A Time to Grow

Last spring, my husband did something he should not have done. It wasn’t entirely his fault. He got caught up in yard work and wasn’t thinking and pruned all of our hydrangea bushes. Let me repeat, last spring…he pruned all of our hydrangea bushes. For anyone who knows about gardening, you know this is a big, HUGE no no! We didn’t have a single blossom all summer, not one. Kind of fitting for 2020, I guess.

All summer, I kept hoping we would see a bud, but we had nothing. It was disappointing but a powerful lesson to learn…

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A Resurrection Feeling

Easer Eggs

Yesterday, I was talking to my friend and tour expert, Anne, about the upcoming pilgrimage I am planning to the Holy Land. We were exchanging stories of our Easter celebrations–mine here in Maryland and hers in New Jersey. Anne made the comment that “the entire day truly had a Resurrection feeling to it.”

Those words kept coming back to me over and over throughout the day.

A Resurrection feeling.

They took me back to this time last year, and I was amazed by how right Anne was. It is as if we have all experienced a true resurrection…

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Make Your Sacrifice and Eat It, Too

Kneeling in Prayer

Here we are in the last week of Lent. It’s time to reflect on the past nearly forty days and examine how we did, not as an exercise of beating up oneself for our failures but in recognizing how far we have come. Have we grown spiritually? Have we gotten better at prayer? Have we grown closer to God? What sacrifices did we make, and how did they improve us?

Sacrifices come in many different forms. I’ve often wondered about those who forego chicken on Fridays but dine on lobster instead. I’m not judging. Perhaps they would rather be having chicken! Besides, in our house, Friday dinners during Lent consist of homemade crab cakes, but it’s not the crab cakes that I see as the sacrifice.

It’s everything that goes with them. Here’s what I mean…

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Better than Chuck E. Cheese

Rebecca as an award winning actress

There was a beautiful, tear-jerking scene toward the end of last week’s This is Us (I know, right?) in which Kate calls her mother to thank her for giving the three “triplets” a childhood in which they never knew they didn’t have money. She told her mother that their homemade Halloween costumes and big, backyard birthday parties with homemade cakes “were better than at Chuck E. Cheese.”

Boy, can I relate to that, and I think my girls can, too, if not now, then when they have kids of their own.

Until my girls were in high school, I made every Halloween costume they wore. They were simple and inexpensive and were often made of materials we had around the house or purchased from the Dollar Tree. Despite all that, the girls loved them, and some even brought home trophies, winning accolades over the most expensive store-bought costumes or the hours-long, detail-oriented ones of Pinterest fame. Even thrift shop dresses and grandma’s old stole can turn an ordinary girl into an Academy Award Winning Actress (who traded her Oscar for a Prettiest Costume trophy).

My mother taught me to a make what you can, buy what you must, and use more imagination than money, but the key ingredient was always love. Mom loved us, and she loved showing us how much she loved us, not by breaking the bank, but by putting her heart into whatever she did (and still does).

And something else Mom taught me is something that I can’t help but wonder if so many moms have forgotten in the past several years: The more you spend on something…

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Choosing Life Over Fear

Covid 19 is not your enemy, fear is. You will not die one day sooner or one day later than God has planned for you. But he did not create you to live in fear. The Bible says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

I’ve written before about having faith in God rather than living your life in fear. It’s something that is often on my mind but especially so over the past year.

A few days ago, a friend posted this photograph with the caption,

Covid 19 is not your enemy, fear is. You will not die one day sooner or one day later than God has planned for you. But he did not create you to live in fear. The Bible says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

This truly spoke to me because this is how our family has chosen to live over the past year.

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A Surprising Renewal

Our Colorado Kitchen

I’ve talked a lot in the past few weeks about renewal and new beginnings. We often think of springtime as the signature time of year for these new beginnings. Spring brings Easter and flowers and warmer days with shorter nights. Yet I have come to learn that we can witness renewals and new beginnings at any time of year, even in the cold days of winter.

For about sixteen years, our family has had a cabin in Colorado that we share with some family and friends. For about that long, Ken has wanted to visit the cabin in the winter, and I have said, absolutely not, no way, no how, I’m not interested. Well, this year, he somehow convinced me to make the trip, and here I sit, typing in my makeshift office–our kitchen table–with the warm, morning sun on my back.

Over the past few days, I’ve seen this beautiful part of the country in a whole new light…

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Hidden Treasure

Here is my bargain of the night from last week’s local auction that Ken and I always go to…

There were two big boxes, one completely sealed, and one open just enough to see that there was some kind of plant inside. Nobody wanted them, so I thought, heck, I’ll take them. I held up my number and got them for $6.

The next afternoon, I opened the boxes, and guess what…

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New Beginnings

It’s still cold outside, but it’s predicted to reach 60° two days this week. There are signs everywhere that spring is coming. Our irises are already six inches tall, and the daffodils are probably just below the swath of snow stretching across the garden. The days are growing longer, and Easter–late this year–is just one a month away. All around us are signs of new beginnings.

Many of you will remember that our oldest daughter got married in September, between waves of COVID that forced so many weddings to be cancelled or postponed. She experienced an entire year of new beginnings, and she’s already doing the same in 2021.

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The Other UPs of Lent

Via Delorosa

When our children were young, we always talked to them about Lent and how it leads up to Easter. We made sure they all gave up something and understood the sacrifice involved. One year, when they were all very young, we even did the jelly bean Lenten activity. One thing I’m not sure we did adequately was to teach our children why we give things up. I don’t know that we really emphasized the point of the sacrifice, the point of going without, or the point of forty days of changed behavior.

As one who has never felt spiritually challenged or renewed by giving things up, I do know that I always tried to impress upon our girls that it’s not always about what you give up. The real point is what goes on within. That’s really what Lent is all about – a change from within.

To make up for lost time with my own girls and in an attempt to help others, here are things I feel are more important than giving up. These are the other UPs of Lent:

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Hope, Affliction, and Prayer

I’ve put off writing this for a long time – several weeks in fact. It’s not because I’m uncomfortable talking about it but because I’m sick of hearing about it and talking about it and thinking about it. I’m writing this only because I’d like to start a conversation that comes from the people and not from the doctors. That’s not to say that I don’t believe what the doctors have to say but because I don’t believe they are talking to each other about what they are hearing from us, the patients. Maybe they are, but too many times in the past couple months I’ve heard, “My doctor has never heard of this,” or “My doctor says it’s not a symptom,” or “My doctor looks at me like I’m crazy.”

We’re not crazy. We’re just hurting, confused, and looking for answers.

Maybe if we can start a conversation about what we’re experiencing, we can find the answers that everyone needs and hopes for. I know that’s my hope and also my prayer.

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