Recovering

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On Monday, Joe slept until 8 and Ella slept until nearly 8:30.  This was amazing to me.

On Tuesday, Joe slept until 7:30 and Ella slept until 7:40.

On Wednesday, Joe slept until 7:15 and Ella slept until I woke her up at 7:30.
Both Joe and Ella took naps.

On Thursday (today), I slept until 7:45 and then spent the next hour pushing the kids through our morning routine to get out the door by 8:45 and get Ella to school.

Why are we sleeping so late?

Perhaps because Ella’s birthday party was this past weekend and not only did she have a ton of friends over for the party, but her Granny Mac and Pop came in town from the Outer Banks and her Uncle Warren and Aunt Rachel came in from Chattanooga, TN.  We had some late nights – I don’t make her go to bed on time when we’re with Warren and Rachel because those times are special… and precious… and just don’t get to happen often enough for her.

We’re actually recovering in a lot of ways… we each find ourselves looking for the dog, too.  Just today, Ella hopped out of the car and dashed to where she could see the backyard gate and called, “MAGGIE!”  It was odd for several reasons – mostly because we rarely left Maggie outside when we weren’t home and when we did it was because it was somewhere between 65-85 degrees and she was refusing to come in.

I think of the dog whenever I’m leaving the house.  I ask myself if I shut & locked the backdoor… I haven’t touched the back door in the two weeks since she died.  No need to.  I don’t even open the blinds on the door most days because she’s not going to be out there for me to keep an eye on and if I do I have to contend with the stupid squirrel who took a week to figure out she wasn’t coming out the back door any longer.  Stupid squirrel makes me want a puppy just to scare the living poop out of it!  …Anyway…  When I get home, I think to myself that I need to let her outside and then remember that I don’t.  It makes me sad and frustrated.  I also miss having her around over night.  She was going deaf and she never was a barker, but had someone gotten close to our door at night, we would’ve known it.  She was pretty good at barking when sounds were out of place.

I’m still recovering from the death of my grandpa.  That feels wrong to put into writing.  It has been years since he passed away, but I drive past Chestnut Grove at least 5 days a week (usually in two directions) and each time I think of how much I miss him.  How much I want him to know that Jeff and I got married… and had kids.  Oh, how he would LOVE these kids.  He loved all children.  He used to hand out dollars to the kids at church.  He also handed out dollars to random kids in restaurants and such.  I’m sure it freaked some parents out, but he just genuinely loved the look of joy that a kid gets when you hand them a dollar.  Grown ups don’t get that look for less than $50.

I’m still recovering from my first marriage.  Hopefully, that doesn’t hurt feelings, but it is the truth.  I made bad decisions going in and coming out of that relationship.  In five days we would’ve been married 14 years.  Don’t think that that doesn’t freak me out.  We were only married for one.  We’d known each other exactly three months and four days between our introduction and our “I do”s.  I’d call that a bit rushed.  We were miserable from the get-go.  I walked a mile in the snow several days of my honeymoon to get to the payphone in town to call my mama.  Who calls their mama from their honeymoon?  Granted, I did call home from  my honeymoon (and each Caribbean vacation) with Jeff – but that was to reassure my mother that we hadn’t died or gotten lost during our hike or snorkeling excursion that day.  The woman is a total worry-wort and it is funny to me.  I should never have told her that time we were going over to snorkel the bay where the nurse sharks come in to have their babies.  Nurse sharks, mom… not great whites.  Anyway – I’m still recovering from that bad decision and how cold and callous I became after I’d tried everything to save it and nothing worked.  I distanced myself and became snarky… a trait that rears its ugly head with Jeff every now and then immediately reminding me where I first started developing it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be recovering from a night out with friends – though I do have to thank whomever makes the decision when a premiere is going to happen.  A year and a half ago, I stood in line PREGNANT for the midnight showing of The Hunger Games.  Tonight – we’re going to the 8:00 premiere.  I may be in bed earlier than last night (when I stayed up to watch THG on dvd).

