Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Our Easter Weekend

We had lots of plans for Easter weekend - Saturday night church at Orchard, early morning church in Allison with my parents, a big Easter dinner at Grandma's, egg hunts with the kids, and all the other pastel and chocolate bunny traditions that go with one of my favorite days.  But the flu bug hit pretty much my entire family except the four of us, so we decided to quarantine ourselves and have our own little Easter weekend together.


And aside from my family being sick (sorry family), I sort of liked our weekend.  It was an excuse to stay home and approach the holiday with a much slower-pace than the typical - a chance to relax, breathe, and wear pajamas whenever we chose, and to have plenty of time to focus on what Easter is really about - a truth that sometimes get pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of food prep, family gatherings, and so many places to be.  And since we made sure to do most of our own family traditions on Saturday, our Sunday was a wide open space for us to plan on the fly and do a whole lot of nothing.


Saturday, Mila and I baked chocolate chow mein nests while Beau and Cruz went to Ninja Zone.  She wore her sweet bunny apron and ate as many Cadbury eggs as she could fit in her hand.  We took a nap together in our big bed, did an egg hunt inside, and had Pablos before church.  We took advantage of Orchard's Saturday night service, a smaller, more intimate setting than we expected, and Mila played babies in the nursery while Cruz sat between Beau and I, watching in awe as the drummer did his thing and drawing pictures of aliens and UFOs during church.

After plans changed early Sunday morning, I called and scored a last minute reservation for the Sunday brunch buffet at Hy-Vee.  And it did not disappoint!  We enjoyed carved ham and prime rib, shrimp, smoky salmon and baked eggs with hollandaise sauce, unlimited mimosas, and one impressive dessert table with chocolate mouse parfaits in wine glasses and orange tinted chocolate strawberries that looked like carrots.  Afterwards, we picked up some groceries to prepare a little Easter dinner of smoked ribs, potatoes, roasted veggies, and a fresh baked raspberry pie

The rest of the day was lazy and slow, parallel to the chilly and cloudy weather this Easter Sunday.  Cruz spent most of the day in his Easter basket, building his new Lego sets, putting his new Star Wars puzzle together, and watching his new Peanuts movie, and Mila spent most of the day wandering around the house playing "Let It Go" from her new Frozen microphone.  We put the kids in their Easter clothes, set up in the tripod for a few family pictures, then changed into our pajamas shortly thereafter.  I watched Fixer Upper reruns, drank hot tea and read my book, and fixed the kids our traditional egg carton supper while Beau and I enjoyed the ribs.  And we ended our Sunday with the Walking Dead and raspberry pie. :)

Monday, March 28, 2016


Cruz: Over breakfast yesterday, Cruz surprised me and asked why I gave him and Mila Easter baskets instead of the Easter bunny.  I have never got into the whole Easter bunny thing and am quite creeped out by the whole beady eyed mall bunnies, but quickly came to the conclusion that although we may not discuss said bunny at home, his friends have clearly filled him in.  Caught off guard (and three mimosas in), I decided to tell Cruz that there is no such thing as a furry bunny hopping all over the world delivering baskets and hiding eggs for boys and girls.  We told him it was our little secret, and then I made him laugh uncontrollably when I said the Easter bunny is in fact his Papa Curt in fake ears and his underwear.  He handled it all well, although Beau is pretty sure I was a little premature.  Afterwards, as we were picking up a few groceries at Hy-Vee, I saw yet another dressed up bunny by the produce aisle, waving at us and scaring Mila half to death.  As we walked to the car, Cruz flashed me a smile and said, "I know he wasn't real, Mommy, I could see his hairy arms under the costume." :)  

Mila: She wore this big plastic beaded necklace for 48 hours straight this weekend, minus when I snuck in her room after she had fallen asleep to pry it off her neck.  It did match her Easter dress, though, so we rolled with it.  Her two favorite finds in her Easter basket this year included a plastic Frozen jewelry box that plays "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and a plastic Frozen microphone that sings "Let It Go."  She has had that microphone in her hand since and likes to hold it up to our mouths and say, "Your turn!"  This morning, I caught her in our bed with it singing with her eyes closed and her arm up doing a bit of a Christina Auguilera.  She gets a little embarrassed when she knows someone is watching her, but was letting loose in that moment.  It's so adorable to see her personality blossom it seems like every single week.                            

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Things of Early Spring

"The story that crushes me also saves me, and there is nothing to do but worship through the tears." 
-Jen Hatmaker

