Two Beautiful Ladies

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Two beautiful ladies met today.

They are the bookends on either end of the family line.

Ninety years separate them.

Love fills in the space between matriarch and babe.

Great-Grandma peered in and marveled.

Ember wiggled and hiccuped.

Delightful.

It doesn’t matter that Ember is GiGi’s 21st great-grandchild.

It doesn’t matter that Ember slept through their first meeting.

They are two beautiful ladies.

Meet Ember Blake

Introducing the newest twig on the family tree: Ember Blake!

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She was born on April 24, 2018 at 4:57 a.m.

She weighed in at 2 pounds 5 ounces.

This is what her sweet mamma wrote:

She was born 12 weeks early and came into this world kicking and screaming, surprising the heck out of medical staff, but not her parents.

Ember, may you continue to be fierce and hard to extinguish. May you believe in the fire that is within you and always rely on your creator to stoke and kindle that flame. May you always be a light in the darkness. ☀️  

“God is within her, she will not fall, God will help her at break of day” -Psalm 46:5

That verse.

“God is within her, she will not fall – Psalm 46” came up on my Instagram feed at 3:00 a.m. So I walked the hospital halls repeating that phrase, agreeing with the words, making them my prayer. Not long after that my daughter sent me a song that popped up as she opened her music app. “Psalm 46” by Shane and Shane. Such powerful words. At 4:30 a.m. the decision was made to have a c-section. I went into the waiting room and read the rest of Psalm 46:5 — “God will help her at break of day.”

As day broke, Ember offered the first praise from her tiny lips.
And we took her lead.
I have a feeling this spitfire of a girl will be leading us for years to come.

PB is pretty proud that she carries his name.
What an honor.

Ember Blake

Blessings on you, little Ember-girl.
Grow strong in the power of His might.
I can’t wait to tell you the story of your birth.

Smiling Father

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“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

You know, as I just read that verse, I realized that I have been giving Jesus all the credit for the resurrection. Somewhere along the line, I came to believe that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. Clearly, this needs correction. All praise goes to God the Father. It is by God the Father’s great mercy that this happened. It is by God the Father that I have new birth. And, (wake up and listen) God was the one raising Jesus from the dead. I’m sure Jesus deserves some praises as well, but this little detail changes the story for me.

The last I heard from God in the Passion saga was on Good Friday when the Father turned His back on the Son, who was hanging on the cross. I think that’s where I’ve left God in the story. I was a little miffed, a little incredulous that the whole salvation plan had to go that far. I’ve viewed Jesus as the Hero who did the thing. I never knew at what point God turned back around.

Suddenly, I see God the Father in the tomb, massaging His boy’s heart back to beating. I see Abba bending down, giving mouth to mouth, giving breath of life. God the Father was there, doing the work of raising His Son back up. Whoa.

When Jesus’ eyes fluttered open, was Father the first one He saw? Did they embrace? Jump around? Dance and sing? Certainly, God smiled. Surely, Jesus laughed. Up until now, I’ve envisioned only Jesus walking out of the tomb, but perhaps Father and Son strode out into that Sunday morning darkness arm in arm. Then maybe God said, “See you in 40 days. Have fun with Your guys. I’ve got a coronation to prepare for.” Wink. Twinkle. Pat on the back.

It’s all conjecture. I’m crossing the line from academic accuracy to imaginative deduction. Dangerous ground. Yet I believe in holy imagination. And holy correction. And holy inspiration. Holy, holy, holy.

Father God, I’m sorry I’ve held a little something against You. I was kind of disappointed. It appeared to me that You disappointed Your Son at His lowest moment. I suppose it had to be, but I left You there, with Your back to us all.  I was in error. I’m so glad to let this go. I’m thankful for this vision of You and Your Son walking out of the grave together, rejoicing. Thank You for doing the work of raising Jesus from the dead. You did it!

Laughing Jesus

I read something that has really got me thinking.

I’m going to quote it so you can get to thinking too.

