Monday, March 31, 2008

Someone's Got a New Bag

Look what I made! My friend, Kristi, sent me a link to an amazing blog that featured this bag and the creator of the bag was kind enough to share her pattern. One afternoon when plans to retreat to Ikea with a friend were cancelled I decided to make the most of the day and put on my creative hat. This is what came out. I don't have as many opportunities to sling a purse across my shoulder as I would like, mostly because I am lugging around a diaper bag, but I have enjoyed using it. And, I have found that it fits my wallet, cell phone, lipgloss, keys and one diaper just nicely! Thanks for sharing, Penny!

Here's how mine turned out:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The (lost) Easter Basket

Here are some pictures of Eric enjoying his very first Easter basket. I was thrilled to share with him the Easter basket I used as a child that was passed down from my dad, who also used it as a child. The story doesn't stop there, though. This Easter basket was handmade by my great grandparents in Arkansas. It has seen quite a few Easters, I'll tell you.

He almost didn't get a chance to make history with the basket. Two years ago I went looking for it and couldn't find it. I turned the house upside down looking for it. I even went back to the house I had moved in wondering if I had left it there somehow. Sick to my stomach, I called my mom and confessed I had lost the basket. For almost two years I felt intense guilt over losing something so valuable everytime I thought about it. Well, about 6 months ago we cleaned out a closet in our house. The closet is filled top to bottom with plastic tubs holding various things (pictures, christmas decorations, old files...). In the back of my mind I secretly held out hope we would find the basket. We even found a picture of my great-grandparents standing in front of a barn surrounded by baskets just like my precious Easter basket. My heart was so heavy thinking I wouldn't have the chance to share my basket with Eric for his first Easter. I ran to the grocery store while in the middle of the big clean up and when I came back the basket was sitting on a chair in the living room. I was so excited I shrieked and jumped up and down. Little Eric started crying because I had scared the pants off of him. I guess it was tucked away in one of the containers I hadn't looked in and Eric had found it. I was elated! I felt like the woman in the Bible who had lost the coin and found it again.

And, that's the story of Eric's precious Easter basket!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Sunday!

It's late and we've had full day with church, friends, Easter baskets, ham, rice and beans, and mashed potatoes. This will be a short entry. I just couldn't let the day go by without an entry.

We celebrated the risen Lord latino-style. We sang lots of energetic and thoughtful songs about Christ and I didn't even miss the usual hymns we sing in English. We even had dancers in our service. Our church is a far cry from the liturgical church I grew up in, I'll tell you that!

Our pastor spoke on the resurrection, like every other pastor around the world I suppose. But, the perspective he took was really thought provoking. He talked about how believing the resurrection comes at a price. The disciples and the early Christians undoubtedly paid a price to believe, and oftentimes it resulted in their lives. I think I heard that almost 1/2 of the early christians were killed for their faith (of course, you know how unsubstantiated stats go, but this is a blog and not research paper). Believing in the resurrection is costly, because our faith is often tested through trials. I could say more, but I'm so tired. It's just something to think about.

I'll tell you all about Eric's easter basket tomorrow when I am rested! Good night.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Holy Week: Santo Viernes

Good Friday. How can it be good when Christ was brutally crucified and died today? How can it be called anything else when because of His death we are freed from the consequence of our sin once and for all? In Spanish Good Friday is called Santo Viernes or Holy Friday. Christ going to the cross and dying for our sins is the single most holy act ever done. Holy Friday fits.

Tonight I participated in a Seder meal at the house church of some friends and neigbors. The Seder meal is eaten on Passover by Jews. It is the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before he was arrested and died on the Cross. It's a beautiful tradition and I really don't know why Christians don't celebrate it every year. The entire meal is a reminder of the suffering the Jewish people endured as slaves in Egypt and their gratefulness to God for bringing them out of slavery. There are several elements in the meal that point to the Messiah and take on special meaning if you are a Christian participating in the tradition.

