What’s so Good about Good Friday?

There’s a lot of confusion about why today, the day Jesus was crucified two thousand years ago, is called Good Friday. But it’s really simple.

It was good for God to become flesh in Jesus and be crucified for our sins.

Good that He chose to die in our place.

Good that he took on sin and death so that we might have eternal life.

Good for us.

Good for humanity.

Will you embrace His goodness?

Reflect on that this weekend!

Easter Seder Part III

The Story of Passover

During this time Exodus 12:1-13 is read with brief comments and with the elements held up at the appropriate moment.

The Lamb Bone: The lamb was killed, its blood spread on the doorposts and lintel of the house to protect the home from the tenth plague, the slaying of the firstborn. God said He would pass over the house when He saw the blood.

Jesus, God’s first born, the Lamb of God, shed his blood for us so that death would pass us over.

The Unleavened Bread:
Dough was not given time to rise since the Hebrews had to be ready to leave quickly. No one knows the day or the hour Jesus will return. We must be ready to go when He comes.

The Second Cup: Cup of Plagues
“God poured our 10 plagues on Egypt, the last of which, the slaying of the first born, convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel leave the land.”

As Christian, let us recall the lives Jesus had delivered us from.
After this explanation the father invites he participants to recount these plagues. He reads each passage aloud; They repeat it and then dip a finger into the grape juice, letting a drop fall onto the place symbolizing the plagues.

“Now let us lift our cups and drink, thanking God that He not only delivered the nation of Israel from the plagues, but that through Jesus, He delivered us from the plague of sin which brings death that we all deserve.”

Here is a good place for everyone to go around the table and confess their sins to one another.

The Bitter Herbs
Each person places horseradish on a matzo and eats it, “This symbolizes the bitterness of Israel’s slavery and our slavery to sin.”

Eating of Caroseth
Each person places charoseth on a matzo and eats it, “This symbolizes the mortar that was used to make bricks by the Israelites.”

Eating the Egg
The father presents the roasted egg.

This” is a reminder of the Temple’s destruction in A.D. 70.” The egg is dipped in saltwater, the symbol of tears, and then eaten.

Eating of the Meal
At this point, the Jewish family eats a full meal.

Eating of Afikomen
This Greek word loosely translated means, after dinner. After dinner, the children hunt for the hidden matzo. Whoever finds the piece gets a token reward, maybe a coin or candy. When found, the Afikomen is broken and shared. Likely it was at this point that Jesus said, “This is my body given for you.”

Read Luke 22:19 and share communion: “During Jesus’ Last Supper, he took the bread and broke it saying this is my body, do this in remembrance of me.”

The Third Cup
“Exodus 6:6 says, ‘I will redeem you.’ Redemption means to buy out of slavery. The lamb sacrificed and offered on Passover was the price to deliver the nation of Israel from their sin. This third cup is what Jesus drank with his disciples as a symbol of his blood. He was saying I will redeem you.”

Read Matthew 26:27-32 and take communion

Searching for Elijah
“The Jewish people believe, according to Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6 that Elijah will prepare the way for the Messiah. They are looking for the Messiah year after year, not recognizing that Jesus, the Messiah, has already come. Pray for the Jews and everyone else who does not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Here the children search for Jesus, and peeks out the door.
Father: Is he here?
Child: No, he is not here.
Father: Maybe next year Jesus will come. Maybe tomorrow. For no one knows the day or the hour He will come, so we should be ready for Him always.

The Fourth Cup of Praise
As everyone lifts this cup, the father quotes Exodus 6:7 “I will take you for my people. The Jewish nation looks forward to a golden age where everyone will be at peace. We, as believers in the Lord Jesus, eagerly wait for his return when He ill take us to Heaven.”

So with the Passover ceremony finished, everyone drinks the fourth cup proclaiming “”Even so Lord, com quickly Lord Jesus.”

Here are some fun ideas you might want to try with your family:

*When the plagues are read, pass our sunglasses for darkness, round band-aids painted green for boils, toy frogs and locusts, etc. They kids might not be the only ones to get a kick out of this part of the Seder.

*During the eating of the egg, you can play the “egg game.” Prepare an egg for each guest. After the father eats his egg, explain that whoever ends up with the unbroken egg is the winner and receives a small prize. Face the person sitting next to you and tap eggs end-to-end and point-to-point. Continue to play around the table until only one unbroken egg is declared the winner.

Easter Seder Part II

Yesterday I shared with you the beginning of the Christian Seder my family has during the Easter weekend. We try and have this on Good Friday to reminisce about the :Last Supper”, but sometimes we have it on Saturday. We reserve Sunday for a relaxing time of Church and casual dinner.Christian Seder continued

The Four Questions
At this point, the youngest child and the father interact to explain why Passover is celebrated. After asking the first stage setting questions, the child will ask four detailed one. (In our family, we share the questions among all the children.)

Child: Why is this night different from all other nights?

Father: Once we were slaves to our sin, like the Jews who were slaves in Egypt , but now we are free , and we set aside this night each year to remember the great things God did for us.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus, so that we might not perish and be slaves to sin, but so we might be free and have abundant life.

Child: On all other nights we eat either bread or matzo, but why on this night do we eat only matzo?

Father: Matzo reminds us of two things. There was no time for the Jews bread to rise when it was time to leave Egypt. This unleavened bread reminds us the Jews were delivered from slavery in Egypt, and were given new life. And we as Christian, were delivered from sin and also have new life.

Child: On all over nights we eat whatever vegetables we want, but why on this night, do we eat only bitter ones?

Father: We remember how bitter our sin was and the how bitter the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt was.

(Since our family doesn’t recline at the table, we skip this question and usually substitute it with a different one of our choosing)

Child: On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining, but why on this night do we all recline?

Father: Before we were slaves, but now we are able to recline and express the rest we enjoy as free people.

Here are some fun ideas you might want to try with your family:

*Conduct the first part of the Seder in the living reclining on homemade pillows with the names of your guests.

*Make up four questions centering on present day Israel
Why is the land different from other lands? Then pray for the peace of Israel and Jerusalem.

*Ask a fifth question for the Jewish children who died in the Holocaust and never got a chance to ask.

Family Friendly Easter Seder Part I

It’s snuck up on me again! The Easter Holiday season.

I just pulled out my Easter file and for the rest of the week I’ll be sharing with you our Easter traditions starting with a Christian Seder. We’ve shared the “The Last Supper” with our immediate family for the last couple of years, and although it hasn’t been a “sane” experience, I think we’ve been ironing out the less than kid friendly parts, and hopefully this year will bring a little more peace.

Im sure there are lots of ways to do a Christian Seder, but this is how our family does it. I’d love to hear if you do something similar and what yours looks like. Chrysalis has a great post on an easy Christian Seder.

Christian Seder

Come to the Table

At each place setting provide the following:

Parsley (2 sprigs)
Charoseth (1 Tb) Chopped apples, nuts, honey, cinnamon, and a touch of grape juice. (This is my families favorite!)
(4 servings, 3 oz each)
Saltwater (1 bowl per 4-5 people) Add enough salt to cloud the water
Horseradish (1.2 tsp, and as “biting” as possible)
Matzo (Plain, 1/4 square)
2 candles (white) and candlesticks in table center

At the leader’s place setting also provide:

1 bowl of saltwater
1 lamb bone (meatless and oven roasted until brown)
3 whole squares of matzo and 4 napkins (Matzos are stacked between the napkins on a plate)
1 roasted egg (boil for 10 minutes; then place under oven broiler until shell is brown)

An extra setting for “Elijah/Jesus—

Same as the “per person” setting with the exception that only one glass of juice is poured and left next to the plate. For the Jews, this symbolizes the future appearance of Elijah, who will signify the coming of Messiah. For Christians, it symbolizes the return of Christ.

The Passover Ceremony

Cleaning of Leaven
A few crumbs of leavened bread are dropped on the floor. The father or another male leader then sweeps them up as a symbol that the house is ready.

The Lighting of the Candles
The candles are lit by the mother who recites, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us by Your commandments and has ordained that we kindle the Passover lights. Jesus you are the light of the world. Help our light shine out to those who do not know you.”

The First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification
The father lifts his cup and explains, “Sanctification means to be set apart. We are setting apart this ceremony as special to the Lord.”

The Jews remember Exodus 6:6a, “I will bring you out (set you apart) from under the burdens of the Egyptians. God performed miraculous deeds to free Israel from Egypt. As believers, God’s greatest miracle was the price God payed, death of His only son Jesus, to free us from the bondage of sin and death.”

Everyone drinks.

Washing of Hands

Here the father washes in a basin. “This is a reminder of the priest’s need to wash before the could go before God on behalf of Israel. As Jesus celebrated His last Passover with his disciples, John 13 records that he took a towel and washed their feet instead of washing his hands. He also said that we should do this to one another.”

Take wash cloths and each person washed the hands (or feet) or the person to their left.

Dipping the Parsley
Everyone dips his parsley, one sprig at a time, into the saltwater and then eats it.
“The first dip refers to the tears shed in slavery by Israelites. But we also recognize the tears we’ve shed while in slavery to sin, without forgiveness and freedom Jesus offers. The second dip refers to the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea and the miraculous deliverance of Israel as a result (Exodus 14:13-31). We also thank God for our miraculous deliverance from sin.”

