Holy Week 2022: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.
On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall.

Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

~C.S. Lewis,  Miracles

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. 

The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

Read the rest here:  Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Criticism, Making Space for Grace

Chole identifies several groups that were in proximity to Jesus as He was dying on the cross.

Perhaps two people were silenced by grief or gently sobbing.

The others were taunting Him, mocking Him and reveling in His [apparent] inability to save Himself or be rescued by the Father He claimed close connection to.

They had no idea that His death was a last act of willing submission and laying aside of His power, position and possible retribution against those who had put Him there.

Love held Him to the cross-not nails or impotence.

So today I fast criticism.

I will fast judging others based on half-truths or even whole ones that cast them into a role other than as an image-bearer of our God.

Every single person I meet is bearing up under some kind of burden. Every face I see has an untold story behind the smile, frown, scowl or tears.

And every single human being is known and loved by the God who made them and the Savior who died to redeem them.

Today, fast criticism. From the clerk moving slowly to the homeless vet on the streets, consider carefully that Jesus knows them by name. Today, seek to know more, assume less, and air prayers for Jesus’ ‘least of these’ boldly in the presence of your shared Father God.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience. **

Today Is The Second Best Time to Make Amends (or Plant a Tree).

Life is really rather unforgiving, isn’t it?

I can only live forward and there are no do-overs.

No amount of regret can roll back the clock and give me another chance to do it right, do it better or just do it at all.

Read the rest here: The Best Time To Plant A Tree

God Will ABSOLUTELY Give You More Than You Can Handle

I’m passionate about getting Scripture right.

Because it’s not just unfortunate when we get it wrong, it can be downright dangerous.

The phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is simply not in the Bible and we need to stop tossing it at hurting hearts as if it is.

You know, I don’t expect those outside the Body of Christ to have good theology-that’s like expecting me to be able to explain thermodynamics.  

Ain’t gonna happen-it’s outside my scope of understanding and practice.

I do expect those who have spent a lifetime reading Scripture, studying Sunday School lessons and listening to sermons to know better.

But many don’t.

Read the rest here:  Exploding the Myth: God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

If You Think You Can’t Hold On, Let Go

This has been an odd (to put it mildly) Christmas season. I haven’t done half of what I normally do and now there’s no time to catch up and do it.

I’ve been off balance since the first of November, hanging on by the seat of my pants and just barely managing the necessities.

Maybe last year’s pass made me soft and lazy. Whatever the reason I really, really, really needed to read what I wrote several years ago.

Back then there was no chance I’d produce a full-fledged, decked out spread for Christmas. But I’ve gotten better at it since.

Just not this year. So if you are falling behind or falling down, you’re not alone!

❤ Melanie

So many ways to be reminded of how hard it is to hold on in these days and weeks around Christmas.

If your heart is barely able to beat, the pressure to be “hap-hap-happy” can send you over the edge.

If your home is empty of cheerful voices, the constant barrage of commercials touting family togetherness can leave you feeling oh, so lonely.

Early sunsets and darker nights send feel-good hormones flying and leave a body aching for just a little relief from anxious and depressing thoughts.

SadGirlBeach

When you think you can’t hold on, let go.  

Read the rest here: When You Think You Can’t Hold On

Christmas 2021: 25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving


This is the eighth Christmas without Dominic. There really are no words to describe the intersection of holiday cheer and another milestone in this journey of child loss.

I’m not sad all the time-far from it. Often I am very, very happy.

But I will never stop missing him, missing the family we used to be and missing our blissful ignorance of how quickly and utterly life can change in an instant.

And I will never outgrow the need to have others remember him as well, to encourage my heart and the hearts of my family members and to help us make it through another year, another Christmas.

Here are some great ways to do it:  25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving

Christmas 2021: What The Bereaved Need From Family and Friends

Dominic left us in April, 2014.

At the time all I could manage (barely!) was the twenty-four hours of each long, lonely and pain-wracked day.

After seven-plus years I’ve learned to look ahead, plan ahead and forge ahead to birthdays, holidays, special days and not-so-special days.

But it takes a great deal of effort and often uncomfortable conversations because no matter how long it’s been, I’m still dragging loss and its after affects behind me.

I wrote this in 2016 when I was desperate to communicate how hard it is to try to marry joy and sorrow, celebration and commemoration, light, love, life and darkness, grief and death.

It remains (I think) my most useful post: Grief and Holidays: What the Bereaved Need From Friends and Family

My Story is Not Tidy, But Neither is Christmas

It’s tempting to line up our friends and acquaintances in columns under headings of “perfect family”, “good christian”, “struggling addict” or “hopeless case”.  

When I label someone I justify my response-good or bad-and let myself off the hook for sharing the extravagant, unrestrained love God has shown to me.

The longer I live, the more people I meet, the more certain I am that the neat little categories we like to use are not very helpful.

If I decide they are “doing well” then they don’t need my help.

And if I decide they are “beyond hope” then why waste my time or effort?

Either way, I’m wrong.

Christmas is the story of God come down-Emmanuel-of Love reaching down into a dark and lonely world. It was hardly tidy, it was a Messy Christmas

My Heart’s a Little Tender Just There

Many bereaved parents share some emotional bruises others might never see or think about. Lots of everyday interactions press hard against the tender places and make them hurt all the more.

I don’t expect family and friends to walk on eggshells around me, second-guessing everything they say or do. That would be awful for all of us!

But just in case you wonder, here are places my heart is tender:

Read the rest here: It’s Kind of Tender Just There

Being Present is Powerful

It’s tempting to avoid someone when their world is dark.

It’s uncomfortable to choose to enter their pain.  But Jesus has called us to walk beside the suffering, to encourage the disheartened and to lift up the ones who stumble.

There are no magic words to erase heartache.

Only presence.

And isn’t that why Jesus came?

Read the rest here: The Power of Presence

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