Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Life's Theme Song

Yesterday I wrote about part of my faith journey in dealing with Crohn's. I do believe that God was with me throughout all of the turmoil. I know that He has a purpose for every trial we endure. The song "If You Want Me To" by Ginny Owens has helped me immensely and there were days when I would just play this song and sing it over and over, not able to understand God's purpose, but knowing He would work it out for His greater good. It's on my favorites playlist on my i-pod and when I am having a bad day or feeling down or just truly want to get into a spirit of worship, I play this song and sing. So I'm putting the song on here for you to listen and enjoy. If my life had a theme song, this would be a top contender.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Beginnings

Today is the 4th anniversary of a new beginning for me. The beginning of God showing His faithfulness to me and that He still works miracles in ordinary people. I have Crohn's Disease, was diagnosed 11 years ago. After the birth of our twins in 2004, my body had been through a lot and my health started to decline. By 2006 I was so sick that the doctors at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville told me I would need to have a bowel resection. If I didn't have this done, and soon, I would die of malnutrition because I hadn't been able to eat solid food for a few months and was on a liquid diet, not successfully I might add.

I hadn't had surgery before except for my emergency c-section and the thought of it scared me. There was another issue. The surgeon told me there was a possibility that I would have to have a colostomy. I didn't know what a colostomy was and when the ostomy nurse came to my hospital room the day before surgery and asked if I had any questions about what would happen if I did have a colostomy I sent her away and told her that it wasn't going to be an issue with me and I wouldn't need her services. I just knew that God was going to heal me, pull out some big miracle and the doctors would all be amazed. Well, it didn't work that way. When I awoke from surgery, I found that there was this mysterious thing on my abdomen that I knew nothing about. This terrified me. I was angry, sad, any bad emotion you could have, I had it. Plus, I was away from my 20 month old twins, whom I hadn't been separated from before. The surgeon came in and told me that there was another problem. I had a bone infection in my sacrum (that's the area around the tail bone) and they needed to biopsy it to figure out how to treat it. In the coming days I saw doctors from all disciplines...infectious disease, gastro, orthopedic, neurosurgery, they came and went talking about possible treatments, but first they'd need to find out what kind of infection it was. I was in and out of tests from different types of biopsies to MRI's with and without name it, they did it. The problem was, they couldn't get anything to grow in their cultures. The only thing they could tell me was that this infection had been there for quite some time and was very involved. I had been in excruciating back pain for a few years, but my doctors always blamed it on the Crohn's and said I would have to live with it. Now there was talk of IV antibiotics from home that would last several hours a day. I remember feeling like I had gotten pulled under the water at the beach and couldn't find the top. I was drowning and out of control, and I didn't know what to do. I tried to pray, but I felt like my prayers were on deaf ears. Where was God when I needed Him? My dear husband never left my side throughout this entire process. He was my sanity, my voice, my strength.

I thought things would get better once I was discharged from the hospital and could be with my family, hold my babies. I had been in the hospital for 2 weeks! I found that coming home allowed me to rest, but it didn't take the worry away. I felt guilty that I couldn't pick up the babies, home health came in and I wanted no part in learning how to deal with this new horrible thing protruding from my body, I sank into a deep depression. Sure, I tried to put on a happy face for those around me. I tried to pretend that everything was OK, but the truth was, I was angry. How could God let this happen to me? I had been a Christian as long as I could remember, I was faithful, I prayed regularly, I was active in church, I had people praying for me! I would not pray, refused to talk to the God that had left me. My husband would try to encourage me to pray, encourage me that he was glad the doctors had saved my life. I didn't see it that way so he would take my hand and pray aloud for the both of us. My heart wasn't in it and I just felt so bitter. There were several times when I woke up in the middle of the night only to find my dear hubby kneeling by my side of the bed, praying over me. He never gave up.

