From The Eyes of a Child

This week I was working in a local daycare (working on a school project) and the director asked me to go through the Resurrection Eggs with the kids. I hesitated for a brief moment since it really had nothing to do with my project – but then I knew without a doubt more important than a grade or a project, was the opportunity to share Jesus with these kids. I was also really excited because growing up my family used these eggs to tell the story of Easter.

eggs

So, out on the playground mulched ground, we gathered in a circle. I had a couple books and the eggs in my lap and the kids piled in around me. Trying to read through the story, we were interrupted by the animals in the books, kids pushing other kids to “get closer”, or because “I can’t see”, one child tried biting another and then one little girl was crying for no reason whatsoever. I’m trying to put out one fire after the next and stay on track with the story, all the while I can feel my mind racing because this isn’t going how I planned. In my mind, I picture a group of children sitting like little angels, listening in rapt attention and answering any questions I ask. I see them behaving nicely and taking turns….needless to say, that’s just a dream and not gonna happen with 12+ two to four year old children. Anyway, we finally make it through the stories and I decide to let each child take turns opening the eggs. I was hoping that it would help hold their attention AND be a positive motivator for better behavior. Bribery is not above me when it comes to working with children who aren’t my own! As we begin going through the eggs, I feel like they’re more excited about the pieces inside the eggs than actually listening to what they represent…until….

We get to the egg that’s holding the whip. It falls to the ground and the squeal because they think it’s a worm. I quickly tell them it’s not a worm and pick it up from the mulch. They look at it curiously and begin guessing string, rope and so on. I tell them it’s called a whip and it’s used to hurt people. One of the little girls looks up at me and quietly says “That’s not very nice”. I agree and we talked briefly about how Jesus was beaten for us. The next egg held the crown of thorns, so I explain how sometimes we’ll touch a rose thorn or a prickle bush in the grass and how it hurts, but this crown of thorns was much worse and it was beaten into Jesus’ brow. They watched with rapt attention at this point. The little girl just frowns and says “owww, that would hurt”. Her eyes are watching my every move. We open the next egg which contained three nails that made a cross. They knew what this one was and I explained how Jesus died on that cross after being beaten and hurt – just for us. I look up and the little girl looks at me with the saddest eyes that are filling with tears and she goes “that’s sad”. I agree with how sad and then talk about how Jesus died for us, and for three days He was dead. We move to the next egg that was holding a stone. This was symbolizing the rock that covered the tomb. The precious little girl is blinking her eyes and looking at me, just waiting to find out what happens. We talked about how Jesus was dead for three days and was gone. Moving to the next egg, the little boy had been patiently waiting through the 11 other eggs and was about to jump out of his seat when I told him it was his turn to open it. He grabbed the last egg from my hand and pried it open. He looked up at me shocked. It was empty. tomb All the kids looked at me and I smiled. The little girl looked up at me and was like “where’s the stuff?” I grinned bigger and held the egg open for all to see and told them “it’s empty because Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb, He came back to life for you and me. He didn’t stay dead, He’s coming back for us one day too!” The tears from her eyes fled, and wonder and excitement jumped into her gaze. They all cheered. One of the little boys who had caused a LOT of problems was like “I didn’t get to open an egg!” I knew I’d have a riot on my hands if he didn’t open something so I let him pick. He grabbed the first egg he could get his hands on and pried it open. It was the pair of praying hands. I asked the kids what it meant. They replied by folding their hands and looking at me…they were ready to pray. My heart was warmed as I asked them if they wanted to pray and they all eagerly nodded and closed their eyes. I asked God for some quick guidance on what to say that they would understand and started with “Dear Jesus”. I was blessed by those children as they began repeating word-for-word everything I said. I fought back tears at their childlike faith and wonder at the Easter story. The tears that so quickly swam to their eyes at the news of Jesus’ death and the pure wonder of His resurrection. I was encouraged to look deeply again at the resurrection story!

It’s easy when you grow up around Christians, in church or believing in Jesus to just go “yes, I know He died and rose again”. But His story is so rich in His love for us. He came to earth JUST FOR YOU. JUST FOR ME. Knowing that He would grow up, to suffer and die for me…to bridge the gap between my sinful heart and His holiness. Jesus created a way for us to have a relationship with Him for eternity. He opened the path to a promise of security, everlasting love and Lord Who would guide the way for us.

I’ll write more to come on the story from the Bible tomorrow…please come back for the 2nd part. I have been TRULY blessed in the last week. Looking forward to sharing with everyone!

