We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Most Meaningful Easter

What Easter traditions do you remember from childhood? What activities, sights, tastes, and smells bring a wave of nostalgia? Which customs and rituals do you still carry out? 

For my sister and me, Easter meant Mom sewing us each a new dress. On Saturday evening, we colored eggs with the kind of dye that floated in droplets on top of the water in a large bowl. We used a toothpick to mix the colors around, then slowly dipped each egg into the swirly water on a homemade wire egg holder.

We often attended an Easter sunrise service, then a breakfast at church. Mom made what she called "kuchen." She mixed up a yeast dough, and after the first rising she rolled the dough out into a large rectangle, filled the center with plum or apple filling from end to end, and then cut the flat dough on the sides into one inch strips. She brought the strips to the center and braided them to cover the filling. After a second rise, she baked it until it turned golden brown, then drizzled the top with a thin glaze.

We joined my grandparents for Easter dinner, where all the aunts, uncles, and cousins also gathered. Grandma's best china and table linens graced the big dining room table. After a solemn blessing, we celebrated together. We went home with jelly beans, chocolate bite-sized bunnies, and a cake in the shape of a lamb, complete with white frosting and coconut.

However, the most meaningful part of the day for me took place while still snuggled in my bed. In the quiet of the dawn, I read the Easter story from the gospels. I thought about the Good Friday service at church, where our pastor did a chalk drawing depicting three crosses against an ominous sky. I tried to imagine in my young mind what it would have been like to be there and witness the death of the very Son of God. How sad and lonely. And then how wonderful to arrive at the tomb that Sunday morning when the angels announced, "He is not here. He is risen!" The miracle of it all made a deep impression on me.

This year I find myself thinking about the resurrection of Jesus in a new light. It's the first Easter Barry is on the other side. When someone so dearly loved has died, the words from 1 Corinthians 15 give hope and perspective: 
But now Christ is risen from the dead, . . . So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." O Death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory? . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (verses 20, 54-57).
Remembering the resurrection means so much more than listening to a once-a-year sermon. Because Christ lives, Barry's story isn't over. He lives! The resurrection has birthed the unwavering hope of eternal life. "So shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Now that's worth celebrating, wouldn't you agree?

Photos from google images.   

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cut What?

Howling wind, rain beating on the windows, and the sound of hard-working sump pumps makes me want to curl up with a good book and read the day away. Instead, I worked in the basement for a while. My reward? Another armload for the garbage and one for the recycle bin. I plan to find my book sometime today, though. I hope you will too.

March . . . you never know whether you'll find a lion-kind-of-a-day, like today, or a lamb-kind-of-a-day with sunshine and soft fragrant breezes. Either way, it's time to venture into the outdoors, to rake, to prune . . . and to plan. 
Our yard needs a lot of work in the pruning department. Overgrown lilac bushes, unnamed foliage, and budding rhododendron have merged into each other, making it too unmanageable for me to care for. Thankfully, I found an expert to help me. 

He brought his blades, cutters, and even an electric chainsaw and set to work, stopping now and again to patiently explain his recommendations. He pointed out dead branches and the places where insect borers made a perfectly round hole into the wood to get inside and cause damage. I looked on, fascinated. Needless to say, when he finished the row of lilacs, the bushes looked pretty sparse." They'll grow back healthy," he assured me. I would never have had the nerve or know-how to make those cuts, yet they will prove necessary for the long-term beauty of the plants.

As I bundled up some of the fallen branches, I couldn't help but remember the words of Jesus in John 15:  
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and . . . prunes, that it may bear more fruit. . . . Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (verses 1, 2, 4).
I've been thinking about what dead wood needs to be pruned from my life. About where the borers of faulty thinking have caused damage. How important to allow the Master Gardener to do His work. Can you relate?

So, whether the next few weeks mimic a lion or a lamb, I hope we'll both appreciate the value of a little spring pruning and remember the importance of shedding the "suckers" that hold us back from becoming fruitful and healthy.

Photos from google images

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bringing the Easter Story to Life

Are you ready for spring? I am.

Spring is coming and along with it, Easter Sunday, the wonderful time of year when we remember the significance of the resurrection of Jesus. 

How do you celebrate Easter . . . personally, as a family, in your church? What are your special traditions? A Scripture reading for each day during the week preceding Easter? Decorations? Music? Menus? I'd love for you to share what makes Resurrection Sunday meaningful to you. 

If you're seeking to emphasize the spirit and significance of Easter in a fresh way this year, allow me to introduce you to Patricia Souder. Patti is a seasoned author, and she directed the Montrose Christian Writers Conference for many years. On her website, Alpha Star Drama, she is featuring four free scripts for Easter: “Puzzled at Passover,” a monologue by Martha; “Peter the Perplexed,” a monologue by Peter; “Innocent! That Man Was Innocent!” a dialogue between Pilate and his wife, Claudia; and “Mary Magdalene at the Tomb,” a monologue about the joy of resurrection. All can be previewed by audio or by choosing “script preview” after clicking on the title.

Patti writes, "I would so love for churches and small groups to use these to bring the Easter story to life as we live in an age where fewer and fewer people know the truth about God’s incredible love." 

You can find the Easter scripts and more at Alpha Star Drama.

Easter is a short three weeks away. I hope it's a meaningful day for you and your family as you plan special ways to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. And I invite you to share a tradition or two that adds meaning to your celebration.