In time, I began to adjust to my new life, it no longer seemed like a prison sentence. I gained strength and was able to be more active in doing things with the babies. I returned to Mayo for an MRI and one last attempt at a biopsy, probably 6 weeks after surgery. The infectious disease doctor said that it appeared that my bone was healing itself. The inflammation had drastically reduced and they didn't want to do anything for now, except watch it. This meant no more plan of IV antibiotics for hours a day, no more unsuccessful biopsies, just MRI's to watch and see. A month later I returned to Mayo for another MRI. Again, the doctor said that she was amazed at the results. The infection was almost totally resolved and she had never seen a bone heal itself like this. She leaned in and quietly said, "I don't know what you believe in, but only by the grace of God was this possible." I had renewed hope, maybe God knew what He was doing after all. There were other doctors who tried to give some scientific explanation as to why this infection could resolve without treatment, the neurosurgeon even tried to say that perhaps there never was an infection. I know though, that my God is big and although I don't know the plan, He has it all in control. God performed a miracle in my body. He healed me just as Jesus touched people and healed them in the Bible. In the appointments and tests that followed, I always pictured Jesus there with me, putting his hand on me to comfort me.

I learned to live with the colostomy and decided that it wasn't the worst thing in the world to have happened to me. It was through this that I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought. I also learned that God is always faithful to His people. We just don't always understand it at the time. In 2008 I had a series of surgeries to have the colostomy reversed and was reconnected, good as new. I still have Crohn's, that will not change as there is no cure. But I know that God walks with me every day and He helps me through the difficult times.

Thank you God for showing me that you have a plan for me even in the hard times. Thank you for helping to me endure these hard times and to see that on the other side of things, I wouldn't have learned those important lessons of your mercy and faithfulness. Thank you for teaching me that healing comes in many forms and for healing my body and my soul!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seashells by the Seashore

One of my favorite things to do while walking on the beach is collecting seashells. I have this habit of searching through the shells to find the pretty ones that aren't battered. I think they are beautiful and have remained so in spite of the waves and the turbulence they have overcome on their journey to the shore. It's a miracle they make it in one piece. Then there are shells that are broken, some more than others, that have pieces missing. This got me to thinking about how people and life are like seashells. Why is it that some people make it through in one peice and some not? We are all tossed about just as the waves toss the seashells, yet some make it through in one piece, while others do not. I'll bet if you look hard enough, even the whole seashells have scars. Don't we all have scars from our journey toward the shore? Some of the waves are bigger and rougher, some shells get knocked around more than others, and so it goes with life.

The other thing I have realized is that all of these beautiful seashells once had living creatures in them. Something had to die before we could enjoy the beauty of the shells for ourselves. In our lives, some things must die before God can make beautiful things happen for us. This has always been hard for me as I try to second-guess what God is going to do next and how He might use this, that, or the other in my life to make some change. Sometimes I think I'm not ready to let go of my old ways. I find comfort in my old habits and knowing what my plans are. But if only I will die to self and open my heart to God's will for my life, things will turn out so much better than anything I could ever imagine. It's a concerted effort each day to say, "Not my will but yours, Lord," but I have to think that the death of my own desires creates a beautiful life for God and that makes it all worthwhile.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Be Still my Soul

Have you ever read the children's book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?" Well that was my week last week and I found myself multiple times saying under my breath, "I think I'll move to Australia." If you are unfamiliar with the story, Alexander says that when everything that could go wrong in his kid world, did. I have spent quite a bit of time in quiet reflection and prayer this weekend, trying to regain my peace and calm and I was reminded of a few things:
1. I always say that I have given things over to God, but darned if I don't just take them right back to wallow and worry over them.
2. When I go before God and ask Him to take care of things, I don't give Him time to work them out. I want immediate results.
3. I spend a lot of time worrying about things I can't control.
4. I don't spend enough quiet time listening for God.

I have been to the beach twice in the last few days, trying to get quiet and think. It is so relaxing to sit and wiggle my toes through the sand, listening to the waves. I love that I live 10 minutes from the beach! We just pack a cooler and off we go! God has created so many beautiful things for me to enjoy and to remind me of His awesome power and attention to detail. Think of all of those tiny grains of sand. He put each one there for a purpose. Being at the beach allows me to clear my head and think...such wonderful therapy for me.

Then this morning, God spoke to me. It began in the quiet of the house as I was reading a blog about leaving things at the throne of God. The music on the page was "Be Still My Soul." As it kept playing, I began to relax and listen to the words...Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
I thought about Psalm 46 "Be still and know that I am God." God has used this verse so many times to reassure me that I don't need to spend so much time in fret and worry. If I am constantly trying to manipulate the circumstances, I'm not relying on God. I need to BE STILL. So hard for a Control Freak like me!

So with that on my mind, I went to church. Guess what we sang today..."Be Still, My Soul the Lord is on your side." Today's sermon really spoke to me, it was one of those where I felt like it was written just for me. Don't you love it when God does cool stuff like that? And I was reminded that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. So with that, I have renewed determination to let God work things out and to stop getting in the way of it all.

At lunch today, the princess said our blessing and afterward she said, "And God, please help Mommy to have a good week this week and to not be stressed." At the very least, I owe it to her and the prince to have more faith that God is in control and to let it all go.

On a happy note, two of my favorite people celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary yesterday. I have learned a lot from these dear friends about what marriage is like. I remember when I was much younger, riding in the car with them, I was in the backseat and they were up front holding hands. My friend turned around to me and she said, "When you get married, make sure you marry your best friend." I have never forgotten that and it is exactly what I did. So Happy Anniversary to my dear friends! I love you so much and am blessed to have you in my life!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Here are some pictures of the Space Shuttle Atlantis Rollout, as promised. It was worth keeping the prince and princess up until after midnight to see it...truly a once in a lifetime experience. The crawler drove right past us and the crew for this next mission showed up too, which was a great surprise. I have grown up a Booster Brat and am still in awe everytime I see this beautiful shuttle. I am so sad thinking about the discontinuation of the shuttle program. A HUGE thank you goes out to my awesome Mom and Dad who stayed out waaaay past their bedtime to bring us out to see this!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fond Friend Memories and Other Things

So I've really been slacking on my blog this week. Mostly because I've been so incredibly busy that when I slow down at night I fall asleep but I also find that my brain has been so tied up with the to-do lists, that I haven't had much time for reflection.

Yesterday was an important anniversary for a dear friend. She lost her mother several years ago and as I was praying for her and calling to check on her, it brought memories of times I spent with her and her mother. When we were in college I spent quite a bit of time at her house and I remember lazy afternoons of watching movies and especially playing Scrabble. I always thought I was a pretty good Scrabble player until I started playing against my friend and her mom. They would beat me every time. We had lots of fun times together and yesterday especially I was missing my dear friend because she now lives on the complete other side of the country. I just wanted to go hang out with her and spend a lazy afternoon together like the old days...watching Pretty Woman, playing Scrabble, taking a nap, cooking meals, just being together. The most I could offer was a hug through the phone and words of encouragement. I can't wait to see her in the fall. It will be a great time.

In other news, I have been to Kennedy Space Center twice this week to try to see the Space Shuttle rollout which was scrubbed both times due to weather. It is supposed to go at midnight tonight and we will once again pack up the car and head out there. For those of you who don't know what that means, the shuttle is currently in the VAB (Vertical Assembly Building). It is mated to the solid rocket boosters and external tank and will be rolled out to the launch pad to prepare for the May 14th launch. The shuttle sits on a Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) and is rolled out on a crawler that travels about 1 mile per hour, the 3.5 miles to the launch pad. As a Booster Brat, I have been raised around this stuff but this will be the first time I've ever been able to see this. So I am super excited and I really hope it happens tonight. I'll post pictures later.

The princess, in all of her allerginess (yes, I know that's not a real word) is going to see an allergist for the first time on Friday. I really hope we survive until then. She has to be off of all antihistimines for 48 hours before her appointment and she is not doing well with that. I had to stop writing a few minutes ago to help clean her up because she got sick from coughing so much. We're doing a breathing treatment right now, hoping this helps. If not, it may really and truly be a looooooonnnnnnggggg night for Mommy.

Ending on a happy note, my couponing is really starting to pay off. Tonight I went to the grocery store and got $50.01 worth of stuff for $6.95. I must say that I'm rather impressed with myself. It feels great to save money!!

Well, I'm off to get ready to see the shuttle!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thinking Like Children

I have mentioned before that my little princess and prince often teach me about God and His character through their daily conversations. They also give me a lot of writing material. I think about how Jesus said we should have faith like a child. Children are so curious and they have a way of asking questions that stretch us and make us think about our own beliefs. They don't think any question is off limits or too hard, they just want an answer. Sometimes I just want to crawl up in Jesus' lap and ask him my own questions.
I thought I would share a couple of conversations I have had with my children lately. They amaze me every day with the things they come up with!

Princess: Mommy, why do people have to die?

Me: So that we can go to heaven to be with God.

