Holy Week – both sides of the cross

I see the cross, adorning the crest of Calvary’s hill.

I see myself, in the shadows, on both sides of the cross.


I stand, staring at the cross. I celebrate. I smugly nod my head, reveling in this victory. We did it. We preserved our way of life. We protected tradition. We guarded holiness. Our people are safe from this rebel and his revolutionary ideas. This is a great day in the history of our faith.

I am a Pharisee.


I slump, my gaze clinging desperately to the cross. I weep. I throw my head back as a wail of torment fills my throat. We lost him. Our messiah. Deliverance is dying on that hill. Our people will forever be in bondage. This tragic day signals an end of all hope for our faith.

I am a disciple.


Both sides of the cross live in my heart.

Holy Week – included

Jesus washed Judas’s feet.

He did it without rancor or animosity or bitterness.

I look in the mirror of history. I’m at the table. I take the place of His beloved, leaning at His side. I see myself as Peter, fiercely committed in spite of my fervor. I choose to be one of the chosen few, the inner circle.

I never see myself as Judas.

I look in the mirror of my heart. I see: Sell out. Betrayer. Thief. Hypocrite.

If He had excluded Judas, then I am excluded too.

He includes His betrayer in His most vulnerable act of love.

Judas and I.

Included.

The Smell of Holy Week

It’s Holy Week, and this thought won’t leave my mind:

How long did Jesus smell like Mary’s extravagant perfume that she broke and poured over his feet?

Could the disciples smell it during the last supper as He washed their feet?

Did Judas – who chastised Mary for her foolishness – realized what he was smelling as he kissed and betrayed Jesus in the garden?

Did the Roman guards catch a whiff as they whipped him?

The soldiers who hesitated to break His legs – was the lingering scent still there?

Did His tomb smell like her gift?

How many people, in the last week of Jesus’s life, experienced Mary’s act of worship and lament because He smelled like her sacrifice?

And how many people, after being with Jesus, spent time with Mary and realized she smelled the same.

The enduring presence of being with Jesus and my irrational, excessive, illogical, foolhardy WORSHIP of Him – that costs my reputation and finances and self-sustainment – should mark my daily interactions and cause people to pause and wonder, “Wait. That smell. Where have I smelled that before?”

The day we made Candyland

Halloween candy sat languishing in the cupboard.

A haul from a birthday piñata got tossed in at some point. Who knew there was such a thing as Thanksgiving candy?

We aren’t much of a candy family, and with the holidays upon us we wanted to do something with all these sweets before they met their final demise on garbage day.

Presenting – Candy Land In Real Life

Hunter and Madison worked all morning to create their own game boards. At one point they decided to join them together, creating a massive Candy Land Universe. Hunter built some LEGO people for our place markers, we pulled out a spare dice, and started the game.

It had it all – caramel corn bridges, taffy swamps, a magic eggnog pool with portals to the next realm, lollipop tunnels, and enough arguing over whose turn it is to last until next Christmas.

But, oh did we have fun.

Rewrite the Story

Up til now, he’d been quiet.  Listening for over an hour as I unravelled my family’s story.  I paused, took a breath, and said, “Yeah, I think that’s about it.”  A nervous giggle  escaped my throat.  I had just laid bare the core of who I was.  What happens next?

He leaned forward.  Hands clasped between his knees.  His eyes, which had never left me, shimmered in intensity.  The silence shouted.

“Two things,” he began.

“One,” ticking off a finger to underscore his emotions.  “That was wrong, and I’m sorry.”

I gasped.  Hot tears pooled, fighting to escape.  I had kept my composure but now my emotions quavered.  Those two simple statements of truth turned the lock on a long-forgotten corner of my heart.

“And number two,” he continued, “you have the chance to rewrite your story.”

* * * * *

Stars twinkled in the early morning sky, mirroring the dew drops shimmering on each blade of grass.  Words poured out, confessing fears and repenting lies.  I sat in our backyard on the porch’s bottom step, emptying my heart in sorrow.  Prayers fell short, of words and distance.  The ever-present God feels so distant sometimes.

Anxiety and fear closed in.  I wanted to build walls, shut myself in, launch attacks, and alienate everyone.  I knew why too.  Recent events as well as a some upcoming situations were waving every red flag and yanking every trigger inside me.  Terrified, I just wanted to hide.

::Inhale ::

God, I don’t want to be this way.  I don’t know how to believe.  God, help me in my unbelief.

:: Exhale ::

Rewrite your story.

The phrase appeared so clearly, recalled from memory but also spoken for this moment.

These battles I can’t seem to win.

These fears I can’t seem to conquer.

The wounds that heal, only to rip open and spill fresh pain.

The rejection that lies, well enough to believe.

I am not a broken record doomed to repeat the same damaged song.

I am an author writing the story of a new life.

Boo Bump – Halloween Learning Fun

We tried out this math-based game recently to help celebrate the Halloween season. The concept is to roll die, stack objects on the numbers, and block or steal your spaces from other players. We played with candy which upped the ante.

All the kids enjoyed playing, and the older ones helped Leah (who is almost 3) with some of the math. In fact, it was such a hit they ended up taking it to their weekly co-op to play with their friends. Imagine my surprise when I found them huddled around a table, engrossed in the game, instead of outside playing when it was free time! We found this version of the game at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Catch the Wind

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Consider the difference between piloting a motorboat or a sailboat.  We can run a motorboat all by ourselves.  We can fill the tank and start the engine.  We are in control.  But a sailboat is a different story.  We can hoist the sails and steer the rudder, but we are utterly dependent on the wind.  The wind does the work.  If the wind doesn’t blow – and sometimes it doesn’t – we sit still in the water no matter how frantic we act.  Our task is to do whatever enables us to catch the wind.

John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted