Advent #1: HOPE

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The first Sunday of Advent. We light our candle… hope. The wick bursts into a flame, and it holds… dancing light.

Jesus came to give the gift of hope.

Who would not accept this gift??

Doesn’t that idea seem odd? to turn away from the gift of hope? In the warm, the light, the beauty of this candle, to snuff it out??

The person who would say no… turn away… is the person who sees no worth, no use of the gift. The person who has no desire.

Imagine if someone offered you a brand new BMW… that would be amazing!! Who would say no??— A person with a garage full of Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, and Bentley’s … this person would have no use, no need, no desire for the BMW. The gift would have no worth….. AND if it was accepted outwardly as a perfunctory, cultural duty, it would never be used.

and then imagine that the condition of the BMW gift was that the person to receive it must have no car at all? This person with the 50 sports cars would be disqualified. (And then imagine, that this person disqualified, did not know that each of his sports cars was rigged to blow up once he started driving… and the BMW was the only car of safety.)

In the same way, Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless.

He did not come to add a little more to your all-ready self-sufficiency. The mere idea… of Jesus adding to what we already have… that is snuffing out the candle. Turning away from glory.

If you look at your life and are satisfied, then the gift of Hope will have no worth, no use. There is no desire.

But if you look at your life and see darkness and sin… a sickness like leprosy coursing through your veins and in desperation you say, “I am in danger of the fire of hell!

Then, and only then… in this despair and hopelessness… Jesus offers the gift of peerless worth: certain hope.

Jesus IS the gift of Christmas. “I am the way, the truth, and the light.”

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined… For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given… his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…. you shall call his name “Jesus” for he will save his people from their sins… they shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us. (Isaiah 9:2,6; Matthew 1:21,23)

This God-man baby who came to us on Christmas, is the one, who has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions and he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:4,5)

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

This Christmas… do you believe this?

One of my favorite prayers, is Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

two months into eternity

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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

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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.