Holy Week

I took the past week off, so my children and I could really focus on Jesus for Holy Week. When I was growing up, my family didn’t celebrate Holy Week, and I didn’t even know what it was until a couple of years ago. I knew that I wanted to do more with my kids than just celebrate on the day of Easter.

Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter or Resurrection Sunday. It is celebrated by many Christians around the world, so each day we did an activity or had a treat that would have us exploring Jesus’s last days before He was crucified.

Palm Sunday

We made palm branches by tracing hands on green construction paper and pasting them to popsicle sticks.

We watched Sunday service online, as well as a couple of Palm Sunday cartoons on Right Now Media.

We started a Resurrection garden. (This was our first year putting one together.)

We ended the day with a Palm Sundae. (Please don’t mind the melted ice cream; it was fresh out of the churn and it took a minute to get everyone’s scooped out and take a picture.)

Holy Monday

We continued through our Resurrection garden activities and discussed how Jesus taught His followers.

That evening we had sweet, soft pretzels for our treat to teach us how we should pray. (I forgot to take a picture before taking a bite of my pretzel.)

Holy Tuesday

More Resurrection garden activities and Easter Week cartoons on Right Now Media.

Tuesday evening we had donuts to remind us: “Donut forget to pray!”

Spy Wednesday

We discussed Judas’s betrayal of Jesus for 30 silver coins.

We ate the rest of the left over donuts for the evening’s dessert.

The grass started to sprout in our Resurrection garden.

 

Maundy Thursday

We continued the discussion of Judas and watched an episode from Super Book about the Last Supper and Jesus praying in Gethsemane.

During some of our Advent activities during the Christmas season, I stumbled upon the idea of a shepherd’s meal; so we had a shepherd’s meal and Communion in the evening. (Jesus is the Good Shepherd!)

We watched a broadcast on zoom from the Jews for Jesus organization, which was very interesting and informative.

I gave the kids little “money” (treat) bags of chocolate for dessert, as a reminder of the 30 silver Judas received for his betrayal.

 

Good Friday

We continued with Resurrection garden activities and studying the Bible to learn how and why Jesus took on our sins so that we may live.

Black Saturday

The weather was so nice here that we spent a good chunk of the day outside. We went ahead and had our Easter egg hunt. (Yes we do some of the more secular traditions too.)

That evening, the hubs and I watched the Passion of the Christ (after the kids had gone to bed of course). I hadn’t seen it since I was a young teenager, and I was surprised to learn that my husband had not seen it at all. Now that I am a mom, the scenes with Mary, Jesus’s mother, just broke my heart so much. The whole thing is heart wrenching, but I don’t remember the movie having the same effect on me when I was younger, the way it does now.

 

Resurrection Sunday

He is risen! We enjoyed Sunday morning service from the comfort of our home. We also watched the last of the Easter series cartoons and just had a slow, relaxing day.

That evening we watched Sight and Sound’s production of Jesus on TBN. It’s not the same as seeing a show live, but it was still good and the kids were able to watch too.

 

I hope everyone had blessed Holy/Passion/Easter week!

We sure did!

(Note: Even with all of the treats, we still follow a low carb/ketogenic diet.)

Looking for Hope


“God shall be my hope, my stay, my guide and lantern to my feet.”

William Shakespeare

The beginning signs of spring are coming to life all around us. The early flowers are so beautiful; the trees are beginning to bud and awaken as well. I saw the first butterfly of the season a few days ago. These are a sign that the cold, winter season is leaving and bringing hope of the warm seasons to come. 

Did you know that the Bible mentions the word hope roughly 130 times (depending on the translation)?

I know people have great fear right now and are worried about their futures. I know people are looking to their leaders and those in authority for answers and direction. This can be a good and wise thing, but we shouldn’t forget they, too, are human and capable of mistakes.

In my recent, personal, “dark valleys,” I have turned towards God for my hope. The Spirit given to me led the way in my pursuit for peace, calm and hope, while my world fell apart. This is where I really started to take the Bible seriously and seek the One who created me and saved me.

I wasn’t sure where to take this blog, so I am letting my Bible study lead the way. This week I picked back up in Psalm because I have finished my recent study of the book of Romans. There really is no better time to study the book of Psalm than right now; the psalms are full of hope during some of King David’s darkest moments.

This week I spent a few days really reading and studying Psalm 23.  This psalm is often associated with funerals and death, but if you really dive into it, it shows life and hope.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

God is enough!

 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

When things get out of control and we start to lose our way, He is there to lead. We only need to look to Him for direction.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

                God is in control! Even when we think all may be lost.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

                God is faithful!

 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

                He is our hope!

Billy Graham put it this way, “Christ wants to give you hope for the future. He wants you to learn what it means to walk with Him every day. When you come to Christ, God gives you eternal life – which begins right now as you open your heart to Him.”