Princess: But God is with us all the time anyway, so why do we have to die and go to heaven to be with him?

Me: Because our bodies don't last forever. They wear out and when your body gets old and worn out, you die and you go to heaven to be with God forever.

Princess: But God made us and He could have made us to last forever and we could live forever on earth with him because he's always with us.

Me: Yes, but our bodies aren't forever. Our spirits, our souls, what God gives us on the inside is forever and when we get to heaven we'll be with God forever.

Princess thinks for a minute then says: So why didn't He just make us differently? If God made us, He could have done it different.

Me: Yes, He could have, but He didn't.

Princess: So when you get to heaven do you get to do what you want?

Me: I think you get to do the things that make you happy.

Princess: Maybe when you go to heaven to be with God you get to be happy forever and ever.

Me: Yes, I think you do.

Last week when I picked up the princess from her dance class she was upset. There are a couple of girls in there that are mean to her and say ugly things like she doesn't dance well, etc. She was in tears and we talked about how sometimes people act ugly toward us but we still have to be nice to them and be the bigger person. Meanwhile, in my head I wanted to say something to those little darling girls about making mine so upset, but of course I can't do that. Anyway, at bedtime she said she wanted to say a "Dear God" prayer instead of "Now I lay me." Her prayer went like this: "Dear God, please help those girls at dance to not be mean to me. And please help me to love them even when they are mean to me because I know that you made them and you love them. Amen." I could learn a lot from my 5 year old!

A couple of weeks ago I was getting ready for work and the Prince came into my bathroom to get his hair brushed. I didn't have his water bottle available so I put water in my hand and as I soaked the top of his head I said, "Prince, I baptize you." To which he said, "Do animals get baptized?"

Me: No, I don't think so.

Prince: Why?

Me: I just don't think they do.

Princess: Yes, they do!

Me: How do you know?

Princess: Because in the Lion King movie Rafiki baptizes baby Simba with a mango. He breaks it open and puts it on his head and then he holds Simba up like Pastor David holds up the babies in church.

Me: You've got me there.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Shells, Kindergarten Round-up and Kids growing up

Lately I feel like the guy at the circus, trying to spin the plates and keep them all in the air. I’m not sure how successful I am, I feel like I might have almost dropped a few of them, but I am making it. Have you ever tried to be everything to everyone and have all of these things going on only to realize that you aren’t doing any of them well? That’s how I feel.

In Sunday School a few weeks ago we watched a video where the guy said that sometimes the enemy of the best is not bad, it’s all the good you are doing. You try to do so many good things, that you can’t get to God’s best for you because the good gets in the way. He went on to talk about how they were at the beach and his son had small bits of shells in his hands and he really liked them, but he saw a beautiful starfish that he went to pick up and he couldn’t get it because his hands were full of these small pieces of shells. The boy wouldn’t put the shells down in order to get the starfish. I can really identify with that image. I guess the question is, how do you determine which of these things are the good getting in the way and which of these things can help lead you to God’s best? Then there are all of these things that I would love to do, but just can’t get to. I’m praying for discernment and for God to help me sort all of this out.

In other news, the twins are growing up entirely too fast. Tonight was kindergarten round-up. I can’t believe they will be in kindergarten next year! Where has the time gone?! I have been so blessed to have them at our church preschool, where I am the director. Next year they will be in a different place and while I know they will be looked after, I am sad that they will no longer be with me. This is hard for a control freak like myself. I feel that control slipping away and my fear is that it is going to be like a landslide and all come out from under my feet. Now I know where they are, who they are playing with, the things they are exposed to. I am pleased though with the whole kindergarten team at their new school. They are a group of Christian ladies that I know will take good care of my babies. I know them because I used to teach with them and I love that they are going to have my children. It’s just a sad time for me that my babies are growing up.

Tonight as we left kindergarten round-up the prince looked up at the clouds and noticed the sun shining through them and it was a beautiful picture. He said, “Look Mom, God is smiling down on us.” I like that image…God looking down and smiling at his children, pleased with who we are and what we are doing. I hope He's smiling down on me, anyway.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jesus, it's Wednesday and I Need You!

This is actually something I wrote a few weeks ago on another site, but it came to mind this morning as I sleepily crawled out of bed saying, "Jesus, it's Wednesday and I REALLY need you!"

