Thankful for what Easter means to me.

Just wheat

When I was in Beijing as a college student, I took the dirtiest bath ever.

After spending three weeks in a smaller city in Shandong Province working on ESL skills with college students and other community members, the group I traveled with spent three days in the nation’s capital, climbing the Great Wall, walking through the once forbidden gate of the Forbidden City, meeting Alanis Morissette in the gift shop, and other interesting touristy things.

But the best part about our final three days in China each year? The first long, hot bath I took in our lovely hotel.

After staying in a smaller city and in a nice but simple hotel for three weeks, the luxury of hot water at all hours of the day and night overwhelmed me. Our rooms in the simpler hotel were not really “roughing it” by Chinese standards. We had hot water for one…

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What does EASTER mean to you?

*Much thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

E is for eggs we deco-ra-ted,

A is for all of them to hide.

S is for children who were see-king,

T is for the tots who find the most.

E is for extra help from Mommy,

R is running back when you are done.

Put them all together, they spell EA-STER, a word that for the kids means fun!

 

CrossAnd, of course, the other way to look at Easter would be, the Resurrection.  There is no question that I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice on the cross that was made for me, and all humanity, by the Son of God, Jesus.  Although I know, and He knew, that He was part of a Greater Plan, I cannot presume to even minutely grasp the suffering He endured to bring that plan to Perfect Fulfillment , nor as a mother, can I even begin to comprehend the anguish that Mary bore during that terrible, but fateful time, as she watched her son perish, in Absolute Submission and Perfect Obedience for the cause that He was sent to earth to accomplish.

I am grateful that Jesus rose again, and that He lives among us still.  I am grateful for the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us, testifies of Christ, leads us, strengthens us, encourages us, and intercedes for us.

I am grateful that the Power of God is Ultimate, Omnipotent, and Final.

I am grateful for my generous and childless great-aunt Dean who cared enough to pick me up to go to church with her when I was younger, then bring me home again, so that I might come to know these things, and therefore have the opportunity to begin a personal relationship with Him.

I am grateful for the many followers who loved and cared for Jesus while He lived and walked among them on this earth.  I am so grateful for the love that God gives to me, as His child, the care that he extends because I am His, and the ‘peace of God that passeth all understanding’… (Phillipians 4:7) because I belong to Him — all possible because of the selfless and hallowed supremacy of Jesus Christ my Lord.

At this season, and always, let us truly remember the price that was paid for our everlasting spiritual freedom, the cost of which can never be measured by mortal description.  Hallelujah!  He arose!

 

The bunny

*Big thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest writer!*

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

Photo by Phoopla Photography, 2010

One of my earliest memories as a child is of eating a big meal and looking outside the single-pane windows in wonderment, wondering if the Easter Bunny had hopped his way into our back yard to leave some decorated boiled eggs for us.  I loved peeling away the plastic coating to get to the oh-so-awesomeness of the boiled eggs.  And if one was so lucky, he might find a plastic egg that parted to reveal silly putty, Cadbury eggs, or cotton tails (white cheddar popcorn balls).

It never occurred to me what Easter really meant.  And while you’re thinking to yourself, “Wonderful, it’s Easter..and I get to read a blog about Jesus.”  You’re probably right, but you have to read on to find out.

I gave up sweets for Lent this year so for the first time I am without the comfort of a quick sugar crush from my afternoon Twizzlers.  I never realized how much sweets were a part of my life.  While I have lost 11 pounds since this Lent fast, it wasn’t the reason I gave up sweets – I wanted to really feel emptiness.  I wanted to feel pain.  Call me crazy, but if it doesn’t hurt, then it’s not working.  Don’t go calling some mental health hotline; I’m not a cutter or anything like that.  I have a tough exterior, so it’s gotta hurt to count.

That emptiness that sweets left has been filled with a clearer mind for physical fitness.  I’ve joined a health club, I’ve eaten more micro nutrient-rich foods, and I’ve used my Xbox 360 Kinect more.  As a side effect to giving up sweets, I’ve focused on my own personal health.

Now when Easter comes and everybody is settled home, I will absolutely stuff my face with that Valentine’s Day candy that has been waiting in the cupboard screaming out my name.  And I’m going to drown myself in the best banana split this side of the Mississippi Railroad.  But I will never forget one thing:  That Easter Bunny really was up to a lot of mischief.  But I’m thankful for him instilling into me a love of sweets, so i could experience the void and bring myself closer to my body, God’s Temple, being in much better shape.

Maybe this was about Jesus after all.  Happy Easter everybody!

