Monthly Archives: March 2016

Are You Ready for Easter?


Sunrise_SetHoly Saturday – that’s what it’s called. I had to do some research because I’m a Protestant and we don’t formally observe lent. Although I grew up Catholic, it has been a few decades since I observed holy days. And yet I woke on the Saturday before Easter thinking of the disciples and all of the followers of Christ. I pondered their state of mind and heart, realizing that they didn’t know that Sunday morning was coming, as we Christians proclaim. And then I got on with my day.

Hubby and I walked a 5k on Holy Saturday. It was kind of a big deal, since he was 56 days post-op from a spinal fusion with laminectomy. He walked 3.1 miles pushing a walker and stuffing his pride; we were dead last. He hasn’t recovered his speed, but his determination is fully intact. In our small town, we saw a lot of people we know early Saturday morning and the question “Are you ready for Easter?” was part of the conversation.

Later we joined our small group, young couples with a gaggle of children the perfect age for an egg hunt, and as we sat in a circle under a massive oak, the question was asked again… “Are you ready for Easter?”

By midafternoon I realized that Publix would be closed on Easter Sunday. We needed a few things so I left my recovering mate on the sofa watching college hoops and headed out. The store was busy. Without fail, every person I spoke with asked “Are you ready for Easter?”

Hours later I lay my head on my pillow. I thought about the day and ran through my list of things to worry, err, I mean pray about. My heart went back to the plight of those early Christians and I thought of how much power was present – they just hadn’t experienced it and were unaware of the miracle they were about to experience. And the question nagged at me: Are you ready for Easter?

I had answered it awkwardly all day. “We don’t have any little ones around – there isn’t much to prepare.” “I haven’t dyed eggs in years, but I so miss that…” “I’m not preparing a big meal, so not much to do.”

It wasn’t difficult to find sleep, though. According to my Fit Bit I logged well over ten thousand steps and I was tired. But this morning, I woke before dawn and the question popped into my mind immediately.

Are you ready for Easter?

Well, are you?

Mary approached the tomb before dawn. Thinking Jesus’ body had been taken, she was devastated. It wasn’t until he spoke her name and she looked into his face that she recognized her living Lord. The disciples, still overcome by fear of the Jews, were locked in a room when Jesus came seeking them, revealing his hands and his side. This was the first Easter Sunday.

As I write this, first light is dawning and the question begs an answer. Am I ready for Easter?

I can relate to the disciples. I experience defeat – things often don’t turn out the way that I was sure God would want them to. I’ve been known to lock my heart up in fear, so I can surely understand their seclusion when Jesus went looking for them. I even miss the obvious good news – just as Mary saw the empty tomb and her first thought was a stolen corpse, I often miss the miracles.

But Easter. Because of the resurrection, I have hope. Because of the resurrection, I will celebrate hope. He is risen!

I am ready for Easter. I suspect I’m not the only soul who woke this morning in need of a fresh wind of the power of the resurrection. Whether you are sharing family traditions with a crowd, are working at your job or working through challenging circumstances, I pray that you will encounter Jesus. He is calling us to exchange our doubt and fear for the hope and power of his resurrection.

Happy Easter, my friends. He is risen; He is risen indeed!

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
John 11:27 NLT


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Jalapenos Take My Breath Away


Jalapeno Banner 2I had looked forward to it all week. Family members, my women, would be together in our home for a meal. The simple menu met dietary restrictions and individual preferences while allowing time for me to visit with the girls. It had been a full, busy week and I didn’t want to be bogged down in the kitchen.

I was relieved when my sister Martha arrived early enough to prepare the jalapenos for the poppers since I am hypersensitive to them – even handling them in the store leaves me with burning skin but my daughter loves jalapeno poppers and they were perfect for our casual supper. Once the seeds and ribs are removed I can handle them without much distress and I love the flavor they add to so many of my favorites. As she was removing the ribs and seeds we both began gasping and coughing. It was good to finish that task and have the air clear by the time the girls returned from a shopping trip.