We’re all recovering, aren’t we?  From loss, from bad decisions, from a busy weekend… 

But that is where God’s grace and provision come in.  One of my favorite scriptures is Lamentations 3:19-24

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

God’s compassions are NEW EVERY MORNING.  Praise Him!  I do not have to live my life in regret and recovery.  I can turn my bad day, my bad year, my bad decision, my bad reaction, my yelling, my slamming doors, my tears, my heartbreak, my regret, my ache, my emptiness, my affliction, my wandering, my bitterness, my desperation, my searching, my hopelessness, my need – all of it over to him and he will pour his love, his grace, his mercy all over it and make us new.  EACH.AND.EVERY.DAY.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

There is a “thing” going around on Facebook currently where you list a specific number of things people may not know about you…

I’m not sure how it started, but if you comment on someone else’s list they’ll send you a number and that number is how many facts have to be on your list.

I don’t think I can do it… Most of my life is an open book.  My entire life, I have been a sermon illustration – sometimes with my permission, most of the time without.  I was/am used to it and it really doesn’t bother me.

Back in August of 2007 (scroll through all the blog posts that I shifted over here and you’ll find the entry), I wrote about hating being a preacher’s kid.  One of my reasons was because everyone knew everything about my life – or a least thought they had the right to.

I’ve gotten over the anger you’ll read in that post – though my dad’s “early retirement” to the beach area has helped that tremendously.

Really- I rarely hide anything about myself.  Ask Amy, Ashley, or Crystal – they’ll tell you it is true.  It is one of the things that I *think* drew Jeff to me – that I’m just me and I’m pretty outgoing with it – but it is also something that we argue over from time to time.  Did you know that my husband is a very, very private individual?  Do you think he was on drugs when he decided to marry me?

As I sit here typing that I am an open book, I can think of just a few things people don’t know.

1. I cuss in my head.  It was one of the things I rebelled well in – my language.  Now, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve risked taking God’s name in vain.  That is not a commandment I have broken lightly and I feel guilty for the few times I’ve done it.  BUT, there are a couple words that flow through my brain in moments of stress that I have to fight hard to keep inside.  They slip out every now and then (I fear that one of my children will say “damn” in front of my grandmother and it will be all my fault), but it is a fight that I will keep fighting until I finally get those words tamed.

2. I’ve been married before… Now most everyone who will read this post knows this already.  But, I’ve made some new friends in the last couple years that may not know it.  I was young.  We barely knew each other.  It was the worst year of my life.  I was so depressed and so unwilling to share what I was going through.  I was the Youth Director at the church I was a member of.  I was in charge of the middle & high school kids and what on earth kind of example would it be to tell them that the marriage I rushed into was a mistake.  I went to counseling.  I got on antidepressants.  I stuck it out until he finally cleaned out our bank account and moved out.  I was broken, but I had been broken for so long that the actual end came as such a relief.

3. I started dating Jeff RIGHT.AWAY.  Again, if you’ve known me a while, you know this.  My mother was… angry is not the right word… She didn’t really speak to me for months and I was living in her house.  She wanted me to take time for myself and I just wanted to move on.  If you didn’t know the situation, you might have thought that my 1st husband and I split up because of Jeff, but that is not remotely the case.  I didn’t know Jeff knew who I was – or that he assigned any type of importance to me – until after I had announced my separation to my church.  We dated for almost 5 years before we got engaged and we got married about 5.5 years after we started dating.  Someday I’m going to post more about this – perhaps telling you more about me that you don’t know.

Well, I’m sure I might have been able to get to five, but that precious baby boy is waking up from his nap and he’s not really happy.  He rarely wakes up in a good mood.  I may come back and edit this to add more, but for now –

Are you keeping secrets?  I find that secrets make me edgy… but at least I’m not a sermon illustration on a regular basis anymore, right?

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us…

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I feel like I should sing myself this song every time that Ella frustrates me… though it doesn’t cross my mind at that moment.  I know, I know, “I’m a good mom”, “I’m doing my best”, etc… But if we’re honest – sometimes we’re not.

Sometimes we just want our kids to be quiet, behave, and let us do what we’re trying to do.

Growing up, I dreamed of being a mother.  I knew I’d rock at it because I adored kids and babysitting was so easy-peasy.  I even worked in childcare for several years – working my way up to being an assistant director in a pre-school setting. 

So why on earth is being a mother so difficult? 

Where is my creativity when it is time to decorate a turkey feather?  (Seriously – we did this tonight because it is DUE tomorrow and I’d forgotten.  I even allowed her to use – gasp – GLITTER)

Where is my excitement for I-Spy?  (Seriously – that is the worst game ever on 295 and we are forever on 295)

Where is my sense of “Who cares that all the puzzle pieces are on the floor?  Let’s play a game to find them!”  Just kidding – that chick has NEVER existed.  I hate puzzles.  I hate losing pieces or having to find pieces.  I had stepping on the pieces that have the little red knobs that make it easier for a kid to pick up the piece.

I really do love my kids, but some days I honestly do feel like running away.  Not that I would, because I’d never let their little lives leave my control.  I barely trust Jeff to watch them and do things “my way”… GREAT story on that…

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I had made plans with another couple to double date.  It didn’t work out with their sitter, but we kept Katie lined up and decided to go out to dinner ourselves.  When we got home, Katie had WONDERFULLY gotten both kids ready for bed.  I said, “Where did you find those pajamas for Joe?  I didn’t even know we had those?”They were in a drawer… who cares?  When she left, Jeff said, “So those are the wrong pajamas, right?”
They were.  But not because of any valid reason.  I really had forgotten that they existed and probably would never have found them.  Katie did a wonderful job, but I always have this odd tone to things I don’t expect with my kids. 
(I’m sorry if I offended you that night, Katie)

I bet there are lots of times when God looks down at us and sees our rebellion and our scrunched up “I don’t want to obey you” facial expressions; our disobedience and our choosing things for ourselves (his children) that he wouldn’t choose for us.  And yet – HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US…

I can’t count for you the number of times my father has referenced God’s love for us and sacrificing Jesus in his sermons… how often he’s looked a parent sitting in the congregation and asked if they would sacrifice their child for the people around them – or for a stranger.  I’ve even heard those references since becoming a parent and let me tell you – NOT A CHANCE would I allow my kids to go through what Jesus did.  And yet – HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US…

My youth minister from middle school sang this song on his CD.  I got our praise team at United to listen to it, and we added it to our list of songs we used.  Every time I have ever sung these words, I have been moved…so deeply.

“Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulder; Ashamed I hear my searing voice call out among the scoffers”
How often do we hear someone say (or perhaps we’ve said it ourselves) that if we’d lived back then, we wouldn’t have yelled “CRUCIFY HIM!”  Yet I guarantee we would – Peter denied him, John ran and hid – and they were the big dogs.

I am totally unworthy of God’s grace.  And yet, I am his child and HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR ME.
HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR YOU.  HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR ELLA.  HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR JOE.
How deep MY love for Ella…  How deep MY love for Joe…
My love can’t compare to God’s, but I can try harder.  I can pray that God brings this tune to my brain every moment I am tempted to yell, to shame, to hurt with words.

This past Monday, the Bible Study that I am a part of started Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon.  In our first video from her she talked about her shortcomings in doing Bible Study with her children.  It was funny when she told the solution, but I am seriously going to take it to heart.  She said that before her children left the confines of her van to face the day she prayed over them.
Here is a quote from her blog (dated Oct 30, 2011):

You are a man of integrity and character. You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. You will be a blessing to your teachers and a blessing to your friends. You are the head and not the tail. You are above and not beneath. You are a leader and not a follower.

Normally, I say only a few more things before sending them out the door, backpacks securely in place, to school.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

You are a man of valor.

You have the whole armour of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.

You will bless the Lord at all times and His praises shall continually be in your mouth.