Breaking of the Middle Matzo
The father takes the middle square of the 3 whole Matzos, breaks it in half, puts one half back and hides the other half where he wants. Everyone closes his eyes while this is done. The children will look for the hidden piece later.

“These three squares of Matzo represent the beautiful picture of the Trinity. The middle representing Jesus-broken and hidden away.”

There’s much more to the Seder, but I’ll save it for tomorrow’s post!!! Please come back and see how you can get your kids involved in this Christian Seder.

When You Just Don’t Fit the Market

I’ve never felt like I fit.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s on Long Island, New York, I didn’t know anyone whose parents (or grandparents) were divorced except mine. I didn’t know any other kids who had to visit their dad on the weekend instead of doing fun stuff with friends. And I didn’t know any other kids whose mother pulled them from the Catholic church when she found Jesus.

I didn’t fit.

In high school, I had my own salvation experience. Jesus had always been my savior, but in 10th grade he became my Lord. I didn’t know any other kids at my school who loved Jesus like I did, who drastically changed their ways over one summer, and who had to find new friends to hang around with the following school year.

Once again, I didn’t fit.

I went off to a Christian college in 1986 and thought for sure I would fit in. But how could a girl from New York ever fit into an evangelical Oklahoma school? I might have had the big hair, but I didn’t speak the language or dress the way they did. When people were fixing to go to lunch, I wanted to know what was broken. Eventually, I found people I fit with and it made my college experience one of the best experiences of my life, but after college I still struggled to fit into my church, my homeschool and mom groups. I don’t know why, but something always made me feel like an outsider.

Then I found my writing friends, and I finally found my home, that place that you know people love and accept you no matter what because they’re family and they “get” you. That’s what the writing community has been for me and most recently the dance community I’m a part of. I don’t have to explain myself to them, they just get me.

Where is all this going with fitting into the writing market?

The other day I had a chat with my agent about the story he’s shopping around for me. The consensus from editors so far is that the writing is really good, some even loved my writing…but the story doesn’t fit. Not a surprise, really. My last story didn’t seem to fit either. Too edgy, not CBA enough, too melancholy…whatever you want to call it, I find myself not fitting again, and this time I’m smiling.

Why? Because it just confirms the word my pastor spoke in church on Sunday and maybe something God has been trying to tell me all my life. I don’t fit because God doesn’t want me to!

God makes each person unique with different gifts and personalities so they can fit into different places. My pastor said we each are designed to fit in places only we can fit.

So I know there’s a place for me. A place my writing fits, and when I find it I will be smack in the middle of God’s will, the place he designed for me from the beginning. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one smiling!

UPDATE: After exhausting all leads in the CBA, we’re taking my current WIP to the general ABA. Uncharted territory awaits me! Not sure how I feel about it all, but I’m moving forward!

Have you found the place where you fit? If not, will you keep searching until you do, or will you conform to fit into a space that was never meant for you?

 

 

Are You Weary in the Waiting?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

It seems that if a writer isn’t writing, then she’s waiting… Waiting to get edits back from a critique partner.Waiting to hear from a potential agent or editor. Waiting to sell a manuscript. Even when a book is sold there’s still waiting!

Waiting can often bring weariness, especially if there are other areas in your life where you’ve been waiting on God to move. And weariness often brings a loss of hope, even defeat. It might even cause you to give up on your dreams!

Believe me, I’ve been there, but what keeps me pushing toward my dreams during the seasons of waiting is wondering if the moment I give up is when God has something wonderful for me. So what do I do in the meantime?

In the past I would whine and cry and question why the answer wasn’t coming fast enough, why I had yet to be published? Then I’d suck it up and trust God. After all God knew best, and if he wan’t giving me the desires of my heart, then it was for a reason. It was for a good reason. I had to believe that! I had to or else I’d go insane waiting and wondering when the answer would come.

Today I’m waiting yet again, but there’s not really any weariness. There’s a little anxiousness, but the obsession in wanting to know or sell my current manuscript is gone. Have I become content in the waiting? I don’t know, but I think I’ve learned how to surrender without whining to God about not giving me the results I want.

Maybe I’ve become weary in the whining.

Maybe I realized it’s futile to complain about things I can’t change. Have I truly learned to be content in where God has me? I’d like to think so, but I also hold on to the hope that maybe God has something far better than I can even dream!

And maybe that’s the real reason I’m not weary!

Compassion Missions in Action: What Are You Thankful For?

We’ve sponsored a child with Compassion since my 17 year old was young. We say one child graduate from the program, and now we’re sponsoring another child from the same country of Rwanda. It’s amazing how a little pocket change can change a family’s life. Don’t believe me? Just watch! This is Compassion’s Missions in Action campaign. Why not consider being a part?

Follow Your Own Path

It’s hard not to compare ourselves with others. Even Christians have trouble with envy and jealousy and often wonder why one is more deserving of the other.

“Why are they blessed financially while we struggle?”

“Why did she get a contract before me while I’ve been trying longer?”

“Why is my marriage a wreck when I’m pursuing God and they’re blissfully happy after being remarried?”

“Why do I continue to sacrifice for the Lord and suffer while others live wanton lives and are blessed?”

I don’t know the answers to these questions and many others people ask. Even Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest friends, didn’t understand why he would have to be matryed for the Gospel while John, the beloved would remain alive.

And Jesus didn’t feel the need to supply an answer. “If I want him (John) to remain alive until I return, what is it to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22

He simply told Peter to follow him.

Keep your eyes in front, not to the side, looking at what happens to other. Follow Jesus.

How simple and how difficult at the same time!

Are you following your own path or trying to walk in the shadows of those around you? If you’re walking in the shadows, how can Jesus shine on your path?

Hmmm…

Heart for Community, Eyes for the Broken Hearted

I used to dread the holidays. Sometimes I still do. I grew up in a NY Italian family that celebrated every holiday together. Then I got married and moved away and holidays weren’t something I looked forward to anymore.

At first it was me and hubby. I tried doing the festive thing for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter and kept some of the traditions and even dressed up at times. Then kids came a long and I bought those cute suits for the kids, several years in a row, but realized we’d always be dressed up with no place to go.

Some years we went to see family, but when the kids got older and our family grew it was much easier to stay home. Soon the holidays came and went, and we barely made it out of our pajamas. Often it became just another day and each year I’d grieve inside. I’d grieve not having family around, but most of all I grieved the fact that even though I belonged to a church and a Christian community, no one, I mean no one except for two Easters after we were first married, invited us over for the holidays and many knew we had no family in town.

Many years we invited others over with us (one year we had a dozen college students) and those were the best times, but deep inside I still grieved the lack of community, of true family and fellowship. The last couple of years since my family moved to town we’ve had small intimate holidays with friends joining us as well. This Easter my mom is visiting my sister, and while some years I like a low key holiday, this year I feel like doing more.

My heart has been aching for community for a while, and even though our home Lent gatherings have been stressful leading up to the ministry, it’s awakened a desire in me to reach out more to those who might also dread the holidays.

So this year I’ll be cooking more and asking Jesus to send those to us who desire community as much as I do. My prayer for my family and Christians everywhere is that their eyes will be open to the needs of others this Easter season and be open to setting the table for a few more! After all Jesus came for the broken hearted and it’s not hard to find them if we just turn our head!

What is your heart’s cry this Easter?

Resurrecting Your Dream Passion

Our dreams can be like a familiar childhood friend.

They’re often something we’ve grown up with and treasured in our hearts since we were little, but for one reason or another we’ve drifted away from.

We all go through seasons where our dreams need to be grounded so we can focus on other things in our lives, but there is a time to resurrect our dreams.

I struggled for years with figuring out when the time was right for me to pursue writing full time. After ten years of focusing on family, I thought it was time to resurrect my dreams. Looking back, it might have been easier to let them sleep a little longer, or if I slowly worked toward my goals those ten years. I’ll never know, but here are some thing I’ve learned along the way.

Identifying Your Dream Passion
Sometimes it’s been so long since we let ourselves dream, that we’ve forgotten what our passions are. Think back to when you were little. What were the things that brought you joy? Did those same activities extend to your high school and college years? Did you lose your passion in the busyness of family rearing and life? Still stumped at identifying your passion? How about the things you did that you felt God’s smile of approval or presence in? Ask God to stir up a passion inside of you for His glory. Then expect him to! Here’s a peek at one of my childhood dreams…fulfilled!

Pray Before You Leap
It seems so simple, but why don’t we do it? For me, it’s because I’m driven and I see others with the “prize” and I think “I can do that.” But I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try or how talented I think I am, God’s the one in control, not me. I can strive all I want (and I believe in working toward my goals,) but ultimately God knows when I’m ready to take that leap toward my dreams. I’ve learned the hard way not to rush it. Don’t make the same mistake.

Banish the Naysayers
Sometimes our biggest dream killers are our inner voices that tell us our dreams are too impractical or unrealistic. That’s why they’re called dreams! While some seasons of dreaming might have to be practical like having a steady job or bigger home, I believe inside everyone is a dream that connects with our soul that if left to sleep too long with eventually die, killing your spirit as well! Allow yourself to wake the dream!

If you feel that now is your time to resurrect your dream, you might be terrified. But how scary is it to live without the pursuit of our passions? To live with the doubt of never knowing if you might have succeeded because your never even tried or gave up too soon.

I don’t want to live with those regrets.

Do you?

 

 

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