Tag Archive: Easter


Lent. Really?!!

ash wednesday

So, I have been challenged.

Today is “Ash Wednesday” in the Catholic religion, which kicks off the season of “Lent.”  All I remember (from my growing up years in the Catholic church) about Ash Wednesday was when I attended an Ash Wednesday service with a friend of mine while I was at college in LaCrosse.  I went up front, they schmeared some “ash” on my forehead in a cross shape…and I heard that you would pretty much go to hell if you wiped it off.

Well, I wiped it off and headed out to the bars!!  Not a terribly moving or meaningful experience, obviously.

drink
And, all I know about Lent is that you had to give something up for a set amount of time.  I never understood that.  I remember a dear friend in High school giving up caffeine one time.  That just didn’t make sense to me… why would you do that??

What’s the point?!!

I noticed people referring to Lent on Facebook.  It intrigued me.  Especially after a Christian friend of mine said something about taking part in it.  I always thought Lent was some silly thing Catholics did…that it didn’t really matter…

So I did some research of my own: Lent

“Lent, in some Christian denominations, is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter”

Ahhhh….

“The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan”

Hmmmm…

“The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

okay now I get it

Obviously, many people do not practice Lent, and see it as an obscure tradition that the Church practices without Biblical merit…but according to the Bible, Jesus told his disciples that:

“…the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Matthew 9:15

So, we are to set aside time to reflect and thank our Father in Heaven for what He has done for us.  A time for us to sacrifice (whether it be large or small) so that we might be reminded, and reflect upon WHY we have been placed on this earth.

What an incredible chance to show our creator the love we have for Him!!

So, on that note…for this season of Lent…holding you all as my witnesses…I will be taking part in 40 days of sacrifice.

(Lord, please let this time go quickly by…)

I will be giving in to my own self-sacrifice and will be giving up…

Drum roll please!

diet cokeSODA!

Yeah, yeah…baby steps.

Would someone please warn McDonald’s that they won’t have to order as much Diet Coke?!!

To you, that may not seem like a big enough sacrifice…but to me, quite frankly, it’s huge!!  I am interested to see how God will use this time…how He might change me, and ultimately bring me closer to Him.

That’s what I long for, above all…

He has risen indeed!

Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   John 20:24-29

It does my soul good to know that I’m not the only doubter…and praise God for His forgiveness and understanding!!

Akaine's painting

Prince of Peace -Akaine Kramarik

I do serve a mighty God, and He is very much ALIVE!!

HAPPY EASTER!!

Today, Good Friday…

Growing up Catholic, I never truly understood all of the “celebrations” around Easter time. 

Let’s see, it starts with Ash Wednesday; you know, that terribly spiritual ritual of smearing the ashes from last year’s burnt palm fronds on your forehead…and the four prayers expressing what those ashes symbolize:

1. “To be a spiritual help for all who confess their sins.
2. To secure pardon of sins for those who receive the ashes.
3. To give us the spirit of contrition.
4. To give us the grace and strength to do penance.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Which, of course, would result in eternal damnation should you attempt to rub them off:

“They are a public witness to those things our society does not wish to embrace: the reality of death, penance for sin, and the hope of resurrection in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Leading into the 40 days of Lent, where you must give something up that you can’t live without, and eat fish:

“The focus of this Season is the Cross and penance, penance, penance as we imitate Christ’s forty days of fasting, like Moses and Elias before Him, and await the triumph of Easter. We fast; abstain, mortify the flesh, give alms, and think more of charitable works. Awakening each morning with the thought, ‘How might I make amends for my sins? How can I serve God in a reparative way? How can I serve others today?’ is the attitude to have.
We also practice mortifications by “giving up something” that would be a sacrifice to do without, and it can entail, too, taking on something unpleasant that we’d normally avoid, for example, going out of one’s way to do another’s chores, performing ‘random acts of kindness,’ etc.”
  ~ fisheaters.com

There’s Palm Sunday…the spiritual day you bring palm fronds home to braid:

“Today is the memorial of Christ’s ‘triumphant,’ but misunderstood, entry into Jerusalem, the day that begins Holy Week. This entry into Jerusalem is seen as the prophetic fulfillment of Zacharias 9:9-10.”   ~ fisheaters.com

And Good Friday, which I never quite understood how it could possibly be “good” when this poor man was killed on a cross:

