Whilst Every Day is Saturday

I had the privilege of knowing Ann Absalom during the brief 4 years I lived in Japan where she led a bible study at our international church.  Back in our home countries, we reconnected over Facebook about a year ago.  I came across these words she posted this past Saturday just before Easter and she gave me permission to share them here . . .

I have been thinking about Easter – how it is not really ‘good’ Friday until Sunday – how we won’t really, truly know until we see Him face to face on our resurrection day. Meanwhile we wait and we hope – we live in the in between – we have His promises that we have been born again, that heaven is waiting – that it is glorious, that He is there now preparing a place for us. We are given tasters of joy and peace by His Spirit who lives within us but the tasters are found amidst a life that is often difficult and hard, relentless and tiring. We are asked to trust His Word that He will rise on the third day and that we will rise with Him and we are encouraged to put our trust in that – to believe that He is now – in the time between Friday and Sunday – causing all things to work together for our good, that He is for us and that in the end we really will rise with Him and live for eternity in a place without pain and sorrow and tears.

Hollyhocks

 

But it is all unseen, it is a confident hope, but hope nonetheless. That is what makes it faith – that is what makes it so difficult for those who need to see and touch and taste and feel.

It is still Saturday and the voices along our path cry out on the darkest days ‘really, are you sure – wouldn’t it be easier simply to stop and give in? The voices cause us to ask ‘why me’ and to question His love and His compassion. But we look back and have decided to put our trust in the One who died in our place on Good Friday – we believe that He is God, that He paid our price, that He made it possible for us to walk through Saturday into a glorious Sunday. We have decided to trust and to wait and to hope in the Lord and as we do we hear His soft small voice call out ‘well done beloved child, well done – I am rejoicing over you with singing’.

It will always be Saturday whilst we live on this planet – Saturday with its trouble and trial, it’s pain and its doubt but Sunday is just around the corner – hang in sweet and precious child of God He is waiting to greet you with open arms.

 Wisteria

Post Easter Thoughts

So we’re back in the “In-between;” the “Already and still-not-yet” of this life hanging between the down payment of the bride of Christ and the final appearing and wedding feast of Heaven and Earth together again.  I have no well-pondered thoughts, but I miss posting so I’m sharing some photos from our celebration this year.  I’ve been thinking for a while now that Easter lacks a focused beauty and coziness like we experience at Christmas.  So, I got my sister and mom to go in with me to make a little more of the celebration and this is what we ended up with . . .

Branches Easter Butterflies Table Branches Tomb Easter Cake

I don’t usually pull these kinds of things off because I’m not willing to stress myself out to make things picture-perfect.  And it wasn’t.  The day before I thought I should’ve planned some kind of special breakfast so I got up early the next morning and whipped up a REALLY fast coffee cake recipe and fried some bacon.  How can you go wrong?  Only the table we sat at, with a tablecloth covering the scratches and candles glowing in the middle was tidy and it was delightful.  The rest of the kitchen had clutter and dirty dishes.  And I didn’t sweat, I let it go.

When I was tempted to think “poor me,” for having to get up earlier than everyone else in order for anything beautiful to happen, I thought of the work God has done to give us His abundant beauty and rest.  It is hard work to feed people multiple times a day, keep a house clean when 4/5 of us live in it all day everyday, and just plain being a distract-able person in general.  In the scheme of things it is so small, but I was reminded that nothing is ever free.  Yes, His grace is free to us, but it was not free for Him.  It costed.  And though His grace is free, our lives are not free from the debt of service–not to secure His love, but to carry it out, to incarnate it right here, right now.  So I was tired, but I was joyful as I sought to serve my family in creating beauty that could bring a little of God’s beauty to our senses.

Oreo

And our sweet Oreo died this past week.  She died suddenly and quite traumatically for us and on cue, rain and thunder rolled in as Claire began to dig a grave.  We cried many tears over this 5-pound fuzz ball and felt the groans of creation in a small way, on our own little piece of earth once again.

Bringing Easter Close

Easter hasn’t always been a favorite holiday of mine.  It’s usually chilly and us girls try to wear something special, perhaps new, and not fitting for the chill.  The colors surrounding it are pastel which aren’t my favorite and it’s just not as cozy as Christmas. On past Easter Sundays I’ve walked into church greeted by someone proclaiming, “He is Risen!” I felt I should be excited about it, but it seemed superficial. My heart wanted to respond with, “Ok, now what? We just wait here then? What does that really mean for me right now??” Over time that has changed. And as I’ve grown in heart, I desire to make Easter more in my home than it has been.

Not intentionally for the holiday, I happen to be reading Surprised by Hope:  Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright.  I feel giddy when I read it.  It’s a  somewhat scholarly work, but not difficult to read.  Overall it doesn’t twist my brain up too tight and even if it did, it’s worth it. I enjoy his use of language, his love of Scripture and the clarity with which he explains how the resurrection means everything to Christians.  I read from it 5-10 minutes a day and it gives me a nice little bit to chew on for hours.  This work has been confirming every day what I’ve been thinking must be true of the resurrection and new creation of our bodies and earth itself. I recommend reading it!

