That Easter Feeling

I know Easter is coming because I can feel it.  The sun begins to shine more.  The trees are trying to prove they’re still alive.  Birds reappear.  It seems like I can feel the warm breath of life itself slowly settling all around me.  It all testifies of Christ, you know.  There is no winter that cannot be overcome, and there is no night without a bright and shining morning.  No sorrow or pain can remain when the bright light of our Savior shines down upon it.  Even death itself is no match for the power of the Son of God.

I heard this song on the radio the other day (I listen to Christian radio in the car), and it just filled me to overflowing with that Easter feeling.  I’ve listened to it no less than a dozen times since, and I just need to go buy it.

The song is “Hero” by a group called “Abandon.”  Here’s an acoustic version they performed on Air1.  Listen to the words and just let it soak in.  I promise it feels like Son-shine.

I know it’s early, but Happy Easter.

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GCBC Week 4: “The Miracle of the Atonement” by Elder C. Scott Grow

Happy Easter, everyone.

This is one of my favorite Easter messages ever, by the late Elder Wirthlin.

In thinking about the Savior and his victory over death and sin, it seemed appropriate to study “The Miracle of the Atonement” by Elder C. Scott Grow.  He gives a great summary of the depth and breadth of the atonement and invites us to turn to the Savior.

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comment thread below.  Have a great Easter and a wonderful week.

(Go here for more information about our General Conference Book Club)

GCBC Week 14: “He Lives!”

General Conference Book Club Week 14:

Elder Richard G. Scott gave this beautiful Easter message at the last General Conference:  “He Lives!  All Glory to His Name!”

“Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. He is a glorious, resurrected being. He has the capacity to communicate love that is so powerful, so overwhelming as to surpass the capacity of the human tongue to express adequately. He gave His life to break the bonds of death. His Atonement made fully active the plan of happiness of His Father in Heaven.”

Yesterday in Relief Society, we sang the Primary song “I know my Savior Lives.”  The beauty and simplicity of the words brought tears to me eyes as I reflected on my sure knowledge that Jesus Christ lives.  What an awesome blessing to think about all the victory he gained and shares with us.  As you read Elder Scott’s testimony of the Savior, what feels the most meaningful to you?

Go here to find the media versions of the talk (audio, video, mp3, etc.).  If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club,  click here to learn more about it.

My life was an inspirational movie, for about 12 seconds

Life as a mother of young children usually bounces back and forth between chaotic and monotonous, but there are occasionally profound moments that remind you of the power and importance behind what you’re doing, and without sounding overdramatic, your place in the universe. And so it was yesterday. We had a nice quiet Easter morning. The Easter Bunny came on Saturday, thus making it possible to have a nice, quiet Easter morning. The kids got dressed and we headed off to Church. By the time we got home, it was actually bordering warm outside, so they were anxious to play outside. Matt took them out to play while I stayed in and worked on getting Easter dinner ready.

I pulled my grandmother’s tablecloth out of the linen closet, and thought of her for a moment as I spread it across the table. I put the Easter lily in the center of the table, the one a checker lady at the grocery store gave us for free the other day because she said she “was just waiting for someone cute to come along.” (It had been partially broken earlier in the day, and the cute person she was waiting for was Natalie.) I couldn’t help but think it miraculous that it had held tight to its buds for several days and then chosen Easter morning to burst into bloom:
dscf2007As I wandered into the kitchen, I stood at the window and watched my children at play.  The ham was in the oven.  The potatoes were in the crock pot.  The song “Lead Kindly Light” was playing from my iPod, and there was sunshine coming in through the window.  I watched Clark precariously balanced on the monkey bars at the top of the swing set.  He was determined to get from one side to the other, but the distance between each rung was more than his arms and balance could reach.  I saw him slowly and deliberately sit on one rung at a time, lean to balance on his arms, and pull up one knee until his foot could reach over the rung.  He would transfer the foot to the next bar and then pull all his body weight across the gap, teetering while his trembling arms balanced his weight.  I felt anxious, half wanting to run out and save him from a 6-foot fall and a trip to the E.R., and half cheering him on.  He made it across, lowered himself down onto the slide, and grinned proudly as he propelled himself back to the ground.

The thought occurred to me that this was symbolic of our parent-child relationship.  As he grows older and becomes more and more independent, I will watch him through the figurative window.  I’ll worry when he seems close to danger, and I’ll celebrate as I see him triumph.  And then, with the leftovers of Easter lessons and thoughts floating around in my mind, I realized it was a symbol of the relationship I have with Jesus Christ.  I try to be so independent, and sometimes I am clumsy.  He could come rescue me each time I struggle, but He lets me work through things.  He helps me develop the skills and confidence I need to face the next round of challenges.  If I do fall, He always catches me and heals me.  And He cheers me on all along the way as I try and try again.

