Monday, April 29, 2013

more homeschooling from this homegirl

i am an extreme people pleaser.  extreme people pleasers - unlike regular people pleasers - get their blood pressure up over anyone who opposes them even the slightest bit.  {maybe that makes me more of a defensive jerk than a people pleaser...either get the idea}

i guess i knew that confessing my plans for homeschooling would lead to a lively discussion.  i still got my feelings hurt when people told me they thought it wasn't a good idea.  fortunately i get over these things quickly and remember how dumb it is to think that every person in the world would agree with every decision i ever made.  thanks to those of you who entered into the homeschooling was good for me.  i hope it was good for you too.  

because it was so good i have decided to continue with a few more posts.  if all this homeschooling mess makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or bores you to tears i apologize in advance.  i hope you might still find some redeeming value in some of these posts...i have a lot of words to share on this particular subject right now.  i'm planning to share them on mondays for a little while {unless of course i change my mind and don' can do that when you have your own blog}.
i've had some of you ask me about exactly how i am planning to homeschool while working and...well...i'm glad you asked.

here's the plan...
lucy will attend a transitional kindergarten program at her current preschool 4 mornings a week.  I will work during that time.  When she is at home we will work through kindergarten curriculum.   i use the term 'curriculum' loosely because we are taking a charlotte mason approach to education and this means that learning will mostly be woven into our days and direct instruction will be kept to a minimum.  so, although she will be participating in a TK program, this will still be her kindergarten year and she will be a 1st grader the following year.  {and who knows what we will do then?!  we are taking this thing one year at a time.}

over the next few weeks i will share with you the reasons why this formerly anti-homeschooler is moving forward with the very thing she thought she'd never do.  in the meantime, these are NOT the reasons we plan to homeschool:
:: we don't like our public school - i have heard great things about the elementary school we are zoned for.  i have met some of the teachers and they seem awesome.  i am not homeschooling because i don't like our public school option.
:: we don't think our child would do well in the public school - lucy has really enjoyed preschool and does well in her class.  i don't have any reason to believe that she would have problems in a public school setting.
:: we want to shelter our kids from the world - i do admit that i would like to have some control over when and how my kids are exposed to certain things, but my intention is not to keep them in a little bubble apart from society.  on the contrary - i am excited for my kids to engage the world around them.

now i bet you can't wait to find out the real reasons, can you?

Friday, April 26, 2013

holding people in the fragile places

when i arrived at the arena on wednesday night my cell phone was sitting snug in my back pocket.

the most recent texts that it held contained prayer requests for a friend who was counseling another friend filing for divorce and a young woman in her twenties who is 5 months into her first pregnancy and has just been diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

as i joined thousands of other voices in worship i was keenly aware of the cell phone in my pocket and the fragile lives represented there.  i held the names of these women in my heart and whispered their names aloud during a time of collective prayer.
i often weep when i receive prayer requests.  some tears are born from a place of broken heartedness for those requesting and others are born from a deeper place where i know i am privileged to approach God's throne on their behalf.  i think i was created to connect with people in the fragile places.

sometimes i feel a heavy burden in lifting those names, those souls, up in my incapable hands to a capable God.  then i remember that my prayers hold no special power but my God does and my prayers are precious to him.  all of our prayers are precious to him.

i will never forget discovering the words of john.  

he had spent years in the company of jesus so i feel confident that he knew the heart of God.  at the point when he wrote these words he had lived a long life of knowing God and making him known to others.  God revealed to john some pretty amazing things about the life to come and although i don't understand it all {how could we?  it's still yet to come} i received this particular part like a gift a couple of years ago...

