Until We Celebrate Easter Everyday

Easter 1973 | until we celebrate easter everyday

Easter Sunday, three years old, with Easter basket and new white shoes

I drink in this time of year.

I absolutely love Easter and the springtime that surrounds it. Creation testifies what we Christians know to be true—Christ is risen!

What could be more encouraging and powerful than being assured of the newness of life, the new day that is sure to dawn, the new heavens and the new earth in which we will walk?

Two years ago, we buried my mother. I miss her every day. But I miss her especially now. At Easter. In the springtime.

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Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Cranberry Sauce and the Resurrection

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Creative Commons License photo credit: busbeytheelder

I noticed bags of cranberries in the produce department at the grocery store last week.

It’s not even Halloween, and already holiday meals are anticipated. Most people may not even notice the bags of fresh cranberries in the store. Most people, after all, get their cranberry sauce or jelly from an Ocean Spray can.

That’s how I knew cranberry sauce growing up: a red blob with the tin can shape intact. It didn’t look appealing, nor did it taste all that good. I vaguely remember it being a very tart goo. After trying it early on, I never did again. Why ruin an otherwise savory meal of turkey and dressing?

And then I began cooking my own holiday meals. Inevitably, somebody wanted “something cranberry” to go with the turkey. A few times, I’d purchase the obligatory cans. I never even thought homemade cranberry sauce was a feasible option. I thought it must be too difficult or too messy or something.

But one day—probably inspired by a cooking show—I decided to turn over the back of a bag of fresh cranberries. There was the recipe: sugar, water, cranberries, heat. It was so easy, so simple. And it produced something so fresh, so tasty.

I couldn’t believe I had been duped all these years by tin cans of red goo. (Mom, really, why didn’t you just make your own cranberry sauce?)

Earlier this week during a Bible study class, my friend and pastor talked about the fact that we are “resurrection people.” We possess the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Our dead bodies will be resurrected at the last day. We are new.

What does it mean to live as a resurrection people? I wondered.

As I tossed this question around in my mind, I came back to the cranberry sauce. The dichotomy between what I knew to be—and had settled for—as cranberry sauce and what cranberry sauce can really be.

The surprise in all of this to me was that homemade cranberry sauce is really, really good, yet I had never known it to be.

The canned sauce is merely a shadow—almost an imitation—of the real thing. It’s like boxed mac ‘n cheese or instant iced tea. The shadow retains some of the trappings and characteristics of the authentic, but is ultimately a hollow representation.

The cranberry sauce in a can? It’s a shadow of the feast that is to come. Homemade cranberry sauce? It’s nowhere near the banquet that awaits, but it’s a good reminder that canned cranberry sauce pales in comparison to the “real thing.”

Life in this world is full of shadows of that which is to come. To live as a “people of the resurrection,” we must not become too cozy here in the shadows. We mustn’t look to the things of this world to satisfy only that which Christ can. We must allow the shadows to prepare our hearts and offer anticipation for that which is to come.

And while I don’t think it’s necessarily a requirement, I heartily recommend eating homemade cranberry sauce every chance you get.

Disclosure: I am not a medical doctor. Any statements made on this blog about essential oil use are not meant to treat, diagnose, or cure any condition. My statements about essential oils are my opinion and are based upon my own experiences and research.

I occasionally feature affiliate links in my blog posts. Should you follow my link and make a purchase or join a membership website, I will be compensated for my referral.

Glad That Christmas Is Over

Christmas is over, and I’m glad.

I hate being that way, but it’s how I feel. Just being honest.

I said this to Chris when we collapsed into bed on Christmas Eve. He got really upset with my comment, saying I needed to try to enjoy it, savor it, and celebrate it.

I was (and am still) just so, so tired.

(If you’ll indulge my whining for a moment, please read on. If you don’t wish to, skip the following paragraph. And, yes, I know some people have far busier lives than I. But for me and my geriatric metabolism, my infantile sleep needs, and my underactive thyroid, stick a fork in me; I am done.)