So take some time each day and seek Jesus and lean on Him during this time of hardship!

John10:11-15

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

 

Renewing the Mind

(Just a note: Honestly enough, I had hard time focusing my thoughts for this entry. There were so many directions I could have gone in (and wanted to go in), and I had a hard time limiting them. I hope this entry makes sense and brings someone a little encouragement today.)

We have been told to quarantine, social distance, self-isolate, etc. for our own health and for the health of other people around us. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic caused by COVID 19.

There is no time like the present to take hold of your health.

I have been pursuing health improvement and optimization since last year around the time I received my metastatic diagnosis. It has been quite a journey and I have learned quite a bit. There are so many different things that contribute either positively or negatively to our health. Today I want to focus a little bit on mental/spiritual health.

I have been studying in Romans for the past month or so and I want to point out Romans 12:2:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What is feeding your mind or soul?

The world?

Or God?

Because what we think matters!

Prayer, reading of Scripture, being thankful, and having community with the Church are some of the ways I renew my mind and remind myself of God’s presence. I typically start my day with a Bible devotion or study and prayer to help my mind focus. When I don’t do this my whole day is off and I can tell that I have not spent enough time seeking God. If I don’t fill my “heart” with God’s Word, then the things of this world have an easier time creeping in and causing chaos.

To those feeling isolated:

  • I pray we remember you are never alone. God is always with us.
  • Let’s take this time as an opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important to us and set our minds on the things of above.
  • Please remember we are doing something important by staying home, even if it doesn’t feel or seem that way.
  • We are protecting ourselves from the virus if we don’t have it.
  • More importantly, we are protecting others by not spreading the virus if we have it knowingly or unknowingly.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

To those in the healthcare field and others who continue to work:

  • I pray for God’s protection over you.
  • I am thankful you continue to work and serve your communities in such uncertain times.
  • I hope you find the time to renew your minds and prepare yourselves for battle each day.

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

To the Church:

  • I pray we continue to reach out and serve our communities with each and every opportunity we are given (through a screen or in person).
  • I am so thankful for the technology we have at our disposal today and how full my Facebook feed has been with uplifting sermons, devotions, and testimonies.
  • Let us keep flooding every social media platform with the Good News!
  • Let us step up and be an example to the world!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Though we find ourselves in uncertain times, no matter what role we play, let us remember we are called to “be patient in affliction and persistent in prayer”. Also, consider that our spiritual health and growth is more important than our happiness; being “pruned” is not pleasant.

So, let us all set out to renew our minds through our pursuits of Jesus and watch our desires to learn more about our Creator grow!

Here are some more Bible verses for encouragement:

Psalm 19:14

Psalm 46:10

Psalm 55:17

Psalm 57:7

Proverbs 3:11-12

Proverbs 4:20-22

Proverbs 15:15

Isaiah 26:3

Jeremiah 24:7

Jeremiah 29:12-13

John 17:3

2 Corinthians 5:17

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Colossians 3:1-2

1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

 

A View From Home: Corona Virus

If you have the privilege to live in a modest setting, you probably have access to internet and social media, then your social media feed is over filling with the corona virus pandemic information, memes, case numbers, government action/lack of action, etc. We are living in some strange times and there are so many questions, concerns, and emotions swirling around. I don’t have medical, professional, or statistical data to contribute. The only thing I can do is share what I see from my point of view and provide encouragement to those who are kind enough to continue reading my posts.

Public View:

The Corona Virus (COVID 19) is starting to spread like wildfire in our country. National and local officials are trying to implement and encourage interventions to help slow the spread and flatten the curve. Unfortunately our arrogance and concern about public opinion overran our common sense and has now put several people in danger.  However, what’s done is done.

So, now what?

Social distancing is a very popular term right now but please learn about its importance. Learning to stay home can be hard for many people in modern society, when we are constantly on the go. I pray that people use common sense, have patience with this temporary disruption, and be considerate of your health and those around themselves.

I have sympathy for those who have to completely rearrange their lives and are scrambling to make adjustments. My hope is that people take the recommended precautions seriously.

Personal View:

Personally, the disruption has not been that significant at this point. We are “homebodies” anyway; we enjoy being home. The biggest change we have right now is that my husband is allowed to work from home, but this is not foreign to us either. He was able to do this when I was going through chemotherapy. I suppose, our past experiences with social isolation from cancer and chemotherapy has helped prepare us for the current situation.

We are doing our best to be cautious and we are avoiding all social activities outside of our home. Social distancing is important to us, specifically, because I am part of the higher risk group for “catching” the virus. I am on a medication for my metastatic cancer that suppresses my immune system. (People often forget, or overlook, people like me because we don’t look sick.)