Life Lessons from the Blizzard of 2016

We all have moments where it feels like our hearts are rent in two. Usually, it’s from broken relationships or crushed dreams that we are asked to give up. We look across our hearts after these events and they often look like a battlefield – broken, bruised, bloody and void of life. We are usually then found asking “WHY!? What can ever become of this mess now? Everything is ruined and lost.”

a_battlefield_by_artcobain-d34e30q

Around five years have passed since my family was voted out of the church I grew up in. Angry, hurtful words were said – relationships were rocked and broken. I recall feeling as though I’d lost my Aunt and Uncle. Over the course of the last several years, we’ve mended the relationship as best we could. Family dinners, wonderful musical parties, and holiday celebrations were the bridge we used to start rebuilding and strengthening the relationship. Last night, we had them up to eat and as we’re going into supper, Dad goes “Will you pray?” and asks my Uncle. I almost cried when he started praying. This was the first time since we’d gotten voted out of the church that I heard my uncle pray. I hadn’t realized that was missing…until that very moment when he started and my heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness at being united in this way once more. Again, this morning, as we gathered with neighbors to worship Jesus (due to the snow, pretty much all services were cancelled). I heard him and my aunt praying. My heart was touched. We were singing, praying and praising Jesus together – something I thought would never happen again. Healing. It was like water to a dry, war-torn battlefield. Over the years, our relationship has gotten stronger again. But until I heard them pray – something had been missing.

I think back to a broken relationship and often wonder how anything good could come from that battlefield. How can anything grow after the destruction and hurt that happened?

tumblr_inline_nzsatmOcVw1skpwog_1280

(photo taken from WWII Battle near Marne)

Then this morning, God gave me a beautiful physical example through what’s been labeled as the Blizzard of 2016. Snow was my answer. The earth “dies” every fall and we’re left with a barren and brown landscape…and then…then it snows.

White, clean, sparkly…fresh. New. Life.

11585481524_d12144e102_b

(photo taken from Aspen, CO)

            In just a few hours/days, our earth was blanketed with snow. I know this snow is the start to beautiful new life in the following months. Flowers, green grass, fruit trees, good hay crops and healthy gardens will come from this snow. From the bounty God bestows from the heavens. Our lives are just like this!

We’ve all been through horrible experiences and been standing at the edge of our battlefield, asking ourselves what is coming next and if there is anything good that can come from the barren and the broken. My friend…when we come to God and seek His face and forgiveness…God drapes a blanket of “snow”/purity on our lives and gives us the newness to blossom into a beautiful, bountiful harvest. There is beauty from the ashes. When we go to God, we find the Master Gardener that can take our broken, barren and bloody lives and turn it into something astoundingly beautiful.

header-Antietam-civil-war-1200x550

(Photo taken from NY Times, Antietam/Washington DC/Gettysburg)

            John 12:24 says “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

I Samuel 16:7 says “But the Lord said to Samuel, “…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Ezekiel 11:19 states “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,…”

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Lastly, Isaiah 43:19 (an all-time favorite of mine) says: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The relationships may not always be fixed (as ours THANKFULLY was!) and the dreams we lost may never come to pass, but God will heal the hurts, give new dreams and bless our lives tremendously IF we seek God first. In our own strength, we can’t fix relationships, heal hurts or make a dream a success – it all ends in the broken battlefield…so the choice is ours:

Bloody, barren, war-torn battlefields? Or lush, bountiful, beautiful field of His riches?

Which will you choose? To trust God in the middle of the barren times and seek Him or to waste away in our broken messes? I know my choice…I’m going to trust Him and serve Him even while I’m waiting on the bountiful harvest.

Because I know it’s coming…

 

Against Hope

“Who against hope believed in hope…he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; BUT was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.” -Romans 4:18a, 20-21.
Sometimes God’s plan, to us, may leave us asking “what are You doing!?” But Abraham’s faith is commended and recorded forever in God’s Word for us to learn and be encouraged from. Believe in what God can and will do!! Check out Philippians 1:6…the promises of God, to be there through it all are everywhere in His Word. All His promises are true and there in the Bible, just check them out. They will encourage you without fail. Just believe….against all odds…keep believing that God has a plan for your life and He will perform it unto completion! No matter what the circumstances are, as we seek God’s face…He will be found and when He is found, we can look back over those places in our life where we wondered where God was…and see Him so clearly in the path we walked. It’s all about walking in faith, when the road is too dark to see what is coming next.