Recently I learned of a 36 year-old mom in our neighborhood who died. Unexpectedly. Her family is emptied.

Earlier this year I lost my grandpa and uncle in close, unexpected succession. One week a part. My 4 year old poked my grandpa’s cheek as she tried to understand how he could be there in the casket, but so utterly not there. That the most real part of him was absent.

Six years ago I had my first miscarriage and felt my world fissure and shift. My six year old had just created wonderful diaper shaped announcements and given them to friends because she was so excited to be a big sister again. Suddenly she was confronted with a mother who couldn’t quite be there and the reality that the sibling suddenly wasn’t here either. That mommy’s tummy wasn’t so safe after all.

In each of these circumstances, my kids have been enveloped in grief. Sometimes it’s been theirs, sometimes it’s been a friend or loved one, other times it’s been the realization that something was possible. If we all took a moment, we could generate our own list of times that grief overwhelms our world. Sandy Hook. Moore, Oklahoma. The Twin Towers.

How do we live in a world broken by grief and sin and not become paralyzed by the what-ifs? How do we teach our children to live lives with one eye on eternity, but a determination to do everything they’ve been called to do for the span of time they are here?

I wish there were easy answers. I’ve searched for books to help answer the unanswerable questions. Will our beloved dog be in heaven? What will our baby look like when we get to heaven? Why would God allow that mother to die?

One thing I have determined is to ask the questions. To let my children watch me question but return time and again to the bedrock of my faith. Being a God-chaser doesn’t mean life is easy. Being a God-chaser doesn’t mean I always understand. But being a God-chaser means that when life is hard and the questions harsh and the valleys deep, I know who goes with me. And that is ultimately what I want my children to grasp.

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