“What would you guess Jesus’ mood is this particular morning? (My note: after the resurrection.) Surely he must be happy. The man has conquered death, ransomed mankind, been restored to his Father, his friends, and the world he made. Forever. He is in the afterglow of the greatest triumph of the greatest battle in the history of the cosmos. I’m going to venture that he is one mighty happy man.” Beautiful Outlaw, by John Eldredge

Jesus? Happy? Perhaps laughing? At least, smiling? Or even chuckling with a twinkle in His eye? Could it be that He was bursting with joy?

Why do we have this picture of meek and mild Jesus, slowly rising from the dead, all serious and calm? Coming forth from the tomb with a slightly furrowed brow, solemn and subdued? Why do we have a hard time picturing Jesus as one mighty happy man?

Have a little fun.

Go back and read all the post-resurrection gospel accounts, but with one condition: listen for Jesus laughing.

Go ahead, do it.

Hear Him chuckle as He folds the cloth before leaving the tomb.
See the twinkle in His eye as He poofs into the disciples’ hiding place.
Watch Him grin as He eats a piece of fish before their eyes.
Hear Him roar with laughter as He watches Peter wildly splash toward breakfast on the beach.

It’s true!
Jesus is the happiest man alive.

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“I have told you this so so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:11

The Borrower

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Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb.
He had planned ahead for the entrance into Jerusalem.
He had pre-arranged details for the Last Supper.
He knew everything that was going to happen to Him.

But He hadn’t prepared for His burial,
so Christ was laid in a borrowed grave.

Borrowed. 

Borrow: to obtain or receive something on loan for temporary use, intending to give it back.

Jesus didn’t need a permanent grave.
He just needed to borrow one for a few days.
Joseph of Arimathea would get his tomb back because
Jesus had no intention of staying there for very long.
It would be a brief stopover.

When I die, tell everyone that I’m just borrowing that grave, because I’m going to be giving it back. On the day the angel shouts and the trumpet sounds, I’ll be among those rising up. Ain’t no grave gonna hold me down.

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“We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us.”
2 Cor. 4:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

“Ain’t No Grave” by David Crowder

Restless for Resurrection

This time of year, I start getting antsy.

Come, Spring! Come, Easter! Come, Empty Grave!

This is Day 30 in the 40 days of Lent. Ten more to go.

Forty is one of God’s favorite numbers.
It pops up all over the Bible.

It makes me wonder…

What it was like on the Ark at Day 30?
Were the animals getting agitated?

What was it like for Jesus to fast for 30 days,
knowing there would be 10 more?

When Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law,
did he wonder what was happening down below at Day 30?

Did Jesus count down the 40 days between resurrection
and ascension, anticipating going home?

In biblical times, the number forty was understood
as a period of testing that should not be rushed through,
but patiently endured.

As much as I’d like to fast-forward to the empty tomb,
there are lessons to be learned
in Gethsemane and at Golgotha.
Jesus didn’t rush His final days.
He followed the Father’s plan.
We should, too.

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The Next Ten Minutes

What are you doing for the next ten minutes?

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I mean, the ten minutes after you read this short blog post.

The next ten minutes.
I’ve heard that phrase several times in the past few days.
Enough to know I’m supposed to be paying attention.

“Our spiritual formation simply happens within the next ten minutes. What would it look like to trust Jesus, or be patient, or be content, or choose connection with God for the next ten minutes?” Jan Johnson

“At what point in your day is there some sacred space? You’ve got to push back ten minutes. I’m not talking about 40 days of fasting and prayer. Just some space to allow your soul to experience God.” John Eldredge

Ten minutes praying is better than a year’s murmuring.” Charles Spurgeon, on Twitter

“Will you share your life with me for the next ten minutes?” from The Last Five Years

“When I’m training, I tell myself to just go for the next ten minutes and then I’m free to stop if I want to. I never want to.” Kikkan Randall, gold medalist

See what I mean?

So, what are you doing for the next ten minutes?

“My times are in your hands.”
Psalm 31:15