Tag: Easter

Our son was at the age where he was losing the last of his baby teeth. He was also at the age of uncertainty of a tooth fairy. He was leaning toward believing this was another fable parents told their kids much like the more famous one about, well, you know…..the fat guy in a red suit.

Jonathan called out to his dad one morning. The tooth still under his pillow, finally, he knew the truth. With his father standing next to him as he lay on the upper bunk, our son was explaining that, in fact, no tooth fairy had come. During his tale, his dad managed to slip money under his pillow without him knowing. When urged to look again, he found the money. Since his dad was standing there the whole time, there could only be one answer: there WAS a tooth fairy.

Some years ago I was attending a youth conference and one of the sessions was about truth. More specifically, it was about how the younger generation was deciding truth for themselves. So many not having grown up in the church, they couldn’t just accept the words we believed written by divine inspiration as truth. Truth became a personal possession. A choice. You could have your truth and I’d have mine.

We enjoy carrying on these traditions for our children. We like the age old fables of fairies and elves and Easter bunnies. Some might consider them alternative facts. That’s the new term, isn’t it? And it seems more and more are choosing these alternative stories as their truth.

At Christmas, we’ve seen the celebration of Santa become the main event. Who wouldn’t choose a story that has turned into “gimme, gimme, me, me, gimme, gimme, mine”? It’s a much grander story than that of a baby born to, apparently poor, parents. They couldn’t even find a hotel room. And then angels appear in the sky? Talk about a story!

Quieter still seems to be the Easter story. The one that began with the Christmas story. You can’t have one without the other. They are entwined in an inextricable way. Birth, death, eternal life. Truth.

But others would choose to believe in spring and nature and a bunny who lays eggs? Who doesn’t like a good change up here and there. It’s all in fun. And it’s far easier to believe in Easter bunnies who only want to give us chocolate and require nothing in return than believe in a Christ who asks us to take up our cross and follow him.

So there is truth but it’s only another alternative fact of the day.

Henry and I have these discussions. I seem to understand the notion of choosing ones truth. He doesn’t. He struggles with the thought that these men he loves and serves and preaches the word of God to day after day could think the bible is anything but truth. THE truth. That Jesus is THE truth. Perhaps more accurately, the truth is Jesus.

We will celebrate Palm Sunday. Several of our residents will be chosen to read the scripture for the day. They may not believe the words they read but we know they are sharing truth. And when God’s truth is read He is honored.

We will host a expression of the Seder meal and walk through the meaning of God’s salvation to the Israelites and to us, through Jesus.

We will prepare a prayer labyrinth for them. A walk through several stations as they are guided to consider their relationship with Jesus.

Good Friday will be recognized and the price Christ paid will be told in graphic detail. We will consider our sins and his forgiveness.

And Easter Sunday we will come together outside with the sun just over the trees. And we will sing and we will proclaim our truth that Christ the Lord has risen today. Alleluia!

We’ll also have plenty of those chocolate eggs. Most of them are hollow, just like the truth they hold.

faith hope Salvation Army

art journal

This painting is a mistake. It’s not what I set out to do.

We go to this place in North Carolina every summer. There is an old stone chapel with a stone cross on top. I’ve many photo’s of it as the setting is not only beautiful but conveys a deep sense of peace. I wanted to sketch it but I messed up. I drew lines where there weren’t suppose to be and suddenly it wasn’t what i wanted. But I didn’t want to give up. I’m trying to expand my vision of art, my abilities which have mostly been to copy, as closely as possible, whatever model I’m using. I need to push myself but the pushing is marked with hesitation and doubt.

Looking at the final outcome of this project gone wrong, I thought of the mistakes I make daily in life. And I thought of the cross that covers all of those mistakes. The cross that inflicted punishment and pain to the least deserving is the cross that erases my mistakes, that paints over them with colors of grace.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

faith

Was it just yesterday we celebrated new life? No, more than new life, we celebrated death defeated. We celebrated the Son of God, whose body was beaten and crucified, whose dead body was carried to a tomb but death couldn’t keep him. We celebrated that: a resurrection!

taken by Tampa

Yesterday we gathered in our churches or outside services to celebrate this long-held belief that Jesus is the Son of God and that, yes, He Lives Today. As the old hymn says, “He lives within my heart”.

And today? Today we carry on. With our jobs, our classes, our routine. I’m asking myself, what’s really new? How does this belief in a man who defies death, who came to turn the worlds ways upside down, how does that change me? What was dead in me that is now alive in Him?

Easter service

Easter service

I looked across the group gathered outside in a park across the street from our A. R. C. Our group of men had joined together with members from the church down the street to celebrate Easter. I don’t know the stories from the church folks but I know for our men, they came looking for new life. They came to our doors needing to find a new way to live, to love, to hope. They came from the throes of addiction but aren’t we all in need of new ways to live, love and hope? We celebrate this new life Jesus gives but is that all we do? Celebrate it with Easter lilies and going to church? I’m preaching to myself, always to myself.

There is more to do than celebrate an empty cross. There are people to love and smiles to share and orphans and widows and giving that cup of cold water and caring for the lost and the smelly and the ones we don’t like. There is work to do if we are to defeat the chains of death. There is a new way to live. The way Jesus showed us. This is how we celebrate and this is how we live.

faith hope

faith

The granddaughter was here last week. The three of us. Her spring break. Not ours. It was a week that reminded me why I was a SAHM (stay at home mom – gotcha!) when our children were children. For a person who likes to multitask, raising children and having responsibilities outside the home for 100 men and staff is harder to do at the same time than, say, doing a load of laundry and running the dishwasher at the same time. Yes, I know a LOT of women do it. Our daughter does it. But even a week with the grand pulled my concentration so that I forgot a few basics I ALWAYS do.

But I didn’t fret.

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I’m still married to the great man who worked extra hard and supported me (not just financially) when I told him I wanted to be home with the kids.

Thank you Danny for reading the scripture from your phone because I forgot to print it out for you!
Thank you Danny for reading the scripture from your phone because I forgot to print it out for you!

We have a wonderful staff who is helpful in filling the holes I left gaping last week.

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And there was this little 5-year-old who was saying, “Can we do art, MeMe?” So we did. And we colored Easter eggs and went to Charming Charlie’s where she picked out a sparkly headband and Chick-fil-a so she could play in the kid area and we even took Henry away one afternoon to go to the Museum of Discovery and Science.

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Modeling her headband in the store mirror a curtsy is in order.
Modeling her headband in the store mirror a curtsy is in order.

She sat next to me like an angel at the dentist office playing games on the iPad while my retainer was tweaked. She through a staff meeting and Good Friday service quiet as a mouse.

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And at the beach Saturday morning when I was fighting a cold and bundled up against the cold air, she squealed and giggled when the water brushed over her toes and chased her away from the surf.

Holy Week is busy. It’s not a time we feel we can be away. We want to be here among our men celebrating this sacred week. And in the midst of it, there were times when we just had to play.

 

faith photography

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

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faith hope

Whoever coined the phrase “cycle of life” got it right. It’s a cycle, spinning and turning, sometimes agitating like a washing machine cycle and other times it turns easily ’round and ’round like a carousel.

This is the in-between day of the Easter story. The after and the day before. The day after what surely must have been the worst day ever for Jesus’ mother and those who followed in certainty he would change the course of history and his rule would be on a throne. Not on a cross.

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It’s the day before the day we have the benefit of knowing is coming so we haven’t been in fear or question if the tomb will be empty. WE KNOW IT IS! We know tomorrow when countless gather to celebrate Easter that we are celebrating an empty tomb because Jesus defeated the chains of death and lives to make all things new.

And something else happened. Some that was most unexpected and one of the best things I couldn’t imagine happening. It’s reminded me of new birth and new life and the making of things new that isn’t limited to the physical.

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I received a message from Joan yesterday. Joan is the director of Sheffield Manor where mama lives. I can’t imagine there is another director as caring and optimistic as Joan. I’ve met her a handful of times but even at the first meeting my sister and I knew placing our mother’s care under Joan’s supervision was the right thing. Here’s what Joan wrote:

 “Debby, I had a wonderful moment with your Mom. I took the Easter card you sent to her. I helped her open it and then I read it to her. She asked, “our Debby?” I said yes your daughter Debby. She broke out into a beautiful smile. It was priceless. I just had to share.”

I know mama’s memory isn’t coming back. I know this is just what Joan called it: a moment. But this moment is a treasure. A priceless gift to me. A lesson that all things can be made new: my perspective. A lesson that God is, even now, making things new.

If I start counting names of men I’ve seen made new spiritually and in recovery I’d quickly run out of fingers.

This new that God wants to do isn’t limited to Easter. And that’s the news of the resurrection. It’s not about one day, as glorious and miraculous as that day is. It’s about every day.

      “And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5

 

faith hope recovery

I don’t know what prompted me but Easter Sunday I sent to both our children this simple text: He Is Risen!

Our daughter and family were camping and wouldn’t see the text for some time, if at all. Our son was in Louisville visiting his girlfriend’s family for Easter. He might not even be up but it didn’t matter. I was only wishing them a happy Easter but there was a hope for the response I’d get.

