Archives for posts with tag: Easter

#seeGodA small group of us plans to spend the weeks leading up to Easter searching for God and taking snapshots of his workmanship.

Most of us are not photographers, just souls with cameras and a willingness to see Lent differently this year. We hope this project reminds us that we are walking on holy ground — all of it created by a loving God.

Would you like to join us? If so, feel free to post your own glimpses of God on the Simply Faithful Facebook page. We’ll be using #seeGod on Twitter and Instagram to make it easier for everyone to participate.

May you find God everywhere this season,

Marketta

 

IMG_2658Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on activities that help you prepare spiritually for Easter.  Check back tomorrow for part 2!

When it comes to spiritual matters, I often show up without my homework done.

I arrive at church expecting that God will meet me there in the pew with a gift bag of enlightenment, good feelings and blessings. Nevermind that 10 minutes earlier I was begging and bribing my family to hurry up to get there on time – not exactly creating an environment that welcomes stillness or reflection or prayer.

I’m the same way about holidays, too. I might spend hours making invitations by hand, cleaning and cooking, only to forget to welcome God to the celebration. But I was determined to change that, so a couple of years ago my family started a list of things to do every day during Lent.

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The list (everything from starting seedlings for neighbors to coloring pictures for people in nursing homes) was cut in strips and put in plastic Easter eggs for my boys to open.

It seemed simple and straight forward – until God got involved.

Our oldest son wanted to help with an Easter egg hunt at Community Lutheran Ministry in Rochester, NY. He donated the $26 in his charity fund but when aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins heard about it, the fund swelled to $250. By the time Easter rolled around, he had helped put together the hunt and 100 Easter baskets for kids in one of the toughest parts of Rochester.

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When it was time to put together a care package for a young friend of ours in foster care, it was Benjamin, our then 3-year-old, who was available to go shopping with me. For an hour we wandered through the store talking about what would make Deniese smile. What I thought was a bit beyond him, he fully grasped.

Oh, don’t misunderstand. We failed miserably some days. In fact, coughs and drippy noses kept us from cooking extra meals for the freezer. We wanted to share meals when friends suffered losses or were ill, but we didn’t want to share germs.

Those eggs, and a few others, were left unopened until Easter morning when I turned them over to the boys to play with. It bothered me that I hadn’t done everything, but then I did something rare for me. I forgave myself quickly.

We had done our homework and our hearts were ready for Easter.

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Would you like a glimpse at our list, so you can get ideas for your own? 

Here are the basics: We chose 40 activities and prayer requests. Some of the activities repeat, and some are really steps toward a larger project because we didn’t want to overwhelm ourselves – or our budget.

Some tips: I numbered the eggs so that the more time-consuming projects would fall on the weekends. I also bought supplies for all of the activities before Lent so I’d have what I needed on-hand, even if someone grabbed the wrong egg.

Our list:

1. We’ll watch a DVD from Water for Sudan. (You can learn about Salva Dut and his nonprofit on YouTube.)

2. A friend requested prayer for her daughter who is starting a business. We’ll pray for her to have wisdom and favor.

3. Our boys will draw pictures and we’ll send them to a nursing facility to brighten someone’s room.

4. We’d like to have meals on hand to share with friends who are going through medical situations or facing other challenges. We’ll make an extra meal today and freeze it.

5. Community Lutheran Ministry in Rochester, NY, is collecting pennies to support its after-school program and its summer camp. We’ll start a penny jar at our house.

6. We’ll skip some TV time and instead read books to each other.

7. We’ll find 40 things that our family can give away or throw away.

8. It’s our dog’s birthday, so she will get an extra long walk with the whole family.

9. We’ll thank God for five people or things.

10. We’ll start seedlings to share with neighbors.

11. Food pantries can always use help. We’ll see what we have to donate.

12. A friend requested that we pray for people to “truly worship God.”

13.  We’ll send a card to encourage or thank someone.

14. My family will de-clutter another 40 items.

15. Working together, we’ll turn scrap fabric into cloth napkins.

16. We’ll go to bargain stores and see how many books we can afford to buy. We’ll put them in Easter baskets for kids in need.

17. We’ll pray for someone at work.

18. We’ll send a card to someone – a teacher, a mentor, a minister – who inspired us.

19. We’ll read books to each other.

20. I’ve always liked the idea of donating “birthday bags” to a food pantry. We’ll include a cake mix, candles and other goodies to help people celebrate.

21. I’ll play Monopoly with the boys. I hate that game, but they love it.

22. We’ll make another meal for the freezer.

23. A friend requested prayer for her mother, who is burdened with health and financial worries.

24. We’ll do something kind. And we’ll do it secretly.

25. Just once, when we could complain, we won’t.

26. We’ll pray for someone at church.

27. We’ll invite friends to our home for dinner. We haven’t done that as often as we should.

28. Today, we’ll put together an Easter care package for a dear friend in foster care. (Children Awaiting Parents always knows of kids who could use a little surprise. Call (585) 232-5110.)

