Easter, Hope, Resurrection

The Hopeful Side of Easter

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Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our two boys love Easter egg hunts. Since the time our oldest turned four, we’ve interspersed Resurrection Eggs* with the treat-filled eggs they search for.  Each boy hopes to find as many eggs as they can. They enjoy the tasty treats inside the regular eggs, but they also enjoy the contents of the Resurrection Eggs*. These special eggs  share the story of Holy Week through symbols that represent aspects of Jesus’ life, crucifixion and resurrection. The final egg is empty.

I love what this represents because it perfectly depicts what we celebrate on Easter morning. The tomb was empty. Because Jesus was made alive after dying. Because he lived a sin-less life, sin couldn’t keep him in a state of death. He was raised from the dead.

Why does this offer hope? For those who share a relationship with Jesus, it offers us the promise that death will not overcome us permanently either. No, dead people will not walk the earth like in the zombie movies that are becoming popular. But we have the hope that one day, our sin will no longer rule over us, and we will be made alive again. We have the privilege of spending our eternity in heaven with Jesus, who loves us. He died for us and was raised from the dead for us. We will walk in joy and love, and have a purpose we can’t fully know while we’re on the earth.

In the here and now, I am thankful for the hope that comes from having a relationship with Jesus. He gives me what I need to make it through the difficult times in this life. And, I have the hope that one day, these struggles will not be mine anymore.

This is why Easter is a hopeful celebration.

Your Turn: If you have children, how do you celebrate Easter with them? What gives you hope?

If you have a few minutes, enjoy this song.

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Crucifixion, Easter

The Darker Side of Easter

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Image courtesty of Patou at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My parents had a way of creating fun traditions for our family. Easter was no exception. My memories of this springtime holiday revolve around being together as a family, and the fun that came from believing in the Easter Bunny and hunting for those colored eggs. This was all good, and I love the memories and impressions from those years.

As I grew older, I learned the deeper aspects of Easter. In the early part of this Holy Week, I’m thinking about the darker side of the celebration. As a girl I remember celebrating the “after” without really thinking about came “before.” Before the resurrection came the crucifixion.

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Image courtesy of bela_kiefer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My best friend, Jesus, hung on the cross in my place. The perfect sacrificed for the imperfect, the unstained for the sinner. Jesus’ love for me kept Him on the cross. He could have come down from it, or not allowed Himself to be nailed to it in the first place–He’s God. He chose to stay so that one day, I would have the chance to learn of Him and His amazing, covering love for me.

Each year, my husband and I watchThe Passion. I always cry when I watch what happened to Jesus, what He endured.

Why? Why would He take on the whippings, thorns pressed into his head, nails pounded through his wrists and feet, the hours of slow asphyxiation?

Love.

Why would someone love me that much? I don’t know. What I do know is that God’s love for me, and for every person, is that powerful, that passionate. He desires relationship, and the only way that could happen was for sin to be dealt with once and for all. Jesus’ death paid the price I could never, ever pay. Why?

Love.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end at the cross.

If you have a few moments, listen to the song below and share your thoughts with me.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Busy-ness, Relationship

Kept By Busy

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Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you asked, “How are you?” only to hear, “Oh, I’m keeping busy.” Can we ever really “keep” Busy? These past few weeks, I think Busy has “kept” me. Kept me running through my days, with barely a moment to catch my breath. Busy kept my mind occupied with many thoughts, worries. Busy kept me tired trying to conquer my daily “to-do” lists.

Sometimes, I “keep Busy” to find affirmation, to think that I have worth because each day holds so many commitments. Busy-ness means I’m productive, right? That I’m worth something because I have people depending on me to get things done?

I know people who “keep” Busy because it enables them to avoid dealing with deeper painful heart issues. If they are busy, they don’t have time to think about those wounds, harsh words, sad memories. They don’t have to experience what “alone” might feel like.

