Today is marked by many different people and many different religions as many different things.
To some, today is "Earth Day"- a day to celebrate the world around us.
To some, it's a precursor to baskets of candy.
To others, it's a completely normal day, void of any meaning.
To me, today is a day of sadness.
Today is the day I reflect on on the sacrifice that Christ made for me.
The sacrifice of undergoing the most excruciating and agonizing forms of torture followed by an unthinkably painful death, intermixed with the emotional pain of mockery, scorn, and false accusations, as well as the greatest burden and suffering of spirit.
Let me tell you a story.
A prince, born of a virgin young woman, is born- leaving the perfection and paradise that is heaven- to our world.
He grows up, wise beyond all belief, and teaches hundreds of thousands about God, His love, and His commands, all the while healing hundreds of ill people and committing many miracles besides.
This prince never sins in his entire life- never lies, never cheats, never even so much as takes a toy away from his brother or talks back to his mother. Even when tempted directly by Satan, he stands firm.
This prince lives in lowliness, traveling by foot and going for days without food.
This prince angers the high-and-mighties, who plot to kill him.
The prince tells his closest followers that he is going to be brutally killed, but will be raised from death back to life, after lying completely deceased in a grave for three days.
This prince is betrayed by one of his own followers, is handed over to the officials by the kiss of an angry friend.
This prince is found guilty for absolutely nothing, is tortured, beaten, mocked, and delivered up onto a hill to be literally hung by three nails onto a cross, in between two murderers.
This prince, this spotless lamb, free from all guilt, takes onto his shoulders all of the sins ever committed and all the sins yet to be committed onto his shoulders.
So great and horrific is it, that his father and King in heaven- the creator of the world- turns His face away and refuses to look.
The prince dies.
The prince is buried.
The prince's grave is guarded by officers, when the officials fear that his small band of faithful followers will steal his body and say he has resurrected.
Seventy-two hours after his hour of death, the Prince wakes from what should be the eternal sleep of death.
The Prince strides from the grave, leaving an angel to tell the good news to the two women who, in mourning, are coming to dress his body with herbs.
This Prince has conquered the unconquerable- life, pain, death, and sin-and has emerged triumphant from the clutches of Hell and Death.
This prince is seen by many people, as he teaches some few last lessons, and is witnessed by his faithful disciples as he ascends into heaven to be united with the King of Kings, His father.
This Prince is Jesus Christ.
And he lives still today, sitting on the right hand of God.
Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection, has made it possible for all mankind to repent of their sins, ask Him for forgiveness, and to be eternally free from the stains of our past, and to blot out the transgressions we shall make in the future. He has offered to make a home for us in Heaven, saving us from the fiery and torturous depths of Hell.
You need only turn to Him.
"If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleans us from all unrighteousness."
Today is not Earth Day.
Today is not a normal day.
Today is the day I remember the God who created our earth.
Today is the day I remember the man who, out of pure love and unselfish mercy, bore all of the suffering I deserve for each of my sin, and how He conquered death, making it possible for me to be eternally clean.
He has raised my heart and soul from the dead state of sin, to the living state of faith and forgiveness in Him.
That is what this weekend is about.
So next time you think about Easter, I hope the image that comes to mind is a little less this...
"Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." -Psalm 102: 25-27-
"I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath dealt bountifully with me." -Psalm 13:6- "I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope." -Psalm 16: 8-9-
This is no new news (well, at least to most of you), but it's happening none-the-less.
Thanks to Idaho's large population of homeschooled families, there are many homeschool graduation committees that make it possible for said homeschooled students to participate in a ceremony- cap, gown, and all- and receive a diploma.
They give you most everything you need- a cap, a gown, a tassel, a set of fifty invitations, a yearbook with your picture and the pictures of those also participating.
Of course, it costs money, although really not too much, and in my case the student's parents aren't paying, the student is (*grimace*), but this is besides the point.
The point is, I have fifty invitations to send.
That is, fifty name cards to glue in, fifty photos to insert to cards, fifty cards to put into fifty different small envelopes, fifty different small envelopes to direct, fifty small, directed envelopes to enclose in fifty larger envelopes, fifty larger envelopes to address and put return addresses on, fifty stamps to buy, and fifty stamps to put on the fifty larger-now addressed- envelopes.
Then (here's the worst part), there's fifty yucky seals on fifty envelopes to lick and close.
Fifty long, gross strips of disgusting, vile, spit-activated glue, that I have to put my tongue on.
Did I mention how yucky it is?
How grody it tastes?
Whose idea was this, anyway?
