Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter means a lot to me in general, but this year I have felt so much more connected to it.

What it means to me is that I have endless beginnings. Because of my Savior's Atonement and Resurrection, I can always repent, I can always progress, I can always "start over," I have a million chances to turn to Him and learn what He wants me to know. Even death cannot stop that. We will all live again, just as He did. And we will continue on living.

LIVING. Not just existing. But full of joy and love.

That paradise can be found in bits and pieces in this mortal life. Right here, right now. We don't have to wait for heaven. We can find it here. We can create it here on a smaller scale.

Seeking out the good is my natural tendency, but I still feel pain, get angry, covet, and do very stupid things. In those times, I can forget the good and only see the bad. I'm weak and I fail, but I'm not a failure. God has given me endless beginnings. Every moment is a new chance to seek the good, create the good, and enjoy a little bit of heaven. The past doesn't have to define who we are now. In this moment, the past doesn't matter. The present is ALL we EVER have.

Christ can heal ALL our pain and sickness. Our grief, our anger. Being wronged by others. Our weaknesses. Falling into the same sin trap over and over. He can heal all of that.

Because of His sacrifice, I know my worth and value to Him. I know who I can turn to when I need forgiveness and when I need to forgive someone else. I know that there is always hope, always a lesson to be learned, always joy to be found.

Have you ever been wronged by someone? Someone you thought was a friend? And you knew without a doubt that they were in the wrong and that you were owed an apology? How often do you actually get that apology? And still we are asked to forgive. Because HE forgives US. And we are all priceless in His eyes. And we are not blameless. Even if we were right - even if we were simply betrayed by someone else and our conscience is clear (which is hardly ever really the case), holding onto that hurt and blame and anger afterwards that person then becomes the sin. I'm learning that lesson right now. Letting go, feeling love instead of hate, compassion instead of blame. Forgiveness seemed so simple to me as a kid. As an adult, things get complicated and forgiveness almost sounds like an impossibility. As His forgiveness washes over me, I am learning to accept the faults of others and extend forgiveness and move on. But dang, it's been difficult.

I wish we all treated each other kindly, kept our promises, and served with love. That's not always the case. We fall short. Others fall short with us. And we're left with the guilt and hurt and feelings of injustice. The Atonement covers ALL of that. Easter is a beautiful reminder that He is there to lighten our burdens and show us a better way.

I've tried to be more of a witness of my beliefs here on my blog, but I am no perfect example. I also use this space as a place to vent... or get all fan-girly about things in pop culture that I'm obsessed with, so I'm sure I come off like a crazy person sometimes. Contradictory. Hopeful, then not hopeful, devout, then frustrated. Loud and crazy, then serious. I started this blog to document our adoption journey and then it has just turned into whatever-I-feel-like. :) BUT, I hope in general most people know that I'm a Mormon. I am very proud of my religion and what kind of person it helps me to be. I wish I could express my testimony as eloquently as my friend Montse can - she writes so boldly and beautifully. (Read her post "Jesus is the Living Christ" HERE.)

For Easter this year, we skipped the egg decorating/hunting, the baskets, and the bunnies - I've been super simplifying my life and skipping the things that don't really matter to me. This time, those things didn't matter. Maybe next year they will. I did get Kal a few gifts, but I didn't make it a big deal or the central aspect of the day. We spent the morning quietly watching videos about Jesus and talking about who He is. We actually skipped Church, whoops (who does that on Easter??). But I tried to make up for it by bringing Christ into everything we did.

Our Church makes some really great videos depicting the life of Jesus. My husband is the type of person who would rather "watch the movie" than "read the book," so Scripture study in our household lots of times will have a video accompanying it to drive home the point. He needs that visual sometimes to really feel the meaning behind a concept. So we watch lots of Biblical depictions and Christian films. Here's a video we watched for Easter...

Video of "He is Risen: John the Beloved's Witness of the Resurrection":

Kal has been learning to pray. It kind of just happened. We were about to pray before lunch at a playdate one time and I asked, "Who wants to pray?" and he volunteered! He totally said, "Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for friends. Thank you for food. Jesus Christ, AMEN!" and clapped a little. Ha ha ha. I didn't even know he understood prayers or paid attention when we did them or knew all those words, but over time I guess he just picked it up. SO ADORABLE. While I was showing him videos and pictures of Jesus for Easter, I asked him, "Who is that?" and he said, "That's Jesus Christ, Amen!" Lol.

Zay has been working a lot of Sundays for awhile and has suddenly had several Sundays off in a row. I hate going to Church alone with just Kal, without my partner there beside me. Not hate... but it sucks a little. I've missed spending Sundays together as a family. It's made me appreciate these Sundays off SO much more. Instead of all the "normal" Easter stuff, we did exactly what we wanted to do - had a big BBQ and invited lots of friends and enjoyed the absolutely beautiful weather. We played music outside and danced under the carport (Kal was the ring leader for that, he's such a ham). We threw a football out in the street (we live in a really quiet little neighborhood by the end of a dead-end street that is perfect for "street sports"). We talked for hours. My brother dropped by for a little bit with his new girlfriend (so excited to welcome her to the family!). Our relationship has gotten much better lately since we've both gotten our thyroids treated, ha ha. That sounds funny, but man - a screwed up thyroid can screw up a lot of other things. The anxiety he's dealt with over the years I've never quite understood until it knocked me down as well.

One of our friends who came to the BBQ is actually from my husband's hometown in Georgia. I knew him growing up because he attended the same congregation as me and was friends with my two older brothers when I was little. I didn't even know he lived out here until he called me up a few years ago. He had gotten my number from someone who told him I did hair. He was looking for someone to do his daughter's hair. I get random calls from people all the time for hair appointments, so I didn't think anything of it... until he introduced himself and happened to say his full name. And I was like, "Hmm. I know someone by that name." And then we figured out who the other was and we just laughed so hard about that. We hadn't seen each other in maybe 15 years. Zay ended up figuring out that he was familiar with his family back home. Crazy small world! Now we all hang out all the time. He served his LDS mission in West Africa. We had another friend there who was actually from West Africa... the same exact place, actually. So the guy who served the mission there impressed the heck out of him when he started speaking the language. It was so funny. Seriously, very small world!

Anyway, throughout the day we watched a couple of Christian movies that we've come to love (have you ever seen The Encounter? If not, you should! It's like our favorite Sunday movie). Everyone finally left around 9pm and we enjoyed the rest of the night as a family. It really was the best day. Exactly what we needed. We usually watch The Passion of the Christ, but we're saving it for a day later this week.

I used to keep myself SO busy, and never allowed myself time to unwind, de-stress, or heal from anything. Just go, go, go. My anxiety was so high, my mind was always churning, I never processed my emotions - just bottled them up. My goals for this year have been to relax, let go, forgive, rest, heal, feel, express, and enjoy. It's been great. Difficult at times, because I'm fighting my efficient, productive, to-do list type of personality. And I've had to let go of some hurtful people who I thought were friends. But I think I'm finally settling into it. I finally understand that there's a time and a season for all things. And right now, when Kal is so young, it's the time to have a blast with him. Right now, when I don't have a job that I have to leave the house for, it's the time to do whatever the heck I want, whenever I want, and bring Kal along for the fun. I won't always have this flexibility. I've worked for years and years, now is the time to simple enjoy. I am thrilled to see my husband after he gets home from work. I wake up every morning refreshed, with the excitement of knowing that my day isn't already planned out to the second on my calendar. I needed this slower pace.

I used to spend a lot of time chatting on Facebook, but I'm consciously trying to pull back from interacting on there (even though it's so easy!) and replace it with more face-to-face interacting (so much more fulfilling). But I totally love scrolling through my feed and seeing so many of my friends' and family's kids dressed up for Easter and dying eggs and whatnot. Ahhh, so cute!! I thought the same thing on Valentine's when I saw the cutest baby pictures with lipstick kisses on their cheeks. Omg, the cuteness. Made me smile so big... :D

Think I've rambled enough? Ha ha. Here's some pictures from the past week or so:

Haircut Day

This boy loves his puzzles. He can take them apart and put them back together for HOURS.

Tossing the mini football around.

It's spring!

Copying me and taking pictures around the yard.

Spring! Just sitting on the porch and enjoying the weather.

Mmmmmm.... more food.

Easter day football.

Chowing down outside.

Time with Daddy after work.

BBQ'ing with friends.

I love sneaking pictures when people are eating, ha ha.

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