Oh, that I can pray this prayer over my children every day… but I want to add “HOW DEEP IS GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU, CHILD” and then hope that it all sinks in…

P.S.  Here’s a video of the song… it isn’t Scot singing, but it is close: http://youtu.be/CYV7hpD9JTI

Here We Go Again

Well, here we go again… reminds me of a Music & Drama song (anyone?).

I’m going to blog.  I know, I know – I’ve said this in the past and haven’t made the time.  BUT, I figure that if I have time to check facebook and email, then I have time to blog.

Come back soon… there is more to come.

I know, I know… but I PROMISE this time!

My heart is heavy…

Friends, I’m sorry that it has been three weeks (and a day)… I was really on a roll there for a few, right?

I think that lately, I have just had too much on my mind.

Judgement of others’ sins has been weighing heavily on me… and I’m trying to be sure I’m walking the path God would have me walk.  A path that doesn’t mean I sit back and say nothing to a friend who is sinning because I do not want to be judgmental, but that does call me to judge for myself when to speak and when to be silent.

Personal reflection (feel free to laugh at me)…
When I was in middle school and also in my freshman year of high school it drove me CRAZY that the teens older than me at church always missed Sunday morning following their prom.  Yes, I was aware that prom usually lasted until 11:00 and that following prom was the PTA sponsored “Party All Night” that lasted until 4:00 a.m.  BUT, that put you getting home by 4:30 a.m. and if you went straight to bed, you could sleep at least four hours (depending on how close you lived to the church) and be at church in time for Sunday School at 10:00 a.m. or at the very least, be in the pew by 11:00 a.m. for church.

I never said this to any of those teens, but I ranted and raved about it at home to my mother… didn’t those teens know how important church attendance was?  Didn’t they know that if you missed church Sunday morning and Jesus returned Sunday afternoon you were going STRAIGHT TO HELL????

Well, I got to go to my first prom my sophomore year of high school.  (And Hello!  I was MADE to go to prom… I ended up attending 6(?) proms in five years.)  My date was a friend named Michael – a friend who adored me and who would’ve made a great husband some day, but I totally didn’t see that even though my mom kept insisting upon it.  We went to dinner with a huge group (10 of us) at Tobacco Company West – no longer in existence – because I loved steak and Michael convinced the other four guys to take their girls where I wanted to go.  When I couldn’t pick one dessert, he bought me FIVE so that I could taste them all.
GIRLS: IF YOU EVER GO ON A DATE WITH A GUY WHO TREATS YOU LIKE THIS…expecting nothing in return…THEN MARRY HIM THE NEXT DAY AND NEVER LET HIM GO.
We went to prom and danced and danced and danced…
Then we went to Party All Night and stayed there until 4:00 a.m.
THEN, we went to a friend’s house where we hung out until Dunkin Donuts opened at 5 or 5:30 so that we could go to Dunkin’ for breakfast together.

I dragged my butt home at 6:00 a.m. with four hours to go until Sunday School started.
I laid down to take a nap and mom woke me up when she left for church at 9:30 and told me to get my tail up and get ready.  I was in a pew at 11:00 a.m. that morning and totally understood why the teens older than me missed church the day after prom.
Note: My mom did not wake me up because I asked her to… she knew I’d beat myself up for being a hypocrite if she didn’t make sure I got up and ready for church.  I’m pretty sure she would’ve just let me sleep…
I was determined that since I was going to be judged by the ruler I used to judge others, I was going to be sure I came out on the good side.  At least for that year.

Turned out that God loved me enough to allow me a reason to be in church the next morning following all but one prom that I attended… each year something happened that meant that I was home by 1:00 a.m. with plenty of time to sleep before church… a car accident two days prior, a bad decision for prom date, being too old to party with the teens (I went as a favor to a friend of my brother’s when I was 20.  He was a senior without a date to prom and there isn’t much worse than that in high school).
Funny how God works sometimes, right?

What is really funny is that one of the areas that I still find myself being the most judgmental in is church attendance.  And it isn’t because I was expected to be in church whenever the doors were open (which I was – that meant at least one morning and two nights a week, I was in church growing up).