Last week as I was looking on facebook, a friend’s status really caught my attention. She said, “It’s Wednesday, Jesus I need you.” When I first read it, I thought, “It’s Wednesday, what’s the big deal about Wednesday?” Then I realized, that was exactly her point. It really got me to thinking about my relationship with Jesus. Why don’t I tell him every day that I need him? In my quest to be an independent woman who can take care of things on her own, I have left out an important person. In fact THE most important person gets left out of the little everyday things. It isn’t that I intentionally exclude him, I just haven’t thought about telling him that I need him. This simple facebook post has changed my life. Each morning since I read that post, I have made an important change in my day. As I wake up each morning I now say, “Jesus, it’s Monday and I need you. Jesus, it’s Tuesday and I need you.” I need Jesus every day and now I tell him so each morning.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Do You Get to Heaven?

The following conversation took place at my house this morning while we were getting ready for school:
Prince: Mom, how do you get to heaven? Do you fly? Do you ride a rocket?
(Let me interject that I think this would be great material for a children's book)
Before I could answer, Princess interjects: No, you float. The angels come and get you and take you there. First you go to the funeral home and they have a funeral, then the angels come and take you to heaven and you see Jesus and the beautiful place he made for you. Jesus will shine his light on you. (By the way, her sentences are really that long and she doesn't breathe when she talks)

Prince: How does he do that? with his flashlight?

Princess: No, he smiles at you and his love shines on you. That's because he loves you so much he died on the cross for you.

Prince: I know he did. He died so we can be free.

Princess: Oh, we need to pray, remember? We need to pray for a good day at school.

So both the princess and the prince fold their hands and begin to take turns praying aloud in front of the kitchen sink. I was standing there writing down everything they said so I wouldn't forget, once I realized where the conversation was going. I couldn't write fast enough. So many things I love about this morning! First, this conversation began with the prince asking me a question, but then the two of them ended up talking this out amongst themselves. Their reasoning is precious! I love to hear this little chatter. I also love that they recognize that they can pray anywhere. They just stood at the kitchen sink and prayed aloud, each one interjecting whatever they wanted. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst. I wish I had a video camera to record this morning so I could play it again and again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Prayers Before School

The princess has been having a lot of issues with her allergies lately. She wakes up in the mornings and her poor little eyes are matted shut, and she just doesn't feel well. This morning was especially rough on her, being a Monday and having to get up after such an exciting weekend. She grumbled, complained, and cried each step of the way. As we were driving to school, I suggested that she pray that God would help her have a good day. I pray every morning over my children as we drive for school, that God will protect them and guide them throughout their day. I don't know why I haven't involved them in it, I guess because it has been my quiet time to think about the miracles they are and to thank God for giving me these special blessings in my life. Anyway, she asked me if I would do it for her because she didn't know what all she wanted to say to God. So I began to pray for both children aloud, that God would help them to have a good day and school and that He would guide them to make good choices and to learn all they can learn. After I finished, this sweet little princess voice came from the back seat, "Mommy? How come we don't do this every morning? I think we should pray on the way to school every day. Can we do this? Please?" So now we have a wonderful new element in our morning routine.

Next year the prince and the princess will be in kindergarten and I know they will need all the prayers they can get, as they are no longer going to be in the protective environment of the church preschool. They are growing up oh so fast and I cherish each minute I spend with them. Speaking of which, the princess has been waiting patiently for me to read a book to I go to read "The Jellybeans and the Big Dance."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Times and Places

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the wedding of a dear family friend. He's a bit younger than I am, and I remember when he was a baby, which makes me feel incredibly old. It was an outdoor wedding and it was just beautiful. When did I become one of those people who cries at weddings? I can't go to a wedding anymore without tearing up. I think it was probably after my own wedding when I realized the intense emotions involved and how that one day is filled with such promise for the bride and groom as they look forward to spending the rest of their lives together and beginning their own family. It takes me back to my own special day and all the joy and excitement of the day. I can remember on my wedding day, people telling me to take it all in and enjoy each moment, and that I did. What I have enjoyed more though, is thinking about how all of the love and promise of that day has grown as our little family has grown and hubby and I share this life together. So yes, I boohoo at weddings, and I never expected I would be like that.

Since the wedding was out of town and in order to get back home we would be passing Disney World, we decided to stay over in Orlando last night and take the kids to the Magic Kingdom today. I have always found the Magic Kingdom to be truly a magical place, and I love sharing this with my children. I love seeing their faces as they experience the sights and sounds. We have annual passes and it is a great escape for our family to go to Disney for the day or the weekend. It's the little things that I love...watching the princess act like a princess, watching the prince eat ice cream and get it all over himself, hubby acting silly with the twins, acting like a child myself as I am on the rides, and perhaps my most favorite thing, spending uninterrupted time with the family. When we go to Disney, we're all engaged and we laugh and play hard. It's truly my Happy Place. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Random Thoughts ~ Episode 1

Yesterday morning I was awakened by the awesome rumbling produced during a space shuttle launch. I ran out the front door in time to witness the bright light of the most beautiful shuttle launch at sunrise. It makes me appreciate the opportunities I have had, growing up as a Booster Brat on the Space Coast. It also reminds me of how much I am going to miss these beautiful shuttle launches when the shuttle program is retired. My little prince says he wants to be an astronaut and ride on the shuttle when he grows up. I don't have the heart to tell him that the shuttle won't be around then. At five, I want him to dream big and he loves all things space related. I am hopeful that by the time he grows up, if he truly wants to be an astronaut, we'll have another launch vehicle.

Also, yesterday was the first day back to work from Spring Break. While we were on break, a couple of my teachers decided they needed to pull an April Fool's prank on me. I returned to work to find the contents of my desktop packed into a cardboard box. I feel loved AND I am plotting revenge for when they least expect it.

I am loving the beautiful spring weather we have been having. It makes me want to do spring cleaning! I have a huge plan built up in my brain of all the things I want to accomplish but finding the time to do it all is problematic. So I am going to make lists...lots and lots of lists and cross those things off, big and small as they are done. This will at least help me to feel like I have things in hand. That perception of having things in's a great feeling, especially for a control freak like myself.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Thoughts

Easter has come and gone and we have observed the usual traditions. I love that my family has traditions that are passed on to each generation. From egg hunts, to letters from the Easter Bunny that remind children that Jesus is the reason for Easter, I love that my children are experiencing Easter as I did. I love that 4 generations worship together. Seeing my children interact with their great-grandmother is so awesome. It reminds me of when I was a little girl, sitting in church with my parents and Mema.

By the way, for those wanting to see my awesome Easter dress that hubby picked out all by himself, I'm posting a picture. He did great!

In spite of the traditions, I find that Easter leaves me with different feelings and thoughts each year. Isn't it amazing how God's word is living and active? I mean, I read the same passages every year. They tell the same story of Jesus' death and resurrection but I'm left with different impressions and have another level of understanding. This morning I got so emotional as I thought about the personal connection I feel with Jesus and the gratitude for what he did when he suffered so much for me. Then the idea that after all he'd been through, the grave could not hold him!

Tomorrow I will return to work and the kids' school routine but I am forever changed by this Easter season and what it means to me, what Jesus means to me.
Hallelujah! Jesus is Risen!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Activities and One Tired Mommy

If yesterday was busy, today was exhausting! I'm not sure when the morning began and the night ended, as I was up quite a bit with the princess last night and her terrible allergies. Looks like we'll be scheduling an appointment with the allergist very soon. This morning was booked with peewee bowling league followed immediately by the Easter egg hunt at our church. The kids had such a good time with all of the games and activities and then with the culminating activity of finding the eggs. This afternoon we dyed eggs and had our own little pre-Easter dinner on the china. During our dinner-time prayer, hubby began and we went around the table each adding to the prayer. It made my heart happy to hear the children say, "Jesus, I love you and I am so glad you are in heaven. I hope you like it up there and one day because I have you in my heart, I will go to heaven and be with you."
The highlight to my day had to be listening to my children retell the Easter story using Resurrection Eggs. Each egg has a little piece of the story in it to prompt them about what happens from Palm Sunday through Easter. I am amazed at the details they remember! The princess explained the Last Supper and said, "Jesus washed the disciples' feet but Peter said he couldn't and Jesus said you have to learn how to serve if you want to come into my kingdom. Then Jesus held up a cup and said 'This is my blood poured out for you and he held up bread and broke it and said 'This is my body broken for you. Eat and drink and remember me when you do it. I am going away and you will be sad but you should be happy because you will see me again..." I'm sure I couldn't recall all of this at age 5!

I must go now and help the Easter Bunny hide eggs and make sure everyone's clothes are set out and ready for church tomorrow. Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Taking Jesus With Me

It's been a busy day. A day when I would have loved to sit on the beach by myself and reflect on Good Friday and what that means to me as a Christian. I have thought a lot about it today, but it was in between taking my angels for a picnic at the park and running a few errands. There's often that inner pull at my heart where I long to sit at Jesus' feet and just spend those moments with him in the stillness yet in all practicality I can't do that; the Mary vs. Martha syndrome. Today I realized that it doesn't have to be a battle within. Jesus doesn't ask me to stop everything going on in my day to exclusively be with him. He asks me to take him along with me and to include him in every aspect of my day. I began to see all of the opportunities to include Christ and the many things that I already do without even realizing it. Smiling and speaking kind words to others, taking in the beauty of the day, sending up prayers of thanksgiving as well as concerns for others who are on my mind, using those teachable moments with my children to explain the wonder of Christ and how much he loves them. Listening to their belly laughs and thinking about how Jesus must love to hear it too!
This afternoon hearing my sweet baby girl sing "He Lives," or at least most of the words were right, took me back to when I was a little girl. I remember being with my mom while she was cooking or folding clothes and listening to her sing hymns. She sang while she worked and it was a natural thing for her to bring Jesus with her as she did her work. This Sunday morning I hope we sing "He Lives" in church. There will be 4 generations of us in worship singing together a song that has a powerful message, one I began learning as a young girl..."you ask my how I know He lives, He lives within my heart." Thinking about it now makes me tear up. It is because Jesus lives in my heart that I can take this dear friend, wherever I go and know that I am never alone.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday Thoughts ~ Preparing my Heart for Easter

Today is Maundy Thursday. As I have been preparing my heart for Easter and thinking of all that happened during Holy Week, I pause tonight to think about the Last Supper. Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the Passover Feast, a meal amongst friends. It was to be the last meal they'd all have together.
"When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:14-16 The Message) What must it have been like for the disciples to hear that their friend and teacher would not be with them anymore? How would I feel if my dear friend, with whom I spent most of my time told me this would be our last meal together? I can feel the sadness, the fear of not knowing what would happen to him, what would happen to them. I imagine how they must have felt to hear Jesus tell them exactly how things would play out and then throughout the evening and into the next morning as it unfolded just as he said.

"Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation." He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face." Luke 22:40-44 The Message

My heart feels heavy when I think about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the plan and he knew what he had to do but there was that moment when (as my 5 year old said it) "Jesus was scared so he prayed to ask God to help him but he had to die." I think Prince is right. Jesus, fully human and fully divine, had human emotions and this was a scary time. An angel came to give him strength. While he was dealing with these thoughts and emotions, where were the disciples? They were "asleep, drugged with grief." While Jesus was thinking of all humanity, the disciples were unable to be there for him or to even do the small thing he asked them to do, pray. Not that I am being hard on them or passing judgement, I'd be grieving too. It just reminds me that there are times in my own life when I am unable to get up out of my own wallowing,self-pity, and grief to do what Jesus asks me to do. Pray.

It should be easier for me. The disciples didn't have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story as I do. I know that come Sunday morning, Jesus is alive. Yet somehow, it's hard for me too. Tonight my heart is heavy because I know I am a sinner and that I don't do all that is asked of me. I know that Jesus suffered and died because I am a sinner and that he did this willingly. I also know that Jesus did this because of his great love for me. He loved me before I was ever a thought. He knew me and loved me and my name was written on his heart. That is so overwhelming and just awesome to think about. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us." I love The Message translation which says, "But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah! Romans 5:8-11

There is a popular worship song that has a special place in my heart, Amazing Love. Whenever I hear this song, it doesn't matter where I am. I just have to sing it. It is a reminder of Christ's Amazing Love for me and the peace that washes over me as I sing and enter into that true worship whether I am in the car or in a crowded room with other people. For those few moments, it's just Jesus and me as I sing this love song to Him and feel His presence and His unconditional love that holds me tight and keeps me going.

Amazing Love

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

I do hope that I can live a life that brings honor to Christ. I hope that others will see Christ in me and that I can show his deep, unconditional love to them.