Monday, December 29, 2014

What I Wore- Bobmas Shopping

While I do not intend for this blog to become a fashion blog, it is what I can manage right now with my two little ones. Outfit inspiration (for a tight budget) is always a useful thing, right?

So, having said that, you might be wondering what "Bobmas" is and I will explain. My husband's birthday is the day after Christmas and his name is Bobby. So, his brother coined his birthday "Bobmas"  (Bobby + Christmas) and it has stuck ever since. Bobby likes to go shopping to spend his Christmas money on his birthday so that is what we always do. Usually we go down to Montrose, we scour Half Price books, a record store or two...our tradition usually includes going to our favorite sushi place "Oishii" to discover it is closed for a three week holiday, but we remembered this year and just settled for Thai Cottage. Neither of us bought anything that day, I think the mall crowds scare us more as we get older and have increased our family size! 

Anyway, let's talk a little more about what I wore. Jeans that fit well are the one item I believe is worth paying more to own. 
The jeans I am wearing are Lauren Ralph Lauren Straight Leg Nolita. I get them at Dillard for $68. 

The blouse was a find at Goodwill ($6). I fell in love with the color and the sleeves.

 The shoes have been featured before and are my favorite to wear. They go with anything and are classy brown leather with a gold buckle. Beautimous! As my dad says. They are also from Goodwill ($5).

   
 I hope your new year is a blessed one!



Monday, November 24, 2014

What I Wore- Same Song, Different Tune

I have featured this shirt that I found at Goodwill before but it was a totally different outfit and so I thought I would share another way to style it. 

Sleeves rolled up, cutoffs and cute buckled, brown flats that you can't see because I have to figure out how to do this on self-timer and get it all in!


Shirt: Goodwill
Shorts: Macy's?
Belt: American Eagle
Love the map and the color

Even the button has great detailing.

This is how I wore it previously.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What I Wore-How I Wore Mustard

I not much of a shopper. Even though I love cute outfits shopping for them is the bane of wearing them for me. It is also one of the reasons that I try to upcycle things I own and use pieces I own in new ways.


However, sometimes you chance upon a deal that is perfect for the non-shopper. I was dropping off a donation at the Cookie Jar and outside on their clearance rack (clearance at a resale shop = sweet!) was this mustard yellow blouse. It was a dollar, y'all. I snipped out the shoulder pads and paired it with some items I already owned. Hope you feel inspired!

 
This is the kind of pose you get if you
ask your hubby to be photographer. 
Blouse: Cookie Jar
Jacket: Sears (clearance)
Shorts: Consignment Store Brand: Express
Necklace: Don't know
Shoes: Wal-mart

                                     

Sans jacket! 






Saturday, November 1, 2014

Alternative Dressing



Here is a guideline for my alternative to store bought, multiple ingredients dressing -my son loves that stuff. I apologize in advance for no measurements. I tend to "whip things up" but I really wanted to share these recipes because I have had success with my son suddenly gobbling up salad when he has dressing he loves. There is a nice yogurt based ranch dressing that we buy too, but I love that I thought of these as an alternative and that he ended up enjoying them and his salad.

 I hope you have some fun playing around with the proportions!


BERRY GOOD DRESSING:

Any sort of berries, room temperature (this is so the coconut oil does not congeal while blending)
Coconut Oil, liquid state
Blend it in the blender

NOTE: you will have to take a spoonful and warm it up because the coconut oil will congeal in the fridge, of course.


RANCH DRESSING:

Avocado
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt
Parsley, finely chopped or dried
Chives, finely chopped
Garlic powder
Add some yogurt to thin it out to desired consistency
Blend it in the blender

NOTE: The greenness of this one kind of put my son at odds with it. I cannot do it as often as the berry dressing. So, if you think that will happen, play around with the amount of Avocado. Although that creaminess and good-for-you fat is such a wonderful addition!

Enjoy!




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Post of Tuesday and Thoughts and Such

So, I am sitting here at my computer which is definitely a beginning and is often farther than I get most days. I hope that what comes through my fingers as I type is something worth reading. If not, I will still be quite glad if I finish.

I figure that every once in awhile my post does not have to be well thought out, but, rather, more like a freewrite. The words that come and turn into a well formed thought after a bit of meandering.

This morning I heard two phrases that stayed with me. The first I will paraphrase because I don't remember the exact phrase but it was: sometimes we get caught up in what we think are the big things, the large efforts for change because we want to be remembered for that but, really, change starts with picking up a towel (in reference to Jesus washing his disciple's feet).

The second was "Bring me your whole heart even in 10,000 shards."

My mind has been so many places today but when I think about everywhere it has traveled, to this subject or that activity or this idea, I think it is actually a web of connectedness and I hope that as I write I begin to see it for all its gossamer beauty.

"Gossamer beauty" I had to say it aloud and enjoy the phrase again.

Four thoughts I jotted down today, in a very cryptic manner seeing as I only understand three of them now that time has passed.

Exactly as I jotted:

1) Parents and your knowledge of God.

2) Loving words (which is the one that I don't remember anything about! Yet.)

3) Owning our unbelief

4) C.S. Lewis dread

The last one may seem the most cryptic to you!

I have thought about the first since a small group probably four months ago. There was a lot of talk about how your relationship with your dad can especially affect your understanding of God. Negatively or positively. I don't agree with the "especially" but the one who came up with the question is of that bent and I think his father was the main person who affected his perspective in this case. In a bible study this morning we studied 1 Thessalonians and talked about allowing God to parent us. We examined those things necessary to be a secure child. One of them was to be "affectionately desired" this is to have the sense that someone wants to be with you and that you are not just tolerated. I smiled as I listened because if we are talking of dads and their impact on our view of God then I should contemplate God in this light. I always felt that my dad wanted us around. In fact, I felt that he really enjoyed us and our company. If he was working on the car, he wanted to talk to us. When he came home from work, I never felt like he would rather rest than play with us. He may have, but I never felt like that. If he brought work home he found little ways for us to be a part of it, I remember helping him with the simple calculations (when it got to more than adding, he would hold the calculator!) When I climbed too high he came to catch me if only I would trust to jump.

The second has still not come to me and may not until I post this.

The third, one of the most significant lessons I have learned is that the beginning of healing can be the expression of anger, unapologetic anger, truthful anger, unbelieving anger, to God. I could never get rid of God. I never could. There was a point that I tried, a few points, but He wouldn't leave. So, I said nothing. I do not remember the exact Psalm I read but it was something along this line:

Psalms 44:18-26
Our heart has not turned back
Nor have our steps departed from your way;
Yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
And covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
Or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
Would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O  Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us for ever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!”

And God told me that He wanted me to talk to Him and tell Him exactly how I felt, what I thought about Him. And you know what? I did. And you know what I felt afterward? I still felt angry. So, for days I told Him how I felt. I shook my fist and I didn’t apologize. I didn’t ever say something I didn’t actually feel or think. Slowly, very slowly, I began to heal. I don’t say this to say I was correct about how I thought, I do say that it was right and good for me to communicate. To own it, to not look for the healing, to not look for the right words. But healing came and then growth.

4) C.S Lewis dread. I have been reading Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. These are a couple of passages from it:

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him who I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

“The real issue was not, or not yet, there. The real terror was that if you seriously believed in even such a “God” or Spirit” as I admitted, a wholly new situation developed. As the dry bones shook and came together in that dreadful valley of Ezekiel’s, so now a philosophical theorem, cerebrally entertained, began to stir and heave and throw off its grave cloths, and stood upright and became a living presence.  I was to be allowed to play at philosophy no longer. It might, as I say, still be true that my “Spirit” differed in some way from “the God of popular religion.” My Adversary waived the point. It sank into utter unimportance. He would not argue about it. He only said, “I am the Lord”; “I am that I am”; “I am.”
People who are naturally religious find difficulty in understanding the horror of such a revelation. Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God.” To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.”

Lewis admits that the one thing in life he hated was “interference” he would rather be left alone. Really, he dreaded God even as it began to be evident to him that there was a God. Only one God. That belief that there was a God would lead to consequences. Consequences such as “interference.” Lewis wrote honestly about God. I feel a bit like he was a David. A man after God’s own heart who wrote honestly, piercingly, and also had some shocking misconduct in his own life. When we hear “man after God’s own heart” it does not mean someone who is like God or nearest to being like God, I think. I think that it means someone who approaches their belief in God honestly, who really seeks God’s heart and not someone who tears apart scripture trying to find nuances and follow rules. Someone who dives into action and living. Not that Lewis or David or I would ever say that there are not things God asks us to do, that God who IS and WAS and always WILL BE does not require obedience. In fact, this dread and this anger, when realized, is because we know He must be obeyed and, yet, we are fully aware of our desire to be left alone. At the same time, we know that “His compulsion is our liberation.” But we struggle against it. I think God would rather us lift up our faces to him, whether in anger, dread, joy, or love, than look away as if He was not there. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I Wore-Sunday


Yes, a "What I Wore" is almost a cop out blog post! But I want to be more consistent about posting and so here is my easy, cop out blog post for the season when I am getting back into it. We can also tack on the fact that I am starting to feel somewhat cute again after baby #2. 

Skirt: Vintage, navy pleated skirt (my sister actually owns it but I try to borrow it so often that I can pretend it is mine and hope that one day she will forget to ask for it back.)

Blouse: Marshall's

Cardigan: Cookie Jar Resale (One of my favorites!)





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How I Approach Music

"I long to live in restful sincerity of heart. I want to live so fully in the Spirit that all my thoughts may be as sweet incense ascending to Thee and every act of my life may be an act of worship." -A.W. Tozer

Sitting behind the set this Sunday, my heart still beating quickly, rhythmically although my drumsticks were now still, I listened to the words above which were a part of our Sunday worship. 


 I was still, every part of me, and God reminded me, once again, that playing these drums is for Him. Sometimes I look at everyone sitting out there and think about them, I think about me and my performance, me and my lacking.

But most often I am thinking about both my heavenly Dad and my earthly Dad.

My dad played the drums at our church.

 I close my eyes and feel the music and I think about the time one of my teenage friends said: "When your dad closes his eyes and plays, it's like he is worshiping God while he is drumming."



That is what I want each tap of the high hat, each boom of the bass, each hit of the snare, and brush of the cymbal to be, a worshipful act.

I want my life to be music that evokes a sweet longing in others and a smile on God's face.

Music, for me, is the handiwork of God. Creative genius that He has given someone whether they know it or not. It flows throughout me, I cannot help but dance, whether the action is visible to anyone else I do not know.

Music is constantly in my head whether there is any outside of it. I've embarrassed friends by breaking into song in public places. I skip and I sing, I smile and twirl. My son and I throw rhymes back and forth on a regular basis. I often accompany words with a beat and a jig when talking to him.  

In Heaven no restraint will be needed. 

I will burst into song when I get there and my feet will continually dance along the streets of gold.

And God will say: "Emily, your life was beautiful music.I'm glad to have you home."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Listening Eyes

I am the student that college professors finally land on and look at for 75% of their lecture. I guess it is because my parents never let me get away with eyes wandering if they were speaking. "Look at me while I am talking to you." It shows someone that what they have to say is important, that was what I was taught. 

Beginning in my youth, I had people in parks and grocery stores telling me their stories, their worries and fears. I cannot think of why else except that, when they looked into my eyes, they felt I would listen. 

When a child speaks to me, I try my best to turn my eyes on them just the same as any adult because I believe what they have to say it just as important as anyone else. I find myself frowning when an adult trivializes what a child has to say. 

 Many translate my constant wonder and smile to naivety. Many take my quietness as a lack of cleverness. Many assume my quiet voice comes from timidity. Many think I am weird for the things I do say. I have had to learn that most people are not good listeners and this is because most people have a thirst to be heard. They will try to quench it even at the expense of others. 

So, I try to listen.

Sometimes I want to be listened to. I want to not be the girl who yells: "got it!" only for someone to hurdle themselves in front of me and steal the show. The volleyball court of life. Sometimes I want to answer for myself. Sometimes I get nervous when all eyes finally do turn on me, I am not used to it. Always, I thank God for friends who turn to me, look at me, and ask: "Emily, what do you think?"


And listen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How I Am Working On the Sabbath...Get It?

13 years ago when Bath and Body Works introduced their Aromatherapy line and we were changing the signage I was allowed to nab one of the signs we had displayed and take it home. It is a soothing green circle and the words on it are simply: "Stress Less." It hangs on the wall of my computer room to be seen when I walk in. I can see it with my peripheral vision right now.

Yesterday, I read a Facebook status update from a friend that said he watched a spider build its web and while watching he did nothing else. It took 45 minutes. What bliss, that is part of what life is about and yet people believe that they could never have time for that. They don't know that it is richer to drink in life instead of gulping it down. 

This afternoon, I picked up "My Utmost for His Highest" and this is what Oswald Chambers had to say when I picked up my bookmarked page: "When God brings in the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait. The blank space may come in order to teach you what sanctification means, or it may come after sanctification to teach you what service means." How does God always know how to pave the way for things?

In my last post, I talked about still figuring out how to write again and I also mentioned trying to find "pockets" of time. It seems to be much the same concerning the Sabbath. It is something that I am still figuring out at this point, but I have been conscious of needing rest and making time to rest.

When I say rest, I do mean literally naps, because in times past I would never allow myself that. In fact, admitting that I do take naps at times is difficult because I am afraid of being perceived as lazy. But God has impressed on me that sometimes I must so that I can give everything I need give to those in my household and around me. That sometimes it is more important than finishing something else.

When I say rest, I also mean learning to be at peace with some mess because that is not in my natural makeup as a person. But I have found that it took up so much of my time, I always felt like I was cleaning up after everyone, and I would become frustrated with them. I am being taught that the minimum in this area is not always bad. I am still learning. Right now my son keeps opening the desk drawer to get something new out and I keep shutting it. Testament to the fact that I am a continual work in progress.

When I say rest, I mean to rest on God. And rest on Him like my Daddy. Cuddling up and just knowing that His strength will take care of it all.

When I say rest, I mean to rest my eyes on my sons. To be refreshed by play. To drink in the cool water that is my two little boys. To throw off the idea of anything else and just look at them. To choose rest over strain. To lessen the "lessons" I teach with words so that I do not tire them and myself and instead choose lessons by action.

This being said, I feel like God is telling me to figure out a specific time to have as my Sabbath, but that He is well pleased with my progress. And this is a rest I have been learning as well because I always had a notion (never expressed or admitted) that I must be at the end, at completion, at perfection to finally rest or for God to be pleased. But I have learned that God will always be completing, always be perfecting and that as long as I am working on what He says, I can rest. I can have peace.

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore mist gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, the the power of Christ may rest upon me."

                                                              2 Corinthians 12:9




Thursday, June 12, 2014

How I Am Figuring Out Writing Again

Lately, I have had trouble writing. I have not evolved completely from teenager who had excessive amounts of time to write in silence to wife and then wife and mom with hardly any silence ever. You would think that I would have learned in the span of ten years. It is difficult to change any habit and this includes a writing habit.

However, I am trying to consciously make little pockets of time to write. Pockets of time, even though I have not completely defined what that means yet, is my main plan of action. And when I say this, it is because I am trying to break the habit of needing to write a complete essay in one sitting. So, pocket time creates a space for my writing juices to start flowing, to stretch my literary muscles and then strengthen them. I am not in the habit yet, but I am finding time.

In what ways am I finding time? If I think of a good turn of a phrase (such as I did while mowing the lawn while my boys were in quiet time) then I write it in my journal. Often, the phrase flies out nearly as soon as it comes in because a little boy voice pushes it out by saying "I'm hungry" a few times in a row-more than a few. But when it stays for a few minutes, I write it down and this is better than I have done in the past.

The "pocket" idea I am currently most proud of is returning to a favorite pastime from my childhood. All the while, introducing it to my own son while sneaking in some writing. Two weeks ago, I folded and stapled together about five pages and then told my son that we were going to write a book. I let him draw and then I used his drawings to inspire writing (see below). I also stapled together some pages of my own and just did a freewrite. Making a cover page with my name on it somehow inspired me to write better.

                                                       



On the horizon
A lonely cloud
In a storm.



You have 
Looked
Hooked
Took
Forsook
The reason
My Life
Is a book.



Capture my madness
In your arms
And love my
Tornado ways.
Keep me grounded
But fly and let
Me fly
And let us
fly.




Another exercise has been recording some of my past writings on the computer and, when I type out words I have written before, I start to feel encouraged and somehow something comes to mind. In fact, I was in the middle of recording a short story and I felt that it was time to begin this post.

I will admit that the boys have stayed in quiet time a little longer than usual today. But I think they will not be scarred.

Lastly, I am learning that perfection cannot always be attained in a post, but that it feels best to get something out there instead of one hanging in limbo until perfect. Which is why I am going to leave this one alone now, post it, and get my boys' out of quiet time.

Until we meet again.

Emily

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Christians and Politics

Driving along a major road in my town, there is a particular corner where men and women are waiting with clipboards next to their big sign that states: "Impeach Obama" and displays a "Hitler" mustache on the face of our President. They sit there at least a few times a month. As I drive by, not knowing whether these people claim to be Christians or not, I still think about the oxymoron that is Christians in politics.

It might be someone's first reaction to assume that I am not for Christians in politics at all, especially after they read this post. The truth is that I believe that politics should have balance when it is a part of a Christian's life and that it is difficult to maintain balance when we are ultra involved (in politics). It is also difficult to maintain a proper Christian witness. As Christians, we should support measures that help maintain civil order or try to correct gross social offenses, but civil order and social offenses will not ever be remedied by politics and it can often take time and energy away from our commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and our greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40). As John MacArthur says in an essay concerning Christians and Politics:

 "A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable,  as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer's political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel...The greatest temporal good we can accomplish through political involvement cannot compare to what the Lord can accomplish through us in the eternal work of His kingdom. Just as God called ancient Israel (Ex. 19:6), He has called the church to be a kingdom of priests, not a kingdom of political activists."

Commission:

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you..."

Command:

''Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law? and he said to them, ''You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these depend all the Law and the Prophets.''


Why is it that I think politics in the Christian life can be such a tricky thing to balance? Politics is, by nature, divisive and God's word says: ''A house divided cannot stand.'' (Mark 3:25) If we, as Christians, cannot stand together we cannot go out into the world and accomplish meeting the world's needs.

Now someone might say: 'Wouldn't trying to accomplish meeting needs through politics be a way to make a vast change in the lives of many people?' I don't think so.

One, I don't think we were ever meant to have government. I believe it is an institution that God allowed us to have and has ordered us to obey but not what was originally intended for us. Two, the change will most likely only last for the term of whatever politician is in office. Three, laws induce only superficial change and not deep heart change. It is a distant way of meeting a need. It lacks the touch of God's hand through ours. Fourth, I do think we should handle gross injustice in the political system- don't get me wrong. However, it should not take up so much time that we are not touching people who are affected by these laws one on one. Do we fight for the Right to Life? We can, but how long will those laws last? Can we find ways to reach out and embrace women considering abortion? There are options in your own church and organizations that would love to have more manpower.

I know that we need to be aware of laws that might take away our freedom and, more importantly, laws that take protection away from the innocent. But even this does not outweigh our great command, because this command must be obeyed  in spite of what our government does, no matter what state it is in , no matter what freedoms we do or do not have. And we can overlook strengthening our awareness and our practical involvement when we are too involved in the political side. Do I love having these rights and freedoms? Yes, I do. I would be scared if they were taken away, yet I don't think my greatest call is to fight for them.

Psalms 33:12 says: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!"

But that does not mean that because America was supposedly founded on Christian principles that God is the Lord of our nation. As a country we have not chosen him,  neither by laws will we bring a nation to him. Morality of a people is not the priority, reaching individuals who will also love and serve God is the priority.
The moral decline of America is not political anyway and cannot be solved by politics. The moral decline is spiritual and can only be helped in that way. The moral decline is not because of our political system, our political system only reflects us as a country. If we could focus on the people and could be the real church there would be healing and the political system would reflect the healing.

"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

That is the way that we will be healed. That is a priority. If the whole land is not Christian we cannot make them so by law. And when we begin to fight (and I mean fight) for those sorts of laws we can become hostile toward political leaders, opposing parties, and real people who are "on the other side." We see ourselves as right and them as wrong instead of them as a human in need and us as a human who can lift them up. Our tongue is our deadliest weapon when it should be our greatest tool and it inflicts wounds that are slow healing. God does not give us an out when it concerns politics.Our tongue is not suddenly our own and allowed to be wielded how we choose. When people appear to us as part of a party or political affiliation, or anything other than another sinful and hurting human, we can distance them and we do. They do not seem so worthy of our help any longer. Our tongue and our action can become hurtful, distancing, and proud.

