Showing posts with label Resurrection Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resurrection Day. Show all posts

He Is Risen!


"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it..." Acts 2:23-24

This verse never fails to make my heart jump.  Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, demonstrating His great love for us by paying the penalty we had earned. He died to pay it, even while we were still defiant and rebelling. But it was not even possible for our Savior to be held by death.  Now He is alive forevermore!  He has paid for our sins and conquered death! 

This is everything! 









Happy Resurrection Day, friends. He is risen!


An Easter Memory



My mom has always been better at sewing than me.  The most impressive thing I have ever stitched is quilts for the cribs of each of my children, but any experienced seamstress would look at the back of those and note how messy they are.  But my mom, she was amazing.  

One year, she made my sister and I matching Easter dresses, navy blue fabric with yellow roses, double-layered with a sheer, silky yellow fabric on top.  It had ties around the back.  I was almost to the age where I didn’t want to match very much anymore, but that year I loved the matching dresses and felt very stylish.  

I don’t know exactly what led our family to try that little church, but I do have an idea.  The winter after I turned nine, we had attended the church at the top of the hill in our little mountain community.  It was a bigger church in the community but still quite small.  I can remember the shape of the pastor’s hair, I remember going to the church one night to watch a testimony movie and feeling inspired by it.  I remember being baptized there and being so excited by the portable CD players my grandparents gave us as a congratulatory gift.  

But what I remember most about that church is the kids.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember them in a good way.

I remember always sitting on the perimeter in Sunday School class, and avoiding speaking as much as possible.  I remember fidgeting in my chair.  I remember dreading the moment the class was over.  Because after the class the other kids, who all knew each other (I didn’t know any of them), would go sit on the couches in the corner of the lobby and talk and laugh.  It always sounded like a mean-spirited laugh to me. I didn’t join them, I stood across the room, right outside the door of my mom’s Sunday School class, waiting for her to come out.  I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting with those kids.

One Sunday I plucked up my courage, and I went and sat on the couch while the kids talked.  None of them really talked to me, and it was nightmarishly awkward the whole time.  One of the ruder boys started pointing at me and teasing another boy about having a crush on me.  I don’t know if that boy did actually have a crush on me or not, I don’t know if I was the target or he was, I just know my nine-year old heart started thumping in my chest.  I finally got up the guts to sit with these kids, and now their attention was focused at me in a way that made me feel as if they were laughing at me.  Maybe they were.  Or there is the possibility that my childish self misunderstood the situation, but I didn’t wait around to find out.  I grabbed my hardcover kids’ devotional Bible and booked it back over to my spot by the adult’s Sunday School class door.

I never sat with those kids after that.  I cried every week while I was getting ready for church, not sure what to wear, terrified that the kids were going to laugh at me again and not wanting to give them any provocation with a silly outfit.  I vividly remember my mom trying to help me get dressed one day, but I was convinced all the kids would make fun of me.  I stood crying in front of the mirror, my eyes red and puffy.  I look back at this as an adult and realize perhaps I was being rather sensitive and a smidge ridiculous that morning.  But my mom looked back at me in the mirror, and I saw her eyes soften.  She turned me to her, gave me a hug, and softly said that I could just stay home with my dad.

My dad and I watched football on the couch that Sunday morning.  And I don’t ever remember going to that church again.

The next time I remember going to church, I was dressed in that pretty yellow Easter dress, matching with my sister.  We drove to a new place, a little white church in a high altitude park, surrounded by fields and mountains.  A boy was in the foyer with a tall white-haired man helping him pull a thick rope that rang the bell in the steeple.  We listened to the sermon while trying not to be distracted by a red-haired girl with the same name as my sister who sat in the row in front of us, grinning over the seat back.  My mom visited with the adults after the service and then walked us kids out back to the merry-go-round, one of the metal kind that spin impossibly fast, the kind they don’t make anymore.  Another girl with dark braids and a bright white smile, dressed in a long fur coat, elegantly watched the other kids as they spun, but she turned to grin at me as we walked up.  

It was a cold, blue day, with a strong wind that carried laughter.  But this time it was the good kind.  Laughter born of joy and friendliness and love for each other and for our Savior on that bright Easter morning.  The kind of laughter that I’m sure Heaven must be filled with.

We never left that church, we stayed there until I was grown and married.  They weren’t perfect, there were a few church dramas, but those people truly functioned as the body of Christ in our lives.  We spent countless Easters there.  We spent many Christmases caroling to the smattering of houses at the foot of the mountains.  The pastors taught us more about our Savior.  The church payed for Christian summer camp for all the kids, in exchange for Bible verses memorized.  They invested in us, and trained us, encouraged us, and taught us truth.  They helped grow me into maturity.  The whole church came to my high school graduation.  The ladies threw a bridal shower for me, they helped plan my wedding.  And the whole church came again the day I married Derek.

