It’s odd to live in a house without any children anymore. I have teen daughters who no longer ask about Easter Egg hunts, petting zoos, or the kinds of activities we might do on an Easter weekend. We go to our church service and host an Easter feast for friends–and an Easter basket will still show up in the morning–but for the most part, the childhood part of Easter isn’t here.
Or is it?
I lay out two Easter Egg dying kits (mostly for myself). I boil eggs. I arrange a neat display of glasses for holding our dye. I even create a station for a new technique involving nail polish in warm water and a bag of golden shimmer paint. I call my daughters downstairs–like I have for all these years–and they arrive with joy. It’s like they were waiting for this invitation.
But you wouldn’t know it beforehand.
It’s the three of us diving right into childhood again. We dye the eggs, eat chocolate, listen to music, and laugh together. They wouldn’t have created the afternoon themselves, but when I did, they participated and loved it. And just like in years past, my husband peers in to comment on all the beautiful dyed designs.
And then I tidy up our Easter fun and return to the chores of the afternoon.
I guess that’s how it will go now. They don’t beg for the traditions; maybe they think they don’t need them anymore. But when it comes right down to it, they do.
This morning I read Psalm 89:21: My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.
You know how when someone is injured or sick or very old and someone else holds them by one hand and wraps his arm around that person’s back? I think of the last hobbling athlete I saw or the last older man or woman needing help as she walked. I think of that gentle, strong care. It’s an encircling, totally supportive, loving kind of grasp.
This morning I chuckled as I read Psalm 86:5 where David writes about the Lord, “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call on you.”
Why did I laugh? Well, in the margins of my Bible, for years I had written down the ways I wanted God to show me His abounding love.
I knew best. I made demands. I outlined how this love would look. I actually listed the manuscripts I just knew He would honor with book contracts (these never came).
All these years later, I’ve learned it’s fine to tell God what you’re hoping for in life. But I’ve also learned to trust that God will demonstrate His abounding love to me in precisely the way He wishes that most meets my deepest needs and brings Him the most glory. I’ve learned that when God says no to any request I make of Him, it’s because He’s doing something else, some infinitely greater thing.
God cannot help but demonstrate His abounding love. He will, and He did.
I think of the truth: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). When I think about Jesus, the abounding love of God astonishes me.
He gave us Jesus.
We have a priceless treasure, a marvelous gift, a matchless offering. When we think about Jesus, we know how loved we truly are.
This morning I gathered all my kabob ingredients to marinate in an Italian dressing in order to build my kabobs for the grill. I let my meat and veggies marinate for a few hours before I thread everything onto my skewers to grill. While waiting for the kabobs to cook, you can make a pot of brown rice to serve alongside your meat and veggies.
Our favorite kabobs? I love mushrooms, red onion, tomatoes, peppers, tofu, chicken, and pineapple. That’s it! I’ve also grilled broccoli on the kabob, too. I often forgo a green salad or fresh fruit because the whole plate fills up with all the veggies and pineapple from the kabobs.
With the weather warming a bit today, I’m thrilled to move the cooking outside to the grill. And I find that food served on a stick is always, somehow, more fun. It’s a little way of living with flair today.
I can hardly believe the cold and windy walk to my classroom. My hair swirls up like a tornado on top my head, and I barrel on, head down like a charging bull, to fight the wind.
And now? Icy rain. My black fleece collects tiny hailstones as I shake my head free of them.
My hands, normally gloved, now crack in the cold drizzle.
Today was supposed to be the day I take pictures of my weeping cherry against the warm blue sky. What happened to spring? What happened to my daffodils, my cheerful neighborhood walks in t-shirts, my grilling out, and my wide open windows?
I arrive back home to a sealed house my husband thankfully heated. All I want is hot oatmeal to warm me, so I fix a batch and sit back. I’m wrapped in a warm sweater. I find I’m relaxing. I find it’s cozy. I might even light a winter candle.
And I realize the gift of one last cozy day of winter. I’ll bake the chicken inside. And besides, my weeping cherry looks even better against a frosty gray sky.
