Happy 3rd Birthday Tirzah!

Dear Tirzah,

We now celebrate your 3rd birthday! (August 20th)

It’s been a gift to celebrate you and remember you… You were our little perfect Gift! and still are.

With the school year starting and Jeremiah entering Kindergarten, I’ve been thinking that you would be going into preschool… what would it have been like for you to be buddies with Jeremiah and him showing you around CHA?

I can picture it clearly in my mind… but then I think, “No! no, you’re just where you’re supposed to be… with Jesus… held in His arms… walking with Him in the heavenly gardens.”

I remember the words in my speech just 2 1/2 months after your birth:

( https://delightofmylife.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/119/

“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?”  … there is still the temptation… but still the same conclusion.

Dearest Tirzah, my most beautiful and precious little princess, you are our perfect gift just the way you were… still, silent, yet carrying a loud message of LIFE.

You brought us the gift of LIFE in so many ways:  Faith, Hope, and Love in new depths, new vibrancy…  and a farther reaching spectrum of emotions- more tears and steadfast joy (for now we cling to Eternity… a part of our hearts are already in Heaven with you, Tirzah.  Hope in Heaven is the only true Hope, and the only true joy has eyes toward Jesus and Eternity) These tears and this joy are a little closer to the heart of God (who weeps with deep mourning and rejoices in the heights of Heaven).

You opened our hearts to deep grief, such as we had never known before, and pain that we didn’t know was possible. But yet, we have seen the Lord’s faithfulness, felt His presence, and heard His voice with an intensity and reality that matched the depth of our brokenness. Job says in 5:18: “For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.”

Tirzah, your life is still bringing us the gift of healing. We can only be healed so far as we are broken. Dan Allender once said that “trauma begets trauma”… and oh! did we find that to be true!

I have a theory: that all grief, pain and trauma have the same biochemical outcome in our brains… therefore, one traumatic event can actually trigger all past trauma and bring it to the surface again.

The last three years have been tumultuous for your dad and I, as not only the trauma of loosing you on this earth was felt, but all past traumas of our lives were also brought forth.  This brokenness in our hearts was there before you, just buried beneath the surface. Now you have brought us the gift of healing and the gift of being “wounded healers”, by the grace of God.

My good friend Rose shared this verse with me often:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  ~ 2 Corinthians 1:4-5

This is where we are now, Tirzah. Because of you we have the gift of a new calling on our lives. And when I say “we” I include Jeremiah and Judah!

Ever since you were born, Tirzah, Jeremiah has a sense of empathy that is stunning for a small child. He was about 2 1/2 at that time. As a result of our grief over you, Jeremiah became keenly aware of emotions. When we read him stories after your birth, he would point to every character on the page and want to know how they were feeling. Every single day (this is no joke), multiple times a day, Jeremiah would hand me a train and say, “Percy is sad because there are no beetles, lets just listen to how he feels.”  One day we were at a park with a sandbox (of course another mom with a similar age boy was sitting right next to me), and Jeremiah (about age 3) handed me a shovel and said, “This shovel is sad because he can’t dig, let’s just listen to how he feels.”  I was a little tongue-tied… but beaming with pride.

God has joined your story with ours, Tirzah, and He is beginning to work in Jeremiah his own life verse:  “He defended the cause of the poor and needy and so all went well…”  (Jeremiah 22:16)

Tirzah, you’ve given him eyes of empathy… to see pain in the eyes of another.

Just a couple weeks ago, (at age 5) he prayed in the evening, “Dear God, I pray that Mommy wouldn’t feel guilty…”  My mouth dropped open: for him to understand that emotion, to recognize it in me, and to have the compassion to pray for me was simply stunning… and I believe Spirit-given.

I believe we will see God use you, Tirzah, in Judah’s life as well. Judah’s life verse comes from Ezekiel 37: verses 4-5, 10.

“Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, “Oh dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live“… So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceeding great army.

