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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Story: Hope for a Hurting Marriage

Guest post: A story of true love and redemption:

Once upon a time, there was a young couple who fell in love.

They laughed. They had fun. They talked until the early hours of the morning about everything and nothing at the same time. They were different from each other in so many ways but they appreciated these differences. They basked in the beauty of new, young love and the possibility of their lives together. They both knew from the start that they had a future together. Within a year’s time got engaged and married the following year.

Within the first year of marriage reality set in and felt like a huge cloud looming. Not quite sure how this whole marriage thing worked, the young couple tried and tried at communicating and working together, yet they couldn’t quite get it right.

The foundation of their marriage wasn’t built very strong and they the felt the weight bearing on their marriage as the structure began to crack.

Pretty soon the young couple found out they were pregnant! Joy and happiness (and fear of course! ) of being parents now became the focus of this young couple.

Yet as the months ticked by, the arguments, stubbornness, harshness, bitterness and walls against each other kept building and building and the weight came crushing down a little more onto their home.

They tried getting help. They Learned new tricks and tips on how to work with each other better, leaned on friends who had been married longer and had good marriages.

Sigh. They pressed forward.

Pretty soon Baby Girl was born and she was such a beauty. Her peacefulness and joy radiated their home with warmth and laughter. She was truly a beautiful gift from God to this young family.

However, as the years went by their marriage kept sinking.  More walls were built. More arguing with no resolution. More sadness and loneliness began to fill the hearts of these parents.

The realization that the foundation of their home and marriage was crumbling was weighing on their hearts and minds. Coming to the end of their rope, they reached out to the Church, not knowing what else to do. Neither husband or wife wanted to give up, yet neither knew what else to do to fix the damage done. They started pealing back the layers of hurt and pain as they tried to move forward.

They pressed on, not sure if repair was possible.

Falling and getting back up. Falling again and picked up again by loved ones.

Finally, breakthrough came when this husband and wife started to surrender it all- hands up to Jesus.

When couples get married 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is often quoted:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What does this really look like? How am I supposed to be patient when {fill in the blank}? How am I supposed to be kind when {fill in the blank}? How am I not supposed to keep record of wrongs when {fill in the blank}?

This couple lived apart for over a year. Through this time, the couple continued placing one foot in front of the other; looking forward and trusting that the Lord would lead them. They slowly kept climbing further up and out of the dark pit that had engulfed their marriage for so many years.

A change had begun. Head knowledge was becoming heart transformation. They were learning to trust each other, to work together, to give grace and find acceptance with each other. They were finding peace in their home. They did not always get it right but they kept pressing forward.

One day, the young wife looked up and felt the sun shining on her face.

 As tears streamed down her cheeks, she realized that they were no longer in the dark cycle of falling.

She realized with a grateful heart that the amount of peace and joy in their home was more then they had ever had in the 10 years of their marriage. God had walked with them through the hardest and darkest parts of their life and brought them to a new season.

Some say that marriage gets better with time, but for this couple, marriage got better by surrendering to the Lord and choosing to lay down their own agenda for the sake of the other.

Sometimes the thing worked hardest for is the sweetest in the end.

We are forever grateful to those who walked through the darkest time in our marriage with us. You spent time talking with us, praying for us, crying with us, counseling us and picking us up when we were down.  Our marriage was marked by your love and support. I can’t say we would have the same ending to this story without you and God working through you. We are forever grateful for you.

I am so happy to say “Happy 10th Anniversary” to you, Brian. Although this journey has had hardship and many painful moments, I have learned to love you more today then I could have known when we first said “I do.” Looking back, I would choose you again. I love you and can’t wait to see where our journey leads from here.

All my love,
Sarah

are you having fun yet??

In my last blog entry I wrote about the idea of Hope being a journey, and the idea that true hope comes through the *resurrection*. In this post, I want to explore the journey in more detail… The general outline below is based on a chart from Dr. Allender’s Trauma Care conference.(if you’d like a full copy let me know!!)

Dr. Allender opened the conference by describing each of our lives as a story. We were created by GOD- Elohim. We were *written* by God. Psalm 139:16 says, “your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” 

Therefore, God is Author and God is also *Authority*… He drops us into a story, without explanation, and we cannot demand one of Him… Our stories are not ours alone- they *belong* to the Author. Our stories are eternally important… each meant to uniquely show forth the Story of God. Therefore, *your* story is worth exploring, knowing, and making available to the Kingdom of God.

Dr. Allender outlined four parts to each story (although some stories may never progress out of part three, tragically).

1) Shalom .  This is a stage of innocence… peace… and *hope*… where goodness and kindness where known.

2) Shalom Shattered.  This is where peace is disrupted, and tragedy enters.

3) Shalom Sought. Dr. Allender explained, this is where we live in the midst of being “East of Eden”- and trying to find our way back home. But the doorway is blocked by two Angels with swords of fire… this reminds us that the way home will be a different route. But in this stage of the story, we are trying to get back “home” on our own efforts, we are trying to rescue ourselves… thus, the more we seek, the more we loose… and as Dr. Allender says, “here the story thickens and the plot develops.”

4) Shalom Restored.  This is the “denouement” (Ryan and i always look at each other and laugh when we’re listening to Dan Allender and he uses words like “denouement”… this would be a classic example!!… If you’re like me and never heard this word before, it means “to loosen”… and is “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.” )

This is where GOD comes in and rescues. Jehovah Goelekh (Isaiah 49:26&60:16) – The LORD Thy Redeemer.

Each person’s life will have an overarching story, but within that countless smaller stories in which we will move in and out of these stages.

Following the above outline, the storyline of Hope goes like this:

1) Hope.  Characterized in the most basic sense of dreams and desires.

2) Disillusionment & Powerlessness (Hope shattered). I think that when tragedy enters and people experience a shattering of hope, very often they are unaware of their deeper feelings and connections with behaviors or reactions, and very much unable to piece together underlying motivations and have the ability to articulate them… So as you read in this section and the next, it may be a stretch of your thoughts… but please bare with me ;o)

Here in the disillusionment and powerlessness is the feeling of being made a *fool*. After the shattering, the former dreams and desires seem foolish. Some common reactions of the human heart would be cynicism, addictions- as an escape from the risk of hope, and seeking a sense of power through indifference – “if i can’t control the future then i will not care what happens.”

3) “Stranger” & Anger.  Here is where we try to rescue ourselves from this sense of disillusionment, powerlessness and foolishness. The cynicism can morph further into anger, bitterness, and revenge… and in all these, our hearts are closed off to other people, and in some measure to God. There is a vow ( made consciously or unconsciously) that “no one will get to my heart.”

4) Hope Restored= True Hope–> becomes Prophet.  This again is where GOD comes in and rescues us… Here *Hope* is restored through God’s promises… and primarily of the resurrection.  The “Denouement” is where Hope finds it’s solid ground in the Resurrection of Jesus, for there on the cross He defeated sin and death.

Isaiah 25:8~ he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Romans 8 (selections)~  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death... The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you…  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

This confidence in the resurrection, leading to eternal glory gives us TRUE HOPE!!!

True Hope will produce ***AWE*** … which is another word for worship. We will also have confidence in the victory of God’s eternal Kingdom as the culmination of time… this is the “memory of what is to come”… We will begin to PRAY and FAST for what will  be…. we will be disturbed and defiant with a holy disruption and a holy defiance (as Dan would say ;o))… against evil gaining ground in this world and in our own homes and hearts. **More hope will bring more disruption, perhaps chaos, and more defiance into your life.**  (if you question this, look at the lives of the disciples after Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension… what did the resurrection do to their lives??)

Thus, steps the Prophet onto stage.

The Prophet or Prophetess will be one who speaks of *true hope* to others… Who brings holy disruption into people’s lives by a call for repentance… and draws forth passion for the coming Kingdom of God… provokes others to FIGHT for goodness, beauty, and *Truth* to gain ground.

I will end this post with one of my favorite things Dan Allender said during the Trauma Care Conference:

He said “Our calling before God is to make the Gospel known. THIS is immense fun! If you’re not having fun in your life, it’s because your life is not oriented toward destroying evil. FUN= putting your FOOT on the neck of EVIL and crushing that “SOB” (hey, Dan said that not me! ;o) )  “What brings your heart to *fury*? What makes *your* heart cry out “HELL, No!”  Stand Against untruth anywhere in the world. Take back territory for the Kingdom of God… Engage the Kingdom of God… *play* with God in the fields of God”