Happy Three Month Birthday Tirzah!!

IMG_3357 IMG_3362

Today Tirzah’s 3 month birthday…. i asked Ryan if he had any thoughts… He said, “Well, we’re three months closer to our eternity… to seeing her again.”

How true… I think the past three months I’ve been living more “in light” of Eternity then ever before…. the reality of my own *imminent* death (because really, compared to eternity, isn’t ALL of our deaths *really* imminent??)

In celebrating Tirzah’s life and birthday today, my one request, is for you to consider your own soul… and your own eternity.

To the person who thinks only of this lifetime and says: ” I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’… God says to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you,…” (Luke 12:19-20)

How do we know that anyone of us could have our soul “required” of us this very day….

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? ~ Mark 8:36

How do we secure our souls for eternity? Mark 1:15 says,” repent and believe in the gospel.”

This is the Gospel: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

When Jesus died on the cross He became the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)

And this is the promise that His death purchased for those who come to Him… the only requirement is **COMING** : “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” ~ Psalm 103:12.

This is a once-for-all-time transaction, the moment we come to Christ in faith. THEREFORE, we can have BOLD ASSURANCE on the day we stand before God. **KNOWING** that our sins have been removed from us… We will not bear our sins upon us in God’s court of Law on the day we stand before God’s judgment. We know that Christ bore our sins, and our penalty… and therefore, we know that we shall be declared **INNOCENT** and ushered into His Kingdom.

The invitation is open to ALL: “Come!” ~ Revelation 22”:17

{this is my addendum, which I thought good to add! Can enough ever be said of the Gospel of Salvation??}

Who can stand before The Lord God and before His Throne?

Psalm 24:4 asks this question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?”
And answers: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”

Which of us can say that we have clean hands and a pure heart??

Jesus says that if we hate, then we are murderers at heart…. If we look on another person with lust, we are adulterers at heart… Matthew 5:22 says, “whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Who of us has not done that?? Each one of stands before God as a murderer, a thief, an adulterer… and that’s just a start!

But God being *RICH* in mercy, has provided a way for us to be redeemed…

Just as Jesus took on our sin, to bear our punishment…. We take on His righteousness, as a cloak or garment, to bare his purity. This is known as **THE GREAT EXCHANGE**

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

Isaiah 61:10- I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness…. {which is the righteousness of Christ!}

Advertisements

Scars

IMG_3371

Here is my transcript:

When I began to pray about my time here this morning, my first prayer was “ Lord, let me decrease and let you increase!… What do these women need to see but Your Face? To see Your Beauty?” … We need a fresh vision of the Lord, a renewed love- not a love that is merely loving what we know about Christ… but a passionate, fragrant love for our Lord, our Heavenly Husband.

I recently heard a story about an 8 year old boy who said to an older and refined woman (much to the shock and dismay of his father): “Do you have any good scars?” At first the woman was a bit taken aback, never having this very question set before her. But then she answered “Yes, I do”… and then after asking if he could see them, the boy asked, “Do your scars have good stories?” And after a moment she said, “Yes… yes, they do. But it will take a long time to tell. Do you have the patience to hear?”

This morning, I will not to take a long time, but I will invite you to behold my story and my scar. And I pray that you will hear Christ in my story… and see his love afresh through my scar. I pray that you will desire him with more purity, simplicity and loyalty… and to find the joy in His presence that will prepare you for eternity.

For the sake of time I’ll jump right to the climax of my story- which is a physical scar. (I won’t show it to you), but it is the wound through which the lifeless body of my daughter Tirzah Catherine was born. Almost three months ago, on August 20, Tirzah was born still and silent at 40 weeks. With no warning, and no explanation. I went to my doctor for a routine pre-surgical exam, with a normal c-section scheduled the next day. My husband and I had no idea that anything was wrong, and then our doctor placed the doppler on my abdomen, and there was no sound of a heartbeat. And I’ll just tell you, for I hope you will never know by experience, that there is no sound to be compared with these screams of a mother. I suspect that the earth has not known a greater sorrow than that of a bereaved mother.