Your little brother’s first birthday is now just a few days away! I wrote this in Judah’s newborn album:

“The Knight family is now a family of five. Judah is our third child: his older brother Jeremiah, and older sister Tirzah. We want Judah to know all about his sister. Our desire is the same for both Tirzah and Judah: That they would both carry a message of LIFE.

“The verse that Tirzah carries in her still and silent way, for it is engraved on her headstone, is one that Judah will carry with a strong and loud voice:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? ~ John 11:25-26

 

 

What about harming our own children?

After my last post, I realized that the material immediately begs this question- as we examine and come to understand the harm and brokenness in our families of origin that has shaped our own stories, what about our own children?  If you are brave enough to articulate the question- “How have I, or am I currently harming my own children? … Because just as my parents were not “pre-fall Adam and Eve”, neither are my husband and I!”

Ryan and I were fortunate to have a wise premarital counselor who told us: “You WILL harm your children. Your children WILL have issues specifically because YOU are their parents.”

I think that gave both of us a huge feeling of freedom as we set out in our young family. It was kind of like permission from the beginning to fail. We simply accepted brokenness as part of the picture, and realized that we weren’t going to build our lives around a facade…  We didn’t have to waste years of frustrated parenting efforts to be “perfect parents”… Instead we built a family culture of *reality, honesty, humility, repentance and forgiveness.”

So if you never had the benefit as we did of our wise counselor, I’m telling you now: “You WILL harm your children. Your children WILL have issues specifically because YOU are their parent.”

If you take this to heart, you may think- okay, then what next? start a savings account for my child’s future counseling?  (Actually, that IS a good idea- Dan Allender and his wife actually DID just that! *EVERYONE* needs counseling… only the brave and honest actually get it. As Ryan loves to say, “The people who say they don’t need it, are the really scary ones, and actually need it the most.)

I believe that given this premise, it is our responsibility to know our own stories, and to know our own woundedness. You will either parent out of your woundedness or out of wisdom… the only way to swing the balance (our woundedness will *never* be completely out of the picture) is to be growing in awareness… God designed us so radically for relationship, community and intimacy that we *CANNOT* grow on our own… we are dependent on others to grow in truth and faith. (supporting verses Ephesians 2:21, 4:16; Colossians 2:19; many in Proverbs)

The problem is… that *shame* and *pride* cause us to hide the broken and wounded parts of our hearts.  When we isolate our marriages and the reality of our family dynamics, insulating from any outside input or wisdom, Evil is bound to creep in, take root, and flourish.

Isaiah 30 speaks of our natural inclination to live in a false reality- either by distraction (*Social MEDIA*), dissociation (TV! Video games), addictions (PORN ), *Busyness* :

Isaiah says that these people, whom we are *just like* say: “speak to us smooth things,
    prophesy illusions.” (30:10) Like them, we don’t want to face the truth of sin and evil  working in our families- that we grew up in, or that we are raising.

But verse 15, gives us the source of *HOPE* and *JOY* in the midst of painful reality:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In repentance and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, 16 and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
    therefore you shall flee away;

In coming to the Lord and each other in honesty and repentance there is healing, hope and joy- as this passage says- **REST**. Otherwise, if you keep covering up, you will always be running, *fleeing*… anxious, and exhausted, and still feeling so weighed down with guilt.  Is that what you want??  Maybe the pain of truth is worth it because at the end there is rest, quietness, trust… and the Lord Himself.

In my next post, I’ll get into some categories or starting places to look into your stories and how they are lived out in your communities and families.

 

 

Birthday Video

There’s still time to donate to Tirzah’s legacy of life at through the Morning Center. Click below for her memorial page and fundraising in her honor.

https://secure.morningcenter.org/np/clients/morningcenter/campaign.jsp?campaign=21&fundraiser=12286&team=21#.VcyXcDVkpl0.facebook

Tirzah’s life message: Resurrection and LIFE:

“Resurrection is real. Life is more powerful than death. Light CAN pierce darkness. (1 Corinthians 15:54).

Lord, we know You will come. We know You are here. Let us bring all our wounds and brokenness to You expectantly, without a doubt. Remind us that all the children we hold, and all the children we don’t, are yours. Yours in this broken life and Yours in Eternity. Come, Lord Jesus. We wait in **Hope**. ”

(Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie)

The Valley of Vision:

“Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the Valley of Vision, where I live in the depths, but see Thee in the heights… there I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox,

that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive, that **the valley is the place of vision.**

Lord, let me find thy light in my darkness, thy life in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, they riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.”

~The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritian Prayers

Dear Tirzah:

My sweet Tirzah, Jesus 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?

~ Dear Tirzah, October 3, 2014

Soli Deo Gloria:

Tirzah’s life is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? ”   ~ John 11

Do *not* be deceived: wake up from your drunken stupor, and do not go on sinning… Return to the Lord, for He is merciful and will abundantly pardon.”  ~ Jeremiah

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”

and we all tore our robes

Then Job arose, and tore his robe… and fell on the ground and worshiped. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.  ~ Job 1:20

This weekend at the Respite Retreat, in Henrietta, TN with David and Nancy Guthrie was a hard and yet glorious time.

My heart was freshly broken for all the families we met, and feeling their pain of loosing their children along with them, along with our own heartbreak for our first daughter Tirzah.

At the end, we all agreed that we didn’t want to leave the retreat…. It was so good, because it felt so safe… it was wonderful to cry and not hold back.. to have people to cry with, and not try to fix it, or feel awkward or rush us past it… i could freely let out the deep guttural cry of my heart… it was wonderful that Tirzah’s name was said, naturally and often. It was amazing to be with people who “get it” and just “know” and we didn’t have to explain or justify anything. Tirzah’s value and worth was assumed and celebrated.

We also found in our time together, the Lord to be faithful and the Rock on which we stand. The *name of the Lord* is salvation, redemption, and resurrection… for our babies… and for us.

We found together that *Jesus understands* both the overwhelming weight of grief, and the loneliness in that grief:

Then {Jesus} said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?

Jesus understands what it is like to pray and receive a “No” from the Father:

he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me

Together we found God’s answer to the “Why??”… and a beginning of putting to rest the guilt and regret we all are tempted to have eat away at our hearts:

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Here in John 9, in this story of a blind man, we see Jesus answer in terms of purpose, not cause, as Nancy drew out of the passage. That was a wonderful reminder, and a truth in season for my heart. Nancy reminded each of us that God DOES NOT punish those *in faith*. For those who have accepted the free gift that Christ offers (the gift of being our substitute on the cross, and dying the death our lawbreaking demands as penalty), ALL the punishment that I *deserve*, Jesus took upon himself on the cross. *This sounds too good to be true* but we accept it and rejoice in this gift by faith. And now, God wants to pour out on US love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and GOODNESS.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23

*ALL* the days includes the days that our children died. God’s *goodness* was there, and IS there in the depths of the despair we still feel.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 (paraphrase) ” and the day of death is better than the day of birth.”

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. ~ Psalm 116

And not only is God good on these days, but He has planned them, purposed them, and written them. Nancy read to us from Revelation 1:17 and Psalm 139. She emphasized this TRUTH: *God holds the key of death. No one walks through until God himself opens the door. And He is ALWAYS right on time.

“Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ~ Revelation 1:17

God has written *every* one of our days. Even the days that our children die.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me… ~ Psalm 139:16 

And finally, we read this *on going* invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

She gently reminded each of us to come to JESUS himself, with a simple and pure heart… it doesn’t say “go to church”, or “seek a spiritual experience”, or whatever we might turn to… instead, we come to our Lord- the *person* of Jesus, and, like the *beloved* disciple John, we simply lay our head on his chest, experiencing his love and rest.