This Christmas season, I worked about 10-15 hours either away from home or on projects at home every week. I shopped for and wrapped gifts and stocking stuffers for 4 family members, 2 sets of grandparents, 3 nephews, school and Sunday school teachers, the mail carrier and trash men, and a few friends. I designed and ordered Christmas cards (still haven’t addressed and mailed them). I designed and ordered Christmas cards for my mother. I planned, shopped for, and cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas lunches (with help from others). I led two one-hour cheerleading practices and communicated with 9 sets of parents about said practices. I baked frozen taquitos and pizza rolls for our Christmas concert at church and attended said concert. I glued tinsel around 12 little pine cone Christmas trees and took the trees and my little Daisy Scout to the nursing home to sing Christmas carols. I assisted at a first grade Christmas party.  I attended a preschool Christmas program.

And, oh, I managed to (sort of) run my home by cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, helping with homework, and driving people here and there.

(Whining over. You can begin reading again.)

This year, more than those in recent memories, I’ve felt just overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overfed. Because of a really busy work schedule this year in addition to school, church, Girl Scouts, and cheerleading, I’ve not had a lot of extra time to pay attention to what we were eating or getting the best price on gifts or planning ahead or going to bed on time.

I hate the hectic nature of the holidays. Hate. It. To me, it seems to be the antithesis of the true meaning of Christmas. When the things I usually enjoy become more of a chore, I know something is out of whack.

I regret our not having had more of an emphasis on Christ this season. Yes, we had our Advent wreath and readings and our church events, but somehow, it seems that I wanted more.

On Christmas night, I insisted we not forget to light our Advent wreath for a final reading. Our kids had been inundated (and I do mean inundated) by attention and presents all day long. I told Chris, “We are ending this day with Jesus!”

And so we did.

Can we make Christmas 2010 more relaxed and more focused on the things that truly matter? We shall see.

Christmas Is Coming!

Christmas is now just days away. I must reflect a bit on this busy season.

Yesterday, I did a few final errands and picked up the last of my gifts. I braved Target on the Saturday before
Christmas. It was so crowded that all the shopping carts were taken when I got there. I decided that I wouldn’t allow anyone or anything get me angry. I was just going to go with the flow. I did pretty well.

This year, I wasn’t knocked over by suffocating perfume, but I did have to navigate around large groups of shoppers. I think it’s hilarious that Bubba and Betty Lou decide to bring the whole family–Grandma, Bubba Jr. and little Brittany–out to Target for shopping. Then they like to stand in the middle of the aisle and discuss LOUDLY what ideas they have for gifts.

People. It’s the Saturday before Christmas and you are in Target. You should at least know what you’re getting Uncle Ricky.

I’m zipping. Needing to zip. In and out.

Zip. Zip.

Get out of my way.

~~~

I gave myself permission this year to stop believing that:
a. I enjoy baking.
b. I can bake “gifts” for people.

And so, I was relieved of my baking burden and didn’t make anything for anyone. I don’t like baking anyway, but I like the idea of baking (that whole “I want to be that girl who bakes” issue that I have). But this year, I didn’t bake.

~~~

I’ve been working A LOT more this year than in previous years, which has taken quite a toll on my Christmas organization. Much to my disappointment, I’ve had to cancel plans to attend some social gatherings. Thankfully, I’ve not gotten sick-sick (knock on wood), but I have been sleep-deprived and headachey and kind of yuck. I’ve also simply run out of time. I had a bit of a crisis of schedule on Friday night. After a few hours of literally mapping out what needed to be done when, I felt a little better about managing my time. But I have to stick to my schedule in order to get it all done on time.

I really regret that this Christmas season has kind of evaporated. We’ve not been as consistent with Advent family worship as I would have liked. And I hate the moaning and groaning that I’ve done when an invitation has been extended to us: “Another party/event/program? One more place to be!”

~~~

Our garage door opener is stuck. And I just have to say that I love my garage and my automatic garage door opener almost as much as I love my husband and kids. And so, on the coldest/rainiest weekend of our fall/winter season thus far, our garage door decides to stop working. And so, hooray! Who knows how much that will cost?

And, also? The toilet in the guest bath has been having some flushing issues. I think it’s flushing at the moment, but the line may be partially clogged or something. OK. So my mother-in-law is coming tomorrow. I knew she’d need to use the bathroom. Not trusting the reliability of the guest bath, I decided I’d need to prepare the master bath for her use.

So I devoted about two hours a little while to cleaning my bathroom. It had been way too long  a little while since I had mopped my bathroom floor, but I was able to get it freshened up and passable for use. And that was just a fun way to spend my Sunday evening.