My favorite WhINES

*Today’s humorous post about that terrible tendency to whine comes from one of our regular and beloved guest writers, Debra Dickey-Liang. Thanks for the post, Debra, and for reminding me to appreciate the finer things in life (all the blessings) rather than critique the things that bother me.*

Did a double-take, didn’t you?

Yes, I’ve determined that I indubitably do have a strong selection of favorite, personal, and very timeless WhINES!  A connoisseur, if you will.

Lamentable for me is Daylight Savings Time – changing the time, and rising an hour earlier for work doesn’t seem to tax anyone else that I’ve had a conversation with, but for some reason, my body, mind and stomach struggle, at the very minimum of two weeks, attempting to make this transition, while in the meantime, my appetite, as well as my animals, are completely confused.  Great!  One more hour during which I’m expected to be productive. ( :   Truly, a remarkable little WhINE, don’t you think?

And recently after working outside for three days of my vacation, in the beautiful weather, pulling weeds, raking leaves, re-potting, cleaning, and hauling debris, I was reminded of one of the more timid, yet notable WhINEs that I tend to keep in stock– the huge amount of yard work, weed-eating, and water maintenance that will be required during the months of tormenting heat, just to attempt to keep up with what I finally did get accomplished — for the whole summer long.  The first time around is manageable and rewarding, but I’m surely not looking forward to the continued aesthetic demands – why can’t it just stay that way!?  Would that classify as a blush, maybe a rose?

Another fine, yet robust WhINE in my depository is a specialty that I acquire only during this point in the semester with regard to my summer tasks.  As May approaches, faster rather than slower now, June, July, and August become an apprehensive anticipation at my desk.  Contrary to the vacation plans that most folks schedule for some R & R during the summer, those months are actually the busiest and the most potentially overwhelming days that I experience, with reference to the persistent challenges and perpetual changes of incoming freshman students!  Housing, letters, orientation, certificates, handbooks and more, all culminating with an event for over 250 students, the biggie, the ceremony….. all that is Matriculation!  Somehow, some way, it all gets done, and to my relief, astonishingly well, but frankly, reviewing my task lists always dampens the enthusiasm for what others refer to as ‘enjoying the summer break.’  Bon aperitif, coming up —

Genie-BottleAnd then there is the universally known brand that I always have on hand, a most illustrious renowned WhINE , one which I am sure that you are all familiar with — housework.  Ugh.  ( :  These days, I admit to that being one of the least favorite chores in my quiver. Because my trusty genie has apparently escaped – and who could blame her – cleaning continually gets lower and lower on the totem pole, whilst I watch the dust accumulating and longingly wish for a self-cleaning abode!  Vintage, yes?   

Too cold, too hot, too dark, too something— seems all these are just a few of the more preeminent WhINEs from my personal collection that are decanted with a carousel theme, week after week, year after year.  Quite distinguished, and completely predictable little WhINEs they are, actually!    I am certain that ‘gifting’ these WhINEs to anyone reading this would be inappropriate, so it is needful to just make fun of myself and admit that I have a WhINE penchant. . . .   Famous Grouse?  Yes, that’s me.  Too often, I moan and groan, benignly of course, but certainly not the right attitude or a model trait for one who so desires the presence of, and to be filled with, the Spirit of God!

So let me remember:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Okay I’ll work on giving up WhINEs , and focus on, uh-oh, what’s that, an empty genie bottle . . . it just might work for it – yes!  . . . . plain ole W INE!    Oh man, I’ve got so much stuff to do . . .

Thankful for the ability to be where my hands are, just for today.

Just wheat

peterpan66gm1I feel like Captain Hook every day.

I hear the tick tock of an invisible clock, and at times, it’s nearly audible. When I’m nursing my baby, and she decides to turn meal time into play time, I hear the ticking, telling me that there are three people waiting for me to return their calls and emails. When I’m checking my newsfeed on Facebook and take a moment to “like” my friend’s photo of her adorable, chunky toddler playing with his new tractor, I hear the clock ticking, tying strings to the index fingers of my mind, reminding me of the stack of homework and bills atop my desk.  When I’m reading poems by T.S. Eliot (which, by the way, I’m still proposing be removed from the list of American classics), I hear the clock ticking, reminding me of the stack of laundry waiting to be folded.

