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.

Little footprints… (Dear Tirzah 10/3/14)

Dear Tirzah,

You are the only “you” this world will ever know, And God made you to show His glory and His beauty in a unique and special way, that only you  can do. Just like your little finger prints and foot prints are yours alone- You have left a unique mark on this world. A mark that God had designed and planned just for you.

God extended His creative power and majesty in forming every detail of your little body- your face, your little fingers, the color of your beautiful red hair. And He delighted in every detail as He formed you and sang over you- a lullaby for you alone. And He called you: “Arise, my love…”, and you heard His voice and followed: “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine”…  And now He walks with you and talks with you, and tells you that you are His own.

My sweet Tirzah, He just couldn’t wait for you because you are so beautiful. And if I had a garden, wouldn’t I give my Lord the most beautiful rose of the garden? How could I give Him any less than you?

You were just so close, so close to being here with us. But God was watching over His will to perform it.

I just want to learn everything through your life that I can. To be still before the Lord and know that “My Beloved is mine, and I am His.” To follow my calling from the Lord, with simple obedience- as you did. Just ask the Lord, along with me, for your mommy to have a double portion of the Lord’s grace and presence. “Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.”  People keep telling your mommy that she’s strong, but really I’m not at all- any strength I have is directly from the Lord- you know that I know! ;o)

And may the Lord teach me to be “content with weaknesses.. hardships.. and calamities”.. so that His power may rest upon me- For His sake, so that the Lord only would be glorified. ( 2 Corinthians 12)

I am so weak Tirzah, and I am continually tempted to run into distraction- but you keep reminding your Mommy to run to the Lord instead.

In Him my faith has found a resting place… and soon my faith shall be made sight, and in the fullness of His presence, together with you, and all the saints… my heart looks for that day, and Tirzah, I rejoice with you as I wait.

this holy moment

This passage in James 1:3-4 scares me: “.. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” (New Living Translation)  It’s this word: anything that scares me. It just does.

It feels wrong, maybe shameful to admit this. I know it sounds like doubt.

But in the midst of this fear, my heart and soul cries out to God: “I believe!! Help Thou my unbelief!!”

Aren’t those similar to the words I cried out several years ago: “I am powerless to sustain even my own faith- I need YOU Lord to pour faith into my heart and sustain me!”

So this word: anything.

It’s the realization that life will bring more pain. There is no bargaining with God. It’s not true that since He has Tirzah I am now entitled to a smooth road. Even though I feel like I want it to be true: “God, since you have Tirzah, now I get a healthy baby next and no more deaths. And I get to keep Jeremiah and Ryan.”

But the truth is: I don’t know God’s plan… And. Even. If. He calls Jeremiah away. He is still good.

Is this what it means to hold life with an open hand? To hold my most precious loved ones loosely. They *are* the Lord’s.

And what can I do but fall on my face before the Lord and worship?

Now more than ever I have a sense of the majesty of God.

This majesty calls forth the *Highest* praise.

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; *blessed* be the name of the LORD.” ~ Job 1:21

And I say with this ancient man: “ I, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,…  and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”  (Daniel 4:34-35)

I lay my hand over my mouth- and fall on my face.

*This* is Holy Ground. This place of grief. This moment when Tirzah was called away. This Holy Moment.

I

into Arabia

…but I went away into Arabia~ Galatians 1:17

So *this*, this desert of grief is my Arabia…

My life verse is Jeremiah 2:2: Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

I love this verse. I’ve also tried to escape it as *my* verse. Before all this. I’m not sure why. But it seems like I was always looking for a different *life* verse. Even though the Lord clearly gave me this one. I guess I was running from the wilderness. The idea scared me. But now I’m here and there is no running. Just tears. And hope. Painful hope.

Right now it is most painful to look back at the moment my doctor put the heart monitor on my abdomen and found no heart beat. At that time my mind was reeling- all I could think was- “We have to trust God. ”  And then trying desperately to hold Ryan together. I was afraid I would loose him too. And then phone calls i had to make to family and friends. To Mom, to Sara, to Janet- how did I manage to say the words “we lost her”. I couldn’t say the words dead or died then.

My whole body clenches.

This is the sting of death.

And it feels like it’s choking me and squeezing the breath from my lungs.

Am i to be pitied most of all??

Is my faith in vain??

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied…And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile…”

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead… For as by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) has come also the resurrection of the dead….The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.”

“then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

My heart waits for that triumphant day.

Until then I am steadfast, immovable… knowing that my struggles are *not* in vain.

(Scripture selections quoted from 1 Corinthians 15)

Dear Tirzah 10/1/14

Dear Tirzah,

you are *always* in our hearts and thoughts. Every moment of every day you are woven into our lives.

It hurts so much this morning. Maybe it was seeing the newborn girl photos online? I had everything ready for you, every detail I could think of. I wish I had just one moment to see the pinkness of your body, to feel your life. Just o have one moment to hold you and comfort you the way a mommy is designed to do. I wish I had a moment to really *be* your mommy.

