Eastertide 2016

The last year or so I’ve been reading a lot on the Liturgical or Sacred Church Year. I am by no means leaning into becoming Catholic or Orthodox, but I have found that incorporating some of the rich aspects of traditional worship into my own observances has been so so beneficial.

An Enriched Lent

We began Lent on Ash Wednesday when I began this study on the the Prodigal Son, with Edie Wadsworth, from lifeingraceblog.com. She’s a Lutheran, and I’ve loved so much of her writing which reflects her deep faith and the highlights the Lutheran leanings toward the need for grace in our daily lives.

CandleI read somewhere about having 6 candles and lighting them all on Ash Wednesday, on each Sunday prior to Easter, eliminate one candle. Then on Good Friday extinguish them all. It’s like the reverse of Advent, to remind us of Christ conquering the darkness in the Resurrection. I don’t force anyone in the family to participate in this, I just take a moment to center my heart and mind on the season, and honestly, the entire process was just so powerful this year. By resurrection Sunday, I was full of this anticipation to celebrate!

A Beautiful Holy Week

Last year, we did a daily study of walking through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth leading up to the cross…and on Holy Saturday we made Resurrection Rolls.

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This year we changed it up according to our schedule. Each night of Holy Week we had our Family Time either after dinner or during Homeschool…

We did our main readings from this book by Vic KParker…It was very thorough (good for younger and older kids) and divided the week up perfectly…love the illustrations too.

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and added Easter Hymns to our binder we use for Morning Time/ Symposium most days…

Symposium Binder easter hymns

On Monday we read about Jesus clearing the Temple, on Tuesday we read about the Last Supper and had a “footwashing” of our own (we washed each others hands) and had communion.

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On Wednesday we read about Jesus’ praying in the the Garden and his betrayal. On Thursday we read about his false trials and the beatings he took for us. On Friday, the crucifixion. Saturday was a day of silent reflection.

And Sunday….we celebrated.

We joined with other saints at a service…which was beautiful. Full of dance, visual art, music, congregational singing and the gospel message…best of all, the expectation reflected on the faces of fellow believers.

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The kids got their baskets AFTER church (there was no way they were eating candy before church!)

groupThen the extended family came over for dinner. We all love to see the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – but according to my dad…holidays were a must for the family to get together.

Dinner was complete with our singing, conversations, jokes and of course delicious food.

easter program

I try to make our celebrations a bit more meaningful by taking an hour to plan a little “outline” that includes poetry, or scripture reading, some songs/ hymns, games, etc. This is what this year’s looked like…we had a “progressive reading” of the Resurrection Story as napkin rings. I found them here.

 

 I try to set the table the night before. This year I was on a tight budget, so created a centerpiece with silk flowers from storage, my sister ended up giving me some fresh flowers that day, So I incorporated them happily.The rest were decor I already had from years past. Loved stuffing old plastic eggs with the conversation starters, they were like Easter “fortune cookies”.

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DSC_0370 The kids table had an Easter I-SPY Game I found here…

After dinner we headed outdoors for the Egg Hunt…

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DSC_0424And back indoors for dessert!

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Happy Easter – Christos Annestis!!

PS – I was super happy with my easter decor this year. I spent a whopping $3!

Ordinary

Ordinary…

I’ve had a fear of being “ordinary” for as long as I can remember. It’s driven me to try to accomplish something, to “be” someone, to leave a legacy that is…special.

I haven’t wanted to be “just like everyone else”… and lately, as in the last few years, I’ve had to examine this drive. This sense of inadequacy and where it comes from.

Most people do not live to see the significance their life has or hasn’t had on their world and it’s far reaching effects…and yet I’ve been constantly aware of it. I’ve lived with a shadow on my heart because I didn’t find ‘significant’ education, or ‘significant’ success in business or ministry…

I think I’ve even tried to find ‘significance’ in my relationships with underlying motives of becoming significantly “wise”… what’s wrong with that you ask. Pretty sure that pretty much everything is wrong with that. I am a person, and the people in my life are significant because we are HERE. We all matter to someone. We all matter to God.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve developed some kind of psychological imbalance or spiritual deficit because I haven’t. I think I’ve just come to a place where I’ve realized that it’s not necessary for me to stand out from the crowd to be significant. I am no more or less significant than any other person…I am ordinary. Ordinary is not insignificant.

I matter to Him, but more than that, I’m not the only one that matters to Him. Yes I am beloved…highly favoured and blessed…but I don’t deserve it any more than the next person…none of us deserve His love, His forgiveness and grace…Yet He loves us anyways. We matter to him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel that I have to matter to everyone else in order to matter to God. (And yes I know I am significant to my friends and family…my people – I am blessed among women). It’s just been a bit of a day of inward reckoning…

I’ve been very comfortable focusing on thinking about my place in the world, my place in history, the things I feel and think… without honestly giving a whole lot of thought to the fact that others maybe live like that too. I haven’t really thought about the role that others have might have NOTHING to do with ME. Thinking in that small minded way that everything happening around me, is about me. Crazy I know… I think I’ve been a slow learner at this… or maybe just an ordinary learner – lol.

This morning I read this post from a lovely soul (Thank you PW) who is an inspiration in her authenticity and transparency, it sums up how I’ve been feeling…

I sat in my usual spot.