“Good Friday is the most somber day of the entire year. A silence pervades, socializing is kept to a minimum, things are done quietly; it is a day of mourning; it is a funeral. The Temple of the Body of Christ is destroyed. Traditional Catholics wear black, cover their mirrors, extinguish candles and any lamps burning before icons, keep amusements and distractions down, and go about the day in great solemnity.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Finally, Easter Sunday!  The day we get to wear a beautiful new outfit, our Easter baskets are stolen, hidden, searched for and found filled with yummy treats, then off to church (for the first of typically two times this year):

“On this, the holiest day of the entire year, Latin Catholics greet each other with the words of Luke 24:34, ‘Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia!’ (‘The Lord is risen indeed!’). The person so greeted responds, “Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia!’ (‘And hath appeared unto Simon!’). Catholics may even answer their telephones with this greeting. The Easter table should be adorned with the best of everything — the most beautiful china, a pure, white tablecloth, the best possible wine, flowers (especially pussy willow, lilies, and spring bulb flowers), etc., all with the colors white and gold — symbolizing purity and glory. And we should look our best, too; it is common to buy a new outfit to wear on this day. This custom springs from the idea of ‘newness’ inherent in the entire Season — the new members of the Church baptized at the Vigil in their new Baptismal albs, the New Law, a new life in Christ.”  ~ fisheaters.com

Since my childhood naïveté, I praise God that He has opened my eyes and given me understanding.  Easter is about Christ’s death and resurrection, not what we can do to make ourselves worthy to accept His sacrifice… or a fictitious magical bunny.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”   Matthew 27:45-54

Christ came, lived a perfect life, died in my place on a cross, and three days later returned…all so that I might have a way to live in eternity with Him.

Praise Him for that unbelievable, beautiful, and precious gift!

It is a good Friday, indeed.

I cry…

I sing on the worship team at my AMAZING church.  I am blessed that God placed me on, allows me to be part of, and am able to sing praises to Him through that ministry.  However, I tend to get emotional when I sing.  Ok, that’s not true, I get emotional always.  In fact I have a running joke with my pastor that if he would just stop talking about Jesus, I’d be all good.

So…seeing as how this Sunday is Easter Sunday, and because sermons tend to be about Jesus on Easter Sunday, I am seriously considering tear duct removal.  Especially during the worship set.  We will be singing a new song:  “Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him With Many Crowns.”  Oh my word, I have YET to make it through without making that horrific-scrunched-up-overt-your-eyes-this-is-going-to-get-ugly cry face.

Just yesterday I was talking to a friend about that song, asking her to pray for strength to get through it, and she responded with: 

“I listened to the CD a lot last night, and had it on YouTube this morning.  And yes, LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE that song!!!  I can see why you shed a few tears…but then again…it’s YOU.  Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!  Honestly, all joking aside… I WISH I could get that choked up over Jesus’ love for me.  I’m SOOO THANKFUL for what He’s done in my life, but I never had the life changing ‘Ah Ha’ moment.  Maybe it’s because I was saved at such a young age…?  Anyway, I wish I had your heart.”

I wrote a story about that exact thing a while ago now… wondering why more people don’t get choked up.  My daughter, Sydney, at the time told me, “it’s probably because you remember who you used to be and where you came from.”  (Yeah, talk about insight from a 9 year old!)

That’s definitely part of it.  I PRAY for a testimony like my friend’s for all of my kids.  I long for them to live a Psalm 119 life – without regret and to know and walk closely with Christ their entire life.  I do know I wouldn’t be who I am today, had I understood His sacrifice early on.

I have heard it said, “it is easier for a child to perceive and receive spiritual truth than an adult to do so.”  That’s where my tears come from… the fact that I could’ve missed it.

“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”   Romans 2:5

I was like so many… I loved myself so much that I didn’t care about God, didn’t want Him in my life, and didn’t think I needed Him.  I am so grateful that God called, allowed me to hear and understand Him, and especially that He waited patiently and continued to call!

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”   2 Peter 3:9

My friend does have a heart like mine…she has just had it longer.

I Cry God

Why don’t more people cry at church?  Especially those who know Jesus personally?

I can’t get through a song, much less a sermon about Jesus and the sacrifice He made for me, without a tear.

Ok, that’s an under-exaggeration. 

