How to Celebrate Easter Monday

Does the sweetness of Easter ever leave a bad taste in your mouth?
The mounds of colorful candy, the cute white shoes with eyelet lace, the lilies, even the early-morning sunshine sometimes feels saccharine against real life.  Instead of pastel egg Sunday perfection, my life looks more like weekday running to Shopko at the last minute to get a pair of white tights because they are out of the lace-edged socks, and last year’s don’t fit.  
But early today (the Saturday before Easter) the women in my family and some close friends gathered at our country church to shower my sister with presents for her upcoming baby.  
Over the past four years I’ve seen her with my two kiddos, and I’ve often wondered at motherhood with a lump in my throat, knowing she would make the best mom, and hoping for possibility.  
So as we gathered for the party, I wanted the event to somehow encapsulate the gratitude I felt for this hoped-for little person.  The blue and pink-lined muffins were Pinterest-worthy, the diaper cake spot-on, and yet I found myself with that same saccharine Easter feeling, as the lived party couldn’t live up to my deep and true excitement for my sister.
As the guests left, a number of us gathered in the kitchen.  As we wiped dishes down, my three-year-old-blonde-spark-plug daughter followed her Grandma around, her little fists clenched on her shirt hem, ensuring she could ride home with her and not with boring old me.  As she bopped around, we noted how she looks like the baby pictures of my sister that we had used to decorate.  
As aunts and friends paused in a circle around the kitchen island, my mother’s hands moved from the dish towel to the baby pictures with pride, noting her favorite as she held its edge a little longer than the rest.  It wasn’t long before someone grabbed the next dish to wash, but I lingered in that feeling and breathed a prayer of thanks.
As I looked across that kitchen circle at my radiant sister, her large blue eyes smiling at the corners, glowing, so beautiful, I sensed how we’re all filled with the life that we’ve been hoping for, even when we don’t feel it, even on a plain old Monday morning.  Easter is not something we do or plan, but something that surprises us, like a sweet breeze we didn’t expect, like a circle of community bound back further than my own memory.  
This moment right now–whenever you might be reading it, and no matter how you’re feeling–is a day to celebrate Easter.  Yes, the cross of Good Friday startles us, and leaves us uncomfortable in our pew, but we don’t stay there.  For just a second in that circle of women, I tasted the deep goodness of Easter seeing those generations of women wrapped around the stairs-steps of life, all of it strangely held together by casseroles and kitchens.
In all of it, I’m left with nothing to say, but thanks.

“He is risen.  He is not here.” (Mark 16:6)

Today’s Thanks:
Easter Egg “hunt” in the school gym
Strawberries in my Grandma’s glass bowl
Singing on a rainy car ride
Your turn. . . 

I Just Be Brave

“My low,” she says reviewing the day, “was when we were in the car wash.  I was scared.”

I nod and remember her three-year-old body, scrunched in her car seat, her fists clutching the sides of her head like ear muffs as I twisted around the driver’s seat to put my hand on her leg.  The whirring soapy bristles descended to our car in the darkness as I assured her, “It’s just the brushes that clean up our car and make it all shiny, honey.”

I lay beside her later the same day during our bedtime ritual, her little face free of clenched fists, her features mirroring mine with the pillow lining her lamp-lit cheek.  Each night after books and what feels like hostage negotiations–for water and milk and more stories and different socks and going potty even though we didn’t have to go before–we share highs and lows.

“So, what do you do when you’re scared like that?” I asked.

“Well,” she says, “like when I think there’s a bear or a witch?” (I nodded) “You pray to God or your grandma or your mom or your dad.  Or I hide.  Or I sing a song. . . Or I just be brave.”

And maybe, I think. . . breathing in her tiny person wisdom. . . it is just that simple.  Maybe I just be brave.  Maybe we all just be brave.

What if all those things that scare us are “just the brushes that clean up our car and make it all shiny”?

What if those fear things, those challenge things, those I-wish-this-would-just-get-outta-my-life things are in some way refining us?

I have been blogging here sporadically for three years today.  Happy anniversary Gratitude Gal.  Even after these years of practice, I write posts and get too scared to hit publish.  The “bears and witches” of my blogging hobby stop me short.

I want to put myself on notice to just be brave with my words.  My goal this year is to hit publish more often, whether I feel ready, courageous, both or neither.  My hope is that it might be just that simple.

“But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  I praise God for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” – Psalm 56:3-4a 

Today’s Thanks:
Three year blogging anniversary
Four years of life for my sweet Charli
Barb and Curt helping me out
Brave writing
Your turn. . .