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
We had a beautiful welcome to Spring Break this weekend. It was one of those weekends you just had to find something to do outside because it was a pity not to enjoy the weather.
We kicked off Spring Break with a trip to Carowinds, our local amusement park. I bought the family passes as an early Easter presents. It’s one of my favorite places—barring the crowds, wait times and exorbitant food prices.
I was so excited to go and truthfully, it was a bust. Scott is not a fan to begin with and only goes to pacify me. The kids hadn’t been in two years and I guess lost their zeal of roller coasters. After only riding 2 very mild rides, we ate some fries, rode the needle—which I cannot make myself call a ride–and called it a day. I passed all the loop-de-loop roller coasters lovingly and promised I’d visit another day—maybe with someone else’s family.
Parenting is so tricky, y’all. Sometimes you have to push your kids into doing some activities because they don’t realize it’s going to be fun and they end up having the time of their lives. And then sometimes you push and it’s just as miserable as they thought it would be. They saw my disappointment on the way home and promised they’d go again and try the Meteorite with me. At least you go upside down on that one.
One moment I don’t want to forget is being on one ride with Lexi and her belly laughing and exclaiming in surprise, “I’m laughing for no reason!!” That’s what I had hoped for over and over again Friday, but I’m thankful for at least one very joyful moment.
I also planted our garden on Saturday. I love the entire process—buying the plants at our local Farmer’s market, tilling the ground, planting, mulching, watering. I’m hoping for a better year than last.
God never fails to speak to me as I work out there and Saturday was no exception. As I was tilling the soil, I thought of a young man we ran into at Carowinds the night before.
We walked up the ramp to this roller coaster where it dumps you into a room of about 15 smaller lines for each seat on the ride. There were plenty of spots in the smaller lines but for some reason these ladies were standing at the top of the ramp like there was nowhere to go. I couldn’t understand why they were waiting there, but clearly, we had several minutes to wait anyway, so I didn’t push it.
A young family came up behind us. The young man was making a ruckus as soon as he got behind us. I looked to find him—baggy clothes, black teeth, a baseball cap tipped sideways, more tattoos than skin—nearly pushing through Scott. I told him I was sorry but we were waiting for the ladies and I wasn’t sure why they weren’t moving.
He said he didn’t care and he was going so he just went around us and them and went to a smaller line. He still had 3 or 4 more turns to wait so he didn’t really gain anything but about 15 feet. The ladies soon realized what was going on and moved into a line so we did too.
I was thinking about this young man as I tilled our garden beds. When you first start, the soil is hard. The roots have no room to grow. So I added peat moss and richer soil and turned it. God reminded me this young man’s heart was like the hard soil. It was hard and full of himself. There was no air, so space, no room for others.
As I mixed in the peat moss, the soil became airy and soft. God reminded me that Jesus is what makes the difference for us. He helps break up the “me” we have and makes room for love of others. Our spiritual roots can grow deep when the soil is prepared well.
I prayed for me and my family that we would have soft and open hearts for others. I prayed for that young man that he would have the same. I really don’t know much about him besides those few minutes, but I know enough about all of us to know we could all use some tilling.
And before I go, I must show you this picture of Bella. She has been ruining my beds all winter, jumping in and digging in them. She tried to do the same as I was working in them Saturday but I scolded her, making sure she knew she was not allowed in. She got the hint and went over and sulked underneath the swingset and watched me worked. A few minutes later, I looked up to see she had snuck around the side of the beds and was watching me like this:
“Mom, are you sure I can’t play in the beds?” Y’all, it was the best moment of the whole weekend.
Hoping you had a wonderful weekend too and have a great week!
When an Amusement Park and Garden Meet is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
SOS! I think Pinterest quit letting people embed the pin on people’s sites! This could be the end of WIWW here as we know it. Help? Is anyone seeing the ability to do it somehow?
What happened to all of our warm weather?? Well, this week has been cold and rainy but last week was really nice and I caught a few of those outfits.
If you follow on the Facebook page, you would have seen this dress last week after I wore it to work. I initially wanted a necklace but then couldn’t find any of mine that worked. I asked everyone what they thought would go and I heard a bright statement necklace, silver and gold statement necklace or pearls. I haven’t gotten anything yet, so what do you say?
Here’s the pin I’d put with it if I could: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/164803667587946912/
Sooo, this isn’t the best picture of an outfit ever. The wind was crazy and I think we were just trying to get out the door to go eat dinner if I remember correctly. I really wanted to show you this because I’m super excited about my new coral silk shirt and the black lace shorts. Also, I bought those animal print sandals on clearance in December and it was my first time wearing them. So fun!
I wore this outfit to the Priscilla Shirer simulcast Saturday. The whole outfit is new other than the shoes. I wish you could see the detail of the lace and the necklace better.
It was cold at the simulcast so during one of our extended breaks, we hopped over to Target where I just happened to find a cardigan that worked perfectly.
I love the pattern. Admittedly, I think it ages me a bit but I’m calling it a classic look.
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What I Wore Wednesday 4.9.2014 is a post from: Amy J. Bennett
On Friday night last weekend we went to the 5th grade talent show at my kids’ elementary school. I admit, I was dreading it.
The night included singing, dancing, gymnastics, comedy and TaeKwonDo. (Sadly, I’m realizing as I type, no instruments). Did the kids wow me with their talent? Did we have the next American Idol or Olympian in our midst? Well, likely not, but we smiled and cheered and teared up and sang along and laughed more in that hour than we had in weeks. And none of them were even my kids. It was one of the best evenings I’ve had in awhile.
I learned a few things in that hour about art and life that night that I hope I don’t soon forget.
The beauty of art is the courage
Before a note was sung or a board was kicked Friday night, each child was cheered not for what they had already done but what they were going to do. See, the real win Friday night was that they showed up.
At some point in the last weeks, they had decided it was worth it to stand on a stage and share their gift. They showed up for an audition and were vulnerable enough for someone to judge them. Then, standing in front of a crowd of hundreds ranging from infant to grandparent, they stood. And then they never left. Even when the rhythm was lost and the line was forgotten, they stood and they kept going.
The beauty of our art is not that we show up and do it well but that we have the courage to show up at all.
People cheer the loudest when you mess up
Some might think the win of sharing your art is the accolades of when you do it perfectly. But, from what I heard and saw Friday night, the loudest cheers and the biggest smiles were when someone messed up and then stayed. The crowds erupted with encouragement and parents plastered on smiles to let them know they were still proud.
One of my favorite moments was looking around during a performance that wasn’t perfect and yet, every single person had a smile on their face. I especially loved the grandfathers that were beaming with pride–at someone else’s grandchild.
It’s ok to mess up at our attempts at our art. People are the happiest when we mess up and then we keep going–probably more than if we did it perfectly from the start.
Fun isn’t a waste of time, but the best time
For some of us, it’s easy to dismiss the jokesters and comedians, but let me tell you, listening to elementary kids telling silly jokes and reciting Who’s On First are some of my favorite moments from the night. There is a talent to memorizing the lines and getting the timing, your voice and your physical movements all in sync. And a room full of adults laughed and smiled and clapped.
Having fun is some of the best art out there.
And by the way, why did the skeleton stay home from the dance?
He had nobody to go with.
Guys, I don’t care what kind of art you make–because we all make something–get out there and do it. Trust me when I say the world will be a happier place no matter how it goes. Just show up.
3 Things I Learned From a 5th Grade Talent Show is a post from: Amy J. Bennett