Surprised by Hope

Here is one of many favorite quotes from the book,

“We cannot relegate (the Resurrection) to the margins of our thinking, our living, and our praying; if we do, we shall pull everything else out of shape.”

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s kind of a theme running through my blog–I’m looking forward to the resurrection.  It’s the end of “The Tale” and the only one that leaves us with real hope.  This book fills me with confidence over what the Scriptures have told us.

Besides this book, we’ve done a couple projects at home to bring the season and celebration to our senses. First we made these lovely string eggs.  There are many ways to make the starch for these, you can find several through Pinterest.  My recommendation is not to use a recipe with sugar water.  It’s a STICKY mess!  I used a mixture of 1 cup liquid starch and 1/2 c flour.  The recipe here using Mod Podge might be even better.

String eggs

The other project was this tomb scene.  I found it also through Pinterest and since I have wheat berries in my pantry we used those to grow grass.  I’m hoping there will be some grass shooting up by Sunday.  We might have been a little late with it this year, only 5 days ahead . . . But grass or no grass, it’s nice to have this visual of what we’re celebrating and reminder of our still-future hope.  Yes, the cross is empty, but so is the grave.  Without it, our faith is dead and we are too.

Empty Tomb

Taken from an old post, here are some things to ponder as you celebrate Easter this year . . .

When you trust in Christ’s resurrection, you hope . . .
. . . for all pain and oppression to be gone, all tears dried.
. . . for your sins; your deepest darkest secrets, forgiven.
. . . for no more toil and tiredness, and fruit from your labor to flourish. No more weeds.
. . . for your own resurrection and a new heaven and earth.
. . . for laughter and light at every turn.
. . . to see children play with lions.
. . . to be beautiful, never spoiled or ripped away by the covetousness of a beholder.
. . . for all nations, a multi-faceted diamond, reflecting the glory of their Maker.

If we’re wrong about this hope and there is no resurrection, we are most to be pitied. It’s the greatest hope and the greatest risk, but to whom else can we go for a better promise?

Will you let your heart be giddy this season?  Dream with me? He is Risen! And that means everything, . . .everything . . . to me.

Not All Right at Christmas

I’ve had a few meltdowns in recent weeks, worse than your normal bad day.  There’s a need for some time off from what I do day in and day out with the girls, but when it came around again yesterday, I decided ideals have a big part in it.  They float around my head endlessly.  I wrestle daily to master my hopes and expectations.

Outside Decor
 

One example of a current wrestle, among 50 others, is the whole Christmas thing. Santa or no Santa?  Gifts or no gifts?  Lots or little?  I struggle to land confidently, even if we as a couple have already made a decision.  I’m not comfortable with gray area. 

We’ve had Santa in our family without going above and beyond, but of course that’s relative I suppose. I think Emily has figured it out and might be pretending while the other two try to keep it going for her.  It’s fun.  Driving with her the other night, she was checking her list twice.  Her little voice whimpered from the dark of the back seat as she realized a new found toy wasn’t on her list, but was too late to request from Santa.  

Nativity

 
She was articulating the state of her heart, and everyone else’s, I presume.  I talked with her about our hearts constantly wanting something new, something different, something more.  Even after everything on our list, there will always be more to look forward to and wish for.  It’s an endless wandering and reigning in.  
 
Santa or no Santa, gifts or no gifts, my heart is always looking for the next thing.  Advent or no advent, Christ is not confined to Christmas.  He is alive and active, an ever-present help in the gray matter of my mind.  He keeps me sane, or brings me back to it.  
 

I’m not threatened (and I’ll need to remind myself of this tomorrow) by the commercialism nor the piety at Christmas. The story we call Christmas, is only a part of the whole and lives in my heart 365 days a year.  It’s the story that gives me hope and life.  The greenery will be packed away by New Year, but when I’m bogged down by the next set of ideals and feeling strained to get it right, I know who will be there to remind me He got it right for me.  

Candles

 

The story has never once been about me getting it right, or coming to the end of wanting something more.  The story, whether its December or June, has always been the rescue of my heart and yours, wrapped up in the trappings of a finite world, so filled with beauty, yet leaving us wanting for more and more . . .

. . . because there is more.  Your restless heart won’t let you forget it.

The Riskiest Holiday

The time for dying eggs is here. The kids look forward to finding candy to put in baskets of plastic grass. We celebrate the coming of spring, new life on branches, in holes, and in coops. Most of all we celebrate new life for our mortal bodies. We can do this because one went before.

Eggs

We celebrate in hope of what we don’t see. Who hopes for what he already sees? I no longer hope to have children someday because they’re here. Now I hope they will grow to be adults that remember to be childlike.

People with hope seem foolish. Others want proof of what they’re waiting for. That’s not hope at all.

This week we embark, or continue, on the most dangerous journey of all. Maybe I should say, “risky”?

When you hope in Christ and his resurrection, you hope

. . . to follow Him to a new heaven and earth.

. . . for all pain and oppression to be gone, all tears dried.

. . . the sins done against you to be forgotten, by you;
and sins you’ve done to others, forgotten by them.

. . . for no more toil and tiredness, and fruit from your labor to flourish. Everyone succeeds at what he puts his hand to. No more weeds.