It’s been some time since our son has attended church regularly. The foundation was laid firmly in his life. I know that. He likes his dad’s preaching. (An excuse perhaps) When he’s with us there’s never a fuss about attending even though it means leaving the house at 8AM on Sunday. No, the boy has a good heart. A big heart. I know it and I think he’s finding it. The children that take longer you tend to watch more closely. No hovering, no. That wouldn’t work for him or me. Just love. I’ve mostly learned that but still am reminded.

Over 20 years now we’ve started every Easter service with this:

Pastor: He is risen

Congregation: He is risen indeed.

This is repeated two times with voices becoming louder and more jubilant each time with all voices nearly shouting: HE IS RISEN INDEED!

That is the response. That’s what I was hoping Heather or Jonathan would text in reply.

I never heard from our daughter. Not sure if she got the text and knowing they were busy with a 4-year old who turned out to be extremely frightened of the crabs the folks in the next campsite offered to share with them.

Boy, kk, Sissy
kk with Uncle Jonathan
Our kids and granddaughter

But hours later I heard the text chime. It was from the boy. My boy. The one that only I call J and his sister calls Boy. Both of us too often give in to his charm. It was from him and his reply made my mouth beam in broad smile and my heart soar.

Uncategorized

I don’t know what prompted me but Easter Sunday I sent to both our children this simple text: He Is Risen!

Our daughter and family were camping and wouldn’t see the text for some time, if at all. Our son was in Louisville visiting his girlfriend’s family for Easter. He might not even be up but it didn’t matter. I was only wishing them a happy Easter but there was a hope for the response I’d get.

It’s been some time since our son has attended church regularly. The foundation was laid firmly in his life. I know that. He likes his dad’s preaching. (An excuse perhaps) When he’s with us there’s never a fuss about attending even though it means leaving the house at 8AM on Sunday. No, the boy has a good heart. A big heart. I know it and I think he’s finding it. The children that take longer you tend to watch more closely. No hovering, no. That wouldn’t work for him or me. Just love. I’ve mostly learned that but still am reminded.

Over 20 years now we’ve started every Easter service with this:

Pastor: He is risen

Congregation: He is risen indeed.

This is repeated two times with voices becoming louder and more jubilant each time with all voices nearly shouting: HE IS RISEN INDEED!

That is the response. That’s what I was hoping Heather or Jonathan would text in reply.

I never heard from our daughter. Not sure if she got the text and knowing they were busy with a 4-year old who turned out to be extremely frightened of the crabs the folks in the next campsite offered to share with them.

Boy, kk, Sissy
kk with Uncle Jonathan
Our kids and granddaughter

But hours later I heard the text chime. It was from the boy. My boy. The one that only I call J and his sister calls Boy. Both of us too often give in to his charm. It was from him and his reply made my mouth beam in broad smile and my heart soar.

Uncategorized

I’m trying to hold on to Easter like I tried to hold  on to Christmas. Not the holiday so much as the meaning of each. The build up is strong and the day after too much like any other day. Like a birthday when I was a kid. The countdown is on and then…..it’s gone. Just like that and it’s an ordinary day.

The day after Easter can’t be ordinary. As the verse says, “why do you look for the living among the dead?” That verse was on my mind last week a lot. Looking at the men in the Center who had become dead to so many. Even to themselves. Drugs took their life. Alcohol deadened every relationship they had. Dead men walking some were. And now, now they stand telling of a new life. Life. No longer dead but living.

We celebrated Resurrection Sunday outside in the parking lot next to our main Family Store. There’s not green space large enough for us to gather. Not yet. Members from the Salvation Army Corps joined with us and provided music and fellowship. I heard a group of older women near me with their “Amen”‘s when some of our guys stood to give testimony of their new life. They love to hear the men speak of second chances. And I wonder how many of these women have waited for their sons to find new life.

When Henry asked if anyone had a testimony to share a line quickly formed at the microphone. Geoff, still battling the cancer but not looking like he’s winning, gave praise for creation surrounding us and the evidence of God. Gavin never passes a chance to tell of his new life. Still in his 20’s he has 6 months clean and sober and working a good program. Jose holds his hands wide in praise for God trading his life so Jose can have a new one. On and on it went with people, men and women sharing evidence of the grace of God.

This is the part I want to stay. I have a strand of jingle bells tied to the dining room cabinet to remind me of the joy of Jesus’ birth. Something small that looks like something I forgot to pack away. It’s for me. A reminder to sing Joy to the World every day. And the little resin blocks with the words He Is Risen will stay on another shelf. Another reminder for me He still lives.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video giving an overview of our Holy Week activities.

recovery Salvation Army