Monday, March 30, 2015

Setting Apart and Celebrating

Yesterday, Brown-Eyed Girl asked me why I don't like to celebrate Easter.

What she was really asking, was why I didn't want to have an Easter party at our homeschool co-op.  We had a Christmas party and a Valentine's Day party, why not an Easter party?

It was Palm Sunday yesterday, the beginning of what I call Holy Week.  I explained to her my thoughts and feelings about this precious time of year. The sacredness of the days leading up to Easter Sunday, in which I like to follow Jesus on his path to the cross. And lay aside other things in order to truly seek him and realize afresh what his death means.  It is a Holy-Day, a holiday in the truest sense.  A time to set apart.

But shouldn't we celebrate Jesus dying for out sins? She asked

Oh, we will celebrate! I assured her.  We will celebrate Jesus being resurrected from the dead on Easter Sunday!  That is a day of celebration!  But this week, we will follow him to the cross.

Growing up, Easter was a really big deal. At least to my little girl heart.  Yes, it was exciting to get new Easter clothes ( a dress made by mom,  new shoes, socks with lace trim or tights that weren't an inch thick).  My brother and I set out Easter baskets that were filled by the  Easter bunny. We would wake up to discover candy hidden around the house or come home from church to an egg hunt.  But it wasn't just these things that made Easter a big deal.  I don't think I realized it, but as a girl, I loved hearing the message of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.  It was the one sermon of the year when I clung to every word of the pastor.  He would always bring out the big guns, so to speak, and the message of Jesus dying for my sins, and then coming back to life, always gave me tingles, from my head to my toes, and left me in awe and wonder.

We make the traditional hot cross buns on Good Friday... but no currents in ours.  Often, it's chocolate chips!
There were the Sunrise Services. The church breakfasts.  The special Easter cantata sung by the choir. The hymns about Jesus being alive.

There was a time when I rejected all the Church-y things in my life, beginning in high school. But even then, I loved Easter Sunday.  It would tug on my heart to come back to the cross.  And finally, it was an Easter Sunday, in1999, that I did come back to the cross, lay my burden of sin down, and began walking a new path, the one that followed hard (yet imperfectly) after Jesus.

This time of year has deep meaning for me.  When Lent comes around, I long to mark it with significance.  Not necessarily by giving something up, but by focusing those forty days on Christ in one way or another.  There is no mention of Lent in my church or from most of my friends.  A few people I know participate, but typically by giving up chocolate or coffee or the funny papers.  We don't wave palm branches on Palm Sunday.  We don't have Maundy-Thursday services to remember the Last Supper.  We don't go to a Good Friday event.  Even Easter often seems like just another Sunday.  I often feel that in our rejection of Church tradition, we have lost some things that are rich and valuable.

Passover lap books from 2014.

And so, as a wife and mother, I set apart Holy Week for my family.  We set aside the usual school work and do something special.  We follow the Scriptures from the Triumphal Entry to the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden, to the ascent up Calvary, to the sealed tomb, and to the empty tomb.  We make hot cross buns on Good Friday.  We take communion as a family.  We have driven nails into wooden crosses. We've washed each other's feet.  We have studied the Jew's Passover celebration and seen how it all points to Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain for our sin.  This year we will read Dangerous Journey, Oliver Hunkin's version of Pilgrim's Progress for children.  I pray that my children will be enriched spiritually by this allegory of the Christian's journey to heaven.  And that I will be too.

We will eat ham.  I will hide plastic eggs filled with candy.  My children will have something new to wear.

Lil Miss Petite in her new Easter clothes 2013.

We make memories, we mark days, we day-by-day build a heritage that can't be fully seen as yet.

We set apart. And then we celebrate.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Postpartum Thoughts

It's been a long week.  And a whirlwind of a week.  Funny how that seems to happen with the best things in life.  Both fast and slow.

Pregnancy seemed so long.  I was happy to deliver Baby  B three weeks early, just to be done with the giant belly that prevented me from bending over, from sleeping, from normal digestion. And now, a week out of pregnancy and into being mama to a newborn, I think "It wasn't so bad." And it wasn't. But it does still seem long.

Here we are.  Healing from the c-section.  Still in various degrees of being sore.  Sweating profusely every night and waking up freezing (this is normal for me after giving birth).  Trying to find something that fits.  Sleeping like a rock- hallelujah!

It's been an emotional week.  Discouragement on day two because I felt so much discomfort.  Elation when my baby was sleeping skin-to-skin.  Crying and laughing at the same time on Monday night because the postpartum emotions were overflowing as wildly as my milk was coming in.  I have come to know it and expect it after four babies... and it makes everything feel like too much.  It is hilarious at the same time as it is real.

I've shed some tears this week.  I've got a five-year-old that has been just a wee bit naughty since baby brother came home.    I can't seem to follow a recipe anymore, as evidenced by two fails making pies for Pi  Day (3.14.15).  And one pie was a kit from a box.  My family went to church in a snowstorm without me and I cried, thinking they'd be killed in a car accident and that would be the end of our newly begun, precious family of six.

It may all be irrational, and that is to be expected.  I just had a baby, after all.  I am elated, on cloud-nine, blown away by the miracle of this little life entrusted to us.  And then hiding in my room, crying about something I saw on Facebook.  I've used nursing pads to wipe my tears.   I've laughed at my first "christening" by Baby B.  I've looked lovingly at the drawings stuck to the refrigerator and looked the other way at the Lego mess.

My first full day home, I wrote myself some reminders regarding this postpartum season, and I am publishing them here to re-remind myself of them.

-Be easy on yourself.

- This body will take time to heal and to recover.

- Don't worry about your size and weight and clothes right now.

-  But try to feel pretty.

-Take time off from all the "shoulds" and responsibilities.

- Take time to bond with each child.

-Take time to bond with Josh.

-Seek God everyday for even one verse to dwell on.

-It's okay to cry and be a ball of emotion.

- Anything outside your family doesn't matter right now.

-Take breaks.

-Don't multi-task too much.

-Eat to nourish your body; not to lose weight.  You and your baby need nutrition right now, not a diet.

-Say "yes" to any offers of help.

Pregnancy and the postpartum period are vulnerable times.  We tend to want to overlook that fact as a culture.  We want to be the Superwoman who leaves the hospital in her pre-pregnancy clothes.  We want to juggle the responsibilities of home, work, and a new baby without dropping the balls.  We want to look like we got a great  night sleep.  We want to resume all our previous commitments.  All of this is most likely because of the pressure we feel from the outside.

It's a time to rest and be taken care of, as long as anyone is offering.  And if no one is offering, it's time to put our feet up and take a nap with the baby on our chest, put in a tray of chicken nuggets and fries, and let the older kiddos watch a movie.

This time will fly by.  Superwoman can wait.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Welcome Baby B!

If you've been following along with the story of our "placenta previa" pregnancy, you can find the  blessed outcome here!