As I thought about Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross tonight I wondered about his separation from the Father. Scripture says He was abandoned by God. What could that have been like? Alone and cut off from God, the Father. In excruciating pain and not able to access God's presence to help Him through it. He was truly godforsaken.

What exactly does "godforsaken" mean? Webster's dictionary defines it as "wretched, neglected, pitiable, desolate, remote, deserted." Words that describe Jesus hanging in agony on that Cross somehow taking on all of our sin and being sacrificed for them all. The atonement offering sacrificed at the Temple no longer needed. Once and for all God died for us so we could live free of condemnation. But, to get there He was truly "godforsaken".

A dark night. And all I could think about was how much I take Him for granted...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

Today is the last day Jesus spent with his disciples before he was betrayed by one of them and arrested. It is on this night he ate the Passover meal with his beloved friends and devoted followers. These are the men he had poured into, sharing not only his life with them, but also teaching them in preparation for spreading the message of redemption once he had gone to Heaven. At the end of the meal he did the most extraordinary thing. He washed their feet. A job only a servant in a wealthy household would do, not one the Messiah and King of Kings should be doing. Their teacher and Master was stooping down at their feet and wiping off the muck and mire (among other things they had to walk through). It's one of the most vivid pictures of servanthood we have as Christians.

What captivates me every time I read this story is Peter's response. Peter is one of Christ's most cherished disciples, a close friend even. He becomes a great man of God and a leader in the church after Christ's departure. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but I can often relate to his impulsiveness. To think that someone with such a loose tongue can become a great leader is encouraging to me, being a little hasty and impulsive myself. Excuse my embellishment of the story a little, but this is the picture I get in my head.

Jesus comes to Peter and begins to wash his feet. Peter is a little uncomfortable seeing his Lord in this position of servitude and tells him, "No. You shall never wash my feet." I can see the look of indignation on his face when he says this.

Jesus answers, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

Here it is. Everything in Peter's demeanor changing when he cries out, "Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

To me this is a picture of total surrender to Christ. Something about his complete change of perspective speaks deeply to me. He's saying, "Lord, here's all of me! Take it all! I am surrendered to you completely!" In that moment he is totally completely for the Lord. And, if you know the story you know that within 48 hours of this encounter, after Christ is crucified, acting out of fear Peter denies being one of Jesus' disciples.

I have moments of complete surrender like this, too. They are powerful moments where I am totally His. I will go wherever He leads and do whatever He calls me to do. I feel it in my core and I mean it with all that I am . And, then hours later I, too, betray my commitment to Him and openly disregard Him. Maybe my betrayal doesn't look like Peter's, but my heart is the same in that moment.

This is one of the reasons Christ went to the Cross and died. People like Peter and me sometimes need experiences like this that are a little humiliating and embarrassing to show us we can't live on our emotional sensations alone. I can be totally for something at one moment and totally against it the next. I am rash. I need to be reminded how badly I need the Holy Spirit to balance out my emotions. I sometimes envy people who make decisions only after thinking through every option. I wish I could detach my feelings a little and think more clearly about things. It's my feelings that propel me to judgment about things and people. But, I realize it's my feelings that also give me a softer side, too. My husband often says he admires that about me.

What I have come to realize is that my greatest weakness can also be a great strength. Because of my rashness and strong emotional pull toward things, I can also feel deeply my need for the grace of Christ in my life. I can contemplate and understand the work that was done on the Cross by Christ's death because I can FEEL it in my heart and not just THINK it in my head. I can be motivated to change because I feel compelled to not just because I know it's the right thing to do. "Feelers" like me sin and taste humiliation, as a result we know how beautiful God's mercy can feel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week: Reflection 2

Stubborness. It's at the core of our being. We want things our way, on our time and in our control. I was thinking about this as I was feeding my child cereal and applesauce this morning and talking to a friend. As I was lamenting about how these bursts of stubborness come out in my child everytime I feed him, she reminded me of how this is such a vivid picture of our relationship with God.

It goes like this in the highchair...Eric is hungry and letting me know it in no uncertain terms. I make a bowl of cereal and begin to feed him a spoonful. He lets out a whiny cry, slaps my hand away and turns his head. I try again, knowing he is hungry and what I have on the spoon will satisfy his need. Again, he slaps my hand away. I give him a toy car or another spoon to distract him and shovel in spoonfuls of cereal. He's happy as soon as he tastes that oatmeal goodness, but soon realizes he is not in control of how he is getting it and starts the complaining once again. We work it out, because I've learned his tactics and have devised complicated strategies to get that bowl of cereal in my child's belly to make him happy and full.

It's the same with sleep. How many times I think, "Surrender to sleep, my child. Stop fighting it and you will be so much happier in the long run!"

Is this how I am with God? I complain that I'm hungry and yet I won't let him feed me. I am the one sitting in the highchair ready to eat from his bowl of goodness, but at the last minute I turn my head deciding I don't want what He is offering. I'm sure He has sighed at me more than once with spoon in hand knowing that my hunger could be satiated so easily with His provision. And yet, unlike the mother in me whose patience runs thin, He is eternally patient allowing me time and time again to try it my way until I eventually come running back to Him exhausted from my efforts greeted with a loving embrace and a spoonful of grace.

Oh, if only these lessons were easily learned (for my child in the highchair AND for me, the struggling child of God). And, yet the road we often travel down allows for opportunities to grow stronger and lessons not learned otherwise.

As I journey toward the cross this week, I am reminded of the control issues I won't easily let go of...wanting things done my way and in my timeframe, the inability to admit I am wrong, wanting a faster solution to problems, expecting my husband to understand what I am thinking, wanting immediate answers to questions about our future, and so many more. As a follower of Christ, his prayer to God the Father rings in my ears today, "Yet not what I will, but what you will." He chose again and again to do what the Father told him to do.

So much to learn...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy week leading to Easter when we celebrate the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphant arrival into Jerusalem where people put palms down in front of his path. Growing up in a protestant liturgical church, Easter was a special time for me. I loved going to church and Sunday School as a child. And, I have my grandmother (Grosmama) to thank for introducing this tradition in my life which later led to a deep commitment to Christ.

I haven't participated in any Lenten activity this year. I think chasing after a 9-month old and all of the other responsibilties I am juggling have swallowed up my time. But, I am making a special effort to thoughtfully participate in the Biblical events of Holy Week.

As I was reading in John 12 about Jesus' entry to Jerusalem for Passover I had a few thoughts. The people surrounding Jesus approached him in two ways, out of fear or out of adoration. The stark contrast of the two struck me this morning. The Pharisees, or teachers of the Jewish law, were fearful of Jesus and how His message of atonement, forgiveness and eternal life was effecting the people around Him. They were so wrapped up in trying to bring Him down that they completely missed His message of spiritual freedom. Their actions displayed a fear that Jesus might win over the people and they would lose their spiritual position as leaders.

Contrasting this is a display of adoration and joy that followed Jesus wherever He went. The night before His arrival in Jerusalem He was at a dinner party, where a woman who had experienced first-hand forgiveness and acceptance by Christ, poured out perfume at His feet worth over a year's salary. The value of her worship touches me today as I think about my own unworthiness in comparison to God's acceptance of me just as I am, tired and trying too hard.

And, then as Jesus was riding into Jerusalem crowds of people were lined up, palm branches in hand shouting their praise to Him. "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" I admit it has been a long time since I displayed the same kind of gratefulness to Christ in response to His message of freedom in my life.

I was part of a church awhile back that handed out palm branches on Palm Sunday and at some point in the service as we were singing a hymn we lifted our palm branches in a symbolic way to commemorate the arrival of Christ in our lives. I don't think I will see any palm branches or expensive displays of perfume this year at church or at home. I am more apt to experience shouting for more cheerios and spilled water from a sippy cup at my feet. It will force me to contemplate both my resistant fears to the unknowns of life, and opportunities to raise my palm branch up and shout "Hosanna!" to the King of Kings of whom I owe everything for the thousands of times He has saved me from myself.