I think the people who invented the envelopes used for weddings and graduations- the ones included in kits that are sent to you for you to put together- take a malicious glee in not making the included envelopes peel-n-stick.
I mean, is it really that hard?
I'm not the first person to have thought of this, am I?
No, instead I have the taste of that glue lingering in my mouth.
The same taste that won't go away after a vigorous brushing, flossing, and mouth-wash-gargling.
The same taste that will probably be coating the inside of my mouth come tomorrow, when I wake up.
This stuff is worse than garlic breath!
I tell 'ya!
On another note, I had my first, real blonde moment today.
While I was sitting at the table, licking miserably away at these envelopes, my distaste plainly visible on my face, my younger sibling happened to saunter by and ask- if it was so gross- why I didn't just get a wet rag and wipe it across the envelope instead.
I've been sifting through some various possible post topics, and I've finally decided to post about that which has been on my heart and mind most.
But first, let me ask, have any of you heard of Eric and Leslie Ludy?
I wouldn't be surprised if you have- they've become more and more prominent as speakers for the cause of Christ, purity, and spiritual set-apartness.
I first came across Leslie and her work Set Apart Femininity when I saw an Amazon listing on Polka Dot's sidebar. Both the title and, admittedly, the front's design (so much for never judging a book by its cover!) caught my eye and my curiosity. Let me tell you, this was nothing short of God's leading. So curious was I, after I couldn't find a copy to borrow anywhere, that I decided to buy a used one online for only a few dollars. In the meantime, I went and explored her sight (www.setapartgirl.com), and was so moved, convicted, and enthralled with what I read there, that I couldn't wait for the book to arrive.
For some of you, such a title, description (and picture!) is a real turn off. I understand- who wants to wear skirts all the time and be super girly?! That's not what Christianity is about!
You're right, and it's not.
However, the femininity that Leslie is writes on and the femininity that you have in mind are probably completely different things. Leslie is speaking of that purpose and heart that God has put in every woman, and that brand of set-apart, glowing, spiritual femininity that only a relationship and close walk with God can cultivate and create.
But that's not really what I want to touch on right now.
What I want to touch on is how God used her website, and her book, to show me how incorrectly I was viewing Christianity and my walk with God.
I've grown up in a Christian family, lived with Christian principles, and at a young age, gave my heart to the Lord.
But I have been living a "coffee-shop Christianity".
That is, a selfish, comfy walk with God. The kind that reads the Bible in a coffee shop, leads a life only a bit more moral than normal teens, goes to Church on Sundays, and knows some Bible verses.
I have not been leading a Set-Apart Christian walk: rather, a Christian walk that pours its all at the Saviour's feet, is willing to give its all up for Him who gave His all for us, and leaving the comfort of its couch to share the gospel with those who have no way to hear it, no matter how uncomfortable it is for the speaker.
I was so struck by my own selfish views, and the shallow, lukewarm Christianity I've been displaying: the very same one that the Bible warns against, repeatedly.
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit thee out of my mouth."- Revelation 3:15-16
I know that seems harsh, but it's true.
I was being satisfied with the bare minimum of Christianity, and, in the end, looking for what I could get out of it, not what I could give to Him. I was asking him repeatedly to take the reigns, yet unwilling to hand them over, and then becoming frustrated when I didn't see him working in my life!
This book has rewritten the way I look at the love of God. It redirected my eyes to the great sacrifice he made, in all his great love, for us.
And I will be satisfied with the bar minimum no more.
I want to pour my all at his feet.
I want to walk in a set-apart fashion- that others might see Christ's light in me, and ask from what it stems.
I wish to forget myself, take up my cross daily, and follow him.
I want all of my joy to come from serving him.
I want to throw away the many comforts of my life and to go out and give the word of God to those who have never even known such luxuries.
Last week, Brianne's long-distance boyfriend, Ryan The Mountain Goat from Wyoming, arrived in town as a birthday gift to himself! Having spent an afternoon together last time he was in town in December/January, the three of us decided that it ought to become a tradition. This time, we decided to wander around the downtown sections of Nampa.
Much fun and many laughs were had- Ryan really is the bomb-diggity.
We began our adventures at the L.C. (the Library Coffeehouse), which is situated across the street from my job.
They have the most epically amazing cinnamon rolls ever.
They seriously are the cutest couple ever!
I caught Breezey Pete in the act of drooling dreamily at her man! (Well, not really drooling.)
Ry-man hiding from the camera.
They have this inside "thing" about being a Strawberry (Ryan) and a Blueberry (Brianne), so they got converse shoes to match their "colours". So sappy and adorable it's almost ridiculous!
And then onward to Puffy Mondaes (the greatest arts and crafts store in the world- so much yarn!) where the lovely Sophie...