After Tirzah was born by c-section, I held her form in my arms. I literally held death in my arms… But I also witnessed resurrection life, because I know that she is not dead, she is alive! Tirzah has given me a chance to experience the Gospel full circle. This is my testimony: the goodness of God and the Gospel of Christ… Tirzah’s life and my story are reflections of the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus.

In the first days and weeks after Tirzah’s death I experienced an over-powering sense of awe, and deep thankfulness toward the Lord, that all I could do was weep for his goodness to me…. Does this sound like a paradox? In the face of my deepest pain, my greatest loss, to feel this… I can testify that it was not a work of will power, or my effort to try and manufacture this thanksgiving, although there was a wrestling with the Word… it was given to me by the Holy Spirit in a powerful out- pouring of his grace.

When I first received the news of her death in my doctor’s office my first thought was “now I know the will of the Lord”, the thought came with a strange sense of calm… and my second thought came with more desperation, and words that I plead to Ryan, “We HAVE to trust the Lord.”

There had to be a complete submission and brokenness before the Lord before I could experience this kind of thanksgiving- this awe, this worship… And so I’ve learned this truth by experience: that “Faith Submits.” The Lord convicted me that I needed to submit to Him so FULLY that I could honestly say before God and men that I would not change the story, if given the chance… I needed this unshakable faith and trust in the goodness of God… such that I would not rewrite Tirzah’s life on this earth. These questions: “Would I rewrite the story? Would I write it differently?” and my temptation to shout YES! exposed sin in my heart- my pride and self-will. And as I was plagued with questions of “what if”?? Or thoughts of “I should have…” (I should have gone into the hospital, at this time or that… then she’d still be here)… I realized that Evil was tempting me with an illusion of control, or that God’s plan wasn’t the best outcome. My only rest was in accepting God’s sovereignty, His perfect will, and His goodness.

There was an explanation of the evil and suffering in our world by John Piper that really helped me to have a logical framework for trusting God, instead of merely sweeping my confusion and doubts under the “spiritual rug” of God’s sovereignty.:

John Piper wrote:
“When God looks at a painful or wicked event through His-wide angle lens {as opposed to His narrow-angle lens, where He sees just the pure tragedy},in his wide-angle lens, He sees the tragedy of the [event] and everything leading up to it, and everything flowing from it. He sees it in relation to all the connections and effects that form a pattern, or mosaic, stretching into eternity. This mosaic in all its parts brings Him delight….. He is infallibly forming a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. ” ~

His words helped me to see that Tirzah is a beautiful piece in this mosaic of redemption.

Her LIFE speaks of the resurrection, the hope that we have… Her life with the Lord testifies that salvation is a FREE gift, because what could she have done to earn salvation? She never even took a breath. Her life is a testimony to the free nature of God’s favor- it originates from His character of love alone. Her death before life speaks strongly of the necessity of the sacrifice of Christ for ALL people. Although she never had a chance to do any wrong or evil deeds, she was a descendant of the first man Adam, and inherited His sinful nature that past to ALL mankind. Because of this, Tirzah needed redemption- just like each one of us. And the death of Jesus on the cross as our substitute and payment for sin, made it possible for Tirzah to be with God in Heaven, where she is now experiencing joy in His presence beyond our comprehension. Tirzah’s ascension into the Kingdom of God for eternity was blood-bought by the Lord.

I’m thankful for this reality of eternity. The Kingdom of God has never been so real to me as now. The breavity (fleeting nature) of this life has never been so real… Prior to Tirzah, eternity was more like an after-thought… but now, I truly LONG for it, and I’m truly thankful that it’s coming soon… … the soft touch of her face is something I’ll never experience again on this side of eternity… but a piece of my heart has died, and been resurrected and is there already with Tirzah… and the Lord. The highest joys and the deepest sorrows are both meant to prepare us for eternity… And I thank the Lord for them both.