Sometimes I’m not sure why children grow up and feel the need to leave something that was good to them as a child.  Because I’ve never found a church that I loved, or that loved me as much, as that one.  It was the love of Christ they showed to us, the love of the One who suffered and died to save us from the wrath we deserved, the love of the One who rose again to free us from our sin.  The love of the One who keeps us still, now and through all eternity as we will worship our King forever in a place with no more tears.


They reflected His perfect love imperfectly.  But it was still dazzlingly bright.


Happy Easter, my friends!  Praying you reflect the love of Jesus our Savior to all who enter your church doors this Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  You never know when the Lord will use you, His hands and feet, in your little church right where you are, to make a lasting impact on someone's life.  Even someone who is already a believer, like I was.

New Orleans And The Resurrection

(Photos taken in April last year, because the trees are weirdly delaying their flowering this spring.)

I'm going to be totally honest guys, it's been a difficult few weeks around here.  Actually, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a difficult year for me so far.

By all measures, this should be a great year.  It's our first year in our new house.  The kids are all getting bigger, and a little easier since we don't have a tiny baby anymore.  Derek is happy in his job, and homeschooling is going fairly well.  It's not an election year (ha!).

But I've been having a hard time.  There is the difficult church situation that is leaving me feeling unanchored.  A couple relationship struggles that are giving me some stress.  Disturbing trends in the culture, and in the "capital-c" Church, that are making me fearful and deeply discouraged.  And my own sinful impulses that make me impatient and irritable with those I love most.

It's not too much, a bunch of (mostly) little things really, but all together it's done a number on my emotional state.

The last couple weeks I hit a breaking point.  One whole week I found myself waking up every hour of each night.  I've never done well on little sleep.  I was completely exhausted, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually as my relationship with the Lord has taken a hit through all this too (no one to blame but myself for that one).

I cried my way through the week, and I just so desperately needed a break.  I could see only endless months of the same ahead, with the only break (vacation) pushed out from May until August this year.  I needed a reset button, and vacation so often is that for me, but I couldn't even look forward to that for a long while.

Derek was due to go on a work trip in a couple weeks to New Orleans, and I could not imagine holding down the fort very well with him gone.  I was so worried about it, I remember shooting up a pathetically short prayer that the Lord would help me to maintain a good and cheerful attitude when Derek was absent.



But then Derek called my mom. And she agreed to watch the kids.  So I get to go with him to New Orleans.

There is something about getting away from my normal surroundings that gives me a clear perspective on life.  It reminds me what I love about home.  It allows me to look with fresh eyes on the things that I need to change.  Vacation almost makes me internally sheepish about how I've been taking my wonderful blessings from God for granted.  It all becomes more clear, somehow.

It's silly, so silly, to write about this during Passion Week.  This is the week that we remember how Christ suffered and died to pay the price for our sins.  For all my sin.  Including my sins of forgetting that Christ is my only anchor and hope, even when the church lets me down.  My sins of selfishness and pride that lead to the relationship struggles I've been dealing with.  My sin of fearing something earthly and temporary when God holds the future in His hands.

I deserved to die and bear the wrath of my own sins, but Christ bore that penalty for me.  He suffered more than I ever will have to suffer, He took my punishment.  And then He rose from the dead, victorious!  He cast my sin away and credited His righteousness to me when I put my trust in Him, and now I'm free of that burden forever.

How silly of me to worry and agonize about the future.  My future is secure for eternity because of what Jesus did for me.  As it is also for everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith that He alone will save them.

And I'm remembering all this now, as I'm packing a bag for New Orleans.

Maybe it's just a trip to The Big Easy, but planning for that trip at the same time that I'm planning for celebrating His resurrection on Easter has reminded me.  He took care of the biggest thing, the sin that has separated us from Him.  He took care of this relatively small thing of giving me the refreshment of a break that I didn't even dare to pray for.

He's got the rest of it under control too.

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
1 Corinthians 15:57



I may try to write again before Easter, but if I don't, Happy Resurrection Day, friends! I pray you know the peace that comes from knowing our Savior.  He is Risen!

Reunions




This time last year, my belly was just starting to round with a new little life (Georgie!) when we made the difficult decision to search for a new church.  I remember crying.  We had been going to our previous church for seven years, and it took a significant amount of that time to really start to feel involved there, like we belonged.  Though we had been praying about it and felt like this was the right decision, I wasn't looking forward to starting over.

I didn't write about it during that time, but it was a long, hard search until we found somewhere that met our standards and felt right.  Maybe I'll write more about the process of looking for a new church someday, but let's just say I'm relieved to have it behind us.  There is a sense in which any body of believers feels like family, but every time you start attending a new church it takes some time to feel like you belong.  We've been pleasantly surprised and blessed to feel at home here quickly, and that has helped ease the transition, helped us know that it was right.  

