Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week, Easter, and Loving My Church

This is a reprint from 2012.  I wanted to share why the recognition of Holy Week at my church means so much to me - and I also invite you to come and experience our Holy Week services.


I love Easter.  On the church calendar, it is my favorite holiday.  Chances are that you know the basics of the Easter story- Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, died, was buried in a tomb, and rose from the dead on the 3rd day.  We celebrate that day as Easter Sunday.

It carries a lot of reasons to celebrate and be joyful!

However, there is a church service, a recognition that happens prior to Easter.  Holy Week is filled with recognition of things that happened in that last week of Christ's life.  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

I haven't attended Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services in several years.  I don't have anything against them.

It's too emotional for me.

As a teen, when I really began to understand the events that lead up to and the crucifixion of Jesus, it became a very emotional story for me.  Learning about the whipping, the struggle of carrying the cross, the hatred of the people, the cruelty of crucifixion as a death sentence... the darkness of all of it has been hard for me to think about.

In 2004, I attended a Good Friday service at my church (The Promise United Methodist Church).  It was my first time visiting the church but I went because a friend was singing at the service and I wanted to support him.

5 days later, I miscarried my first pregnancy.

Somehow, all of the emotion of Good Friday tied in with that miscarriage experience and I have avoided Good Friday ever since.

Until this year.

Over the past year or so, I've been blessed to find myself in some leadership roles in my church.  I have given the sermon, I'm leading a ministry, I teach Sunday School, I'm helping to lead worship on our Praise Team, and more.  If there is something I really can't do, I say no.  Most of the time, I feel like a quick prayer lets me know if this is an important opportunity that God is bringing to me.

Early last week, our Associate Pastor (and my friend) called to ask if I would participate in the Scripture readings in the Good Friday Tenebrae service.  *gulp*

It's a beautiful service.  We sing "Were You There," our pastor gives a meditation/message, and then 4 of us read parts of Scripture that told the story of Good Friday.  There is a brief singing response after each reading as a candle on the alter is extinguished.

My last reading was the second to last passage to be read.  It is after Jesus has died and the soldiers come to break the legs of those hanging in order to speed up their death.  When it is discovered that he is already dead, they pierce his side.

I was nervous about reading this passage.  It's pretty emotional.  That's some crazy brutality, you know?  They aren't dying fast enough as they slowly suffocate on a cross where they are hanging by their hands and feet so let's break their legs so they die faster.  Oh- he's already dead so let's put a gash in his side so that he bleeds.

I stepped up to read.  And I cried as I read it.

When service was over, I left quickly.

I wasn't embarrassed.  But I wanted to be alone in that grief.  Selfishly, I wanted privacy in the pain I felt as I looked back on the incredible sacrifice made for me.

As I drove home, I contemplated my emotional display.  My hope is that the honesty of what I feel on Good Friday will come through to someone in a different way.  Perhaps they hadn't thought of the humanity of the story.  Perhaps it had always been just a story.

But what I took from it was that God called on me to do something outside of my comfort zone, to step outside of my self.  I know it seems like I'm great at talking in front of people, being confident, willing to do anything.  But the things I do for and with my church family are very serious to me.  This was a big step- to take something I've held as very intimate and personal, something that has been my own private mourning and grief- and share it with my church family.  I was nervous.  But there was a reason that I was asked and a reason why the emotion poured out.  I may not know the reason- maybe it was for me, maybe it was for someone else.

And Sunday?  When Jesus conquered death and returned to life?  My celebration, my joy was easy to share!

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I like to joke about being egotistical.  I do like and love myself.  I no longer struggle with tons of self doubt, sel loathing, and a total lack of self confidence.  Such a weight off my entire being.

I'm known to crack jokes about how awesome I am.  I do so in the company of people who know me well enough to know that I'm kidding around.

Confidence is something that just kind of happens for me.  Doesn't mean I don't get nervous.  I certainly do.  But my faith and my general outlook on life help keep nerves in check.  I simply do the things I am called to do with the best purpose and intention behind them.

I say all of that to say that I think I could list a lot of my strengths pretty easily.

But my weaknesses?  That's a little more challenging.

I could easily list my food weaknesses.  My affection for cool ranch doritos, brownie mix, nutella, and more are almost legendary - at least in my mind.

I sometimes feel like I'm lazy.  Some people who know me scoff when I say that.  But I am lazy when it comes to housework.  When it comes to exercise.

I sometimes struggle with gossip.  Sometimes I do talk about people with love and concern.  But sometimes it's just to talk.

What about weaknesses that aren't character based?

If my husband were to pop a piece of Big Red gum in his mouth and then grab me and kiss me... I wouldn't be able to resist.

When my son looks at me with his Big Brown Eyes... I completely melt.

When my daughter shows that she is more independent and responsible... my heart flutters in my chest.

I don't think that weakness has to be a bad thing.  We tend to hear that word and immediately go to character flaws, problems, lack of something.

There is an exercise mantra that says, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  And I suppose that's true.  In a physiological sense, as the muscle is worked it tears slightly in order to build up.  Pain creates strength.  Strength being the opposite of weak.

But then I think about my husband's kiss, my son's eyes, my daughter's heart.  And if something dreadful were to happen to one of them... when they struggle or face hard times... I feel pain.  It takes on a different meaning.

What are your weaknesses?

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Confidence and Colors

We've had an interesting learning experience with Zach in the past few weeks.

His kindergarten class uses a color system for behavior.  You start on green.  You can go up to purple.  Or you can go down - to blue, then yellow, then orange, then red.  It takes many warnings and continued bad choices to move down the scale.  Green is ideal, blue is fine.  Purple is impressive.

My son has been putting a lot of pressure on himself and this color system has fed it.

Through our choices and his perceptions... anything lower than green was, in his mind, unacceptable.  Disappointing.  Not good enough.

But because he was putting all this pressure on himself over these colors... he was acting out in the classroom more.  Calling out answers instead of waiting to be called on.  Rough housing with a friend.  That sort of thing.

We started to become concerned when we were consistently seeing blue on his chart instead of green.  A blue day here and there is understandable.  But it was 3-4 out of 5 days.  He would be fine when he cam ehome but when we would check his folder to see his chart... or once we got to bedtime... he would have an angry meltdown and didn't want anyone to sit with him, touch him, or talk to him.  So we were giving him his space.

But one night... I'd had it.  And he started into his angry fit at bedtime and I decided that I wasn't going to give him his space and time.  We were going to figure it out and force our way through it together.

And eventually some very important words came from him.

"I don't even deserve blue! I should be on yellow!"

Whatever was going on with him... he'd entered into this cycle on this behavior stuff.  And he knew he wasn't doing his best but he was deciding to not care while he was at school and then all that bottled up feelings of making bad choices and trying to act like he was fine with it... would explode at night at home.

I told him that from that point forward, we didn't care if he had a purple or green or blue day.  That how his day goes at school based on a color isn't how we determine that we love him.  To us, he is all the time shiny and sparkly gold.  That our expectation isn't that he has a green day - our expectation is that he is kind to others and he tries his best.  We all have off days, bad days, awesome days, normal days.  A color doesn't decide that you're a good person or not.  In our house, you simply are good.  Loved.  Nurtured.

That was just over a week ago.  And his behavior at school has turned around.  He's on green most days and has even landed on purple twice.  And we don't pay attention to it unless he shares it with us.  We see his chart because it's there in his folder but we don't talk about it unless we're giving a high five for getting that purple day (it is hard to accomplish).

But I remind him that he is always shiny gold to us.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Monday, April 14, 2014

Then, By Golly, I...

My mom and I heard the kids in the other room...

Left, left!
Left, right, left!

We looked at each other and smiled and said...

First they hired me!
Then they fired me!
Then by golly I...
Left! Left!
Left, right, left!

Then a wonderful thing happened.

My mom taught the little rhyme to my kids.  Teagan had a short struggle to understand what it meant but was having fun saying it.  And then came the gem...