I snapped out of my thoughtful trance and as my eyes refocused, I noticed for the very first time that buds had begun to grow on the tree outside my kitchen window.  After a long and dreadful winter, and the thoughts I just had about my Savior, it was a miracle.  That tree was the first real sign of Spring that I had seen, and a reminder of the power of Easter and the promise of renewal.

budding-leavesAnd all that happened in about 12 seconds or so.  It really felt like a magical, transcendent moment with a soundtrack and everything, and then it was over.  Natalie needed a diaper change, the table had to be set, and I found a rotten sippy cup that needed to be cleaned.  But it was nice while it lasted, and it was a poignant Easter moment.

(This post was entered in the April Write-away Contest at Scribbit.)

Pondering the Passover

passoverToday marks the celebration of the Passover.  In the Christian faith, this tradition draws upon two significant events:  The protection of the Israelites from the final Egyptian plague, and the last supper that Christ held with his disciples before he surrendered to Gethsemane and Calvary.

I remember reading someone’s story recently where they defended their faith in prophets to a skeptic listener.  The friend asked, “So if your prophet told everybody they should wear blue shirts, would you do it?”  The woman thought for a moment and then responded.  “Yes, I probably would.”  The friend sneered, “Don’t you think it would be a little strange?,” to which she replied, “The Israelites probably thought it was a little strange when Moses told them to put blood on their doors, but I bet they were glad they did.”  I loved that, and I’ve thought of it many times since.

And then a couple weeks ago, I studied this story with my own children in scripture study.  And it struck me how such a simple act, when followed, literally saved the lives of God’s people.  Similar, too was the story of the fiery serpents killing off folks in the wilderness, and when they just looked at the brazen serpent up on a rod, they would be healed.  Life literally preserved because of one simple act of faith.  So then I began to think about how many “passover commandments” exist that hold that same kind of power and promise of protection.  A couple came instantly to mind and I’ve tried to research out a few more.

Now, at my house, there are definitely some passover commandments– simple rules to live by that will save your life.  Here are a few no-brainers:

  • Thou shalt not wake up thy mother by opening her eyelids with thy fingers and shining a flashlight directly into her cornea.
  • Thou shalt not leave gross, sticky or wet things on the floor and forget to warn daddy when he walks through the room in his socks.
  • Thou shalt not lift up the covers and let thy children crawl into bed next to thy wife in the middle of the night; She careth not how “asleep” thou claimest to be when it happeneth.
  • If thou art above the age of three and still weareth night-time diapers, thou shalt diligently throw them away in the garage, and hide them not where thou thinkest thy mother will find them not.  For behold she shall, and great shall be her wrath.
  • Thou shalt not make vain repetitions to thy mother of the same pathetic request over and over, especially if thy voice is a whining siren.

Those are just some examples of life-preserving counsel in our home that I can think of off the top of my head.  But seriously, I’ve been very impressed at the many times and ways that our Heavenly Father offers all of us full protection for simple obedience, even against great adversity.  Take for example this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 10:5-6:

Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.    Behold, they have sought to destroy you…

How about tithing?  Check out Malachi 3: 10-11:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy

The Armor of God scriptures in Ephesians 6 remind us to arm ourselves with faith, the word of God and other Christlike attributes, and then makes a promise that seems to follow this same passover pattern:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

One of the more obvious ones, because of its particular phrasing, is the Word of Wisdom found in Doctrine and Covenants 89.  Here is what Elder Russell M. Nelson said about it:

“The final verse of that revelation forges another link back to ancient Israel: “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:21). This reference to the Passover shows that the Lord wanted obedient Saints of modern Israel to receive physical and spiritual protection just as He had provided for His faithful followers centuries before.”

del_parson_last_supper_400Anyway, I could go on and on because there are probably many more examples of passover commandments, but I don’t want to bore you (more).  I just think it’s fascinating that a historical event we see as such a poignant miracle is still in effect today as we keep God’s commandments.  Our lives and souls are protected.  Even at Jesus Christ’s last supper, as He and his dear friends celebrated Passover together, He reminded them of the power of the destroyer: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. (Luke 22:31)”  He taught them that He had power over Satan.  This power is accessible to us when coupled with our faith in Christ.  I doubt it’s a coincidence that he made this statement immediately after introducing the ordinance of the Sacrament.  The power comes from keeping covenants.  As we take the sacrament each week, we renew a passover covenant so to speak.  And essentially, this is exactly what the children of Israel did on that first Passover long ago.  God asked them to do something.  They obeyed.  And they were preserved.

sacrament

I think these verses in Isaiah wrap it up so nicely:

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.  . . . No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

I just really love the messages of Easter time, don’t you?

(Sorry this is so long.  I just told Matt that this was more of an Ensign article than a post, and he assured me that no one will read it.  If you made it this far, you deserve a treat.  You have my blessing.)