Easter 2017

I’ll admit it, this post is nothing more than cute pictures of my kid. While I’m fully aware no one else but her dad cares quite as much as I do, I also think these pictures of Pearl having her annual Easter Hunt in our backyard are pretty adorable so I’m going to show them to you.

Patiently waiting while Peter hides the goodies.

Last year, Easter was even earlier but we had Pearl outside in a springy dress. This year was boots and rain jacket.

Her hunting skills have really improved though.

This was her favourite find. We had lots of chocolate eggs and bunnies for her but since she doesn’t get much chocolate, she didn’t really know what they were. We filled a couple of these eggs full of goldfish crackers and she knew right away what that was.

She did miss some obvious hiding places.

But she got there eventually.


And then got to enjoy her spoils!

I hope you all had an excellent long weekend!

Spring Break 2016 – Sechelt

Things that happened without leaving home:

  • We did some local hikes and exploration.

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  • Which also included some time at the neighbourhood park.

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(That swing is not really Pearl-sized.)

  • We hung out in our backyard for basically the first time this year.

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  • It was sunny enough to hang laundry to dry outside for the first time in 2016, something I’m weirdly excited about. (Being a grown-up is strange.)
  • We celebrated Easter for the second time as a family of 3. (Our Easter last year.)
  • Pearl had her first Easter Egg Hunt.
She rocked it and looked good doing it!

She rocked it and looked good doing it!

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  • Followed by Pearl’s first time eating chocolate. I think it’s safe to say she enjoyed it.
  • Not pictured: Pearl got a new tooth, I got insanely sick for one day (so thankful it happened while Peter was off work!), we did some good thrift store shopping, welcomed new babies of friends near and far, and Pearl wore gum boots for the first time. It’s been great.

He Is Risen Indeed

IMG_6399If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19

If Easter means nothing – if this is a day about only rabbits and chocolate and coloured eggs – then Christianity means nothing, our lives are momentary, a breath of air and gone. Then, as Paul says, we are indeed only objects of pity. Thank God that this is a day of victory. This is the day that changed everything. This is a day of great mystery and greater rejoicing. Praise God. He is risen indeed.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

 

Beyond the Fire

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Two years ago, I wrote this post to mark Ash Wednesday. It was a time of great personal sorrow in my life. When I was really struggling with the question of, Why would God allow this to happen? Lent isn’t exactly the answer to that question but it is a season that reminds us that we have a God who does not leave us alone in our sorrow. We worship a God who has suffered and wept and experienced loss. Despite living my whole life surrounded by Christianity, I had never so profoundly realized what it meant to follow a God who lost a child.

Last week marked one year from our trip to BC Women’s Hospital where we were told that our unborn child’s heart had not developed properly. It’s been almost a year since I went into Vancouver to await the birth of our baby, not knowing what that would look like. Almost a year since our beautiful girl was born. Since the moment that Peter brought her back to our hospital room, placed her in my arms and said, “The cardiologist says her heart is 100% healthy.”

Two years ago I cried in the street outside my doctor’s office after he gently informed me I might never be able to bring a pregnancy to full term.

Just over one year ago, I cried in our car, in the parking lot outside the hospital, full of uncertainty about our family’s future.

And almost one year ago I cried with thankfulness to have a fully healthy baby.

God has been good. He was good on this Ash Wednesday two years ago and He has been good to me every day since. And oh, how good He was on the day, two thousand years ago, when He Himself cried in the Garden of Gethsemane and accepted the plan for our salvation that involved His torture and death.

Last year, about this time, I was reading Timothy Keller’s Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering and this quote really spoke to me:

Suffering can refine us rather than destroy us because God Himself walks with us in the fire.

He is a God who says, “I know. You are my beloved and I know what you suffer.” He is a God who has suffered too. He will not abandon us.

Lent is a somber season followed by great rejoicing. It is a cause for great celebration because death is not the end. We are not alone.

Pearl and her tiger, Stripes, who was given to her in celebration of a healthy heart

Pearl and her tiger, Stripes, who was given to her in celebration of a healthy heart

Easter Weekend

While snow still covers a lot of Canada, spring has definitely arrived on the West Coast. The magnolia tree in our front yard is already shedding its blossoms and the cherry tree by our deck has exploded into white.

We thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend and filled up our time with family meals, walks, naps, and chocolate-eating. Pearl did well through both the Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. Saturday night we had our first hot dog roast on the beach of the year (tucked in between rain showers). Pearl has also started smiling for real at us, which is one of the best things ever. (I also love when she smiles in her sleep.)

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Pearl got dressed up for Easter Sunday. Truthfully, she only has one dress that currently fits so we just added a bow. Apparently, even if you dress a baby in pink, people will still ask, “What’s his name?”

And on Monday the three of us went on our longest walk yet, through Smuggler’s Cove. I’m so excited to be able to hike again. It’s nice that my recovery is matching the warm weather development.

Peter and Pearl at Smuggler's Cove.

Peter and Pearl at Smuggler’s Cove.

Easter is the central weekend of the Christian faith – the story without which, as Paul said, we are to be pitied indeed. The weekend in which God made man performed the ultimate sacrifice and changed the world.

I’ve pondered Easter from a different perspective over the past year as we experienced loss and then waited to meet our baby. As we prepared to be parents, as we prepared in those final weeks for a baby with potentially major health problems. As we welcomed our healthy little girl and as we learn to be her parents. We worship a God who loves us so much that He sacrificed His son for us. I look at Pearl and think, “How could that be done? How could God love me that much?” It’s beyond my understanding. I can only be thankful. I can only accept His sacrifice and worship Him to the best of my flawed ability.

Unfathomable

There is so much about God that I don’t understand and I often struggle to worship what I think of as the unfathomable nature of God. Generally, when I think about God being unfathomable it refers to the hard stuff. Death, punishment, suffering – all the things that happen and that I know break God’s heart and yet they continue to occur. That stuff is hard to understand. I’m not designed to understand it. Mostly, I think, because it isn’t the way God meant for things to be. Instead, sin entered the world. We invited sin into our world and we continue to do so. But why doesn’t God stop it? Why does He let us suffer so much sometimes?

In Exodus, God tells Moses and the people of Israel of the land that He prepares for them. The land that He will bring them to and make their own.

You shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.”

Exodus 23:25-26

A perfect land awaits the Israelites. A Garden of Eden where food is plentiful and none get sick. The Israelites reach the landscape but they never live in the land that God describes. A quick glance around will tell you that we don’t live there either.

This weekend, as we mourn the death of Christ and we celebrate His resurrection, I am reminded of another unfathomable aspect of God.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

What is harder to understand than someone sacrificing their own child? Someone sacrificing their own child for me? for my neighbours? for the boys who shot up Columbine? for (insert whatever terrible person you want here – Christ died for them too). What kind of love is that? Are we worthy recipients of that kind of love?

Absolutely not. Paul says it right there in Romans – we were sinners and God did that for us. But we don’t push against this unfathomable act as much as others because this act benefits us. This act saved us. We will never understand it.

Did you know that unfathomable actually means “incapable of being measured”? A fathom is a unit of measurement used for water. Unfathomable means the fathoms cannot be counted – the bottom cannot be reached. It is the measurement of His love for us.

There is a lot that I don’t know. I have no idea how much God loves me. It is unfathomable.

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbour or each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:33-34

Happy Easter. He is risen indeed.

In the Valley

I’ve celebrated Easter my whole life. It is the pivotal week in the Christian calendar. Those three dark days when evil seemed to win. And then, sunrise service on Easter Sunday, coloured eggs in a basket, Jesus arose. Love wins. Good triumphs. God is not dead.

I’ve heard the story a hundred times. I’ve told it myself. To Sunday school classes, in Bible studies, to a friend in the middle of a Vaisakhi Parade.

Sometimes it is so hard to worship God. It is so hard to follow an unfathomable God. A God who chooses who lives and dies according to no criteria that makes sense to me. A God who seems to punish the undeserving. A God who makes me so angry and so hurt because I don’t understand. I don’t understand.

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”

Psalm 22:2

I have often taken comfort in God’s response to Job. His powerful reminder that we humans are only a speck, of how little we actually know.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the Earth?” God asks Job. “Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the storehouses of the hail?”

God knows. He was there. He commands the morning and causes the dawn to know its place. The gates of death have been revealed to Him. (Job 38)

But sometimes, some days, that doesn’t comfort me. I don’t want the keeper of the dawn or the one who scatters the wind. I want someone to hold my hand, to let me cry, to change my story to a happier one. God feels very far away on those days.

Reading this week, of Jesus’ final days before His death, I was struck by His prayer in Gethsemane.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Matthew 26: 39

Jesus’ last night, His last hours before His betrayal, and He prayed to be saved. He asked God to change His course, His story.

Jesus’ prayer wasn’t answered.

Jesus experienced every facet of what it is to be human. Including that devastating silence from God. And just as the psalmist cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried out too, as He died on the cross. (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus didn’t end His prayer there though. His closing statement was a desire for God’s will to be fulfilled.

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; neverthless, not as I will, but as You will.”

And the Psalmist still managed to worship God.

“Yet You are Holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”

Psalm 22:3

Even Job, before God made His response, worshipped God in the midst of his suffering.

“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”

Job 13:15

So though we may pray for our circumstances to change, for God to save us from the path He leads us on, we also have to pray – at the same time, in the same breath – for the strength to walk that path. For the faith to know that God does lead us through the shadow of the valley of death.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

He Has Risen

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

Luke 24:5

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Easter. I love this holiday. I love the chocolate and the flowers and the sunshine. But I love it most because this weekend is central to what I believe, central to the faith that I build my life around. This is the day we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice that saves us.

Last week I learnt of the death of someone I’ve known for almost twenty years. A wonderful Christian woman who there wasn’t a bad thing to say about. A woman well-loved, surrounded by people who wanted to spend many more years with her. It seems so unfair. As I went through the week and sat in a church service on Good Friday, it didn’t feel like death had been defeated.

Our pastor read out to us, in that Good Friday service, the final words that Jesus spoke before He died on the cross. One of those statements was to the thief who was crucified next to Him.

He said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

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I know that this woman, who once made me chocolate cupcakes shaped like swans, is in Paradise with Jesus today. Right this minute.

And while we grieve here and now, our sorrow is temporary. In this way, death has not won. Death has not separated us from our Lord.

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For a weekend each year, we are close to death. To that ultimate and inconceivable sacrifice that Jesus made for us. I understand it and yet I don’t. This Easter, I feel an extra compassion for Mary Magdalene, who found the tomb empty and wept.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher.

John 20:11-16

Mary wept for the death of her friend and teacher. She wept because, like each of us when faced with death, we do not understand. We mourn our loss and we see only a terrible finality where, in fact, something wonderful has begun.

We linger among the dead when we are actually looking for those who are alive again.

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God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8