“With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” James 3:9-12

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:17-18

We must honor our government and those leaders, we should honor the freedom people have given their life for by voting, we should maintain an interest in what is going on, but we must be aware of heavy involvement and the energy and resources it can take away from the day to day spiritual warfare we are engaged in. Those who have been called to politics, be aware of the humility of spirit and tongue that we are still called to and the lifting up of Christ that will draw men and women to him.

"Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior our Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:20)






Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shadows and Reflection- Love Thy Neighbor

Growing up in a non-denominational church we did not have services or portions of service that were  ceremonial, we did have a routine but not ritual. The source of this practice was from a good intention. Ritual can become mundane and turn into vain repetition. However, sometimes you miss an occasion to gain useful reflection from the solemnity of tradition.

The church that my husband and I attend is of Protestant denomination but on Good Friday we follow the liturgy of Tenebrae which was originally an Orthodox practice. It has become one of my favorite services and the reason is simply that each element is designed for reflection and at the end of this particular service, more than any other, I am truly considering what this celebration of Easter means. 


Before the celebration there was death, there was sorrow, there was betrayal and all of this grief brings beauty and excitement to the fact that three days later there was light, life, and victory. 


I think, as Christians, we are afraid of not showing our appreciation if we picture Christ on the cross. I remember, as a young girl, seeing Catholics wear a crucifix, Jesus on the cross, and those in Protestant denominations wearing a cross without Jesus on it.  I questioned this and was told that we wear a cross without Christ on it because "He is not on the cross anymore." As a grown woman, I now think both are beautiful reminders. We miss out on something when we do not deeply reflect on the fact that he once was on the cross. It takes away from the victory that now Jesus is alive. 


The service of Tenebrae means "shadow" both connoting a foreshadowing of his death as well as a weighty feeling. The scripture readings are done so in dim lighting lending a reflective spirit to the whole service. Each reading gives us opportunity to meditate on a portion of his suffering and to apply it to ourselves. The only lights beside those for reading are the 7 candles that are extinguished as each reading is finished. There is power in the silence after each reading. The following are the 7 shadows that we reflect on:


The Shadow of Betrayal (Matt. 26:20-25)



 The Shadow of Desertion (Matt 26:30-35)
 The Shadow of Unshared Vigil (Luke 22:39-46)
 The Shadow of Accusation (Matt 26:47-75)
 The Shadow of Crucifixion (Matt 27:1, 11-37)
 The Shadow of Death  (Luke 23:44-49)
 The Shadow of the Tomb (John 19:38-42)
In most services that follow the Tenebrae liturgy, there is music in between the readings. At our church we take occasion to use various forms of art for reflection in between each reading. Members of the church have been invited to participate beforehand and paintings, storytelling, music, and poetry draw us in. Even as you enter the sanctuary there are sculptures, woodwork, photography, and drawings that have been set up to observe. 
This year I wrote a poem, contemplating the Unshared Vigil when Jesus asks his disciples to pray with him as he prays the night before he is to die. As we all know, they fall asleep. 
As a result of writing the poem I was able to think about why this story was so important to warrant reflection. Yes, it must have hurt Jesus  for those who were closest to him to fall asleep in his time of deep anguish. However, I wondered what might it even say to us now? Why, besides the historical significance is this significant to us today? In the scriptures, we are told to "Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15) We are told "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) Bearing another's burden is fulfilling the law of ChristThe disciples falling asleep reminds us that in this life we are called to be aware of other's needs. We are not to sleep while those around us suffer and fail to see some sort of physical sign of Christ's love. We all know Matthew 22:37-40: "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  All of the law hangs on this
One more passage for your reflection:
James 2:8-17
 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been mercifulMercy triumphs over judgment.
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

If we are not aware, we will not know how to serve. If we do not serve, humbly and practically (meeting physical needs), what good is our faith?


Share Thy Neighbor's Vigil


Let us be the toasty blanket
On cold shoulders.
The runner’s cool water.
A menthol rub on this world’s aching joints.
A new mother’s hands,
The kiss on a hurt knee.
And the knee is where we should be
Bent and humble
Shining our love up
Toward a downcast face.
Let us be the finger that lifts a chin
The applause for those ignored
The one who crowns the poor.
Ignorance is not bliss
Awareness is a sacred call
Holding safe and high
A neighbor’s candle
Is our command.
In the vigil of life
Let us not sleep.

-Emily Chumchal Andrews

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