The Easter weekend

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter, celebrating that our Lord and Savior is risen!!! The whole weekend for me was so emotional. Last year I decided that I would start watching The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday every year. It’s not just watching a movie. This movie is the closest thing to portray what Jesus went through on that day He was crucified. It provokes so many different feelings within me. First, I felt completely overwhelmed with sadness. You hear the story every Easter of what Christ went through but most of my life it has never really sunk in, until I saw this movie. It was brutal and horrific. You read and hear about “the cat of nine tails”….  indescribable. The physical pain that He went through on that day, the beatings, the amount of blood,… not to mention that it’s hard to portray what Christ went through being separated from His Father. (Mark 15:34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).  All this for His children. All this because of me, for me. This made me totally overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness. One of the reasons I feel the need to watch this movie is because I want the images of His sacrifice to be burned in my mind, I want to be constantly reminded of what He did and why He did it. Because He loves me. I am so amazed by His love towards His people, I mean, after all He went through, He was PRAYING for His people on the cross, praying for the ones who did all that to Him! (Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”) It instills in me this deep affection for Him and desire to love Him in return and be pleasing in His sight.

So Saturday I was still grieving over the movie and the atrocity of His death. Now before I go into what took place next let me just say that this decision our family has made is just that, our decision. It’s what we believe is best for our family. We make choices based on personal convictions and in no way do we look at others and think they should model after us. We all are to model after the example Christ set and are to listen to Him when He speaks to us individually.

My heart was aching on Saturday. And I became aware of how distracted we (the Graham’s) can become on this Easter occasion. Distracted by bunny rabbits, egg hunts, our cute “Easter family photo” and gift baskets for our girls. Satan is so clever. On the weekend that Jesus sacrificed His life and rose again, satan put in someones mind to make this weekend about a bunny rabbit that leaves our undeserving kids presents for no reason (other than the fact that it’s spring?) which in turn revolves the whole holiday around candy and eggs and egg hunts and so forth. Are you serious??? And we have fallen for it! Why couldn’t this bunny come another weekend?? I’ll tell ya why, because then Jesus’ weekend would be ALL HIS and satan doesn’t want that. I’m sorry if I’m getting a bit heated over this. I just feel like why on earth has Easter become more about US and our children getting cheap toys and candy? And what message are we sending them?? I know Jason and I (and all Christian parents I’m sure) make it a point to tell their kids and ensure they really KNOW what Easter is REALLY about. But I feel like that message would be far more impacting if this past weekend was ALL about Him. No egg hunts, no baskets, just the reflection of His sacrifice and celebration of His resurrection and LIFE! Wouldn’t it be more impacting if we were to do our best, really strive, to instill in them the weight of His sacrifice? I’m not suggesting you show your 5-year-old The Passion but I’m sure they have age appropriate Christian movies about the event. And then after that, to get wrapped up in the excitement of His resurrection! To show our children that we need to be overjoyed that He is risen! Tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, STRANGERS, He is ALIVE and He lives in me! That’s what we believe should take place on this weekend.

We did come up with a way for our girls to enjoy the festivities that every other child no doubt will be doing. There is no Easter bunny. But we will do a spring egg hunt on a completely separate weekend. What’s important to us is that our children grow up knowing that Easter weekend isn’t about anyone but Him. And to make that distinction we have chosen to remove any other distractions that might take the focus off of Him. We live in a culture that is inundated with over indulgence. One of the greatest indulgences I believe is our own kids. They have more and get more than they want or need. So, I really don’t think our kids will be deprived if they don’t get a basket on Easter.

Hallelujah Jesus is alive!

Feed the birds……

I feel as if so many of my blogs end up reminding me of some Disney song. Remember Mary Poppins, “Feeeeeed the bird, tuppence a bag, tuppence, tuppence, tuppence, a baaaaag.” Such a classic movie. Anyway, yes it’s that time of year. Spring time. And the birds are constantly chirping outside our windows. Pine cones are falling off the trees left and right and they are nice and big and spread out. At Thanksgiving we tried doing a craft using a pine cone as the body of a Turkey. But there were hardly any pine cones and the ones we found had fallen pre maturely and did not have that “blossom” thing going on. They were all tightly wound haha. So it was nice to see some big blooming pine cones. We made the infamous bird feeder and as usual it was a hit with the girls. They each made their own coated with LOTS of peanut butter and bird seed and then they picked where they wanted to hang them. But R and I picked the best spot of all. Right outside the breakfast area, so hopefully we can watch the birds eat breakfast at the same time as us. 🙂

R’s bird feeder, right outside our window.

Jason hung M and G’s bird feeders in mid-air. Will be interesting to see a bird eat off of that! 🙂

Another nature experiment we’ve been trying is caterpillars for pets. We have caterpillars EVERYWHERE and the girls really like playing with them. So we put them in a little habitat/vase and figured we would see what happens to them. Maybe they’ll turn into butterflies!!

This was the big fat one. He’s going to be a “beautiful butterfly” (Bugs Life 🙂 )

Within a few days they both had cocoons already. I have no idea what I’m doing here. For all I know I could be just ruining their opportunity to become butterflies but I’m hoping this isn’t a really strategic process and nature can run its course in our little vase. :/ If not we wont ever remove a caterpillar from it’s natural habitat again. 🙂

And after 5 years….

Whew! I gotta tell ya, I feel a sense of accomplishment, relief, and hope after being married 5 years. First of all let me just say that I adore my husband and love him very much. However, this doesn’t mean I LIKE him all the time and by NO means do we have a fairy tale perfect marriage, mainly because those don’t exist, but I refuse to pretend that we do have a “perfect marriage”. What we do have is Christ, He is the foundation of our marriage, without Him we most definitely would not have come this far or go any further if we don’t have Him at the center. Having Christ as our foundation as enabled both Jason and I to have a transparent marriage. Being transparent is a good thing, an essential part to marriage, but we all know being totally open and honest with another person who is different from you will inevitably cause conflict. But once again, believe it or not conflict is also essential in marriage. In the book, Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Mark Gungor talks in chapter 17 about fighting fair and conflict. Essentially he says, if you never have conflict with a person you can never truly experience a deep intimate relationship with them. God did not make any two people exactly alike, we are ALL different. You WILL disagree with your spouse on something, probably multiple somethings, and if you avoid confrontation to unveil these differences your relationship is going to suffer eventually. But honestly, dealing with conflict was something I never had a problem with. I grew up in a family that was full of opinions and LOVED sharing them. I remember multiple occassions where any one of us children would have discussions with each other or my dad (it was most always my dad 🙂 ) where we learned to deal with conflict when it occurred and to do our best to resolve it.

But even with, what I thought to be, great conflict resolution skills, Jason and I are STILL working on how the two of us can “Fight Fair”. But I must admit year 2 and 3 of our marriage was the HARDEST.

Our first year was blissful of course. 🙂 Blissfully IGNORANT. And to add to our ignorance I became pregnant by month 2. What I think getting pregnant and having M in our first year did was distract us. We moved from the beach house, to my parents house, lived there my entire pregnancy and 3 months after little M was born. And than we became home owners, with an infant. Picture me, 20 years old, a 3 month old, and my FIRST very own “nest” that I have NO idea how to take care of, and I’m a wife and essentially have no clue how to do that either. Oh and might I point out I’m also a selfish, self serving, self seeking, human being that only cares about herself!! (And that sweet little baby) Jason who?! So basically in year 2 I started weeding through all that and trying to figure out how to be a good wife FIRST and a good mom. I have always known how important it was to put my man first and I wanted to do my BEST to do that. But of course when you have an infant that depends on you, that presents a challenge. Year 2 was full of LOTS of fighting. I distinctly remember talking to my mom and Kaitlyn like every other day. 

Moving into year 3, guess who’s preggers again?!?! Yep, yours truly. Thinking we were making progress and here come the hormones. We made it through the pregnancy but the hormones got worse. This time we decided to seek some Christian counsel, never too early or late for that. 🙂 Praise the Lord we might make it to year 4! (No I knew we would because I would never get divorced, we might die strongly disliking each other but we’d be together. “They hold hands, but its not loving at all. Its like this rigamortis,
romatioid athritis, red rover grip that they got going on.” Dane Cook)

Anywho, year 3 marked more fights but BIG mile stones as well. Seeing a Christian counselor helped tremendously. In fact, we not only saw one together but I saw one on my own. I took a lot from these professionals and fellow Christians. They helped us understand things about each other and gave us healthy advice on how to approach one another in certain situations.

Year 4 was a whirlwind. It was the year we sold our home, moved back in with the parents, and then ended up here and in Georgia. Here, where we are now. 🙂 It’s not just the location, I honestly believe we have come to a sweet spot in our marriage. A number of things have brought us here, we’ve both grown, and can now (most of the time): admit when we’re wrong  apologize, hold our tongues, be respectful, be selfless here and there, recognize what the other person NEEDS and sacrificially give it to them. Can you believe that when you do these things EVERY NOW and THEN what a difference it makes in your marriage. Oh my goodness, we are learning to LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 And are nowhere near having completely learned. We will be in a forever state of learning this but I’m just happy to be making strides. Because believe me when I say I have been at a place of not giving a rip about what Jason needed and only concerned about what he needed to give ME. But Christ did not intend for marriage to be about ME. As Mark Gungor put it so clearly “A great marriage is mostly about two people committing to each other and then employing principles such as love, acceptance, patience, forgiveness, sacrifice, and unselfishness, to enrich that committed relationship. Marriage is more about work than about divine luck, more about finding someone to love than about finding someone to meet your own laundry list of personal needs.” Amen to that! I better make sticky notes with exactly THAT written on it and post them all over my house so I don’t forget that truth.

So to conclude, Jason and I still have a LONG way to go with LOTS of work. We still argue, though me being the LOUD fighter I have to say I have dialed it WAY back. Yay me. And daily sometimes hourly, I have to remind myself to put Christ at the center of my marriage. I must have Him first, then Jason. (So picture Me–> Christ–>Jason. See He’s in the center 🙂 ) But I must say it is so cool to reflect and see the progress we have made. And to those newlyweds or maybe the ones in year 2 and 3, keep working. Because there is hope. Make Christ the center, LOVE your husband unconditionally as Christ loves you. And I just want to reiterate, you wont get to year 5 and it be perfect. Year 5 isn’t perfect. Marriage isn’t perfect! But it’s sweet 🙂 And you will move beyond the pettiness and reach more and more sweet spots in your marriage. I believe that marriage will just continually get better, through every hard time, you reach a new part of marriage that is so good.

And outside of reading the Word daily I recommend the following books, they helped me TREMENDOUSLY. And Jason didn’t even have to read them 😉

Obviously Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage by Mark Gungor

The Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

Boundaries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

I don’t feel like it…..

I think that, (I don’t feel like it) every time I think of laundry. I HATE HATE HATE laundry. Yeah, think that’s excessive, well it’s the truth. And up until recently I just could never keep up. I always was waiting till I felt like it. Sometimes I’ll actually feel like cleaning. You know you get in that mood and just go to town cleaning every corner. Yeah that happens occasionally, but never have I ever felt like doing laundry. So I gave up on the notion that I ever would and decided to GET OVER IT and JUST DO IT.

The one major draw back to coming home from vacation is you REALLY don’t FEEL like it. You have been on hiatus for a week, lets keep that going right? So I have luggage FULL of laundry, not to mention the loads I left dirty before we hit the road and for whatever reason when the laundry backs up the rest of my house seems to follow suit. What the heck?! And that makes the fact that you are home that much more depressing. Yeah I can become depressed so easily. Annoying. But once again, I decided to move on and just throw a load in. And I also emptied all the garbages and it’s so funny, I feel so accomplished. I haven’t done anything but just knowing I have A load of laundry in and my trash cans are empty is so freeing haha. What a dork I am. But for anyone out there that’s like me, take my advice, just do it. Even if it feels small and like it’s not gonna make a difference, it will to you. Take out the garbage, throw some laundry in, by some grocerys, just do a little at a time and eventually, it will all get done. Well no not ALL it’ll never be ALL done but enough will be done. 🙂 And you’ll not feel so cranky.

Now it’s time to bath those children….check me out, I’m so ambitious 😉