The clock is…

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Accurate to within 11,000 years

*Big thanks to my friend Debra Dickey-Liang for writing today’s post and taking some of the stress of life away in such a humorous way.*

While reading some interesting news articles the other day about the most recent pyramid discoveries in Sedeinga, Sudan, and, ‘New evidence suggests comet or asteroid impact was last straw for dinosaurs’, it was noted (within the asteroid information) that the BGT scientists were “dating tektites from Haiti, analyzing them using a calibrated argon-argon technique to determine how long ago the impact occurred.  The tektite results agreed with recalibrated previous data but were more precise”  [UC Berkley study].  Now all that is somewhat technically comprehensive; however, the sentence following that is the one that grabbed my attention:  The new extinction data is precise to within 11,000 years.”  Can that be??  I love it!

timeHmm… a ‘grace period’ of 11,000 years!  Wow!  As one who lives during the days of ‘being on time’, ‘everything down to the wire’, ‘the eleventh hour’, ‘not enough time in the day’, ‘programmed to the minute, ‘statistics and data’, ‘accuracy counts’, etc. etc. etc., . . . .  what’s 11,000 years, right?!?

We are compelled to predicate our lives by minutes, hours, days, weeks and months — go to work, pay our bills, plan for college, raise our children, balance the budget, add columns of numbers, execute events….. so how nice would it be to get it almost right, say, I don’t know, within 11,000 years?   I must have been having ‘one of those days’, because for some reason, it just tickled my funny bone!

Believe me, in no way am I minimizing the breakthroughs that those scientists are making; however, on this particular day it just so happened that that the timing statement struck me as hilarious and inspired a comical moment for me.  In these days of deadlines, coming in early/working late, trying to do four and five things at once to get it all done, juggling work, family, and personal responsibilities every day, I just thought to myself, “How fun would it be to not worry if you got everything necessary accomplished, today, or this week, this month, or even this year.  Heck, I have the luxury of 10,999 years to figure that out and get it right — plenty of time, no problem!  Your appointment?  Why, I have you on the schedule in 5,681 years– did you need something today??  ( :

As a facilitator myself, I will admit that there are days when I have surely felt “off my game” by about 11,000 years! So I am one of the most grateful of folks when I can communicate and coordinate with those able persons who are precise and able to keep me on track!  I truly, truly appreciate them and their competence!  The other reason I am most grateful for them is because I thoroughly comprehend the hours and days that have been invested in order to do their job well, with character, and to such a degree and element of quality.  Because I, too, am that daily ‘voice’ of assistance. I regularly recognize it in others.  Therefore I take this opportunity to extend my especial gratitude and profound thanks for everyday encounters with those extraordinary artisans, who perform chivalrous, benevolent, and meaningful roles which add value to the lives of the people they interact with, on time and precise, most certainly without the benefit or advantage of an 11,000 year margin for error!

I need to work on that!   “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  [II Peter 3:8]    Maybe that’s it.  I like it!

 

 

BFFs

2 sweet 2 B 4 gotten.

LYLAS.

BFFs.

Remember those notes between friends back in the 80s? I have a collection of them between me and my best friend, MeLissa.

Just being ourselves, circa 2004 maybe

Just being ourselves, circa 2004 maybe

My friend MeLissa and I have been friends for forever. We met in first grade at Rose Hill Elementary School in Rose Hill, Kansas. We rode the same bus for a while, but I’m  not sure if that’s how we became friends or not. All I know is that before long, we were begging our parents to let us have slumber parties together, making board games together out of big sheets of butcher paper, and practicing our gymnastics skills in the yard.

At first glance, we’re not really that similar. MeLissa is quieter than I am, more introspective, and more likely to listen than talk. She prefers the background rather than the limelight, and anyone who knows me knows that I have an extra large ham bone somewhere inside me. When we met, MeLissa lived with her dad in a nice, suburban neighborhood. My family lived in a trailer park, and we were on welfare. But despite all our differences, we managed to create countless fun memories together.

After my family moved out of state, I was worried I would lose my best friend. On the contrary, we became closer. We began writing letters. Real letters, on actual stationary and notebook paper, that required envelopes and postage stamps. In the days before email and Facebook, we kept in touch the old-fashioned way, and it worked. Through the awkward years of junior high, the trials of hormonally charged high school years, and the exuberance and adventures of college, we kept on writing. We’ve tried to be there for each other for the most important times, good and bad. We’ve laughed with one another and cried together, too. We’ve prayed for each other.

I’m beyond grateful for my best friend because of the joy, comfort, encouragement, and sense of calm our relationship brings to my life. I know I can pick up the phone, after not talking to her for six months, and start right where we left off without any pauses or awkward silences. There’s something to be said for forever friends. I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.

I love you, MeLissa. Happy birthday and hope your day is filled with that contagious laughter I love hearing every time I talk to you.