Church – as in corporate worship – is very renewing for me.  I look forward to Sundays with such anticipation….  Most of my closest friendships throughout my life were rooted in church.  Yes, some of those people broke my heart in very dramatic fashion, but my church family is what really got me through it.

My decision to leave my “home” church in December was one of the hardest decisions of my life.  It was far more painful than having my heart broken at 19 by a boy I knew I was destined to marry… (I still deal with bitterness about this… it was that painful).  It was far more painful than my divorce at 21.  Leaving my church was more painful than the heartbreak two years ago that started the whole ball in motion in the first place.

When I decided to leave my church, I sought advice from my only youth minister growing up.  Do you know one of the things he said to me?  The first piece of advice from him was “Don’t give up on church.”  Whoa, buddy, no chance of that!  CHURCH is where I have found the most love, the least judgement, the most support throughout my life.
The rest of that first piece of advice was “to find somewhere to chill for a while and then get slowing involved”.  If you know me well, then you know that his advice was a reference to the fact that for just over 18 months, I was extremely over-committed at church.  Some of that came out of guilt… If I didn’t do that “job”, then who would.  Some of that came out of actual servanthood.  But when you get hurt by people you love and trust in the church, you do need to take a step back and be fed for a while.

And am I getting fed where I currently am???  Yes, very much so.

But that is not why my heart is heavy.

Through the course of the last two years, I’ve seen such pain being caused BY Christians.
I know this is nothing new, but my blinders came off two years ago and what I saw broke my heart.
I’m still sorting through the effect it had on me.

Recently, a Christian friend was judged so painfully that it has really broken my heart again.
The first time she went through judgement for her sin, it was judgement in the church and in the legal system.  I found out about her sin/crime by seeing her face on the 11:00 news while out bowling with friends.  I left the bowling alley immediately and went home to wake my daddy.  I knew she would need him right then, right there.
My friend served and is STILL SERVING time within the legal system for the crime she committed.
However, her legal restrictions do not apply to church attendance or volunteering within the church.

Fellow Christians recently went after her for attending an area-wide youth event with her own child.  She was not breaking any law by doing so.  She was not coming close to breaking any law by taking her own child to this activity.
BUT because two people who saw her there knew of her past and her crime, they decided to go after her in a public forum.  No, her face is not being shown to the public as it was when her sin was first committed… but they have talked to many people about her past and about the need to bar her from being present at that type of activity – EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW FOR HER TO BE THERE.

The Separation of Church and State makes me laugh – literally!
And it is the view of “the church” that gets me laughing…
We in the corporate body of church, meeting in a building called the church, do not want the government to interfere with us in any way, shape or form, yet Christians get money they “donate” to the church back in a tax return.
We don’t want the government to tell us what we can and can’t do… unless we are being bullied by someone else and then we want government protection.
And please do not jump down my throat right now about how Christians are consistently being bullied right now – I totally agree with that.  I am expected to respect any person’s religious beliefs, but mine are not “politically correct” enough to be respected.  I feel that deeply but that isn’t my point.
We don’t want the government to tell us who can/can’t work for our church (does your church have a homosexual on staff?) BUT if we want to invoke government-imposed limits to those within our congregation, we do.

Tell you what – I am not against churches/church camps doing background checks on their volunteers.  Bring me the form, I’ll sign it now (I fill one out every single year to work at Oak Hill and, eventually, I will fill one out at Fairmount so that I’m able to volunteer there).

BUT, if you are going to CREATE legal limits to attendance at an area-wide event, you’d better be background checking every single person over the age of 18 that walks through the doors.

This is a message to the Student Ministries of Virginia… 
I served on your board for several years.  I was bullied on a regular basis because I was a woman with a voice and an opinion.  When I stepped down from the youth ministry I was running, I stepped down off your board and you didn’t have to hear the “battle ax” any longer.  Well, I’m back…
Just because one of your members knows the personal past of one adult in a sea of many, it doesn’t give you the right to move against that ONE person… especially if that person was NOT breaking ANY law set forth by the government.
You’d better cross your t’s and dot your i’s…
Are you background checking every member of every band that walks in the door?
Are you background checking the college kids in attendance representing their schools?
Are you requiring that every church that attends runs background checks on every adult they send as a chaperone?  (Because, while it has become the “norm” in the past five years, there are churches that aren’t requiring them yet.)
If an adult walks in with their child -not affiliated or registered with any church in attendance- will you have your background check form read for them to fill out at the door?