~~~

The Girl Scout troop went Christmas caroling tonight at the local nursing home. It was sweet and they seemed to enjoy having us. I am confronted by the effects of the Fall when I see these long-past vibrant folks being spoon-fed and wearing bibs. I was struck tonight by the extreme regression. How interesting is it that in one’s final days he or she must revert to children’s activities (making Christmas crafts)? They had a life-size Santa in the dining room and school-room-like bulletin boards. I don’t know. The juxtaposition of the vibrant children with life ahead against the backdrop of the men and women bound to their chairs, having the best of their days far in the past, was just unsettling. And sad. And it made me long for Heaven.

Movie Lovers: Visit the Netflix Holiday House and Enter to Win a Gift Basket From Netflix

Long before my kids were born, I worked for a Nashville publishing house. I loved my job and my creative co-workers, who happened to be movie fanatics.

We had a great time talking about our favorite movies and quoting scenes to one another.

Eventually, we swapped our lists of our “favorites,” even to the point we’d ask job candidates during interviews to name their favorite movies. I thought it was a lot of fun, not only to relive some memorable cinematic moments but also to discover some new movies and learn a little bit more about my friends.

So, as a nod to my former co-workers, I want to hear your top three favorite movies. Just comment below AND (here’s the best part!) …

When you do, you’ll be entered to win this AWESOME gift basket from Netflix with autographed CDs from Julianne Hough and Jennifer Hudson plus the following Netflix-branded items:

  • slippers
  • two luggage tags
  • one messenger bag
  • business card holder
  • soccer jersey



I’ll bet as you read through the comments, you’ll find some titles of movies you’ve never seen or you’d like to see again. Netflix can help with that!

Leave at least three favorite movies (more if you’d like) in the comments and you’re entered to win the basket.

Earn additional entries by:

  1. Tweeting the contest with this link
  2. Posting the contest with this link to your Facebook profile

(Please come back here, though, and leave a comment for each, saying what you did).

The contest will be open until midnight, December 21st. Winner will be announced Tuesday, December 22nd.

And because you asked (and because there’s NO WAY I could ever limit myself to just three), here are my Top Ten Favorite Movies (in no particular order):

  1. Gone With the Wind
  2. Cinema Paradiso
  3. Moulin Rouge
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life
  5. Waiting for Guffman
  6. Memento
  7. American Beauty
  8. Rope
  9. The Sixth Sense
  10. The Matrix

Visit the Netflix Holiday House

Nashville shoppers are in for a special treat.

The Netflix Holiday House is open today, December 17, at Opry Mills Mall in the Food Court. As Blonde Mom Blog says, you’ll probably just want to move in!

At the Holiday House, you can take a break from shopping, have a snack, and try out Netflix-ready devices for instant streaming of TV episodes and movies.

Take a much-needed break from the crowds and craziness and visit the Netflix Holiday House at Opry Mills today. You’ll get some great gift ideas for the movie lover on your list and learn about new ways to enjoy your Netflix membership.

Compensation disclosure: I have not been compensated for this giveaway but did agree to participate with other Nashville bloggers on this promotion. I agreed to do it because I thought it sounded like fun and am really excited for one reader of The Writer’s Block to win this great gift basket.


Movie Lovers in Nashville: Come to the Netflix Holiday House!

Come See A Variety of Holiday Gifts for the Movie Lover

Nashville-area shoppers are encouraged to rest their weary feet in one of several rooms at Netflix’s Holiday House in the Opry Mills Mall. Lounge in the family room, a child’s bedroom, a teen’s hideaway, the media room or in the kitchen to instantly watch TV episodes and movies streamed from Netflix.

Not sure what to get the movie lover on your list?
Need a moment or two to rest during the frenzy of shopping?
Want to try before you buy?

Visit the Netflix Holiday House on Thursday, December 17, at Opry Mills in Nashville

The Netflix Holiday House features all the comforts of home from comfy couches, recliners, and beanbags, to hot cocoa, cookies, and popcorn.

Each room is equipped with Netflix-ready devices including the X-Box 360, PlayStation3, TiVO HD DVR, Roku Digital Video Player, and LG Network Blu-ray player, providing shoppers with the opportunity to try this holiday gift before buying it for a loved one.

WHERE: Opry Mills Mall – Food Court
433 Opry Mills Drive
Nashville

WHEN: Thursday, December 17, 2009
All-day

AND … make sure you visit The Writer’s Block on Thursday when I’ll be giving away an AWESOME Netflix gift basket! More details will follow. That’s just a little teaser for now.

WIN! A Perfect Gift for Grandmothers this Christmas

If your family is like ours, choosing gifts for the grandmothers is always a bit daunting. These two great women, who love our family so well, have everything. They have jewelry and clothing, appliances and tote bags.

What do they not have?

Authors Pam Ferriss, Susan Kelton, and Kathy March have written a new devotional book for grandmothers,
My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me.

Well, they don’t have a brand-new devotional book written by a trio of grandmothers, called My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me. (One of the authors, Pam Ferriss, is a good friend of mine and has been a sweet spiritual mentor to me for ten years.) And I’m telling you, any grandmother in your life needs this book! Don’t miss the opportunity to bless the women you love with the heartfelt and compassionate wisdom of these ladies.

My Grandmother Is … is a beautiful hard-cover book that takes the reader on a journey through the Book of Proverbs. Each page features a brief devotion for each day of the year. The devotions include a selected Proverb, a prayer, and an application of the devotion.


My Grandmother Is … is written from a grandmother’s perspective and is intended for a grandmother (though anyone who has a relationship with a child would enjoy this devotional). The application items are suggestions for grandmother and grandchild to spend time together learning the Proverb. Each month features a different character trait (such as wisdom, self-control, and honesty) with appropriate verses assigned to each.

The book is a beautiful keepsake that is also practical and accessible. The type is easy-to-read in a crisp, attractive presentation. The devotions are bite-size nuggets, perfect for even the busiest grandmother. As a writer and editor, I am so impressed with the breadth of creativity. In writing 365 devotions, prayers, and applications, these ladies never disappoint, always giving fresh and interesting treatments to each day, with appropriate content.

Most importantly, this book is a must-have guide to one of the most often neglected aspects of our Christian lives: consistent, focused, and intentional prayer. The grandmother who uses this book as a prompt for prayer can be assured God hears her and will answer her.

What better gift could you give your kids’ grandmothers this Christmas?

~~~

Visit the website to find out more about My Grandmother Is …, the authors, and to purchase copies.

~~~

WIN! WIN! WIN!

Win a copy of My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me from The Writer’s Block and the books’ authors.

It’s soooooooo easy to enter.

In the comments section below, tell me:

1. Your favorite verse or passage in Proverbs OR a creative way that you pray for loved ones.

To earn additional entries to the contest:

1. Post this contest link to your Facebook page.
2. Tweet this contest link on Twitter.

(Be sure to come back here and put in a separate comment for each additional way you enter. For example, you’d make a separate comment that says, “I posted to my Facebook page,” if you do so.)

The contest will be open until Sunday, December 13, at midnight. You may enter daily (all three ways once per day).

Winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 15, by noon.

Compensation disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book, My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me, for review purposes from the authors. The authors contributed a second copy to give away to a reader.

If I’d Only Found Him in 1995

As Chris and I chose music for our wedding, I was adamant that My Favorite Song be included.

My favorite Christmas carol is also My Favorite Song: “O Holy Night.” I love the minor tones and the extreme range of highs and lows. The lyrics beautifully capture the most important event in human history. Really, I could think of no other song more appropriate to mark the most important day in my life.

Chris would have nothing of it. That would be because we got married in the summer. On July 22.

I still maintain it would have been perfectly fine and who the heck cares anyway? It was my wedding. I have witnessed far more shocking things at weddings (sweatpants and baseball caps, for one; yes, I did) than the singing of a so-called unseasonal hymn.

But, anyhoo, I still harp on my dashed musical dreams every Christmas as I enjoy My Favorite Song each year.

I also enjoy this rendition. I only wish I had found this guy to sing at my wedding fourteen years ago. Certainly Chris would have relented, if I had suggested this version.

Celebrating Advent With Your Kids: First Sunday of Advent

A photo of our advent wreath last year, taken on Christmas Day. We have Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus surrounding the wreath with our red Christ candle in the middle.

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent.

I remember as a child having an Advent wreath at home. We’d light the candle(s) each week to mark the time leading up to Christmas.

It’s a tradition I want my kids to know and love.

Last year, I finally bought a small brass Advent wreath/candle holder for us. I had tried for years off and on to make wreathes. But with three small kids, I wanted something that was sturdy and safe. Our small wreath is perfect!

