small sessions interrupting everyone, I only attended the twice a day large “general sessions” with my dear friends.  I wept my way through those as well, but I also was able to worship and cry everything out to God.  
The worship leader, Christy Nochols, played the song “Marvelous Light” by Charlie Hall, over and over again that weekend. The chorus goes as follows: 

“Sin has lost it’s power
Death has lost it’s sting
From the grave You’ve risen

Into marvelous light I’m running
Out of darkness, out of shame
By the cross You are the truth
You are the life, You are the way”

Although I physically ached for Ryan and the devastation of his death, I loudly sang these words with my arms lifted high, clinging to the promise that they held in Christ for him and all of us.  I later told my husband about singing this song repeatedly and he asked me if the words seemed to mock the sting of death that I so freshly felt, but they did not–they gave me hope.  Over and over again, I held tight to the promises that those words held.  For here on earth, sin had seemingly triumphed when an evil man killed my cousin and two other heroes that day, but the power of sin over Ryan was lost for his life belonged to the Lord, and I knew that very day he was in Heaven living life eternally.  Death had lost it’s sting years before when Ryan gave his life to Christ.     

Since Ryan’s death, this past year I have witnessed the amazing power of God work through his loss to bring forth life and so much love.  Genesis 50:19-20 (NIV) says “…Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  In this verse, the ruler Joseph is addressing his brothers who plotted evil against him, but God used those horrible circumstances for good.  I can clearly see the Lord doing the same thing through the tragedy of Ryan’s death.  Satan wanted to use his death and the deaths of others to destroy lives and tear apart families, but because Ryan loved the Lord, his life is still a witness even in his earthly death.  This year I have been so blessed to get to know my sweet cousin, Ryan’s sister, Jean better than ever before.  She is four years younger than me, so I really never got the chance to know her as an adult until recently.  She has sweetly shared her heart and her prayer requests with me on many occasions. This week in texts, she was updating me on all that God has been doing in her life and the lives of her family–all I can say is that God has been working miracles, truly miracles.  It is not just his family either, God has used Ryan to touch the lives of people who never have even met him.  “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

Through Jean, I have also been able to witness the spiritual growth of her mom in particular.  Recently this was evidenced in a beautiful post by my Aunt Carolyn titled “On Forgiveness”: 

“Friends – The July 8th edition of Time Magazine included an article titled “Green on Blue” by journalist Nick McDonell. It is about the event nearly a year ago. It is mostly McDonnell surmising the motivations behind why the Afghan police officer turned on his allies. I can’t imagine how the author would know with any accuracy as he did not interview him. My belief is there was a fair amount of poetic license exercised. I can also tell you there was factual inaccuracy regarding recounting of the event. But all that is neither here nor there as far as I’m concerned.

Here is what is important to me. The article put a face and name to the man who took my son’s life. Abdul Razaq. Imagine looking into the face of your son’s killer…even if it is just a picture. Chilling. It made someone who used to be abstract all too real. My stomach churned. Tears poured. And I was back to the day it happened. The wound re-opened. How was I to move ahead again?

I went to church, and as it happens, the sermon had to do with loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek. Ha! Sure. Maybe if your neighbor commits an indiscretion other than murder, least of all murder of your child! How in the world am I to forgive this? After the service I approached the pastor and I told him of my situation. I told him I was struggling with the message in his sermon of forgiveness and asked him for counsel. He said, “Pray to God for guidance.” Well, that was simple advice, but would I get my answer?

I prayed. I prayed a lot. I mean I prayed a whole lot! I asked God, please show me the way to forgiveness. If that is Your will, please show me how. It may be hard to believe, and though surely he wasn’t looking for forgiveness, I have forgiven this man, Abdul Razaq, killer of my sweet son, Ryan. You may find this hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being preachy; I
don’t expect anyone else to follow this path. Each must find their own way. I needed to do this. It was the right thing for me. My answer was provided to me in Romans 12:9-21 but especially 17-21 below.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As to justice, well, that is something for God and others to determine. Forgiveness from me was between God and me. The rest will be taken care of in time.”

This morning the thought of “celebrating” Ryan’s first heavenly birthday was difficult to imagine. However, the more I thought and prayed about it, I had to celebrate…I needed to celebrate all the good that God was bringing out of the evil that Satan intended.  I needed to celebrate that Christ had indeed won the victory over sin and death and that he is using Ryan’s death to draw people to Himself so that they too can live in eternity with Christ and embrace Ryan in heaven one day.  So, through tears and the hugs of my children, we are celebrating Ryan’s first heavenly birthday together.  There is not a day when I won’t miss him.  I will still cry that he is gone forever from this earth, but I will still cling to the hope in the Lord and keep watching as God transforms others through Ryan’s ultimate sacrifice.

Ryan’s niece Jayla, told me one day that she likes to pretend that Ryan is still alive fighting bad guys. I told her that I like to do the same thing as it always brought me comfort knowing that he would be there to protect me.  I would like to think that Ryan is watching us from Heaven and that he would also say to us “…Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

I love you Ryan and I will always miss you, but I can’t wait to see you in Heaven one day!

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