It was pure joy to see these women I love around my table, to hear them laugh and catch up. In fact, I was so caught up in the fun I didn’t notice that the pot of shrimp was foaming up and boiling over. I quickly reacted to the spewing mess and decided it was time to serve.

Surveying the choices of serving dishes and appetizer plates in the cupboard, I recognized a familiar discontent building. Nothing there was nice enough and barely adequate; a quick glance back at the table and I realized that I hadn’t really planned the table setting or meal presentation. Why hadn’t I given more thought to this? Anxiety rose up as I internally chastised myself.

I looked over my shoulder at the girls. They were seated around my bare table, sipping drinks and chatting happily.

I was on the verge of missing it. Even as joy was filling the room, the nagging notion that this simple supper wasn’t enough was on the verge of choking it right out of my heart. Thankfully, I turned again to the faces of the women around the table, women I love, and I remembered that this exact scene would never again happen. There will be other times, I’m sure; other meals around other tables, in other places. But this present moment was too precious to miss.

As I took down a few perfectly adequate plates and began setting them on the table in front of these people I love, I recalled this verse:

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
Proverbs 11:25 NIV

I’m almost certain no one gave a second thought to the serving dishes as they peeled St. Augustine shrimp and ate jalapeno poppers. In the midst of the laughter and love and talk of family trees I doubt they even noticed.

Contentment 3



Perfecting Our Days


Just this afternoon I read answers from a well-known author who was asked a series of typical ice breaker type questions. The one that has rattled around in my brain all evening was this: describe a perfect day. Her answer was detailed. The location and activities, right down to the football game that would be on the TV were mentioned; the menu and the guest list were specific. It was the sort of event that I would love to attend!

I’ve been thinking about how I would answer the question today. Right now. Because, the truth is that the answer is a moving target for me, and I think I might not be alone in that.

Reflecting on the past week, I thought it included a couple of perfect days. Friday night I played a hilarious game with a group of women I love after walking on the beach in the afternoon with my sweet hubby. Over the weekend I got to cook for and chat with my women – my family. And then yesterday…I went to the happiest place on earth with my cousin!

Beach WalkingHonestly, each day had its moments. The beach trip? Traffic on the way home was horrific. Bumper to bumper with my navigator (who would much rather drive than ride) stressing more every mile. We were behind schedule the rest of the day due to the hour delay.

Cooking and serving for my sweet family brought up all sorts of discontent over stuff like tableware!

The Magic Kingdom was packed yesterday. Apparently it’s Spring break somewhere in the South. As I explained to my young cousin from the Midwest, you know people are from the South when they address their children “first name, middle name” and every family member is wearing monogrammed clothing. Lines and wait times were long with charming southerners.


And yet, each of these is securely locked in the “perfect day” pages of my mental scrapbook. And the reason is simple. I know that “perfect” days aren’t perfect. They are normal days, when wonderful things happen.

Imagine this: your closest and dearest friend has died. The one friend who had the potential to impact this dire situation is taking his sweet time showing up. The day is off to a rough start when that same friend seems to be in denial about your mutual friend’s status. You might even be a little mad about his apparent blasé response. But then…as you are watching for him, he shows up.

Jesus spoke to Lazarus and he walked out of the grave, still wrapped in the burial garments. A bad day turned perfect, I would say. I think Lazarus and the ones who loved him would agree!

Traffic that disrupts schedules is an annoyance, but it doesn’t have to rob the day of its shine. I won’t wait until everything is “perfect” to entertain. When I’m in an amazing place with people I love, I hope I can relax and enjoy the moment without losing patience over annoying circumstances.

Perhaps perfect days are the ones when I’m watching for Jesus; when things are going as bad as they can get and he shows up.

Perfect Days.jpg

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him… John 11:20

“Yes Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is come into the world.” John 11:27


Recovery and the Crazy Cycle


Company is coming! I love having house guests! I’m so excited I can barely stand it.

She’s twenty something, a nursing student in search of sunshine and rest. She’s a college kid from the Midwest; she’s smart and beautiful and busy. Really busy, because when she’s not in a class or studying for a class she’s working as a tech at the hospital or coaching the high school girls’ volleyball team. When she sleeps it’s usually at someone else’s home where she’s pet and/or house sitting. She’s my second cousin…she’s family and I love her. Jill is coming to stay with us for a few days! I am giddy. And maybe a little crazy with preparation.

I have it on good authority that she hasn’t seen the floor in her bedroom in a while (sorry, Jill)…that bit shared with me confidentially and now known by all of my gentle readers. But seriously, isn’t that normal for college students who are constantly on the go?


I only mention that because I spent the weekend in what my children refer to as “get out of the way, mom’s getting ready for company” mode. I’ve been known to redecorate, reconfigure and even remodel a day or two before house guests arrive. Limited only by the budget, my imagination and the number of hours in a weekend, I prep and primp and replace after a detailed inventory and review of the ENTIRE house (inside and out) with a most critical eye. Suddenly the bath towels that have been perfectly fine for us are not fit to dry the car off. The dish cloths are embarrassing and every single room needs paint touch up. No detail is too small: the flowers at the front door – really, poinsettias still in the planter in March? That will never do! Off to Lowe’s for geraniums.

On Saturday, I precariously balanced on the edge of the tub in the master bath, pliers in hand, attempting to remove the shower head. For weeks I’d been walking past the new one as it lay ignored in the dining room on a seldom-used chair. Suddenly, Jill is coming, and while she’ll never even use that shower and would likely not even notice the box in the dining room if left there, I was compelled to risk life, limb and an emergency plumbing call because “everything” needed to be done in preparation for her arrival.

That’s when it hit me that I was going there…again. In the course of well-intentioned and needed preparation I had jumped onto the crazy cycle of “Everything has to be perfect if people are coming”.

I’m darn good at house cleaning, likely because of years of experience. I was mentored by one of the best, my dear mother. She taught me how to deep clean; and until the day she died, she declared to me “No one can clean my house like you!” That’s a heavy mantle, my friends, but one that I gladly assumed.

Only recently have I realized that my compulsion for clean and tidy is more about my desire for approval than health and safety. Factor in my tendency to be a pleaser and the result is me perched on the edge of the tub performing plumbing repairs, setting up the perfect storm of disappointment.

Whether at my hubby for not recognizing the many things that I think obviously need to be addressed or in my guests for not “appreciating” the details arranged for them, it will happen. If my motivation is flawed, every interaction will be spoiled. God forbid!

According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, hospitable is defined as being “given to generous and cordial reception of guests,” “offering a pleasant and sustaining environment,” and “readily receptive: open, open to new ideas.”

So often when I prepare for guests, I focus on making our home ready for our guests. It truly is important for bathrooms to be clean and bedding to be fresh; I’m certain that Jill will be glad I cleared the cobwebs in the guest room.

But when considering the full definition of hospitable, I am challenged to evaluate how inviting and welcoming I am as a person. Too many times, I’ve worn myself out physically and abused my body (and at times my family) in the preparation of the house only to realize that my heart was in shambles. The more important aspect of hospitality is that our home be a place of peace and rest, a place where guests feel at ease, valued and welcome.

I am also becoming aware of the need to trust my house guests with my home and myself just as we are. Our guests love us; they are drawn to our home. That, my friends, is a blessing.

Yes, there will be special touches designed to convey, without words, to our sweet Jill “We are so glad you chose us to spend your Spring break with; we love you and we want to care for you”. I’m learning that practicing hospitality requires inviting friends into our imperfection; it’s trusting them to look past our spotted glass and stained furniture to our hearts. For a recovering approval-seeking perfectionist, that’s a big leap of faith, friends.

Intentionally preparing my heart for guests is new to me; I’m not as natural at it as I am the house cleaning/planning part. Praying for them, and asking God to give us opportunities to speak love and grace into their lives seems a good place to start, so that’s my plan. And flowers…fresh flowers and a cute little card on her pillow with the wireless password, because, well, my name is Lorraine. I’m a recovering perfectionist, and I just love taking good care of my guests.


“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV