A Wasted Season Redeemed {Easter Thoughts}

You could argue that Utah’s weather cycled through all four seasons in a week, including two rounds of snow and freezing temperatures.  We need the moisture desperately, but the timing…. is hard.  A week ago I took a little walk around my beloved cherry tree to see the buds beginning to bloom.  But now, when we should have a show of lovely white blossoms, the tree already looks brown.  A wasted season, it seems.

I was sick last week.  A wasted week.

But today is Easter and we’re back to spring, so with the sun shining and blue skies overhead I wandered outside to see what survived the cold.  My peonies are coming in well, most of the tulips survived.  My honeysuckle looks dead, and the weeds are thriving as usual.  Honestly, my yard suffers from neglect and dearly needs my attention.  A wasted yard, perhaps.  But while my walk prompted plenty of guilt, I also had to admit that there are some beautiful things happening there.  Beauty I don’t deserve, but which is there for my enjoyment.  A gift.

I had the thought that I should return to the cherry tree in spite of its color.  To my surprise, a sound I’ve not heard for years greeted me:  the hum of hundreds of bees.  

In spite of brown blossoms that froze, others had boomed after the storm.  And where the blossoms seemed lost, the bees were at work.  Undeterred by the wilting brown, they even seemed to prefer the “wasted” blooms over the fresh white ones.

I circled the tree with tears in my eyes.  My own little Easter miracle, it seems, with a beautiful lesson for me: a wasted season redeemed.  The scriptures teach that all things testify of Christ.  Today I witnessed that testimony in the form of bees and cherry blossoms.  Because of Him, our brown, frozen, spent blossoms can still bring fruit.  

So many parts of my life are barren of the fruit I expected years ago.  Yet, haply, looking back today, I see Jesus Christ at work.  I see brown useless blossoms that have yielded good things:  humility, compassion, patience, and faith.  I am better for it.  The fruit has been years in coming, and even now isn’t ready to harvest.  But my wasted season is being redeemed.

This is my Easter witness to you:  whatever is broken, frozen, wasted in your life can be healed and used for good through Jesus Christ.  Just as the bees find my brown blossoms worth pollinating, so He finds you worth saving.  Such a lovely message, delivered by bees and cherry blossoms.

Happy Easter!

Beach Trip: Easter Sunday

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We began our trip to the beach with Easter Sunday.

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My younger children were a little concerned about celebrating Easter on vacation.  Would the Easter bunny find us?  What about an egg hunt?  I was more concerned with somehow having the holiday stand out as a sacred day in the midst of a vacation.  I did some brainstorming and it all worked out.  I couldn’t bear to pack our Easter baskets, or to buy new ones (although I considered buying sand pails but decided it was more money than I wanted to spend).  I settled on some 59 cent gift bags, found at Target, and which came in exactly 8 different patterns, three of which could pass for boys.  Lucky me!  They were small, compact, colorful, and perfect for our celebration.

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The children awoke to find candy filled eggs hidden all over the beach house, in their shoes, bags, beds, etc.  A small egg hunt took place and then we headed to the beach as a family for an early morning walk.

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The tide was very low and the girls were quickly absorbed in hunting for shells.  It makes me smile to see them do this, because I remember so well this treasure hunt from my childhood.

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On this Easter morning we found 5 unbroken sand dollars!  Small, but perfect (and rare at this beach), Easter morning gifts from the sea.

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Soon we found our way to the jeddy where starfish awaited us.

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My husband found a Dungeness crab which he carefully caught for everyone to inspect.  We admired it for a few minutes before returning it to its home.

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No one else was on the beach that morning and the children were full of delight and wonder at being where we were.  There was a feeling of happy reverence all around us and we enjoyed soaking in so many evidences of God’s love in an environment unlike what we usually have on Easter.  My sons began tracing Easter messages in the sand on the beach.

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Before we left I managed to bake a couple of batches of lavender shortbread in the shape of chicks, bunnies and eggs.  They were my humble contribution to the Easter dinner my mother-in-law so graciously hosted for all her children and their families.

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One of my favorite parts of the day was surprising our next door neighbor in Newport Beach, who we talk to every summer, with some of my cookies and an Easter morning hug.

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It’s funny how you can know people in such an impersonal way and yet grow to love them so much.  Shasten has lived next door to my Grandpa for as long as I can remember, and in the last 10 years or more I’ve enjoyed talking to her every year.  I admire her flowers; she is patient with our many children.  We’ve watched her son grow up in our annual snapshot-type friendship and she’s watched ours grow the same way.  I guess it’s a little like exchanging Christmas cards, but better, because you get to talk to someone kind and wonderful.  Sharing cookies with her was, perhaps, the most joyful moment of my day.

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And then we were off to the San Diego area to attend church and gather with my husband’s family.

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This lovely scene greeted us as we walked up the driveway, and we were wrapped in the heavenly scent of orange blossoms like you wrap up in a quilt on a cold night.

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I’ve never experienced anything like it.  I was amazed that the scent of two trees could fill the air of such a large space.  Later in the evening I ate dinner alone outside at that table just so I could savor the scent while reflecting briefly on the day.

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For a girl who’s lived all her life in places with four distinct seasons it was amazing to see a tree covered with both fruit and blossoms all at once.  Gorgeous.

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My mother-in-law has a a room she’s painted pink.  She keeps all the toys in there, and the children spent the afternoon in imagination heaven, building castles, dressing up, and anything else they dreamed up.

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I contented myself with soaking in the beauty of her yard in the full splendor of spring.

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By the time everyone else arrived I was busy in the kitchen, which was where I spent the rest of the day.  I don’t see my in-laws often and it felt good to serve by managing the kitchen so they could visit.  I enjoyed watching my husband from a distance as he so thoroughly enjoyed being around his brother and sisters, parents and aunt.  At the day’s end my feet ached but my heart was full of gratitude for all the gifts we’d enjoyed in just one day: hearts filled with the spirit, beauty, family, friends, service, good food, time together, the beach, and most especially the reminder that Christ has already won the victory for us.   A beautiful day.

Joy, week 14 – Easter Edition

Happy, happy Easter!  What a wonderful, joyous day it has been!  How grateful I am for the mission of Jesus Christ, for his perfect example, his Atonement, his resurrection.  My heart has been so full of happiness today.

I don’t have much to say about the week.  We spent most of the week sick, and by Friday were back on track.  We had a soccer season start this week with a win that felt awfully good.  Saturday was busy and on Saturday night my husband and I took our five daughters to see the BYU Ballroom Dance performance.  It was spectacular, as always.  My favorite parts of the evening were the moments when our two year old was so swept away by the music, the moves and the costumes that she would suddenly start waving her arms around or jumping and dancing.  It was adorable.

The unusual week changed our Easter celebration and I learned a good lesson from it.

The decorations were never unpacked.  Only my ceramic lamb made an appearance but it was enough.   I am learning that celebration is an important part of feeling joy.  It’s when we recognize the moment as something worthy of our notice, when we allow our hearts and schedules to focus on those things that bring joy.  Savoring such moments also provides us with joy down the road as we recall warm memories.

I’m learning that too often I envision productions when a spirit of celebration is sufficient.  I picture so much, my list gets long and struggling to live up to my own expectations can kill the celebration if I’m not careful.  I let go of the production this year and let our Easter celebration be simple.

Years ago I bought some old rail road spikes to give my children a better picture when they think of the nails in Christ’s hands, wrists and feet.  They joined our simple vignette as well.

Everything was simple.  The food was traditional but simple.  The day was gorgeous… sunny and mild with the sound of sprinklers  running and children talking.   Blue hydrangeas and vintage blue china made me smile contentedly.

I’m sure that next year my list of things to do for Easter will be equally long again, and I hope I’ll be able to accomplish many of them.  Still, it was good for me to see how things can play out with equal amounts of joy when I am unable to deal with the list.  I want to remember this lesson and take it to heart.

It’s spring break this week, and the timing was perfect.  I am always a relaxed mom when there’s no school on Sunday.  Tonight my brother and his family stopped by and we talked until late, knowing that we weren’t messing up a school schedule.  I’m excited to shift into low gear for the next five days.

Have a great week!
Jennifer

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