Giving Your Children An Eternal Perspective

*photo credit

I don’t want our kids to feel at home here.

This is not their home.

Yes–I want them to enjoy life.
And be healthy.
And feel comfort.
And know safety.
And taste success.

But not if it means that they–
Feel too much at home.

That’s why we often talk about death.
I know…
I probably just lost 3 out my 5 readers on that one.
And I very much want our children here, with us…
We’ve felt the pain of losing a child and I never want to know that hurt again.
But we actually do talk about death quite a bit.
Or on the flip-side–

We talk a lot about Heaven.

And yes–I get it.
There’s a balance.
We’re not trying to load them down with more than their little hearts and minds can handle, but if anything–the see-saw is weighted too heavily on the other end.

We live in a mirage of security.
Where we think there is a medicine or method or mystic or mantra that can keep us from being
But it’s a dangerous illusion to uphold–
Creating myopic vision.
Eternal fervor dampened under the delusion of here and now.
For those redeemed by Christ are not citizens of this here and now.

“our citizenship is in Heaven,
and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
~Philippians 3:20

So, we do talk about death.  We don’t shy away from it.
Because for most people, in most places, in most times throughout history–
Death is a common foe.
And in the midst of the grief, something healthy comes from that heartache.
No one has to convince us that–
“…we are but dust.
And a man comes to know that–

“his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it,
and it is gone; and its place knows it no more.”
~Psalm 103:14-16

A couple weeks ago, our daughter’s close friend came to spend the night.  She has childhood diabetes and she is seven. As I watched her prick a tiny finger, adjust the insulin amounts and wait patiently for the numbers that would determine if she could stay over…
It made me long for Heaven.

Just today I was reading a post by the lawyer who finalized both our adoptions.  For years, he’s watched his young daughter battle cancer, and now his wife is in the final stages of ALS, a terminal disease.  Reading his pain–
It made me long for Heaven.

Yesterday was the date of Selah’s death.  It took me back to that season when grief was so heavy and Heaven was our only hope.  And even yesterday…wondering about three-year-old-Selah…
It made me long for Heaven.

Heaven changes everything.
It shifts our dreams, our goals, our direction.
It affects our pain, our sorrow, our fears.
Heaven gives us hope.

“We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died
so you will not grieve like people who have no hope…
Then we will be with the Lord forever. 
So encourage each other with these words.”
~1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18

Heaven moves us to invest in what will endure–
Heaven gives us courage to sacrifice for what will last–

We spent last Wednesday night with some good friends visiting from Niger.  Our friend, who is a doctor, told story after story about the broken, sick, hurting people who enter the hospital where he works:
–twisted arms wrapped too tightly, requiring amputation
–babies dying from typhoid infested waters
–too-young mothers laboring for days with newborns already gone
Death on a daily basis.

There is no semblance of security in Niger–
Only true hope, Heaven’s promise.

And when my own child hurts…
I wrote that–
I would take her thorn.
But no–
“I will be thankful.
For the hurt that makes her more compassionate.
For the struggle that makes her more persistent.
For the pain that makes her need Him
Because I want her to live for Heaven now.

So, as I said…
I don’t want our kids to feel at home here.

I want them to know–
To really know that:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…”
~Revelation 21:4

I want them to believe–
To really believe that:

Jesus said,
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may also be.”
~John 14:3
And I want them to live–

To really live in such a way that when they reach Heaven they will say:

“I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.”
~C.S. Lewis The Last Battle


Practical ideas for renewing an eternal perspective:

–Read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids or any of the other excellent resources offered by Eternal Perspectives Ministries.  When Selah died, Randy donated hundreds of Heaven booklets for us to share at her memorial and we were so thankful for something that could explain why our grief is not without hope.

–Subscribe to The Voice of Martyrs magazine.  Reading about Believers around the world who are facing persecution always shifts my perspective.

–Develop relationships with some of the older, faithful Christians in your church family.  After Selah died, our four year old said, “Now I know four people in Heaven…Mrs. O’Neil, Grandpa Wink, Selah, and Johnny Cash.”  While he was a little confused about Johnny Cash…Dorothy O’Neil, an older woman in our church, had a huge impact on our family.  We only knew her during the last two years of her life, but when she talked about Heaven, you knew it was real and she was anxious to meet Jesus face to face.

–Read or listen to missionary biographies.  We highly recommend those offered by Desiring God.  For younger children, we also recommend YWAM’s Hero Biographies, Dave & Neta Jackson’s entire series of Hero Tales, Catherine Mackenzie’s Little Lights series, and The Torchlighter’s Heroes of the Faith movies.  My personal favorites are biographies of Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, and William Wilberforce.

–Read Krista Horning’s book Just the Way I Am and Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada.

–Talk about real life.  Our oldest son became a Christian on January 22, 2008.  I know the exact date because it was the day Heath Ledger died.  We were talking about his death at dinner and how much changes the moment a person dies, which led to a longer discussion that God used to transform our son’s heart.  More recently, the Tsunami in Japan was such a tragic picture of the brevity of life.  My husband is great about pointing the kids to an eternal perspective in whatever we’re reading. If you want to grow in that area (which I do) Everyday Talk is an excellent book about incorporating biblical conversations in everyday life. 

–Begin every morning thanking God that “we are looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” ~2 Peter 3:13

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  1. I love ideas I can put in place right now, this moment. Thanks for all the great links to check out.

  2. I’m the same way Amy… :)

  3. Thank you for a very thoughtful post. Children should be taught to look forward to heaven, their true home. Thinking about heaven changes our perspective, and makes us remember what is truly important. Blessings :)

  4. Kara, your adoption attorney is the same one that Byron’s cousin, Jamie used for her kiddos. Jamie and I also worked with him at Candlelighters Family Camp.

    Lovely post today. Such a good reminder!!

  5. Thanks. These struggles make us stronger. This is not my home. It is not my boys’ home. God is bigger. God is better.

  6. Kim–we love Scott. On the day that Selah died, he had the courts cleared and pushed through our adoption finalization and then, with the help of our social worker, they brought Selah’s adoption certificate up to the hospital just about an hour before she died….her named changed…our baby long before that, but for some reason, it really mattered to our hearts to see that finalized decree. Just an extra glimpse of God’ love (through others).

  7. I totally get where you are coming from. I won’t be de-following you. :) I think those of us who have lost someone close to us, especially, long for Heaven and are glad that this isn’t our eternal home and that we will one day be reunited.

  8. I must share that I also speak about death here in my home.

    My children are too aware of how fragile it is in believing that this world has the answer, when of course, we know it is not so.

    My daughter is mentally disabled, with no possibility of her ever truly been ‘normal’, so I know how close to heaven I am – everyday, when I look at her and see her struggle every moment.

    Your words are beautiful. Your honesty is exactly what we need to hold on to.

    Be blessed…


  9. Maria–that’s a hard road to walk–daily seeing the hurt and needs of a much-loved-child. I’m thinking now of the joy to come for you and your daughter…when “every tear is wiped away”.
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us…

  10. This is a powerful post. I love it. Something I will ponder for a while. Just really beautiful.

  11. We have lots of conversations about heaven too. Thinking of Selah today and praying for you. Oh, the joy and the tears of that……Heaven is SO real to us and SO much more when you walk through pain. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Absolutely. I don’t want my kids to be comfortable. I want my kids to lead radical God-glorifying lives because you are absolutely right, this is not their home.

  13. Thank you Bonnie…love your whole family and your heart for adoption. I remember our conversations…before Grace arrived. I immediately felt the kinship with you.

  14. Dear Cyber-BFF-Cheryl–I knew this post would resonate with you :)
    I see it already…in everything you write…your desire to live (and for your kiddos to live) for what really matters in light of eternity.

  15. Loved this, Kara. We’ve been talking a lot about heaven lately, too, with Ken’s mom recently passing away. Almost every day we talk about what heaven is like, what Grandma might be experiencing now, and how we look forward to joining her someday. I love how excited the kids are to experience heaven and how compassionate they are becoming for those that don’t know Christ.

  16. This is just beautiful Kara, and having just gone through a miscarriage, I feel the fresh pain of loss. However, how wonderful to be able to talk with my son about his sibling in a way that is eternal! How beautiful that we can talk about hope, not just death. Beautifull done, my dear. Thank you.

  17. Like you, I long for Heaven too, Kara.
    And I certainly don’t want my kids to get too ‘cosy’ down here.
    I believe life should be liberally sprinkled with beauty and joy for a christian..but not complacency.
    Death is an issue that should be talked about. None of us knows when we’ll be called to face it, but ignoring it won’t eliminate it.
    Our kids need to ‘see’ beyond it.
    We need to help them focus on eternals.
    Thanks for linking to LACE today.
    God bless you..Trish

  18. Excellent, Kara. :o)

    We talk about Heaven quite a bit too. It’s that important.

    Most people don’t get it when they hear my kids say, “My Momma loves Jesus more than me!” But I’m oh-so-proud that my kids declare that happily. :o)

    Happy Wednesday and Happy iFellowship!

  19. Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more. After a very difficult time last fall with our daughter’s health, the Lord reminded us even more about staying heavenly minded. This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through! I am also so sorry to hear of the loss of your little Selah. May the God of all comfort continue to comfort you with the hope you will see her again. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Found you through Raising Homemakers.

  20. What a joy it is to live with our eyes focused on things unseen, things above, things within, and to be about the things of our Father.

    And what a blessing it is to share this with our children.

    Eyes on Heaven,

  21. Needed this post today. Its good to be reminded that this isn’t home. Thank you!

  22. Excellent post – and wonderful links.

  23. Thank you so much for sharing. This was an awesome post. I look forward to checking out some of your suggested resources.

  24. Makes me long for Home…

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. Wonderful perspective, thank you for sharing such thoughtful words, heaven is our true home and where the One we long for resides. And thanks for those practical ideas!

  26. Kara,
    I feel so quieted by this entire post–like walking on Holy. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me to foster this in my children: THIS IS NOT THEIR HOME! Wow. That really hits it. And such great resources. Thank you so much. I am sending you so much love today. Bless you as you remember and look forward to seeing Selah again.

  27. Kara,

    Well, I was one of the 3 out of 5 readers that you did NOT loose. :)

    I think that you are very realistic in teaching your children about life as well as death. In reality, I don’t think we talk about death often enough. People tend to shove it under a rug as if it will never happen to us, but it will. Death seems to be a taboo subject to talk about – just like widowhood.

    Your post has also given me much to think about, for although I know that I can’t live forever, sometimes, I don’t think that I take death seriously enough.

    Thanks for giving me a “virtual thorn” today. :)


    -L. Rose

  28. I think anyone who follows you knows better than to misunderstand these beautiful words. I too don’t want my son to feel at home here. Bless you for writing from your heart. I will keep coming back because you are such a blessing.

    Thank you so much for linking up to Women of Noble Character. You definitely are there and then some.

  29. Hi Kara,
    I like what you have said about our ‘home’being Heaven. I thank God that every day is a day closer to Heaven.
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  30. You may lose a few but you gained me. :)

    Did you know David Wilkerson died? How timely for me to read your post after I read his. Seem like God is telling me somthing.

    We talk about heaven a lot to. I’m having heart surgery soon. Its a good thing to address–not ignore.

  31. So much in this post, Kara — so many resources (thank you!) and so much to think about regarding the message you are conveying to your children. I admit, I’m the opposite — I shy away from talking about death and dying with them. But I truly appreciate what you say here — you’ve given me a lot to think about.

    And thanks for linking up this week!

  32. Hi Kara. I found you from the link over at Laura’s.

    What a touching post. I’m swallowing plenty of tears as I sit here. My five children also hear plenty about death, and Heaven, and this world not being our home, and how much more important that makes all of life.

    Death is part of life children need to know about. But that doesn’t necessarily make the many talks any easier, does it?

  33. I completely agree. We talk a lot of death, and heaven, here as well. Visiting from the Hop!

  34. I was so touched by your post. Have lost my parents unexpectedly in 2005, and having a farm where death is unfortunately as often a part of our day as new life is, I feel like we as a whole family talk and contemplate the meaning of death more than a lot of people. It can be uncomfortable at first and has to handle so contentiously! But I can see that my children have such a healthy outlook because of it. They truly understand that it’s ok to miss people and feel sad, but they also understand that heaven is a great place and that we can have true SECURITY even in the midst of sad or uncertain times, because we believe in the Lord and in Heaven. Talking about it gives us the chance to reinforce the truths of scripture, of heaven–it’s not some storybook thing to our kids. It’s real to them.

    And I was so touch to see that your son was saved on Jan 22 2008–that was the day my youngest son was born!

  35. Love the resources…thanks!

  36. Thanks for linking up Kara…. you always have something profound to contemplate. Thanks for challenging us to think wider, deeper and more expansively.

    • Thanks Kay…I need to probably add a button here…to link..sorry about that. I was running out the door this morning and wanted to fix my link, but then later realized I’d attached it to one without a button.
      I love the heart behind “inspire me”…
      Thanks for all your great communication and for all your encouragement…

  37. I love reading you…our tweener is dyslexic, dysgraphic, etc…
    you are always inspiring – thanks for all the encouragement, links and inspiration…

  38. Thanks so much for sharing this–we have 3 little ones in heaven (2 miscarriages and 1 stillbirth). People can’t understand why we told our 3 year old when we became pregnant the last time but unfortunately loss is a part of life and it helps us think about what truly matters.


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