Encouragement:

I have listed below some Bible verses that have and continue to bring me hope and peace during times of fear.

I hope you find comfort in them as well.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

“Trust in the Lord with all your, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

And a new favorite:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38

I don’t know why the corona virus is happening in this time. Maybe it brings us the opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important or Who is most important. I don’t know how this will all play out. No one on earth does. What I do know is that God is greater than anything we have here on earth. He has everything under control, and He can see the “big picture” that we cannot see.

Spend time in the Bible each day, search your heart, and pray. There is so much power in these gifts. God has given them to us to use as tools in communicating with Him. And when it seems too much to bear please know that the Spirit is there to intercede when you can’t find the words. Take heart, “this too shall pass.”

 

 

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4

 

“I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings And shall not be ashamed.”  Psalm 119:46

Anonymity vs. Authenticity

I decided a couple of weeks ago to actually start a blog to share my testimony with others. My original intention was to keep it anonymous because I know some of my posts will consist of thoughts and experiences that I don’t often talk about. I was going to hide behind anonymity to “protect the privacy and feelings of my family.”

However, over the past three or four days God has been working on my heart. He has been asking if I am really trying to protect my family or if I am letting fear keep me from moving forward. It is probably a little of the first and a whole lot of the latter.

So, am I going to let my fear appear bigger than God? Or, am I going to remember that God is bigger than my fear? Am I going to step out in faith?

If I continue to let fear keep me from stepping out in faith and obeying, then I have let it become a stumbling block in my life. Writing about my story versus telling it out loud gives me a little more courage to share (as I am sure it does for most other people).  I think this blog will bring a level of honesty and authenticity to my testimony that my shy nature inhibits when speaking to others.

I have no problem sharing what I find when it comes to health and nutrition of the body. The hesitation comes while sharing what I learn, experience, and struggle with regarding faith and the Spirit.

I have shared some things on my personal Facebook page regarding different Bible studies or what I have read in the Bible at certain times, but I often keep it on a more surface level or an uplifting note. Yesterday, a lady told me that she appreciates the Bible notes I post and what they meant to her. She has no idea how much I needed to hear that yesterday; I will continue to blog with hope of reaching so many more people.

 

Meandering through Young Adulthood

The other day I started a page for this blog on Facebook. I posted a “Word of the Week” with its definition. The word I chose this week was meander, since I described my blog as the “meanderings of a housewife and stay at home mom.” The following is an account of my meandering or wandering away from my walk with Jesus.

When I was a child, my mom was faithful about taking me to church on Sunday. As I grew up, I got more involved in church events, and accepted and professed my faith in Jesus with baptism at the church we attended. We, my mom and I (my dad never came with us), continued to attend church, and I got involved in the youth program that was offered. It was a fairly normal, middle class upbringing in a church. I am thankful for my mom and all the others in the Church praying for, encouraging, and pouring into my young faith in Jesus.

At some point, in my later high school years, my dedication in my walk with Jesus started to dwindle. My mom and I stopped attending church regularly and started letting Sunday be more of a lazy, family kind of day. (Or a catch up on homework day.) Through the end of high school and throughout my college years I broke vows and commitments I had made during my earlier years of faith. I became a lukewarm Christian. I still believed in Jesus and His sacrifice, but I no longer thought that I needed to surround myself with fellow believers. I am ashamed that I ever let my faith become stagnant.

Fast forward several years…after I had my second child and started working part time, a friend of mine invited me to join a mom’s group at the church she attended.  I enjoyed the time with other women in the same season of life as me.  It provided a nice break from being surrounded by children and housework and allowed me the opportunity to talk to other adults. It also gave my children an opportunity to be around and “socialize” with other children. (I use “socialize” lightly here because children at that young of an age don’t really play with each other, so much as maybe play next to each other.)  As I continued to attend the mom’s group and see the other women walking in faith, I really started to feel the pull to attend church again.

Honestly, I had been telling myself (or more accurately, God was telling me through the Holy Spirit) from the time I had my first child that I needed to start attending church again, but I just didn’t follow through because of one excuse or another. I began attending church regularly again on Sunday after being a part of the mom’s group for a few months. “Who was going to teach my children about Jesus?” “Wasn’t that my responsibility?” Questions like this often plagued my mind.

I know this sounds kind of like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with the wandering away and coming back home, but I want to draw your attention more towards the people of faith. I am thankful for my mom, the pastors, Sunday school teachers, and fellow believers who showed me the way to Jesus.  I am also very thankful for the women of the mom’s group that did not know their “witness” was part of my return to the Church.

“19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

James 5:19-20

We must remember, or keep in mind, as believers in Christ we are always witnessing to those around us (intentionally or unintentionally). Sometimes it is to the people of the world. Sometimes it is to the people in church that you didn’t know were lost.