...Proceeded to take a group picture of us (Thank you, Sophie dear)!
The large, hand-knit octopus sitting atop the candle display. I named him Mr. Tickles.
The rest of the afternoon was spent lying on the ground...
...And Brianne's looking all angelic (She does look angelic, doesn't she!?).
Oh, also, Messenger's Pizza in Nampa makes the best pizzas. Ever. Their Pesto-Apple Pizza is enough to send me to heaven. Put it on your bucket list.
I'm not sure what the greater blessing is: knowing and being good friends with these two incredible people, or being able to spend time with them.
Brianne, Ryan: you guys are golden.
I had a pretty good time.
No wait, that was a lie.
It was the best -happiest, most hilarious, greatest, randomest, fantabuloust- day I've had in a while.
Annnnd, I'm just now noticing that the car behind me is a VW bug. Hmmm, must be a sign...*winkwink!*
Also, she doesn't know I'm posting this, but Brianne does amazing blog make-overs. She also needs a job. If you would like to see her work so you can tell her to open a business, go over to her blog and DEMAND it! Better yet, if you're looking for a professional-grade redesign, go over and make an offer.
*insert evil chuckle whilst rubbing hands together in malignant glee here*
How have you all been faring during my prolonged absence?
(This is an honest question, and I expect answers to be left in the form of comments.)
I had to go for the weekend to my old stomping grounds to visit a sick relative, and found, upon preparations and departure, that I'd had no time to update you lovely people as to the juicy details of my disappearence...
...Okay, not really, I just put off packing until the last minute and ended up having to cram.
As it is, despite a very sick elderly relative, it was so wonderful to see my old home, smell the ocean air, feel the moisture seeping into my much-dehydrated skin, heart, and soul, and to visit and laugh with life-long friends.
It was so much fun, in fact, that I continually forgot to bring out my camera and snap pictures. I often didn't realize this until I would stumble upon a Kodak Moment or realize in exasperation that I'd forgotten to put it into my purse before leaving our place of lodging. I think it's safe to say that 90% of any stress I felt during the entire trip occurred from the times I'd discover I'd missed a good photo op.
Anywho, here are the few that I did get- so few that I felt I had to include them all, no matter how poor the quality, otherwise it would be silly to post any at all.
Myself and Devyn (who was my first and best of friends, and always will be).
She is, without a doubt, one of the most talented pianists in the world, and one of the sweetest and funniest people you could know. I've always known how blessed I am to know her, and I am thankful still that we are friends.
This is us with the addition of Kristina. It seems every time I come back, she's far more grown up and a bit taller. What gives!?
We went to Applebee's our last night, something that's become a bit of a tradition, and ate dinner with Gramma. This is my father and brother Ben posing, in all their silliness. It's impossible to get a serious picture of these two (not that this bothers me).
Patsy and my beloved Gramma (the most spectacular person in existence, in case you didn't know).
Aaaaand, my grilled cheese sandwich.
I realized, upon looking through the fancy salads and sandwiches, that all I really wanted was a grilled cheese sandwich.
So I snapped up one of the kid's menus and found, to my delight, that the item of my heart's desire, and the cause of much childhood nostalgia, could still be found on kids menus in restaurants.
So the best meal of the entire week- fancy salads, peanut butter sandwiches, sweets, snacks, and an amazing slice of pesto pizza all considered- was a Kraft grilled cheese sandwich on rye bread, served with a side of broccoli.
The weekend also included wandering around downtown Santa Cruz (maybe one of the weirdest places in the world- a lot like a smaller, hippier, funkier Seattle: awesome!) looking for gifts to take back to my brother's girlfriend, Sophie. We stumbled in and out of a few stores (two of them being book stores with exceptionally good prices, at which I made a total of zero purchases: be proud of me), and ended up getting them matching Santa Cruz Skate Company t-shirts, and the sidled into Pizza My Heart to take them up on their $5 deal.
What is this $5 deal?
If you buy a slice- any kind- of their amazing and delicious pizza, they give you a Pizza My Heart t-shirt into the bargain.
It's seriously a steal! I had a heavenly slice of pizza-crust perfection, slathered in tomato sauce, cheese, and pesto. And I gave my shirt to the Sophie (although I think I got the better end of the deal here).
All in all, I had a splendiferous time, although I had to spend aproximately 26-28 hours total in the car just to get there and back. I knit two cardigans during that time, and I'm still trying to restore full circulation to my leg-appendages.
I hope you all haven't been getting into too much mischief without me, and I am going to be going through blog posts later this evening to make sure I haven't missed anything.