29. We’ll send an unexpected card or note to a loved one.

30. Again, we’ll de-clutter 40 items.

31. At dinner, we’ll write something we love about each member of our family.

32. We’ll pray for someone at school.

33. The egg we open today will be empty. We’ll talk about Jesus’ tomb being empty.

34. We’ll invite family over for brunch for no particular reason except that we like them.

35. It’s our eighth wedding anniversary. We’ll pray for relationships to be strengthened.

36. We’ll look through photo albums and tell family stories.

37. Just for today, we’ll trade household chores so we can practice looking at things from another person’s perspective.

38. We’ll skip complaining three times today.

39. We’ll invite friends over to decorate Easter cookies.

40. We’ll help with an Easter egg hunt at Community Lutheran.

I love the kind of letters that come in my mailbox, and this one — this typewritten one from Mary Holley — is so  worth sharing. 

Mary Holley letter

February 4, 2013

Dear Ms. Gregory,

What is Hope? you asked readers of your D&C column of January 14, 2013. A huge challenge, especially after daily negative media reports on the “fiscal cliff” fiasco, the “Sequester” unknown, little Ethan (whose name means Power, Strength) snatched from his friends and family, fate still in limbo. These but a few examples of our turbulent times. Yes, indeed, Hope seems far away. But it must be around here somewhere!

I am quite sure Hope is a survivor. Part of the human psyche since History’s dawn. And a trail-blazer. Hope keeps us going in spite of all natural or man-made disasters. Regardless of disappointment, tragedy, loss.

Hope is good news we look for and sometimes find in unexpected places. Hope is seeing buds of spring clinging fast to frozen trees in winter. Hope is shining in the promise of every newborn baby child.

Hope is a wishing star. A double rainbow. Light in darkness. Heart-warming spark kindling ideas blazing-bright. Hope energizes us to build tomorrow’s dreams today. Hope is that mighty invisible Force moving us on even if we are plodding… even when we’re lost.

Hope is a blessing and gift for every human heart. Ours to keep or give away so freely with our smile, our friendly greeting, just the right words or a comforting embrace. And we still have that gift in good supply!

Hope is a prayer throughout all Time, no matter what or why we believe. Hope lifts us up, lightens our burdens, encourages our hearts, inspires our purpose. Lets us rejoice with praise and thanks-giving.

And so much more… this miracle called Hope!

With many wishes for Good Cheer and Lots of Hope!

Sincerely,

Mary Holley

IMG_0912I know I’m not alone in needing to focus on hope, especially after witnessing so much sadness at the end of 2012, so will you join me in writing about hope for 40 days? I’m starting Feb. 13, which is Ash Wednesday, in hopes that my heart will be better prepared to celebrate Easter.

IMG_0901Just a few days ago I asked for artists of all abilities to create journaling pages. Now, I’m ready to provide more details. I’m looking for 40 artists to create unique and inspiring pages people can download and write on — 8 1/2 X 11 pages that urge us to hope and love. It’s perfectly fine to include your name and Website on the page, and I’d be happy to include a short artist statement and bio here on the blog. I was thinking something like this:

daisy Daisy Dog Designs specializes in mud paw prints. Daisy’s inspiration for her journaling page comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson, which she reads every night in her kennel. Find out more at MadeUpWebsite.com. 

My vision is that after 40 days, we’ll all have a beautiful journal and much better understanding of hope.

So, what do you say? Will you help us out?

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Grandma Gregory could spin a tale like nobody’s business. She’d take a routine trip to the corner store and turn it into the kind of story that you’d asked her to tell again and again.

And when she started in on the stories about how tiny Daddy was as a baby, you could practically see the dresser drawer he slept in and the little doll clothes he wore.

So, you can imagine the kinds of letters she wrote to her children. One of my favorites is her party invitation to fill in a ditch. She promises games for the children and wheelbarrow and shovel racing for the adults.

In another letter, postmarked March 25, 1978, she wishes my parents a happy Easter. In it, she writes about how she cherishes her memories from the Easter of 1977 – the year the two of them dedicated their lives to serving God and were baptized. That Easter season, Grandma’s “dream of a lifetime” came true, she writes, before she goes on to encourage them:

“… we’ll come in contact with many things we don’t understand but read your Bible, keep your eyes on Jesus and your hand in his and he will take you through to the end.”

She wrote all of those things before sickness took her husband and diabetes took her legs, before terrorists slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center, before tsunamis raked away entire towns and villages and radiation threatened to poison the survivors.

Now, all these years later, I still find comfort and wisdom in her long-ago letter.

She reminds me to pray not only for protection, but for strength.

Grandma spent most of her life trying to crawl into God’s arms and trying to share his love with others. She was OK with not understanding everything, OK with not knowing how every story ended.

She simply trusted the author.

 

 

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