HEAR ME CLEARLY FRIENDS – I AM NOT SAYING THAT AS CHRISTIANS WE AREN’T CALLED TO BE CAUTIOUS AND TO USE GOOD JUDGEMENT (especially when it comes to our children), BUT WE NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT WHEN AND AGAINST WHOM WE DECIDE TO EXERCISE OUR JUDGEMENT.  And how many people need to be involved in our pointing out of the flaw.  What happened to going to a brother or sister face to face first?  Is going public with another Christian’s error now the way we’re supposed to do it?
CHRISTIANS TEND TO GET COMFORTABLE UP IN OUR HIGH IVORY TOWERS OF FOLLOWING JESUS….

In the fall of 1996 when I entered Roanoke Bible College as a freshman, Bill Griffin told us something I will NEVER forget.  He said that we needed to be ON THE ALERT for Satan…
He said that we needed to be very careful about feeling “safe” because we were on a Bible College campus.  He asked us where we thought Satan was the hardest at work… out in “the world” or in a place full of people professing God’s name and calling themselves “Christ followers”.  Let me tell you, the MOMENT we let our guard down and start to feel safe enough to pass judgement on others, Satan is going to come after us with everything in his arsenal.

That girl I talked about at the beginning of this post – the one who sat in judgement of teens who missed church after prom… well, she still lives inside of me and I work HARD to keep her in check.
I struggle every day with how best to share the loving side of God without forgetting to share the HOLY side of God, too.  But I’m working on it.

There is such a thing as “righteous judgement”, but that isn’t judgement coming from any human being.
Righteous judgement comes from GOD and GOD ALONE.

We, as Christians, are called to a three part mission: (1) To love the Lord our God with our heart, our soul, and our mind (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37); (2) that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39); and (3) that we are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).


I pray daily for the strength to live up to this mission of loving the world unto Christ.
It is a big job, but it is my *only* job as a Christ-follower.


If I am going to stand in judgement of anyone – a criminal, a liar, a cheater, a gossip, a God-hater, one who is disobedient, a homosexual, the senseless, the faithless, the heartless, the proud – than I’d better be sure that GOD has my back.. and that I’m not just trying to BE GOD.

Father, watch over me today… watch over my steps and help me walk where you lead me.
Watch over my family… keep them faithful to YOU.
Lord, keep me in line so that I don’t start to believe that I “represent” you… so that I don’t believe that I AM you.  Thank you for your forgiveness… for your grace… for your mercy.
Let me be the person who personifies your love and leaves you to judge.
Help me see that if I bring a friend to love YOU, YOU will bring to light the sins in their life that need addressing.  In the moment I feel that you are prodding me to address a sin in a friend’s life, let me be sure to pray first and be sure it is YOU prodding me and not pride… then give me the words to go about talking to them using Your Word as a guide and not just the world’s guidelines.
The more I learn about you, Father, the more deeply I love you.
Lead me where you would have me go and give me the strength and courage to follow.
In your son’s saving name, Amen.

Easter and all its trappings

Growing up, Warren and I had a very “Preacher’s Kid” type of Easter.  Some of those Sundays I remember vividly… mostly they run together.

I know that we always had a sunrise service and back in the 80s, this service started BEFORE sunrise so that you could actually WATCH the SUN RISE as you were meeting together.  Parham Hills (the church we grew up in) had this service OUTSIDE unless it was actually raining.  As PKs I remember getting there early (like really early) to help set up the chairs and such.
We dragged the sound system out (once we had one) so that there could be special music… this might be where I fell in love with Sandi Patty’s “Was It A Morning Like This”.  What better way to hear that song than being outside on Easter morning.

Then, we did some sort of breakfast.  Early on, I seem to remember going and picking breakfast up with my mom and bringing it back to church.  We had Opening Exercises (pledge, etc) at 9:50, Sunday School at 10 and church at 11 so there was no reason to go home after Sunrise Service.  Eventually, I think we started having some sort of breakfast at the church on that morning, but it may have just been donuts and coffee.

Parham Hills also had these fabulous wooden cribs that were built as one unit.  I can’t adequately describe them and I don’t have a picture, but they were such sturdy things that I’m sure one of the men in the church built them instead of buying baby cribs.  Once people had gone home after the Sunrise Service (the non-preacher’s family people), Warren and I often slept in the cribs.  I remember having to curl up into a ball to fit in one, but I still napped in them until PHCC relocated the nursery and those cribs were no longer.

Here is what I have NO RECOLLECTION of from my childhood Easters… getting an Easter Basket.

I know that we did… I remember the candy and such, but I have no memory of waking up to find them or coming home from church to find them.
So I called my mom and asked her about this.  Turns out, we got our Easter baskets on Saturday.
Apparently she had an arrangement with the Bunny that since we weren’t home on Easter morning, and he was too busy to bring our baskets to church, he’d just swing them by the day before.  She says the we had “Easter Saturday” and “Resurrection Sunday”.  (Christians still call Easter Sunday Resurrection Sunday).

Hmm…

This year was our 4th Easter with Ella.  The first we just dressed her up pretty and took her to church.
Oh, we DID get a picture with the Easter Bunny that year, too.

2009:
 
2010
Ella’s second Easter, she got a farm set from the Bunny (instead of a basket) and also got all dolled up for church.

  

2011
Last year, she got her first Easter basket as well as getting dolled up for church.
 

 But this year, something was nagging at me.  She needed to start to understand the REAL meaning of Easter.  Not that spending time with family isn’t great… or that getting candy and treats in a cute basket isn’t fun… but that isn’t the meaning behind Easter.  I needed to start my own tradition with her that will help teach her that Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead… the other stuff is fun extras and not what is important.

2012

As I sat on the sofa with Jeff on Sunday morning waiting for Ella to wake up to get her baskets I agonized over how I could make this year be the start of putting Jesus first in our Easter and not having Him seem like an after thought.  Suddenly, a God-inspired thought crossed my mind.  We had gotten her the Jesus Storybook Bible not too long ago and she really loves the stories in it – every single one has Jesus in the story, even those from the Old Testament.  So, when I heard her waking up, I jumped up and ran to her room, pulled the book off her shelf and we read the story about Jesus rising and the tomb being empty.

She even let me take the picture of her holding the book open to the picture of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Thank you GOD for giving me this thought.  We WILL read the story of the resurrection on Easter morning before leaving the bedroom… this WILL be our new family tradition so that we’re sure that JESUS comes FIRST.

Now, girl did get her baskets… one from her Great-Aunt Carla and one from the Bunny-dude (on whose lap she will not sit)…

Most of Bunny-basket is spread out; package in middle from her Granny Mac (a book) and basket from Carla on bottom right with lots of candy in it.  Glad that bunny didn’t include any candy in the one he gave her!!!
And then, we set off for church… 
This year was different.  We weren’t at the church I grew up at where all the kids would get together for group pictures on Easter…
Back row: Jeff Crenshaw, Pam Walls Strong, Lisa Walls Harford, and (little) David Felts
Front row: Robert Mason, Billi Jo Walls Byers, Arressa Mason Hudson, John Felts, and ME

And we weren’t at the church where Ella was born… where the people have been more like family and not just “church friends”…

Thad, Charlotte, & Troy Rich with Ella – 2010

 This year, we were at our “new” church.  We’ve been attending Fairmount Christian Church since January 1, 2012.  It has been quite a change.  Ella’s class has 10-15 kids in it on Sunday morning and she’s in a little choir for kids ages 3-early 4.  Jeff and I have found a Sunday Night small group that we really enjoy.  It is strange to walk into church each week and not know most of the people… but we’re really liking it there.
We even took a picture in front of the living cross on Easter morning – a tradition for families at FCC.