Sometimes, I get kept by Busy because the things I’m asked to do are genuinely good. They are helpful to others. I’m beginning to see, though, not all good things are God’s best for me and how I spend my time.

I tend to think I can keep Busy and still maintain control over every aspect of my life. These past few weeks have shown me I may hold the reins of control for a few days, but soon, everything piles up and tumbles over on top of me, overwhelming me with expectations and activities.

I’ve come to the realization I can’t keep, control, or cage Busy. Except by saying, “no.” I’ve decided to step back from all the to-do’s Busy has arranged for me, and remember how to be still, how to breathe, how to enjoy my kids, how to listen to birdsong on spring mornings.

I plan to be more purposeful in what I say yes, or no, to. I’m going to re-establish conversations with my wonderful hubby about our commitments, before we agree to undertake them. I want to focus on the most important things God is calling me to in this season of my life–my relationship with Him, relationships with my husband, boys and friends, and writing. I don’t want to be kept by Busy anymore. As of today, Busy will not control the decisions I make. Now, Busy, please hand over the keys to my life.

Your Turn: What has brought about busy seasons in your life? How do you manage to keep from becoming too busy? Is there such a thing as “too busy?”

Mothering, Parent Teacher Conferences, Relationship

Parent Conference Reflections

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Image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As a girl, the thought of my parents meeting with my teachers made me queasy. What if my teacher said something negative about me–a people-pleasing student? How would my parents respond? My teachers usually shared a good report, though sometimes they mentioned I was a wee bit too “social.”

As a former educator and current mom, I’ve had the privilege to sit on both sides of the table. As a teacher, conferences with parents whose children excelled flowed smoothly. Meeting with parents whose children struggled with academics or behavior was, well, sometimes less pleasurable. Gracious words and a listening ear often helped us work through differences when questions or disagreements arose.

Parent conferences are scheduled for this week at our kids’ school. As the mother of imperfect boy-children, I’ve had opportunities to practice what I learned as a teacher in these conferences. Memories of being on the teacher side of the table enable me to be empathetic. I want to come alongside our boys’ teachers and work together for what’s best for our guys.

The parent conference for one of our sons in particular has me biting my proverbial nails. This child has recently made some poor choices. I keep reminding myself I am his mother, and he is the one performing (or not) in the classroom. Raising children is an amazing blend of five parts loving, three parts letting go and ten parts insecurity laced with the question, “Am I doing/training/advising well enough?”

Yes, I’m in an active mothering season with our sons. Yes, things my hubby and I have said and done, and the consequences we’ve given for behaviors, has trained our sons. But, they are both at an age where they are making some of their own decisions. More and more of their training comes from how “life” responds to their choices.

At times, it’s hard not to take responsibility (read, “blame”) for their actions. But it’s freeing when I step back so they can learn from natural consequences that result from their choices. All that to say, when a teacher has to share a less than positive observation about one of my children, it isn’t necessarily a reflection on me as his mother. It shows that they are still being trained by life, which is sometimes a more effective teacher.

As a mom, I plan to sit on the parent side of the table with an open mind. Hopefully, the teachers will share some positive things about our sons. Realistically, we’ll also need to discuss some “areas needing improvement.” I plan to go into these meetings with a receptive heart and a perspective that opens my eyes to see how we can come alongside our children and help them grow into the young men God created them to be.

Your Turn: How do you handle situations when others’ actions may reflect certain impressions about you? How do you prepare for them?

Friendship, Relationship

Musings on Friendship

ImagePIctures of little girls holding hands, swinging them as they stroll down a grass-bordered path, always revives that “Awww” factor in me. There is something about having girlfriends that deepens women’s lives. I’ve been blessed over the years to have at least one friend walk beside me during a trial in my life. From the time I was a young girl until now.

I’ve had friends for a season and friends who have become life-long confidantes. God uses each kind of friendship in my life. These women have taught me something. They’ve had a hand in molding me into the woman I am today, the woman I am still becoming.

