Easter Redefined

You know how you think things are important? Traditions or routines?  And how God works on you to show you that they are not? That is why I am calling this Easter redefined. 

As I'm half way through my first year in ministry, God began his work with our Thanksgiving holiday and Easter holiday which I blogged about earlier this year and now... Easter.   I grew up and have maintained these certain ideas about how holidays should look.  Pretty.  With great clothes, combed hair, home cooked elaborate meals with color coordinated table settings. 

For the most part I've tried to carry on that tradition with my little family.  But then God opened the door for me to be on staff at our church.  And he grew my heart.. and he changed my perspective.  We had 4 Easter services over the weekend starting on Saturday night and going through Sunday afternoon.  As my brain tried to wrap my mind around how I would work all those services and still be "Martha" at home I began to stress. Just to be honest I was thinking thoughts and trying to make plans like this "well, the boys are going to service on Saturday and Sunday. What will they wear? When should be wear our official "Easter outfits".  How will I get a family picture? When will the Easter bunny come? Will I get to see them play and enjoy? On and on and one."  And God began to do his work.  

Holy week.  I am reading through Scripture and feeling the weight of what Jesus would suffer.  I am doing the nightly resurrection eggs with the kiddos and every night they are opening and unfolding another piece to the story.  I can't remember which one but one night they asked "When will we open the bunny" And it just started to nag at me that we really have a tendency to make Easter about something other than the gospel.  And really? What could be more important, and more profound than the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ?  A coworker of mine has a word that has defined a recent period of her life as she is learning to live in the fullness of the gospel.. Freedom.  And isn't that what Christ brought us?  Free from the pitfalls of this world. Freedom from brokenness, from sin and failure that haunts us, free to live in the fullness and glory of God.  So I decided that this Easter, I would live in freedom.

To simplify our weekend I bought pre-cooked smoked turkey.  Box macaroni for the kiddos instead of from scratch.  Store bought pie and cupcakes for the kiddos. For a minute, I dreamed of us making them together and then thought.. not worth it. Let it go.  I explained to the kiddos that the Easter bunny was really just someone dressed in a bunny costume and that mommy and daddy leave the surprises.  And guess what? The bunny came on Saturday after lunch way before Easter service starts and they were insanely surprised and excited.  And mommy got to join in the fun too!

new bathing suits and handwriting toys! Of course their favorite?  Spiderman legos!

On Saturday, we got a text from one of our best friends that she was in town for a funeral with her kiddos and her husband was on a mission trip to Peru.  She was wondering if she could spend Easter with us.  And the reason that I had felt lead to say "no" to every Easter lunch, dinner, party we had been invited to was apparent.  We grabbed extra groceries and few treats for the kiddos (3 under 5). Threw the sheets in the dryer, pulled out the pack and play and prepared for a full house.  

Round one - Saturday services!

All dressed as twinkies :-) 

The precious Seeliger family joined us for Easter service at our church.  The boys loved having all 3 boys here for the fun.  I was listening to them play in the playroom and heard Eli saying "and here our rescue bots they are fun to play with.  Here have heatwave, he's my favorite.  And this box is our super heroes" giving them the grand tour with their little hearts for hospitality.

Thousands of people came through the doors at Faithbridge on Easter Sunday.  Justin ushered.  I filled in wherever needed.  I prayed with people. I cried with some. I celebrated with many.  

server bus with one of my favorite girls 

love this staff and their beautiful hearts 
I saw joy on the faces of so many.  Including these 5!

Beckett 4, Noah 5, Liam 1, Eli 4, Jonah 3
Easter 2014
We even managed to squeeze some family pictures in the craziness of the day.

Jonah, Beckett, Eli, and Noah
And we didn't even plan their outfit :-) 

Kristy, Liam, Noah, Jonah and Uncle John 

The Riley Family
Easter 2014
And then I came home to the shrieking laughter of 5 kiddos and house full of happiness.  I had one small moment when I said "babe. why aren't they wearing cute Easter egg hunting clothes" to which my husband so gently rolled his eyes!" We ate our store bought pies and cupcakes.  We hunted eggs instead of working in the kitchen.  We ate on paper plates and spent time talking and sharing instead of cleaning up.  

Saturday night dinner on the patio

waiting patiently for us to hide the eggs 

And you know what?  Easter was messy and crazy and the pictures aren't that great but it was all kinds of happy, joyful, and full of grace.. and freedom that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Redefining Easter with my love 

the JOY of a cold Easter swim 

God's gift of a beautiful Easter sunset 

The Riley's