Happy Wednesday! Already halfway through the week! Since we were on vacation and I was mostly wearing a jacket the entire time, I didn’t get a ton of pictures this week, but here’s a few!
This was my Easter outfit. I picked up the dress and necklace at The Loft outlet while we were in Tennessee this weekend.
I wore this last week out shopping for some bathing suits for the girls.
We had a special day at work yesterday and got to do a scavenger hunt. This picture is in the heart of uptown Charlotte. Have I mentioned how much I’m loving my white jeans this Spring? The shirt is a black sheer with a pleated front from The Loft. You can’t see it, but I have my animal print flats on and my matching Miche bag.
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What I Wore Wednesday 4.23.2014 is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
I sit in Monday morning traffic, tired and wanting Spring Break back. I’m having God thoughts and pose the question that I have so many times before—God, are you ever disappointed in me? I know I mess up and so many do. How does it make you feel?
I don’t get any clear answers.
I pull up the IF:Equip daily devotional. Sarah and Rebekah talk about Joseph and Nicodemus. I hear the Spirit whisper—you remind me of Nicodemus. Nicodemus, who helped wrapped Jesus’s body after he died. I remember he was a religious leader but the rest escapes me. Usually being a religious leader with Jesus isn’t good news, but Nicodemus does clearly love Jesus by the end. Yes, Jesus, I do love you, I whisper back and hope for the best.
I get to work and scrawl out my to-do list and right in between, I jot down the name Nicodemus. I don’t want to forget to read what he was trying to tell me.
At a break, I do a search on Nicodemus and am taken to John 3.
The story starts coming back. Nicodemus goes to Jesus at night, wanting to question him away from prying eyes. He knows Jesus is from God but doesn’t understand it all. Jesus tells him he must be born again. Nicodemus is confused about what he needs to do.
And there it is, we all keep talking about what we do.
Jesus answers our question about what we need to do with what he’s going to do.
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
His sacrifice is always our answer.
And then out of nowhere because I didn’t remember it’s John 3:16…For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son…
And here we are again, Jesus whispering to me, I love you so much I died for you.
He ignores my question altogether and reminds me it’s not about what I do or how he feels about it. It’s about how he loves me and what he did for me.
And we always stop at verse 16 but 17 comes along and tells us he didn’t come to condemn the world, but to save it.
God’s about the business of loving and saving not condemning. If we’re feeling defeated and disappointed, we’re not about Kingdom work.
And there, in the middle of a gray cubicle, I rest in his love and I rest in his work.
When I’m Like Nicodemus is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
The past week here was Spring Break and let me tell you, it was much-needed and much-enjoyed.
I worked the first few days of Spring Break, but by Wednesday evening, we were off to East Tennessee for a long weekend. My uncle and his family were there for the whole week and we totally crashed their place along with my parents (thank you, guys!) for the weekend.
We just planned to go about 2 weeks ago when I took Thursday and Friday off on a whim and then found out they were going to be there and my parents already had plans to go visit with them. It ended up being a beautiful weekend with some fun adventures.
Here’s a few of our favorite moments.
Lunch at Old Mill Restaurant
This restaurant came highly recommended by just about anyone you mentioned Pigeon Forge to.
After getting a table full of huge Southern plates, I can see why. We actually met some friends that were in town at the same time so it was a great lunch out. If only I weren’t gluten-free, I could have enjoyed the dumplings and fried-everything a little more.
If you want to experience some good Southern BBQ, I’d highly recommend Bennett’s BBQ Pit—no relation to us but I’d gladly claim them!
Horseback Riding at Walden’s Creek Stables
You might remember a post I wrote when Emma was taking horseback riding lessons a few years ago where I explained my fear of riding horses. Well, I decided to be brave and go ahead with the group ride. And y’all, it was by far our favorite hour of the whole trip.
I really thought Lexi was going to have a breakdown and insist on staying back after she got on her horse. “It’s moving!!” I felt the same way. However, after some quick reassurances from some great guides, we were all on our way down the trail.
We really had a great time. It was the perfect weather outside and everyone’s horses were well-behaved.
I don’t think any of us were ready to stop at the end of the trail. Definitely a must-do!
The four of us visited the Titanic Museum one afternoon. Lexi has been really interested in it over the last year or so, so she insisted it was a must-do. I was skeptical.
They give you a card with the profile of one of the actual passengers. As you go through the exhibit, you get to see more details about your person. At the end, you get to see whether you lived or died in the memorial room. It sounds cheesy, but it was pretty brilliant. It didn’t hurt that I got one of the richest women on board who was a famed fashion designer—who lived.
The exhibit also included a few pieces from the actual ship, which was sobering. One piece in particular has not left my mind. Someone’s pocket watch had stopped about 15 minutes after the accident and it was later found in his pocket when he was recovered. Very difficult to literally see someone’s time standing still.
I loved seeing the life-size replica of the grand staircase and Lexi declared she wanted to live in the museum. I don’t know if it was that good, but I certainly recommend it.
Titanic pictures courtesy of TitanicPigeonForge.com
Cade’s Cove is part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is a valley where many of the settlers lived and where many of their building have been preserved which you can walk through.
Wildlife also roam the land. We hoped to see a bear, but instead got to see deer, a turkey and a coyote prowling in a field after some of the deer.
And of course, the National Park offers many beautiful views.
Over the weekend we also took advantage of the Tanger outlets literally right around the corner—maybe too much—and stopped by the famous Apple Barn to get some apple butter before we left town.
We just scratched the surface of the things to do in the area.
I’ve always turned my nose up a bit to vacationing in the mountains, always wanting my toes to dig into the sand, but I have to say this little vacation might have swayed me. The view from the resort pool certainly didn’t hurt.
We finished off our Spring Break with a beautiful Easter day celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
I hope you had a wonderful break if you had one and have a great Monday!
Have you been to Pigeon Forge? Where did you go for Spring Break? Did you have a great Easter? Let me know!
Spring Break 2014 in Tennessee is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
I was sitting in church last Sunday morning thinking about you. I thought about how maybe you haven’t been to church since last Easter or maybe never at all. I wondered how you might react to hearing the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection one more time. I wondered if you thought that’s all we talk about at church—pain and death. I was a little sad because I thought of all the sermons I’ve listened to since last Easter. They cover so many topics—finances, marriage, parenting. I wish you could have heard those too. Yes, it all starts with understanding the message of Easter, but it’s so much more.
I kept thinking about the reactions you might have to next week’s sermon. I had a feeling it could go either way. First, you could be bored out of your mind and all you can think about is the ham at your grandmother’s after church. The words coming out of the pastor’s mouth will be like Charlie’s teacher. I get that. It happens to me every once in awhile.
But then, I think there’s going to be a second group of people that will have another type of reaction. Something will start making sense. You’ll be drawn to what the preacher will say. But undoubtedly, I think you will have an actual physical reaction to this. I think your fight or flight system is going to turn on. Either, you will want to reject what is said and fight it, coming up with all the reasons that you know this to be crazy, how you don’t want to be “one of them”, how you don’t want to change your life, how no one really knows this stuff to be true, how the Bible is just a history book—fraught with human error, at that. And then some of you will have the flight syndrome. You’ll just want out of there. Stop talking to me, quit playing the music, quit being so dramatic, I just want to leave!
This is normal.
Our bodies are meant to have these reactions when we fear something, when we don’t know the outcome. Your body is trying to get you to do something to protect you. But, listen, I’ve been sitting at church for thousands of hours of my life and I can tell you, this is the best feeling. For me, I usually feel like my stomach is moving somewhere up in my throat and I can’t breathe. Talking is difficult. My heart starts beating super fast even though I’m sitting still. I feel a pressure on my chest like an elephant is stepping on it. Sometimes I cry. And in my experience, this is what it feels like when God is trying to talk to you. He is literally pressuring you to answer Him. And in my experience, you need to quit trying to fight it or run from it and say yes.
See, God isn’t trying to condemn you for who you are or what you’ve done since last Easter. I know it kind of feels like it because of the pressure and all. But that’s not it. What God’s really trying to say is I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you so much I want you to feel it. You have chosen to spend one hour to be still enough to hear about God and now he’s trying to talk to you.
The very best thing you can do in this moment is just say “yes”. Yes, God, I’m listening and yes, God, I want you to love me. That’s all he wants. In fact, you’ll hear about it next Sunday. He loves you so much He died for you. No one else has ever done that. And the really cool thing about God is he came back to life. Did you know YOU were not only his reason for the pain, but also his reward for going through all that pain? All he wants is to love you and spend time with you. He’s got big plans for you. But he needs you paying attention to him more often so you can know what they are.
As I was sitting there in church last week, I was thinking about my youngest daughter and how when she gets a bruise, she hates to put on band-aids. I beg her, thinking about how it needs protected so it can heal. I think about how if it gets junk in it or scraped again, that it will get hurt even worse and the pain will last longer. I never get why she won’t let me put a band-aid on it. I think maybe she’s afraid it will hurt even worse.
And I’m thinking that’s the way next Sunday will be. A lot of us have bruises in our life. Sometimes we’ve made a mess of our lives on our own and sometimes other people have done things to us that have royally bruised us. And sometimes, our lives sorta-kinda work ok, but we’re still not totally happy. God has a band-aid, if you will, named Jesus that will cover our bruises. He will heal us if we let him. But God never forces Jesus on us. We have to let him heal us. We have to say yes.
So, as you sit there next Sunday, I hope you are not in the first group that feels nothing. I’m praying you are not in that group. I hope you are reminded of your bruise that needs healed. I hope you experience some type of reaction. And I hope you say yes. He loves you. He really does.
For those of you reading that are like me that have sat in hours of church since last Easter, I’m praying the same thing for us. The cool thing about God is he loves to remind us he loves us. I hope you feel the tension too and are reminded all over again what he did for you and how he keeps covering us and healing us. Let our yes whisper out like a thank you.
An Open Letter to Those Going to Church on Easter is a post from: Amy J. Bennett