Some have helped me to laugh at myself rather than take life so seriously. Others have taught me to live with more spontaneity. Most have shown me how to live out grace in sticky situations. They’ve taught me how to listen with empathy and quiet. They’ve given me a kick in the pants when I needed it. They’ve drawn me up out of my pity-party and back into an accurate perspective. They’ve spoken truth to me when I couldn’t see it myself. They accept me for who I am, rather than trying to change me into who they think I should be. I hope I’ve given back as much as they’ve gifted to me.

I love how God created us to be interdependent. We can try to do life alone. But it’s so much more enriching to walk through the good times and the struggles with someone at our side, holding our hands, literally or figuratively.

Your Turn: What qualities do some of your closest friends have?  What is important to you in a friend?

Passion, Plan

Planned Passion?

ImageFor the last few years, instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, I have focused on one word. Last year, my word was PASSION. I learned a number of things about “passion” that I would like to share on this blog.

I was surprised that this word ended up being the one given to me to focus on. I am a very planned lady. I like my plan. I work my plan. My plan is my comfort zone. This seldom leaves room for the spontaneity passion sometimes requires.

I began thinking about what I am passionate about. Things I’m passionate about include living my life in a way that will point others to God, in a good way. I am passionate about being the best wife and mom that I can be for my family. I am passionate about the stories I write.

Each of these items has an element of planning involved. But, more than that they each require an investment of time and effort. To be a good wife to my hubby, I need to spend time with him, listen, learn to understand what makes him tick. Some of these “lessons” came through arguments, others came through watching him.

As a mom, my plans sometimes fly south for the day before my kids are even off to school. As they grow older, I am discovering they need more of me, not so much what I do for them. Yes, they need good meals and transportation. But they also need a listening ear and a heart that desires to understand them. This requires me to set aside my “to-do” list and focus on them.

I came to writing much later in life than most of my writer friends, but I love it! When some poor person makes the mistake of asking me about my story or what I’m learning about writing craft, they’ll probably get more of an answer than they bargained for. My spirit is light, excited when I get to talk about it. Writing, too, has required me to adjust my “plans,” my timetable.

Being passionate about relationships with God and my family and about writing stretches me, requires more of me than I thought they would. Learning to live with passion is changing me for the better. I’m moving beyond my plan and focus on the “the to-do list” into a place of focusing on hearts.

Your Turn: What are you passionate about? What motivates your passion?

Expectations

Expectations

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Image courtesy of marin with freedigitalphotos.net

I have a young friend who auditioned for her high school play a few weeks back. As she shared thoughts about her upcoming audition, I smiled. She talked about how she didn’t have to worry about dancing well because people who know her don’t expect her to be a great dancer. But, when it comes to singing, that is different. She has a beautiful voice, and she wanted to perform well for vocal part of her audition. I love that she knows and is comfortable with her abilities as a performer.

That conversation got me thinking about people and expectations and performance. I find it easy to be myself when I either don’t care or don’t worry about measuring up to others’ expectations. On the other hand, when I know someone expects me to accomplish something, I tend to falter. I set myself up for failure, worried I won’t live up to expectations . . . and then I don’t. I walk away from the scenario beating myself up. But, when I’m placed in a situation where the “role” was given to me, I feel safe fulfilling it in my unique way.

Expectations, real or perceived, place pressure on us. Some of us perform well under pressure, and some of us crumble. It’s taken years for me to feel okay about not bowing to the pressure of others’ expectations. I finally understand I will never fulfill what some people expect of me. And that is okay. I’m learning to shift my focus from living to appease people to learning what pleases God and doing it. It’s not always easy, but it is always the path with less pressure.

Your Turn: How do you handle expectations? What do you do to maintain a good perspective about them?

Flexibility

Lessons From a Wandering Suitcase

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Image courtesy of winnond and Freedigitalphotos.net

Two weeks ago, an opportunity to be flexible breezed across my day. It was a very planned opp on God’s part, I think. First of all, I should say I thrive on creating and carrying out my plans. Sometimes, though, God has a different agenda for me.

