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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Responses to the Cross

Eric and I attended the Palco-Damar ministerial alliance community Good Friday service at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Damar last night. This was my first experience with a Good Friday service in a Catholic Church.  This is my first experience with the Stations of the Cross.  For me, personally, I think I would have gotten more out of taking a prayer walk around the room myself than ritualistic corporate reading while leaders walked to each station.  I am not used to rituals and readings from the bulletin.  I found myself needing to close my eyes to focus on Christ and worship Him, not focus on the decorations around me.    Worship is much more a personal experience for me.

There was discussion during the service of the varying responses of individuals to the cross.  Imagine for a moment that you don't know the end of the story.  You don't know how things will turn out.  Imagine you are sitting at the foot of the cross not knowing this is not the end.  How would you respond?

The cross was covered with black cloth to represent mourning.  How glad I am that we know this is not the end of the story.  Sunday's coming!!!

If you've never been to St.Joseph's Church, it is quite ornate and was a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas in Architecture.  Stop by and enjoy the amazing architecture.  The acoustics are quite incredible with the rounded ceilings.  You can't say something in one part of the church and hope to keep it a secret from someone in another part of the sanctuary:)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Take Up Your Cross

I've been trying to figure out exactly what it means when Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  Luke 9:23 (NIV).  I've been really digging into the meaning of this ever since I read Not a Fan.
I even wrote a second blog post about my journey toward becoming a follower:

But, what does it mean to "take up our cross daily?"  Does it mean we have to endure suffering:  Maybe, but not necessarily.  It doesn't mean you have to sit back and take all the junk the world wants to throw your way. It is less about suffering through the "trials of life" and more about dying to self.  Yes, Jesus suffered much and it culminated with His death on the cross.  The cross was about death.  I believe when we are told to "take up your cross," we are being told to be willing to die to self daily.  Our lives should not be about our selfish needs and what we want or think.  Our lives should be about what He wants for us.  In order to do this daily, we need to be in communication with God daily through Bible reading and prayer.  We won't know what direction He wants us to go if we don't talk to Him (or better yet, let him drive)

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You're not in the driver's seat--I am.  Don't run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow me and I'll show you how.  Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.  What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the true you?"  Luke 9:23-25 (Message)

As scary as it is to give up the illusion of control, that it what we are called to do.  If we let God in control of our lives, He will take us places we could never imagine.  Let's be willing to take up our cross and go on the adventure of our lives.

YouTube video by Alistair Begg

"In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33 (NIV)

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Last night at church we had the Passover Seder meal in my class.  I was both nervous and excited.  I couldn't wait to have this experience, but would my class appreciate it or be bored out of their minds.  It's hard to tell what 3rd graders will be thinking.

I have experienced some form of the last supper and/or foot washing many times in my life.  I've even been part of a reenactment of the "last supper" when actors representing Jesus and his disciples were eating their "last supper" at the front of the room.  I have never before been part of a passover Seder that integrates the traditional Jewish Seder elements with a discussion of how they relate to Christians.  How Christ is the sacrificial lamb.  Thank you Focus on the Family and Thriving Family magazine for sharing the details of how to create this meaningful celebration.

We did not have foot washing, but washed hands in a basin and discussed foot washing.  We read the story of the "last supper" and discussed the meaning behind the washing of the disciples feet and how we can apply that in our lives today.  We discussed how Jesus knew Judas would soon betray Him and washed his feet anyway. What does that tell us about how we treat those who are mean or unkind to us?

"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and it's unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.'  I'm challenging that.  I'm telling you to love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.  When someone give you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-given selves.  This is what God does.  He gives His best--the sun to warmth and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good, the bad, the nice and nasty.  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus?  Anybody can do that.  If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal?  Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up.  You're kingdom subjects.  Now live like it.  Live out your God-created identity.  Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."  Matthew 5:43-48 (Message)

It was amazing to me to marry the concepts of the Passover and what Christ has done for us.  It was meaningful to leave the plate for Elijah and then talk about how we know the Messiah has come.

What did 3rd graders think of this?  The first thing they mentioned was that they had tried horseradish and it was sour.  :)  They did tell me they enjoyed the evening, because it was fun and different.  Did they learn anything?  We'll see.  But, at least the seed has been planted.

As we said at the fourth and final cup of the evening, "Come, Lord Jesus."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Things I Look for When I Enter a Room

What do you look for when you enter a room?  I think that changes as your stage in life and your needs change.   When I was younger, I don't remember looking for anything specific when I entered a building.  My first memory of looking for something specific was after I had children.  At first, I was looking for a quiet, private area where I could take them if they needed to eat or nap.  While I was potty training, the bathroom became the first thing I looked for.  You need to know where it is before someone being potty trained says they need to use it.  :)

After the accident, my search became more specific.  I needed to know not only where the bathroom is but where the accessible bathroom is (if there is one).  By the way, if a bathroom has a disabled sign on the door, please be truly wheelchair accessible.  There have been bathrooms I have been in that only need a bar on the wall to make them accessible.  Please, just add a bar--especially if you advertise accessibility.

