3 Days

We are living in a broken world but I see the miraculous and the beautiful and the hopeful every single day. The stark contrast between brokenness and miraculous/beautiful/hopeful is as great as the contrast between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The pain of Good Friday and the elation of Easter Sunday. Just 3 days, but worlds apart.

During Holy Week it is an unwritten rule that we (my family) watch at least one movie on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Is it just me, or do you catch yourself wanting to change the story? It is LITERALLY the greatest story ever told, but I sit on the edge of my seat, palms sweating, biting my fingernails just hoping that the story changes this time. Someone please “save” my savior from the horrible things that I know are about to happen to Him. I have created lots of alternate plot twists.  Just this once could Judas not betray Jesus? While on trial, could the high priest just say, “Yes! I believe you are the Messiah! Case closed!”? Could Peter NOT deny Jesus 3 times before the rooster crows? At the very LEAST could Pontius Pilate just LISTEN to his wife when she tells him that Jesus is an innocent man? How about at the Passover feast, the crowd chooses to crucify Barabbas and LET MY JESUS GO!? Can justice please be served this time?

I can not suffer again through (puhleez- how can I even fathom my own suffering as these events unfold) watching this PERFECT man be punished for “no good reason”( it’s actually the best reason in the history of forever). I know what is about to happen. I have wrapped my brain around the significance of this single most important event in ALL OF history. I understand that we have to get through the pain of Good Friday in order to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday, but I still can’t handle this part of the story. The mocking, slapping, beating, suffering, falling down repeatedly under the weight of the cross — of this sinless man on the way to die a death only intended for the worst criminals is just SO WRONG.

Then Christ arrives on calvary.  The pain, exhaustion, hunger, thirst, the sting of the wounds from his crown of thorns. As if He hasn’t already suffered enough, we all know what happens next. I can not bear to see him nailed to the cross. Does your heart break into pieces when you see the stakes driven through his hands and feet? Do you ache for Mary? Do you get angry with God? When Jesus cries out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”, do you feel that you are there with your fists raised to the heavens with that same question? My God, my God why have you forsaken Him? Why are you doing this to your only son? Why all of the suffering? YOU can save him from this!

Before He breathed His last breath on the cross, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. At this point I can breathe again. I can stop negotiating with God to save the one who died for me. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Resurrection day is right around the corner!

Can you believe that I actually wanted to change the story? The crucifixion is so hard. But, can you imagine if there was no Easter? No third day? No empty tomb? The pivotal moment in human history around which even our entire concept of tracking time is constructed- thank you God for pushing us through Good Friday to get us to Easter. Furthermore, thank you God that your plans are always better than mine! Each time I pray for a plot twist, please just shake your head and continue with your own script. Your ways are always greater than mine.

Continue to linger on this – that moment when He BECAME sin on the cross to die for our sins. It is fitting that the earth shook! That moment when He paid a debt He didn’t owe. That moment when we were purchased by His blood. If you have only celebrated Easter without observing Good Friday, where is the joy? In just 3 days we go from hurting to healed, lost to found, judged to accepted, rejected to loved, powerless to powerful, unworthy to loved, suffering to victorious, hopeless to hopeful, oppressed to inspired and most importantly, from death to eternal life.

Be blessed today.

 

Complaints

If compliments are life giving, complaints are the opposite. Well,  complaints won’t necessarily kill you, but they sure are a major downer! I am 100% guilty of complaining. I am a positive person, but I admit that I complain too much. Have you noticed how many people seem to have made a habit of complaining? People complain about spouses, kids, work, school, finances, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all break that habit? We would all be happier and the world would be a more positive place.

Over the next 24 hours, take inventory of your complaint quota. Keep track of the number of times you complain about anything. Then track your improvements over the next week. I am reminded of a story from years ago about a pastor who started a campaign to end complaining. It really took off! It involved a purple bracelet. Each day  would begin with the purple bracelet on one wrist and it would be switched to the other side anytime “the wearer” would complain. The goal was to go 21 days without having to move the bracelet to the other wrist. In other words, NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT ANYTHING FOR 21 DAYS! Can you imagine? How amazing! And how intimidating!

How on earth are we supposed to completely eliminate complaining? If I can’t complain about my hair, my clothes, my busy schedule, lazy people, the sound of people eating, people watching videos on their phone in public without earbuds, traffic, the cost of cable t.v., Kim and Kanye, losing my wifi signal… what will I do with all of the extra time and energy?

We should spend that “found time” programming ourselves to switch our thinking and ultimately eliminate complaints from our verbal repertoire. Words have power! Consider adding positive affirmations to your morning routine. Like these:

  1. I am a positive thinker.
  2. I effortlessly deal with negative situations.
  3. I am optimistic.

I am hopeful that this simple tweak will have a profound impact on your life, and mine.

Be a blessing today!

 

 

 

 

Compliments

This time of year I find myself extra-pale, extra-“fluffy” (thank you Halloween candy, Thanksgiving desserts, Christmas favorites that are enjoyed for the entire month of December, New Year’s indulgences, Super Bowl snacks and of course Valentine’s Day candy), extra-stressed and extra-homely. Also, extra-frustrated because I don’t  know what to wear when it’s too warm for boots and too cold for flip flops. Can you relate? Another thing….have you ever thought “maybe I just walked around naked this time last year because I LITERALLY HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR” ? Maybe the clothes I wore this time last year are in the same dark abyss as all of my missing socks? Don’t judge me. I am fully aware that there are far worse things in the world than me being pale, fluffy, and wearing seasonally inappropriate footwear/outfits.

I know you are familiar with this universal rule: the degree of  your homely appearance is directly proportional to the number of people (friends/acquaintances) you will see when you run into Target to grab just a few items. In other words, if you look like you just rolled out of bed, you will see approximately 100 people you know. Especially the ones who look like they spent hours prepping for a red carpet appearance.

Picture this, I’m schlepping down the aisles in my yoga pants (my 11 year old asked me recently, “do you wear those pants so people will think you work out?” Ha! No- they accommodate my extra fluff) the t-shirt I slept in and my (seasonally inappropriate) flip flops. My hair has been (partially successfully) wrangled on top of my head and I am wearing zero makeup, except for leftover smudge from yesterday’s mascara.

During this particular Target run, one of the (many) friends/acquaintances that I passed in the aisles, said the 6 sweetest words to me. She said “you always look so put together”. Whaaaaaatttttt? Let me tell you, that compliment made my day. Even if she had her fingers crossed behind her back or really wanted to add, “but today you look like what the cat dragged in…” We all know the power of kind words. Compliments are like kind words on steroids.

My pastor says, “When you think something nice, say it.” Anytime we fail to let those words come out of our mouths, we are robbing others of joy.

A thoughtful compliment to a friend, family member or stranger can be a gift. A sincere compliment can drastically change the trajectory of a person’s day (or week or month or life). Moreover, the compliment that you are withholding, just might be the thing that he/she so desperately needs to hear.

Even if you run across someone who is a complete hot mess on fire (ahem), identify that one thing that you can compliment. Maybe it’s their cute shoes or beautiful smile. It might be a compliment given to the frazzled mom of a flailing toddler mid-tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. Can you imagine the difference it would make for her if you were to say “you are such a great and patient mom” as opposed to gawking, glaring and judging unfairly?

People need to be seen, heard and appreciated.

What is the nicest compliment you have received? Chances are, it was more meaningful than “your shoes are so cute.” We have to start somewhere.

Be a blessing today!

Enjoy this sweet video that demonstrates the power of compliments.