...they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people.

i don't know if you pray or not.  even if you don't completely buy into this whole christian thing you might offer up a prayer from time to might be screamed out loud or just barely breathed.  any way that you communicate with God is cool...even if you're not 100% sure you believe in him.  you don't have to work for a church or go to seminary to pray.

i'm not nearly as disciplined in my prayer life as i would like to be.  most often my prayers are spontaneous and unplanned.  sometimes they involve me closing my eyes other times they don't.  sometimes i grab the hand of another and other times i am all alone.  i don't think the specific way we do it is nearly as important as the fact that we do it.  but...every once in a while i begin to wonder if my words are just filling up air momentarily and then get blown away...forever lost.

this week as i re-read john's words and join my voice with the voices of others who believe, i am reminded that i couldn't be further from the truth.  God not only hears every word {spoken and unspoken} but he keeps them.  he actually has a place for them in heaven.  our prayers aren't stuffed in a cardboard box in the back of a dark closet somewhere...they are held in golden bowls in the arms of heavenly beings and they are still at work filling the very air of heaven with their sweet scent.  is that not amazing?  it gives me goosebumps every time i remember.

if you think your prayers don't matter...think again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 may not be as crazy as you think

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child's natural bent.”  

education as there's something that gets me excited.  {and i generally consider plato a pretty smart dude so anything he has to say is worth considering}
three years ago i would have laughed in your face if you told me i should homeschool my children.  i would have probably followed that up with some smart comment about not wanting my kids to grow up to be completely socially awkward.  i would then boast about the fact that i came up through the public school system and i turned out just fine.  i would close the conversation by stating that i would likely be the worst homeschooling mother ever because of my lack of patience and tendency towards disorganization.

i didn't know anything about homeschooling three years ago.

somewhere between then and now i felt this prompting to learn more about educating children in the home.  my first couple of encounters with parents who were involved in this crazy endeavor involved me smiling and nodding but secretly rolling my eyes.  then there was the week that i had some type of unsolicited 'homeschool' conversation 

every. single. day.  
i have lived long enough to know that those types of things are generally not i started to pay attention.

then i moved beyond just paying attention and i started to ask questions.  over the past year i have found myself surrounded by several friends who are homeschoolers so i have had the opportunity to actually see what all this ridiculous nonsense looks like for families.  and you know what i found...

it's not crazy.
it's not ridiculous.
it's not a one-way ticket to social awkwardness for my kids.

and so here i am.  standing on the edge of the pool ready to dive right in {but i've never been really good at diving so it may be more like a cannonball or something}.

lucy turns five this summer and begins kindergarten in the fall.  i will be her teacher.  i love that.  really...i can honestly say...

i. love. that.

i don't know if we will do this thing for one year or for twelve but i'm excited to see what happens.  over the coming months i will tell you why.

in the meantime...if you are a homeschooling parent i would love your tips and encouragement.  

on the other hand - if you wouldn't touch homeschooling with a 10 foot pole and you think i am absolutely out of my mind just remember that you should 'never say never'.  if your interest is the slightest bit piqued you might want to check out some of the following...just for fun...

ann voskamp - remember her?  1000 gifts.  if you don't read any of the others read this one

the pioneer woman - i mean, if she does it...
the frugal girl - she's frugal and she homeschools...super-weird or super-awesome?  you decide.
charlotte mason - we are planning to use the charlotte mason approach to learning and this website is the BOMB for providing free resources and all kinds of other support and guidance.
ohamanda - she does a hybrid-homeschooling type thing kinda like we will be doing since i will still be working part-time...i love that there are options like this!
life in grace - the reality {and i actually find it inspiring instead of scary}

{i got lots more but that should get you started!}

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

why i don't wait well...

the best use of our gifts is never what we imagined.
:: priscilla shirer ::

i don't like waiting. 
i like movement.  
i don't like stopping.
i like to make progress.

and so i sit {uncomfortably} still and let these words knead and shape my heart...making it into something different...

cease striving and know that i am God...  {psalm 46:10}

those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength... {isaiah 40:31}

be strong and take heart and wait upon the lord... {psalm 27:14}

sometimes it takes more strength to wait long than to work hard...know what i mean?  
i think it has something to do with this awful tendency i have to control everything and keep it on my own terms.

this week i wanted to work but God wanted me to wait.  

