“Come out, Jesus!”

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Over tea and strawberries last Friday, Sherry from Persia, asked: “So what is Easter?” A simple answer:  Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth to die for our sins. But, He didn’t stay dead. He came back to life. That’s what we celebrate.

Easy to say. Much to think about. She didn’t ask more. The seed planted; praying for rain.

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These little ones already know: “Christ is Risen!” (He’s risen, indeed!) No one else claimed to be God and came back to life. Preposterous. He was either crazy or God.

Every time Lucy and Oliver get to the page in their Easter story picture book with the tomb, they start yelling, “Come out, Jesus, come out!!!”

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Christ died to prove He loved you; He rose again to prove He won. He came out of the tomb for you. Thanks for reminding us, Lucy and Oliver.

They know how it ends. Do you?

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Feast on Friday: Mandarin Orange Easter Cake

Trishie made this cake for me and it’s the perfect Spring-Delight! And, it starts with a cake mix – how easy is that? Make the cake the day before, and frost the next day unless you have room in your refrigerator for a mountain of lovely layer deliciousness: Mandarin Orange Easter Cake. Hmmm and Happy Resurrection Sunday after the Holiest of Dark Fridays!

Orange Mandarin Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: American (it’s a mix for heaven’s sake!)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
I use a white or yellow cake mix. Sometimes Cool Whip, sometimes whipped cream, depending–no ask on what…
Ingredients
  • 1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • 1 small can Mandarin oranges (do not drain)
  • Now the Frosting:
  • 1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
  • 1 small box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Mix together with a 9 oz. Cool Whip
Instructions
  1. Blend first four ingredients together and put into 3 greased & floured 8″ or 9″ cake pans.
  2. Cool then frost and refrigerate until serving

 

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While making this, you can’t go wrong singing along with Fernando Ortega “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross” – you’ll be ready then for “Crown Him With Many Crowns” on Easter right after blowing out the candles. Sing along here. And, here. I do love to wail and croon and worship when no one’s at home. I close windows first.

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Into the Light–More Than Good

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Polly asked, “What’s special at Grace Church at Easter?”

“I love our Good Friday night service,” I answered. “It’s just an hour. It’s somber and dark and holy.”

I don’t get a lot of liturgy – in my background, nor in my church family worship. So, anything repeated is fresh, not stale. I need the rhythm of reminding. God knows so He gave us Communion: “Do this – drink and eat – in remembrance.” He knew we’d forget. And we do.

Friday night we walk to communion stations and pray with an elder and stand in a family circle or join another’s. I love the songs but the older I get, the more choky (so much for outward worship.) And, best–we hear the last words of Jesus before He died. At each excerpt, the lights dim further, until we end in darkness. And, finally walk out in silence.

We need the darkness. We need the silence. We need the reminder. All the more reason for the Light. What a Good Friday. Praise be to God.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of the world.  John 1:3

Jesus, You have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in You should not stay in darkness…You did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  John 12:46, 47

Lord Jesus,

Thank You for saving me. I so needed saving. I’m often in the dark. Thank You for going into darkness, so we don’t have to stay there. All glory be to You. Amen and Amen.

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Number One: You Need Courage

Lisa writes encouraging words over at LearningAlongTheWay.com. Today she called Courage the number one trait needed for success. Last week she watched sixty-five adults read aloud for the first time, celebrating their new skill: literacy. It takes guts to admit you can’t read if you’re older than say, eight–maybe seven. Lisa segues beautifully into Holy Week, and the courage and love of our Lord. Read a bit:

This is a great week to think about what it takes to look fear in the face and step forward. Jesus did that very thing.  He showed us His fear and desire to not have to go through what He was facing as He prayed in the garden.  If He didn’t show courage, where would we be?

Where, indeed? See the whole story here.

Needing courage today? Remember Christ faced death for you. He will give you all the strength you need. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid.

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You for your courage. Show me where to go and how to do what needs to be done. Help me take the next step even if I’m afraid. Amen.”

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On a lighter note. . . it might take courage for Bethany to wear her new Easter hat this week at Penn State. My mom got us Easter bonnets every year. I wanted to carry on the tradition. I sent it along with chocolate chip cookie dough brownies and an egg dye kit. Happy Easter, Bethany! Take courage–Jesus died on the cross and rose up from the grave. We love you.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhilippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

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Tuesday’s O, Taste & See: The Beauty of the Wait

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Christy needs a job. She’s got great potential, great leads, great hygiene, and a great resume. There’s nothing not-great about her. Most of all, according to her, she’s got a great wait.

She said, “Every day my life with God gets deeper. It’s as if it’s better not getting the job because of all I’m learning in the wait. The job’s not so important to Him (He’s got it covered)–my relationship with Him far exceeds that.”

Wow. She gets the Beauty of the Wait.

Don’t get me wrong; she’s working full-time on getting full-time work. But, she’s doing the Work of Waiting on Jesus, and finding it and Him all the better for it. Beautiful.

In God’s Waiting Room today? How does it look? Mine can be lined with full-on bumper pads–they muffle kicking and screaming (Moi?) Maybe yours is decked out with mini-posters of cats hanging onto window sills by their claws, terror in their eyes. I love that poster. I am that poster. Or, perhaps you just have wallpaper made of Post-its, each beginning with the words: “What if….?!?!” (“What if he dies?”  “What if she moves out?” “What if she doesn’t move out?” “What if I don’t get a job by the end of my severance?”) Oh, yeah. Those Post-its are cheap. I can write enough to cover a wall. The ceiling over our bed is covered with them. The Man-in-Plaid falls asleep before he can see them. I, on the other hand, can spend hours placing and centering all the worries and wonderings just so. I like an orderly wall of worry.

Or, does your Waiting Room have a window through which you see God’s heart?

Christy’s has a picture window–no blinds, no drapes, no panic button off to the side. She’s not worried. It’s a Beautiful Wait. Can’t wait to see what God does about the job. Even better–can’t wait to see how God works His beauty into Christy.

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is she who finds refuge, joy, and beauty in the wait. Christy’s Psalm 34:8

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Yea, for Bubba!

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Yea, for Bubba! Bubba Watson won the Masters on Sunday for the second time in three years. He cried. A lot. Shoulders heaving, running tears, broken voice. Love it! A man’s man not afraid to wear his heart (and face) all over you.

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How can you not root for a man named Bubba?  Some call him Blubba-Bubba. Just jealous. The commentator wiped the floor with his comment: “He hit it like a man.” Yes, he did. Yea, for Bubba. Yea, for grateful tears. A lot of hard work and dedication; all worth it at the end.

Cried grateful tears lately? I can barely make it through a song at church these days. People say I’m grieving. I don’t feel sad. I’m not depressed. But, waterworks abound. I know it’s good, so I give myself a pass. I do get comments: “Are you tired? Are you not feeling well?” That comes from being a redhead and not wearing waterproof mascara. Yesterday while giving a devotional at Carly’s baby shower, I couldn’t get through a paragraph without blubbering. (Bubba-Baby-Blubba) Laurie said, “They say women haven’t had a good time until they cry together.” We had a real good time. I always thought Kleenex boxes made good centerpieces–so cheap and in such pretty colors.

Cried any grateful tears lately? David was a man’s man–one after God’s own heart. He cried a river, more than once. Sometimes grief, sometimes repentance. I’m sure there were grateful ones in-between. I prefer crying out loud by myself. If you see the van outside and I don’t answer the door–don’t worry.  Just thank God for tears and time and that Trader Joe’s is across the street. Go buy some chocolate and leave it under the mat. Yea, for Bubba and Blubbering.

When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. – Psalm 118:5

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Bubba won in 2012 as well. His blubbering was just getting started.

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Tucked In?

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Annadale showed me this comforter verse:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness by night. - Psalm 92:1,2

Like parenthesis: Declare God’s lovingkindness in the morning, and His faithfulness by night. All tucked in. No leaks. Another day gone. Pull up the blanket. Thank Him in the morning, praise for the night. Like a puffy comforter up around the chin.

Can you do that? Give praise in the morning and when the day is gone? No matter what? (No matter what?) I will today for my friend, Debbi. She hooked her heel on a kitchen chair, and down she went. Broken ankle. She’s out for the count, for a good month. She’s asleep now, grateful for the drugs. So I’ll thank the Lord for her, and for her: a faithful friend who will need more than one meal in the days, weeks ahead.

Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness. We don’t always understand the circumstances, but we’re grateful for the comfort. Morning, noon, and night.

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Feast on Friday: Easter–Brunch or Dinner?

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Easter Sunday is the best. First, we sing “Up From the Grave He Arose” at the top of our lungs, then gather at the table for a feast with friends and family. Since the meal–brunch or lunch or dinner–is right after church, the more you can do ahead, the better. Here are two hearty brunch egg casseroles that can go with ham or not. Assemble the night before and refrigerate until the next day. These will please the most discerning palate: Artichoke Three-Cheese Breakfast Casserole and Spinach Sausage Quiche. If you have a crowd coming, try both, and let everyone else bring the fruit salad, blueberry muffins, feta green beans, and deviled eggs. Deviled eggs are must-haves for Easter. Just ask Bonnie.

Aritchoke 3-Cheese Breakfast Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
This calls for canned artichoke hearts, but I have the marinated on hand, so that could just add more flavor, don’t you think?
Ingredients
  • 10 eggs
  • ½ c. flour
  • 1 16 oz. cottage cheese
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 2 c. jack cheese
  • 2 c. cheddar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 1 10 oz. canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine eggs, flour, baking powder, season and basil
  2. Blend well
  3. Stir in cottage cheese and other cheeses
  4. Set aside
  5. Lightly sauté onions in butter in skillet
  6. Add artichokes and toss with onions
  7. Add artichoke mixture to egg mixture, and blend well
  8. Pour into greased 9×13 casserole dish
  9. Bake uncovered for 1 hour
  10. Let stand few minutes and serve with sour cream

 

Spinach-Sausage Quiche (from Ceslie Patty)

2 pkgs. apple chicken sausage, chopped

2 bunches green onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pkg. fresh spinach

2 cups herbed seasoned stuffing mix

3 cups shredded Jack cheese

6 eggs, slightly beaten

3 cups half-an-half

4 t. parmesan cheese

Paprika/ Herbes de Provence (opt.)

Sliced fresh tomatoes on top for garnish.

Directions:

Saute sausage, green onion, spinach.

Add stuffing mix.

Spray pan and pour in mixture.

Combine eggs and half-and-half, and pour over meat mixture. Add cheese and layer with more. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese and paprika. Add tomatoes if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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At His Word

I love new Christians. They tend to take God at His Word. Convicting. The older we get, the smarter? Or, too familiar, too used to depending on our past faith, on our experience, on ourselves–anything but God.

Today, Wendy–a self-described new Christian–said, “Well, I have peace now. When there’s drama, I just say, ‘Hey, don’t you think we all need to act a little bit more like Jesus right now?’ I give it over to God and let Him take care of it.”

Yep. She’s got it. Refreshing, convicting. I loved it.

With three girls, a wanna-be contractor and an old dog–I get drama. I don’t always grab peace. Dear Wendy-newbie reminded me today: It’s mine for the taking (and plenty to share.)

Any drama in your day? Bound to be. Trust God like you just met Him. Tell me how it goes.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you.

Isaiah 26:3

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Tuesday’s O, Taste & See: Appetizers

I never understood the purpose of appetizers. The folks didn’t drink as in “Cocktails, anyone?” Somehow olives and manchego cheese never made it to little plates and napkins before the big meal. We had olives once a year and that was on Thanksgiving (and they were black.) My job was to get out the crystal bowls and fill them with olives. I ate a few (for services rendered.) Then we’d put them on our fingers and wave to the cousins across the table. But it wasn’t before the meal, it was at the meal.

Here’s what the Rusco’s served us last week at Growth Group – yum yum and so pretty! Don’t you love the slate server? It may need to go on my Christmas list.

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What’s an appetizer for? I found three purposes for those piquant tasty bites.

Appetizers make us hungry for more, give a hint of what’s to come, and, they help hold us over until the Main Dish appears. Practically speaking, they keep the kidlets happy til everyone arrives. The trouble comes when I spend too much time at the appetizer table. It was easy to do last Tuesday. The Main Dish no longer looks so great. Oh, bother.

David told us to taste and see. He knew the more we taste of God, the more we want. The good news is we never get too full. There’s a different law at work: know God more and you’ll have more room to know God better. I’ll never be too full. But, I need to stay at the table.

Have you tasted and seen God good in your life this week? Last month? Two years ago? I hope so, but daily tasting is best. Keeps me hungry for more. Gives me a hint of what’s to come. And, on a hard day, holds me over til the Last Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Send me your favorite appetizer recipe. Better yet, tell me how you’ve tasted God’s goodness this week–or, both!

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who tastes daily — even in the smallest details — and finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

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