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Why I didn’t make it to church on Easter

Easter is a major holiday in our family, right along with Thanksgiving and Christmas. I grew up a devout Lutheran so I still get many of the hymns from those early Sunday services stuck in my head: “Lift hiiiiiigh the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, ’til all the woooooorld adores His sacred name.” Oh, and you can’t forget: “Jesus Christ is risen today….Aaaaaaaaaaaaalelujah!” (Make sure your voice warbles effectively, like it shows in the hymnal).

Major holidays come with major plans. This year, our plan was to go to the 8:15am church service with both sets of parents (lucky Heidi), have brunch and an easter egg hunt with one set of grandparents, and have dinner with the other set. I was excited, and I had even made an extra shopping trip to make sure Heidi had her obligatory white shoes and white cardigan to match her sweet dress, topped off with a white headband with a ridiculous white flower attached to it (I couldn’t help myself). You know how Jesus loves the ridiculous flowers.

On Saturday late afternoon, our plans were already beginning to fall apart at the seams. I wasn’t feeling great, and Heidi was exhibiting signs that she also was not well. Her irrational meltdowns and refusal to play outside in the sunshine confirmed my suspicions that something was definitely off. Combine that with my constant need to lay down because I felt nauseous, and you get two very cranky girls. (Read: I AM NOT PREGNANT…so no rumors, please!). At six p.m., I gave her some Ibuprofen, gave her a hot bath, and snuggled up with her to watch Tangled. In less than five minutes, she was asleep, so I tried to take her to her crib, but she wanted nothing to do with it.  I carried her to my room (who wouldn’t want to sleep in a king size bed as opposed to a tiny crib when you’re sick?), and we snuggled up together.

In that moment, cuddled with my sick girl in our big old bed, I felt a peace. Yeah, we were sick. Yeah, we probably wouldn’t make it to church in the morning. Yeah, I was disappointed. But the moment felt bathed in peace from heaven. There was a beautiful sunset out my window that nearly left me breathless,  its streaks of hot pink and orange looking completely exotic against the backdrop of my cookie-cutter neighborhood. My sick and tired girl was cuddled up tight next to me, her warm body rising and falling with her breaths. My nose was brushed up against her neck, where I could feel her gentle pulse, and her soft hair smelled like soap. It may not have been the perfect situation, but it was the perfect spot. I savored it, fighting off sleep for a few minutes just to enjoy it. I heard daddy come in from working on the yard, walking through the house to find us. He didn’t expect to see us passed out in our room, but when he did, a wide smile broke out on his face.

He tiptoed in, kissed me lightly on the cheek, and whispered, “I sure do love my girls.” He stared at Heidi for a bit, smiling, and then left, closing the door so we could drift off to sleep.

It was a moment that reminded me more of Easter than any verses I had read over the weekend, than any church plans we had, or any of the ways we were going to celebrate (ridiculous white flowers included!).  It was a moment of sheer gratitude at what I’ve been given…not just in my family or even material possessions, but in the spirit of Easter. Because of what Jesus did, I am free. I find reasons to praise Him daily in different ways to acknowledge that fact. It’s not always by reading my bible or on my knees in prayer, although I try to make these a part of my daily life. But I praise Him simply by being thankful in each moment. I praise Him by recognizing that every good thing I have is from His hand, and I praise Him by doing my best to hold these things loosely should He choose to take them back. I praise Him by rising up to the duties and responsibilities He has blessed me with: being a wife, being a mom, being a daughter, sister, and friend. Sometimes these duties feel mundane and unnoticed, but that doesn’t matter. It’s my spot, it’s where He has me now, and it matters.  I praise Him by being grateful, even when things don’t go the way I want or when I don’t get the things I feel I need. I praise Him by comforting my daughter and bearing down with her in sickness, even if it does mess up our plans and keeps me from sleeping. I praise Him by being thankful for my husband and by giving everything I have to our marriage.

I praise Him by exercising the freedoms He gave me: the freedom to love, regardless of how I’ve been hurt; the freedom to resist bitterness, anger, envy, rage, and jealousy, regardless of whether I feel justified or not; the freedom to live simply so I can give more; the freedom to be satisfied with a simple life and to be thankful when things are far less than perfect.

I rejoice that Jesus rose from the dead, and I rejoice He holds the keys to death and hell. I rejoice because I have hope…forever. No matter what I gain or lose in this life, and I am fully aware I could lose some or all of it at some point, I am free and loved.

And if this year, God shows me Easter in my bedroom with a sick little girl instead of worshipping in a church adorned with lilies, I’ll bow my head and open my hands and accept it, just like every other good gift He has given.

We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 419

After a solid 13 hours of sleep, she felt well enough to make a short visit to see the grandparents on Easter. Couldn’t miss the Easter egg hunt. 😉

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