This week, I added another item I look for when I enter a building--power outlets.  I always carry my charger with me when I'm out on my power chair.  However, it does no good if you don't know where to plug in.  So, I find myself scoping out the outlets in  every building I enter.  Now, I can charge while I wait (if I need to)

What do you look for when you enter a building?  Do you look for anything?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time to Move?

I feel like it is time to move again.  Not to a new community, but to a new house.  I love this house and everything we've done to it.  We've worked hard to make it accessible for me and that it will meet all our needs (and some of our wants).  But, I still find myself looking at other houses around town and thinking it is time to move.

Maybe I've moved so much in my adult life, I don't know how to settle anywhere for any length of time.  Maybe as much as I don't like change, I'm not a big fan of sameness either.  Maybe I know how to rally myself into moving mode and don't always know how to manage familiarity.  Maybe my house just needs a good spring cleaning and that's the only way I really know how to do it.  Yeah, I think that's it.  If I were really honest with myself, the house needs a good spring cleaning and moving to a new home and a fresh start will get that done.

So, how do I manage spring cleaning without moving?  Maybe I should pretend we're moving and box and go through EVERYTHING!!  How do I manage cleaning an area and having it destroyed to look unclean within minutes of my family coming home?  Maybe we'll just have to wait and have a family session of pretending to move after school gets out for the summer and I have more help.

I don't really want to move.  I just want to wave a magic wand and have a spotless house.  Any ideas on how to make that happen?

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools Day

Ahhh, April Fools.  This day can either be fun or miserable.  It's all in how you take it.  For those who love harmless pranks and love to be pranked, it can be the favorite day of the year.  For those who don't like pranks at all or prank in a way that is not harmless, this can be a very dangerous day.  For those who take things literally, this can be a confusing day.   Thankfully, I think I am past the stage of taking everything literally with my traumatic brain injury.  Well, maybe that is not exactly true.  Maybe my family is just kind enough to use harmless pranks that are not about lying to me, so we can all have fun.  Switched cereal boxes, rubber banded handle on the water hose, or a dollar wrapped into the toilet paper are just plain fun.  So are foods disguised to look like other foods.

What is not fun is people who blatantly tell lies.  Since when does God tell us on one day a year we can forget the commandment about lying if we follow it with "April Fools."  One of the standard April Fools jokes in my life was "It's snowing!" immediately followed by "April Fools."  What is difficult is when the "April Fools" does not immediately follow the lie.  How am I to ever know to trust people if they keep a lie going for several hours or all day?  As the parent of young children, teaching that lying is ever OK (even if it is only one day a year) is a dangerous proposition.  Lying is wrong, ALWAYS!!!

I know there are people out there that will read this and think I'm a killjoy and ruining all your fun.  I know there are some of you that are thinking right now, "Just lighten up."  I'm just saying there is a way to make April Fools Day loads of fun without sinning or hurting others (intentional or not).

You must know if you tell me a major lie on April Fools Day, I will have difficulty trusting you from that point on.  Telling a lie about a serious issue is dangerous.  Someday, if it is true in the future, you may find people have difficulty believing you are telling the truth.  Let's just have fun on April Fools and enjoy harmless pranks.

Mother nature pranked us this year.  Who needs temperatures in the mid to high 90s on  April 1?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Praise--Don't Make the Rocks Cry Out

This was the first Palm Sunday in many years that I was in a service with actual, live palm branches.  And, of course, like every service I've been in with live palm branches, the kiddos came parading in, waving them.  They were cute as always and did a great job.  It got me thinking.  Why do we always use kids to wave the palm branches?

Sure, they're cuter and way more fun to watch parade in and stand up front.  I think perhaps the real reason is that they are generally able to worship purely and freely.  No one usually questions their motives or wonders if they genuinely love.  They are mostly genuine and speak their mind honestly and have their true feelings written on their faces.  (Sometimes to the chagrin of their parents).  :) They do not yet put on the "church mask" that many adults put on.

Often, we adults have become quite cynical and focus more on ourselves and what those around us will think than on Christ.  We would feel silly standing in front of the congregation waving our palm branches.  We would be too concerned with what those around us think.  Should we really care what those around us are thinking?  Shouldn't we care more about what Christ is thinking?  Our praise and worship is for Him anyway.  Should we only focus on celebrating Jesus on Palm Sunday?  I don't think so.  We should be praising Him every day of our lives.  Today we recognize his triumphal entry.  Next Sunday, we celebrate His victory over death and wonderful saving grace.  He died on the cross to make it possible for us to have and eternal relationship with Him in Heaven.  Thank you Jesus.  We should be praising Him every day, not just a few days a year.

"But He said, 'If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.'"  Luke 19:40 (Message)

I want to always keep my eyes only on you, Jesus.  Help me to do that and focus on how you want me to worship, not what those around me will think.