Change is hard… and God knows that.  Jesus went through changes – from Heavenly to Human… from perfect to sin-filled (our sin… not His).  But change brings growth and I believe that this Easter, I grew more as a Christian than I have in years past.  This year, I was able to focus on Christ and the message brought by Rick.  In the past couple of years, I’ve been so “busy” at church that my focus had shifted.

I pray that God will continue molding me through the changes life brings.
I pray that the tradition started this year, reading the Resurrection Story on Resurrection Sunday, will be one that I will not only make last, but that it will be passed on to Ella.

Granted, I am not passing on the exact same traditions that my parents created with us.  After all, I couldn’t remember when or where we got our Bunny Baskets.   

But isn’t that in itself a testimony to my parents keeping the focus where it should have been on Resurrection Sunday?
Where was YOUR focus this past Sunday?  
Where is your focus this coming Sunday?
If you don’t have a place to worship, I invite you to come to Fairmount and worship with us.  
The church is located immediately off I-295 on Creighton Road.  
Here is the physical address:  6502 Creighton Road  Mechanicsville, VA 23111
The sermons are real and the people are wonderful.
I just pray that when Ella is 34, she remembers more about Jesus than about the bunny…

In case you missed it on facebook…

We are indeed having a boy…
This is bringing about some mixed emotions.
Don’t get me wrong – I stand firmly in the camp of “any baby is a blessing”.
I was just SO SURE I was pregnant with a girl.
Funny the way things work… the first time I was pregnant all I wanted was a boy.
When they said “It’s a Girl”, I was in shock and made them check again.
(We have two picture’s of The Speck’s man-parts because I reacted similarly this time)
Ella is thrilled…
She told me this afternoon (we’ll nearly squealed at me) that she was SO EXCITED to help me out with her baby brother.  This is much better than how I reacted when asked if I wanted my mom to have a boy or girl.  I was nearly 4 (or barely 4) and replied that if my mom had a boy, I would “throw him out into the street on his head and let a big-rig truck run over him.”  I’m pretty sure that is a direct quote.
She had a boy:
I like him much better than I thought I would…
though the years he was in middle and high school I’m pretty sure I didn’t like him much.
I adore him now…
Some of my sadness is that we came up with an adorable girl’s name that we love (not going to share that publicly).  It was a nod to two females that have had/still have great meaning in our lives.
Anyway, to keep myself positive about adjusting to the opposite sex, I’m telling myself that Ella and The Speck will now be so incredibly special just the way I was to my granddad.
You see, my aunt had two boys herself and then my mom had me.
Then, my aunt married my uncle and became the mama of FOUR BOYS.
Then, my mom had Warren.
 
My granddad (who we called Dad, but that seems to confuse people) would always pull me aside, telling me he had a secret that I couldn’t tell anyone else.  Then, he’d tell me that I was his FAVORITE granddaughter.
I’d laugh and remind him that I was his ONLY granddaughter… but it never cheapened how much I meant to him.
Rocking Ella the other night, I realized that if this baby ended up being a boy, then she would be and would remain my favorite daughter… and that The Speck would be my favorite son.
If this baby was a girl, that distinction wouldn’t be allowed or maybe even possible.
 
So I’m thanking Heaven for little boys… with all their snips and snails and puppy dog tails
(J.J. did guess that I was having a puppy…)
So, you must be wondering, “if they dyed an egg blue… did they dye an egg pink just in case?”
We did!
Actually, we dyed three egg pink (It’s – A – Girl) and three eggs blue (It’s – A – Boy),
but Maggie was left unattended in the house (while the blue “Boy” egg was getting dyed) and managed to snag the blue “It’s” and blue “A” and eat them both (including most of the shell… 
her gas was already bad – now, you can just imagine).
So, the green eggs got dyed late last night.
We have had three pink eggs.
I had an egg salad sandwich for lunch today…
I’ll eat the third one another day…