A couple of weeks ago after the church service, I pushed open the door to the ladies' room, and looked up and into the face of a dear lady from our former church.  She stared at me for a second, and I stared at her, and then we burst out with each other's names and rushed to give each other a hug.  We laughed about meeting again in a restroom of all places.  My family visited with their group in the hall well after most of the regular attenders had cleared out.  It was a reunion of sorts, and I couldn't stop grinning for the rest of the day.  Reunions, when they are sweet, will do that.

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March has been a month of reunions overall.  We also went out to visit my dear childhood friends on their ranch.  They can't get away that often, but once a year we make the trek out to see them.  I want to make it happen more often.  

We visited, caught up on each other's lives, introduced the baby.  We ate lunch, and remembered back to when we were kids, growing up in a little white church in the mountains.  Every summer there was an ice cream social, with real ice cream churned in vintage buckets, packed with snow from the nearest mountain pass.  There would be peach, and banana, and pralines and cream - the row of ice cream makers on the shelf above our heads brought it all back.  

























We will keep making this trip out to the ranch as long they will have us, because we love our friends so dearly, and our reunions make it seem as if we live much nearer than we do.  It always feels like we saw them last week instead of last year.

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Reunions don't always feel so sweet as all this, of course, but when I do have moments of happy reunions, it makes me think how beautiful Heaven will be.  I imagine we'll see everyone who we know here who has trusted in Jesus, and that will be one round of happy reunions.  Then we'll see all the people whose names we know but who we've never met - but it will seem as if we had known them all along.  Then we'll see all the people whom Jesus saved who we never met, and we never knew their names, but we're still all connected because we've all been adopted into this family, through the blood of Jesus.

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It's Good Friday today, when we remember Jesus's death on the cross.  My heart is heavy as I remember why He died - to pay the penalty for my crimes (and yours too), when He had no crimes of His own.  God became a man, lived without sin, and died in our place - covering our sin and reconciling us with Himself when we trust in Him to save us.

What kind of despair the disciples must have felt though, when He died.  I can't even imagine that feeling, because I've never had to feel it - we all have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, after all.  Seeing Jesus on the third day, alive again, had to be an unimaginable joy!

And now, I'm just waiting for my turn.  Because someday I'll see Him too, either when I die and enter eternity, or when He comes back on the clouds to take us home.  And boy, that will be the best reunion of all.

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Happy Resurrection Day (on Sunday), friends!  I pray that you know Jesus as your Savior too, and may you get a small taste of the joy of that coming reunion as we celebrate that our Savior is alive, forevermore!

"But the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. "  

Matthew 28:5-6a

Let's Talk About Easter Baskets



(Affiliate link below. Also note that I received the book mentioned in this post for free in exchange or a review. This is my honest opinion!)

Alright, I'm just going to get straight to the point - what do you put in your kids' Easter baskets?

Easter is less than a month away!  There have been years when I put a lot of effort into picking things for the kids' Easter baskets, but since we've had a fourth and fifth baby I've toned them down quite a bit.  Last year's baskets were definitely thrown together last minute.  This year I'd like to make them at least thoughtful, since they won't be elaborate by any means (five kids, remember)!

Here are some things I've included in the past:

Summer shoes - Why not go ahead and buy something I'm going to need to purchase anyway?
Swimsuits - Same reason.
Umbrellas - My kids loved these.
Sunglasses/hats - Are you noticing a theme here?  Easter feels like the official kick-off to spring, so I lean toward warm weather essentials.
Books - Of course.  I'm actually kind of doing the book gift early this year with this book from Tommy Nelson.






If anything can get you in the mood for Springtime, it's the cute illustrations in this book!  A Very Happy Easter Prayer is part of a series, so it's written in a similar style as some of our other books, with little poems on each page thanking God for some part of the season.  I like how this one incorporates Jesus's resurrection on the last page too.  It's adorable for my little ones as a transition into the Easter season, and gets us all looking forward to Easter!  If I hadn't already given the book to my kids I would probably stick this in one of their baskets, especially for my younger kiddos.

As I'm considering what to include in Easter baskets though, I'm at a bit of a loss.  I would kind of like whatever I put into their baskets to have some connection with spiritual growth and pointing my kids back to Jesus, because more than any other holiday, this holiday is really about Him!  In a lot of ways Resurrection Day is an even more important celebration for our faith than Christmas.  On Christmas He was born, and He was born that He might die to take the punishment for our sin.  While Christmas is happy (because we celebrate the long-awaited arrival of the Savior!), it's looking ahead to something sorrowful.

Resurrection Day, on the other hand, is pure joy.  He suffered and died, but then He showed His power, proved He is God, and conquered the grave! Without the resurrection we are still in our sins, but because He rose again we can be alive forever with Him!  It's triumphant in a way that even Christmas isn't, and I want to make sure that all doesn't get lost amidst lesser things.

And I don't think it necessarily will get lost because we'll be talking about the Resurrection and everything that means in all the days leading up to Easter - but I don't know, I'd like it reflected somehow in their little gifts on Easter morning.  Or maybe I'm just expecting too much from a present for this age group (0-7 years)?  Any suggestions for me?

What do you put in your kids' Easter baskets (if you do them)?

How To Have Easter Fun When You're Apparently Not Anemic



What a full week we've had!  Last week we not only had our first ultrasound, but we also had Clyde's 3rd birthday, and then Easter of course! I was also so excessively exhausted and actually physically weak one day I called my doctor to find out if I had anemia.  Wouldn't it be nice if that was my only issue?  Hello iron supplement, problem solved!  

But I apparently am not anemic.  However, that's not stopping me from eating foods that are iron-rich, just in case I have low iron stores or something.  Which is entirely possible, because right before I got pregnant I was craving ice - and isn't craving non-food items a sign of iron deficiency?  I think so.  Maybe I should have told that to the condescending nurse from my doctor's office (I may or may not have cried when I got off the phone with her).  Thankfully iron-rich food is what I'm craving anyway.  Give me all the dark leafy greens, eggs, and hamburgers.

Lots Of Easter Fun

Since I was so exhausted most of last week, I tried a new strategy and woke up with the sun and the kids just long enough to pour bowls of cereal and turn on Clifford The Big Red Dog.  Then back to bed I went.  I'm happy to report it worked beautifully, and I got another hour and a half of sleep.  Yes, that also means my kids got an hour and half of TV first thing in the morning, but you do what you've got to do.  This gave me enough energy to actually do the Easter activities I had been hoping to do all week, instead of spending another day miserably tired on the couch!

We colored eggs...





We did a (late) review and celebration of palm Sunday (I think this is the way to go, because I got five palm branches on clearance for a $1)...





And we made Resurrection rolls, to remind us of the empty tomb, because Jesus rose from the dead! Yes, I added pink frosting.  There were probably flowers on the outside of the garden tomb, right?





As for Easter Sunday, we went to a sunrise service at a local Christian camp, and then off to my mom's for Easter dinner and egg hunt!  It was a lovely Resurrection Day!  Much better than last year, when we spilled a gallon of paint and nearly ruined the carpet.

Sidenote: Easter with kids is like, 100% more fun.  The fun may come at the expense of actual reflection time, but I snuck some in where I could, and you do have to naturally reflect a bit to explain what Easter is really about to children.

What Am I Reading Lately?

I finally finished all the fiction books that were in my obligatory review stack, and I've decided I'm done with the book reviews for a couple months (after I finish the two non-fiction titles I have left -  insert sigh).  I need time to read what I really want to read.  I just get so tempted by the brand-new free books dangling in front of my face, but I'm shutting my eyes now and saying, "no!"

I'm trying really hard to finish a young adult read this month to participate in Collaboreads, but it's not going so well.  I feel like I'm running gout of time, and I'm not totally sure if my book choice counts as "young adult".  I went with "On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson (affiliate), first book in the Wingfeather saga.  I'm only a little way in, but I am so enjoying it!  It reminds me a lot of Narnia so far, and it's funny.  I read a couple chapters to Derek in the car, and he was laughing out loud. Also, it's written by Andrew Peterson, who is a Christian singer/songwriter a couple of you recommended to me when I asked for new music a couple months ago!  I didn't even realize that until after I picked it up!

What is the best young adult book that you've ever read?  And I'm taking Hunger Games and Divergent series out of the running, for variety sake.

Old School Blogger Shoutout

As previously mentioned, I have been a complete blog slacker between trying to finish my outrageous to-review book list before vacation next month, and feeling kind of gross if I stare at a screen for too long (pregnancy-related).  I won't totally let this section go, but I don't have anything new for you this week!  I will attempt to get caught up on my blog reading soon.

What I'm Drinking:  Orange juice.  I cut back on the decaf coffee because I couldn't decide if it was helping or hurting my excessive exhaustion.  What is your favorite tea blend for iced tea in the summer months?  I'm planning ahead!

How To Salvage A Holiday Disaster (An Easter Story)


Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday.  I opened my eyes, and as so often happens lately, I had to lay in bed for several minutes to let the sleep clear out.  I feel like I used to be able to just jump out of bed the minute I heard little feet pounding on the floorboards above my head, but lately I wake up every morning feeling tired.

Right now we are working on a major house renovation.  When we first decided to do this, Derek would tell people that it was a major renovation, and I would wave my hand at that statement.  It's not major.  It's just new paint, new trim, and new floors.  Not a big deal at all.  So thinks someone who has never actually done a major house renovation.  Because those three things are definitely major.

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