. . . for laughter and light at every turn.

. . . to see children play with lions . . .

. . . to be beautiful; beauty not spoiled or ripped away by the covetousness of a beholder.

. . . that all nations are there, a multi-faceted diamond reflecting the glory of their King.

My list is too short, but there’s a lot wrapped up in this hope.

Emily & Eggs

On this earth, the ones who are most pitied when life cuts them short are children. They’re most pitied because of what they had ahead of them. It’s sad when anyone is mistreated, and when they die, but one who has lived out their years isn’t pitied as much as a child who had lots more living left to do.

It’s a risk to be like a child this holiday, surrounded by candy and eggs, waiting to hatch a new skin of our own in a new world. Will you take the greatest risk with me and dream of all the resurrection could mean?

My faith does not hang on a cross. It hangs above the hole of the tomb where the stone has been rolled away. It hangs on the hope that the God of galaxies beyond reach is preparing a new place for me, lots of living left to be had. After I’ve been laid to rest in this soil, I will be called to wake again to things I’ve never imagined. And if I’m wrong about that . . .


. . . and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

I Corinthians 15: 17-19

The Fragile Place of Peace

She grabbed an ornament off the tree. Not just any ornament, but pure crystal and collectible. My in-laws have sent 4 years of them now. I’ve balked at having such fragile things around. It’s just material, not necessary or worth the money. We should get by with simple, non-elegant things that don’t take our focus or concern right? But it was a gift, so I explained that I didn’t want her taking the ornaments off, that this one was fragile and we need to treat it gently. I hung it back fairly high on the tree.

Fragile

As this little happening occurred, I thought about all the fragile gifts in life . . . The people in her home. The friends she has and the ones she has yet to meet. Her own heart which doesn’t always know the best way. Her own body, a gift she must care for and not subject freely. All these are a few of the fragile things in life. Interesting they’re all people?

It’s easier to be careful with a crystal snowflake, it seems to me. We fail by accident, we fail on purpose. Glass crashes all around us and we’re often deaf to the noise. We have shards wedged in our palms, blood on our hands. Just as I would rather not own a crystal ornament, wouldn’t we also rather not get closer to another? Sarcasm cuts in like a plastic decoration.

It seems futile for one to teach another about love and handling with care. As I show her how to hold a crystal, I know all the shattering I’ve done with my words and actions. Still, what’s good is good and I must teach her though I don’t know or act fully.

Fragile 3

Standing by the tree and watching her hold this crystal, it’s the time we hear again of Peace come to earth, and many wonder where it is. In this moment I’m reminded of its mysterious dwelling . . . the crevasses of fragmented hearts. The ones which have dropped and been dropped. Those which have shattered and know they can’t fix it.
When you see the blood on your own hands . . .

helpless to put the sharp edges together again . . .

you’ve heard a promise that brokenness will one day be wholeness . . .

that a fragile babe broke in to set our hearts awaiting . . .

Nativity. . . that’s the heart where peace lives right now.

So I will teach her first to know fragile “things.” Only if she knows they are fragile will she know it matters when they are broken. And perhaps I can be a better teacher of looking than of loving. Then, when things do shatter, I hope the story will resound and compel her to look with wonder to the end of all the dropping . . . when jewels abound and light shines without shadow . . . and all things beautiful are ours to hold in love completed.

Love Calling

I wake up to dim lamp light and go down to make lunch and send with a kiss off to work. I sit and read on the couch, review verses I’ve tried to stamp in my mind. Next in line is a shower, but I’m chilled so I fill the bath with water as hot as I can take, my book comes along. I read about Love, the One that makes the world go ’round. The water turns me bright pink and my heart is warmed with words.

Time to get out, ready to face the day. There’s a little one in my bed. I stroke her forehead. She stretches, opens her eyes, smiles, and reaches for me. I carry her, almost too heavy, to get her robe, wrapping her warm with me. I flip on the clock radio music to wake the oldest and youngest. I hear some disturbed rustling, but don’t see much interest in obeying the call of the music to waken.

 

 

Little robed one and I continue down to the kitchen, I assume the music will do its work and today it’s ok if they wake up slowly. I pour cereal–just happened to fit the day for love, but I’m waiting to pour milk until everyone is present before sogginess sets in. While I wait, I throw a cake mix through the beaters, I’m feeling festive for once (usually special days are here before I’m ready).

 

 

Oh . . . I bought a little gift for everyone, . . . but where was the place I so cleverly stashed them? This is a common problem of mine. I find them after just a bit of searching and set them out at each place. “Robed in purple” is so excited and can’t wait for the other two to find theirs . . . I suggest she go and tell the other two that there are gifts waiting for them . . . and heart-shaped cereal to boot!

 

 

The radio tunes weren’t doing any magic, but now I hear squeals and giggles, followed by footsteps finding the stairs. And I realize, what wakes anyone better than Love? Nothing else puts a spring in your step quite like something waiting for you.

 

Like our souls, stuck in sleep and protected under covers as if safe, need stirring. All calls to waken are in vain until we hear that One is waiting, the greatest news we’ve ever heard.