Tirzah’s simple obedience to the voice of the Lord is also a testimony to us- He called her: “Arise my love, my beautiful one and come away”… and she followed Him and her spirit arose. And that is why I can say that the moment she died in my womb was the Holiest of moments… Could we all obey the voice of the Lord with such simplicity?

The Lord’s request to us is the same as it was to Tirzah: “Come!” In Isaiah 55 The Lord says, “ Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the **life of your soul** is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised…”

If just one person heeds this call from the Lord through my testimony of Tirzah’s life, it will be worth the cost… I feel like God has entrusted to ME this ministry of Tirzah’s life, and I feel the precious weight of making it count.

How do I make it count?? Not by “doing” more, or even “serving more.”

God’s desire is not for us to be more productive or to accomplish more in our lifetime… His desire is for the image of His Son to be formed in us. The image of Jesus is scar-bearing. We each have scars, and our scars connect us to the scars of Christ- they are meant to tell a story- Christ’s story. A story must be told, and heard- not hidden, not silenced.
Dr. Allender spoke last weekend about his friend, whose face had been badly burned in a fire, about 1/3 of his face was disfigured. Everywhere he goes people look at him first with shock, and then some turn to disgust… But *all* look away…
We simply do not know how to behold each other’s scars. We don’t know how to behold our own scars… Can we first start by beholding the scars of our Savior? And then we when we find peace there, there in the scars of his hands, we can have the courage to look at our own scars, and see glory there.

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul says, “on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses… Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
This passage instructs us to boast of our Savior through our weaknesses- this means our pain, our grief, our struggles… and our scars. THIS is how God has designed for His Son to be glorified- through suffering… Isaiah 53 says that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…”

So my encouragement to you (my courage-giving care) is to ask you to tell each other, and an unbelieving world about your pain, your weakness, your scars- and use it for the glory of Christ, to share with a hurting world the redemption that He has brought to you.

If you are here today, and don’t know the Lord the way that Tirzah knows him and I’ve described Him- as the Savior and Redeemer of your soul, then I invite you to look, perhaps for the first time, at the wounds of sin in your heart. In Jeremiah 30 the Lord says, “Your hurt is incurable, and your wound is grievous… There is none to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you… because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant…” There is no hope from within ourselves… then the Lord offers his great mercy and FREE gift of redemption: “I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD. ”

His one requirement is that you come to Him with brokenness, repentance and a forsaking your illusions of your own goodness: ”Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God… And I will heal your faithlessness…”

And after you’ve ceased hiding from God, and uncovered your wounds before Him, and received God’s free gift of healing from the Holy Spirit… then turn, and join Tirzah, myself and this sisterhood of saints, in testifying of the Lord’s GREAT goodness and grace… Show your scars to a hurting world and tell YOUR story of His redemption.

two months into eternity

IMG_3370(1) IMG_3383IMG_3422

Today my little girl is two months into eternity… I feel peaceful… I feel deeply thankful… I am so proud of her…

God has used her to touch so many heart and lives. People from all over the world are reading this blog: South Africa, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, Malta and Honduras…

Here are the words a few people have shared:

From Taylar: “: I read parts of your blog and felt like numb sensation throughout my whole body. I had to get off of it for now because I couldn’t fight the tears. As a Christian myself, I would like to encourage you to stay strong and keep doing what you’re doing. You have more strength than an army of a thousand men. I am very inspired by your messages. Xo”

From P: “: God bless you Catherine and your sweet baby girl,,,, sounds like you already know, that your blessed and a blessing,, even in the deepest hurt, ,, oh but sweet lady,,you will see her again! thank you for sharing such a great amazing life with us, your family , Tirzah”

From H— who recently had baby E— “I just kept thinking about what you had been through and then would try to refocus on the faith you were demonstrating in light of everything. Then, when E came out strawberry blonde, I just knew that Tirzah must have been with her, sent by God to help keep her safe. May sound corny, but I really felt that way.”