Grandma, who taught you that?

My mom!

My grandma taught it to my mom.  My mom taught it to me.  And now it's been taught to my kids, too.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Friday, April 11, 2014

Menu Plan: April 14

Monday - pot roast.  I plan to make it with a can of tomato soup and a packet of onion soup mix.  We do our veggies in a foil pouch on top of the meat or just cook them separately (so easy to zap a bag of peas and boil some small potatoes).

Tuesday - Chicken Nachos.  I have a meeting Tuesday evening so a quick and easy favorite dinner will be a hit.  This is a staple - and rotisserie chicken is on sale at our local store this week.  We cut up the chicken, put a layer of chips on a foil lined cookie sheet, put chicken on each chip, sprinkle with cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese melts.

Weds - Normally we would have church but this is Holy Week and the church isn't having our weekly gathering.  My group is still meeting so we can walk, though!  So we might just grab a pizza for dinner that night.  We have a coupon for Hot Box and I am a fan of this pizza with pesto and artichokes and broccoli!

Thursday - Chicken nuggets and ranch roasted potatoes.  This was a big hit with the kids last time.

Friday - BBQ Chicken sandwiches, fries.  We found a BBQ sauce that isn't too spicy and has decent ingredients.  And we use King's Hawaiian Rolls for the bread.  And I'll do some homemade fries - cut up potatoes and pan fry them, I think.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Some parenting wisdom that I've heard over the years is that when you let your child do a task, let them do it and then be done.  If you come along behind them and "fix it," they will see that as their way not being good enough.  It's an undermining type of move.

Sometimes life hands you a wonderful example of those bits of wisdom.

Teagan rarely lets me brush her hair.  She's not girly about hair at all.  She wants to brush it, pull it into a ponytail and be done.  She likes growing her hair longer because of the convenience of that ponytail.  On rare occassions, she will let me blow it dry, style it, or maybe use a curling iron or something.

One morning this week, she asked if she could brush my hair for me.

I couldn't say no.  And I enjoyed her hands working through my hair, the brush finding the tangles and pulling through.  It was a sweet moment.

And then she asked if she could do my hair for me.


I had to go to work that day.  It's not like we were just hanging around the house.  I had no idea what she was going to do.  I'm not really particular about my hair.  But I do have some guidelines I like to follow.

Do it.  That parenting voice in my gut said... Do it.

And she gave me her signature hairdo - loose ponytail and a headband.

More than the loose ponytail, she gave me special moments together.  She gave me gentleness and compassion and care.  And I gave her confidence and control and responsibility.

Seems like a fair trade, right?

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Whale of a Sale - Presale GIVEAWAY!

The spring Whale of a Sale children’s consignment event will take place May 2 & 3 once again at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Ag/Hort Building. More than 500 consignors will bring 55,000 items and six football fields worth of children’s clothing in the 48,000 square-foot building! New and gently-used upscale children’s and maternity items are offered at a fraction of retail cost.

Started in 2009, Whale of a Sale takes place each spring and fall. Due to the increased popularity and tremendous turnout over the years, the event moved from Carmel to Indianapolis last year, doubling its size. Two public shopping days and two private pre-sale days accommodate thousands of customers.

The event features popular brands such as Gymboree, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Janie and Jack, Peg Perego, Graco, Fisher Price, Pottery Barn Kids and many more. Shoppers can expect to find upscale spring and summer clothing, toys, furniture, bedding, accessories, bikes, outdoor toys, maternity and a variety of area vendors.

Admission is FREE. (Fairgrounds parking is $5.) Public sale hours are Friday, May 2 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Many items are half price on Saturday. 


Are you a bargain hunter?  Love a good consignment shop or sale?  Then you don't want to miss the Whale of a Sale at the Indiana State Fairgrounds May 2-3!!

With the coupon above, you can shop on Thursday, May 1.

And if you enter my giveaway, you could win 2 presale passes to shop the event on Weds, April 30 from 5:00-8:00!  (Parking is $5)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be selected on Monday, April 14.  This is a sponsored post.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg