Saturday, March 30, 2013

~What Easter Means to Me~

This is the last in a mini-series I began this month, entitled "What Easter Means to Me". If you missed part 1 & 2, I have re-posted the links below.

While there are many fun Easter traditions celebrated in Western society, (think eggs, chocolate, gift-giving for children in small, colorful baskets, and meals shared with family/friends) today I am going to give a quick synopsis of what is portrayed in the bible as occurring approximately 2,000 years ago:

-Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples (Judas) and given over to the religious authorities to be tried, and upon them readily finding him 'guilty' by false accusations, he was given over for torture (whipping, flogging, etc.), and then eventually he was taken away to be crucified...

-However, on the third day, His tomb was found to be empty! He had already told His disciples that He would die, and then raise again back to life; however, like many of us today, they did not fully understand what He meant

That is the very, very short read the full passage from the bible you can visit this site and read Mark 15 & 16 (or look at the end of the gospels in your own bible).

So, now I would like to share the conclusion of my mini-series: why I celebrate Easter

Five Things The Cross Did for Me; why I celebrate Easter!

  • It brought me hope for my future; here & into eternity

  • It changed my outlook about life, from a mainly negative one, to one filled with hope

  • Christ taught my heart to forgive, let go of my past, & receive His love for me

  • It brought an end to past destructive habits

  • I no longer have to wait around feeling hopeless, depressed & condemned about my mistakes. I've been given new freedom, His hope and His joy!

Here is a short encouraging story, from a dear friend of mine, of what the cross has meant to her:

“In the same way the robbers who were crucified with Him also heaped insults on him.” Matthew


       I have seen over the course of the last few months how God has used the cross to change so much of my life. I would like to share a very recent story of what God has been doing in me:
One thing you will need to know about me is that I have undergone a lot of rejection in my past. I have gone into my adulthood still carrying a lot of these hurts. God has recently shown me how I haven’t overcome these hurts fully & am still bearing unforgiveness in my heart towards certain people. This past weekend, in my church, I took part in communion to remember what Christ did for me with approaching
Easter. As I took time holding that cup in my hand, thinking about Christ dying on the cross for me, I experienced a change taking place in my heart. In that moment, God spoke a very real thought in my heart that brought me freedom from these hurts: ‘When they were throwing insults at you and ridiculing you, they were not doing it to you, they were doing it to me.’ I have seen God heal me from unforgiveness, and now I am free to live in this new wholeness. With this, I have experienced a new peace and rest, and
am ready to walk in His will for my life.~Sarah

Conclusion of this article:

Easter is one of my most favorite holidays..ever. 

Hope. Joy. New Life. Overcoming. 

Available to all.

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 ERV)

Sorry...cute lil Mr. Bunny Rabbit! As cute as you are, you need to move over to make way for the REAL reason Easter is celebrated :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I had done the unforgivable...

With Easter fast approaching, I have started a mini-series to explain, for this gal, what it truly means to me...

And if you missed the first entry you can find it here:
In that blog entry I shared my journey to forgive those who had deeply hurt me.

Today I venture into different waters...

I want to share how the cross affected my view of myself, and more specifically, how the cross enabled me to forgive myself... for things I had done (past, present, and I can only be sure there'll be things in the future)

When I was a young girl I know that I got myself in to trouble. Often.

I was always the curious sort, and so I loved to explore. Getting lost in a store while shopping with an adult...moseying on around the neighborhood, and getting out of  my 'allowable' areas...getting into things I found at home that I shouldn't touch...getting bored in the classroom and writing love letters (that were later confiscated by the teacher!)....yep, I was a bit of a character to parent :)

As I grew, so did my 'wrong list'. Staying out later than curfew. Lying to my parents.
Talking behind my friends' backs. 

Teenage years were even worse...

disrespect of others.
uncontrolled anger.

I don't think I plotted to do these things. Life just seemed to happen. The more life continued on its ruthless path, I just seemed to spiral farther and farther out of control.

I can say for the most part, I don't remember really caring about all the wrong things I did. They seemed normal at the time. Acceptable. Justifiable.

I mean I wasn't hurting anyone...was I?

As my teenage years continued there was a family that came into my life. They never seemed to leave actually. Weaving in and out of my familiar circles. They invited me over for dinners. They prayed for me, when I allowed it. They invited me to church. They never once scolded me, that I can recall.

One time they paid for me to go to a youth conference. I wasn't even sure what that was, but I sure enjoyed the music, the people, the hotel we stayed at...the message: well, I thought it was a little religious for me.

But by the end of the weekend something was beginning to transpire in my heart.

I wanted what these 'weird' people around me all they sure seemed to have the ability to reach out to others in love. Unselfishness.

Eventually, many years later...I would surrender my life to Jesus Christ. To that cross I'd always seen kicking around this time of year, I now began to appreciate the work of it. 

What He had done for me. 
That He had taken my punishment. 
That He had died for my sin. 
That He had loved me enough to give His life. 
That He loved me just where I was.

When I first came to the cross, the shadow of my past wrong-doings hit me like a ton of bricks in the face. I felt condemned...not worthy...and then when I first started attending church consistently, I struggled over & over again to forgive myself.

One day I would read these words that radically changed my life:

" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!"
2 Corinthians 5:17

I truly was a new person. My past had been wiped away clean in His eyes...and that was all that mattered.

***If you are struggling to forgive yourself for something that you deem unforgivable, please don't hesitate to ask Him to help you. You can pray the simplest of prayers, and ask Jesus to forgive you of everything you've ever done wrong. Done in sincerity, it's truly that simple.

"Song: At the Cross by Hillsong"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Raising Up Boys!

Top Ten Things I've Learned from raising boys!!

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

It was during my first pregnancy, that I began to form some of my parenting 'philosophies'....I was a first year student at the University of Brock, studying Child and Youth Studies on a partial scholarship...basically I was in my so-called 'prime', ready to absorb ALL the information the profs had to throw at me. 

The norm of this 'culture' was that boys & girls, were IN fact, the same....all you had to do was provide the 'right' opportunities, and you would avoid cultivating a strong masculine (or feminine) was all: in the toys, the language you used to engage with the child, and of course the way you 'perceived' your child... that would make or break a healthy self-image.

So...prior to my first delivery, I gathered up all of my best stereotypical 'girl' AND 'boy' anticipation of the arrival of my first son. He was going to play with Barbies, dolls, trucks, and whatever else suited his fancy. I was going to guard my language. I was going to watch my parenting....not willing to fall prey to simplistic notions of gender, that 'old-fashioned' parents held onto.

I am 100% sure that God was laughing at my silly nonsensical behavior after my son's arrival! On a scale of 1 to 10 of possible male dominated personalities, I believe this particular son was an 11!

As a toddler my son enjoyed activities like:

-throwing my cherished stuffed animals on the floor and stomping on them
-beating up all the my dolls and making them play fight
-turning all of his hot dogs, and other appropriate food items, into guns!
-running, jumping, and wrestling with other kids (much to my chagrin!) 

My theory quickly got 're-worked'...

...since that time I've been blessed with two more boys....and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt...boys are NOT the same to parent as girls. 

Our daughter readily agrees when she comes to us in tears (often!) saying, "my brothers are trying to play with me, and they hurt me!" Of course, upon closer inspection, it is always with the best intentions. "But Mom, she WANTED to play/wrestle/fight with us!"

Here, with tongue in cheek, is my top ten list of what I've learned raising boys!

  • Boys are messy! My boys run by the philosophy, the messier the better!

  • Boys like to be the hero...all the time...they will even contend with one another for this title...

  • Whether you choose to let them play with guns, or not really doesn't matter... but they WILL make guns out of other objects! I have witnessed this time and time again (sometimes embarrassingly) public, in church, at the dinner table....
  • They have limitless energy from early morn til late at night...really, not sure why, but they do!

  • They are great climbers, from the time they can crawl. Climbing up the side of a hill while on a hike (and not concerned if they scare Mom!), is considered 'adventurous'.

  • They enjoy finding insects of all types (also, dead animals are fascinating discussion and great objects to poke sticks at)...none of this grosses them out! Don't be alarmed if you find dead or alive worms/spiders/ANY bug littered throughout your home...

  • Whether you allow it or not, they like to wrestle! I had to change my policy from a 'no-wrestling' one, to a more moderate "only with Daddy".

  • Boys like to emulate their fathers, or other male figures in their lives. There came a point when Mom's snuggles may no longer be preferred...ouch!

  • Until puberty...girls are 'yucky', and they'd much rather pull their hair! Even their sister's...yep.

  • Boys are different for a purpose. This is normal, and actually a good thing. I believe God created each gender unique to bring something beneficial to 'the table'.

Yes, I realize that not ALL boys fit every description, and same with girls, (I see the variation within my own three) however, I contend that the scale of difference is a wide chasm apart :)

***For a more in-depth discussion I recommend reading:

***If you have a boy(s)  please feel free to comment sharing your own interesting observation.***

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