Typically, we gather after dinner and read an appropriate Scripture or Bible passage for the corresponding Sunday. We don’t get too technical or too content-heavy. We use our Nativity scene pieces to explain the Sunday (shepherds, angels, and so on). I’ve noticed my kids really learn and relate when they can see, touch, and/or hold a small object. Chris plays guitar and we always sing two or three Christmas carols.

If you want to observe Advent with your kids this year, doing something simple is perfect.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Four candles either in a wreath or even four small votives in separate holders will do. If you do want a wreath, buy it now at a Christian bookstore or order online. You can find one for about $20. Several years, I said I’d wait until after Christmas to buy one on sale. They never put them on sale. So, buy it now! Candle colors are usually three purple or blue and one pink. A fifth candle may be added in the center on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (last year we used a small red candle in a jar) to symbolize Christ.

2. Bible and/or a Children’s Bible. We love, love, love The Jesus Storybook Bible.

3. Music. A musician in the family is wonderful or even some CDs featuring beautiful Christmas music is nice.

Sample order of a Family Advent worship time:

  • Light the candle(s). We allow our kids to do this (when age-appropriate).
  • Sing a song.
  • Read the Bible verse/Bible story.
  • Ask the kids questions to engage them in the learning.
  • Sing a song.
  • Take prayer requests.
  • Close in prayer.

A very basic suggested schedule of Advent readings:

First Sunday: the prophets
Candle of Hope
read Micah 5:2 and light the first purple candle

Second Sunday: the angels
Candle of Peace
read Luke 2:8-13 and light the first and second purple candles

Third Sunday: the shepherds
Candle of Joy
read Luke 2:14-17 and light the first and second purple candles and the pink candle

Fourth Sunday: the magi
Candle of Love
read Matthew 2:1-12 and light all the candles

Christmas Eve or Day
the Christ Candle
read John 1:1-5 and light all the candles including the Christ candle

You may find all sorts of variations of this outline online. In fact, I’ll admit that our family’s schedule is an amalgam of things we’ve read and things we believe will stick with our kids. Tailor your Advent Worship time to your own family.

And a final word: Don’t fret if you haven’t “started yet.” You aren’t late! Just pick up with the appropriate Sunday. We usually do a “little something” about the Advent lesson on most nights of the week during a family worship time. We light the candle(s) every night because the kids love it.

If you’ve wanted to start a Family Worship time or you’ve wanted to re-energize the time you’ve observed in the past, Advent is a great season to bring the family together and focus on Christ.

I’d love to hear more about your Advent and Christmas traditions!

I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission from purchases recommended by me. 

Thanksgiving Day 2009 in Review

I am worn to a pulp but happy and full.

After last night’s marathon prepping/cleaning session, I worked this morning on finishing everything.

The meal was fantastic and my turkey turned out perfectly! Just as anticipated: tender, moist, flavorful. And my dressing? So savory! I made cranberry sauce myself and narrowly averted a sugar disaster. The recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but I only had about 1/2 cup on hand. (I can’t believe I forgot to buy sugar!) I used brown sugar to make up the difference, and it was just fine.

I am continually amazed at a few things when it comes to hosting family and guests in our home for holiday meals:

  • I could wear my bikini (OK; you know I don’t really HAVE a bikini, but go with the illustration, OK?) while cleaning and cooking and I would still sweat like a pig. With a hot oven and people crammed in the house, I just about DIE of sweating.
  • When I am in the throes of cooking, preparation, and getting food on the table at a certain time, my children are ESPECIALLY needy, clingy, and underfoot. Moving a hot pan of something from point A to point B? There’s a kid right behind me. Balancing breakable dishes in my hands? Kid’s there tugging on my pants. Wanting food, drink, to watch a show, to ask for the millioneth time when we will eat—you name it and my kids are on it. There could be 15 adults within an arm’s reach and every child, every time, would find me, in the recesses of the house when I am engaged in some important and timely activity.
  • My father is LOUD. Very loud. Very, very, very loud. He’s a loud talker; a loud laugher; a loud cougher. And if you want to be heard, you have to be loudER than Daddy. And that gives me a headache. A lot.
  • BIG mistake: raising the issue of the Adam Lambert performance at the AMA’s. Big. Mistake. Somehow this comment digressed eventually to outsourcing American jobs to countries overseas. Huh? I have no idea. (Thanks, Chris.)
  • Wine. Wine is always a good idea at any family gathering. More wine? Yes, thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.