Yesterday, my sister drove nearly 4 hours to see me speak for the women of Blacksburg Christian Fellowship. It wasn’t until after the event that she realized the full significance of the weekend and told me her thoughts.
You see, during my college years–with my sister a student at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) and me at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville)–I struggled to walk with the Lord.
I was a mess!
I would cry all the time. I made terrible choices in order to fit in and feel loved. And I kept walking away from the Lord.
But my sister who was so strong in the Lord would make that 2 1/2 hour drive from Blacksburg to Charlottesville to take me back to Blacksburg with her for the weekend. She’d let me hang out with her Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ friends. I would cry at Mill Mountain coffee shop and talk about wanting to return to the Lord as my sister taught me about Jesus’ love for me. Melissa would then drive me home to Charlottesville for Monday classes equipped with a new student study Bible and an Oswald Chambers devotional. Then she’d return to Blacksburg.
Back and forth. Back and forth. That Charlottesville exit off the highway most likely seared itself in her memory.
And why all that driving? She made all those trips in order to help me walk with God. She would play Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins, and I would cry in the car. She would take me away just so I might grow in the Lord in Blacksburg.
My sister made so many trips between 1993 and 1997, and every time she reached that Charlottesville exit, she was either dropping me back off at school or picking me up to take me to Blacksburg.
But on this trip 25 years later, Melissa drove by that Charlottesville exit and realized she wasn’t dropping me off or picking me up. She had left me with the Blacksburg women, and this time, I was teaching and encouraging them. I wasn’t that lost girl anymore. I wasn’t there to heal or to escape anything. I was there to teach women about God’s extraordinary love for them. I taught about being seated with Christ, about His guarding peace, and how He invites us to live as royal priests from 1 Peter 2:9.
The Lord settled my sister’s heart as she passed the exit for that last time yesterday. I imagine Jesus cheering over my sister, “Well done! Our work here is finished!” All those trips, all those letters of encouragement with Bible verses and stickers, all those prayers for me, all those moments with a big sister taking care of a little sister–they bore fruit. God used my sister then to carry me all the way till now.
And today, I’m grown up in the Lord. And she came and heard me speak healing words in a place that was once where I went for healing.
Sometimes in life, God grants those full-circle moments of clarity, of grace, and of insight. My sister drove by that Charlottesville exit without stopping. There was no more work to be done.
I arrive at 5:17 AM to board a 5:50 AM flight out of State College–and I find I have time to spare. I’m actually writing this as I wait to board my little plane. I give a wave to an airport worker I know. She once babysat my children. Yes, this is a small town.
It feels like such a blessing to live in this small town with a small airport. I always laugh when folks realize that in small airports, you really don’t need to arrive two hours early or even an hour early. I tell visitors to give yourself 30 minutes. Here in this town, you sort of tumble out of your car, breeze through security with maybe a few people ahead of you, and walk out to your plane.
But it’s not all joy here. I’m tired. I don’t love the 4:30 wake up time. But I do consider the privilege of waking up early to travel and what it means to finally arrive at a destination in my heart where I do uncomfortable things. Every hard thing develops perseverance, faith, and intimacy with Jesus.
So I press on. And my thankfulness for small towns and small airports helps foster joy. I remember to notice all that’s right when my tired body feels wrong. I remember to notice blessings, whimsy, and beauty.
As I travel more this month for speaking engagements (keep me in your prayers!!), I remember this little but powerful comment from Paul in Romans 15:29. He writes, “I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.”
Doesn’t it seem so lovely to imagine yourself arriving with the full measure of Christ’s blessings? Consider entering a room with this attitude that you want to bring people into all the fullness of Christ’s blessings.
What did Paul bring when he arrived places? Well, for starters, he brought the indwelling Christ; he brought Jesus, the Living Word. He also brought instruction from written word. He brought encouragement. He brought truth. He brought love. He brought a consecrated life made fully available to Jesus to use as He wished (Galatians 2:20). He brought joyful words, truthful words, and hopeful words.
Yes, he entered a new place with hope.
I pray that I go and speak and arrive in the “full measure of the blessing of Christ.” And you? When you enter your home or work environment, I pray this for you as well.