I am a creature of habit.

I saw him coming down the bus aisle.

Pierced face.

Mohawk.

Pants hanging way past his waist.

“Please God don’t let him sit beside me”

I thought.

I put my purse down on the chair beside me.

Closed my eyes and leaned against the window.

Avoiding eye contact.

I felt his presence.

Standing beside me.

I opened my eyes.

He looked down at my purse and motioned me to move it.

“Fine” I thought to myself.

As I wondered why God had ignored my previous request.

He smelled like a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

I rolled up my sweatshirt and tried to ignore the smell.

I was feeling pretty sorry myself.

And wondering what I did to deserve this kick off to my Thanksgiving weekend.

I look over and noticed him texting someone.

“I want to die, everyone hates me”

The message said.

Whoosh…I could feel Jesus reminding me of where I use to be.

I started to take in this stranger beside me.

Starting at his feet.

His shoes were falling apart.

The back pack on his lap was held together with duct tape.

It was then that I noticed.

His arms.

There written with something sharp.

Were words like these:

Failure.

Worthless.

No value.

Garbage.

My eyes filled with tears.

I know what it feels.

To feel like that.

I started to pray.

For this man sharing.

My bus space.

“Are you ok” he asked.

“You aren’t worthless” I replied. “You have infinite value”

His eyes welled with tears.

“No one has ever said that to me before”

I gave him my cell number.

And said.

“Next time you feel like that, text me”

I got off at my stop.

Nodded my head goodbye.

And thanked Jesus for my new friend.

Be in prayer.

He has infinite value.

His creator said so.

Thankful that He who created me.

Sometimes says “No” to my selfish requests.

Blessed and Grateful.

For many things.

And that’s a great thought to kick off my Thanksgiving weekend.

It really is a great way to kick off the weekend!
Linking up here. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone (in Canada)!

Too Wonderful for Me

Psalm 139 excerpt
Link to hear Oslo Gospel Choir sing it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAZrV1pS2Ek

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.

You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

stuck

strI think I’m stuck. Stuck in a funk. It’s burning out my creativity and slowing trying to eat away at any general optimism and zest for life. I’ve noticed that lately I’m reading a lot. And I mean a lot – literally a book a day – mostly fiction – which is a bad sign, it means that I’m trying to escape something, that I’ve been avoiding being alone with myself. Which is odd, because for months I’ve LONGED for alone time. But having 3 small children and a husband working crazy hours prevented that from happening. So all the things that I should’ve been thiking about and “working through” did not get thought about or worked through.

So here I am, as the song goes – “stuck in a moment” – where I am unable to move forward – so I’ve decided to blog as much of it out as i can.

I’ve got this project I’ve been mulling over for more than 2 years now – it’s a book, that I know I need to write – but as I’ve attemped to free it from the quagmire in my soul – I realize that I must deal with the quagmire first-then free the book.

Knowing that I’m probably either just shy of peri-menopause and/or just plain off, balance horomonally due to three successive pregnancies – all of this could just tbe the rantings resulting from the off kilter place i find myself in and once i resume taking my supplements, and then I’ll feel better. But I have that deeper knowing, that i’m on to something bigger here.

first subject – why am I not doing more things that leave my soul at happy? Ok evken in writing that line, i’m at odds with myself, because i do sing, I do love being with my kids, i do love being in nature, my garden, cooking, reading, writing…and i’m doing a little bit of those things everyday. OK – so it’s not that. I know I’m frustrated at myself for not using my alone time in the evenings more effectively… hmmm, tick one off for t

Secondly, I’ve noticed I don’t like how i’ve been talking lately – too aggressive.

Third – i’ve super sensitive at being treated poorly – do I just take it, and get tougher, or do i try to deal with it? Neither seems to be working…

Fourth – I’m tired, tired of juggling home, work, a business and all the rest. i liked it so much back when I wasn’t juggling so much, I’ve been dropping alot of balls lately, and yeah – i’m tired of it – and the thought that there’s no end in sight – is killing me.

I’m sure there’s more, but it’s Sunday, and it’s a work day, and I’m stirring up things that are not helpful to do my job well by making this list…

So, how to deal, Jesus, how to deal? today, I go to Oswald. Oswald Chambers that
is – July 26th – and all I can say is ouch.

matthew 15:18-20 – those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart…

Initially we trust in our ignorance, calling it innocence, and next we trust our innocence, calling it purity. When we read verses like that, we shrink back…

We resent what He (jesus) reveals in our hearts. Either Jesus Christ is the supreme authority of the human heart, or He is not worth paying any attention to. Am I prepared to trust the penetration of His Word into my heart, or would I prefer to trust my own “innocent ignorance”? If i will take an honest look at myself becoming fully aware of my so-called innocence and put it to the test, I am very likely to have a rude awakening that what jesus christ said is true, and i will be appalled at the possibilities for evil within me. But as long a remain under the false security of my own “innocence”, I am living in a fool’s paradise….when i am open and completely exposed before God, i find that Jesus Christ is right in His diagnosis of me.

The only thing that truly provides protection is the redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will simply hand myself over to Him, i will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. but when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibitied in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute, unblemished purity.

i take a big deep breath…and throw myself into the arms of Jesus, the arms of grace.