God with Us

“Fear not, I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing this letter to wish you happy holidays and share how God has worked great miracles in my life and He can in yours too. Whomever you are and wherever you are, no matter how whole or broken you feel right now, you are redeemed by a merciful God who loves you unconditionally and became flesh to save you. God invites you to participate in salvation by picking up your cross and *following* Him. He is here. You are created in His image and you are a temple of a God who is LOVE and lives within you.

2020 has been terrible for so many of us. It’s been full of grief and it’s hard, if not impossible, to unsee the evil and hatred we have witnessed. I am going to save all that for another post and write about the best gift God gave our family in 2020: our eighth child, baby Emmanuel Isaiah.

“Emmanuel because God is with you” was the voice I heard the very moment I looked at the early pregnancy test I had just taken.

Two lines.

Pregnant.

And again I heard it, “Emmanuel because God is with you.”

“I think it’s a boy,” I told Dylan. “We are supposed to name him ‘Emmanuel’ because God is with us.”

I was preparing to give a eulogy for a dear friend, Richard Kramer, from Saint Paul who passed away unexpectedly. I miss him every day, but I know he’s in a better place (*because* I have a miraculous story about it). I was also preparing for a pilgrimage (to the site of Our Lady of Guadalupe) and I was regretting investing in it since I didn’t want to leave Dylan and the kids, and I was still nursing our (then) youngest. Dylan said, “Honey, we will be fine. Go have fun. Be sure to try the tequila there.”

“I better take a pregnancy test before I go then ‘in case.’”

And the rest is history. From that October day forward, I heard “Emmanuel” out loud daily—in a homily, song, on the tv, in a book, magazine, devotional, opening the Bible to a random page. I didn’t look for it, but it kept happening over and over and over every day and everywhere.

In spite of God’s reckless love and persistence, doubt crept in. And the devil whispered in my ear, “You’re crazy.” We didn’t find out the baby’s sex the whole time, just like we didn’t with our seventh child, John Paul.

I’ve shared with some of you the story of Dylan being home for holiday leave a mere three days while mobilizing with the army to head overseas to Germany.

Three days.

And the day he left, our (then) four-year-old son, Basil, asked, “Mom, do you have a baby in your tummy?”

Startled and thinking it unlikely, I said, “I don’t think so.”

“Well, den God didn’t wisten,” he replied “because I pwayed for a brudder.” Sure enough, nine months later this boy with five sisters had a brudder. Upon seeing him minutes after birth (he was born at home), Basil leaned over and kissed his cheek and said, “Ahhhh, Mom! Him is so cute! I want anudder brudder!”

“Son, give me a year to recover before you pray for another brother, okay?” I laughed.

I didn’t realize until about a week after Emmanuel Isaiah’s birth that John Paul’s birthday was exactly 9 months earlier, meaning Basil gave me a year . . . Or rather, God did. And God gave us this love, light, hope and peace incarnate in the form of a baby during this dark time of unrest to remind us God is truly with us.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” Isaiah 9:6

I also want to share this Christmas Special in case anyone hasn’t seen it. The Chosen portrays the Gospel from the perspective of people who encountered Jesus. It’s so beautifully done. I dare you not to cry. #getusedtodifferent

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