And we’ve been so loved and encouraged by so many:

From Esme R.: “You are doing so well, dear friend! Your grateful heart, though it comes with so many tears and sorrows, cannot but please the Lord. You and Ryan are such good testimonies of God’s grace. Love ya!”

From Kari B. – “You are such an amazing women Catherine, God is using you, and will continue to use you in mighty ways. It’s so painful to be broken but as you know, his strength shines so bright when we are so weak, I see that strength in you and I am awed by it. We all will go through suffering on this earth and I just hope I can be as authentic and Christ filled as you have been. Hugs!”

From Gabrielle P.- “Catherine, thank you for being used by Jesus to bring Him honor in the midst of your pain. May He continue to strengthen you and shine through you. We are praying for you and your beautiful family.”

From Kristin H. – “Thank-you so much for sharing this, Catherine! Your faith and belief in who Jesus is and how you are walking through this loss is so encouraging and has challenged my faith! Sweet, beautiful Tirzah is home! Love you, friend!”

From K. L- “This is so beautiful Catherine! It’s such a testament of your faith in Jesus on how you are relying on him during this time and he is showing you such beautiful things. I can’t imagine going through what you are going through and my heart breaks for you, but I’m amazed by the way you are handling it all. You are such a strong woman and such an amazing mommy to both Jeremiah and Tirzah! She was so beautiful and we know She is in a much better place than any of us.”

Those are just a few.

 

Fall is in the air

IMG_3371

Dear Tirzah,
I was thinking about you and missing you during our walk along the harbor today… the fall colors and the stillness of the Lake were so beautiful… and I thought you’d be with us for all this. I would have bundled you up to keep you so warm… and your little beautiful cheeks would have been so cute and pink from the fall air. And Everyone who walked by would have stopped to gaze and you and see how beautiful you are, and you would have looked up with your big blue eyes in wonder at the world and people around you (I *know* you had your daddy’s eyes). And right about now I would be searching for the *perfect* Christmas stocking for you… and every time I see a pretty little baby dress I’ll think of you… how perfectly beautiful you are.
My beautiful Tirzah, did I tell you about my new photography project: Souls of Chicago? It was inspired by you… because I have a life time of questions I never got to ask you… to know all about you… and I know you’ll have all eternity to answer…
And maybe you’ll still have a little Christmas stocking here with us, and I’ll line the top with mistletoe for all the 1000s of kisses we have for you!
Love you so so so so so much, Tirzah. From your mommy

this new Esther Generation

Every morning that I wake up and Tirzah is not in my arms, is like a knife in my heart all over again.

Every. Single. Day. The pain never eases, never subsides. It is new every morning.

The mercy of the Lord is also new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

The only reason I can put one foot in front of the other each day is because of His presence…and the Truth of the resurrection; the tomb was indeed empty. The fact of His resurrection is my certain hope that Tirzah has experienced that resurrection and is now with the Lord.

It’s not just a flippant band-aid of Heaven on the wound of my heart.

The reality that Jesus took my place on the cross, and paid for all my sins is my surety that I will also experience the resurrection one day… and see Tirzah again.

I’m thankful for my Mom and for Ryan, who continually remind me that the Lord has kept me here on the earth because His work for me is not done… Like Esther… like Tirzah… I was born for such a time as this. 

Esther 4:14,16b:

{Mordecai to Esther:} “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”… {And Esther replied} “Then I will go… and if I perish, I perish.” 

I have this vision… of Tirzah leading the way in this new “Esther Generation”… she… and I… and us… born for “such a time as this.

All of us, in this sisterhood of saints, need her… Tirzah.

All ye saints in the Lord (those clothed in the righteousness of Christ and by His blood made perfect), let us not forget that we are of one body, growing into Christ our Head. We grow together. And Tirzah is part of our body, an indispensable part. And by her life we grow…

And she is.not.silent.

Do you see the irony?

Her voice is calling me, urging me to not remain silent.

” and if I perish, I perish.”   And what is that to me?

She speaks to us. Of the beauty of Christ, which she sees face to Face… of eternity… of simple obedience… of the resurrection.

And others in the sisterhood of saints speak to me… to us… along with Tirzah… Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who “did not fear anything that was frightening”… the Proverbs 31 woman who *laughs* at the days to come (although Mary Mohler recently pointed out to me that she is NOT a real person.. okay, so we can all relax our shoulders and sigh relief, she’s an *ideal*, not real!)…  Mary Magdalene who **clung** tightly to the risen Lord…

My prayer is that my life may adorn the Gospel of Jesus, as I look for the day when my faith shall be made sight. That is my longing, my hope. And until then I *cling* so tightly to the Lord.

Dear Tirzah 9/26/14

Dear Tirzah,

Mommy didn’t wake up so sad this morning. I love you so much, and yesterday it just hurt so bad to miss you and remember your sweet face. I wish I had more time with you, but I know we’ll have eternity. And I know that this life is like the blink of an eye or like a breath that is quickly gone. It just doesn’t *feel* like that. And now getting old- gray, wrinkly and worn doesn’t sound so bad, because it means I’m nearer to you. And I’m excited to celebrate you for my life time and watch you continue to touch people’s lives throughout my life.

And I’m so excited to tell you- we are going to celebrate your birthday every ear with a party and collect gifts and baby items to donate. And we’ll praise the Lord together as we remember you.

Tirzah, you’ve taught me to *know* in my heart and with all my being that it is “better to be with the Lord”- My hope and my home is not in this life. It’s with Jesus and in Heaven with you. I am, as Paul said, a “sojourner” here on the earth, just passing through. And Tirzah, *thank you* for teaching your mommy- i pray to the Lord for grace and His Spirit to teach me even more to live in light of eternity. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” I want to pour myself out for people hurting in this world, for my family, I want to live in communion with the Lord…. And the prayer i prayed for you, while you were growing within me, that you would one day walk with God as Enoch did, I feel that now you’re praying that back for me. And Tirzah, you encourage your mommy so much. I’m so thankful for you. And i pray for unshakable faith- that I would trust God so fully that even if I had the chance, I wouldn’t write the story differently. It sounds like a contradiction- to hurt so much for you, but I wouldn’t. I would *not* change the story…… love and one thousand kisses from your mommy. I miss you Tirzah.

2 Corinthians 5:2, 6-9; 4:14-18

For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,  for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him… knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Dear Tirzah 9/25/2014

**Note: if you click on the “category” Dear Tirzah you’ll see my earlier notes to her too**IMG_3389

Dear Tirzah, I woke up missing you and crying for you this morning… I wish so much that you were in my tummy again and I could feel you moving and your heart beating. I wish I could hold your frame again in my arms again, just so I could kiss your nose again, and stroke your cheek. Your little face was the softest touch I’ve ever felt. And now whenever I look at your Daddy’s face, I think of you because you had just the most perfect little replica of his nose! And I know that you had the most beautiful blue eyes that I’ll see in Heaven soon. And I know that you’re just as sweet as your Daddy too. I always said that if all our children would be as cute and sweet as Ryan, then I’d want ten! But I’m just thankful to have you. Your Daddy is thankful too that you’re his little princess. And we miss you so much, our beautiful girl. But until we see you (soon!!!!!!) we want to make you proud of us here, so we are trying to live with as much life and love and beauty as we can so that you’re always smiling down on us. XXXOXOXOXOX from your Mommy oh and P.S. Jeremiah misses you too, and was talking about you yesterday, about your crib and little giraffe we had ready for you. Soon he’ll understand that you have more in Heaven with Jesus than we could ever give you on earth. But he misses you and loves you so much and he can’t wait to see you soon too! XOXOXOXOX I know if you were here we’d never stop kissing you ;o)