My kids grew up reading about the adventures and mishaps of the Berenstain Bear family. Brother and Sister Bear getting lost, dealing with messiness, going to the dentist, learning manners, meeting new neighbors, running from a swarm of bees, fishing, handling bullies, learning to ride a bike, and so much more. I was surprised when I learned that there were new Berenstain Bear books. Although Stan and Jan Berenstain have both died, their son Mike is writing and illustrating Bear family books. So I put a few on hold at my public library, and this was among the first to come in.
In this story, the Berenstain family is like a lot of modern families. They used to go to church and Sunday School, but the day has morphed into a sports practice/ballet/grocery-shopping/TV day instead. One day Mama has a family meeting, and points out that if they go to the early service at the chapel, there will still be time to do the other things.
The family agrees rather reluctantly. But when they actually step out the front door and start going, they meet others doing the same thing and start catching the excitement of worshiping with others. Brother and Sister Bear go to Sunday School, and end up having the same teacher their Papa and Mama had many years ago. The songs and Bible story bring spiritual refreshment to the entire family.
I loved this book! After reading it myself, I tried it out on my grandson, age 5, and he loved it. As I started reading aloud, my 10-year-old granddaughter sat down on the other side of me because she wanted to hear it. There are some books you just can’t put an age limit on, and this is one of those books.
Yesterday I read in the news that the former president’s grandson, Jeremy, passed away unexpectedly in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Jeremy lay down after supper Saturday night, saying he wasn’t feeling well, and went to sleep. His family went to check on him later, and found him unresponsive. His heart had stopped and they rushed him to the hospital. He was revived briefly, but then his heart stopped again and could not be restarted. At only 28 years old, Jeremy’s life on earth was over.
Two things stood out to me. The first was how fragile life is. When I was in my 20’s, the thought of dying abruptly as I took a nap never occurred to me. Maybe death by car accident, as that could happen to a person of any age. But I, like everyone else my age, assumed that I would have a family, enjoy a career, pass through middle age, and move on to gray hair, arthritis, and grandchildren. But assuming something does not make it so.
The other thing that stood out to me was the way President Carter handled it. He felt the pain, but in his time of grief he went to the place where he felt loved and comforted – his church. The president has walked with his Lord all his life, and it was just the natural place for him to be. He found comfort in being with his friends, and in teaching his Sunday School class, as was his usual custom. Over the course of his lifetime, President Carter has shown himself to be a person whose heart follows God, no matter how wonderful or how terrible the circumstances. The way I see it, that is his lasting legacy. Thank you, Mr. President, for living a life that shows what you believe in your heart.