joey and i have some precious friends that ministered to us early in our marriage.  one of the things they always say of God is this - He's seldom early...but never late.

i always remember their words but i have to keep relearning that lesson.

i saw saturday circled on my calendar.  i have a speaking engagement that day.  i am usually much farther along in the process of preparing a message than i am this time around...but things have been particularly busy around our house lately.

yesterday i literally fell to my knees and spent several minutes pleading and crying and asking God to please move me forward in this process.  please give me direction and focus as i sit down to work on this thing.

what followed was what felt like 2 hours of disorganized nothing.  wasted time.  forward movement equal to about two inches when i felt as though i needed 2 miles.

i was discouraged and uncomfortable and probably pretty difficult to be around {just ask my husband}.  that's how i respond to waiting...not well.

last night i went to bed early and instead of a long diatribe i simply whispered these words to God - i trust you.

i think i know why waiting takes more out of me than working...  
i try to work through the wait. 
   that's where my faith grows small and fragile.
i should trust through the wait.
   that's what big, strong faith looks like.

instead of accepting God's nudging that now is not the time for you to do that or this is not the direction i want you to go with that...i just keep spinning my wheels figuring that if God is not going to get things moving i am going to have to get extra busy to make it happen.  it's a slippery slope when we try to 'help God out'.  {just ask sarah about that whole incident with hagar.}

last night i finally submitted.  i'm not good at submission {again - ask my poor husband}.

this morning i: 
  opened an encouraging email that gave me direction about my strength as a speaker.
  received affirming words from a wise friend who reminded me to 'speak from the overflow of your heart'.
  had these words - which literally brought me to tears in their validation - delivered to my inbox.
  and was provided a perfect example of what i am called to do by watching one of my own favorite speakers do her thing.

carrying each of these things in my heart, i got into my minivan and drove to the grocery store.  during the 15 minute drive my message for this weekend was written and ready...without ever having placed my fingers on the keyboard.  

seldom early - never late.

what i released from my hands last night God picked right up into his.  
what i had spent hours, days, weeks ruminating over he took and transformed within a matter of minutes and presented it back to me...and it was perfect.

when will i learn that all the hard work i put into my calling is futile if i have not first been still long enough to wait on the one who has called me?

Monday, April 15, 2013

the song that's got us dancing around the kitchen

my 3 year old loves to sing.   he also has some killer dance moves.  
if he had a playlist toby mac would be all over it.

wouldn't it be so incredibly awesome if oliver could meet toby mac, have him drop a beat, and then break it down with him.  {that's assuming oliver would be cooperative and not get into one of his power struggles with me by going mute, crossing his arms, and turning into a statue with his bottom lip poked out...i could see that happening too}

anyway...i'm a pretty big toby mac fan too and we have been totally loving one if his songs from the 'eye on it' album lately.  and when i say 'totally loving' i mean the kids and i blast it and dance around the kitchen like crazy people.  it's some serious praise and worship up in here y'all!

anyway...the song {and why i'm really into it}...

over the past several months my life has been moving in a new direction.  
i find myself on the stage more often.  
i speak into a microphone with more frequency.    
my time is spent reading and studying and writing things that other people will actually read and hear and see.  
it's a bit strange for me.  not strange-bad, just strange-different.

i didn't plan any of this.  most days i feel like i'm standing by watching this chapter of life unfold and i barely recognize that the person it is happening to is me {especially when i see myself wearing something other than yoga pants and a t-shirt and my hair isn't pulled back in a ponytail}.  

sharing my faith in very public ways is a heavy thing...but it's a beautiful thing.  it feels like what i was created for.  it feels like the puzzle pieces of my being are finally starting to fit together.

so what in the world does this have to do with toby mac??  i think you'll understand when you give this song a listen.  every time i communicate to groups of people i am keenly aware his words are truth.  like me, those people are...

anticipating, craving, something more than smoke and lights

when i step up in front of a group i don't want to create the perfect show...but show them the perfect Creator.  
i so desperately don't want any of this to be about me.  

that's a challenge when it's your voice being broadcast, your face on the screen, your tweets being followed {cringe}.  all i know to do is to ask the One who placed each opportunity in my hands as a gift to turn back around and take it away.

as i'm doing my last minute prep for this weekend's 'parenting on purpose' event i'm singing along with toby...and i'm on my knees asking God to steal that show...i know He's got something to say...  

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. {1 peter 4:10-11 MSG}

btw - did you know that toby mac is a really good golfer?  i'm thinking that with my golfer hubby we are all destined to be friends and oliver might get his dance party after all!

{congratulations taylor - you won last week's giveaway for a free ticket to 'parenting on purpose'!!}

Thursday, April 11, 2013

why i talk about parenting {and a giveaway!}

have you ever heard yourself on the radio?

it's kind of like an out-of-body experience...for me at least.

yesterday i spent some time over at my favorite charlotte radio station - new life 91.9.  
we were recording some promo material for the parenting conference i am doing next week.  
i sound like i'm all professional when i say that, right?  
i'm not.  
never done anything like that before.  never talked into a microphone that appeared to be the size of my head, knowing that it would be broadcast for thousands of people to hear.  
it's always a little nerve-racking doing something new like that...something out of your comfort zone.  the people at 91.9 make you feel comfortable though.  i think i could have sat and talked with gary morland all day.  he sees the world in stories like me...and in addition to being a gifted storyteller he's also a great encourager.

but here's the thing...despite the great experience i had in the studio, i spent the next two hours after i left in self-critique mode.  
oh man - i can't believe i said that!  
oh no - i totally left out the most important thing i wanted to say!  
i bet they are going to have to do some major editing to get anything usable out of all that rambling i did.  
i'm not even a good parent...why in the world am i doing this?
i was seriously driving myself crazy to the point of exhaustion.  i sat down on the couch and felt like i couldn't get up {which is exactly what i needed to do...get up and get over it}.  

have you ever had those moments when you feel like you are experiencing a mini-depression?  at some point i always realize that the only way to escape my self-absorption is to climb out from under that weight of pride and fear and focus on something besides my own pitiful self.  

in an effort to do that, i grabbed lucy's hand and led her into the kitchen to make smoothies with me.  in the background we had the radio on.  as we tossed bananas and kale into the blender we sang along to the familiar words.  just as we had finished up, lucy started goofing around on her stool and knocked my drink off the counter and all over the kitchen floor.  i instinctively wanted to scream because it had been a long day and i had a lot on my mind.  by the grace of God i held my tongue.  she looked up at me with apologetic eyes and told me it was an accident.  i knew it was.  everybody has accidents.  i asked her kindly to grab a towel and help me clean.  she stripped off her clothes {'cause the girl can't stand wearing anything that has gotten the slightest bit wet} so she was mopping up the floor in her undies next to me.  suddenly the song went off the radio and a familiar voice began speaking - gary's voice.  lucy looked up at me and said - mommy, they're talking about you! 

as my voice was broadcast over the airwaves lucy jumped up and into my arms with a big grin on her face.  there we stood with soggy towels still in hand...lucy still in her undies and me right smack dab in the middle of my world of parenting.  

we listened to me talking about parenting and then one of my favorite songs came on and i began to twirl her.  as we twirled and sang and danced...a few tears began to find their way down my face.  when lucy asked me 'why?' she smiled because she already knew they were joy tears.  i didn't know how to explain...
God gave you to me almost 5 years ago and i became a mommy.
i had no idea what i was doing but i knew i loved you so much.
then He gave me oliver and i loved him so much.
being your mommy is so important to me and God is teaching me so much.  
even though i don't do a perfect job of it God has given me the opportunity to talk about my life as a mommy and encourage others in theirs.  
my heart is so full of gratitude to Him for that.  

{me, leigh anderson from 91.9, and renee swope from proverbs 31}
next saturday i will join an impressive lineup of speakers at ::PARENTING ON PURPOSE:: 
i'm not stepping up to that microphone because i think i'm an expert on parenting who gets everything right.  on the contrary, i'm still learning and i get a lot of things wrong.  i'm stepping up to the microphone because i believe in families.  
i believe God has some important things to teach us in our roles as moms and dads and i don't want anybody to miss out on that.
i believe all parents want what's best for their kids.  
i believe there is power in community.  
i believe if we share our stories and struggles and encourage one another we won't just become better families...we'll become a better community...a better world.  
i believe families are that important.  

i truly can't think of a more valuable way to spend 5 hours than to join with other moms and dads to strengthen our families and refresh our hearts to go back into the trenches of parenting.  

this isn't just a's an invitation to revolution.  

you are invited to be a part of a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way we raise our children.   would you join us?  whether you feel like your family is in the middle of smooth sailing or you are battling the winds and rains of a major storm...join us...

parenting on purpose
saturday :: april 20
charlotte, nc
9am @ northside baptist church
register on-line 
{childcare available!}

AND...i am giving away a free ticket to someone who shares either this blog post or the 'parenting on purpose' link on your own FB or blog.  Just leave a comment here or on my FB page to let me know you've shared and why you would love to attend this event!
{i will randomly select a winner saturday morning at 10am so enter before then!}

Saturday, April 6, 2013

playing in the mud

my kids love mud.  

do your kids love mud?

my son, in particular, has some type of sixth sense for detecting mud puddles.  it may not have rained for days but we can go to the park and he can wander off and come back with mud all over his shoes and pants.

i used to get really worked up about mud.

now i embrace it.

after's just wet dirt and it washes off.  

yesterday i let my kids play in the mud.  
{by the way - this picture horrifies my husband}
when i first rounded the corner in our backyard and saw oliver spraying water on an already soggy piece of earth my initial reaction was frustration and anxiety about the mess he was about to make.  but i saw how intrigued he was and i remembered it was just wet dirt and...well...i had a decision to make...
i could either stop him in his tracks and threaten a consequence if he didn't get the heck away from the mud...or i could let him play.

he looked at me with great trepidation.  when i smiled and asked him to come over so i could roll up his pants his mouth stretched wide across his face and that big gap-tooth grin smiled up at me.

it's important to me that my kids have boundaries and know that i'm the boss of them.  it's also important to me that my kids don't feel so confined inside my boundaries that they grow up constantly looking for a way out...away from me.

so i let me kids play in the mud today.  they tossed it in the air.  they got it on their face and all in between their fingers and toes.  i had to strip them down and hose them off.  and we laughed and talked through it all.  even in the bathtub afterwards they were still giddy, recapping and looking at me with grateful eyes for allowing them that simple freedom.

i'm still the mommy.  i'm still the boss.  but the best bosses let their people get messy sometimes.  they let them try out new things even if it's inconvenient and inefficient.  they keep a tight hold on their standards not on their people...otherwise someone might wind up feeling strangled and unable to breath.

i will always wrap my fingers tight around some very important standards for my family but i will never {i pray} wrap anything so tightly around my kids that they don't feel free to move and live and breathe right here with our own backyard.
{see...all clean again...and still so happy}
happy weekend friends...hope you have the chance to run and play and be free {and maybe even a little messy}!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

the man i met in line {and what he's got me thinking about}

today i made a quick stop at target on my way home.  

this was a huge accomplishment for me considering the fact that those dollar bins at the door were marked down 70% off and i was sooo tempted to stop and look around for 15 minutes at all the neat stuff that i could buy for 30 cents {and then throw away in two weeks}.  

i demonstrated tremendous willpower by walking right on past the dollar bins and straight to the pharmacy area {where even more sale merchandise beckoned to me from the endcaps with all those bright red little stickers screaming - 'i am such a good deal!'}.

i feel this post turning into a lesson on consumerism and our culture's ridiculous need to buy things even when we don't need them, but this is really not my on...

i grabbed my bath brush and epsom salt {the newest tools in my arsenal to destroy lucy's eczema} and headed for the check-out.  i was sort of in a hurry and had several other things i needed to get to, so it pleased me greatly to find a lane open with only one other person waiting.

as i approached the register i realized that there was indeed only one person in line in front of me and although he didn't have a lot of items he was an older gentleman and he was pulling out his...get ready for this...checkbook {oh boy...this was a trick...i thought i got the best line but now i've got check-writing old guy ahead of me!}.

i walked up just in time to see him looking around puzzled and asking the cashier if they had giftcards.  for whatever reason  my hurried heart suddenly softened to him.  the cashier looked at the rack of giftcards that was right in front of the man's face and then looked at him like he had 3 heads - they are right here sir.  i could tell he was still struggling so i decided to provide a little assistance.

what's the occasion?
a wedding...i need a gift card for a wedding.
ok -'s one that looks perfect for a wedding.
thank you so much.  that is just right.  now how do i know how much it's worth?
{cashier again gives the 'you have 3 heads' look}
well...the great thing is you can put whatever amount on it that you'd like.

i watch as his shaky hand carefully writes out the amount and he passes the check to the cashier.  he turns to me before he goes - thank you for being so helpful.  i smile and tell him it was my pleasure and i hope he has a great day.
later as i get in my car and pull out of the parking lot i wish i'd said more.  i wish i'd asked who was getting married...maybe there was a story there.  maybe it was his grandchild.  maybe his wife is no longer able to get out and perform such tasks as buying wedding gifts for grandchildren.  maybe his wife is no longer around at all.  maybe he lives alone now and doesn't get out much.  maybe i was the only person he would really talk to all day long.

i could be all wrong...i have this terrible tendency to try and guess a person's life story from a 2 minute interaction.  heck...i will guess a person's life story just based on watching them from across the room.

whether i am right or wrong about my check-writing friend, my interaction with him got me thinking...

as much as i sometimes complain about how much work i have to do, how behind i am on laundry, what all i need to do for the kids, how late joey has to work, all the phone calls and emails i need to return...
all those things represent the fullness of my life.

i have work to do, because i have a job i love.
i am behind on laundry, because i have spent time writing and reading and working in my yard.
i have so much to do for the kids because i am a mother...and i have 2 little people to teach and love.
i wish joey could come home earlier, because he is my husband and we just have the best time together.
and all those calls and emails...they represent lots of people who are important to me.

my life is full...and i can't help but think that at some point it could begin to empty of these things...
kids grow up and move away.  people retire from their jobs or they're replaced with some young whipper snappers.  spouses do friends.
one day when my life is quiet and there is an emptiness to my house {and my schedule} i want to be able to look back and know that i embraced the full...that i didn't wish it away or carry it like a heavy burden.  i want to cup my hands around the abundance of all i have been given in this season and gaze at the beauty of full.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

my 3-year-old and his spear

as the resurrection eggs are hidden for the 20th time we are still talking about easter at our house.  
here's the topic my little hearts have been wrestling with most.  {and if i'm honest...i'm wrestling too}

those men...those 'bad, mean men'...who whipped jesus and made him carry that cross and drove those nails into his hands and mocked him and even after his death shoved a spear into his side...
my 3 year old son wants to kill them.

he can't let it go.

i see it bring sadness to lucy but for oliver there is anger.  there is a deep need for justice to be served on behalf of the man we pray to when we are scared and when we are thankful.  if jesus is our friend...if he is the most important person in our can we not defend him?  how can we not vindicate his murder?

he keeps walking around with that tiny plastic spear...armed and ready.

i keep explaining over and over in different ways that i understand, but that jesus calls us to love.  jesus came to die for those bad, mean men too.  jesus wants us to behave like He did...not like they did.  jesus prayed for them because he believed that they didn't know what they were doing.  he believed all people were worth saving, and so should we.  i hope some of this is penetrating his angry little heart.

righteous anger...i possess it too.  
someone needs to pay for what they've done!  
people can't just get away with that!
i should not have to put up with this kind of irresponsible behavior!
somebody needs to set them straight!

as tim keller says in his book 'the reason for God' - 
at the very heart of {christians'} view of reality was a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness.  reflection on this could only lead to a radically different way of dealing with those who were different from them.

radically different.
not just the same old 'blame game' or the usual selfish ambition or the instinctive need to be right...
i want to choose something different...something radically different.

i have a hard enough time smiling and blessing {not blessing OUT} the person who cuts me off in traffic...and here is Jesus praying forgiveness for the men who were killing him.  how do i grab hold of that kind of earth-shattering grace?

it's a radical faith we are called to live.  
the world is moving in a different direction.  
we are swimming upstream.  

i'm glad my son is wrestling this one at 3.  i have a feeling that in ten years it will lead to radical faith at 13...and then 23...and then he can pass it on to his own 3 year old...

generations of radical all starts with the tiny seeds we are sowing now...are you with me?

Monday, April 1, 2013

if you didn't feel easter down deep

i remained silent most of last week...holy week.
it's difficult to really grasp the magnitude of this season.  and just when i begin to wrap my fingers around this heart-wrenching love story i find that there are no words to convey what i am holding onto.

if i'm honest...i didn't give lent the time and focus i should have this year.  i didn't prepare as i would have liked to.  but yesterday i got on my knees and asked God to clearly paint the picture of this ultimate gift anew in my heart...with colors bright.  
and He did.

we sang these words at church...
freedom's calling, chains are falling,
hope is dawning bright and true.
day is breaking, night is quaking.
God is making all things new.

when i think of 'new' i think of something that looks shiny and whole.  i think of something that smells fresh and clean.  i think of something that sits untouched...unstained.

that's what God promises us.

but in order to make us new, things had to get dirty.  
and so i can't look at the beauty of the resurrection without remembering that the hours before looked more dull and broken than shiny and whole.  when i think of the blood and sweat and the sourness of that vinegar-soaked sponge it doesn't leave me feeling fresh and clean.  and let's not forget that jesus' body was anything but untouched...

if ever, like me, you feel that your heart may have become hardened to the truth of holy week do this one thing...
...explain it to your child.
{jesus storybook bible}
you don't have to reserve this conversation for lent.  you can share it any time.  explain who Jesus is and what He did and what was done to Him and what He did in response.  
watch your children's expressions and answer their questions and see if your eyes don't well up with tears.  

i spend time every day of every week of every year talking to my children about my Savior.  we have a relationship with him because we talk to Him and about Him on a regular basis.  God's grace and love are known to my children despite the fractured, inadequate ways that I communicate such mammoth truths.

because His name is precious in our home...His death is devastating in our hearts.

and that's as it should be.

i want to be devastated, ruined, crumpled over in sorrow when faced with the reality of the lengths my sweet Jesus went to in making a new way for me...for my family...for all people.

and so i let my children hear the story and we use the word 'sad'.   i hear my son question 'those mean people' who hurt our King.  i watch my daughter hold a tiny metal cup up to her lips and say it reminds her of 'the blood'.  we feel the dirty, messy, anything-but-new feelings that come with seeing someone you love hurt...
...and then we use the words 'love' and 'hope'.  and i listen to lucy joyfully sing words to a song she is writing as she goes.  i hear the carefully crafted lyrics tell of Jesus, our friend, who died on the cross, and rose from the tomb, and...He is alive!  and we celebrate!
and there is that captivating contrast...  
that darkness that became light.  
that falling that led to the rising. 
that blood-stained body that was transformed into heaven's glow.  
that death that miraculously became life.

how do we wrap our shaky, fragile fingers around that? 

just like lucy wrapped her fingers around that tiny cup...
     with confidence...that's how.

we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 
{romans 6:4}

{if you are looking for ways to explain Jesus' death and resurrection to your kids check out resurrection eggs...they are one of my favorite teaching tools and you may be able to find them on sale right now!}