Andrew Freund: In the Arms of Jesus

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-aj-freund-crystal-lake-abuse-20190426-story.html

This story has been absolutely heartbreaking. I feel an actual physical pain when I think about him.

I want to take a moment and share my thoughts: my grief and my hope for this beautiful, sweet, precious little boy that I just wish I could hold and kiss and rock in my arms like I rock Judah to sleep every day.

We just celebrated Easter last weekend. I feel like this is where we are put to the test: do we actually believe in the resurrection that we celebrated?

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

I believe that the resurrection of Jesus is *real*… He truly was God in the flesh who came and defeated, sin, death, and the grave. Therefore, I believe that resurrection is real for my own daughter, and I believe it’s real for sweet Andrew. He is now experiencing the fullness of love that he never had in part on this earth. I picture him now in the arms of Jesus, held tightly and safely.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:14

On Easter Sunday, we sang Phil Wickham’s song, “Living Hope” and I began to cry as I sang these words, thinking of Tirzah’s buried body rising to breathe for the very first time, the breath she didn’t get to take on earth… and now I think of Andrew too:

“Then came the morning that sealed the promise

Your buried body began to breathe

Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion

Declared the grave has no claim on me

Then came the morning that sealed the promise

Your buried body began to breathe

Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion

Declared the grave has no claim on me

Jesus, Yours is the victory!!”

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And from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be.

{this article was published in The Morning Center Chronicle, November 2017. The Morning Center provides free, full-service maternity care to underserved women in the name of Jesus. ProWoman. ProHope. ProLife.}

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~ John 10:10

The Morning Center stands for life.

However, our journey in supporting The Morning Center did not begin with life. Our journey’s seed-bed was Death:  our daughter, Tirzah Catherine Knight, was born still and silent at 40 weeks, and into the arms of Jesus on August 20, 2014. It was the darkest night of our lives.

She was our every dream and prayer come true. We loved her beyond words. Holding her in my arms, and the soft touch of her cheek was a touch of heaven… for a moment. But heaven is real, and I will touch her again.

We are people of the Resurrection. This is our hope.

It is from this place that our journey with The Morning Center blossomed.

Tirzah is NOT dead; she IS alive. Her life matters. Though born still and silent she has a voice that speaks loudly and clearly a message of life.

Tirzah’s message and the Morning Center’s mission are one and the same: Life. Resurrection. Eternal Life.

This is why we choose The Morning Center to honor and celebrate Tirzah’s life each year on her birthday, and invite others to join us. On her first birthday, we hosted an online baby shower that raised over $6000. We also celebrated her 1st birthday with a party and collected baby gifts. It was a holy experience to unwrap the gifts: clothes and dresses were chosen and wrapped through the tears of those who love us.

The dresses, that would have been so beautiful for Tirzah, were meant to bless another baby. Holding these dresses was literally holding grief and joy together: hope beyond the sorrow.

This baby shower for The Morning Center was actually a battle-cry:  A fierce stand that as Evil rages on this earth, scheming to “kill, thieve and destroy”, Death does NOT have the last word. Life wins!

In the battle against Evil and against Death, The Morning Center and all who work through the ministry are warriors fighting for life!

We joined forces with the Morning Center, because Jesus has conquered sin, Evil and death!

We stand on hope in the Resurrection. I repeat: Life wins!!

We love the Morning Center and are proud to join the war on their behalf because they have dual weaponry against the Enemy that is rare in Christian ministry: Sharing the Gospel in deed AND in Word.

The Morning Center enables women to carry and delivery their babies with excellent medical care. At the same time, their mission is sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the fullness of truth with love. I have been so blessed to join with The Morning Center through prayer and see their work overflowing in Bible study ministry to fathers and refugees in the community.

As we grieve our daughter here on earth, it has given us joy and peace in believing that the purpose of Tirzah’s life was for the grace of Jesus to spread (John 9:3). We see that promise fulfilled through The Morning Center, as her life has inspired us to take part in the gift of life to babies, mothers, fathers… and truly an entire community.

https://www.morningcenter.org/

 

 

 

Community Story: A Letter to a Sister on her Birthday

Dear Serena,

When my dear friend Catherine invited me to write you, I was struck with a combination of happiness that someone still wanted to know about you and also feeling afraid of what it would look like to make time to sit with the knowledge that you are not here.

On most days I let every day tasks overwhelm the opportunities to remember you. Although you died almost nine years ago, there are moments that the mere statement: “my sister has died,” will bring me to tears. Perhaps I haven’t mourned fully or perhaps the impact you have left on me is so deep and lasting that it will take a lifetime to enter.

Every so often there are reminders so obvious that no amount of noise can drown out the reality.  When I listen to a friend complain about his siblings I feel envious that he has someone to complain about. When I realize that you have never met my dog Keiko (she is laying on me right now) I think about how much you would enjoy her. When I realize that I am alone teasing Mooma there is a sharp pang. There are countless moments where I look longingly at my phone and wish I could share a witty thought, seek comfort from you or just talk about nothing important, thoughts that only a sister would really understand.

Today is your birthday. You would have been 28 today.

I loved your birthdays. Mostly I loved finding the perfect gift and listening to the “wow” factor in your voice when you opened it. I loved being able to surprise you. Choosing a gift is a combination of knowing someone deeply and keeping an eye out for an opportunity. I used to pride myself in finding the “ah-ha presents”. I haven’t enjoyed giving gifts the same way since your passing.

I tell people that much of who I am is because I was your older sister. You were my favorite person and the person I trusted the most. The hardships of life were much more bearable because we were together and because I had someone to laugh with. Much of our childhood consisted of me running forward, seeing what was to come and guiding you through it. You came to me to learn how to use makeup, how to shave, how to deal with mom and dad, homework, friends. I was older, wiser and had faced the issues before you and I loved being able to teach you what I knew.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  Throughout the past nine years, I’ve gradually allowed the Lord to enter in to the places of loneliness. I sense Him holding me as I ask Him, “Why?” Why He would take away the person that was supposed to be there for my whole life- even after our parents died and if I never get married and have children?  I have felt Him telling me: “You will need to wait. This time Serena will have more experience and will teach you.”

Here I am, Serena, waiting to join you in Eternity. While I wait on earth, my prayer is that the pain of your passing would gradually open my heart to be able to accept comfort from the Lord, so that I can in turn, comfort others in their pain and sorrow.

I love you and I miss you.

Your big sister,

Larissa

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