"Do not be afraid, O daughter of Zion;
see, your King is coming..." (John 12:15)

Lifting up my own palm branch...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's on it's way...

I bought these lovely daffodils at the produce market yesterday. They are my favorite flower and a sign that Spring is on the way. We can't enjoy the beautiful flowers of Spring, like daffodils, tulips and hyacinth, until a few weeks into April. However, they are shipped here from warmer climates and we can buy them to enjoy while it's still snowing.
That's right, it still snows here in March and sometimes in April.
Well, there are several reasons why I love daffodils. First, they are a brilliant burst of color announcing Spring. Second, they remind me of my childhood. Third, they make me happy and they look like they are smiling at me.
So, yesterday Little Eric and I went for a walk in the Arnold Arboretum with a friend and her two daughters. We walked down the path of the park past bare trees and bushes chatting away. And, then from almost out of nowhere a sight that took my breath away...a bush with yellow flowers. Real flowers! Spring has not forgotten us.
And, then today it snowed. Why can't the weather make up it's mind? Soon enough...patience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

$5 Find

So, yesterday I found this sling in a bargain basket at my favorite children's store for $5!! I couldn't believe it and kept asking the salesperson if it really was jsut $5 or if it was a mistake. It is a Kangaroo Korner sling and it is normally $60. It's a really fun blue flower print that I would have picked out if I had a choice. Imagine my surprise and delight. Especially since I had been thinking the week before about how much I would love a fun cloth sling for the summer (my other sling is a KK also and it's polarfleece).

Despite the look on my son's face, he loves to ride in it on my hip. He fits nicely right under my arm. It's the only way I can get him to cuddle with his mama.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Taste of Spring

Little Eric and I just got back from visiting our friends, the Bennetts, in Tampa, Florida. It was a fabulous break from the "winter blahs" of Boston in March. It was so nice to feel the warmth of a breezy Florida day on my skin. And, to see green again gives me hope that Spring will return once again. Trees and bushes were blooming and the landscape everywhere was lush with ferns, banana trees and other tropical plants. I enjoyed waking up to Kristi's orchids she has been nurturing in her office.

The best part of the trip was spending time with one of my best friends, Kristi. We became friends when she and her husband lived in Boston. It's a great feeling to enjoy an easy friendship that can survive the miles between. We chat online and trade phone calls frequently (especially since Eric came along and I need lots of advice about motherhood), but nothing can be compared to a real-life conversation. And, true to form we had one long 4 day conversation about everything under the sun, stopping only to sleep and care for our children every now and then.

It's so much fun sharing motherhood with friends. It brought me deep joy to watch our babies play together and talk amongst themselves in baby grunts and laughter. Her youngest, Rhys, and Eric are two months apart and from the moment we sat them in their carseats side-by-side at the airport, they had a blast relating to each other! Spending time with her two oldest, Gillian (6 years) and Aedan (4 years) was great, too. I can't get over how grown up they are! Time flies so doesn't seem that long ago that they were little babies!

We ate lots of yummy food (I still can't believe there is a drive-thru Caribbean restaurant), shopped in fun stores (Target and this awesome vintage/new/antique shop in a restored warehouse), played with kids, went to the beach, drove around looking at awesome beach houses, ate homemade ice cream at a Cuban drive-up diner, sat outside in the sun, and talked about random topics (as mentioned before). And, anyone who knows the Bennetts knows there were conversations about theology and politics with Rick!
A little sunshine and friendship does the soul good!
Eric and Rhys' first meeting at the airport in tandem carseats.
Playing with the Gillian and Aedan on the deck.Kristi and Rhys at the beach.Eric's first trip to the ocean!Rhys and Eric playing at the beach in the baby tent.Aedan wearing his new scarf (it was cold that day...65 degrees).

Rick drinking a Cuban espresso from the tiniest styrofoam cup I have ever seen!