Easter!

We had a great weekend enjoying beautiful Tennessee weather and lots of good time with my husband’s family and a few of our friends. Here are a few pictures to sum it all up!

Good Friday in the Gospels: HOPE

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My God, My God…Why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

It’s a mournful day, so it always seemed odd to call it “good.” But I get it – without this day, without HIS SACRIFICE, none of us would have the hope and the future that we do. Without this day, there is no Easter.

This week, I’ve been reading the stories of Jesus’ crucifixion in each of the four gospels. Let me just say honestly…it’s depressing. I have not read on to His resurrection, and without it, the story of His death is lonely and heart-breaking. I cannot wait to spend time on Sunday reading through the resurrection stories and reminding myself of the glory and hope Jesus’ death and resurrection have provided us.

I don’t know where you are at with Jesus today. I don’t know if you think Jesus-lovers are wacky, or if you wish you were one of them. I don’t know if you have a relationship with Jesus, or if you’re searching for one. Regardless, I encourage you to read the stories of Jesus’ death today. Even just one of them. And all of these stories have others leading up to them, and they jump into the story and different points, so if you have the time, I recommend backing up a little bit. But if you just want to read one chapter from each story, read these!

Matthew 27

Until I read this the other night, I did not know that Judas hangs himself…did you know that?! I guess they leave that out in Sunday School…

Mark 15

Here it says that Jesus cried loudly when He breathed His last breath…The other chapters portray it more gently, saying simply that He breathed His last breath, or gave up His spirit. This chapter just seems “louder” in general.

Luke 23

I love this story, because here we get the conversation with the criminals on either side of Jesus. It so clearly paints the difference between a believer and a non-believer perspective of death and heaven.

John 19

I love the image of Jesus taking care of His family (25-27), telling John that he is to be a son to Mary now. Our families should always be our first priority! Also, Jesus’ death is less dramatic in this story – it doesn’t talk about the darkness in the sky or the tearing of the curtain. He doesn’t cry out, “My God, My God…”

There are many more similarities and differences among these stories. I feel like all of these versions together truly paint the picture of Jesus’ death, even though they come from different perspectives. It really goes to show that our relationships with Jesus are all unique, but still have the same underlying story: Hope.

Easter is Coming!

I know it was JUST St. Patrick’s Day, but next week is Easter! While Easter is absolutely THE most important holiday in the Christian faith, I’m not going to get too into that today. You’re welcome. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite springtime crafts and treats from Easters Past.

And so, without further ado…

I like to call this one, “Ode to that one time that Carli and I weren’t married yet and she didn’t have three baby girls yet and we spent a whole weekend crafting and baking and making marshmallows…”

I also don’t have a ton of Easter decor around my house – maybe when we are a little more settled down for the long haul I can buy some of this and this – but I make due! Last year I made this wreath, and bought some cheap but sparkly Easter eggs to brighten things up.

In lieu of an Easter basket for my hubby (he doesn’t eat a lot of candy, anyway), I filled each egg with a reason I love him. Call it a grown up version, I guess!

OKAY let’s talk about food… Breakfast is my favorite, and I’ve shared some of my favorite brunch items before. But my favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE treat, in general, are scones. I don’t know why, I just love them. I love their texture. I love how well they dip into coffee. I just love those little suckers. And here are my favorites, made for Easter a few years back with my roomie: Maple Scones. Happy Easter, Jesus is Risen, INDEED.

Then let’s talk about Easter 2011. This was my first holiday with the family that would later become known as my IN-LAWS. They are amazing, and of course, I really REALLY wanted to impress. How does one impress one’s future possible in-laws? One makes this cake, that’s how!!

And then finally, for Easter 2013, at which point my now-hubster and I were engaged, so now I like really REALLY want to make sure everyone likes me, I made salted caramel brownie parfaits. I think if they weren’t sure yet that I should be marrying their son/nephew/brother/uncle, they were sure then…

Can I get an AMEN? I know that Dennis the Obese Mini-Dachshund told us all that food is NOT love, and I understand that’s very true when it comes to loving your pet-child, but I’m here to tell you that when it comes to winning over future in-laws, FOOD IS LOVE.

Add and Subtract {Lent}

It’s the usual…giving up sweets for Lent. Or elevators. Or facebook. Or alcohol. Whatever it is that grips your self control and messes with your head. We are SUPPOSED to give up something so that every time during lent we abstain, we remember the sacrifices Jesus made for us not just in those 40 days in the desert, but ALLLLL the sacrifices. Including The Big One.

In recent years though, I’ve tried to use Lent to add something to my life, as well. Something to help focus my life more on my relationship with Jesus. Recently, I’ve been reading The Power of a Praying Wife many nights of the week, but not on an entirely consistent basis. But I can tell that when I’m reading nightly, even just a few nights in a row, it’s impacting my heart. Maybe for you it could be listening to Christian radio in the morning instead of whatever you usually listen to on the way to work. Maybe it’s committing to church every Sunday. Maybe it’s joining a new bible study or church group. Maybe it’s volunteering. What is it you could add to your life that would improve your relationship with Jesus, and maybe even serve others??

So all of this to say, Happy Ash Wednesday. I’m giving up sweets. I’m adding in nightly devotionals with NO EXCUSES. Even if it’s only five minutes, I will spend time in prayer before bed every night. My hope is that every time I say no to chocolate or that I settle into bed with my bible, notebook, and devotional book, I take an extra moment to say, “Jesus, thank you. Thank you for your love and your sacrifices. Thank you for rising again on Easter. Thank you for reminding me that this life is only the beginning. Thank you for helping me keep my eyes on Heaven.”

If you’re reading this, and have gotten this far, and are thinking “well that’s all well and good but I’m not really into the Jesus thing,” I encourage you to use this time of Lent to really think about this. If you don’t pray, start. Just talk to God about the great things in your life, and about the many things you might be struggling with. Read my posts on the Gospel (part one and part two) and reach out to me if you have questions. Open a Bible and just read something. I’d suggest starting with the book of Matthew if you’re feeling like you don’t know how to begin. Ask people around you if they go to church, and where, and then go try one of those churches.

I don’t know you, but God does. And He loves each and every one of you. He formed you in your mother’s womb! He knew you before the stars were ever even made! I’m praying for you today. Peace to you today.

Berry Crumble Bars

Berry Bars - Megster Meter

Even though it was just the two of us for Easter this year, I still really wanted to at least make ONE Easter breakfast treat! So I made a huge pan of these awesome Berry Crumble Bars from Willowbird Baking. I only made a few adjustments to her recipe – I used 4 cups of frozen mixed berries, and I only used half the cornstarch and sugar to coat them. I also replaced two of the three cups of flour with whole wheat flour. I highly recommend these!! I think they could have used a bit more lemon (maybe some zest?) but I just love the cakey texture of a good old fashioned breakfast pastry. YUM.

Berry Bars

Do you have any Easter brunch or dinner traditions? We are only just beginning to establish our own traditions!

Happy Easter, everyone! HE is RISEN!!!

J&M

Springtime Decorations

So I don’t really have tons and tons of spending money sitting around to decorate our house with Easter decor. I wish we did, but sometimes you just need to keep things simple and get a little creative.

Over the weekend, I picked up some $1.50 shimmery Easter eggs from Walmart and filled up my prettiest vase with them. Voila! A centerpiece!

photo 3photo 2And while it’s not my favorite wreath I’ve ever put together, I was able to make it pretty on the cheap, as well. All you need is a plain wreath, a few fake flowers, and wooden letter + paint. Brings a little brightness back to our house!photo 5photo 4

What about you? Any spring or Easter decorating? Share your tips!