On this day two weeks ago, I arrived at the airport near Destin, Florida, thrilled to have left snow and cold behind. I couldn’t wait to dive into the five day writing retreat I’d planned to attend.

In the baggage claim area I scanned the boxes and luggage riding on the belt. A young man grabbed a suitcase that resembled mine and hurried to join his buddies. I wondered . . . Nah. I continued to wait. And wait. And then the belt stopped moving with two lonely suitcases left on it. Neither of them were mine. My plans didn’t include losing my luggage.

The airline’s customer service representative I spoke to confirmed my bag had indeed made the flight to Florida. My “plans” had just gone . . . well, somewhere, without me.

Then, I considered my present reality. My carry-on held all my electronics, cell phone, and my wallet (with credit card). These could keep me until the bag situation got sorted out. If I couldn’t get it back, it wouldn’t be hard to purchase anything I needed.

Four hours later, my cell phone rang. On the other end, a rather embarrassed young man explained what I already suspected. My suitcase made a three hour trip to central Florida without me. The poor guy drove all the way back to the airport to pick up his bag and drop off mine. My suitcase and I were reunited at about 11:00 that night.

This situation reminded me that life doesn’t always roll according to my well-thought out plans. When it takes a detour, I have a choice in how I will react. I can respond with helpless anger, or I can lean into the twists of the ride. Being surrounded by friends that evening made it easier to laugh about all that had gone awry in my day (and believe me, I had much to laugh at!). It was clear to me that God had a hand in the unexpected circumstances throughout the day. He showed me He was taking care of me, even when things didn’t go the way I expected.

I’m definitely a “go-according-to-the-plan” kind of gal, but when I can’t control my circumstances, I’m learning to flow in the flexibility mode of handling life.

Your Turn: What about you? When have you had unexpected circumstances happen? What did you do?

Flexibility

Lessons From the Wandering Suitcase

Two weeks ago, an opportunity to be flexible breezed across my day. It was a very planned opp on God’s part, I think. First of all, I should say I thrive on creating and carrying out my plans. Sometimes, though, God has a different agenda for me.

On this day two weeks ago, I arrived at the airport near Destin, Florida, thrilled to have left snow and cold behind. I couldn’t wait to dive into the five day writing retreat I’d planned to attend.

In the baggage claim area I scanned the boxes and luggage riding on the belt. A young man grabbed a suitcase that resembled mine and hurried to join his buddies. I wondered . . . Nah. I continued to wait. And wait. And then the belt stopped moving with two lonely suitcases left on it. Neither of them were mine. My plans didn’t include losing my luggage.

The airline’s customer service representative I spoke to confirmed my bag had indeed made the flight to Florida. My “plans” had just gone . . . well, somewhere, without me.

Then, I considered my present reality. My carry-on held all my electronics, cell phone, and my wallet (with credit card). These could keep me until the bag situation got sorted out. If I couldn’t get it back, it wouldn’t be hard to purchase anything I needed.

Four hours later, my cell phone rang. On the other end, a rather embarrassed young man explained what I already suspected. My suitcase made a three hour trip to central Florida without me. The poor guy drove all the way back to the airport to pick up his bag and drop off mine. My suitcase and I were reunited at about 11:00 that night.

This situation reminded me that life doesn’t always roll according to my well-thought out plans. When it takes a detour, I have a choice in how I will react. I can respond with helpless anger, or I can lean into the twists of the ride. Being surrounded by friends that evening made it easier to laugh about all that had gone awry in my day (and believe me, I had much to laugh at!). It was clear to me that God had a hand in the unexpected circumstances throughout the day. He showed me He was taking care of me, even when things didn’t go the way I expected.

I’m definitely a “go-according-to-the-plan” kind of gal, but when I can’t control my circumstances, I’m learning to flow in the flexibility mode of handling life.

Your Turn: What about you? When have you had unexpected circumstances happen? What did you do?