You are my dream come true Tirzah. I had always wanted a daughter. I’ll tell you a little secret ;o) : when I found out that Jeremiah was a boy, it took me about two weeks to adjust! ha! I wanted a girl so bad!

I couldn’t wait for Ryan to meet you. I knew it would be so special for him to have a daughter. I don’t think he realized it would be special in a different way, but I did. I wanted to see him rock his baby girl to sleep- I know he’d *never* be able to put you down.

And if I had you now I’d never be able to let you go, maybe that’s why God took you in my womb. He knew I’d never survive it if I had to let you go from my arms.

I just want to send 1000 kisses up to you, and imagine that your mommy can stroke your cheek again.

You’re so beautiful to your mommy. The most beautiful princess the world has ever known, my Tirzah.

*love* you, and I can’t wait for our eyes to finally meet on that *triumphant* day!

Grieving is a community project

It is my strong conviction that grieving is meant to be done in community. That is why I started this post. We are called to “bare one another’s burdens” and to weep *with* those who weep, and that is my invitation to you: to mourn with me, to share in my tears, but also share in my joy and celebrate Tirzah’s life with me. This is *true* communion and intimacy that God designed us for.

I starting reading a book today, that my dear friend, Esme gave me at Tirzah’s service: Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie. I felt like she took her words straight from my own heart, and even very similar thoughts I shared with Ryan last night as we were walking along Lake Michigan:

(Preface: Nancy lost her daughter, Hope, when she was 199 days old)

“So many people are afraid to bring up my loss. They don’t want to upset me. But my tears are the only way I have to release the deep sorrow i feel. I tell people, “Don’t worry about crying in front of me, and don’t be afraid that you will make me cry! Your tears tell me that you care, and my tears tell me that you’ve touched me in a place that is meaningful to me- and I will never forget your willingness to share my grief.” …. when others shed their tears with me, it is as if they are taking a bucketful of sadness and carrying it for me….”

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.

The End of Running (9/20/14)

delight of my life

I decided to get away this weekend, and went to a women’s conference hosted by my wonderful friend, Esme. When I walked into the church building, I immediately saw a woman holding a tiny newborn baby girl. All I can say is it took my breath away- literally, for a moment, it was all I could do to keep from just weeping right there…. God brought me to this place to show me that I’ve been running- by distraction after distraction: dreams of a new baby, planning activities with Jeremiah, reading about other peoples stories- I think I’m just learning how deep my grief is. Tirzah has changed my life and *who* I am forever. When Jeremiah was born, I easily recognized the profound impact. From the moment I heard him cry I simply felt that nothing in life before him mattered. Tirzah’s birth was just as profound on my…

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Broken Dreams

I woke up this morning crying for Tirzah… Usually, I struggle more at night and think of her as I’m going to sleep…

I have been thinking today about the hole in our lives without Tirzah here… all the dreams and plans we had for our lives with her as part of our family…

I was so excited for Tirzah to wear the dress my great grandma made for her baby dedication, the same dress I wore for mine… I wanted to take cute brother & sister photos like these…. I bought a sailor dress for her so I could carry on my mom’s photo tradition (haha!) and I was going to have her learn the violin like I did…

WhereareCatherinesteeth MomCatherineDedicationDress LittleCatherineViolin_0001 KissforCatherine CatherineDedicationDress Catherine6weeksoldD15mo 1983MatchingSailorsuites2 1982Familyphoto

This song “House of Broken Dreams” (below) by Mark Heard comes to mind:

Hear the whistle blow
It echoes down my soul
It’s something I have always known
Nothing sounds so sad
A cry to the unknown
The fundamental sigh of all who’ve gone this way before

Lay me down to sleep
Come and comfort me
I’ll sleep in peace
In a house of broken dreams

Give me the reasons to go on
Soften the sorrow that shatters and bends
And mend broken dreams

Lay me down to sleep
Come and comfort me
I’ll sleep in peace
In a house of broken dreams

Even though we know that God’s plans for Tirzah are higher than what our plans and dreams were, and we’re so thankful that Tirzah is with the Lord, and for everything beautiful He’s working through her life, we still feel a deep sense of loss. Death was not God’s original plan… Life was meant to be swallowed up in everlasting life… But we cling to the promise of Heaven (made certain to us by the death and resurrection of Christ, through which He secured the gifts of the forgiveness of God, freedom from the penalty of Hell, and adoption as God’s children)…

Isaiah 8:9 says: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

And until then we seek to please the Lord, and make Tirzah proud of us, so she will always be smiling down on us! Jeremiah and I are going to start learning the violin so we can play for Tirzah watching us!!! And we will keep laughing, so she can laugh with us!

photo 2(1) catviolin Jeremiahviolin photo 4