It's been a heavy week.  I'm on the final half of the semester and while the end is in sight, there is so much to do and so little time to do it.  The news headlines once again involved terrorism, and once again reminded me of the evil in this world and the fear that permeates because of it.  I attended an information meeting about kindergarten Tuesday night, and left feeling like I had four months left of Cruz's childhood, four months until play and imagination and prayer at lunchtime would be replaced with sight words and story problems and behavior charts.  I sat around a table on Wednesday and cried with six other beautiful friends, many who are struggling with uncertainties and fears of their own, and didn't sleep that night worrying for another friend whose very private battle became all too public.  And on top of it all, it's holy week, a week that's always been powerful and raw for me.  The tears come easy this week as I feel the weight of my own brokenness and a Savior who took mine, and the entire world's to the cross.  There are no words to describe that, and I feel overwhelmed when I try to make sense of it.  Last night, I sat in my three-hour Thursday night class after spending the entire afternoon lost in a literature review due at the end of the month.  I sank into my desk seat and thought about others attending Maundy Thursday services around the community and my night felt so meaningless.  All week, I've been contemplating my purpose, attempting (and sometimes forcing) God's whisper in directing my sails.  Why am I spending hours on this degree?  How can I make more time to invest in others?  What does it look like to be a follower of Jesus in my current season, as I struggle to juggle my roles as a wife, a mom, a friend, a teacher?   I've been coming up empty this week, feeling pretty broken as I think about the cross and how much I fall short of the glory of God. 

But, the sun is shining on this Good Friday morning, and I woke up feeling differently as I got my kids ready for school and told them how excited I was to celebrate Jesus with them this weekend.  My Grandpa Merle always tells a story about me when I was little that I don't remember, but has evidently stuck with him all these years.  We had attended our community's annual Easter cantata, and afterwards, Jordan and I were discussing the always powerful part of the service where they turn out the lights and we sit and listen as a nail is pounded into a board over the loud speaker.  Jordan asked why we called it "Good Friday," when the picture of anyone dying in the way Jesus did brought nothing but pictures of evil and sadness.  And according to Grandpa, my response to him was "because it's good for us." 

Jesus not only died on that cross to save us on Good Friday, but he did so that we can experience great joy in a broken world.  He took all of our pain, put it on him, and adopted us into his kingdom because he wants us to prosper and live a life of joy, now and for eternity.  God doesn't want us to feel broken, but whole and new in the good truth that he is and always will be.  And I can worship God at a Maundy Thursday night service, or in my desk in Lang Hall during my three-hour night class.  Sometimes it's so easy to see meaning in some things and not as much in others, but God wants us to see the power and opportunity that lies in whatever place we find ourselves.
As I slowly attempt to figure out what exactly it all means in my daily life, I can start by training my eyes to see God in the details, to celebrate the joy that exists in every day.  I loved Ann Voscamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, in which she realized the power in recognizing, naming, and giving thanks for the small, simple, and good things that occur all around her on a daily basis.  Through this, she learned that "in naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible."  God's face is in the details, the moments or good things, in a 48-page paper or a three-hour night class on a rainy, dreary night. In that unholy smear of the daily grind, God's still there.  We just need to train our eyes to see him.

My camera helps me do this.  I look through my lens and it forces my lids open and sometimes I see things I would never have noticed before.  And oftentimes, there's good and joy to be found within those moments.   

So, in these dark, dreary days, when spring is lagging and my papers are hanging over my head, sagging at my spirit, I write about the good things.  I jot them down in a notebook and praise a risen Savior with a broken, but joy-filled hallelujah

Good things on Good Friday   

231.  We had the best little adventure, my girl and I, Sunday after church.  I had been thinking about a few treasures I had found at the junk show the day before and since my ticket allowed me access both days, I decided to go back to do one last sweep to see what I missed.  Mila happily agreed to be my shopping buddy, and the two of us had the most fun.  She fit right in with the creative and eclectic bunch in her new dress, denim jacket, and moccasins, and got several compliments on how cute she looked!  As we walked hand-in-hand out of the convention center, she kept saying, "that was fun, mommy!"  Love her and cherish these special one-on-one times with each of my babes. 

232.  Speaking of church, we had one amazing Palm Sunday service last week, thanks to Ed's message from Philippians, with music from our amazing worship band, and the addition of Alli Rogers who was back seeing family and visiting her home church.  They sang this song and I have listened to it more times than I can count this week.  Check it out, you will not be disappointed.   

233.  As we were leaving church Sunday, Beau and I looked behind us to see our two little disciples waving palm branches and exclaiming, "Hosanna, hosanna, yay Jesus!"  In that song above, one of the lines says, "you give me faith like a child / in you my heart runs wild."  There is nothing that makes my heart beat more than to see Jesus working in the little hearts of my people, through their stories, their questions, their innocent prayers at the dinner table. 

234.  If Equip - I received this pretty book in the mail last week, and dived into a daily devotional centered on the Nicene Creed.  I've been committed to setting my alarm 20 minutes earlier each day so I can start my day in scripture and prayer.  I continually see the power that those twenty minutes have on the rest of my day, and thank God for carving out that time for me.

235.  I planted over 30 bulbs in our beds out front last fall and squealed in delight when I saw evidence of their life last weekend.  As I wait for the real deal here, I purchased my own little bouquet of spring last week and loved how the color transformed the kitchen and gave me a little spring in my step.

236.  Eggs - love being surprised by their colors and how pretty they look through my camera lens.  

237. Messy pigtails and chubby cheeks

238. March Madness bracket building and bandaids on the forehead for no apparent reason.  I might add that she went to school like that.

Happy Easter!  Wishing you good things this Easter weekend and that you are able to meet Jesus in whatever place you're in. 


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