I lose it when I think about what Jesus has saved me from.  I don’t just shed a tear or two, I sob.  And it’s not like those fortunate souls who look all beautiful; tears glistening down their cheeks and a grateful smile on their face…

No, I look more like the elephant man; face deformed and puckered up, chin wobbly, body shaking, long trailing mascara tears resting in pools under my eyes, silvery unbreakable strings of snot…

and not a tissue in sight.

People so often embrace me and lovingly ask if I’m ok, if I need anything, wondering what I’m struggling with and how they can help.

Oh what they don’t understand is that I am truly a mess and so unworthy…

“…you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”   Revelation 3:17b

 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;”   Isaiah 64:6a

Each one of those messy, slimy, dirty tears are in grateful adoration of the One who sees past the mascara stains, past the ignorance of my childhood, past the selfishness I harbor…

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”   Jeremiah 17:9

“All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”   Romans 3:12

Oh for the love that my God has displayed for me…

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”   Romans 8:32

For the joy that is so readily available and easily given…

“I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”   Jeremiah 31:13b

For the peace He so desperately wants us to enjoy…

“… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Romans 5:1b

For the forgiveness He wants each of us to feel…

“He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”   Micah 7:18b

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9

Those messy tears of mine are because I know my Jesus loves me.  I know the muck He pulled me out of and continually goes back to drag me out time and time again. 

 “How many kings stepped down from their thrones?

How many lords have abandoned their homes?

How many greats have become the least for me?

How many Gods have poured out their hearts?

To romance a world that has torn all apart?

How many fathers gave up their sons for me?”

                                                       –“How Many Kings” by Christian Artist Downhere

Only ONE.

I know the unbelievable and horrific suffering Christ took in my place, and although I may look like a sloppy mess, my soul cries out in admiration and delight.  I NEVER want to take that gift for granted…

…and my God sees it as beautiful.

Powerful YouTube Video

This powerful video illustration presents a creative and artistic worship experience from spoken word poet, Amena Brown. This reverent video illustration recounts Gods plan of salvation for us all:

The Easter message is one that needs to be heard in every season and in every culture. Amena Brown’s poetry and mixture of scripture, combined with the cutting edge video illustration technology will bring you to a point of worship with Almighty God.
http://Jesus.net
http://facebook.com/jesus.net

AMAZING.

I received an email from a dear friend of mine yesterday.  In it, she mentioned that she wanted to send out an Easter story to her Awana youth ministry kids.  However, she revealed, she’s not a writer…but I am, so she asked if I might be able to come up with something that could be read, potentially, by both the kids and their parents.

My first response was, “no” essentially… I do have many stories that center around the cross, which is what I first think of when I think of Easter, but I don’t think I had any that really related to Easter as a holiday.  But, my friend asked for my help, so I would see what I could do.

I prayed about it…and prayed about it…and with it being a Saturday, I decided to lay down for my afternoon siesta (don’t naps sound more sophisticated in a different language?!!) and God woke me with a start!  I began thinking about the story, and I immediately had an idea.

“…do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”   Mark 13:11

I quickly sat up, grabbed a notebook, and began writing (much to the chagrin of Jax who had been sound asleep until I started thrashing about!).  My squiggles were practically illegible as I wrote, trying to get all of the ideas down as fast as I could, then bounded out of bed and nearly ran down the stairs to get my thoughts on the computer.

I prayed, as I always do before writing, but especially because this would be a stretch.  I write about how God works in my life, not fictional stories.  I asked God to intercede and make this His own…and I am in awe at how God guides my hands and thoughts.  Oh, I praise Him for using me.  What an honor and incredible blessing!

The story that follows is what God allowed me to write.  His answer to my feeble prayer does not disappoint, and has absolutely nothing to do with my first obscure scrawls; praise Him for that!!  🙂  Enjoy!

The Hunt

“Hurry up; we’re going to be late!!”  My heart’s pounding so hard in my chest I can feel it in my throat. 

“All the kids are lining up… come on, Mom!!”

I’m desperate to get to the edge of the parking lot along with the other kids, and when I finally reach the grass my eyes survey the landscape.

“Where is it??  I can’t see it!”  I think to myself as my eyes dart from one tree to the next…

“I have to find it!!”

I scan the horizon; flecks of red, blue, purple, and pink dot the plush green canvas… I can almost hear them laughing as if taunting me from where they lie.

I look at my competition lining up around me; tall, short, snotty noses, long hair, sparkly pink and green Easter baskets…

I turn my eyes back to the expanse of grass before me and let out a breath as my heart pounds excitedly.  

Everyone is quiet now…

“On your marks!”  A voice calls out.

I swallow hard.

“Get set!

I hold my breath and wait…

“GOOOOO!!”

There’s a flurry of motion, kids running this way and that.  We dash out into the cool wet grass, and I stay in a straight path headed toward the outer edge of the grassy field.  Kids cross in front of me running to the left, while others sprint to the right… but I stay the course.

One little kid falls and lands on his belly…

“Mooommeeeeee!!” he cries.

“Yes!  One down…” I smile as I pass.

I dodge kids bending over to pick up eggs, and hurdle others.

Greens, blues, and yellows polka dot the grass as I continue running…

“Hey kid!  You’re passing all the eggs!”  Someone yelled to me…

But I didn’t listen. 

“There’s one special egg” the announcer had said, “a golden egg.”

That thought kept me going… “It’s gotta’ be out there.”

Now, I have done enough Easter egg hunts to know, that a colorful egg filled with 3 jelly beans or a chocolate isn’t enough for me.  The prize, the one worth seeking, is the golden egg.  That egg leads to the real treasure.  The huge, gleaming, basket set aside for that lucky kid that finds that one lucky egg.  The basket filled with limitless treasure… countless joy… inexplicable happiness…

Then I saw it. 

Not 20 feet away, it glimmered in the sunlight. 

My heart skips a beat and I pick up my pace.  I hear footsteps behind me as I run toward that glistening orb.

10 feet…

5 feet…

“It’s almost mine!!”

I feel the brush of wind as someone runs past, leaps in front of me and grabs the beautiful golden egg.

I stop dead in my tracks. 

“It can’t be,” I gasp.

I stand perfectly still and stare at the kid that beat me to my prize, his face radiant as he carefully cradles that precious gift.

I turn back to see all the other kids walking back to their cars, smiles on their faces, hand in hand with their moms and dads, baskets brimming over with their alluring rainbow eggs.

I look down at my basket… nothing.

As my eyes fill with tears, I notice a golden glow surrounding me.  I blink, clear my eyes wiping the tears away, and notice thousands of golden eggs at my feet.  I bend over, stunned, and pick up one of the gleaming eggs. 

I look at the boy who beat me to my prize.  Our eyes meet, an egg in his hand an egg in mine, and a knowing smile on his face.

I instantly turn toward the other kids…where are they going?  There’s one for each of them, and more besides…  I call to them but they continue walking, satisfied with their haul and blind to what they really need.

I look down at the wonderful gift I’m holding and realize it had been there the whole time, I just wasn’t looking.  

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”   Matthew 7:13-14

Like children at an Easter egg hunt, drawn to the promise of sweet satisfaction within a brightly colored package; jelly beans, sweet tarts, chocolate…  Things that satisfy but only for a moment, until we are left searching again for the next empty promise.

But that one golden ticket, if found will not only fill our every desire, but will quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger…

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’”   John 6:35

The one prize; unimaginable until revealed, unbelievable until eyes are opened, unacceptable until understood. 

The gift so fulfilling, the prize worth seeking, and the promise so real it can only be found when searched for…

is Jesus.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ”   Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 6:23

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:8

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”   Romans 10:9

WYSO Peru Tour 2018

Follow WYSO'S Youth Orchestra As They Tour Peru

Barefoot Lily Lady

Before I Forget: Sharing my love for God, family, gardens and my sweet Momma

Teach Them

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Marilyn Horton

"The Most Optimistic Woman in the World"

His Holy Temple

2 Corinthians 5:17b "The old has gone, the new is here!"

Damn girl, that's a lot of fattitude

Healthy lifestyler and certified nutjob

Never2late4's Blog

Adventures in procrastination

likeafighterpilot

Working on the Mind, Body, and Spirit

DREADmill Diaries

Because I don't love running but am determined to get these 20 pounds off!

Running With'em

Another boring running blog

Women Writers of the Triad

community | craft | excellence

See Jain Run

striving for non-violence while trit-trotting through the mainstream

voxifit

The Voice of Fitness Blog

If there is any magic in this world...

The world can be amazing when you are slightly … strange!

Ugly Grace

Because sometimes, God's grace in our lives, starts first with an ugly story.

Godly Quotes

for the christian life

Rome Wasn't Built by a Day

Providing unsolicited two-sense and witty commentary since 2012

Michael Wilson's Blog

All things are possible with God

%d bloggers like this: